Keeping the Cray at Bay: Some thoughts on small-town yoga

I have been doing yoga for a long time now, and I’ve figured out the hard way that if I don’t do yoga frequently, it makes me feel something something.

Recently, I’ve been signing up to do yoga through our local parks and rec. It’s cheap, it’s local, and there isn’t another way to do yoga in this town unless you’re selling your soul to the gym gods. That means joining a gym. I tried to make a joke but I’m tired.

Apparently, signing up for an exercise class via P&R if you’re under 40 means that you’re the youngest lass in the class…by like 15 years, at least.

Do you know what this means?

Unfortunately, it means that the class is pretty too very much easy for me. But at least yoga is an individual sport where I can just do an extra twist or add a limb in there and make it a little more of a workout.

On the upside, this means that I look like a friggin ROCKSTAR! The instructor takes all this time explaining the pose and how to use all these props to keep your shoulders in their sockets and I’ve already got both my legs behind my head.

Seriously, though, there are several poses that I can do that the instructor can’t, which means several times she’s been describing the pose while I’m already doing said pose, and I’m spacing-out-while-trying-to-concentrate-and-not-fall-on-my-ass, and she points to me and says, “Just do what Melissa’s doing.” And then I snorted. I was flattered and surprised; it was a flatprised snort.

On another random note: This instructor’s look and voice quality reminds me strongly of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, and you guys, I cannot express how calm and safe that makes me feel. She’s middle-aged, female, blonde, and her voice is calm, steady, earnest, and full of wisdom.

Before discovering this class, I remember saying that I really wanted to be able to do yoga to the commanding female voice-energy of Cate Blanchett playing Galadriel in Lord of the Rings.

Frooodooo…..now dooo down-ward facing doooog. AT ONCE!

But Dr. Ford is a close second. Or maybe not even second, just…different. Her energy is exactly what I need right now. What a lot of us need, I think. It’s protective. It’s quietly empowering. Right now, for me, it’s pretty transformative.

Another random thought: Just last night my yoga-teacher-Dr.-Ford-doppelganger said….aahhh crap and I forgot the exact wording, but it was something like:

The way you practice having balance is by losing it.

And maybe it was my headspace at the time, or the way she said it, or both, but it was one of those quotes that just hit me, you know? Probably because it works on both literal and figurative levels.

So, I’m not sure what my point is except that I enjoy yoga and it makes me feel great.

In short, it keeps the crazy at bay.

The cray at bay, if you will.


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Proverbial Sanity

I remember when federal holidays were super fun. Do you remember, dear Psychos?

I would get off of school or work and get to sleep in, and oh the bank is closed, so I can’t do that errand, might as well stay home in my pjs and drink tequila milkshakes. And then maybe, if I feel like putting on pants later, I’ll go out for a late lunchy dinner. Linner, if you will.

Remember that?! I don’t, mainly because of those damn milkshakes, but you get the idea.

Before the invasion of my sweet, beautiful children, holidays were fun. Relaxing. Looked forward to. But not anymore.

Now, it’s kinda the complete opposite. Now that I’ve gotten used to having my 5 year old in school 5 days a week, and my 2 year old in school 2 days a week (Ha! I didn’t notice how the numbers matched up like that until now. I think that means that because I’m 36, I should get that many paid vacation days per quarter.), having them both home on the same day is kinda painful. The cherry on top is that my go-to backup place to bring my kids in this small-town-with-nothing-to-do is the library, and on days like today, that’s also closed. It’s the proverbial final nail in the proverbial coffin of my proverbial sanity.

Sensing that the storm was coming, I called in reinforcements (aka MOMS Club) and set up an outdoor playdate for the kids. I’m suuuuper thankful that the weather more than cooperated (it was sunny and downright warm for this time of year!) and also suuuper thankful that moms and kids showed up, not only to entertain my kids, but also to say words to my face and allow me to say words back. A conversation! How delightful.

Now we’re well into the afternoon, and there’s been a minimal amount of yelling on my end. We might just get through the day without any major incidents, folks.

Now if only the small child would just stop kicking and fussing around in her crib and freaking nap already…


Check out the fun, y’all:   https://cheerpeppers.wordpress.com/

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Ways I Combat Seasonal Depression

Hello, dear Psychos, and welcome to Day 8.

Seasonal Depression, or Seasonal Affective Disorder (appropriately SAD) is a real thing. Oregon is cold, it’s dark, and it’s freakin gray. It’s hard to get out of bed some mornings, and I often can’t get warm, even in my own house. It’s no mistake that Jo Rowling (we’re on a first name basis, people) gave the dementors, a metaphor for depression, the power to create an icy chill in their midst while sucking the soul out of their victims. When I’m cold, like that chilled-to-the-bone feeling, I’m irritable. Moody. Unable to feel contentment. I feel like crawling back into bed.

