My go-to, one-minute therapy for anxiety and depression.

This is an old video from 2007 showing two cats (they are both female, and both about ten years old at the time this video was made) having a “conversation.”

The cats are not just adorable, but their trilling, purring, and cooing noises and soft little vocalizations are so relaxing I could listen to them on endless loop.

Besides the relaxing effect, I also noticed my mood always improves dramatically after viewing this video (or other ones like it).    It’s incredible how something so simple can improve your entire outlook.

I wonder what the cats were talking about.   Whatever it was, it’s clear these kitties love each other.

If you want something a little longer that has the same relaxing and soothing effect, I recommend this beautiful video of a mom cat and her adorable, playful kittens.

 

 

Advertisements

Thank God my vacation is finally here!

relax

I’ve been feeling more anxious and depressed every day about the political situation, and I don’t feel like any of our efforts are really helping.   Sometimes I feel like I’m losing my mind.   It’s so easy to get bogged down in negativity, fear and hopelessness when the opposition is so nasty and overwhelming and you no longer have the slightest doubt of the horrifying reality that you are being held hostage in your own country — a country that is being run by the worst human beings imaginable.

I definitely need to clear my head and get away from all that for awhile.  My annual trip to Florida to visit my son can’t get here soon enough.   I leave tomorrow before dawn (I love driving before dawn on a long road trip — here’s an article I wrote in 2016 about that).   Depending on traffic, we should arrive in Tampa (that’s where he lives now) late in the day.

Our hotel has a lovely pool and hot tub, and serves continental breakfast.  We’ll be spending time with my son when we can (he can’t get off work).  I think this time one of the plans is to hit Treasure Island!  We had planned to go last year but never got around to it.

After four days there, my daughter and I are driving to Clearwater Beach and spending four days there, right on the beach!

I’ll be posting pictures, so keep checking back!

****

Further reading:

8 Ways to Survive a 637-Mile Long Car Trip In Just One Day (and make it amazing!)

15 Things I Love and Hate About Long Road Trips

The Longest, Hottest, Most Boring Drive Ever 

A fun day.

100yrold2

Side view of the Hundred Year Old Cabin, Arden, NC.

Yesterday was my daughter’s birthday, but this year has gone by so fast (and because of the continued cold weather, I was having trouble believing spring had really arrived), so I almost forgot about her birthday. It just sort of snuck up on me.   So I realized yesterday I hadn’t made any plans or gotten her anything.

I stopped by a cupcake shop on the way home and got six different types of cupcakes, then had her pick her favorite one (red velvet cake).  Then I placed a candle on top of it and brought it out to her while we sang happy birthday (I did not get a picture of that but I should have — the cupcakes were adorable and so colorful).

Then I told her I wanted to go for a drive and wanted company.   What I had in mind was a 3 mile trip to some river cabins I’d always been curious to see.     She and her boyfriend joined me, thinking the trip would be boring, but it wasn’t at all!

There are seven adorable rental cabins tucked away in the woods by the river.   Six of them are new, and all perfectly charming (we could actually go inside two of them), but the one that fascinated me the most was the Hundred Year Old Cabin.   We didn’t get to see the inside of it, but it’s very photogenic, as you can see below.

100yrold1

Back view of the Hundred Year Old Cabin

100yrold3

Front view of the Hundred Year Old Cabin

rivercabin2

rivercabin1

Two photos of one of the newer river cabins.

We got to try out the hammock on one of the cabins closest to the river.   It was a beautiful day, and so relaxing just swinging in it and hearing all the nature sounds.  It was hard to believe I wasn’t on vacation and only a few miles from my home .

hammock1

We walked around the campgrounds for a while and took some pictures of the river, then we headed to Panera Bread for her birthday dinner.

river1

river2

 

Virtual road trips!

Youtube is my go-to place for … well, just about everything.   Youtube is a wonder and one of its most wondrous gifts is the ability it gives you, the viewer, to travel anyplace in the world you would like to go, and you don’t need a dime.   The #1 thing on my bucket list is to travel the world.  But since I can’t afford to literally hop all over the world on a  whim, I can still get a pretty good facsimile of the real thing by taking a virtual road trip on Youtube.

