Wednesday, February 21, 2018

A La Cart

I won't bore you with the minutia of details surrounding the cable snafu we had back in the Fall. To sum up, it went something like this: Call to report internet is down, troubleshoot over phone with one rep, problem fixed for a couple days, call to rehash the downed internet story all over again, troubleshoot over phone with a difference rep, then a different one, then a different one. Once case got bumped to the "SEND SOMEBODY" category, we got to be delighted by the charm of one, then two different technician dudes in our home. Then a third. It was like "Sliding Doors" meets "Cable Guy."

Whoops. I just bored you with the details of my cable snafu.

End of story: After regurgitating my cable sob story a solid dozen times and the passing of a solid dozen months (SIKE: two), the original problem got fixed.

I know that you know this story from personal experience, or a variation of it, well. But when I reflect, here's the confounding part: Every Xfinity employee - count them seven - involved in epic Arthur-Cable-Crash-of-2017 did his/her job and did it well. I wanted to be frustrated with Wanda, Brian, Sherry, Malcolm, Jerry, Jason, AND Greg, separately. Believe me, I did.

But it wasn't any of these workers who failed me... they weren't to be blamed for delaying my hard earned TV drama binge habits. In fact, they were quite honestly top notch.

It's the model that failed me. 

So a la cart. So specialized. So small picture. So cog in the wheel. So work-up-to-the-boundary-of-job-description-paramaters-but-no-more. So "Take a number, please." So Left Hand Doesn't Know What Right Hand, nor whole body, Is Doing. So Big Business... 

Have you ever watched Grey's Anatomy? I was obsessed for a solid decade (and will never get those hours back). I remember a scene featuring an exasperated parent whose kiddo had been through the ringer - years and years of medical problem after medical problem unresolved. In they march to the hospital and this time Mom means business. She turns to Meredith Grey after an emotionally charged moment (cue tear-invoking music) and says, "I need you to be more than his doctor. I need you to make him your Number One Problem. Make him your person." 

I'm sure you experience no dismay when I tell you there is a happy ending. Grey stays up all hours, cracks the code, and exits the episode a hero to the child and family.

Hollywood medicine? Yes. Does this scene help me thread my point? Shamelessly, def.

Let's talk about medicine's model and whether it has a tendency to march to the same beat to that of cable companies...

Another true story: Our eight year old Sullivan starts exhibiting tics at school and home. Tics blow up to impairing proportions. Parents take Sullivan to primary care doc. A lovely woman, believe me. Primary care doc listens, exams, asks questions. Primary care doc writes referrals, sending parents and Sullivan to four different specialists, some to rule out scary shit, some to get more questions answered - then recommends a follow-up appointment with her office in a couple weeks. Sullivan and parents head home to begin the specialist-appointment-making assignment (and subsequent insurance company rigamarole - nuther topic for nuther day). Primary care doc types up post-visit report, snaps shut her laptop, takes a swig of Diet Coke, then goes on to her next appointment. Primary care doc spends zero seconds thinking about Sullivan's case from the moment she closes his online chart.

Primary care doc and I get along great. As far as pediatricians go, she's a gem. Been in the business for decades, seen it all, and cuts to the chase. I've gotten to the bottom of many problems with primary care doc's discerning eye.

And, to drive this point home again, she is absolutely doing her job and doing it well. 

I don't feel icky towards our pediatrician. 

And if you're guessing what I do feel icky towards, YES, it would be the model.

I do sometimes fantasize about the old model. You know...the Laura Ingles model... when the town doc comes to visit when you've empaled yourself with a pitchfork or when you are experiencing symptoms of sedentary or when you're swept up with worry over the development of a strange, growing rash. That doc knows your symptoms, yes, but that doc also knows YOU. That doc doesn't have a patient every 25 minutes, nor the mind-numbing chore of oodles of paperwork and, rather,  leaves your house with you on her mind all the way back to the office (on her horse). She might even make a courtesy call that night. And maybe even the next day. And beyond.

You are her problem. You are her person.

