MY FAVORITE THINGS

Randomly and without categorization:

1.   British actor Bill Nighy

2.  Trader Joe’s Belgian Chocolate pudding

3.  Koh-I-Noor Chromatic Coloring Pencils

4.  Reading The Sun magazine on a Saturday afternoon

5.  Taking mental health days off from my job in mental health

6.  Writer Thomas Moore (the contemporary one)

7.  The dual whir of ceiling fans in the living room and dining room

8.  August days that do not require air conditioning in the semi-desert where I live

9.  Pruning the lantana

10. Solo living room dancing to Dire Strait’s “The Bug”

11. Dire Straits albums, especially Dire Straits, Love Over Gold, and Brothers in Arms

12. Mark Knopfler

13. Mark Knopfler solo albums, particularly Sailing to Philadelphia, Ragpicker’s Dream, Shangri-La, Kill to Get Crimson, and Get Lucky

14.  Connecting with other MK enthusiasts

15.  The movie Stranger Than Fiction

16.  Cate Blanchett in just about any movie she’s made

17.  Joseph Campbell, scholar of mythology and religion extraordinare, radiant being, and lover of life, the universe and everything (may his spirit continue to inhabit, inform, and inspire)

18.  The poetry of Dorianne Laux, Connie Hales, C.G. Hanzlicek, Wendell Berry, William Stafford, Denise Duhamel, Teddy Roethke, Rita Dove, and on and on and on

19.  Dark chocolate-covered raisins (“craisins” in our house)

20.  Old friends

21.  New friends

22.  New-old friends

23.  Mandalas

24.  Freesia that comes straight from our front yard

25.  Yanking out yard-length weeds from the flowerbeds

26.  Hurling snails into the street

27.  Walking to our local neighborhood coffeehouse/cafe on a Sunday morning

28.  All of my friends, even those with whom I can no longer (for whatever reason) communicate

29.  The intangible gifts my parents gave me

30.  Haagen-Dazs strawberry ice cream

31.  Practicing yoga

32.  Art retreats

33.  Intuitive painting

34.  A really excellent filet mignon once a year

35.  Getting packages in the mail (especially unexpected ones)

36.  Reading through my teenage journals

37.  Heath Ledger, RIP

38.  Prismacolor artist pencils

39.  Metallic tempera paint

40.  My increasingly silvery hair

41.  Fresh-off-the-tree peaches

42.  Making giant fruit salads

43.  Sitting on a beach-log, listening to the ocean

44.  “Dictation” poems that seem to come from something/somewhere outside my self

45.  Tree-shaded streets in old neighborhoods

46.  Living in a house that’s almost a century old

47.  My husband, in all of his vicissitudes, moods, creative states, semi-military moments, utter silliness, complete honesty, after-midnight runs on online guitar forums, total integrity, and absolute intolerance of bullshit

48.  She is my cat and I am her human

49.  My annual effort to master (against all odds) a layer cake for my husband’s birthday

50.  My great mentor, teacher, and friend, Ron K. (may his spirit/soul meet up with Joseph Campbell’s if it hasn’t already)

51.  Actually getting enough sleep once or twice a week

52.  Inheriting (and/or learning) my mother’s tolerance of and compassion for humankind (okay, ALMOST all of it–leaving out the Idi Amins, Sadam Husseins, et al)

53.  Getting to start over and try to do things right every day I wake up

54.  Oddly, blogging

55.  Seeing women grow old with acceptance and grace (a real kind of beauty)

56.  Giving myself a weekend off from “having to do” anything

57.  Cobalt blue

58.  The brilliant pinpoint map of stars in mountain-night skies

59.  The first teacher who gave me a blank composition book

60.  Neil Young, in all ways, ALWAYS

61.  Coloring books

62.  Warm brownies with melty vanilla ice cream

63.  Mountain meadows

64.  My 52 and 3/4-yr-old heart that still seems to work (most of the time)

65.  Daylight, as George Harrison said, that’s “good at arriving at the right time”

66.  There’s a little bit of magic in everything, and some loss to even things out (thank you Lou Reed)

67.  Surviving cancer

68.  And living to tell

(more later . . . )

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NOTE TO SELF:

Why for you been dragging your sorry ass around like the world is coming to an end?  You’ve been acting badly, and you know it.  For example:  What’s up with all of the self-indulgent eating lately?  Remember how you changed your worst eating habits (excessive quantities of sugar, not enough vegetable matter) earlier in the year when you found out your cholesterol had gone through the roof?  And what about the last two months of almost no meditation?  Minimal exercise?  Didja FORGET how great you feel when you do even 15 or 20 minutes of yoga?

Face it:  you’ve been a crank and a grouch, undermotivated and over-whiney, and can I just say that it has been boring as HELL. So give yerself a slap in the face, and see if a friend will give you a loving boot in the ass so you can snap out of it.  You’re no good to anyone when you behave this way.

