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  1. Thanks Kristen, you lightened my day (as you always do) and at just the right time. I finally got a scene right that I’ve been struggling with for the last two days.
    thanks

  2. I think it’s so very important to feel all the emotions and to strive for balance however each of us defines it. I’m sorry you went through such a painful ordeal, too. I hate dental work, having had TMJ surgery back in the 1980s. Not fun! So I can sympathize with you, at least. Glad you’re feeling a bit more on level ground!

  3. Um. Wow. I just want to say I love this post and I’ve missed you and you made (and keep making) a difference in my life and to my writing and I love you and you rock.

    Thank you for writing this. Thank you for getting better teeth. Thank you for writing all the awesome you write, which is indeed awesome, and we need it. And you’re not alone. We’re here, even if we can’t help you.

  4. I empathize with you on every level of pain you mentioned. Thank you for being so honest. Believers often aren’t “allowed” to be down for more than a week or two. Bless you for being so vulnerable here. I’m forwarding your newsletter to a few people who will also REALLY appreciate your words.

  5. First, thanks for sharing. Sorry to hear of so many challenges and hope things settle for you.

    Personally, I have made several dentists rich. A mouth full of crowns and fillings, or gaps they want to plug with an implant.

    As in life, you are not alone. I have my moments of highs and moments of lows. Montgomery Gentry’s song “It Ain’t About Easy” reminds me “the highs are higher than the lows are low.”

    The challenge is to keep seeking the highs.

  6. You have NO IDEA how much this post means to me. I honestly thought I was the only one! My day-long crying binge has wound up on my face in the form of a zit the size of Mount effing Fuji (NO LIE), and still all I want is Pringles and ice cream. People on the outside of my world probably think I’m insane; that I “have it all”–and yes, I am very (make that VERY) grateful for the blessings my writing career has had in the last few years. But sometimes–like the string of days I’ve had lately–things just still suck. And you curl into a ball and cry. And then when the crying doesn’t help, you cry more. And eventually, after 6 or so hours, you stop and go put zit cream on Mount Fuji. This is all my fancy way of saying THANK YOU for this brave, bold, beautiful honesty. Honey, you are a shot Vitamin H for me–as in Heroine! Oh, yeah…and HUGS.

    1. Aww, maybe we can get together and laugh at salad…or not. WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE? ((HUGS)) Thanks for the comment. I was literally ugly crying yesterday believing no one would care if I DIED until they ran out of socks. Yes, creatives can be absurdly ridiculous (that imagination thing). Wonderful to meet you and glad to know I am not the only mere mortal.

  7. I totally get you. Part of this chase for stronger optimism is, at least for me, almost nihilistic. It comes from a place of fear where no matter how well things are going, you wait for the shoe to drop. The Sword of Damocles shall shatter your feng-shui. While planning for bad stuff to happen, you might as well suppress all that and smile, right?
    My dad died of brain cancer last fall. The winter before that, he had a tumor removed.”Don’t worry,” I’d said. “It will be okay. It’s probably benign. The one McCain has is a rare one.” It was the one McCain had. “You and your Polyanna attitude!” My step-mom wasn’t getting the support she needed from me. She was self-combusting, I was behind a solid glass of rainbow-sprinkled glass.
    A bunch of treatments later I made it to Prague and saw them, and spent time with Dad while his brain still let us recognize us and often even recall our names. He laughed when I said a dick joke at a dinner table. His first laugh in weeks of honest struggle to learn how to read again.
    It took me a while to accept he’s gone. I will still see a science article, or a political analysis, or a joke and I think, “I should send…” Or, “I haven’t called…” It’s hard, losing someone central to your life. A role model, a person who believed in you.
    He left me the typewriter he wrote his thesis and his patents on. I’ll now haul ass overseas to bring an antiquated Underwood in my carry-on. That door-stopper will have a place of honor somewhere, a sign that somebody believed in my writing and that all I have to do is keep at it.
    Kristen, you’re keeping at it. You’re a motivational presence in so many lives, and you make us laugh even when you’re crying inside. All I can suggest is that you treat yourself with the same level of kindness you’d show to a stranger. We’re always on our best behavior around strangers – friends already love us and will forgive us.
    Go meet yourself. Extend a helping hand to yourself. Listen to yourself. And thank yourself for who you are, because you’re amazing.

    • Kate McRae on April 4, 2019 at 5:54 pm
    • Reply

    THANK YOU FOR THIS ONE…times like, 1001. You know that line from Elton’s song “…someone saved my life tonight…”? Welp, there’s a bunch of us out here starring this one, having something to return to when we need saved. Again. Sending you gratitude and love and appreciation for who you are—that being just THE BEST. ??????

  8. Okay, first of all, I’ve been a deadbeat this week due to Ossossosomething surgery on half of my mouth. No wonder the perio doc was all serious in his office about my teeth. I thought, great. Get in, numb me up, hack away, and I’m out for a day. A week and two days later and if I don’t take two Tylenol and two Advil every four hours, the pain is distractingly awful.
    I’ve worked through migraines, labor pain level cramps, heck, through labor itself, through three parents’ illnesses and two deaths. But this mouth pain? I’m usually relentlessly optimistic, full of can do, and nothing is impossible, but I go back in for the other side May 30th and am blocking out two weeks of nothing but light work. Formatting print books, reading business books and vacuuming. That’s it.
    What we do is mental and when all of our energy goes into enduring dental pain, there’s not a lot left over for anything else. I have nothing to prove. I’m my own boss. I set my publishing schedule. So, I’m allowing me time to heal.