This phenomenon crosses over into the way we educate today... teacher time with kids split up into tiny little slivers. One year at a time. And, in upper grades, 55 minutes or less each day per year at a time. I was a teacher. I'd like to think I developed trusting relationships and had a pulse on my students. But, I admit, I lost track of most once they left me. I was not there beyond my one year to catch a trend change, a behavior shift, a broad strokes pattern forming. And the next year's teacher doesn't have the context of the year before and the same problem with the year after... one year sometimes isn't enough. Despite all the conscientious colleague collaboration and communication that I know goes on beyond the scenes (and beyond the job description), teachers are limited by the model.

Laura Ingles and Anne of Green Gables, in their one room school houses, I bet got the full experience. Not a thing could slip through the cracks of their teachers' tight knit oversight and long-range-sight. Serving at max the pupils that could fit in one small room at a time and for multiple years, a teacher of that prairie school makes each student her problem, her person.

If there are any internet technicians, customer service reps, doctors, or teachers who haven't kissed this blog entry goodbye already, I PROMISE what follows has been worth the drudgery. I'm gonna perk up my thus-far Debbie-downer one-sidedness. Oh, yes. Perk. Up. I. will.

GUESS WHAT? My fantasies about the glamor of the-good-ole-days are wrought with all kinds of trouble. (P.S. Ignoring the trouble is what makes them fantasies. A girl is entitled.).

I don't want my kids attending a prairie school, without the resources for a kick-ass International Baccalaureate program or foreign language offerings or a Chess Club, Theater Club, or - heck -My Little Pony Club, and where they don't get exposed to a rainbow of diversified teaching styles and mentorship. I don't want a one-stop-shop, small-town doctor working on something as unusual and neurologically complicated as a tic disorder. Hands off, generalist! And, as long as it took to get shuffled from one Xfinity rep to another, I cannot imagine the additional inconvenience that would stem from bagillions of teensy mom-and-pops cable providers, all operating on their conflicting and limited homegrown grids.

Our population has grown. Our knowledge of the human body and what can go wrong with it has grown. Our opportunities have grown. And our businesses and their impact have grown.

I don't want to go backwards.

I just want to go forward with more intentionality.

Because I'm me, I've brewed up a plethora of ways to "go forward with more intentionality" and absolutely all of them are altruistically motivated and absolutely none of them make sense economically. Business majors would roll their eyes at my scheming.

How can we make stubborn, relentless, loyal, holistic, big picture, follow-through caring profitable?

How can we make stubborn, relentless, loyal, holistic, big picture, follow-through caring in everyone's job description?

Thank my stars, visionaries with far bigger brains than mine in for-profit companies and nonprofit  organizations around our globe who look to answer those two questions are popping out of the altruistic woodwork. I do my happy dance. Thanks, Millenials. Your cause-caring is paying off.

I'd say let's let this rub off - in more ways than it already has - on how we do business systematically, too. With medicine. With education. Let's blend a little of the old with the new we've got now. Sounds like a yummy stew of possibility.

Make new friends. Keep the old. There's something to be learned from both.





























Thursday, February 15, 2018

I'm not here to talk about guns. And I'm not here to talk about failed security measures. I'm here to talk about nests.

When something like Florida happens and something like Westerville, OH happens (which happens to be the tight-knit community where my alma mater is nestled), there is definitely a need to talk. It's just that I don't want to talk about the stuff of lawmaking or the stuff of breakdowns in safety protocol.

For now - at least - what I want to talk about is nests.

We have had a lot of them in our home recently. 

Since we moved in to our house, we've had a mouse problem. They would come and they would go with seasonal changes. And, despite significant cash being blown on varment control services, the sneaky little devils found ways to enter, visiting for short whiles to crunch up some crumbs (PLENTIFUL HERE), and exit at their own free will. This past Fall, we did some remodeling to our kitchen. Knowing that their main entry point from outside was behind the existing 1950s cabinets meant that I WAS A MADWOMAN about having our contractor patch... patch...and then patch some more the walls once the old cabinets went Bye-Bye. Seriously... a mad woman. Lots of boards, plaster, foamy stuff, then more boards, plaster, and foamy stuff... Lowe's loved us. And, better yet, it worked! Our house was like Fort-freakin-Knox. 

Except that then we had a couple rogue furry friends trapped inside Fort-freakin-Knox. 

How do I know this? 

