Mack the Tortoise

My childhood family pet died last week.

In 1991 we took in a teeny tiny tortoise. We did not buy him from a pet store, he came to us. I was in the first grade and my classmates cat, or maybe it was her dog, had been discovered playing with a baby tortoise who was still partially in his egg. I do specifically remember that their pet (be a cat or a dog) was playing with and hiding the baby tortoise behind the toilet, a little piece of reptilian treasure, his precious. 

I imagine he looked a little like this in 1991, but this is not actually a picture of our tortoise, just the same kind!

This is basically what our family tortoise looks like, minus the egg. 

Poor little buddy was forced out of his egg before he was ready. That dog or cat carried our little tortoise into that house and behind the toilet while the little guy was still unhatched. Our family pet was bitten out of his shell, teeny teeny tiny and too soon.

My classmate’s mom asked if we wanted the tortoise because she knew we had no dogs or cats (my brother is allergic). We took him in and because he was teeny, teeny tiny, we named him Mack, a reference to Yertle the Turtle, by Dr. Suess.

Mack is a little turtle at the bottom of the stack. He stands up to Yertle and topples his throne, freeing the turtles from their servitude to Yertle.

Because he came out of his egg too soon, Mack had some developmental issues. Namely, his skin did not shed as quickly as it should, so his body was inhibited from growing as quickly and as much as it should. But he was cute and liked his chin scritched and loved Cream of Wheat. He was 24 years old and still a tiny tortoise when he passed away.

Miss you, little guy.

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New Specs

I got new glasses!

About a year and a half ago my life got OVERWHELMING and I started wearing my glasses pretty much everyday. Previously, I had been wearing contact lenses, for the most part. Wearing glasses meant I could justify procrastinating my annual optometrist appointment since I it’s not like I was running out of contacts/ways to see. Next thing I realize, I’ve procrastinated my appointment TWO WHOLE YEARS. My life is calmer and I’ve been playing catch up on appointments. I’ve gotten a lot of dental work done (yay!), and finally got my eyes checked. Since we got a dog a year ago and my allergies are suffering from it, I decided to stick with glasses for my comfort. (My dog is hypoallergenic, but that doesn’t stop his long wavy hair from collecting indoor and outdoor allergens. Unless he’s overdue for a bath, it’s fairly bearable and I’d like to keep it that way.)

Behold, the old glasses:
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Behold, the new glasses:

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Behold, the new glasses my mom just got and me trying on a pair just like hers while shopping around:

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(My mom had my brother to help her get her Sear’s Portrait Studio style pose just right. I clearly needed his assistance, but I tried my best.)

Here’s to seeing clearly, self-care and looking good.

Why I Laugh At Myself

I decided a long time ago that I don’t like to make fun of people. Sure, there can be a sense of camaraderie achieved with gentle teasing, but that only works if you know the person very well and are following their lead. If someone hasn’t pointed out and laughed at their own foibles, chances are, they aren’t laughing when they those less-than-perfect qualities are pointed out to them by others. Oh, sure, maybe they’ll laugh along with you, but I’d so much rather be certain they find it funny instead of laughing along to save face or to lessen the discomfort they may feel. If someone has laughed at themselves over something, then I feel comfortable laughing at them, too. I do not want to be the cause of discomfort or social anxiety.

I’ve also noticed, as have many, many sociologists and psychologists, that people can be defensive when faced with perceived criticism from others. People are more likely to accept or change their perceived shortcomings when they realize them on their own. So me bringing those shortcomings to light through teasing has the potential to be unhumorous, hurtful and actually counterproductive in affecting change.

But so much of human behavior is silly! And it makes me laugh! So I channel that energy into laughing at myself. Not only does acknowledging the humor in my flaws help me grow and free me from perfection, it tends to send a signal to others that it’s ok for them to laugh at me, it’s ok to be imperfect and it’s ok to laugh at yourself! And once they’ve laughed at themselves over something, I know they find it funny and we can laugh together.

Avoidance, or the Art of Procrastination

If I sit down to type a blog post, I’ll have to think about what to type, which means I’ll have to think about my life. If I think about my life, I’ll notice all the things I can fix. If I think about the things I can fix, I’ll be anxious until I get them fixed. And recently, I needed to avoid any additional anxiety.

Today, some of the anxiety is past. Well, A LOT of it! Turns out, anxiety is a huge symptom of aspartame withdrawal. Aspartame is in Diet Coke. I stopped drinking Diet Coke. And then I was flooded with anxiety and even panic attacks. Since I DO have a mood disorder, I assumed there was an unidentified stressor causing me to freak out. But then I could NOT figure out what that stressor was! Then the gastrointestinal symptoms started and while investigating those, I found out that anxiety is the number one symptom associated with aspartame withdrawal (I didn’t even know there would be ‘withdrawals!’). It’s also more likely to occur in people with or with a previous history of a mood disorder. Now that I’m aspartame free, I feel right as rain! And unafraid to face myself and my life and no longer overwhelmed by a chemically induced, unavoidable anxiety.

Clearly, I’ve been procrastinated blogging because of the anxiety introspection or basic self-evaluation was causing me, knowing if I put it off long enough, the anxiety would dissipate on its on – this time. Most of the time, I have to face it and move through it and conquer it. But there’s no conquering a chemical imbalanced caused by a satanic fake sugar, there’s only riding it out. And I did. Victory is mine!