Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Reasons to be Cheerful. One, Two. Three.

Dear Lord, shoot me now if I have to continue to live in a country where the sun appears once every two weeks if you're lucky. I'm perched on a concrete slab in the garden, listening to birds, laptop on lap, dogs at my feet, staring at verdure and bluebells and white puffy clouds about which Wordsworth would swoon. The sun is out. For the first time in a while. The sun is out and all is well with the world. There is light.  Finally.
☀️"First of all we shall want sunlight; nothing much can grow in the dark." 
This is from the Big Book, ie the AA big book. It's perfect, isn't it? And that's how you feel after a week of oppressively grey skies.  

I shivered in London yesterday, completely inappropriately dressed for driving rain, in jeans, a long sleeved t-shirt and my lovely navy blue Miu Miu coat which sounds grand but is a serious dog hair magnet. Freezing and grumpy, I ordered the rose mint tea at Le Comptoir Libanais. They pour it from a height into little glasses. It's just slightly sweet and warms your hands. I was waiting for my old workmate from Los Angeles. We started out in the business together. He taught me Yiddish words and brought in warm bagels and cream cheese from the best deli on Pico every Friday. We went to meetings at Avenue Pictures together, in his old Toyota which reeked of cigarette smoke, and laughed. He came in looking fifteen pounds lighter and announced that his mother had died a month ago. I didn't know. I hadn't been told. But I could feel the weight of it, the weight of his sadness, which stayed with me on the train all the way home. I didn't know what to say really. The death of a parent makes you question everything, makes you look at the world differently, blows you apart. He showed me pictures of his mom in cats-eye sunglasses, with a necklace of flowers, grinning, in Acapulco, 1972. Acapulco! Where all the chic-est people went in 1972. Liz Taylor, Richard Burton, my friends' parents from suburban Philly. 

At four ayem I had a crisis of confidence. I wanted to tell everyone "I've lost my confidence. I don't know who I am any more." And I thought better of it. I thought it didn't look very professional. But later, in the the morning, I confided to DM. I knew I was drowning in it and I had to find something that would make me feel like it was going to be all right. I found Cyril Connolly, he of The Unquiet Grave, witty epithets and contemporary of George Orwell, Cecil Beaton and Anthony Powell. "In 1967, Connolly settled in Eastbourne, to the amusement of Beaton, who suggested he was lured back by the cakes they had enjoyed in school outings to the town." And why wouldn't you move somewhere for cake?

But this is what I found:

“The secret of success is to be in harmony with existence, to be always calm to let each wave of life wash us a little farther up the shore.”   -- Cyril Connolly.

And somehow, this helped me sleep. 

Why do we not learn? Why do we not remember the things that have to be done to remain in light? (My favorite Talking Heads track is here.)

Once again, with feeling: Here are the things you should do every morning to remain on the right side of your mental health if you are prone to anxiety or depression.

1) Do not drink. Or, do not drink in excess. You will wake up with a deep sense of existential angst and paranoid anxiety.

2) Get out of bed when you wake up. Greet the day. Walk the dogs. Listen to the birds.

3) Meditate. This lovely woman has some good ones on Instagram (we used to do Kundalini together in LA: here. You only need three minutes. Or, if you don't meditate, just breathe a bit. This is helpful. It's important to expand your belly as you slowly breathe in, and to contract your belly as you exhale.

4) Shower. The water is healing. The water will help you.

5) Be in nature. Walking among trees, even for 10 minutes, will help you.

6) Connect. Reach out to friends.

7) Practise kindness. This is never a mistake. Especially, be kind to yourself.

8) Make a gratitude list. What are you grateful for? (Today, I'm grateful for the blue skies, the puffy clouds, the birdsong.)

9) Love those you love as much as you can.

10) Music soothes the soul. Do not allow yourself to be without it.

11) Read. Poems help me. Trashy novels may help you. Whatever takes you on an adventure outside your own life is worth reading.

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