Ringsides and Wrong Sides

I was feeling pretty smug about cheering myself up this morning by reading a wonderful article entitled “Golden State Warrior,” which centers around an interview with one of my – and I’m sure many, many others – new favorite people, the Honorable AG of CA, Xavier Becerra. The piece was very well written by Michelle Cottle, as a featured article in the May 2017 issue of The Atlantic. I especially appreciate the way she captured what I see in XB as an earnest desire to effect change for the BETTER, not just for change.  And, of course, I love that he’s down to go a few rounds with that person sitting in President Obama’s office. Cheee huuuuu! I’d put money on that.

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In fact, I was so pumped after reading Michelle’s article that I signed in so I could make a comment. And then I happened to glance at the existing comments and was unable to keep myself from reading said comments. And then, I just couldn’t help but respond. I know, I know. After I hit submit, I may have felt a little like Melania…but, of course, minus the revulsion and borderline nausea , “money” being swapped out for “energy” and Trump not being anywhere near me. Image result for trump being punched in the face meme

I think I’ve mentioned it somewhere, but if not, well, I grew up (and remain) in Hawaii and, I’m not gonna false-yank your chain and say it isn’t beautiful, but it sure is expensive and it sure is crowded.

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And we’ve certainly got more than our fair per capita share of elitist attitudes, ignorance, and assholes…

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but by and large, I lived a very sheltered, well-insulated (with love), life.

 

I mean, seriously like fairy-tale-ish in comparison, really….

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I didn’t realize the depth and degree of discrimination and persecution that was still alive and unwell on the mainland. Sadly, my bubble burst shortly after I met the magic that is the WWW.

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I was livid – and I mean LIVID. I was shaking and crying (mad cry, not estrogen cry) and probably had steam shooting out of my ears – the first time I was blind-sided by what I now refer to as a “Triple S” or “Small Syndrome Sufferer.” This ugly person crashed what is and was meant to be the best day of 2 of my dearest friends’ lives. They both happen to be hes and, apparently, Triple S didn’t approve.

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That first time was very personal and I was very seriously ready to rumble, I was so disturbed by the filth that came out of him – Dude, I was looking for a flight out to nobokeswhere, Booniesville, where this little turd thought he was safe, that’s how not joking with that little fucktard I was.  Hoooooo-eeee. There would’ve been some definite UFO sightings in the cornfields.

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It took my 2 dear friends to talk me out of that tree or I would’ve jumped on that flight, found that turd under whichever rock he lived and demanded payment in skins (hey, this was early twenties energy).

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I remember feeling a combination of outrage and helplessness blanketed in a haze of confusion because there was just a complete disconnect for me with the troll. I couldn’t get on a level with a person who could spew that kind of poison on people he didn’t know, never met, will likely never see in his lifetime, and who did not invite him to the site where they had posted a video to share their special day with those of us who couldn’t be there, the troll just happened to land there.

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I can laugh at myself now, with all these years between me and that memory, especially because I distinctly remember repeatedly thinking – and saying out loud, occasionally, “How DARE he?!?!” I remember it as a very Blanche Devereaux type of  over-the-top offended-ness… hahaha 🙂

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Image result for blanche devereaux how dare he

Those feelings have not diminished in all these years – the bad ones, not the Blanche ones. I have (mostly) adjusted my reaction to them, but I don’t think I’ll ever even begin to understand what kind of person you have to be to not only generate, but to then arbitrarily dump that kind of toxic waste on and in this world.

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And that, my friends, is something I will always be grateful I can’t do.  Or be.

 

Amen to that.

XO – K

Clueless, Party of One

the chamber of secrets

I still find it hard to open up the memory of the full scale realization – too nefarious to taint the beautiful word “epiphany” – of the reality that was the aftermath of my younger self’s unplanned search to belong. See, in my case, not only was it unplanned, I didn’t even realize that’s what I was doing. Not a clue. See, I come from a huge family, I’m the second youngest of 10, so I disqualified myself from the right to the human instinct that is the search to belong. I thought I belonged. Duh. But my subconscious wasn’t fooled by my conscious “knowing” that I belonged to my family, so even though my conscious mind rejected the suggestion, my sneaky subconscious found ways to get its way and embark on a search that I wasn’t consciously part of.

