Goals, resolutions, and intentions: They’re good. They’re bad. And it’s probably gonna get ugly.

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I’ve spent the last couple of days simultaneously doing everything and doing nothing. It has been glorious–just me, myself, and I–along with a huge fuzzy blanket and my couch. In between the times that I’ve been curled up, mindlessly scrolling through my newsfeeds, I’ve cleaned a closet (which created space for all my outdoor gear to be in one place), ordered my essentials for the new year (a new planner for inspiration and organization, a 64 oz water bottle with a sipper to effectively and efficiently meet my hydration goals, a fresh supply of meal prep containers so I can prep weeks worth of breakfasts and lunches, the book Bird by Bird by Anne Lamotte so I can be instructed on writing and life, new bite valves for my hydration packs because it is now too cold to be leaked on when running for a long time, and a new food scale because mine broke a few months ago and I’m pretty sure that the 4 oz. portions of meat that I’ve been recording in my food journal are probably more like 8), balanced my checkbook, baked a few loaves of a healthier-than-usual banana bread to chow down on long run days, gathered a huge pile of stuff to be donated, painted my nails, and I finally got around to coloring my hair with the $6.99 box of hair dye that has been sitting on my bathroom counter for at least two months. Whew. Doing everything and nothing at the same time makes a girl tired, ya know? BUT…through the everythingness and nothingness of these two glorious days, I’ve managed to hash out my goals for the new year. I do not take these things lightly and have been thinking about some of them (and already have been working on some of them) for a while now, in anticipation of a full-on commitment as the new year rolls around. Here they are, in no particular order. (Drumroll please.)

  1. HYDRATE PROPERLY. Every. Damn. Day.  No exceptions. Water is life. I feel like shit when I don’t get enough of it and yet, there are days, too many days when I fall short. Again, water is life. One more time, water is life. Enough said.
  2. UNCLENCH MY JAW. Yes, that is my goal. For real. This one actually kind of scares me. A LOT. A WHOLE LOT. For this to happen I’m gonna have to get down and dirty in my authenticity and be fiercely honest about the sources of my angst. I’ve been doing some prework here and I know that some hard change is going to have to happen in my life in order to meet this goal. Stay tuned for this shit show. It’s gonna be a good, bad, and ugly one. But probably mostly just ugly.
  3. THINK YOUNG. And do this without fail, just like my hydration goal. Every. Damn. Day.  No exceptions. This morning I read a beautiful little story about a 99-year old woman that still teaches weekly yoga classes. The story talks about the power of thinking young and the benefits that go along with it. After spending the last year attending a long-drawn-out pity party about my middle aged-ness, I am so ready for this reframe on life. So ready. Dammit, I want to be 99 and teaching yoga classes and/or running marathons. Why the hell not? Think young. Every. Damn. Day. No exceptions. I’m on it.
  4. COMMIT TO CREATING. My creativity has been lost over the last couple of years. I miss it. I crave it. I’ll be working hard to find it again. (No doubt, this goal is directly related to Goal #2 and I’m pretty sure the creative piece of me is firmly entrenched in my clenched jaw.) But beyond excavating my latent creativity, I am committed to creating space for strengthing relationships, both old and new, and to lots of play, and connectedness, and belonging, and faith, and love. (This one came to me this morning so I have yet to begin unpacking what needs to happen to meet this intention, but I’m kind of excited about it. It sounds like so much more fun than the work it’s gonna take to unclench my jaw.)

That’s it. Short and sweet but really deep. What about you?  Goals, resolutions, and intentions. Love ‘em or leave ‘em? Do you set ’em? If so, how do you keep yourself accountable? Do you share ’em?  Write ’em down? Something altogether different? Whatever you do or don’t do when it comes to goals, resolutions, and intentions–I wish you peace, love, and joy as 2018 comes to a close and 2019 begins.

