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

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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

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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.   

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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.  

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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.  😠

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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’.   🙄

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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 😉).

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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?

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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

Romancing the Stone

So, I don’t even know how to start this post except by saying WHAT THE HELL? Now, if that’s not a great first sentence to pull you in, I don’t know what is.

Did you know, my sweet peeps, that it is now ‘cool’ and ‘trendy’ to be mentally ill? OK. I’m going to pause a minute to let you take that in………la dee dah……la dee dah…..(pretend this is Jeopardy music 🎵). Yes my dears, it’s ‘in’ to be mentally ill. In fact, it’s become something that is not only sensationalized, but romanticized in so many ways in our society right now, particularly on social media.

It’s sad to me that to belong, too many younger people are now embracing the idea that they themselves have some type of mental disorder. Depression, anxiety, bipolar (🙄), a personality disorder, etc. These disorders have become ‘tragically beautiful’ or, at the very least, trivialize what mental illness really is. Regardless, mental illnesses are being sensationalized for attention and grasshoppers, that’s not right.

Look on Twitter…there’s this hashtag: #IGetDepressedWhen and here’s a couple of goodies – “I get depressed when my battery low” , or “I get depressed when I know summers almost over”, or “I get depressed when there’s no bacon for lunch.” Hmmmmm. I gotta be honest here. I’ve been struggling with depression as part of being bipolar for the great majority of my 40 years on earth (heh? OK, 50?), and I can honestly say, without reservation, that I’ve never ever been thrown into a depressive episode because I’m having a PBJ for lunch instead of bacon. Never.

Here’s a ‘quote’ I found: “She can paint a pretty picture but the story has a twist. Her paintbrush is a razor and her canvas is a wrist.” (Seriously…are you kidding me?) And another: “I think suicidal people are just angels who want to go home.” One more: “I’m jealous of people with enough self-control to be anorexic.” What the hell??? 😡

Let’s give these folks the reality of mental illness. Suicide is not a Shakespearean tragedy where the person was gracefully lifted from their pain while looking beautiful in their peaceful death. Not by a fucking (sorry, ma) long shot. Suicide is guns or pills or razors or ropes and it’s bloody and ugly and messy and scary and heartbreaking and irreversible. These people are never going to take a breath again…never have a chance of life again…never going to realize that what they went through could have gotten better to where suicide wasn’t the only option they could see. Plus, it’s hell on earth for the one’s that are left. The person didn’t commit suicide and then see how dramatically it played out on social media or how it became the basis for a Netflix show. They killed themselves. They are dead. And no matter what their situation or pain or illness, it’s nothing but a tragedy for both the victim and the survivors. Period.

And self-harm? Those of you that know me are aware that have I cut myself in the past and have 16 scars on my legs, arm, belly and boob. Two of my scars are over 4″ long and will be angry red welts forever. These scars are not beautiful. My body was not a ‘canvas’ I was decorating. The razor in my hand was not a paintbrush. There is nothing glamorous about what I did. I cut myself because I was having a mental breakdown that put me in such a depression that my mind told me it was the only thing I could do to release some of the pain. When I see my scars everyday, I don’t see a victory or a tragic piece of art. And I definitely don’t see them as being sexy as this quote says: “Call me crazy but I think emo girls/guys with self harm scars are sexy because it shows how much they have been through but never actually gave up.” And no, if any man ever looked at them and saw them as being arousing, I would run. Quickly.

And there are people who wish they were anorexic? Really? Well, as luck would have it, I have experience with this gem of a mental illness as well. There has not been a moment in my life from the time I was a freshman in high school (just a few years ago…) that I haven’t thought about how many calories are in a bite of food every time I eat something. Every. Single. Time. I can’t eat something because it tastes good. I can’t eat something out of pleasure. I can’t eat something not ‘necessary’ without feeling a lot of guilt and that I’m ‘bad’ for wanting it. I’ve known countless times what it’s like to be so weak from not eating that you can barely go from one task to another, and I don’t know how many birthday cakes, cookies, and other goodies people have made me over the years that I’ve trashed the moment they leave. You don’t recover from anorexia…you work every single solitary day to keep it in check, knowing that if you veer off a healthy course, you will succomb to the illness again. That is not having self-control, peeps…it’s actually quite the opposite.

You know, not only is this glamourization of mental illness a dangerous thing, it makes me wonder why anyone would want to be associated with something so stigmatizing in the first place. Maybe it’s giving the person attention or empathy or validation they are so desperately looking for. And if this is the only way that can happen in their lives, that’s something that needs to be addressed. Are there that many people not receiving the love and support they need without having to go to such lengths? Are there that many people shouting out: “See me” because they don’t feel ‘seen’ any other way? Are we living in a world where we are so into ourselves that we can’t see others crying for help unless the cry is so dramatic it can’t be missed? How sad this is.

I can’t imagine ‘pretending’ to have a mental illness…I wish to heaven I could experience what it’s like not to be mentally ill. It’s hard for me to understand why you would want to invent, and then share, a ‘mental illness’ because in reality, admitting you have one causes you to lose friends, opportunities, respect, and the list goes on. There are so many people that treat me differently now that I’ve ‘come-out.’ Some people/acquaintances/colleagues just stay away (which is fine…), others use it against me, while many just ignore it and pretend it simply doesn’t exist (“but you look normal”), plus I know it’s affected a couple of men from asking me out. Revealing a mental illness does not bring you the type of attention you think it might…trust me on this.

