The Cure for Depression: Journal, Meditate, and Pray

Welcome to suggestion #12 on curing depression. I’ve got a word for you fellow depressors: Mindfulness.

Have you heard that one lately? I don’t even social media that much since realizing it contributed an unhealthy amount to my negative self-image and my -sorry; rambling. I don’t get around much, and even I saw that word everywhere.

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I think it means being full of yourself, right?

Mindfulness is meant to be synonymous with introspection, self-awareness, inner peace, and self-acceptance. It’s a calming state of mind similar to where one gets with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, but with more calming and less control.

In fact, CBT is the more-chosen recommendation of professionals at the moment. As a warning, we mental types can get a little crazy when we meditate incorrectly. Who knew?

Anyway…. why practice mindfulness?

A calm mindset in which we have learned to meet and release negative situations and impulses is very beneficial. This mindset reduces stress, keeps us healthier physically, tends to decrease depressive thoughts, helps when we feel bullied or belittled, improves learning, and gives us a general resilience to negative life situations.

Sounds great, right?

Let’s get some stretch pants on, then, and get ready to lotus right into it. Here are the top ways to get yourself mindful:

  1. Meditation.
    Set aside just a few minutes around the same time each day for a little calm introspection. Yes, you can sit cross-legged and hum if it’ll make you laugh. Then, you’ll need to get serious for any ‘inner peace’-type moments. I also recommend calm music and limited distractions.
    A very important warning I found online is that meditation can have a dark side. If you’re going to look into yourself, do it with guidance (like with the directions of a psychologist). If you’re extremely depressive and want to go 24 hours into deep meditative prayer, get professional instruction first. I have many addictive habits and negative thoughts, so learning that we can actually go a bit haywire delving into our psychosis didn’t surprise me all that much.
    A peaceful reconnection with ourselves for a few simple minutes each day, however, is great.
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  2. Prayer
    I grew up in an organized religion that I am still a part of. We were taught to pray daily. From this, I know both the positive sides (divine help, meditative benefits, divine worth, etc.) and the negative ones (anxiety, trust issues, etc.).
    Thing is, I’ve been reading about a lot of non-religious people finding some suspiciously-religious results from their definition of praying. Elizabeth Gilbert wrote in Eat, Pray, Love about writing to herself in a journal but that it wasn’t herself who answered. Whilst binge-listening to TED Talks, I heard a woman describe coincidental inspirational thoughts and events that led her to positive directions in her life.
    Prayer can work. Perhaps like the meditation, do it in a small, beneficial amounts -maybe even with guidance.
  3. Journaling
    “But, I’m not a writer…” “But, someone might see….” “But, but..” as your grandmother might say, “Buts belong in ashtrays, sonny!” Who cares about your skill as a writer? Just burn the journals when you’re done if you want. Journaling is for YOU.
    Despite the technically-advanced society we live in, consider an actual journal with actual paper and pencil or pen. We’re still very primal and tactile homo sapiens so the behavior of actual writing can be therapeutic.
    What should you write about? How about: guided CBT strategies you and your paid friend are working on, positive thoughts you had, goals for the day, hopes, dreams, and dark poetry …that ends with an inspirational message.
  4. Yoga
    When I think of yoga, I think impossible stretches and smug people with long hair and smoothies made from grass. Yoga doesn’t have to be that way, however. The wonderful world of online videos gives us simple stretches to do in your jeans, advanced positions you need to work up to, and even quick morning routines.
    It’s the marriage of meditation and exercise, so may be the perfect solution if you just want to get this mindfulness crap out of the the way quickly.
  5. Other things
    Like: Self-massage, visualization, rhythmic exercise, progressive muscle relaxation and deep breathing.
    Depression is the continual weather forecast of cloudy skies with scattered showers (in terms of hygiene and crying fits). Most calming activities that break us into relaxation and positive self-awareness are good. They’ll provide a sunbeam, or a full-on clearing of gray matter.

As always, start small and consider working with your doctor and/or counselor for any of these suggestions. Pay attention to how your body responds to each relaxation technique. You may not respond the way 75% of case studies do and it’s super important to do what does work.

Use your inner voice to channel light against the darkness of depression, young Care Bear. You can do it.

Namaste.

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Photo credits:
Lesly Juarez
Le Minh Phuong
Jacob Postuma

 

*Chelsea Owens is not a licensed anything, except a Class D driver in her home state, and shares all information and advice from personal experience and research.

The Cure for Depression: Simply, Joy

I am not looking forward to today’s topic.

Whoa –what?! Why wouldn’t I want to type about happy things? I’m the expert, dishing out advice. I should be ALL OVER this topic.

