:: WHY WE BE ::

Boo to false, self-imposed limits, we say. These champion oracles want to live enthusiastically. Follow our trip through projects that challenge, frustrate, and/or scare us. In the end (which is really the middle) we want to live like big bright free and authentically awesome people.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

a slight seismic shift in a tad cataclysmic way. (Amy)

I have spilled my COFFEE, everyone. I have spilled it and proceeded to not get a towel to wipe it up. (Translation: I'm really sorry I haven't been here for several days to read what's going on with you fine ladies and to leave mega-long comments telling you how fabulous I find each one of you.) (I've been in a low holding pattern emotionally for the last few days; I'm lifting out of it, and will rectify this situation asap).

So we've had a slight seismic shift of tiny cataclysmic proportions in Amyville. I can't go into too many details (I've been asked not to) (also, we'd be here aaalll day as this would be a 100 page entry), but in addition to fighting colon cancer, C was laid off way back in April. I find businesses--of any size--often like to make these lay off decisions at the most kind-hearted of moments, like when someone is pregnant, or just had a baby, or during Christmas, or right as they start chemotherapy treatment for colon cancer. I mean, I'm not implying America has lost its moral center or anything. And I'm also not implying we're slowly turning this place into a Charles Dickens'-esque classic. I mean, our priorities are totally straight. Particularly with Jesus' (the peace and love guy who healed the sick and tended the poor lepers, free of charge) birthday right around the corner.

Fortunately, we (emphasis on the C in "we") were/are good at anticipating and preparing for disasters such as this: we lived well within our means before this Life Blip, we don't carry any debt other than mortgage and car payments, and we had savings to cover ourselves. What was also really helpful to us (besides the fact I have a job and benefits and was able to get C placed on my health insurance under an emergency situation) was the unemployment insurance checks we were getting. We drastically altered our lifestyle when the layoff happened, yet still found we needed the UE insurance. Turns out, teacher salaries keep a family of 3 with a roof over their head and the basic necessities (food, water, heat, you know...the basics). But transportation? Child care? Whole, unprocessed foods? Those luxuries are for rock stars and billionaire computer geeks.

I'm sorry. I know I sound deeply bitter and overly dramatic and like a politico shock jock. Please know: I am deeply aware we're far more fortunate than many, many other people in our situation.

Which is why I've started this blog entry like a billion times and have deleted each one, because at this point in the diatribe I think I begin to sound like Kelsey Grammar's annoying, entitled ex-wife. And I really, really don't want to sound like anybody on any of those Real Housewives shows (okay, fine. Maybe NeNe on the Atlanta version. I really wish I had more NeNe in me, some days.) Here is where I start to list all the new drastic lifestyle changes we've had to make to our existing drastic lifestyle changes, the ones that have been particularly making me moody and weepy for the last week since Congress decided to not extend the extensions. But then I become annoyed and frustrated with myself because really: isn't one car per household enough? And a GOOD thing for the planet? And single mothers everywhere who can't afford even bare bones daycare somehow manage to have their children looked after while they work their 2 day jobs + one night shift job; what kind of elitist dipwad am I, worried Melissa will lose all her social skills by sitting at home having daddy/daughter time? And who the hell am I to get sad about giving up a gym membership I never even really used regularly, particularly when Mother Nature has provided me with all the natural treadmills I'll ever need even if She does occasionally make the outdoors colder than a witch's...

See? I'm just this material goods-addicted, spoiled American chick.

Basically, my point is (and I do have one): I was going to shop a little at Whole Foods and then at my regular Kroger this week and write about the two, comparing the experience and food quality. But I've shopped at Whole Foods before, and so I know: this store is way out of my price league for the moment. Plus, the overly dressed women in high heels and expensive perfume haunting the imported cheese aisle would just make me want to drop kick a Buckhead Betty right now.

And this goes for many of my other lofty COFFEE project goals.

I still want to eat healthy...I HAVE to eat healthier. People who are recovering from cancer cannot NOT eat healthy. So healthy eating is still a big top COFFEE goal for me. Taking a cooking class will have to go though; I may have to just stick to Barefoot Contessa and Paula Deen's tv tutorials.

And I still want to run (slow jog? walk?) a 5K this spring...hopefully our financial situation will be drastically different then, but I'm sure if not I can beg for coins at a MARTA station and scrape up enough for an entry fee (I'm being facetious; I'll guilt trip my mom into helping a poor mini-marathon runner-wannabe into realizing her Big Dreams) (what? what? she guilt trips me. ALL the time. And she's really outrageous about it. NO shame).

And I have 2 new goals now, goals that will mostly help my mental health if nothing else:

1-Stop reading news sites. Really, everybody, I'm not joking: I just need to avoid the news, ALL the time. This is a major problem. Especially the news blogs. The stories are depressing enough, but when I scroll down to see what Joe and Jane Smith of smalltown America has to say about it all, that's where me and my moody moods begin to glower darkly. If I agree with what they have to say, I'm all YEAH! and RAAAAHHH! and not in a good way. That's YEAH! and RAAAAAHHHH! in a really self-righteous, indignant kind of way. And if I disagree with what they think, I start deeply wishing there was a way for me to find them so I could pour some kind of acid complex all over their computer. If I'm reading what these people have to say late at night on my own computer, sometimes I actually respond and tell them I would like to do this. And that's SO unproductive, and deeply unfriendly.

