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Archive for the ‘Depression’ Category

It is a waste alright. I, too, have been begged to keep writing.

There is an analogy that Steven Covey likes to use. No, I don’t typically quote Steven Covey, but this is particularly apropos. You have a vase, three big rocks, and a bunch of pebbles. If you put all the pebbles in, and then add the rocks, they won’t all fit. If you add the rocks first, and then pour the pebbles in around them, everything just fits. The big rocks are supposed to be your highest priorities, while the pebbles are all the “little junk” that tends to take up your time.

My husband just described an op-ed piece he’d read, in which the writer used the analogy of an oxygen mask. You put on your own first, and then your child’s. It makes sense, right? If you pass out while putting a mask on your kid, you aren’t around to put on your own.

I used to believe this line of reasoning – so much so that I went around lecturing other working women about them. “How can you be a good mom if you’re sick?” etc. etc.

Now, in this and in so many other things, I am eating my own words. There are so many things I didn’t understand… and still don’t. My job is to advise people all day long, and yet I think back on all the advice I’ve given in my personal life and realize that it was all arrogance borne of inexperience.

I do have three big rocks and a bunch of pebbles. The big rocks? My husband, my daughter, my job. No room for four big rocks, or more. What I have done to ensure that I fit in the vase, along with my friends, is to shave little bits off of the three big rocks, make a pebble for myself and one for all of my friends put together, and stick these two pebbles into tiny gaps. What does it mean? Every second I spend reading, or writing, or soaking in the bath, or doing yoga, or daydreaming, or chatting with friends… is stolen time. I have about six months worth of blog posts rattling around in my head right now. I’ve jotted down names of concepts on a few sheets of paper (even that was stolen – I wrote it all down during a meeting at work – shhh…), but I know that most of them will be empty words to me by the time I get to them. There’s a whole book in my head – one I’d enjoy reading, I might add – dormant. And, of course, the vast majority of my little pebble of time is spent making up for lost time sleeping, which is oh-so-productive for all of the things I actually want to do. Because, not only do I have a ton of creative endeavors I want to pursue, I have a chronic stupid pain disorder that sucks the life out of me and makes me dull and foggy in the head.

I don’t begrudge them this time, exactly. But it catches up with you, you know? All those ideas start shoving around looking for room, like all the souls in John Malcovich’s head, and you can’t think. The time I’ve carved out for friends helps; a little frivolity that keeps me plugged into the rest of the world.

I’ve talked to other working moms about this. Not only is this normal, it’s expected. No working moms are anything but tired. We do our best not to come across as resentful, but our every complaint on our own behalf is met with either, “well, you asked for it,” or “just quit your job like a real mom would, then!” or “what did you expect?” or “how selfish can you be?” or “ooh, but isn’t it worth it?” It is, you know, worth it. That doesn’t make me any less tired, or make me have any less longing for a few creative hours now and again.

And last, but not least…. blogging is met with the oddest sorts of animosity. There are those in the workplace, upon hearing that I have or participate in a blog, who have said, “Gee, wouldn’t it be nice to have that kind of time?” With a wry, disdainful look, I might add. Yet I told the same person, months ago of course, that I tried to write something on most days, and she said, “Oh, you have a journal? How wonderful!” Give. me. a. break.

Others understand that a blog is a public journal, but they think the term “Journal” means an academic publication. Therefore, a blog post must be grammatically correct, spelled entirely perfectly, and contribute something unique to human knowledge. It’s my own personal musings. I’m just honoring you with the trust to let you read them. I’m not a) fishing for somebody to send me a consolation note, b) trying to contribute something unique to human knowledge, or c) (yes I got this directly once) wallowing. What I am doing is telling you (with stolen moments that often deprive me of editing-time) the way I see it, right now, today. I don’t want you to worry. I just want you to think, “Gosh, yeah, I’ve felt like that” or “Wow, I’ve never thought about it that way.” Or any other number of thing one might think when presented with something to which they really relate, or really don’t.

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People have been asking…no begging…no nagging me to update my blogs. 3women was created for the sole purpose of developing a creative blog, and well, when one of the authors doesn’t feel very creative, the blog suffers.

It’s like having a palette of greys, whites, and blacks when all you want are rich reds, bright yellows, and sultry blues. And then, finding the will to paint, the will to sit down and paint, write, create is near excruciating. It’s embarrassing as talented as I suppose I am and as educated and privileged as I am that I sit here with severe writer’s block, slowly slipping into the worst kinds of sorrows, anxieties and fears.

Look at the world around us. Take a good look. Wars. Famon. Poverty. Hate. Murder suicides over unpaid bills. Uncertain economy. Dow Jones. Rent is due. Massive layoffs. Obesity. Early retirements. Angry emails. Lethargic bodies lying on couches watching the world go by. Lack there of’s.Career changes. Cold weather.

Nothing’s really that funny or worth writing about. Revisiting my past with creativity seems ridiculous when I can barely find reason to live in this moment. I know I’m a bit dreary and negative, but aren’t we all lately?

