“Pity those who don’t feel anything at all.” ― Sarah J. Maas

So, in my sociology classes I lecture a lot about socialization and how men have such a small ’emotional’ box in terms of what feelings they’re allowed to show as opposed to women. For example, we talk about how women can show vulnerability, sadness, humility, nurturance, etc. in a way that men really can’t. When men feel these things, they often have pressure to suppress them…and that suppression can shift these normal human feelings into what men are allowed to show which is anger. There are countless resources about this and my male students talk about how they have been ‘forced’ in their lives to wear that ‘Mad Mask’ as well. In their papers, they write about fathers telling them to ‘toughen up’ and ‘don’t be so girly’ while validating the same feelings in their daughters. They talk about messages from their peer groups about ‘growing a set’ and ‘not being a pussy’ (no ma, I’m not talking about a cat 🙄). I’ve even had some come to my office and cry about how hard it is to maintain this tough exterior and it breaks my heart how they are deprived by society in expressing what they truly feel.

But, I’ve been thinking about this lately in regard to women and after doing some reading and contemplating my own behavior, I’m now convinced that women are in an emotional ‘cage’ too…however, it has to do with not showing negative emotions instead.

For some reason (perhaps having always wanting to be an FBI agent 😎), I love true crime shows and watched a great documentary on the JonBenet Ramsey case this past weekend. JonBenet was the 6 year old little girl who was murdered on Christmas night, 1996 in her home in Boulder, Colorado. When she was first reported missing, and then later found in the basement of the huge family home by her dad, the police immediately started to suspect her parents were guilty of the crime. They were very rich…she was a pageant girl (which apparently means her mom was a horrible person which she wasn’t from all accounts)…they called friends over for support after the discovery…etc. And because the police had this suspicion so early in the game, nothing could sway them until a man named Lou Smit worked day and night proving that an intruder was actually responsible for her murder and was able to prove it to a grand jury. Anyhoot, as the investigation was in it’s early stages, police officers talked about how ‘weird’ the parents were acting…how out of control Patsy seemed…how angry both parents were.

Heh? Are you fucking (sorry, ma 😳) kidding me? Tell me…how the hell are you supposed to ‘act’ after you find your murdered daughter and the police are focusing on the 2 people, for YEARS, who had nothing to do with it? Hmmm. When you figure out that nugget my sweetie peeps, let me know. In one interview, Patsy yells to the detectives questioning her: “I DIDN’T DO IT…FIND THE DAMN PEOPLE WHO DID!” Guess what, grasshoppers? I would have yelled a lot worse.

Anyhoot, why is it that when women talk about their anger, hate, jealousy, being offended, being distrustful etc. they are demeaned? Seen as being ‘bad’? Seen as being ‘wrong’? Even in the above, where Patsy had every single right in the world to act out, she was still seen as ‘guilty’ simply because of these normal reactions. If a man says he wants to kill whoever hurt his family…OK…damn straight. If a women does? Hey! Hold on there!

And then in everyday situations? I don’t know how many times I’ve repressed my anger at something said or done…just so I wouldn’t look ‘ugly’. You know, like a party pooper. Like a trouble-maker. I’ve had things said to me that I had every right to be offended by…but I have ‘gone along’ to get along. How sad is that?

Some studies show women are even hesitant to say NO in situations that are potentially dangerous so they won’t be seen as troublesome. I’ve seen that myself! I teach about sexual assault in some of my classes and talk about steps women (and men who get raped as well…we can never forget that 😥) can take to possibly lessen the chance of being raped. For example, I tell my students that if someone is following them while out walking, face them and say: “Hey! What are you doing?” in a loud, strong voice. A lot of my sweetie peeps titter…some even saying how embarrassed they would be doing that. When I ask why, they say it would make them look paranoid. My response: So?

As much as many men want to fit into the ‘manly man’ stereotype, women want to fit into the ‘nice gal’ one: Don’t rock the boat…Don’t show anger…Don’t yell…Don’t confront.

A few years ago, a man stalked me and then threatened to rape and kill me in a series of drunken texts. I went for an emergency order of protection which is, in the state of IL, supposed to run like this: The judge will hear the case for the Emergency Order without the abuser present. If an Emergency Order is necessary, a temporary one will be enacted while a date is set in which both the victim and abuser can be present, with legal representation, to then state their cases to see if a long term order can be obtained. (Illinois Department of Legal Aid).

When I went to my Emergency hearing, my stalker showed up…with his lawyer no less…and the judge actually allowed them to go ahead and present their side. Meanwhile, I had no one there…no representation…no idea what was going on. The lawyer (a previous student who must have hated me big time…go figure 🙄) attacked me verbally, threw papers down on the defense table where I was told to sit, and because of the breakdown I was in the middle of experiencing, I couldn’t take anymore even though I did call out 2 lies the stalker said which I proved. So bawling, I walked out and never went back.

I told others about what happened and they said it was terribly unlawful…I should get a lawyer and go after the judge who did that to me…talk to the State’s Attorney…blah blah blah. I did nothing because I didn’t want to look ‘angry’…unhinged…out of control. So, I did what countless women have done for ages…buried it and went on with my life while pushing those feelings down and taking them out on myself. Thank you legal system.

I also did this a lot with ma’s abusive ex (the fucking bastard 😠)…I learned VERY early on in their relationship that I had to be the nice, appeasing girl in order to not rock the boat. The consequence if I did? Ma could get hurt.

I experienced this with J as well: after his abuse and infidelity I was angry as hell, and justifiably so! But when I showed it, I was in the wrong. I just needed to ‘get over it’ and go back to my sweet self. 🙄 If I would have been allowed to express what I needed too and had it validated, the anger would have went away much sooner than it did. If you aren’t allowed to release something…you have to hold on to it. That, my sweetie peeps, isn’t healthy.

You know, I truly believe men and women both have emotional boxes they are forced to live in that greatly stunt them: men having to suppress the sweeter side, and women having to do the same for their tougher side. How sad is that? That both sides have to cover up these perfectly normal human emotions. That both sides have to ignore 1/2 of all they could be and then suffer the consequences: depression, anxiety, etc. Isn’t it sad how we are so freaking ‘gendered’ in our society still? How we have to follow in the footsteps of one path or the other? Yes, we’re getting better in terms of accepting those who are transgendered, but we are failing in releasing some of these gender stereotypes that guide so much of our behavior. I wonder when that will happen?

Kristi xoxo

Just Blech.🤢

So, why I’m writing about this is totally beyond my comprehension but I’m so sick of politics I could literally spit. Phoo-toooie…there it is. 😛

There is so much going on right now regarding the election and keeping up with all of the info and issues is difficult since they change daily. Right now there are massive protests at the Capitol and there’s going to be a fight over the electoral college votes because of fraud allegations. It’s getting to the point I don’t even want to watch anymore about it.

I’m one of these people who keep my political ideals to myself outside of my family, and I don’t believe my students need to know where I stand. I primarily teach Sociology and we talk a lot about the political process and the impact of politics on our society beyond the obvious. Often times my students will ask me what ‘side’ I’m on and I always say (what is, for the most part, actually true) that I’m a moderate, and when they ask me who I voted for I don’t tell them.

Why? Because I believe teachers and professors have a huge influence on students and many of them indoctrinate their students to believe what they do. “You’re stupid if you’re Republican” is one I’ve heard myself on campus. OK. Super. Republicans are stupid. Hmmmm. And on the flip side, there are conservatives that say “You’re stupid if you’re a Democrat.” Another hmmmm. So, regardless of what party I might lean more towards, I would alienate half my students with them possibly seeing bias in all I do. To me, the purpose of education is to present the info and then let students make up their own mind using critical thinking, research, and an inventory of their own personal beliefs, etc. It’s not up to us to tell them what is ‘right’ to believe in.

