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“Was I Better Today Than Yesterday?”

“Was I better today than yesterday?” This is something to ask yourself. And, if you answer “no” today, then you will most likely answer “yes” tomorrow. Or, so this what I heard on an Oprah podcast on Fulfillment. I am not so sure that I can always answer “yes” the next day, though. The idea behind this notion is that we, as people, don’t repeat negative behaviors twice, and we work on making our situations better, not worse. We move forward, not back.

I don’t know about you, but I repeat my mistakes all the time. It’s like I’m sometimes this albino rat in a science experiment, who is missing a receptor firing and can’t learn well. I’m the broken rat in the Skinner Box experiment, who fails to learn that if you press the lever, you may get a food pellet.

Did I just liken myself to a rat? I did. Actually, I feel like that was in my subconscious, because someone once called me an “old rat.” I will leave that story for another day…. but, yes, it hurt my feelings.

I think, tomorrow, I’ll just do the same sh*t

Anyway, so, I am going to try to be better today than yesterday. I mean, it’s already 5:00 p.m., so I don’t have too many hours left before the day is over. I am going to grill some chicken on my new broiler, since my grill outside is still broken. Cooking a meal? That’s better than the ordering I did yesterday. Then, I’m going to try to get some writing done. Ha! That is so not happening. I’ll probably just have time to help my kids with their homework, play American Girl dolls, and zone out with some TV show. I mean, honestly? That’s kind of better than my day was yesterday, in the end. Oh, wait, but was I better…hm…that’s another question.

Tomorrow, I have HUGE plans to be better! I am going to work! Yay! Oh, but the morning will be better, because today I put my travel mug of coffee in my purse, and when I bent over to get the bags in the backseat, the coffee top flew off and spilled coffee all over my brand new car, my clothes, and the bags. I legit started to tear up in the parking lot, and a very nice, compassionate woman asked if she could make me another coffee. I told her, “no, thank you,” but she did bring me a new bag to put my stuff in, which was not covered with coffee. My faith in humanity is restored.

This was me in the parking lot, but covered in java

I’m going to work on being better today now. Tell me about your day!

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The Grind. How Can We Escape it and Simplify Life?

I grind my teeth. And, I clench my jaw. I was reminded of this at the dentist last week. But how do I stop from clenching when I feel overwhelmed? I feel overwhelmed this week…and often. As my editor just remarked, “You’re doing too much. Try to take a break from the book, because you’re rushing it.” I was trying to wrap up writing my book, but it isn’t ready to wrap up. That’s the thing about writing a book: it evolves, changes, and you, yourself, can’t predict the turns it takes and even how it ends. It’s not ready, and I can’t force it, even though I need a break. I wanted to check off the box: book complete. Check. Done. But I can’t. I can’t check off many things. The to-do list just continues to grow, or one thing is added as another is completed. I’ve got to stop clenching my teeth about this before I have none left!

These are nice teeth, and not my lips. But I wish I had sugar lips!

So what are things we can take away from our to-do list to simplify? Here are some constants in my life that will never be “done:”

  1. Take care of the kids. I do this six nights a week alone one week, and four nights a week alone the other. There is no getting around it, as they are still in elementary school. I could work on letting them be more independent. For example, I still cut their food and give them baths. Shh, I know. Don’t chastise me! But, I sort of like that they need me. I bring them snacks, clean their rooms, play with them all the time. In short, I create some of this “stress” there. Maybe I can work on that.
  2. Go to work. I can’t change this. We all need a paycheck. And I like my job. But, yeah, it takes up a lot of time and headspace. I think about it when I’m not there, and I check my emails at all hours. I can work on that too.
  3. Walk my dogs: I could hire a dog walker, but why even have the dogs? I LIKE walking them, but it also stresses me out when I haven’t, or when I’m rushing to work, and getting the kids out the door, and they are imploring me to take them on some long walk with their sad, little eyes! I guess I could get up earlier. Oy.
  4. Writing: I want to finish my book. I have 300 pages. I need to finish it. I want to continue to write my blog. I love writing it, and I love reading blogs. I need to make the time, or the quality suffers.

