bipolar mom shares her insights on everyday life

Archive for August, 2009

Feel Good File

Okay, folks, if you don’t already have one of these, you should make one. 

Everyone needs a FEEL GOOD FILE.  I don’t know where I heard of such a thing, but I made one for myself years ago.  It started out as a file folder for things that made me smile.  Articles, cartoons, pictures, etc.  Anything that might serve as a “pick me up” when I was down.

Then, I started adding notes people had written me.  Thanking me for various things, mentioning a positive quality that I had, etc.  Again, just things that would make me remember that I’m not a loser, even when there are times that I felt like one.

The folder became pretty full, and I had to move the items to an expandable pocket.  That’s full now too.  I’m not bragging.  Please don’t take it that way.  I’m just letting you know how great this kind of thing can make you feel.  And, as some of you know, I’ve been threw a few wacko things in my life, so people are kind enough to write me during those times.

Yesterday, I was feeling a little low, so I got out the file.  I found several notes from a dear friend.  She’s great at mailing notes via snail mail.  I can print off nice emails, but it’s even easier to file away a card.  And, the number of Winnie the Pooh cards I’ve received make me smile just looking at them!

I had lunch with my note-writing friend today.  I told her that I had read several of the notes she’d written.  She asked if the Feel Good File worked.  I said, “Well, I did have to stop after awhile.  It made me a little…sad.”  She laughed.  I said, “Well, not really sad, more like choked up.”  That, she understood.

The articles and cartoons I had saved, just made me laugh.  Just like they were supposed to do.  In fact, I had one that offered snappy comebacks worthy of a TV sitcom mom.  I’m trying to work those in when I can.  My favorite:  After your child says, “I’ll never speak to you again!”  Your response could be:  “That’s too bad.  I was hoping for another one of your informative, free seminars.”

So, just take a moment to grab one of those file folders you have around the house, or use a pocket folder that your child used three years ago, but would NEVER use again, and start putting things in there that make you smile.  You’d be surprised how full it gets.  Print off some of those emails that someone sends you that makes you smile.

Then, the next time something (or someone) makes you feel like crap, grab that folder, your favorite beverage, and prepare to transform your mood!

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Getting Rid of Weeds

I couldn’t really come up with a good title for this one.  I just knew I wanted to blog about it.

On a recent thread of some friends on Facebook who are all in middle school/high school, there was some joking about one of the high schools not having a good football team, but were the best at smoking weed.  Just kidding around, of course.  (Just like when I was in high school, EVERYONE knew that Parkway West did the most drugs.  ha)

Then, one of the kids posts, “Weed isn’t so bad.  If you are going to do something, do weed.”

WHAT?!?!

As a mom (and adult), my mouth dropped open. 

One of the other kids quickly wrote back and dispelled that myth because he had just had a speaker in Health class that explained how smoking pot slowly changes you, and by the time you notice the change, it’s too late to kick the habit yourself.  Another kid wrote that she’d had the same speaker at a different school.  They both remarked about how the guy looked like he had just come from Woodstock, but that’s beside the point, just a funny aside.  Probably made him much more credible, though.

Even after that, I just couldn’t let it go.  So I wrote,“And, as the token adult in this conversation, I’m going to have to say something “adult-like.” What kind of argument is “if ur going to do something, do weed?” Why would you have to do anything at all? Is there going to be some kind of game show when you go to an interview for a job where they say, “Okay. You have to do some kind of drug in order to get this job. Which one do you choose? Crack? Heroine? or Door #3-Weed?”

Didn’t mean to get all preachy there, just 43 years of experience just boiled up and burst out of me. (C’mon, though. You didn’t really think I’d sit here and not say anything, did you?)”

I really wish this had been a face-to-face conversation.  Because you can’t really convey the “you have GOT to be kidding me” look in print.

Part of this kid’s motive was probably to get attention with her comment.  But, knowing her a little, I also feel pretty confident that it is also how she feels.  This kid just turned 16.  And, I’m sure that the word on the street is that “everyone tries it.”  Which is the same as when I was that age.  And, moments like this immediately transport me back to those days.

I suppose that my biggest shock was not “Oh my gosh!  Kids are smoking pot!” but rather, “THIS is what kids think?  THIS is the mentality?”  Peer pressure is going to knock this girl upside the head.  Or she’s going to be knocking someone upside the head with this messed up logic.

I tried to come up with examples of how ridiculous her statement sounded…if you are going to kill someone, use a knife…if you are going to commit arson, burn down an empty building…if you are going to cut off a part of your body, pick the ear…

I’d love some other ideas.  I’ve spoken my peace.  I’m good now.

Now THAT’S Why I’m a Mom!