Is this really the rhetoric that helps us move forward in our country? Playground accusations of being stupid, uncaring, selfish, moronic, idiotic, etc. (words actually used in public discourse 🙄)? Is America really going to be completely ‘destroyed‘ by whatever party is elected which means if you voted for them, it’s your fault too? Does being politically active mean putting out horrid tweets, posts, and articles attacking the person and their families (including kids) personally? I’ve seen this on both sides and find it particularly horrendous to attack one’s children regardless of their parents political stance.

What happened to actual discussion? Actual discourse? Actual conversations where you’re allowed to voice your ‘side’ in a way that’s accepted as a valid opinion without being berated for having one? When did we get to the point that if we don’t think like the ‘masses’ in the groups we’re a part of, we’re considered corrupt and villainous and then unfriended? Isn’t a democracy supposed to be a government ruled ‘by the people’ instead of a government using dirty tactics on both sides to win? This is what our forefathers envisioned?

I’m worried about this country. I truly am. It’s sad when we can’t even talk about issues with our family and friends, let alone in a broader audience. I know we all have different ideals but when did the hate come into it? I know families that have been torn apart this year because of the election. I know people who have to ‘lie’ in front of their ‘friends’ regarding their political beliefs so they can keep those friends and political bullying is the norm. Really?

Look, I don’t have the answers. Maybe no one does. It just seems to me that everything is a pissing contest and the winner yells the loudest to get their agenda passed. Look, I think the U.S. is the greatest country on the face of the earth…and of course I do…it’s mine! But I think things are happening that are making me think less and less of it and that breaks my heart. What lessons are kids being taught now? That everything is an ugly fight? That your opinion better match the majority’s? That if you believe differently (in anything!) you are a bad person? That if you try to have any sort of political discussion it will most likely end up in a screaming fight fraught with anxiety and stress? This is what we’ve come too? And…this is the legacy our kids are going to build on?

Kristi xoxo

“Easy come…easy go.”

Happy New Year, my sweetie peeps!! I hope you had a great holiday season and wish you ALL the very happiest of 2021! ❤❤❤

So, I was reading yet another ‘inspirational saying’ on Pinterest the other day and it said this: “If it’s easy, it’s probably not worth it. If it’s worth it, it’s not going to be easy 🙄.” Yes, I know this sounds like a great philosophical musing but I have to disagree with it because I’ve had a lot of things come easy in my life that have been very much worth it.

My sonshine is one of them. I didn’t get preggers with Hubby #1 but immediately hit the jackpot with Hubby #2. Before this, people would tell me horror stories about their pregnancies: barfing every other minute…not being able to get out of bed…getting varicose veins that rival any climbing rope you’ve seen…getting stretch marks that look like a topographical map, etc. And for the women out there who experienced a difficult pregnancy, you truly have my sympathy. But for me, it was a breeze. I never got sick…ate to my heart’s content…reveled in seeing my belly grow…and don’t have a stretch mark in sight (you can hate me now…I’ll wait. HOWEVER, I rubbed baby oil lotion all over my belly from day 1…ma said no matter what I did I would get them, but even after gaining 65 pounds, I didn’t! This, you sweetie peeps, is my claim to fame 😳🙄).

Anyhoot, the delivery wasn’t a picnic but I was blessed with a perfect little baby boy who had, and still has, the best personality of anyone I know. Truly. It was easy being his mommy and I love being his ma now.

School is another thing that’s really easy for me. When I read a book or look at notes, etc. and then try to recall the info, I can see the pages in my mind with the words on them. I don’t know if I actually have a photographic memory (for fuck sakes, I have too many labels as is…and sorry, ma) but I can learn and remember things with very little effort. In my graduate classes, other students would say: “I pulled a few all-nighters and worked for hours and hours on this assignment.” I would nod and say that I did too. However, I was lying. Goodness…I had a 1 year old! I couldn’t work for hours on a paper! So, I’d write a draft during O’s nap, proof it after he was asleep for the night, and then get it turned in. Easy peasy.

NO…I’m not bragging (well….maybe just a tad… 😳). I can’t really do anything else wonderful besides poop out a great kid and read a book in my head…however, we all have to celebrate our victories when we can. Riiigggghhhhttt? 😁

And on the flip side of that quote, I’ve done things that have been really really hard and still didn’t achieve the goal I set or what I thought I earned! For example, after I started running marathons, I really really really wanted to qualify for the Boston marathon and to do so, you have to run a previous marathon under a certain time limit. I was never even close. I worked and worked and worked…and ‘failed’ if you will. I loved running my marathons anyway, but what I worked ssssooooo HARD for didn’t happen so what the hell? Hmmmm.

But, there’s always a kernel of truth in some sayings and I think what has been the hardest thing in my life has been worth it. Being open about having bipolar has been a toughie. It drastically changed my life for the better in that my family understands me better…I understand me better…and I’m getting the treatment I need to stay on track as best I can.

On the other hand (which doesn’t have a diamond on it…yet…cough cough…I’m talking to you, Bill 😊), it was hard to ‘come out’ and some of it wasn’t worth it at all. It changed a lot of my relationships and opened me up to criticism, ‘talk’ (i.e. gossip), people avoiding me, etc. Bipolar is considered the 2nd most serious mental illness (of course) around after schizophrenia and people think we’re cray-cray…always unstable…unable to have any semblance of a ‘normal’ life. For those untreated, yes…these things might be true; but the vast majority of us aren’t dangerous, criminal, out of control, or psychotic and are living our lives fully. 😎

You know, I loved Carrie Fisher so much (yes, we can call it a girl crush and not be lying 😳) and she once said this about having bipolar herself: “In my opinion, living with manic depression takes a tremendous amount of balls.” I adore this! I love knowing that no matter what happens in my life, I’m already very ‘ballsy’ and can handle about anything else that comes along. 😐

So, here’s my point: It’s OK if things come easy to you…if you didn’t have to work hard to get them. And it’s also OK if you worked your ass off and didn’t get the reward you were looking for…not everything can be achieved by everyone. So here’s what I’m doing as I begin this new year: thanking God for the blessings he gives me so easily…leaning on him when the struggle gets real…and then giving myself a break when I fall short despite my work. I’m not going to feel guilty for the easy pleasures…and I’m not going to beat myself up for not meeting a goal. I’m going to be thankful everyday I have and know that whatever does happen, happens for a reason.

Love you peeps. Happy New Year.

Kristi xoxo

“It might sound crazy but it ain’t no lie…Bye bye” ~ NSYNC

So, I’ve been reading about the perils of social media for quite a while now and since I’m of a…cough cough…’older’ generation, I’ve seen its affects on people first hand and how different our society has become in the last 10 years with it. I’ve also debated whether or not to heed the warnings of the many researchers out there and am wondering WHY quitting social media is such a difficult thing to do (especially if you’re Kylie Jenner 😳).

One of my favorite books about the topic is “Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now” by Jaron Lanier. In it, he talks about very compelling reasons to do this and one that stuck out to me in particular is how social media is causing us to lose our free will.

