Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Falling Back: Time Change Torture

By Elizabeth Redhead Kriston

Is it any wonder I've got 
Too much time on my hands?
It's ticking away with my sanity
I've got too much time on my hands
It's hard to believe such a calamity
I've got too much time on my hands
And it's ticking away
Ticking away from me
Too much time on my hands
Ticking away...
Too much time on my hands
I don't know what to do with myself...
Too much time on my hands~ Styx

Who are these mythological creatures who get an extra hour of sleep when daylight savings ends?

“Falling back” is the cutesy way that weathermen remind us to set our clocks back an hour every Autumn. This sleep-robbing annual event does not deserve this charming slogan for it wreaks havoc on the lives of every person forced to follow its stupid rule.

These weathermen, in the Autumn of their lives, stand before green screens and show us clock hands sweeping backward on clock faces that have cartoonish smiley faces. The co-anchors and traffic reporters gush with joy as they claim they will get a whole extra hour of sleep on the weekend.

I call BS on them.

The only ones that get an extra hour of sleep are the sloth-like creatures who roam the halls of homes across America, teenagers. That’s right, the only ones who get more sleep are the ones who would have taken it whether or not the time changed.

Extra Hour of Sleep my Butt

These same weather people took my hour of sleep from me in the Spring when they forced me to, “Spring my clock forward,” another ridiculously happy slogan. If they just would have left the clock alone, the world would be a happier more rested place.

People blame the invention of daylight savings time on many different folks and ideas. Farmers and Ben Franklin are two common culprits. Sports and business operations might be to blame. I say, it doesn’t matter whether it is saving on candles or keeping money flowing by manipulating light hours to coincide with people shopping, stop messing with my sleep. Oh, and leave the farmers out of this, they hate it just as much as me. (Or is it “I”? I never know how to end a sentence with a pronoun)

As an insomniac, I rely on a steady sleep schedule to keep me sane.

Even my poor dogs suffer from these biannual time shifts. They live on an internal clock that tells them when they need to wake up to pee, when everyone gets home from school and work, and most importantly when it’s dinner time.

The sound of kibble filling their bowls is expected at 5:00 pm sharp. By 4:00 pm they start acting like fools in anticipation of their dinner. I am not sure what is so exciting about getting the same dry food day after day, but they seem super impatient to wolf it down.

The old dog must pee at 6:00 am and receive her Milkbone biscuit immediately after or she will bark and howl and cry and scratch at the door until someone wakes to do her bidding.

Like my dogs, I have always been equipped with the unwanted superpower of setting my internal clock. This can happen with just one unplanned wakening. If I have a cup of tea or water too many before bed, my weakening bladder will rouse me at 2:03 am to relieve the intolerable pressure and stop the dreams about drowning in a tidal wave. Then, for the end of time, I will wake at exactly 2:03 am.

I have not developed the superpower to undo this internal clock.

An Extra Hour Does Nothing for Me, NOTHING

My daughter made the observation on the day the time changed, "This day is moving so slow." Yes, dear daughter, it did, because we had an extra hour to fill. An extra hour to stay awake until you could slip off to bed without feeling like a toddler. An extra hour to need to eat. An extra hour to listen to your teens argue. An extra hour of darkness.

Prior to the latest time change, I happily woke around 5:00 am. Guess what time I wake now…4:00am. Do you know what there is to do at 4:00 am…NOTHING.

Everyone is still sleeping so I can’t be a jerk and run on the treadmill. I have to wait until 5:00 am to be a running jerk. I can’t go outside for a walk because it’s cold and dark and probably raining because it is ALWAYS raining these days. I have no desire to watch TV until 7:00 am when GMA comes on. No one can watch 3 hours of local news waiting for GMA, that’s just agony. So, I wander around and do chores.

I am doing chores when I should be sleeping!

The flip-side of this “extra hour of sleep” means by 8:00 pm I have been awake for 16 hours and I am bone tired. I must sleep. My internal clock did not “Fall Back” like the weatherperson told it to. My internal clock is irreversibly set, remember. So, by eight o’clock I am trying to keep my eyes open. I give-in by 8:30 and fall into bed. I fall fast asleep until 2:03 am when I wake…wait is it 2:03? Did I switch my clock? Nooo, I can’t remember if I changed my clock.

