Archives for May 2019

Something Fun: Being Grounded is Totally Different as a Grown-Up

We have been doing a lot of important stuff lately. Today we’re going to take a break and ground ourselves with simple pleasures.Mulberries

Our yard has been full of mulberries for a week. Nature’s candy, so plentiful I have collected bowls of them and will never be able to get them all.

Hubs made some delicious sweet bread. I want to make a pie. Today I resorted to just eating them off the ground. Perfect packets of juicy goodness.

I was supposed to be watering the vegetables, and I got sidetracked.

Hubs also got adopted by a dog. He jumped in the car at a gas station. He seems pretty young and very mellow. He lets the toddler hang off his face!

Yesterday was a sunny, windy day. We packed the whole crew in the van and took him to the local dog park.

It was a glorified field with a dugout and a hose with some water troughs. The kids ended up having more fun than the dog, I think.Lokidog

It’s been a peaceful Memorial Day weekend. I really enjoyed just sitting in the shade, watching kids and animals and just soaking it all in.

Too many beautiful days have been passed embroiled in inner turmoil. I consider it a marker of progress that I can put the heavy stuff down for a while when opportunity for fun comes knocking.

This is why we do the work that we do, right? To acquire the ability to be happy. To feel the sun on your face and watch your kids play without lingering shadows.

Is Fear of Abandonment the Root of Narcissism?

The similarity is unmistakable – Narcissistic people, who appear grandiose but are actually cripplingly insecure, tend to follow a cycle in relationships.

Haystack Captive

I could use a little more control in this situation!

While reading about the Fear of Abandonment I was struck by how they are essentially the same reaction. The main difference is that the Narcissistic Cycle dominates a person’s relationships.

Idealize – The beginning is beautiful, often called ‘Love-Bombing.’ Their partner is the most perfect person to ever live.

This is a hard one because it mimics normal infatuation. In the early stages of romantic love, people are notoriously rose-colored in their estimation of their crush. Much ink has been spilled, thousands of songs written and enough films for a weeklong festival. It’s cruel because this phase can actually be terrifying for people who have been involved with emotional vampires before.

“By being in a relationship with such a nurturing, loving person, the person with narcissism is able to consume that person’s authentic love and extract narcissistic supply.”

Terrifying because the downturn is insidious:

Devalue – When their partner is inevitably revealed to not be perfect, the dysfunctional person begins magnifying and imagining flaws. Small things like a tone of voice or canceled plans with little explanation sow seeds of doubt in their once-beloved. Slowly, the partner can begin to doubt their own perspective.

Tactics can include “intermittently lacking emotional or physical intimacy, withdrawing affection, seductive withholding, inexplicably disappearing from contact, or blaming the target for the narcissistic person’s issues (projection).”

Kiss On The Couch

There’s no escape…. from the love!

It’s all a setup for the final phase:

Discard – Now that the target is all jumbled and insecure, the Narcissist is on his merry way. He has drained his victim and will use his charm (and possibly the sob story about this break-up) to find another.

Asking for better treatment can precipitate this phase. Demands for empathy or reciprocity are met with temper tantrums. “Inevitably, the discarding occurs when the person with narcissism either disappears or orchestrates his or her own abandonment by engaging in some form of egregious emotional abuse.”

My ex and I went through this whole thing three or four times over seven years.

How do you do it more than once?  I hear you asking. Well, part of it was my unwillingness to walk away, and part of it was his unwillingness to actually be alone. Put this together, and you slip easily into the last phase of the cycle:

Hoovering – This is not always officially included but, in my experience, it might be the most important. Because it’s where real confusion can set in.

So you’ve been devalued, rejected, abandoned. But then the minute you start to get your head together, he’s back. Apologizing and saying everything you want to hear. This phase is named after the brand of vacuum cleaner because he is sucking you back in. The moment you begin to play along, the whole cycle starts over.