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Sadly, what my subconscious didn’t realize or allow for was the fact that any learning done during its secret missions was erroneously classified due to misinterpretation by its conscious counterpart, and therefore no learning was actually logged. So I made mistake after mistake without learning why I had made said mistake because I was unaware of the underlying quest and its goal, and to top it off, I never would have guessed it had anything to do with belonging because, remember, I assumed I had belonging covered.

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I spent most of my life trying so hard to belong and even harder not to let on that I was trying to belong. I was so busy not knowing what I was doing or why that I lost any concept of who I really was and what really wanted. In retrospect, I’m surprised it took me so long to crack. But that’s what happened last year. All the pressure of all the illusions I had surrounded myself with suddenly clashed and then slammed head-on into my realities in an almost poetic domino effect that left me sitting in a pool of my own tears with jagged shards of reflections of things I thought defined me scattered and floating, disconnected to each other, just as they were disconnected to me.

 

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And there, in the middle of it all, half submerged, battered and barely beating as it struggled to stop the clouds of its essence from their watery escape, there was what was left of my heart. The once strong and vibrant and magnanimously welcoming cornerstone of my being was pitifully perched in a place where it was easy pickings for any of the vicious vultures that looked to further the damage with their whispers of “you were never good enough,” “now they’ll all know that you’re a fraud,””you’ve never been special and you never will be,” and the meanest of all, “how could you think you were ever more than nothing.”

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I don’t know if everyone goes through this kind of shake up, but I sincerely, with every part of my being, hope it’s not a necessary rite of passage for everyone because it is, singularly and significantly, the worst barrage of feelings that I hope to never feel again.

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But the night is always darkest before the dawn, and as it is in the way of the Tarot, this shake down being a textbook example of The Tower, after a long night, a dark night, I found The Star inside.

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I’m still healing and there are days when I feel like I’m back in that vulture infested scene, but I’m much better at remembering to hold on to the light of my faith and to be courageous – well, courageous enough, to look for the lesson I needed to learn or needed to be part of the learning of for someone else. It isn’t easy and it’s rarely ever pretty while in process, but the rainbow afterward is exquisite and makes it worth it in that moment. And it marks my continued progress and it is proof that I am on the right path to who I’ve always been meant to be…me. Although I still don’t know who that is or where she’s headed exactly, I know that whoever and wherever that is, it’s my truth and it has and will set me free.

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Life, Love and the Pursuit of Blanks

Yesterday was once in the distant future,

I’d complain how it seemed that time stood still

Then suddenly yesterday was today and then it was gone

Leaving me here  with so many blanks to fill.

How is it that so many years have passed

Yet I still feel like I was sixteen just yesterday

How is it that I was so sure I knew it all back then

And have no idea what the hell’s going on in the world today?

When did it stop being acceptable to find myself

In any way other than married with kids and employed?

When did I become a “sad” exception for lack of the above?

Well, move over Barbara Walters, here’s a newsflash: I’m not sad, I’m annoyed.

I made some wrong turns in life, then made U-turns or right turns

Some days it took four wheel drive and going head-on through the issue

When life has tripped me up, each time I fell, bumps and bruises notwithstanding

I didn’t let anything keep me down for long, and I never plan to.

Now I’ve reached that phase of life where the pressure is on

To fall in line with what’s expected; the status quo

I’ll admit, I let that seed of doubt and expectation be planted

But I’m happy to report I never let it grow.

I’ve been blessed in my life, and in my experiences here,

Each day brings something new to learn, to try

I seek balance, harmony and my purpose in life, followed closely

by the burgeoning need to not let life pass me by.

I tell others to treat themselves better, I tell them

That how they treat themselves is how others will, too

And that if they don’t set the definition and amount of their value themselves,

Then the world thinks it has the right to.

Then one day something dawned bright and clear

This sage advice, I myself had missed

These words I said with the intent to empower and emancipate

Described something I, myself, didn’t practice.

I said yes to everyone but me

Made space for everyone’s needs but my own

I gave my time and love away all the time

And wondered why I felt so alone.

I hadn’t yet realized that saying yes to everything

And to everyone but me, took away the choice

My epiphany came out of nowhere that day

An overdue realization that gave me back my own voice.

