Saturday, March 5, 2016

Good Humor, Man!

A day without laughter is a day wasted.
- Charlie Chaplin                              


Okay, I know it's not relevant to mental health, but I just had to share this with you. Sometimes, when I'm not busy worrying and hating on myself, I make myself laugh and hopefully make others laugh too.

Wait. I guess this is relevant. As I've mentioned before, two of the many things you can do to enhance mental and physical health is to keep your surroundings organized and clean and to engage your funny bone. 

Last Saturday, I convened a "family meeting" to discuss the need for everyone to improve upon their household clean-up and organization skills. In the past, family meetings were seen as tedious and repetitive and I'd quickly lose my audience. This time, I tried a different approach: engage them actively and do it with humor and fun.

To make the various points I wanted to make about habits that need improvement, we all took a quiz. {See below.} When everyone finished, we went around the table, each reading and answering a question and discussing anything that came up.

To maintain momentum, I followed up today with the first issue of The {Family} Times. {Also below.*} Once again, with humor, I reminded them about some slip-ups this week and added some fun, (slightly doctored up) household stories to keep their attention.

I don't know if they'll find it funny or if it will yield the results I want, but at least I made myself laugh; and that, dear friends, is good medicine for me. ;)


*Names and some details were changed to protect the...uh...innocent.

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 Saturday, March 05, 2016                                                       
Cloudy 46/33 •Tomorrow: Mostly cloudy 52/33                                                                                                                   
The Spring 2016 Household Clean-up Project got off to a great start on Monday, February 29, but lost momentum over the course of the week. At first, people were eager to fold boxes, recycle, and rinse dishes, but interest waned as the week progressed. Authorities called this trend “Mission Creep” and warned that if it were to continue, it could lead to an unscheduled family meeting with another verbose maternal sermon.

Health experts disagree, however, on the cause of this regressive behavior, and fear it could be a sign of something far more serious. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta issued this statement today, “What we have on our hands appears to be more than just ‘Mission Creep’; and it may be an outbreak of Rolling Eye Syndrome (RES).”  

RES is a hormonal dysfunction which causes the pre-frontal cortex to disengage, releasing a surge of energy to the visual cortex and cerebellum which in turn become hyper-engaged in periodic, reflexive eye-rolling. The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain responsible for sound decision making, weighing the consequences of behavior, and regulation of impulses and emotions. Loss of prefrontal cortex function not only leads to unkempt housing conditions, but to rapid mood swings, surly attitude, and repetitive utterances such as, “I know. I know.”; “Whatever…”; “There’s nothing to eat.”; and “Just leave me alone!”

RES afflicts about 99 percent of adolescents and young adults between the ages of 12 and 21; and the possibility of a new outbreak has parents, teachers, and police very concerned. Quoting one mother, “I’m very, very worried about my daughter’s health and her future. Just last week, I asked her to clear the dinner table, and she became symptomatic. I warned her that if she kept doing it, her eyes would stay that way. She then snatched the plates off the table, ran to her room screaming, ‘I’m not a [EXPLETIVE] maid, you know!” She slammed and locked the bedroom door and Snapchatted our ‘convo’ to friends.” 

Though typically a young person’s disease, in recent years, there have been an increasing number of reported cases of RES in adults born after 1965. Rather than a hormonally-induced loss of prefrontal cortex function, however, the cause of RES in adults appears to be external stimuli. Such stimuli include, but are not limited to: long, unfulfilling work days framed by rush hour traffic; office meetings that stray from agenda and run overtime; Super Bowl Half-Time shows; misogynistic, racist, presidential-candidate-ass-clowns with laughable hair; and attempted conversations with teenagers.

An offshoot of the Spring 2016 Household Clean-up Project will be the release of three tons of household, technological, and craft items to a newly opened store on Stockholders expect to see a surge in profits in the coming months, particularly in the Crafting sector.

Craft miners on Friday hit what experts are calling “The Motherload”. Two and a half crates of unopened scrapbook embellishments and stickers were located and retrieved from the Basement Mine.  The project was halted by unusually low temperatures, but will resume over the weekend.

Lady A. C. is being courted by G. X . – gas station attendant by day, stud-muffin by night. Dodging paparazzi, they were seen dining at the local pizzeria on Friday. A source close to the couple says the two are “inseparable and quite possibly ‘soul mate’ material. I’m soooo JELLY!”

On Friday, March 4 around 9:30 pm in downtown Kitchen, the body of a two month old pasta box was found in the vicinity of the paper recycling bin. Close to the correct depository, the box was found lying on a stack of newspapers – unflattened.