I’m not.

I am terrible at happiness. -Aaaannnddd that sentence just proved it.

Instead of the ol’ biblical casting of stones at me, however, I’d like to suggest that we all might struggle with the positive side of things. That’s kind of, sort of why we’re looking at solutions for depression; right?

So, with seeking counseling, improving our diet, getting outside, exercising a tad, and perhaps taking medication, let’s try to Do Something that Brings Us Real Joy.

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First, allow me to give you an analogy: Right now I am sitting at my computer typing advice. I can smell something, and it’s not a pleasant sort of something. I am fairly certain this unpleasant odor is coming from the garbage can.

I live in a fancy house with a fancy pull-out garbage drawer thingie with two entire garbage bins so that I can procrastinate taking the mess outside for a really long time (like a whole day, since I have four children). We’ve been playing an avoidance game of smashing the mess down instead of removing it, because we’re really good at procrastination.

The garbage needs to get taken out. Why the heck don’t I do it?

  1. I enjoy the stink of stinky things. They remind me that life is full of crap and I shouldn’t forget it.
  2. I’ve read about other people smelling garbage. I feel better knowing I’m not alone and find those people and leave comments about how I, too, can smell bad things all day.
  3. Thinking about refuse removal overwhelms me. What if the bags are too heavy? What if they tear when I pull them out? What if, what if, what if?
  4. It’s a really long couple hundred feet out my garage door to the outside cans/bins/etc. I just don’t think I can make it that far.

Didja get the point? Good! You get extra credit. Everyone else (myself included): just insert phrases like negative thoughtsdepressionhiding in the closetfeeling terrible every time I wrote about smelly waste.

For example: “I enjoy negative thoughts.” “I’ve read about other people feeling terrible.” “Thinking about depression overwhelms me.”

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My story sounded silly when I was talking about garbage. I mean, OF COURSE I SHOULD JUST TAKE IT OUTSIDE. But why do we hang onto personal garbage?

Feeling terrible is simply not worth it.

I wrote about why I numb awhile back. Not doing happy things is an activity I participate in because I’m trying to self-protect. I think that not feeling happy will make it so I also don’t feel sad. Instead, I am constantly in a haze of nothingness and still feel sad.

Feeling happy is okay. In fact, it feels good.

Let’s small step out of our stinky, dark corner: First, I want you to think a happy thought. Seriously, Tinkerbell, DO IT. I recommend thinking about a time that you felt happy, even just a little bit. Or, think about an activity you love to do.

Got it firmly in your mind? Now, wave your wand and… Expecto Patronum!

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In the real world, we’re going to take that happy thought and write another one below it. We’re making what’s called a LIST. Yes, I want you to actually put pen or pencil on paper and list them out. Even in today’s technological world, listing helps our primal brains make connections.

My list read:

  1. Snowball fight with friends
  2. Running in the rain
  3. Creating something useful
  4. Eating a really delicious mushroom Swiss burger
  5. Receiving a sincere compliment

Now it’s your turn. Your list may read: eating, reading, me time, skiing, friends, chocolate, gardening, walks, booze, sex, sunlight streaming softly through slatted blinds, and whiskers on kittens. Dude; it’s your list. Make it catered to you and stop worrying that someone will judge you for it.

Now, small step numero dos is to pick one thing on there that you think you can do soon. It is your list, but pick one that gives you REAL JOY (sex and drugs don’t count; sorry). Decide to do it. Today would be ideal, but maybe you’re reading this article at 3 a.m. and water skiing with your friends might be a little lethal in the dark.

I don’t want you to just say you will do it, either. Put it in your phone. Send a text to a responsible person like your mother. Carve out the time that you will do it and then actually do it.

It’s just one thing, I promise.

After completing that thing, recuperate. Then, do something else from your list. Recover. Pick another one and do it. Lather, rinse, repeat.

After you do that first thing, I want you to do me a favor. I want you to come back here and comment on this here blog post. Tell me what you did (unless it’s classified). You get extra internet credit if you tell the class how you felt afterwards.

Let’s find real joy, together.

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This has been part of our tips to help cure depression. Tune in next time, to read about service.

 

Photo Credits:
Blaise Vonlanthen
Pixabay
Pexels
Sharon McCutcheon

 

*Chelsea Owens is not a licensed anything, except a Class D driver in her home state, and shares all information and advice from personal experience and research.

The Cure for Depression: Eat Healthy

Good morning/afternoon/evening/midnight/snacktime everyone! I am ready to very professionally talk to you about one of my favorite subjects: food.

