Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Day 31: The end of a challenge

I did it, guys!  I really did it.  I kind of didn't think I was going to make it all 31 days (why didn't I pick February to do this?  That's only 28 days!). 

Anyway, I learned a lot over the past month.  Here's a list, because I like lists:

1) The most interesting things that happen that would make really good stories are things I can't always write about.  For instance, one day I had a conversation that went something like this:

Mom: My kid's hands are always down the front of his pants.  Always.  I tell him to stop and he gets mad.

Kid: I don't always have my hands down my pants!  You always have YOUR hands down your pants!

Mom: Kid, that's inappropriate!  He's always inappropriate!  See what he does?  All I want him to do is stop touching his penis and it turns into this.  Kid, why do you always....

Me (interrupting): Ooooookay's make sure we stay calm here in talking about things.  Remember that the more attention we give kid for negative behaviors, the more likely he is to repeat them, right?  Let's try to minimize the amount of negative attention we're giving him and just ignore it.  Kid, we've talked before about the fact that it's okay for you to touch your penis, but touching your penis is private.  Do you remember what private means?

Mom: See?  The doctor says you can't touch your penis in public.  Are you listening?  You can't touch your penis in public!


My days are never (ever) dull.  I just can't always share the interesting parts.

2) I can always make time/find time to write.  Even if it's just for a little bit, there is always time.

3) When I can't think of what to write, I should just put my fingers on the keys.  Writing happens.

4) If that fails, ask Facebook friends for inspiration.  I choose not to think of this as cheating.

5) Tuesdays suck.  Tuesdays are also bad days for writing.  But I did it anyway.

6) I like comments.  I still get anxious that everybody hated what I wrote if I don't get any "likes" or comments.  I wish I could get over that.

7) I particularly like writing poems and angry posts about issues I care about.  Angry posts get my blood boiling, and poems cool me down.  I need a mixture of both.

8) I still write best in my bedroom, laying across my bed like I'm in middle school.  This is probably because this is how I have written since I was in middle school.  This is probably also why my wrists hurt and I'm going to end up with carpal tunnel one day.  I should probably break this habit before I write a book.  Or maybe I should just write a really short book.  Hmmmm....

9) Not everything I write needs to be a masterpiece.  If you're writing every day, it can't be.  Nothing I wrote this month was masterpiece worthy...but I wrote it anyway.

10)  I used to miss writing regularly.  Now I'm writing regularly and I miss sleep.  I wish I could do both. 

I'm not sure what I'm going to do in terms of keeping up with writing.  I want to continue writing semi-regularly, but the every day thing is just too much.  It's supposed to take 30 days to make a habit, but I have a feeling this hasn't stuck.  It's just a little too hard some days.  It's not that I'm an all or nothing kinda gal, it's just that...well...sometimes it's hard to do things, even if they're highly preferred.  Writing is in my blood, though.  I won't be gone long.  I can't be.  The writing always comes up to the surface.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

It's Tuesday (again). Don't do drugs.

Oh Tuesday.  I totally screwed up Tuesday this week.  I should have called out sick, because I woke up with a migraine at 4AM.  I took some meds, went back to sleep, woke up at 6:30 feeling slightly better and drove to work.  This was a mistake.  Whenever I go to work with a migraine, my clients seem to hold a contest as to who can scream the loudest.  Today, they all won. 

Have I ever mentioned that I hate Tuesdays?

I also made the mistake (which I have made before) of drinking soda (which I do very rarely) to try to help with getting rid of my migraine.  It helps to settle my stomach, and sometimes the caffeine does wonders for my head.  This was not the case today.  Once I realized that I had to get through 3 more hours of screaming, I decided to take (more) Excedrin Migraine.  The soda by itself is not a problem.  The Excedrin by itself is also not a problem.  The last time I mixed the two together, my sister asked me if I was on speed.  My mind feels like it's running in fast forward, and I'm not holding the remote. 


If I tried to write a legit post right now, I'm not sure how that would work out because I need to send an email to Cathy and Brian but I'm not sure if I did the best intervention today in session because maybe I reinforced too soon and should have used a time out but I need to buy mom a birthday present and don't know what to get but should buy K and D a present for going away but am not sure when to give it to them and I need to take the dog out but I forgot to have my supervisor sign the reimbursement form today and maybe I can scan it to her, I should write that down, but I wonder if that client's meds are off and that is why he was screaming, you should have asked about med changes -- why didn't you think of that?  Maybe I should read to try to focus -- where's your book?  I should check my email to see if that selective mutism textbook shipped yet, because I need to ask Linda to keep an eye out for it and I need to ask Sherie about those weird pages tomorrow.  I should write that down and I need to take the dog out and I wonder if your heart can explode from beating too fast, but if I could just focus on one thought I bet I could write something coherent, and I bet I won't sleep tonight, but I'm not going to worry about it, because whatever happens is what happens, and...

This is how my brain is working right now.  This is your brain on drugs, kids.  Don't do drugs. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Sacred Spaces: When my heart is in a holy place

Want to hear a weird story?

On Friday, I got out of work early, and I went to one of my "special places."  Everywhere I have lived, I have found one or two of these spots.  Places where I can reconnect and slow down.  I even took pictures, planning on writing about this place.  Then there was drama, my sister came to stay with me, and my plans were sidetracked. 
Taken at my "Sacred Space"
on Friday

Last night, I was going to write again about these special places, and about the importance of finding those spaces, and about how I need that space.  When I sat to write it, though, I got anxious and bothered, decided it wasn't the time, and wrote about the process of writing instead and how, sometimes, I just get anxious about topics I want to write about and can't write.  (Yeah...okay...busted). 

Tonight, I just had no idea about what to write.  I looked through my pictures from Friday, posted a couple to Facebook, decided I wasn't going to write about that, and then asked my FB friends (okay, maybe I pleaded...) for inspiration as to what I should write about.  I mean, I've been writing for 28 days straight.  I need a little inspiration here.
So my wonderful, beautiful friend responds: "Sacred spaces.  Holy ground.  Love in an elevator..."  (and then recants the last suggestion, citing the Aerosmith song). 

*shivers*  That gives me goosebumps.  (Not the Aerosmith song.  Steven Tyler does NOT give me goosebumps). 

So here we are, then.  I think I need to write about sacred spaces. 
Picture taken at my "sacred space"
on Friday
(This may be a wild ride.  My heart is saying "NO!" to writing about this, but my head is saying "yes," and I'm not entirely sure why they're in such disagreement.  Hold on tight, okay?).