On the previous day at the corner of Hallway and Living Room, a similar crime occurred. This time, however, a flattened box was found discarded rooms away from the recycling bin.

Police believe these crimes are linked and may be the work of a cereal killer.

All females in the household are expected to report to the Living Room Theater sometime over the weekend for a Netflix showing of Miss Representation.

Directed, written, and narrated by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, Miss Representation is a 2011 documentary which “explores the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in America, and challenges the media’s limited portrayal of what it means to be a powerful woman.”

To schedule a screening, please contact Jo Mama.

QUIZ (Saturday, February 27)

1. After cutting or peeling vegetables, remaining peels, rinds, etc. should be:
a. put in the trash or garbage disposal.
b. put in the trash only.
c. force fed to the cat.

2. After cooking a delectable meal, pots and other cooking/prep tools should be:
a. (at least) rinsed immediately, before eating – especially if cheese sauces or other sticky foods were involved.
b. rinsed and cleaned after eating.
c. rinsed days after cooking when spilled ingredients are finally cleaned off the stove top and counters. This will facilitate your recall of ingredients the next time.

3. If, while cooking, something spills onto stove top:
a. wipe off with wet towel either immediately (non-hot surfaces only) or as soon as stove top cools.
b. wipe off with dry towel immediately – hot surface or not.
c. leave it. It’ll give the kitchen a “homey” smell the next time someone cooks.

4. Empty boxes from meals/meal ingredients should:
a. be flattened and put into recycling bag.
b. put in trash, as is.
c. worn as a hat.

5. Regarding empty jars, cans, and bottles from meals/meal ingredients:
a. jars and bottles should be recycled; cans should be thrown in trash.
b. jars, bottles, and cans should be rinsed and recycled.
c. are you kidding? Cooking is an art, and you, the artist. Leave for the domestic help.

6. If there is water remaining in your refillable water bottle, after using:
a. dump water, rinse with soap and warm water, and leave cap off to dry both cap and bottle.
b. leave as is. It can be used in case of fire.
c. water should be left in bottle. Then watch for sea monkeys to appear in coming weeks.

7. The black cabinet in the front hall:
a. is a great place to put drinks, socks, or anything else you don’t want to carry 2+ feet beyond the front door.
b. is a place to set small, dry items briefly, and a place to store small items long term in your designated basket inside cabinet.
c. is for plants only.

8. Immediately after finishing your cereal, it is best to:
a. leave in place where you were eating.
c. set on counter or in sink (without rinsing) so that the cereal debris can dry on the bowl, thus affording the person who cleans up later the opportunity to hone their geologic chiseling skills.
b. rinse the mother scratcher immediately and place in sink or dishwasher!

9. After eating Crustaceans (e.g., lobster, crab, shrimp):
a. put exoskeletons and other trash in the garbage can and rinse plate/cooking dishes immediately.
b. leave on coffee table overnight. The cat may want a little something after a night of spying on outdoor cats, playing the piano, and sprinting back and forth through the main level chasing and growling at invisible prey.
c. dump in sink to scare the crap out of Mom/Karen when she comes down in the morning.

10. With leftover milk/cream from glass of milk, cereal bowl, coffee, hot chocolate, etc., it is always best to:
a. once again, leave out for the cat. They drink milk, don’t they?
b. pour leftover in drain and rinse bowl/glass.
c. leave in bedroom until it ages into a nice, piquant cheese that goes well with fruit.

11. Snacks taken to bedroom should be:
a. brought back to kitchen immediately after eating, bowls/plates/cups/cutlery rinsed, and trash/scraps thrown out.
b. left until all the dishes and food debris build up to a point where you can no longer exit the room without the fire department rescuing you through the window. He could be good-looking and single.
c. left in room indefinitely for anthropologists and archeologists to find in the year 2235.

12. Before going to bed:
a. go around the main level, halls, and stairs, pick up your stuff, and bring to room or put back where it/they belong(s).
b. pick up stuff from living room and dining room, but leave shoes in hall and stuff on stairs. This will help us all hone our balancing skills as we navigate around it all.
c. say to self, “What are you kidding me?! I’m exhausted! I’ll get it tomorrow…tomorrow…tomorrow…”

13. Which of the following is not recyclable (in this household):
a. empty (disposable) water bottles.
b. empty shampoo bottles.
c. lip gloss containers.

14. Trash is picked up on _____________, and recycling is picked up on _______________:
a. Mondays, Wednesdays, & Fridays / Tuesdays & Thursdays.
b. Tuesdays & Fridays / Tuesdays only.
c. Holidays and weekends.