I promise to write more. I hope my two other women will too. Let’s just get this shit out, even if no one reads it.

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Sorrow

Sorrow is a tricky thing. Sometimes it’s there with you in the morning, like messy hair and stale breath- it’s just there. Other times it suddenly comes upon you like a sneeze or a muscle cramp. It’s a reminder that you are human, susceptible to life’s complexities and pain.

There are some periods when sorrow will linger- a chronic feeling that sometimes gets better after spending time in the sunlight; sometimes gets worse after finding an old photo or hearing an old message on the machine.

It is not a scratch that can be buffed out but rather a stain that will always discolor part of the soul.

I am the sorrowful. I am the lingering sad that hovers even on OK days. I am the sudden urge, the sudden loss of breath when pain becomes too unbearable. I have the ability to go to bed smiling and wake in such anguish, tortured by horrifying dreams.

It is as real as anything: leaves on a tree, wind on my face- sorrow is real. It is no trend or fashion. It is a very part of who I am and the side effects of that sorrow lead to the fears, the lazy, the wall between publishing and living alone with notebooks of writings and unfinished canvases stacked high.

I am the sorrowful.

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I really haven’t noticed the sunny, breezy weather today. Fall is supposed to be my favorite season, and yet I find myself longing for winter. There’s a snow globe on my desk reminding me that business trips end, usually with a hug and a silly souvenir. La Joconde (Mona Lisa) looks at me with that half smile, a secret she’s hiding for centuries. The gloss on the postcard is wearing thin now that she’s been moved to so many different places; different offices, apartments, boxes…She’s even looking at me now as I write, and she’s taunting me.

I got that postcard in Paris. It was winter then and I was in love with France. I came face to face with La Joconde that season. No one was in the room. the Louvre was empty of tourists who on any other day would shuffle through the line to get a glimpse of the small, unimpressive painting, then ushered along to see some other work of art in some other hall. Her face has been an enigma for years.

I look at her and see “almost’s”. She is almost flirtatious. She is almost sad. She is almost smiling. She is almost crying. She almost can read my mind because maybe she too has been sad for a long time and longs for a winter. I wonder if she is beautiful like I wonder if I am beautiful to anyone who has seen my face. I’m no masterpiece. I’m not framed in some famous musuem.

I have my bathroom mirror and she has the world.

The funny thing about sad is that more often then not, I have no real reason to be sad. I’m selfish I suppose. I want things I can’t have. I want to be transformed into someone I’m not. I “gimmie gimmie!” more than anything. And somehow, even as I look back on my trips to Paris, seeing Mona before me, and all the other things I have seen, done, eaten, had…

….incomplete.

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For my 5th birthday, my grandparents gave me a stuffed Gund puppy dog that I promptly named “Puppy”. An unoriginal yet practical name, Puppy was a fluffy, adorable, small stuffed dog with soft long hair and an expressionless face. He had two large, dark eyes and a hard, black plastic nose that had the texture of a real golden retriever’s.

Even though I appreciated the gift, somehow I misplaced Puppy during a trip to my grandparents’ house in North Carolina and I returned home to New Jersey without him. Soon after, I remember sobbing to my mother in a rare display of panic that I had lost Puppy and was desperate to find him. On the phone to my grandparents, my mother pleaded with them to search their home and after rummaging through their hall closet, under the snow jackets was Puppy’s small face, neither happy nor sad, that he had been left behind for months.

From that day forward, Puppy remained within close distance of me. At first, puppy accompanied me on long car trips to visit family members and family vacations. The summer before my 8th birthday, Puppy took on new role in my life: a guardian, a comfort, a best friend.

My parents’ bitter, traumatic separation led to a long, tedious divorce and through it all I depended on Puppy. His face, constant yet loving, helped me through my father’s awkward visitations- uncomfortable trips to bowling allies, Disneyland, and the movies. My father took pictures of me atop a horse while riding, a frequent Saturday afternoon activity of ours, with Puppy dangling in my 10-year-old arms. I chronicled my visitations with my father in my “little girl” journal and Puppy was a recurring character. I recorded my limited time spent with my father and my “little girl” rage at why life had changed so drastically since my father left.

At times, Puppy came to my child therapy sessions and acted as a mediator between the harsh realities of a divorce that my therapist needed me to face and my wild imagination that everything would return to “normal”. At times, when I didn’t know which parent I missed most, I would squeeze puppy tight and pretend that he would tell me, “Everything will be OK.”

Fluffy fur gradually turned into matted hair as the years went on. I started to notice the nicks and blemishes on puppy’s plastic nose and eyes. I would tell myself that each little tuft of matted hair was a hug I had given Puppy and I must have loved him too much.

When pre-adolescence faded into womanhood, Puppy’s place soon moved from the side of my hip, to a throw pillow on my bed, to the back of the closet, a place he had familiarized himself with shortly after he came into my life. And though I’m an adult now, he sits quietly in the back of my closet- alone and acquiescent, with that same expressionless face, waiting to be by my side if ever I need him again.

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