Sunday, December 8, 2013

If You're Happy and You Know It, Well, Good for You, Captain Sunshine

I swear to Dog, if I stumble across one more blog post telling me that happiness is a choice, I am going to be very unhappy indeed.

Given that this is the season for good will toward all, I will spare you most of my rant. I just ask you to consider this question: if you believe that sexual orientation is NOT something that people choose but rather something that is part of a person's genetic make-up, why would you not also acknowledge that people who deal with depression are wired differently than you, you happy chirpy cheerful lucky accident of genetics, you? Can you choose your height? Your ancestors? Your eye color? And the first smart aleck who makes a crack about colored contacts will get smacked upside the head with a bottle of saline solution.

Would I rather have spent my money and time (literally thousands of dollars and thousands of hours over the last 30 years) in ways other than learning to be grateful and manage my depressive tendencies? Hell, yes -- but THAT is the choice I make. Not to be happy, because no matter what current pop woowoo pseudo-science tells us, that choice is not in my power. Here are the things in my power: I choose to accept my genetics, to notice and alter negative thinking patterns, to stay physically healthy, to get as much exercise and outdoor time as I can, to practice gratitude, to find joy wherever and whenever possible, to investigate every freaky new technique that could potentially help, and to keep a close eye on what I consume in the form of books, movies, food, drinks, and insufferably smug internet posts.

And yet sometimes I get walloped with a totally unexpected string of dark days. It sucks, it's exhausting, it's hard on my family, but it's reality for me and thousands of others. Would you choose to live this way, you obnoxiously self-satisfied internet person and all of your superior-minded comment leavers? Yeah, I didn't think so. I don't choose it, either -- but I do choose to dig out of the hole every time it hits.

For some solid scientific research-based info about genetics and depression, please go here or here.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Upside of Professional Rejection

Dear Mrs. Ditter: 

I've been self-employed for nearly 15 years, and like most independent contractors, sometimes I'm not busy enough and sometimes I'm too busy.

A few months ago, I wrapped up two long-term projects and now there is NOTHING on the horizon. I'm scrambling to find new clients and am starting to feel anxious, like maybe I'm doing something wrong or new clients might think I'm too old (late 40s) or--who knows? 

I'm not even sure what my question is for you. I guess I'm wondering how to keep my spirits up and not take things personally. The last rejection I got said, "Thanks for your time, but I've developed another solution and thus am set with my project management needs for now." I'm not sure why this bothered me so much, but--HELP!

Currently Between Projects

Dear CBP,

Here are my words of wisdom: First, take a deep breath and exhale completely. Do that one or two more times. Now you're ready to think, and not feel overwhelmed.

Start by making a list of the reasons why you work for yourself. I don't know about you, but my list starts like this:

1. I choose my own hours (mostly). Other than conducting in-person interviews or client phone calls, as long as I meet my deadlines, I can work any time I want to.
2. I get to work in very, very casual clothes. If not actual jammies, then jammie-adjacent some days.
3. I can take a puppy break any time I need or want to.
4. I get to be in charge of my work life and security, instead of depending on a company to keep me busy (and keep me employed).

So make your own list and sit with it for a few minutes. Try to feel grateful, even though you're really stressed out about not having any clients right now.

Next, I wonder why that email brush-off made you uncomfortable? It actually is kind of a gift, because it tells you exactly what this person, and every other person you'll approach, needs. They need a solution. 

Think about that when you set out on your next round of selling. Potential clients have problems. They need solutions. You, my friend, are that solution.

If you have a standard sales email, look at it with that "problem-solution" idea in mind. And then make sure that your problem-solving ability comes across. It's a first step to getting back to work.

Good luck! 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

In Which I Let My Sister Do The Heavy Lifting

I've been silent for several months, not just on this blog, but on all my blogs and in my writing life in general. And so I'm grateful to link you to a really terrific piece written by one of my sisters. Clearing out the deadwood is painful. It's also necessary if you want to move forward with integrity.

Therese and her husband run a retreat house in the Kootenay Mountains of British Columbia. If you're ever up that way, give her a holler. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Today's Poem from an Annoyed Mother

Bewail we now the loss--no, we shall name it for what it truly is--the theft of our purple comb. Yes. THAT purple comb. 
The one that has, post-shower, teased the snarls from our hair these many mornings. 
And although we could point a finger (or indeed point a whole hand, an empty, combless hand) at a certain young teenager, who under cover of maternal ill health and weakness did dare to remove and retain that comb, that purple comb, from our private hair accessories drawer, 
we shall not. 
For we are not that petty. 
Although perhaps we ARE that petty. For in the dark, angry, hellish places of our heart, we do envision coughing all over her dinner, and then serving it to her with a smile.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Lesson in Self Acceptance. Or Not.

Law of Public Embarrassment, Part the First:
When you dash to the grocery store sporting soggy hair, no makeup, last year's Old Navy shorts, a three-year-old black Target t-shirt, a hoodie that belongs on a teenager, and dirty Converse, YOU WILL run into a former acquaintance--a gorgeous, brilliant, successful woman who has just moved back from Paris where she ran Something Important for an Upscale Clothing Designer.

Law of Public Embarrassment, Part Next:
YOU WILL feel compelled to say hello to this vision. And when she doesn't recognize you (GEE I WONDER WHY) you blunder on instead of saying, "Whoops, sorry, I thought you were someone else. Leaving now!"

LOPE, Part Can We Be Done, Please?
YOU WILL be certain that this woman will say to her husband, "Wow, guess who I ran into today--she certainly isn't aging very gracefully."

Moment of Enlightenment:
I drove home yelling at myself. This is an old, familiar behavior, where I berate myself in the third person: "YOU IDIOT. Who goes out in public like that? You know you look awful when your hair is damp. Why didn't you do something successful and sophisticated with your life? What on earth were you thinking when you said hello? When you get home, take these clothes off and make a bonfire with them. Why the hell did you walk away from your career? You have wasted your life and now you're too old to do anything about it."

At some point, I remembered two things: 1) This woman is genuinely very nice. 2) I would worry less about what people thought about me if I remembered how seldom they actually did think about me. Which might or might not be comforting.

And then I recognized, once again, how harsh my self-talk is. Do I talk to anyone else the way I talk to myself? No. Did my parents talk to me this way? No. Am I constantly telling myself I'm not good enough? Yes. Where the hell did I learn this? I don't know. When am I going to change this? I don't know that, either.

So today's my birthday 
Wanna give me a gift? For the next seven days, really tune in to your self-talk. Notice every single time you say something about yourself (out loud or in your head) that is mean, or angry, or sarcastic. Just notice. Don't try to change it. Just notice it.

At the end of the week, ask yourself if this is how you want to live the rest of your life. If you want to change, drop me a line. I have ideas about interrupting those patterns, and I'll be working on them for the next few months. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

In Which Mrs. Ditter Writes Movingly, Coherently, and Rationally About the Death of Sunny, her Golden Retriever

Yeah, that's not happening yet. 

There's part of me that is overwhelmingly grateful for the love and goofiness and joy and acceptance that she brought us for so many years. There's part of me that is happy that she's more comfortable now. There's part of me that feels her following me around, just like usual, and sticking her nose into my hand, just like usual, and watching my every move in the kitchen, just like usual.

And then there's the part of me that feels as if someone has ripped off my arm and is beating me over the head with it.

I miss my dog.