But Narcissism is usually created by abuse. Narcissists beget narcissists. They are emotionally stunted and wounded people.

The Fear of Abandonment can mimic this cycle.

Impatient

You know, the older you get, the more you remind me of my father!

Verywellmind.com lists the steps created by a Fear of Abandonment as

  • Getting to Know One Another
  • The Honeymoon 
  • The Real Relationship
  • The Slight – Where they reveal imperfections
  • The Reaction“If you have this fear, you are probably completely convinced that the slight is a sign that your partner no longer loves you…. Some people handle this by becoming clingy and demanding, insisting that their partner prove her love by jumping through hoops. Others run away, rejecting their partners before they are rejected.”

Seems to me that it’s usually one, then the other. It’s a lot like the Narcissistic Cycle, but that doesn’t mean someone who behaves this way is narcissistic. It’s like a phobia, and can be self-contained in an otherwise reasonable person.

A person who is able to look at their own behavior and see where they could improve. Narcissists are incapable of this. They may be able to talk the talk, but they will never walk the walk. They talk themselves out of things just as quickly.

They will never really take responsibility for anything, this is the purpose of their emotional jig. Eventually, even the most loving and patient person will be exhausted and unable to take any more.

But the reason they can’t take any responsibility is they are extremely insecure. I wonder if it’s what happens when the Fear of Abandonment runs amok.

Swinging Sixties

Do you love me now?

The way Narcissists pass on the disorder is by teaching their children not to rely on them and, thus, anyone. They are not even reliably unreliable. Sometimes, they love you.

And then they emotionally abandon you over and over.

Maybe it’s the Fear of Abandonment grown so big it makes it impossible for them to open up, even to themselves.

I don’t really know but I see the role it plays in my life and it’s got to go. I do have a knee jerk paranoia that every little argument is the beginning of the end.

Because people have abandoned me totally unexpectedly and for no apparent reason. Aside from my emotionally unavailable parents’ divorce when I was five, we moved around a lot. My entire grade in school rejected me when I was nine, then again three years later in a different district.

After a while, you start assuming there’s something wrong with you.

You begin to treat everyone as if they are temporary and, most of the time, they are. Just because of the transient nature of this modern life. And maybe because sometimes you sense a relationship growing stale and the downslide feels like being nauseous before vomiting so you just get it over with and move on.

My first serious boyfriend spectacularly dumped me. My first son’s father was uninterested in both of us. My third major relationship was that ex I mentioned.

He does make for excellent learning material, though.

All Red

I really am trying my best!

My dad went crazy and my mom took the opportunity of her own near-death to treat me with all the grace of a petty child. And now, naturally, my sister has decided she’d rather not actually talk about any of the bullshit she accused me of.

So, yeah, it’s a thing. Learning about it helps a lot. Solidifies the concepts and helps me feel less insane. And I realize that this, plus totally unrespected overstimulation problems, are responsible for basically all the weird shit I do.

Eventually you get a little old and a little wistful wondering where people are now. Hindsight shows you what a shithead you were, things you totally misunderstood.

Psych Alive offers some hope: “Fortunately, a person’s style of attachment is not fixed. We can develop earned secure attachment as adults in several ways…. experiencing a secure attachment can offer someone a new model for relationships and how people behave in them.

This is what I have been instinctively trying to do. I want to fill my life with functional people, and not drive them crazy with my antics.

Lots of people are gone. But so is lots and lots of awful bullshit. Maybe most of the time, when someone leaves, they are doing you a favor.

What is Family? What is Love?

These are the questions that keep me up at night.

I was doing alright ignoring them until a few days ago. My sister Quinn, my only sibling from childhood, sent me a novella about why she didn’t want to talk to me anymore. She immediately blocked me.

Friendly Fire

Woa! Friendly fire!

Was there some kind of argument?