When social media first reared its head in the early 2000’s, I truly thought this would be a catalyst for bringing people together and breaking down social barriers…I was wrong. In my experience, it’s actually done the opposite: for example, people aren’t allowed to have political opinions outside of the parameters of their ‘friends’. And if you do? “I’m going to block you, you %$#$@ since you don’t think and believe what I do. If your opinion isn’t my opinion, you’re wrong.” Heh? We’ve become even more short-sighted than ever in that we have to follow THE opinions of the day and not necessarily our own. And if we do put ours out there? Get ready to lose friends, colleagues, etc. Now you tell me…how is that breaking down barriers? Isn’t that just making us all ‘sheep’ and when we’ve come to a place in our society where we feel we aren’t allowed to speak our opinion, isn’t that digression as opposed to progression? (OMG…I just read that last sentence and I sound so freaking smart! 🙄)

Then, along the lines of losing our free will, we are also being put into smaller and smaller boxes. I talk a lot about boxes in my sociology classes. I believe that we are ‘boxed’ from the first moments of our life: class boxes, gender boxes, race boxes, etc. Isn’t social media just another box? Nothing makes you feel worse about the taxes you owe than seeing ‘friends’ from high school going on their 45th cruise in 2 years. And, look at your friends list…and others. Aren’t they pretty much segregated? Yes, some whites have black friends and vice versa; however, around 75% of whites don’t have any black friends on social media and for blacks, it’s around 66% who don’t have any white friends (PPRI, 2014). I don’t think that’s ‘bringing us together’…right?

I also resonate with Lanier’s suggestion we are being followed in more ways than one, and so many other researchers (as well as ex-social media employees/engineers/creators) say the same: algorithms are put in place to make sure you stay on social media: you wait for the next squirt of dopamine regarding social media posts…you are shown what you are most likely to buy…you are shown a skewed side of politics…you are ‘fed’ what FB and others want you to eat. In other words, social media controls us…not the other way around.

And I sometimes get told I need to be in the ‘cage’ more! Ma will leave a comment about something and then ask me if I’ve read it. When I say no she asks why I haven’t yet. “Well, ma…I’m not on my phone all the time! I like to turn it off and take breaks. You know, for my sanity and all.” Or, I find out about milestones in my family on FB and wonder when we started to find it ‘normal’ to learn about these personal things in such a public arena. And if I haven’t been ‘on’ FB for a few days, I’m not in the loop and too bad for me. Hmmm. Wouldn’t the ‘loop’ be better if we actually talked?

I know we are all busy…trust me, teaching 8 classes keeps me on my toes. But since the average American spends about 2 hours a day just on social media, I can’t help but think if we weren’t on social media using this time, we’d have the opportunity to eat lunch together or shop together or get together in person.

Another interesting read is from medium.com called “How Technology is Highjacking Your Mind” by Tristan Harris. In this paper, he talks about how technology is taking over and running our lives in so many different ways; in terms of social media he says that one of the ‘hijacks’ is how we fear missing something important if we do get off of the platform. Are we going to miss a cool video? Or being in the middle of a ‘popular’ discussion? Or not getting an invite to an event? Or not getting to have even more potential friends? Hmmmm. Is this what keeps us chained? Our fear of being left out?

We are social animals and we have to be. Most animals can care for themselves very early in life and we can’t…we have to get along and interact in groups from the beginning because of one pesky need we have: to survive. And this need for belongingness has no end…everyone needs connections and after so many years of use, social media accounts have become THE connection for so many. Can we ‘live’ without it?

I know that when I’m down, posting things and getting ‘likes’ and comments gives me a sense of validation. But think about that. Validation from people having spent less than half a second touching the ‘like’ icon. Seriously? THAT’s our validation? Having a blue thumbs up? Hmmm. I’ve come a long way in a couple of years and if I haven’t learned anything else, I’ve learned this (this is going to sound very Oprah-ish): NOTHING anyone says about you means as much as what YOU say about you (I’m going to copyright this sentence 😐). So, someone from school that was too snotty to talk to me then when I was their peer suddenly ‘likes’ my pic so all is good in the world? No. It’s not. When did external validation become so sought after? So coveted?

In his article, Harris talks about Cornell professor Brian Wansink who showed how you can trick people into eating more and more soup by giving them a bottomless bowl that will stay filled regardless of how much they eat. With these, people ate 73% more calories than those that had regular bowls but underestimated this calorie count by almost 150. Isn’t social media the same? It’s our bottomless bowl of videos, quotes, pics, etc. We’ll never ever see it all…so we keep coming back for more and more. But, after our hour or so of swiping is up, what do we really have? An hour watching others live their social media lives (not necessarily real lives) while we pause our own? Hmmm.

So, I’m going to be off social media for a time and deactivate FB (while still maintaining messenger for texts). I don’t know why it’s giving me a weird feeling to do so…it’s an app! A screen. But deactivating it feels like I’m really making a sacrifice. That, if not anything else, shows me how addictive it is and how well the companies that run these social media platforms have us at their mercies.

Goodness…what will I do with those saved hours every week? Hmmmm…quilt? Make string art? Start painting again? Walk Eddie more? Run more? Read more? Be naughty more? Blog more? The possibilities are endless and if you want, please check in with this blog from time to time…I love having you here and writing is such a passion of mine. This is something I’ll never give up. 😍

Kristi xoxo

“You gotta keep on doing it right.” ~ Brady Bunch

(*Note to my Sweetie Peeps: actual pics of Bill’s stuff was not used in order to protect the dignity of my beloved). So, first I want to say that everything is ‘all right’ between Bill and I even we experienced the greatest challenge to our relationship thus far. It was a bit dicey for a while but we (or actually, mostly me 🙄) overcame and are still going strong. You see, Bill is getting ready to move back to his hometown where I live and he has a new job in, and while I was at his bachelor pad this past week for a couple of days, I helped him pack. Ladies: you may now groan.

It’s funny how you have to learn things about people as you go. For example, we all remember Bill’s aversion to buying furniture…and food…for his pad, but now there’s something else I have to accept: my man is a pack-rat. Yes…for a man who has nothing of substance in his rooms, he has a fuck (sorry, ma 😐) lot of crap hiding in his closets.

We got started and I’m thinking: “This will be a cinch! How much can he have shoved away? We’ll be done in an hour at the most.” Ha. How naive I was. I got out a couple of hardback books that I could sit on in the hallway (no chairs…) while he began dragging out boxes that were barely held together with tape that was beginning to yellow.

I open up the first box he shoved my way and as I started rummaging around, he said: “Kristi…be careful…there could be valuable things in there.” Well, there wasn’t; it was full of books from the 1980’s he had promised himself he would eventually read. Some of the titles that stood out included “Electrical Technology” (this was sure up to date…the PC hadn’t been invented yet 🙄), “The Book on Running” which said, among other things, to run between 40-80 miles a week…no matter what (no pain, no gain), and “Intermediate College Algebra” which of course you want to revisit again and again despite the fact you graduated in the 90’s with a C in it.

So, I said this: “Bill…this box is full of books that are out-dated and would cause even Job to poke his eye out with a stick. I think they need to go in the ‘donate’ pile.” He said: “I need to go through every one of those.” In actuality, this meant that he had to open EVERY single book to show me a page or 2 in it that might be of interest to me or trigger a memory for him. Yes, seeing an electrical wire was not only a thrill but a trip down memory lane. Finally, after we got through only this one box after an excruciatingly long amount of time passed (🥱), I began to think this was going to take longer than expected.

Then came the box of Victrola records and come to find out, Bill no longer has a Victrola. I told Bill: “This box definitely needs donated since you don’t have anything to play these on.” Bill looked dumbfounded and said: “Are you nuts? These are worth money!” So, I looked them up on eBay and at the best, with what he had, he would have gotten about $30 for the lot. That is, if the person didn’t mind that the covers were seeped in mold with centipedes crawling out of the record jackets willy nilly, and the records themselves so scratched up, that anything played was going to sound like a screechy mess (much like my own singing voice 🤨).