    • Diana Hamel Flegal on April 4, 2019 at 6:04 pm
    • Reply

    All sugar all the time #gagme
    Yep, I think somewhere along the way we THINK if we fall apart or FEEL our pain we aren’t being a good Christian or a good person but at my late age (keeping that # to myself) I took an intense inner healing course and after it about wrecked me- my takeaway was simple- FEELINGS ARE TO FEEL! How revolutionary. Feel the pain, disappointment, betrayal and then (after throwing axes) unpack the depth of those feelings. Because it’s scary what those feelings produce in well behaved girls, isn’t it? For too many years I didn’t allow myself to feel – oh they must be having a bad day, year or 26 years of narcissism! Not feeling will kill us and our teeth!
    I missed you but am glad you allowed yourself to feel – that’s a lot of loss my friend. I’m sure there’s more in there, but once one learns this is way to healthy living, we give our permission to go there. Beware- once your heart cracks open like that – it will weep often- for joy and with sorrow. Thanks Kristin, for keeping it real-Er. ??

    • Wing Dunham on April 4, 2019 at 6:22 pm
    • Reply

    OK, so I’m going to the fang mangler tomorrow morning. I’m seriously grown up and still freak at having a tooth (or two) pulled. However, this my homework/mantra: Breathe in, Breathe out. Repeat daily until you can quiet your noisy, angry, stupid self. It’s better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. MUCH better. Kristin, you’ve got it.

  9. Wow. I’ve always admired you from afar, because I tend to be a lurker, but I truly love all of your posts. This one felt like it was written by me. I’ve been super overwhelmed lately, and it’s been hitting me from all directions, and I had recently reached the point where I had crashed into myself because I just couldn’t do it anymore. Even though I’ve had others confess they’ve felt the same, it’s somehow more encouraging to see someone you think of as a guru in your field say that they’ve been through it as well.

    I hope what I can provide to you is that you’re not alone in this. Particularly in this field we’ve chosen, we are predisposed to a lot. We usually need to work a day job, while somehow continuing to market ourself and keep our writing and/or editing relevant. We need to also create. Creating is an emotional process and many creators are also struggling with various mental illnesses. We have families as many do, but we also have all of these other things going on, as well as this pull to view our lives, our every day, as fodder to feed the writer. It can all be so much.

    I think we all need to do what you’ve suggested. To allow ourselves the occasional breaks from being the perfect anything, and allowing ourselves to just be and not on a schedule.

    I hope my reply finds you feeling better. Solidarity, sister. Let’s hope to lift ourselves and everybody else in this kind of funk out of it. <3

  10. I also had a stressful past week with family issues that always leave me bereft. I try to stay upbeat and goal oriented, but this past week, with chronic pain and stress and long hours of travel, I have been a zombie who wants to sleep all the time and eat only things that are bad for me. I want to stop all my work, cancel my classes, and just sit alone for hours writing, but I really don’t feel like writing, so I nap. We aren’t super human, just human, and we will have these times in our lives. But in time, I have usually been able to pull myself back into life, even after losing my mother, my husband and my dear sister. Every day I argue with myself. Is it time to slow down, to stop pushing myself? What will I do when I no longer work? Well, I will write more, I answer. But, if I no longer feel useful to the world, will I want to write? I can already see how I am not important to family anymore. Can I reinvent myself once again at my age? Can I be relevant again? We cannot always be optimistic, no matter how much we try, but will our readers appreciate us if we are negative? I think your readers do appreciate you. I do.

  11. I have been wondering where you have been – missed your posts. Glad you are back. Is it just that I’m an old fart, or do young adults -20-40 – find everything “awesome” and “amazing”? I added a character in my books who responds to everything with those words. No wonder I never made it as a marketer. I’m just not that excited or exciting. Novel I’m currently working on deals with suffering. One beta-reader commented that it was hard to like the characters when everyone was dealing with something sad. Call it life! Anyway … I’m glad you took the time to grieve your losses. Life is full of awesome events, and terrible pain and loss. Thank you for sharing your story.

  12. {{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{HUGS}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}

    That is all.

  13. First of all, you did good work the other day, taking time for yourself, and letting out all the grief. That’s not me being a cheerleader, just someone who knows, through awful experiences, about inner healing. I’m glad you did this, and give you hugs for your pain.

    I appreciate what you said about too much optimism, especially in churches. No one is allowed to be sad, because that’s “failing God” somehow. I called Vitamin B on that one years ago. I’m not perfect, not even very good, and I come from a terribly traumatized background. Once I let it all go, the image, and other people’s expectations, I could be myself. I found I LIKE myself, just as I am. I like being not perfect (gives me something to strive for), being a crazy writer, sometimes just being weak and admitting I’m not Atlas. I can’t carry everything by myself.

    I can relate with so much of this. Thank you for being “vulnerable on the page.” Keep being real with us, and hope your teeth heal well.

