Category Archives: Mental Health

*ucket List

NSFW implications: though none of my friends ever, ever curse… A bucket list is awesome to help you prioritize and motivate yourself to action. There is a corollary idea that is based on non-action, non-attachment, non-participation, and non-response. And usually? It saves you a lot of thinking, drama, and unhappiness. It’s zenlike in its implications.

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Personal Post, So Be Advised

Personal Post
I’m the opposite of private across the board. I have a blog and a TikTok. I also write things for others because I don’t know how to turn off the spigot that runs in my mind.

One of the things that drive me bonkers is the misconception that people have about me. No one can call me a hypocrite because I always say it first. Whether it was having an emotional affair while I was married, having herpes, or admitting how susceptible I am to the alcoholism problem that infects many in my family. As you can see, I don’t keep those things private. A couple of people have been shocked that they’ve seen me with a cigarette. It’s about the stupidest thing for me to do, even though I foolishly use it as a substitute for anxiety treatments. I’d rather people know who I am, even if those things are hard to say openly.

I try to be as transparent as possible. A few months ago, I realized how idiotic I was being by getting away from that. Secrets infect a person worse than a virus. Because you can’t be open and yourself if you’re protecting a version of yourself.

But one of the vortexes I got stuck in is the privacy versus secrecy issue that plagues many lives and relationships. If you have a partner, don’t keep things in your life or on your phone that would be hurtful to the people you love. That it’s wrong to do or say anything that you wouldn’t want your partner ever to see or hear literally goes without saying. If you’ve gotten away from that? It’s never too late to wake up and be grateful that you found someone who loves you.

It’s important not to get weighed down by your past because everyone can renew at any point in their life. It doesn’t erase the past. I’m still accountable for those mistakes.

Recently, I was accused of being controlling. If wanting the best for someone is controlling, I’m definitely guilty. I worked hard to be the person I should be. At the same time, history and imagery beyond my control infected my head. So, I have to pay for my mistakes again.

I slept about an hour last night. I can do quite well on five a night. Because of that, I let my coworkers down by calling in this morning and failing to go to work. I love my job for many reasons and don’t want to lose it. It’s been a sustaining thread in my life for 18 years.

I’m 56. All I want is to be loved and have someone in my corner. We can both know each other’s demons, shake our heads at our idiocy, and move on. If you go to my TikTok and read through the innumerable videos I’ve made, you will get the idea that I do have a grasp of what makes people happy with themselves and their relationships. That ideal infects me. I’ve also helped several people in a counseling group. I tell them what I did wrong openly and share all the things I’ve learned in therapy. Obviously, I still don’t practice them well. Anyone who knows me can see it. At some point soon, I’m going to give Al-Anon a try because I need it.

But above and behind all this? Secrecy is the worst. And now, you’ve learned more things about me that you wouldn’t expect to see on social media.

I included a picture of me that Erika took before I performed the marriage of my deceased wife’s niece. It was one of the happiest days I’ve had in my life, even though one moment filled my eyes with tears and reminded me of the people I’ve lost. I had people I loved around me on Saturday. Trusting me to fumble performing the wedding, but also sharing their special day with me.

Love, X
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Surprise! I’m Me Again

Erika surprised me last weekend with not one but two pairs of shoes. ( She even bought them new. πŸ™‚ ) She was tired of seeing my worn-out but very comfortable work shoes. One of the pairs makes me feel like the god Mercury. The other pair? I literally danced and took off running at Academy when I felt how light they made me feel. I already feel that way most days, as if I’m a burning battery and my feet not quite touching the ground. Just at work today, I walked 23,000 steps, 75 flights of stairs, and jumped three railings. For years, I accommodated a huge amount of weight. I try not to think about spending those years not being the way I was always supposed to be. All the picnic tables I did not jump, all the miles I could have traversed in all manner of places, and the energy hidden inside my body but camouflaged by poor eating choices. Don’t get me wrong. I was very active and especially so because of my job. But there’s no getting around I foolishly convinced myself that it was more pleasurable to overeat than to feel the way I do now. As my friend Tammy taught me to say, nothing tastes as good as this feels. I know I won’t always be this way because age has no choice but to rob us incrementally of mobility. So if you see me jumping things I’m not supposed to be… Laugh and give me encouragement. You can laugh twice as hard if I bust my ass. Because one day, I will be like that native American next to the highway littered with trash, a tear in my eye, as I look upon a picnic table that I can no longer jump. So for today and all the days I can, I will pirouette, jump, climb trees, and remember what it felt like when I wasn’t truly me.