A used bookstore/junk shop called "Off the Deep End" was the first place I remember identifying as a place I held sacred.  I have difficulty saying it was a "holy" or "sacred" place, seeing as it housed novelties like whoppie cushions, plastic flamingos, and fake dog poop...but the basement was awesome.  It smelled old and moldy, and was literally filled from floor to ceiling with books.  When I was a kid, this was our "go to" place on rainy days, days when we weren't getting along, bad homeschooling days...if something was awry, we went to "Off the Deep End," and spent $25 on armfulls of books.  The best part about it was that the young adult/poetry/fiction sections were on the complete opposite side of the basement from the kids section/nonfiction section that my mother and sisters liked to visit.  The young adult section was literally just a tiny little nook under the stairs.  There was never anyone else there, and no one would bother me.  I could sit there and go through books for a little bit and then, because I was a fast reader, I would pick up one that looked interesting -- but not interesting enough to pay for -- and I would read it, cover to cover, while everybody else was on the other side of the store.  If I was at home, even in my bedroom, I was always being bothered.  The space never felt like mine.  I was always waiting for the next interruption.  But in the nook under the stairs, I had at least a good solid hour when nobody would bother me.  I never saw anyone else there, so the space was essentially mine.  For 11 year old was pretty much heaven.  It's funny that this is the first place I think of when I think about my "sacred places," but it is--it's the first time I remember having the sacred place feeling about.  Not the sacred place feeling you get when you walk into a beautiful place of worship.  I'm talking about the comfortable sacred place feeling, where you can just be.  The feeling of fully embodying your true self and being able to just truly live in your skin, even if just for a moment.  The feeling of finally getting true solitude to unpack your soul and leave the messy pieces out to dry in the sunshine while you bask in the glorious weightlessness of setting everything down outside of yourself and letting yourself just be.
Am I the only one who knows this feeling?

I had other sacred places, too.  The little place past the blackberry bushes that you had to fight
The butterfly bush was COVERED
with butterflies.  If that's not sacred,
I'm not sure what is.
through near the stream in the woods next to our house.  There was nothing special about this place, other than the fact that I claimed it and I went there to think and to be alone.  The thinking and writing that happened there made it sacred.

When I went to college, the introvert in me required several sacred places: the bench by the duck pond.  The desk in the way way way back of the back of the library.  The computer lab at 2AM.  I needed those quiet places where I could open my heart onto paper, or lose myself in a book, or find myself walking through my thoughts.  Once I had a car, I drove out to the park near my school and sat on the grass between the geese poop, watching the geese, and listening to the rush of traffic on the highway.  My last year of college was complicated by innumerable difficult, painful, and traumatic family situations.  Everything about the process of going to the park became sacred: the drive to and from the park.  The ritual of parking and walking to my favorite spot.  The setting down and picking up of thoughts and burdens.  It was during this time that finding sacred places became not just important -- it was essential.

Taken at my "Sacred Space" on Friday
Moving to Ohio for grad school was challenging.  Starting over in a new city, in an entirely new have to find all new special places.  I did, though.  Quickly.  That one specific study room in the basement of the library.  The woods behind campus.  The arboretum not far from me.  The village not too far in the other direction.  The glen near the village.  Grad school was also the first time I felt like my space truly belonged to me.  I began creating little alters, and I made the space my own.  I made my tiny apartment a holy space.

I learned in my 2nd year of grad school how easily sacred places can be uprooted.  One Saturday night, I was cooking in the tiny kitchen of my on-campus apartment.  I had burned incense several hours earlier with some new incense I had gotten from my birthday, my windows were open, I had music playing, I was taking a break from studying, and my heart was at peace.  Suddenly, around 10:30PM there was a banging on my door, and a deep male voice announced that it was the campus police.  Frightened, I opened the door to find 4 cops and 2 RAs standing outside my door.  They asked me if there was illegal drug activity going on in my apartment -- to which I replied no (it was just me, cooking couscous in my kitchen).  They asked to search my apartment.  Not wanting to seem suspicious, and having nothing to hide, I said yes (not knowing I could say no).  Three of the cops went into my bedroom and bathroom, while the fourth and the 2 RAs stood by the door, watching me.  They asked me for my license and university ID, which I provided.  In the end, they determined I was "clean" and unsuspicious, and they left.  I went into my bedroom and found that they had not just looked in my room -- they had opened every drawer of my desk and dresser, had pushed things aside, and left everything looking messed up and gone through.  In relating the story to people afterwards, I could never quite put my finger on why it was so devastating.  It was because it was mine: it was my holy and sacred place, and suddenly, it reeked of someone loud and aggressive I had not wanted to let in.  It took me completely rearranging the apartment -- and several weeks -- before it felt sacred and mine again.
In my third year of grad school, I learned that when your body is violated, it's impossible to find a place that feels sacred.  For a while, I stopped trying to find sacred, holy places.  I wanted only to find a place that felt safe.  But when your body is not a safe place to reside, how can anything external be safe?  Books, learning, and academia were always safe places for me.  No longer.  Even my own apartment could not feel safe enough, secure enough, because even my own skin did not feel big enough or strong enough to contain what was coursing through my veins.  I wanted, needed, craved, even, to find a place where I could feel safe and feel some sort of connection with myself.  As time went on, I thought I would never find it again.  It got to be that I couldn't even imagine a place where this could be a reality.

It was after church one Sunday.  I was sitting in the back of a Borders bookstore working on my dissertation, surrounded by the smell of coffee and new books.  I had covered a table with all of my articles and books, had my computer open, and Pandora radio playing through my headphones.  I
The labyrinth at the Sisters of Bon Secours
was completely immersed in writing my discussion section and trying to understand my data, when I felt it.  I hit that point of safety and holiness, and although it lasted only a few moments, it gave me hope that I could find those places again.  The back of Borders became a safe place.  It wasn't QUITE as awesome as my cubby at "Off the Deep End," but it worked.  And I was grateful.

I slowly --slowly -- tried to rebuild my network of sacred places.  The Women's Center on campus became one sanctuary.  A coffee shop.  My church.  It was still hard, though, to try to identify that one place I could go when I needed to unpack my heart.  I never did find the sacred places there again.  Safe places, yes.  But not sacred.  Not holy.  There was nowhere I could consistently go to unpack my mind and heart and connect with something greater.
One of my altars
 And then I moved -- again -- to Maryland.  I was -- again --starting over, but this time, with much more baggage than before.  I started making altars again.  I bought a statue of Durga, who embodied the strength I wanted, and I made her a centerpiece in my home.  I created a sanctuary for myself. 

