Category Archives: Advice

Squirrels on meth

I have been meditating for approximately a week now and I would like to share 10 things with you about this experience thus far:

  1. My brain is full of squirrels
  2. And I am pretty sure the squirrels are on meth
  3. I am trying to the get the squirrels to slow down but they are fast little buggers. Really fast. And I think that has to do with the meth.
  4. I may have to send the squirrels to detox (not sure what this will do to my brain but there could be a few really ugly days coming up)
  5. Meditation is really hard. Especially if your brain is full of squirrels. On meth. Or full of lots of thoughts that never seem to stop.
  6. Meditation seems like it should be easy but that is an illusion. It is magic and it is hard.
  7. So… for meditation you just sit there, right? And you think about nothing, right? And you just think about….  Ha. That’s when you notice the squirrels. They are zooming all over the place. They never stop moving. Never stop. Stop squirrels stop.
  8. And then sometimes one squirrel does stop. And it stays there staring right into your face like a three-year old trying to figure out what you are and what to do with you. And you say, “Hey squirrel, move on. I’m meditating here.” But the squirrel, it just runs around you and comes right back – front and center with it’s beady squirrel eyes looking at you. And the next you thing you know you have spent your whole time wrestling with one squirrel instead of clearing your mind and such.
  9. Meditation is reportedly one of those things that can change your life if you commit to it. After one week of doing this I can see why. If everyone else’s brains are full of squirrels or monkeys or bats or frogs on stimulants, well… it is quite eye-opening when you realize what is actually going on in there. Anarchy. When I finally catch the squirrels and harness that energy, well… imagine what will happen. Just imagine.
  10. I truly believe all those people who do amazing things and who swear that meditation is a key part of their amazing things are onto something. First, conquer the squirrels in your brain. Second, conquer pretty much anything you want because this meditation stuff is one of the hardest things I have ever done (and just for reference, I went through 38+ hours of labor to deliver our second kiddo and I did an IronMan and I went to Walmart on Black Friday and survived all of them – but meditation is harder than being in labor while doing an Ironman and shopping at Walmart). Once you figure out meditation it is all there.

So, if I were my own best friend I would tell myself to keep on meditating. There is gold at the end of the rainbow. And I would tell the squirrels to sit the heck down, close their eyes, and namaste the heck out of life. Peace out.

Squirrels_Blog

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Plan A

I was listening to a book last week and one of the characters was trying to convince the other character to do something she was not sure she wanted to do. The first character said something to the effect of “If Plan A doesn’t work it’s OK. There are 25 more letters in the alphabet.”

PlanABlog

I love it. 25 more letters! 25 more chances to make it different or tweak it or try again. 25! I was trying to think of the last time I tried something 25 times in an effort to “get it right” or to get to what I wanted to achieve. The only thing that comes close has been my ill-fated attempts at sandwich bread making which I’ve posted about here before. I might be somewhere around Plan R or Plan S by now and to be honest I had given up, but I have another 8 or so letters to go so I think I’ll try again. However with everything else I think I might get to Plan D or Plan E and then I stop. I am short-changing myself – there are 26 letters in the alphabet! It is time to become more resilient, to not give up so easily, to persevere.

So if I were my own best friend I would remind myself to try-try-again, if plan A doesn’t work there are 25 more letters in the alphabet.

And what about you? Do you give each new opportunity at least 26 chances before you walk away? Do you move on to Plan AA, AB, AC and so on? Or are you closer to what I have been doing recently, stopping after a maximum of 5 or 6 attempts and moving on? What could we accomplish if we gave everything at least 26 attempts, each slightly different based on what we learned from the previous ones? Imagine!

Fail often.

Failure has a bad reputation but once you get to know it, it’s not really the bad kid. It’s the cool kid in disguise. Failure means you tried something. Failure means you took a chance. Failure means you found something you can improve on the next time. Failure means you have the opportunity to get better. Failure means you have the chance to grow.

I like all those things… trying something new, taking a chance, improving, opportunity, growth… So, if I were my own best friend I would tell myself to fail a bit more often.

FailOften_Blog

Be your own line.

A line is a dot that took a chance and went exploring.

Line_Blog

This whole line of thought was inspired by my two-year old. We were playing with pens and paper the other day and he started drawing lines – all sorts of crazy, wavy, curvy, straight, bendy, thick, thin lines. In all different colors. All over the place. Then he wanted to draw dots. But every time he started a dot he would look up at me, smile, and then holding the pen his hand would go flying across the paper, making a line. Finally, after a few minutes of this, in the way only a two-year old can, he said “my dots wouldn’t stay on the paper, they want to move and run mommy.”