Fruit smoothies in glasses topped with pieces of fruit and marigold flowers

I just spent ten luxurious minutes searching for food pictures, and now I’m hungry. There are so many pictures of food! WHY are there so many?

Duh. Food is life.

That, and it’s delicious. During one of my no-sugar diets, I sagely told a friend, “I’ve decided the problem with chocolate is that it tastes good.” I hope I come up with better quotes when I’m not dieting.

So…. why bother monitoring what we stuff in our faces? This is one of those answers that we all know, like how we ought to be getting outside more, or exercising. We know that eating well is better for our health.

Anyone with food issues like me also knows that an entire bag of Snicker’s ‘fun’ size is really appealing at depressive moments. As appetizing as a picture of odd fruits with flowers (why flowers?) is, I’m apt to choose something meatier and fattier and baddier.

Oooh yeah. People don’t believe me when I tell them I like meat and have issues in general, because I periodically diet and usually exercise. And if random good behavior keeps me looking passable, then you have my personal assurances that such a plan will work for you.

First, let’s list why eating well is such a great idea:

  1. Vitamins, minerals, nutrients, madeupwordients are ESSENTIAL for complex creatures such as us. They’re our fuel.
  2. Eating the right things really helps to not get sick often.
  3. A balanced diet definitely helps with mental illness. Seriously, Google found me so much proof -like on a Harvard Health blog.

Hmmm… I probably should have put #3 first. I blame not eating breakfast yet.

“Put simply, what you eat directly affects the structure and function of your brain and, ultimately, your mood” (Harvard Health Blog).

Oops. I’m just gonna hide this bag of …Snicker’s. *crinkle* *crinkle* Hey, look at this beautiful picture of a salad!

Right-o. We know that good food is good. Most of us know that, from our childhood years of basic nutrition education. If not -hey! I taught you something new!

The tricky part is application. Take one little tiny baby step with me here:

You don’t have to starve yourself and only eat rabbit food.

In fact, if weight loss alone is your goal, you can eat only McDonald’s and still shed pounds. McDonald’s, even the salad, is NOT healthy; just so’s you know. Processed foods tend to not be. And, you have to put up with only Mickey D’s for six months which would be hell for me.

I likes my variety, and you can too!

Rambling point: Small Step #1 is to eat less* overall. You can feed your OCD tendencies if you have them and write down how many calories if you wish. Use a website or app to estimate what your daily calorie burn is, then eat less of that each day. Eat a little less; we’re not encouraging any anorexia here.

*Eating less than what you burn leads to weight loss. Ignore this advice if you are already at a good weight. In that case, eat close to what you burn in order to maintain.

Small Step 2 is when you eat. Your body will burn calories or hang onto them differently at different times of day and different times of year. Generally, avoid eating after 8:00 p.m. and/or two hours before sleeping. Eating later not only helps the food stick around, it makes you less comfortable and more depressed.

On the same page, make sure you are stuffing your face at regular mealtimes. I also need to eat between meals, like a hobbit. I keep the calorie count low (see Step 1), but don’t starve.

Step 3 is what you eat. If you consider lettuce a food fit for hopping creatures, that’s totally cool. I especially understand if you only ever eat iceberg lettuce; that crap is just water. Get yourself the more green and leafy varieties like Romaine, wrap your protein in it, and salt and pepper the thing.

Everyone has some foods he/she likes that he/she knows are healthy. If not, buy some of your friend’s favorites and sneakily eat them in your closet. I won’t tell. At the end of such an experiment, you will have a few that you can stomach.

Use the old internet for searches like “low-calorie recipes,” “healthy snacks,” and “edible and appetizing ways to prepare kale.” -Okay, that last one was a joke.

I recommend AGAINST anal counting of minerals and vitamins and whatnot because it’s a very tricky process that is probably not entirely accurate. Fresh foods have a different value than ones that have been canned, dried, frozen, or covered in chocolate to actually make them taste good.

The advice I follow myself is to lower sugars and white flours and rices, keep the calories low, and include a treat in that count. If you’re following my earlier advice to exercise, you’ll need the extra calories.

A good Step 4 is to cut out stimulants and booze. Ya know, like coffee and alcohol. I think this is a great step, but I don’t touch the stuff myself and therefore wouldn’t presume to lecture you on how to do so. There are plenty of internet and local areas to help, however. (Like, the addiction national helpline, if it’s that serious: 1-800-662-HELP [4357].)

You’re probably thinking I’m crazy, but I thought the same thing when my paid friend told me she hadn’t consumed sugar since 2003. She still has valid ideas in many other categories, so I’ll probably keep seeing her.

As a final note, I don’t even have to be an expert to mention a vital consumable related to eating well: drinking well. As a human, you need water.