Either way, I'm contributing to the negative vibes being foisted upon the planet, a planet already choking in negative vibes.

2-Write. I always go back to it whenever I find myself in major life upheaval of any kind. When life is plodding along mostly okay I usually forget it exists--I mean, I think about it, but in a very casual, I'll-get-back-to-that-when-I-get-more-time kind of way. But when the world throws up on me, suddenly I'm all: Writing! Friend! Where have YOU been?? Can you help me? PLEASE?? I really really NEED you! (I'm like this with God and spirituality, too, by the way.)

C says that he'll take on more household stuff to take some stress off me (like I'M the only one who's stressed--here, again, I feel like such self-centered jerk) and after we get through the holidays, we'll make Sundays my special day...I can treat myself to a coffee shop visit and have a couple of hours of computer time with no interruption. I plan to write. I'm not sure what, but I plan on it.

Needless to say (if you got through all of that without wanting to throw yourself off a cliff), my relationship with Jackie Warner and her program is currently on the skids:

*I didn't work out over Thanksgiving at the hotel at all.

*I ate a bunch of poopy crap.

*But I kind of suspected this of myself, and got right back on a treadmill on last Monday after work.

*And then the bottom fell out, and I've eaten poopy crap and not exercised since.

Like, every day? I've packed an apple--a hopeful, hopeful apple--in my lunch bag. And every day, it gets brought back home and placed back with its apple friends in the fruit basket each evening. I'm looking at them right now, as a matter of fact, and they're all glaring at me. They know one of them is going into my bag tomorrow, and no big adventure awaits them. Just a few hours out and about, and then straight back to the fruit basket.

So for the next 10 days, I think I'm just going to take baby steps. Little bitty baby steps. An apple a day. One bottle of water (fine, Jackie W. A bottle of water...WITH lemon juice). A walk up and down the stairs at work. That kind of thing. Just stuff I know I can handle at the moment, while I wean myself off these depressing lunchtime news sites and reconfigure my lifestyle...again.

Also, my fists need a break. I've been shaking my fists at everyone...EVERYone...even prominent people I normally love to death. And my fists are swollen and tired.


Wendy said...

Oh Amy, you are so adorable. And so human. I love reading your writing because it's so darn accessible and I can SO relate.

Man, it's so hard to eat the lonely apple when the world's volume has been turned to full blast. That she-devil Jackie, the "everything's going to crap and we thought you should know" news, your own overripe expectations. Sometimes it needs to all come crashing down for you to say "Enough!" and stop listening to it all. Take a breather. Do something silly. Get your apple in the form of hot apple cider with a stick of cinnamon. Don't be so hard on yourself...

It's all a lot to contend with and you're doing just fine... there's a reason that this time of year sees the most heart attacks (I heard once). It is stressful and you're not a bad person for feeling it. I can't even imagine you as Kelsey Grammar's ex wife, you're too real and too humble.

PS. If it makes you feel better, my fanny is slowly morphing into the shape of pancake because I've given it so little exercise. Flattening fannies unite!

Steph said...

Ah, Amy... COFFEE HUGS & some Advil for those swollen fists...
You've had a real POOPY year, my dear. Your fist shakes are not only understandable, they're bound to be healthy. If you weren't hacked at the Universe right now and frustrated with things, we'd be staging a COFFEE intervention - for real!
Baby steps are the answer, the antidote to the frustrations and fist shakes! Yes. And writing!!! Absolutely YES. I can tell you from personal experience that this is such an effective means of shaking your fist and finding solutions to those pesky LIFE things... I stole the Morning Pages thing from all our COFFEE sister Artist's Way do-ers. I don't know if I do it right, but I spend about five minutes each morning just putting my thoughts down on paper - whatever they are. It's such a mental release. I totally recommend that for you. Plus, write whenever you can't say what you want to say! I keep a little journal that I turn to throughout the day that really helps me get those frustrations out of my head so that I can focus on being positive and a help to others instead of a total shrew!
I'm proud of you (sorry if that sounds condescending - I mean it in completely respectful and sincere way) for putting all of this out there. I truly am. It had to be difficult. You're on the right track, though! Take heart. We have your back, and it WILL get better. You've survived! You got this! Am looking forward to seeing how it all comes out!

patresa said...

oh, amy. this stinks. big nasty stench. and i am so sorry. plus, i don't think stress and pain are "relative." i think they are felt as they're felt and you balance them nicely with awareness of the others' hardships. so, you're good.

i like that you face the world throwing up on you with humor and insight. i like that a lot. thank god for that.

you are a wonderful, beautiful writer, so i like that your turmoil will produce wonderful, beautiful things.

and there are entire books about the extreme importance of (and often overlooked) caring for the caretaker, so i'd say that it is completely valid that you are given some relief while supporting your family.

i'm going to send you lots of powerful, positive, clarifying, and sturdy vibes. take care of yourself, lady.