You can take a virtual road trip almost anywhere in the world on Youtube.  Just type in “driving in” or “driving to” [fill in country, state or city].”   Chances are, there is a video taken from someone’s dashcam of the actual road trip.  Many of these are accompanied by music.   Obvously, some are much higher quality than others.  I prefer the ones where the driver isn’t talking, and just allows you, the viewer to enjoy the view from the car.

Here is an amazing video (it’s almost seven hours long) of the drive from Los Angeles to New York City.   It’s all here, speeded up (and deleting the parts where the driver had to stop).  Viewing it in full will take a long time, but you don’t have to worry about inconveniences like a full bladder, having to stop for gas, or the discomfort of sitting in a car for hours at a time.   While driving through Nebraska, he pulls over to watch the solar eclipse (this starts at about 3:29:12).   I do wish music had been added, but you can play your own driving music while you watch this, if that’s your preference.  I  also like to enlarge the video to full-screen, which makes the experience even more realistic.

I spent yesterday also “driving” through many parts of Europe.   I was surprised by the fact that driving in most European countries is identical to driving here in the states.   You will see the same green road signs and mile markers, road markings, and exit design.   The same road rules that apply here also apply in these countries.   The UK and China (there may be others) are exceptions, because people drive on the left hand side of the road instead of the right.   That seems very strange (and dangerous) to me.  But in mainland Europe, people drive on the right hand side, the way they do here.

Here is an incredible drive from the Austrian-Italian border through the Italian Alps to the town of Tolmezzo.   The drive covers about 258 km (160 miles).

I find watching these videos a great way to relax, have fun, and satisfy my curiosity about what it’s like driving in places I’ve never been.

Self-care in turbulent times.

dog-walking-in-snow

The trendy term “self care” irritates me the same way other trendy terms tend to irritate me, but it’s actually a good phrase and good advice.

I had two days off from work this week due to the snow, and I could have spent that time glued to the news, scanning Twitter for the latest Trumpian outrages (I can’t even keep up with them anymore), and making myself angry, depressed, and scared.

For a year I have struggled with retriggered C-PTSD because of this president and his abuse of vulnerable Americans, which includes myself because I am not rich or conservative.

I could have worked myself up into a righteous tizzy and returned to work feeling exhausted instead of refreshed.

But instead, I took a moratorium from the news and from the Internet.   Reading my Kindle copy of “Fire and Fury” (I’m almost done) was about the extent of my politics-related activities.   I cleaned my house (really well for a change) , organized a couple of closets, and actually cooked.   I spent time catching up with friends on Facebook and reading funny or inspiring websites, and watching funny animal videos.  I watched part of a “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern” marathon, and even walked in the snow.    I read one of the novels in the list of books I posted the other day, and was actually able to concentrate on the plot.   I’m almost finished with it now.

readingabook

I have to admit I felt a twinge of guilt for burying my head in the sand and choosing not to follow the news for a couple of days.    I’ve always believed if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem, but taking mental health breaks from all the chaos coming from the White House doesn’t mean you’re ignoring the dangers and becoming complacent and complicit.  It means you are a human being and need time to take care of yourself.  If you’re active in the resistance, whether as an actual activist, or just protesting online, you’re not going to be any good to anyone if you’re depressed, deflated,  apathetic, terrified, or unhealthily enraged.   All you’ll be able to do is spread negativity instead of inspiration and ideas.

So it’s absolutely imperative, especially if you suffer from PTSD, C-PTSD or a depressive disorder, to give yourself breaks from all the chaos and negative politics and take care of yourself.   It’s still possible to enjoy the simple things in life and even have fun, yes, even in the darkest times.   I can’t help but think of Anne Frank, a young girl confined in a German concentration camp, but she never let that reality break her spirit.  She was still a happy, positive person who spread joy and hope to others, even knowing she and her family were going to die.   Even today, her legacy still inspires others.