Water is life, more so than food even.

I live in a desert environment, and even I skimp on the “recommended amount.” That’s because I don’t like using the bathroom all day. I’ve been told that regular, consistent drinking of water should make that problem disappear.

Wherever you live, make sure you drink water. It improves skin, helps organ function, helps singers sound better, and keeps you from dying.

So, class, let’s get started today. Keep your diet tasty, consistent, and manageable. Drink your water. These simple steps will help you be better able to fight those depressive tendencies.

This has been a part of our Cure for Depression series. Tune in next time, and we’ll talk about joy.

 

Photo Credits:
Brooke Lark
Haseeb Jamil
Vitchakorn Koonyosying
Lacey Williams
Yasuo Takeuchi

 

*Chelsea Owens is not a licensed anything, except a Class D driver in her home state, and shares all information and advice from personal experience and research.

The Cure for Depression: Get up and MOVE

This topic is my favorite because I actually have experience with it. I have some experience with the others, too. They‘re just not as fun to talk about.

But NOW we get to discuss getting off the freaking floor. NOW we get to talk exercise.

I LOVE exercise. No, I’m not a masochistic, weight-lifting gym junkie. I am most definitely not that person you see running down the street at breakneck speed and somehow grinning whilst doing it.

If you make it over to my gym, I’m the one barely shuffling around the track because I fall off treadmills. Old people are passing me, giving me thumbs-up for trying ’cause they’re nice like that.

Stillstill I LOVE exercise. For me, it’s the ability to move.

Whenever I finally get my sorry rear into workout clothes and start moving, something inside me cannot stop feeling happy. Running makes me feel like I’m flying, like I’m airborne and nothing’s going to stop me. I know it’s not endorphins because it always happens at the start. That, and I seem a bit endorphin-deficient even at the end.

I understand that moving may not be your happy place. Answer me this, though: IS NOT MOVING YOUR HAPPY PLACE?

Nope, you’re lying.

I know, because I’m sitting right next to you. It’s a bit dark, of course. We’ve got some kind of substance and/or distraction and/or avoidance crap going on. No one can get in, even if they’re actually right there by us. We’re comfortable here, but not truly happy.

Soooo…. now you ask how you can possibly get moving.

Answer: Make it easier to move.

No, really. I remember reading an author’s idea about how we are such slaves to convenience, that literally making a habit about twenty seconds more difficult will help us not do it. (Sorry for the run-on sentence.)

think it’s this dude, Shawn Achor:

If not, his book was good anyway. Something about happiness and advantage.

Shawn (or someone very like him) had a bad habit of coming home and immediately losing himself to an hour or a few watching Netflix. Conversely, he wanted to practice his guitar more.

So, he took the batteries out of the remote and ‘hid’ them in his nightstand drawer. He took his guitar and put it on a guitar stand right by the couch. It sounds really silly, but having the instrument right there and the batteries a teensy bit farther away broke him of the bad habit and improved his skills on the good one.

No, this post is not about playing the guitar. I definitely can’t do that. We’re talking about EXERCISE (yay!). We’re talking about how to even get yourself started.

  1. First, ensure that you have something you can exercise in, in terms of clothing. If you intend to stay inside (which I recommend against), you’ll only need undies. If you’re female, however, you’ll feel more comfortable with a bit more for support.
  2. Next, either set the clothing out RIGHT WHERE YOU TOUCH when you wake up, or go to sleep wearing it. Put your shoes and socks that you’ll exercise in nearby, too.
  3. Wake up just a tad earlier than usual, roll over to wherever you intend to officially move, get dressed, and get started.
  4. Choose an exercise routine that you can do. There are many.

Yes, folks, it’s that easy. And, for the low, low price of $999.99, you can exercise, too!

In reality, following my three steps is free (minus the cost of #1).

But let’s say you’ve got a YUGE mental block in terms of where or how to exercise. To answer that, I think going outside is the best. This may not work for you, particularly if “outside” is a super scary neighborhood with super scary people or potholes around. Maybe it’s snowing. Maybe you have allergies. See how the list keeps getting longer and you’re now not going to even consider exercising?

If you’re able to afford it, a local gym is good. They often have deals like “let your friends in for free this month so they’ll get suckered into signing up.” Hang out outside and ask someone to be your free gym class friend.

Thirdly, I suggest the option I use most often: l’internet. I didn’t know this, but lots of peoples on YouTube have free exercise videos. I started out with Fat People Who Move Faster than You and can now do a few HIIT workouts (okay, I do most of their session).