Tanner May (Tanya) said...

Amy, I can't not tell you how much this touched me! I am so sorry to hear all of this stress on you and your family. Girl, you are absolutely not a spoiled American chick, you are a wonderful person who is hit with crazy stupid stress. I will send lots of prayers and then more prayers to you and Charles. I am so glad you all have each other..... man, talk about the wonders of family! And there is nothing like being in the role for caring for another person, a family. You are amazing.

I know you'll still meet any goal you set, but I just have to say this too.... take care of yourself in the process. Stupid dumb stupid stress and bad things. They just suck. I so commend all of your wonderful resiliency, and if I can't say the right words perfectly, I hope I convey at least enough that I am so cheering you on in soulful ways.

blj said...

Amy, thank you very much for sharing with us. And you're entitled to a little angry sarcasm. It suits you well, as you have a fabulous attitude and a humorous voice to go with it. Material-goods addicted American spoiled chick? No way, coffee bean, you are resilent, realistic, insightful, and have established, healthly coping strategies and a safe place to vent. I love that you know how to eliminate negativity from your life and I love your self analysis that your reaction to reading news sites is unproductive and deeply unfriendly. I do unproductive and deeply unfriendly things all the time but not sure I always recognize it as you have. So hang in there, breathe, and unclench your fists. You can do this.

Holly said...

Cancer sucks rocks. Lots of them. The economy being shit on top of it?? That's a bunch of bullshit. There's always going to be people that have it better than us and those that have it worse. Don't beat yourself up for feeling frustrated, sad, and mad. Just feel it.
Writing some of these things down is sure to help. Writing is amazing.
Funny...Owen went to school with an apple everyday last week and brought it home everyday. I'm thinking of maybe switching him to grapes......

Katie said...

Hi Amy. I wish I had the brain juice to comment in an articulate and funny way how much your post moved me. It did. A lot. And anyone who can write that they sound like a spoiled American chick, is most definitely not a spoiled American chick. Spoiled American chicks, in addition to being so idiotic I want to pinch their empty little heads off, would never say that's what they were. I doubt Kelsey Grammer's ex-wife has ever once thought "you know, I really don't need all this. Maybe I should downsize a little." So. Good job there.

Also, I think P's right. Stress is relative and what might cause one person to shrug mightily might send another person into a coma. And that is as it should be. Un-sought change is awful. It is jarring and painful and almost never greeted with a full night's sleep.

And between you and me, Whole
Foods is like a little vacation in itself. Everyone is clean, and there are fancy fruits with bumpies on them that look like they would taste of citrus and rainbows, and the bread has a crusty rim that begs to be thumped, and there is soup and sushi and truffle oil and artisan popcorn with goat cheese. I shop at a place called Country Mart. Which, I must say, supplies all our needs. But without the locally woven baskets and artfully spilled product displays designed to make you bend over and take a sniff.

I do, I do understand the Whole Foods dismay. Alas and alak. But you know, anyone who can write about a little apple that could and all its apple friends doesn't need the trappings. It's just icing. But maybe it's nice to visit once in a while... chin up, Amy girl. You almost always have more endurance than you think. And with all your COFFEE broads behind you, you can tackle anything.

T-Free said...

Oh, Amy. I am angry on your behalf and shaking my fists at the sky with you. And I *don't* think you're a spoiled American chick, because a truly spoiled American chick wouldn't have the awareness to even call herself that. But I totally understand the conflict of having life perspective versus crappy goings-on. Yes, you have clean water and a roof over your head... but that doesn't mean that unfortunate occurrences and losing things you've had doesn't suck too.

We are on a "no Whole Foods" budget right now as well. Lately I have been pleasantly surprised by the selection at Wal-Mart. My latest discovery: clear boxes of (Wal-Mart brand) organic baby spring mix that are actually cheaper than the Dole salad bags that get slimy three hours after you buy them. And almond milk. I can get my almond milk at Wally World! Yahoo! Maybe you could write about what you are able to find at your local affordable non-Whole Foods grocery store? At least if it falls ridiculously short of expectations, we can all make fun of their suckitude with you, yes? :)

I understand the avoidance of news sites too. I can't even look. My husband and I have to completely ignore the opinion section of the newspaper, or one of us ends up angrily reading letters to the editor out loud while we both fume. It's just really depressing sometimes, the lack of empathy for others in this world.

Yay for baby steps! Hang in there, strong lady. You will put this tough time firmly behind you and be back to kicking major butt in no time. xoxo.

amy said...

I am just now getting to post, in case anyone checks back to read this. I just want you to be aware: you are wise, good people with beautiful hearts, and reading these blasts of strength and understanding feedback made me tear up. Because I'm a Pisces (with a Cancer moon) and this is just what we do.

And such good, thoughtful ideas! I had no idea Wal*Mart had good, wholesome food, T! I just never get that impression when I walk into the one down the street from me (there's Camille Grammer again, raising her too-highlighted, elitist head. Dangit!).

And Holly--I AM switching to grapes--screw the apple). Mwah! Thanks you all!