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

Never Cut your Bangs when Mad. ~ Common Sense

From behindthechair.com

So, after all of the successes ma, sis and I have had in cutting our own bangs and hair, along with home coloring and highlights, I have absolutely no idea why none of us are licensed cosmetologists. 🙄

Ma, for some Godforsaken reason (and I blame Pop for not intervening 🤨), loved to put me and T’s hair in pink foam rollers. Apparently she thought we were future Shirley Temples and could make her and pop a buck or two in vaudeville. EVERY single time ma would do this, she would say (in a snarky voice I might add): “Girls, these won’t hurt at all to sleep in.” Well…ma…I can finally say it: “Bullshit.” So, after a night of tossing and turning thinking my gray matter was going to be squashed out of my ears, the rollers came off and we did NOT look like Shirley. We weren’t even close. And the more she did it, the worse it got…not better. What did we look like you might be wondering? Well…picture 2 girls who are NOT twins, dressed alike in the most horrifying outfits the 70’s had to offer with what looked like Halloween wigs on their heads. No wonder T and I have panic attacks whenever we see the color pink. Just sayin’.

Ma also loved to cut our bangs. Even when they were short, she still loved to cut the damn things. She’d either put a piece of tape (not ‘hair tape’ like ‘beauticians’ used to use but plain old Scotch tape which was sticky as hell) across our bangs and then ‘cut the tape off’ or, even better, use her finger as a horizontal guide across our bangs and try not to cut her finger off. Either way, T and I (see pics) had bangs that always sloped up our foreheads and were so short you could have shown a movie on said foreheads; plus, there was always…ALWAYS…a chunk (not just a piece but a CHUNK 😳) of bangs left long. Charming. And, until just now, I never thought to ask ma this: “Ma…in the name of all that is holy, why didn’t you just slice off those remaining chunks?” T…I’ll let you know what she says.

Then, when my sis and I were in our teens, T loved to mess with my hair. Note that I didn’t say we loved to mess with each others hair…I was the guinea pig in this particular part our relationship. When I was in the 7th grade, T read an article about how cool hair looked if you braided it wet and then slept on it. So, one night while her boyfriend “Jack” was at the house (on whom I had an incredible crush…like I did on all of T’s boyfriends 😲), she wet down my hair and started braiding. I couldn’t wait to see my head afterwards since I pictured myself looking like Bo Derek (look it up, younger peeps…she was in the movie 10) before the actual ‘do’ was finished. After looking in the mirror, I saw that I DIDN’T look like Bo…I actually looked like someone who had just stuck a bobby pin into a light socket.

Gilda Radner as Roseanne RoseannaDanna…I LOVED her!

Anyhoot, I slept on the braids all night long, woke up, took out the rubber bands, and viola! I had half crimped hair, frizzy, absolutely terrifying hair. T hadn’t realized the braids needed to be small and tight for actual ‘waves’ to happen and since she wasn’t the best braider in the world, she didn’t braid up to my scalp so the top of my head was as flat as my chest at that time, while the bottom stuck out like Roseann RoseannaDanna. Since I was already running late, I had to go to school like this and yes, I got a lot of looks. And no, they weren’t admiring. At all. 😐

Now, braiding and making ‘crimps and curls’ might not have been T’s area of expertise, but we thought we had a surefire way of getting noticed when school started back up. One summer, T took some of her allowance, rode her bike to the local ‘Thrifty Drug Store’ and bought a bottle of SunIn. This is still sold today (T? Are you thinking what I’m thinking?) but I’m assuming the formula has changed in the last 35 years. Basically, you put a BIT on your hair, lay out a ‘short’ while, and then bam!…you look like Farrah Fawcett (once again, peeps…look her up…she was actually quite hot 🤭)

We were close, T!

The minute she came home she started spraying our heads and instead of just dampening our locks, she decided to soak our locks. And then, instead of laying out for a few minutes (per the instructions which T and I didn’t read until…after…) we actually toasted ourselves for the entire afternoon…in direct sunlight. Yes, we were dehydrated. Yes, we were burnt (we didn’t care about sunscreen back in the ‘olden days’ 🙄). But it was going to be worth it! We tottered into the bathroom (the dehydration make it difficult to walk), rinsed out our hair and…wait for it…saw that it was orange. ORANGE. I’m not talking about red/coppery highlighty orange. Nope. I’m talking about traffic cone orange that made us both look like circus employees. 🤡 Charmed, I’m sure.

So, T wasn’t great at ‘chemicals’ either but still wanted to mess with my hair. The best solution? Style it! T would blow dry my hair with her white Conair dryer (it was awesome…and lasted for decades! No kidding!) which was great…until she would whip the dryer around from my right to my left, in front of my face, and hit my nose every. single. time. Then, the curling iron was brought out. She waited until it got as hot as a stove top and then would sear curls into my hair…often hitting my ears and neck in the process. In fact, she may have branded me. So, did I look beeeaaaauuuuttttiiiifull after all of this? Well…no. My hair was full of static electricity (we didn’t understand what conditioners were for…we used Prell and that was it🤨) and the curls were all over the place. Literally. But, bless her heart…those were the most fun afternoons we spent together. Truly. 😘

Fast forward to me cutting hubby 2’s hair and O’s. Let’s see…I want to make sure I say this next thing diplomatically…so here goes: Hubby was cheap. His wallets never ever wore out…they just went out of style. So, one day he said this to his sweet wifey: “Kristi. Why are we spending so much money on haircuts for me and O when you have clippers you use on Scooter anyway?” Well…I had no answer for that. Why wasn’t I cutting my family’s hair like I clipped the fur around Scooter’s butt so he wouldn’t get dingleberries? Beats me.

The minute these words were out of his mouth, I ran to get the clippers, put veggie oil on them (didn’t have clipper oil…ce la vie), set up a lawn chair on the deck, got out an old sheet and the ‘barber shop’ was ready to go. O went first. I basically put on a quarter inch blade and shaved his head. He loved it (of course he was 5) and kept saying how ‘cool’ he was. Not ‘popular cool’ but cool…since he had no way to hold in his body heat anymore. Hubby saw this and I could see the regret of his suggestion in his eyes. But, he sat down and told me this: “Kristi. I do not want a shaved head. I have to work tomorrow among mechanics as well as my brother and dad and really don’t want to get made fun of. Just give me a slight trim and go around my ears.”

