Welcome to 2021! Everything still feels out of control!
Disclaimer: You don’t have to read any further than this if you don’t want to. If all today’s ANNIGRAM leads you to do is listen to David Bowie’s Space Oddity, this will have been a wildly successful issue of my weekly missive.
For Real. Whatever. Just go lay down for a few minutes. Turn off your phone. Put a dark blanket over your eyes. Bliss out to the sonic vibes of Ziggy Stardust and go on a cosmic mind-journey.
::5 Minutes Later::
Oh, are you back? Well, ok then.
If you’ve got space in your soul-hole for words, I’ve got some to share. I’m gonna try to make them encouraging ones.
This first full week of 2021 has been a hard week on the end of a string of very many hard weeks. How are you? Are you runnin’ on empty? Are you overloaded? Are you feeling overwhelmed?
Today’s ANNIGRAM is here to encourage you to abandon anxiety about the things you can’t control and to lapse your membership to the Doing All Things Good Club.
You can’t fix everything that’s wrong, and you don’t have to do all the things good. You can just slowly and gently look for opportunities to learn and grow awareness and care for your country and process this collective U.S. trauma we’re all experiencing, while still showing up to your life in the ways that you are capable of.
Or you can fall apart a bit. That’s ok, too.
As a hyper-sensitive, empathic, easily-sensorily-overloaded person, sometimes mere existing feels precarious to my soul-shell.
In 39 sun-spins I’ve gained many inner and outer mechanisms to process that Big Feels Lyfe, but there’s something about this year that has felt like constantly riding the knife-edge of breaking into a million emotional pieces, at any moment, without warning, 24-7, steadily without pause, for the past nine months.
Maybe you feel me. Maybe you don’t quiiiiiiite identify with this agitated state of breaking-up-ness (props to my bullet-proof, cognitive peeps), but you have noticed that you’ve been more stressed lately.
Well, I said I’d keep this short, so here are two specific mental health hacks that have helped me function in these doomsdays:
Telling myself this phrase: “You don’t have to figure this out right now.”
When I go into an anxiety spiral of trying to “fix” things, running brain-paces and doing thought-summersaults in a mental gymnastics of playing out different possible scenarios in an ineffective attempt to control my anxiety (usually when my head hits the pillow--WHY BRAIN?? IT’S SHUTDOWN HOUR!), I know it’s time to repeat this phrase. Sure, sometimes we gotta plan or figure out shit. But when you know deep down that an “answer” isn’t readily available, it’s important to give your mind a pass, verbally and specifically.
Controlling Just One Damn Thing.
We’re diving into the Scope of Cope Series! And one simple, daily coping mechanism I recommend is to practice a sense of attention and thanks for anything (Any. One. Damn. Thing) that you can control. When the only thing you can control is the texture of your coffee grinds in the morning as your fridge leaks or your computer implodes from dropped-bombs of news media or your kids run around naked with popsicles in each tiny fist, that coffee is still an ordered autonomy to delight in.
Yesterday, for my Control One Damn Thing™ project, I took on the task of cleaning out a bunch of my old stuff from my parents’ house (where I’m staying for the next few months so I can be human with other humans).
I went through old photos and keepsakes, texted snaps and stories to friends from childhood through college, tossed out my old Sociology papers and High School diploma (is this bad? Do I need it? Please advise).
At one point I found this note:
This post-it-from-the-past was from a kind gentleman who saved the day in 1998 by finding the purse I had left HALFWAY TO VEGAS when my high school choir went to a festival there. I had kept the note all these years, as a reminder that people can be kind and good.
“Huh,” I thought, “I wonder if I can find him on Facebook.”
So I did.
“Hi Jim,” I wrote, “strange question-- but did you happen to take a trip to Vegas in 1998/99? I found this note today that I kept all these years! It obviously made quite an impression on me,” I said, “So thanks for saving the day 23 years ago!”
“Holy smokes,” he replied, “Yes, that was me. I’m so glad you found it! And it was my pleasure. I’m so happy that it worked out. I think it’s so sweet that you still have the note 23 years later. Means a lot to me that you saved it.”
And then the skies cleared and all barriers to human interaction and empathy dissolved and the heavenly bells rang out and the songbirds trilled a tune of a new world of idyllic peace and joy forever and ever AMEN.
JK THAT DIDN’T HAPPEN.
But. It did put some much-needed hope-gas in my life-tank, and maybe it did the same for Jim, too.
And I want to be clear: I’m not trying to tell you to sing Kumbaya as the world burns, ignoring systemic oppression and racism and political corruption and a white supremacist coup d’etat.
But sometimes the only thing we can do is control one thing, and make one step on a path that looks like a direction we want to head in, holding faith that the next ones will come, too.
Sometimes the one thing we can do is appreciate a specific kindness from 23 years ago, reminding ourselves of this truth: the things we do and the actions we choose have an even deeper impact than we could ever know.
And that’s where hope lives.
THREE GOOD THINGS
Please enjoy my old San Diego friend Matt Curreri’s song "I Need to Control Just One Damn Thing.” (PS: I think I’m gonna record a cover of this for my paid subscribers, so now would be a good time to sign up for those perks, y’all!)
This week has been a traumatic reminder (again) to our friends in the Black community that their bodies are not treated equally by law enforcement. A good thing to do this week could be to contribute to the BLM org!
I found this vegan flourless chocolate torte recipe, and it looks DELISH DELOSH. Someone whip it up and report back its tastiness quotient PLEASE AND THANK YOU.