It’s OK to Turn Off the Carols


I sat across from Person last night, updating her on ALL THE THINGS that are happening in my life right now (some good, some bad, some heartbreaking) and said, “I would cry, but I have things to do.” It is Christmas time, after all. It’s a time of celebration! Lights & trees & presents & parties & BLAH BLAH BLAH. Her eyes got wide. She pointed at me and said “THAT RIGHT THERE,” & then proceeded to tell me about her mini breakdown the night before & how she said to her husband “I would cry, but I have to go shopping.”

It was in that moment that I found my Christmas peace.

‘Tis the season to be jolly, and OH MY GOD how I would love to be jolly right now, but I’m not, and I’m not the only one. Am I at peace now? YES, thanks to that moment, but filled with joy & glee? Not so much. And that’s ok.

BUT IT’S CHRISTMAS! CHRISTMAS IS THE BEST! FOR REASONS! ALL THE REASONS!!

Yeah, yeah it is, which is why I’ve held back tears and trudged forward and checked all the things off my to do list. BECAUSE CHRISTMAS, YOU GUYS.

I get it. I do. However, I can not, and will not, try to be jolly all damn day anymore. It’s exhausting. It’s unrealistic. It’s unhealthy.

And guess what. I can be sad if I want. I can wallow in it if I damn well please, because THAT’S the reason we Christians celebrate Christmas. Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus, the one born to meet us, exactly where we are, and fill us with hope so we can keep moving forward. Sweet little 8lb 6oz Baby Jesus was born, Son of God, to grow into a man who empathizes with our pain.Sweet baby Jeasus

The Son of God, who, unlike our overly cheerful neighbors, is totally ok with us having a bad day or two during the never-ending party that the holidays seem to be. He’s totally cool with it if your house isn’t decorated as big and bright as your neighbors’. He’s cool with it if you need to turn off the carols for a little while and just enjoy some peace & quiet. He’s cool with it if you say no to a few Christmas parties.

Now, I’m not trying to say ANYTHING bad about the folks out there who are all YAY CHRISTMAS and filled with 24/7 glee. Good for you. Consider yourself blessed this year and count ALL of those blessings many times over. Enjoy your happiness & joy & eggnog. Have the Merriest Christmas ever. Seriously.

But for the rest of us? Hear this:

You have His permission to take a break from all the festivities.  It’s ok. He’d actually prefer it, I bet, if you took a break from ALL THE THINGS and just chatted with Him for a bit. Let Him know how you’re doing. Ask Him for help, for comfort, for peace. That’s why Jesus was born in the first place.

& I get it, you may not be a Christian. You may celebrate Christmas for other reasons, or you may not celebrate it at all and yet are surrounded by ALL THE CHRISTMASING EVERYWHERE. It’s ok. You, too, can take a break.

The pressure is off. You don’t have to be happy during the most wonderful time of the year. You’re not the only one feeling lonely in the middle of the party. You’re not the only one grieving the death of a loved one while others are celebrating life. You’re not the only one who got a pink slip instead of a bonus. You’re not the only one dealing with an anxiety disorder and/or depression while others are fa la la-ing all over the damn place. You are not alone.

I’ma say it again.

You are not alone.

Fear not.

Maybe you can’t feel all the joy this Christmas season, and that’s ok.

But maybe, just maybe, now you can enjoy a little peace.

Cheers.

Cheers, you guys.

A is for Advice – the Unsolicited Kind. You’re Welcome.


Every once in awhile I’ll get bored and peruse writing prompts, and then on even rarer occasions I’ll actually do the writing. This is one of those times.

Prompt:

prompt

Disclaimer: It says nothing about writing good advice.

So here ya go. 26 pieces of random Suz advice, in alphabetical order:

Ask first.

Be bold.

Call your mom.

Dream big.

Eat your vegetables.

Fold your laundry.

Giggle often.

Honor others’ time.

Ignore the haters, especially the anonymous ones.

Jail: Avoid it.

Know when to walk away…know when to run. Thanks, Kenny Rogers!

Love big.

Mend the people and the things you break.

Naps: they are your friend. Rest well.

Own your words.

Pick your battles.

Quit your bitchin’.

Read often.

Shit or get off the pot.

Thanksgiving: keep it.

Unwind.

Vote.

Wish upon a star.

eXercise.

Yield for pedestrians.

Ziplines: try them.

Or just do what he says

Or just do this. 

The Riptide of Depression


Beth was my best friend throughout high school and college. I’ve mentioned her before, and no doubt I will mention her again due to our many misadventures together during our formative years.

Beth & I often took spontaneous road trips. We loved adventure and the freedom of the open road, as many college kids do. One early summer weekday we decided to head to the beach. We both had the day off and enough cash to buy gas and snacks. We packed a few supplies, got in her big red truck with the “Don’t Mess with Texas” bumper sticker and headed southeast to the coast. Upon arrival, we grabbed our spot on the shore, stripped down to our bathing suits, and got in the water.

