Flexible Thinking

I have run only once or twice a month for the past three months. I don’t have it in me right now to run on the treadmill and the cold weather forces me inside. So I march in my living room or jog in place to get my 10,000 steps daily. It doesn’t always happen, but I do give it some effort.

Today was grey outside and a bit breezier than I expected, but at 36 degrees I had to give the outdoors a chance. I had planned on walking for a mile or so and see what happened. After just a tenth of a mile, I threw a little jogging in and decided I’d give this a shot. I listened to a variety of TED talks while I walked/jogged/ran 3.5 miles. And somewhere in the middle of all of that, I cried.

One reason I stopped running this fall had nothing to do with the weather. It was because I’d end up crying in the middle of every run. When I listen to music, my brain will wander to wherever it wants or maybe even needs to be, and that would eventually lead to thoughts or memories about my brother, and I would cry. But after a few of these “grief runs”, I started to dread running. My conscious mind was not ready to face more memories I didn’t want to remember, and since running seemed to bring those out, I just stopped doing it.

So today I went for some TED talks instead of music. My body has craved the movement of running and I felt like I could handle whatever my crazy brain had in store. Of course I didn’t look in depth at all the TED talks first.

I ran to a few talks and I can’t tell you what any of them were about except the artificial intelligence one that I skipped over and the one that made me cry that stayed with me this whole day. It was about money shaming, and how some people are taught that their self-worth is tied to what their bank account says. And the woman giving the talk is a financial advisor and near the very beginning she says that her brother died. And she started to cry.

For fuck’s sake, how do I get these?!? Of course I started to cry because I am that person who will cry if anyone else in the room is crying and plus we had this one shitty thing in common. And like nearly every other time I’ve run these last few months, the grief started to overwhelm me. But today I let a brief thought of my lovely brother enter my mind, then let it go out. I concentrated on the speaker’s voice instead and listened to her story. This was about her, not me.

Once I got home, I walked around a bit outside, stretched on the front steps then went into my house where the wonderful aroma of bread baking greeted me, along with the sounds of my husband and son playing RISK. I stretched some more with a smile on my face as I let those endorphins do their job as they made my world seem like such a nice place to be.

Running used to calm me and put me in a better place mentally and physically. Today it definitely helped with that tightness in my chest I mentioned last time, and it typically helps me with my “flexible thinking.” When something doesn’t go my way, I can take a deep breath, assess the situation, accept it and come up with something just as good or better. I’ve said many times that having a positive outlook does not come naturally to me (my brother was the same way). But how I feel after I run certainly helps that.

Does this mean I’ll run every day or nearly ever day liked I used to, looking for that runner’s high once more? I doubt it. I’m not being negative here, just realistic. If I can change the time I wake up, then maybe I can, but I’m not sure I’m ready to do that. I currently enjoy my mornings with my family and I need to really map the morning out if I’m going to do this. It’s something to work on I guess, right?

I hope you’re finding your calm and happy place this winter, wherever you are. Take care of you. ❤

Sitting in your own shit

Warning: This blog entry has an excessive amount of cuss words. If that type of thing offends you, you might want to skip this post.

I fucking hate being in this sandwich generation. I hate that I don’t make enough money to buy a decent car. I despise the fact that I gained weight this winter. I really fucking hate that my brother is sick and sometimes I just hate the whole fucked up world. For more than a day, I’d like to stop putting on that stupid ass fake smile that everyone thinks is real.

You might be saying, “Well, yes, life is hard but there are so many other people worse off than you are.”  That is absolutely true. But you know what, ass hat? I don’t give a flying fuck right now.  I don’t want to look on the fucking bright side. I JUST WANT TO BE MISERABLE AND SIT IT MY OWN GODDAMNED SHIT, OK?!?  IS THAT ALRIGHT WITH YOU?!?


Alright. Here’s the deal. I, Holly Williams, am giving YOU, my lovely readers, permission to have a pity party. Right now. Go ahead! Do it. It’s completely fine.  You do not have to be positive and chipper and cheery all the time. It’s ok to feel shitty and hate what’s going in your life. It’s ok to cry and scream and bitch about it. It’s even ok to let it all out on social media. (Just expect people to unfollow you for a bit because not everyone can listen to that shit 24/7.)

Life is really fucking hard sometimes. It is. I know it can be filled with beauty and joy and unicorns dancing with woodchucks, but it can also be filled with disaster and grief and pure suckage.  It is completely acceptable to admit that life isn’t good right now.  When someone asks you, “How are you?” go ahead and tell them the truth. Tell them that life is shitty right now but thanks for asking. Or grunt. I’m personally a fun of grunting. Sometimes talking takes too much fucking energy.

