Hey you. How'ya doin'? Hanging in there? One foot in front of the other and chin up and all that?
The world right now is a jagged rock of shit tumbling down the WTF avalanche bouncing around inside of an out of control dumpster fire, so I feel ya. I'm struggling too. Hand to god, I don't know how I got through September in one mental piece. I eventually hid from the news and social media and stopped talking, because discussing anything deeper than "that is a sharp sign, not a hashtag" with my flute students was more than my emotional state could process. Most people I know are reeling in one way or another, so I can imagine you are as well.
How're the kids? Those amazing and infuriating gifted and twice-exceptional kids? Are they doin' ok? I know how intense they can be, and when over-excitabilities fan the flames it can be rough. Really, really rough. Even if they're not exposed to the unpolished turd that is current events, they can sense that something is up. A disturbance in the force. And they react to that, and you react to that, and back and forth it goes like a turbo tennis match with no winner in sight.
It makes difficult parenting even harder. And my god, we don't need anything to be harder right now.
So listen up. As part of writing my second book on self-care and the needs of parents as they raise these incredible kids, I've been learning a lot about dealing with stress in the midst of chaos. I'm gonna share what I'm planning to do today and this week, to counteract the painful reality of life in 2017. Because if I don't make a concerted effort to do something, I'm going to end up in a very poor mental state, and that's not going to do anyone any good. Not me, not my family, not the world.
- Create beauty. Spread that rainbow shit everywhere, fling it around like glitter bombs at a rave. I'm going to dig out some of my favorite flute pieces and lose myself in music. If I can play something beautiful and cancel out just a little bit of evil or pain or chaos, I'm going to do it. You could paint or doodle or decorate cupcakes or belch the alphabet in iambic pentameter. Whatever. You do you.
- Power down. Turn off the news, close out of social media, go on an outside world blackout for awhile. If you think you'll miss something important, trust me, if it's really important it'll find you. I guarantee that when the aliens show up to complete the dystopian shitstorm we're in you'll know it. Enjoy the emptiness. It'll feel weird and disconcerting for a bit, but then it'll be soothing.
- Turn on some classical music. Trust me on this. It doesn't have to be anything deep or important, just... Look, yes, I'm a musician, but I'm saying this as a human. Music is part of our very souls, and our souls need some healing right now. I loves me some Dropkick Murphys and other heavy screaming music, but classical music is what our world needs today. When we first moved to Boulder in 1997 the town was rolling out new bus routes, with shorter buses arriving more often. I would take the Jump from our apartment to campus, and what was so awesome about it was that the buses were playing classical music. People were nicer, the ride was calmer, the day would start off more centered for everyone on that bus. So open up Pandora or Spotify or Apple Music or whatever the hell you have for streaming music and put on some Aaron Copland. Go from there.
- Make your place smell nice. The sense of smell affects us more than we realize. So burn a candle or some incense or even just a pot of water on the stove with cinnamon in it. If nothing else it'll overpower the stench of teen boys, aging dog, and whatever the hell died in the garbage disposal.
- Revel in the joy of small victories. The sink is clean. Or your kid actually got his underwear in the hamper for a change. Or the dog made it outside before horking up whatever was making her stomach reenact the scene from Alien. Me? Somehow I can keep houseplants alive despite benign neglect. I have a something-or-other a friend gave me in 1996 that has thrived to the point that it’s now in two pots and just will not die. A supermarket clover I bought in early 2011 to help sell our Colorado house is still going strong. A gerbera daisy a student gave me over a year ago has bloomed twice more this summer and looks like it’s going for a three-peat. Ride the little victories.
- Breathe. Take a few moments every so often and just stop. Breathe. Keep your shoulders down and relaxed and breathe into your belly. Do it four or five times; take your time. I'm talking a minute or two, max. I swear to you the world will go on just fine while you take a literal breather. Lock yourself in the bathroom if you must, just don't inhale lungfuls of “how do boys miss a target that large?”
- TAKE 👏🏻 CARE 👏🏻 OF 👏🏻 YOURSELF 👏🏻. Sleep, drink water, drink wine but not too much, eat a goddamned vegetable every day, put on the sexy underwear because you're worth it, take the time to care for yourself because no one is going to do it for you and because you are modeling adulting to your kids.
That's all I got for today, if I share anything more my editor will yell at me about the book and hey maybe leave something for that. But in light of the never-ending painful news lately, I felt the need to send this out into the world. It's all I got. I'm struggling because I am sick of humanity and just wish...yeah.
Go do your thing today. Do it well. Make a difference on a micro level. Care for yourself and others. Get through the day and love on those closest to you. And then drink a good red wine in a dimly lighted room, wrapped in a soft blanket, breathing out the day.
A version of this post first appeared on Laughing at Chaos.