Mondays With an Optimist – A New Weekly Feature
Let out one huge and deep and ground-rumbling sigh of relief.
You are now on the otherside of the Monday following Thanksgiving. Perhaps you abhor Thanksgiving and don’t celebrate; however, you still celebrated two days free of work. Maybe you DID have to work and this Monday is ‘pssh whatever’ to you.
No matter, we all deserve to kick off our shoes and do-away with those bras and dip into a bath of all things positive.*
*Welcome to my new weekly post! Every Monday, Nutmeg & Whimsy will spin a record of positive energy your way. Free admission and dancing encouraged. I haven’t landed on a proper title for this segment. Any suggestions? Share in the comments!
Kicking Off the Positive Party:
A piece of art titled: Sebastian at Breakfast (alternate title: Rice Cake Me, Bro) – Captured by Nicolas, boyfriend of me and father of Seb.
Positive Human-to-Human Interaction
This morning on the bus a woman sat next to me. Around my age (30 or so) and with the raddest reddest hair.
Me: I love the intense color of your hair. You wear it very well!*
Her: Thank you! My name is Reese.
Me: My name is Meg
[Smile and nod in place of a handshake]
The rest of the ride was silent between us. Until the bus reached my stop and I sidled by Reese with a “Hope you have a good day!”
She beamed and said: “You too Miss Meg! We made it to the first day of the last month of the year!”
The way she said it made it sound (and then feel) like a real accomplishment of sorts. Reminded me that we are at the top of a new month. New beginnings. She said ‘we’. Inclusion – something I thirst for in a sometimes disconnected world. She called me ‘Miss Meg’ and I beamed walking into work.
*Compliment-Giving Tip: I love giving compliments. I mean every one of them; however, sometimes I fear my genuineness is not received. I started making my compliments more personal.
Take for example what I shared with Reese on the bus:
I love the intense color of your hair. You wear it well.
– Added an adjective for fun
– Sure I loved the redness of her hair; however, I specifically liked it on her and how she carried herself.
Turn up the Tunes
(Recommended listening for your evening commute or while making dinner for yourself, for your kids, your fur-babies, your sweetheart.)
“Sweet Baby” by Macy Gray (ft. Erkyah Badu)
(A poignant article to share – I hope you find something helpful in it the way I did)
“Self-care is often a very unbeautiful thing.
It is making a spreadsheet of your debt and enforcing a morning routine and cooking yourself healthy meals and no longer just running from your problems and calling the distraction a solution.”
Found: Small Actions that Make Big Differences
At the top of each month my dear friend Alison (a badass, a beauty, and a blessing) shares a calendar with daily actions pertaining to a theme. For example, this month the theme is ‘Kindness’. A movement called Action for Happiness provides these calendars as a part of their commitment to help us take practical steps towards contributing positively to our society.
Today’s action: “support a charity, cause or campaign you really care about”
I chose to support the following cause today:
Christina’s Fundraiser for EB (Epidermolysis Bullosa) Research Partnership
Click to Read More About EB, the EB Research Partnership & Perhaps Donate
Never underestimate your ability to be a helper. Speaking personally, I used to resent my bank account (and by proxy, my spending habits) for not leaving room for ‘worthy’ donations.
Until I realized that a donation of $1 is worthy. And I have an extra $20. I allocated an automatic $20 of my monthly budge to ‘giving back’. Donating once a month and more when I can.
If a $1 threatens your bank account, don’t despair. Perhaps, right now, your support looks more like:
1. Making it a new goal to find a place in your monthly budget for giving to your favorite cause/charity.
2. In the meantime: Using your resources (ahem, social media) to share your favorite cause/charity with encouragement to donate.
I print the calendar (below) and keep it visible at my desk. I find it helpful to look at and act on when feeling crummy or stuck.
A Little Silliness
A portion of my job involves communicating with Professors and Students who just want me to process their request without any follow up questions. But sometimes there is no way around it.
People-pleasing is my fortay (just ask every therapist I’ve seen) and so I try to make the interaction positive. With the added challenge of not taking things too personally. Which is how the new phrase ‘Awesome Sausage’ arrived in my vernacular today*. An unexpected upgrade to the classic “Awesome Sauce”. The student handing me back the document looked up with amusement/surprise/ok? and then…wait for it…smiled!
*Please Note: I built a report with this student before this interaction. When communicating with esteemed Faculty I speak more professionally (i.e ‘Awesome Sauságe’).
A Little More Serious
Real talk: I enjoyed a lovely Thanksgiving with my father, mother-in-law and boyfriend. In the flurry of good vibes I also took a moment to acknowledge how far I’ve come since Thanksgiving 2011. Eight years ago I struggled under the vice-grip of an eating disorder. It would take another month for the diagnosis of Bullimia and for the word ‘anxiety’ to fasten itself in my vocab. Then months of seeking and accepting help. Years (and growing) of being in recovery.
With each holiday season I experience less dread. Each holiday rotation requires less planning ahead.
Last year, the day after Thanksgiving, I shared with my mom the purest of pure revelations: I didn’t think or feel like a woman with an eating disorder while passing the Turkey. I felt not even a twinge to engage in old eating disorder habits. My anxiety & dread specific to this arena of my life took the whole-fucking-day off!
I wish to impart the following words of personal wisdom: You are not alone. This time of year is hard for many people. The month of December comes and goes and often leaves us a bit dizzy and tangled in tinsel. Perhaps with each holiday rotation we can grow each other out of the holiday guilt-shame madness.
Please remember, I’m not a mental health professional.* The following are suggestions from my heart to yours this holiday season:
1. If you are struggling and know one safe person to help you carry it – reach out to them. You are not a burden. You can leave it at: “I’m fretting over eating too much and need you to remind me feeling full isn’t a sin”. Or, you can share: “I think I need help and I need help seeking it”.
When my college roommates intervened in December 2011, I admit, I felt threatened. They made me an appointment at an outpatient facility. I was expected there the next day. Meaning I wouldn’t be going home for the holidays as planned.
I called to confirm my appointment. When I hung up the phone I felt a profound exhaustion. I sobbed so hard my legs buckled. My roommate appeared (like freaking magic) and held me. She admitted later that she didn’t know the right thing to do or say. She followed her natural instinct: she held me. And I felt relief.
2. Manage FOMO and expectations by formally deciding on a certain amount of holiday gatherings. Each December I look at the invitations and RSVP to one per weekend. I decide if I want to drink alcohol or bring at 12-pack of La Crouix. I prepare a dish I enjoy to share. Like a hearty salad with butternut squash. I let myself indulge in desserts. I quiet my anxiety by engaging in the experience. Trying a sweet I’ve never seen before. Sampling something I know is homemade.
3. It bears repeating: You are not alone. I take refuge in Instagram accounts supporting body-positivity and self-compassion. Such as:
*Seeking a mental health professional? Psychology Today is a great resource to search for therapists in your neck of the woods, specializing in your needs and covered under your insurance. My advice: Search and make a list of the names & numbers of prospective therapists. Go outside and call them all. Inevitably you will get their voicemail. Leave a message. This may take a bit of follow through on your part…but you are worth the work.
With a long, soothing breath in & out,