Emotional Storage

12 12 2015
Messy_storage_room_with_boxes

Scientists have finally revealed what the inside of my brain looks like.

I have been working slowly – actually, I think I’ve given new definition to the word “slow” – let’s say, “slothily”- through the various rooms and closets in my house in preparation for ultimately moving at some unforeseen time between now and the next sighting of Haley’s Comet, scheduled for sometime in 2062.

Over the years, I have realized that having lots of things and clutter around me does nothing to help with anxiety. Or, actually, it helps anxiety a lot – which is the problem. I need help ridding of anxiety, as the case may be. Always thinking ahead, my prominent thought is “how the hell are my kids going to get rid of all this crap after I die?” No one can accuse me of not planning ahead.

There are so many things that have been boxed up and set aside in storage for years and years. I am not sure when exactly I am planning to re-look at all of this stuff. Perhaps it is this fear that one day, if I am lucky enough to become elderly, I will be all alone; just me, a practical cup of tea, my new “iCollar” for the elderly implanted in my wrist and a handkerchief surrounded by nothing but photographs and illegible artwork and a slew of elementary school report cards to remind me of a life long past. How freaking depressing! And don’t get me started on the compendium of marriage related photos, albums, letters, cards, and wedding paraphernalia that were left behind for me. There is a whole section of my attic that looked like a marriage threw up in there.

No thank you!

Always one to look for the meaning in anything, (as is the tendency of “Sags” as I recently learned), it occurred to me that I have been carrying quite a load in my emotional storage locker, as well.

You are probably familiar with the idea of “carrying baggage” around – those experiences and feelings that can become obstacles to us moving forward in life. But what about storage?

Storage, to me, is even worse. With baggage, you can compartmentalize or hopefully, discard all together, but storage? You’re in for the long-term, brothers and sisters! With storage, you are just taking all your crap and placing it somewhere else where it never goes away. Sure, in the short-term, it’s great to be rid of it for a while, but it’s there…looming, waiting, and eventually, reminding you of, wait for it – your baggage.

I write a lot about thoughts and the impact that this has had on me, both in a positive and negative manner. Many of my thoughts are all about storage because I don’t necessarily carry them with me front and center but they are nestled deep in some cerebral storage locker just waiting to be uncovered, unpacked and let loose. The hell with that.

I am committing myself to trashing, donating or selling most of everything I have stored up – physically and mentally. So, if you are interested in some thoughts, perceptions and feelings that aren’t of any use to me anymore, hit me up – I am very reasonable.

What are you storing that it’s time to discard?

Until next time,

Marc





The Kids Who See Me Through

9 12 2015
im1.shutterfly-14

Love.

Whatever type of leader or person is associated with the quality of decisiveness – well, I was not that person today.

After several weeks of trying to first find a way to live with two cats who were problematic from many standpoints and then trying to find a home for them, the plan was to get them to a shelter this evening.

I had planned the whole thing out including the involvement of the kids and resigned myself to moving forward despite knowing how hurtful it was to my two kids. 

My son told me last night that he would not go to the shelter with me. My daughter would cry in the evenings and again in the mornings and I kept explaining how sorry I was for them and the reason why they had to go. I was set. I convinced myself that there are bigger issues in the world and if this is the worst thing they have to go through, then it won’t be so bad. They are strong and resilient, or so I told myself, and as it turns out, it was more than true.

I felt horrible all morning. I barely slept last evening and by the afternoon, I had to take a break from work to walk outside and take a breath. I sat down and decided that I could not go through with it. The song “What shall be shall be” came on iTunes. I took it as a sign.

When my son came home from school and then soon thereafter, I picked up my daughter from an after school meeting, I spent time with them explaining that we would not have to go through with it, at least not at this time. I expected them to run up to me, grab me in a bear hug and thank me with a last minute reprieve for their furry brethren. Instead, what I received was a resolve from both of them that we had to do this for many reasons that were both logical and true. We went back and forth and then both of them spent the better part of an hour attempting to lure them into their carriers, as they are the only two human forms that these cats seem to trust.

They were unsuccessful and at this writing these two cats will remain with me for an undetermined amount of time, which, if I am brutally honest, I fear will be at least until they go off to college. For those familiar with the Serenity Prayer, (which my son reminds me of), the issue of the cats clearly went from the category of “courage to change the things I can” to the category of “accept the things I cannot change.”

This was a tremendous lesson for me, however. These two kids loved me enough to agree to give up their pets, whom they love very much. They talked about fairness to me and were empathetic to a plight that was not their own. I am a very lucky man because there is nothing more affirming than seeing your own children exhibit behavior that is selfless, resolved and decisive – a quality that I, as a much older adult, am not always great on.