What followed was a ‘discussion’ about memorabilia. Look, I’m all for keeping things that mean something to you…I have a nut cracker my grandpa had and it’s one of my favorite things. However, do we need to keep EVERY piece of memorabilia ever saved from his family for the past 3 generations? Hmmmm. So we compromised…he kept a couple of records that were the ‘least’ moldy. 🙄

Another box slid my way and while Bill sort of hinted around he didn’t want my ‘help’ anymore (“Kristi, is there something else you need to do?”), I nevertheless grabbed it and started my archeological dig. This particular box had papers in it. Papers. Not letters from gramma or recipes from mom or little prayers from Uncle Bob, but paper; for example, an empty envelope with a cellophane ‘window’ in it that was torn down one side. I said (very patiently I might add): “Bill…this box is full of useless papers and needs to be thrown away.”

He looked gobsmacked and ambled over to see what I would dare call trash (I called the entire box trash). He said: “Let’s save it.” Now it was my turn to stare at him wide-eyed and I said: “What in the name of all that is holy are you going to do with a torn, used envelope?” He said: “I don’t know. Tape it and use it?” With the patience of a saint, I looked at this man who might be my future hubby (why not…after 3 what’s one more 😏) and said, slowly so he would understand, “Bill…you can buy NEW envelopes at the Dollar Tree. For a dollar.”

So, the process went on. And on and on and on (😐). After we tackled the boxes, we moved on to his closet where I methodically went through every item that was hung up and told him to tell me which clothes he actually wore and liked…the others would be donated: the processing of every garment took him about 5 minutes each, and all of the clothes I thought would look so cute on him are the one’s he didn’t like. For example, he told me to put a dark blue, chambray shirt by Ralph Lauren that matches his eyes in the donate pile but to keep a solid white polyester number he wore to a dance decades ago. He tossed the hot looking Army green work shirt aside but kept a green polo that had some indistinguishable animal over the left boob.

By this time it was almost dark, and I was dusty, moldy, sweaty, hungry and cranky so Bill says: “Wanna tackle the kitchen?” I’m almost ashamed to tell you my response but since I’m always up-front with my sweetie peeps it was this: “Fuck no. Feed me now or I’m outta here.” He understood.

Anyhoot, he’s pretty much packed up and thanks to me, boxes and boxes of stuff was given to Goodwill. I know I’ll never…ever…help him pack again and I’ll monitor his ‘collecting of nostalgic items’ since he’s one ceramic figurine (without limbs 🙄) away from being a hoarder. Yes, we survived this first real test of our relationship. Yes, I forced myself to continue packing even though I would have given my adult coloring books for even a small break. And yes, if he ever asks me if he can go through my stuff…my answer will be no.

Kristi xoxo

“I gave you a vegetable last week…how dare you get sick.” ~ Anonymous

So, the following conversation happened a couple of days ago between me and ma…word for word (note: J, D, and T are mom’s ‘lady friends’):

Ma: “Kristi, I broke my ankle while you were driving home from Indiana.”

Me (in a screechier voice than normal): “What??? You BROKE your ankle??? Do you need me to take you to the ER???”

Ma: “No…I’ve already been and have a boot on…no worries.”

Me: “Tell me EXACTLY what happened.”

Ma: “I was walking down the stairs and missed the last one, fell, and hear a POPPING noise. So, I waited an hour then walked down to J’s house to see what she and D thought. Then, I walked home, got on my make-up, and drove to the ER. That’s about it.”

Me: “Ok…I need to get this straight in my mind before I have you committed. You hear a popping sound and see your ankle swell in front of your eyes so you walk down the block to J’s to see what she and another 80 year old woman think you should do since they were both teachers and apparently also have their MD’s. After they tell you ‘it’s bad’, you totter home, put on your make-up which takes you a half hour, and then you drive yourself to the ER.”

Ma: “That’s about it.”

Me: “I hate to ask this, but what did you do then?”

Ma: “Well…I had plans to eat with T and help her cut out a quilt so I just drove there and spent the afternoon.”

Me: “Oh! That makes total sense, ma.”

For fuck sakes…my mother is a mule. A stubborn mule. But you know, I really can’t think of a time when she was sick or hurt that she didn’t take care of herself or play it down. Even when she was battling breast cancer, she did all of the cooking for her and her bastard of an ex and cleaned up the house. And before you ask, YES! I was MORE than willing to do these things for her…begged to do these things for her…and went over there daily to do these things for her. And YES! EVERY time I got there, the house was already clean and she had supper all lined up for the evening. I’d say: “Ma! What the hell? Let me help you!” And she said: “I’m fine. I’m not an invalid.” (I’m just as stubborn…I don’t like help either 😐).

I come from a family where illness definitely isn’t coddled. “Toughen up! Walk it off!” It’s like a sign of status to see who can be the ‘sickest’ and still be the most productive. My pop is the same way so sis and I grew up thinking that being sick didn’t mean you stopped working so she and I do the same. I remember when O was 5 and had pneumonia (it took me 4 tries to spell that right 🙄) and we went back to the docs for another chest x-ray to see if he was getting better. When I was there, I was hacking around but told the doc it was just a cold. He listened to my lungs and ordered an x-ray for me too and come to find out, I also had pneumonia in both lungs. And, I was still teaching my classes and taking care of the house.

I’m not saying this is wrong…I think being strong is a great attribute to have and not ‘wallowing’ in your illness is probably a lot more healthy than doing so. I’m proud of my ma and pop, and the fact they are still working and being productive in their mid 70’s shows that working and staying active is the best way to go. I also a believer in having a positive attitude and know that at least for me, the more positive I am when sick, the less ‘sick’ I feel. (I used to love saying this to O when he was a little guy: “If you break your leg, don’t come running to me!” It always made him laugh!”)

So, I’ve been having problems since mid-September with peeing blood with pain every time I wee (I know, I know 🤢), being tired all the time, getting nauseous every time I eat, pain in my sides and back, etc. I’ve been on 3 different rounds of anti-biotics for 6 weeks total and had an ultrasound that shows 2 small kidney stones (I’m going to make a necklace out of them after they pass just to gross out ma). My doc sent me to a specialist yesterday and he was adorable. Anyhoot, we were yacking while he was examining and he said: “Kidney stones aren’t doing this. We need to figure this out.” So, he ordered me to get 3 CT scans this week as well as him doing a cystoscopy on Thursday. I asked him: “What are you looking for?” And he said: “It’s a good chance, with your symptoms, that it’s bladder cancer. I also want to rule out a tumor on your kidneys.” So I said: “What if it’s not one of those?” He said: “I’m not sure…we’ll just keep at it until we know.”

I’ve written before about ma telling me when she found a lump in her boob and I’ll never forget the feeling of being punched in my gut. I also remember when my son was being tested for leukemia and prayed so hard God got tired of hearing from me. The feeling of hearing ‘cancer’ and ‘son’ in the same sentence does something to you that’s truly indescribable.

So yesterday, when the doc said this, I started to get that punched in the gut feeling again. Not because of ‘me’, but because of how it would affect O, ma and Bill. O was with me at the appointment and he said: “Ma…don’t worry. You’re going to be fine.” Ma said: “Don’t worry, you’re going to be fine.” Bill said: “Don’t worry, you’re going to be fine.” But guess what? I’m worried.

