TV Psychotherapy

My mind has experienced a lot of shifts recently. I have changed the way I communicate thanks to some insights of the teenager, some stress at work, and a variety of great support from friends and family.

In the midst of all this, there is the Coronavirus pandemic which allows a lot of introspection for those of us who try to be self-aware.

I’m not a big television watcher. I grew up in a rural setting in a valley by the river where we had poor television reception. We didn’t receive access to cable until I was a teenager.

When I left home, my husband and I chose not to pay for cable (and this was Netflix first started and they mailed you discs and prepaid envelopes— streaming was not a thing).

So, Hulu and Netflix on my iPad have allowed me to explore decades of pop culture. And I realize that many of these reality television programs can offer a window as to how we all face our struggles and build our relationships.

While I originally started watching Gordon Ramsay, it was because I love food and he had a reputation that I wanted to understand. I also like big, athletic guys with bad attitudes and exotic accents.

But the more I watched— whether it was Hell’s Kitchen, Kitchen Nightmares, Hotel Hell or other Ramsay programs— I saw people of all backgrounds reaching toward goals of increased knowledge and skills, wanting a better life, and working to impress not only a mentor but a larger-than-life icon, a modern God.

And Ramsay pulls talent out of people and sees something in people. It’s amazing to watch.

Inspiring.

Shows like 90-Day Fiancé show how desperately people want to be loved and the lengths they will go to— whether in hope of love or acceptance or, again, that desire for a better life or a Green card.

Now, I’m watching Hoarders. I watched the first episode because I’ve been in a hoarded house and it is mind-blowing. I wanted to understand.

I have learned how our upbringings and traumas intersect and influence how we communicate and relate. That stuff, shopping, accumulating, giving up and other verbs… it’s a manifestation of our emotional walls. I would classify My Secret Addiction (or is it My Unusual Addiction?) in the same realm—how to cope.

And then you take a show like Transitions, where people explore their gender identity, and I suddenly see how much of a struggle they have to live as the person they really are versus the person they feel forced to be by family and society. That’s strength.

And why you really want a good outlook, and to see hope, enthusiasm and change, you watch Queer Eye.

Feeling the love

The work stress hit me hard this morning so I did something I don’t normally do— I admitted that I needed some emotional support on Facebook.

It is my birthday after all.

At least four of my former bosses sent words of encouragement and one brought some edible arrangements fruit to my house.

Several neighbors sent well-wishes, one of whom got me not one but TWO drinks from Dunkin’. Which, now that I have had three of the matcha lattes, I have decided that Dunkin doesn’t make their matcha strong and chunky the way I like it.

One colleague FaceTimed with me on a coffee break and most of them sent email greetings as Mr. Accordion had no doubt alerted them to my advancing years. Or levels.

The teenager and her father are off to pick up the popcorn fundraiser. Her father offered to bring me dinner.

I will be finishing my G journal if not tonight then tomorrow— and I believe a fresh journal means a new chapter.

For more on my birthday adventures:

Kicking off my birthday

Pre-Birthday Magic

An easier Monday

I struggle a lot with my birthday and holidays. I always have the best hopes and best intentions but somehow my mood often sours.

My birthday is Wednesday.

And the fact that I have three major grants due this Friday doesn’t help.

And I’m disappointed that my boss hasn’t approved my vacation for next week.

But today took an unexpected turn…

I drank too much coffee, consumed too much sugar (a sour cream doughnut and too many jelly beans), and somehow managed to draft two of those grants today.

Now I’m sure I will be asked to redraft and revise five times by Friday… but part of me hopes maybe I could take my birthday off. Maybe I can have a vacation.

The teenager left for her grandmother’s this afternoon and I miss her. In part because I had a good day and I want to share my good mood with her.

Her grandmother and her father are really the only two people she sees with this lockdown so I hope she appreciates the change of scenery. She’s supposed to bake me a lemon cardamom cake.

After work, I reorganized some cupboards while watching the last season of The Great on Hulu.

I went for a walk with my neighbor.

I helped another nonprofit with their CDBG grant— the same one I wrote for my agency today.

I made myself this platter for a light supper:

And I received emails that my birthday purchases to myself have mostly shipped.

I also got a text from CVS that my prescription is ready which is exciting on many levels.

  1. I thought my prescription didn’t have any refills left. And I was literally staring in the bottle wondering if I had enough to make it to my doctor appointment scheduled for June 2.
  2. CVS sent me a coupon for a free nail polish on my birthday. A sexist notion really— but I like free things. And I should start doing my nails again since I won’t be able to get a manicure for a while.
  3. I have a $25 CVS gift card.

So, for a Monday, it was a mighty fine day.

Friday morning musings

Once I finish this, I will be logging into work. I don’t expect it to be an easy day, but I expect it to be decent. And it’s Friday. I have a meeting tonight with… let’s just say a freelance “client” about some editing I am doing on a key project. A good project. A project that could have a positive impact on my community.