Then one day, I had to do something that was difficult, and frightening, and overwhelming.  It was something I had to do by myself, and I was scared.  I called in sick to work, got in my car, and started driving.  While traveling some back roads, I saw a sign for the "Sisters of Bon Secours."  I drove up a big hill, saw what looked like a well manicured convention center, and a large, beautiful, deserted labyrinth.  It was quiet.  There was no one around.  I didn't know what a sister of Bon Secours was, but it didn't sound like someone that would yell at me for walking a labyrinth.
I parked and spent the next hour walking the labyrinth.  I cried, and I unpacked my heart, and I examined all the pieces, and one by one, I put them back in.  Even the broken ones.  And then I sat, feeling everything that was beautiful and sacred and holy around me--and that's all.  I just sat there.  After another hour had passed, I stood up, gathered my belongings, and drove home.  I did the scary, difficult, and overwhelming thing that day.  I never would have been able to do it if it weren't for that sacred space.

I still don't know what or who the sisters of Bon Secours really are.  I never see anyone there.  But it is my spot.  I went there on Friday to clear my head and walk the labyrinth.  I spent 20 minutes just watching the butterflies on the butterfly bush.  Just the process of driving there makes my breath go deeper into my chest in anticipation. 
Another Sacred Space
I have many sacred spaces now.  My house with my Durga altar is one.  The labyrinth at the Sisters of Bon Secours is another.  The spot under the railroad tracks off the trail behind my house is a third.  These days, I seem to collect these sacred spaces like rocks in my pocket.  I sometimes bring them out and hold them in my hands, just to remember.  The sacred spaces bring my heart into a holy place: a place of gratitude and joy and pain and suffering and compassion.  I am always grateful for those moments.
Another one of my favorite hymns has a chorus that goes like this:

"When our heart is in a holy place
when our heart is in a holy place
we are blessed with love and amazing grace
when our heart is in a holy place."

 I could not agree more.

(And a video of kids singing this hymn...because nothing is more adorable than kids singing, right?).

What about you?  Where are your sacred spaces?  How do you find them?  How do you know they're sacred?
Final butterfly from Friday

Saturday, July 27, 2013

A rainy Saturday evening

I decided the other day that it would be really cool if I could record myself reading one of my poems and post it here.  So...I've done half of that equation.  I recorded it, and I spent a good hour trying to figure out how to make the file smaller, how to convert it to a different type of file, and how to get it to successfully post here.  I was unsuccessful on all counts.  I'm sure that it's easy if you (a) understand computers and (b) have the right software.  Unfortunately, I strike out on both a and b, and I'm not smart enough to read people's blogs on the issue and figure it out.  This is a serious bummer.

Some random fool also decided to try to hack into my computer this afternoon with his crazy FBI virus scam thing.  So then I had to unhack my computer.  I was successful with this endeavor; however, this was also a serious bummer.

I also (FINALLY) got approval to sit for The Big Test I've been studying for, so I tried to study today.  Right about the time I got halfway through the practice test, I was informed that the site will be down for maintenance this evening, and I won't be able to finish it.  This was the final bummer.  I think I'm through with technology for the day.

I've maintained my patience throughout the day, which is a good thing.  My sister spent the night last night, and I love her dearly, but after a while, I'm just glad to be alone.  The dog and I cuddled on the floor while I unhacked the computer, unsuccessfully attempted to convert files, and started (but didn't finish!) a practice test.  It's raining outside, and I'm okay with that.  It's just been a quiet sort of day.

I read a quote today attributed to Andrea Gibson: "Remember, you didn't come here to write your heart out.  You came to write it in."  As I am nearing the end of my "write something every day for a month" challenge, this is how I feel.  I resist writing like my life depends on it some days.  But when I do it -- when I make myself do it -- all the pieces fall together.  I don't write my heart out.  I write it in, and snap all the pieces around it into place, securing it (and me) together.  I like this image.

I don't understand why it continues to be so difficult sometimes (most times) to convince myself to write.  I go about my day hearing things, seeing things, thinking things, and thinking "ah, I should poem that," or "I like the way that sounds," or just getting that feeling I get of pure pleasure when I think of a phrase that is just right.  When I think of a phrase or a sentence that says exactly what is in my heart.  I don't have synesthesia, but I get these feelings with certain words or images or phrases that are just indescribable. 

(And I do mean indescribable.  I am sitting here, trying to think of how to describe it, and I can't.  It's an emotional thing.  It's a tingling thing.  It's an opening, releasing, closing, burying thing.  It's this bodily thing that happens that has always happened that is addictive and real.  It's why I keep writing -- so I can feel that rush-whir-tinglingness of everything falling together and apart simultaneously). 

I think part of it is that writing (for me) is real.  There's no bullshit.  I have trained myself to be able to write unfiltered.  It's genuine.  It is me.  And this is also scary as hell.  There are times when it is awesome and exciting and beautiful and fulfilling to spend time alone with me on the page.  And there are times when I would just rather not, you know?  There are times when it just isn't awesome, and it does not feel beautiful, and I would much rather avoid and escape and do something mindless and silly instead.  Sometimes I know why...and other times I don't.  There are times when I sit down to write that I just get anxious, because something wants to be said and I'm just not ready for it.  I know, however, that if I let myself start typing -- if I open the channel between my fingers and my heart and get my head out of the way -- it will come onto the paper.  Sometimes I just don't want that to happen. 

I wish, in those times, I could decide to write about something inane.  Or pick something random and exciting from the media to write about.  Like...I don't feel like writing what's in my heart, so I'll write a REALLY PASSIONATE ESSAY on the royal baby.  I WISH I could do that.  It would probably benefit me well.  If it was assigned to me, lord knows I could come up with something.  I've written enough essays and papers about ridiculous topics that I can whip 10 pages out of thin air like it's nothing.  But if I'm writing for me, well, it's just a different story.

