Panic at the Elephant House


Panic attacks are a glorious part of my life. I have generalized anxiety disorder, and the super fun bit is that I never know when the attacks are going to happen.  Anxiety is all “Oh, you’re having an awesome day? The sun is shining and the birds are singing and unicorns are vomiting glittery rainbows all over your life? Awesome.  I’MA RUIN THAT RIGHT NOW,” and suddenly I can’t breathe, turn into a raging hulk monkey and have to find the nearest exit.

If my anxiety disorder had a face.

If my disorder had a face.

The last time I had a full on panic attack was this past August in Edinburgh at The Elephant House, a lovely little cafe spawned by Satan himself*.

Elephant House

Photo credit: Myself, mid panic attack.

It was mid-afternoon on a glorious mostly sunny 67° day, and Tanya and I’d been traipsing around town, seeing all the things. August is festival season in Edinburgh (yay Fringe) and I was starting to get a wee bit twitchy (cuz humans, so many humans) so we popped into the Elephant House to get a refreshing drink and do the whole “JK ROWLING WROTE HARRY POTTER HERE, YOU GUYS” thing.

And then it happened.

The restaurant was crowded and a stagnant 237°. Not good things for this girl. Too much heat & too little air movement will trigger a migraine in a heartbeat. My system immediately went into fight or flight mode, my throat started closing up, and I got ragey, as I do during panic attacks. Some people cry hysterically, I turn into the Hulk. A tear or two may form in the corner of my eye, but I’m more likely to try to find something to demolish in an effort to escape my uncontrollable fever rage.

Anyway.

Since it’s, ya know, Edinburgh, layers are key.  Shirt, jacket, purse slung across body. I also had on one of those evil, clunky passport pouches under my shirt. Sweat started pouring out everywhere, my breathing became shallow, and I got tunnel vision.

Panicked Brain: CLOTHES OFF. MUST COOL OFF. CLOTHES OFF. GET THIS PASSPORT THING OFF. OFF. OFF.

I ripped off the jacket and began trying to do the bra-removal-through-sleeve maneuver with the passport pouch (rational part of brain did manage to somehow comprehend that we were still in a public place) when ALL THE THINGS got tangled. Purse strap + pouch cord + sleeve = constricting, tangled mess. Poor Tanya, having never seen me in true panic mode, desperately tried to assist in the maneuver, at first to no avail. I may have slapped her hand away at one point, but I can’t really remember. All I knew was I was stuck. I could see out of the window, stood right beside the exit, but could.not.move and was now tangled in clothing and cords and straps.

Panicked portion of Brain: BREAK THE EFFING WINDOW AND ESCAPE.

Rational portion of Brain: um, please don’t get arrested in Scotland.

Voice: GET THIS THING OFF OF ME. GET ME OUT OF HERE.

Somehow, miraculously, I stopped fighting Tanya’s efforts and she got that effing passport heat pouch of death from around my neck and away from my body and ushered me out of the building into fresh air. She’s wee but mighty, that one.

Artist's rendering.

Artist’s Rendering.

We quickly hustled down the street, away from the cute little inferno from hell, towards some little venue that hosted one of the Fringe acts. She helped me order a beer and we sat there in the cool breeze while I self medicated, trying to casually calm the F down while listening to Scottish chefs chat about how they’d visited Kissimmee, Florida.

And that’s the story behind #panicattheelephanthouse, my “Me too” to those of you who have panic attacks. You’re not alone. They suck, I know. I also know that you have the strength to get through them. Keep fighting for the days filled with rainbow vomiting unicorns.

 

unicorn

*I’ve had many folks try to defend the Elephant House to me since the panic attack, and I have this to say: Just stop.  Shush.  In real life The Elephant House is probably really great, but my experience is not your experience. The folks that work there were lovely, this I can confirm. I’m sure the refreshments would have been delightful. And, yes, the HVAC was probably just on the fritz & blah blah blah. Shut it. You’re missing the point. This isn’t about the location. It’s about my panic attack that just happened to occur at that location. I will probably visit The Elephant House again if I go back to Edinburgh because anxiety can suck it. 

Signs You’re Not “Over It”


This is my “You can stop saying this now because we all know it isn’t true” post in response to (more than one) individuals’ continual social media overshares about being “over it.” It’s a lesson I had to learn for myself, and one I share in hopes others can be honest enough with themselves to say “Ya know what? I’m not over it yet. And that’s ok.”

