No good deed

I don’t live and didn’t grow up in america, and while I am familiar with Black Friday  I kind of lost track when Black Friday turned in to #smallbizsat which eventually became #cybermonday and I don’t even remember what Sunday was supposed to be for.

But then I woke up Tuesday morning to all the #givingtuesday ‘s and I decided that this whole hashtag trend is not that bad after all. I even felt like I was on track because late the night before I had done something nice I was feeling pretty good about (And late Monday night can sort of count for Tuesday right?)

I work two jobs to pay for school, rent, bills and other trivial things like food and underwear. One of my jobs is challenging and fulfilling and will hopefully be of importance on my resume. The other is being a waitress. I like it though- the hours are relatively easy, my boss is great, I get pretty good tips, a free meal every shift and I am a people person so I enjoy talking to customers (unless you walk in at 23:00 and ask if we are still open, or can we just order one small thing? takeaway don’t worry…. seriously? Do you not see the chairs piled up, the wash bucket ready and the murderous sleep deprived look on my face??).

Regarding the tips. We divide them up equally between both people on shift(two waitresses, two cooks- its a small place) according to the hours you work, but trainees don’t get tips (for at least the first two weeks). The thing about this system is that for the first three shifts or so it makes sense because the other worker has to do their job and teach you at the same time, but it’s not to hard to catch on and pretty soon you’re doing the work just like anyone else but not getting tipped for it. It’s frustrating and unfair and you don’t say anything because everyone else went through this before and you just want to get through as many shifts as possible and make a good impression so you can get through your training time as quickly as you can. At least that’s what I did. It worked OK.

So Monday night I was working a shift with a trainee and as I gathered up my tips I handed her some of my share. Not half  but not a small amount either. My reasoning was that if she hadn’t been a trainee we would be splitting it anyhow which would leave me with even less, plus I was a trainee myself not too long ago and hated the feeling of going home empty handed while the other girl on shift got the money I worked just as hard for. So I decided to swallow some of (I still kept more then half) my greed and share a bit. Be the change you want in the world and all that. Nice right? I thought so..

So I got home and feeling super good about myself ended up sharing my good deed with my roommates. I’m not a very egocentric or conceited person (at least I hope I’m not) but letting yourself be proud of something good is OK once in awhile and it sort of just slipped out. Even during the telling of the whole thing I heard a little voice telling me that some things are better left unsaid. But I said it, didn’t think much more about it and showed up for work the next day as usual where I was working with a girl I don’t like much.

I will give her the benefit of the doubt by saying she is probably just super stressed about money, but bottom line-she did not stop talking about tips all shift. She eyed every coin dropped in the tip jar, she told me (half jokingly half not I’m still not sure)to pop an extra button on my top, she got way too upset if someone left less then 10%, and basically got on my nerves all night long. When she actually said the words “ugh, why are you not a trainee anymore then I would get all the tips” I snapped. The tip system is the boss’s decision but an attitude of taking advantage like that really pissed me off. So I told her that she needs to chill out, and that even gave some of my share to a trainee last shift and went home with 20% less god help us all. Not my most mature moment I’ll give you that, but I was annoyed and tired and human. She started a bit at my confession and asked me not to do it again, If I was the only one giving tips to the trainees it would make the rest look bad and this was the system so if I could just stick with it.

I went home with an uncomfortable feeling in my stomach. A small good thing coming from honestly good intentions had crumbled around me and come out the other side all wrong. I hadn’t even thought about how my action might affect others. I was so proud of myself for being just a tiny bit better then the others I didn’t notice I was potentially hurting them. So yeah, it’s not that big a deal and everything was fine no need to be so dramatic. But it got me thinking about Doing Good and how Giving Back and how all of it can turn on us if we are not careful, and don’t keep our ego’s in check. How maybe #givingtuesday doesn’t count as much if you need to tweet about it* .

 

 

 

*I know inspiring others is also important and quite honestly compared to all the other depressing things out there on twitter and news feeds we can probably manage a few mentions of good deeds, but I was making a deeper point so stay with me on this.

 

 

 

 

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HEAVINESS

There is a weight that settles when you play pretend for too long.

I have written before about my imagination. I have tried to put to words my love of musical theater. I feel most at home on a stage, dancing or acting. Becoming someone else so entirely that I feel their happiness and pain.

But this past year I have come to realize that acting is good for the stage, the camera’s. When it bleeds in to your own life it is dangerous. And its hard to realize at first because it doesn’t happen all at once.

