Saturday, March 28, 2015

Walk Before You Can Run

"I didn't know why I was going to cry, but I knew if anybody spoke to me or looked at me too closely the tears would fly out of my eyes and the sobs would fly out of the throat and I'd cry for a week."
~Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar


It seems to touch everyone at some point in life. Whether it's you or someone you love.

We've been battling with depression in one of our children for awhile now and it's heartbreaking, frustrating, scary and exhausting.

It's a crazy illness that there is no physical therapy for. You can have better living through chemistry, but there isn't a PT program where twice each week you can relearn how to be happy with a few simple exercises.

It's completely in the hands of the sufferer to find that program. It's very easy to want to stay in bed, sleep all day and not interact. It's comfortable in its loneliness.

So like any illness or injury you have to slowly regain strength or relearn how to function. You can't just go run a marathon two weeks after knee surgery. You have to work back into a program to where walking is comfortable, then running, then running farther every day, week, month.

Depression can be the same. Slowly accepting social offers, making yourself get outside, trying to find the things you enjoyed doing or new hobbies that keep you active and occupied. Then slowly the rhythm of life doesn't become so foreign or difficult but easy and natural.

In an earlier blog called The Ugly Sweater I used that metaphor. We wear our sadness like an invisible ugly sweater that we hate but at the same time is comfortable and keeps us warm and safe. Sometimes people catch a glimpse of it but most of the time we hide our sweaters under layers so no
one knows.

Too often, it is believed that it's a sign of weakness and one should just be able to look at the bright side and be happy,  just take off the stupid sweater. If only it was as easy as a wardrobe change.

 I love a quote from The Book Theif by Markus Zusak: "Imagine smiling after a slap in the face. Then think of doing it twenty-four hours a day."

That's living a life of depression; feeling slapped and usually smiling on the outside regardless.

So if you're walking in a world of depression, I hope you can find the courage to set out at a jog every so often, and eventually try a run. There may never be a finish line but the race itself may take on a new purpose with the prize being life and all it can have to offer.

And as you're running your sweater may also unravel.

"That's the thing about depression. A human being can survive almost anything, as long as she sees an end in sight. But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it's impossible to ever see the end."
~Elizabeth Wurtzel, Prozac Nation

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Brave Now. Afraid Now.

" I'm not afraid of death; I just don't want to be there when it happens."
~Woody Allen

The title is from an old Sesame Street clip of Elmo shifting back and forth from feeling brave to afraid, brave, afraid....


I hate fear. I hate to feel afraid or intimidated. I know it's necessary. It's that feeling in your stomach when something feels off. It's the hair on the back of your neck and the voice in your head saying danger is around to put you on high alert.

But what about the irrational fear. The phobias and the moments when we are scared to do something logically we know should not frighten us.

Recently I've started a lovely horse back to work after more than half of a year recovering from an injury. He has been a perfect gentleman. I should feel confident and secure with my decades of horse experience.

Unfortunately a number of things put my bravery back a step. Not one of them major in any way but the combo and timing put a small tingle of fear in me.

But he has proven that he is smart and sweet, although a bit of a scaredy horse himself sometimes with noises. I have started to trust him and in turn he is more relaxed. Although the first few rides, feeling his nervousness made me nervous, and we would share our growing ball of tense with each other like a defective toy.

How do you make that fear you know isn't helpful or needed dissipate? Whether it's a fear such as waiting nervously for a child to come home or a call with a diagnoses. Or fear that keeps you from trying something new or overcoming an obstacle.

I wish I knew. I personally despise feeling like fear will win. Most of the time I can berate myself into getting past it.

Unfortunately, on occasion, fear has won. Usually that leads to something I like to call my regrets. And at least in my life, regrets are worse than fear.

So if you're struggling with a fear or simply trying to face something bravely let me know. Maybe we can pep talk each other. I find that nothing helps a person with their own fear as much as being a cheerleader for someone else.

So take a minute. Take a breath. Hell, take a drink if needed. And as the saying goes: put on your big girl/boy panties and get to it.

We've got this.

"What you fear most of all is -- fear. Very wise..."
J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Training Wheels

"To be environmentally friendly, I'd ride my stationary bike to work. I hope this career works out, because it feels like I'm just spinning my wheels."
~Jarod Kintz, This Book is NOT FOR SALE

The other day we had a taste of spring and like most people, I had to get outside. I took a long walk through the park, passing dog walkers, strolling couples and of course parents with their kids.