Signs You’re Not “Over It.”

1) Posting on social media that you’re “Over it/him/her.”
2) Continuing to refer to the event/person using derogatory words.
3) Passive aggressively punishing the offender that you insist you’ve “forgiven.”

If you are still doing one or more of the above, you are not “over it.” The only person you’re fooling is yourself.

bowie knows bullshit

Stop kidding yourself.

But guess what? You don’t have to be over it yet. Who put your grief and pain on a timeline? Is someone telling you to hurry up and “get over it?” If so, that person is a jerk that needs a lesson in empathy. Plain & simple. Do you need to heal? Yes. Do you need to let go so you can move forward? Yes. You need to do that…but for yourself, not for anyone else.

 

Nobody grieves the same way. You and a friend may have a shared pain, and you may heal twice as fast as your friend…and that’s ok. She may heal faster than you…and that’s ok.

What’s not ok is to lie to yourself and say you’re “over it” when you clearly are. not. over it. What’s not ok is to keep punishing the offender or referring to the person/event using derogatory words. Why stoop to that level? Come on, you’re better than that. Don’t respond to hurt with hate. Nobody wins that game.

Instead of crying “I’m over it,” call it what it is. It’s ok to say “I’m in pain.” It’s ok to say “I am suffering.” You don’t necessarily need to share that with everyone on the interwebs, but you do need to be able to say it out loud to yourself. Once you truly identify and name your feeling, THEN you can start to heal. Ignoring the true pain and rushing yourself through the process is only going to leave you in a state of emotional paralysis. Staying in that emotional paralysis & not letting go of the past keeps you from recognizing & enjoying future blessings. Come on, friend. Don’t rob yourself of blessings. Stop trying to fool yourself, do the work, and take as much time you need. OH, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Therapy is your friend. There is zero shame in getting therapy. You want to better yourself, heal and care for yourself by getting help from an objective, trained sounding board? Good on you, friend. Good.on.you. Again, anyone that tells you differently is an ass. You’d get a mechanic to fix the wear and tear on your car, so why wouldn’t you get a therapist to help fix the wear and tear on your life? You’re certainly worth more than a damn car. Do you need help? Get that help. You’re worth it.

When you have truly worked through your pain and can let it go, THEN you are over it.

How do you know if you’re REALLY “over it?”

1) You don’t feel the need to announce to the world that you are “over it.”
2) You don’t feel the need to refer to the event or person using derogatory names. If you’re really lucky, you don’t feel the need to mention that event or person at all.
3) You no longer punish yourself or the offender.

4) You finally stop looking behind you, and start looking forward to what lies ahead.

When you no longer give your precious time and energy to the person or event that caused you pain, THEN, my dear, you are “over it.” Then you are free.

Be free.You hold the key to your cage. Set yourself free...Amazing.:

2015 #defianthappiness Year in Review


So it’s New Year’s Eve Eve and the middle of annual Purge week (the cleaning out of old crap to make room for new crap,) which means it’s time for my year in review!

First things first: Person & I theme our years. We do this instead of making a list of specific resolutions, as we’ve had more success with actually achieving awesomeness by using an overall theme instead. Yes, we do SMART goals & all that, too, but we love a theme, so there ya go.

Until 2015 we each had separate themes, but 2014 was ridiculously difficult for both of us, so we ended up each using the same theme for 2015. Combined awesomeness makes for more awesomeness, after all. After reflecting on stupid 2014, we decided our main goal in 2015 was to get back to the happy, no matter what. 2015: #defianthappiness – The Year of Unicorns & Glitter Parades was born.

23 Ways To Defy Your Enemy, According To Tumblr

Slow Motion Photo Booths, you guys. 

Has 2015 been chock full of happiness & unicorns & glitter parades? Pretty much. Not because we never had to deal with sad crap, but because we actively chose to be happy. No, we didn’t throw confetti during funerals or burst into maniacal laughter at inappropriate times.

You're grown men, why are you giggling in the first place? Oh Watson.:

Person is the John to my Sherlock. 

We did, however, find joy in all the little things. We gave ourselves a break. We took things less seriously when we could, and held onto joy-filled thoughts & memories as best we could.

I also drank a good bit of wine, so there’s that.