P.S. and a side note to my hydration goal:  As I was writing this, I was reminded that there are people in our country that do not have access to clean drinking water. There are people that are hungry. Some do not have shelter. I know most of us living in rural Minnesota can’t wrap our heads around all of that as we are quite the privileged bunch out here when it comes to the basic human necessities for life.  I know that many of you already do this but if you are reading this and don’t already and are able, I challenge you to do some year-end giving. How about donating your time, talents, or dollars to a non-profit dedicated to serving those that need to be safe, fed, and loved? Actions, not words. Do unto others. You get the gist. Sometimes I forget how damn lucky I am to be able to sit down and write about things that probably don’t matter much in the grand scheme of life, like my new year’s resolutions.

P.S.S. Goal #5- GRATITUDE. GOBS OF IT. EVERY. DAMN. DAY.

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an unplanned hard pause

 

 

Today’s run was a tough one. Not because it was a lot of miles or on challenging terrain, but because it was my first run (other than a 15 min run yesterday) in 10 days. I came home after a long run with friends on the 15th and a few hours later a stomach bug, or something of the sort,  hit me hard. I was leveled for 48 hours and then it took another four days after that for my stomach to return to a non-queasy state. Thankfully, I recovered just in time for a three-day holiday binge–I say that rather tongue-in-cheek, of course–and now I am feeling rather sloth-like, to put it mildly. A  week of soda crackers and sherbet coupled with very little greens, followed by way too much fat and sugar for the next few days and my body is currently screaming at me to return it to homeostasis. STAT! (But please give me more sugar first!)

While I obviously don’t enjoy being sick or feeling like a sloth due to self-inflicted over-indulgence, and while I absolutely despise being slowed down, I realized throughout this time of unplanned rest that I am a pro at taking my usual good health for granted. I lament when I’m not well but I rarely give thanks for wellness. I realized this about a day into my stomach bug and it caused me to take a hard pause. A very hard pause. I’ve spent the last 10 days doing a lot of soul-searching, reflecting hardcore on my life’s journey- where I’ve been, where I’m at, where I’m going, and what I need to do to get there.

Throughout this hard pause, I’ve given myself space to recover and rest, which is not my usual M-O. Normally, I would have pushed too hard, too soon, causing my sickness to linger.  I’d beat myself up relentlessly for eating too much and for not dealing with the stress that preempted my sickness. I’d be whiny and victimy about all of it. But I’m not. I’m just feeling grateful. (It’s weird and I like it.) During this hard pause, I have listened to my body and my soul and allowed myself space to JUST BE.  And now, as I’ve been writing this, I’ve realized that I have not attached shame to any of it. NONE OF IT. No shame for resting, or not dealing with things that led to stress-overload and sickness, for not being grateful, and especially for the over-indulgence. It’s brand-spanking new territory for me and I’m kinda feeling ridiculously free and peaceful at the moment. Tired and still battling a sugar hangover, but free and peaceful nonetheless. 

I’m heading into the new year with a renewed sense of gratitude and new feelings of self-worth and love that have been absent in my life for a very long time. I wish you all love and light and wellness as we journey into 2019. Give yourself permission and space to take a hard pause now and then. Remind yourself that you are awesome and worthy of all the beautiful things that life has to offer. Thank you all for being a part of my life’s journey in 2018.  I am so very grateful.

P.S. If you want to hit the trails sometime in the new year, give me a shout. We can walk, hike, or run. Pace doesn’t matter. Part of my giving back this year is to be there for others that want to experience wellness through the beauty of the trail. Maybe you are new to trail running or maybe you don’t want to go by yourself. Please, just reach out. Life is too short to run alone. 

Post publishing add-on: HOLY SHIT. After I hit the publish button, I scrolled down to look at my last posts, which numbered a whopping three last year, and my biggest post was about being sick and gratitude and wellness and reflecting and so and so on. And blah, blah, blah. What the hell? Am I a fucking broken record? Never learning from my mistakes? Should I delete this post and pretend it never happened. Oy. 

But then I thought about it and while I knew that my experiences during that time period were the catalyst to making some serious changes last April that involved me actually getting a physical for the first time in about 25 years and then subsequently reaching out for help from a trail running coach and a nutritionist, I did not realize how far I have actually come. As an eating-disordered person that has struggled with feelings of zero self-worth over the years, to come away from an unplanned hard pause feeling free from shame is kind of a big deal. For that, I am insanely grateful, so I’m leaving this right here. Here’s to continued growth and healing for me and for you. 