I sent her a link to my post about Donald Trump’s mental problems, because she doesn’t like him either and I thought she might appreciate it. She said it was terrifying, and she was “tired of being afraid all the time.”

Afraid of what?

She said Trump and all his supporters want her dead.

I told her that seemed like a bit of an overstatement. That I thought being unnecessarily incendiary weakened a position that I basically agree with.

She insisted, so I let it go with “Okay, I can’t convince you otherwise.” And I have neither the energy nor the conviction to try. But I wish she weren’t afraid all the time, too.

She called that passive-aggressive. Called me “gaslighty.” Okay, nice chatting with you, too, you ray of sunshine.

Hours later I received that long message telling me how emotionally abusive I was to her as a child and how I goaded our mother into her petty behavior last year.

How my not wanting my younger sister following me around gave her abandonment issues. Forget that she was annoying on purpose, and was very open about it. She was four years younger and drove my friends crazy.

But I’m not going to argue here. Anything I have ever tried to say is beside the point: “And since I have little faith that you’ll read all of this and not have a LOT to say about it, I am temporarily blocking you on this account.”

Gin And Tonic In Blue

Sometimes, the only thing to do is drink!

Of course I have things to say! For one thing, that’s what I do. Also, I’m expected to let her completely mischaracterize our lives and not comment. Let her stew in half-remembered unhappiness just like our mother. Let her push me away.

But she has never wanted my help. Nothing I do is ever right. She has been trying to make something out of our rough childhood for years, and it reminds me of the abandonment issues I have been working on lately.

It mirrors the Narcissistic Cycle and I think its extreme form is at the root of that. It involves devaluing someone until you feel like you are better off without them. Then you can leave them before they leave you. It’s an unconscious thing that keeps you stuck in the early stages of relationships because, as soon as they slip up and fail to meet expectations, you are spooked and the devaluation begins.

I have been supportive of my sister’s choices. I have told her I usually don’t understand them, but I don’t need to.

But I’m not allowed to have an opinion. She’s always been the kind of person to take disagreement personally, so I just stopped expressing myself on a lot of things. Both face to face and in public places where she might see.

And for what? Peacemaking with someone who can’t be bothered to stop for lunch when her trip takes her an easy 20 minutes from my house. Who has tapped my skills but was never interested in being an ear. Who would rather blame me for her issues than see me as a co-victim.

Gloves Off

Time for the gloves to come off!

I can defend myself forever and people will see it however they see it. But I feel robbed of so much, not least of which is the opportunity to have a real conversation about any of this.

What my mother showed me last year was that everything we had built between us since I became an adult was fake. If you have grown as a person, you don’t revert right back like 20 years never happened. No matter what is going on. That’s what growth is, it holds up under pressure. It helps you hold up under pressure.

I didn’t care that the furniture arrangement was a sore spot then, and I don’t care now. We’re talking life and death stuff here, and Quinn accuses me of “starting a pissing contest.” 

If that’s how she perceives me, I wonder why I waste my time. She overheard a panicked call home where I said something about not feeling comfortable “talking to my family” which she made all about her and then neglected to consider why I might feel that way.

Hubs was actually impatient with me for being upset by this whole thing. He was arguably being insensitive but he has a point – “She’s crazy, anyway.”

He’s biased but he has seen how I tiptoe around her despite her being hundreds of miles away.

What really upsets me is now I have to accept that my family is dead. 30 years ago next month, more than three times what their marriage lasted. For many of those years I was the only one in contact with everyone. So I could look around and say, ‘I have a family! See?’

“You lost her a long time ago.” Hubs does have his moments of wisdom.

I guess I’m not gonna get away with not really looking at the roots of my abandonment fears. I have been dealing with individual symptoms, but they share a common cause. Now that I’ve been paying attention, I begin to see how vast the issue is.

And somewhere on the other side are my sisters. I hope they can figure out how to be happy.

But get ready for some Brazen commentary on previously-untouched subjects. I don’t have anyone to tiptoe around anymore.