On always being honest. | 23 Hilarious Amy Poehler Quotes To Get You Through The Day:

Binge watching Parks & Rec is a key to Happiness

Other things that happened in 2015: Year of Unicorns & Glitter Parades:

  • Three Awesome Weddings (all the confetti was thrown)
  • Four Amazing Trips (There are Unicorns in Scotland, you guys)
  • Four Significant Deaths (the dad, my dog, a friend, and a mentor)
  • One Bucket List Role (Rocky Horror: WE’RE ALL LUCKY)
  • Two health scares (One mine, one mom’s, and we’re both ok. Yay!)
  • A gazillion books and movies (STAR WARS, you guys!)
  • All the lights! (because of course)
  • ALL THE THEATRE (So.Many.Shows)
  • All the drama (so.much.drama.)

Food was eaten, pounds were shed. Money was spent, money was saved. Friends were made, friends were lost. Goals were met, dreams were crushed.

That’s life.

There was much laughter and countless tears…but one thing’s for sure: #defianthappiness achieved, and we’re all the better for it.

Bring it on 2016, we’re ready for ya.

 

 

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.

The Dash Between Two Dates


There is no “celebration of life” page on Facebook, no memorial page, no announcement. There is no obituary, no epitaph, no great list of accomplishments.

There was a feeling that led to a search, a discovery of his death ten days after it happened, a phone call from brother to sister.

“I need you to pay attention.”

“I can pay attention while I’m driving. I have somewhere I need to be.”

“I have to tell you something.”

“I’m listening.”

“Fine…(sigh)…Dad died.”

No tears, no emotion. He could have easily said “I’m having pizza for dinner” or “storm’s rolling in” and received the same response. The discussion of how & when & where continued until I reached my destination.

Dad is gone, but that’s nothing new. He’s been out of our lives for over twenty years, and was barely in our lives to begin with. It’s impossible to grieve the absence of a presence barely felt. It’s difficult to grieve if there is no love, and there is no love. Not anymore. That died years ago, and the grief is long forgotten.

I am sad, though. Sad that a man’s life could be reduced to just a dash between two dates. Sad that the other daughter couldn’t write an obituary for him. She wrote nothing, and that says a lot, considering that he actually was a constant presence in her life. I don’t know her, or what their life was like after our final correspondence, but the lack of obituary is, well, sad. Like real life Ebenezer Scrooge sad. It doesn’t sit well with me, but since I won’t know why she didn’t write one, I’ll have to let that go. No sense in wasting any more time wondering why or what if. I did enough of that when I was a kid.

Sometimes we don’t get the answers we need.

It’s best to make peace with that fact as quickly as possible.

So there it is. My father is dead, and though I’ll never fully forget the feeling of being treated like an afterthought, I choose to instead focus on the little I remember of his fleeting presence:

He smelled like Old Spice & sawdust, and he always had change in his pocket that jangled when he walked.

 

 

 

U2’s Bad: The Lifeline


Person’s Assignment:

A song comes on the radio and instantly, you’re transported to a different time and place. Which song(s) bring back memories for you and why? Be sure to mention the song, and describe the memory it evokes. 250 words.

In 1989, Beth, “Foxley Moxley,” and I were in Pembroke, NC to compete in the North Carolina Theatre Conference (NCTC) State Festival. At least, I think it was Foxley Moxley, though it could have been Eli. The memory is foggy. I was a sophomore, they were seniors. It was the second show I’d ever designed (as a lighting designer,) and the first real road trip I can remember that didn’t include parental supervision. It was a time before GPS, when we had to rely on actual paper maps and directions to get us from point A to point B. We had finished day one (check in & whatnot) and were in unfamiliar territory on our way to crash at the house of a student from a “nearby” competing school.

Being from Raleigh, we were used to city highways. We learned to drive on the Beltway (now 440) and, even as high school students, could merge on & off as well, if not better than, some of my current adults friends who say “I hate driving on 440.” We were used to city street lights, city directions (the ones with actual street names), and city churches, and we were traveling down a two lane country highway, in the dark, with no manmade structures to be seen for miles on end.

It was a visually dull & exceeding long drive, so we passed the time with chatter & music. Foxley Moxley (Eli?) had two cassette tapes with him: U2’s Unforgettable Fire & U2’s War, and we listened to them repeatedly. The cassette would end, either Beth & I would yell “FLIP,” and off we’d go again, listening to the haunting riffs of The Edge’s guitar underneath our oh so important high school topics of conversation. Foxley Moxley loved him some U2, and, because of this trip, I learned to love them as well.  I sat in the back (sophomores rarely earn shotgun when seniors are in the car) and mostly listened, only contributing occasionally when they’d prompt me to do so. I preferred listening to small talk instead of contributing, still do.