Anxiety from the uncertainty of whether it is 2:03 or 3:03 or 1:03 keeps me up.

Now my superpower kicks-in and from now until the end of time I will wake at 2:03 and never fall back to sleep.

Sorry if I sound a bit grumpy, but I am very tired!

Very Important Time Change Questions

Do sundials work? If the sun is directly in the center of the sky at noon and we change the time by an hour in the spring, is the sun directly in the center of the sky at 1:00 pm?

Also, if the powers-that-be decide to end daylight savings time forever (pretty please), does that mean that people born between March and November might have changes in their birthday? For example, if Sally was born at 12:01am on July 5th during daylight savings time and then daylight savings time ends she will have actually been born at 11:01 pm on July 4th, right?

Merciless Massage: My Journey to Cure Insomnia

Subtracting Sheep and Counting Blessings: Coping with Insomnia

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Creepy Murderer or Friendly Neighbor: A Sort of True Horror Story

By: Elizabeth Redhead Kriston

He paces the corner like a shock collar wearing dog confined within some invisible boundary. He hears my approach and stops in his tracks. He raises his head and shifts his gaze from his feet to my eyes. Menace oozes from him. Unblinkingly, he stares directly into my eyes, piercing my soul.

I notice I am holding my breath. I try to avert my gaze, but, as if there is some magnetic force, I can’t stop looking at him. Neither of us smiles. The air between us is silent and still. Time ceases to pass. I keep walking, picking up my pace, then stumbling as I try to escape the indefinable threat I feel.

I approach. His eyes never leave me. As he pivots his head to track me, his body remains still as a statue. Tension and fear radiate from me. I can feel my heart beating in my throat. I am just yards away from him, too far for him to reach me but close enough that I can’t ignore him.

He parts his lip into a sneer and creepily utters, “Hi there.” Not wanting to provoke or offend him, I force a smile that never reaches my eyes and squeak back a lame, untranscribable greeting.

My heart races as I look around trying to find another person who can witness whatever heinous crime this guy is about to commit on me. No one else exists. I am completely alone.

I put my hand in pocket to locate my phone readying myself to either dial 911 or smash it into his head if he makes a move to grab me. Trying to unlock it, my sweaty hands keep the fingerprint code from activating. What is my password? My mind is swirling with all the ways I can escape. I can’t conjure the damn code. 

Where is everyone? Am I really alone?

I worry that if I scream no sound will come out just like all my nightmares when I’m attacked and immediately rendered impotent with no strength to fight back.

I widen the distance between us, crossing the street so he can’t grab me as I pass. I usually feel weird about crossing the street when someone else is approaching. I was raised to be polite. My gut commandeered my manners. My fight or flight instinct was in control.

He kept looking at me like he wanted to have a conversation. I just wanted to leave the scene before it became a crime scene. Just then, he started to move. At first, I thought he was going to start pacing again, but this time he emerged from his invisible fence. It didn’t appear he had been shocked.

He moved slowly in my direction. I wasn’t planning on going for a run that day, just a brisk walk, but I felt my muscles begin to twitch. My body had taken over and I could feel myself preparing for a mad dash.

Where would I go? Home was back past him. Plus, I didn’t want him to know where I lived. If I kept going forward I would find myself in a place with no houses. A small stand of trees and a cemetery were the closest places. I wasn’t a strong runner and much of the terrain was uphill.

He did not look like an athlete. He had the appearance of well-fed mama’s boy. He was doughy and shapeless. His clothes were impeccably clean but not trendy. His jeans had a sharp crease down the center of each pant leg. His white vinyl sneakers showed no sign of wear and tear. Surely, he never used them to exercise. Maybe he can’t run. Maybe he has asthma and his inhaler is inside the house around which he paced.

His hair was wet and combed back in the Beaver Cleaver style of good boys whose mothers’ lick their hands to smooth down the pesky cowlicks. He wore glasses with large frames harkening from the 1980’s. His pasty white skin made it seem that he spent little time outdoors like a guy who has hobbies that keep him in dark rooms with fluorescent lightening for hours on end.

He definitely looked murdery. You know what I mean, just odd enough to give off the vibe that, if given the chance, he might drag you into the bushes and stab you to death.
He definitely set off my creepdar

Creepdar: The innate sense that the person before you is a pervert, murderer or just a plain bad guy who you should immediately avoid or abandon in the middle of a conversation and by no means ever willingly seek them out again.