After my two days off spent staying away from politics and the news, I actually felt refreshed and ready to fight again.    So don’t feel guilty if you need to take breaks to concentrate on yourself, your friends or family.   Spend time doing things you like or that relax you — listening to music, watching a funny movie, meditating, praying, doing Yoga, reading a novel, cooking or baking, or spending time in nature (nothing is more healing than nature, if that’s your thing).   You are not abandoning your ideals or becoming complacent.   You are just refueling.

*****

Further reading:

12 Ways to Resist Without Losing Your Mind

Throwback Thursday (a day late): My Christmas present to myself.

This was originally posted on December 21, 2014, when I’d only been blogging for a little over three months.  So much has happened in three years!   But this is a pleasant little memory, so I may do this again this year.   What a crazy year 2017 has been.  I could sure use a little self care right now!

comfort

As ACONS or victims of narcissistic abuse, we can be nervous, hypervigilant, and constantly feel stressed out and overwhelmed. It’s so hard for us to relax and just feel happy and in the moment.

Sometimes it’s the simple things that work best and take us to a place where we feel more at peace and more sane. We need to seek out and savor these small things.

The other day I received a gift card for Cracker Barrel. I have to admit, I love their country stores that are always a treat after pigging out on their heavy country cooking.

This morning I had to go have two of my tires changed and get an oil change. I hate dealing with servicing my car, but it had to be done. I already felt better knowing at least my tires won’t skid off the road, even though my car is 13 years old and the transmission is starting to slip.

Blasting rock music and singing along to it on the way home, I remembered my Cracker Barrel gift card and decided to stop by and buy a few things with it.

I adore candles and always buy those big scented jar candles at the dollar store, K-Mart or Walmart because usually those are all I can afford. Those are fine, but today I decided I could afford to splurge and buy a $20 Yankee Candle. I had a tough time choosing an aroma, because they all smell so great, but I finally settled on a new scent called “Silver Birch,” which smells just like woodsmoke and reminded me of a crackling fire.

I also love bath products, so I bought myself a bottle of JR. Watkins apothecary bath salts in Menthol/Camphor with Eucalyptus oil. The bottle, charmingly printed in a late 19th/early 20th century style, says it’s great for soothing colds and flu, but I’ve tried it before and it’s great for everything. It makes your body feel energized but relaxes your mind at the same time.

So when I got home, I decided to take a long hot bath, and just let the scents and warmth of the water swirl around me and bring me into the moment, only the moment. I lit the candle and placed it on the sink, poured a handful of the scented bath salts into the water and mixed in a little vanilla/lavender scented bath gel (cheap from Dollar General) in there too to make the water softer for a little moisture. Then I slid into the tub and literally sighed as I settled in. I lay there with my eyes closed for about an hour, just letting my mind wander and focus on the moment. I also said a little prayer of thanks for small blessings like this.

I nearly drifted off to sleep, but finally, when the water began to get too cool, I dried myself off, put on some comfortable clothes and decided to write a blog post about the bath from heaven.

We need moments like this to validate ourselves. We need to give ourselves little gifts every day if we can. If we didn’t get the mothering and nurture we needed, or we’re still surrounded by narcissists who don’t give a shit about how we feel, we can still give ourselves comfort and nurture every day in small ways like this

It’s not even necessary to spend the kind of money I did today (and the only reason I had it was because of the gift card I received). You can get the same effect with cheaper products from lower end stores. I always find great stuff at the Dollar General a few blocks away Their candles are limited in variety but smell really good. You can also mix a little baby oil with a cheap scented bath gel. At some smoke shops and other stores, you can buy little bottles of scented oil, or even learn to make your own (I’m sure there’s plenty of how-to instructions online).

There’s nothing like a long, hot, leisurely, great smelling bath to soothe your nerves and make you feel normal again, at least for a little while. And make sure you light a candle while you soak.

I’m still feeling so relaxed I think I’m going to nap for about an hour.