The desolate country “highway” began to look creepy after awhile. We’d been discussing favorite books and movies at the time and probably discussing Stephen King, as the further we drove into the isolated area the more creeped out we got. I remember passing an old shack of a house with a black dog on the porch that we could barely see until the headlights reflected red against his eyes. Bam: Cujo. Then we passed one of those old country one room white churches with the steeple on top & red stained glass windows. There were people inside, which we thought odd since it was a Wednesday night (not discovering until much later that Wednesday night church is actually a thing in rural NC.) As we passed, it appeared as if they all simultaneously turned to stare. Bam: Children of the Corn. Giggle filled screams crowded the car as Foxley Moxley picked up speed in search of the next turn.

We escaped the terrors of our imagination, obviously, and eventually arrived at the student’s house. I remember sleeping on the floor, or attempting to sleep rather, too keyed up from the adventure and the upcoming competition to truly rest. I remember the excitement of the next day’s performances, and the awards we won. I remember the drive back in daylight being far less frightening than the previous night’s adventures. I remember hours of U2 on the stereo. I remember laughter, and I remember Beth.

Beth and I were friends for a long time, and then we weren’t. The details are for a different story on a different day, but in short, our friendship ended poorly. Words were said…screamed, rather, and a phone was slammed back to the receiver (pre-cell phone era.) Years of laughter-filled road trips over, a friendship broken. That was 1998.

I tried over the years to pick up the phone, to call, to make amends. I couldn’t find her. Then, when Facebook started, I tried again, and again to no avail. Of all the high school/college friends that I had, she was the one I needed to reconnect with, to apologize to, and to forgive.

Beth died unexpectedly in 2011.

I did not get the chance to make amends.

I will not get the chance to make amends.

Every time I hear U2’s Bad, the image of that country road flits past my eyes, and The Edge’s seemingly endless guitar riffs release whatever vice happens to be gripping my mind at the time. It is my aural woobie, my sedative, my calm in the eye of the storm. When I hear it I am immediately transported back to an easier time: one filled with laughter, hope, and friendship. It is my reminder…to let it go.

Explanation of The Writing Assignment


Every once in awhile my “person”  will remind me, gently, that I need to write. Last night during the Oscars she did it telepathically while the presenter for best screenplay was talking about writers. Yeah, I heard you, Elesha. I felt your stare, woman. This morning she sent me an article (that I’m entirely too lazy to find & post a link for) which basically said I should be writing, and then just commented “love you, mean it. :-)” That’s her mild mannered version of screaming in my face.

So I wrote back & basically said “Ok fine. you want me to write? Give me an assignment & a word count to get me warmed up.” I thought it would buy me some time. I was wrong. Apparently she was “for serious”, because she sent me the following within the hour:

“Okay, here are two prompts to choose from…
 
1- what is your earliest memory of reading dr Seuss? First book, fave book or lines? 
And why? Make your own rhyme. 🙂 
 
2- in honor of music Monday: 
A song comes on the radio and instantly, you’re transported to a different time and place. Which song(s) bring back memories for you and why? Be sure to mention the song, and describe the memory it evokes.
250 words.”
It’s Dr. Seuss day at her sons’ school, Seuss’s birthday was yesterday, and she’s a substitute teacher (w/ a teaching degree) at her sons’ school, hence the Dr. Seuss post. Also, I like to rhyme & she knows it. New music Monday is a thing we just started. #NewMusicMonday #awesome #keepsmefromlisteningtoshowtunesallthetime
Yay for only 250 words. She’s being kind, and I assume will increase that number as we progress with the whole “force Suz to write the words” project. 
I choose new music, mostly because it’s snowing outside & I don’t feel like rhyming. I’m not Elsa. I don’t sing or rhyme in the snow (Frozen reference! Totally haven’t seen it! I dunno if she even rhymes but I hear there’s a song by some woman named Adele Dazeem…)
Yeah, we’re looking at you, Travolta.
I digress.
If you want to read the assignment regarding the song that transports me to another place, click here. If not, here’s a picture of the poor sap that is now the joke of the interwebs.
travolta

How to NOT Get Punched in the Throat


This is a follow-up to How to Not Punch People in the Throat, the handy step by step guide to avoiding assault charges when you get annoyed to the point of potential violence.