When a mousy has no home to return to in its natural outside environment, mousy makes one. When Tricia stumbles upon it (say: in her scarf and hat basket), he skitters out, makes a mental note not to return to that territory and then proceeds to scout out a spot for another one (say: in one of the kids' drawers of trinkets) and so on. 

You get the idea: Mice need nests. 

Fast forward to now. We finally found and captured our two little mouse inhabitants after awhile and all was peaceful and nest-less in our home.

Then, this week, our 5 yr old forgets to secure the little door clasp on his hampster cage one evening and the next morning... no Harry the Hampster. 

I'll go ahead and spoil this story by telling you that there is no happy ending for his owner: Harry is still lost (sad for Anderson), likely doing trapeze routines from one 2x4 to another in the inner structure of our home (happy for Harry). But while, in the first few days, we were still fervently on the hunt to uncover Harry's whereabouts, the first thing I told Anderson was that we were looking for clues other than a siting of the small, furry critter itself. Fresh off of the newly acquired Mice-Behavior-Crash-Course I said, "The very first thing an animal knows to do when it is newly in an environment is to make itself a home - a nest - to serve as his safe place." I then described the string and shredded paper and fuzz and carpet threads to be on the look-out for that might compose a hampster home.

As I said, no dice.

But when I listened to my unscripted description of animal homemaking instincts, I instantly realized that one could replace "animal" with "person." 

We humans are built to need nests. To need shelter. To need home. 

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs teaches us it's at the top of the list... We seek physical safety and protection above all else.

Yes yes. A physical nest is a requirement.

There's a another kind of nest that I argue is right up there with sticks and feathers and yarn and 2x4s and shingles. Our particular brand of animal - our human species - requires the social and emotional nest just as desparately. (You knew I was gonna do that whole figurative thing, didn't you?)

Where do you find your social and emotional nest? I go to mine to contemplate and to process and to disagree and to cry and to giggle and to drink and to gain perspective and to gripe and to get on soapboxes and to be humored and to be put in my place and to be listened to. I go to mine to feel loved, to feel sane, to feel safe, to feel my realest of real selves. I get the willy nillies even contemplating a life where my social/emotional nest doesn't exist. Actually, to get real with you, I get nauteous in my belly.

And, so here's what I want to talk about.

Why are so many people lost? Why are so many people hurting and confused and rage-filled and desparate and deranged and perspective-crushed and hollow and disassociated and isolated and departed-from-wholeness and... back to the crux of it... LOST?

Why are so many people eating next to us and driving next to us and grocery shopping next to us and working at the desk next to us and living next to us and coming home to a home every night like the rest of us... yet without a nest?

Why are so many socially and emotionally homeless? 

And how are we not seeing it?

Guns - the place they have in American society as it stands now - are a problem. Security measures, particularly in schools, have room for improvement.

But today I want to talk about healing people. And the most on-the-ground way I can think to do that in my I'm-a-normal-person way is to look around. Put on my sensitivity goggles and look through those lenses so hard that the socially homeless...the emotionally bankrupt...the "nestless".... do not go unnoticed or untended to. At least not by me.

But I can't do it alone.

As American society rebounds from our cultural abandonment of the work of intentional nest-making, I hope fleets of people will be on this same lookout... I hope that we will return to believing that we belong to each other, that we are in this together. I hope that at some point nestlessness will be not only a rare thing, but a forgotten epidemic altogether... something in our distant memory. That there will be not one soul left shivering in a dark corner, hungry and alone and scared. And by that point, I would hope that guns and safety and the work of dodging worst-case scenarios would not need to be talked about at all.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

* Know that I know there are reasons bigger than social isolation which bring people to a deranged state. I omitted diagnosable mental health from this conversation on purpose... In part, because I think the two are connected... those with mental illness know best the experience of being disenfranchised from social nests - sometimes by choice, sometimes not. The other part of the reason I left mental health out is because it's so damn complicated and, admittedly, above my pay grade. But know that I know that it is there and it is big.

* Know that I care deeply about the very things I didn't want to talk about today: legislature to change gun laws and protocol to keep our kids and police officers safe during the day. I do not intend to come off as flippant or "above" those very real issues. I just didn't want to talk about them today. (Maybe tomorrow.)