Because I run. . .

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(Language warning.)

Because I run. . .

As I was slogging through my morning run today in this ridiculously toasty weather, I found myself lamenting about my current condition. I was hot, thirsty, my legs were feeling rather log-like, and I was kind of whiny. I was only a little over a mile in when I began thinking. . .

“Running is so hard.”

“This is so damn hard.”

“My legs felt worse today than a week ago when I was out for hours on an extremely tough trail.”

“NO WONDER people always talk about how they want to run, or used to run, or have tried to run–but it’s just TOO HARD, so they don’t.“

Dang, I get it. I get what they are saying. Running is hard. So hard sometimes. Running is one of the hardest things that I have done in my life, especially when I was taking those first steps years ago or on the days like today, when, for a million reasons or none, the run is damn hard.

Knowing I just had a couple of miles to go, I vowed to suck it up and get over myself. I remembered that I would be done soon, and I’d be relaxing on my porch. “Yeah, running is hard,” I thought, “but that hardness is temporary.”

T-E-M-P-O-R-A-R-Y.

As I kept running and working to get a better perspective about my current temporary condition, the words of a dear friend popped into my head. She once said, “Running is easy, it’s life that is hard.” (This is coming from a woman eats 20-mile training runs for breakfast, mind you.) For the rest of my run, I thought about those words. My mindset shifted immediately. She was so right. Running is easy. Life is hard. So fucking hard sometimes.

Job loss, cancer, mental illness, chronic pain, chronic illness, poverty, hunger, racism, sexism, sexual violence, divorce, homelessness, domestic violence, trauma, miscarriage, child abuse, emotional abuse, aging, addiction, separation, depression, anxiety, recovery, loss, death, grief, and all of the other hard things that life brings. That shit is hard. SO. FUCKING. HARD.

Running. . . yeah, that’s the easy stuff.

Running is what has created space in me to be able to face the hard things. I know in my heart that if I hadn’t become a runner when I did, I wouldn’t be writing this now. I’m pretty sure I’d be curled up in a corner, a sobbing, gooey mess most days. But, I’m not–because, I run.

I can be brave. I can face life’s challenges, even when I don’t want to–because I run.

I can grow from my struggles and be a better human. I can heal from the hard shit–because I run.

Because I run. . .

Who are you? What can you do. . . because you run?

Illness and surrender

January 14, 2018

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Day bazillion of a wicked painful sinus infection that has left me very puffy and exhausted. I haven’t ran in a week and I’m kind of going crazy but trying really hard to be patient with the healing process.

Yesterday I surrendered to the Minute Clinic and finally got a healthy dose of antibiotics. It had been a ridiculously long time coming. If I’m being honest, I have been feeling rundown for the last several months, it just happened to be that December 12, 2017, was the day my body said, “I give up. I’m taking you hostage until you get your shit together.” Unfortunately, it has taken me until now to get it together. Well, mostly get it together.

It all started with a gastrointestinal bug that took eight days (as opposed to my usual two days) to “recover” from. After the bug, I had a window of a few days where things were looking up. Then, the frigidness set in on the holiday weekend. My nose got stuffy, my throat got raw, and my overall rundownedness flared again. I chalked it up to the weather, crappy holiday eating, and a long pre-Christmas week at school. But alas, I was wrong. A sinus cold soon set in and I spent the last days of 2017 sucking on cough drops like they were candy, with a box of kleenex attached to my hip to catch all the drips. By the new year, I thought I was over the hump. I was so crazy wrong, AGAIN.

Nine days ago, the sinus cold morphed into a full-blown, wickedly painful infection. I thought it would subside in a couple of days so I loaded up on OTC painkillers and toughed out the days. Instead, it got worse. Way worse. Until I just needed it to not be worse anymore. So, I surrendered. And I went to the clinic, something I rarely do. (Besides, my very wise friend gently suggested that it was probably time for antibiotics. And she is a nurse so I figured I better listen.)

