Posted in audience participation, connections, mental health, parenting, socializing, thoughtfulness, tips, vulnerability

School. Virus. Sadness. Self-care. Hope.

Here in Arizona, the governor recently announced that public school buildings are closed for the rest of this school year. (Schools aren’t closed; the buildings are closed.)
Teachers and principals are still working.
I’m sad for all of the kids and teachers and parents who had something in the fourth quarter to look forward to. This is many seniors (remember: not everyone likes high school, so for some, this is a relief) and others moving up a level. Performances, dances, ceremonies, awards. “My last ____” just disappeared.
I’m sad for all the kids who go to school to get structure, to get love, to get consistency who are now looking at five or more months at home (spring break plus fourth quarter plus summer).
I’m sad for all the kids who are now working manual labor to try to help their families make ends meet. (Yes, that includes elementary-aged kids.)
I’m sad for the parents who are stressed out about trying to make their kids do their schoolwork (when really, love and connection and emotional safety are way more important — now and always…though those are different than “do whatever you want; another post for another day).
I’m sad for all of the lost birthday parties and quinceañeras and bar mitzvahs and  playdates and baby showers and weddings.
I’m sad for all of the people whose anxiety has shot up.
I’m sad for all of the people who have lost someone (virus-related or not) and can’t seek comfort in community.
I’m sad for all of the people who are separated from loved ones who are hospitalized (whether because of the virus or not).
I’m sad for all of the people who continue to mingle with others because they are so unwilling to accept their own vulnerability.
Stay in touch with people.
Do things at home that make you feel good.
If cleaning the house is a “should” and creating art is a “want,” create art. There’s enough to do that needs to be done (work for some, dishes, cooking, dishes, keeping other people and animals alive, dishes, laundry, dishes … so many dishes). When you have time outside of the needs, spend time on the wants. The shoulds can get done later.
Truly.
(If cleaning the house feels good, then do it! I know sometimes cleaning is a drag, and every now and then, a cleaning bender is mysteriously inspired. Wait for inspiration. And if you’re never inspired … it’s OK.)
Play.
Create.
Soak up beautiful things.
Take advantage of so many arts being available online (performances, galleries, etc.).
Turn on some music and dance and sing in the living room. (And make a house rule that no one makes fun of anyone else for how they look or sound doing it—emotional safety is important and “harmless teasing” erodes emotional safety.)
Get outside. Not socially, but sun is good for you in a myriad of ways.
Read. (Books, magazines, whatever. We were pounded with what “counts” as reading when we were in school, and it was bullshit. Read whatever interests you.)
Exercise. Go for a walk or a bike ride or do yoga or weightlifting or aerobics in your living room or your yard or on your patio.
Support the people around you and let them support you. We’re in our own little cells now, but we can still reach out and stay connected. Talk on the phone. Talk via video chat. Text. Email. Write letters.
So when it all passes and the fear settles and the anxiety reduces and we can gather again, we have changed the world for the better in the mean time.
In the mean time … stay home.
Posted in connections, ebb & flow, mental health, mindset, parenting

The kid way to process life

Kids work through stress and unfamiliar situations through play. (This is why play therapy is very effective with littles.)

The last play date we had (two weeks ago?), the kids were playing “corona zombies.”

Since play dates have ended, The Kid was playing a robber/spy game by himself where he had to steal and avoid a virus. (I don’t know how to do both simultaneously, but it’s his game. Not my place to “fix” it.)

He jumps on the trampoline A LOT (thank goodness that became part of the family before all this started!). The Climbing Daddy has a spiky ball for rolling underfoot. (Intentionally. Ideally while seated.) The Kid puts it on the trampoline and tries to bounce it off. It’s the virus (because they look similar) and he’s trying to get rid of it.

This is normal. This is healthy. This is how kids process stuff.

This is also informative.

If you’re seeing and hearing stuff like this come up in play, let them play it out. Of course you can have a conversation about it, but please don’t stifle the play.

(Likewise, if you hear them playing out other real-life-ish scenarios that raise red flags, be gentle, but have a conversation.)

As far as life without playdates?

He’s been using Marco Polo* to talk to friends and has had a few virtual playdates via FaceTime. I got tipped off that Battleship and Guess Who can both be played via video chat without adaptation, and they’ve enjoyed playing.

*I didn’t know much about this app until a week or two ago, but it’s been a lot of fun, for me and the kids.

We’ve made drawing and typing and foreign language learning part of our daily routine. He needs some structure and routine, and I don’t want all schoolwork. These are things he’s enjoying (so far) and are good for him and he doesn’t do in school.

Finally, one of my principals shared this with us.

choose connection

 

Deep breath. You can do this.

Posted in connections, differences, mental health, mindset, podcasts, socializing

Introverts need people, too

Solidarity incited among introverts via memes in the theme of staying home versus socializing.

They’ve always rubbed me the wrong way because they didn’t fit me. I’m definitely an introvert. And I definitely enjoy socializing. (In certain contexts.) And, as I wrote about recently, a good girlfriend date is definitely energizing.

My depression is always triggered by some sort of emotional disconnect, whether a breakup or just (“just”) feeling socially isolated. I’ve spent a lot of time and energy looking for the roots of this, but I think the most oversimplified premise is simple: people are social animals.

That runs contrary to the introvert memes.