 

Beach therapy!

visit-myrtle-beach

My life has been turned upside down since January.   I know many of you feel the same way.    Living in Trump’s America leaves me feeling like I’m back with my abusive narcissist ex — always waiting for the other shoe to drop, always feeling hypervigilant and insecure and uncertain about the future, and something even he didn’t have the power to ruin for me: wondering if there is any future at all.  It’s hard to escape from it.

This week I’m off from work, but that just gives me more time to read the news and obsess and worry.   So tomorrow, I’m getting up before dawn and driving to Myrtle Beach.  I’ll have two days to spend there, relaxing and enjoying the sand and surf.   I haven’t decided if I’m going to bring my laptop, but even if I do, I won’t have much time to spend on it.

Spending time on the beach will be good for my soul, and when I return home on Friday, I’ll be relaxed and ready to tackle another trying week.

If you, like me, are suffering from TTSD (Trump Traumatic Stress Disorder), make sure to give yourself breaks from it all.   Even if you can’t make a short trip somewhere, tear yourself away from the constant stream of disturbing news and do something fun or nice for yourself.    Read a novel, watch a funny movie, take walks, cook an amazing meal, do yoga, pray, work out, go to the zoo, or anything else that relaxes you and takes your mind off hard cold reality for awhile.

For me, spending time in nature is the greatest therapy ever.

The longest, hottest, most boring drive ever.

Note: Photos were not taken by me.  I found them on Google Image.  

i40

There are many dangers in driving, but one no one ever talks about is the danger of the long, boring drive.   If anything can put you to sleep, it’s the never-changing, flat as a board, monotonous landscape of Eastern North Carolina along US Route 40.     It’s dangerous because the utter lack of any features of interest can make you fall asleep.

I enjoy driving.  It relaxes me.  Sometimes I just get tired of sitting around the house.  I’m regularly afflicted with attacks of wanderlust.   Sometimes I drive places — sometimes far away — not as a means to an end, but for the sheer joy of just driving.  Sometimes I drive to faraway places just to be able to say I drove there, without having a plan once I get there.

I’ve lived in western North Carolina for 23 years but I have never driven across to the east coast and on a whim, I decided to do just that yesterday morning.    Never mind that the drive there and back totals almost 700 miles.  That’s farther than driving to my son’s place in Florida!  Never mind that the weather forecast yesterday called for afternoon thunderstorms and it was a sweltering 90 degrees out at 9 AM.  Never mind the fact that I had no plan and there would be no time to enjoy the beach even if that was my goal   since, because I can’t see well at night, I’d have to turn right back around when I got there and head back.    No, I just wanted to get out of the house and go somewhere I’d never been before.  I’ve never driven clear across my state and decided it was time to check that off my bucket list.

I didn’t expect it to be the most exciting drive ever — remember, I do these drives to relax —  but I wasn’t prepared for just how mind numbingly dull the ride would actually be.   If you’ve ever driven across South Carolina (which I have), it’s like that, only without the palmetto trees and about four times as long (or at least it seems that way).  Also, along I-26 (the route I take to drive through that state), South Carolina’s dull, flat terrain at least is peppered with interesting sights like ramshackle fireworks stands along the roadsides that are open all year long, ancient and abandoned I-houses sitting all alone in fields of tall weeds, sad trailer parks, and Confederate flags waving gaily in the hot breeze.

You also can’t get too bored in South Carolina because I-26 is scary as hell.   Everyone seems to speed on it — the so-called slow pace of the South does not apply on South Carolina highways — and by speeding I mean roaring along at 100 mph when the speed limit is only 65.   The lanes are too narrow and semis and 18-wheelers are all around you, sometimes with only two inches to spare on the passenger side.   It’s common to be completely boxed in by semi-trucks, with a deep ditch on your left as your only escape should one of the truckers decide to switch into your lane suddenly without signaling (another thing drivers seem to do a lot of there).    If you’re in one of the urban centers of Columbia, Greenville or Spartanburg when that happens,  all you can do is pray since there isn’t even a ditch in some places, but a concrete wall.