This nameless man lives along one of the three-mile loops I walk daily. He has not been there for long. Had I noticed him 20 years earlier, I would not have made his house part of my regular walks. Now the route is ingrained into my muscle memory and I have trouble diverging from it.

I wish I would have brought my dogs with me. Why didn’t I bring my dogs? They aren’t as much ferocious as they are wise. They can sniff out a bad guy in a Nano-second.
Just in case my creepdar is off kilter, my dogs confirm any suspicions.

I have been blessed with owning some pretty easing going, people loving dogs over the years. On a few occasions, my dogs have been spooked by friends of friends or strangers who have shown up at our door. Usually, my dogs want to say hi with friendly barks, jumps and doggy kisses while their tails wag and ears perk up. Every once in a while, upon seeing or smelling a new person, they get mean.

The happy yips morph into deep warning rumbles. If the suspicious person advances, the hairs on the ridge of their backs stands-up on end. Their tails and ears tuck as they tremble with growls and snarls and shower this person with ferocious barks as they pace uncomfortably around the suspected creep. 

We try to silence our dogs and calm them. We use soothing voices as we grasp their collars for fear they might actually take a chunk out of our guest. But, I know my dogs are never wrong and my creepdar is alerted

Too bad I can’t get away with barking and growling. I would definitely do that now.

He continues to move toward me as I vacillate between running, screaming or banging on the doors of the seemingly vacant houses. I notice that his gaze shifted to the car I hadn’t spied parked on the street until that moment. What was he planning?

Was he going to chase me down with the car? Was he going to run me down? Would he drag me across the road and stuff me into the trunk?

He reached for the door handle when I remembered the code to my phone. My hands trembled as I tried to type in the digits. I dropped the phone. I looked away from him long enough to find it in the pile of leaves at my feet. I grabbed it just as he yanked the door to his sporty sedan open. He locked me again in his gaze and his sneer returned.

More frantic than ever, I finally unlocked the phone. What was I going to do? Call 911 to report a guy getting into his car? That’s as bad as reporting picnickers for barbecuing in a park. I’m not that person.

I noticed his house behind him. A two-story home with a shabby, but not dilapidated, exterior. A yard with nothing but a lawn chair placed at the edge where the grass meets the sidewalk as if whomever sits in this chair wants to be able to snatch small children and unsuspecting adults as they meander past with earbuds blasting music impeding their ability to hear the man when he leaps from his perch to grab them off the street.

The house has basement windows. If it was like my house, there was a cold, dank and windowless coal room. It would stink of mildew and crawl with spiders. That’s where he probably stashes all his victims. He chains them to spikes driven into the dirt floor and gives them a five-gallon bucket for a toilet. His victims’ cries can’t be heard through the thick wooden door that seals them into the concrete room.

They shiver in fear as much from the constant cold in that dismal room. They are half-crazed from hunger and lack of sleep.

His prisoners must be girls who remind him of his mother. He waits for them to age like her.

I am closer to his mother's age. Maybe he wants me because he is growing impatient. His mother probably died long ago and he’s lonely. If I let him take me, maybe he’ll let the others go. I could be a hero.

Just then, the slam of his door brings me back to reality. He turns over the engine and slowly pulls out into the street and drives off. Moments later a neighbor emerges from his backyard and waves a cheerful hello. I recognize him from my previous walks. He does not alert my creepdar.

I restart my walk almost feeling disappointed that I wasn’t kidnapped and tortured. I guess all those girls in that basement will have to wait for the next middle-aged victim to set them free.
For now, I will relish my freedom and finish my walk. I'm no hero.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

I Can’t Stop Talking About The Whole Town is Talking

By Elizabeth Redhead Kriston

Like most women from my time, I loved the movie Fried Green Tomatoes. I was astonished to learn that it was written by the comedic actress Fannie Flagg. I knew her from her antics on the Match Game. How could this same silly woman have written such an insightful and heart-wrenching novel?

Then I forgot about her.

One day I was perusing a used book sale and found another novel written by Fannie Flagg and I thought, “She wrote more than one book?” I paid my 50 cents and took the book home tucking into my need to read bookshelf. Years later I plucked it from the shelf and read it. I really enjoyed the book, though I cannot recall which of her many novels it was.