Ok. Sure. I put on a longer blade and gave him a ‘trim’ and then went around his ears. Now, how to you go AROUND an ear with a STRAIGT edge? Beats the hell out of me. When I saw the results I realized I made hubby look like Spock from Star Trek…the hair around his ears was a completely shaved line and he now looked ‘pointed.’ But, before I could tell him what a miserable job I did, he said this: “Kristi. Can you trim up my mustache and eyebrows too?” SURE!! Why not? Remember how ma trimmed our bangs? Well…I used the same technique and hubby was left with an extremely crooked mustache and most of his left eyebrow gone. When he looked in the mirror he said: “OH MY GOD!!!” Quite loudly, I might add. Trying to salvage what I could from the incident I replied with this: “But honey…I saved you $8.00 😏”. I would love to tell you what he said, but I’d better not. The words would make ma faint.

So, why am I remembering all of this today? Well, for the upteenth time I just colored my hair and trimmed/thinned my bangs. EVERY single time I do this, I swear to ma and sis that this is the last time I’ll ever work on my own hair. I’ve even thrown away my scissors while ma watched (I live a mile from Walgreens…just saying 😁). Have I looked in the mirror to see the color and how my bangs look? No. I have not. I got out of the shower, towel dried my hair, combed it while the mirror was steamed up, and then boogied out of the bathroom. I’m trying to get up my courage to go back in, but keep finding things to do. Like write to you all. Anyhoot…wish me luck.

Kristi xoxo

“You better watch your step…” ~ Elvis Costello

So, Bill is a recovering alcoholic and he attends his AA meetings via Zoom every morning. When he’s at my house, I often hear these while I’m fiddling around in the living room or shoving an extra bagel down my gullet in the kitchen. Anyhoot, as the members talk about the 12 steps and other things pertaining to AA, I think about how this would actually be helpful to those of us with mental illness as well. Not that we have an addiction, mind you…but just that the basic tenets could also apply to us.

You know, everyday I take my meds and that’s pretty much it. I ‘live’ with the bipolar everyday, but don’t necessarily ‘work on it’ everyday and I think that’s a huge difference. I guess I believe that if my meds are working and my moods aren’t causing to me to either spend a few thousand bucks a day or not get out of bed, then everything is A-OK. But, is it? Can I take more ‘control?’ Can I start ‘working’ on my illness everyday? Hmmmm…

Anyhoot, let’s take a look-see at the 12 steps but rewritten and paraphrased (by your truly 🤨) to be used in terms of mental illness:

We admit we are sometimes/often powerless over our mental illness and that our lives can be unmanageable. Hmmmmm. As much as I might think I’m in charge of this fucking bipolar (sorry, ma…but you hate it too 😐), in actuality, I’m not. A few weeks ago, when I was transitioning off of an anti-depressant for a new one, the progressive reduction in the old med was too much and I had 3 absolutely horrible days without knowing why. Bawling non-stop, being so anxious I was beside myself, sweating and shaking, feeling nauseous…the whole 10 yards. It made me realize how powerful the meds are that I’m on, but also how much I truly do need them to feel ‘better’ since when I didn’t have them before, I was almost unable to function. I guess I liken it to a diabetic and insulin…we need these meds to keep on keeping on.

We believe that the Power we conceptualize can lead us to the path of treatment and hope. We turn our will and lives over to God as we perceive Him personally. Now, I’ve actually lost Facebook friends (yes, I’m 17…I actually think the term ‘social media’ is a synonym for high school 🙄) over this next one: “Kristi, if you TRULY believed in God, you’d be cured.” What? Heh? Ummmm…OOOOOKKKKKAAAAAYYYYY. So, in the same vein, if ma would have believed in God more, her breast cancer would have magically gone away? Right?

Why is it people will concede that God gave us the insight and knowledge that guide medical staff, but can’t see the same when the illness is mental? “God gave us chemotherapy.” Yep. I do believe he guided the development of it with human will behind the actual creation of the medication. “God will heal you of bipolar.” Well….nooooooo…but he pushes me to get the treatment I need and believe me, he pushed me hard for years before I decided to get off my ass and finally do it.

Then, it comes to ‘what God’ we are talking about and this is where things get tricky. In fact my son, who isn’t a believer (which breaks his mama’s heart but I digress 🙁) brings this up a lot: “Which ‘God’ are you talking about…the Power in Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Shinto, Christianity, etc.?” My answer? All of them. You see, when I think of ‘God’, I think of the alpha and omega concept: he’s everything to everyone. He’s the center of all of these in the way the religions are conceptualized. God, to me, is omniscient. He’s all-knowing…all-seeing…all everything. I totally agree there’s not one ‘right’ religion. There’s religion and then there’s the Powerful One who can be conceptualized in so many ways in so many cultures in so many belief systems. If he’s truly ‘God’, he’s all God all the way. This might sound a bit juvenile but it’s what makes sense to me.

Would this be ‘funny’ if it depicted any other religion? Hmmmm…

Now, do I share this with a lot of people willy-nilly? No. I actually don’t. Talking about religion and God (which I contend are 2 separate things) can be tricky in this day and age…at least talking about Christianity is from what I’ve experienced (particularly from colleagues at work who have actually called me stupid for thinking a God exists…would they say the same if I were of another faith?) There’s seems to be less tolerance and respect for ‘us’ than those who might be Muslim or of another faith. It’s almost like being a Christian isn’t as ‘politically correct’ anymore, but being anything else is to be revered and respected. I hate to cuss when talking about religion, but what the hell is that all about? Anyhoot, it’s something that can turn people off or make them think you’re just another religious zealot out to save the world. Despite what some people may think, you can believe in God and not be a wacko who tries to lay hands on you the minute they meet you. Just sayin. 🙄

We make searching and fearless inventories of who we are and acknowledge what we have. We affirm to God, ourselves, and others the mental illness we have been diagnosed with. We admit we’re ready for God to help us learn to manage and live with the mental illness. It took me decades to do the first. Decades of pretending I wasn’t bipolar…denying I was bipolar…hiding the fact I am bipolar. I didn’t want this illness that some people think turns you into a serial killer or psychopath (yes, I’ve read papers that talk about both 🙄).

Then, admitting it to others. When I first posted on Facebook about being bipolar, I was petrified. Truly. And in some ways, I had a right to be: I lost friends, the respect of some colleagues, the closeness of some family…there were consequences to coming out. Then I started this blawg where I put everything out there. For as many people who question my sanity in doing this, I have more that thank me and say they have learned to be more accepting of their own mental illnesses. It’s so so worth it. In fact, and I don’t say this lightly, I’d lose every ‘friend’ I have if I help a handful of my students with their own struggles. Truly.