I own the fact that I made the choice

Whether it was subconscious or confused

I chose to say yes and put others first

But I didn’t choose for my choice to be misused.

Now full of pride and purpose, I step up and stand up on my soapbox,

With the know-how and the knowledge that I’m more than capable, smart & strong,

With pride and purpose that I feel in every fiber of my being,

I realize what the realization made real for me was true all along.

Ode to My Real First Lady

Smiles and hugs and kisses, let me know love was a choice

Letter people and Dr. Suess books  were the seed of my voice.

The unquestionable knowledge that I am special beyond a doubt

And the unconditional love that no child should ever be without.

My one person First Response Team that often doubled as the Clean-up Crew

The hand that held mine and told me I was loved, even after all the trouble I got into.

The confidence in myself and the knowledge that there’s nothing I can’t handle, do or be,

Is a gift that nothing could ever take away, it’s instilled that deep.

 

How could I ever appropriately thank the fountain of all that’s best about me?

Well, mom, I know you’re reading this, so just know that I’ll always keep trying.

I love you

XOXO

Ris

Love is the voice under all silences,the hope which has no opposite in fear,the strength so strong, mere force is feebleness.The truth more first than sun, more last than star.

Avoiding A Void.

I was supposed to post a post on Friday. I was doing so well, Friday would have made the fifth consecutive Friday and leading up to that day, I was feeling pretty accomplished. Then I sat down on Friday and fell apart. It’s not easy to admit that, but the fact that I don’t have to do it face-to-face with any actual person makes it a lot easier, I’m not gonna lie. Well, not to you. To myself, all the time.

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In case you’re one of the 8 people on earth that didn’t know, today is Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s birthday – so HAAAAPPY BIRTHDAY!! I won’t tell you how old he is today but I WILL tell you that he looks DAMN GOOD for whatever it is – shit – he looks damn good PERIOD. Anyway, he’s a fellow ‘afakasi’ – or half Samoan – like me, and although I think he is one of the most well put together – outside and in – men in the world, my admiration is strictly platonic. Besides, I’m pretty sure we’re cousins, somehow. In my experience, all Samoans are related. Or so they say. So bestest birthday love out to one of the few great men still walking this earth; the kind of man that loves his children, puts his family first and respects and honors his significant other. 2 Big High Fives, sir, and a snap back 😉

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Oh, wait, don’t go, no, that’s not why I fell apart, haha! My bad. See…I’m desperately trying to avoid this void that’s been missing, but at the same time, so present. *sigh*

Before it was the national holiday that it is, being the Rock’s birthday, today was already a special day – it’s someone else’s birthday, one of the top someone’s of my existence…my dad. Well do they still have birthdays in heaven? Or is it, like, everyday is your birthday? How do you even know when a day is a new day? Dammit! There I go, wandering off. Sorry. As I was saying, uh…what was I saying. Ah, yes, dad.

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Today would have been my dad’s 71st birthday but he rode off into the sunset shortly after his 69th. But that’s not why I fell apart. I mean, not exactly.

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That’s me in the 2 piece and I’m assuming I had several “nip slips” because that top is clearly too small for my cleavage.

No one ever tells you the part about life where you start to lose the people that you consider Your People. Your foundation, your roots, your heart…Your People. No one ever tells you how much it hurts. Or that you may possibly burst into tears at any given moment for an unknown window of time thereafter. Or that you will more than likely and, often, without any warning, lose a large part of the control of which emotions you let the world see. You’ve held onto that control for a long time, maybe you took it for granted, got a little too smug, a little too cocky, thinking you were the conductor and the world only saw what you put on the playlist for them at any given moment. No one ever tells you when, or even IF, you’ll ever get to the bottom of the seemingly bottomless well of grief. Or if you’ll make it back up. Or what you might find when you do smash into it – or that it’ll probably be face first.

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So what did I do at the first sign of the internal mutiny of emotions that promised to rob me of my hard won (or so I think) control? I shut it down. I walked around it. I used my work as a way around the sink hole in my heart and I pushed The Void down, smothered it with paperwork and new employees in the office, and lots of alcohol.

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Surprise, surprise, it was still there every time I peeked out from under the haze of work, various avenues of stress, or alcohol – or all of the above.