I have several tricks up my sleeve to try and keep the soul-sucking dementors at bay. I wish I had a magic wand, but I guess my Hogwarts letter got lost in the post.

Until that ruddy post owl is found, here are the things I try:

Note: This post is not a replacement for real, amazing therapy. These are simply things that work for me personally. Psychology Today is a great place to start looking for a therapist if you’re in the market, as it were.

  • My light therapy lamp

Last year, I finally went out and got myself a happy lamp! Getting up in the morning is hard for me, especially in the winter time when it’s pitch black outside. Somehow, that just seems wrong for a person to have to function in those conditions. I just got my lamp back out for the season, and I put it on my bathroom counter and flick it on as soon as I get out of bed. It’s on and shining into my eyes for about 10-15 minutes as I get ready in front of the mirror. It helps to perk me up in the mornings and makes me feel less dead inside. I wish I could get the effects for longer, but I have active kids who need to be places and I no longer sit in one place for very long. At this point I’ll take whatever I can get.

  • My slippers and hats and sweatshirts and blankets. And sometimes my cat.

Did I mention that I get cold in the winter? I’m actually always cold, but in the winter I’m knocking-on-death’s-door cold. I still can’t believe that I survived living in Boston for two years. I attempt to stay warm by wearing fuzzy slippers. I have ones with down feathers in them. And memory foam. I also have those buttery-soft slipper-socks. When I’m feeling saucy, I’ll wear slipper-socks and slippers at the same time. It’s also not unheard of for me to wear a jacket indoors, or one of my many knit hats. The couch is covered with blankets. And when I don’t hate my cat (and when she doesn’t hate me), I will allow her to sit on my lap to keep my nether regions from frosting over. When animals aren’t total assholes, they can be kind of comforting.

  • Those microwavable ricey/beany heat pad thingies

They are warm when I am not. The end.

  • Hot drinks, sometimes with sugar and caffeine

In the winter, I’ll often make hot decaf tea in the afternoons and evenings (in addition to my normal caffeinated morning beverage) to take the chill off, but also because they provide this psychological cozy boost. I enjoy feeling the warm, solid mug between my palms and breathing in the sweet, warm vapors. The Dutch call this feeling gezellig, which roughly translates to “cozy,” and I find myself often chasing it.

  • FIRE. (Candles and the fireplace)

First off, let me just say that Oregonians have a weird obsession with scented things and lighting shit on fire. Haven’t any of you heard of a spare the air day?! Having said that, I do enjoy the occasional scented candle or switching on our gas fireplace because Oregon creeps up on you after a while. It’s the warmth, but it’s also the psychological boost from the bright, flickering lights and the yummy, spicy, earthy, comforting scents that can fill up the house and my soul.

  • Music

Music is the perfect drug; there is a piece of music to induce any mood you’re after, with little to no side effects. Spooky Halloween music, cozy Christmas music, after dinner dance party music (pants optional). Music shoos them dementors straight back to Azkaban. Also, if you don’t get these Harry Potter references, consider yourself on notice.

  • People

I tend to isolate when I’m anxious and depressed, so I schedule events on my calendar to get me out of the house and interacting with humans over the age of 5, even if it’s cold and rainy and gross and disgusting outside. We might get wet or cold or muddy or all three, but at least we have a fun time hanging out with others, and then we’ll get warm and gezellig once we’re back home again.

  • HUMOR!!!!!! DEAR GOD, THE HUMOR!

Humor is my EXPECTO PATRONUM!!!!!! Laughter boosts the mood and the immune system. It brings people together, and holy crap it makes me feel less alone. The best cross-section of humor and mental health I can think of can be found at The Bloggess. Jenny suffers from anxiety and depression, but she doesn’t let that get in the way of being fucking hilarious. She’s the reason I started blogging, and I love her and I met her once and she signed my DSM because that’s how deep her commitment to hilarity runs. She normalizes and humanizes mental illness, makes me feel less alone, and makes me laugh – which makes me feel better. Boom. If you’re at all interested, read her blog, check out her books – geez, I wonder if she’ll pay me for this? Shout out, Jen! Call me.

As an example to show how much Jenny Lawson just gets me, here are her calendar pages for October and November:

 

She gets me.

 

The timing is no mistake

 

Ok, I’ll stop here. I hope this is helpful for some people. TELL ME – What do you do to combat the cold, dark, gray, damp winter months of torture?!

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Arm pump!