Love X
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In Sickness and Health (A Caveat)

“In sickness and health” is a beautiful standard. It reminds us that life isn’t easy.

I’ll leave it to someone whose opinion I cherish to briefly sum up one of the caveats that eluded me: “A cancer diagnosis falls under β€œin sickness and in health.” Choosing obesity does not.”

It’s also true for alcoholism or anything that is behavior-driven. Overcoming any of these problems is a lot of work. Of course it is!

This doesn’t imply that some people don’t have physical or emotional struggles that make it harder. I’m not discussing the outliers. I’m talking about most of us, the ones who fall into drinking and slowly drive our loved ones mad with concern and consequences. Or those who gain weight and instead of honestly addressing the issue, learn to accommodate the effects of their choices. Their partners might be the most loving people in the world. They might encourage, they might support, and they might also quietly watch the person they love lose sight of their health. But the partner with the behavioral issue is making the decision for both partners.

I’m reluctant to talk about weight for a lot of reasons, one of which is that it impacted me personally, both as the person guilty of it and then the person attempting to get my partner to see that the consequences of choosing to let it get worse were damaging our quality of life on multiple levels. The other thing that makes me hesitant is that we have such a huge taboo against openly and honestly talking about weight. It’s a global problem.

Love is a feeling. It is also action. And reciprocal and mutual action when it affects your partner. When the consequences of your choices rob both of you of the enjoyment of life and each other, it’s no shame for your partner to ask you to do something different. They wouldn’t ask if they didn’t love you.

I only equate alcoholism and obesity because of the complexities of both behaviors. They both require a realization on the part of the person affected by them. And both bring consequences to both partners attempting to lead a good, healthy life.

It shouldn’t be taboo to talk about either one. And if anger results from either conversation, you have a bigger problem. But the anger also acknowledges the severity of the underlying conversation.

Love, X

Somewhere

If you think about the fact that somewhere right now, there’s someone who is starving for what you can give, it can be both unnerving and comforting. Finding that person in the haystack is the obstacle. As difficult as it is, I know the only way to find that person is to wear your heart and thoughts on your sleeve. But that’s not what we do. We play it safe right down the middle, mostly believing that’s the best way. At that point, many of us are stuck in that role. As contradictory as it sounds, you do have to come across authentically. It’s that position of trust in yourself and in others that helps you find what you’re looking for and need.

Love, X

Communication

It’s true in business, and it’s true in relationships. Fundamentally, it would be better in both realms if people could express themselves without the messenger getting shot. To be able to present information, opinions, or even feelings based on their perspective or expertise. In business, you’re paying people for both output and experience. In relationships, you’re mutually and reciprocally invested in helping one another. We’re not mind readers. I find across the board that our reluctant response to heed this advice is one of our biggest grievances as human beings. As the level of inability to communicate openly decreases, the volatility and dissatisfaction we experience both as employees and people slowly boils us. In any connection in which communication is not welcome, unexpected and undesirable results inevitably follow.

Love, X

A Truth

I’ve never been one to worry much about how I look.

At 55 years and 11 months, I honestly don’t care if I have to strip down naked at the Farmer’s Market. I don’t know why that would happen, but I’m ready either way.

If something bothers me, I will fix it. And if I can’t, like my hair, I embrace it and laugh. You can mock me for short hair or no hair all you’d like. It doesn’t offend me. It’s like holding me responsible for the blue jay screeching outside your window on a Sunday morning.

I can look anyone in the eyes and feel like they’re equal. I’m not fooled and not plagued by insecurity.

All the titles, ranks, and positions are illusions. We’re human beings, even if we’ve devised an artificial method to separate and distinguish ourselves.

I know what you’re thinking during the day and when you lay down at night. And sometimes you want to curl up and read a book or binge-watch terrible tv. Or you are irritated at your person but just want someone to put their arm around you and enjoy the comfort of someone beside you. Trips to exotic places are fantastic, but life is comprised of smaller pleasures like the first cup of coffee, laughing, or watching people fall off ladders in online videos.

And all of us, no matter what we’ve done or the accomplishments we’ve achieved, pay the same price.

I would have been dangerous with this knowledge at 20.

Unstoppable.

If you’re reading this and you’re young, listen to me, please.