YouTube is my “20 seconds closer.” Sometimes I find myself making excuses like, “I just ate,” “I need to use the bathroom,” “I don’t have shoes on,” or “I haven’t been drinking enough water today and yet I still need to use the bathroom.” When the excuses pile up, I turn the TV on (we’ve got streaming) crank up my dubstep exercise music, and do it barefoot.

Even with kicking myself to move, some days I wimp out. I only do half the circuit, for example. Still, I did some. I’m always good about not beating myself up for giving up. I beat myself up for plenty of other things, but my aerobic habit is not one of them.

The results? After six months of (attempting) daily exercise, I miss the beneficial feeling when I try to skip out. It’s become a habit. I also enjoy all of the following:

  • More clarity of thought, especially when I walk outside.
  • I get good ideas for writing topics when I jog around the track because I’m super bored going around and around like that for so many laps.
  • I haven’t had a bad cold since beginning, and have only had two minor ones.

Plus, I passed an old person at the gym the other day.

I gave her a thumbs-up.

 

Photo Credits:
Curtis MacNewton
CATHY PHAM
Oana-Maria Sofronia
Jesus In Taiwan

 

*Chelsea Owens is not a licensed anything, except a Class D driver in her home state, and shares all information and advice from personal experience and research.

The Cure for Depression

Step right up, folks! Step right up!

Come feast your eyes on this marvelous tonic; right here, right now. What you may think is a simple bottle is actually the most secret of formulas from the Jungles of the East; from the hand of Marvelodijiling, the famed Healer and only man to live past 200 years of age without a health problem of any sort.

This is The Cure for Depression.

It is, indeed. You may shake your head at me, madame. You may wonder at the authenticity, young sir. I assure ALL that this product is exactly as it says. One simple dose each day will GUA-RAN-TEE to rid you of the woes of Depression.

Labelled glass bottles with various powders and liquids

…And if that sales pitch convinced you, then you and I need to have a long talk.

Actually, we can have a really short talk: Depression doesn’t work like that. For one, it isn’t “cured.” It is, however, a condition that CAN be managed once you learn the skills. This depends on the severity of symptoms and genetics and a whole crapload of stuff that would best be handled by a professional.

I am not a professional; at least, not that kind. I am merely a fellow sufferer with access to Google. I have, therefore, come up with a list:

1. Connect with a human.

2. Connect with a paid human; also known as a counselor, psychologist, therapist, and perhaps a psychiatrist.

3. Swallow that pill, if necessary.

4. Get up, then move.

5. Get outside.

6. Eat something healthy.

7. Do something that brings you real joy.

8. If it doesn’t fit in with #7, do something for someone.

9. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

10. Sleep, at sleeping times. Wake at morning times.

11. Follow a routine.

12. Meditate, pray, journal, etc.

13. Don’t get sloppy and don’t skip what works.

14. Never give up. (Never surrender.)

Whenever you’re in your cave, I’d like you to pull out this list. Grab one; do it. Maybe steal another after an hour of trying the first one.

Furthermore, I’m gonna help a brother/sister/broster/sisther out by writing individual articles about each of these ideas. It’ll be a tetradecalogy. Stick around; eat some chocolate.

Come for the treats, stay for the community, and live life for the future you.

 

Originally posted at The Bipolar Writer Mental Health Blog on May 28, 2018. I intend to publish one of these articles each week.

 

Photo Credit:
Matt Briney

 

*Chelsea Owens is not a licensed anything, except a Class D driver in her home state, and shares all information and advice from personal experience and research.

WINNER of the Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest

This week I only had four entries. While this made judging a tiny bit easier, I also felt a touch sad that more people couldn’t fulfill their New Year’s Resolutions of writing more terrible poetry in a formal format.

That’s not to say the decision of who to crown wasn’t difficult. In the end, this one took the prize:

I don’t need no resolutions

by RhScribbles

I don’t need no resolutions
It ain’t in the constitution
What’s up with that
He said, with the hat
On his head
That he said
He would wear until he died
No absolution
Resolve to die?
Uh why?
I don’t wanna
Make restitution
He’s gotta wear a hat on his head
No lie
No revolutions
Just resolutions

Yay, Ruth! You’ve done it again!

Hers and another’s were neck-and-neck for first place. I decided that Ruth’s lack of direction saved the day again. I mean, what is with the hat?

I also love her rhymes that show up when they are supposed to but also when they probably shouldn’t, and her bad meter.

I’m not saying the others didn’t have plenty of awfulness and humor. Here they are, in order of submission:

New Year’s Day Resolutions

by Greygirlieandme

Are made to be broken.
Like my heart, given to you as a token,
when my love was awoken.

Maybe I can lose some weight
If I send it back to you, wrapped in hate.
Then you can serve it on a plate.