One women was desperately trying to encourage her son to "put your feet on the pedals! I promise you'll be fine!"

Training wheels laying to the side the child was whining and pleading, "I don't want to!"

I felt bad for them both.

I understand that fear. That fear that our physical selves are about to be harmed so let's just stop whatever nonsense is leading up to that. I've had to conquer that fear. A few instances are getting on a horse that wants to kill me, jumping in a self defense training ring with someone twice my size, filing for divorce in a bad marriage or traveling to another country to find real love.

We all face that fear on occasion and rarely can we find a pair of training wheels. Sometimes it's a personal motivational speech, a cocktail, or our own cheerleading squad that gives us the push. Other times we may just whine, plant our feet and refuse to touch the pedals.

What are you putting off, afraid to try? What is missing on your checked off bucket list, personal accomplishments or life goals? What do you need to start pedaling towards?

Wether it's a friend, a coach, or simply a plan to begin trying, don't let fear stop whatever you wish for in life. It may be hard, it may be exhausting, it may even hurt, but if in the end you achieved something you've long put off then it was worth the struggle.

Take off your training wheels and go somewhere.

"Chances don't approach you,
It's you who approach chances."
~Toba Beta, Master of Stupidity

Monday, March 16, 2015


"On TV, I can hit the mute button and silence any moron. I wish real life came with a hush button I could push and enjoy instant quiet."
~Jarod Kintz, At even one penny, this book would be overpriced. In fact, free is too expensive, because you'd still waste time by reading it.

Imagine having that magical mute button. You could turn off a whining child, an annoying sales person or, lets be honest, any number of idiots one person can encounter.

The other day I was standing in line at Walmart waiting for the third time to see if they finally had my son's prescription ready. A nice couple behind me were having the same issue. We chatted for a bit until she said she had tried Walgreens but the woman had a "head cover thing" and it made her uncomfortable. MUTE

If I had been able to mute my ex-husband I may have stayed married longer and the kids might actually go see him more. But last night I was the one told to hush.

My kids always come home from their rare day or two with their dad and just vomit the details with no prompting. Sometimes it sounds so terrible I go into Momma Bear mode and send a "how dare you" text or email. That, from what I understand, is the wrong approach. All that does is lead to another lecture on their next visit simply adding to the circle of torture.

So I have promised to mute. I will not discuss anything regarding the kids with him unless it is absolutely necessary (medical issue or he decides to use one as a punching bag again). The kids can share their life details or not, their choice, and they will have to be their own advocate.

Because really, why waste the energy? People are who they are. We can try to change them. In our minds they are flawed, wrong or simply bat-shit crazy. But unless that feeling is shared the result is as effective as shaving a cat.

It's a simple coaching idea: If you can't change the situation than alter your approach and change your perspective. We all know the definition of insanity.

So my approach is to stay quiet and my perspective will be one of blissful ignorance about the situation.

In the words of the great Elmer Fudd I will be "vewy vewy qwiet."

"If you can be quiet, you're more than welcome to stay in my House of Silence. Bring your own bubblegum ice cream."
~Jarod Kintz, Seriously delirious, but not at all serious."

Friday, March 13, 2015

Out of Focus

"My most important piece of advice to all you would-be writers: When you write, try to leave out all the parts readers skip."
~Elmore Leonard, Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing

Stay on task. Focus. Stop getting distracted. Things I tell my son every day after school when it comes to homework. What he doesn't know is that I'm just as guilty.

Writing is hard. Unless you find yourself on a complete role (happens on occasion) trying to pound out chapters of a story can be as motivating as teaching my dog to play checkers. It would make an awesome Youtube video but the chances of it actually happening feel like it's not worth trying.

And then there's the distractions! Facebook, email, Trivia Crack, the dishwasher is beeping, the dog needs a walk, oh look-a new recipe on Pinterest. That looks good. Maybe I should run to the grocery store. Look at the dustballs in the corners. I better vacuum. What was I doing again?

So I think to get this done I need to get out of my element. Be one of those coffee shop people on their laptops for a few hours whenever I can. Maybe make a deal with the waiter/waitress to nudge me if they notice my mind drifting or playing on my phone.