It’s ok that your life isn’t wonderful and it’s ok to feel bad about it. No one’s life is wonderful all the time, no matter what bullshit they post on Facebook.  At some point you will probably have to find a way to fix whatever is wrong or learn how to handle whatever issue or problem you may have, and you will. But right now, today, you don’t have to.

Go ahead and sit in your shit, wiggle your ass in it and feel it squishing between your butt cheeks until the smell is too fucking awful to breathe. Then, and only then, when you can’t stand yourself anymore, do you pick yourself up, clean yourself off, and deal with whatever shit storm you’re in.

You’ll be able to handle it now. You’ve wallowed and cried and screamed and stunk up the joint and now you’re ready to move on, let it go or suck it up. You can do this. You can. Really.

So go.  Clean that shit up and start smelling like daisies again. Put on a smile if you have it, and if you don’t? Who gives a fuck. Just be yourself and do your best to deal with what life flings at you.




In the midst of things…

My family and I are in the middle of the 5th month of our spending moratorium. After cancelling our vacation,  we seem to always search for that silver lining. We have our days that we feel sorry for ourselves and mope around the house, whining that we’ll never go on a nice vacation….ok, I’m the one that really does that….but other days we try to look on the bright side of things.

For instance, with our tax refund this year, we were able to not only pay off the credit card but one of our loans that had some old debt on it. We paid it off a year early! And with that bit of extra money, we’re hoping to pay off this new car loan by January.  So what does that mean for us? Does it mean we can ease up on the moratorium and try to have a little fun? Well…not really.

Since we paid off the loan, we were able to loan two of our family members a little money (just $20 or $25) when they needed it and it didn’t hurt us too bad. That was a good feeling, and they both paid us back which is even better! But for the past few weeks, I’ve spend more on groceries than normal. I haven’t been as diligent. I kept saying, “Oh, we’re good! Look at all we’ve done!” And then I felt the squeeze. My husband didn’t work 40 hours one week, we both had doctors’ appointments the next week, two of our cats were due for the their shots…you get the picture.  That’s when Holly started freaking out.

I started getting grumpier than my normal. I started interrogating my husband on what he bought and where. I ate cereal for supper more than once, trying to spread the meals out a little more for the rest of the family. Of course, then I gorged myself on chocolate chips on those nights because it felt good and I needed to feel good. Which made me depressed about my weight, my lack of running and the fact that we were low on chocolate chips.  See that nasty downward spiral?

But then little things started to pop up that made me happy.  Little things that were really big things. Like my mom taking my son and myself to McDonald’s for lunch. We went INSIDE the building. We sat INSIDE! Last week Mom went grocery shopping with me. She actually went INTO THE GROCERY STORE. This is really big. I haven’t been inside a public building with my mother in over a year, except for hospitals and doctor’s offices. When we went into the store, she folded up her walker, put it in a cart, and started pushing it all through the store. And I mean all through the store! It was awesome! Really, really awesome. She recognized a few people, she remembered what was on her grocery list, she knew what was going on. It was FANTASTIC!  True, she was wearing the sweat suit she seems to want to wear all the time and she didn’t have her teeth in, her teeth that were never found, but who cares? She was aware and coherent and cruising along. It was a good day.

Other little things that have made me happy? Watching the Oscars with my brother. It may have been in the hospital, but he made me laugh hysterically, like he always does. And right now, at least this week, he’s feeling better and he’s home. So that makes me happy. Hanging out with some of my family this weekend, just having lunch, chatting, watching The Love Boat–all made me happy. Listening to my child spell words for his father–that not only made me happy but amused the hell out of me. Watching comedians on Netflix, laughing at a joke my husband told, talking with some of my favorite people via email and Facebook–all of that made and makes me happy.

There really are silver linings out there, somewhere. Not for everything for sure, and certainly not all of the time. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not all sunshiney and farting rainbows, people! I’m not always happy when friends they tell me about their fantastic vacations they’re planning or what incredible (and incredibly expensive) outings they’re going on with their children. I can get downright pissy. But when I come back to myself, I remember that this debt business isn’t their fault. That’s all mine (and my husband’s). And although I might think snarky thoughts and hope they get into debt because of their fabulous vacation, I usually snap out of it and wish them well and try not to be such a bitch.