Brian and I were having a conversation, as longtime partners sometimes do. He had just explained something brilliant about which I had previously been ignorant.

Brian: …well now you know.

Me: (without missing a beat) And knowing is half the battle! (Arm pump!)

Brian: (laughs heartily)

Me: That’s like an automatic response for me. I didn’t even have to think about it! You know, those 30 second segments at the end of G.I. Joe were my favorite part of the whole show!

Brian: (incredulous): What? Really?!

Me: Dude, you’re talking to someone who grew up to become a therapist! I lived for those segments! I was just hanging on through all the violence and sexism to see what patriotic American moral we’d be taught at the conclusion.

Brian: I bet Saturday morning cartoons shaped our whole generation, just 30 seconds of propaganda at a time.

Me: (clapping) Yes! I was like, Ooh! What cartoon wisdom will they teach us today?!

Brian: What was even better was when they dubbed over them with hilarity years later. **pause** Porkchop sandwiches!

Me: Agreed. What an American treasure.

_______________________________

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It’s a great way to stay in shape

I’m not a gym person.

But I just joined a gym for the first time in my life. I was offered a free year pass by a friend, and I figured I’d check it out.

See, I have this thing where I don’t like exercise. Especially exercising in front of other people. Basically, if I’m not doing yoga then I’m one clumsy lady, aaaaaand I’d rather not have an audience if I’m going to fall off the treadmill or drop a weight on my big toe.

I’m also cheap, and I don’t feel like I should have to pay to exercise. Hello, come on in to my bodily torture chamber and pay this cover charge so you can publicly injure yourself and then either shower in a foreign stall with wonky water pressure, or walk out all sweaty and gross and hurting. Bring your friends!

To make matters funny, this particular gym has a Cross Fit focus, and so it seems to be extra Gym-y. Like, the young ripped bros at the front desk are way too enthusiastic and speak like John Paul Jones from the Bachelor franchise, brah. One of them in particular seems to enjoy getting a rise out of me, and so the most recent time I was there, he felt the need to come up to me while I was on the elliptical to give me a high-five. My eye-roll was so exaggerated that my Apple watch also counted it as part of my workout.

**Ping!* It looks like you’re doing an eye-roll workout. Let’s close those rings!

The gym is a foreign environment with an entirely new language and I’m just a fish out of water. Observe the day I came in for my complementary session with a trainer:

Bro: Hey! So, uh, what’re your fitness goals?

Me: Ummm…I’d just like to feel human again.

Broseph: Alright, alright, alright! Sounds tubular! What’s your current fitness regimen like right now?

Me: Well, I do yoga once a week and I attempt to run from zombies. But running is a loose term.

Brodan: Zombies, ha! Right on, right on. So you dig the cardio, yeah? You ever tried weights?

Me: Not unless you count my kids. And dig is a strong term.

Broweena: Hahaaha, that’s hella lit, or whatever the kids are saying these days. Let’s get some goals down and we’ll get started! Exclamation point!

At some point he noticed my Shamrock Run shirt from last year.

Brodude: Whoa, you did The Sham?!

Me: (I look down at my front). Uh…yeah. Just the 5k.

Bronathan: It’s not just the 5k! That’s a real accomplishment! Right on!

Me: Thanks. I mean, we stopped for beer and donuts in the middle…

Brotina, not hearing me: Is there any way you’d want to form a team with us? We’re always looking for cool stuff for motivation!

Me: Well, I actually sign up with my MOMS Club…

Brodrew: Whoa, right on! You should bring your mom friends here!

At this point it’s the end of the session and I’m ready to leave. I mean, I was ready to leave a long time ago, but now it’s the end of the session.

Me: Yeah, no, thanks. Look, I’ve gotta go. Thank you…

Broana: Right, right, no prob. Hey, look, you’re doing awesome! Have an awesome day!

You too, man. You have the awesomest of days.

You too.

 

A Quiet Hotness

A few preliminary disclaimers:

This post may not be funny to any of you, and I suppose I’ll have to take that chance. It was pretty funny in the moment, though. Oh man. You had to be there. But that would have been weird, because this took place in my bathroom at, like, 11pm last night. I’m so glad you weren’t there.

Also, MAJOR SPOILERS for the movie A Quiet Place, and possibly the sequel, because I’m just that good.

Now onto the post.

Me, to Brian: So I saw a headline for the sequel to that one movie, A Quiet Place.

Brian: Ah, yes. A Quiet Place 2: Even Quieter.

Me: That very one! I was just scrolling quickly past and the headline was paired with a still pic of that one hot guy.

Brian: John Krasinski, the guy who’s married to that one hot lady.

