I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends

Last weekend I had one of the best times of my life! I was staying at the Chicago home of a best friend from college. She and another college buddy had planned a private book signing for me at our buddy’s home. My hostess and her husband are gracious and generous. Their home is decorated in authentic Asian wall art and sculpture from their time in Hong Kong. However, the best decoration is their mutual love and respect wafting up to the ceiling like the curl of smoke from the Tahitian Vanilla incense gently filling the foyer. Their relationship is the sweetest I’ve seen.

I had been a bit anxious about the event. However, once I arrived at O’Hare, my jitters settled. My hostess and I reached our buddy’s home to find a fancy and fun spread with everything from shrimp to Sprinkle’s cupcakes. We had time to catch up a bit before the event began. I greeted each guest with a hug and committed to remembering and using every guest’s name.

Ultimately we had about 20 attendees. I opened by talking a bit about myself to provide some background. Then I read an excerpt from Turning Blue to Blue. I opened  it up for questions and a wonderful exchange began. Everyone contributed to it. I sold about 21 books and made at least two new friends. Most significant, my confidence regarding speaking to strangers, increased dramatically and I was inspired to challenge myself to accomplish some other projects I had been avoiding.

MBiB cover

Thanks to my four Wellesley College sisters for their tremendous support. It was a wonderful evening.

By the way, I only muffed one name. Sorry Jeff.

COMING SOON: A Day at the Museum

Why I went to a 7:30 am meeting

Yesterday I agreed to attend a networking meeting hosted by a friend. When he said it was at 7:30 am, I thought he was joking. Who wants to meet new people at 7:30 in the morning? I agreed for two reasons: I wanted to support him and I backed out the last time he invited me to a networking event. (And that one was at a reasonable hour.)

I also thought I might get a free bistro-style breakfast out of it.

Now, it’s not that I’m not up at 7:30. On the day before, I had a load in the washer and had been on my knees to scrub half the grout lines in my kitchen’s ceramic tile floor by then. But I was unwashed and wearing only one of my husband’s shirts.

So at about 11 pm last night, I told myself, “I’m going, but if I hit any major hurdle, I’ll bail-out.” This removed some of the stress of picking out an outfit, getting my directions and navigating morning traffic.  If I couldn’t match up an outfit, if the closet had caused my pants to shrink again, if anything needed to be ironed, I was off the hook.

I continued that mantra as I laid out my clothes and prepared to shower this morning. I calmly checked Mapquest.com, which said it was only a 21 minute drive. “Hmm, wonder if that is what I will really find.” I headed out at about 6:55 am. As I was cruising up the tollway, I thought more about why I was risking having to deal with commuter traffic and a roomful of strangers. Was I kinda dumb, gullible, a pleaser? Would I regret using the gas and toll money? Then, suddenly my whole outlook changed.

I said to myself, “Hey, I’m up, showered, dressed, and out of the house before 7 am! My morning has tremendous possibilities. Even if I were to wipe-out in the meeting, (which I won’t) afterwards I can go find a place to write and think and plan for a few hours.

Interacting with other humans before 8 am is what super successful folks do. Hey, networking is what super successful people do. O.k., regardless of outcome, this is a worthwhile adventure. And Pastor asked us to prepare for a breakthrough this week. I suppose I should do something different to help usher that in.”

English: High Speed Business Networking Event ...

English: High Speed Business Networking Event (Paris, 2006) by JCI. Français  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well, there was no free breakfast, but I connected to seven out of about 20 professionals. They are people I want to partner with, can learn from or become their customer. We will see what develops.

Five excuses for not taking your medication – and why they are all stupid

Yes, I’m about to go on a rant directed at those dealing with an anxiety, bi-polar or depression diagnosis.

1) I don’t trust medication (doctors, hospitals, shrinks…)
Hmm, are you also suffering from paranoia? If not, then you can research several doctors online, ask for recommendations, ask questions of your team, research the treatment plan and the medications. But you’re sick so maybe you can’t do all that. Here’s where a trusted friend or family member can help you. Become informed and empowered or discuss a possible additional issue of paranoia or irrational thinking with your therapist.

2) I don’t need them
Really? If it has just been suggested that you take a medication, yet you’ve decided you don’t need them, let’s go back to what precipitated the doctor visits. Either you were sent to the doctor or were brave enough to go yourself. In either case, something was deeply disturbing and painfully obvious. A thorough physical exam was done and the medical fields of mental health and internal medicine converged with a diagnosis. With several years of experience in their fields and an acute awareness of the delicate nature of a troubled mind, a plan to address your issues was created and it included medication.
Perhaps you have been taking the medication as prescribed for weeks, months or years. But now because you are “feeling fine” or because you aren’t feeling better, you’ve decided you don’t need the meds. Bad strategy friend. Instead talk with your doctor and therapist to determine the best adjustments to make. Or find new professionals if you aren’t comfortable with your current team. You, by yourself, simply aren’t qualified to make those determinations.