I talk about being bipolar for one reason, and one reason only, and this was voiced by a friend yesterday: “Well, you’re one of the people I look up too. You were one of the first people I knew to be extremely transparent about your mental health and that’s had an impact on me. It’s so important to destigmatize mental illness.” This is why I share it, my sweet peeps. I don’t share it for attention or sympathy or for ‘likes’. I share because I want people to know that mental illness sucks balls, but it’s nothing to be ashamed of, nothing that should have to be hid. It’s a reality that too many people live with and we need to come together and make sure it’s treated like any other illness with support and understanding given to all who suffer from it.

Kristi xoxo

“No student is bad. They only need a good teacher.” ~ Rahul Nair

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So, I was chatting with someone the other day and they said this:  “Those who can’t do, teach.”  OK.  I’m going to wait until you educators pull your jaws up off the floor and are able to blink again.  Waiting.  Waiting.  Waiting.  Ready?  I’m going to sum up what my first reaction was to this:  What the fuck (sorry, ma…but you helped put me through college…aren’t you a bit pissed too?)?!  Are you kidding me?  Really?

First of all, how totally ridiculous is that phrase?  I can’t even.  I’m mean seriously…I refuse to type it again since it pisses me off so much.  Let me get this straight:  if I CAN’T do something, I CAN teach it.  Hmmmmm…so…if I CAN’T speak German (which I’d like to be able to since it was the native language of my great-grandparents 😳), I CAN still jolly well teach it?  Okey dokey!  Well…let’s see…I can’t look at the periodic table and not think it should be re-arranged differently because it’s just not aesthetically pleasing, understand an electrical circuit (just ask my brother in law 😵), comprehend anything at all about astronomy, see algebraic equations and not want to poke myself in the eye with a hot stick since they simply look like gobbedly-gook to me and it stresses me out even more than I ususally am just peering at them, peruse biological concepts and wonder how I have kept myself alive this long since I understand nothing about bodily functions, read about a physics law and marvel at the fact I can ride a freaking bike when I have absolutely no clue in God’s world how I’m doing it, and the list goes on.  BUT, I can certainly TEACH about biology and electricity and algebra.  Right?  Good to know.  Blech.

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OK.  Maybe you’re rolling your eyes (don’t do that, grasshoppers…according to ma they’ll stick that way and you’ll be looking at ceilings for the rest of your lives 🙄) and saying to yourself:  “The quote doesn’t mean that!  It means that if you CAN’T be successful in the field, THEN you teach.”

OH!  Much better!  🙄  Heh??  Why can’t people understand that the great majority of educators WANTED to teach?  That it was our primary objective?  That teaching is a discipline?  That we studied the particular field we teach AND learned how to teach it?

Actually, this begs even more questions:  When did people lose so much respect for educators (I mean, hello?!!  Who the hell taught them how to read?)?  When did we start to demand so much more from teachers while losing appreciation for them at the same time?  When did teachers become the scapegoats for so many of society’s ills?  And, when we talk about educational issues in general, why is it that faculty are judged first, when in fact they are following the dictates of an administration who may never have taught themselves?  Does that really make sense, peeps?  Me don’t think so.  🤨

Anyhoot, besides providing fodder for a rambling intro, when that quote was said to me, it started me thinking of other ‘myths’ regarding teachers.  And believe you me, there’s a lot of ’em.  (Side note:  I’ve never really gotten the phrase ‘believe you me’.  It doesn’t make sense but I like using it anyway…it just sounds catchy to me).

summer underpaid teachers
Photo Credit

So y’all know that us educators have it made; I mean look…we get our summers off!  Right?  If you believe that, I have some great ocean side property in Iowa to sell you for a buck an acre (put your checkbook away ma…I was just making a point 🙄).  Unlike for all the other people in the world that actually ‘work’ and not teach, this has been a very relaxing summer for me.  I taught 3 summer classes because I need the income and because I want students to have every opportunity possible to get their needed credit hours.  I shoved 16 weeks of work into 8 for each class and that made for hours and hours of grading every week; and since I taught them online (which is not my first choice but necessary this summer and also because summer students traditionally like online 😎), I was making tons of videos and helping students with not only their academic work but with some technology issues as well.

Then, I always use the summer to get ready for fall (us educators never live in the ‘semester’ we’re teaching…instead, we are always teaching one semester while preparing for the next).  That means I’m prepping 8 classes (so many because we have an open faculty position we can’t fill because of Covid and interviewing issues, etc.) to be online and for every single one of these develop 16 weeks of fresh, engaging, interactive material.  That’s 128 weeks of work to get ready with me researching every topic/issue/concept I teach in 2 different disciplines and then going through loads and loads of info so my students learn as much as they possibly can.  Being in front of the computer with scads of books, articles, sites, videos, etc. to wade through for 6-7 hours a day made for a relaxing summer ‘off’.  Huh?