We humbly ask God to help us with our shortcomings. We make a list of people we’ve harmed and plan our amends to them. We make the amends unless they would be hurtful. I love the idea of taking personal inventories and making amends. I know I’ve done really really really (times 1000 😳) shitty things in my life and I know I owe a lot of people a lot of apologies. I’ve made so many of them, but some I haven’t made. Like, I’d love to apologize to my son’s dad for the roller coaster I was often on when I refused to see my bipolar for what it was and seek treatment when we were married. However, to be honest, I don’t think he would give a crap or even try to understand; so I’m not going to open that can of worms. I don’t think he ‘needs’ my amends.

Amends are so hard to do. Saying ‘forgive me’ is easy (so to speak 😐) but it often doesn’t feel like ‘enough’ to me and probably doesn’t to the one I’m apologizing too as well. And, I know amends aren’t the end of things. When I’m cycling through mania (which I kinda wish I was right now because I want to start painting the basement and it would be nice to get it done in a day 🙄) or depression, I know ma gets hurt by that. I know I say and do things that people don’t understand or take in a way I didn’t mean. We are never done making amends…because unfortunately, we are always doing wrongs. And…we need to admit that.

We continue to take personal inventories and address issues promptly. We pray to our God to use his will for us and to give us the power to carry it out. We carry this message to others and offer them hope in terms of their mental illnesses too. What good is all of this insight and work if we just keep it to ourselves? Why learn the lessons I have if I’m not willing to teach them to others. And, why would I ever think I can handle this alone. 45 years of trying says different.

Finally, in AA meetings the serenity prayer is recited: “God, grant me the power to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Don’t you just love this? It makes so much sense to me. Why would I want to pray for the ‘impossible’? “God, take this bipolar away…now.” That’s not going to happen. I feel like I was given this for a reason and I’m the way I’m supposed to be in terms of this brain disease. But, asking God to help me manage it…change what I can…give me the ability to do what’s right regarding my bipolar actually feels very empowering.

I guess we can all use ‘steps’ in our lives in various ways. Steps to climb up the ladder of success…steps to take us upstairs to our crying babies…steps tried in order to learn to walk again…so many steps in our lives. But these steps are important too. Steps to make us see our illnesses more clearly. To see that we can’t handle them alone. To see we have obligations to others. To see that we are fallible and can take measures to either correct it or make up for it. All I know is this: learning about AA and seeing in work in Bill’s life has been so helpful in my own. And maybe that’s the final message of the program. You aren’t alone. You have Him. You have us. And ultimately, you have yourself. And when you think about it, that’s a lot of support to lean on.

Kristi xoxo

“The whole thing I think, it’s sick.” ~ Slipknot

Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on Pexels.com

So, here’s a disclaimer for this particular post: the views of the author (me 🙄) are not necessarily those of anyone else on the planet (although I’m sure there will be MANY women nodding and agreeing with what I have to say) but are based on my experiences only. K? Hey ho…let’s go!

Hopefully my sweetie peeps aren’t reading this while eating because I’m going to get just a tad gross right now. For the past 3 freaking weeks, I’ve been dealing with an inner ear infection and kidney infection (which has made me pee blood for the entire time…charmed, I’m sure 😐) and am now on my 3rd round of antibiotics. During this all, I’ve managed to keep up with school, the house, the yard, the shopping, the dog caring, the plant watering, and everything else that needs attended too. Consequently, some friends have said this: “But you don’t act sick…it must not be a big deal.” Well…peeing blood is kind of a big deal since you think you are knocking on death’s door and the inner ear infection hurts like a MF (don’t ask what that is, ma…it’s not a bad word 🙄). Anyhoot, this made me think of how differently I’ve handled sickness and injury in my life compared to the many many hubbies I’ve had over the years (shutty the mouthies). * Note to Sis: you are why I use the word ‘charming’ now! 😘

Hubby 2 and I had only been married for a few months when he came home early from work one day and told me he was ‘sick as a dog.’ First, my dogs rarely get sick and second, they are troupers when they do. Anyhoot, I asked him the following to ascertain what exactly was wrong with him: “Are you throwing up? Does your throat hurt? Do your ears hurt? Are you achy? Have you had diarrhea? Did you pass out?” To each of these questions I heard a resounding “no.” So, I asked him: “B, what exactly is wrong with you that you felt you needed to come home during ‘All My Children’ just as Erica and Jack were preparing for their wedding?” And his answer? “I just feel ‘off’.”

Okey dokey. Hmmmm. I sort of felt off too considering I was 8 months preggers in the middle of July in the middle of Kansas carrying an extra 65 pounds (8 of which was actually ‘baby’) while still doing every God forsaken thing around the house and yard. So, I said: “Describe ‘off'” and he did: “You know the day before the day before you are actually sick? That’s me.”

What the fuck (sorry, ma 🙄)? The day BEFORE the day? Who knew his constitution was so delicate that he could ‘feel’ a sickness 2 days before it happened? Wow! And, side note: he didn’t get sick 2 days later. At all.

Fast forward to a family dinner with my nephews and in-laws while we were visiting home when O was a little guy. I went into the kitchen and saw my sweetie nephew K, with his feet in a bowl of salsa. Let me say that again: his feet were in a bowl of salsa. In the bowl. Right as I was getting ready to tell my stressed out sis-in-law about the foot situation, she said: “K! Get your feet out of the salsa and put it on the table!” And he did. So, I trot out to the family room where all of the male relatives are waiting for us ‘women folk’ to serve them (don’t ask…it was like the 1940’s 😬) and I say to B: “B…whatever you do, DO NOT EAT THE SALSA! K’s feet were in it.” And what did he say for me being so kind as to give him this warning? “You don’t like my family…blah blah blah…you are just saying that…blah blah blah…” So, the salsa is on the table. B eats the salsa. Kristi and her little fella don’t eat the salsa. And…drumroll please…B gets sick. As a dog. O and I don’t. ‘Nuff’ said.