3) I don’t want to be dependant
Ok, so you acknowledge that the medication is helping you feel better. However, you’ve become impatient with the healing process. “It shouldn’t be taking so long.” “How do I know when I can come off the meds?” Valid concerns that you need to take up with your health providers. If you’ve gotten the homework done on the doctors and your diagnosis, you then need to have patience to work your individualized and multifaceted plan.


4) I forget sometimes
Your mental and physical health are important enough to set up a system to combat forgetfulness. Here’s another time family or friends can help. First, decide you are going to be accountable to someone for taking all medications as prescribed. Use one of those nifty pill containers with the days of the week on it. Before time to take them, I bring my meds from the medicine cabinet and sit them next to me. When I take one, I turn the bottle upside down. I have found this very helpful. Not missing a dose is super important to me. I’m aware of the dangerous safety issues that can occur if I allow the levels of medicine in my bloodstream to drop dramatically.

5) I don’t like the side effects
“I might gain weight.” “I don’t feel like myself.” “I just feel sleepy all the time.” “It gives me headaches.”
Yeah, but before the medications you were afraid to leave your house or crying uncontrollably several times a week or acting out sexually or unable to care for your newborn.
Talk with your doctors honestly about your side effects. They may be able to make or suggest changes to reduce them.
Sooo, if you really weigh the negatives against the possible positives, isn’t it short-sighted to use side effects as your excuse?

“A 2003 study published in Current Medical Research and Opinion found that 65% of the 1000 people surveyed said they had stopped taking their medicine, and half of those people cited side effects as the reason.”
-“Coping With Side Effects of Antidepressants” WebMD.com February 12, 2012

photo courtesy of http://www.123rf.com/12556053

Taking a deeper look

Cassatt Mary The Cup of Tea 1880

Cassatt Mary The Cup of Tea 1880 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well folks, allow me to update you on my journey.

My art work is progressing nicely. I tried drawing on black paper, rather than white and gosh, I think I like black paper more. The art seems to have more depth on the black background. I’m trying to build up a collection of 20 works that I feel very proud of. I’ve got about 13 at this point. I have a very critical eye. To provide some balance, I’m looking for an art buddy who can critique some of my work. Kinda scary, but I think I’m ready for that.

I’ve gotten back in the groove of writing my book! My goal is to write 500 words a day.  That doesn’t seem overwhelming. And if I stick to the schedule, I’ll be finished with the draft in 90 days.  That will be wonderful!

I read an article that said if we logged all we did in a day over a period of days, we would discover that we have a lot more free time than we thought. Another article talked about creating a daily log of what you do.  I think that would be very effective. I don’t think I’ll find a lot of free time, necessarily.  I think I’ll find wasted time! Well, I might try it. The next step would be to set a routine that helps me achieve my art, writing and spiritual goals.

I signed up to attend a women’s business lunch with a business coach as the speaker. The night before I felt myself becoming anxious.  I told my husband.  I don’t think he realized how serious I was. I couldn’t fall asleep. Then the next morning when it was time to get up, I really, really didn’t want to.  It wasn’t just that I was tired. It was a sense of dread. I said to myself, “Is this an anxiety attack?!”  I’ve experienced that dread several times over the years. I just thought I was being “weird.”   I think I have a high level of anxiety when I go some place new and when I have to drive someplace new.  But the real question I asked myself is why did I think I would be able to go? I signed up and paid for this lunch and started researching the speaker. Everything was peachy. Well, needless to say, my husband was not too pleased with me that day.

I told myself to shake it off.  I had signed up for a free marketing event a month ago and it would occur the week after I missed the lunch. Early the morning of the event I was easily able to talk myself out of going.   Next came the guilt and negative self-talk: “How are you going to promote a book if you can’t leave your house?? You’re wasting your time. You’re gonna fail.”  Then I said, “Wait, stop.  Just stop. Don’t say mean things to yourself.  You hit a rough patch, but you can talk with God and your therapist and figure out what’s really going on. And then you will overcome it.”

I think I have an idea of what’s going on. I think it has to do with a lack of a sense of self-worth. And some of the lack of self-worth comes from believing I still have to prove something, I still have to earn something. Instead of just operating in the fact that Jesus did it all. He shed His blood for me. He sent me the Comforter. My worth is without question. I have power. I have gifts. I’m ok!

I just need to relax, breath, repeat my positive affirmations, have a cup of tea…