Well, okay. OMG, you know what I left off that constant list? Take care of MYSELF! I just realized that! Self-care. This is something we often forget, right? It takes a back seat, and then I go to the dentist and find my teeth are worn down. Or I cry for no reason when I listen to Piano Lounge music on Spotify while driving. I’m like bawling to some Kate Bush song and thinking, “Wait, why am I crying right now??” This happened yesterday. Then, I realized I think I’m just to freaking busy and overwhelmed.

Sorry to vent. I know we all have a lot of must-dos and should-dos.

I also need to stop apologizing.

But, first, I’ll work on grinding my teeth.

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Pandemic Pod Panic: Is Your Social Life Causing Angst?

Have you spent more time worrying about your–and your child’s–social life since the pandemic hit? If so, you could be suffering from Pandemic Pod Panic, aka “P3” (I just made this up). I read this interesting piece in the Boston Globe that detailed how many of us have been gripping about how we and our families are left out of social activities during this time of social distancing and isolation. Is this you? I have been guilty of it, I must admit.

First off, let me define a Pandemic Pod, for those of you not in-the-know. It’s essentially a small cohort of families who have stayed together and played together throughout the pandemic. The Pod subscribes to the same level of concern about COVID and, for the most part, interacts socially with an equal level of discretion and safety. Some pods may have more stringent policies when it comes to traveling by airplane, riding the school bus, or dining indoors. Others may be a little less rigid and feel those activities are okay. Typically, what one pod member believes, so does the other. This is why there is not much cross-pollination of pods! And there can be apparent judgment of pods that do not think–and most importantly ACT-alike. This is sounding like a cult..

Let me be clear: I am not judging anyone here. And no one’s beliefs are wrong. Unless they are not mine. Wait, joking! No, I mean, be safe, people. Obviously.

Anyway, back to the topic at-hand: Pandemic Pod Panic. I have noticed that I don’t see or talk to some of the friends that I used to since last March, the onset of COVID. This has caused me to wonder if it’s because of something I’ve done, or how I choose to live during Covid, or if it’s just something about them wanting to isolate. Some of it, too, is because we don’t run into each other at soccer, for example, or during school activities.

I don’t really know. I think we can only assume that it’s that, but who knows!? This reminds me of my recent blog post, Too Many Friends = Too Much Drama, and the feeling of being back in high school. And then, when you find out that friend you don’t see or talk to is actually hanging in her own pod? Then you panic: is it me? Why am I not in that pod? Are we no longer friends?

COVID is killing more than our spirits–it’s killing friendships! (insert scary music)…

Um, that’s a little drastic.

Now, aside from myself, I sometimes wonder about my kids. My son, for example, isn’t as social as my daughter. He basically has lived like a sand mole in the basement and on video games for a year now. Well, that’s not entirely in isolation, though, because he’s on a headset laughing his head off with friends. I’ve wondered if he should go outside and play with our neighbors, but he really has no interest, and I get concerned. Like, is he antisocial? Is he going to have friends when this is all over? We can’t really invite people over who he hasn’t seen or been “podding” with, and hence the P3 begins (Pandemic Pod Panic)

I have been fortunate to have a nice group of friends in my neighborhood, and we have been kind of like our own Pandemic Pod. Our children are the same ages and have played since the pandemic hit. Similarly, we adults have met around the firepit and had some wine and been able to socialize while social distancing. But I have heard others lament that they don’t have those opportunities and feel left out. This sense of isolation is magnified when they see it posted on social media–revelry around a firepit with friends. In the Boston Globe piece, they recommended not posting those types of photos to social media so others don’t feel left out.

Wait. But I only post so others feel less-than, right???? (Insert Mean Girls voice). Just joking.

Anyway, what are your thoughts and experiences with this? Have you felt left out, or judged, or worried about social nonsense during the pandemic? Maybe we are just bored! Perhaps this is self-manufactured stress.

🤦🏻‍♀️🤦🏻‍♀️🥴🥴

#relationships, Self-Help, Thoughts, Uncategorized

Too Many Friends = Too Much Drama

Have you ever noticed that the smaller your world becomes, the easier it is to manage emotionally? I feel that way these days, as I go to work and home, home and work, with very little in between. I see my children, my boyfriend, maybe a couple of friends here or there, and that’s it. I keep it tight. I have, as my sister used to say, “Circled the wagons.”