Once when we were in Kansas (away from any family that could help), all 3 of us got the flu. It was hellish at best. Two adults and a little guy in diapers (just O was wearing the diapers although I was greatly tempted to myself 😐) barfing, pooping, coughing and sneezing all over the place. All of our sheets and towels were dirty and our washer was pretty small. So when B and O fell asleep, I tottered to the laundry with 5 loads, did it all while laying on the floor of the laundry steeped in my flu sweat (literally 😳) while people stepped around me like I was Typhoid Mary, and came home before my men were even awake. When B found out everything was clean, he said: “What happened to the laundry?” For piss sakes…what the hell did he think happened? Think man! I said: “I went to the laundry to do it.” And my sweetie hubby said this: “I guess you aren’t as sick as I am.” OOOKKKKAAAAYYY. Ugh. 🤒

A couple years later, he called me from his work and said: “Now honey…don’t worry but I cut myself and have a huge gash on my hand.” This scared the shit out of me since I was thinking I’d have to take care of everything myself for a couple of weeks. I asked if he needed stitches and he said he was just going ‘to tough it out.’ My hero. When he got home, he had a sock wrapped around a finger. I very very gently unwrapped the sock and said: “Honey, where is it?” He said: “It’s right there!” like I was an idiot or something. I looked. And looked. And looked. And all I could see was a scratch that looked like a paper cut. So I said: “B…is this it?” He said: “Yes! That’s the gash!” Oh my lord. For fuck sakes, I’ve had bigger shaving mishaps. 😐

Hubby 3 wasn’t much better. When he would get his yearly bout of bronchitis, he would tell me this: “Do not bother me. Leave me alone. I don’t need anything and I can take care of myself.” Wow! The first time he said this I was gobsmacked. What a difference! This guy was going to take care of himself….and he did. Sorta.

First though, I needed to get him: his meds, Halls cough drops, Vicks Vapo Rub which I rubbed on this chest then put a warm washcloth over, his Ghost Rider movie complete with remote and soda, never ending bowls of chunky Chicken Noodle soup (only Campbells…the others ‘didn’t taste right’ to him), a stack of hankies by his hands (no Kleenex for this guy…he thought it was much more hygienic to use these multiple times and then have me wash them with fabric softener so his nose wouldn’t get irritated), his favorite pillow (with ever changing pillow cases so he could feel ‘fresh’), his favorite pajama pants (Jack Daniels with a hole in the crotch for easy scratching 🙄), his phone and charger, a bowl of M and M’s (since those are great for bronchitis), and a bell by the couch so he could ring if he needed anything he couldn’t get for himself. He was definitely a little soldier.

My son, bless his heart, tends to take after his dad. In other words (and he doesn’t read all of my posts so I’m not too worried about him seeing this 😳 ), he can be a bit of a ‘bother’ when he’s sick too but he also has another quirk which I actually don’t mind: he likes it when I’m ‘there’ when he’s sick. When he was little, he would practically refuse to throw up or juicy poop unless I was witness to it, and as a man now, he doesn’t want me to watch (phew) but does like to ‘describe’ what is happening so I can make my diagnosis.

Courtesy of https://www.glasbergen.com/ Cartoon ID: toon-3368

Now that’s a whole other ball of wax. My family doc who has been with us for 24 years just loves it when I try to diagnosis illnesses myself. For example, when I went in the other day for this infection, I told him I had punched my symptoms into a med site and am either suffering from prostate cancer, sepsis, or am pregnant. He rolled his eyes…I swear he did…and said this to me quite clearly (with a tinge of frustration): “Kristi. You are not a doctor. I am a doctor. I have a medical degree. I will do the diagnosis.” So I said: “But doc…I have a Master’s degree (in Family Studies…very relevant to medicine 🙄) and peruse WebMD regularly.” I heard him mutter something under his breath…I’m still trying to figure out what he said.

Anyhoot, I’m going to keep on being my strong, brave self in the face of this physical adversity and just make sure my ‘papers’ are in order in case anything happens. I’ve only asked Bill for about a dozen things and ma has only gotten about 30 calls from me. Every neighbor in a 5 mile radius knows of my ‘infection’ and I announced it to all 1000 friends on facebook. In other words, I’m one of these women who can take care of herself (Bill? Can you bring me some fresh ice cubes? These smell ‘used’.) and doesn’t need anyone else to pamper her (Ma? I think some of your homemade chili would hit the spot…but if you’re too busy…for your sick daughter…that’s fine…sigh…). I am woman hear me roar (Ouch…that roar hurt my throat…O? Can you bring me some cough syrup to soothe it?) and am just so damn proud I’m stronger then the men in my life (Pop? Some non-dairy ice cream would really hit the spot right now.). Just saying.

Kristi xoxo

“We are what we imagine ourselves to be.” ~ Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

So, I’ve been thinking a lot about body image lately because of Bill. He has issues with this himself and we’ve talked about how we’re both insecure. Let’s take a look-see.

Bill went through a lot in 1995…his twin brother died, he lost his job, and his wife left him after she cheated on him. The only way he knew to cope with his grief and stress was to eat. A lot. Bill has always been a binge eater and he completely lost control during this time. In fact, he gained over 200 pounds and weighed close to 500. He could barely do anything with so much weight on his body and a couple of years later, after feeling horrible and like he was going to die at a young as as well, he decided to start running since it was something he’d done in school and the Navy and liked. He knew he needed a ‘new addiction’ (not food!) plus he wanted to get healthy and lose the weight that was holding him back.

I’m gobsmacked.

To make a long story short (something I’m not so good at 🙄), he ended up losing the 200 pounds, has run marathons, and 4 ultras. For you non-runners out there (hi ma! 😁), an ultra is a 100 mile run. One. Hundred. Freaking. Miles. That’s unbelievable to me! I’ve done 5 marathons myself, and after 26 miles, I’m wiped. I can’t imagine getting to that point in a run and still have 74 to go. And yes, he wants me to run one with him. And no, there’s not a snowballs chance in hell I will. 😲

Now, I’ve written about my struggle with anorexia and like all eating disorders, you are never ‘cured’ but aren’t always experiencing the severity of what it can be. With anorexia, you wax and wane depending on environmental stressors and I’ve had bouts of it after my worst time in high school.

Part of anorexia is having a distorted body image. Regardless of what really is there, you see yourself in the mirror and think you’re fat. I mean, you ACTUALLY see fat and this simply feeds (no pun intended although that was pretty good) into the anorexia and a new cycle begins. We know that having a high level of perfectionism and self-criticism are common in people with a distorted body image, and I’m lucky enough to have both of these. Of course. 🙄

My biggest area of concern (and yes, I still struggle with this…I never eat ANYTHING without wondering what it’s doing to my weight 🤔) is my belly. I hate it! I see it as way too big and abnormally large for my frame. And yes, my friends and family have told me it isn’t for decades, but I still see it that way. Blech.

