A Postcard from the Other Side

So I said I’d see everyone on the “other side” when I signed off a little over a week ago to take my teensy blogcation. But you may be wondering… the other side of what? I’ll spare you the gory details, but suffice it to say it wasn’t a very good place.

It was ugly, dark, miserable and lonely. And worst of all, I put myself in this horrible place. I didn’t exactly go there willingly, but once I found myself stuck in the proverbial deep, dark forest… I didn’t really try very hard to get out.

Hence, the little vacation.

As most of you already know, creativity is a must when you’re writing and it’s REALLY hard to be creative when you feel imprisoned. As my mother said: Creativity comes from a place of freedom… and a bit ago I felt anything but free.

Nothing has changed. My life looks exactly the same today as it did then. But my mindset has changed. And that, my friends… changes everything.

Will I stay on this healthier side forever? Will I continue to tread the soil of this better, happier and safer side? Probably not. I’m sure I’ll occasionally wander back into the forest or at the very least skirt dangerously and precariously around the edge of it.

But I hope that from my self-imposed time-out, I will remember a few very important things…

~ I hold the pen that is writing the story of my life.

~ I choose the thoughts that play like recordings in my mind.

~ My very best will never be good enough for some. But that cannot mean that it isn’t still good enough for me.

Easier Than Nuclear Fission?

It is with great hesitation, reservation, fear and trepidation that I put this out there for the world to see but I am just going to go for it. I need to make some changes. Some personal changes. Because let me tell you, the status quo is just not cutting it.

Einstein is credited with saying that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. In my mind, the genius of this quote is akin to splitting the atom.

The funny thing is that ALL of the stuff I struggle with could probably ALL be resolved by changing three simple things. They are… in exactly this order: going to bed on time, getting up earlier and exercising.

The fallout from these three actions—not unlike the dropping of an atomic device—has the potential to be far-reaching and long-lasting. One doesn’t have to be a nuclear physicist to understand that going to bed ON TIME would make GETTING UP EARLIER EASIER, hence having more early morning time to EXERCISE! Duh.

But still I fight it tooth and nail. There’s always a really good episode of Friends or Seinfeld or The New Adventures of Old Christine or the King of Queens or Chelsea Lately or… I KNOW… I WATCH A LOT OF DAMN TV. I GET IT.

Anyway, there’s that… or I want to read just ONE more chapter in my book… or paint my toenails some fabulous shade of purple that I just found at the local drug store… or I get a rare surge of energy and decide to organize my linen closet by color, shade and texture.

So… as you can see… I seem to have a lot of potential roadblocks on this journey toward self-improvement. And yet, as good old Al so clearly implied with his definition of insanity: If nothing changes, nothing changes. Detonating these three explosively-effective measures would inevitably begin a chain reaction that would knock down all sorts of barriers in my life.

I would look, feel and BE healthier for getting more sleep. I wouldn’t owe near as much money to my therapist or pharmacist for all the mental health rewards I’d be reaping as a result of my incredible self-discipline. I’d be able to comfortably wear those cute little tiny things in my closet that fit me once upon a time. My productivity on the job would sky rocket leading to promotions and bonuses and salary increases…

I’d be unstoppable.

So what then, is holding me back? With my finger planted ever-so-firmly on the button, why can’t I press down? Well, you see… tonight there’s this really good episode of Friends / Seinfeld / The New Adventures of Old Christine / King of Queens / Chelsea Lately and I’m almost done with my book… I’m behind on reading my magazines (which are really piling up)… the summer clothes need to be put away… and…

Enlightened

There is a new show on HBO this fall entitled Enlightened, which has caused me, at times, to feel rather, well… enlightened. When we meet the protagonist, Amy—a divorced, 40-ish career gal on the fast track in corporate America—she is returning from an extended stay at a rehab facility after suffering a complete and utter meltdown on the job.

It is not a surprise that I have found some common ground with Amy. In just the first paragraph of this entry alone there are six… count them… SIX things that I can either relate to or that I find infinitely intriguing… Divorced. 40-ish (I still have 4 more years to go, but… I’m flirting with it). Career gal. Corporate America. Rehab facility. Meltdown. I haven’t even mentioned the fact that she has no children, is extremely and painfully enthusiastic and considers herself a “people person” … OR the fact that since her “meltdown” no one wants to look at, let alone associate with her.