First you omit things because the person you are talking to is not really that close, or it’s not the right time. Then you start making things up because well, they don’t know yet so you can’t just say it like that. Better to just say you have to go to work or have a family thing instead of saying you’re going for therapy. And it’s not like you’re ashamed because you’re not! you just don’t want all the questions and the having to explain when they won’t really get it anyways. And yes, a little part of you is also scared they will start to act differently around you.

So you convince yourself: you’re not lying, it’s just not everyone’s business. And as time goes by you notice there aren’t very many people you ever did end up telling. And it starts to get really lonely. And exhausting.

And the irony of it all? When you’re on stage or on camera, any first grade drama teacher will tell you that the first rule of good acting is truth. You have to be real, honest. Tap in to some emotion you have in you and connect to the character. The audience can see when you are faking it. They can tell when you are not being honest.

Every person’s battle with anxiety is different and I would never assume what someone else feels because it is all so different. But I can say  with a fair amount of certainty that every single one is exhausted. Not for nothing is it named “battle”. You have to fight it. Almost every second of almost every day. Anxiety is sneaky and smart and hardly takes no for an answer. It keeps coming at you and sometimes makes you feel like you’re going mad, falling apart, just broken in pieces.

Then go and add to that the challenge of putting a smile on your face every morning. Of getting through the day even if it  is killing you inside. Holding all your shit together and holding it all in.

Now tell me you are not ready to admit defeat.

 

“do not swear by the moon, for she changes constantly”

It’s a full moon and clear skies tonight. I look up at the shinning light in front of me as I round the corner at the end of my run and slow to a walk. I steady my breath and feel a calmness settle around me.

There is an old Jewish folklore tale that tells of the creation of the sun, the moon and the stars. In the story God intended the sun and the moon to be the two big lights in the sky, equal in size and power. But the moon became jealous of the sun’s light. Believing his own to be stronger and brighter he turned to God, reasoning that there can not be two gods wearing the same crown in one palace. God agreed and teaching the moon a lesson for his arrogance made the moon smaller and divided his light between the stars. Now the moon was no longer the largest in the sky, he waxed and waned every month and  furthermore he needed the help of the tiny stars to light up the night.

In kindergarten this was always a good story to tell. Simple to act out with little moon’s and suns’s glued on Popsicle sticks, easy for the kids to draw and take home, and it taught an important lesson about humility, the ability to share and be happy for one another.

As I walk and look up at the moon tonight I discover a deeper meaning to this little kids tale. As Shakespeare eloquently says in the title of this post the moon is an ever-changing thing. Every month just like clockwork we see it disappear slice by slice and just when we think there is nothing left it reappears  steadily and slowly to create that glorious shinning full moon. And before we have barely enough time to bask in the glow it starts it’s journey yet again.

Change is the one constant thing in life. And yet, most of us don’t like change. We fight it and try to avoid it at all costs. We cry at endings and take time to adjust to new beginnings. We try to control situations and moments, thinking that maybe just this time we can stop it from changing, or if it must happen at least we can decide how much and when and how. We are arrogant like the moon in the child’s tale. Thinking we can decide the universe. But the universe has a mind of its own, whether you believe in a higher being or not. Looking at nature the moon is not the only one to change. Flowers blossom and die, fruit go in and out of season, the seasons change, the leaves fall and the grow again. A baby changes so fast it grows from the size of a grape to a little breathing living human in nine months. But as we grow older we grow weary of that which should come so naturally, that which is a simple fact of life. And we stand in the middle of it all trying to make the wheel stop. Scared of growing old, of trying something new.

Change is scary. The unknown is terrifying. But it is the one thing in life that is constant. It will creep up on you whether you want it to or not. The ability to allow it in, to open the doors wide and let things fall in to place despite what we might think is right shows humility, a certain kindness. I think it even shows bravery. And no matter what comes with the change, it will always change again. We are like the moon. Growing and hiding, shining brighter every time.

 

If you want something done you’ve got to Do It Yourself*

Hi there,

Its been awhile…new semester, new apartment, new meds. It also took about two weeks to install internet in said new apartment.Lots of adjusting goin’ on. Meanwhile, I’ve fallen down the Pinterest rabbit hole.