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See, kids, as hard as you may try and as fantastic as you’ve been at it in prior situations, with this, with loss and grief and the void you feel, none of the old shit works. You can’t avoid a void forever.

My humpty-dumpty episode (which was clearly not as happy as the above seems to be) and the resulting “a-ha!” aftermath makes me think (AND HOPE, please sweet baby Jesus) that I’ve finally reached the bottom of the well, and you know what? He’s not here. On purpose. And I can’t remember why I wanted to get here because I knew he wouldn’t be. And that was The Click. Things sliding into focus gave me a monster headache.

I think I know why no one ever tells you about this part of life. Well, I know why I’m not going to ramble on at you about it today. It’s because this level of grief is extremely, excruciatingly personal and pretty impossible to explain in words. And it’s different for everyone and it’s not, uhh…it’s not normal. I mean, normally, when any emotion rocks your world, when your boss is a jerk or when your boyfriend is a jerk or when your anxiety levels are at dangerous, red alert levels for whatever reason (don’t judge me), I know I find comfort venting to my family or my friends, or writing about it, or just imagining the offender’s creative – often whimsical in the end, don’t ask me why – demise. But with this, with The Grief, you realize that you’ve never felt grief before. You know, like the first time you have a real, bonafide, everything you smell makes you want to puke and you swear that you’ll never drink ever again hangover. You realize, in the disgustingly long moment when you start to gain consciousness – and your active sense of smell – that nothing you’ve ever experienced held a candle to the unspeakable (literally) misery you woke up to.

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But worse. Worse because you didn’t get yourself drunk like a dumbass, nope, someone you hold more dear than the dearest is just gone.  You had no say, no vote…no choice.

I don’t find comfort in talking about it or even writing about it, I mean, I’m sitting here with tears streaming down my face, which means my eyes will be fat all day. Dammit. Just kidding. They’ll only be fat for a couple hours. (kidding again :))

You know what does give me comfort? Knowing that he’s no longer in pain and no longer confined to a bed, a prisoner of his own body, his mind still at top performance but his mouth unable to communicate. I find comfort knowing that he’s back to his old tricks, being the witty wiseass with the heart of moss-covered gold, flirting with all the ladies, and toasting himself to a nice purplish hue in some azure colored water surrounded by schools of fish that are fascinated by his scales. I find comfort knowing he’ll have my nephew in tow, who followed him just over a year later, that dumb ass, bringing up the rear with their catch of the day. Smiling. The smiling is what really helps bring me down out of the Grief Tree.

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Of course, another source of comfort is imagining what he’d say to me in this situation. I can just hear him telling me to get off my ass and stop crying over whatever I spilled.

Here’s what I imagine he’d say to me, *ahem*:

“What happened? What?! Motherfu— well, what are you waiting for? Clean it up and get going, shit – FOCUS! Get to work – HUSTLE! How the fuck you think you’re going to change the world sitting on your ass and crying about something you can’t change?! (Here’s where he’d change his tone, you know, bring it down a few hundred notches, because I’d be sitting there looking pathetic and he’d feel bad for yelling at me 🙂 Or he’d see this in his mind:

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he’s really just a big teddy bear with occasional, but always poignant, potty-mouth) He’d conclude his “pep talk” probably like this:

Princess, life is full of things you can’t change, and that’s not going to change. You need to get past what’s already passed and remember that if you keep looking in the rear view mirror – you’ll fucken hit something! Shit, or worse, someone. Watch the road, balance the clutch and the gas, just like I told you, and always remember to adjust your fucken mirrors. Now move your ass, young lady. I’m watching you.”

I miss you, Dad. Manuia Lou Aso Fanau. Ou te alofa ia te oe ma lou loto atoa.

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xoxo – P.R.

Holding On to Letting Go

One of the most challenging things for me on my journey into myself is letting go of control of any part of what I consider my “responsibilities.” I’m not just talking about my hygiene (thankfully) or my diet or my physical activity, I’m talking about things that no one said were my responsibility because they aren’t. What I’m talking about are some of the biggest, most hypnotically influential things in my life: other people’s happiness,  other people’s satisfaction, and other people’s approval. I am a people pleaser. I just realized that about a year ago.