Yep, me and Amy… As much as it pains my heart to say it… I “get” her. No I’ve never suffered a meltdown on the job (not that I haven’t been close) or been to rehab. But I think there is probably more than one other person reading this who might also understand the thinness of the line between non-meltdown and total meltdown. Rehab and no rehab. Honestly… sometimes it is no thicker than a hair… and a THIN one at that.

Yes Amy is a fictional character, but she is nevertheless my hero. I adore her. I love how perfectly flawed she is and how she has no choice but to wear her flaws on her sleeve like a bright scarlet letter since her very public breakdown. She has endured the worst kind of humiliation and downright plummet from grace than most ever will and yet she keeps right on trying day after day.

Most people have the luxury of suffering in private. Of keeping their horrible traits hidden beneath a mask of cosmetics, false bravado and designer clothes. Their ugly secrets stay secure behind the locked doors of a home they can’t afford. And although on the outside all seems perfectly idyllic—on the inside—I’d wager they look a lot more like Amy.

To me, the ultimate hero is one who rises from the filth of shame and judgment everyday to get up and get out there and do it all again. To face adversity shoulders back and head held high. Because I will never be free from making mistakes. I will always be far from perfect. But I aspire to be like Amy, wearing my very human faults proudly for the world to see. I aspire to be… enlightened.

Unrecognizable

I look in the mirror and do not know her.
This woman starring back at me. Who is she?
Where did all those lines come from?
Features completely foreign…
I search for explanation.

Answers swimming  in a sea of silver…
Revelations in the reflection…
Facts and figures float just beneath the surface…
of the glass.

Between the lines there is a story.
Some of the parts are good. Some of them are sad.
Some of them are silly. And a few of them are mad.
All of them are worthy
of being written down…
to be always recorded
before I’m all curled up and brown.

Where once there was a twinkle…
now emptiness prevails.
It wasn’t always like this…
but the colors now are pale.

A Couple of Blank Pages…

As much as I hate to say it, I am honored that there seems to be an increasingly widening audience in which to say it to.

I am taking a little break from the blog. And I truly do mean that: a little break. It may only be a few days or a week… tops. And even though it is just a short pause, I feel the need to acknowledge it since I post faithfully on a daily basis and many of you have expressed how much you appreciate that.

… Believe me, on those not-so-creative days you are the reason I sit down and write…

But for some personal reasons I am stepping back for a bit. I do hope that when I return, you will also come back to read my rants and ramblings.

Until then, my friends, readers and fellow bloggers… take care. Have a great week and weekend. And I promise to see you shortly… on the other side!

Out of the Rabbit Hole

As the fog of slumber lifts and the reality of wakefulness settles upon me, it is there. A heavy stone—which may as well be a boulder—is pressing against my chest. The full weight of it constricting my breathing and creating a pain that radiates out into my limbs and up into my neck and head.

Putting my hand to my forehead I think: Not today. Please let’s not do this today. Yes, it is Monday, but that isn’t reason enough for this. Quickly I run down the bullet points of the day that lay in front of me and of the events of the week and evening prior… looking for any sign of trouble that might be to blame. But there is nothing there.

As I toss aside the blankets and set my feet upon the cold, hardwood floor my breathing quickens and my heart races. The bedspread doesn’t look quite right. The notion of making my bed like I do every morning without thought or consideration suddenly overwhelms me. I feel nauseated. Everything around me unfamiliar yet familiar at the same time, like walking down a hallway of funhouse mirrors.

Looks like I have fallen into the hole again and I have no choice but to climb back out.

For those of you fortunate enough to be unaware of what I am describing… allow me to introduce you to the adventure that is a panic attack. To help you gain a more accurate perspective, imagine Alice in Wonderland plus a sense of impending doom but minus the tea parties, talking critters and croquet—in other words—all of the disjointed creepiness and none of the fun.

As much as I want to fight it, I suppose this is one of those rare but “as needed” mornings that the prescription bottle clearly addresses. Like Alice in the rabbit’s hole, I follow the instructions of the container on the table. Hesitant and grateful all at once for the way this will transform me, I swallow the contents and grasp for my footing.

Snooze Buttons and State Troopers

Friday’s post about my excessive “snoozing” and all of the self-professed snoozers that emerged from the closest as a result, made me want to share something I wrote nearly two years ago. And while (as of this writing) I have not been pulled over in a LONG time (knock on wood)… Clearly the snoozing problem has not subsided.