Today, I impatiently wait for the antibiotics to begin working their magic. I’m staying in bed all day and doing a whole lot of soul-searching. The pain is annoyingly present but I’ve cut back on the OTC drugs, so I’m pretty sure I’m getting better, even though it doesn’t quite feel like it yet. The doctor said in 2-3 days I should be 50% better.  I can’t freaking wait, although right now, I’m having a hard time believing what she said will come true.

Through it all, I’ve been thinking a lot about the lessons of the last month. While I am extremely grateful to be a healthy person most of the time and while I know that my current state is temporary, I can no longer dismiss being ill for a month as no big deal. I do that a lot, try to pass things off as not important because what I have going on isn’t a big deal in the big picture of life, and it isn’t. Until it is. And I need to stop doing that. One month of being ill is something that shouldn’t be dismissed. I know that now. At least I’m working on believing it.

Physical pain shuts me down mentally so I’ve been in my own little bubble for the last week, saving every ounce of mental and physical energy for the most urgent of things. I’m kind of exhausted from being exhausted BUT from this moment on, right now, I’m vowing to listen to my body when it begins to whisper to me, instead of waiting until it is desperately screaming at me to pay attention. Self-care should always, always, always be our first priority and I know that. But so often, it isn’t. And we have a billion excuses as to why taking care of ourselves shouldn’t be a priority. And the majority of the time all the reasons are bullshit. 

So, while I’m healing, I’ll be refocusing and I will be working on making my health-mind, body, and spirit–a priority. ONCE AND FOR ALL. No more half-hearted attempts or making up excuses. For starters, I’m going to try very hard to manage unhealthy stress (which involves not taking on things that are not mine to take on), to clean up my eating, and to make rest a priority.  I am not exactly sure how I am going to wholeheartedly accomplish this yet, but I’m going to be working on it. Very fucking relentlessly. (Incidentally, this will likely entail a mental unraveling of sorts so stay tuned for more on this matter. Insert evil laugh here. Muhahahaha.)

How about you? Has every viral illness of this weird winter knocked you down? If so, why do you think that is? What are your best wellness tips? What are your best excuses?What do you do for self-care? (Sorry, bubble baths, wine, retail therapy and all of the other fluffy things don’t count.) What changes do you need to make in your life to move forward in a way that is more healthy for your mind, body, and spirit? What whispers should you be listening to? What is stopping you?

A gratitude adjustment

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Frosty hair and eyelashes on my first run of 2018. That stuff happens when it feels like 20 below. 

January 1- First Run of the New Year

I hit the trails today for the first time in weeks. It didn’t matter that the “feels like” temp was -20, ALL of my being just needed to be outside and moving, regardless of the weather or how I felt. (Multiple illnesses kept me down during the last half of December and I’ve not had the greatest of attitudes about it. Believe me when I say I NEEDED this time on the trails.)

The run was hard. The trails that I know so very well are now snow-covered, which added an extra element of challenge to the journey. At times, I struggled to find my breath in the icy-cold air. My legs, far from being at full-strength after minimal workouts over the last few weeks, felt like jelly after only a couple of miles. I was dressed in multiple layers, which kept me toasty warm, but the layers also made it difficult to move.

Midway through the run, I was struggling a bit. My outer layer of pants was twisting and it was irritating the crap out of me, not to mention making it even more difficult to keep pace. I found myself starting to get whiny but then I looked up for some reason and the sun hit my face. Even though it was frigid out, the sun was so warm on my skin. I stopped for a moment to soak it in, extremely grateful for that moment. Then, after a minute, I decided to fix my pants the best I could, but more importantly, I decided to fix my bad attitude.

Instead of being upset about trivial things like twisty pants and jelly legs, I decided to get over myself and just be grateful for all the glorious things I had going for me. I was grateful that I had legs that could feel my twisty pants and grateful that I had legs that could move, despite their current jelly-like state. I was grateful for my usual good health and grateful that my current illness, while annoying, is only temporary. I was grateful for the sun, And the snow. And the opportunity to be there, in the woods, at that moment, soaking up all of God’s beautiful creation.