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People pleasing isn’t as nice as it sounds. At least, not for the people pleaser. And maybe not for the people I try to please, I’ll have to ask them at some point. Shoot, most of them probably don’t even realize that their happiness and well-being have taken on such a big role in my psyche and that’s not their fault. Making people happy, anticipating their needs and wants and doing things just how they’d like it isn’t an altruistic act for me. I mean, I do it for the person, at the time with the sole intent of making them happy, but it gives me pleasure and I kinda expect that they’ll treat me in the same fashion. If they did a scan of my brain when I deliver something I made for one of these special people, I’m sure they’d see a flood of endorphins. So what’s the problem, then, you ask?

WTF, America?

Well, here’s the problem: after a while, after you’ve been doing all these things and making people happy, a voice somewhere in the back of your neglected – probably the self achievement parts – of your brain says “isn’t this a little one-sided?” And THAT is when the thief of joy rears its ugly head. Comparison. You start thinking about how much you do and how “considerate” you are, how “thoughtful” and “accommodating”  you are, and the seed of resentment is planted. You start – well, I should say, I start, to feel like it’s an obligation because now I’ve set this precedent and what would happen if I just stopped. Sometimes I do stop. For a while. But it is seriously an addiction.

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Now, don’t get me wrong, I really like the part of me that does things for people I care about, I really do. It’s just that I think I’ve been doing it wrong or I’m missing a step somewhere. Sometimes I think it might be that the people I’m doing these things for maybe aren’t the right ones to have in my life. That last thought scares me. This was a big part of why I quit my job. Speaking of jobs…

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” Steve Jobs

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The Fear monster is back and bigger than ever because that’s doable for work, but I can’t as easily quit my life. Can I?

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Sometimes I think it’s just the way I was raised, because my mom always has something she saw that she thinks I’d like, same goes for my sisters, and I hear similar complaints from them, from time to time, about other people not appreciating the consideration and thoughtfulness that’s lavished on them. So maybe it is us. But what should I do about it?

You do what you can for as long as you can, and when you finally can't, you do the next best thing. You back up but you don't give up. - Chuck Yeager

With my job, I told myself that I was not going to change that about myself. I wasn’t not going to do the best I could for my next work team, even though it hadn’t worked out for me at the last place. I like that part of me; the part of me that figures things out and is the first to raise her hand. So what if people call me teacher’s pet behind my back. They stop snickering when I do the same thing for them that I do for my boss. It’s not about who I do it for on the team, at work, for me, it’s about the team and my being a valued member. So I told myself that I would find a place that would appreciate my commitment to the team and my efforts towards our shared success.  I mean, you know what team stands for, right?

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See, I never cared about recognition from the corporate level, or what my title was, or even how much I got paid – it was nice, don’t get me wrong, but not my motivation. My motivation was being a valued contributing team member.

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With my life, it’s a little more…delicate. In arguments, it’s been pointed out to me that the person didn’t know I cared that much, didn’t realize that it meant that much to me, and I remember thinking, “what? Don’t you know anything about me?” And maybe they didn’t and don’t, but who’s responsibility is that? To convey my true feelings and what I want? Oh, wait, that would be me. But I thought I did? See, I think my mind tells me that by doing things for others, it shows them how you want to be treated, but what I’m still trying to reconcile myself to, is the fact that my language of love is specific to my family. In order to teach someone my language, well, first they have to know what language that is, then they have to want to learn it, then I have to be patient while they create their own dialect; one that not only speaks to my heart, but that speaks to theirs. And the final step, I think is that they teach me that dialect. Well, that’s my hypothesis, I’m still in the trial run stage of it. Wish me luck 🙂

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XO – K

Arguing 101 — The Infographic Version 

If you’re in a relationship, chances are pretty solid that you have and will again argue with your significant other (or others?) at some point. In fact, I worry more about those couples who don’t argue because, I mean, c’mon…NEVER? I immediately assume that one or both of them is in denial or lying about how they truly feel (think Julia Roberts and her “favorite eggs” in Runaway Bride). Of course, I’m sure that’s not the case for ALL such couples, but, as one of my favorite tunes as a teenager would suggest, a non-arguing EVER couple falls in the category of — “Things that make you go hmmmmm…”