  14. So beautifully said, Deborah!! THANK YOU.

    • Newt Johnson on April 4, 2019 at 8:12 pm
    • Reply

    Do what you need to do. If it’s crying in a dark room, that’s cool. You don’t have to be optimistic, and when your teeth (or head or ears) hurt, it’s damn near impossible to be optimistic. It’s a free world out there, so feel good about feeling bad. It will pass. It may take time, but your Viking heart will know when it’s gone.

    In the meantime, try throwing bullwhips. Not as dangerous as axes, but whips hurt worse than axe blades when they crack on your head instead of in the air. How do I know this, you ask? Because I’ve done it. More than once. (It’s a long story about researching a paranormal character for a book.) –But you get a great upper-body workout, and you scare all the neighbors in the area because a long (like 10-12 ft) bullwhip can crack as loud as a rifle shot. PLUS you have the satisfaction of knowing you break the sound barrier every time the whip cracks. And isn’t purposely breaking a law of physics satisfying?!….

    Seriously, you wrote a heart-wringer of a post here. Good luck to the teeth, and hang in there. We’re with you, girl, all the way through the deep end of the pond.

  15. Well Done

  16. You supreme honesty is more inspiring than all the overly happy thoughts put together.

    1. Awe thank you Ed. So good to see you! I’m happy my mess can be used for the powers of good. Is it me or does it seem like with all this technology and time-saving stuff, we have less free time than ever? I swear my parents had it easier with “adulting.” If my brother and I acted up in a store? Mom sent us to sit in the station wagon, hundred plus summer heat be damned. She gave us water and told us to sit and ponder our bad decisions. The list goes on, LOL.

        • Laura on April 6, 2019 at 1:25 am
        • Reply

        Same. It’s a wonder we all survived the 70s and 80s, lol.

  17. Psalms. Yes, there are still waters and green fields, but there are also the valley of the shadow of death, wailing about how you wish you were dead, and asking God to wipe those b@$t@rd$ that hurt you right off the face of the planet.
    And yet somehow we still feel that we need to hide our not-okayness from God, in case he can’t deal with it.

    I was tempted to quit my WIP and quit being a writer twice last week. But I prayed about it, and told God how upset I was at not getting all the things I’d never been promised, and… I’m still here. Still writing. Still don’t know if it’ll make a difference, but I know it’s what I’m supposed to be doing.

    P.S. Nice to know it’s not just me who expects to excel in every area of life simultaneously and then beats herself up when she doesn’t. Gotta stop doing that…
    Love others as you love yourself – so you better start treating yourself nicely or you’re going to have to start cutting everyone else off at the knees!

    • NANCY THORNE on April 4, 2019 at 10:49 pm
    • Reply

    Wow. Your post hit me. Life can wear every one of us down during difficult times and make the toughest vulnerable. Then eventually we get the chance to look back and realize that somehow we got through it all. Thank you so much for sharing, Kristen. I can absolutely relate.

  18. Missed you! BIG HUGS!!! For all you’ve been through and are going through. You can add mind-reading to your repertoire (if you haven’t already). Minus the new mouth and your Vikingness, this post mirrors my life and feelings/emotions so much, it’s scary. I’m in tears reading it. I’ll just say, good to know, in true WANA-fashion, I’m not alone.

  19. This is why you’ll NEVER see a pic of me laughing with a salad…if there are any teeth showing (and I’ll be honest here, a third of mine are fake) it would be because I’m gritting them, and taking maniacal glee in stabbing that salad with a fork.

    I’m in ugly cry mode myself as of late, and I haven’t regularly blogged in over a year. Dearest God, woman, we both need really big bear hugs right now (((HUGS)))!

    I’m so tired of struggling, so tired of trying to fix things, and SO tired of having to wear the big-girl panties. But I’m also tired of the bill collectors knocking on my door and making not-so-nice phone calls, so hi-ho, hi-ho, it’s off to work I go- and if you hear any whistling, it’s either through my flu-stuffed nose, or my partially fake teeth. Maybe both.

    And those positive people spouting rainbows and unicorn farts? I want to take out my partials and bite them. Twice. Once with the real set, and once with the fake set- that way no one can identify the teeth marks when they find the bodies. Except maybe Abby, because she’s awesome.

    It’s actually heartening to read that you feel the same way. That many people feel the same way. And it’s okay not to be okay for a while. I just wanted to thank you for that before I go upstairs and ugly cry quietly in my workspace, because my husband is still sick and still asleep, and my son is laid out on our couch, so I have no place to throw myself in a heap of misery. I just wish I had some chocolate stashed somewhere in the house, but that was gone when I found out my daughter missed the deadline for college applications.

    From one heap to another, I’m so glad you’re back writing. Even your rants awe awesome and we all love you for you. Now go get some chocolate so I can pig out vicariously through you.

    God bless,
    Beth

  20. All the safe hugs you’d like, whether that’s a zero or a million.

    I found that the most liberating thing for me when living with chronic illness was admitting that I don’t know. I don’t know why the MRI shows nothing and this hurts. I don’t know why sometimes I can’t talk to people even on Twatter. I don’t know why sometimes I jump out of bed and sometimes it takes me two hours to crawl out of it. I don’t know why 15 years ago I was a party animal and now the idea of going to a gallery opening terrifies me more than painful death. What I do know is that 15 years ago was 15 years ago, today is today, and it’s never going to be what it used to be. 50 is not the new 30, 50 is the new 50. And that’s alright.