I finished my run, twisty pants and all. It was far from fast or spectacular, but I left the woods feeling rather bad-ass anyways for getting out there and getting it done. And, of course, feeling grateful for the opportunity to do so.

Cheers to 2018. I will be striving to greet each day a grateful heart for all that life brings.

Yes, my closet issues run deep. The end.

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The never-ending battle with my closet ends now. Yes, I’ve likely said that before and even blogged about this. But, this time, it’s for real. I swear.

I am not really sure when my quest for simplicity began. I know it goes back to at least 2009 or so when I bought the book Complete Idiot’s Guide to Simple Living.  I don’t exactly know what prompted me to buy the book, but I’m pretty confident it had something to do with my big, fat, messy, filled-with-cheap-clothes closet.

Fast forward to late 2011, early 2012, and I stumbled upon a blog in which the writer was talking about living with only 12 pieces of clothing for a month (or something insanely crazy like that.) I was wildly intrigued. For years I had struggled with having way too much clothing. Most of it ill-fitting, or pieces I generally wasn’t comfortable in. Being extremely overweight didn’t help my closet cause either. Neither did years of buying cheaply made, bargain basement clothing because somehow filling my closet with crap made me feel temporarily better about myself. (In retrospect, I was busy stuffing my face and trying to make myself feel better by stuffing my closet. Told you it runs deep.) Anyway, somewhere between the purchase of the Idiot’s Guide and 2012, I made a commitment to myself to try to only buy things that I love and to stay the hell away from the clearance racks. I was so far from perfect at this but at least I sort of had a plan.

Besides the crazy blog post about 12 items of clothing that got me thinking about genuinely making an effort to reduce the amount of garb in my closet, I also came upon Project 333.  In a nutshell, you are challenged to pare your closet down to 33 items. That includes jewelry, clothing, outerwear, and shoes (what?) and excludes undergarments, lounge-wear, and workout wear. You pack up the rest and you wear the chosen items only for three months. Then you rotate. And on it goes.  It made some sense to me and wasn’t nearly as crazy as only keeping 12 items of clothing. I set a goal to someday achieve just that. 33 items. No more. No less. Five years later, I have yet to achieve that goal but I am getting closer.

Like I said, around 2012 I was beginning to get serious about my wardrobe issues. I was so tired of the battle to get dressed in the morning–just really tired of an issue that really is completely pointless in the big picture of life. I was in the process of losing weight at the time so NOW would be the perfect opportunity to really get a handle on my closet. I tried to be a bit more mindful when buying clothes to fit my new body, knowing that the clothes I was buying likely wouldn’t fit in a few months. It was a good test of my ability to go minimal and be smart about my purchases. But then life came crashing down hard in August of that year when my mom, sister-in-law, and niece were killed by a drunk driver. Although my closet issues were obviously one of the last things on my mind, in the midst of my grief, they were actually about to become front and center. 

For those of you that have survived a traumatic loss of any kind, you know that the weeks and months following the loss are often brutal, so difficult in ways that you never could have imagined. My soul was so weary–sadness permeated every waking moment– and my brain was in a deep, deep fog.  After about a month, I slowly began to return to everyday life, which for me meant that I would have to get out of bed, get dressed, and go to work. Every day. I was scared shitless. (Thank God I worked with an amazing soul that gave me the space and the grace to get it together. Someday, I’ll be able to write about that time, not quite yet though.)

What I soon found out in my less than triumphant return to real life, is that the things that I struggled with prior to the crash would be multiplied times one million in post-crash life. (While I would later be grateful for the gift of the protective veil that fogs your brain early on, the fogginess made everyday decisions extremely difficult for me. I know some of you reading this totally get that.) Any sort of clutter drove me crazy and I had a huge need to get organized, maybe only because I wanted to be able to control one tiny thing in a life that had spun wildly out of control. Then, one morning, the most epic of closet meltdowns occurred and even in my foggiest of brain states, I knew something needed to change and it needed to change fast.

