Big Small


When my kids were little, they used to describe the weird feeling of having a fever as having “big/small”. They said that the world felt small, tucked tight around them. But their hands and feet felt big, as if they were filled with helium.

The strange part is that I knew what they meant. I got it.

Now that I am an old lady with sleep and pain issues, and am a happy user of cannabis at night, I REALLY know what they mean.

The room is small. The sounds are big.

So. I was thinking about all of this bizarre focusing in and out and size changing today. Because I was home on my own all day, and I read, watched and listened to WAY too much news.

My focus on my world was BIG. I was forced to confront a crashing stock market, a raging fire in our Amazonian “lungs of the world” and two new cases of deadly EEE in my state.

The big world is terrifying to me right now.

I am afraid of the ticks (lyme disease, babesiosis and anaplasmosis). I am afraid of mosquitoes (West Nile Virus, Triple E). I’m scared of getting a sunburn because my Dad died of melanoma.

But even more scary is the fact that the oceans are rising, the largest forest on earth is on fire, and the Russians are promising to create and deploy a new super weapon.

I can barely force myself to leave my house!

If I shop, I’m afraid of e-coli in my produce. I’m afraid that some pissed off guy with a gun will decide to shoot up my grocery store.

The big picture is freakin’ terrifying.

So I turned my focus inward. I made it smaller.

I rubbed my doggies’ bellies. I walked them through out quiet neighborhood. I chatted with my friend and her beautiful one year old daughter.

Looking at the bright blue eyes of that little beauty, I started to think that all was well. My focus was back on my immediate and beautiful world.

I looked at the flowers in my yard. At the crazy weeds jumping out of the fertile earth. I laughed at the ridiculous pumpkin plant that it now ten feet up in a tree.

It felt safe. I felt comforted.

But then I got home. And looked again at Twitter.

The big came back; the lies and insanity of our President hit me in the face.

I clicked off and scrolled through pictures of my grandchildren.

I thought about my own kids. About how deeply and purely I loved them when they were little, and how much I love them now.

Big focus: My retirement fund is melting before my eyes.

Small focus: My house is clean and calm and comfortable.

Big: The world can’t live through this much climate damage.

Small: My yard is blooming effortlessly, and the grass never went brown.

And so it went, my focus and my fear swinging wildly from the worst to the best of feelings.

The oaks are full of acorns. We may have a cold and snowy winter. But I have a freezer full of corn, beans, peas and carrots.

Social media is full of rage and hate. But my grandchildren, my dogs and the lovely little girl next door are full of unconditional love.

Phew.

I need to learn how to keep my focus on the little things, and keep the big things in my peripheral vision.

Thank you, Science!


Boo!

I’m sure that by now you’ve seen the photo of the giant, massive, horrifying, worse-than-deadly black hole in deep space. The monster lurks out there, absorbing all light, all life, every tiny speck of matter that falls into it’s deadly, crushing maw of annihilation.

Holy petrifying.

Our entire solar system would be sucked into its infinite emptiness if it somehow came too close.

Gulp. And gulp again.

Of course, this terrifying demon is pretty far away.

As in 500 million trillion km away.

Still.

The very idea of being sucked into non-existence, into pure nothingness, is a fairly scary proposition.

And that is why I have come here today to say “Thank you, science.”

I figure that with this new knowledge, there will never again be a reason for me to worry about anything. Ever.

I mean, think about it.

Sometimes I get myself into a panic about things. For instance, sometimes I see my reflection in the mirror and realize that I look like a saggy gray bag of wet cement. It can be depressing.

But from now on, I can simply tell myself, “At least my molecules aren’t being obliterated in a giant black hole.”

You see what I mean?

“Oh, shit. Trump may get us into a war with Iran.”

If the black hole doesn’t get us first.

“This house is getting old, and we can’t afford the upgrades and repairs that it really needs.”

Who cares? Someday it will fall into a black hole of death anyway.

“This weather is just terrible! More snow! More ice! I can’t take it!”

But we aren’t falling into the black hole yet.

“I haven’t exercised in months.”

Black hole.

“I really shouldn’t eat this bowl of chocolate ice cream.”

Black hole.

Nothing to worry about. Nothing I do or don’t do in the remaining years of my life could possibly be as bad as being sucked into a black hole.

Think about that the next time you wake up at 3 AM worried about making your next car payment.

Thank you, President Trump


I know, that headline made you a little sick to your stomach. I get it.

Can you imagine how hard that was for me to type?

But you see, I am channeling my inner optimist. Who is hiding these days. Hiding really, really well.

My inner optimist is hiding behind the evidence that points to us having elected a mentally ill, out of control despot.

It’s hiding behind the realization that our Congressional leaders don’t really care that the guy with his finger on the trigger is out of his mind. They’re too busy fighting the traditional Democrat-Republican game of “YOU’RE A DOODY PANTS” to try saving us all from nuclear holocaust.

So.

I’m trying to look on the bright side.

