It’s the last day of the SNAP/food stamp challenge for school, and while I am grateful for that for a lot of reasons, I am also reminded that for most people living below the poverty line, or anyone receiving assistance, there is no actual end in sight. I mean, not really. It’s just a different reality, one to which people grow accustomed, or it may also be that they don’t know any different, so there’s no “adjustment” necessary. All I know is, it makes me feel like a privileged a-hole to be so relieved over the temporary nature of this experience. I guess there’s nothing wrong with that, and it should instead be more of an impetus to do whatever I can to help those who find themselves hungry on a regular basis, struggling to afford even the worst kinds of cheap food just to survive.
I was certain I’d have a huge list of foods I was craving, making for a lengthy Saturday Sampler post this week, but instead I found myself having little or no interest in food at all. Mixed blessing, I suppose. That said, for three days straight I thought about these. A lot: Pão de Queijo (Brazilian Cheese Bread).
Many years ago when I was visiting family in Puerto Rico, I remember eating something like this, and fell in love. I mean, how do you not love cheese and bread? A recent visit to a Brazilian steakhouse reignited the love, and here we are. Don’t know if I’ll make them or not, but I’ll sure as heck think about them. Often.
I keep pondering the question, “Who do you want to be?” Not “who do you think you should be” or “who do you think other people want you to be”, but who/what kind of person do I want to be. When I imagine myself interacting with others and the world around me, what is my ideal? Am I kind? Honest? Forthcoming? Brave? Loving? What I’m realizing is that when I am not being the person I want to be, if I’m not being a “good” person, it causes me to worry that other people are thinking the same thing. But when I live in keeping with what’s important to me, what other people think doesn’t seem to matter as much.
For instance… imagine you’re having a conversation with someone, and you’re venting or speaking ill or even just talking about someone else who isn’t in the room. It’s a mutual conversation, both people partaking. I find myself in that situation once in a while (although, not so much lately, thankfully), and even if it’s good-natured or not intended as a slight, I still walk away feeling as though I’ve somehow betrayed the person not in the room, and I find myself worrying that it’s going to get back to them that I said something. That I’ll be portrayed as the bad guy, even if I wasn’t the one to initiate the conversation, and even if it was just an expression of frustration, not character assassination.
So what that tells me is, I would do well to just never engage in conversations like that. Right? Integrity is a hell of a thing. I want to feel good about facing the people in my life and if what I’m saying or doing isn’t something I’d feel okay saying or doing to someone’s face, then I either need to change my behavior, or rethink that person’s presence in my life. It’s unfair and unkind to give someone the false impression of being a trusted, loving friend or lover or family member or whatever if that’s not how you’re actually feeling or behaving.
I’ve also been thinking on anxiety and depression, and how those express themselves in my life. Depression usually looks like not being able to get out of bed or leave the house, the phone weighing 500lbs, and preferring to just hide instead of engaging with the outside world. Anxiety shows up to try and counteract the depression sometimes (SO helpful), and that means constant butterflies and amygdala activation which renders me unable to focus because I’m in fight-flight-freeze mode and can’t break through it (and all the ruminating thoughts that go along with it).
There are things – and people – who trigger it, and I’m still learning how to manage it all, still making judgement calls over what I can reasonably take on vs. what I can’t. I wind up spending a fair amount of time at home doing my own thing as a result, and anything out of the ordinary (like house and kid-sitting this week) can, and usually does, throw me for a loop. Adding graduate school onto the pile and the constant worry about not having enough time, not doing well, etc., keeps me a little bit stuck.
But I don’t want to get stuck and trapped in that. I know that diet and exercise help a lot, as does talking to kind and trusted friends, family, and others. So, there will be more of that, especially as we head into winter and hibernation time.
Also, eleven days back into being on Facebook has me working on figuring out how to get away from it again. I appreciate being able to easily stay connected to friends in other cities and states, and appreciate how it’s used for invitations to local events and festivities. But there’s something that feels not-genuine about it, and I guess part of that is, it’s not reality. Reality is the people you spend time with, or the people you have active relationships with in some way. I suppose FB helps provide a forum for those interactions, and it’s just another tool, but… I don’t know. It doesn’t feel good. And I would do well to pay attention to that. In all areas of life, really.
Final thought: my brother’s kids are amazing young humans. After spending this past week with them, I am reminded yet again how fortunate I am to have the family I do.