In Like a Lamb…then ROAR!

I work in a grocery store. Last week was mostly normal. I was crunching numbers for Pi Day (3/14) and the only thing I was concerned about was the fact it was happening on a Saturday. I wondered how many teachers and math loving parents wouldn’t bother buying pies…

Fast forward a few days, and the shelves are bare of paper products and meat, and every bakery employee who is able to cash (including the department manager) is on a register. Bakery employee who can’t cash (that’s me) are cleaning like their lives depend on it, which they kind of do, or putting away the very unpredictable deliveries. In some cases, we don’t even stock the display, we just drop a pallet near the display. It’s faster.

…and NO ONE is buying pies. Or cakes. Or cookies. Or basically anything in the bakery except bread. Me? I’d totally bring home a sheet cake for the apocalypse, but evidence puts me in the minority.

My kids are home until late April AT LEAST. I’ve always know I’d be a terrible homeschooler, but I’m trying to keep up with the e-mails from teachers about how this next month will proceed. Even though I’ve always made their grades their responsibility, I suddenly feel the need to micromanage. My children are, for the most part, tolerant of my parental anxiety.

My oldest is headed for college next year. What will that look like? I just signed both of my girls up for expensive college-credit classes…now cancelled. Let’s not even look at the stock market.

What to do in this time of uncertainty? Well, I want to stick my nose in a book and leave it there for two months. That’s what I do in times of adversity. I retreat. Pull inward. It’s easy for me. I read Pat Conroy’s Beach Music through most of an induced but “natural” labor. I read Bryn Greenwood’s The Reckless Oath We Made while planning my father’s funeral. Currently, I’m binging KA Tucker’s The Simple Wild series and Kari Lynn Dell’s Texas Rodeo series AT THE SAME TIME. (They’re great. Just in case you need a new book.)

I also made these.

The spring roll wrappers have probably been in the cupboard for five years. AT LEAST. And the black soy bean noodles have been spinning on the lazy susan for months, rejected. The cilantro somehow escaped taco night a few weeks ago and is still mostly fresh. Put them all together with this sauce and you’ve got black soy bean, cilantro, romaine, cucumber (and chicken for the non-pescatarians in my house) spring rolls! Culinary creativity at it’s finest. LOL. Which actually gives me an idea, as I sit here at my kitchen table. My son likes to cook. He might enjoy a “mystery basket” experience in the kitchen. Do you think *I* can handle the resulting culinary consequences? And the bomb that will be my kitchen? Maybe it will be fun?

Isolation isn’t easy for some people. Introverted bookworms like me are pretty okay. We hang out with fictional characters. Plus, I still go to work. At present, my job in the grocery store continues. But the people who thrive on social contact will struggle. Are you one of those people? How do YOU find ways to connect that don’t involve actually being near another person? Please share. ­čÖé

I’m off to work. Namaste (from six feet away) and stay healthy!

You are NOT your own worst enemy

I’m not doing nano this year because (many reasons) but I get the pep talks in my inbox, and, MAN, they are great. Anne Lamott telling me I must begin writing, “As is,” and not wait for the “right” time…or the right ME. Maurene Goo reminding me that I must have follow through. That “No one creates art half-heartedly. Even when they pretend to. Because writing is really hard. And only the tough survive.”

Why is it so hard FOR ME?

It might be that ANY activity I desperately want to do would become difficult because I like to feel like a failure. I never feel like my efforts are good enough. I deny myself success, or, at least, ENJOYING success, even though on paper I’m doing great. Healthy, happy family. Employed. Paying the bills. But I never FEEL like a success.

My counselor asked me last week: What do you think you have to be?

I stared at her blankly.

Perfect. Invulnerable. Infallible. Beautiful. Funny. Thin. Strong. Right. All the time.

*cue hysterical laughter*

If I believe that bullshit, I AM my own worst enemy. And maybe you are, too.

At least, that was the direction I was planning to take with this blog until I drove my middle kid to jazz band this early morning. As I drove and wrote in my head, I realized that I was BLAMING MYSELF for not feeling successful. I was putting MYSELY DOWN for feeling down. Why on earth would I do that? I tell my girls at work every single time I hear them putting themselves down that there are enough things and people in life who will make you feel low, so don’t do it to yourself, at least not where I can hear you.

I am NOT my own worst enemy. I am my biggest supporter. My biggest fan. And you should be your biggest supporter and fan, too. We are enough. BELIEVE it. FEEL it. Now the work begins.

AS IS.

Depressed and Anxious, but Killing It!

Hi guys, I can’t believe I haven’t posted since June, but I kind of can because I’ve been slowly losing my shit over a period of months. Maybe a year. Maybe more because it takes me a long time to admit I can’t do something. To admit I need help. To rest in my mess because I am performing my job with tears rolling down my face, and even *I* can’t pretend that is normal!

It’s not necessary to feel the way I’m feeling even with good reasons. I have good reasons. My father is dying, my job is uber-stressful, it’s time to find a college for my oldest, I’m not writing, the cat keeps peeing in the house…the list goes on. And on.

And yet – I’m performing at a high level. My to-do lists are epic, and I am crossing off stuff that’s been on them for months! I assume it’s because I feel overwhelmed, and that’s a good way to assert some power in my life?

This is not a cry for help, my people. I know how to get help. In fact, all the while I’ve been sinking I KNEW I could get 6 FREE counseling sessions through the EAP program at work, and I called yesterday. You’d think that making that call would have been the hardest thing to do.

Nope.

Getting my ass to the gym for the first step aerobics class I’ve taken in 20 years was the hardest thing I did yesterday. So hard. Even though my primary told me last year that doing cardio would help with my fatigue. Even though my chiro poked me in my butt cheeks and told me I was losing muscle mass. Even though my creatinine levels came back low, which can be another indicator of losing muscle mass. Putting down my book and getting off my bed and really and truly taking a “step” toward rebuilding my physical health was more difficult than taking a step toward rebuilding my mental health.