Fight Despair Together: Healing Through Self-Compassion

What is stopping you from working through your problems and becoming who you want to be?

Redhead With Pistol

I’m not defensive! Just stay away from me!

Depression and anxiety are both subsumed anger over how we have been treated. 

Over and over, researchers have shown that those who suffer from such things are overwhelmingly victims of abuse as children. 

Of course you would be angry if those who were supposed to care for you instead treated you like crap. Or otherwise made you feel lesser. And there’s a good chance you don’t even realize it. Or the depths to which it shapes your experiences to this day.

The most important thing is to have compassion for yourself. This sounds a little weird but we all know what compassion looks like. We just usually reserve it for other people. 

Our expectations of ourselves run unreasonably high and we chastise ourselves for small mistakes. Dammit, that was stupid.  If you wouldn’t say it to someone else, don’t say it to yourself. 

This is something I’m struggling with right now. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not presenting myself as some kind of self-healing guru. I’m just determined to figure this out and share my discoveries with you.

You are human, with flaws, like everyone. A lot of attention is given to forgiving others but forgiving yourself can be more difficult. Admitting someone else made a mistake is easy! But it’s absolutely vital, because turning compassion on yourself has been shown to soothe the Fight/Flight/Freeze mechanism.

Often referred to as Fight or Flight, this is an ancient brain system that is triggered by stressful situations. But when you are a child, and you can’t fight or flee, this stress response can go unresolved. If this happens many times over a period of years, years when your brain is growing, the overload of stress gets baked in and becomes part of the system. This is why, sometimes, you feel like crap for no reason.

Sad On The Porch

I’m just not feeling these shoes!

Plenty of people are dipshits to their kids. I suspect some common parenting practices are worse for little ones than most of us know. Chances are, the things or situations that throw you off-balance are related to bad experiences in your formative years.

Maybe you rare painfully aware of this but aren’t sure what to do about it. Traditional therapy can feel like endlessly rehashing trauma. Happily, the best treatment for these things is something anyone can do at home for free.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy works by helping change the way you think about things. Unlike most forms of therapy, there’s quite a bit of evidence that CBT actually works.

According to the American Psychological Association“CBT is based on several core principles, including:

Psychological problems are based, in part, on faulty or unhelpful ways of thinking.

Psychological problems are based, in part, on learned patterns of unhelpful behavior.”

CBT is all about learning to see things differently. 

First, you have to admit, really understand, that you are not infallible. What you experience is not reality. You see your mind’s representation of reality. It’s impossible to get away from because you can’t get out of your mind.

But you can change it. The brain is flexible and always thirsty for new knowledge, until the day we die. 

The APA continues, “CBT treatment usually involves efforts to change thinking patterns. These strategies might include:

Learning to recognize one’s distortions in thinking that are creating problems, and then to reevaluate them in the light of reality.”

Peak Behind The Lace

I see plenty! And those kids over there are up to something!

Experience can condition us to anticipate certain behavior from those around us. We may even misinterpret what they say and do, following our customary script.

That’s right, I’m suggesting you could be wrong.

Maybe you are just totally jangly, too jumpy to think straight. Admit that the issue lies with you, rather than the world being unfair or unwelcoming. The world at large isn’t watching you. The world at large doesn’t care.

This may sound harsh but, when you realize the pressure is off, you can start living your life however you want …. Whatever that means.

In the words of the National Association of Cognitive Behavioral Therapists“If we are upset about our problems, we have two problems – The problem and our upset about it.”

The power lies in putting some breathing room between yourself and the issue.

feel angry

instead of

am angry

Then we can see more clearly, “Often, we upset ourselves about things when, in fact, the situation isn’t like we think it is. If we knew that, we would not waste time upsetting ourselves.”

CBT calls this the Inductive Method. It’s the simple act of checking yourself before you wreck yourself.

Indtruder

You’re not sneaking up on me!