God Bless you, Kristen!

Anyhoot, here’s where Bill has really helped me and I hope I’ve helped him too. Because of his huge weight loss, he has a lot of loose skin and is still a pretty big guy. He’s so self-conscious about this and was really shy (so cute!) about being intimate with me (nothing much, ma…just smooching…🙄). But here’s the thing: when I saw him, I was still so attracted to him. He’s sexy to me…handsome. I don’t see him as ‘skin’ and ‘weight’…I see him as someone I love who is perfectly unperfect. In fact, I told him his skin was a badge of honor at losing so much weight and accomplishing so much as a runner.

So I started thinking about why I can’t do the same with myself. Why do I continue to beat myself up for my own body imperfections (and I have a lot of ’em)? It’s like I’m finally understanding (hello, lightbulb 😳) that if someone really loves me, why should I worry about my fucking belly (sorry, ma 🙄)? Why should I think myself un-loveable or undesirable when Bill, and the people around me don’t? If Bill can believe that I accept him in the package he comes in, why can’t I accept my own packaging? Why’s it so hard to believe him when he says I’m beautiful (I made an appointment for him at “All About Eyes”🤓 ) when I want him to believe how I think he’s a cutie patootie? And…if I’ve truly come to love myself again, shouldn’t I love my ‘package’ too (sounds a bit dirty, ‘eh?)?

But bigger questions are seeping in my head too. Why have I wasted so much time on looks? Why have I denied myself so many things to keep fighting a battle that will never be won? Why do I only see my worth in terms of my bod? Hmmmm…these are toughies to answer.

When I was with my last partner (20 years younger…shutty the mouthies, please 🙄), I was so so so so so (get it?) self-conscious around him! Not long into our relationship, he told me that my neck looked old. And yes it does. I was 50 years old and the skin is thinning and wrinkling (charming 😐). But I took what he said without question, and now I can’t even look at a pic of myself without seeing my ugly neck. I was also very conscious of my shape. Women his age have such great, young smooth bodies (sigh…). How could I ever compete with that? (Obviously I couldn’t…he didn’t cheat on me with another 50 year old…that’s for sure 😐).

Then Bill came over for the first time and we kissied a bit (just a couple pecks, ma) and he actually said this without knowing my insecurity: “I love your neck.” He didn’t understand why I suddenly burst into tears and when I told him about J, he said this: “Why would you believe anything that jerk-wad said?” Wow. That was put into perspective, particularly since I now have a loving, kind, nice guy tell me otherwise and it’s his opinion that matters. Actually, mine does too.

Yes, my neck is wrinkly. But I’m 53 (as is Bill…no worries there🙄 ) and after the breakdown I had a couple of years ago, it hit me that I’m so lucky just to be alive. So lucky my suicide attempt didn’t succeed. So lucky I had the support around me to get myself out of that hellish place. YEA! I have a wrinkly neck! And…I’m alive. How ’bout that?

And my belly? Of course Bill hasn’t seen it yet (if you believe that, I have some beachfront property in Wyoming to sell you. And ma, just disregard that offer…K?😃), but he has told me my shape is perfect for him. For me. I’m who I’m supposed to be. And I look the way I’m supposed to look. And he loves it all just like I love all of him.

Why are we so hard on ourselves? Why can’t we cut ourselves the slack we cut others? Why can’t we see ourselves through other’s eyes? Why do we waste so much time and energy on something that in the end is so superficial? You know, I love the last scene of “Rocketman” where Elton (I LOVE YOU, TARON 🧡) is in his group therapy and says this: “I’ve spent so long feeling resentful for things that just don’t matter.” How right he is.

There are people out there that would give anything for my ‘wrinkly’ neck and ‘stick-outy’ belly. I have a body that works and plays hard for me, and that’s really all that should matter. The rest is just icing. Why is it that the lessons we need the most are often learned so late in life? Maybe because we’re most open to them then? Hmmmm.

Kristi xoxo

“At first I was afraid, I was petrified…” ~ I Will Survive

Photo by Edward Eyer on Pexels.com

So, one of my students shared a tweet they had seen in a paper they wrote for me and I was so intrigued by it. The “Feminist Next Door” wrote this: “Women, imagine that for 24 hours, there were no men in the world. No men are being harmed in the creation of this hypothetical. They will all return. They are safe and happy wherever they are during this hypothetical time period. What would or could you do that day?” (@emrazz).

Here are some of the replies:

  • “Go out without worrying, dress however I want to go out, go for a walk at night or generally going for a walk with headphones at whatever volume I like, the list is endless…”
  • “Enter my workplace without being harassed.”
  • “…the freedom to move around the world without fear and with confidence.”
  • “Walk my favorite trail at night, with or without my large dog, and marvel at the stars away from the city lights.”
  • “I was thinking I’d let my daughter be free in public, take a deep breath and just let her be, not watch her like a hawk.”
  • “Hike in the woods, sleep with my windows open, or outside, walk everywhere, leave my home any time of the day I wanted too.”
  • “…not be forced to smile and respond to strange men making jokes for fear of them becoming hostile.”
  • “Talk about things I have expertise in, uninterrupted.”
  • “Talk without being corrected.  Talk without having things explained to me when I hadn’t asked for it.  Talk without constantly watching my tone or making what I was saying more palatable.”

Wow.  When I read these responses, and this is just the tip of the iceberg, I was gobsmacked.  Truly.  Now, before anyone starts defending men, let me do it myself.  

Obviously, from my many many many (🙄) marriages, I love men (maybe a bit too much 😳) .  And besides my rockin’ son, I love my nephews with all my heart as well.  My dad is a good man…my grandpas were good men…and I have tons of male students/colleagues/friends etc. that are good men.  THERE ARE REALLY GOOD MEN IN THE WORLD!  Got that?  Good.  

But, like with everything, there is always good and bad.  And here’s the thing:  men do prey on women much more than women prey on men or other women.  Let’s take a look-see with stats from The National Coalition against Domestic Violence:  

  • 1:4 women and 1:7 men have experienced severe (injurious) physical violence by their intimate (opposite sex) partner.
  • 1:10 women have been raped by an intimate partner (no data available on men)
  • 1:5 women and 1:71 men have been raped in their lifetime.
  • 19.3 million women and 5.1 million men have been stalked in their lifetime.