You are as good as anybody you’ll meet. If you put your mind to it, you can run a mile in 4 minutes. You can learn another language, or you can master calculus. You can find someone to love, have a family, or bury yourself in a career.

But you’re going to have to choose your time wisely. It’s not unlimited.

But whatever you want to achieve, whether it’s money, education, or fame, you are as likely as anyone you’ll meet to achieve it if you want it and dedicate your time and energy towards it. You’re looking at many people thinking that they possess some alchemy, intelligence, or energy that you don’t. They don’t.

It’s 100% illusion.

I don’t look at young people the way most people my age do.

I remember what it was like to be scared. And to feel the pressure of my entire life in front of me. I had the disadvantage of trauma and ignorance to overcome.

Maybe to feel like I wasn’t handsome enough or smart enough. The secret is that most of us are average in the literal sense. Embrace it. Joy is when someone finds something that they excel in. It just takes one thing to feel fulfilled.

If you want love, there’s someone looking at you right now with hungry eyes. Yes, there’s also someone looking at you, thinking, “Lord, what a doofus!” You can be happy in a world in which there are both.

If you want to be educated, witty, athletic, or a hermit, you can do that too. Whether you’re 22 or 55. None of us know where our finish line sits.

Love, X
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A 1,700 Day

The other day was an odd day. I woke up at 12:55 a.m. with something I was struggling to remember suddenly clear in my mind. I started my day like any other. Coffee, cat petting, and play. Because I was up earlier, I started doing pushups. For whatever reason, I felt like my body was lighter than air. Most mornings, I am burning with energy. It’s been that way since October 2020, when I began to transform my body. 100, 200, then my daily limit. I’d kept my promise to keep it reasonable for a long, long time. Going into work, I continued to do sets at odd moments. It wasn’t as if I were thinking about doing them. I’d be on the floor, wherever I was inside the buildings or out, doing pushups again. By the end of the day, I’d done more than 1,700. I’m sure I forgot to count some. (Just realized how many times I typed “I” in this post!)

The law of increments helped me to realize that while I can’t do 500 pushups at once without tearing something, I can do multiples of that amount if I do them in smaller groups. Whether it’s weights, walking, running, or pushups. That’s part of why I encourage people to use their day to their advantage. They might not be able to set aside 45 minutes in a block, but they certainly can spare 1-2 minutes several times a day. If you harness that realization, you can make amazing gains toward whatever goal you’re aiming for.

It was an odd day to blow past my intentional record. Not planned, not even really trying. It reminded me again that most numbers and obstacles for this sort of thing are mentally anchored and not connected to real limits.

I was a little sort the next day, but not unusually so. If I deliberately pushed myself to do so many on a given day, I’m certain I would be unable to move the next day. Pushups once served me as an anti-anxiety tool. I used physical fatigue to beat down the anxious moments. Counting them out worked as meditation for me. Before my emergency surgery, I decided to do far fewer of them, recognizing that I’d taken an effective tool and gone too far with it. That’s usually the case with anything; we adopt behavior and find it helps. And sometimes, we use that effective way to overcome feelings or behavior incorrectly. For most, it is a glass of wine each evening, then two, then a bottle over time.

Having a FitBit is a luxury that helps me. Over time, the analytics pop up and remind me of correlations between sleep, mood, heart rate, and activity. Every once in a while, I have a day when my brain is in a zone of both activity and disconnectedness. And on those days, it correlates to my body feeling like I’m tapped into hidden energy.

For the days when I’m not feeling it, I go ahead and do my thing anyway. Because motivation follows action. If you get moving even when you might not want to, over time, that becomes the new normal to you and you can understand that it’s your own mind causing you problems. Not your tiredness or schedule.

Love, X

The Farthing Place

I wish I had coined this phrase.

It’s a psychology label for our tendency to go to the wildest possible scenario in our minds when we don’t have adequate information.

Some people might refer to it as the grandmother tendency. If we’re traveling and don’t let them know we made it home safe, they might actually convince themselves we’re in a ditch upside down while the car is on fire.

Most of us do it, especially the overthinkers.

I will defend the tendency slightly. As someone who literally had a plane crash on my residence, among other surprises and tragedies, I’m not foolish enough to believe that the worst-case scenario does not, in fact, happen with some frequency.

One reason I like this term and label is that it allows me to tag it mentally when I get a feedback loop in my head and can’t shake it. Identifying that it’Ε› happening is the first step toward managing it.

Love X