    The optimist memes make me pissed off, but the “if I can do it, you can too” platitudes are worse. I’ve got a degree in maths. If I can do it, you can too! I am Usain Bolt and win stuff! If I can do it, you can too! Well, no, sometimes – as in very often – I can’t.

    I’m glad you took the time off to take care of yourself. That you went to the dentist and didn’t end up doing The Man Thing, i.e. “I’m sure it will go away soon”. And it’s good to have you back. <3

    You were brave and posted – I will be brave and post this comment, even though I feel like it's stupid, I overshare, I'm probably offending someone, etc.

    Thank you.

    1. You guys have no idea how much your comments matter. Sometimes they are all that get me through when life sucker punches me. That was why when I even remotely considered taking down the website/blog (because no one would care/miss me) I knew I’d let myself get into a VERY bad and dangerous place. By the grace of God I got the message to “Be still and know I am God.”

      If I’d not taken time to sit in the quiet, I don’t believe I would have ever come out of the tailspin. It might have eased here and there, but I wouldn’t have snapped out of my fog and seen that I was holding a pile of dead things with air freshener. I wasn’t the stink and rot…the things I loved and didn’t want to admit I’d lost were the source.

      This blog is one of my greatest joys in life. To use words to reach out and speak truth and maybe let a handful of people know they are not the only ones.

      Oh and I am RIDICULOUS about the “Man Thing.” Though I blame it on being reared a stoic Scandinavian. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” but the Black Knight is my spirit animal. His arm cut off spurting blood…Arthur: “You ARM’S OFF!” Knight: “No it isn’t. ‘Tis a flesh wound. I’ve had worse.”

      That is SO me. I cannot count the number of times I’ve put off going to a doctor and came within days/hours of death. One time, I blew off a “cold” until my admin nagged me into going to a clinic. I had pneumonia. I told the doc I’d planned on coming in Monday (this was a Friday afternoon) and he lectured me they would have found a body by Monday because my lungs were within hours of being completely filled.

      And yes, what is wrong with aging? Why can’t we BE our age? Sure there are a lot of things I can’t do anymore (namely because it is unwise and doctors are expensive). I had to set aside Brazilian Jiu Jitsu because I didn’t heal as quickly as I used to. BUT, being older, I am BETTER than young people at other things. Namely, I can do math in my head, write cursive, and know that age and treachery trumps youth and vigor 😛 .

      I know this comment BACK is going a bit long, but it reminds me of when I was 28 and tried to get back into the military but I was “too old.” I thought about it and figured they were right. When an officer tells a 19 year old to charge and take a hill, that 19 year old CAN’T WAIT to charge and take that hill. By the time you’re closing in on 30? Different story. If someone told me to charge and take that hill, I’d probably reply, “You know, Sir. I dated that hill in college and it really doesn’t want to be taken. I think our energies are best used other places.”

  21. I loved this post. Sometimes life really does stink, and it’s quite healthy to admit that.

    • Loretta Greco on April 5, 2019 at 8:47 am
    • Reply

    Love this blog and agree 100% with what you said. Yeah, life is hard and it sucks and it’s messy and we manage to go on because we have to. But a good cry and a pint of Moose Tracks CAN solve the problems of the universe (at least for now). I laughed so many times throughout the blog and love that you tell it like it is. When you said that amateurs listen to their feelings and professionals get to work and get $#!@ done anyway spoke to ME! Thanks for the kick in the pants and reminding me that EVERYONE has issues/trauma/drama/meltdowns in their lives and they still manage to move forward! Thanks and have a wonderful day, but if it sucks, have a cry, own it and move on!

  22. “Positive” drives me bananas– at least the way it’s usually marketed. Don’t deal with the pain, don’t admit that it’s there at all, and don’t go back and figure out how it happened or why it hurts more than you thought. Because more smiles = less problems, period, right?

    (And don’t get me started on “gratitude,” that we already owe the world 100% sunshine.)

    No, the glass actually, really *is* half empty– and half full. So we should stop choosing which half of the picture we let ourselves see, and use the whole truth to get ourselves a refill.

    We love you, Kristen.

    • Faith Cormier on April 5, 2019 at 10:19 am
    • Reply

    Kristen, I hope you don’t mind that I have sent this to my husband, the daughter who just had a car accident, the daughter who is having a nervous breakdown and my shrink.

    This is some of the best stuff you have ever written.

    And you are soooooo right about people of faith being the worst when it comes to dealing with crap. Wasn’t Pollyanna a preacher’s daughter?

  23. “Life is pain. Anyone who says differently is selling something.”

    Yep, that, right there.

    I had a revelation earlier this month myself. Not quite to where you are 🙂

    Still, I realized how much I missed my spouse. How much we were living together and working together, but we’d lost “us” in the middle. He’s an amazing person that makes me laugh…when we give ourselves time.

    Still haven’t figured out how to get back time for us, but I’m on a mission to do it.

    No, it’s not a pretty admission. But truth is seldom pretty.