Ok.

And then I couldn’t get the idea of dots and lines out of my head. So what if we are all dots? And what if we are either moving around in a herd of dots or we’re all lined up and we’ve been pretty happy being dots for a while. We look around and we see other dots. And we’re used to it. It is comfortable. And then one dot decides to go exploring.

So first off, it is hard to break out of the mold. It is hard to set out on your own when you’re in a comfy pack of dots. But what if, to be truly content and true to yourself, you need to break that mold. What if you need to be a line?

So, for all of you dots out there wondering what it might be like to be a line – if I were your best friend (or my own) I would tell you (or me) to go explore. Be a line. Be straight or wavy or curvy. Be thick or thin. Be dashed or dotted. Be black or white or any other color in between. Be braided or twisted. Be shiny or dull. Be more than a dot. Make your mark in this world, in this life, be your own line.

Foreign languages

If I were my own best friend I would tell myself to learn another language.

Languages_Blog

***I love foreign languages. I love listening to other people speak them. I love reading them. I love that there are so many different languages in this world and they all result in communication between people. I love watching foreign films and do not even care if there are subtitles. 

I, however, do not seem to have the gift of learning other languages easily. I worked through 8 years of French in high school and college (please emphasize the word “work”). I have tried to learn Spanish four times now with very little success. I have read the studies on the importance of learning multiple languages and the cognitive changes that are seen in people who do know multiple languages. It’s a powerful thing! 

Last week someone wrote me in Latin and I was inspired! It was actually a text in Latin and I thought that was amusing because in my mind Latin is a very old language and texting is a very new thing and the combination of the two just made me smile. 

So in honor of learning new languages and expanding horizons I will complete this post in the only other language I have ever been able to master: pig Latin! 

Hankstay orfay eadingray! Ouyay reaay aay ovelylay umanhay eingbay ndaay uiteqay erseverantpay fiay ouyay reaay tillsay ecipheringday histay! Aymay histay nspireiay ouyay otay earnlay aay ealray oreignfay anguagelay! 

Afloat and adrift.

So here are the basics on how this blog usually works. First, I think about something I want to write about. I ponder on it for a few days. Then I write. Next I draw. Then I revise the writing a bit based on the drawing. Finally I publish it.

But it turns out that is not working right now. I started a new job and I cannot find brain space to ponder something I would want to write about on this blog. That does not mean my brain is empty, it just means it is empty of “if i were my own best friend” thoughts. (I know there’s a post to ponder hidden in this paragraph I just don’t have the bandwidth to think on it right now.)

But I enjoy blogging and I miss posting things in this space. So today I tried something different. I started with drawing and figured I would then write about whatever I drew. I was kind of curious to see what might show up on paper since I cannot seem to clear the brain clutter to form a coherent thought these days. And this is what came out…

LifeRafts

Well, I’m not a psychologist or psychiatrist or a brain-analyzer-certified type of person. But I think this pretty clearly illustrates where I am at right now (and yes I know I am interpreting my own drawing… feel free to interpret another way and let me know what you come up with in the comments!).

I am adrift. In some really deep water. And I am looking for life rafts or a branch to hang onto. And every once in awhile I find my rhythm and I swim (vs. float and look for life rafts). And I know that somewhere out there in the distance is a safe island to land on (with a palm tree!).

And this is my work-life right now. This is why I cannot seem to find brain space to focus and write something meaningful here. I am adrift in a world of new and different and do not have any firm ground to stand on yet. It will get better (the island is out there somewhere) and I know I just need to keep seeking out life rafts each day. I know I should focus more on the moments I am able to swim as well as learn from the moments I need a raft. But it is really hard and exhausting right now. And I just do not want to make a major mistake.

Have you found yourself adrift lately? Have you found yourself hunting for stable ground and struggling to find the next life raft? Have you found a life raft one day and then come back the next day to find that raft is gone and you have start all over?

Well, if you answered yes to any of those questions, please know you are not alone! I am there with you.

And if I were my own best friend I would tell myself – let’s find each other! Let’s hold each other up. Let’s trade secrets on how to stay afloat. Let’s take turns paddling the raft. And when we get to the island let’s share a really big margarita and a plate of fried coconut shrimp. 

Keep on paddling!

Love is mashed peas.

If I were my own best friend I would tell myself love shows up in unusual ways and at unexpected times.

LoveIsPeas_Blog

***There are a few important facts that help set the stage for this story. 

  1. The little guy recently got his first pet – a red fish – which after much deliberation he decided to name “Fish.”
  2. The little guy is just over two years old so actual care of Fish tends to fall to the larger family members (i.e. me).
  3. We chose a fish because we wanted a low maintenance pet.
  4. Fish (meaning all fish, not just our fish) can get constipated.