I find myself turning to Flagg’s books over and over especially after reading a very heavy novel. Her light-hearted and whimsical books are the perfect anecdote for the gloom and doom of many of the historical fiction books I love to read.

After finishing Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, I desperately needed a Flagg novel to put me on an even keel. The Whole Town is Talking, Flagg’s most recent novel, called out to me from my library and I downloaded the MP3 audio version to my Overdrive app. I spent the next week being cheerfully entertained my Flagg’s words read by Kimberly Farr.

This novel which they say was inspired by Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, with which I am not familiar, takes the reader on a generational journey as a small town in Missouri is made and then grown and then lost over generations.

We follow a family of Swedish immigrants evolve as they inhabit a small farming community and build Elm Wood Springs from nothing. This town’s first major project was the cemetery. This cemetery becomes the heart and soul of the town as one by one the founders and then their descendants begin to fill the plots.

This is not a gloom and doom book. Each person lives a full life and dies when it is “their time” as Flagg’s characters insightfully suppose. In this town, ordinary people live mostly ordinary lives. We get to know them and watch them grow and change and encounter day to day things. Somehow, Flagg is able to highlight unusual happenings, coincidences and quirky personalities to make this book charming and interesting.

Elner, a good-hearted, animal loving, fig jam making farmers wife has many quirks. Her good-hearted friendliness means she welcomes all types to her farm. Lost travelers happen upon her land and she welcomes them all preparing them a hearty meal and sending them off with a jar of her jam made from her fig tree.

Unbeknownst to her, she fed Bonnie and Clyde breakfast when they got lost. Another time she entertained a future president and his wife. Both of these chance encounters weave there way into the storyline of this whimsical novel.

Flagg leaves no twist unturned or loose end untied. Everything she writes eventually leads to something else. Even the cemetery built in the very beginning serves a major role in the lives of the Elmwood Springs residents.

I won’t’ give it all away.

Flagg has a knack for making the ordinary fun and interesting. Her books are not dark and twisty. She even manages to make potentially bad things feel conventional. She keeps the overdone crisis to a minimum.

When I need a drama free, smart and funny book, I always turn to Flagg. She makes even the gloomiest of days seem sunny. I definitely need more sun

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Why So Touchy? Thoughts on Sensory Processing Differences

By: Elizabeth Redhead Kriston

The other day a mother retold the story of how her toddler ate all the fur off of his stuffed dinosaur. It took everything in me to not vomit at the thought of this. In fact, just typing this is making my belly roil and I may have to excuse myself.

Years ago I used to use a stuffed dog puppet to help kids overcome sensory processing and feeding disorders. This dog had a slit in its throat which allowed it to "eat" cookies. The cookies were small squares made from a variety of textured fabrics. Every time I brought this toy out, I had to stifle my gags.

It wasn't lost on me that while I was trying to help kids overcome their sensory processing issues, I was strengthening my own aversions.

Working with kids who suffer from severe sensory processing disorders has made me become more in tune with my own aversions. Realizing that I have trouble processing certain sensory information has strengthened my sense of self. Understanding what sets me off and why has helped me be a better mother and person. 

Knowing what tips my sensory scales allows me to avoid the triggers or at least explain why I am acting like a disorganized emotional fool.

According to the STAR Institute, a sensory processing disorder can be defined as: 
A neurological disorder in which the sensory information that the individual perceives results in abnormal responses.

I have yet to meet a person that does not have trouble processing some sensory information. Either our bodies under respond to sensations and we seek more information-think about those who eat spicy foods, shake their legs incessantly, or keep the volume up painfully loud- or those who become overwhelmed by sensation-think of those who don't like strong smells, eat bland food, or like the lights dim.

I know people who gag at the texture of yogurt. I know people who freak out when styrofoam squeaks. Everyone has quirks and oddities.

That's what makes the world an interesting place.

I have discovered that beyond fur on stuffed animals-GAG-I have trouble regulating my mind and body when I encounter strong smells. The worst form of torture for me is Bath and Body Works. I can't even walk past the store without swooning from the scents and not in a good way.

Any store that has the word "Country" in it, I avoid as I know the stench of candles and herb encrusted crafts will make me insane in the brain. I never wear perfume or cologne because it overtakes all my ability to focus and attend to anything except the way I smell. 

My husband bought me deodorant the other day and it was not scent free. I wore it for one day, two weeks ago, and I can still "smell" it on me. 