However, I can say this: I started this blog 3 years ago, because I wanted to make myself believe that I was a writer and that I had something worthwhile to say.  I started this blog because having others read my writing made me anxious, and because I wanted to believe that my writing could be "good."  I've come a long way in those years.  I can now say with certainty that I absolutely am a writer.  I have much to say and to share.  I can and will share my writing with others -- both with anonymity and in person and out loud.  My writing -- it can be good.  I can also be self-indulgent, riddled with mis-placed commas, overly emotional, poorly written, ridiculous, and boring.  Just like everyone else who ever puts words on the page.  I sometimes produce great writing.  I sometimes produce shitty writing.  Whichever it happens to be, I am not alone.

This perspective doesn't mean that I don't beat myself up over it.  It doesn't mean that I don't berate myself sometimes over my comma usage, tired metaphors, or self-indulgent lines.  I do.  Regularly.  And then I remind myself that this is exactly what writing is about.  Writing crap means one thing: I'm a writer.    I think I'm okay with that.

Forgiveness (borrowing from old writing)

My sister is spending the night with me tonight, and we have spent the evening talking...such that I am about to fall asleep, without writing.

But I am ALMOST to the end of July.  So I'm going to borrow from some older writing (a few months ago) that I have not yet shared here.

My thoughts turned again to forgiveness, today, and what it means, so I figured this piece of writing was worth me re-reading, and perhaps worth sharing. 

What I've realized lately is that there is no magic forgiveness button.  No magic wand.  There is no road to Forgivenessland that I can see.  There isn't even a magic time that you can potentially wait around for in hopes of getting hit with the forgiveness stick.  From this, I had Realization Number 1: there is no secret that I am missing.  There is no secret to forgiveness that I am not smart enough to recognize.  There is no method of obtaining it that I don't have access to; it's not because I question the existence of god; it's not because I'm not "big enough" or "good enough" or "strong enough."  It is not my brokenness that prevents me from forgiving.

From here, I landed on Realization Number 2: I can make my own definition, and I can make it work for me.  As I sat, overwhelmed by the enormity of this task, I remembered the last lines of the poem "The Thing Is" by Ellen Bass: think "how can a body withstand this?"  Then you hold life like a face between your palms, a plain face, no charming smile, no violet eyes, and you say, yes.  I will take you.  I will love you again.

I sat for a few moments, trying to figure out why this poem came to me now.  I realized that if I had to name one thing that has helped me the most over the past three years, it would be starting and maintaining a daily, active practice of conscious and radical gratitude.  Starting out, it was nearly impossible.  Now, I keep a running list in my mind throughout the day.

It was then that I came to Realization Number 3: Gratitude is my practice of forgiveness.  In a world that can leave me feeling broken, being able to wake up and face the world again; to engage in this world and put myself out in it as a person, vulnerable and trusting; to fight to find at least one beautiful thing every single day: this is an act of active forgiveness.  It's my way of saying to a world where so many people hurt and continue to be hurt every day, "I am willing to take you on and see what is good in you."  That is forgiveness.  In a world where I know I could be hurt again, I am willing to say, "I see you, World, for the wonderful and terrible things you contain, and I am going to try to love you again."  That is hard, and it is powerful, and perhaps, it is an act of radical forgiveness.  Most importantly for me, this process is already in progress.  It's something I have known I needed and have moved towards as an act of healing. 

For me, perhaps forgiveness is not so much about an act of letting go as it is about reclaiming the small moments and allowing them to sift into my soul.  It's not so much about getting the people who hurt me out of my body as it is about letting the world in.  What happens to us is always part of our history, and we inhabit our history with our bodies, but the space in my soul is limitless.  The more I open my heart to the world and let her in, in spite of her own brokenness, the smaller the hurt becomes by comparison.  Forgiveness, for me, is a process of opening, rather than releasing. 

Finally, I settled on Realization Number 4: There is not an ultimate point of forgiveness.  There is not going to be a time when I can say "all is forgiven."  Forgiveness, for me, is a process that I can choose to actively engage or passively acknowledge.  The act of greeting the day, setting foot in this world, savoring the first sip of coffee or the smell of the earth at dusk- these are my daily reminders that I have not been broken.  These are the processes by which I choose to greet the world with new eyes, saying, "yes.  I am still here.  I forgive you enough to see this beautiful thing in you.  I will love you again."

Thursday, July 25, 2013

I'm awesome, right?

Sigh.  It's another night where I'm just going to have to ramble.  I always end up somewhere...I just have no clue where, and don't have a good starting point.  The only starting point I have is right here, right now.  We'll see together where we end up.

The wonderful moment of the day: I saw a little guy for a session this morning that was just fantastic.  This was our first session together, and he is just one of those really super special kids I fall in love with right away.  I walked him and his caregiver to their car and helped him get strapped in to his car seat.  "I'll see you in two weeks, buddy," I said.  "It was so nice meeting you today.  Thank you so much for coming in to see me."

He looked at me out of the corner of his eye, nervously.  "Do you like me?" he asked.

"Yeah, buddy," I said.  "I like you a lot.  I had a lot of fun meeting you today, and..."

"It's because I'm awesome, right?" he said.

"Absolutely," I said with a straight face.  "You are made of 100% awesome."  He grinned.  My heart pretty much melted.  I am so lucky to have contact with so many beautiful little souls.

The not so wonderful moment of the day led me to think about the importance of speaking our truths.  I don't mean telling people how you really feel and being bitchy about it.  People seem to think that's what is meant by "speaking your truth."  It seems like some people think they can say all sorts of awful or slanderous things and, if they follow it up with "I'm just speaking my truth," everyone should be all cool and zen with it because, you know, it's her truth, man.

When I say "speaking your truth," I mean saying what it is that is true, for you, in that moment, and owning it.  It's not about saying "you made me feel X, Y, and Z," it's about saying, "when I hear you say this, I interpret that as X."  "When you said that, I heard you saying this."  It's about saying: "for me, this was the impact of your words."  This way, it opens up space for the person to clarify the intention.  Perhaps the intention and the impact line up.  Perhaps they don't.  But there is so much power in being able to say, "this is what I think happened, and it hurt me."  This is what I am hearing, and it hurts. 

Over the years, through a variety of situations, it has become extraordinarily important to me to make sure that I "own" what is mine in an argument or a relationship or a problem.  In the same vein, it is just as important to me that the other person "own" what is theirs.  The part of this whole thing, obviously, that I can't master, is being able to have this conversation without attachment to the outcome.  Knowing that I have spoken my truth just isn't enough.  I want to know that the other person has received it, that they "got it," and that we are moving somewhere.  Obviously, none of these things are things I can control.  But man, I really wish I could.  I don't have to write the whole script, but if I could just write the ending....