Then I go off and start looking and searching and hoping for the bright side, the silver lining, the good stuff.

It’s usually out there.

So let’s go find it.


My Facebook Fast

I am no stranger to self-deprivation.  I’ve been on a variety of diets over the years (Scarsdale diet, cabbage soup diet, etc.) that not only deprived me of a vast amount of calories but also pleasure.  I rarely eat before a run and sometimes wait close to two hours before I eat after a run.  A little voice in my head continually tells me that I can burn just a few more calories before I eat that granola bar.  It’s absolutely ridiculous, I know.  In the past few months, I’ve been much better about eating and not starving myself. Trying not to *always* count calories, but eat “normally”—whatever the hell that means.

I’m also the person who will yearn for that cute jacket in the store window, but refuse to buy it. Always justifying purchases for my son and sometimes my husband, but never myself.  “It costs too much,” I’ll say. And when it goes on sale?   “I don’t need it,” I’ll say to anyone listening. But what I’m really saying in my head? “I don’t deserve it.”

This year, though, I’ve made many attempts to treat myself better.  I actually bought clothes for my vacation next week. I keep telling that bitch in my head to pipe down.  Nothing was particularly expensive.  I did, in fact, need summer clothes, and I fucking deserve to feel good and look good.

Then why give up Facebook? Everyone knows I love it.  It’s given me a chance to reconnect with a few people that I thought I’d never “see” again, it allows me to watch the children of my friends grow up (and they can watch my little guy sprout up to be a big guy), and most importantly for me, Facebook has allowed debates and conversations to take place between myself and my friends that never would have happened otherwise.  It’s created this lovely little community of people that I care about, all at my fingertips.

So….*why* did I give up Facebook?  Was it just to punish myself for buying those clothes or eating that extra lemon square?   No, I don’t think so.

Was it because I haven’t been able to run much and hate seeing everyone else run races all the time and be amazing when I’m feeling dumpy?  Believe it or not…no.  I’m still on dailymile.com and I see my friends doing what they do there.  I’m happy for people when they do awesome things.  I’m actually one of those folks, who after buying a lottery ticket, get super excited for the person who wins.  It’s never me but I can just imagine what they’re feeling, and how can you not be ecstatic for them? (If you don’t get this, it’s really ok. My husband doesn’t either.)

I think I needed a break from Facebook because of a few things. We all know FB is a major time waster. Even if you don’t play games on it (which I don’t), you could still scroll through your newsfeed for an hour to see what your friends are up to, but what else could you have done with that hour?  Work?  Spend face to face time with your kid? Read?

Yes. All of those things.

To go along with that, FB is a *huge* distraction for me. I know I don’t have to sign in to it, but just wondering what good things my friend Theresa has done this week or what amazing creations my friends Russ and Hazel have made or even what hilarious thing Sarah’s son will say today, all make me want to sign in and check on people.  It was becoming an addiction, and I do not need something that feels good and I think ultimately *is* good, to become bad for me.

But you know what really started to get to me?  All of the sarcasm and the snarky comments, some of which were my own.   Facebook started to bring out the worst in me, and no one needs that, especially  me.  I have fought the winter blues without much success this year and I need every positive thought I can get.  It’s easy to be a naysayer with everyone else, but I don’t want to be like that.  Life is just too short to be negative and ultimately unhappy.

And that’s what Facebook was making me. Unhappy. Or perhaps some of the people on my list were making me that way.   So just get rid of them! you may say.  And some I did, but others I just can’t, for various reasons.   So block them! you might say.  Perhaps. But we know that life is never quite as simple as we want it to be. Social interactions are vitally important in our work, our friendships and in our familial relationships.  Diplomacy is horribly underrated in life.  It’s necessary on so many levels, and I didn’t want to “fuck things up” so to speak.  So, like Rachel and Ross, I was on a break.

I’m back now, with a clear head and a slightly smaller friends list.  I’m sure I’ll still check Facebook every day but I have to place myself on some restrictions. I’m looking forward to seeing photos of Sonya’s new baby and Trish’s vacation pictures, but I don’t need to spend gobs of time doing quizzes or even scrolling through my news feed.   I got a lot of work done last week without having that temptation of “visiting” with my friends. I felt productive and worthy. But like everything else I fall in love with, I need to give myself a little distance and not let my affection become an infatuation.

Looking forward to “seeing” all of you again and hearing about all of the spectacular things you’ve been doing with your lives….or hearing what you made for dinner. 😉