I absolutely love my kids.  I’ve told them several times that I wish I could freeze them at the ages they are.  They can do stuff on their own.  They don’t need to be entertained 24/7.   And, they are just plain fun to be around.

Yesterday I took them to Five Guys Burgers and Fries for a “Good Luck at School” lunch.  Tom doesn’t really care for it, and they both really like it, so it was the perfect outing.

We three sat there and laughed and laughed.  It was great fun.  Then, Mark gave Karen “words of wisdom” about middle school.  That’s when I almost cried.  Here were my two babies, talking about middle school.  He was explaining the lunch procedure (which, as I recall, was the one thing he was most nervous about when he was entering 6th grade), and she had tons of questions. 

THIS is why I wanted to do this.  I wanted my kids to get a chance to sit down and talk like two human beings about things that were important to them.  They get along so well (for the most part), and this was a time for Mark to be the “older brother” that I knew he’d always be.  Nurturing, caring, and wise.  She was hanging on to every word he said.  Asking questions that she might not have been comfortable asking anyone else.  And, there was no rolling of the eyes during the entire conversation.  Has to be a world record.  For both of them.

I am so blessed.

Back to the Future-Part 3

Yes, yes, we are finally getting to the actual reunion part of my story.  Keep your pants on.

When we left Michelle yesterday, she was going to go get a drink and calm her big self down.

I went into the bar and there were faces that looked somewhat familiar, but not necessarily friendly.  Think Star Wars Cantina.  (I can’t help it.  Gotta throw a Star Wars reference in whenever I can.)  I smile at those who actually make eye contact.  One guy is really good-looking, but I can’t remember his name.  And, remember, no name tags.  Great.

I get my drink and I hear, “Michelle?”  I turn around and there is a guy I’d know anywhere.  We grew up together in elementary school.  I didn’t need a name tag.  I hug him and he introduces me to his wife.  The three of us find out that we all live in Wildwood and that their daughter will be going to middle school with my two kids next year.  His wife takes our picture, and we say we’ll see each other outside.  Now, I walk out of the bar with confidence.  I am passing those same faces that I saw when I entered, but now I’m not avoiding their eyes.  I’m smiling and nodding like I’m Miss America or something.

When I get back outside, I find out that there are now name tags, plus a sign-in sheet.  Another sigh of relief escapes me.  The pen we have to use, though is definitely a fine-tip one.  (I’m an office supply freak/geek.  I know my pens.)  This makes me laugh and as I mention to the women I saw when I first arrived, “Sure, we may need to use our hands and read them like Braille, but at least they are name tags!”

Another great elementary buddy comes and finds me, and we hug.  ( I had thought before I left, “What if these people aren’t huggers?  I’m a hugger.  Oh gosh.  Turns out, those I felt like hugging often hugged me first.  Those I just kinda knew?  No hugging necessary.  Weird.  It was like these were real, normal people or something.)  I tell him that he was so sweet to me in high school because I rode the bus all the way through high school, but he would pick me up in his pickup truck once in awhile when he saw me standing alone at the bus stop.  He threw his head back and laughed.  “That big ol’ white pickup?  Wow!”  He later mentioned that to his wife who told me that that same pickup had broken down on her when they were dating.

Then I saw my friend from church and her friends and there were more hugs.  Everyone’s got name tags on now, so I don’t have to use my not-so-great memory to remember who these people are.  (And, these ladies don’t have their husbands there either, so I’m not regretting not dragging Tom along.)  We start talking about the clothes we used to wear and how important those were to us.  We each remembered what pair of Nikes we had.  We thought that was hilarious!  Twenty-five years go by, and I still remembered my dark blue Nikes with the light blue swoosh.  We talked about Candies, Yo-Yos, and Gloria Vanderbilt jeans.  I was laughing so hard tears were practically shooting out of my eyes!  If there had been a fire right then and there, and they made everyone go home, I would have thought it was the best night I’ve had in a long time.  This is why people like to attend reunions.  The laughing and the memories.

I headed over to what I called The Music Department Table.  If you were in band, orchestra, or choir, you were over there.  Again, hugs all around.  One guy said to me, “You know.  I haven’t been in St. Louis for years.  And, when I came back, and decided to go to this thing, there were certain people I really wanted to see.  You are one of those people.”  Awwww.  How cool is that?  He introduces me to his wife, and I meet the other Music people’s wives.  Awesome.  (I just now realized I’m the only female there from the Music Dept.  Didn’t even think of that until now.)

I move on into the bar area now and see my friends from earlier, and more people start to arrive.  Lots of screaming “Hi!!!!!!!” and lots of “Quick!  Who is that in the blue shirt?” right before that person comes up to talk.  Not all the name tags are staying on, it seems. 