“The Inductive Method encourages us to look at our thoughts as being hypotheses or guesses that can be questioned and tested. If we find that our hypotheses are incorrect (because we have new information) then we can change our thinking to be in line with how the situation really is.”

Mental flexibility is the key to what we’re doing – Facing our fears and putting them to rest.

Top of the APA’s list of unhealthy behaviors CBT addresses is denial. They stress, “Facing one’s fears instead of avoiding them.”  This is the #1 most important thing!

You must be willing to do this or you are wasting your time.

By the time you get to be in your 30s, you will have noticed that certain scenarios – or situations that feel similar – keep cropping up. You don’t need to be a mystic to see that if you learn to handle these things better, you can stop going in circles. 

You can guarantee that your emotions are messing you up, keeping you from putting your best foot forward. This is why we often struggle with things related to our history. It’s not anything supernatural, and it’s within our power to make changes.

Take a moment, either during the situation or after, and ask yourself why it brings out the feelings in you that it does. How are you approaching or conceptualizing things in ways that come from thoughts that cause you pain? From ideas you know are probably unhealthy?

It’s not complicated stuff, but it does involve dealing directly and honestly with things that make you uncomfortable. With things you’ve taken for granted. It’s easy to get defensive.

Television

We all got way too much of this!

Watch out for anger directed at people or things who don’t really deserve it or are not worth your time. That’s your defense mechanism kicking in to deflect attention from a sore spot.

Time after time, take that pause to step back. Understand that your feelings are like a flowing river – You may be soaking wet, but you are not the water. 

By applying Self-Compassion and Check Before You Wreck, over time you will begin to see patterns in your thoughts and behavior. Understanding will enable you to act more with purpose, instead of just reacting to the world as it comes at you.

You can’t go back in time and undo trauma, but you can fix the damage it caused. It takes time. If you get frustrated trying to understand yourself, imagine the most sympathetic character you can think of – A small child, a puppy, an old lady – and imagine they are having your difficulty. Take how you would feel for them and apply it to yourself. 

Yes, it takes that much patience.

Coming soon: Part 2 – What Does Life on Your Terms Mean, Anyway?

Dementia Trumps Donald?

The time has come once again to name names. Donald Trump is draped in red flags.

I usually save my political rants for more general social themes but, once in a while, I feel compelled to get specific. If you like my Trump posts you are in for a treat. If you don’t…. who am I kidding? No way Trumpers read my blog!

Donald Bemused

Not many Trump fans around here!

Several years ago I worked as a Certified Nurse Aide. Seldom have I felt as entitled to the space I take up as when I was changing dementia patients’ diapers. (Not sure what that says about me, but I digress.)

Years before that, I watched first one grandmother and then the other completely forget everything and everyone.

But, I’m a nerd, so my horror led me to research. I have seen and read quite a bit about dementia and, with my family history, it’s seldom far from my mind.

I say all this because, when I tell you that Donald Trump is in trouble, this is my basis for comparison.

Last month video made the rounds of him seemingly losing the word ‘origins.’ He went for it on his mental shelf and it just wasn’t there.

But the really worrying thing is that you can tell he knows. He knows he said the wrong word but can’t do anything about it. He doubles back on his thought and restates it. That goes well so he gets brave and tries again.

“The Mueller Report, I wish, covered the oranges….”

Trump, New York, Usa 15 Aug 2017

Hey, my words mean what I say they do!

This is called aphasia, and it’s a symptom of dementia. Specifically, something called non-fluent variant Primary Progressive Aphasia (nfvPPA.)  The University of California Wellness and Aging Center writes,

“Because it primarily affects the front part of the brain, nfvPPA is considered a subtype of a large group of brain conditions called frontotemporal dementia (FTD).”

Patients usually begin to show signs in their 50s or 60s. Donald is 72.