(Disclaimer: This post is longer than usual. The short version is I spent a long time on a Friday night figuring out how to hand feed our pet fish mashed peas so he could stop being constipated (i.e. poop and be able to use his swim bladder again to float) and go on living a happy life being tortured by the blue dinosaur I put next to his tank to be his friend. Heh heh heh. Oh yeah, and be loved by the little guy. Love is weird.)

The longer version: It was an average Friday evening after dinnertime and we were getting the little guy ready for bed. I was looking forward to some end of the week, feet up, TV on, veg time. My partner in crime suddenly noticed that Fish was not swimming around in his tank. He was not bobbing gently or swishing in circles or trying to attack the large blue dinosaur I put next to his tank to be his friend. Nope. 

Fish was floating on his side. At the top of the tank. Inflated two to three times larger then normal size. Flapping his little flippers. And not looking very good. “Aaaacck” was my first thought. A four letter word was my second.

A phone call to the pet shop and a short drive later with a water sample from the tank it was determined that bad water, bad pH, inappropriate nitrates, bacteria, virus, and fungus were not the culprits. Three “fish guys” were holding court around the water samples trying to decide what might be wrong with Fish. 

As the pet shop prepared to close they all agreed that Fish was most likely constipated. Say what?!?! Fish can get blocked up?? This came as a surprise to me, so I sarcastically quipped, “so what, now I need to give my fish a laxative?” 

The three fish guys looked at me and in all seriousness said “yes” in unison. Huh. Apparently fish can get constipated and they have this thing called a swim bladder that then gets blocked up and when that gets blocked up the fish cannot inflate/deflate to go up/down in the water. (That’s the simple version they gave me.) “So, I assume you guys sell some sort of laxative drops,” I asked desperately hoping this was true, because it was late, I was tired, and putting a couple drops in the water sounded fairly easy.

“Nope” was the response. “You have to mash up some green peas and feed them to the fish.” (Seriously?? My fish is floating on his side at the top of the tank… He runs for the farthest corner when I drop food in on a healthy day. How on earth am I going to get him to eat from a spoon???)

And with that the pet store closed. I drove home trying to figure out how I was going to get Fish to eat mashed peas. Upon arriving home I was immediately enticed by my big comfy couch, something mindless on TV, and the thought of putting up my feet. And then I looked at Fish. 

And that’s when it first hit me. I realized I loved that little red critter if for no other reason then he is part of our family and I get to scare the fish poop out of him with the turquoise dinosaur. Alright, get to work…

Thirty minutes later I am starting to panic a little as Fish is still mostly circling the surface and has now turned a pink shade (not his usual brilliant red). I have tried three different baby spoons and a syringe without luck. The bottom of the bowl is littered with pieces of mashed pea. I am hoping there is some diffusion going on and Fish is ingesting at least a little bit somehow, someway. I briefly consider making a mug of mashed pea slurry, bathing him in it and then returning him to his tank…

That’s when I decide to put a little mashed pea on the end of my finger. I slowly put my finger in the water, edge it gently towards Fish and… he eats it! 

Hallelujah! Lights and choirs and singing and more lights! I literally jump. In the kitchen. At 9:30 at night. And cheer. Because I finger fed Fish mashed peas. Love. Plain and simple. (And maybe a little insanity but mostly love.)

A few more pieces of pea later I decide that is enough. Fish is still circling the top but I am hopeful the peas will do their magical thing and Fish will recover. I wish I could hug him and tell him it will be okay. Some part of me realizes this is a fish and if I wanted to hug our pet I would have pushed harder for a puppy or a kitty or a guinea pig. And some part of me says what the heck is going on, aren’t fish supposed to be low maintenance?? And another part of me feels good because I can go to bed now knowing I did everything I could for the smallest member of our family. 

And that’s it – love shows up in unexpected ways. Feeding mashed peas to a fish off of my finger at 9:30 on a Friday night. Both for love of the fish and love of the little guy. (Smile.)

 

[Epilogue: For those curious souls who want to know what happened to Fish… The peas totally worked! I woke up the next morning afraid to look feeling pretty certain I was going to find a not so healthy looking Fish, but there he was completely back to normal. Circling the tank. Swimming gracefully up and down. At his normal size! There was a rather hefty fish dropping on the floor of the tank. And later there were some odd bubbles at the surface that I cleaned out. So perhaps the “fish guys” were right – Fish was a little blocked up, a little gassy, and needed a little fishy fiber! As of today he remains happy, healthy, and “best friends” with a turquoise dinosaur.]