The public schools hadn’t yet let out for the summer, it was fairly early in the day, and there were no lifeguards on duty. The beach was relatively empty and we had our little section of the ocean to ourselves. We paid little attention to the world around us as we splashed around in the ocean, and soon we found ourselves farther out from shore than we had intended. So far, in fact, that we were past the end of the nearby pier. We failed to pay attention to the waves, failed to pay attention to the current.

We’d gotten caught in a riptide, and we were in trouble. A lot of trouble.

Thankfully, enough survival instincts and training kicked in for us to swim back to shore. The journey was rough, exhausting, and there were times I didn’t think I would make it. I’m not a strong swimmer in a pool, and swimming in an ocean is – as you know – even harder. When we finally reached the shore, we dragged ourselves out of the water, splayed ourselves on the sand, and attempted to catch our breath while coughing the water out of our lungs. When we finally regained our bearings – and enough strength to stand – we walked the couple hundred yards back to our pile of clothes. We had the whole “That was Really Scary” & “I’m Never Swimming Again” conversation and then hopped in the truck to travel further down Highway 17 towards the next adventure.

That particular misadventure was tucked away in my brain for sixteen or so years, all but forgotten…until Beth died.

Beth’s death was the catalyst to this long and tiresome grieving period that I’m in. I’ve been here a little over three years. The grief I feel these days isn’t for Beth’s death, but for more current events in my life….but regardless of why I’m grieving, a three+ year grieving period is really freaking long, you guys. Really.Freakin’.Long.

With that grief has come some bouts of depression. It’s not the pseudo ‘Starbucks is out of Pumpkin Spiced Lattes’ or ‘my favorite show got cancelled’  kind of “depression” (btw, that’s an inconvenience, you guys. Maybe a sadness. Use your words.) It’s the kind of depression that requires help from Therapist…though I have just now (after six months with him) said anything close to “um, this is depression, yo,” because a) I’m REALLY good at faking the happy, b) trust issues & c) It took me awhile to realize I was in full blown depression mode.

Here’s why I didn’t realize it was happening again: Depression comes like a riptide. Hey! That’s why I told you the Beth story! See? There was a point to that. I can be swimming along, minding my own business, thinking all is well and enjoying the sun, barely noticing the sneaky pull…until it’s too late and my feet are no longer anywhere near the ground, and I’m surrounded…by agony. Waves of wretched thoughts bash over and through me while I gasp for air and scan my surroundings, desperately seeking the safety of the shore. It’s exhausting, frightening, and there are times when it seems like sinking to the bottom would be easier than treading water or swimming.

Beth and I reached the shore that summer day because we had each other for support. I gasped “keep swimming! You can do it!” when she got tired and she yelled “The shore…it’s right there…just a few more yards” when my vision was impaired by the salt water. I no longer have Beth to direct me to shore, but I do have others to be my eyes when I can’t see. I know I’m not alone. I grab a lifeline when I need it, and I keep swimming until I make it back to safety – regardless of how tired I am.  Thanks to hope, faith, and sheer defiance, I will always make it back to shore.

I’m good right now, by the way. I’m on the shore, watching the waves and brushing the sand away from my tired soul. It took awhile to get back this time, and I’m exhausted, but I’m good. Suck it, depression.

If you’re suffering from depression: Remember, depression lies. It will try to drag you down. Don’t let the lies pull you under. Look towards the shore, start swimming, and scream for a lifeline. You’re not alone out there. The number is right here, lookit: 1-800-273-8255 (National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.) Call it. The safety of the shore is closer than you think, even if you can’t see it right now. Don’t sink. Swim. You can do it. You can. I believe in you.

I’ll wait for you here on the shore.

Click for Photo Credit

 

Atypical Thursday


So after deciding that I was going to write, finish & publish all the authentic & potentially (probably) unfunny posts last night, my brain must’ve flipped out. It was all “YAY! ALL THE WORDS & THINGS!” and woke me at 4:50 am today. FOUR FRIGGIN’ FIFTY.

kinda like this

My brain

I laid in bed listening to Stella & Brando (the Wondermutts) snore for twenty minutes while my brain rambled about I have no idea what. Cuz it was 4:50. Bitter.

Eventually I conceded, slowly waking the sleeping Wondermutts (that whole “Let Sleeping Dogs Lie” is good advice, but more on that another day) and dragged them out of bed. Usually it’s the other way around. Typically Stella has to stand on me to force me into a vertical position. 60 pounds of Stella standing on your chest is NOT how you want to wake up, by the way.

 

funny hocus pocus quotes | Funny:) / Hocus Pocus is my all time favorite Halloween movie on ...

Me, every morning.

So I put on my Hi-Vis safety shirt (safety first!) & attached tiny flashlights to the Wondermutts’ collars & went for a brisk 45 minute walk in the dark. Because I was up before the freakin’ sun. So bitter.
For the record, this is why I got a Spaniel mix instead of a yorkie - I want my dog to run with me, not ride along on my hip.

Not at all how I looked.

Wait – I had coffee first. Cuz coffee. & I’ve had coffee ever since. So that’s an extra 1.5 hours of coffee consumption.
Funny Coffeeology | Funny coffee quote from Funny Technology - Coffee Every Day - Community - Google+ via Wyatt Martin | #funny #coffeequote #caffeine

not ashamed.