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“But Kristi, you get paid the big bucks as a professor!”  No, my sweetie peeps, I don’t.  Yes, I make good money and am truly blessed by what I do.  And I mean that…I get paid for doing what I love and for being with my sweetie students who I absolutely adore.  But, I’m not going to get ‘rich’ (which doesn’t matter to me one iota since so many wealthy men are lining up to marry me anyway 🤓 ) and struggle with money at times.  I know so so so many people live paycheck to paycheck and that I’m very lucky I always have enough to pay what I need too with some left over.  However, I think people hear the word professor (or even teacher) and think RICH.  Nuh uh.  (So, if you’re a nice rich, single guy and you like teachers…just sayin’).  🤨  In fact, according to Visual Capitalist, out of 50 college degrees, education is ranked #49 in terms of salary.  49!

Another gem?  A good teacher can teach anyone.  Bullshit.  Any questions?

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C’mon now.  Students have to want to learn…be motivated to learn…put their own work into the process…and the list goes on.  Teachers aren’t the only part of the equation in the educational process.  Trust me.  And it’s getting harder.  Students have a repository of knowledge in the palm of their hand.  They don’t need to know how to look through indexes, read dozens of articles and books, take notes, type out papers multiple times on a typewriter until it’s just right, etc.  Now, they can just say:  “Hey Google…what are the 3 theoretical perspectives of Sociology?”  (VERY important to know, peeps…you might be on Jeopardy someday 🙄).  So, we are now trying to teach students how to learn…how to think for themselves outside of what ‘wikipedia’ says…how to analyze information…how to be media literate…how to show that the info we present is applicable in real life…and how to find a love of reading and learning simply for the sake of it.  That’s tough to do.  Trust me.

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Glasbergen Cartoon Service

“Well, you might say…at least teaching is ‘easy’.  I mean, you’re pretty much just talking to students and all.”  Hubby 3 (sigh…shutty the mouthy…), a maintenance technician, thought this for a time…bless his motorcycle lovin’ heart.  But then he was asked to teach a 6 hour class about crane inspection (I can’t think of anything I’d least like to sit through…except maybe ma telling one more story about a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend who might have something but doesn’t know for sure 🙄).  I tried to give him some teaching tips (of course, what did I know…I’d only been doing it for a couple of decades 😳), but he said it would be a cinch…he knew his stuff.  Oooookkkkkaaaaayyyyy!

After his class, he plodded up the driveway and looked exhausted.  The first thing he did upon walking in the door was to grab me, hug me, and say “How the hell do you do this everyday?  It was a nightmare!”  (Actually his language was much more graphic then this…but it might shock the knickers off of ma).  I asked what happened and he said:  “People weren’t listening and were talking and were asking stupid questions I had already answered and whining for a break and mumbling about why was I the one teaching this crap and I’d say something 3 times and they still wouldn’t get it and my PowerPoints were illegible because I made them too wordy and then they’d want a bathroom break and then their phone would go off and I’d have to start my sentence over and then one fell asleep and started snoring and then a couple of the guys started laughing while a couple others were arguing about unions and I just wanted to get in a factory and be out of that God forsaken room.”  I didn’t use punctuation in that sentence because Hubby didn’t when he said it.  It was just one long complaint.  And after this little adventure in academia?  He never ever ever said I didn’t work hard.  Ever.

Out of all of these gems, this is my favorite quote about teachers:  “Most damaging to student achievement: teachers are interchangeable widgets.” ~ Joni Johnson

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My Lord…it’s like looking into a mirror.

OK.  I don’t know who the hell this person is, and to be honest, I don’t want to know.  But to make a blanket statement about a group of people that you apply to every individual means you weren’t listening in sociology class when stereotyping and prejudice were being discussed.  Just sayin’.

Yes.  There are good professors and bad professors.  Good teachers and bad teachers.  But by the same token, there are good chefs and bad chefs…good docs and bad docs…good accountants and bad accountants…and the list goes on.  Why is it that educators are singled out as a group and if one is bad, the whole lot of them are?  I don’t get that at all.

Finally, us educators are told that we need to be flexible, accommodating, understanding, work to develop a one on one relationship with each student, not provide so much homework, lessen demands and expectations, challenge our students, apply every concept to real life, know everything there is to know about our subject matter, allow for more individuation in learning, have passion, be inspirational, keep things lighthearted so learning is fun, bring our own personal stories into the class, etc.  Whew.

Now, take a look-see at those expectations again.  And then tell me…honestly…how many people in ANY profession can do any of those things every single day?  Not only is it impossible, but so many are counter to one another!  It’s sorta tricky to challenge our students while lessening our demands on them.  In other words, profs…all educators…are held to a higher standard in terms of their ‘job’ and everything is supposed to be ‘wonderful’ in the classroom regardless of day, topic, etc.  I’m here to tell you, peeps…lecturing about domestic violence does not make for a lighthearted class.  Trust me.