She told me that circling the wagons was the the best methodology to avoid drama. The more people you interact with, and have in your direct sphere, the more chances there are for drama. While I thought that seemed sort of grim and isolating at the time, I now realize she had a point. It’s a self-preservation thing.

I think back, for example, to when I was the most social I’ve ever been as a parent (we can’t go all the way back…even though, obvi, I wish I could and stay there #ihearthighschool). So it was when I had my first child, and he was 2. I was so busy out and about with girlfriends, meeting at the playground with moms, going to “Mommy and Me” at the library, and chatting for hours on the phone. I remember I even had to get a new data plan on my cell phone, because I was on it too much. Now, I sort of hate talking on the phone, unless it’s Facetime over wine. 🙂

Anyway, at that time, there were all these fights and paranoia and, “Don’t say anything but…,” or, “No offense, but…,” and “Oh, you weren’t invited?” etc.

It drove me INSANE.

Like, I was 40-years-old and legit cried to my partner about a girl fight! I was 40–and in eighth grade! I was so crazed, in fact, about this one fight, that I literally lost my geographical bearings and drove straight over the Bourne Bridge off of Cape Cod, where I live, headed towards Boston. I was, in short, deranged.

Um…now, circling back to my point of circling the wagons (double circle here), I never feel that anxiety anymore with my friends. I never feel that, “Oh my God, is she mad at me,” or that “Wait, what did I not get invited to” feeling. Ya’ know why? ‘Cause I do nothing! Yeah, that’s right. Naturally, the pandemic has something to do with it. But, even before that, I have found that keeping my social interactions to a minimum has made me feel more at peace. This seems counterintuitive, as I am super social and gregarious and I’m not good at being alone. But, keeping it tight and small, that’s the way to go…for me.

That’s the one issue I have with social media. It’s like the tight circle is inevitably larger, because you are seeing what everyone else is doing, which you are not a part of. Suddenly, your small circle is now 800-people wide (well, except the algorithms make is so I see the same 10 people). Sometimes, I’ll see two people I know socializing, and I’ll feel this sense of FOMO, like I’m missing out.

But, then, I get over it.

And I feel okay and am grateful for the peace.

It’s kind of too bad it is that way, but, I mean, for me it was. How about you?

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Becoming Your Ideal Self to Avoid “Hell”

I just heard this quote about the definition of hell: “On your last day on earth, the person you could have become will meet the person you became.

I saw this on the HBO docuseries, The Vow, and that creepy cult leader, Keith Raniere, told one of his followers that. It did resonate (as I imagine all of his teachings may have resonated with me, since I’m a perfect cult victim). And it is seriously one of my biggest fears: to not become what I could be. I have FOMO on my ideal self.

Psychologists say that this disparity between your actual vs. your ideal self creates something called cognitive dissonance, which is at the root of depression and anxiety. Hm. No WONDER I am anxious! Good thing I just figured out all of my issues…

Um, no. BUT, I guess it’s good to reflect on this idea of the actual vs. ideal self maybe, like, once a month? Too much? Okay, let’s be a little easier on ourselves (it is 2021, after all), and let’s observe ourselves like every six months. We can ask: Where are we now? Where do we want to be? What do we have to do to get there?

We can make Inspiration Boards (I have tried that), and we can write down our goals. However, the real work comes with action and commitment: committing to those goals and that ideal self.

We CAN get there. But, it takes a lot of work and sacrifice–sacrificing the moment and immediate gratification.

I remember in college I went through a serious bout of depression. I had just broken up with my first real love, and I was a shell of a human. I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, and I had irrational fears, like I may launch myself into the subway tracks (even though I would never want to do that). I know that’s crazy. Don’t judge! I’m being vulnerable here! I got over it, but a lot of my depression then was that I had lost myself and was not the person I wanted to be. The ideal me was very far from the actual me.

Now, I feel good about myself, but I’m a work in progress and not my ideal. We all are, I think. I do believe if I were to meet my ideal self, I might be a little jelly and want to be her. I have to figure out how to get there, but it’s going to take some work.

I hope I have it in me.

Going to write down what I want to achieve to me the ideal me…so I can avoid that definition of hell!