While you’re at it, why dontcha try getting enough sleep (that would require going to bed at a reasonable hour most nights), taking walks in the morning, and performing the occasional random (and anonymous) act of kindness for people who least expect it?

And quit thinking about being creative.  GO.  DO. You’ve got works in progress.  Go back to your mandala project.  Get busy again pulling poetry and essays together for your book lab.  Read what you want to read; put away all literature connected with work.  Excavate your artist/writer self and give her back the light of day.  And for god’s sake, throw those manacles and leg irons away.  What, are you training to be a barbarian?

ANY QUESTIONS?

P.S. — remember who and what inspires you:

Neil Young, still rocking out in his 60s . . . Martin Dockery and his crazy-manic-gorgeous storytelling . . . your mom and her quiet strength, courage, and determination . . . your insanely adorable feline pal . . . people who make sidewalk art with chalk under cover of darkness . . . your friends in all of their various incarnations . . . your creative mentor of juicy arts . . . Ken Kesey . . . Maya Angelou . . . Walt Whitman . . . paintings of gifted graffiti artists . . . anyone who paints any mural on any building . . . Thomas Moore . . . poets, of course:  Dorianne Laux . . . Connie Hales . . . Chuck Hanzlicek . . . Roethke . . . Susan Wooldridge and her word tickets . . . little kids finger-painting . . . constellations . . . connotations . . . conversations . . . WORDS ! . . . COLORS!!! . . . walking on the edge of the ocean . . . climbing to the top of giant slabs of rock for a change of view . . . Beethoven . . . Prokofiev . . . Mark Knopfler . . . a huge blank sheet of paper on an easel . . . a blank notebook . . . coffee with a friend . . . the way the sun slants through the day . . . how all of this is enough, somehow . . .

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REWIND, REWRITE, REDEFINE

Have you ever thought about how you’ve come to know yourself?  For example, how did you determine whether or not you’re strong or weak, happy or sad, fearful or courageous, interesting or dull?

Are you aware of the stories you may have learned to tell yourself so that you could explain to yourself–or to anyone else–who you are and how you got to be that way?

Have you ever considered the possibility that your stories do not represent any sort of definitive truth about you?

Has it ever occurred to you that if the story/stories you’re currently living aren’t working for you, it may possible to change them?

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And what about very old friends?

Today was brunch day for me and one of my old high school friends.  We were out of touch for a very long time until just a couple of years ago, when he tracked me down.  Turned out that he had begun writing fiction for the first time in his life, and hoped that we might talk about writing, as well as catch up on the main events of each other’s lives .  He had been working on an extremely imaginative and amusing story, and wondered if I might be willing to take a look at it.

Thus began our ritual Sunday brunch meetings at a favorite neighborhood café.  We talk quite a bit about writing, and a fair amount about a lot of other stuff.  We chuckle about how we’re morphing into our parents, the very thought of which would have struck horror into our rebellious adolescent hearts of 35 years past.  We drink lots of coffee and stay long after our waiter or waitress brings the check. 

I feel blessed to be able to renew old friendships, and have been fortunate in having two such opportunities since entering my fifties.  There is my friend, the burgeoning fiction writer.  Less than two weeks ago, another good friend whom I hadn’t seen for 24 years reappeared in my life. 

My ex-husband, who was visiting his family and getting ready to take a backpacking trek in the high Sierra before returning to his home in another state, contacted me and let me know that our mutual friend (with whom he had maintained regular contact over the years) was flying out to join him on the trip.  Would I be interested in meeting up with them when they got back?

Could there be more than one possible answer to that question?  As if!  It was fantastic to see my friend again, and we immediately fell back into the groove as if we had just seen each other a few days ago.  I’d forgotten how easy it had always been for me to talk to him about anything and everything.  And that hadn’t changed a smidge.

It is a rare gift to have friends like this.  I don’t want to take them for granted, and I absolutely don’t want to lose touch with them again.  These days I’m interested in those rock-solid, with-ya-till-the-end kinds of friendships.  Y’know, like Gandalf and Bilbo, Frodo and Sam.  Hekyl and Jekyl.  Lazy Boy and the Recliner.  Like that.

Later, ‘gators.

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20 things to do when you’re depressed

1.       Watch Wuthering Heights with Juliette Binoche and Ralph Fiennes (this movie is so bad, and the characters so pathetic, that you will automatically feel better).

 2.       Bake brownies, slather them in ice cream, and eat as many as you can.  You will feel guilty and disgusted with yourself.  Wallow in it.

 3.       Make a paperdoll of yourself and design the ugliest clothes imaginable for your paperdoll self to wear. 

 4.       Make a fairy godmother paperdoll who grants your paperdoll self three wishes.  Make the most extravagant and outrageous wishes you can think of. 

 5.       Paint a picture of your paperdoll self reaping the benefits of her three granted wishes.

 6.       Pick a room in your home that will be your depression room.  Paint it black (including the windows) and cover the floor with a black rug.

 7.       Put on the most depressing music you own and choreograph your own depression dance, using slow, exaggerated movements.