* I can't. I just can't. That's the reason this entry positions itself a distance away from the anguish and heartbrokenness of the actual events I cited. I don't get close enough to it in my writing to do what I've been doing for the past 5 days: crumble and cry. For those of you directly connected to these deaths, my heavy heart sits with you in your grief.








Wednesday, September 27, 2017

I've got it figured out, and I want in.

And by "figured it out," I mean "my latest idea." And my ideas are long-lasting solutions to very complicated issues almost never.

I have a way of making people want to keep reading, don't I?

Here's what I have figured out:

Well, wait. First you have to zoom out a bunch. Like 10,000ft. From what? From NFL players, from team owners, from Donald Trump, from the phrase, "SOB," from the American Flag. 

Ok. Now that we're way back here... let's say on a puffy, white cloud removed from the nitty gritty ground... ahhh, that's nice. Now, let's look at this THING we've created. 

NFL players began a thing last summer. And THAT thing (let's call it Thing #1) was about protesting. It was about protesting the injustices Black Americans face right here, right now. 

And then came Thing #2. The disgruntled response by many that NFL players are disrespecting America (there's a variety of symbols for America here: The Flag, The Anthem, The Veterans, The Active Servicemen/women). As far as I understand it, Thing #2 isn't so much about folks believing there is no reason to protest the injustices Black Americans face right here, right now. In other words, Thing #2 does not necessarily oppose Thing #1. It's simply a whole separate thing. 

Things #1 and #2 have been real and messy and uncomfortable and division-creating for over a year. 

Then comes Thing #3. Thing #3 is only a few days old. President Donald Trump, on Friday and Saturday, scolded NFL players for protesting in the form of kneeling during the national anthem. He furthered his comments by saying that NFL owners of teams should fire those who do so (except swap out "those who do so," with "sons of bitches"). Thing #3 seems to be less about disagreeing with Thing #1 and more about Thing #2, in my estimation. But, nonetheless, Thing #3 became a whole new, different, and life-form-taking thing, because it resulted in a separate display...one that had NFL teams across our great nation scratching their heads over what Sunday morning ought to look like. What it looked like was this: A variety of formats (all arms banded together, all staying in locker room, all body posturing actually different but yet side-by-side) designed to show UNITY. Unity that said, "We don't like what you said, Donald Trump." 

Now, let's be clear: Thing #3 is not on the same turf (pun intended) with Thing #1. How many of the individuals (owners, coaches, and/or players) who actively displayed unity on Sunday were protesting the injustices Black Americans face right here, right now? I don't know. I'm sure many were. Which would mean they were actively participating in Thing #1 and Thing #3. But I would argue that many were displaying unity in anger over something different... something more about their leadership, their handling of things, their judgment calls, their personal connection to the NFL being criticized. Trump's comments hit at the top. He was telling people who lead the NFL how to do their jobs. Nobody likes to be slammed in this way. But linking arms to say "We don't like what you said, Donald Trump," is sure different than, "We protest the injustices Black Americans face right here, right now." Could it be that the weekend's events swirled up a whole new tornado, the eye of which is a man, not a decades-long civil rights battle? 

No one man deserves a whole tornado for himself. 

But wait. WAIT!!! I will not leave you this way. I will NOT! Remember: I've got it figured O-U-T!

This morning in the shower was when my brain compartmentalized the separate-but-related three things. And it was in the shower that I imagined myself edging away from the tornado(es), all the way back to that drifty little peaceful, soft cloud. And it was from that distance that I could see more clearly (Cue Bette Midler's "From a Distance"). In the shower it came to me: LET'S HAVE THING #1 AND THING #2 WORK WITH EACH OTHER, NOT AGAINST EACH OTHER!!! What if the new way "we do" the National Anthem is on a knee? What if "the knee" was not in PLACE of singing the anthem, or gazing at the flag, or thanking our servicemen and women, or displaying reverence to the great nation in which we live. Not in place of at all. In addition to. What if those who proudly sing the national anthem into a microphone did so on a knee? Singing while kneeling? Not protesting what America's anthem is all about. In fact, reinforcing it. "YES, YES we want more land of the brave. YES, YES we want more land of the free," says this gesture. It says, "I want to live here. I want to be a proud American. I want to support anything that promotes justice for all and denounce anything that promotes injustice for any part of the whole. SIGN ME UP, America. I want in on ALL parts of the Star Spangled Banner."