And as Bill and I were chatting last night and I expressed this to him, I said: “Why it is wrong to be scared? Worried? Aren’t those valid feelings right now?” And he thought about it and said they were. But, he also said that until I knew something for sure, I should still be positive which I also am: if it’s cancer, we’ll fight it.

Sometimes I think the word ‘cancer’ is stigmatized like the words ‘mental illness’. Both are things people don’t want to really talk about or necessarily be around. In terms of being bipolar, I knew there was something very wrong with me when I was a teen (zits, braces and all 🙄), but as I got older I kept thinking: “Bipolar only affects around 1-2% of the population…I can’t have that!” Well, why not? By the same token, 1.7 million people are diagnosed with cancer every year in the U.S….why shouldn’t I be one of them? Why do we always think that these things ‘happen to other people’ and not ourselves? Why do we shy away from even contemplating it? Why do we feel guilty if we’re scared?

All of us are ‘someone else’ to ‘everyone else.’ Right? And by denying or ignoring or insisting that it can’t be cancer…or mental illness…or that someone is suicidal, etc. prohibits us from helping them or giving them the support they need. Why do we put our energy into pretending that something ‘can’t be true’?

I hope hope hope (and pray pray pray) that I don’t have bladder cancer. I hope hope hope (and pray pray pray) it’s something that can be cured/taken care of with a magic pill. But, I’m also being realistic and I’m scared. If I do have it, of course I’ll be tough! Of course I’ll be strong! Of course I’ll get through it like millions of other people do every year! Once something is ‘named’ it can be fought and I think it’s the not knowing that’s making me worry. After I finally got diagnosed with bipolar and started getting the help I needed, my life improved so much. Hiding it…denying it…just made me still stay ‘sick’. I’m not expecting to have cancer…but I’m not ruling it out either since doc is leaning that way. I’m not going to pretend I’m immune to cancer and become complacent about my health. Sometimes, ignorance is not bliss, but knowledge is always power.

Thanks for listening, my sweet peeps. ❤❤❤

Kristi xoxo

“The scariest moment is always just before you start.” ~ Stephen King

So, a friend was talking to me about one of their family members who has been formally diagnosed with bipolar but refuses to get help with it even though they are having trouble functioning in their day-to-day life. When I asked my friend: “What all is family doing for him?” their response was this: “Most of them are fed up…they are stepping away since he won’t get help and it’s so much to handle.”

Clear as mud to me.

Hmmmmm. Now first of all, I know how difficult it is to deal with someone who has a mental illness. I’m not the only one in my family with a mental health issue and there is also a lot of alcoholism as well, so I know it’s tough to be there for the mentally ill day after day. Then, when you add your own mental health struggles into the equation (I actually got through College algebra and trig with A’s. How in the name of all that’s holy I did it, I’ll never know. 🙄) it can be exhausting.

I think one reason for this is the idea that ‘if they would only get help, they would be OK’. Hmmm. Not true. ‘Getting help’ doesn’t mean your struggles are over. It means you are taking the steps to get as much help as you can in ‘handling’ your struggles. For example, heart disease is the #1 chronic physical condition in the U.S. (The CDC) and although there are ways to slow it’s progression, there is no way to cure it. So yes, meds, exercise, and a healthier diet can all benefit the person, but they are still going to have heart disease with consequences despite the intervention/help they are getting.

By the same token, we don’t expect someone with diabetes to suddenly take a couple shots of insulin and be ‘cured’ to where they need no further treatment; and when you say it like this, you can hear how ridiculous that even sounds. And, if that is the case, why do we think getting on a med or 2 and talking to a counselor a couple times a month is going to make everything better? Hmmm.

Think about this: heart disease and diabetes greatly affect a person’s life, but don’t all mental illnesses do the same? Don’t all of them affect brain function and as a result, lives? One day my sis and I were yacking and we were talking about how hard it is to live with our respective mental illnesses and we both said this: “I wonder what it would feel like to be ‘normal’ for a day or two?’ It was hard for either one of us to imagine since we’ve both been experiencing our issues for decades.

I’m still dealing with my freaking kidney stones (I go to a specialist on Monday who is going to stick a catheter up my urethra to see ‘what’s going on down there’…charmed, I’m sure… 😐) and as a result have some pain periodically through the day, can’t pee without it being bloody (there is no way on God’s green earth I could be a nurse or doc…), can’t eat without feeling like I’m going to throw up for a couple hours after, am tired all of the time, and am so bloaty (ugh…🙄) that I look 5 months pregnant (no, ma…put the phone down…I’ve been through menopause). I was telling Bill this week that I just wanted to feel ‘good’ for a day or 2 since I’ve had this since September. In fact, I kinda forgot what it’s like to pee yellow. 😳

If my ‘stones’ are as cute as this one, I’m going to make a necklace.

But, no one is ‘fed up’ that I have this (well…almost no one…) and they know it’s not my fault (I’m thinking of you saying this right now, Susan 😘). I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing (drinking lots of water, resting when I get tired, etc.) but of course that’s not going to miraculously cure me, is it? It’s obvious something needs to be done and more time has to pass. And, I also know that talking about kidney stones and pee is easier than talking about bipolar, depression, anxiety, PTSD, etc. I wonder why that is? Urine is better to talk about than bipolar? “Hi boss…I can’t be there today…I have a kidney infection and stones and am having a really tough time with it.” OR…”Hi boss…I can’t be there today…I have bipolar and am currently cycling through a depression that people are pissed about because they say I should be happy because I’m in love and it’s the holidays without understanding that moods and emotions are 2 different things so I’m being blamed for something I have very very little control over because my brain is fucked up and theirs might be too but if they are experiencing issues it’s different.” Now, which one do you think would be ‘best’ to say? Riiiiigggggghhhhhtttttt. The kidney one.

Look, I know how frustrating it is to see people not get help, or not get better even with help, or being a different person based on the day, or blowing up at you because of their own anxieties, or not being able to function day to day because of their depression, etc. I get it. I get how hard it is to be around those of us who are unpredictable. Who can’t always explain ‘where it hurts.’ Who you can’t really understand. I can’t tell you how many times I heard this in my life: “I just don’t understand you.” Well get in line, baby…because I don’t understand me either.

I know what I have and I know what it makes my brain look like and do, but I still don’t ‘understand’ it. I still don’t get why it’s in my head and how it controls my moods and how it makes me feel, etc. It was like doing my trig theorems…I got ‘how’ to do the steps, I just didn’t understand what the hell it was all for.

Getting help for mental illness isn’t as easy as people think. It took me decades to get the real help I needed and I still struggle everyday. It’s better, but I still have a disease. Sometimes just battling our minds day after day saps our energy to the point we have nothing else to use outside of ourselves. Seeking help is scary: Where do I go that takes my insurance? Where do I find a counselor that specializes in bipolar or eating disorders or depression (just like we often need a specialist for physical issues, we also need the same for mental ones. Counselors are not ‘one size fits all’). What will meds to do me? What if I’m misdiagnosed and any meds prescribed hurt me more than help me? What if the doc feels I’m so depressed I need shock therapy? What if my meds cause side effects that stymie ‘me’ and who I really am? What will my colleagues say if I talk about it? How will my friends handle it? My family?