 8.       Dress entirely in black.  If you don’t have black underwear and a black bra, buy them.

 9.       Dye your hair black to outwardly manifest your inner darkness.

 10.     Stay in bed all day; don’t even bother to get up and go pee.

 11.     Call in sick at work and surf the Internet for information on antidepressant medication.

 12.     Send yourself a card or postcard with the message, “So you’re still depressed?  Snap out of it!  Think of the starving children in Africa.”

 13.     Go to the library and check out only books on depression.  Read them until a) you know everything you ever wanted to know about depression, or b) you get sick of the subject and begin craving comic books.

 14.     Send yourself a sympathy bouquet and a card that reads, “I’m so sorry.  About everything.”

 15.     Start a depression journal.  Write only about dark, disturbing things.

 16.     Have a depression slumber party.  Invite the most depressed people you know, and have a contest for who has the most depressing life.  Winner gets to sit and mope silently in another room.

 17.     Adopt a hopeless cause.

 18.     Make a list of ambitious projects that you can’t possibly complete.

 19.     Mourn your failed romances by building a tiny altar with photos or mementos of each lost love, then setting them on fire.  Be sure to wail and gnash your teeth while doing so.

 20.     Pick a random day to honor your patron saint of depression.  This person can be real or fictional, as long as they truly represent a human in the depths of complete and total despair.

 

© creat1ve11 2010

Posted in and everything, Depression, existential angst, general angst, life, pain, Uncategorized, women | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

And now a word from our sponsor

Since this last weekend I think I’ve broken my own record for excessive editing and rapid scrawling of multiple and intentionally vague posts that mean virtually nothing to anyone but myself.  It would appear that I have been grappling with and working through something emotionally unwieldy in the process of these last few posts. 

I’m sure it has made for cryptic, confusing, or utterly boring reading, and I apologize for that.  FYI, I’m hitting the reset button, and will resume regular programming with my next post.   (I think it would be a good time for me to take a few days away from der blog in the meantime. . . . open the windows, let in a little fresh air, etc.)

Over’n’out.

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talking for the sake of talking

This is one of those weeks when I just don’t feel like working.  Maybe I’m a little burned out on work right now; it does seem to happen with clock-like regularity.  People come into my office every day and tell me bizarre, ridiculous, shocking, frightening, terribly sad, and terribly crazy things.  I listen, sometimes comment, empathize, challenge, explore, and comfort.  Sometimes they trust me, sometimes they don’t; sometimes they lie to me, sometimes they are heart-wrenchingly honest.  It’s a fascinating job on the good days, an exhausting and sometimes depressing one on the not-so-good days.  Today was one of the latter.

I remember when I was in my twenties and began individual therapy for the first time.  I thought my therapist was awesome, young, hip, smart, compassionate, and probably perfect.  She was gorgeous in an understated, natural way, had the best bourgeois pseudo-hippie clothes I’d ever seen, smelled subtly like rare and beautiful flowers, and seemed to have it all together.  I couldn’t imagine how anyone ever got to be so cool without even trying.  I believed her life was charmed and magical in every way, and that she always had the right answer for everything.

Later I learned that she was in the process of getting divorced, which both shocked and comforted me.  So she wasn’t perfect, after all.   Her life contained messiness, mistakes, flaws.  I had so idealized her, I couldn’t imagine that she was merely human. 

Yep.  My clients don’t see that about me, either.  When they come to my cozy-yet-nicely appointed office, see me sitting in my attractive-yet-authoritative therapist’s chair, see my degrees and my license on the wall, the bookcases full of therapist-like-books, and the fresh bouquet of flowers on the end table near the couch, they probably think the same sorts of things I did about my therapist of long ago.  And they could not be more wrong.

For the longest time I thought I wanted to be a therapist, but was convinced that my life was too messy and I was too screwed up to ever be invited into the club.  Little did I know how the mental health field seemed to attract every kind of craziness, from good solid neurotics (I count myself among them) to alcohol and drug addicts to the mildly to severely personality disordered.  A typical slice of life, actually.  So when I finally scrambled up through the ranks, made it through graduate school, internship, and licensure, I realized that I was probably as sane as the next therapist, and in many cases considerably more so.

The clients I saw today had absolutely no clue that I was still emotionally hung-over from a rather painful weekend involving complex and confusing relationship issues that required copious amounts of tears on my part to purge my soul of its (admittedly) overblown angst.  They had no idea that I, too, sometimes screwed up in my personal life, stumbled foolishly over my own feet and occasionally fell flat on my ass, to my great embarrassment and chagrin.  Nor do they know that I will–on occasion–continue to do so, until I finally learn the lessons I have thus far stubbornly resisted having knocked into my Stonehenge-hard noggin. 

Think you’ve got feet of clay?  Wanta see mine?

Dunno why I’m posting so much lately, other than that sometimes I feel like talking just for the sake of talking.  Cleverly?  Interestingly?  Deeply?  Nope.  Just enough to distract myself from myself . . .

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