When O was a medium sized guy, I was asked to be a guest speaker at the schools career day, and the PTA President (cough cough…shrew…cough cough) said I would only get a few minutes since kids know what teachers do anyway.  So…I made the following list to talk about that I called:  “What Does Professor K do all Day?” (I love rhymes…):

  • Prepare lectures, PowerPoints/videos/handouts
  • Prepare both master and working syllabi each semester
  • Prepare records/data for program reviews and course reviews
  • Develop online classes
  • Grade Grade Grade
  • Prepare exams ensuring they are reliable and valid
  • Calculate midterm and final semester grades
  • Meet with students often for extra help and guidance
  • Grade Grade Grade
  • Integrate new learning and technology into classes every semester
  • Be evaluated by dean and then prepare a self-evaluation every year
  • Advise students on majors and courses
  • Counsel students on careers and job opportunities in the field
  • Grade Grade Grade
  • Write letters of recommendation for students seeking jobs
  • Write letters of recommendation for students seeking scholarships
  • Write letters of recommendation for students seeking entrance into a university
  • Present community workshops as part of the colleges Speaker’s Bureau
  • Participate in college and departmental meetings
  • Grade Grade Grade
  • Serve on college committees
  • Serve on search committees for new faculty members
  • Serve on tenure committees
  • Earn continuing education hours to maintain my professional designation
  • Grade Grade Grade

I think that pretty much covers it.  And, since my time on campus is spent being with my sweetiepie students, I spend hours and hours working at home as well.

Look, I’m not saying that teaching is the hardest job in the world.  It’s not.  Really.  However, teaching is a field that is losing respect and teachers are being scrutinized more and more as students’ work and test scores decline.  Educators have ‘bosses’ too and there is only so much ‘freedom’ we have to do what we think is right.  Professors have to do what our admin tells us to do.  Elementary – High School teachers have to follow the dictates of the district…teach so kids can pass the standardized tests…operate under whatever funding is available.  And we all have to keep our mouths shutty when we, as EDUCATORS, realize that what NON-EDUCATORS (who are often on school boards, etc.) direct is often wrong.  How frustrating that is.

Anyhoot, I love what I do.  And I’m good at what I do.  As are millions of educators out there.  Give us a break, guys.  Cut us some slack.  We are not at fault for the world’s ills and the ‘buck’ does not stop at the teacher in terms of education.  Parents, communities, and the students themselves have to be added to the equation (which is hard for me to do…remember, I suck balls at math 😳) for what makes successful education in any society.  And, if you see one of your old teachers out and about, say ‘howdy’ and give them a little hug (masked, of course 😷) and tell them how much you learned from them.  It will make their day.  Truly.

Kristi xoxo

 

 

“Jenny don’t change your number, 867-5309…” ~ Tommy Tutone

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So, I got a book on my good ole’ Kindle this morning and sat down to read just a couple of chapters.  Instead, I ended up reading the entire book in 1 sitting.  It’s called “How to Break up with Your Phone” by Catherine Price and it’s a fascinating, but scary look at how addicted we are to our cell phones.  Unfortunately, even though I have always prided myself on not being tethered to my phone that much, I was quite surprised to realize how much I really am.

Take a look-see at this info from PsychGuides.com

  • 60% of college students in the U.S. consider themselves to be addicted to their phones (60% peeps…that’s HUGE!)
  • 71% of people sleep with their phones in bed (OK…that’s me because I listen to an audio book when I fall asleep and I’m jolly well not sleeping with anything else these days)
  • 35% of people think of their cell phones first when they wake up and only 10% think of their partners (so our phones are on our minds more than the people we LOVE?  Hmmm…)
  • 36% of people check their phones constantly (bugs the shit out of me, particularly during a meal) and 54% of young adults do (aren’t young adults people too 🙄)?
  • 44% of us say we couldn’t go a day without our phones.  ONE day.  Sheesh.

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I remember when I got my first phone and was so excited.  O’s dad, O and I went to the Best Buy in Wichita (we lived in Hutchinson for a few years) and bought the ‘newest’ device on the market:  a BAG phone (for my younger peeps, this was literally a phone in a briefcase style bag…ask your folks).  The set-up only took 6 hours (I swear on ma’s good name 😳)  because it was such a new thing, NO one knew quite what they were doing.  We were actually in the store for so long that the sales workers were making friends with O as he was toddled around the aisles.  Someone even asked me if I had met him yet, but since he was getting grouchy and grubby by this time (as was I), I said ‘no’.  Sorry son.  Anyhoot, the was an amazing technological marvel and Hubby said, in a very sappy voice, that he was getting it for me in case I had trouble when I was commuting to grad school every night.  Awwww…that sounded great:  if I needed help, I’d be able to get it quickly.  Right?

Wrong.  Here’s what I would have had to do to get my ‘quick’ help:  plop the magnetic antennae on the top of my wood paneled van, turn the phone on while it was plugged into the cigarette lighter which allowed it to move about 2 feet, get out my handy chart of roaming codes which was typed in 5 point font and figure out where the fuck (sorry, ma 🙄) I was on the highway in the middle of nowhere in Kansas, punch in said code to see if I could get a ‘roam’ signal, wait until the phone beeped that a signal was found, punch in our home number, and pray the signal didn’t disappear before Hubby answered which would have been a 1/1000 chance since he was most likely playing a video game (another high tech item) with ear phones on.  Now, if I had been in wreck I would have had to do all of this with a fresh concussion, blood dripping from my forehead while puking in the passenger seat since that’s what I do when I see blood dripping from my forehead.  Wow.  That phone was well worth the money for my peace of mind.  An easier way I could have gotten help would have been to crawl the 40 miles home which would have taken less time and effort on my part.  Just sayin’.