Fact: Most annoying people don’t know that they are annoying. It’s true. You probably have at least one frenemy that you want to punch at any given time, just because she breathed in your general direction. That person doesn’t know she’s annoying, and that’s why you have employed some “How to NOT punch people” best practices.

I’m here to break a little bad news to you, though. In some instances, YOU’RE the one that is about to get punched…and you don’t even know it. I know, it’s a shocker. GO ahead and take a moment to let that fact sink in. I’ll wait.

*gets coffee, watches a few pointless youtube videos, checks email*

Better? Ok, let’s continue.

Ever wondered how to tell if a comment or behavior of yours is going to get you punched in the throat? Since I admittedly have a hot Irish temper and the tendency to Hulk Smash items (usually foam cups, cuz I’m not that strong and smashing things can get expensive), I know these signs well. I’m usually the one giving the signals to the perpetrator to run away. I’m going to reveal these signs now, as a favor to you. Because I care about your safety, you guys. You’re welcome.

Here are a few tell-tale signs:

1) You’re getting ignored even though you keep talking.

2) The subject keeps changing to a different topic than the one you want to discuss.

3) Responses are given in short, concise sentences…usually one or two words, or sometimes just a mere grunt. If you hear the word “fine” more than once, you’re in trouble.

4) The person is consuming copious amounts of chocolate or wine as a way to sedate themselves while talking to you.

5) Flared nostrils.

6) Narrow eyes and a stabby look in the eye. – This one is key. If someone is looking at you like this, they’re already imagining what it would be like to punch you in the throat. Time for you to employ one of the following tips.

Remember kids, this is what  you’re trying to avoid:

How to NOT Get Punched in the Throat

1) Be polite before beginning a conversation. “Do you have a minute?” is better than launching into a game of 20 questions. You may be interrupting something very important.

2) If the agitated is staring at a computer screen, avoiding eye contact and diligently trying to work, quit trying to interrupt her. She may be deep in thought. Excuse yourself and ask to speak to her later. She will appreciate that you respected her time, and will usually respond in a positive manner.

3) Know your audience. Read visual cues. This is especially key if you are a morning person and the person you wish to speak to is not. You could get punched just for smiling before 9 a.m. If your need to talk to the individual is great, do the following: Approach slowly and quietly. Hand person a cup of hot coffee fixed the way he likes it. Don’t act too chipper. Speak slowly. Remember, NO sudden movements or loud noises. You wouldn’t wake a sleeping bear, would you? Of course not. Treat tired night person the same way. The same is true if you are a night person speaking to a morning person during evening hours. Just substitute wine or warm milk for the coffee. Maybe hand him a blanket. Other option: have the conversation at lunch time. Usually both morning people and night people are alert enough at high noon to use and understand complete sentences.

4) Excuse yourself from the conflict. You can’t get punched if you’re in a different room. Reconvene when the agitation has subsided.

5) Distract and flee. If you are receiving “the glare,” immediately hand chocolate, wine, or cash to the person and then run away. Cash almost always works.

6) Realize that you are not the center of the universe. It’s true. Neither you nor the agitated Hulk-like creature in front of you are. Sometimes you have to be the first to realize it and concede. You know, for safety.

7) Learn to compromise. Ultimately Hulkster wants to punch you because you are a) annoying him, b) interrupting him, or c) acting bull-headed. Stop it.

8) If 1-7 don’t work, wear proper protective clothing at all times. Just be sure to hydrate, that gear gets hot.

Remember, it’s unlikely that the individual you are agitating will ever change, so you must learn to work with the person, not against. Perhaps she hasn’t read How to Not Punch People in the Throat yet. You could share the link in an email, because that’s not passive aggressive at all.

Good luck!

The End

How to NOT Punch People in the Throat


Preface:  I found this draft, originally created in April, and am posting it now. Obviously the video was added today, not six months ago, since the video was created in September. I don’t have a time machine. Ya know, in case you were wondering. To clarify, today I’m actually in a pretty good mood and don’t want to punch anyone in the throat. At least not yet. It’s still early, though. My mood could change. It’s been known to happen.Oh, and I never punched the acquaintance in the throat, either, because I practiced these tips, of course.

