Year of Pleasures: The kindness of strangers

St Jude

My friend Regina and I were enjoying a beautiful summer day by eating at a local sandwich shop and sitting outside at a little cafe table. Regina is a more protective mom than I have learned to be, so we tease each other all the time about that. She has a heart attack when Atti pushes up to balance on the two back wheels of his chair, I shrug my shoulders and say, “He’ll learn what happens when he doesn’t listen to his mama.” This day Atti was wheeling all around the patio, slaloming between the other tables, threatening to roll out into traffic, and giggling at Regina’s distress. I showed him exactly how far he was allowed to go and called him back when he crossed that line, and he listened. It was awesome. It was just how any little precocious 5 year old would act while he’s stuck at a grown up lunch.

Just before we were getting ready to leave, an old man came up to our table and handed me this little medal. He pointed to Atticus and said, “That’s for your little guy. God bless.” And walked away. I thanked him sweetly while the color rose in Regina’s face. When he was safely out of earshot she asked, “Does that bother you? A stranger coming up and saying he’s an impossible cause?” I got where she was coming from, it was defensiveness borne out of a ferocious love for this little guy. She calls Atti “our boy” and loves him like he really is one of hers. She knows exactly what he’s capable of and how indomitable his little spirit is, and isn’t going to let anyone say anything different.

But I was really moved. I’m always moved when someone wants to share a sincere expression of their faith and love with me, and that’s what I felt from that sweet man. Atti really is up against a pretty daunting challenge. I think he can take all the prayers and hope and kindness anyone is willing to extend to him. And then I think he’s going to show that the only impossible cause is betting against him.

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Year of Pleasures: 1000 Cones


For years and years I’ve been promoting the work of the fine folks at Maximum Fun, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Where else do you find such reliable warmth? I was happy to donate to the kickstarter for this project, and watching the video is just a delightful little boost in my day.

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Coping with the darkness

Duvet Day

My new friend Lillian left an amazing comment, and as part of that she asked: “When you are in your dark place how do you force yourself to even get out of bed?”

Today just happens to be one of those days. I feel the darkness hovering and today is the day when I have to drop everything and deal with this before it gets worse. So that’s step 1: Pay attention and try to head it off before it gets dangerous.

Step 2: Tell someone. Bear has always been super supportive of me, but he didn’t get how this disease worked for a long time. We’ve been working on educating him and me learning to speak my needs and it’s paid off for us. This morning all I had to say was “I’m feeling the darkness around the edges,” and he knew what that meant. He made plans to get home from work as soon as he could, he’s planning to make dinner, and this evening he’ll be working on cleaning the house, since chaos in my environment is always a big trigger for me. I’ll also be reaching out to my network of friends who can just remind me that there is love and friendship in this world.

Step 3: Make sure I’m up on my medications. Medicating is really hard, particularly for people who deal with depression. I really try to be rigorous with myself but if I’ve gotten lazy or lost track, I have to address it. I also have some medication I can use when I’m sliding into one or the other of my poles, so I’ll use that.

Step 4: Decide what the bare minimum is that I need to do today. When I’m depressed then even fixing lunch seems insurmountable. If I hold myself up to my usual standards than the weight of it all will bury me. Some days the bare minimum is to just make it to the end of the day. Today I’ve decided that I can get Atti to and from school, and keep us both fed and safe. And maybe, after I’ve rested I’ll take a shower. And for extra bonus points I might even color my hair. Every single other thing will just have to wait.

Step 5: Self-care. When I have a cold, I love to eat popsicles and drink hot tea. They make my throat feel better and clear out my sinuses. When I am depressed, I do puzzles. I cross stitch. I watch British comedy. They make my brain feel better. The stigma around mental illness is so enormous that most of us have internalized it. I’ve found that my answer to that is to pathologize it. Treat it like the disease that it is in every way. When I have a cold I feel no shame about staying in bed and drinking tea. So today I will shake off the shame, stay in bed, and laugh at British sitcoms until I feel better.

If you are struggling, know that you are not alone. Take care of yourselves, friends.

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Year of Pleasures: DANG DOG!

Dang dog!
How can I love something so much when it causes me so much trouble?

That necklace she’s wearing? It used to be sprinklers.

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Year of Pleasures: Friends with Benefits

Canning Tomatoes

It pays to be friends with farmers. My pal Dave planted me 65 tomato plants. I have been canning for two days and it’s barely August.

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Year of Pleasures: Hammock

Hammock
Our first purchase for the new house: A hammock. These should be prescribed for stress relief.

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Year of Pleasures: Love Note

Love Note

Woke up, went to the computer, and discovered this waiting for me. I know how to pick em.

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Year of Pleasures: New friends

Atti and his new friend
Moving is rough. And moving as often as we have, there have been times when I just did not have the energy to put myself out there again. This time I didn’t have to find it. Friends found me.

My first week at church I found an instant friend and we’ve been close to inseparable since. A friend from a facebook group found me and adopted me, and introduced me to even more friends from the facebook group, including one who lives super close and dropped everything to come and say hello. And our next door neighbor brings her coffee over on Saturday mornings for chats in the garden or has us over for barbecues. This is her grandson Gavin. Gavin has autism, and that feeling of being a little different, of needing to do things their own way, of making room for their needs, has made him and Atti fast friends.

You know Atti loves him when he shares his iphone games. In his world that is like sharing the last piece of chocolate cake.

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Year of Pleasures: Fresh Tomatoes

Summer's first Tomatoes
The last renters planted a couple of tomato plants and a zucchini, and I get to reap the benefits. There is nothing like vine ripened and sun warmed tomatoes.

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Year of Pleasures: Puzzle Therapy

Conceptis Puzzles

With the craziness of the last few months – commute, solo parenting, the move, general life upheaval – I am depleted. Luckily summer is a good time for depressives. If this was happening in the winter I’d be in trouble. But still, I have to be aware, so I’ve been trying my best to take things a little slowly. I’ve been reading a bunch and playing lots of dumb computer games. I love logic puzzles, so when I discovered Conceptis.com, I was overjoyed. There is so much there for puzzle nerds, and it’s now my go-to time killer when I need to spend some time just thinking or being still.

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