I know my posts lately have been lists and animal updates. I’ve been musing a lot about what parts of life really bring personal contentment— and how that has to mesh with corporate America’s expectation that we are the worker bees. We are judged by our productivity, which is defined not by the benefit to the greater good but as money pocketed by those fortunate enough to stand among the elite.

Coupled with these thoughts of critical theory against the capitalistic machine, I find myself musing over pleasure versus good and its contribution to wellness. Let me explain, if I can.

Yesterday, I had some work stress that I had anticipated. So I ordered a pizza to provide some feel-good endorphins to keep my focus away from the computer screen and the universe that exists there now. I had dressed for the office, thinking that would give me confidence in this stressful time.

Dressing up at the home office

It worked— but I was so cold I soon had to change.

By the end of the day, ALL of the food choices I had made had no real nutritional value.

  • Breakfast: coffee and chocolate chip muffin
  • Lunch: half a Little Caesars Pepperoni Cheeser Cheeser and Coke Zero
  • Dinner: regular size bag of Cool Ranch Doritos and a Yuengling
Yes, I’m wearing footy pajamas in May

And now my weight is up. I’m about five pounds above my ideal weight now. But I look in the mirror and I see me. I don’t see five extra pounds.

They don’t lessen who I am.

But if I allow the cycle to continue, the pattern will negatively impact my health. So I need to chose.

Meanwhile today is warmer, but cloudy. I put on one of my favorite summer dresses and a cute cropped quasi-sweatshirt. I finished up the half and half so no more hot coffee. It’s free donut Friday at Dunkin if I leave the house. And the teenager has a fundraiser due today.

We need to clean this weekend, and the kittens gutted my one shelf in my closet (but they are so cute and give good cuddles so all is forgiven).

Maybe I have given you something to ponder. Happy Friday.

Wednesday Update With Mundane and Animal News

Good morning! So many little things have happened I will mention them here in case you are curious.

  • I have been wearing my Horus necklace so far this week— as “protection” and “healing” from stresses with a multitude of stresses at work. Today I am switching to my “keep going” amulet as my boss has added to my deadlines, moving up work I had planned to do in early June to a deadline of June 1.
  • I’m concerned about the shifting deadlines, because I have something like 40 hours of vacation time expiring at the end of June and I’ve been trying to get it approved since early March and my boss keeps saying she’s not comfortable approving it until she has more assurance my work will be done. I had asked to take the last week of April, but the pandemic shifted our work flow so I rescheduled to the end of May. I need the time off. My batteries are done.
  • But more pleasant things… Nala has been grooming my new haircut.

Nala grooming me

  • I am so sick of this cold May weather. I can’t get warm. I decided to wear my thickest winter socks and sweatpants today. I hate sweatpants but I hate cold more.
  • Fog spent last night locked on the sun porch. I was slightly sad that Fog didn’t say goodnight to me, but when only three cats turned up for breakfast I knew something was up. And— the big news— Fog is a boy. The teenager and I had questions about that cat’s anatomy for quite some time as “she” protected “her” belly and behaved with much modesty. But the teen and I both thought “she” had testicles, but couldn’t get a good look to see what was under the hood, so to speak. Last night, Fog took a bath in front of me, spread “her” legs, displayed “her” penis and washed it. No doubts now.
  • And Misty loves water. He’s absolutely mesmerized and loves to play in water.
  • I paid off my medical bills from 2019. Now I can tackle the remaining $850 I owe on my crown— the one that still isn’t right. The dentist will take a look after quarantine lifts. They quoted my husband’s insurance instead of mine and I don’t have coverage for a crown. As we have been separated for 10.5 months, I don’t have his dental insurance. But it was an emergency and they grabbed the wrong information. Luckily, they will let me pay in installments.
  • One of my work colleagues read my blog. I had sent him a link because we were discussing something and I referenced him… not sure I remember the exact details. He complimented me on my writing skills and called me clever and obviously intelligent. I’m touched that he took the time to read as much as he did and it made my day that he told me about it. He loved the reference to my daughter as “the teenager” as I do try to protect people’s privacy. So, I’m assigning him a nickname, too. He is now Mr. Accordian.

The shifting psychology of chores

As one of the perks of the online writing community, I have had the pleasure to meet Fausta, a life coach and therapist who has a wide range of capacities and wicked sharp writing skills. She has been working on her blog, and her business, Fausta’s Place to Ponder.

People often influence and inspire each other in the most unexpected ways—often without trying—and I’ve admired and respected Fausta for a long time in just that kind of subtle way.

Like most of us, she’s a real and imperfect woman with a quiet vibrancy. She’s touched me with her honesty about life as a woman and the everyday struggles as a mother, building/continuing her career/business, dealing with her own and her family’s health and keeping her heart and emotional state strong and well.