If I stay in a hotel room where someone smoked once, ever, I become nauseous, I get headaches and I can't sleep. Just ask my friend Sharon how our fun trip to Atlantic City was ruined by The Donald and his stupid hotel and the "smoke-free" rooms. Of all the heinous things he has said and done, that will be the thing for which I will never forgive him.

Loud noises make me crazy. Seriously, I get crazy and again, not in a good way. I cannot think or focus when things get loud. The irony is that my daughter has a sensory processing need for things to be very loud. As you can imagine that makes life in our house VERY challenging. 

While she is pumping up the volume, I am cranking it down. Because she is rendered deaf by her blasting earbuds she can't hear me yelling to TURN IT DOWN!! I have to get loud for things to get quiet.

That lasts for about five seconds before her sensory needs compel her to turn it back up. The cycle is neverending until one of us gives up and leaves.

Good times....

Little kids can't express their sensory processing needs or aversions. Often times they act out and we adults interpret it as misbehaving. Kids do not have the language or the understanding of how the body works to know to avoid the things that set them off or make accommodations to get the input they crave.

If their bodies feel like they are floating in space because their sense of touch is low, they crash, hit, throw, destroy, bounce, flip, climb and all types of risky and possibly destructive behaviors. Adults who don't understand the underlying reason for these behaviors react when they should adapt.

There are tons of resources available for parents who suspect their kids might have a sensory processing disorder. One of my favorites in The Out-of-Sync Child by Carol Stock Kranowitz. It's an easy to understand and follow guide on sensory processing disorders.

Perhaps you are an adult who has always wondered why you seem to struggle with day to day life when others seem to coast through their days without feeling out of sorts. You might have an undiagnosed sensory processing disorder. 

Taking the time to understand the sensory system and how one that is not working well can disrupt your life is worth the time. 

What are some things that set your senses off?

You Can't Touch This!!! 

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

I Can't Drive Fifty-Five and Other Ways Law Abiding Citizens Break the Law

By: Elizabeth Redhead Kriston

I spend a lot of time in my car driving between houses, crossing counties and traversing unfamiliar towns. Sometimes I get confused by what the speed limit is, where the stoplights and stop signs are or where a school zone begins and ends. This causes inadvertent moments of breaking the law.

I'm not going to lie. I do speed. On purpose. Always.

I don't speed excessively. What I mean is, I speed just five to seven miles over the posted (or assumed) speed limit. I'm not crazy. I'm not looking to hurt anyone or get a ticket. I just feel the need for speed.

Aside from this habitual divergence from the law, I follow the rules. I'm not a rebel without or with a cause. I am a good girl, I promise.

My Catholic upbringing prevents me from being bad. The guilt would kill me.

I can't help but wonder, what other laws or rules might be okay for me to break if I was feeling restless and disobedient? 

I have seen many others push the limits of the law without crossing the line into felonious acts. Perhaps I may have rashly committed one or more of these rulebreaking deeds. Just in case you also have the urge to be bad but are to goody-two-shoes to dive into the dark side, I have compiled a list of a few ways you can exercise your dark side without getting arrested (I hope).

Ten Laws To Break Without Breaching Your Moral Code

1. Eat grapes from the bins in the produce section. I mean, they leave them sitting there in the wide open. Plus, the pesticides will poison you slightly so the punishment is built into the criminal act.

2. Park at a store right below the "Parking is for Customers Only" sign and don't patronize it. Also, use the bathroom. Oh you know you've done it too.

3. Turn left at a stop light that won't change when no one else is on the road. Who has time to wait for imaginary traffic?

4. Crossing the street, while walking or running, against the red light. Keeping the heart rate up is crucial for cardiovascular health.

5. Organic littering. If that banana peel or apple core stays in the car all day its gonna stink, get slimy and attract bugs.

6. Not pointing out the pricing error or missed item when checking out at the store. You know they have overcharged you numerous times. It all comes out in the wash. Right?

7. Nibbling on the food from your dinner date's plate when he bought the "all you can eat" buffet and you didn't. It just smelled so tasty. You're only human.

8. Playing on the swings and slide even though the sign says "Playground for Kids 12 and Under Only." A kid at heart should have a place to play too.

9. Ripping tags from mattresses and couches. I double dog dare anyone to arrest me for that... Well not really, I just hate big ugly tags.

