When You Don’t Know What to Do, Eat?

www.stuffkit.comWhere do you feel stress? Some say they feel stress in their stomach or neck. I feel it in my desire to scarf down chocolate. Whoa, now, you might be saying. There’s nothing wrong with scarfing down chocolate. I know that, and of course you know that. But if I’m working on a tricky scene in my novel and a thought like, I don’t know what to do to beef up the emotion here, crosses my mind, why is my first thought afterward, So I should get some cookies or better still, some chocolate cookies?

Sigh. I know why. . . . Okay. I admit it. I am a stress eater.

Say it with me: “Hi, L. Marie,” as if we were in a 12-step group. And step 1 is admitting one’s powerlessness to overcome the problem. But that’s after admitting one has a problem in the first place. But the issue became obvious as I thought about my tricky scene and an impending curriculum deadline, plus the fact that this project doesn’t quite cover all the bills. My head began to pound and my thoughts turned to food.

At other times, my thoughts have turned to videogames like Tetris Blitz or Plants vs. Zombies—anything to take my mind off the issues still very much in existence.

tetris-blitz-51bb932a0b8d7

In college and my young adult years, drinking and hanging out with the wrong men were the crutches I sometimes relied upon when stressed. Ha! Like those worked. As Eddie Murphy, who played Buckwheat on Saturday Night Live, once sang, I was “wookin’ pa nub [and stress relief] in all da wrong places.” (If that reference totally confuses you, go here.)

Speaking of 12-step groups, here are the first four steps ala Wikipedia:

1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol (or food or videogames or our own failures)—that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Wondering why I only included four? The hard work of number 4 is my usual stopping place. If I take a “fearless moral inventory,” I realize that fear of inadequacy is something I’ve battled for years. So when I don’t know what to do rears its ugly head, I go for what I know to do.

Eat.

And the problem of not knowing what to do is still there, still waiting to be dealt with.

I have to again mention The Lego Movie, though my last two posts have done so. (There is so much truth in this movie.) I can’t help thinking of something Emmet Brickowoski, the main character, says at a crucial moment: “I don’t know what I’m doing.” But he does what needs to be done, despite the fact that he feels inadequate.

the-lego-movie-image04

Emmet Brickowoski

And that’s what I’m trying to do: what needs to be done. I feel better just admitting that I often feel inadequate. Yet, I still have to get things done. This brings to mind another scene, one from The Fellowship of the Ring, when Gandalf wasn’t sure which direction to take in the mines of Moria (scene 34 here). He sat for a bit, mulling over the problem, until the solution came to him.

gandalf_the_lord_of_the_rings__1280x1024_

Gandalf in Moria

I need to give myself permission to sit and mull over matters, instead of immediately turning to substitutes like food or videogames. And taking inventory is part of the mulling process.

Thanks for listening! Maybe I can do the same for you someday.

Chocolate from fanpop.com. Tetris Blitz image from lojadogame.com.br. Emmet from aceshowbiz.com. Sir Ian McKellen as Gandalf from wallpapermay.com.

A Belly Button for My Bookcase

024Every bookcase needs a belly button. What? You don’t believe that? It just so happens that mine has one. (And yes, my bookshelves are crowded.)

Have you spotted it yet? The belly button I mean. It’s the word joy. A belly button reminds me that I was born a vulnerable human being—a tiny baby connected to my mother for nine months. Joy reminds me that I’m still a vulnerable human being in need of the fresh perspective that joy brings.

And of course, this season of Christmas with songs that declare “O tidings of comfort and joy” and “Joy to the World, the Lord is come” are a vivid reminder to be proactive about being joyful. Not always easy, huh?

Julie-as-Maria-maria-von-trapp-julie-andrews-30320447-486-750You know, the word joy has occupied my bookshelf so long—years actually—I stopped seeing it until today when I needed the reminder. See, instead of tidings of joy, I’ve been singing tidings of grumpiness, constantly focused on what I think I don’t have or what I do have (loud neighbors, a car with bald tires, a refrigerator without chocolate). I’d forgotten that joy, unlike happiness, isn’t intermittent or based on things going right. It’s an all-day feeling—a secret room in my heart. I can go there, put my feet up, and remember. As Maria (Julie Andrews) in The Sound of Music sang, “These are a few of my favorite things.”

Take a joy break with me today. Remember what brings you joy.

    zuko-300x185Plain-M&Ms-Pile

Royal_Poinciana

“These are a few of my favorite thiiiiiiiiiiiiings!”

Julie Andrews as Maria von Trapp from fanpop.com. Prince Zuko from probablymortal.com. M&Ms from shinebeautybeacon.blogspot.com. Royal Poinciana tree from commons.wikimedia.org.