It started out innocently. I found an unopened box of acrylic paints and got the bug to do something creative. So I went out, bought a few canvases, Googled ideas for some inspiration and all the cool ideas popped up on pinterest. In general I am a very creative person. My number 1 is anything to do with performance art but on most days you can give me any artistic outlet and I will work with that. Over the years I have tried my hand at drawing, painting, sketching with charcoal, sewing, knitting, beading, and writing. Pretty much anything craftsy I can get my hands on and is not too complicated. If I go a long stretch without that creative expression I start to get jittery. So I sat down with a small 20X20 canvas and a week later I’ve got about 9 paintings in different shapes and sizes. It’s so freeing, almost meditative that I just felt the need to sit down and paint at the end of every day to help me unwind.

Which leads me back to pinterest.

To those of you who don’t know how it works pinterest is basically a search engine. It works a bit like Google pics in that anything you search comes up first with a photo and clicking on said photo will lead you to the original website. The difference here is that you can create an account and save “pins” to your account. Furthermore when you first join up you can save different categories as your preference and pinterest will just add new postings every time you open your home page.

After a week of non-stop painting I happened to move in to my new apartment. Being the broke student that I am I decided to see if there are any tips on homemade house decorations to brighten up my room and help make it feel more homey. Which led me to the DIY section of pinterest. Which led me to an endless well of crafts and home made stuff.

Easy to make non-sew pillow covers, rugs and baskets crocheted out of old T-shirt fabric, hand knitted scarves, hats, blankets, and sweaters. The list goes on and on. I went out, got the basic equipment, hunted around my parents house for scraps of fabric and started everything as fast as I could.

The first project I completed was a hand-made rug which is essentially just a huge circle crocheted out of fabric strips. It took me roughly three days to finish working on it maybe 2-3 hours a day. All that time going steadily around and around, in and out, gave me a lot of time to reflect and I realized crocheting has a great metaphor for life hidden among the weaving. The thing about crocheting is that it is all about the balance. Ideally you want your final product (be it a rug or beginning of a hat or basket) to have a flat base, but when you crochet there are two opposite side effects that are bound to happen and if you’re not careful they will clash with your final goal.

First the flat surface will slowly start to round up in to a bowl-shaped thing. The counteract to this is to “add stitches”. If you do this enough it will make sure your rug stays a rug and does not turn in to a giant fabric serving piece. The problem is if you add too many stitches it will cause side affect number 2: the base will become wavy like a bunched up scarf. And so you need to make sure you balance both actions out in order to create that sweet middle ground. The tricky part is where my metaphor comes in. To the inexperienced eye both side effects are not immediately noticeable. Generally speaking you will continue on a few rows in until you notice the problem. At that point you have two options: immediately  start to add\subtract accordingly and hope it will solve the problem retroactively, Or take out a row or two of stitches to where the problem started and then add/subtract. Nine times out of ten the first option won’t work. you can’t just “paint over” the problem, muddle through and hope for the best. once in a while you might succeed in basically bullying your way through and being so stubborn that you will manage to magically bend the wool to your will. But often times (even though you really want to) it just won’t work, and then when you finally realize you can not just force the problem away and are actually making it worse, instead of going back only one or two rows you will have to take out a lot more, and start again at the root of the whole thing. It’s maddening and humbling and when you finally do give in and start over, hopefully you have a bit more sensitivity and awareness to what you are doing so that the next time your fabric starts to play tricks on you you are able to catch the problem a lot earlier on. So I sat there pulling the thread out of the one too many rows I crocheted pretending everything was fine and that I didn’t see the waves creeping on and thought: How many times in our lifetime do we wish a problem would go away just because we want it to? how many times do we pretend it is not really there or not really that bad and hope that when we finally open our eyes it will have gone away? I know I do it enough to know better and yet I come back to that all the time.

Another wonderful thing about crocheting and crafts in general is patience. At the start of my Pinterest escapade I was Googling things faster then I could make them. I spent around four hours on a scarf and then sighed, frustrated because it just wasn’t moving along. We live in a world of instant gratification. You want to see a movie? just download it on your laptop, no need to check showing times at the theater. You want to buy a new shirt or book? order it on amazon. you can even pre-order a record on Itunes and have it on you Ipod the second it drops at midnight. you texted a friend? if they haven’t answered within a few minutes you get annoyed, and might check those little blue ticks on whatsapp to see if they got it and are just avoiding you. If a page takes a little more then a nano-second to load something is wrong with the internet. Remember when we had to dial up for internet?? (yeah that was a thing once). One of my favorite memories as a kid was waiting in line at the bookstore to buy the last Harry Potter book. No amazon or kindle or pre-order. I stood there with 50 other kids and parents excitedly craning there necks to see if they opened the door to the store already, and when I finally got the book I stayed up almost all night reading. Or picture albums, actual developed photos glued on to pages of an album and hours spent scrap-booking and decorating them so that they look perfect.

