It’s not finals week around here anymore, but the artificial need for coffee remains as dire as ever. Happy Spring quarter! Stay happy, healthy, and hydrated! And if that means sustaining yourself with warm bean nectar, by all means you do you honey.
I’ve been warned to beware my energy output when it comes to things, and yet, things are everywhere. We are things ourselves. Things happen. Things change. Things fall into our laps and things break. Things fill life and fill us in turn.
A few weeks ago I was killing time at Whole Foods and overheard a conversation between two women sipping tea and kale salad. One asked the other for advice on how to build a resume after her making a recent decision to go back to work.
Like Shirley, I’m gonna try this blogging thing again. Since I spend so much time drawing strangers and processing my thoughts on paper I figured I might as well scan and share them with you, dear reader.
This has been the longest, most painstakingly drawn-out summer of my life. Right now I’m sitting with a mug full of hot tea on a brisk day near the middle of September with two weeks until my first day of classes and not a whole lot to show for it. Actually I take it back. I went a few places. I did a couple of things. I talked to people in those places— when my foot wasn’t in my mouth. There was even a very exciting encounter with a bear, at least I think it was a bear. The point is, I had an arduously fulfilling summer all thanks to friends and family who let me tag along on mini trips to where the bears live (Tahoe), where the sun lives (Los Angeles), and where the Mormons live (guess) and thanks to Shannon. On every trip, and during every dull day between, I was accompanied by Shannon. This post is dedicated to her.
“It’s like a fat lady is sitting on one of your ovaries” my Gynecologist told me a few months ago. So I named the fat lady Shannon because why not. Shannon = my Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and the symptoms that come with it. In a nutshell, Shannon exists to make my life hell by causing me various biological inconveniences through way of hormonal imbalances that I’ll have to holistically supplement and treat for the rest of my life because as of today, there is no cure for PCOS. Dope. So now what?
Shannon’s palette of side effects includes anxiety and depression. Hearing that was a relief. I’ve stopped counting the late mornings, absent conversations, and petrified phone calls I’ve made… let alone the number of times I’ve submitted to destructive feelings of inadequacy.
Now I had someone to blame, it was Shannon’s fault. Not mine. A medical professional said so, even if she used a really shitty analogy to explain it to me.
Understanding the separation between my essence and my emotions has been another subsidiary soundtrack to this summer. Shannon’s presence in my life has made me asses my emotions like I’ve never had to before. Shannon sometimes makes my mood unpredictable, so to help prepare family and friends for what’s coming on any given day, I came up with a morning mood rating system which goes as follows:
– Puddle of emotion, vacuum of inspiration, tired, doubtful of my own abilities, 100% emotionally paralyzed
– Anxious, mind is like a hamster running in a wheel, doubts, worries, pressures, fears all circulate, 75% emotionally paralyzed
– Pacing, somewhat anxious but feeling more helpful and trying to wake the hell up 50% emotionally paralyzed
– My mind has slowed significantly, good night’s rest, still on my toes but excited and only 25% emotionally paralyzed
– THIS VIDEO ENOUGH SAID.
It’s Shannon who is my biggest handicap and Shannon who’s given me what no one else could. She’s taught me to grant myself allowance on the 1 star days and how to really get hyped on the 5 star days as rare as they are.
In the middle of a 300+ member family reunion in Utah my anxiety levels were so high I literally felt like I was drowning. It had nothing to do with the toddlers and grandparents in matching reunion t-shirts around me but I felt grounded by guilt at the thought of leaving the festivities. It was Shannon who made the switch from fight mode to flight mode, and without realizing it, I had called a local friend and asked her to pick me up. It seems like a lot of over thinking for such a small thing but if that hadn’t happened I would have missed out on one of the best nights of the summer. We cruised through Sandy, windows down and in a comfortable silence, against the backdrop of the purple mountains down for hours and hours and I’ve never felt more free in my life.
Shannon taught me that there is a severely under appreciated art to accepting offers of services from others. It took having a panic attack on the side of the road to realize that I had a small handful of genuine friends who had all stated previously, “Call me anytime if you need to talk”, whose offers I had never taken up. One friend picked up, (you know who you are), and I can never pay back that person for talking me through the process of driving myself home that night. They never asked to be paid back. That’s what friends do.