Many people think of dementia as the granny who goes shopping in her housecoat. Confused, befuddled and comical, depictions of this disease are glib and play for laughs.

But,

“The nonfluent PPA variant accounts for about 20% of all people with frontotemporal dementia.

“People with nfvPPA gradually have more trouble expressing themselves, even though they still understand the meaning of words…. Reading and writing skills usually remain good…. They may have increasing difficulty with pronouncing or mixing up sounds in familiar words.”

Donald Shows Palms

If I speak with authority, you won’t notice I have no idea what I’m talking about!

Trump almost tweets more than he speaks, if not for his tendency to ramble at the podium.

Which, incidentally, is another red flag according to Science Alert:

“New research suggests that rambling and non-specific speech could be early signs of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.”

The article cites, among others, Ronald Reagan as an example of a still-functional person who showed early signs of language difficulties.

The findings were presented to the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston by Janet Cohen Sherman. She is Clinical Director of the Psychology Assessment Center at Massachusetts General Hospital.

The Guardian sums it up,

“Scientists compared the language abilities of 22 healthy young individuals, 24 healthy older individuals and 22 people with MCI [mild cognitive impairment].

“When given an exercise in which they had to join up three words, for instance “pen”, “ink” and “paper”, the healthy volunteers typically joined the three in a simple sentence, while the MCI group gave circuitous accounts of going to the shop and buying a pen.”

Donald Touches Temple

My mental precision is as good as it’s ever done!

Sound familiar?

The Guardian continues:

“They were much less concise in conveying information, the sentences they produced were much longer, they had a hard time staying on point and I guess you could say they were much more roundabout in getting their point across,” said Sherman. “It was a very significant difference.”

Sherman stressed that just being a windbag is not the issue. The issue is deteriorating mental precision.

“Another study, based on White House press conference transcripts, found striking changes in Ronald Reagan’s speech over the course of his presidency, while George HW Bush, who was a similar age when president, showed no such decline.”

So, not only is this a plausible scenario, it has happened before.

Dr Lawrence K Altman bears witness to this for the New York Times. He writes,

“In 1980, Mr. Reagan told me that he would resign the presidency if White House doctors found him mentally unfit. Years later, those doctors and key aides told me they had not detected any changes in his mental abilities while in office.

How Has The Donald Ducked Life's Lessons?

I don’t even know who Ronald Reagan is!

“Now a clever new analysis has found that during his two terms in office, subtle changes in Mr. Reagan’s speaking patterns linked to the onset of dementia were apparent years before doctors diagnosed his Alzheimer’s disease in 1994.”

His doctors might not have been concerned, and even Dr. Altman insists that Reagan was not impaired enough to have affected his Presidential judgment (although that would be a dandy excuse for a few things.) But not everyone was so confident.

The article begins,

“Even before Ronald Reagan became the oldest elected president, his mental state was a political issue. His adversaries often suggested his penchant for contradictory statements, forgetting names and seeming absent-mindedness could be linked to dementia.”

Reagan was 73 in 1980.

The sample size of the language study is small, but it overwhelmingly supports my own observations and those of many others. Often the first signs of dementia are subtle linguistic anomalies.

Donald Arms Crossed

I’ve never done anything wrong in my life! I always have reasons!

And a guy like Donald is the kind of guy who would hide it. Deny, deny, deny.

“People with nfvPPA tend not to show the behavioral characteristics of FTD until quite late in the disease, and they are keenly aware of their difficulties.”

Not to mention an old man who is estranged from his wife, in trouble with the law and apparently spends a shitton of time watching TV and surfing social media:

“Depression and social withdrawal are common features of nfvPPA.”

I am neither the first nor the most qualified person to suggest that Donald is suffering from some kind of mental deficiency. It would be easy to brush off such claims as haters hating.

But even if I thought my personal axe-grinding makes any difference, the man speaks for himself.

Top 5 Women Bloggers I Love

It’s funny how putting yourself out there is a great way to meet people.

