Responding to Frustrations, part 2

Yesterday was part 1 of this post about responding to frustration. We got all the way to the solution, and I made you wait until today for the solution. Frustrating, wasn’t it?! See what I did there?!

To refresh your memory, life has been giving me lemons lately. Three kind of lemons – annoying ones, unfair ones, and growth ones. But life has also given me a solution. That is what I want to share with you today.

No less that three times in the last week has the Serenity Prayer been brought to my attention. This is so appropriate because frustration makes you feel like you have no control over your own life. In each of the scenarios above, I was completely not in control over any of it.

Solutions Synchronicity

Long version of the Serenity Prayer
Did you know there is a long version to the Serenity Prayer? We all know the original:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. The courage to change the things I can. And the wisdom to know the difference.
But there is more!
Serenity in the face of frustration
Serenity Prayer Ambassador
Last week I had to actually enter a store for the first time in awhile. I was already not excited about it, but was masked up and ready. The person in front of me at the checkout was extremely rude to the cashier. Like the kind of rude where you are kind of embarrassed for the person acting out like a child. After they were done berating the clerk and stomped off in a huff, it was my turn to check out. I tried to connect with the clerk by smiling with my eyes since my mouth was covered. I finally just commented that I thought she handled it really well and I was impressed with her poise. She just said, “We have to accept that which we cannot change, right?”
Yep, great reminder!
Harry Potter and the Sacred Text podcast
Then of course, this podcast came up in my feed after I finished Chapter 9: Grim Defeat. Boom, accept the things we cannot change.
Any of these Serenity Prayer encounters by themselves would probably have just rolled out of my brain unconsciously. The fact that they came right after each other in quick succession – specifically when I needed them – is amazing. THAT is synchronicity. While learning the lesson feels hard, and frustrating, the answer to the lesson is often presented to us at the same time if we just listen.
Let me hear from you. What frustrations are you encountering these days? Is there synchronicity that is happening in your life?
By |2020-07-27T13:07:17-04:00July 29th, 2020|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

Responding to Frustration

Let’s talk about frustration. Ugh, I know – more feelings?! It cannot be helped – this topic found me. As an avid reader, I often use books as an escape, buffer, or avoidance tool. What better time to continue re-reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban than when I am supposed to be finding a new job?! This time through the books I am reading one chapter at a time and following each reading with the corresponding chapter from the Harry Potter and the Sacred Text (HPST) podcast. I wrote more about this in a post in late 2019.
Harry Potter and the Sacred Text
So there I was, minding my own business reading about Sirius Black when the topic of frustration is introduced by HPST. Casper and Vanessa introduced the idea that perhaps there are different types of frustration. I can definitely cosign this hypothesis because I feel like I have encountered numerous instances of each type in the last few weeks. It is like once you are aware of something you see it everywhere. Remember synchronicity from last week? Let’s take a look at each type of frustration in turn, then see how synchronicity brought a solution as well!

Three Types of Frustration


These are the dumb little things that happen all day long that are a bother, but generally inconsequential. The example Casper uses in the HPST podcast is when the door sign reads, “Pull,” and he pushes. Annoying frustration. I do this ALL THE TIME, but I generally laugh because it makes me think of one of my favorite Far Side cartoons.


Here are a few annoyances that tend to be more frustrating than funny for me.
  • Bixby making up nonsense songs to the dog first thing in the morning.
  • Going to the garden shed in the back yard, but forgetting the key that is hanging in the house.
  • Learning a new online password tool and needing to update all of websites I visit.
  • Half of the Tupperware in our drawer not having matched lids.
Individually none of these items would cause a ripple in the day. They are just annoyances. Sort of like operational gnats in the functioning of my day. No big deal. Let’s look at the second type.


Bixby and I have been on lock down since mid-March when COVID really took America by force. I am a rule follower and Bixby is a scientist and data nerd so we are heeding the science behind social distancing and masking up when we absolutely need to leave the house (i.e., to pick up groceries from curbside service). On the other hand, our teenagers seem to be COVID-denyers and decided to stay at their mom’s house for the duration of the pandemic (whatever that means). I have lots of feelings about this, but this isn’t even the frustrating part.

I was running a low grade fever for multiple days. Sore throat, crazy headaches, and intense fatigue? Check, check, and check. I registered online to get my drive through test at CVS and seethed at the injustice for the 2 days I had to wait for my appointment.

  • I am the one who cancelled by mom’s Celebration of Life because we were not supposed to gather in groups.
  • Yet, I see friends getting together for exercise, parties, and vacations.
  • I am the one who missed a visit with my nieces because social distancing was too much.
  • Yet, my kids are running amok with friends across NC and the surrounding states.
And I am the one who gets COVID?!
Please hear me – I would not wish this disease on anyone. My frustration is that I am following the rules and yet get sick anyway. It makes me want to stomp my feet and yell, “IT’S NOT FAIR!”
PS – COVID test is negative. Plain old summer virus for me. I am feeling much better and am back to exercise this week. It’s still frustrating though. Onto our third – and most challenging – type of frustration.
Invitations to Growth
Sweet Jesus, I do not want anymore character building. Most people would say I have enough character! My dad used to say, “If it won’t kill you, it will make you stronger. It’s that death part you have to worry about.” He was usually saying this as he was timing me in agility drills between summers of college basketball and I was sucking wind, bent over holding my knees between sets. At my former job, we sometimes referred to these as AFGOs (Another Fucking Growth Opportunity).
The problem with all of this is that it is all true – my character came from all those AFGOs I didn’t die from. But it is so painful to walk through. Frustration that leads to growth can often cause anger, interruptions to routine, and for me, tears.
I am married to a wonderful man (despite his made up songs while I want silence), but I sure did kiss a lot of frogs in my 20’s. When those relationships came to an end, I thought my heart was shattered forever. I thought there was something fundamentally wrong with me. While I don’t believe there is only one person for each of us, I do know Bixby is by FAR a better match than anyone before.
A great partner on the other side of years of dating frustration.