Writing these words I realize this is not the first time I have written about the lack of patience or quiet I feel in the world. In my world. I don’t mean to be a broken record, I don’t really know where it all comes from. Maybe it’e because I sometimes feel like I was born in the wrong century. Or maybe it’s because when your world is already crammed fit to burst with voices and stress and anxiety any tiny little thing added to that list makes it all that harder to breathe.

Whatever the reason I will be on pinterest until I figure it out.

*please read in Sebastian voice from The Little Mermaid 🙂

here are just a few of my finished projects..next to come: knitted booties!

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blanket for my unborn niece 
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hat for my already born niece 

 

 

 

 

SO what if?

The following post is for the over-thinkers.

The ones who’s brain just doesn’t quit. who’s constant inner monologue takes on a form of buzzing and relentless chatter. The ones who stress and dread the tomorrow and dwell on the yesterday. Not in a heavy hard to wake up in the morning type of way, but rather in a light and fleeting yet incessant sort of way. When people said “don’t sweat the small stuff” or “it’s no use crying over spilled milk” they were talking about you. But it’s OK, because they were talking about me too. Or at least the me of the last few months or so. Lately I over-think everything. I find myself crying over spilled milk, bad hair days, broken nails you name it. I get pissed off over silly things and worry constantly over pointless situations I have no control over.

I know that a big part of this is my anxiety. My anxiety (which from here on out I have decided to name Darla because I feel like it suits her better and makes her less threatening because she reminds me of a girl in the 60’s wearing a blouse, plaid skirt  and  sporting a braid. And yes my anxiety is female. Also no offense if you’re name happens to be Darla.. but I digress..)

Anyhoo, Darla starts every sentence with “what if?”

what if you never lose the weight you are dying to lose already? what if there is a huge fire? what if the car brakes down while you’re driving? what if you take on too much with this new job? what if you can’t find a job? what if this cute guy you really like asks you out and you go on a date but it sucks? what if it doesn’t? what if it becomes something real and you open up and get your heart broken? what if you never find someone who will really get you?

In my researching of the human condition (I.E: living) I have found that I am not the only one with a Darla. Mine just happens to be a little bit louder then some, probably more unhinged then most. But we all do it. we worry and fret and calculate and re-calculate. Some days (like these days) the world gives us real reason to worry. But most of the time it’s just our Darla’s whispering in our ears. 9 times out of 10 it’s about silly things or things we have no control over. 9 times out of 10 the outcome is so much better then we thought and we find ourselves feeling a bit anti-climatic and even cheated because we spent all that energy worrying over nothing. And even when shit does hit the fan,  when things turn out exactly like we dreaded as if we willed it all to happen, even then we find ourselves equipped and capable in handling the situation. God never bites off more then he can chew and I believe that any challenge thrown at us comes with the strength to deal with it. It is not for nothing that people tend to say that they never knew how strong they were until they had no choice but to use that strength.

And so I have decided to change Darla’s voice. I know I can’t stop her or shut her off. believe me I have tried. But according to my meditation book we are not capable of thinking more then one thought at any given moment. And so a cool way of dealing with stressful thoughts is just focusing on different mantras instead of the constant worry. So now Darla starts every sentence the same but I just added one more word. SO.

SO WHAT IF?

so what if  I weigh a little bit more then I should or my car breaks down or my job sucks or every single thing I am terrified of comes to pass. History has shown that is probably not going to happen. But even if that day comes, I will be OK and so will you.

 

 

 

Let it be

Since I’ve moved back home until the semester starts up again I’ve been spending a lot of time in my room. I like my room, it’s cozy and safe. There are books everywhere, my desktop serves as a scrapbook with pictures full of my fondest memories and favorite quotes taped on, I even still have my huge teddy bear from when I was a kid (although to be fair he was a lot bigger from the perspective of a really short four year old..)

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meet Mr. Bear. yes I was a very original four year old..

so sitting in my room yesterday I got the bug to clean it up. I mean really clean. Every year I do a semi sort of cleaning which consists mostly of moving things around the room a little to give myself the illusion of a tidy space. So I set to emptying my desk drawers of old book reports and  empty plastic bags ( I have this obsession with saving shopping bags and then forgetting they are in the drawer when I really need a spare one). It took me hours because obviously every time I came across a pile of old poems I wrote or old birthday letters from friends I sat down to read them. Then I found a memory notebook from a couple years back. It was from a year long program I had been apart of straight out of high school. At the end of the year we each got a beautifully bound notebook and spent the last week writing in each others books. Like a version of a high school yearbook but instead of signing our names with the obligatory “keep in touch” we wrote deep and personal letters to each other full of things we appreciate and learned from one another over the past year. So I sat to re-read mine and five minutes in I had tears pouring down my face and didn’t stop crying until ten minutes after. When I finally did stop I felt as though this massive weight had been lifted off my chest.

