In Memory Of

Today I am mourning Anthony Bourdain.  And Kate Spade.  And Robin Williams.  And everyone else, celebrity and non-celebrity, who has chosen to take their own life.

I mourn not because I knew them, but because I've been in that dark place that causes someone to choose death over life. I've been there and I know it.  I know the feeling of life being so heavy that a forever nap seems reeeeeeally good.  I know the feeling that motivates self-harm and the subsequent relief and guilt that comes from acting on it.  

I also know that life has a lot of good in it.

 

Today is my birthday and I can't help but reflect on all the good that has happened to me, good I would have missed out on if I'd acted out of despair when things were as bad as they can be. 

And I know that when you're in that dark place that shit doesn't matter AT ALL.  You know others may be sad but the promise of relief is even more tempting. You justify that they'll move on, get over it.  They'll be okay.  And you will be able to rest at last.

Please. Let me tell you, as someone who still feels the tendrils of the dark place reach up to claim me from time to time, it's ok to be there.  And it's ok to not be okay.  My advice is to just get through the day.  And then get through the next day.  Let one person in.  It will get better.  You are more loved than you can even know. Take it one.day.at.a.time.  The darkness can't swallow you entirely if you do that one thing. Just keep going.

I'm grateful to the friends who stayed up with me all night when I was falling apart during my absolute breakdown ten years ago.  I'm grateful to my roommate who dealt patiently with my inability to adult and to my best friend and her boyfriend (now husband) for picking me up, taking me home, and then watching over me the night I fell apart the worst.  I'm grateful for my parents who drove out to bring me home and take me to the hospital when I needed more help than they could give me.  I'm grateful for the few people who didn't abandon me as friends when I was DEFINITELY super shitty to be around. I'm grateful to my sister who knows me without me having to say a thing and for my mom for always knowing the right things to say or do when I'm at my worst.  I'm grateful for my friends who have also seen the dark place, too.  I'm just grateful.

I post this today at the risk of sounding sappy.  This is not poetic.  This is real life.  And real death.  Reach out to others.  Be kind.  Be available.  I am.  I don't care how well we know each other, I will ALWAYS be present for you if you are suffering.  Or call:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline  1-800-273-8255

<3   -Britta

What Do You Do When It's Thanksgiving But You Don't Feel Very Thankful?

Spoiler alert:

I deal with depression.  

I'm usually pretty good at keeping it under control but lately, well.....not so much.  

Which is why I'm struggling to feel thankful today.

That's not to say I have a shitty life by any means.  Au Contraire!  I have friends, family, a home, food, and a job I like to go to.  But knowing I have a pretty good life and FEELING it are totally different things.

There's something about this time of year that makes old hurts flair up and losses feel particularly strong.  Call it seasonal depression or not, the holidays are frickin HARD. Doubly so when you're already sad.

It's hard to feel grateful when your past haunts you.  It's hard to feel grateful when you're acutely aware of the pain felt by indigenous communities over the decimation and corruption of their culture and the ruination of a tradition that was originally theirs by non-indigenous Americans. It's hard to feel grateful when you live far away from the people you love and their absence at the table makes the day seem incomplete.  It's hard to feel grateful when you wake up hurting.  Sometime's it's just really hard to feel grateful.

I actually never really liked Thanksgiving (I know, I know....Sacrilege!).  I don't care for the food (too rich, too much meat). I absorb the stress and negativity that surrounds the guaranteed family bickering like a motherflippin sponge.  I feel obligated to spend the whole day eating and cleaning and mediating and doing things that I'd rather not do, all at the expense of being able to do what I would like (go be outdoors, read, sit in silence, paint, enjoy a nap).  The mythical Thanksgiving of a day spent relaxing and not feeling stressed with friends and family totally alludes me.  

Since I'm being a huge Debbie Downer today and I know it, I've decided to take charge and come up with a list of things I'm grateful for.  Below I have listed what I was able to come up with before I started getting hassled into helping (sorry Mom!).  I'd love to know what you'd add to your list.  Feel free to leave me a comment below!  And oh yeah, Happy Thanksgiving. :)

 

  1. a home with functioning heat and not having to live in a box on the sidewalk under a bridge
  2. friends who truly GET me and embrace my own unique psycho
  3. my new perfect grunty niece
  4. margaritas. also tacos
  5. doughnuts
  6. my sweet kitties who give me all the snuggles when I'm sad
  7. plants
  8. snuggly blankets and a fireplace
  9. the ability to make my own autonomous decisions (even if they're bad ones!)
  10. the most amazing and chill manager of all time
  11. days when the sun comes out
  12. days where nothing hurts
  13. the smell of breakfast cooking
  14. my poor broken little vehicle that still gets me around without complaint
  15. having paid off at least some of my student debt
  16. having shoes and a warm coat
  17. my prior travels
  18. anyone who buys my art
  19. Joe Biden
  20. being able to afford Christmas present for people this year (something I was afraid I wouldn't be able to do just a few months ago!)
  21. my heaps of books
  22. Colorado, mountains, desert...the west in general
  23. still having both my parents
  24. any time spent with my sister
  25. being able to see color
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Help Me, Hygge!