What I'm trying to figure out is this: if you know (from previous attempts) that any sort of conversation in which you speak your truth is NOT going to go well, at what point do you just let it go?  At what point do you just cut your losses, deal with the stomachaches associated with not speaking your truth, and move on?  At what point is speaking your truth not the appropriate way to draw boundaries?  Particularly if this is a person you need to continue having in your life?

I wish I could have the...I'm not even sure of the word here...shamelessness (?) to just ask the questions like my little client did this morning.  "Do you like me?...It's because I'm awesome, right?"


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Wednesday's Post

I literally have a list of ideas I could write about, and I should just choose one and start typing.  Life always gets better once I just start typing.  For some reason, though, I don't feel like choosing any of those topics.  I don't really feel like writing.  I just kind of feel like rambling.  Do you want to come with me while I ramble? 

While I was driving home today, pieces of Eve Ensler's "Manifesta to Young Women and Girls" came into my mind.  The first half of the poem resonates with me, but the second half is what came to mind: "...fight for tenderness/care as much as you do/cry as much as you want.../ why am I whispering when I have something to say?/ Why am I adding a question mark at the end/of all my sentences?/...Pretending it doesn't mean that much to me?"  And of course, the ending:
You know the truth:
Sometimes it does hurt that much
Horses can feel love
Your mother wanted more than that
It’s easier to be mean than smart
But that isn’t who you are.
In my mind, I keep moving into what I want to say tonight, but I know I've said it already.  What I want to say I've written a thousand times before.  It just doesn't feel worth saying again.
But I'm going to say it anyway.  Maybe if I write it now 1001 times, then I'll reach some sort of conclusion.
Here's the problem (that I've said before): I am deeply sensitive to everything around me.  I have always been this way.  I will always be this way.  There was a time when I hated this about myself.  I don't hate it anymore.  I think I am learning to channel it better, and it is not as overwhelming.  It is who I am -- not just part of who I am, or a piece of who I am...this "sensitive" thing is who I am in the very center of my core.  It's more than just an emotional thing.  I am 100% convinced that it is a neurological thing.  Medications effect me more, what I eat effects me more, lights, noises, other people, all effects me more.  I mean, good lord, even my skin breaks out or gets angry if the wrong thing blows the wrong direction.  I don't really know, obviously, if it is different for me, seeing as I've only ever been me (that I remember, anyway).  But I just think that it has to be different.  If everyone was this way then more people would "get it," right?
This is triggered because I (again) had someone tell me "you just care too much."  Too much.  You care too much.  I hate hearing this.  "You're just too sensitive" and "you care too much" are two things I wish I could never hear again.  It feels like somebody saying "Come on now, Auto, your hair is just too brown.  Your eyes are just too green."  It doesn't make sense.  I don't choose how much I care.  I don't wake up in the morning, put on my glasses, turn on the coffee maker, and start up my Care-O-Meter.  If I had one, believe me, I would choose to turn it down a notch some days.  But I can't.  I just can't.
Maybe people think it is something I can just turn off, though.  Maybe they think that, if I really wanted to, I could just shut that whole caring thing down. And maybe, if I figured out how, I could do it.  I do know that there was a time when it felt like my heart was shut down.  It felt like I could not let anything out -- like there was a wall, and a mote, and a big metal lock on my heart.  It was awful.  I felt like a robot, or a zombie, and not only could I not let anything out, I also couldn't let anything in.  I would rather feel too much than try to live that way. 
Am I the only one that hears "sensitive" as having a negative connotation?  Sensitive is like...people who cry because they think somebody looked at them funny.  Sensitive is someone who gets prickly or upset easily.  Sensitive is someone who cries at toothpaste commercials.  Sensitive is someone who can't handle "real life" issues.
With my job, I'm pretty sure I handle as much "real life" as a person can.  I don't cry at toothpaste commercials.  I don't get prickly or angry or upset easily.  Maybe it's not, then, sensitivity as much as it is intensity.  I've been told that, too: "you're too intense."  "Just lighten up, you're too intense." 
Or maybe the problem isn't so much with the word itself as it is with the descriptor: "too." Too much.  Too intense.  Too sensitive.  Too caring.  It's like I am just overflowing with excess that I can't see, but that people around me would rather I get rid of.  They would rather I just rein it in a little.  Make it fit.  You can't just have women going around spewing sensitivity, right?  Can't just have intensity falling out on the floor.  Nobody wants to be picking up extra caring lying around after I've been there.  Pack it in.  Pick it up.  Keep it neat. 
There is a quote from Andrea Gibson that I love: "A doctor told me once I feel too much.  I said 'so does God.  It's why you can see the Grand Canyon from the moon.'"  If there was such a thing as a Care Detector up in space, my body would light up like its own small planet. 
To quote Lady Gaga: "Baby, I was born this way."
It's not easy.  But it is who I am.

Tuesday's post

I honest to goodness had every intention of writing a post last night.  I even knew what I was going to write about.  But, as I THINK I've mentioned, Tuesdays are awful.  And yesterday was doubly awful, because I had to do it all with a migraine.  I came home, took some Excedrin, decided to write, laid down on my bed to wait for the Excedin to kick in....and woke up at 2AM, lights still on, contacts still in, head still hurting, blog post -- unfortunately -- still unwritten.  I took some more Excedrin and called it a night.

So here is Tuesday's post, a day late. 

Just as an FYI...if I had one of those magic pen things like Rita Skeeter had in Harry Potter, I could write 3 posts a day (one while driving to work, one while driving home from work, one while in the shower/washing dishes).  I try to get Siri to take down my general ideas sometimes while I'm driving, but that never works out so well.  Maybe it's just me, but Siri and I are not friends.  Best example: I am currently studying for (and almost finished with!) the EPPP (the national licensure test in psychology, known to those familiar with it as the "E Triple P").  I made a reminder one day on my phone to send my friend, Stacy, some EPPP materials.  I figured Siri would translate my reminder to "E Triple P," which is awkward, but fine.

Wrong.  I had a reminder that said "Email Stacy Etrip Okie."