Definitely more effective than my old favorite method – Keeping to myself and hoping to be noticed.

Along my journey at Brazen She I have met some really cool people. I want to give back to this great community.

Here are my top 5 favorite woman bloggers who I’ve met during my time here. They are a diverse group of voices each of whom enriches the world using her unique perspective. These ladies are brazenly themselves.

Women Bloggers Breeta

Breeta – A Voice

Breeta – A Voice

Breeta shares her experience and perspective with infectious enthusiasm. She shares her struggles, her insights and, more than anything else, her favorite songs.

Sometimes just coming along for the ride is not to be missed. In a post under the hashtag #Drunkposts, she writes,

And watching Heath Ledger as Patric, all young and bright-eyed and sweet and… alive, with those 90s pop in background…I mean I am an Indian kid and those exact songs were never part of my 90s days but the musical vibes… you can’t miss…

I am a hot mess now and fighting really hard to not drunk-text my old high-school crush and feeling like banging my head and crushing skull or break at least something…

I love the cultural perspective – I am always falling in love with new songs or revisiting old favorites. I feel a kindred spirit with her whimsy, wistfulness and wry humor.

She also has a gorgeous Instagram where she posts her photography. Truly a voice from another corner heard loud and clear.

Women Bloggers Claudette

Claudette – Writer of Words, Etc.

Claudette – Writer of Words, Etc.

Claudette is someone I can see myself getting coffee with while we vent and laugh about our kids.

While I rolled out the dough I made them sweep, vacuum and de-clutter the entire open concept area around me.

I will spare you the various antics that ensued to get them to conform to my wishes pleads expectations, but I will say this:

Their dad avoids confrontation.

Me?

I’m half Italian…BRING IT ON.

Sigh

What I mean by this isn’t that I *want* a fight, certainly not. I was quite sick with a nasty head cold all day, didn’t even make it out to food shopping due to all the sneezing.

Soul sister! Pity she lives in Toronto. But I still love reading her stuff, she’s so prolific I’m jealous and inspired all at the same time.

Sometimes she is very personal, after a while it starts to feel like you know her.

I am my own worst enemy.

I go up and down and sideways with my internal turmoil that it mostly leaves me mentally exhausted rather than inspired, or focused on the here and now.

Just reading her posts helps remind me to be brave, but she has also made the leap to try fiction.

Women Bloggers Justine2

Justine – OK Vibes

Justine – OK Vibes

I’m just going to let Justine introduce herself:

Justine Monikue is a chocolate-covered 80s baby, born abroad in Germany to military parents.  She spent a good chunk of her childhood in the Mid-Atlantic region of the USA (hence why she refers to submarine sandwiches as hoagies)

I relate very much with Justine’s philosophical tendencies. This lady can squeeze meaning from the simplest things:

Though I’ve been callenging myself not to dwell on the past, I find myself questioning my life choices when my life plans aren’t manifesting in the way I’d hoped, or an inconvenient event surfaces.

Omg I am right there with you! Justine helps me feel a little less crazy about looking for growth opportunities under every rock.

She shares her struggles and also gets creative with flash fiction,

Mei Fan was alone at the local beach, waiting on her bestie, Chandra, to show up. Chandra was always late, which irritated Mei Fan since she prided herself on being punctual. She checked her phone, no texts or missed calls from Chandra. Maybe she forgot to charge her phone again? Wouldn’t be the first time.

….Mei Fan’s phone rang, she grabbed hastily and answered without checking the caller ID.

“Sorry I’m running late, traffic is crazy as fuck today! Plus my mom wanted me to grab flour for roti, she called as soon as I started heading to the beach. Forgive me?”

Mei Fan sighed, “Always, I know how your mom is. That’s why you gotta start leaving earlier C!”

And poetry

Juicy warm and ripe

in fitted denim so tight

pits of flesh will rise

Hot stuff.