It seemed to happen out of the blue. I went to my closet to pick out something to wear and I could not get dressed. LITERALLY.  I wandered in and out of my closet for two hours. TWO FLIPPING HOURS before I finally screamed “FUCK IT!” as loud as I could to nobody and everybody and then went back to bed. Sometime later, the same thing happened. I did make it to work that day, albeit two hours late. For real. The struggle was so real. Something that I had struggled with prior had now become debilitating at times. Something had to give.  I knew that I had to if I wanted to keep my job and rebuild a life, I had to get my closet shit together sooner than later as I couldn’t keep going back to bed or going to work two hours late every time I couldn’t get dressed. Sometime in the weeks that followed, I did a closet purge. I bought a few things that I knew fit well and I wore the same exact jewelry with every outfit for months. It got better. I laugh about those moments of struggle now, but at the time it was tough. So tough.

Fast forward to the here and now. I have since developed a nasty pattern that I am VOWING to break in 2018. The cycle goes like this. I purge my closet. I rejoice in my awesomeness about downsizing. And then I get lazy about my closet again. My wardrobe magically expands. And then the cycle repeats itself. Ad nauseam. I’ve also discovered that when I am overly stressed, getting dressed in the morning becomes difficult, but only when my closet has expanded (and yes, I know ALL of the little tricks about setting your clothes out the night before etc. Those tricks are great fun but don’t always work for me.) 

Yesterday, I purged my closet for the LAST damn time. I SWEAR! Five garbage bags of clothes and shoes are being donated, and another container full being given away as well. The only thing I have left to go through is my jewelry, which I will tackle soon. I have been through every sock, pair of underwear, running clothes, shirts, pants, sweatshirts, dress wear, shoes, purses.

ALL. THE. THINGS.

And it feels so good. I’ve reduced my everyday wardrobe to 23 items. (Its basically a Garanimals wardrobe. Almost everything goes with everything else.) I put about 10 dressy items away in another closet for the occasions that they are needed. I kept 10 pairs of shoes in my closet for the winter season, four pairs of which are running shoes, and I reduced my running clothes to comfortably fit into one small drawer. For the winter season, I have additional fleece wear and puffy vests for outdoor activities that will be packed away as soon as the weather gets warm. My summer clothes, which mainly consists of running shorts and tank tops, have been reduced to one container, and that includes all of the summer shoes that I kept.  I’m rejoicing wildly! And vowing, vowing, vowing never ever, ever to return to my old ways. 

My ultimate dream is to go smaller yet, but for now, I know that I need to get completely comfortable with what I have and where I have been on this weird journey that so obviously had much more to do with than just too much stuff. I’m going to add some motivational minimalist feel-good quotes to my closet as a constant reminder to be mindful, to be intentional, and to be more grateful, not just when it comes to my closet, but in and for life itself. Life is SO MUCH MORE than stuff.  Here’s to stress-free dressing in the new year! Wish me luck.   

P.S. While I could not find the original crazy article that I referenced above, here is a different one, equally as intriguing. 10 items for a year.

 

Do unto others

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Snapped this pic in the bus station bathroom shortly before my eventful lunch.

It was a beautiful late spring day in June and I was comfortably nestled into my cozy little outdoor table at a corner pub on Pearl Street.  I’m sipping my beer while waiting for my food and I’m people watching, marveling in the incredible eclectic-ness of this place. Locals, tourists, business folk, hippy-looking musicians of all ages, young families, wanderers, and homeless persons–strategically positioned amongst the high-end retail shops–crowd the old brick street mall. An early 20-something lady down the way is belting out an acoustic rendition of House of the Rising Sun. Her sweet, crisp voice echoes over the crowds. In the 30 minutes that I’ve been here, I’ve heard her sing this song twice, and nothing else. I wonder if it’s the only song she knows. . .

My attention soon turns to what appears to be a  homeless man. He is wearing a plain white tee that seems particularly white given the rest of his disheveled demeanor. The man in the plain white tee is harassing one of the city gardeners that is watering the meticulously groomed blooming baskets that line the street. The harassment began rather quietly but has definitely become more audible in the last few minutes.