One of my old friends tells me that she’s mad at me, and winks.  I asked why and she said I stole the solo in “God Bless America” from her in high school.  I said, “Seriously?  I don’t even remember that.”  Then I laughed and said, “I can’t believe you are even speaking to me after that!”  I guess you can forgive pretty easily after 25 years.

I saw lots and lots of people that night.

  • A best friend from elementary school that didn’t associate with me in high school, but was so excited to see me.  She looks just like her mom, and talking to her brought back all the good memories and none of the bad.
  • A girl that didn’t talk to me in high school and still didn’t talk to me that night.  Okay, several girls.  And guys.  But, what was I going to catch up with them about anyway?  I didn’t know anything about them 25 years ago.  I thought it would bother me when they would look at my nametag and move on, but it didn’t.  I did the same thing when I saw their nametags.
  • Guys that were so popular and good-looking in high school that are still good-looking, but aren’t married, and wish they were.  Or at least wished they had kids.  And, I wasn’t deathly afraid to talk to them.  Twenty-five years will do that to a person!
  • Classmates that weren’t “popular” at all in high school, but were having the best time circulating and talking to anyone and everyone!
  • People that I kind of knew in high school, but were so friendly and fun to be around at the reunion.
  • And, finally, classmates I had honestly forgotten about, but was absolutely thrilled to see and catch up with. 

It was truly an amazing evening.  I wish I had a dollar for every time someone said, “You haven’t changed at all!  You are still so funny!”  (I don’t remember being funny in high school.  I thought that came later.  Shows you what I know!)  If you had asked me last year, or even last month for that matter, if I would be attending, I would have laughed out loud, and said, “No way!”

There are several classmates that I am sure I will see before the next reunion.  Two of the guys are in a band together and several of us plan to go hear them play whenever we can.  But, now, I can honestly say that I cannot wait for the next reunion.  Which just goes to show you, “Never say Never.”

Back to the Future-Part 2

Now that I’ve decided to attend my 25th high school reunion, I’m a mess of emotions.  I’m really excited.  I’m really nervous.  I’m going to throw up.

I mention that I’m nervous to Karen who says, in her “matter of fact” way, “Why go, then, Mom?  If you are so nervous, just don’t go.”  Well, yeah.  So, I explain that I am more excited than nervous, and just like trying out for Willy Wonka in May, I’m going to do something that makes me a little nervous, but that I think I will enjoy if I just do it.  She says she understands.  Maybe she does.  Or maybe she just wants me to shut up about it.  I’m going with the former.

The day passes by quickly and soon it is time to think about what to wear.  Ugh.  I had already told myself years ago that the time of trying to lose weight before these people see me has long gone.  I am a much more confident person now.  If they think I’m fat, too bad.  I don’t care.  And, as all good mothers say, “Then, those people aren’t your friends anyway.”  I’m not going to see those people.  I’m going to see the people that were nice to me back when I didn’t have the confidence or the rockin’ sense of humor I do now.

I told Karen that I didn’t know what to wear.  She, of course, says, “I’ll be glad to help you with that!”  I quickly remind her that she’s got Mom’s wardrobe to deal with, not hers.  There will not be a lot of choices.

So, I headed upstairs and quickly laid out the three possible choices.  Ugh again.  I could hear my mom’s voice in my head telling me I should have decided this earlier and bought a new outfit.  And, she was right.  But, there was no doing that now.  Karen looked at my choices and said, “Well, this one I like, but it is just too much black, I think.”  I tried not to say, “Oh no!  Black looks better on people that are heavy or fat or whatever!”  She pondered over the other choices and I said, “Well, I liked that outfit because I could wear my cute pink shoes with it.”  That got her attention.  She’s Imelda Marcos Jr.  “Okay, go try that on.”  I did and she said, “Oh yes.  That looks really good.  It doesn’t look like too much black at all.”  Now, if the rest of you out there don’t have your own Karen in your life, I will lend her to you.  No one makes me feel better about how I look than my daughter.  She will tell me if she doesn’t like what I’m wearing.  (In fact, she told Tom yesterday, “Really, Dad?  Navy blue shirt and black shorts?  No.”  And we were just out at Innsbrook and wouldn’t be seeing ANYONE!)  Fashion is her thing.  So, when I got ready, I felt really, really good.  I needed that.