I have, and probably never will, experience a truer or more unconditional love as the one that exists between me and my kids. We struggle and fight and even hurt each other, but we understand and love each other and that is really all that matters. I cannot ask for anything more. Despite all that I have and continue to lose, I have managed to hold onto the one thing that really matters.

Because of my kids, I am not afraid – of change, of the unknown, of death. They are the exact type of people I want to know and grow with and as long as that doesn’t change, there is nothing else to really worry about. Now, I just have to figure out what to do about the litter box.

Until next time,

Marc





Jack Tripper, Three’s Company & Finding My Inner Voice

7 12 2015

Image: Suzanne Somers

Please feel free to read but don’t come and knock on my door.

Spoiler alert #1: No, my inner voice is not Mr. Furley. Though my outer wardrobe sometimes looks like Mr. Roper.

Spoiler alert #2: Yes, this may have no meaning to anyone born after 1980 or opposed to re-runs on TV.

I remember the most useless things ever. If you need a partner for Trivial Pursuit and the trivial is truly that, I’m your man. If you need a lifeline for stuff that has no meaning whatsoever, again – I’m your guy.

It is funny (read: scary) the things we remember (and more so, the things we don’t) and I have a special propensity for burying deep in the folds of my cerebellum those moments and useless facts that will never, ever help get me out of a prison or a deep forrest or even a bad conversation.

One of these has to do with an episode of “Three’s Company” starring John Ritter as Jack Tripper, the “not really but pretending to be gay” roommate who lives with two beauties so their wacky landlord (first Mr. Roper and then Mr. Furley) will let them all live together.

As an aside, I cannot even imagine this concept at a TV pitch meeting today. The execs would be wholly underwhelmed. Maybe if Jack Tripper happened to also be someone who had to pretend to use a cell phone but due to a mental injury as a kid could only use rotary phones – maybe then it would get some attention.

But I digress.

In one of these episodes, Jack was being given a talk on confidence (or something like that) and he was told to remember the word “BARK”. And here’s where it gets whacky – I actually remember what it stood for (and I’m sure it’s somewhere on YouTube if you need to check). Here it goes:

B – Be somebody!

A – Act like somebody!

R – React like somebody!

K – “Kollect” your rewards.

(Yes, I know – hilarious that they spell “collect” with a “k”- that’s top notch prime time comedy right there!)

If this thing stuck in my head for all these decades and I can’t even make sense of it really, why not come up with one for ourselves? Something customized for us. I need something to remind me that even in the low times, there is a lot to be thankful for and the future is wonderfully unknown. 

Here’s what I got:

R – Remind yourself if what you have to be thankful for

I – Imagine what your future holds if you don’t give up

P – Pick one thing that day to move you toward a goal, any goal.

RIP – there you have it. A whole new meaning to “let ‘er rip”. Now I just need someone to hire me to write a sitcom.

Until next time, Marc





PENS (Premature Empty Nest Syndrome)

6 12 2015

empty nest

My kids are upstairs in the spare room working on their homework. I just went up to check on them because it is eerily quiet from the usual complaining, procrastinating, laughing and debating that typically accompanies doing homework within 10 feet of each other.

My parents were visiting this weekend and my mother told me that she and my dad were remarking how they can always tell when my kids are home with me or not by the tone of my voice. I thought it may have to do with the multitude of noises in the background but apparently they were able to do a multivariate analysis, isolate the variable of “tone of my voice” and statistically demonstrate that in fact, I sound a lot more depressed when they are not around.

I will leave it to the final peer review committee at the New England Journal of Medicine to decide if it actually stands up to their study standards but aside from that, they are right. It has been hard not seeing them everyday as of late. It is a somewhat recent phenomena as their sports and extracurricular activity schedule affords me opportunities to connect with them at games and such even if their custodial day is not with me. Unfortunately, my soon-to-be-ex remains inflexible anything schedule-related even though we are less than 2 miles apart – not a criticism, just a fact for purposes of this blog, and therefore these extracurricular activities are the only opportunities I have to physically connect with them on a day that they are not with me legally.

Due to holidays etc., these days have not been as plenty (though, luckily, due to basketball and a new play, this is starting to change again.) My struggle has been with how to connect outside of 10 minute FaceTime chats or at least deal with those days that are more difficult. I know that rather than treating the symptom (feeling low), I have to get to the route cause and that is where the challenge has been.

I looked up “empty nest” syndrome to see if, maybe, outside of the traditional leaving for college, there is an overall syndrome that is exclusive of what caused it – in other words, is this syndrome really more about the state of the person on the receiving end (the parent) and less about the stage of life of the person causing it (the child)? And the overwhelming answer, of course, was “duh – yeah!”