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Anyhoot, when my son and I got matching CELL phones a few years later we were so excited because we found out it could actually take a picture on the 1″ screen!  (BTW, he was in Jr. High and you should have seen his hair.  He went through a phase where he refused to have it cut and because it’s so curly, it looked like he had a crows nest on top of his head. 😬).  Anyway, a picture from a phone that closed in half?  OMG!  There was no way technology could get any better than this.  After all, it only took 10 minutes to type out a text one letter at at time.  When ma learned to text (Lord help me…sis and I still fight over who has to help her with her technology needs) she’d send it and then immediately call me to see if I got it.  I would say:  “Ma.  You are defeating the purpose of the text if you are just going to call me anyway.  So, just call me in the first place.”  Then ma would reply:  “OK, you don’t want to talk to me.  I understand I’m just an old lady with nothing to say.”  My response?  “Ma, dammit, just CALL me and quit texting!  I love you and want to yack (sorta) but for fuck sakes, having texts and calls coming in every 20 minutes is a nightmare!”

Then, the smartphone came along.  The screen was so big and in color!  Holy crap!  Then, there were these things called ‘apps’ which I had no idea what they were.  So, for the first week after getting my smartphone, I just looked at it and texted ma on a regular keyboard.  My son looked at my phone one day and asked where the hell my apps were and I said I didn’t know what they were in the first place.  Very patiently (not really, he was kind of an ass), he showed me how to ‘download’ (sounded naughty to me) these app things so I could play games and get my e-mail and do this thing called “Facebook” which was going to make my life so much richer than it’s ever been before.  I went nuts and downloaded every free app I could find.  Then I used 3 of them.  (Confession:  I STILL have no idea how to play Candy Crush and earn ‘candies’.  Maybe it just goes against my principle of destroying anything that’s yummy.  It may be a psychological issue.)

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ABC Australia

Fast forward to today and 5 smartphones later and guess what?  My life ain’t richer.  In fact, it seems a bit more empty to me now.  After all of this texting, messaging, Facebooking, Twittering, Instagramming, e-mailing, etc. I don’t feel any more connected to people and in fact, I actually feel less connected.  Plus, after having installed a screen time tracker, I found out I spend a LOT more time on my phone than I had thought and research shows I’m not alone in this:  most people underestimate their screen time too.  When I see the number of hours a week I’ve spent looking at this 5″ screen, I think that I could have painted my living room like I want to do.  Or, I could have gotten my bike out of the garage and ridden it around town.  I could have planted some more flowers in the back yard or read a couple of the books I have that I just don’t have ‘time’ to get too.  I could have made some jewelry to give as presents or organized my closet.  I could have done a lot that would actually have served a purpose…instead of looking at a screen and doing what?  Not much.

So why do we do it?  Why do we waste time on these devices doing things that really don’t mean a lot in the long run?  Easy answer?  Because we are ‘addicted’ in a lot of ways.  Longer answer?  Here goes.  Leaders in the study of how smartphones keep us coming back for more and more illustrate very clearly that companies find ways to change the way our brain looks at and responds to various cues that are constantly out there.  Ramsey Brown of Dopamine labs calls this brain hacking and his company is hired to work with others to make their online content as ‘addictive’ as possible.   Tristan Harris, a previous Google employee, says how our smartphones are like slot-machines.  If we scroll enough, interact enough, and play enough, we’ll be rewarded with likes, emojis, ‘streaks’, followers, etc.  It’s like gambling and we get a squirt of dopamine when we come across something we like…when we ‘win’!  If I scroll through Facebook a bit longer, maybe I’ll see something really really interesting…and there it is: a video of a baby elephant (my downfall 🐘).  And if I play this game just a tad more, maybe I’ll move up a level and be respected by all.  That’s why scrolling is actually used as opposed to other ways to present info…so we keep going and going until we are satisfied, for the moment at least.

Larry Rosen, psychology professor at California State University, talks about how our phones raise anxiety levels by increasing the release of cortisol to where we get almost panicky if we DON’T check our phones often because we’re thinking about what we might we be missing out on.  Sound crazy?  Vow not to look at your phone for an hour and then leave the sound on.  Every chime of a message coming in or a notification popping up will make most people have to consciously force themselves not to look at their phone, and it’s easy to see just how anxious that makes them.  I see this with my students in class all the time when I let them know I don’t want phones out while I’m lecturing (call me old-fashioned, but I think this is rude).  And when I’m with someone (and yes, even you ma 😐) and a text comes through, they’ll say: “Oh…just let me check this quickly.”  Or, they pick up their phone like a robot programmed to do so, without realizing they haven’t actually made the conscious choice to do it.  It pings…you look.  Simple as that.  (The best source for all of this info is a 60 Minutes report by Anderson Cooper called Brain Hacking).

