Ever been helped by someone so intent on helping you that they can't see that they're actually trampling you? Some days this feels like the story of my life. Between well meaning friends and family and dysfunctional institutional structures I often feel that my life must be like the running of the bulls in Spain. Some days I'm the bull, other days I'm a runner. In either case I'm never quite sure what the crowd of on lookers is excited about. Are they cheering for my escape or my capture? Are they looking to see if I gore someone or get gored myself? I don't know.
So where am I going with this? Should you dear reader find yourself in a place to help someone who is essentially in their own bull run make that person's experiences the center of the help you offer. Like the runner staying just a few steps ahead of a frightened bull, and the frightened bull trying to get away from the crowd, people needing help have little or no use for lectures. A well executed extraction plan and a clear path forward? Bring it.
In the months following my sister Sanchia's death the song Hills and Valleys by Tauren Wells made me bawl. Of course I stopped to listen to it every time I heard it. I sat in driveways and parking lots to catch the last strains before getting out of the car. It's in my playlists, which is how I ended up writing this post. The song was one of Sanchia's favorites. As I listened to the song memories floated to the surface.
Following my sister's sudden death I was in my valley, walking in the shadow of death, wondering how long it would take for the pain and sorrow of the loss to become familiar friends. Each day I found new places in my life that Sanchia used to fill. The shock of stumbling into each new empty space was a fresh new wound to my tender heart How long, oh Lord?
It has been eighteen months of getting used to finding the empty places where Sanchia used to be. No more late night "Talk me down!" sessions when everyday injustice and indifference to suffering of others grate on our collective nerves. Y'all might want to behave by the way, she's not around to talk me down when I decide the world needs to change and it needs to change yesterday. Also pretty sure a couple of internal filters broke the day I realized I wouldn't hear her laugh ever again.
I'm starting to find new strength in places once weakened by grief. Old hurts are beginning to heal. In the place of open wounds healthy flesh is beginning to grow. They are still tender, some raw to the touch. I discovered this as I tried to hold back the tears that came while I wrote this. I'm learning to let the tears fall in remembrance of a beloved sister and out of respect for experience.
These tender healing wounds will one day be supple scars, the beauty marks of a survivor. Climbing in and out of these valleys, and up and down the hills, has kept my emotional muscles flexible. Sometimes I freeze. Sometimes I stumble. Sometimes I fall. Sometimes I wipe out so bad, I'm not sure I have the strength to get back up again.
"Life sucks. Bad stuff happens. Time to put your big girl panties on." I've found a place where sis managed to stay with me. She said those words to me so many times. I've already gotten back up so many times. How long, oh Lord?
One. More. Time.
I only need to get back up one time more than the times l fall. There's treasure in the hills and valleys. It's the truth of who I am, what I'm capable of, and what happens when I get back up.
Check out my latest contribution at Lessons On Paper, "You Talk White": Stereotypes in Life and Fiction. I have a big vocabulary and I am not afraid to use it.
Two decades into the 21st century and people in America still say things like “You talk white” to each other. Even young people from diverse backgrounds are tripped into making assumptions about someone speaking well or “proper.” There’s a certain level of confusion over the presumed differences between what behavior and vocabulary should be and what is. At its heart, “You talk white” and all its iterations (did I just use one of the “white” words?) is a racially tainted classist observation about a person’s interests that says, you don’t fit the stereotype and it’s making us uncomfortable.
There is a proverbial squirrel running around in my head. He or she, it never stops long enough for me to check, has been with me all my life. This critter is tricksy, especially around women and girls. My children helped with identifying the squirrel. ADHD.
ADHD, here after known as Squirrel, is my idea dynamo and my arch nemesis. I stopped counting the book projects I’ve start when I hit ten. Beautiful ideas spring to life in my head, and while I write one down Squirrel produces three more to twerk for my attention. Really Squirrel, twerking?
I have three jobs that I’ve created for myself. Squirrel keeps me busy. We are fabulous at starting things. Not so much with the finishing.
It’s okay to ask for support with the finishing. Squirrel and I have an understanding now. Bring on the big ideas, hunt for the support to make them happen.
Squirrel is my BFF when doing background research. Two hours researching gravity, microgravity, aerodynamics, gravitational force calculations, general relativity, estimates of exoplanet gravitational fields, quantum mechanics. Oh, dark matter! No, put that down, the thorium reactors are over here. I need a thorium reactor in my backyard! These energy bills are killing me.
So, research. I discover so many incredible things with Squirrel as my sidekick. I let Squirrel run wild on the page as I write. The results are ever so entertaining.
Wait, there’s more. Squirrel gives terrible advice concerning sleep. Squirrel did give me the confidence to know that this piece would stay well away from the max word count limit.
We all have challenges, things we perceive as limitations or that have been presented to us as our limitations. Do you accept them as limitations?
Disclaimer: I'm a nerd not a doctor. Discuss anything you read here with a healthcare professional you trust.
We’re hitting that time of year when the sun goes on vacation at the higher latitudes in the northern hemisphere. Many of us take exception to the shorter days and lack of sunlight. I know I do. Around this time of year, I start feeling like I’m wading through thin molasses. By February the molasses is good and thick.
Sleep helps. Seven to eight hours every night is gold. No, don’t believe that “I’m a night person I don’t need that much sleep” mess. Yes, you do need that much sleep. You will be amazed at what happens to your body and mind once you start getting adequate sleep. Psst, you burn calories in your sleep.
Beware the blanket burrito. While getting a solid minimum of seven to eight hours of sleep every night is good for you watch out for oversleeping. When I crack an eyelid open and it’s pitch black out, but the clock says it’s time to be awake, I want to roll back into my blanket burrito. It’s a trap! Don’t do it! There’s a whole day’s worth of adventure waiting for you, don’t succumb to the lure of the blanket burrito. I have an alarm clock that simulates the sun rising to help wake me up. Others use apps that require solving puzzles or math problems before the alarm will stop sounding.
Go. Out. Side. Stay out there for at least 30 minutes. Your brain will thank you. There are parts of our visual cortex that help regulate our internal functions based on the amount of sunlight that hits our retinas. If you live on the snowy tundra like I do, a full spectrum light may be your best friend as the days get shorter and darker. Be careful not to over expose yourself. I got a little carried away with the first light box I owned.
I take a general what happens if I do this approach to life. It keeps things interesting.