There, that’s one kept.

Without my heart I’d be less bitter,
Although I might not be fitter.
And what a post to put on Twitter.

Half and half on that one then.

Maybe I’ll run it round myself,
Leave it on your windowshelf.
Topped by your stupid Christmas elf.

Yep, that’s exercise done.

Perhaps I’ll no longer drink red wine,
There’ll be no need, I’ll be just fine
You made me drink it, your taste not mine.

Hey, another one ticked.

But now here’s one I won’t stick to
I must stop really wanting you.

—–

Resolutions Derailed

by Molly Stevens

It’s New Year’s Day so what do you say?
Is it time to make a resolution?
Nothing radical. Nothing tragical.
After all it’s not a revolution
Eating more vegetables and fruit
Is now an action for dispute.
Listeria! Hysteria!
E. coli! Holy Moly!

Can I get into shape, wriggle and rock?
Stop pushing snooze on the alarm clock?
How about stashing cash and accruing fortitude
By driving fast past fast food?

But officer, I can explain.
I was merely a passenger
On the self-improvement train.
Choo! Choo! Boo! Hoo!

A ticket for driving at breakneck speed
While I was merely trying not to overfeed?
I’m suing McDonald’s for this misdeed,
And I’ve got a terrific chance to succeed.

Don’t lecture me about eating no fat,
Do you think I’m related to joyless Jack Sprat?
I’m out of time for idle chitchat.
Yes, of course, I want fries with that!

Choo! Choo! Chew! Chew!

—–

Resolution Sonnet

by Bruce Goodman

The megapixel race
is a disgrace.
Photographs may have been getting clearer
but the megapixel camera phones seem to be getting dearer.
Let’s hope that in 2019 camera resolutions will peak
and we’ll all get cheaper photos, so to speak.
In the meantime I’m going to eat lots of chocolait
while I wait
and hope that my resolve
doesn’t dissolve
like it did last year
when I decided to wear
nothing but outrageous wraps
in order to look gorgeous in high resolution snaps.

Many who entered slipped back into the ‘too pretty’ area of verse. Let go your meter, your patterns, your main topics, and your artistic sensibilities. Then, enter tomorrow for next week’s competition.

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Not Your Average Blogger’s New Year’s Post

Word is there’s an event what’s been going ’round. I can’t but turn a corner and I finds myself smack-dab against words like ‘resolutions’ an’ ‘goals’ an’ ‘exercise.’ I tell ya what: them’s fighting words and I’ll have no truck with ’em.

Accordingly and characteristically, I have been pondering on a different weighty subject: obscure talents.

Everyone has talents. Many have useful talents. Still more have talents that don’t come up in regular conversation because they just might get said ‘talented’ person ostracized.

Take me, for example. One of my many less-mainstream gifts is the ability to bark like a dog. Specifically, I bark similar to a German Shepherd. How do I know which canine I sound like? I learned as a child when our pet was that breed. In case you are not sure why I don’t bring this up often, just think where I would possibly apply it. …yeah… I can’t think of a place, either. Mostly I startle people my children brag to, but that’s not happening as much since my kids are getting embarrassed solely by the fact that I’m alive.

Another talent I have is possessing somewhat apelike toes on my long, narrow feet. I cannot hang by them, unfortunately, but I did practice writing with them when younger. I reasoned that the skill would come in handy when I was captured by government agents bent on imprisoning me because of my X-Men-like abilities.

The third of my most-interesting gifts is ear-wiggling. …Maybe more of ear-shifting. They move, anyway. I literally practiced in front of a mirror as a child to first achieve movement, and have since honed and isolated ear wigglingness whenever I’m bored during a conversation or business meeting.

Last for now is hiccups on-demand. A related and less-ladylike talent is erm… on-demand burping -which is another one that doesn’t come up in polite conversation. I discovered, quite early on and in church, that I could give myself the hiccups if I burped (silently) long enough. I’ve used a hiccuping spell to get out of meetings since, and …to accidentally attract my husband on our first date. The good news is that I am extremely good at ridding myself of them as well.

If ever I meet any of you in person, now, I’ll have to ask you not to mention these. Otherwise, I’ll not have any material for that two truths/one lie party game.

Enough about me anyway. What about you? Surely you have a talent of two up your sleeve? In what unusual area are you an expert?