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Ivan Pavlov and his conditioning experiment.

Think about texts.  That little chime tells us someone out there is connecting with us, and who could it be? Is it someone proclaiming their everlasting love to you (in my case, nope 🙄)?  Is it someone who needs your help for an emergency (probably not and wouldn’t 911 be a better choice anyway)?  Maybe it’s your friend sharing the gossip they heard and swore they would never tell anyone about that you just gotta hear.  Regardless, we HAVE to look.  We’re conditioned to look!  It’s like Pavlov’s dogs:  we hear the chime or feel the vibration or see the screen light up, and we salivate!  We respond.  In other words, the phone is in control of us…not the other way around!  When you think about that, it’s actually pretty scary.

Maybe because I’m so old, I want to fight against this more than I have.  I want to really accomplish things…not look at things.  I want to make stuff…not look at stuff others have made.  I want to connect with a ‘real’ someone…not see another pic of them as I scroll through my feed.  And think about that term – feed.  It’s like our phones feed our need for something to do.  Are we that unable to entertain ourselves that our phone has to ‘feed’ us stuff to sustain us?  What happened to days outside working in the yard or setting up a badminton game or taking a long walk with your partner?  What happened to laying on the couch with a couple of library books?  What happened to starting a new hobby and learning to make something special?  What happened to baking in the kitchen and having a special dessert for dinner that night?  What happened to having a jigsaw puzzle on the kitchen table that everyone in the family works on?

But most importantly, what happened to thinking these things weren’t enough, but that a screen is?  And our phones are just 1 screen of the many we have.  Add laptops, iPads, and smart TV’s in the mix, and it’s a wonder we get anything done off a screen.

To be honest, I know I couldn’t ever give up my cell phone completely since it’s the only way I have to talk to ma and sis and other family when they want to natter.  I also feel better having it when I’m on the highway in case I need help, while it’s also necessary for work.  So I guess the question for me is this:  how do I balance the use of it against the ‘want’ of it?  How do I use it as a tool instead of it using me to buy more, scroll more, click more?

I’d ponder this a bit more if I could, but here’s the thing:  my screen just lit up and it’s Kohl’s telling me my new shoes are ready to pick up, Subway sent me a new text coupon plus I have to know the sandwich of the day, I haven’t checked Facebook yet to see if the pic of me and Dottie got anymore likes, and last night when I was scrolling I saw a great shirt advertised at 80% off.  How can I pass up that deal?  Hmmmm.  Maybe I should try to find out.  Maybe we all should.

Kristi xoxo

“Walk Among Us” ~ Recorded by the Misfits

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So, I was contemplating about how I often feel like I don’t belong in so many different situations, and I think I am starting to understand why a bit better.

I kinda hate the word ‘misfit’ but if I am honest with myself regarding the definition (“a person whose behavior or attitude sets them apart from others in an uncomfortably conspicuous way”), it really does describe well how I often feel when I’m around others.

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Only about 1-2% of people in the United States have bipolar disorder…about 2.3 million people all together.  If you play around with the numbers (I’m I’m no math whiz, I actually still use my fingers at times…just ask ma), it’s about 46,000 in each state, and in terms of the number of counties in IL where I live (I’m sure you’re all jealous I live there since it’s such a great state right now 🙄), that’s about 450 people in my entire county of over 104,000.  Now here’s my point: I really am an outsider in terms of having bipolar.  Statistically, it would be pretty unlikely for me to interact with anyone else bipolar on any given day since it’s relatively rare compared to other disorders.  For example, about 20% of the population deal with anxiety disorders and about 14% have major depression every year; so although these are horrible disorders to have there are still many more people who might understand what others are going through because of their own personal experiences with them.  By the way, if you’re thinking you know numerous people with bipolar, ask yourself if they’ve actually been diagnosed by a psychiatric specialist or if they are assuming they are because of their mood swings.  It’s so easy to self diagnose in light of info online, and I’m guilty of it too.  Just this month, I’ve told my son I have 3 different diseases since I love to peruse WebMD.  Just sayin’.  (P.S.  O doesn’t worry about my diagnoses like he should…I wonder why 🤨 ).

When I’m around other people, whether it’s at school or at a family function or in the gym or where ever, the chance I’m the ONLY one there with bipolar is huge.  HUGE!  And since I’m most likely the only one there, how can I feel like I fit in with everyone else?  How can they understand how my mind works?  Or how sensitive I am to criticism or rejection?  Or how I might not be able to control how ‘manicky’ I am, despite others possibly saying, “C’mon, Kristi…just calm down!”  How can others understand how I might be really happy when I get somewhere but then get really down if something was said that seems silly to them, but actually hurt me pretty badly (“Kristi…you have to stop being so sensitive.  It’s getting old!”)?  How can I tell them them that even though I was so excited to plan on being somewhere, I’ve cycled into a depressed state where I can now barely interact?  When you think about, it’s no wonder I feel like I don’t fit in…like I’m always on the edge of whatever group I’m around.

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Now let’s throw another wrench into the equation:  research is showing that those of us with bipolar might experience either very HIGH levels of affective empathy or very LOW levels of cognitive empathy.  What’s the difference?  Affective empathy is when you basically ‘feel’ and ‘mirror’ another’s emotional states, whereas cognitive empathy is understanding someone’s emotions, but not actually feeling them yourself.