Isn’t that what most of us are trying to do? In a recent blog post (linked below) she talks about our attitudes and how our mental framing of tasks impact how we perform them. I have continued to ponder this.

Mindful Self Compassion Can Help You Get the Dishes Done

I love routine, order and cleanliness. But with 4 cats, 4 birds, 1 teenager, a full-time job, my own physical and emotional issues and a coronavirus pandemic, I can’t always achieve/complete/do everything I want to do.

I have to employ more mindful self compassion, and with the teenager’s help I am growing in this regard. She and I have been discussing the differences in how our brains are wired. This helps me look at my setting from multiple points of view.

My goal, in what used to be Standard American Life, was to workout either at the gym or at home 3-5 times per week and never leave dirty dishes in the sink overnight.

Now, the gyms are closed. I’m eating too much fast food. And my goal is to clean the kitchen every morning— as my energy levels are higher and it reinforces the idea that every day is a clean start.

But I still need to examine my motivations. There’s a flip side to chores.

Today is Sunday. Yesterday, I got up, did a load of laundry and started the dishwasher. I cleaned all the litter boxes— no small chore with four cats, but oh so worth it.

Two kittens and 3-legged Overlord

I did some other odds and ends too but I’ll be darned if I remember them.

And then I attended a business meeting, had coffee with a neighbor, cleaned up after the birds, let the teenager give me a haircut (a rather severe one that doesn’t exactly match the crazy hair I have, but give it two weeks and it will be perfect), split a ginormous, super-sweet cinnamon bun from Cake and Corolla, enjoyed dinner from Dairy Queen, and watched Hell’s Kitchen for the rest of the day.

And I’m not beating myself up over “not doing more.”

But this morning— I got up, washed the pots and pans, unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher, did two loads of laundry and hung them on the line, fed the menagerie, scrubbed them kitchen counter, took out the compost, emptied the garbage, carried the garbage outside, and vacuumed and washed the kitchen floor.

All before 9:30.

And I feel good about the work I got done. Even if I am still worrying about cutting the grass, working out this week’s budget, and dealing with this week’s groceries and work stress. I dread both. I *don’t* want to do the grocery shopping and I never know what will happen at work on Monday.

So I have a delicate balancing act— what can I do to feel good about myself and my house and what can I do to not exhaust myself?

Because you see, I know I also do chores and scrub the bathtub to avoid facing my fears and emotions in the stillness.

Chores let me use the energy of my angst to achieve something positive, but in the end, that’s not always the best approach to my emotional health and physical self.

PS—

Early on in this pandemic I invested in good old fashioned cleaning products: Pine Sol, Ammonia, Fels Naptha, Borax, etc. I opened up the Pine Sol today. Just felt like my neglected floor needed something extra. I got this at the Grocery Outlet and as you can see it’s not traditional Pine Sol. It’s like super floral. “Fresh Scent” by patooty. Someone just exploded a fake floral bomb in my house.

“Keep Going” Amulet

This is Me

First of all, let me put out there that I am not as confident as I appear in that photo. I’m almost 45. I have stretch marks, muffin top and I’ve never been stick thin (well, except for that summer I lost 30 pounds) but I’ve always tried to be healthy and strong.

I’ve had a baby. I’ve broken bones. I’ve struggled with anemia, cerebral palsy and on occasion anxiety. I’ve had great jobs I didn’t want to leave (ever) and bad jobs that I didn’t want to go to.

But like many of you, I keep going. I have shiny happy days, sleepy days, down days, days I just don’t want to end and days when I cry myself to sleep.

Today I chose this outfit as my warrior’s attire. I got the shirt and the necklace from The Attic in Bethlehem and let me tell you— I never would have bought this shirt if not for the state lockdown/pandemic.

I would have said, ‘hell, no, that’s way too skimpy.’

And left that shirt on the rack. But it looked so damn cute on the mannequin— which I think that mannequin has bigger boobs that me. No, wait. That shirt clearly looks tiny on the mannequin and my boobs are bigger.

Who wore it best?

But I decided to wear that shirt and I consider it a pledge of confidence to myself. NOTHING will intimidate me today. NO ONE will change how I feel about myself.

And I am adorable.

And to make it even more powerful, I wore my circle necklace also from The Attic. I have christened it my “keep going” amulet, because circles are round. They roll. They keep going. And this one is glittery and clear. Clear quartz is the stone used to purify things and recharge them.

Although it’s not quartz, it has a shine like quartz so I will use this necklace to remind me to keep going and keep my thoughts free of negative vibes.

New beginnings

Now bare with me for one more topic, I’m a little superstitious and as you can see I’m almost done with my journal. New chapters always begin at the end of my journal.

I’ve been working with Aspire for Autonomy for work, and I’ve been striking up some personal conversation with Darnell about helping with his organization. I’m impressed with his energy and hope to learn more about their goals.