Women Bloggers April

April – Anxiously Imperfect

April – Anxiously Imperfect

April is the kind of blogger who posts when the mood strikes but when it does, watch out!

Her blog centers on living with anxiety and depression. Two of the most common mental health issues and two things that need talked about much more. While describing what it’s like with aplomb, April takes you right into the center of the storm. Her goal is to remind others that we are not alone:

Yesterday was a bad day for me, ….I didn’t realize it through my haze of anxiety, but I had scared my boyfriend.

….Later after my anxiety haze had faded and I could think more clearly.
I started thinking about who I am as a person in spite of my anxiety.

….I AM MORE THAN MY DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY!!!
Please remember that the bad days don’t last forever!
Don’t give into the stigma and seek treatment if you need it!

I love April because so few people really capture the feeling of a panic attack. Most of us wait until the storm has passed. The raw emotion in some of her writing grabs you by the collar and doesn’t let up –

I’m sorry that going out was just too much for me today!
I’m sorry that you are tired of hearing about my mental illness!
I’m sorry that I embarrassed you when I had my panic attack!
I’m sorry that I made you uncomfortable when I “lost it” today!
I’m sorry that I shrieked at you when you told me to just “lighten up!”

Although April is a personal friend of mine this list would be incomplete without her. She has been instrumental in keeping me motivated, directly and indirectly.

Women Bloggers Tamla

Tamla – 12 Raisins

Tamla – 12 Raisins

Last but definitely not least, Tamla explains the title of her blog,

At the stroke of midnight, I ate 12 raisins, one at a time, each one representing one wish for the New Year…Wishes fulfilled, I embark on a new journey. A journey of writing, motherhood and reflecting on this thing called life.

And reflect she does, with a calm intelligence that guides readers through events with a firm hand,

I knew class was coming up, and because he’d walked out on us after the first class we had to ‘catch up’ and had double the readings (which was A LOT). Not only that, he assigned an extra reflection for us to complete…there was no way I was going to get it all done….. This is a guy who only alotted 5% for participation but expects you to be in every class and never late.

I was reminded by my loved ones… “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.”

Personally, I would have been livid but she deals with frustration with inspiring composure.

[My little guy] used to eat vegetables back when he ate pureed food, now he wants nothing to do with them. As such, I’ve resorted to sneaking them into his meals. Nowadays, if I can even get him into the high chair, mealtimes are often filled with negotiation and bribery (other big no-no’s in all of the literature for feeding a toddler). It’s exhausting. I worry about him becoming a fussy eater but know that I have to be patient and his fussiness is likely, as they say ‘just a phase’.

Toddlers are so difficult! And adorable! Tamla writes a lot of great material about mom life, with a steady hand and an eye out for life lessons. She’s also a teacher and you definitely get the sense that this lady is a rock. She knows how keep her balance on life’s choppy seas, something I could definitely use more of.

Like the rest of our group, Tamla is also unafraid to tackle the meatier topics that come her way –

For my second last course I took “Decolonizing Education” which turned out to be one of my absolute favourite courses out of all my years in school.

For our last class we were asked to create a piece of poetry using the final chapters of our readings. Essentially, summarize decolonization.

She published her impactful poem in its entirety. It begins,

Language. Expression. Relevance.

Clearly.

To see ourselves.

In relationship to ourselves.

And to other selves.

What a thought. What a concept.

Of course she immediately begins to find practical use for this experience to enrich the lives of others,

What a beautiful way to ask learners to be thoughtful and creative while synthesizing a final unit or theme of study and inquiry…. I can imagine this task working with a wide range of students of varying levels and abilities and am excited to one day try it out in my own classroom(s).

Reflectively yours,

Tamla

Reflecting on these fellow travelers fills me with excitement for the future of literature and cultural dialog. Knowing there are so many other women out there pondering life and all its facets is some of the best motivation there is.

Love you gals!