Well…we all know how lucky I am so…drumroll please…I was blessed with the VERY high level of affective empathy!  Yea. 🙄 What does that mean in terms of my everyday life?  Hmmmm…where the hell do I start?

I know this can be hard for others to understand, but I literally (I hate that overused word, but I’m too lazy to open up another tab and take a look-see at the thesaurus for another 😳) feel what others feel.  When someone is crying in front of me, I cry…not just because I see their tears and feel bad for them, but because I ‘absorb’ their pain like a sponge.  Empaths soak up the world of feelings that surround them and this can be so fucking exhausting (dammit…I was trying not to say it, ma…but…).  It’s hard enough to deal with my own feelings since those are plenty to handle as is.  But pour everyone else’s feelings into the mix, and it can wear me down completely.

This is a particularly huge problem in relationships.  Empaths take on the other’s emotions, absorb their stresses, feel their pain, etc.  It’s like we’re living the relationship on both sides:  their feelings seeping (or actually madly rushing) into us while our own are bubbling in there too.  Now, couple that with being mega-sensitive and personalizing things like those of us with bipolar often do, and I think it’s clear why relationships can become all consuming very quickly.

Even though I’m not always conscious of this happening, I am conscious of how over-whelmed I can get in relationships and how that can affect my mood and behavior.  When I get frustrated or distressed or upset, it can come out in anger.  Like I’ve said before, anger is more of a reaction we have which actually has other emotions buried underneath it (embarrassment, fear, grief, shame…).  And since people with bipolar have a lot of stuff happening under the surface, anger is something else that’s common among us.  Go figure.

When I think about my marriage to my son’s dad, I see it as the healthiest relationship I’ve ever been in.  Hubby 2 came from a really solid family and had one of those wholesome upbringings with nothing ‘bad’ really ever happening to him.  I didn’t have to absorb much from him because he was usually on a pretty even keel and my emotional stresses were fairly low.

Hubby 3 was much more of a challenge.  He brought a lot of baggage into our marriage and couple that with the bipolar suitcases I carry, it was a lot.  R’s moods were very unpredictable, especially those first couple of years, and having that load on me was problematic, to say the least.  His stresses became my stresses.  His anger became my anger.  His insecurities became my insecurities.  This is such a hard thing to explain to people who aren’t empathic sponges.  Sometimes he would say, “Why are you so upset?  It’s my problem!”  What he didn’t understand was this:  his problems were passed onto my little empathic heart and TA-DA…they became mine too.

The same thing happened when J came along.  I’ve said before that he has PTSD from being in the military and has also been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder.  Both of these cause great fluctuations in mood and behavior and I wasn’t just watching that ride, I was on it with him.  Sometimes he’d wonder why I was so stressed or upset.  How do you explain it’s because everything he’s projecting/feeling/acting out on, I’m taking in…’literally’ (that damn word again 😐)?  His pain.  His anger.  His instability.  I was a passenger on that roller coaster with him, along with riding my own.  No wonder the weight of it often became too much for me.

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After he cheated a couple of years ago, I was angry.  And rightfully so!  But I also felt so much more:  I personalized the affair to the point I just knew it had to be my fault.  Cognitively, I know that’s not right.  Emotionally, that’s how I felt.  And then after, when we ‘started over’ and he became so much better to me, I not only had all I was feeling from the affair, but I was also absorbing all he was feeling too, whether he realized that or not (and no, I strongly doubt he ever reads this blog…someone asked me that the other day).  His own anger over his guilt.  His own doubts about our chances.  And even his own grief over the woman he loved and had been with.  Somedays this would be so freaking overwhelming that I couldn’t breathe, and the only way I could handle things was to channel them into anger.  It’s the quickest release there is when you get that overwhelmed with feelings…it’s like a pressure cooker easily exploding if you fiddle with the lid.

I used to wonder why I’ve had such a hard time getting past our relationship and it’s finally beginning to make sense to me.  When I caught him cheating the last time I saw him, he started crying and hugging me when he realized I knew someone else was in the apartment with him.  That emotional outburst pained me so much and it was extremely confusing to me.  I had so much running through my mind and my heart and then I had that to deal with as well.  I had my anger and confusion and disgust and disappointment  but all of that was connected with his pain too.  It was so much to handle and it was a horribly complicated time for me.  You know, I totally understand that being empathic like this isn’t something that’s rational, but it is something inside of me that I can’t control.  How I wish I could!

I’ve also been able to understand my need to be alone at times.  Being so overwhelmed by all of this ‘absorbing’ (like I’m a Bounty paper towel) means us empaths need time to get away from it all.  We need to process all of these feelings and stresses and moods so we can decompress.