& I’ve been writing in my online journal (two different posts) all morning (while also doing the work that earns me the paycheck) cuz THE WORDS JUST WON’T STOP COMING & my brain is all THINK ALL THE THINGS. The only writer’s block I had was the one I put there, apparently.
Calvin and Hobbes on "Writer's Block". @Andrea Brown  I think I've found  your problem ;P

Calvin is of my people.

That or I’ve just hit manic mode.
Funny Somewhat Topical Ecard: Today's forecast... Manic with a slight chance of bat shit crazy.

probably this.

Apparently now that I’ve given myself permission to write (& therefore deal) with the heavy crap, my brain is all
Funny Pictures " go insane go insane lock me up and make it rain." said the mentail person!

I steal all these images from the Pinterest, btw.

Dear Brain:

shut it

You tell it, Chandler.

You could say it was the coffee’s fault. You would be wrong. The internal marathon monologue is finally slowing down. It took a pot of coffee to get to this point. Instead of overlapping thoughts, they’ve finally started forming an orderly line. WAIT YOUR TURN, THOUGHT.
Puppies!

Before

İşte bu.

After. Also? I feel like the tree.

So here’s where I am today: bitter about the 4:50 internal alarm, drinking lots of coffee, alternating between real work stuff, a private journal post, a journal post containing blog ideas, and this. And it’s only 2pm.

Oh, and as a teaser (warning??) here are the working titles of future blog posts. You’re welcome (I’m sorry??).

 

Don’t Take the ClickBait

Content Marketing is Killing Content

256 Shades of Gray (alternate: The Black & White Blinding Effect)

Riptide of Depression

Mania

How to Focus on Work When Your Brain Won’t Shut Up

The Joy Killing Laughter Thief

Group Texts, Group Messages & Reply Alls, Oh My.

Personal Brand vs Professional Brand

Facebook tags & Challenges & Why I Hate Them…Mostly.

Gossip Kills

Unplugging “Friendships” to Renew Relationships

Postcards from Pee Wee

Body Image Bullshit

The Haunt

A Bared Soul is not a Cry for Help (A Venn Diagram!)

Titanium Ta-Tas – The Cancer Scare!

Stop Telling Me What I Need (Clickbait Part Deux)

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie – Literally. No Really, Literally.

 

 Ok, back to work now. Stay tuned!

 

The Problem With Becoming Authentic


[aw-then-tik] 
adjective
1. not false or copied; genuine; real:

Genuine. Real.
“Be authentic in your relationships.” ~ That’s what the leaders of the church urge.
“Bring authenticity to your character.” ~ That’s what the directors say.
“Be authentic in your writing” ~ is what Therapist eludes to when I explain why I haven’t published any blog posts or finished any stories lately.
true statement, ya'll.

true statement, ya’ll.

There are many benefits of being authentic. I get that. Integrity: good. Trust: good. Realized potential: good.
However, the problem with becoming authentic is: often it’s difficult, and sometimes it comes with a price.
Becoming authentic means dealing with your crap – even if that means risking the loss of a relationship because you have to admit past betrayals.
Becoming authentic means taking off the mask – even when it means risking a friendship because you need to admit you want something more – or, conversely, admitting that you don’t want something more.

oh boy!

Becoming authentic means being honest – even if it means hurting a loved one’s feelings because you admit you hate they way they make grilled cheese sandwiches. (this rarely happens. grilled cheese is awesome)
burdened with glorious cheese

burdened with glorious cheese

A lot of risk is involved with becoming authentic. And what is risk? Risk is exposure to the chance of injury or loss; a hazard or dangerous chance. So. To truly “become authentic” means having to “take a risk,” and you can’t take a risk without first confronting the fear: the fear that someone won’t like you – the fear that you may not like you.
That’s the problem. If you are authentic, somebody is not going to like you, and you have to be ok with it.
I told Therapist I wasn’t writing because the posts & stories were too dark, too heavy. I don’t want to finish them. “But that’s where you are right now,” he nudged.
“But…I like writing funny posts. I like making people laugh.”
Because of course I do. Funny people are liked, funny people are loved.
Well, shit.
Soo…yeah. Those unfinished, unpublished (& probably very unfunny) posts about grief and depression and betrayal and all the other dark stuff I don’t want to write about? They’re coming.
 

She Died Today


She died today.

On the day I woke

already a lump in my throat,

obstacles to face,

dragons to slay.

She died today.

She taught me to be a Phenomenal Woman,

she taught me why the Caged Bird sings.

She died on the day I fiercely needed

to be reminded of such things.

Two tears I shed at work,

Then wept later in the shower.

I wonder if she knew the gift she gave,

the gift to me of power.

I know her voice,

I see her words

Graffitied all over each page.

A whisper, a shout,

“Go, girl, let yourself out of that cage.”

“Lift up your eyes upon.

This day breaking for you.

Give birth again.

To the dream.”

She died today.

I will listen.

I will live.