How to NOT Punch People in the Throat:

I’m trying to brainstorm of multiple blog posts & FB posts & tweets for multiple sites & my head is all floopy. Plus also an acquaintance of mine & I are disagreeing and I want to punch him in the throat. But not really. Ok yes. Really. But actual violence never solves anything even though it may make you feel better for just a moment or two. At least that’s what people tell me.

So I figure I’ll post a couple of handy “how to NOT punch people in the throat” tips that have worked for me so far. I hope you find them useful.

1) Excuse yourself from the situation. This is KEY. No longer having to stare your nemesis in the face will help calm your nerves & give you a chance to think rationally and non-violently. Plus you physically cannot punch them in the face if you’re in a different room. I mean, not without the use of telekinesis or the ability to teleport or something. If you do have those powers, please let me know. Gas is expensive, the ability to teleport would come in handy.

2) Self medicate with chocolate & wine. But only chocolate if you’re at work. No wine at work. Employers frown upon that unless, of course, you’re a professional wine taster. In that case, drink away. Also tell me how you got that job. Disclaimer: Moderation, people. Do not do this step if you have food/alcohol addictions. For serious. Maybe just skip to number 3.

3) Buy boxing gloves & hire a personal trainer to hold pads for you so you can hit the pads as hard as you want. Then it’s not violence. It’s training….to be violent. Wait. Ok, so technically this IS violent, but you’re not attacking the person who is bothering you, so therefore it’s ok. I think. Plus this training also teaches you hand/eye coordination, which is useful on many occasions. Like frisbee golf & not dropping babies. Plus also boxing releases endorphins & endorphins make you happy & happy people don’t kill people…usually. At least that’s what we learned from Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde, so obviously it must be true.

4) Realize you’re not always going to get your way. I know, it’s shocking, but the world indeed does not revolve around you. Sorry ’bout it. This is an especially hard fact for those of you that grew up as only children and never spent afternoons smacking the crap out of your siblings for taking your G.I.Joe and/or Barbies. Or, ya know, legos. I don’t know what you played with as a kid. I don’t know your life. Who knows, maybe you had a pet monkey. Lucky punk. Anyway, you are not the sun, and the world does not revolve around you. Learn it, know it, accept it.

5) Accept the fact that the person you want to punch in the throat probably will not change. Ever. While this is disappointing, once you accept this fact you can stop wasting your precious energy dreaming of ways to cause the person pain. This acceptance is quite freeing. Does it mean you will no longer have problems with the person? No. Will you find occasions where you still want to punch him/her in the throat? Sure. However, once you realize that a punch in the throat will not solve the issue, you can learn to find other ways of dealing with this individual. I dunno, like compromise. There’s a thought. This is a far more useful practice. Stuff actually gets done when you compromise.

So there you go. Feel better? Less violent now? No? Here, watch this video.

If that didn’t help, I dunno what to tell you. Except get a freakin’ therapist. You need more help than I can give you.

The End.

Attitude of Gratitude


So it’s the 5th of November and the now annual “30 days of Thanks” thing is happening again on Facebook. My inner smartass is all “Why are people only thankful in November,” & the (allbeit small) compassionate side of me is all “UM, CUZ LIFE GETS BUSY & SOMETIMES IT GETS CRAPPY, SO PEOPLE NEED A REMINDER. GIVE ‘EM A BREAK.” And then Inner Little Miss Sunshine is all “AT LEAST THEY’RE POSTING ABOUT THANKFULNESS & NOT POLITICS” & all the voices in my head scream “VALID POINT. YOU WIN.”

As much as Inner Little Miss Sunshine would like to think I could play along & post some new piece of gratitude every day, Realist Suz says “yeah, right. Not gonna happen.” It isn’t because I’m not grateful, I just get distracted easily. Cuz life.

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So instead here’s a list of thirty things I’m thankful for, because I like lists & actually have time to write one & also cuz I AM THANKFUL, YOU GUYS.

I just don’t want to try to remember to write a post every.single.day.  You can read one each day if you like, or you can read them all at once. Or you can not read them at all. Whatever, it’s your choice. The list is not necessarily in order of importance, just based on what thought sprang into my head first. Also, having the list in blog form means when I’m having a crappy day & not feeling thankful I can come straight to the post & say “oh yeah” instead of digging through the wonky Facebook timeline for reminders.

