When stress takes over…and you just need a break

rainbowAnd that’s me. I wish I could say that it was something far more glamorous, like “I won the lottery and we just got back from a whirlwind two-month vacation to EVERYWHERE and I met all these fabulous people and had these amazing adventures…and and and….”

In fact, it’s all a lot less exciting than that and far more like what real life is like. I don’t talk about work on this blog, so I won’t go into details here, but suffice to say that there were several major changes at work over the last several months, and the emotional turbulence of it all threw me off far more than I could handle. I’ve spent the last several weeks staying up later, just because the house is quiet then, and I can be alone to contemplate my thoughts or drown them out in some random entertainment from my TV. I’ve been incredibly busy during the days, which means that my nights have been mostly consumed with trying to catch up–or just keep up. I’ve barely exercised, though I’ve mercifully kept my weight from going up by simply eating sensibly when depression wasn’t inciting me to eat all the things.

In other words, life intruded and overloaded the circuits in my brain enough that I just put myself into a mini-blog-hibernation. I have all these thoughts and ideas that I want to post, and there’s the time and effort it takes. My day job hasn’t eaten up all of my time, but the roller coaster I’ve been on for the last few months has made “effort” something I was plum out of energy to source. I can look back now and say that I’ve been fighting with depression over the last few months, but it wasn’t at the point where I felt I needed to see someone. I’ve been LOW before, and I knew this wasn’t it. It sucked, but it wasn’t “What if I drive off the road?” bad, which I never want to experience again.

As I look forward to 2016, I have all of these great things coming on the horizon that I can’t wait to experience. I’ll be seeing my best friend (of 25 years) and finally meeting up with another friend who I’ve only corresponded with over the Interwebs, getting some fresh ink on my body and having desperately-needed girl time with these two amazing women. I’m also heading to another BlogHer, with my bloggy friends who always wrap me up in a whirlwind of silliness and swag that makes me think I’ve been transported to another universe.

And, with the exception of my newly bum left foot (a story for another day, after I’ve gone to the podiatrist next month and he’s figured out exactly what’s wrong), we’re all healthy and employed, I have a new car to replace the one that was starting to get too expensive to maintain, and things are generally on the right track. I just need to make sure that *I’m* on the right track, too.

It’s never all rainbows, but I suppose you can’t have one without some rain…

Stress Test Sneak Attack

If I keep looking, I think I can find my joy

I’m not one to get depressed on a frequent basis – at least not anymore. My job is good, my home life is fine, and some of the typical stresses are just humming at the average level. There was even that usual jarring – back to reality – feeling that came when I returned from BlogHer, where suddenly the blue skies and perfect weather of San Jose faded and it was back to traffic and day care pickups and meetings upon meetings.

The last few weeks haven’t been perfect, but I have to find a way to climb out of this emotional rut. Vibrating not-so-silently in the background, there’s the stress of the health issues of a family member and watching them self-destruct at a faster pace than in prior decades. I walk marathons not just because I want to raise money for Dana-Farber Cancer Institute but also because I have some things to prove to myself: namely, that I can control my own body and what happens to it. This past weekend I hit a personal record for the 9mi distance, sub-16-minute miles. In any given distance, a sub-16 is decent for walking, but when you’re going 9 miles, that’s pretty damn fantastic. I can never run thanks to my busted knees, but I never want to stop walking. I don’t want to self-destruct.

MapMyRun cap of 15:48min mile average for 9.04miles

Then there’s everything unfolding in Ferguson, which is like watching a slow-speed crash of a tractor trailer and an LNG tanker. You know things are going to go horribly wrong, but it’s hard to say when it will hit some magical tipping point where there is no return. There are people protesting to have their voices heard, to question that justice is being served by drips and drops of information, to challenge the idea that ~whatever happened~ is okay. There are police (of varying denominations) fighting to keep the peace and establish order in a town that can’t seem to settle down and where they know they’re operating in an atmosphere of minimal trust.

Bad actors exist on both sides: cops who persist in calling protestors “monkeys” and “animals” and hooligans who are using the protests as cover to loot and destroy (read Bill Buford’s “Among the Thugs” to learn about the psyche of hooligans – it’s an excellent read). There are good actors on both sides, too – like the head of the state police who started first with handshakes before escalating to tougher tactics and like the protestors who are organizing food drives to feed the children shut out of lunches by the postponement of the school year. This is by no means a cut-and-dry case, but it’s giving everyone an excuse to vent their bile at their target of choice – and there’s too much friendly-fire going on in the process. We need to not self-destruct.


