I like you just the way you are.

 

Last night, I saw a documentary about Mr Rogers called Won’t You Be My Neighbor.  While it left me feeling uplifted, wrung out dry with tears, and inspired to do better … it also left me feeling a tremendous amount of guilt for neglecting my imagination.

When I first started babysitting my niece Elizabeth from ten to one pm, she was only three years old.  She was in a magical state, not fully able to communicate the way she is now (at age eight, the streams of conversation don’t seem to end).  But she was happy to sing, and to laugh, and to make believe with me.

I knew as an adult I was a little different from the other adults when it came to play time with a child.  Most adults want an activity that doesn’t really involve much of the imagination; a board game, a sport, some type of planned activity.  I would be down for all of that, but what I loved the most was anything to do with make believe.  Elizabeth had a Fisher Price Disney castle, with every Princess, and each of them had a story we would create for the day.  As a three year old, Elizabeth often wanted those stories to repeat, and they usually went something like this:

One of the princesses rings the doorbell, another princess answers, they offer a tour of the kitchen.  They show off a bouquet of flowers, the visiting princess smells the flowers and says, “Mmm, so delicious!” and then they agree it’s time to have tea, followed by a dance.

Of course, as a twenty-six year old, I was anxious for the stories to always be different and a little more elaborate.  But alas, I was at the mercy of a three-year old, and I probably said “Mmm, so delicious!” in as many ways as one can imagine for many weeks forward.

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Do you wake up happy?

I always wonder about the approach to this subject.  The pursuit of happiness is discussed at length, maybe even beaten to death.

I wake up and I try to evoke gratitude.  I have a guy I love by my side, a phone near me which connects to countless family & friends whom I love, a comfortable bed, a home I love, and a place of work to go to.  But if I’m completely honest, the way my day goes is not my ideal day.

When I was a kid I was deeply invested in sidewalk chalk during the summer months.  Sure, we swam, we biked, we played in the park – but sidewalk chalk was mixed in there, and man – did I love drawing up e v e r y t h i n g on the driveway/street of my childhood.

My friend Julie and I would play a game we called “Office.”  We would each draw our desks, and situate them near one another.  We would draw what would be on our desks; a phone, a pencil container, some paper, a calculator.  Then we would proceed to play-act our office life; we were very important.

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twinning at life

I filled out a form on the internet for a doctor’s appointment.  It asked for specific family history of mental illness.  I was to name the mental illness and the relation to the person with it.  I froze for a few minutes as I thought of my sisters, two out of three with varying degrees of mental illness.  My hands hovered over my keyboard.

I typed out my twin sister’s illness, and froze again.  Not ready to move down the form.

I considered my own time on this planet with the possibility of mental illness.  Thirty-one years.  I’ve spent a lot of those years feeling distracted, hidden, sad, aloof, uncertain, scared, anxious.

Frozen.

My relationship with my twin had always been fragile.  It isn’t now but,  we fought a lot.  I think most twins do.  People want to believe twins have a poetic synergy, finish each other’s sentences, or have some kind of Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen vibe (before they needed to become gaunt shadows of their celebrity).  Often people prefer twins to be Parent Trap-esque and adorable with one another.

When I tell people I have a twin their eyes widen with intrigue, as though I revealed a layer to my personality.  “Are you identical?” Inevitably follows.

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you’re going to die

It’s strange how comforting the word Write is in the upper right hand corner of the WordPress page.  And how little I turn to it when I need to.

I’ve been watching a lot of M O T I V A T I O N A L videos.  I don’t know if I really want inspiration, or if I just feel like laughing.  One in particular was pretty awful.  It was a montage of really beautiful people, in really beautiful places, with a man speaking over the images, quoting generic words of motivation with a strange inflection to his voice.  Like he wasn’t sure if he was from the United States, or Great Britain.

He said things like, oh you know:

Treat Every Day Like It’s Your Last.  (You’re going to die)

Wake up early.  (You’re going to die)

Just do it.  (You’re going to die)

Nothing worth having is ever easy.  (You’re going to die)

And maybe some less generic ones like, just be nice.  (You’re going to die)

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only five minutes

I was meditating when I felt wetness on my face.  I opened my eyes and looked out at a small lake covered in lily pads and various wildlife.  Ducks circled around one another, a Great blue heron might’ve been meditating too, and perhaps the strange disturbance in the water was the rumored baby alligator we’d heard about, or I needed to wear my glasses more often.

Oak trees with Spanish moss sent drops of rain that had just fallen down onto the lake, creating ripple after ripple.

I closed my eyes again and wanted the tears to keep falling, but they were stuck.  My heart felt open.  I could hear cars passing, cicada bugs humming; the softest breeze.  I felt pain, but I didn’t feel wetness anymore.

I didn’t think of what was making me sad (or making me feel); I tried to listen.

I opened my eyes again and found myself thinking, “Am I allowed to open my eyes?”

I closed them.  I heard the drips, the cars (they zipped past unseen, amplified by wet roads), the wind.  I felt wetness around my eyes again, my throat closing in.

I didn’t think of what was making me sad (or making me feel); I tried to listen.

My timer went off, indicating that it had been only five minutes.  I had successfully meditated after a week of being quick to anger, frustrated, and sad.

I knew it was a small effort, and that I would have to keep trying it.

 

 

I’m not on meds.

And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with needing to be on them.  I’m just not, so I have to handle my life very carefully.

I have to exercise religiously, six days a week if I can help it.

For at least an hour a day.

When I miss two days or more, I start to snap.  I become excessively judgmental, mean-spirited, and volatile.  I don’t know where it comes from; I’m aware of it so it’s contained inside of me, but my thoughts grow dark, and my ability to refresh my perspective is jilted.  If it does come out, it’s often directed at the people who are around me the most, or love me the most.  Which frankly, really sucks for them.

Luckily, I take my version of meds pretty often.

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scotch strength & a little sadness

Livia sat across from me, her nails perfectly manicured on aged fingers, gently folded in her lap.  Her pants are pressed; a perfect crease down the center.  Her shoes aren’t new, yet well-cared for.  Her white hair is short, and teased in gentle waves away from her face.

The only strange thing about her is despite being ninety-six, and not having any work done (“soap and water, my dear!”); her skin is milky and soft in appearance.  Her eyes are very blue, with the tiniest hint of mascara on frail lashes.  She smiles at me, and I instantly relax.  I speak clearly and with a bit more volume,

“And your husband?  Was he from Italy?”

“Oh yes,” she smiles down at the photo she is showing me of the Amalfi Coast.  I am lucky enough to tell her I’ve been there, and she says as much.

“He’s dead.” She says very matter-of-fact, without looking up.  Then she looks at me carefully, “And my favorite brother is dead.  Actually all of my brothers and sisters are dead, all eight of them.”

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