  24. Vitamin A awesome post, Kristen. 🙂 I love that you always have such sweet nuggets of humor in your posts, even when dealing with serious topics. This post resonated with me on so many levels. First the Shingles – I’ve been plagued with Ramsay Hunt Syndrome from shingles on my face and head that affected my right eye and ear. Over the last seven years I’ve lost my father, husband, mother and a sister. Last year I had to sell my horse and goat and lamb, as well as my little farm and move to the city. Where I am not a happy camper. My kids keep encouraging me to be optimistic and look at all the positives about living here, which I try to do, but sometimes I just want to scream, “I hate it here.” Thanks for giving me permission to do that. I couldn’t do that in front of my kids as they are all so good to me and worked so hard to find me a nice little house.

    BTW, I’m going to use part of your blog in my blog today. Advice that is worth sharing.

  25. Amen to all that.
    Also if you want a toothpaste that will help keep the hot mess that used to be your mouth in check get “oralive” from Ascended Health. It’ll totally fix you up! (AscendedHealth.com)
    And just finished “Rise of the Machines.” I feel if I can incorporate even half of your suggestions I’ll be able to move mountains so thanks for that. ???

  26. While trying for a baby, my youngest daughter discovered she has stage three ovarian cancer. She is 34, childless and on the other side of the world. I am amazed (and, I must admit, relieved) at her optimism, but it isn’t blind optimism. She knows what she is up against, accepts what she has lost and is working on what she can do to help the chemo).
    My husband is recovering from a triple bypass, so I can’t drop everything and go, but she has started chemo and I will be there when she has her hysterectomy.
    When I first learned of her diagnosis, I found it difficult to believe in. But perhaps at that point I couldn’t have coped with believing it.
    Maybe this is Scarlett O’Hara syndrome – I won’t think about it now, I’ll think about it tomorrow. Looking back at other events in my life I think I’ve always done this. The dark cloud is overhead but I further investigation of my feelings is pushed aside – not forever; just until I’m ready to face them.
    Then I let it creep in slowly, nerve by nerve, to be acknowledged.
    I have always preferred to grieve in the privacy of my own company than to emote in public but, needless to say, this hasn’t always been achievable.

  27. Optimism and negativity are both emotional states that misinform one’s perception of reality. Emotions like ideologies color everything, especially reason and logic. When stuff goes bad it’s better to be realistic. People often have optimism and fortitude mixed up. Optimism is a mind game we lay on ourselves to motivate while fortitude generates action. The fact is we must move forward. Forward motion is the only way anything happens, it’s not an emotional drive, it’s necessity. Force of will is what activates and that doesn’t require any emotional reliance. Desire and need are often confused. Need is the ultimate material driver ( I need to eat) but it can also be an emotional state, in which case, like all altered states of perception, it won’t necessarily resolve anything. It is more likely to lead one astray. Whatever emotions plague, I’ll ignore them and write anyway.Emotions lie.

    • Jenn Caraballo on April 5, 2019 at 12:54 pm
    • Reply

    Have you and my therapist been talking about me behind my back? ‘Cause this is almost verbatim my last appointment. 😛

    Oh, and where can I get myself a copy of Lambentations? *giggle*

  28. Dear Kristen,
    I am so sorry life has been so hard. Life IS hard.
    In the last two years my adult son received a traumatic brain injury he will never recover from, my father died, my husbands retina began detaching & he needed immediate surgery on both eyes, I came down with mono, was diagnosed with irritable bowel, and was diagnosed and am in treatment for cancer, underwent three months of chronic sinus infection, was diagnosed with an infected molar that needed a root canal but that remains infected as we wait six months to see if it heals itself.
    You are so right, optimism is not the answer. Life is hard, and we definitely need to permit ourselves time to mourn. I am so sorry it was such a hard journey to that point, but am so glad for you that you have allowed yourself to do it.
    I too am a Christian and parts of the Bible I am so grateful for are Job and David’s Psalms of lamenting. These two men moaned and groaned and wept and complained, and God did not zap them with a lightning bolt! I am so comforted to know that I can do that, too.
    I am 6o years old, and like you keep waiting to feel grown up. I’m starting to think it will never happen. I’m starting to suspect that all those grown-ups who looked so grown up to me all my life maybe, inside, never felt grown up either. I remember when my grandmother turned 90-something, my sister in law asked her how it felt to be 90-something. Grandma replied “I feel like I’m still 17.” And she was a very wise, mature, and admirable lady.
    As a recovering overachiever and perfectionist, self-care is the hardest thing to permit myself to do, but I am learning that it is necessary. I think of it as the airplane rule: when the oxygen masks drop, you need to put on your own, first, before you are capable of being of any use to others.
    As a writer one of my most important means of self-care is journaling. I am honest. I complain when complaining is necessary. I mourn when I feel mournful. I pray, talk to God, complain to God, question God. And in doing all that, I am gaining insights that have been healing.
    I love your blog, Kristen. It is my favorite. I love your sense of humor and how willing you share what you know and what you have learned. I am so sorry life forced you to bottom out. It is so hard. Please know I am praying for you and wish you well.

  29. This post really touched me, particularly since I’ve been home all week with a horrible cold. Small potatoes compared to what you’ve gone through, but enough to make me feel depressed, unmotivated, and out of control. Thanks for putting yourself out there, so the rest of us who feel like we missed Adulting 101 don’t have to suffer our shame alone.