And there are lots of cops there too.  Cops who allow the speeders to keep on going if they have South Carolina tags, but will pull you over for doing 70 if they see you’re from out of state.  They consider people from North Carolina to be Yankees and apparently hate us.  I know, because I got pulled over in that state twice.  And I’m not speeding type.   In fact, I’m much more the hesitant type that other drivers get mad at for going below the speed limit.  Both times I told the officer I was just trying to keep up with traffic (I was still going slower than almost everyone else), but he wasn’t buying it and still ticketed me.  The first time it happened I had to drive all the way to Travelers Rest to appear in court (this was in the ’90s).  The other time I was allowed to pay by mail.

So my point is, in South Carolina, you can’t nod off from boredom while driving.   Nervous, angry,  hyper-alert, or downright terrified, but I guarantee you won’t fall asleep at the wheel.

iredellcounty

There’s none of that nail-gnawing, white-knuckling, tooth-grinding business along I-40 in North Carolina, at least not east of Raleigh.   Sure, of course, for those not used the the mountains of the western end of the state, the many hairpin curves and steep grades there can cause a lot of gnashing of teeth, cursing, and white-knuckled steering-wheel gripping.  And I do understand about those annoying and sudden telescoping lane changes and merges in the urban areas and during rush hour that can jangle anyone’s nerves, but on a weekend it’s not so bad.  My GPS tells me when these lane changes are coming up, so it’s not really a nuisance or an issue for me.  And once you finally navigate the hundred-plus mile stretch of asphalted urban sprawl with its bloated 6-to-8-lane interstates and all its feeder highways and roads that stretch from Statesville just east of the mountains and the Triad of Winston-Salem/High Point/Greensboro in the Peidmont all the way to the Tri-Cities of Chapel Hill (a charming college town), Raleigh and Durham (still part of the Peidmont), you can rest fairly easy that losing your life on the road is pretty remote (unless you nod off).

Once you pass the massive urban sprawl in the center of the state, which is pretty boring itself (not to mention ugly), you emerge into the Atlantic Coastal Plain, an area that sounds like it could be peaceful and pretty, and to be fair, it is that.   But its prettiness is marred by its devastating sameness.   A long stretch of flat two-lane highway flanked on both sides by endless short pine trees, all of the same size and width, interspersed only occasionally by the odd water tower and farmland as flat as a table, not even broken up by tacky billboards or other jarring sights, can send you into a hypnotic trance.   The various towns are well-hidden along this stretch of I-40, so you don’t even see any tall signs advertising gas stations or fast food places.   It goes on like this for at least a hundred miles, before the landscape changes to a somewhat more coastal-looking one, with even scrubbier, shorter trees and grasslands — but oddly, no visible water.

Granted, the landscape of eastern North Carolina isn’t as  jaw droppingly ugly as the New Jersey Turnpike or as delightfully tacky as US-Route 19 that runs roughly parallel to the west coast of the Florida Gulf,  but at least those things add some interest to the landscape in a kitschy, schadenfreude-ish, thank-God-I-don’t-live here sort of way.   The landscape along I-40 east of the Blue Ridge and the vast urban metropolis that marks the state’s central region lacks any memorable features at all, and all that sameness gives way only to the sad, stunted trees and swampy grasslands of the coastal plain.

ncflatlands

As I drew within 35 miles of the coast, I still didn’t see any evidence of the ocean other than sandy-looking soil along the side of the road and sometimes blowing onto it.     I kept driving, looking for telltale inlets, rivers, or boats, or something indicating the presence of the nearby Atlantic, but nope, nothing.   The stunted trees and sandy soil just got more stunted and sandier, and the land remained as dry as the Sahara.     I kept driving.   25 miles, 20 miles, 15 miles from the coast, but still no water.    Yet I knew I was near the ocean because I began to see fishing tackle places and beach shops here and there.  Here, the lack of trees failed to hide any commercialism lurking behind the exits, and it was hot.  Hellishly hot.