You see every single one of the entries talked about how I was a calm and peaceful person, how much inspiration my friends took from watching my “zen”ness all year, that I was a calming presence throughout our time together. Me. calming. The chick with general anxiety disorder. I cried and laughed disbelievingly as I read those words at first. But one after the other they all mentioned it in some shape or form, and I realized something.

I realized that I had let myself get sucked up and defined solely by my disorder. This year was a MESS. It was hard and exhausting. I had to pick myself up again and again and get back on the horse almost every day. I had to fight for air. I still do sometimes. My battle is far from over. Part of what made it easier was giving it a name. Knowing I have an anxiety disorder and I’m not paranoid or insane makes me feel more normal and it allowed me to begin to accept it and myself this way. But I realize now that it also made me dismiss who I was before all of this anxiety blew up  in my face. It made me forget that instead of  being scared of storms not to long ago I used to dance in the rain. I literally bought myself rubber boots when I was 20 so I could jump in puddles. I convinced myself that the me who was calm was the fake one and this is the real me and I have to adapt.

But it’s not true. I have a whole notebook saying how it is not true. The fact is, they are both me. The girl with anxiety is also the girl who’s most prominent quality is peacefulness. And if I used to be her I can be her again. I had two moments this week that in retrospect drove this point home. One was at the beach, the other at a park near my house. Both times I found myself blissfully happy, mindful of the beauty and quiet around me. Both times my instinct was to take a picture as if on some subconscious level I needed proof.

Proof that I was calm and enjoying myself without having to work at it. I viewed these moments as the exception, and disaster and trouble and anxiety as the norm. So much so that any time something went the slightest bit wrong I made a huge deal of it. As if again proving to myself that “here we go, back to normal”. And in a weird twisted way I think I even took comfort in the screw-ups. Because anything else had become so foreign. But that notebook is also proof. Proof that the calming and peaceful presence in my life doesn’t need to be the exception. I just need to let it be the rule.

 

Sometimes

Sometimes you can spend days and weeks and months feeling all alone in the world.

You hang out with friends and find yourself spacing out and forcing laughs and not really talking about anything real because no one will really understand. You dread simple questions like “how are you doing?” or “what have you been up to lately?” because you know you are lying through your teeth when you answer that everything is great, that you’re really busy, doing just fine. But when you’re alone it’s not much better. You can spend a whole day distracting yourself from the darkness all around inside of you but when you lay awake in bed until the early hours of the morning there is no escaping anything.

Sometimes you can’t fall asleep for days, and every time you wake up in the morning a part of you hopes for a new start and a fresh chance. And  the other part dreads going through it all over again for another day.

Sometimes you feel like you’re living a bad “coming of age movie” where the “I feel crappy and sad and the cute guy left me because of some stupid misunderstanding with sad music playing in the background” never ends, and it’s even worse because there was never any cute guy in the first place and could they just please roll the credits on this whole damn thing already because you would really like to find out who directed this sh*tty film. They should have casted Emma Stone for your part anyway.

Sometimes you spend the morning meditating and trying to be positive and the night having a screaming match with God because you spent all of your energy trying to be more accepting of everything and it really didn’t work and you are royally fed up.

Sometimes you make lists of all the things you wish and dream of doing and hopefully will  do some day. Sometimes those lists give you a feeling of purpose and drive. Most days they just shove you down a little deeper.

Sometimes you really wish you could be someone else for just one day. anybody. really. and you know the famous adverb about how if we all put our problems in a pile to choose from we’d all grab back our own. And even so sometimes other people’s problems look a lot more attractive.

Sometimes you sit at your computer and a lot of words and feelings and tears just come poring out and you’re not really sure how to go from there.

And sometimes, as you sit and cry and vent and type, your phone rings, and someone you love is on the other side saying just the thing you needed to hear at just that moment. And you thank god for  silly coincidences and remember you don’t believe in coincidences anyways because they are all just small miracles.

Sometimes you can spend days and weeks and months feeling all alone in the world and all it takes is one moment to remind you for just a second that you are not alone, that no one is ever really alone.

That even when it seems really dark, the sun will always come up.