  30. Great to hear from you again and hang in there! Sometimes we need time to grieve, time to yell at God, time to acknowledge things aren’t as we want to them to be. Thanks for the honest reminder here! And I hope the days get a little brighter for you soon 🙂

  31. I’m so sorry, Kristen. Now it makes sense why you’ve been so quiet recently. And you’re right. We should be allowed to say that it’s okay not to be optimistic all the time. For an eternal optimist like me, that’s hard to admit. But in the last couple of years I’m coming to the same conclusion: same days don’t have a silver lining. You just have to wait for them to end and then go to bed.

    Still, I do wish you well and that the physical recovery, at least, goes quickly.

  32. From a fellow grinder, two words: Night. Guard. Maybe you had one and it didn’t help. I have great teeth (dentist told me they’re like little rocks) but short roots. Gotta be a blog there, too…

    Agree with all of this. Too much rage. Too much sugar to counter the rage. “Awesome” is so overused, especially on things that are not “awesome.” God is awesome. Being handed a correctly made Frappacino is not.

    Silence is golden. I stopped listening to car radio. Quiet time. I also learned how to turn off the TV and discovered the mute button on my phone. 🙂

    Thank you for the heartfelt blog.

  33. I love this.

    I love this so freaking MUCH.

    • Joe Bell on April 7, 2019 at 12:49 am
    • Reply

    Artificial optimism is just self-deception. Unhealthy. Like me. I have a molar that needs treatment. So I went in, and then they said, oops, ran out of time to save your tooth today, so reschedule pretty please? I said ‘sure,’ but never did. I’m sure the tooth still needs work, but it’s ok today. So, yeah, I’m in denial. And optimism that serves as denial is probably really unhealthy.

    However, I too am a person of faith, and I so get what you’re saying about overloading on forced positivity. Like so many other things in life, if you have to force it, what’s the point? I say, what you need is this, realism, in a fundamentally positive reality.

    Which is where faith comes in. If I have faith, just because it’s supposed to make me feel better, what the heck is that about? I have faith in that bridge I’m crossing because some smart people have a lot invested in building good bridges and there’s a real good chance on any given day the bridge will carry the weight of me and my car just fine. My faith in the bridge is reasonable, because the underlying reality is positive. It doesn’t even matter whether I believe in the bridge. It will hold me up. Probably.

    So when live gets yucky and you’re fighting to find that quiet zone where you can enjoy being alive, creating words or music or color or whatever you love to create, and the pain won’t let you get there, you have to pull a Spock. I always loved that episode where the little mini-pizza flying amoebas attack Spock and wrap around his spine and at first he’s in terrible pain but then he just wills himself into self-control. He shuts out the pain until he can attack it at its root. But that’s more denial you say. But it isn’t. It’s a reasonable assessment of the ‘reality’ (for story purposes – follow me here). Yes, the truth was, he was under attack, and the pain was real and there for him to feel if he chose to put his focus there. But he put his focus instead on another real thing, the possibility of finding a solution despite the pain, the possibility that reality would hand him a less painful future eventually, but even if it didn’t he would continue to live the life he chose for himself.

    As a person of faith, I believe in a fundamentally positive reality. I believe all pain we experience is real, distracting, and ultimately temporary. In my weaker moments I have doubt. Is God real, or am I just kidding myself to make myself feel better? But even in the dark reality postulated by that doubt, pain ends. So, by an odd coincidence, both the believer and the unbeliever converge on this truth: pain ends eventually.

    But for the believer, the reality is even more positive. We believe at the core of the universe there is a beating heart of love, that this love gives purpose to everything we experience, that even the pain we experience is neither random suffering, nor maliciously inflicted suffering, but a call to focus our attention on something beyond the pain.

    I once knew a preacher who had been horribly disfigured in a fire accident. One day I over hear him talking to some friends, and I never forgot what he said, though he didn’t say it to me. He said, you can put up with anything, so long as you can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

    The light at the end of the tunnel is real, but you have to keep choosing to look at it. That’s what faith is.

    Rant over. Love your blog. You are a remarkable person. Hang in there. We need you. Hugs. 🙂

    1. Oh I agree 100%. I think we need balance. Like truth and love. We can ultimately choose to believe the greater purpose and trust for a good outcome, but we have to be careful there.

      There is the book of Lamentations, Job, Jonah, on and on. Psalms is full of David wondering if God has abandoned him. Psalms 77 begins with David questioning everything he believes, wondering if there is any end to his suffering THEN he decides to refocus on things he that which he knows to be good and right and true. But first, he grieves and is honest about his feelings.

      Lamentations are what stand in the gap between pain and promise.

      I feel we’ve become a culture where we are shamed for feeling anything but happy. If we feel anything “negative,” we face exclusion, being dismissed, or even ridiculed. So, we’re trained to cover the ugly up, hold it in, numb it, and even medicate it.

      *** For the record, I understand there are forms of anxiety, depression, etc. that are caused by physiology. Before they got me on thyroid medication, I felt as if I were strapped to Hell’s Tilt-A-Whirl. The moment they got me on thyroid meds? Went away. Medical depression is real.

      Other times though? Medication alone wasn’t the best idea. When my dad died suddenly and horribly, I probably needed some medication, but I also needed permission to grieve, be angry and be honest about my emotions instead of slapping on a smiling face because others were uncomfortable with me being in pain.

