Smile!

smileI read a blog a few weeks ago over at Anonymously Autistic about remembering the rules of social interaction. The author, Anna, has a written list of rules she follows to make sure she’s interacting with people correctly. Say hi. Smile. Talk a little, listen a lot.

I can relate to a number of things she listed, but the one that stood out to me was “Smile.” I smile a lot. I laugh a lot. Smiling when I first make eye contact with someone? That’s difficult, especially on a bad day.

My mom was shocked to learn that I struggle with smiling at people. I was raised to make eye contact, be polite, etc. I think my mother’s insistence that I make eye contact is the only reason I manage to do it now. So what about smiling? That comes with practice–practice I can do every day, a few times a day, even if I’m 100% alone.

A few years ago, probably around the time I started working at Denny’s, I made it a habit to smile whenever I saw a face. It did not have to be a real face. I have a pillow of Mitt Romney’s head (which I adoringly call Romney-Face), and even though it’s definitely cartoon-y, I still smile at it. That habit expanded to . . . the bathroom; specifically, the mirror. I made it a habit to smile any time I looked at myself in the mirror, which did great things for my self-esteem and for my ability to smile at people when I make eye contact.

What about on bad days? Same thing. It’s a legitimate habit. If I make eye contact with someone, I smile just as bright as I would on a good day. I still smile at the mirror. It helps a little. I do still have really bad days, on which I will actually avoid looking in the mirror because I don’t feel like smiling. Weird, right?

What about you? Any social rules you have to consciously follow? Do you do well with making eye contact and smiling at people?

Christmas in Phoenix(ish)

On the outskirts(ish) of Phoenix, sits my hometown: a little city of 250,000 people called Chandler. Chandler has put up a Christmas tree every year for the last 60 years that looks something like this:

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Let’s take a closer look at that beautiful, snowy goodness, shall we?

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Hrm. Looks to be a bit dry.

In truth, that tree is made of–wait for it–spray-painted tumbleweeds. I’m not sure you can get more Arizona than that, though God knows our neighboring city of Gilbert has tried. I mean, who doesn’t want to go running through a splash-pad in the middle of December?

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This is appropriately located beneath the Town of Gilbert water tower.

(And yes, there were children playing in the water.)

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As you can tell, we really don’t have much to work with. I mean, the malls are decked out in all sorts of typical holiday goodness, but our downtown areas seem to be a bit . . . creative. Here’s a gem from downtown Phoenix herself in 2014:

Christmas in Arizona

I love the festive red bow.

Anywho, from my hometowns to yours, let me wish you happy holidays, Merry Christmas if you celebrate such, and much love.
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A Non-Post about Posting

One of the hardest things about writing a blog (for me) is coming up with topics. The conversation with myself goes something like:

“What should today be about?”

“I dunno. There was that movie we went to yesterday.”

“True, I could write about that, but I kinda don’t feel like it. What about depression?”

“You’re stable on your meds. You have barely any insight to that right now.”

“True again. How about Christianity?”

“Now there’s a can of worms. Are you sure that’s a smart choice?”

“I’ll write it and then decide if I’m going to post it or not.”

“Great. So if you decide not to post it, what are you going to post?”

“Probably some stupid bullshit. Can I go dehydrate the tomatoes now?”

“You’re an idiot.”

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What I’m playing with to avoid writing

I did go see Rogue One and Doctor Strange yesterday (and didn’t have to pay for either, so that was fabulous). I’m going to let those stories percolate in the back of my mind before talking about them here. I will say that 1) Rogue One was inspiring from an “us vs. them” perspective and 2) I’m going to rewatch Doctor Strange a thousand times just because of the visuals. (And Mr. Cumberbatch’s American accent was on point.)

As for that post about Christianity, it’s sitting near 1000 words and it’s quite possibly one of the most difficult pieces I’ve written recently because it’s so personal. Spoiler alert, I broke from the Christian church about six years ago, which sucks in a way because there is a man–a good, Christian man–I would quite like to cross paths with again, but the whole “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what fellowship hath righteousness have with unrighteousness?” (2 Cor 6:14, KJV) is a long way of saying Christianity says he and I have no future. (My hopeless romantic side, on the other hand, disagrees, of course. My hopeless romantic side might be an idiot.)

So that appears to be what’s upcoming in the next few weeks. Thanks for reading this non-post and taking a glimpse inside my brain.

Anxiously Bored

Almost exactly two years ago, I had a professor at Arizona State suggest to me that the best way to handle boredom is to do nothing. Don’t scroll through Facebook. Don’t flip through television channels. Don’t try to draw or find music. Don’t. Do. Anything.

It’s amazing what not doing anything can do.

I’ve dealt with some pretty serious boredom recently and the hardest thing to do is nothing. I find myself wanting to find some creative activity to fill the time. Instead, I’m taking my professor’s advice and I made a realization: boredom is my mind’s answer to being overwhelmed.

Now, there are people who legitimately have nothing to do and are basically wasting away by being bored. I’m not one of those. There’s always something to do; it’s a matter of if I want to do it or not. I actively avoid things that stress me out, so writing has been on my “avoid” list. There are a few things at work I’m avoiding. The question becomes: what do you do when you don’t want to do what you’re supposed to?

That’s where my boredom comes from, so now I’m taking time to just be still. It’s doing wonders for the anxiety. Saturday was bad, so I sat and stared at a wall for close to an hour before I figured out what I really wanted to do. Sunday was hella productive. Today is more like Saturday. I don’t really want to do much because the thought of everything I need to do makes me want to curl into a ball and hide under my desk. Combating that desire by sitting still takes more strength than I thought it would.

I’m pretty sure this is 90% just rambling, but I’m curious–why do you guys get bored? Is it really that you don’t have enough to do, or do you actually have too much and you need to disconnect? Does it tie into anxiety for you?