Sometimes when others aren’t there to listen or offer assistance, Shannon taught me that sometimes you’re all you need. Honestly ask yourself, “what do you need in this moment, right now?” If it’s a drive, get in the car. If it’s chocolate, go to the grocery store. If you don’t know, take a moment to lock the door, and breathe. Sometimes it’s the little rules we invent along the way that get in the way. Screw those. You’re allowed to get up in the middle of the night and eat something if you’re hungry and you can’t sleep. You’re allowed to walk away from social situations where you feel uncomfortable. It’s okay to not reply if you don’t know what to say. Venting isn’t pretentious or privileged.
If you need someone to tell you that you are allowed to feel what you feel, I’ll be your girl because you are.
So that’s all I’ve got so far. We’ll see what the upcoming year brings besides another season of Stranger Things and a new President. Looking very much to one and not the other. Please be kind to yourselves and know that I’m here to talk if you or someone you know deserves a home makeover is struggling, my email can be found in the “Welcome Mat” tab on the left. Lastly, thank you as always for lending me your time dear reader.
In an interview Brett Dennen did with Billboard a few years ago he made a comment about the inspiration for this song that’s always stuck with me. He said that most people think of “Heaven” an ode to just that, when really it’s a song exploring what would happen if we tried to recreate the conditions we expect to have in the afterlife– here on earth today. A world without injustice, classification, corruption etc.
Undoubtedly, we’ve read more dark headlines this week than anyone should ever have to. So I’d urge you to have a listen if you’re feeling angry, tired, scared, or down with all that’s been circulating… as we are all victims when one of us suffers. In the dark, let us behave in a way that opens the blinds and lets the light in again, at least in the small rooms and doorways in which we reside. Let us love, let us be kind, and let us never forget.
After I graduated High School I started to question why anything was really important at all.
Any of these things may have included:
Celebrities in the Media. Why do people play into the hands of big-name celebs who are obviously stipulating for attention? e.g. Miley Cyrus, Donald Trump . I still don’t get it.
Employment nowadays. I’m sitting in traffic on the way home from work and I look around me and wonder, why do we participate in the rat races that make up the job market economy? Whatever happened to individuality and self-reliance?
College. More specifically 4-year college and questioning the glamour that comes with it (parties, greek life etc). How important is it all? Really? Cause if say you were allergic to alcohol then it seems like you wouldn’t have much to do.
Getting dressed in the morning. This is another one I’ve thought about which is probably typical of a quarter-system student with an 11-week long summer coming out of high school. That’s a long summer, and for the majority of it where I wasn’t working I spent the day in pajamas slipping in and out of a Netflix coma.
Cue Ty Oakley’s most relatable tweet ever:
After days drinking nothing but decaf Earl Grey and finishing Once Upon a Time I realized that some part of me was missing because I had let it go.
My confidence, my health… some of the key components to my own happiness had vanished because I was spending too much time on the internet providing my appreciation of scenes that were a part of other’s lives by double tapping, and neglecting to appreciate the life I had been given.
how can these lovely pictures
have the power
to make you hate yourself?
Simple. Because wishful thinking can be draining.
The days where I decided not to get dressed in the morning were the same days I let all the internet confabulation and rapid scrolling down news feeds define what I thought of myself… no makeup, hair in a bun, reblogging or favoriting pictures of waterfalls and berry smoothies. It seems innocent enough, until one realizes that the internet is a deadly weapon of comparison.
This is what all my time spent online had led up to and I was tired of staying in my pajamas. I realized that the key was to find beautiful content in the world around me.
Next week I’m giving a talk at church about charity. In doing research I watched this clip from the LDS Prophet, President Thomas S. Monson and it turned my world around.
(If you want to cut to the chase skip down to the underlined section)
My favorite quote is around 11 min when he says,
” A woman by the name of Mary Bartels had a home directly across the street from the entrance to a hospital clinic. Her family lived on the main floor and rented the upstairs rooms to outpatients at the clinic.
One evening a truly awful-looking old man came to the door asking if there was room for him to stay the night. He was stooped and shriveled, and his face was lopsided from swelling—red and raw. He said he’d been hunting for a room since noon but with no success. “I guess it’s my face,” he said. “I know it looks terrible, but my doctor says it could possibly improve after more treatments.” He indicated he’d be happy to sleep in the rocking chair on the porch. As she talked with him, Mary realized this little old man had an oversized heart crowded into that tiny body. Although her rooms were filled, she told him to wait in the chair and she’d find him a place to sleep.