But I digress, back to the point. Arguing is nothing to be ashamed of. I mean, let’s be real here, you are an individual as is the person (or persons) in the relationship with you. I’m assuming you didn’t grow up together in the same house (if you did, still no judgment, but be careful about procreation if you’ve got bloodline overlapping), so you were raised differently, have had different life experiences and are just different. It’s what attracts us to another person.The only cause for shame as far as arguing is concerned are what I call “asshole moves.” What are those, you ask? Well, let me start by sharing one of my favorite things I ever heard my dad say, which is, “God already gave me an asshole, I don’t need another one.” Asshole Moves are things that are done in spite and with the intent to hurt someone else. If you catch yourself making one, you should be ashamed. There’s already a whole world full of hate and moronic leaders of free countries and, as my dad would say, we all have assholes and nobody (err, unless it’s for medical reasons, of course) needs another one.

I’ve put together my very first Infographic which gives a colorful rendering of my Ten Commandments of Arguing or, as I’ve dubbedit, “How to Argue with your Partner Successfully.” And by ‘successfully,’ I mean without either or both of you ending up in the hospital or single again. These are guidelines that I’ve adopted over the years, through the hard-won wisdom of trial and error. I mean, I wouldn’t say that I’m argumentative or confrontational, but when my fuse has been lit and isn’t properly doused before it hits the TNT…let’s just say I’m not shy. I’ve been guilty of violating all of the guidelines on numerous occasions in my younger days, but as we all (hopefully) do with time, I’ve come to see the wisdom in sprinkling a little maturity fairy dust on myself now and again.

Now, enough with my yammering. On with the Infograph! Please enjoy 🙂

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5 Ways to Stress Less From Someone Whose Been on the Brink of Lost Marble-dom

I know, I know, you rolled your eyes reading that title because you’ve seen 54,878 similar titles of posts that included things like “plan your week in advance” and “turn off your technology,” etc., etc. I know I’ve seen them and I’ve read about 3,542 of them, at least in part. You know what I most often found myself thinking at the end of reading or skimming them? I wondered if the person who wrote it had actually ever experienced an episode of overwhelming stress-induced anxiety, like I regularly did, because the things on most of those lists seemed like cute, “hectic day” kind of solutions. You know, things that I’m sure would make you feel better if you’ve just had a really unusually busy day and your brain is buzzing uncomfortably. I welcome “hectic” days like that because they’d be a breath of relief compared to most days.

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See, when I talk about being stressed out, I’m talking about the brink of losing my mental marbles because my home and professional life were wringing me out to the point of no return. How? Okay, let me see, here’s a good example of a typical day in any week: I’ve got 8 reports due in 24 hours, 3 of which I only found out I had to complete in the previous 24 hours, half of which require the cooperation of another team member who doesn’t understand the importance of them getting their shit together so we can turn the effing report in on time, and I just know I’ll end up doing their part, too, and these 8 reports? They’re just “extra” stuff that’s scribbled on a to-do list that’s already a mile long and growing with each e-mail and phone call. Oh, and I need to make an appointment for my dog’s nail trimming and booster shots, which I’ll probably have to take a day off of work for because she’s extremely high-strung and will require my brand of coddling in order not to have a damn stroke. And I can’t forget to stop at the grocery store, did I make a list? Yes, I made a list. WHERE IS THE LIST?? Dammit! I also have to return my mom’s call from 2 days ago, which I swore to her I would in the following 24 hours, so now I’ll only assuage the guilt by stopping by to physically hear the 12 stories that she wanted to tell me, about half of which she will have already told me before, but that I will pretend to hear for the first time (see how not returning her call when I said I would backfires??). I need to plan a date night with my guy because we’ve barely talked to each other in the last week – or has it been longer than that?? And on top of everything, I have to fucken be PLEASANT to people at the office who are part of the reason why I am about to check myself into a mental institution!!

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THIS, my friends, THIS little snapshot is what I’m talking about when I talk about being stressed out. Turning my technology off would be like putting a bandaid on a severed limb. Pointless.

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In all honesty, the only way to avoid this kind of stress is to not let it happen in the first place. To get yourself in a mindset that YOU are important, too, and that your purpose in life is not to solve problems that you didn’t create for people who don’t give a shit about your mental well-being. BUT, if you find yourself in a stressed out situation similar to my little snapshot, here’s a short list of things that I find effective in my quest to staunch the flow of escaping brain cells. And now that you know what I consider “stressed out,” you’ll know these are the real deal Holyfield 🙂

Breathe.