Pre-COVID when we used to go out to dinner.

But it was work to get to a point in my life where I wanted to be a good partner, not just to avoid being alone. I had to be a whole person going into a relationship, not just hoping someone would make up for my deficits.
So while all of these opportunities (and more) have come my way recently, the Universe also sends the solution my way. I am going to share what that was tomorrow so stay tuned!
PS – I am aware of how, um, problematic JK Rowling has become. I 100% believe #TransLivesMatter and fully disagree with JK Rowlings views. I believe I am able to separate the author and her transphobic hate speech from the HP books. What I am a fan of today is the analysis that the HPST podcasters provide – more so than even the books themselves. You can read more about their perspective on JK Rowling’s abuse of her platform on HPST episode, “Owl Post Edition: J.K. Rowling and Transphobia with Jackson Bird” and on this written post.
By |2020-07-27T13:00:22-04:00July 28th, 2020|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

Self-Soothing or Self-Care

When does self-care become self-soothing? The phrase “self-care” seems to have morphed into a catch phrase and punch line these days. Is a glass (or bottle) of wine after a tough day really self-care? Are you really taking good care of your colleagues by bringing a couple dozen donuts to the office? How is pending a holiday with your family knowing you have to spend 2 weeks holed up to recover from it self-care?

Distinction between self-soothing and self-care

Part of making the distinction between self-soothing and self-care is that self-care allows you space to be uncomfortable. I will even go so far as to suggest it forces you into choosing to sit in pain and discomfort. Let me give you an example.

Last week I got laid off. I knew it was coming and had been job searching. I had three rounds of interviews with two different companies. Although I was sad my job was ending, I was also confident that I would get one of the two I was interviewing for. I was so bold to start a mental pro and con list of which I would choose when I was offered both. 

You see what’s coming, right? 

Friday afternoon I got turned down for both jobs. I have never not gotten a job I have interviewed for – not in 46 years. Until Friday… when I lost both. Within an hour.

My first instinct was to jump on all of the job boards and apply for everything in a panic. My second instinct was to eat a whole box of Thin Mint cookies. Both of these fall squarely into the category of self-soothing. Taking action and covering my fear with sugar are often my go to strategies when I am fearful. 

Luckily, I have learned that my first instinct in these situations is often wrong. Instead I opted for self-care, to sit in my discomfort for a bit. I hopped on a call with a circle of women I trust to talk it through and listen to their wisdom. Full disclosure – I did eat 6 cookies while on that call. I am not perfect. 


This morning as I sit here trying to figure out what to write on the blog, I am looking through some drafts of posts I started and never finished. And of course, there is one that talks about feeling fear and another about self-care vs. self-soothing. The universe is not subtle. The messages are there if we get quiet. I truly believe these messages are the reward for getting quiet and not numbing out. If I would have jumped into action or cookies, I would have missed the message. This is what Julia Cameron calls “synchronicity” in her book, “The Artist’s Way.”

Harry Potter and the Sacred Text

The “Harry Potter and the Sacred Text” podcast discussed Book 1, Chapter 9: The Midnight Duel from the theme of betrayal. Part of what they talked about was feeling that betrayal. Encouragement to feel the fear, the loneliness, the vulnerability. 

Harry Potter and the Sacred Text

This is not an intuitive thing for most of us in today’s world. Even the first time I typed that sentence I accidentally typed “fear the fear, the loneliness….” We want to not feel negative feelings. People tell us to snap out of it or cheer up!

But what if? 

  • What if I sat with the fear that I had about being unemployed?
  • What if I just let myself feel lonely and rejected?
  • What if I cried and howled at how scared I am? How helpless I feel with a college tuition bill pending?

This is synchronicity. How could something recorded in 2016 know exactly what I needed to hear in 2020? Because I was ready to hear it. Synchronicity is everywhere when we slow down to allow ourselves to hear it and see it. If we continually soothe ourselves into not feeling our feelings, we muffle the messages the universe is trying to send our way.  Let’s take care of the feelings instead of just smoothing over them. 

Sorta Awesome Podcast

One of my favorite podcasts has touched on this self-care vs. self soothing a few times. The original Sorta Awesome episode that planted this seed in my awareness is actually a few years old. I recommend starting here.

As a follow up, Sorta Awesome did a holiday-specific episode in 2019 that discussed seven types of self-care around the holidays. One of the resources they reference is a book about rest. Only in America do we need to be taught how to rest. Sacred Rest is a book that we can all learn from and will definitely be one that I will return to, probably receiving different messages during various seasons in my life.

7 kids of self care

You can listen to this episode anywhere you get podcasts or directly from the Sorta Awesome website by clicking on the graphic above.

What about you, Dear Reader? How does self-soothing and self-care show up in your life? 

By |2020-07-20T18:29:40-04:00July 21st, 2020|Mental Well-being|1 Comment
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