September 2009

OK. It’s official. I’m getting pulled over WAAAY too many times! I’ve been pulled over 3 times now since May. Now, is it me, or is that a wee-bit excessive? Perhaps I REALLY need to try getting out of bed sooner instead of hitting the snooze button so many times that I end up running late for work and speeding the whole way.

I am no longer paranoid that every cop I see in my rearview mirror is going to turn on those humiliating flashing lights and make me pull off to the side of the road so that everyone can see what a loser I am… either for speeding or for getting caught… I am now CERTAIN that every cop I see in my rearview mirror is definitely going to turn on those humiliating flashing lights and make me pull off to the side of the road and dig for my license, registration and insurance.

In May it was for “not sufficiently stopping at a red light” and I was lucky enough to get off with a warning… something my sister still has not forgiven me for since she was once ticketed by the same officer for a lesser offense.

In June I was stopped for doing 59 in a 45… and the State Highway Patrolman clocked me just YARDS away from the 55 MPH road sign. I thought it was 55… really, I did. He ticketed me to the tune of $125… OUCH. But I paid it, and vowed to not get caught speeding again! I couldn’t afford it!

Notice I said: not get CAUGHT speeding again. I did NOT say: NOT SPEED. And so… here we are 3 months later and I guess the sting in my wallet has sufficiently dulled just enough to let my foot grow a little bit heavier and my guard drop just enough that I didn’t even notice the State Trooper’s car peeking out of the cornfield until I was half-way through the school zone.

I slow WAAAAAAY down, maybe he didn’t see me. I pass him going about 5 miles an hour… and watch out of my rearview. For a merciful second he does not budge… but then he pulls out. I watch his lights… nothing. I am now going 25 in a 55… maybe he’s just moving on down the road, or going somewhere for a coffee and a donut. Oh crap! There go the lights. This cannot be happening AGAIN!?!?! #@$%!

I wasn’t going THAT fast. I had slowed from 60 MPH to 35 MPH in that 20 MPH school zone. How bad can THAT be?! And it wasn’t as if it was a grade school either, where kids could spontaneously dart out at any second from behind the bushes. It was a high school out in the middle of a cornfield. Surely this is not ticket-worthy. Oh, but he’s going to run my plates and see that I was pulled over 2 other times in the last 5 months.

I am so screwed.

For the first time in my life, I find myself pleading with a cop NOT to give me a ticket. I can’t even stand the idea of becoming one of THOSE girls who tries whining to get out of a ticket, but I CANNOT afford another $100+ ticket!! So… as I’m tossing napkins and CD cases and car manuals out of the glove box, rummaging to find my registration I decide to go for it… I’m going to whine… Here goes… “Officer…” looking up at him with the saddest, most pathetic-without-being-over-the-top expression I can conjure up, I say… “do you HAVE to give me a ticket?” and I hand him my license and registration.

He takes my license and registration and says: “I’ll run your license and if it’s clean, I’ll let you off with a warning.”

I am so screwed.

He’s going to see those other 2 offences I just know it. How could he not?!? Surely it’s in some HUGE database somewhere, along with my other civic sins: The fact that I don’t always recycle. And I don’t always clean up after the dog when she poops in the neighbor’s yard. Now I’ll probably not only owe money for a ticket… but my insurance is going to increase or I’ll get points on my license or something terrible. I am such an awful citizen. I should be put in prison. I call work. I’m going to officially be late if I’m not thrown in jail. He starts back toward my window. I’m gonna be sick. I close my eyes, grip the steering wheel and wince… wait for it. WAIT for it…

He starts to hand me paperwork… “Here’s your license and registration back. I’m just giving you a warning today. Watch your speed in those school zones. Have a good day.” OH! God BLESS you, you dear, sweet State-Trooper-Man!!! I hope Santa puts a little something extra in your stocking this Christmas. Whew! THAT was close!

I drive away saying aloud: thank you, thank YOU, THANK YOU!!!!!! I’ll never speed again. I promise. Hopefully this morning was the LAST time I get pulled over for a LONG, LONG, LONG time… but more importantly… my wake-up call to stop hitting the snooze and GET UP EARLIER…

As for whether or not it will work… well, I’ll have to let you know tomorrow.