See, besides simply missing my kids being in the house, even if we are not necessarily interacting at that very moment, there is the idea of how we are as a unit and that is a big part of how I define myself – as their dad. I like that part of me, regardless of whether there are some days when I think I probably need to be put on administrative leave for a while. 

When it is just me, alone, I feel a little lost, as if I am not really sure who I am or what I am supposed to do. Is this because I need the distraction? Is it because I don’t feel I have a purpose otherwise? Is it because I no longer have an excuse to watch bad television? I don’t know! Maybe it is to some degree. All I know is that it feels like hell.

I always imagined that when the kids went off to college or whatever direction their path may take them after high school, that, of course, there would be a natural longing for daily contact. I just wasn’t prepared for that at ages 14 and 12. Truth is, that they are evolving into active, involved adolescents with their own lives and my main goal is to guide them and then let them go. I am a part of their lives regardless of whether we have dinner together every night or not. It is their journey and I am here to help them navigate. Now, I need to take the same approach for myself.

Until next time,

Marc





Birthdays, Astrology & Perspective

5 12 2015

sagittarius-zodiac-compatibility-02-2

(I get to picture myself this way – if only for a day.)

My birthday is coming up. It is not something I advertise, especially as I find myself aging at a rate that seems to defy the natural laws of the universe. As I have said to many of my friends – it’s not my age that concerns me, it is simply how quickly time goes and the feeling that it goes faster with each passing year. I just have so much I want to do before I get to the end of this phase of my journey.

I was recently at a house concert with Francis Dunnery, a singer songwriter, who also happens to be very embedded in astrology. He was very interactive with the forty or so of us in attendance and went through each of the astrological signs, mine being Sagittarius. I have never been one for this sort of thing, but it was entertaining, if nothing else.

 Apparently those of us who find ourselves in this same astrological neighborhood are in a never-ending search for meaning. Yes, this definitely resonated with me but I imagine it does for many, Sagittarius and non-“Sag’s” alike.

I think what struck me the most about this experience was that out of all the time he spent speaking to the astrological signs, the least amount of time was spent on this one. He couldn’t seem to pin us down as he did in great detail with other star signs. It was very notable to me that he just kept coming back to this idea of always searching for meaning – in relationships, in work, in leisure – you get the picture. To me, this felt like restlessness, which is something that I definitely relate to. This restlessness, for me at least, is all about meaning – the meaning behind why I am on this Earth in this form at this particular time. As I have written about before, I do not believe in coincidences.

I am spending this weekend with my children and my parents – the two people that have known me since birth (and before) and the two people who will know me until my death. I cannot ask for anything more, for in this knowing is the inescapable truth. We cannot hide from those who have seen us evolve from newborn nor start our journey to life’s destined finale. If I can keep this ecosystem around me for as long as possible, I am a lucky man.

The problematic house, uncertain job, impending divorce, sporadic creative career and undefined life – it’s all ok when there are people around you who can remind you from where you came and be there for you wherever you may go. And that – that is meaningful, not to mention the best birthday gift a guy like me can ask for.

Here’s to having a meaningful birthday in your future. 

Until next time,

Marc





1 12 2015

please read

I have been pretty silent on this blog for the past few weeks.

Despite having plenty to say, I felt like no matter what I tried to write, much like my discourse with friends and family, there was a hue of negativity. I am fighting hard against that, albeit not that successfully.

I am not sure if it has to do with the holidays or the milieu of seemingly never ending uncertainty that surrounds me or a combination of both.

I have been exercising, meditating, writing, playing music, listing all the people and things I have so much to be grateful for, talking to myself – you name it, and, believe me there is so much good, but even when trying to put all that into perspective, I could go to some pretty dark places.

I don’t need anything for the holidays other than the experience of being with people I really care about and for that, I am eternally grateful. If I could escape from my thoughts once in a while and maybe just one morning out of each week, awaken with a sense of calm instead of a sense of anxiety, that would be icing on the cake.

The purpose of this blog is not about me, though. It’s about you.

In our age of Facebook posts, tweets and instantaneous sharing and feedback, it can feel lonelier than ever, at least to me. My plea to anyone reading this is simple: if anything like what I have described resonates with you, reach out to someone – anyone – just to talk. It is amazing what 5 minutes can do. If that person is me, that is fine by me. If you don’t feel like you have anyone to reach out, then try me – marckaye91@gmail.com. (I’m working on being a good listener – or at least that’s what I tell myself.) There is no better way to help oneself than helping others so this is me being selfish.

This is a difficult time of year for a lot of people and when we should be entering a period of deep and profound gratitude and connection, for some, it can feel like the exact opposite.

It doesn’t have to feel that way at all.

I hope for all of you true peace.

Until next time,

Marc








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