I know this sounds like a new age yogi wanna-be answer, but I mean it. Stop whatever you’re doing, even if it’s driving, pull over, and take a time-out. Don’t think about anything. Try following this breathing pattern (it helps my “achiever” self to have something to follow, then I felt like I accomplished something, haha): inhale on a count of 8, hold for 4 counts, then exhale for 8 counts, then repeat. Depending on how stressed I was feeling at the moment, I’d do this for anywhere from 10 to 40 (I’m serious) cycles. Oh, and close your eyes. I can’t tell you exactly why it helps, but it helped me to focus on the breathing by cutting off that visual sensory aspect.

Get Real.

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What I mean is, be realistic in your demands of yourself. If you’re anything like me, this is tough because you really think you’re the best person to do the things on your list, and you probably are, but at some point, you have to admit to yourself that you CAN’T get it all done in the timeframe that it needs to be done, by yourself. Initially, if you don’t already have a list, make a list of all the things on your “plate.” Now separate them into professional and personal, then further separate into urgent (meaning need to be completed within 24 hours), important but not urgent (meaning within the next week), and important but in the future (meaning within the next month). Anything that DOES NOT fall into these 3 categories should be excluded. Once you have these lists, be honest with yourself about what you could delegate and what HAS to be done by you. Sometimes, just the process of separating my “to-do” list like this helped lower my stress level because it helped me realize that I was putting a red flag on stuff that didn’t need one.

Say ‘NO’

Between me and you, this is the hardest thing for me, and at first, it just created more stress for me because I’d feel ridiculously guilty for whatever or whoever I said ‘no’ to that I’d spend wasted hours arguing with myself over whether or not to just do it or to just call them and apologize and do it. Don’t do either of those things, by the way. Be firm and I promise that after a while (this is entirely dependant on you, “a while” means about 2 months for me), it not only gets easier, it really does lift some of the stress. Bonus is that once you start saying no, word gets out and you’ll notice a decrease in stupid requests. Wouldn’t that be cool, right?

Schedule It

No, seriously, I mean it. Give that shit a time slot, not just an “honorable mention” on your calendar. YES, I mean calling the doggy nail salon, YES I mean that trip to Costco, and YES, I mean your gym session. ALL of it. If it’s something that you intend to do, then you need to schedule it. Even I was surprised at how much this helped me. I mean, I’ve always had To-Do Lists and calendars, but I rarely put the 2 to work together. The difference is pretty amazing. Once I had a spot on my calendar, and I mean a time and a date, I didn’t have to stress about it anymore. Well, not as much as I had been, anyway.

Give Yourself An Effing Break

You’re not a mutant superhuman that only needs 1 hour of sleep and can function with all pistons firing, so stop treating yourself like you should be. I don’t know what your purpose in life is, shit, I don’t know what MY purpose in life is, yet, but I’m absolutely certain that it’s not to stress out about things that won’t matter in 3 years. Maybe not even in 3 days, so for real, give yourself a break, okay? There’ll be lots of opportunities that I’m sure you’ll take to bash yourself, but make sure you also take the opportunities to congratulate yourself on not going completely ape-shit and ramming your car through the front entrance of the Wal-Mart for not having that organizing thing you wanted that they said they had in stock when you looked on line. *ahem* I mean, for keeping it together…yeah, that’s it.

Okay, I’m wrapping this up. Be kind to yourself. You are the only person that you have to answer to at the end of the day (God is not a person, but even HE doesn’t expect you to be perfect, so take a lesson from the Big G).

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If something in your life is a consistent and continual source of overwhelming stress, you’ve really gotta ask yourself if it should be a part of your life. Don’t be like me and let it get so far that you get to the point where you stop, mid-sprint, and flip off the judges as you walk off the field (this just means that I up and quit my job one day, not an actual sprinting race or something).  Completely stress free is never going to happen for me, and I accept that, but I’m working towards more happiness than stress and I highly recommend the same for you.  You deserve to be more happy than stressed and so do I.

My best and warmest blessings,

K