Wow.  Again.  Obviously, violence is an issue for both men and women but when it comes right down to it, women are violated more by men than vice versa.   

threatningmen2-1542145593

I think it’s really hard for men to understand how scary the world is for women.  Let’s face it ladies:  men are stronger then we are.  Yeppers.  It’s true.  It doesn’t mean women aren’t strong…of course not.  But when it gets right down to the nitty gritty, men have much more muscle mass, power, etc. that puts us all at a disadvantage.  And anytime a person’s size is used as a tool against someone (bullies always pick on the little guys…right?), the ‘fight’ is no longer fair.  Grip tests have women scoring 90% less than 95% of men, and the fastest woman in history (Flo-Jo: RIP ❤) has world record times that wouldn’t qualify for the men’s Olympic team.  

A study in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that men (on average) have an average of 26 pounds more muscle mass than women.  Also, women exhibited about 40% less upper-body strength and 33% less lower-body strength.  

Is it no wonder that women fear this population who can feasibly ‘win’ against them at any time?  Man on man violence?  More of an equal fight.  Man on women violence…not so much so.  

I know that whenever I go to a store by myself at night or run until dusk or even just take a hike at our local nature center by myself, I’m leery.  I’m watching my surroundings.  Listening for noises.  Hurrying on my way.  And I’m not being ‘paranoid’ by doing so.  The top places for women to be attacked (besides their own home 😕) are grocery store parking lots, office parking lots, public restrooms, trails, and college campuses.  To top it off, the most common time for attack is between 5:00 – 8:30 in the MORNING.  

“So, don’t do these things, dumbass.”  Rrrrriiiiiggggghhhhhttttt.  I’ll refrain from going to the store.  Parking my car in my school’s parking lot.  Not running on the bike trails in my town.  And I’ll be real sure not to do any of these things in the morning.  

But I think the responses of the women on Twitter show it’s more than just being fearful of men in specific areas, etc. but an overall unease that seems to permeate a woman’s world everyday.  Not being taken seriously.  Not being listened too.  Feeling you have to soften things when addressing them.  Feeling the humiliation of being talked too in a condescending way.  It’s almost as if women have to ‘monitor’ their words so carefully…not over-step their bounds at work lest they be seen as bitches.  Not be too much smarter than a guy lest they be called the same.   Not out-run a guy too much (like I could do Hubby 3) lest you be a ‘ball buster’.  And the list goes on.  

images

Then, IF we do get attacked, victim blaming is often the norm.  “Why were you out late?”  “Why did you go to the store then?”  “Why didn’t you wear something more conservative?”  “Why didn’t you look around more?”  In other words, the ‘whys’ center on the victim’s behavior…and not the perps.  Fucked up, huh (sorry ma, but I know you agree! 🤨)?

I get this.  An incident happened at a workplace once where a subordinate sent me texts describing how he’d like to rape me and make me into lampshades (he knew I had some Jewish ancestry).  We had been friendly at one time, and when I passed on his desire to be more than friends, this was the result.  So how was this handled at that particular workplace?  I had the texts.  The literal texts.  And I was blamed.  I must have been too ‘flirty’ (i.e. nice/funny/kind 🙄) so what the hell did I expect?  Of course he should have sent me these.  Of course I should have been threatened with rape.  Right?

All of this isn’t women’s issues though.  When it get’s right down to it, it’s men’s issues.  It’s like bullies at a school:  help the victim and the bully will move on to another and another and another.  Help the freaking bully…find out what the hell is happening in his (or of course, her) life that might be causing the anger, frustration, feelings of inadequacy, etc. and work on that.  Fix the bully…fix the problem.  

So why aren’t we doing that?  Why aren’t all parents teaching their sons to be the ‘good men’ we know they can be?  Is it that difficult to teach our sons respect?  Kindness?  Sensitivity?  Empathy?  Or do any of the parent’s  messages really matter when the media and their peers often tell them otherwise.  

I didn’t do a perfect job raising my sonshine.  In fact, I fucked up (sorry again, ma…I couldn’t help myself 😐) many many many times…as do all parents.  But I like to think I did teach him these things the best I could.  Some he’s better at than others.  And like a lot of other men, I don’t think he takes the fears that women have as seriously as he should simply because he doesn’t live in that world.  A world of power and strength that physically puts you at a disadvantage regardless of anything else.  I used to ask him to check on my while I ran and he’s say “Ma…you’ll be fine.”  Yes.  I have been (except for 1 time a guy ran me off the road and came after me 😞 ).  So far.  See, he wouldn’t have to worry going out for an early morning run as much as I have too. 

I believe the majority of men in this world are great guys.  I believe that because I’ve seen that.  But I also know the world can be a very dark and scary place for women because of the bad ones.  And how we can fix this is something we need to work on.  Now.

Kristi xoxo  

 

“The Bachelor”

So, I decided to drive to Indiana to see Bill this past weekend and had forgotten what a ‘bachelor’ pad looks like.  It’s obvious to me the poor man needs my help in terms of ‘decorating’ and…well…most everything else as it pertains to housing.  🙄

When Eddie and I were on our way to “The Pad” (Little Miss Dottie was with her brother…otherwise known as my sonshine 😎), I called Bill to chit chat while making the 3 hour drive.  I was confident he’d have everything I needed but clothes, so I was a bit taken aback when he said this:  “Uh…there’s no food in the house.”  

OK.  I get it.  No ‘food’ means there’s just the basics: crackers, bread, peanut butter, eggs…you know, the staples.  Ed and I split a hamburger outside of Terre Haute and I figured we would snack once we arrived.  When we got there, Bill was at work and after lugging in my bag and pillow (can’t sleep with out it…down filled…on sale at Kohls last year plus my Kohl bucks plus my 30% off made it nice and cheap or otherwise I would have said “Hell to the no” in terms of the price 🤨) I decided to get some food out because I was so freaking hungry.  And, as my family members know, when I’m hungry, I’m very VERY crabby.  😠

IMG_0035
Bill’s fridge. Nuff said.

So…I start opening the cabinets.  Plates…glasses…cutlery…pots…spice rack (minus spices😐)…and…no food.  Heh?  Did I miss it?  I scrounged through the cabinets again and there was…no food.  OK.  Stay calm, Kristi.  I tottered (because of my hunger I was a bit unsteady on my feet…or it could have been that I’m just unsteady on my feet) over to the REALLY nice fridge (meaning, better than mine) and opened her up.  And waiting to be eaten was literally 2 bunches of brown bananas.  Two.  That’s it.  There was NOTHING else in that son-of-a-bitch.  Now, I realize bananas are food…but they are the ONE fruit I can’t stand.  At all.  So…with a hopeful heart, I opened the freezer and lo and behold, there was…NOTHING. 

