On Depression, How to Tell if It’s Getting Bad Again… and Vibrators. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ It Is What It Is.

Once upon a time, I went on a trip with Greg to Southern Italy, which should have been AMAZING but was, in truth, the Most Terrible Vacation Ever. I felt the whole time like I should be able to Gratitude my way through it. Like, WHO GETS TO GO ON VACATION TO SOUTHERN ITALY, BETH? I mean, other than people who live in Southern Italy. Like, people from Oregon, you know? Who gets to go on vacation to Southern Italy from Oregon? Who have 5 kids. And a mortgage. And who shop at discount grocery stores and refuse to replace towels no matter how threadbare they get because towels are really expensive, guys. REALLY , REALLY EXPENSIVE. The good ones cost $20. EACH. Or lots more. And it’s not like you can buy one towel and tell the family to share it. You have to buy at least 4 at a time. That’s the Rule of Towel Buying. And if we don’t want the humans in our household yelling at each other over Who Gets the Good Towel (“HE HAD IT LAST TIME!”), then we have to buy seven. SEVEN NEW TOWELS. For $140. 😳😳😳 Who has that kind of towel money, friends? Not me. Which is why trips to places like Southern Italy always feel like a MIRACLE to me. We can’t buy new towels, but, by God (and by my dad because he’s a pilot with travel benefits) we CAN magically arrive in places like Southern Italy upon occasion. If we stay in super cheap AirBnbs. And if we eat only cheese pizza and gelato and zero fancy restaurant meals.  ...  read more

On Being the World Changers

I’ve begun to wonder lately what it was like to be a woman in 1918 fighting for the right to vote. Or an abolitionist in 1862. Or a civil rights advocate in 1962. I’ve begun to wonder what it was like for them before they knew they’d win — at least legally — and how they felt, beyond what we can research. Beyond their rousing words. Beyond their determination to stay the course. Beyond the paragons they’ve become in the annals of history.  ...  read more

On Home Which Is on My Heart

I grew up in Papua, Indonesia, which is not to say I spent my whole childhood there like some of my friends. I was a late arriver — perhaps foreshadowing my lifelong relationship with timing — at age 12 in the coastal town of Sentani where I went to boarding school for the first time. 

Sentani is the place I learned to run barefoot on gravel and spin in hot monsoon rains and slip notes under the the adjoining door to my friend, Liz, during enforced “nap” time. We wrote whole book series plots via underdoor note, nearly all of them starring boy/girl twins stowing away on British ships during the height of the British Empire.  ...  read more

New Plan: It’s OK to Rest

I took the day off yesterday. 

I didn’t want to. I didn’t feel great about it. I detest asking for help because my Lizard Brain believes Not Doing All the Things is  a clear and obvious sign of weakness and is, therefore, the very WORST activity in which I can (not) participate. But I’ve been working lately on a Grand Experiment I’ve creatively named It’s OK to Rest. I’m a firm believer that, if you repeat words to yourself enough times, you’ll begin to think they’re actually true. That’s why I thought I was stupid for so long — also ugly and fat, bless my heart — so I figure if I can use my Awesome Mind Powers for Monumentally Damaging Evil, then I can turn that poop pile around and use it for good.  ...  read more

Kindness Is Messy: So Is Spaghetti, But I Still Recommend It

I gathered my retreat makers together last weekend in a cabin in the high desert of Oregon with snow piled high outside, and we worked on how we might gather humans in 2020 and beyond for rest and respite from our weary world — and how we might convey the message we’re all worthy of infinite love exactly as we already are. We talked about ways to hone our craft. We talked about ways to be authentic, supportive community. And we ate as much as possible at little, local restaurants, braving the icy sidewalks in search of sticky Thai chicken wings and Cuban pulled pork served on fried plantains.  ...  read more

Turns Out, I’m Coffee: Thoughts on Managing Mental Illness

I hit a mental wall last week, on Thursday, at noon. 

I pulled into my driveway after my morning tasks, sent a few urgent texts, crafted my plan for the afternoon which consisted of Too Many Commitments and No Time to Shower, and couldn’t shake the increasing sense of impending doom. It wasn’t a feeling, per se; not an emotion, necessarily. It was more of a physical response. Fight or Flight. Or Freeze. Or, my personal favorite, Fall Apart. My heartbeat was rapid. My breaths were shallow. Everything on my schedule felt overwhelming and unmanageable, as it had for days, and I could acknowledge to myself in the quiet of my car that the mental illness wall was rising, brick by brick, and getting consistently higher. ...  read more

Quick Life Tip: Frosted Mini Wheats with Brown Sugar and Garlic Salt Is Not OK, After All

I had Frosted Mini Wheats with a sprinkle of brown sugar and a dusting of garlic salt today which I initially decided was fine.

It was the usual situation. Four hours after waking up, I decided I ought to feed myself. Some people make themselves and their physical needs a priority, understanding that providing their own bodies with nourishment upon waking allows them to better care for others. I imagine they set their alarms for early in the morning, rise cheerfully before their children, make themselves multi-grain avocado toast or a two-egg omelette, and eat it from an actual plate while sitting at the kitchen table with a dare-I-say hot cup of coffee or bright lemon tea. I can only assume people like that are generally rational and well-adjusted with an appropriate balance of self-care… and that they don’t wake up in a high-strung panic after hitting snooze thirteen times, thinking of all the tasks they must accomplish immediately, or yesterday, or last year, and itemizing the ever-expanding list of people they’ve let down with their lack of follow-through on their Very Good Intentions. ...  read more