If Thing #1 and Thing #2 would merge, we'd have a mega storm of positive attention on the very things we ALL hold in reverence. 

As for Thing #3, I got nothing. Maybe that one-man-circulating-storm will spin out to sea on its own. And I hope the man finds himself safely on an island. With no technology. Where he can't tweet up any more trouble. :)






P.S. I don't watch NFL football. I have a favorite team, but I do not know one player's name, the coach's name, or handy statistics like how many losses in a row they have suffered (spoiler: the team's city is in northern Ohio and their team name has a color in it). In short, I am not attached to the league or the sport in one teensiest of ways. I beg forgiveness for my clear lack of authority on that particular subject matter.

P.S.S. Actually. Expand that apology. I beg forgiveness for my lack of authority on the WHOLE subject. I'd say I've read the things there are to read about this subject matter 29% of the time. Which is an F. But I take a lot of showers, where all my ideas come. Which makes me an authority on hygiene. And ideas. 



Saturday, September 16, 2017

I'm not joking when I say I read these [nearly] every single morning...

Hi. I just typed up three pieces of paper I have folded in half and jammed into my morning devotional book (Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, by the way). Their corners are creased, the folds in the middle are so exaggerated and severe it wouldn't take much to have them rip in twos, in one page's case, the pencil is smudged to high heaven.

I prepared these pages in January, after [another] season of emotional unwellness. I got the idea from the life coach I was working with at the time (THANKS BETH!), and these pages have been a continued source of groundedness. Once I began getting my footing again in the Spring, Beth, well aware that journaling and blogging were therapeutic to me, suggested that I share them on my blog.

I wasn't quite ready then.

I am now.

I truly read these almost every morning. To myself. From myself. After all, who is a better authority over one's life than oneself? (Well, obviously, after G-O-D).

Just thought I'd put these pages out into the universe... Here goes!

Tiered Support Plan

TIER 1

Description:

*I am well.
*My inner life is peaceful.
*Shame and insecurity hardly present at all.
*Feel confident and competent.
*Thoughts are helpful and often creative.
*Sleeping well.
*Eating well.

Actions:

Spiritual/Emotional Support:  Read letters to self daily, morning quite time, mindfulness meditation 3x weekly, afternoon recharge time before boys home from school

Organizational Support: Weekly babysitting (preferrably one shift with me at home), weekly reflection/planning (fill to do list, meal plan, schedule out), Wait b4 rsvping to saying yes to any commitments, grocery shopping and cooking dinners

Body/Physical Support: Probably running, monthly massage

Social Support: Probably socializing just for fun, probably reaching out to support loved ones


TIER 2

Description:
*I am beginning to feel overwhelmed
*Creative thoughts down, worried thoughts up
*Scarcity mentality starting (not enough: time, energy, resources)
*No outwards or physical distresses, just stressed on inside
*Sleeping well
*Eating well

Actions:

Spiritual/Emotional Support:  ADD: Reread Happiness Trap and sharpen up on "defusing" and "expansion," mindfulness meditation upped to 5x week.

Organizational Support: ADD: Build in more unstructured down time (both alone and with kids/family), take the easy and simple route with EVERYthing (gift cards for bdays, order stuff online, accept more help with carpools, buy store bought meals or order out)

Body/Physical Support: Reduce pressure to exercise, add massages

Social Support: Say no to more invitations, say no to Scott's work events, pull back on giving to others, pull back on volunteer commitments, tell Scott and Lynette and Christy (they have this document)

TIER 3:

Description:
*Starting to feel insecure, incapable
*Comparing begins
*Episodic periods of heart racing during day
*Chaotic environments confuse and stress me
*Find myself ruminating and not in present moment
*Cant figure out how to use time
*Planning difficult, ADHD symptoms amplified
*Sleep might be interrupted and/hard to get to sleep
*Eating fine

Actions:

Spiritual/Emotional Support:  ADD: Consider adding therapist back in, use afternoon recharge time for an actual nap