Me: Yes! Right again. So I didn’t think anything of it at the time. But one night as I was lying in bed trying to go to sleep, it hit me. The picture with that movie doesn’t make sense because he totally died in the first film being all loud and shit.

Brian: Maybe it’s his twin.

Me: Ooh, A Quiet Place 2: Double the Loud Hotness. No, wait. Not double, cuz the first one is dead. Hotness Again? Loud Hotness? Return of the Loud Hotness!! Only hopefully this twin is much, much quieter and hotter than the first one.

Brian: Or maybe it’s a prequel.

Me: Oh yeah! Because they had to survive for several/I-forget-how-many-months before the first movie begins. Perhaps this prequel could show the hot husband and wife having a thoughtful conversation about wanting to have hot, quiet sex but maybe not wanting to get pregnant because babies are effing loud. She’ll say, do you think we should go in search of birth control first? Then he’ll say, naw, it’s ok, babe, we’ll just roll the dice and put the oops baby in an airtight, padded box if we have to. What could go wrong?! Except that is everything the experts tell you not to do with the sleeping space for babies. No padded bumpers, they say. No blankets or stuffed toys, they say. Give them air to breathe, they say. That poor baby would immediately die of SIDS.

Brian: No, I think that baby would die as soon as the hot mom goes into labor or gives birth, because that’s loud in my experience. It’d die of Sudden Alien Death Syndrome. SADS, for short.

quiet-place


I can confirm that Brian’s experience of seeing babies be born was quite loud because I am excellent at expressing my needs. Also, we are in no way making light of the awful, real condition that is SIDS.

Hey, John – give us a call. We’ll totally help you write this new movie. As you can see, we have many realistic ideas. As payment I’d only require a whiff of your heavenly man scent.

Learning How to Sail My Ship

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One of my good friends sent me this card a while ago. It was shortly after my second kid was born and I had posted something about how hard the adjustment was. The card was unexpected, and I remember sitting in my car after opening the envelope and having a little cathartic cry.

As you can see, the card lives right behind my bathroom sink. I’ve been staring at it at least twice a day for about a year and a half. It’s probably pretty gross by now, with toothpaste and makeup and germs.

The quote on the card says, “I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.” I didn’t believe it for a very long time. I couldn’t say it in the first person, where “I” was in my voice. There are some days when I don’t feel the fear, when I feel rested and calm and confident. But heck, there are plllllenty of days when the fear is there and I’m worried that I won’t ever be able to shake it.

Tangent: I took this picture last July, when I was experiencing a great break from anxiety. And that’s what it was, looking back – a break – and not some triumphant ending to a horrible story. I keep expecting to reach some kind of finish line with this junk. I really want future me to pop in and let me know just how long this phase of semi-anxiety-ridden life is going to last…or will it never leave?! The not knowing sucks, and I’m still trying to make peace with that and take things day by day. Ugh.

Back to the card. I never had any issue identifying with the second part. Absolutely, I am learning. I’m always learning. I like learning. Yup. But that first part…somehow I felt like my goal should be about abolishing my fear, getting rid of my anxiety, and so every time it’s come back over the last year and a half, I’ve felt…disappointed, sad, scared, and full of shame.

I am reminded about a conversation I had with a friend about that one TV show Running Wild with Bear Grylls. She commented about how scared one of the female guests had been on the show, with the implication that her fear was something undesirable or weak. My response to her was that yeah, she had been scared out of her mind, but she still did it, and she was badass. And that’s the definition of courage, anyway right? It’s not about the absence of fear, it’s about feeling fear and doing it anyway. Honestly, a large portion of my life has been that way.

And so. I feel like I need to change the card a little bit. Maybe something like, “I am afraid of storms sometimes [or most of the time. lots. like, maybe almost all the time], but I’m learning how to sail my ship…right through them.”

PS – I’ve used the terms fear and anxiety interchangeably in the post because of the wording of the card, but in my reality they mean very different things.

PPS – Please excuse the product placement. Or maybe don’t. Perhaps Aveeno would be willing to sponsor this post. Call me! Pay for my anxiety meds!

We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat

I originally wrote this piece for my local MOMS Club newsletter, of which I am the editor. Since I rarely write things these days, I want this one to count for double, so I’m posting it here. Enjoy!

————————————

Hey, y’alls.

 

It’s Melissa, the Newsletter person. Don’t worry, [the president of the club] gave me permission to write here, because it’s summer and we’re all sweaty and tired. Hopefully she doesn’t regret that decision in about a minute and a half. In my defense, I restrained myself from simply posting a giant poop emoji to fill this space.