10. Not cleaning up after your dog when she pooped in the woods at the park. It's so hard to find. It's not your fault she was off the leash and wandered into the woods to do her business. What? Oh, right. The dogs are supposed to be on a leash at the park... I guess that's a double ding on the lawbreaking.

Okay so maybe I have done all of these things. That doesn't make me a criminal. Does It? I'm not admitting to these things. I'm just saying it's a possibility

Oh, come on Mr. or Mrs. judgy pants. You've done it too! Haven't you?

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

A Change Would Do Me Good: How Losing My Health Insurance May Improve My Life

By: Elizabeth Redhead Kriston

Fall is a time for change. We get a brief glimpse of colorful beauty before the harsh reality of cold days and long nights settles in. Despite our resistance to the oncoming winter, we adjust. We adapt. We turn up the heat and dress in thick sweaters. We eat hearty foods and sleep longer. We make the best from what we can not change. In the end, we may even enjoy it.

I think we can all agree that most change is hard. I don't know too many people who welcome change. Even changing a hairstyle is fraught with indecision, and second-guessing, and stress.

Unfortunately, change is part of life. When the school district moved the 6th graders from the elementary building to the middle school, parents across town were angry and concerned. After all the commentary and angry posts on social media, it turned out to be a better fit for those older kids who were tired of having to line up and march to the bathroom or lunchroom. By 6th grade, they were ready for some autonomy, some independence. The kids handled the change better than the adults

Sometimes changes work out for the best. Sometimes they do not.

Some changes feel like a cyclone is wrecking our lives

My most recent experience with forced change arrived with the blow that I a losing my health insurance. This is a very inconvenient and scary change. Losing my health insurance means that I will have to find and fund my health coverage.

Of course, I am scared and worried about so many things:

  • The money. Will I be able to afford insurance?
  • The coverage. Will I be able to find insurance that will provide coverage for all the needs I have or will have in the future?
  • The search. Where do I even begin?
  • The time. I barely have enough time to get things done in my day. How will I find the time to find and secure health coverage before the month runs out?
Rather than allowing myself to become overly stressed and consumed with worry and anxiety, I am choosing to find the positives. Believe it or not, even in the most stressful and scariest of times, we can choose to see the glass half full. By gosh, I'm going to do that.

3 Ways Losing Health Insurance Could Improve My Life

  1. Perhaps, I can find an insurance plan that is a better fit for me and my family. I currently have horrible health insurance. It costs a fortune and has a very high deductible and co-pay. I rarely visit the doctor because, in spite of having coverage, I still have to pay exorbitant amounts of money for tests and visits. Instead, I choose to diagnose and treat myself and use Urgent Care for emergencies. This is not the best way to maintain good health and the long-term repercussions could be many.
  2. Learning to enjoy the little things in life. This is a major change which will definitely impact our monthly income and spending choices. We will have almost no disposable income because of the expense of healthcare. By not being able to go and do as many things, we will have to return to a simpler way of life. We will be taking stock of what we have and adjusting our perspective about what makes for good leisure time activities. We just may have a better quality of life.
  3. Making a career change. One of the hardest things we adults have to decide is when or if it's time to switch jobs. It is scary to delve out into the unknown. We become comfortable and complacent in our careers. A new job means new coworkers, bosses, rules and job responsibilities. We underestimate our abilities to thrive in a new place of employment. We can and will adapt. Perhaps, we may even discover we like the new job better. New work might mean moving and becoming part of a new community which can lead to many great things. Maybe you will fail, but at least you tried. Sometimes a push like losing healthcare is the impetus we need to do what we are too afraid to do on our own.
I am not happy about the change in status from covered to not covered. I am scared about the unknowns. I am not going to let this get me down. I will adjust and we will find a way to make this work. 

Even Cheryl Crow thinks a change would do you good

So as colder days and longer nights creep toward me, I will be embracing much change. I will take a cue from those 6th graders who adjusted and learned to appreciate their change. I believe even this change will do me good.

What life changes have you experienced that have made you better and stronger?

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Regret It Then Forget It: Choosing to Live without Regrets

By Elizabeth Redhead Kriston

image plucked from //axtschmiede.com/regrets/

Social media is a hotbed of misunderstandings. A while back I got into a war of words over the concept of living without regret. After responding to a family member who was feeling regretful for a bad decision, I attempted to show her some support by proposing this cousin let go of her regret and embrace the lessons she learned. Appalled and misunderstanding my intent, my uncle made his feelings known. His mistake was confusing regret with remorse.