      I remember months after his death a song playing and I’d start crying and LITERALLY people around me would be annoyed. “You’ve had three months to get over this! JEEZ! Get a grip.”

      We’re a culture out of whack because we’re uncomfortable with our own “negative” emotions. And if we can’t even admit we are angry, disappointed, weary, discouraged, hopeless, then how can we be any good to anyone else? And no, we don’t stay there because that is an imbalance the opposite direction.

      To use a metaphor, yes a boil eventually needs bandaging and to be covered. Eventually. But not before the wound is properly left open to drain out infection. If we keep sealing it off because it is gross and we don’t like looking at it and it is embarrassing, it will go septic. This then will create a negative cascading effect, where the bacteria (sealed in a nice warm, moist environment) grows out of control infecting the blood and then the major organs.

      Without extraordinary intervention, a simple boil that could have been taken care of with over the counter creams is now a condition that will likely result in death.

      But the world doesn’t want to deal with ugly nasty sores and infection. Just cover it up, Photoshop it away and focus on happy healing thoughts. All in all, balance, balance, balance, I believe the man goes where the mind leads. Yet, sometimes to get to the goodness we gotta get rid of what’s rotten. We can’t fix what we won’t face.

      Thanks for such a thoughtful comment. Very much appreciated.

  34. Wow, Kristen. Great stuff. And I appreciate your honesty. Sometimes life really sucks. And it’s okay to say that. I’m a Christian too. But it’s hard out there. And in here. I am sorry about your teeth. I totally get that. A real drag. Keep going. Take care. Thanks for writing!

  35. Sugar junkies, Vitamin Awesome, and Rage Porn? Thank you! It’s good to see you back online. I’ve missed your posts and your humor but have care for yourself. I was dealing with negative self-talk and a friend gifted me a while back with a book-Braving the Wilderness. My takeaway: why am I nonjudgmental and generous with other people yet not with myself? So I’m trying to rewire my brain a bit!

    • Suzanne Lucero on April 8, 2019 at 11:58 am
    • Reply

    Okay, so, today is 8 April and I’m JUST NOW READING THIS. *rolls eyes* *begs forgiveness* Totally, totally grok what you’re saying and going through. Sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees. Forest: I am worn out and depressed because so much has gone wrong in the last few months. Trees: I have to blog, do edits, run a class, clean house, cook perfect meals in spite of multiple family members having multiple alergies, …

    I don’t think anyone is going to castigate you for any of your perceived “failings.” As much as you may not like to hear it, sometimes YOU have to come first, for your mental health, your physical health, your ability to take care of your family, and be a true ninja/guru for those of us who are trying to write as well. *hugs* Have a virtual Snickers. 😉

  36. Thank you. I am too deeply moved to say more. So just, “Thank you.”

    • Matthew J Bowes on April 9, 2019 at 2:24 pm
    • Reply

    I remember a Christian comedian was saying, “when I first became a Christian, I started reading the bible, I opened it right into the middle. And the book was Job.” He pronounced it “jahb” and not “joeb.” He went on: “After reading it, I said, ‘I don’t want that job.'”

    The point being, that as a P.o.F. you get all the fun input from your fellow sojourners. Stuff like: “God has a wonderful plan for your life” (4 spiritual laws pamphlet). Really??! Did the writer even study the NT? All those disciples, they were martyred. Might want to rethink “wonderful,” just sayin’.

    Or this one, usually uttered by some well-meaning old pensioner: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose,” which is somehow used to shame you into pulling up your bootstraps and stop your blubbering because ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD, so your crappy situation is going to benefit someone. Just not you. Or it’ll have some behind-the-scenes benefit that you’ll be later saying, “Hey, I’m GLAD my dental surgery just made it into the glossy photo for the month of March in the Abattoir Calendar, because I got this awesome benefit.” (Er, see martyrdom, above.) And the benefit? Who knows?! (Scrapes self with pot sherd.)

    On a side note, I do have a pot that recently broke, so I have fresh pot-sherds. Let me know if you want me to mail you one. Personally, I can think of better things to scrape yourself with– pot sherds don’t seem very sanitary. Job could have used a loofah, or sandpapyrus, or whatever was fashionable at the time. Which was probably pot sherds. So, never mind. Anyway, offer is open to anyone reading this, just leave me a comment and I’ll send you a pot-sherd.

    My favoritist is “God will never give you more than you can handle.” *ahem* Please to be showing me where exactly it says that? Oh, it doesn’t? (Educational elucidation on that particular passage follows. I’m not sure the old folks uttering it have any idea what they’re saying. If you out there are saying this, STOP IT NOW. See 1 Cor. 10:13, read the text in context, and then NEVER SAY THAT AGAIN.) A few years ago, we went through a miscarriage with a baby that had been developing, uh, poorly, and the stuff people said to comfort me made me ballistic. Thanks for the condolences, but man, people need to work on their theology. Grieve when someone grieves, etc.

    We gotcher back, Lamb.

    1. You picked the ONE saying that makes my left eye twitch. I see it passed around social media all the time…and of course, correct it every time I see it. That nonsense about God never giving more than we can handle. The Bible NEVER says that (it’s a misquote of a different verse regarding temptation).