I promptly sent Stacy an email with this picture:
This, my friends, is EPPP, personified.  Or...anim-onified (is it personification if it's an animal?).  Luckily, Stacy gets my sense of humor, and has also benefitted from personifying this dreadful test.  I like to think Eatrip Okie is scared of us.  And how badly we're going to beat his butt. 
He looks scared of us, right?  Look at those bulgy eyes!  And his hair/fur sticking out all over his body!  And his ears all wigging out on the side of his head!  He's petrified!  Eatrip Okie is trembling whenever we draw near.
.....or maybe waiting to kill me in my sleep?
If I die a sudden, painful death of unexplained causes, you can be pretty sure it was this guy.  Eatrip Okie.  GUILTY!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Love Poem for Self

Lauren Zuniga is one of my favorite poets right now.  I was going to write something tonight, but then I got caught up in trying to do something that could potentially be REALLY COOL tomorrow...but I can't get it to work for tonight.  So instead, I'm posting somebody else's poem (that I wish I had written).  Come back tomorrow.  There could be something REALLY COOL.

If you were to write a love poem for yourself...what would it sound like?  Would it read like this one?

Love Poem for Self -- Lauren Zuniga

There are a thousand blonde hairs on your arm
sprawled out like hippies on the lawn
lying on their side, waiting for new freckles to appear
like history in the sun, you shaved them once.
You didn’t like the furry halo they formed
around your chubby limbs. Like an announcement
that you were not made of gold clay like the other girls
in the seventh grade. It grew back with resentment.

There is a bump on your wrist, a souvenir of an accident.
Sometimes when it’s quiet, I like to kiss it because it
reminds me of women. A dainty hinge of forgiveness.
I won’t tell you how beautiful your hands are because
we know how much you hate them. How you curse their
dimpled stubs, but have you seen them move like language?
Have you seen them palm a phrase, hand it to the air around
a stage or serve as a runway for a kiss blow to a child’s face?
Hold them open. Let me love them.

Let me love your full moon belly. Thick trunk of growth rings
that recedes in and circles out, an earth song swelling.
You were marked as a life giver, so baby, stop referring
to yourself with names only fit for cattle on feedlots.
You are a labyrinth of miracles, explore this.

Make your way through the bends and angles to the
auburn nest. Part the hedge with your fingers.
Plant names like Home, Adore, Gratitude, Wonder,
watch them pulse with nourishment and burst
into a pleasure wilderness. Can you believe your
body can do this?

I want to map the stories, take them out of their case
and remind you of the whole scene. Like your jagged eyelid
and crooked brow that you despise so much. They took on
flying shards of glass to protect your iris. Your hips, spread
wide as wings, served as the opening for the two reasons
you wake up in the morning. And do you remember how soft
your hair felt against your neck as you put your finger down
your throat like a coat hanger, unlocked a thousand calories
of anger, heaved and trembled until there was nothing left.
Can you believe your body can hold that much regret?

Baby, stop trying to fold yourself up into a flattened perfume
picture of a girl. You are more 3D than these city streets.
You are parks, gutters and laughter. When everyone else
has gone away, when the applause has faded, watch how
the street lights reflect in the pavement . How the sounds
clash and move like progress. Let me love you.
Like only I know you. Let me love you. Like it would end
wars if I loved you hard enough. Let me love you like
we could heal the whole damn world, if you just knew
what you were worth.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

For Ethan Saylor

Unless you happen to live near me -- or happen to be friends with me on Facebook, you likely have not seen or heard this story. 

Robert "Ethan" Saylor, a 26-year-old man with Down Syndrome, went to see the movie "Zero Dark Thirty" with his aide on January 12th, 2013.  After the movie, Ethan went back into the theater, because he wanted to see it again.  When asked to leave or to purchase another ticket, Ethan refused (due to the fact that he did not have any money on him).  Security (police moonlighting as mall security) was called.  Ethan continued to refuse to leave, and became agitated (as the police were warned by his aide).  His mother reports that, even as this was occurring, Ethan was on the phone attempting to get someone to come and give him money to buy another movie ticket.  This fact is not being reported -- and was not acknowledged, as it appears the officers did not take the time to piece together what Ethan may be doing, and he was unable to communicate this verbally. 

Ethan was then handcuffed and started to be taken out of the theater.  He was taken down to the ground -- on his stomach -- where he stopped breathing.  His death was ruled a homicide.  There was blood in his lungs and unexplained damage to his larynx.  His mother was on her way to the theater, called by Ethan's aide.  She was 5 minutes away.

The grand jury ruled that no further investigation was necessary.  The three officers involved have continued to work and received no consequences.  Ethan was unarmed.  He was reportedly calling for his mother when he died.  He was a young man with a developmental disability.  Some reports state that Down Syndrome -- a developmental disability, and not a disease -- was a factor in his death.

This, of course, is only a rough sketch of what happened, from the information I have gathered.  There are plenty of articles you can read if you want more of the story, but the fact of the matter is that his family is STILL looking for the full story.  They are still looking for answers.  They are just beginning this fight for justice.

Problem number 1: The police department acknowledges that their officers were not trained in managing crises involving individuals with disabilities.  This is unacceptable.  There are different skills that are needed.  There are different ways of managing the crisis.  Even just knowledge of what Down Syndrome is, and what behaviors are common for individuals with Down Syndrome (like...noncompliance, for example) could have changed the situation.  Knowing to give the person space and time to de-escalate.  Knowing not to touch a person with a developmental disability, as it may further escalate them.  Knowing that individuals with disabilities often are more prone to asphyxiation when on their stomach due to low muscle tone and decreased core strength.  I'm not saying they need a degree in special education or psychology.  I'm saying that knowledge of any ONE of the above four factors could have prevented this tragedy from occurring.  I'm saying that an hour long training, or even a simple fact sheet that is reviewed, could have easily contained the above information (and more).  And Ethan could still be alive.

Ethan was not being aggressive and attacking others in the theater.  He just wanted to watch the $12 movie once more.  A 26-year-old man died over a $12 movie at the hands of police officers.  Have you let that sink in?

Problem number 2: Why is Ethan's death -- which was ruled a homicide -- not being prosecuted as a homicide?  Why is there not more media coverage and outrage?  Why is the family still waiting for answers, 7 months later?  Why are they still fighting to have an independent investigation done to hopefully reveal some answers?

I know the answer.  In my gut, I know the answer, but it hurts me to type it.  The answer to all of the above questions is this: people with disabilities are not as valued as people who are able-bodied and developmentally and neurologically typical.   People with disabilities are still feared, and their lives, deaths, and injustices do not register on people's radar in quite the same way.  People with disabilities continue to be seen as less worthy.  People with disabilities continue to be seen as less human.

