Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Making an Effort

The thing about having a good day is that in order to have one, I have to exert a lot of energy.  Make a plan to meet a friend, go to a coffee shop, go to Target, bake a cake.  It takes so much effort.

But (as with exercise) the effort is almost always worth it.

So Lent starts tomorrow and however unclear I feel about some of the big philosophical questions, I love the traditions and rituals of religion.  This is why I find certain aspects of the Catholic faith so appealing (even though my politics would never allow me to be Catholic).  I love the pomp and circumstance.

Beyond the idea of rituals, I'm also trying to embrace the basic Lenten message that hope springs eternal.  So this year I am acknowledging Lent by taking on something new rather than giving up anything.  I am going to make the effort to do something fun with a friend at LEAST once a week between now and Easter.  AND I'm going to post about it.  This way those of you reading will know that while I continue to spend plenty of time sobbing on the couch, I'm also doing other stuff.  And while "doing something fun with a friend" doesn't really seem like much, when you take into consideration how anti-social and misanthropic I've been feeling lately, it's actually kind of a big deal.

And the thing is that I mostly think about making plans with the same kind of trepidation I would approach giving up alcohol or television or cheese.  I just don't want to do it.  I love my friends, but the energy that it takes to be normal and go to lunch or go to shopping, it's just exhausting.  So most of the time, I'd rather not return the phone call or sometimes even answer the phone because I have nothing new to say and I'm tired of saying I'm still sad with no sign of this getting better anytime soon and I am afraid my friends are also tired of hearing it.  But the thing is that then I'm not given them enough credit for how much better they can make me feel.  Because without exception, every time I've spent a couple of hours with a friend, I end up feeling much better for it.

For example...  today I had coffee and graded papers with a friend of mine who just proposed to his girlfriend last week.  We talked about the proposal, about his wedding, about our students, our spring break plans, and, yes, about Eliza.  I got a little teary talking about her, but the point is that I still felt good when I headed home.  Much better than I would have if I'd followed my alternative plans for the day:  sit home and feel sorry for self.

Once I got home, I was motivated enough to multitask!  I baked a cake while simultaneously "making my bottom half into my better half!"

That's right.  I did it.  I bought a pair of Sketchers Shape Ups and wore them while standing in front of the Kitchen Aid mixer, watching it work the eggs into the cake mix.  I'm a wicked good multitasker like that.

Not to worry, fashionistas who are groaning in agony, I didn't buy the huge rounded ones that look orthopedic.  I bought the less offensive ones that are basically like the Reebok tone up shoes (which I was originally planning to buy) but these were $30 less.

 They're not so bad, huh?

See, the sole is pretty normal looking.  And yet!  They promise to do magical things for my butt.  No, really.  I am sure it will totally work.

So far I have pretty much just worn them around the house.  Cooper was very disappointed because normally lacing up tennis shoes = walking the dogs but today it was raining.

Cooper pouts and chews on his bed to express his frustration.

BUT once it stops raining, I'm also committing to walking the dog every. single. day for the next forty days (except for the part that I'm in Florida without them).  It's a commitment I can stick to because Cooper makes me feel so guilty and that's about the only way I can get motivated sometimes.  Plus, you know, I'll be wearing the new shoes.

Our Florida trip is now right on the horizon and I am trying to get excited about it.  I'm still having a lot of the "why go be sad in Florida when I can just sit here and be sad with much less effort?" but I'm trying to remember that no matter how shitty I feel, it will be nice to have a week away with David and even if I'm sad, I can still sit outside and have a drink and soak up the sunshine (wearing the spf, obvs).

In other news, Little Mac continues to be the weirdest little dog.  The other morning she followed me into the closet when I was getting ready and then proceeded to sit around like this for several minutes:

Finally, I was like, "Um, Little Mac?  Whatcha doing, Sister?"

 And she was all, "Wut?  Wutz ur problem?  I like to smell the shirtz."

Funny how a couple of crazy dogs pretty much save my sanity.  We're hoping Little Mac will give up crazy ass-chasing and random barking-freak-outs for Lent, but we're not going to hold our breath.


  1. I totally understand...the effort it takes to be social is exhausting! Enjoy your trip to Florida. You'll be amazed how easy it is to feel happy when you are on vacatation. When my hubby and I were in FL two weeks ago it was such a change to be away from anything relating to my boys that it took practically no effort to feel somewhat like my old self and happy.

  2. Oh I love your Lent ideas! I actually was born and raised Catholic (heh) so now I'm a little lost religion wise because I'm totally *not* Catholic but not atheist and I don't know where to begin to find a church or anything and it's overwhelming! But anyway, I think your ideas are fabulous.

    Also, dogs are the best for us grief stricken moms! Very cute! And today it feels like it will never stop raining!

  3. I love the ritual of the Catholic religion as well. I wish we incorporated more of those traditions into our church.

    I really enjoyed reading about your Lent disciplines. And laughed out loud at the "crazy ass chasing" remark. Dogs are so ridiculous.

  4. Full of chuckles (what a silly word) from that post.

    I'm exhausted just looking at my phone when it rings. Honestly. Who would have ever thought making plans would be compared to exercise-- but you're completely right. Your (and my) couch will still be there with that stupid box of tissue sitting next to it once we're back home from attempting to live a normal life and act social.

    I know you've read my blogs-- I don't do lent or even NY resolutions, but I gave up sugar, alcohol, and soda--- gasp on the alcohol, I realize. It was making me feel more shitty than I do regularly from this grief. But cheese, never.

    I'm also afraid my friends are tired of hearing about my grief, so I've just resorted to not calling them and not answering when they call. Helpful, not really. It's my life and my grief.

    And those shoes... priceless!

  5. I think spending time with friends is the best therapy out there. I always feel better, even if I've had a really crappy day up until then.

    Cute shoes!

  6. Holy shit your dog really cracked me.. thank you for sharing those pics.. I needed that smile today. This part of your post really resonates with me today:
    "So most of the time, I'd rather not return the phone call or sometimes even answer the phone because I have nothing new to say and I'm tired of saying I'm still sad with no sign of this getting better anytime soon and I am afraid my friends are also tired of hearing it."
    It is definitely how I feel these days and it gets hard to try and pull myself up each time I slip back to the bottom.
    I hope you enjoy Florida.. I know that for me last week it was a good place to be...

  7. I agree with you as well. It is exhausting. I have never lost anyone close to me before, so I never realized how physically and mentally exhausting grief can be. I am glad you are making a choice to do something fun for you during lent. It can only help, right??

    And maybe with these outings with your friends (and on your new adventures in those fab new shoes) you will be able to come up with new things to talk about with your friends. Your grief will still be there, but perhaps you can get to a place where conversations will just start to flow again. Fingers crossed...

    And, as usual, your post made me laugh. I needed that. Thanks for that!

  8. love. i love that you are making an effort. i love that you mentioned Catholicism (as i am very much catholic, and feel much the same way you do - i just love the structure of it all). i love your new shoes. it's nice to see someone having moments of light in all the darkness. these days i feel like i'm having more dark times than light. so this post brings me comfort. ♥

  9. I'm terribly allergic to cats and dogs but I really want to grab Little Mac up and bury my face in his fur. He is too cute.