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So many empaths can’t sleep with their partners (actually sleep with them all night…we like the naughty stuff 😳) because the stresses of the day and the burdens we’ve absorbed are simply too much.  We need that space to come down again.  To unload ourselves.  To be able to focus on our own stuff only.  I love to sleep alone.  There’s only 1 partner I’ve ever been able to sleep with and besides him, I’ve always had my own bed.  I used to feel SO guilty about that, and I know it’s  probably very hard for other people to understand.  It’s almost like you’ve been running a race all day, with others on your back, and you finally have a chance to put those burdens down, stretch out, and have it just be you without that sponge taking over.  There were times in my marriages where if I hadn’t had that, I would have burst.  Like a big zit. 😐

Anyhoot, not fitting in is actually starting to make sense to me.  I don’t necessarily like it, but I know I’m different.  My brain works differently.  My heart works differently.  My moods work differently.  My feelings work differently.  It does make me a ‘misfit’…I’m not like everyone else.  There are so many times I want to be and I think about what it would be like to be more ‘normal’.  More relaxed.  To be able to be around others without taking all of their ‘stuff’ in, along with my own bipolar issues.

But then again, sometimes I think that maybe it’s ok to be different like this.  Maybe others need me to be.  Maybe helping others with their burdens is a gift I’m able to give.  Maybe it pays others back for having to deal with me being bipolar.  Maybe, in a way, it’s what others should be more like.  Just a little.  Because think about it…if we could all ‘share’ our burdens, feel other’s emotions, take on some stress from others, wouldn’t that lead to more understanding and insight?  More compassion?  More appreciation for all of our different situations?  Wouldn’t that empathy make us better people that don’t cause pain because we feel it so intensely?  Hmmmm.  Kinda makes sense, doesn’t it?

Kristi xoxo

Me? Sarcastic? Never.

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So, I wanted to address an issue with my sweet peeps and decided to write y’all a letter…here goes:

Dear Peeps,

I wrote a blog post to day about ‘Pet Peeves’ which some of you liked and others didn’t.  After I received a comment that made me cry, I thought about deleting the post altogether.  The comment basically said I was calling people out on things that may not be their fault and I needed to do something else with my life besides worry about others.

I actually meant for that particular post to be sarcastic but I don’t think it was taken that way by everyone.  Sometimes my sense of humor is just ‘off’.’  Go figure.

You know, I’ve written about some really deep things in this blog.  I’ve shared all of my many struggles being bipolar and how that affects my life.  I’ve written about the self-mutilation I’ve done to myself and how I attempted suicide 3 years ago.  I’ve shared the sexual abuse I endured when I was a teen.  I’ve talked about the divorces I’ve had and how devastating they all were.  I’ve talked about ma’s experience with domestic violence by her 2nd husband (that fucker…sorry ma, but I always have to say that) that lasted 28 years and I got to live with for 6.  I’m very upfront talking about my meds and how much I need them to be stable.  I pretty much share everything with you…the bad and the good.

I’ve opened up to you because, well, I need too.  Being able to write out these issues is a way for me to understand them better while also being a cathartic experience.  It also, I hope, shows others that having a mental illness isn’t something to be ashamed or needs to be hidden away.  I’m trying to break the stigma of mental illness and show others that we aren’t violent or totally unstable or ‘crazy’ or someone to be avoided.  I’m Kristi who has a mental illness. It’s OK to voice that.

Anyhoot, talking about these tough issues is hard on me sometimes and maybe more so since I also have to teach about them in my classes every semester as well.  Teaching psychology and sociology forces me to address the topics of domestic violence, substance abuse, divorce, incest, rape, crime, mental illness and the list goes on and on.

You know, having bipolar is a tough thing.  I have good days and I have bad days.  I have really good days and I have really bad days.  I never know, week to week, what to expect with my mood.  Bipolar is like the Captain of my ship who I always try to stage a mutiny against.  Sometimes I take over and sometimes I don’t.  Right now, I’m struggling a bit.  Getting 7 classes online for Fall semester is overwhelming and knowing I won’t be interacting with my sweetie students face to face is horrible.  I love them all so much and it’s like being taken away from my family in so many ways.

I’m also dealing with some loneliness.  I’ve said before that I like living alone and how much I’ve gotten to learn about myself because of it, but that doesn’t mean I don’t get lonely.  When the Covid quarantine was at it’s peak, people would tell me how their partner or spouse was getting on their nerves.  But for me, there were so many times during it I wanted someone here.  Someone to hug and cuddle and tell me things were going to be ok.  I’ll make something I think is cool and wish I had someone here who would admire it (or tell me honestly that it’s ass-ugly).  At night I’ll watch a movie and wish someone was here with me to laugh or cry while we shove popcorn in our faces.

I’m still coming to terms with my last relationship.  It’s been 8 months since I’ve seen him and I continue to think about him, and his precious kids, every single day.  I miss the kids so much and if I’m being honest, I miss him too.  That’s tough to come to terms with considering how our relationship ended.  It might not make sense to others that I still grieve a bit for him…but tell that to my heart.  I truly thought he was my soulmate.

Because of all of this, I need to lighten up sometimes.  I just do.  I have to write happy or funny or sarcastic because I need the break from the heavy stuff.  Anyhoot, I’m sorry if I ever offend you with my posts.  I write them for me and share them with anyone who wants to see them.  I take all feedback seriously and I hope that you sweet peeps understand that the last thing in the world I want to do is hurt anyone.  Especially you.

Kristi xoxo