I can hear people arguing with me about this.  "'s not true.  Things like this just don't happen very often.  This was a very unusual situation." 

If that's true, then I guess you haven't heard about this.  Or this.  Or this.  Or this.  Or about the number of men, women, and children with disabilities who die or are injured while being restrained.  Or how about the stories told to me by the men and women I worked with who had spent their entire lives in "developmental centers" or "institutions?"  Would you prefer to hear the stories straight from their mouths?  What about the young woman I am currently with who does not understand that she is being bullied, but is being so severely bullied, a teacher and a classmate finally came forward to her parents.  The family had to get a lawyer involved because the school was not responding to stop the bullying. 

So let's think about it this way instead.  Ethan was one year younger than me.  Let's say that, instead, something happened at that same movie theater.  Let's say that, instead, I was the one taken out of the movie theater in handcuffs.  Let's say, instead, that I was the one who died in police custody.  Let's say that after I died, the officers were not suspended and were permitted to continue working.  Let's say that they continued to allege that, even though my death was ruled a homicide, they had done nothing wrong and were merely following protocol.  Is that different?  Is it different when you change the players such that it was a 27 year old, white, straight, cisgender, nondisabled female who died senselessly?  If it IS different, think about why.  What values do you hold that make it different?  What is it about my life that is different than Ethan's?  What is it about my death that would warrant more of a response?  Is it more of an injustice?  Is my life worth more than his?  Could you look me in the eye and tell me that?  Could you look Ethan's mother in the eye and say that to her?  Or how about Ethan?  Or another young person with Down Syndrome?  Could you look them in the eye and tell them that their death would not be quite as much of an injustice?

The history of our understanding of disabilities has everything to do with this.  In the beginning, disability was understood through what has been termed the "moral model."  Disability was seen as stemming from a family's sin or wrongdoing.  Persons with disabilities were seen as not fully human, and they were shut away from society.  They were given "evil" or "magical" attributes (and were occasionally seen as exceedingly good or "saintlike").  Our basic ideas of persons with disabilities as being weak and requiring mercy and compassion, as well as our lingering fear of disabilities, stem from this history. 

As a society, we moved into what is understood as the "medical (or normalcy) model" of disability, which indicates that disability is something to be fixed or cured.  The goal is to eliminate the disability and move towards normalcy.  This is progress.

There are people who are attempting to push us forward further still towards a "minority model" understanding, through which disability is viewed, not as a consequence of an individual's abilities and needs, but as a result of the environment surrounding him.  A common, easy to understand example: a person who uses a wheelchair is able to access areas that are wheelchair accessible.  When he/she encounters a place that is not accessible, this is NOT the result of his/her disability, but a failure in the environment. 

Ethan's death was not due to his Down Syndrome.  Ethan's death was in part the result of fear and ignorance.  Ethan was not "disabled" by his diagnosis of Down Syndrome.  He was disabled -- and ultimately killed by -- the fact that the people in the position of authority did not know how to best respond to his needs.  That is an environmental and organizational failure.  That is not a reflection on Ethan, his disability, his ability, or his behavior.  Ethan's extra 21st chromosome did not kill him.  Ignorance did.  Let's not let ignorance, fear, and devaluation continue to dictate the decisions that are made.  We as a society can be better.  The Saylors deserve more.  Ethan deserves more. 
This is for Ethan.  This is for Ethan's family.  And this is also for the many, many children, young adults, and older adults with disabilities that I know and love.  Your lives are valuable.  There are many of us who stand with you in this fight.

If you need your heart to be further broken, read this by his younger sister, published in the Washington Post.

If you read nothing else I posted, at least go sign this petition from the family, asking for an independent investigation. 
If you want ideas of what you can do, or you want to learn more, visit this site with its list of resources.

If you want to learn more about Down Syndrome, visit the National Down Syndrome Society.

Full disclosure: I met Ethan on several occasions.  I worked for a summer with his mother, a RN.  I met his sister.  However, I maintain that I would be this angry if it were someone that I had never met.

The Garden Entrusted to You

So first of all, today didn't exactly go as planned.  I planned on going back to my house today, but it was a complicated day and...well...the self-care and good boundaries I HAD planned had to be put on the back burner.  I am sleeping amongst the herbs for one more evening, with the intention of leaving tomorrow morning.  Also, my sister's cat pooped on my bed.  I'm not even kidding.  This all leaves me again, then, without a comfortable means of writing what I want to write, an anxious mind, and a keyed up body.  Ever have those days where, when you finally sit down, you can practically hear your body go "ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzing!  ZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzing!" with all the excess energy still pinging around inside?  That's where I'm at now.

I am also, though, remembering the last line of this poem:

The Garden by Antonio Machado

The wind, one brilliant day, called
to my soul with an odor of jasmine.

'In return for the odor of my jasmine,
I'd like all the odor of your roses.'

'I have no roses; all the flowers
in my garden are dead.'

'Well then, I'll take the withered petals
and the yellow leaves and the waters of the fountain.'

the wind left. And I wept. And I said to myself:
'What have you done with the garden that was entrusted to you?' 

This line haunts me from time to time.  "What have you done with the garden that was entrusted to you?"  Our souls are gardens given to us -- entrusted to us-- in this life.  On nights like tonight, when my heart just hurts as I try to figure out where I stand, I wonder what I did with my garden today.  I think I neglect it quite a bit.  It could have used some water today.  It surely could have used a bit of water, actually.  Instead, I let others take away the withered petals and the fallen leaves.  

I am wondering, too, about boundaries.  I'm bad at them.  Extraordinarily bad at them.  I'm getting better, but it's not easy.  I'm wondering how we build fences around our gardens so they are able to flourish.  Or not even necessarily about just walking paths, so you can walk THROUGH my garden, but you may not trample my roses.  You cannot step on my hydrangeas.  You may not pick my zinneas.  I need some walking paths is what I need.  And a couple "Do Not Enter" signs for the especially important places.

What does your soul garden need?  What have you done with the garden entrusted to you?

Saturday, July 20, 2013

And yet, I'm still writing's really late.  I'm exhausted.  And I'm not at home.

I couldn't sleep last night because of the heat at my house.  I had a long day at work.  Then I had an event after work I had to go to.  Then my mom called and asked me to please please PLEASE come to their house (about 45 minutes from me).  So I did, but didn't get here till around 8:30.

Home is always an escapade.  Tonight is no exception.  I'm exhausted, but just came up to my bedroom to find that it has been transformed into a room in which to hang herbs.  Given that both of my sisters are also home, I am stuck here, amongst the herbs.