I did my hair, and it looked great!  YES!  Decent outfit, good hair, I’m good to go.  I get ready to leave when I realize I don’t have any pictures of the family to show off.  Isn’t that what people do at reunions?  Crud.  I am now running around like a chicken with my head cut off looking for photos.  I’m even shouting aloud, “What kind of mother doesn’t have photos of her kids?”  I finally find one of each kid.  Sure, they are from two years ago, but they still look like my kids.  Now, for a photo of Tom.  Huh.  Every picture I find that isn’t already in a scrapbook is so old he doesn’t even have a beard.  He’s had that for three years now.  This is sad.  Mark yells in at me, “Hey, Mom, do you have your phone?”  I scream, “YOU ARE BRILLIANT!”  Tom is the main picture on my phone.  YES!  (Turns out, Mark just wanted to know if someone had called me.  He wasn’t trying to help with the photo issue.  Oh, well, I still hugged him for it.)

Then, I was out the door.  Nervous.  Nervous.  Nervous.  I kept telling myself that if the place was filled with “Who are you?” people, I could just leave.  No formal dinner or anything.  So, just get back in my car and go.  Good.  I have an escape plan.

I call my friend in Dallas and she talks to me about her demon child and I can now concentrate on something else.  Well, that and driving.   She wishes me good luck and I hang up the phone.  I put on my lipstick, and I walk to the bar. 

The reunion was being held at Harpo’s in Chesterfield which has a patio as well as the inside bar/restaurant.  I can’t tell whether the people standing around on the patio are from PCH or not.  Oh, man.  I am wishing I wasn’t doing this.  I don’t recognize anyone.  But, my legs keep going.  I walk up the stairs and there is one of my Facebook buddies.  I grab her and hug her like she is the only life preserver in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean!  I tell her how glad I am to see her and she introduces me to her husband, and then another classmate that is standing with her.  I now see Problem #1 and it is a biggie.  No one is wearing nametags.  What the?  I said, “Uh, no one is wearing nametags.”  I love stating the obvious.  Both ladies agree that nametags would be nice, and I said, “Heck, I will go over to Schnuck’s and get nametags if I have to!  We NEED nametags!”  I truly think I’m going to hyperventilate.  Instead, I say, “Well, I’m going to go inside and get a drink.”  My friend says, “Oh, yes.  Don’t worry.  We did that first thing too.  We all need a drink before this thing.”  Whew.  I’m not the only one who is nervous.

Tomorrow’s topic:  WHAT WAS IT LIKE ALREADY!?!?!?

Back to the Future

 “I feel like I have been in Back to the Future this weekend.”  One of my high school classmates posted that in her status. It was our 25th high school reunion.  Parkway Central Colts – Class of 1984.  (Always hated that mascot.  But, that is another post.)

I have never attended any of the previous reunions.  I don’t have a lot of fond memories when I think back to high school.  It is one of those periods of my life when, sure there were good events, but mostly I remember going to school, then coming home.  Not much of a life outside of school.  A few friends.  Definitely not considered popular.

But, this year felt different.  My good friend had attended the 20th reunion and reported back that it was a good time.  Still, she was much more popular than I was.  When I heard the 25th was scheduled, I was absolutely not going to attend.  Why relive that time?  It had been 25 years since I had seen ANY of them.  Why go back?

But, then, Facebook entered the equation.  Slowly, I started to see people from high school that brought back GOOD memories.  Now, it’s not like I was ready to pick up the phone and call any of these people.  That’s the great thing about Facebook.  You can just write, “Wow!  You look exactly the same!  I loved looking at your photos!” and that’s the end of the communication.  But, still, the wall that had been separating you for 25 years now has a small crack in it.

The closer it got to the day, the more attending it entered my mind.  And, the night before the informal get-together was to occur, I mentioned to Tom that I was 70% interested in going.  His response:  “That’s a heck of a change from ZERO!”  I nodded.  Admitted that Facebook had made me think about it more.  Then, he asked the big question.  “Do you want me to go too?”  I quickly responded that I wouldn’t do that to him.  He let out a big sigh of relief.

It wasn’t that I didn’t want to take him.  I did.  I am so proud of him.  I would have loved to have shown him off.  He’s amazing!  I just knew that he would have a horrible time.  And, I’d be worried about him having a horrible time.  I was worried enough about myself having a good time. 

I posted the status on Facebook:  “To attend or not attend.  That is the question.”  Nothing else.  Just that.  Several fellow alumni figured out I was talking about the reunion.  I was encouraged by all to attend.  Now that I knew more than two people that were going, I was even more intrigued.  I sent a message to my friend from both high school and church and asked what time she was going.  (I had heard two separate start times.)  She told me and said she expected to see me there.  That was it.  I was going.

You know how Back to the Future had three movies?  Well, this topic is going to be divided up that way too.  In bites you can actually swallow.  So tune in tomorrow for Part 2.  🙂

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