For example, I might as well eat that dish of ice cream since we’ll most likely be incinerated before I can die of heart disease. Also, if we go into a long nightmare of civil war and the grid goes down, its probably the fat people who will live the longest.

Also, there’s this little fact.

Whenever I get anxious, I clean things. When my kids were little, Paul used to be able to judge how well the day had gone based on how the house looked when he got home. If every surface was sparkling and there was a smell of Clorox in the air, he knew that one of the kids had gotten on my last nerve. He’d open the door, sniff, and ask, “Oh, oh. Who is it this time?”

He’s a therapist, so he explained to me that my desire to clean the house was a reflection of my feelings of helplessness. When my life felt out of control, I asserted my superiority over dust and grime.

If that’s true, then I really have to thank President Trump.

Over the last few weeks, I have found myself unconsciously organizing closets, sorting through old clothes and scrubbing things I didn’t even know I owned.

My granddaughter is 18 months old. This morning the two of us scrubbed the floors in every room of this house. I buy her all kinds of art supplies and books and toys in my effort to be a wonderful Nonni, but we spent an hour with me sweeping and her using the wet swiffer.

She seemed to enjoy it.

But honestly, I didn’t realize just how anxious our new administration was making me until tonight.

I found myself vacuuming the garage with a glass of wine in one hand.

Thanks, Mr. President!

When the mushroom cloud appears overhead, at least my house will look fabulous in that last eerie glow.

20573038010_490c18fa3f_b

Good anxious and bad anxious


I don’t understand people who are calm and serene.  Truly, I don’t.

I aspire to be one of them.  I do.  But then again, I also aspire to be a size 8.  Some things are simply beyond my humble abilities.

When I spend time with those paragons of peacefulness, I am totally in awe.

I am also usually in danger of hyperventilating.

I can’t help it.  A lot of things just get me revved up.  I am blessed with a nimble mind and a vivid imagination.   I worry!

This means that when I spend a lovely day on the beach in Maine with several friends and their beautiful children, I keep an eagle eye on every little body, repeatedly counting heads while the mothers relax and smile from the beach, not at all concerned that a rogue wave will suddenly appear and drown everyone.  In my head, I know that these kids have literally grown up on this beach, that the water is barely over their heads, that it is low tide and that they can all swim.  In my crazy Mamma heart, though, I spend the entire afternoon imagining disaster and reviewing what I know of CPR.

I’m just anxious.

I can judge my levels of anxiety quite easily, too.  The cleaner the house, the more amped up I am feeling. Anxious= clean.  It’s that simple.

When my kids were little ones, Paul could come in the front door at dinner time, glance around at the immaculate living room and ask, “What’s wrong?”  If there were socks on the floor, dishes in the sink and smudges on every reflective surface, he’d give a big sigh of relief and come on in for dinner.

What makes my particular brand of craziness more difficult, though, is the fact that sometimes I am bad anxious (someone lost a job, someone is very sick, someone has been hurt or put in danger) and sometimes I am good anxious (heading off to a reunion with my oldest friends, going into a new school year, leaving on a great vacation).

It makes no difference.  I get that big old flood of adrenaline, my heart starts skipping around like an eager race horse, and before I know it, I’m cleaning everything in sight.

Let me give you an example.

My beautiful, smart, capable, mature daughter just experienced every woman’s dream proposal from the man who makes her breath catch.  They were on the coast of Ireland, and he proposed with an emerald ring in a Celtic design, followed by champagne and text messages to all who love them.

I know! Can you stand it?  Like a perfect dream!  Like every wish I ever wished for her, from the first moment that I knew she was alive. “Let her find love, let her be happy, let her have someone who gives her all of her dreams.”  I am beyond happy at her news, and Paul and I shed some tears over the whole thing last night, knowing that she is on the way to a wonderful future.

But still!

This morning I found myself swamped with “good anxious” thoughts.  What is the proper My-Daughter-Got-Engaged etiquette? What do I do now?  Followed rapidly by: “But she’s only a baby!” and “What will I wear?” and “Can I lose 20 lbs and do I care if I can’t?” and “I want to get together with his Mom, ASAP! We need to hug and cry and drink a barrel of wine together!”

I am happy, I am elated, I am facing a new and incredibly exciting adventure.  This is the most awesome news to hit our house in a long time!!! And to top if  all off, my niece, one of Kate’s closest buddies on earth, got engaged this week, too, so I get to experience this whole phenomenon with my baby sister!!  How incredibly cool is that?!

It’s all absolutely, totally positive and fabulous.

So I have to wonder why, on the only off day that I have had in weeks, I found myself cleaning out the medicine cabinet and dusting the baseboards at 10 AM, after walking the dogs, mopping the kitchen floor, writing a special-ed report that is due in October, refinishing a coffee table and trimming the hedges.

I think I might be just a tiny bit “good anxious”, don’t you?

Can you imagine what a mess I’d be if I had gotten some bad news?

My baby is engaged!