15. Any stray hairs that landed on bathroom surfaces and doors when plucking eyebrows or shaving head, face, legs, back, etc., should be:
a. wiped off immediately.
b. left in place for the hired help, {a.k.a., Mom}.
c. left in place so that, in the event of your untimely demise, you  can be cloned.

16. Hair left in tub or drain after shower should be:
a. rinsed out of tub and/or removed from drain immediately after use.
b. rinsed out of tub only. Picking it out of the drain? Screw that! It’s completely gross and disgusting and you’ll be damned if you’re going to do it!
c. should be left in place. In a few weeks, when the water begins to drain slowly, causing the water to rise to approximately 15 cm when you shower, throw the dog or cat in with you and kill two birds with one stone.

17. When shampoo/body or facial wash bottles go empty:
a. toss into bathroom trash immediately.
b. give the bottle a quick rinse, bring downstairs, and recycle.
c. chuck at sister when she’s annoying.

18. When returning to the house, take off your shoes and:
a. leave in the front hallway.
b. leave in the exact place where you removed them to assist the FBI in tracking your every move in the event that you are abducted by aliens.
c. place in one of the two shoe slots designated for you in the closet; or, if it’s full, bring up to your room.

19. When undressing:
a. do it in the front hall or living room when no one’s around and drop clothes wherever as you go.
b. do it in the bathroom, your bedroom, or other closed room, and put laundry in basket and clean clothes in drawers/closet.
c. drop shoes and socks along the way as you proceed from the hallway to the kitchen.

20. When washing clothes:
a. remove from washer and move to dryer as soon as the wash cycle is complete.
b. if someone else’s clothes are in the dryer, remove their clothes, put them on the machine – better yet, toss them on the floor – and proceed to dry your own clothes.
c. wait for someone else to move them from washer to dryer.

21. When drying cycle is complete:
a. clean lint trap, remove clothes from dryer, and bring up to your room for folding and putting away.
b. remove from dryer then place on top of dryer or leave in a basket in the laundry room. That way, when you have to wake up very early in the morning for work or school, climbing up and down stairs, coupled with the cold temperature of the basement, will really help get the blood flowing as you start your day.
c. remove lint from lint trap and drop lint on floor. The basement’s cold and the camel crickets may want some bedding.

22. Who’s your favorite person on the planet?
a. Karen.
b. Mom.
c. Karen Clarke.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Paradigm Shift

I'm sorry. I've been such a crappy blogger for the past several months. Much of my time and attention have been focused on a few big, big, BIG life stressors...

that and I'm 49.47.

I've not been handling well at all the looming close of the first half-century of my life. Yes, it's a mid-life crisis, and it's at a thermonuclear level right now - particularly as someone prone to depression and anxiety. 

I'm obsessing over it. I'm adding up my successes, failures, and remaining goals and subtracting them from the time I have left and I'm beginning to panic. I go back and forth in my head about whether I'm just a mediocre person who's wasted a lot of time, energy, and talent or a person who's lived a decent and very, very interesting life with a lot of good stories to tell.

Faded Giant -
I'm also caving in to vanity and depressing myself over the physical fading of my youth. Yeah, yeah. I know. "Beauty is on the inside", but it sure doesn't feel like that now - especially as one married to a hot, hot, HOT, slightly younger man. {Sorry, G, I had to call you out. ;) }

And my body is changing. My knees sound like velcro when bending or climbing the stairs. My back often hurts from heavy lifting - like putting a box of pasta on the top shelf. And I now have insomnia - probably exacerbated by the depression and worry.

At the end of the month, my youngest will turn 18 and will graduate from high school in June. This September, for the first time since 1992, I will not be going to any back-to-school nights, nor will I be filling out endless emergency contact and other school forms. {Hey...that's not so bad!} I obsess all the time about the "should haves" when I think about parenting opportunities missed and how quickly they grew up. {I forget, of course, that I'm still a mother and, God willing, will have plenty more opportunities in the coming decades to grow with them and share simple moments and bold adventures.}


Well, that said, today I awoke with a slight paradigm shift. I recalled a sign that was posted in one of the offices in which I worked several years back. It said:

At the time, I cynically saw it as just another cliché  motivation poster; but as the words replayed in my head this morning, they struck a chord.

My attitude has been...oh I don't know...shitty. I've been spending too much time brooding over the past and dreading the future all the while abandoning the wildly dynamic and beautiful present that I'm fortunate enough to be in right now. 

So, with the aging thing, though I'll have my ups and downs, I'll navigate the journey as best I can. I'll take a timeout each day to course correct my attitude. I'm going to move forward savoring each day and each person. And I'm going to keep putting one foot in front of the other and take one day at a time.