Fork

—–

Yay! A really long week to review!
Monday, December 24: Nothing! Absolutely nothing!
Tuesday, December 25: Dude; that was Christmas.
Wednesday, December 26: “Inspirational Plagiarism: a Dialogue.” This may have come about after thinking to myself for two days.
Thursday, December 27: “I Finally Donned the Sorting Hat,” If I were a witch, apparently I’d be a know-it-all.
Friday, December 28: Inspirational quote by Mark Twain that I intentionally mis-quoted in “Inspirational Plagiarism.”
Saturday, December 29: Announced the seventh Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. ENTER IT or I’ll only have three entries to judge from.
Sunday, December 30: “Raw Ramblings.” We’ll call it a free-verse poem.
Monday, December 31: A quote to inspire this new year thingie, by James Agate.
Tuesday, January 1: “Wilhelmina Winters, Seventy-Seven.”
Wednesday, January 2: You made it to today!

Wilhelmina Winters, Seventy-Two

The whole of Saturday and early Sunday morning passed without event, much to Wil’s disappointment. She even managed to alter Sunday’s morning walk with her mother to pass the small playground and the side of Building 5 twice, but they never saw anyone. She knew they walked earlier in the morning than most were awake, but a sliver of hope was all Wil ever needed to assume a sunrise’s worth of chance.

If her mother suspected anything, Cynthia was, as always, respectful enough to keep things to herself. That, or she knew Wil could never keep a secret for long.

“Well,” Cynthia said, after she and Wil had returned home and recovered somewhat on the couch, “That was a nice walk. Thank you, Wil.”

Wil turned to look at her mother from her reclined position. She hadn’t really noticed much of the walk and hoped there hadn’t been some landmark her mother wanted to discuss.

Cynthia cleared her throat, look worried, then smiled at Wil. “Why don’t you get started on breakfast for us, and you can tell me about how things are going?”

“Okay,” Wil agreed, still confused. She rose and walked the few steps to their eating area, her mind on what to talk about. There was the book she had been reading for school, of course; the secret group -oh! She could tell mom about the group; and then Eric, but even she wasn’t sure what there was to tell about Eric…

“Wil,” her mother said, bringing Wil back to reality to see she’d left the fridge door standing open with her in it.

“Sorry,” Wil said, and finished removing the eggs, milk, and bread from the cold interior before closing it. She set the breakfast items on the counter and began the everyday ritual of summoning coffee from their antiquated, secondhand machine. “I. wish. Dad. had. started. this,” she muttered as she prised the used filter from the top and attempted to scrape old coffee from the carafe.

Cynthia laughed, then stopped as she began coughing. “He’ll appreciate waking to it already tamed,” she said, once she caught her breath.

The coughing fit had not lasted long, but it gave Wil enough time to successfully start the coffee maker and get going on scrambled eggs. She and her mother kept the conversation to breakfast preparations, else Wil get lost in another area of the kitchen.

“You like them with salt and pepper, right?” Wil asked.

“Right.”

“How about Dad and Jakob?”

Her mother laughed a bit. “They like food.” She paused, “Though maybe not burned.”

“Ha. ha,” Wil pretended to laugh. She hadn’t burned their meal for nearly a week, although it was true that scrambled eggs had been the last thing she’d overcooked. “That reminds me,” she said, over her shoulder. “I need to tell Jakob I’m not the only one we need a smoke alarm for now.”

Cynthia smiled. “True. But he’s awfully grouchy in the mornings. You might not want to push your luck.”

“Who’s grouchy?” a grumbling voice asked. Jakob stood in his boxers and and t-shirt in the doorway, blinking around.

 

Continued from Seventy-One.
Keep reading to Seventy-Three.

Time in a Bottle

“Step forward -that’s right! Now, grasp this sand -yes, in both hands. That’s right, sir.”

Wondering, he thrusts both hands forward. Sensing the weight against calloused palms it overflows, draining with the pull of gravity to spill upon his shoes, the floor, the table legs.

“That’s right: step forward to the table. Quickly, now! Choose which of these bottles in which to pour your sand.”

Gravity is cruel. It pulls more and more from his hands as he frantically searches for an identifier on the glass bottle fronts. Which is which? How will he know what he is choosing -!?

“Your time is running out and you cannot get more until tomorrow…”

A blue bottle catches his eye; a portly one which reminds him of a fat man. He leans and manages to dump a measure in, to a halfway point. -Not too much, though; what if he chose poorly?

“That’s it. Good. But what of the others? Do you wish to spend all day at that one?”

Probably not, he thinks, and thrusts toward the nearest bottles. A squat red jar, two narrow green-tinted vases, and a pinkish jug each receive a bottom’s full. The red jar’s neighbor, a dubious black container, accidentally receives a bit more than even the first.