      And just using basic logic, the idea God would never allow more than WE could handle makes zero sense. Why would God allow us a life where He’d render Himself unnecessary? We can want a pain-free life, but that is not life. Life can be wonderful and amazing but it can be horrible, brutish, unjust and tragic and, and, and… Which is WHY He reaches out with a promise to sustain us no matter what.

      And yes, I am with you. A good idea to study what we believe and sometimes, just be there. Let us lament, get out the anger and rage and guilt because it’s probably the best thing for us. Eventually, we’ll be ready for the Gerber Daisy stuff, but usually not right after something in life has given us a beating we believe might very well be the end of us.

      Thanks for the amazing comment and I appreciate you guys so much. Sometimes I think God prompted me to begin blogging not only because I was utterly undisciplined, but because He knew I’d need people like you to sustain me through some very dark times.

      ((HUGS))

  37. Yeah, I often feel like I’m TOO angry at the world. These days I feel bitter, grumpy, and cynical. Add a lack of motivation, and good ol’ depression, and you have the worst of my mental state.
    But trying too hard to be happy all the time isn’t much better, really, because then you’re bottling up your feelings all the time, and you need to get them out. Sometimes you just have to fall apart, cry, rage, whatever it is you need to get out of your system.
    And sometimes I think I try to function, start to think, “Okay, I’m doing good, making progress, etc.” and then my brain says, “Nope, you need to get set off by little things and feel miserable and go to pieces. Have fun imploding.” Yeah… it’s kind of a process. Up and down, and up and down, on the emotional roller coaster.

    1. But if we really think about it we have been WOUNDED. Sure it’s an emotional or psychological wound but it IS a wound. What do we do with wounds? Wound care. We let them bleed to get any bacteria/infection out. We keep cleaning it, open it to the air, and only when it’s ready do we bandage it. Even then we keep changing the dressings. Same with emotions. We have to let stuff out or it’s sealing in a spiritual infection.

  38. Hey K,
    I find it interesting how David, Habakkuk, Job, and others raged, whined, cursed, and griped at God, and God didn’t freak out or disown them, and their rantings even made it into scripture. I truly think God would rather we rant at him than ignore him. He values the relationship, in its most raw form. Hurting people don’t need platitudes. They need our presence.

  39. Trying to drown painful feelings with positive affirmations is like spraying air-freshener in a stinky bathroom – it makes a whole that’s even more noxious than its separate parts!

    • Patti Rae on April 15, 2019 at 8:19 pm
    • Reply

    Pretty honest blog, Kristen. I’m glad to hear you’re on the way back up from your dark-time. It’s hard to admit you’re sad, only a weak human to the whole world, but in doing so, you’re connecting with other humans who feel, or have felt, just like you. You touch people’s hearts with your honesty.
    Because so many of us look up to you as our mentor–the one who’s done it all, has it all together–knowing that you too can have those days when all you want to do is cry and eat chocolate, makes me feel more connected to you. I guess that’s what this social media thing is all about. Be honest with who you are and you never know who you’ll connect with.
    P.S. Crying is very healing and stress releasing. We should all do it more often.

    1. Please remind me of this later when I mistakenly believe I can do everything, LOL. It’s embarrassing to an extent to confess how much of my life I just have NOT figured out, and possibly never will. Is what it is and, like my novels, I am a work in progress, too. Thanks so much for the lovely comment ((HUGS)).

  40. I needed this today. I am glass half full in general, but the last couple years have packed a punch. This resonates.

  41. I’ve only just seen this post because, like you, I’ve been a bit distracted by the pain of life lately (way behind on my blog reading!). I’m with you on finding balance when it comes to optimism. Battling chronic health problems, I want to be optimistic, but I must be cautious, because there is no recovery for me, only remission. And I can’t always achieve that. If I am too optimistic, I am setting my expectations so high I am doomed to disappointment, and that’s no good either. Sounds like life has really sucked for you lately. Sorry to hear it’s your turn.

  42. Your honesty – refreshing. Your writing – I love it. Your message – spot on.
    Your statement of ‘rage porn’ hit the nail on the head. That is one I have been pondering about in the age of social media and it’s been getting me down. You created the shortest version of explaining it. My new word of the week now.
    Lastly, you are normal! Been there, done that and appreciate you putting into words what all of us have felt at one time or other. Knowing we are not alone in our struggles, strengthens us. Thank you!

    • robintvale (Jessica) on May 2, 2019 at 12:02 am
    • Reply

    Life is great but not always, in fact, it usually isn’t. This weeks fun spot is allergies in my EYE + it’s caused pink eye without the pink on the whites. (no sticky discharge so the allergies caused it.)

    Some lovely stabling pain, itching, burning, blurry, watering and a strange hair raising popping sensation. *runs upstairs to the mirror*

    The blood vessels popped now it’s pink. Why? I was taking aspirin to get relief from the stabbing pain. Oops, that raised my blood pressure. Fail.

    I want to write so bad but can only manage a few paragraphs before I have to get up and wash my eyes again to see. !@#$ Whhhhhy…

    A week of endless #!@*$g Mondays.

    I can’t wait for this to be over. I’d rather have the damn flu again.

  1. […] blogs were becoming less frequent of late. I wondered why, and the answer came in this recent post Optimism Overdose: Why It’s Healthy to Say ‘Life Stinks.” Much of the post was about all of the losses and challenges in her life and how she always tried to […]

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