Organizational Support: ADD: Babysitting up, housework support up, no cooking or planning meals at al, wear headphones with classical music while conducting hard thinking, take brain breaks often

Body/Physical Support: Consider the question: Should I increase Lexipro dose? Meet with doc to talk it over, stick to consistent bedtime, use sleeping aids to sleep (don't contemplate, just do it), massages now weekly, add essential oil regiment

Social Support: Open up to inner circle, but remember to keep private beyond that, get wrapped up in a good book or drama series

TIER 4

Description:
*Feel "worked up" either all day long or more than not
*Elevated heart rate and tense muscles
*Planning and knowing what to do with self in general feels impossible
*Cannot relax
*Sleep a mess
*Appetite low and often have to force to eat because of queasy belly
Actions:

Spiritual/Emotional Support: ADD: Plan a hotel night alone

Organizational Support: ADD: Consider inviting Lynette to visit for an extended period, keep the home machine running smoothly

Body/Physical Support: STOP drinking alcohol

Social Support:

Letter to self about ADHD (and life :) )

1/17/17/

Dear Tricia,

You have ADHD inactive. It is a real neurological disorder, and it means that -- while you are quite intelligent -- you are usually working harder to conduct executive functioning skills than others to get the same result. You don't always realize you are. But you are.

Therefore, taking care of yourself needs to remain a major priority. Taking care of yourself and your brain may look different for you than it does for others and that's OK. It might mean layers of support  and help. You don't observe others needing, and that's OK. What YOU need is what YOU need. The End.

Look at what giftedness comes from the way your mind is wired! You are a creative thinker. You are an idea-generator. You are fun and funny and spontaneous and refreshingly uninhibited. You crave being in connection with others and genuinely see the good and happy in all people.

Sure, your thoughts get tangled and you have trouble operating under pressure and you off on tangents and say wrong things and you cant figure out what to do first and you forget EVERYTHING and you waste tons of time. But Tricia, MY DEAR, this is all part of your charm :), and -- when life demands that you function at a higher/faster/more efficient rate -- REMEMBER: a) that life'll ease up again (this isn't forever!), b) that screw-ups aren't the end of the world (Remember Dori! There's always another way!), and c) to rely on your supports, perhaps even crank them up.

Most important of all... you are worthy and loved just exactly as you are. How wonderful!?!?! Your flaws are also gifts that allow you to see others and the world with compassion. You are humbled by them, and you fully embrace them the same way you know God does.

Dang -- now that I think about it -- YOU DA BOMB!

Love and joy always,
Tricia

Medication Manifesto

Medication Manifesto

1/24/17

Quick note to self:

Dear Tricia, At this moment, you are taking 10mgs of Lexipro every day. I grant you permission to tinker with your dose/regiment in the future (increase Lexipr, decrease Lexipro, go off Lexipro, add Ritalin, WHATEVER!) with the assistance of a trusted psychiatrist. Let us (the me now and the you when you read this) agree, though, that you will keep Lexipro in your medication routine through 2017. K?

* You have ADHD inactive, which is both very real and very inconsistent. While you likely always are experiencing some form of fatigue from the extra work you put in to "do life" as a result of your ADHD symptoms, the havoc it can reek when they are unexpectedly exacerbated is unpredictable. Lexipro smooths over these tough spots, so that you have the wherewithal to work your self care plan.

* Lexipro DOES NOT REPLACE the hard work of self care. You are a hard worker. You are a brave soul not afraid of doing tough stuff. Lexipro is not lazy. Lexipro is brave. Accepting help to support your disadvantages as an ADHDer is being real with your reality and being proactive. It isn't cheating just the same as a kid with a learning disability getting extra time on a test is not cheating.

* When you have solid wellbeing and are coasting in life at TIER 1, Lexipro isn't THE REASON for your cheerfulness. That's YOU. That's the natural ad authentic you. You ARE cheerful. You ARE fun. You are not acting as an imposter. You are simply clear and centered. The Lexipro isn't doing all the work. It is just helping to level the playing field so that your true self can present more fully.

* Lexipro may not be FOREVER. When life and circumstances around you change, "doing life" may feel different. Re-evaluate then. Now is now, and now is the time to accept and appreciate Lexipro. THANKS Lexipro! I am grateful!