The List of Thanks:

1) God. – I’m grateful that He gave me life, free will & the ability to make choices (I’ve made some awesome ones and some really really really bad ones). I’m also grateful  that I’m ultimately not the one in charge (that’s a lot of pressure) and that He still loves me even when I screw up royally.

2) My Family – We’re few but we’re mighty. We’re not without our problems, but as an adopted girl, I know I could’ve ended up in a waaaaay worse situation. I’ll take the bad with the good. There are a lot of kids (& adults) out there that have less family than I do, so I’ll gratefully take what I’ve got. Cuz my mom rocks.

3) My Home – It’s older than I am, it’s got more trees (AND LEAVES) than I know what to do with, and I’m constantly googling DIY stuff on the interwebs to fix things, but it’s mine. I mean, well, it’s the bank’s…but one day it will be mine. I’m thankful that I have a place to call my own. Not everybody has shelter, so I’m blessed to have mine, even if it’s not shiny & new.

4) My Job – I HAVE A JOB. I have a place to go to work every day, the people here are made of awesome, & I earn enough cash to pay for the home & a few luxuries as well. I also know a hell of a lot about toilet paper, so there’s that.

5) My Car – “You’re my boy, Blue. You’re my boy.” That Hyundai is a mighty little beast. It’s paid for (POW), it’s old, it’s reliable (I’m hard on cars) and it gets me from A to B quickly. And again, not everybody gets the luxury of having a car. Car = freedom. Yay.

6) My Dogs – I am an introvert (no, really) so I like not making small talk. The Wondermutts don’t require me to talk, they take me as I am, and they provide company and cuddles. They also keep the squirrel & vermin population in check. If I could teach them to clean up after themselves, life would be GOLDEN.

7) My Person – My Bestie, My BFF, My Human Sedative, My Sanity, My Person. The Watson to my Sherlock. Just the other day she & her rad family showed up at Ed McKay’s just as I was getting twitchy. They were randomly stopping by on the way to Trader Joe’s as I was waiting for my trade-in books to get counted & credited. I hadn’t been there in five years, had been waiting an hour, and was contemplating rearranging all the books by color. Then Person & Person Clan showed up. Coincidence? I think not.

8) My Person’s Clan – I’m thankful she has them to keep her sane, because keeping me sane takes a lot of work. Plus, they’re awesome.

9) The Divas – The divas are my inner circle. I’m fortunate to have five really close friends that I can call on anytime for any reason. Not many women can say that. I can. I’m beyond grateful to have had these ladies in my life for the past ten+ years.

10) My Friends – I know a lot of awesome people, all with their own unique qualities and quirks. I know who to call if I need to laugh, who to call if I want to share a good meal, and who to call if I need to bury a body. Just kidding about that last part…probably.

11) Diversity – I’m really grateful that I know such a diverse group of people. I see people ranting on the interwebs a lot in an “us vs them” way & it frustrates the hell out of me. We’re all different, why would anyone try to change that? I wish more would celebrate diversity instead ridiculing or judging it. The only kind of person I don’t like? A mean person. Mean people suck. Don’t be mean. If God wanted everyone and everything to be the same, there would be one kind of flower, one kind of tree, one kind of person (that I’m pretty sure wouldn’t look like you or me, for that matter.) Enjoy & embrace & be thankful for the differences. How boring life would be without them.

12) Books – READ ALL THE BOOKS. LEARN ALL THE THINGS. A good story is a great escape. I’m so thankful for other people’s stories.

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13) Music – I am so thankful for music. Life would suck without it. I have music playing at least 80% of the day. It’s always in the background. It helps occupy the part of my brain that would otherwise never rest, which enables me to get things done. It invokes happy memories, it helps heal the scars from bad memories. I can’t breathe without music. love.it.so.

14) Mass Transit – Mostly planes, but trains & buses are pretty sweet, too. We mere humans can fly, you guys. That’s pretty sweet, especially when it enables me to see old, far away friends faster. This year, due to mass transit, I got to visit a new city & spend time w/ old high school buddies. I also got to spend some quality time with one of my best friends when she flew home to visit.

15) Fresh Water – I live in a country where I am privy to fresh water every.single.day. I can shower whenever I want & drink as much fresh water as I want. Everyone should have fresh water, but not everyone does. Thankful for fresh water? Think everyone should have access to it? Then donate to charitywater.org. They’re making it happen, one well at a time.