In some families, friendships, work relationships, people pull away from you when you need them the most…when you admit to what you are fighting. So ‘getting help’ may not be the cure all for relationships that have been affected by a mental illness. In fact, it just might make some people walk away from you: “Glad you finally got help but you should have done it a lot sooner before so many things happened and I gave up on you.” Hmmm: “Glad you finally went in to the cardiologist and found out you have heart disease and are now eating better and exercising. You should have done that earlier, before I got fed up, because I really don’t feel close to you anymore and it makes me angry when you talk about this because you waited too long to go in and I’m really actually questioning if you actually do have ‘heart disease’ since you’ve been pretty much OK up to this point. Why couldn’t you have just started eating better a little earlier in your life? And hey, we all have things wrong with us. Duh.”

So, what DO people with untreated mental illness need? An ear. A safe place. A chance to talk about what they are feeling, thinking, etc. A conversation about why they aren’t seeking help. A promise that when they do seek help, you’ll continue to be there for them. An understanding that so many people hope that whatever is happening to them in their head will just pass…that it’s just a transitory thing. A willingness to say that you’ll go to appointments with them until they are able to do it themselves. A realization that taking a Prozac today isn’t going to make them deliriously happy tomorrow. An awareness that what does work today may not work in a year. And finally, the tenacity to keep being close to the person as they navigate a very scary journey on the road to treatment.

When are we going to start treating mental illnesses as illnesses? When are we going to understand that those of us with them didn’t ask for them…didn’t do anything to cause them…didn’t get them to piss you off? Why can’t we have compassion for all illnesses…diseases? Why do we give up on those who need help the most but are having the hardest time getting it? Hmmmmm…I’m not sure I understand.

Kristi xoxo

Enough is enough.

So, did you ever have a little something randomly just happen in your life but it made a big impact on you anyway? I did last night.

I had just gotten done running and was walking around a track that encircles a pond by my house. I live in the inner city and am used to, sadly, seeing homeless people around. While I was walking, I saw an older man holding 2 plastic garbage bags and I waved to him and said ‘Hi’ and he smiled at me and waved too. On my next lap, I saw him again and he waved and smiled at me and I smiled back. Finally, on another lap, the guy was almost out of my sight and I knew I wouldn’t see him again. I looked over to where he was crossing through a parking lot and he smiled at me so wide, held up his garbage bags for a big wave, and the joy on his face moved me to tears.

Yes, this homeless guy had a look of joy on his face. I don’t know where it came from. Me smiling and saying ‘hi’? Him on his way to a friends or a someplace where he’ll be warm and fed? Maybe he left a place that gave him clothes and such for the winter months and that’s why he was carrying the bags. It could have been any of these…or more…but the thing was his face. He didn’t have a closed lip, little grin. He SMILED…a huge open mouth, no teeth, joyous smile that radiated. Truly.

After I stopped sniveling (and yes, I would have helped him if he had asked…that’s a given 😐), I started to have another feeling that’s a hard one to deal with. Shame.

My friend started an organization/non-profit (Stand Up For Grace) about 15 years ago and I’m on it’s board and have helped her in various ways from the start. Anyhoot, SUFG works hard to support orphaned kids in an extremely impoverished area of Nairobi, many of which have disabilities, HIV, or other issues outside of being orphaned. At Christmas, we make stockings for each child and they get a piece of candy, a pencil, and a toothbrush. That’s their Christmas and they love it. Their diet mostly consists of bread and porridge for breakfast, and then maize, beans, and rice for the rest of the day. When volunteers visit, they often provide a meal with meat which gives the kids much needed protein.

But once again, here’s the thing: the kids are spirited too. They are so thankful for each and everything they get and the annual stocking is looked forward to each year. The kids sing, write beautiful letters proclaiming their love to the people who donate to the shelter, and talk openly about their love for God and how blessed they are everyday.

And then here I am with so many ‘things’ to be thankful for. My house, furniture, food, pets, plants, water, lights, heat, and the list could go on and on but suffice it to say it’s immeasurable. The homeless man had very few ‘things’ but was still joyous. Still happy. Still willing to share a smile and make someone’s day because of it. The orphans are the same…they have so little but spread so much love and delight to everyone around them.

Why do we…meaning people like me…always think we need to have more? I went to the General ($ General🙄) today to grab a few things and as I was looking around, I thought about how there was more food there and more things available than the kids in the orphanage could even comprehend. They don’t have band-aids most of the time and I bought some off of a shelf that held dozens of different types. They eat porridge and I walked by aisles with bread, peanut butter, oatmeal, cereal, milk, orange juice, etc. I get to choose what I want to have for dinner tonight, and I might bitch about it for being left-overs. Regardless of whatever I have, the kids and most probably the homeless man, won’t have anything close.

When I got home, I started looking around. Truly looking. And I started feeling so embarrassed about the amount of crap I have. Why do I worry about my lampshades matching? Why the hell do I think about buying a new rug when mine is perfectly fine? Why do we feel we have to have ‘special’ placemats for a variety of occasions? Was it really necessary to buy a new bathmat to match my towels? Did I really ‘need’ that new phone case I got last week? Am I shopping for a sectional because I actually ‘need’ it or want it?

I think we live in a culture where we see ‘things’ as making us happy. “Oooooooo…once we move to our new house things will be so great!” Or, “I’m so overjoyed with my new car!”

Look, I’m so guilty of thinking that and I spend WAY too much money on trivial things I want without really thinking about what I need. Minimalism is the new trend and organizers tell us to clean out our closets and drawers, say ‘goodbye’ (literally…I am not going to say ‘goodbye’ to the jeans I just donated that are now too small for me 😳) to the things we are tossing and get along with less.

But think about that. We have so much, we need to GET RID of the clutter…junk…crap…but there are so many people in this world that need these basics and here we are fussing and fighting over them. I get rid of a shirt because I think it’s ugly now…and how many people need a shirt for the winter? I get rid of boots that just aren’t trendy anymore…and I think about the women who could use these everyday.

I re-did my house this past year: painted all of the rooms, bought some new furniture, got some wall art, replaced old outlets, etc. And after I was done, I was pleased. Proud. But I wasn’t ‘happy’ because as I told ma, I didn’t have anyone to share my home with. I was content in it but I was still missing a piece until Bill came into my life and that’s made me happier because now it’s not just things…it’s a relationship inside those walls.

I guess seeing that homeless man and thinking about the kids I do work for makes me realize what’s really important in life. Making connections. Sharing a smile. Making someone laugh. Reconnecting with a friend…or making a new one (I love you, Susan! ❤). Hugging my ma and pop. Snuggling with Dottie and Edward. Taking meals to my neighbors. Watching my son work on his photography.

You know, I’d give up any and all of my ‘things’ to get to be with my gramma and gramps again. To make my mom’s bad liver great again. To take away the beginning of my pop’s Alzheimers. To stretch out time so I can see my sister more. To see and love on my son more than I do.

The ‘things’ in my life are OK…but when you get right down to it, they really aren’t that important after all. In 50 years, when I’m gone and playing with my dogs in heaven (God loves animals…duh…🙄) who is going to remember my outfit that didn’t match one day? Or the fact I washed my car all the time? Or that my yard was trimmed each week? Probably no one. But I hope my sonshine talks about my love of animals to my great-grandkids. I hope my grandkids remember a gramma that stopped whatever she was doing to read a book to them or get in the sandbox with them or teach them how to play poker. Because when it gets right down to it, isn’t that what life is really about?

