Friday, July 24, 2015

Dealing with Difficult Circumstances: A Conversation

“Tomorrow, I’m going to deal with difficult circumstances.”

Family art print by Ana Yael
"Family" by Ana Yael, a curated
Art Print from Society6
My mom isn't doing so well. Her 5-day hospital stay didn't lead to a prognosis for her brain swelling and confusion. We're still in the dark. She has Neurofibromatosis Type II. She always said her biggest fear was being alive but "checked out." I'm devastated that this is happening, but trying to stay positive by focusing on what's actionable going forward. If you want to brighten my day, register to walk with my team for the NF Walk Los Angeles or donate to show your support.

I'm researching ways to deal with difficult circumstances. More accurately, I have to deal with the difficult circumstances of right now, and I hope to find patterns that will help me cope with difficulties throughout the rest of my life.

I'm not even sure what "deal with difficult circumstances" means yet. Does it mean being able to do your job despite personal stress? If so, when do you process the feels? Does "dealing" mean processing the feels so they don't consume you, or knowing how to get back to being okay after they do?

One thing I do know: "dealing" isn't about "not feeling." One of my friends and I have a system in which, if one of us needs to talk, we say, "I have feels." The other person will ask, "Are they big feels?" The friend who needs help says something like, “They’re medium-to-large feels.” And then we share congratulations, because it's so easy to be numb these days. Feelings show us where the love is.

My anger at the hospital's inattention: it's a disguise for the love I have for my mom. 

To see the love behind negatives is to practice gratitude. Maybe having tools like gratitude is the answer to what it means to "deal with difficult circumstances." I still want some sort of metric to measure my "dealing" by, but I have to come to terms with: that might not be possible. I don't have a strict definition of "success," so why do I need a clear picture of what "dealing" or "coping" look like?

Let's all just feel what we feel.

In the spirit of feels, here's 5 things that I've been returning to a lot lately because they make me feel feelings:

1. "What We Gained in the Fire" by the Mynabirds. Incredible song. My imagination takes me somewhere different every time I hear it. I don't know why YouTube kept taking me out of full screen mode at the end of each play-through, as if I wasn't going to push play and watch it again, over and over.

2. "IDGAF" by Watsky. I love how the video is Watsky having a party with the monsters under his bed. It's a rap about the freedom of living in the moment and having meaningful priorities. And speaking of...

3. "The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F***" by Mark Manson. This article is my new favorite thing. I don't know if it's pent up anger because of the situation back home or my general disdain for decorum, but I find all the curse words refreshing. It's also funny ("I don’t even know what that sentence means, but I don’t give a [f***]. A bag of burritos sounds awesome, so let’s just go with it.") and quite thoughtful. Sometimes I read something and think, Maybe I should give up being a writer because that person just said everything I've been trying to say. This is one of those articles.

4. "Today Means Amen" by Sierra DeMulder. A spoken word poem that's like a motivational speech. My favorite line is "You, the teacher, the starter's gun, the lantern in the night that offers not a way home, but the courage to travel farther into the dark." It's absolutely beautiful and I cry every time. Big, ugly cries.

5. Enjoying my cats. Sometimes of think of them as tiny tigers. Today I took videos of me waking them up. I had a distract-able moment and couldn't resist. I love how much their personalities show in their reactions, and I love their fat, happy kitty tummies.

I'm having technical difficulties with the videos.
In the meantime, enjoy these pictures of Jolie and Tyrone.
Here's the link to the NF Walk page again. 
Please feel free to comment below if you have any thoughts on how to define "dealing with difficult circumstances" or want to geek out with me over something in my 5 things list.

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