Perhaps ironically, I was out in the local mountains alone, listening to podcasts, taking pictures, enjoying the perfect weather. It was wonderful and recharging. The first podcast I listened to?

The Happiness Lab, Season 1, Episode 4: Mistakenly Seeking Solitude. Their thesis was everyone is happier interacting than not interacting (as a generalization, but regardless of introversion/extraversion), and automation is causing emotional issues. They talked about the invention of ATMs, bar cars and quiet cars on public trains, and the Museum of Ice Cream. (How did I not know that was a thing?!)

(I was recently tipped off to The Happiness Lab, and I’ve loved every episode I’ve listened to so far. They’re only a season and change in, so I started at the beginning.)

As I continued wandering through the mountains, I thought about blogging about the episode, made a note in my phone, and carried on.

A day or two later, I was listening to Work Life, another one new to my rotation that I’m loving. Adam Grant, the host, was talking about the use (and misuse) of personality tests in the workplace, when he interviewed Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. (Excellent book, if you’ve not read it.)

Adam: Most people think about introversion extraversion as where you get your energy. Like, extraverts from people; introverts get it from being alone. But when Susan studied the science, she learned that wasn’t quite right.

Susan: Everybody, whether you’re an introvert or an extravert, draws energy from other people. And I think that we don’t make enough distinction between how many people and in what kind of a setting. [emphasis mine] There ends up being an idea that introverts are anti-social and I always say, it’s not that, it’s just differently social.

(The conversation with Adam and his wife that follows the above dialogue is very funny.)

Susan goes on to talk about the recovery time introverts need after a party or other over-stimulating event. It doesn’t mean we don’t get energy from people. That’s just … too many people. Past the point of diminishing returns.

This all lines up exactly with what I’ve been thinking for a long time. I felt a little more at peace with myself after hearing people who’ve actually done research said what I’ve been thinking and feeling all along.

How does any of this resonate with you? My curiosity about your opinion is piqued a bit more if you listen to one or both of those podcasts.

Posted in connections, ebb & flow, know better do better, mental health, mindset, socializing, vulnerability

Your contribution to collective emotional pollution

“You choose what you put out into the world.”

I don’t remember where this crossed my path recently, but it was timely.

It ties in to an earlier post about negative people—from a first-person perspective.

My output of complaining goes in cycles. When I notice it’s increasing, I make an effort to cut it back. It makes my life better, and it makes better the impact I have on the people around me.

(There’s a difference between complaining and talking about something negative that’s happening.)

Soon after seeing the sentiment, I was posting on Facebook. I had been driving The Kid to school, followed by getting myself to work, and the way drivers in front of me interacted with traffic lights was not enhancing my morning commute.

I know there are people who would have joined me in my rant about these drivers.

I chose to post a light and lovely story about The Kid instead, which still got interaction—from many of the same people—but of a different variety. And we were all a little smiley-er for a moment.

(Caveat: there’s a lot of bad stuff happening in our world, in our communities, maybe in our families or homes that we need to speak out about. We can’t pretend these things don’t exist. I’m not at all suggesting that we whitewash all that and just share rainbows and unicorns. Again: there’s a difference between complaining and talking about something negative that’s happening. I could argue that staying silent in the face of injustice—whatever the scale—is allowing said injustice to be put into the world.)

If making the world better by contributing to it in a positive way is insufficient motivation for you, there’s some truth to “you get what you give.” Not in a tit-for-tat kind of way, but I can attest that seasons in my life when I have been friendlier, more attentive, less negative, etc. to and around the people in my circle of influence, in general, I have been met in kind. And it has been easier for me to let go of those who did not treat me in kind. (Certainly, exceptions exist. There are people whose insecurities don’t allow them to be kind, regardless how they are treated.) Saying, “I’m going to be nice to people just so that people are nice to me” might leave a smear of “ulterior motive” in your intentions and knock things out of whack.

Or, we could just boil it down to: reputations are hard to change. Build a good one.

You choose what you put out into the world.

 

Posted in about me, connections, mental health, socializing

Socializing while busy

If you read Monday’s post on time organization, you know I feel busy too much of the time.

This is a sentiment shared by nearly everyone in my social circles.

(If you don’t, please go to Monday’s post, read it, and tell us your secrets in the comments.)

A while back, before Christmas, I had plans one weekend. I was getting together with one friend on Friday evening and another on Sunday afternoon.

It’s hard to schedule time to see people, and my socializing is often limited to people whose kids play well with mine. This isn’t all bad—I’ve met a lot of great people through school and play dates—and not all of the local people I’d like to see face-to-face fit this mold.

Anyway. I was excited to make plans with both of these people. (Sans children!) And then that weekend came and, as usual, I was tired and felt overwhelmed by All The Things and dragged my butt to my first date … and it was lovely. We had a great time, and I left feeling energized. My cup was fuller than it had been before we started.

Exact same story repeated on Sunday.

In either case, I would have felt some disappointment if they’d canceled but also relief. One less thing to do. Time to get done some of the other things.

Ultimately, it was good to squeeze in the time together. It gave us some face-to-face connection—something in ever-shorter supply.

If we hadn’t gotten together, I would have spent the time doing mundane things off the to-do list, and while there’s value in getting those done, they wouldn’t have fed my soul the way a couple of hours with a good friend does.

I guess what I’m saying is, even if you’re busy, make some time. Have dinner or coffee or take a walk or make some art or something with a friend or two. Your lives will be richer for it.