16) Good Health – Fortunately, I’m a relatively healthy person. My immune system is a beast and other than some joint pain & migraines, I (at least for now) don’t have much to worry about when it comes to health. Others around me got dealt a different hand, and manage to handle their afflictions with amazing grace. I am in awe that they go to battle every day against cancer, arthritis, etc with a good, strong attitude. I am very grateful for the healthy hand I got dealt, as I make a HORRIBLE sick person.

17) Food – …and the fact that I can afford to buy it. There are a lot of people struggling out there. There was a time when my (single) mom struggled to put food on the table, so I’m grateful that (at this stage in my life) I don’t have to worry about that. Nor do I have to eat spam. I do NOT miss spam & mac ‘n’ cheese night.

18) Therapy – It’s a good thing. For reals.

19) Laughter – Laughter really can cure what ails ya, at least mentally. I love a good laugh, and I love making other people laugh. I don’t consider a day successful unless I’ve made at least one person chuckle. & if I can make someone laugh so hard they snort? BEST DAY.

20) Theatre – I am thankful that I have an outlet for all my craziness. I am thankful for the friends I’ve made there. They’re all weird and amazing and quirky and wonderful. I love the smell & feel of an empty theatre, and the rare times when I’m the first one there & can enjoy the quiet calm before the rest of the cast & crew arrives. It is my sanctuary.

21) My Muse – I have a new muse. Other than some lighting gigs, I haven’t really created anything new in a couple of years. I haven’t written anything, which should seem obvious by now, as boredthis is a ROUGH post. The worst part, I haven’t really WANTED to write. I haven’t WANTED to paint. I haven’t WANTED to create. I’ve been in a funk. Bored. Unmotivated. Grey. Only going through the motions. Then along came a creature whose lust for life is remarkable, delightful, infectious, inspiring…and suddenly I find myself writing again. The writing is crap, but I’m writing. I’m reading again, too. I haven’t read a book in two years and now have four partially read books on my side table. I haven’t painted anything either, and suddenly I find myself craving a paintbrush & fresh canvas. Will the muse be around long? Who knows. Will the desire to create last? Who knows, but I’m thankful that the muse is around right now, because blah filled boredom is exhausting and annoying.

22) My hands – I have to make…stuff. God weaved that into my being. Whether the medium is light, paint, fabric, food, wood, clay, digital…it doesn’t matter. Sometimes I make really cool stuff, sometimes I make total crap. I have more unfinished projects than I do finished ones, but that’s ok. A lot of them got abandoned during the “grey phase.” I’ll get to them eventually. I make things because I have to, so I am grateful to have (mostly) strong & nimble hands to help me bring my ideas to life. And, back to number 13, I’m thankful I have music to listen to while my hands work.

23) Wrist guards – Because I am a maker of things & always have been, my hands aren’t quite as nimble as they used to be. Too many years at  light boards,  sewing machines, and keyboards have left my hands sore & tired. So I’m thankful to have wrist guards that force me to keep my wrists straight (instead of in balled up fists) when I’m sleeping in order to minimize & slow the Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Wrist guards may be a weird thing to be thankful for, but whatever. They ease pain & enable me to keep creating.

24) My Massage Therapist – I’m lucky enough to have enough friends to more than cover a “30 days of thanks” list, but this friend gets a special mention because he eases my migraines (& wrist pain & back pain & knee pain,) so he fits in the same category (sort of) as the wrist guards. He uses his skills to make me better so I can continue to do all the things I do. I’m a bad patient, so when I have a migraine I’m downright hateful. He makes me less monstrous. And he’s pretty friggin’ funny, too. The dude is worth every.single.penny.

25) Butterflies – Coolest real life example of metamorphosis.  I have butterfly images all over the house, and not in a creepy “Silence of the Lambs” kind of way. They remind me that change is a good thing, and that any humble little caterpillar can spread wings & fly.

26) Sunrises – Brand new day!

27) Sunsets – Best paintings you’ll ever see are above your head. Look up once in awhile.

28) Thunderstorms – Especially at night. Best sleepin’ weather ever. Bring on the thunder & lightning, I say. Bring it on.

29) The Ocean – Big, vast, turbulent, still, constant & ever changing.

30) Coffee – You didn’t think I’d write a list about gratitude & not mention coffee, did you? Seriously, it’s like you don’t know me at all.

There it is. Thirty days of gratitude wrapped up into one freakishly long post. That’s not all I’m grateful for, but I need to move on to other projects. Go forth & give some gratitude.

The End.