That's what I do with my son. I take his phone and often sit behind him while he works so he can't switch to a computer game. He needs someone to be accountable to in the moment.

That's often my job as a coach. As adults many things in our lives we simply have to get done for ourselves only. In our jobs we probably have a boss, a work ethic and hopefully a sense of accomplishment. But in our personal lives if we go for a run, order the salad over the triple cheeseburger, clean that drain that seems backed up or tackle that home repair that may take our entire weekend is our decision. And it's easy to put it off.

So I'm going to put some of my coaching practices into play for myself and see if I can stay focused. You may see me around Lancaster trying out different places to hide from, well, me.

Just please, I beg of you, DO NOT give me the WIFI password!

"And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt."
~Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Falling or Flying

"What if I fall?"
"Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?"
~Erin Hanson

One of my favorite quotes.

Because you have to fall. Everyone has to fall. I've fallen more often than I can count. Off of horses; thrown, fallen on, flipped over, etc. at least 35 times. I've also fallen over my own feet, or the proverbial fall when things just go horribly wrong in life for awhile.

I recently read a blog about kids today not knowing how to fall and get back up, no matter what the reason is. If they fall they give up because it's too hard, too embarrassing or simply not worth the effort.

That may be more true today but I think our parents said that about our generation, and their parents about them.

To me it's more about personality. I look at my three kids, all raised the same, and two are die hard who will "get back up no matter what" kind of people from early on in life. But one, from the time he was little, would quickly give up if the smallest thing didn't go his way. It's just his personality. It's not that he isn't brave, smart or often determined, he just needs more encouragement and prodding when things get tough.

It was recently the great George Morris's birthday (the patriarch of Hunter/Jumper riding) and one of his famous quotes is: "You either go to the hospital or you get back or on!"

My first time on a horse I was five. They put my tiny self up on that big saddle and my mom tried to sit behind me. The horse was not crazy about that and threw us both. I flew pretty far being a pipsqueak (so flying and falling) and, I'm told, maybe had a mild concussion. But a few years later all I would talk about was riding lessons.

And it is like flying, jumping around large obstacles on a 1000 pound animal with a mind of it's own. So falling on occasion is inevitable. You can be done after that first fall or you can dust yourself off and keep riding.

You can say the same after your first car accident, loss of a job, loss of a loved one or failed relationship. You can decide never to drive again, never love, find a job below your ability to be safe. Or you can take a deep breath, dust yourself off, and get back on the horse.

That is if you don't have to go to the hospital first.

"The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall."
~Nelson Mandela

Monday, March 2, 2015

Kids-What Are They Good For?

"Before I got married I had six theories about raising children; now, I have six children and no theories."
~John Wilmont

The constant guessing game of raising children. I would say there are no instruction books but that's not true. Just go to your local parenting section at Barnes & Nobles and you'll find a book on all of life's parenting questions. That would be great if all children were the same mold, all situations exact and all personalities fitting into a correct box.

As is the case in my life I tend to always have a child testing my parenting patience, pushing me to do the frustrated head bang against the wall in hopes that if nothing else a concussion will make me forget I'm a mom. And then there is wine.

My kids are great kids but there is always a challenge. Last year at this time it was my oldest and his lack of direction. Now he's thriving both in school and his job. So issues do pass. But during the troubles it feels like a hamster wheel of insanity.

Of course the frustration sometimes spills over to my ex-husband who can't parent unless the stars are in alignment and not one tiny thing is inconvenient. Those of you who parent in the real world understand how often he sees his kids then. Not that it's a problem, they choose to be with me anyway. But it can feel unfair during the stressful periods.

But despite it all there is always the love, laughter and rewards of their humor, kind hearts and ability to rebound. We make memories on travel adventures or finding crazy things to do on the home front. We laugh a lot (thanks a great deal to their amazing step-dad) and talk about everything. We share a lot of love.

So I take a deep breath and prepare for another week and the challenges to come. But as with my oldest who I rarely see due to his schedule I'll miss (some of) this someday.

Next up-teenage girl years. That reminds me, I'm out of wine.

"Having children is like living in a frat house - nobody sleeps, everything's broken, and their's a lot of throwing up."
~Ray Romano

"Parent's can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person's character lies in their own hands."
~Anne Frank