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402 days. 402 (plus or minus… mostly minus) posts.

Tag: help

Day 632: About Not Being Scared

I started writing this piece before I learned of Robin Williams’ death.

And in full disclosure, I don’t suffer from depression the way many of my friends, families and peers do. I’m honored to have heard some of their stories over the past few days, and to have been privy to the depth at which depression is managed with grace, grit and sometimes deep, deep loneliness.

Cheers to the depressed. May you press on and keep sharing.

_____

Original post:

The other day, I had a moment. I woke up, took a shower, lay down on the floor, and stared up at the ceiling while tears sort of unceremoniously streamed out of my eyes, down my temples and into my ears. I felt exhausted. And hyper-aware that my wet hair was soaking the carpet.

In that moment, I felt anxious and incompetent. Logically, I knew I didn’t have anything to feel sad about – and I knew I could snap out of it if I really, really wanted to. But I didn’t want to. I felt compelled to stay there, stretched out, feeling anxious and incompetent, wondering how much longer I could delay the rest of my day. It was comforting in an incredibly uncomfortable sort of way.

I think sometimes life is just kind of scary.

And sometimes we should feel comfortable talking about how life is just kind of scary.

There’s a reason we thrive in communities – it takes all kinds of different relationships (dare I say a “village” of them) to support an individual’s emotional well-being. We need champions, advocates, reality-checks, comic relief, passion, warmth and challenges – and in the best communities, what an individual takes in in balance with what they provide.

But we (perhaps women, in particular) still struggle with this concept. We think we should be able to do it all and have it all and work it all out ourselves. We have to give more than we take. And we can’t talk about our sad or scary moments, because they make us seem weak and fragile, instead of normal human beings with deep emotions and strengths.

I’d like to be part of the movement that says it’s okay to talk about these things. That it’s okay to not have it all together, and it’s okay to ask for help. Asking and seeking is not weak – it’s productive and smart. It says you’re willing to grow and be challenged. And isn’t that a brave, beautiful thing?

Day 555: I Saw a Beautiful Thing Today

If you live in a city like mine, you’ve seen the women and men who stand on intersection medians and ask for help during red lights. Their cardboard signs identify themselves as Veterans, mothers, fathers, widows, unemployed workers, addicts, alcoholics, etc. They share the same titles as many of their car-driving, stoplight-waiting counterparts; just different circumstances.

Lately, there have been a number of times where I’ve been the first car in a line of cars right up against the median, sitting less than two feet away from a person reaching out for help. Last week, I had groceries in the car, so I passed along a bag of grapes. Today, I sucked on the straw of my soy chai and just sat there.

My stoplight today was a particularly long one, so I had plenty of time to wrestle with my ethics. I had about $10 in cash in my purse, but dollars didn’t seem like the right kind of help. I thought about making eye contact and offering a welcoming and/or I-see-you-and-I-wish-you-well smile, but I also worried about coming across as condescending. The more I went back and forth, the worse I felt. Then I felt bad for feeling bad, because how gross is that? I’ve been incredibly lucky, and who’s to say that he and I wouldn’t have swapped lives with different support systems?

As I slunk and drank and sat, I noticed a teenage hipster-ish girl across the intersection, standing in a sort of weird and dangerous spot in the road. She seemed to be trying to cross to the median, which was angled, and between two converging/diverging roads that run along the lake (in other words, not particularly pedestrian friendly). I wrote her off as trying to take a shortcut to the water and watched carefully as she tried to pick a good time to cross.

Eventually, she zipped through a long line of cars, crossed in front of me, and stepped up onto the median. She had a plastic bag with her, and I glued my eyes on her sideways as she greeted the median man, offered him her hand as an introduction, and asked him how he was doing. They introduced themselves to each other and exchanged pleasantries, and she started pulling goodies out of the bag – a giant bottle of water, peanuts, granola bars, a Tom Clancy book. She had scoured the gas station across the street on his behalf.

And then (this is my favorite part), she stayed there. He guzzled the water, the light changed and I pulled away, and I watched in the rearview mirror as the two of them sat down on the median and unloaded the rest of her plastic picnic basket, both of them smiling. She seemed interested in him as a person – not as a concept, not a representation of homelessness, not an uncomfortable part of an otherwise privileged daily experience. And because I think the full picture is important here, I’ll also point out that their skin tones didn’t identify their privilege one way or another. His was white and hers brown. Both wearing ripped t-shirts and jean shorts – his torn by wear, and hers by a manufacturer.

She’s my hero today. I don’t know her and I’ll probably never see her again, but she – likely half my age – exhibited the kind of understanding of human connectivity that every person (and especially every leader) should exemplify.

So. Here’s to the girl with the plastic bag, here’s to the guy reading the espionage book in the intersection median, and here’s to remembering we’re all part of the same thread.

 

Day 27: Call for Content

Since the world is still here, I will continue my plan to blog every day until it ends (or until December 31, 2013).

In January, I am taking a trip to see my favorite outdoor enthusiast in Australia. I may not have Internet access each day I’m there, so I’ll have to pre-plan some posts. The concept of pre-planning is a pretty big paradigm shift for this particular writer, because I’ve been flying by the seat of my pants so far.

Thus, I need some help.

Call for Content

Do you have a great blog post idea? Please, please (please) share it with me (unless you are saving it for your bad blogging self, which I completely understand). Here is what I’m looking for:

  • Interesting people to profile
  • Interesting philosophies to ponder
  • Interesting personal quirks to discuss (yours, someone else’s, etc.)
  • Interesting questions to probably not answer
  • Interesting books to discover
  • Un-interesting stuff of all ilk

I’ll take whatever you’ve got. Leave your best, worst and everything-in-between nuggets in the comments section below.

America thanks you.

Also, here is a picture of Brian Boitano wearing his Girl Scout sash. He does a good turn daily.

Brian Boitano