I drove into a gas station and got out of the car to stretch my stiff legs, get a drink and a candy bar, use the bathroom, and fill my tank, and I felt like I was inside a pizza oven. Where was the sea breeze?  There wasn’t any.    The heat was oppressive, sweltering, almost painful.  My brain wasn’t working correctly.  My thoughts limped along like 90-year old men.    I finished my business and got back in the car, immediately blasting the air conditioning.  I noticed the sky was beginning to cloud up pretty badly  and I remembered the forecast about thunderstorms.   I don’t like driving in thunderstorms, and it was also getting pretty late, so I decided right then and there to turn around and head back home — all 350 miles of long, boring drive.   I groaned at the thought of that but what other choice did I have?

The ride home was slightly more interesting.   I got to watch the development of two storms ahead and to the south of me.  I watched the towering cumulonimbus clouds spread out and turn grey-black.   Lightning flashed in the near-distance.   I would have taken pictures except for the fact I was driving.    Fortunately, neither storm hit directly, and the drive back was marred only by a a little rain, not a downpour or a hailstorm.   The storms also cooled things off, and I was finally able to turn off the air and open the windows to let in some fresh air.

I finally passed the storms, and saw nothing but blue sky and the golden light of the late afternoon sun ahead of me.   In my rearview mirror, I saw the most gorgeous rainbow I’ve ever seen.  I wanted to pull over and get a picture of that too, but unfortunately such a thing wasn’t possible in the middle of the interstate.    But I felt like my drive had been worth it, even though I’d never actually made it to the coast.    I took the rainbow behind me and the coppery rain-drenched sunshine ahead of me as validations that my decision to drive hundreds of miles to nowhere in particular for no particular reason had been the correct one.  Besides, people who have driven across the Great Plains tell me that’s even more boring — and there you get tornadoes too.

****

Further reading:

8 Ways to Survive a 637-Mile Car Trip — and Make it Amazing 

15 Things I Love and Hate About Long Road Trips

Driving Before Dawn on a Sunday Morning

Getting away is good for my soul.

pine_islandI couldn’t have asked for better weather since I’ve been here in Florida.    Everything about this trip has been perfect.  I have so many pictures, but I won’t upload them all here right now because it takes so long.   Most of them have been posted on my Facebook, but when I return home I might share the rest here.   Today is my last day.  I’ll be leaving very early tomorrow and spending most of the day driving.

The pictures posted here were taken yesterday evening in Pine Island — I can’t get over the beauty of the sunsets I’ve been seeing.

There’s an additional benefit to going on vacation.  I haven’t followed the news AT ALL!   In fact, I’m oblivious to what’s been going on in politics this week — and I’m fine with that.    This is not only a vacation from the daily grind, but also from all the negative events in the world right now.     It’s been very liberating being outside and active, instead of sitting indoors glued to MSNBC, getting depressed and anxious over things I can do very little about.

pine_island2

That doesn’t mean I’m giving up and becoming complacent!  No way will that happen. But it’s definitely a good thing to take a break from all that.   There’s truth to “ignorance is bliss” as long as it doesn’t become a permanent way of being.

 

Pictures: 4/8/17

040817birds3

Seagulls all facing the sunset.  You should have heard the din they made!

 

I haven’t had time to write much, so I’ll just share the photos I took yesterday and caption them.   We had a wonderful day.  It was a little too cold to swim, but we waded in the shallow water on the beach, spent some time relaxing in the hot tub, went back to the beach at sunset where I took most of these photos, and then went to a party at my son’s apartment where we met some of his friends.   It was a fun day!

40817_1

I found this shrub interesting.  Notice the fall colors on some of the leaves.  I have no idea what it is.

40817_2

Looking back on the beach just before sunset.

040817_4

A romantic picture of my daughter and her friend as the sun sets over the Gulf.

040817_5

I don’t know what these are exactly but since they were at the top of the beach, they appear to be the stumps of some kind of shrubs where the tides have come in and cut them off.

040817_6

Another look at the stumps.  I think they’re fascinating.

040817sunset1

040817sunset3

040817sunset4

So moody!  I love this.

040817sunset5

040817birds1

Seagulls at sunset.  They were sure noisy!

040817birds2