Go figure.

Anyway! A huge fist bump to all of you out there taking care of your heads, hearts, and bodies. It isn’t easy to take care of your family AND your SELF. At least, it isn’t easy for me. I’m hoping the counselor has some insight into how I can sustain a healthier, happier me. I’ll let you know! Meanwhile, I’m going to attempt to focus on the positive while I mend. Hence the image of the homegrown tomatoes sitting on my counter. HAPPINESS! Any tips for sustaining joy, my people? What’s keeping you sane and chipper these days? ­čÖé

Are you getting enough done?

I never feel like I’m getting enough done. And I am hauling butt ALL damn day. (Except when I’m reading, which is frequently, but even then I read like it’s a competitive sport.) Rationally, I know I’m getting a lot done in a day, but emotionally, I feel like I’m getting nowhere because the book I’m currently writing only gets 20-40 minutes of attention a day, and I work full-time in a bakery. The work in a bakery is literally NEVER done. Like, ever. So what can a self-critical, driven, goal-oriented, energy and time-challenged person do to feel like s/he/they are getting somewhere?

PowerSheets┬«. Anybody out there use them? Two years ago, Katee Robert, an author I’ve followed for years, posted pictures of her Powersheets┬« planning on Instagram so many times, I got over my “I hate planners” attitude and checked it out. Then I bought a Powersheets┬« Planner and tried it for a year. Important: it’s not a daily planner. It’s a GOAL planner. And there are MANY pages of “who are you (and how and why) and what do you want (REALLY want) before you map out some goals. But then the magic begins. (Also important: the one I bought, the dated one, is sold out for the year. But you can still get the undated one. The 2020 launch happens in October, I think. I’ll let you know.)

I’m REALLY not good at dedicated, daily, progress-bar, checklist planning. There were more blank pages on that planner than filled pages in 2018. But I love the ideas behind Lara Casey’s goal-planning system. “Progress not Perfection.” “The best things in life are cultivated little by little.” And her most inspiring, “You know those things you’ve always wanted to do? You should go do them.” So I bought another one this year. And this year’s goals are pretty much the same, or at least, they fall into the same categories: write words, exercise, call my mother. Daily. This year’s bigger picture goals are: create a budget, write the book, college hunt, bar mitzvah plan, become a better bakery coordinator, book marketer, self-carer…all the things. Which basically fall into two-and-a-half categories: Nurture my family (short-term and long-term) and nurture myself. Oh! And nurture my friends.

On paper, I didn’t get very far in 2018, but OH, I did. I discovered what I’m afraid of, the obstacle I put between me and my goals, but that’s another post. I’m not feeling that deep today. ­čśÇ

Anyway, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to fit myself and my crazy life into a neat system. And every time I’ve either failed or felt like I failed. But the message of this system is entirely positive, and discovering my goals, big and small, and continuing to work toward them ON PAPER makes me feel like I’m getting somewhere, or at least, like I know where I want to go.

I’m not getting it all done. Actually, as I go along the Powersheets┬« path, I’m discovering Lara Casey is right about something else. “You can’t do it all and do it well, so cultivate what matters.” I’ve given myself permission to let some things slide because other things are worth concentrated focus. I can’t do it all and keep my shit together. I learn this over and over as I try to do too many things in a day.

Like so many things in my life…it’s a practice. Today, I wrote words, did yoga, and called my mom. Tomorrow I will do a different version of the same. YAY! Progress. Little by little. Focus. Intention. It’s enough. (Today I also did the thing I’ve been avoiding all month. I called the financial planner! I got her machine, but IT COUNTS.)

XOXO Amanda

P.S. Getting “enough” done in our “never enough” world isn’t going to happen, by the way. You ARE enough. Really.

I’m going to Miami!

IMG_4487South Beach, specifically. And staying at a newly renovated hotel with a rooftop pool with a bar! I’m going with my high school best friend who has know me since I was fifteen. That’s four decades and at LEAST four incarnations of myself. This morning, she just sent me an e-mail with a lovely menu from the cafe at a local Miami indie bookstore. Because she tries to support indie bookstores wherever she goes. Food and book love. She is my people!

She also lives on the other side of the country. We see each other every few years, and “recently” we’ve developed a pattern of going fun places to catch up. First it was a weekend in Venice Beach to celebrate turning forty. Then we went to Palm Springs. (Oh, the hangover I had there. So memorable. But more memorable was the way my friend took it in stride. Note to self: don’t drink THAT much in Miami. You are not fifteen anymore. LOL.) If you’ve been with me here for a long time, you might remember our adventures, if not, I linked the posts above. (Food, booze, a visit to The Ripped Bodice, epic!)

It’s been an interesting year, and we have so much to discuss. I went back to work full-time a little over a year ago, and I’m feeling a little…haggard. I’ve lost 8 pounds from running around all day in the bakery. It’s been tough, and I’m ridiculously excited to have carved out a little safe space in the sun to breathe. I feel like the fact that there are no hurricanes heading for Miami, and Ben got his cast off a day early (and is so much happier and doing great!) is like the universe blessing this little vacation/celebration of friendship. I’m feeling really fortunate this morning, as I paint my toenails at six am before going to work. (I’ve got a lot of feelings going on in this paragraph. Usually, I’d look for synonyms and edit them out. This morning, I’m going to let myself have my feelings.) I get to see my friend!

This is my mug this morning. So full of gratitude for all my things. Friends. Family. Healthy kids. A job. A vacation. Every one of you reading this. Are you grateful for something today? What is it?

XOXO,

Amanda