 

Ah, summer. Since becoming an adult, summers have gotten hard. I’ve had to work in an office indoors, suffering through Women’s Winter (youtube it, seriously), when all I wanted to do was sit around the pool and read traumatic memoirs. Since becoming a mom, summers have gotten even harder. Suddenly, I’ve been demoted to Activities Director, and if I don’t have a plan for the day, ready to report to my son immediately upon waking, my kids flip the switch from silly-cute to screaming cray-cray.

 

All plans have to be strategic. Based on the weather, where can we go that is kid-friendly? Will it have ample shade? Is there an attractive cabana boy ready to bring me free drinks?

 

Of course, none of this will matter, because my kids will whine and complain and be hungry or not hungry. And I will yell at them to GO PLAY and feel bad and count the minutes til nap time.

 

Then there’s the Seasonal Mom Worries (you know, the worries apart from the everyday ones) – sunburns and skin cancer and water safety. Forgetting to pack something for vacation (because it’s up to me to remember basically everything), screaming kids on planes, shark attacks.

 

I also never know what day it is during the summer because our schedule is all over the place. Basically, I feel disoriented, tired, and sweaty without the hassle of actual exercise.

 

Somehow, at the same time summer is frickin’ fun. Splashing and sand castles and ice cream for dinner. I try my hardest to drink it all in, preferably with a tiny umbrella.

 

I’ve long since realized that the great comes with the horrible, otherwise the great wouldn’t feel as such. I’m just trying to be present for it all.

 

Here’s to surviving the rest of the summer, fellow Activities Directors. Watch out for sharks.

The Tulip Fields

There was a storm brewing; they were on borrowed time.

But they were on a mission.

The troops were already fatigued and in low spirits when they arrived on the battlefield. The General and Officer oversaw the unloading and packing of gear and made sure there were enough rations on hand, then they set off.

They trudged through muddy trenches and seemingly endless fields. The icy winds whipped around them and tugged at their uniforms. It was hard to take in the natural beauty of their surroundings from under the weight of their collective burden.

Barely halfway to the rendezvous point, two of the weakest soldiers began to break down. There were flashbacks, tears, and one even collapsed in a mud puddle of despair.

There was brief talk of deserting the fallen solider. Perhaps another unit would take her on.

Enough! barked the General. We never leave a solider behind! On my count, heave!

There was no other option- she was carried by the General herself. Later, she’d receive a bronze star for her heroism (The General, not the solider).

More began to fall, and again, they were carried. It began to feel overwhelming. They didn’t think they could go on. Some were pressing to turn back, scrap the mission.

No. We’ve come too far. We’ve sacrificed too much!

Their objective was clear – keep going.

The General ordered the Officer to break out and distribute a portion of the rations, which were to be eaten during the march. There was to be no stopping. Delaying the arrival at the rendezvous point could prove a foolish mistake.

The hard tack revived the troops. They kept marching with renewed vigor, even loud, boisterous whoops of hope and joy.

And then, through the clouds, they could see it. Their destination. A warm welcome, fresh food and water awaited them.

They had made it, and they lived to fight another day. (The return journey back to their transport would be another story, of course.)

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The Last Day

Where did November go?!

First of all, let me say that November is a horrible month in which to do National Blog Posting Month, or NaBloPoMo. It’s busy, there’s travel going on, there’s family obligations, food comas, etc. I nominate changing it to…January. The holidays are over, it’s a fresh start to a new year, and it’s not my birthday month. But I digress.

I did the best I could this month. I felt particularly stretched thin, blogwise and otherwise. I’ve found that whenever I try to raise the quantity of blog posts I do, the quality of each post goes down considerably, and this month reflected that. So, I stretched the rules and reblogged several oldies that I am proud of, and I think those rounded out the month’s work quite well.

I wanted this NaBloPoMo to reignite my love of writing and my ability to express myself more eloquently. It got me thinking about future blog topics that I can write when I have more time (meaning, posts that I can compose over the course of a week in 15 minute increments while hiding in the bathroom). It helped awaken my creative side as I continue to figure out who my post(during?)-mommyhood self is going to be.

I’d like to thank everyone who read this month. I know posting once a day can get old pretty quick, so thanks to anyone who stopped by. A special thank you to anyone who left comments, because it’s nice to know that my words aren’t just going out into the void.

I’d love some feedback. What posts from this month did you like? What topics would you like to see more of? Any new topics you’d like me to tackle?

In closing, my daughter just starting pulling herself to a standing position yesterday and I’m thrilled because she’s amazing. She plans to apply early admission to Cal next week.


NaBloPoMo Day 30, Last Day