Give love

I’m going to find a way to post other things on the blog over the next couple of weeks, seemingly incongruous posts that are, in fact, a return to the type of material I’ve posted before, because I’m trying to find a way out of the funk that’s gripping me. Anyone who wants to be positive is welcome to come along. It’s time to put down the sticks, short or otherwise.

Peace and love: if you want it, you can have it.


We need to not self-destruct. 

Art and the week of awfulness



This week has sucked. There are just no two ways about it. It’s sucked.

First, there was Robin Williams’ untimely death. It seemed like a sucker-punch to the country’s collective gut, losing such a gifted and talented person. Images and sounds of some of his roles are seared on my brain, like the scene in “Moscow on the Hudson”, when his character – a defector from Soviet Russia – collapses in tears in the coffee aisle of the grocery store, overwhelmed by too much choice. He made me laugh SO MANY TIMES, and he made me cry SO MANY TIMES, and always he was this brilliant gorgeous creature. We were so lucky to have him. As so many other people, he had his share of demons to battle – depression among them – and now news that he was also in the early stages of Parkinsons Disease. I know what it’s like to have a family member commit suicide rather than lose themselves to PD and, whether that was his particular motivation or not, it’s always sad to lose someone who meant so much to you.

We were all so sad at the beginning of the week (soon to hear of Lauren Bacall’s passing, as well as Charles Keating and others…), and it seemed like this week would be measured solely in its body count.

At the same time, I managed to get a free app from the App Store – the featured app of the week – Autodesk’s Sketchbook. Ever since seeing JC Little speak at BlogHer about the use of visuals in storytelling, even when those visuals are rudimentary, I wanted to find a way to draw. So, I grabbed a stylus pen I’d gotten from some conference or another (OH THAT’S WHAT THAT RUBBERY THINGIE IS ON THE END OF THAT PEN) and started drawing.

Day 1, I made this:

elephant butt

Day 2 wasn’t going much better, so I wanted to try to cheer people up. I’m still getting the hang of the app (more detailed Help files would really make me squee in delight), so I couldn’t make a rose, like I’d originally intended. But a tulip is one of my favorite flowers, and I think it works:

a tulip

Day 3 and I’m just done with this week. I stayed up way too late last night seeing tweets and photos from reporters being illegally arrested by militarized police in Ferguson, Missouri. I saw a picture of a man picking up a tear gas canister and throwing it back at the police to get it away from people who’d been standing stock still, arms linked. I heard the deafening, unbearable silence from Martha’s Vineyard as President Obama partied rather than making calls to diffuse the boiled-over situation. I read the account from the editor of my hometown newspaper, The Washington Post, as he explained how one of his reporters was physically assaulted and then arrested by a police officer who wanted to keep him from recording, photographing or otherwise telling others what was taking place. And then today I read way too many posts of how the “thugs” who inhabit Ferguson are the cause of all of this mess. They’re no longer Americans or humans, to some; they’re just thugs. Dehumanizing these people doesn’t help and it doesn’t solve a damn thing.

And so today, this is what I drew.


There’s a part of me that wants to curl up in a ball and make it all go away, but I have to bear witness because my white skin doesn’t exempt me from feeling sorrow at a trampling of human rights. This week has reminded me of days when my depression hounded me, though never so much as the days when I considered driving off the road to end my pain. If I lived in Ferguson or if I lived somewhere that wasn’t as nice as where I am now – where I can smile and wave to the police without fear – my depression might be all-consuming.

I am lucky, and still I cry.

This week has been awful, and I’m lucky that I can shut it out by turning off Twitter and Facebook. Not everyone is so lucky.

This art is becoming a channel of sorts, and I suspect I’ll get better at it the more I do it, though I never expect I’ll be as good as my artist friends. But if it helps me channel my rage and fear and sadness, I’ll keep doing it.

So many thanks to whoever made that app free this week – and thank you SO MUCH to JC Little, because without her I never might have downloaded that little app and started making art of my very own.

Express yourself.

Even your sadness.