There is a difference.

Regret is more about wishing you hadn’t done something and trying to avoid negative consequence for yourself. Remorse leads to deep sorrow, guilt and then a confession and apology. Remorse guides you to make amends for wrongs done. Regret just makes you feel bad about your self and wallow in self-pity

I have allowed myself to wallow in regrets. I saw a meme not long ago that said something like, 
Dear person, If I, in anyway, made you feel awkward or uncomfortable by what I said or did, just know I will think about it everyday for the next 50 years
That describes me to a T. At least the old me.

I’ll admit that this older me does far fewer things that I might feel regretful about than the younger old me. The young me was nervous and unsure about everything. My low self-esteem made me awkward and stupid. I rarely took the time to think before I acted or spoke. 

This made for many a faux pas that got me in hot water and even cost me some friendships.
Sometimes my regrets morphed into remorse. More times than not it just made me sad and anxious and cost me precious sleep at night. 

When my actions were bad enough that I hurt another person, I immediately felt remorse. With remorse, I would undoubtedly apologize and try to make amends. With regrets, I just hid and hoped no one noticed.

I regretted many things. Mostly little things that really had no impact on anyone or anything aside from my self-worth and self-confidence. Once I recognized that, I decided to take control. I decided to view regrets differently.

Learn From Mistakes

Rather than try to undo the minor infractions and punish myself for being human. I decided to learn from my mistakes. I even tried to laugh and my ignorance and innocence.


Once I asked a guy I knew, who played in a Reggae band, “Are you packing your Jimmy Hat for the concert?” In my mind, a Jimmy Hat was a brightly colored knit cap that Rastafarians wore. I thought I was being clever and cute. He looked shocked and amused as he said, “I guess so, why?” Confused by the look he gave me, I realized I had made a major error. Later, I learned that a Jimmy Hat is not worn on the head, well not the one atop person’s neck anyway.
This is not a Jimmy Hat

I regretted this little error and let it eat away at me for years. Seriously, for years I would recall this incident and burn with embarrassment like it had just happened. What a waste of time and energy!

This was not the only incident that resurfaced causing me to become full of anxiety and self-loathing. Like everyone else, I had hundreds maybe even thousands of things I had done or said since I was a kid that ate away at me.

Regret vs. Remorse

In middle school, I fractured my ankle. I spent a few weeks on crutches and my classmates helped me lug my books up and down the steps as we changed classes. For picture day my mom bought me my first pair of heels. The day before picture day I was still using crutches. When I showed up to school wearing heels the next day, it did not go unnoticed. This was a regretful choice on my part and I have never done that since but neither have I broken a body part since, but I am sure I have learned from that mistake. Full disclosure: I never wear heels so there is that too.

A few months later another girl was on crutches for a broken leg. None of us helped her carry her books up and down the steps. When she approached me and pointed out the injustice, I ignored her. (I have revealed in past blogs that I was a middle school asshole and this proves it). I grew remorseful about this and I hope I apologized but can’t remember. If you are reading this, I am so sorry Vicky N!

Something had to give.

If I did not take control of my penchant for feeling regret daily, I would implode and end up in the loony bin. Now I regret saying looney bin. That has to be a term that is no longer sensitive. Oh crap. Now I feel remorseful for the people I have hurt by writing loony bin. I’m sorry. I promise I won’t write loony bin again. Starting...now!

See, I have learned to turn my remorse into learning experiences and as an opportunity to improve myself, to become a better person. I decided to dust off my ego and realize that most people do not remember my day to day mistakes and have their own regrets to lament. They have no time to replay my minor infractions in basic acceptable behavior and judge me.

I wish I knew that years ago.

Had I known this years ago, I would have slept more. I would have fewer wrinkles and smaller bags under my eyes. I would have put more energy into growing and learning and enjoying life.

I still have a lot of years to live and I look forward to spending less time regretting and more time living in the moment. I choose to learn from my mistakes and learn new things like what a Jimmy Hat is.

This is going to be a great new chapter because if I don't change I will end up in the madhouse. Is that better than loony bin? Oh crap! Okay, starting.....now.