It's officially December and I'm feeling... well...not so festive, to be honest.  Between the lingering post-election feels, the darker days and longer nights, the current state of the world, and some extra sad memories from last Christmas to top it all off, it has been turning out to be a real challenge for me to stay upbeat with the holidays fast approaching.  I haven't even played my favorite holiday ear worm yet, and I usually put it on repeat the day after (okay before) Thanksgiving. 

I'm such a broken record but seriously, this year has been hard.  So, so hard.  

I realized I really need to do something proactive in terms of my own holiday happiness when I caught myself tearing up at the new commercial featuring Frankenstein singing in the Towne Square (He's just so lonely! Someone love him, please!) and feeling hateful toward the lady who blocked me into an aisle at the grocery store and then gave me the filthiest look when I excused myself through.  

I need some serious joy and grounding.  

Hygge to the rescue.  

Oh, what is hygge, you ask?

I posted about it last year right here, if you want to catch up a bit.

The Germans call it gemütlich.  The Dutch say gezelligheid.  In English it translates (loosely) as "conviviality" or "coziness".  

You may even already be familiar with it.  With nine (nine!) books about it out this year alone, the concept of ‘hygge’ is definitely trending.

Hygge (pronounced hue-gah) is a Danish word that encapsulates a feeling or mood that comes from taking genuine pleasure in making ordinary, every day things more meaningful, beautiful or special. Whether it’s making coffee a verb (Fika!) by creating a ritual of making it, then lingering over a cup, or the simple act of lighting a candle and enjoying its mellowing glow, hygge is the knowledge that the best moments are simple and special.

The simple act of getting a candle glowing or enjoying a cup of coffee a little more slowly in the morning (okay and maybe a little gløgg in the evening) is already making a huge difference to my spirit.  I am also trying to be kinder to myself.  I am trying to fight my "current events FOMO" and tune out the negativity that seems to be everywhere.


I am hereby committing to surrounding myself with as much NICE as I can. 

Will you join me?  

I would love to know what brings you happiness this time of year.  Please, send all your ideas my way.

Came across a joyful link? Send it to me!  I'm going to cultivate so much hygge over here at Bert&Lou that I'll have no choice but to get in the spirit, and hopefully it will rub off and bring some joy to others as well.

I'm gathering links and hygge ideas, starting with this short article on how Norwegians stay happy during the winter.  Stay tuned for more goodies, and don't forget to

Checking In

Making : a steaming cup of hot tea
Cooking : honey lime sweet potato tacos for dinner last night
Drinking : Blueprint Cleanse pineapple-apple-mint juice while I wait for my tea to cool a little
Reading : Scientific American Mind, Gone Girl
Wanting : warmer weather
Looking : at the beautiful flowers I picked up at Whole Foods last week, now wilting
Playing : a lot of podcasts! Invisibilia, Serial, Freakonomics, on Being...
Deciding : how to spend my afternoon as I wait for the washer/dryer delivery guys to show up at their mystery time
Wishing : I was in a sunny spot in front of a pool with a good book
Enjoying : the company of my little ginger grubby cat who is settled in right next to me like my little shadow.
Waiting : to catch a break
Liking : minimalist capsule wardrobes 
Wondering : how to be better 
Loving : not having *totally* cut my finger off last night, but only slicing majorly through my finger and nail.
Pondering : the last episode of Breaking Bad, which I FINALLY watched the other day after putting it off for more than a year. 
Considering : lunch
Watching : committed to Better Call Saul, trying to catch up on Bates Motel, and I watched NOVA last night.  apparently there are a thousand shows I need to catch up on...how does everyone have so much time for tv?!
Hoping : i can get in a good walk/workout today
Marveling : at how quickly my ranunculus died
Needing : a trip back to the mountains
Smelling : tea, chilly spring air coming in from the window I cracked open, my warm kitty, 
Wearing : leggings and a tee, wet hair in a braid
Following : too many Instagram accounts
Wanting : an ego boost
Noticing : the birds chirping outside
Knowing : that time keeps ticking
Thinking : about all the things I need to get done and can't because I'm stuck waiting for those delivery guys, but at least I'll be able to do laundry again after they leave
Feeling : a little meh, but appreciating the sun being out
Admiring : Neringa Ridges and her amazing photography and how freaking cool her life is.
Sorting : laundry
Buying : some new organization stuff at IKEA this weekend, I hope!
Getting : that dang front room fixed up, organized, and looking good and my closet cleaned and purged
Bookmarking : how to renew my passport
Disliking : how stressed and depressed I've been lately
Opening : the door to possibilities
Feeling : tired