Kristi xoxo

“Life is short…Running makes it seem longer.” ~ Baron Hanson

So, Bill is a runner and has completed 4 ultras, and for those of you who may not know running jargon, these are runs over the marathon distance of 26.2 miles…the ones he has done are 100 miles. He has literally run 100 miles in a 24 hour period. And, he has done this on 4 separate occasions. When I typed those last 2 sentences, I was using my ‘gobsmacked’ voice (I talk when I type…no surprise there 🙄) so that each word came out like I was saying a sentence such as: “I am now seeing a UFO land in my yard with little green men working their way up my porch steps.” That’s how flabbergasted I am by the thought of running 100 miles (I don’t think I have ever typed or used the word ‘flabbergasted’ in my life. Hmm…I am sounding more and more like my gramma everyday 🤨).

Anyhoot, he is starting to train for another ultra and asked me to do it with him and I non-committedly said: “When?” He said it was next November and I said: “November 2028? Because that’s how long it would take me to run the freaking thing anyway.” He said: “No, Kristi. Eleven months from now.” After I laughed and rolled my eyes, he said he was being serious…that he thought I could do it. So, I did what any other grown, mature 54 year old woman does: I called my ma. Here’s our conversation…word for word…

“Ma, Bill wants me to run an ‘ultra’ with him next November.”

“That’s nice. Where is it?”

Ma, it’s down south and is an ‘ultra’.

“That’s nice. Why are you telling me this now? Will you want me to watch you do it?”

“Ma, do you know what an ‘ultra’ is?”

“Yes, Kristi, I do. It’s when you run a race and then get an ultrasound afterwards.”

“No, ma…it’s a 100 mile run.”

“What? You are out of your flipping mind if you think you are going to run a 100 miles. You have bipolar and fibromyalgia, both which cause you to be on meds that you have to take every single day at the same time every single day and that affect you in numerous ways. You will run that ultra over my dead body.”

So, I’m going to run the ultra in November and I’m actually kind of obligated now anyway. The last time ma said that it would be over her dead body if I did something, it was when she forbade me (2 years ago 🙄) to pierce my nose. Long story short: I pierced my nose.

Bill at mile 88 in one of his Ultras!

Anyhoot, Bill and I were yacking about it and I said I didn’t know if I had what it takes to do something like that and he said this: “It’s mostly mental…you need a lot of mental fortitude and the right mind-set to get through it.” Well, the minute I heard it was ‘mostly mental’ my first thought was “I’m fucked” (sorry, ma…but I know you are cussing anyway so…😳). But as I started thinking more and more about it, I think I can do it.

Did you know that even though bipolar affects ‘only’ about 3% of the population, it’s the 6th leading cause of disability in the world (WHO)? And that along with ‘just’ the symptoms of depression and mania, people with bipolar often experience anxiety, have ADHD, might experience PTSD, or have a co-existing substance abuse disorder?

The Social Security Administration determines eligibility for bipolar based on various criteria, with the specific ones associated with bipolar to be the following:

  1. Depressive syndrome characterized by a minimum of 4 of the following:
    1. Anhedonia (loss of interest in almost all activities)
    2. Appetite disturbances with changes in weight
    3. Sleep disturbance
    4. Psychomotor agitation or ‘retardation’
    5. Decreased energy
    6. Feelings of guilt and worthlessness
    7. Difficulty concentrating/thinking
    8. Suicidal thoughts (at times)
    9. Psychotic breaks
  1. Manic syndrome characterized by a minimum of 3 of the following:
    1. Hyperactivity
    2. Pressured speech (in other words, not being able to NOT talk)
    3. Flight of ideas
    4. Inflated self-esteem
    5. Decreased need for sleep
    6. Easy distractibility
    7. Engaging in activities with little awareness of the consequences (at times)
    8. Psychotic breaks

So, take a look-see at these lists that determine disability benefits and the symptoms in red are the ones I ALWAYS experience during various episodes. Always. However, I have NEVER had a psychotic break (although hallucinating that Taron Egerton is…well…doing ‘something’ to me would be a nice one 😏).

Now, what’s the point of me showing you all of this? How does me qualifying for disability have anything in hell with running an ultra? Everything!

You see, I have a lot of mental fortitude and I know there are so so many people out there who suffer from mental illness that do as well. We are the ones who have to work. Who have to care for our families. Who have to make decisions. Who have to get out and do for ourselves what ‘everyone’ else does. Except, we’re doing it with a potentially incapacitating mental illness.

My ma knows a gal who is bipolar and can’t live on her own, take care of herself fully, or work at any job other than a part-time one that is menial in nature, despite her intelligence. Now, I’m not saying menial work is bad…any honest/hard work is something to be proud of. I’m simply saying this gal is forced into such a position because of her mental illness. And just so you know, I’ve worked many a ‘menial’ jobs to get through college…my favorite? Getting up at 2:00 in the morning to work at a laundromat doing all of the wash for a local hotel. That, my sweetie peeps, was actually kinda cool.

So why have I been able to teach in the same school for the past 24 years and work for the state and teach GED classes and teach elementary school in years past? Because I had too. And, because I wanted too. I was the main breadwinner in my marriages for most of their duration and for 2, the entire time. I was also the primary caregiver in terms of taking care of my sonshine, taking care of the indoor and outside work, etc. It ‘was what it was’ and I’m here to tell you this:

My happy place…my classroom!

There are times when I’m so depressed that I walk into my classroom and force myself to not start bawling but to lecture and stay focused and create the energy to see the class through. But I do it. I fucking do it. I depend on my work for all that I have in terms of money, etc., and I know my students depend on me for all they need from their classes. I have an obligation to them to be my very best every single time we’re together and I learned, a loooong time ago, that I needed to be able to summon up the backbone and tenacity to do that for them.

Then, there are days I’m so manic that staying focused and not jumping around and talking so fast my students need an interpreter is tough tough tough to control. But once again, I do it.

And I’m not special…not by a long-shot. Millions of people live with their mental illnesses every single day and do what they need to do. We work when we want to huddle in a corner and cry. We parent when our energy is so sapped by what’s going on in our brains we can barely think straight. We partner when we’ve given so much to ourselves to get through the day but are still finding more to give to them as well.

We aren’t heroes. We aren’t super-people. We have these illnesses and we’ve learned how to deal with them the best we can. I know there are some mental illnesses that are so severe that this simply isn’t possible. And how horrible for those that suffer from them. Being on disability for any illness/issue that is incapacitating is nothing to be ashamed of…that’s what the benefits are for. But those of us that are able to get through aren’t seen the same.

“You work and live by yourself…you must not have bipolar very bad.” (I’ve actually had that spoken to me…grammar included). “How can you work and be so sick…isn’t that bad for your students?” (Ditto on this one too). No, it’s not ‘bad’ for my students. I’m a great professor (the one thing in this world I am actually good at 😐) and no matter what it takes to get me to ‘work’ everyday is worth it…I need the people and conversation and a chance to share my passion and that feeling of accomplishment I get when I come home from campus or log off my computer. My family and students are my heart and I will always be there for them.

Back to the Ultra. Can I do it? Fucking right I can. I have the mental fortitude and strength of a dung beetle! (OK…I had to use that example because the dung beetle is the strongest insect on earth and my ma always says I’m full of crap! 💩). I struggle with mental illness everyday and persevere through the really shitty things bipolar throws at me.

So, ma…I’m going to do it. I definitely don’t want it over your ‘dead body’ and I know that was your way of making your feelings known in an even more dramatic way than usual. But you don’t have to worry. Because you know that I’ve gotten over things in my life and gotten through things in my life that pale to running ‘just’ a 100 miles. As the song says: “You ain’t seen nothing yet!”

Kristi xoxo

“Celebrate good times…C’mon…” ~ Kool and the Gang

So, one of my sweetie peeps asked me why I didn’t blawg over Thanksgiving weekend and the ‘easy’ answer is that I’m just too doggone busy with grading, preparing finals, and roasting my famous turkey I handed out to my neighbors (bless their hearts…no salmonella yet 🙄). However, the ‘true’ answer is this: I have a love/hate relationship to holidays.