My perfectly blackened turkey burger with equally as perfect deep-fried sweet potato fries has arrived. I take a bite of burger, then a fry, then a sip of beer. I eat and I sip and I listen and I watch.  At first it seems that the guy in the plain  white tee might be intoxicated or on drugs, but as I listen to him continue to verbally assault the gardener, (who he thinks, from what I can gather, purposefully got a splash of water in his eye) it becomes pretty obvious that the guy in the plain white tee is likely a person struggling pretty badly at the moment with mental illness.

The tension mounts. The bewildered gardener, who had been doing a splendid job of not engaging with the increasingly agitated man, walks off to continue watering the blooms. The man in the plain white tee continues ranting loudly to whoever will listen.  Now, he’s kinking the gardener’s hose, stopping most of the water flow, while continuing to yell.  For real. This is shit that you can’t make up, ya know. I eat and I sip and I listen and I watch. Not quite believing what I am seeing and hearing, but knowing that the situation is very real.

By now, I’m worried about the man in the plain white tee. I’m worried about the gardener. I’m worried about all of the unaware folks that are aimlessly walking through the mall. My years of emergency trauma training have kicked my brain into high gear. I contemplate if there is anything that I can safely do to alleviate the tension. I know that there likely isn’t, at least for the moment, so I continue to quietly observe.

The men seated next to me have been watching as well, although with a much different lens than me.  I had listened while they quietly mocked the man in the plain white tee. At one point, as the tension was mounting, one of the men got out his phone and stated that he’s going to be ready to video, “because this shit is going to go viral.”  For real. Again, shit you can’t make up. 

The heartlessness of the viral video men had me fuming. Even though they were wrapped up in the scene being created by the man in the plain white tee and not super aware of me, I made sure to glare them both down anyways, with the best angry resting bitch face I could muster, prepared to publicly shame them loudly if they dared to hit the record button. At about that same time, another diner said something unkind about the man in the plain white tee to the wait staff. I regaled him with my best angry resting bitch face as well.

The intensity of the situation began to wane, although it was only because the gardener had moved further down the mall. The man in the plain white tee had followed. Still yelling. Still kinking the hose. Still very much out of control. Thankfully, not long after they had moved from the pub area, a police officer arrived and was doing his best to kindly de-escalate the situation. I eat and I sip and I listen and I watch. I’m sad and angry and wondering about so many things at the moment. 

Suddenly, a loud yell comes from somewhere else in the mall. I look up in time to see a very large man wearing a hockey jersey, wielding a hockey stick, and yelling all sorts of obscenities into the crowd–he’s very obviously in the grips of a mental illness as well. I quickly say a prayer for him and for the man in the plain white tee and for all of the passers-by. I pray that no one will be physically hurt, especially the little ones and the elderly that are in the presence of these men.

My heart was so heavy. I wanted nothing more than to bring those men someplace where they would be safe, and medicated, and have the chance to get well. I knew nothing of their stories yet I knew that whatever their stories were, they had to be painful for them as well as for the people that loved them. I wondered what I could have done differently in the moment other than say a prayer and angrily glare the assholes down that wanted to film the next viral video. My thoughts soon shifted to lamenting about how far our society has sunken and I couldn’t help but wonder when we started seeing each other as the next viral video instead of as human beings?  When did this become normal? And, most importantly,  why the fuck are we okay with it?

I could write volumes more on all of this, especially because I am a  sociological geek that loves to theorize and research and study human beings and society but really, it all just comes down to this one thing for me–the Golden Rule.  You know, do unto others.  Nearly every religion in the world has its own version of this guideline for life but who wholeheartedly lives by it? We love to preach it but do we ever truly practice? What if we just loved and accepted each other as human beings? Simple as that.  

For now, though, I’ll leave you with this thought. . .

What if, in 2018, we all made a New Year’s resolution to humbly do unto others? Can you imagine what this world would be like? I guess that would mean instead of me glaring down the guys next to me with my best angry resting bitch face and judging them harshly on their lack of humanness, I would lean in and say, “Hey, maybe we should do something to help that guy in the plain white tee? It looks like he’s having a pretty rough day.”

Shalom, my friends. I’m challenging myself to be a much better human in 2018. Who’s with me?