At bedtime Mary’s husband set up a camp cot for the man. When she checked in the morning, the bed linens were neatly folded and he was out on the porch. He refused breakfast, but just before he left for his bus, he asked if he could return the next time he had a treatment. “I won’t put you out a bit,” he promised. “I can sleep fine in a chair.” Mary assured him he was welcome to come again.
In the several years he went for treatments and stayed in Mary’s home, the old man, who was a fisherman by trade, always had gifts of seafood or vegetables from his garden. Other times he sent packages in the mail.
When Mary received these thoughtful gifts, she often thought of a comment her next-door neighbor made after the disfigured, stooped old man had left Mary’s home that first morning. “Did you keep that awful-looking man last night? I turned him away. You can lose customers by putting up such people.”
Mary knew that maybe they had lost customers once or twice, but she thought, “Oh, if only they could have known him, perhaps their illnesses would have been easier to bear.”
After the man passed away, Mary was visiting with a friend who had a greenhouse. As she looked at her friend’s flowers, she noticed a beautiful golden chrysanthemum but was puzzled that it was growing in a dented, old, rusty bucket. Her friend explained, “I ran short of pots, and knowing how beautiful this one would be, I thought it wouldn’t mind starting in this old pail. It’s just for a little while, until I can put it out in the garden.”
Mary smiled as she imagined just such a scene in heaven. “Here’s an especially beautiful one,” God might have said when He came to the soul of the little old man. “He won’t mind starting in this small, misshapen body.” But that was long ago, and in God’s garden how tall this lovely soul must stand! “
I cried at that part. Today I watched it again and I almost cried a second time, but then I caught myself and wondered why. It’s a lovely story that would make a great film, but there was another reason. It was the same kind of bubbled over emotion I felt when my mom sat me down one day and asked me why I seemed sad.
I described to her how ugly I felt, inside and out. I felt like a hideous burden with legs. She just stared into my eyes and said so matter-of-factly,
“Sweetie you’re beautiful.”
I bubbled over then like I bubbled over at Monson’s story. Both reminded me that because God created us, he loves us and because of that we are innately beautiful and worth saving. Sometimes he sends people to love us and remind us of that. Sometimes those same people are the ones who help us get out of bed in the morning. In case you didn’t already get that, I’m trying to say thanks Mom.
The laws of superficiality seem to dominate how many of us view ourselves, and not just when we’re looking at god-bodied models posing magazines. The erosive effects caused by living in an appearance-driven world can break us down in subtle ways, eventually leading us to doubt our worth measured by social position, financial standing, and material growth.
When we can find the moral momentum to pull ourselves into a larger perspective, we can see that these laws of comparison are trivial.
No matter what your situation looks like, remember that you’re the chrysanthemum in the tin bucket. Regardless of disabilities, physical appearance, or social standing, remember that you’re a freaking chrysanthemum and don’t forget that life is better when you love yourself.
That is, that the next movie you see in theaters will be “Inside Out” and you will tote with you anyone willing and capable of feeling emotions. Anyone. (Just because it’s a Pixar movie doesn’t mean it’s just for the kids).
In fact, the concept is an intensely thoughtful one that is sure to blow even the wisest of grown-ups minds. The concept, or at least my interpretation of the concept, is that emotions are so powerful. While at times their shifting and shaping may seem a burden during one’s emotional progress through life, our emotions are equally important and always working for us to help us cope with our surrounding environment… which can be even more unpredictable and burdensome than ourselves.
The emotions themselves are all played as human-esque looking characters: Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust (featuring some familiar voices if you watch Parks and Rec or the Mindy Project). Their story is set in the mind of an 11-year-old girl named Riley, who lives her life according to their commands and absence-of, just like the movie implies we all do.
Sitting in the packed theatre, thinking through the movie as it was playing, I couldn’t help but wonder if this is really how emotions work? Laid out, it makes sense. Sometimes Joy drives a person to make choices, sometimes sadness, sometimes both or another emotion. This idea of balancing emotions one of the most universal of movie themes I have ever come across because who of us can say that we’ve never been angry or sad or joyous, or afraid, or in disgust?
We all have incredibly complex minds and with those we often forget that it’s okay not to stay positive all the time. In fact, (spoiler alert) sometimes sadness is the best motivator to adjust a course of action to something better for our well-being while the other guys take a backseat. In the end, they’re meant to balance us out and help us grow at our own unique pace.
Because we are all human (I can now confirm this because Dog with a Blog unfollowed me), we each have the potential to act in according to our complex emotions and then when the repercussions subside we can store all those beautiful memories for later because that’s the beauty of being human.