Now, when I was a kid I loved loved loved the holidays and I still do! Ma and pop always made me and T’s birthdays and Christmases awesome. Every birthday, pop would call us up from work in the morning after we got up, to wish us a happy birthday before we left for school. Yes, I know this sounds ‘boring’ to my grasshoppers who have grown up with cell phones and constant contact, but for pop to call us from work was a huge deal ‘back then’ (I’m sure the local operator who had to connect the wires was a nice gal 😐). We loved getting ‘the call’ and then ma would pack up cupcakes and Kool-Aid for us to take to school for our class party. Now it literally (well…not literally or I’d be dead…but I’m trying to be dramatic here) breaks my heart that schools around my area don’t allow for homemade treats anymore. Sigh. Things were sometimes better in the old days. Anyhoot, after dinner, gramma and gramps would come over and we’d get to open our presents and bask in the glory of being in the spotlight that night. (Also, ma would let us pick our dinners and I always chose Kraft Mac and Cheese with green beans…every year…she got off easy, huh?)

Now, I love love love to open presents and I readily admit it. And yes, I know it’s much better to give than to receive which is why I just adore finding stuff for people that is funky or unique or really shows the person that I ‘know’ them. But, I do LOVE getting presents too! I love the wrapping paper and the shaking of the boxes and the anticipation of tearing off that first piece of paper and then seeing what the gift is. It always amazes me because because somehow, no matter what, the present is always something I wanted. Ma says I’m still like a kid when I open presents…and she’s right. (Of course, I’m just a couple decades out of ‘childhood’ so… 🙄).

Trying on my hot new pants with pop while T wears her fluffy new slippers!

Christmas was even better. T and I would always wake up and she’d come into my room and we’d dare each other to wake up ma and pop so we could all go in the living room to see what Santa brought. We’d say: “OK…on 3 we are going to yell WAKE UP…ready…1….2….3….” and we’d chicken out. Of course, the folks were already awake and wondering what the hell was taking us so long! Pop would say he wanted a BIG breakfast before we could open but T and I would yell NO and we’d unwrap our loot. Ahhhhhhhhh….the smell of paper, boxes, fresh plastic, etc. always takes me back. That afternoon, we’d schlep over to gramma and gramps where there were more presents and a special dinner with my aunt, uncle and cousin. It was a GREAT day every year.

O with his first phone!

And, I love Christmas with my little guy so much (he’s 6″ 😳) and he still gets so excited about the holiday too. However, ahem, it would be so much better if only I had a grandchild, ahem, to enjoy buying cutsie little clothes for, ahem, and every toy ever produced by Fisher Price…ahem…but I digress. *Note to son: read this paragraph again. And again.

So, why do I say I have a love/hate with holidays? As I’ve gotten into my 40’s (shutty the mouthies, peeps 😉) I’ve realized that holidays are a wonderful way of celebrating so many things: being thankful, the birth and resurrection of Jesus, the love of our lives, being an American, etc. But, here’s the thing: shouldn’t we be doing this all the live long day?

One year I was in Walgreens buying a Valentine for Hubby 3 (the mouthies are still shutty 😐), and I told the old gal at the register “Happy Valentine’s Day!” I knew her from going into the store every single day and she said this: “It’s not really a happy day for me…my husband died last year.” Ouch. I felt so so bad for my blunder and gave her a hug over the counter. I went home that night and really started thinking about why we assign 1 day a year to celebrating our ‘love’ by giving flowers, candy, cards, stuffed animals, etc. Then I started thinking about all of the other holidays and felt the same.

Apparently my baby wasn’t thankful for me that year!

Look, I love eating turkey on Thanksgiving (but not yams…I hate yams…🥔) but I think that we need to have thankfulness in our hearts everyday. Every single day. And, I think we need to share this with those around us while showing our appreciation for all we have. I don’t want to have ONE day where I say I’m thankful for my family…for piss sakes, I’m thankful for them every single day and I try to tell them often. Everyday, I’m thankful for my students, my pets, my friends, my neighbors, my precious blawg readers, my home, the food I have, the money I earn, my health, etc. The list can go on and on. Even at my darkest, I had blessings. When things were falling down all around me, I still had my ma…my son…my family. Even though this fucking (sorry ma 😳) bipolar makes my life hellish at times, I still have my physical health. I still have a doctor who helps me fight the damn thing. I still have people who stand behind me. Right?

And Christmas? Look, I know you all aren’t Christians because I have readers from all over the globe (that humbles me more than you could ever know 😘), but I know you all have spiritual beliefs and like I’ve said before, I believe God is the alpha and omega…the one and only…and the true God for any religion you practice and follow. Anyhoot, I talk to God everyday. I thank him for all he has done in my life and every night when I pray, I thank him for sacrificing his son for my sins. And I’m not going to ‘just’ thank Jesus for this salvation once a year…I thank him everyday as well I should.

And, here’s a little rant for ya: I hate the materialism of Christmas. I mean really…when you think about it why do we give gifts to each other on a day we should be celebrating the gift given to us? Like I said, I love presents and all the trimmings that come with Christmas, but actually, wouldn’t us giving the gift of time, money, help to those who are sick, homeless, poor, etc. actually be more appropriate for what the holiday is really about? I also have a problem (please don’t send me shitty messages…this is only my opinion 😐) with people who are scornful…disdainful…of my beliefs in Jesus only to be the ones who decorate and ‘buy’ for Christmas the most. Hmmmm. They laugh at me (yes, to my face…I’ve had colleagues tell me I’m ‘stupid’ for my beliefs…that I’m too ‘smart’ to believe in a higher power 🤨) yet natter on about how they much they love Christmas break and how much they got for Christmas and how much they ate over Christmas and how much they celebrated over Christmas. ‘Nuff said.

And back to Valentines day…I don’t want someone giving me flowers once a year to show their love. How about getting my car washed in the summer when it’s filthy? Or leaving me a card on a random Wednesday because you luv me? Or buying me the book you know I’ve been wanting to read? As someone who has had some…cough cough…experience with relationships (🙄), I’m here to tell you this: they need to be nurtured everyday. And yes, I do this myself.

The 4th of July? I love the fireworks and eats and the patriotism every year, but I’m here to tell you that I love America. Yes, we have some very big issues we need to tackle. Yes, things aren’t always just and fair. Yes, as far as we’ve come in terms of race relations, equality for women, understanding of mental illness, etc. we still have a long ways to go. However, I can talk about these things without fearing retribution from my government. I can practice what I believe. I can question, protest, vote, petition, and write what I want. I have the right to marry who I want, wear what I want, be educated, access info on the internet, own property, start a business, etc. Yes, I’m truly thankful to be an American every day of my life.

And other holidays? Thank a veteran every time you see one. Think about those who have passed and maintain the memory of them. Celebrate men like Martin Luther King Jr. regularly and strive to be more involved in your community. Tell your ma and pop often how important and loved they are…not just once in May and then June.

Look, you don’t have to make everyday a holiday…that would become tedious and disingenuous. Have fun with our holidays…cook turkeys, bake cookies (BTW, I’m a great taste-tester…just wanted you to know 🙂), wrap gifts, shoot off fireworks, and have a ball with family and friends. But you can also be thankful and loving everyday. You can have an open heart everyday. And most of all, you can keep that wonderful feeling of celebration all the year through.

Kristi xoxo