I am sure there is something funny or profound in that.  A proverb or something, right?  "She who sleepeth among herbs shall know true _________."  Or "She who sleepeth with rosemary and oregano shall find ______________."  I'm not even sure what herbs they are.  They look....dried.

I had this awesome post I was going to write, but it's going to have to wait for tomorrow.  Between the hour and the escapade and the herbs, my thoughts are a little jumbled.  Weird, right?

Thursday, July 18, 2013


It's not often that I get grumpy.  I get frustrated, and angry, and anxious, and occasionally withdrawn, but grumpy?  Not very often at all.

However, tonight I am genuinely grumpy.  Fussy.  Crabby.  Irritable.  Surly.  Here's why:

1.  It is hot.  It is so freaking hot.  I don't have central AC, which is fine, but the heat index of over 100 with over 70% humidity has taken a bit of a toll.  I have a fan in my bedroom, and a little AC unit thing in the living room, and a ceiling fan in the kitchen...and honestly, 99% of the time it doesn't bother me at all.  This week, though, has been killer.

2. I'm so freaking tired of the news.  This happens to me every now and again.  I just get completely burned out and disillusioned with the world.  I try taking "media breaks," but it's hard when your friends and colleagues are politically minded, sharing articles and making conversation at work.  It's hard when you just want to hear what the traffic conditions are as you're stuck on I-70, so you turn on the radio.  It's hard when you want to laugh and watch a funny video of a sneezing baby panda or a cat riding a vacuum and your YouTube suggests videos with headlines that make your heart hurt.  It's hard when your client is 15 minutes late and you can't start a task, because you know they're coming, so you pull up Huffington Post on your phone and are bombarded with headlines of "Chilling Photos of Bombing Suspect's Arrest Emerge," and "Trayvon's Mom: 'I have no clue' now how my oldest son should stay safe" and the whole sickening Rolling Stone issue, and 3 Planned Parenthoods closing in Texas, "College Rapist Punished with Essay, $75 Fee."  (Yes, I also saw the article entitled "Pizzeria Owner Denies Masturbating in Kitchen After Security Picture Leaks"...but you just reach a certain point where you even feel angry about that, you know?).  I know this passes.  It always does.  But in the meantime, when I'm this hot, it's just hard.

2.5 (Because this is closely related to #2)  There was also a link on Huffington Post to a series of pictures about why dogs are awesome and why you should have a dog.  I clicked it this evening, because it was better than racism, glorified bombers, and rape.  It started out adorable...cute pictures of dogs doing cute things...but then it turned into this thing that was all sentimental and cute and made me cry, because when I'm grumpy, my emotions just bubble right below the surface.  I mean, for real?  When did I become the type of person who cries at pictures of dogs?  

(Uhhh...I've always been that person...but don't tell.  Shhhhh....).

3. I got my butt kicked by a small child.  He seriously wore me down.   Hour long tantrums in which
furniture is hurled, it takes 2 staff to clean out a room and 2 staff to hold the kid, and the child screams inappropriate things for 45 minutes...they'll wear you out really quickly.  As an aside -- my favorite quote ever from a very angry, tantruming child?  It's a tie between: "Fuck you, you fucking swamp monster!" and "You're a potato head!  I hate you Mrs. Potato Head!" and "Wait until I rip my underwear!  You'll be sorry when I rip my underwear!"  There were a couple good lines tonight, too.  The kids are really hurting and mad, so I shouldn't laugh...but sometimes, at some point, 30 minutes into a killer tantrum, when you get called a swamp becomes pretty much the funniest thing ever.

4. I had a migraine before the tantrum, and it was totally my fault.  I stopped at the grocery store this morning on the way to work, and I bought a bottle of Starbucks "Iced Coffee + Milk" that was in the check-out lane while I was there.  There were two different ones - one that had a blue label that said "2% milk and lightly sweetened" and the other said it was caramel flavored with a yellow label that said "2% milk and lightly sweetened."  Not being a fan of caramel, I opted for the blue label one.  I DIDN'T see, however, that at the TOP of the bottle, in little letters on the blue label, it said "low calorie."  Even though companies and scientists and the FDA and researchers and whoever say that artificial sweeteners don't cause migraines, I can tell you with absolute certainty that they do (for me).  Also, I find that this stuff hides in things where you wouldn't expect it, and while it IS always labeled as "lite" or "low-calorie," sometimes, those words are hard to find.  I bought yogurt the other day that I then had to return because I got mixed up between the "low-fat/2% milk" yogurt and the "low-calorie-will-make-you-feel-like-death" yogurt. 

I realized what I had done because of the taste (and it DOES taste different), but even just the couple sips was enough to trigger a migraine.  It makes me grumpy that (a) this causes me migraines, (b) everything has this crap in it, and (c) it's so hard to identify.  Let's come up with one word, or one color, or something so that it's not a guessing game. labels with the words CONTAINS ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS in bold, nice and big would be perfect.  Thanks.

5. I have this really complicated interpersonal situation going on that is stressful.  It requires me to practice drawing very firm boundaries, repeatedly, in a very direct manner.  This is hard for me.  It makes me uncomfortable and anxious, and I feel really mean.  I know that this is something that I have to do, but the other person isn't making it easy.  It isn't easy for either of us.  All my other ways of attempting to navigate the situation have been unsuccessful, however, so for my own well-being...I have to do it.  Reminding myself that I am worthy of this is hard. 

6. I officially fell off the gratitude train.  Starting and cultivating a daily gratitude practice has been the most helpful thing I possibly could have done.  It gives me perspective, and it helps me to stay grounded.  Today, though...I'm not feeling quite so grateful.  I'm hot.  I'm tired of the fact that the world sucks.  I have Post Migraine Funk Syndrome.  I am tired from navigating pissed-off kids.  I am tired from stressful interpersonal situations that make me question myself. Gratitude is the sugar for the lemonade.  Without it, your lemonade will be drink-able, but it's going to suck a little bit.

But I am grateful for my dog, because he is hilarious and loving and cuddly.  And I am grateful for watermelon, because it is cold and juicy and delicious.  And I am grateful for the fact that tomorrow, I get to wake up and start all over again.  I am grateful that none of this grumpiness needs to carry into tomorrow.  And I am grateful for the perspective that, even if it does, I will get to start again in the next moment, and the next, and again in the one after that.