What I realized were these 2 things:  Bill is very literal and truthful when he speaks, and not everybody stocks up food for weeks on end like I do.  Sooooo…I gave him a jingle and he said this:  “Honey, I’ll bring you food after I get off of work…at 4:00 in the morning.”  Well…this was sweet but I was hungry at 8:00 in the evening.  So I stuffed a banana down my gullet and when Bill arrived the next morning he brought me the staples we all should have:  2 bags of sunchips, a Hershey bar, and a ‘healthy’ organic protein bar that has more calories than a full birthday cake and tastes like cardboard on top of cardboard.  *Note to family:  I said birthday cake.  If I’m not mistaken, I’m the next birthday we need to prepare for.  Just sayin’.   🙄

IMG_0032
Edward was quite comfy on the bed!

Eddie and I then looked for a place to sit and read for a while, and as I really looked around, I saw there was very little furniture.   Very little.  In fact, his house consists of a kitchen table and 1 chair downstairs, and a bed and 3 small chairs upstairs.  And that’s it.  Hmmm.  I decided on the bed and I think I made the right choice and as you can see, Eddie concurred.  When I called Bill again and asked why he didn’t have any ‘usable’ furniture…you know, like a couch or comfy chair, he said:  “I never really thought about it.”  OOOKKKKAAAAYYYY!  

Now when I first went upstairs, Eddie and I had to fumble our way in the dark to find the various rooms I assumed existed, and I started flipping light switches before a serial killer popped out.   I tried 5 switches in a row.  None worked.  I finally stumbled into what I assumed was some kind of bedroom, felt my way around like Mr. Magoo, and found a lamp!  Hallelujah!   Then, with that precious light on I found the other bedrooms.  However, since the switches didn’t work because there are NO ceiling lights in the whole place, I had to carry around a 6′, cast iron, wobbly lamp everywhere I wanted to go.  I really roughed it…sorta like Laura Ingalls having to carry  lantern.  (I’m actually quite proud I survived this 😉).

IMG_0038
The heavy lamp I drug to the hallway so I could see to type this.

So, Edward and I saw that one of the ‘dark rooms’ was Bill’s office.  This modern day technologically impressive room had 2 computers, both of which are quite old, a filing cabinet labeled ‘student grades’ (he is not a teacher), and unopened boxes.  I was actually quite dazzled by this.  

Then, I walked into the other room and lo and behold it was the ‘home gym’ he’s been telling me about. At first, I had to look away. Literally. The rug on the floor was like those optical illusion posters that if you look at it long enough, it ‘spins’ and makes you dizzy. (Since I was already a bit woozy from lack of nutrition, I was scared that looking at the rug would cause me to lean over the porcelain throne).

The “Home Gym” complete with the rug.

But WOW…the ‘gym’ was quite impressive and after phoning him yet again (when you’re hungry and dizzy you don’t really think about how annoying you’re being 🙄) I asked if he was selling memberships.  There was a push up board and some elastic bands.   Eddie and I were stunned at the equipment he invested in.

Yesterday, after lunch (which I inhaled), we drove to Lowe’s so I could scope out their plants. I put a couple in our cart and then saw my dream: an 8′ Fiddleleaf Fig tree! (If there was sound to this, it would be like angels singing right now 👼). It was only a hundred bucks (shutty) and I almost peed myself I was so excited. Until reality set it. My jeep can only haul 6 foot long stuff and you can’t bend a Fiddleleaf tree. Bill said it was going to be impossible to get it back to my place (which has furniture and food…just sayin’) so I came up with a solution: I’d quickly trade in my jeep for a cargo van. Doesn’t this make sense to you? I was excited at the prospect of being able to haul trees but Bill, for some reason, thought this was a bit foolish. Sheesh. So then, we came across a medium sized tree that could easily fit into my jeep! But, by this time I already had a cart full of plants and I do have a small one at home. I pondered and pondered and kept walking back to it, but told Bill: “I shouldn’t get that” which actually translates into: “Talk me into getting that so I don’t feel guilty about spending more money.” However, Bill does not fully speak “Kristi talk” yet and decided to buy the damn tree himself! I was sweet about it…telling him how great it would look on his floor (no end tables in sight) and was a good sport. Until last night when he got home from work, leaned over to give me a smooch (that’s all that happened, ma…I swear…🙄) and whispered in my ear: “My fiddlefig is bigger than yours.” I will NOT tell you my response to this…let’s just say it was ugly.

The much sought after tree. In Bill’s house. Not mine.

Anyhoot, it was really fun visiting Bill in his ‘natural environment’ and enjoyed roughing it for an entire weekend.  After this, I think I’m ready to camp out in Yellowstone.  But do you know what was the best part of the weekend?  No…not that you naughty peeps…it was this:  Bill and I being able to laugh at ourselves, laugh at each other, and laugh at situations.  

It’s been a long long time since I’ve had this.  You see, my last partner made me cry.  This guy makes me laugh.  And you know what?  It feels so good.  

Kristi xoxo

“Your problem is you’re…too busy holding on to your unworthiness.” ~ Ram Dass

So, I talked a while ago about toxic positivity and how it was really quite detrimental to mental health since it is impossible to be ‘happy’ all of the time. Well, I’ve been looking at a lot of self-help advice lately and to be honest, have to wonder about these too 🤓. I’m here to tell you: there are some doozies out there.

Hows about a book I found that basically tell you that if you read it…and follow it’s advice to a T, you will have NO WORRIES. None. Zippo. Zilch. Really? OMG! So…if I read this gem and practice what it says, I will literally HAVE NO WORRIES? Well spank me hard. The whole world should be on board with this one. Right?? 🙄

Or, how about this advice which is literally labeled under the title “How to Improve your Life.” One tidbit is to deep condition your hair once a week and another is to have a skincare routine. OK. I’m all for these 2 things. However, I find it difficult to believe that the happiness of my life is dependent on what I do in the shower. After all, I deep condition more than once a week (which is why my hair is often ‘stringy’ but healthy 😳) and my skincare routine is consistent, but hey, I’ve still experienced ‘unhappiness’ at times. But, if you want to try to improve your life, try my skin care routine which consists of the following:

  • Wash face with one of the 15 cleansers I have accumulated over the last month because each one said they would make my skin ‘radiant’ after just the first use.
  • Tone my face with one of my 20 bottles of Witch Hazel which I hoarded because it contains alcohol and I figured there’d be a shortage during the first quarantine.
  • Re-wash my face with another one of my cleansers because now it feels a little tight and ‘sticky’ because of the coveted Witch Hazel.
  • SLOWLY open the medicine cabinet in case some of the products are jarred and start tumbling in the sink and select:  1 tube of deep wrinkle cream, 1 jar of retinol, 1 jar of collagen blend, 1 jar of hydralaunic acid, 1 jar of ‘water boost’ gel, and 1 tube of acne medication since I always have a fucking (sorry, ma…😐)  zit on my face regardless of my age.  
  • Looking like a mad chemist in a lab, I begin mixing, rubbing, slathering and schmearing all of the goop from the previous point until my face is covered with 3 layers of ‘stuff’.  
  • Find one of my 100’s of tubes of Carmex (EVERY single time I’m at Walgreens, CVS, or the ‘General’ I buy one by the cash register 🤨) and then plaster on a nice thick coat like I’m icing a cake until my lips become stuck together if I’m not careful.

Now, looking at this, I can see how my regular skin care routine makes me a better person.  So, my sweet peeps…if my life is in the shits and I find myself struggling, I’ll just do my routine a couple more times a day and I’ll be fine and dandy.  Phew. 🙄

I like this advice too:  “Start working NOW!”  Ummmmm.  OK.  Now?  Middle of the night?  While I’m on the toilet?  While I’m fixing dinner?  Just do it?  OK!  I’ll get right on that.

Another self help goodie that is packaged in various ways is this:  “Avoid negative people.”  Hmmmm.  First, a lot of times I don’t know a person is negative until I’m with them so avoiding them would be difficult unless they had a shirt on that said “I’m a negative person.  Avoid me.”  (You know…I might just make this shirt…I can see it selling 🙄).  Second, what if you work with a negative person?  Have one in your house?  Have one living next to you?  Have one in your class?  Have one at church?  You have to avoid them all the time?  We’re not talking toxic people here…just negative.  

So my question is this:  why?  Why avoid negative people?  Why not interact with them and find out why the hell they’re negative?  What bee is in their bonnet (perfect title for a self-help book…remember this one, ma)?  Maybe we need to learn to get along with all types of people and not live in a Pollyanna bubble.  Just sayin’.

Another self-help tip for y’all:  “You are your only limit.”  Heh?  Really?  Soooooooo…if I want to be President (and I’m here to tell you I’d be WAY more polite in the debates if I was 🤨 )  I’m my only limit?  I’m a middle class woman who doesn’t have any millionaire friends that can start off my campaign with lots of moolah in the coffers.  And, if I quit teaching to campaign…then lose (which I undoubtedly would since running my house is stressful enough for me)…I’m outta work?  OK!  No limits on this girl!

I like this one:  “Read a book everyday!”  Yes!  I love love love to read, so…after I take care of the 8 classes I’m teaching online this semester while starting to prepare for spring semester that will also be online but with different classes I have to develop, get my laundry done, eat and do dishes, take care of Eddie and Dottie, do my daily grooming, water the 50 plants I have, run errands, finish painting the house, mow the yard, trim the bushes, and help ma with stuff, I’ll read a 300 page book today!  No problemo.  

Maybe this would be easier:  “Quit bad habits.”  Yes, this is another one I need because I know I got them…big time.  Since I was little Professor K in her crib, I have rubbed my upper lip when I’m thinking, worried, stewing about something, etc.  It’s a 53 year habit (shutty…) and I don’t think reading 3 words is going to compel me to stop doing it.  Great advice?  Maybe.  Reasonable?  No.  We all have bad habits.  So what?  We’re human for piss sakes (see ma, I didn’t say fuck again…aren’t you proud?? 😀).

“NEVER GIVE UP!”  This is another common self-help theme out there and is great advice.  For some.  Not for me though…because sometimes I give up.  If I’m working on a project that isn’t going well…that I hate…that is causing me more stress than good…and it’s not a necessary thing I need, I give up on it.  Why waste my time?  In fact, why is it bad to quit things?  Don’t we all have to do that periodically?

BBC News

Some of you runners out there may know who Paula Radcliffe is…an AMAZING runner from Britain who has set numerous world records including the one for the marathon which she then held for 16 years.  Now, in the 2004 Olympics that were held in Greece, she dropped out of the marathon with just 4 miles to go after veering around and trying to start back up after she stopped.  People were HORRIBLE to her after this…calling her a quitter and slandering her in the press.  Of course, this came from people who couldn’t walk from the couch to the fridge without a break, but anyhoot, they should stand in judgment.  So why did she ‘quit’ and disappoint all of her Olympic fans?  Two weeks prior she had a leg injury, the anti-inflammatory drugs made her nauseas with her food/nutrients not being absorbed, and the temperature was 95 degrees Fahrenheit.  When you run, you tack 20 degrees on the temp in terms of how you feel:  so, we had this woman who was injured, sick to her stomach, not fueled well, running a 26 mile race in heat that equaled 115 degrees.  How dare she quit.  Right?  

And finally?  “Always let out your feelings.”  Now, I’m all for letting out feelings…bottling them up isn’t healthy and pretending they don’t exist doesn’t work either.  However, you can’t always let them out when YOU want too.  What if your boss upsets you and want to cry and yell?  I would kindly suggest you wait until you are out of their office…and earshot.  K? 

Look peeps.  Self-help advice is out there everywhere and to be brutally honest with you, much of it’s crap.  Really.  It’s just someone taking a few choice words and turning it into something ‘necessary’ that we all have to do in order to be the ‘very best ever.’   You know, my belief is that the more you read ‘self-help’ advice and books, the more you feed into the fact that you aren’t OK like you are.  As if having flaws and challenges and bad days is something you should be able to avoid since the advice feeds into you thinking you have to be ‘perfect’…the ‘best’…the ‘most’…etc. all the time.  Sweetie peeps, you are never going to be all of that.  We are never going to be perfect unless we are the one who can walk on water, and we all have different obstacles, situations, environments, etc. that affect how we are at any given time.  

So, here’s my self-help advice for tailored just for you:  do the best you can, be as kind as you can, try as hard as you can, cut yourself slack when you need too, and remember that bad times don’t equal bad life.  They are simply a part of a regular life and trying to avoid anything ‘bad’ to always feel ‘good’ is not possible on this particular earth.  All of this may sound simple and not very exciting, but honestly…I think it’s way more realistic. 😃

Kristi xoxo