“Hmmm…”

The booming tone frazzles his nerves, already high-strung from the continued loss of sifting hand-sand. With not much left, he jerks his cupped palms hither and thither. The table claims much if not most of what’s left. Ten random jars each carry a small dusting. He looks round; no one seems to be watching. Quickly, he gathers table sand and deposits it into a comely emerald urn. He dusts any lingering pieces from his fingers, his heart racing.

“Ah, I see you are done. Let’s see: Fortunately for you, your first choice was sleep. Some poor fool last hour completely neglected that one. Not a bad number in exercising, either. Work has even more than sleep; yes, this black one, here. I’m not sure how you’re going to feel much accomplishment from only a few grains in household upkeep, budgeting, personal hygiene, nor expenses. The fewest grains seem to be, here, in leisure….”

His hopes raised at the news of sleep; deflated somewhat at the exercise. He was just going to ask whether leisure might be a bit higher than budgeting when he notices a shadow frowning over the green urn.

“Hmmm. Odd. You’ve a fair bit in meals, here, but they’re not the best quality. It’s almost as though some other, older bits of grit are in here. …Perhaps the urn wasn’t quite cleaned -or the sand. Well, I’m afraid your nourishment will not be the best sort. At least you’ll have it though, eh? Not like that woman just yesterday…”

He watches in astonishment as arms wave over the table and every bit of sand within the containers rises into the air. They’re colored like the vases or jugs or urns they traveled from and dance in a dusty swirling cloud which follows the circling arms. The cloud condenses within the taskmaster’s shaping hands and resolves into parchment.

“Your day. You’ll see it has everything you chose. Now, take it and exit behind me through the large wooden doors. Move along, move along.”

He stumbles unsteadily out the exit indicated, an exit he swore was not there when he first entered the room with the pouring sand and the table. Between his careworn yet clean fingers he clenches his hard-won paper prize. From the closing door behind him calls the echoing voice again:

“Next! Now, don’t be shy -don’t be shy. Step forward, ma’am, and take your sand…”

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The Wall

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Today, I hit The Wall.

Not only did I hit it, but I carried it with me for the entire time I spent at the gym. I even felt its musty, bricky presence most of the day.

Maybe you have no idea what I’m talking about and are duly concerned for the safety of my person or my vehicle. Don’t worry; I’m referring to an exercise term. first learned of The Wall in high school from my track coach. She was good at coming up with power slogans each year, and one of my favorites was Break on Through to the Other Side.

Runners hit this figurative wall when they feel they cannot move any more. Usually, a dedicated athlete can keep going at an easier pace and find his stride again. Some days, however, nothing helps and one has to walk.

Today was one of those days.

I woke up early, put workout clothes on, ate a bit of toast, then drove over to our local gym. I could tell it was going to be a tiring, ho hum, nowhere, very bad run. I could tell because when I climbed the stairs to the track my knees hurt and I felt tired already. And then, when I warmed up, I felt as though I had already run my usual two miles even though I had only done 1/28th of that.

No matter which song I shuffled to or which motivational lie I told myself, I felt exhausted the entire time. My body was not my own; I was dragging it by my (draining) will power alone, at a pace that would shame a sloth.

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During my cool down, I recalled another memory from my high school running days: a race in which I hit The Wall. This was during my brief stint on the cross country team, near the end of our season.

Every race, the coach recommended we have a personal goal. Mine was that I would stop and walk one fewer time each race. At this point, I was up to not stopping at all. I hadn’t really set a personal goal, but I was just going to do my best since it was the last race if I didn’t place. Unfortunately, Coach should have recommended that we share goals with people if those goals were going to affect them.

Case in point: one of the girls who was always behind me kept trying to pass. I’m somewhat competitive and knew that she paced slower than I did. Every time she came up on me, I went faster. My logic was more that my pace must be slowing, not that I should keep her back.

Before the midway point, I was toast. She finally passed me, and I had to walk. Coach took a picture of me on that race that I still have. She didn’t do so to humiliate me; she was always snapping good action shots. I was moving slowly enough to capture the moment without much blurring…

Chelsea Cross Country

I’m the sort to jump to bad conclusions easily. If the husband’s not home from work yet, he must have been in an accident. If a child says he needs to talk to me, he’s committed a felony. If I had to walk a race, then I’m a horrible athlete and should never put my running shoes on again.

Except that running usually feels good.

Except that despite my melancholy, the sun still comes up the next day.

And running in the morning sunlight is one of my favorite things to do. Why would I let a little setback ruin a perfectly good sunrise like that?

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I won’t.

I may have hit the wall today. I may be carrying a few bricks in my pockets that may still be there tomorrow. But I’m going to run anyway.

 

 

unsplash-logoSiyan Ren
unsplash-logoRoger Burkhard