Category Archives: hope

Episode IX: Jedi Mind Tricks

Episode IX

Jedi Mind Tricks

 Today’s Words of Wisdom:

 “These are not the droids you’re looking for.”

– Obi-Wan Kenobi, Star Wars IV: A New Hope

 The Foda’s take: Um, yeah. They kinda were.

Sidebar- This droid kerfaffle never would have happened if that stormtrooper was a Hutt. Take that, Palpatine, and your stupid rule against enlisting alien species into your ranks!

 I think my cat is the reincarnation of Jabba the Hutt. Why? Because Jedi Mind Tricks don’t work on him. I’m serious. I’ve tried. He lounges regally across the soft faux fur blanket a-top our couch, his head cocked to the side, watching me pensively. He is thirsty and in need of libations. I try to offer him water in his very own, gleaming glass dish, brimming with fresh water. He blinks and looks away. I have offended him. I set the bowl down on the ground and jingle one of his toys next to it. He hops up, prances over to the toy, and after capturing it safely in his jaws, brings it back with him to his perch upon the throne. I tap the edges of the glass rim with my fingernails. While the sound is pleasing to him, he denies my offering thrice. Finally, I give up, grabbing my own water bottle, swinging it jauntily from my fingers as I glide to the kitchen faucet. I flip on the PUR water filter, and stand patiently as the crystal clear stream of water flows into my canister.

THWACK! 

And there he is, my furry friend (who is, ironically, actually named Yoda- but more on that later.) Anyway, there he is, swiping his padded paw under the stream of water, shoving his little face over top of my bottle, trying to push the liquid onto his pink lapping tongue.

I hurry to get his water bowl, and place it in the sink, letting it catch the water. Finally, I think, he’ll think he’s “found” fresh water and drink from his bowl! When the bowl is full, I turn off the faucet and back away slowly, barely daring to breathe as I watch. And wait.

He looks at the bowl. He looks at me.

I arc my hand over the bowl like a rainbow and say: “This IS the water you’re looking for.”

He blinks. And walks away.

Now, you may be asking why I’ve dedicated today’s posting to the pickiness of my cat. It’s because oftentimes, we try and trick ourselves into accepting things we don’t want because they’re right in front of us. And sometimes this is a GOOD thing- accepting when we have no control over something is liberating and healthy, and allows us to move on. But when we DO have a choice, why accept what we have when our minds are capable of speaking Huttinese?

(And just so you know, we didn’t name him Yoda- he had that name when we rescued him at 7 weeks old. They called him that because he was a bottle baby- found in a basement in Brooklyn without a mother- and was so tiny he slept in a teacup. When we entered the shelter, he ran out the door, and the volunteer scooped him up and put him in my arms. He’s been with us ever since.)

Our minds are strong. We have a choice over what to put in them. And yeah, it can feel unnatural or really hard. Someone once told me, our minds are like a radio station. We have a default station we naturally tune into. (Mine is called ObsessiveFM.) But, like my cat, we have a choice to look at what’s in front of us, blink, and walk away. Change the channel. Make a different choice. Do it for long enough, and it will become your new “default.”

Change the channel.

If you did, what would it look like?

And yes, I did just advise you to take life lessons from an enormously obese slug.

May the Force Be With You,

The Foda

P.S. If you’re appalled at the whole Hutt metaphor… I’m also fairly positive you can’t Jedi Mind Trick a Jedi… will have to re-examine that in my Star Wars library….

Episode VIII: So Fresh and So Clean, Clean: 2014

Episode VIII

So Fresh and So Clean, Clean: 2014

 Today’s Words of Wisdom:

 If you stumble about believability, what are you living for? Love is hard to believe, ask any lover. Life is hard to believe, ask any scientist. God is hard to believe, ask any believer. What is your problem with hard to believe?” 

– Yann Martel, Life of Pi

 The Foda’s take: BELIEVE: Everyone should make this their power word of the year at some point or another. To believe in the future you want- the future you resolve to have- without proof or a crystal ball? That’s hard. It’s one of the hardest things we can do.

 So it’s New Year’s Eve. I’ve been having a particularly rough stretch of days, but I’m PUMPED because I’m going to spend some time with the fabulously phenomenal friends from the good ol’ days of Yore. Also known as college. Sigh. Best days of my life. Anywho, I’m routing through my closet, trying to find something New-Years-Eve-y to wear, and I realize how hard it is to find the right ensemble. Mainly because this is the outfit I will be wearing when I usher out the old and welcome with open arms the NEW NEW NEW! And truth be told, this will not be the first New Year’s Eve I’ve spent eagerly flinging the past sickness-filled year into the the garbage disposal in the hopes that this will be MY YEAR. I sit down on my bed, amidst piles of soft jersey dresses, colorful cardigans, and riding boots (because the world is just better in a good pair of stompin’ stormtrooper boots) and realize, I am super sad.

What if this year ISN’T my year?

Well that’s just too depressing to give it even another moment’s thought. So I grab my favorite black drape-y dress, throw a honey gold cardi over it (Zoe Deschanel was so right when she said you can never have too many cardigans) and zip up my favorite Timberland riding boots over black textured stockings. Throw on a maroon, cream, and olive green gauzy scarf, and I’m good to go!

Okay, it was so not supposed to snow tonight. Five minutes after getting on the highway en route to the party, my husband and I see ten cars go off the road, and decide it just isn’t worth it and turn around.

Sidebar- you know it’s bad going when your Buffalo born-and-raised hubbie tells you not to hold the metal spoon you’re eating with in front of you- you know, in case of a collision. Who knew air bags can push spoons into you on impact? Always looking out for me, that one!

It’s okay. I was feeling pretty badly, and we were only going to stay a couple hours anyway.

So we come home, and I spend the NYE making gluten-free, dairy-free, low-glycemic muffins (because that’s how I roll) in my pink and red striped pajamas with my beloved new R2D2 robe over top. (A Christmas gift from my husband who knows me so well. Diamonds? Cliché. Novelty Star Wars one-size-fits-most robe that swims on my haven’t-grown-since-I-was-10 frame? BRING IT.)

I wake up the next day, still sick, and it hits me again. What if this year ISN’T my year?

But then again- what if it IS?

So, dear friends, I’d like to share with you my 2014 resolutions. I usually don’t make resolutions- I always thought that if you want to do something, you should do it, regardless of what time of year it is. But this year, inspired once again by my favorite lady Fumbledore, I’m giving it a go.

Sidebar- if I fail, you are SO not allowed to judge me.

My resolutions are threefold: (Hehe I just love using that word. Threefold. Classic.)

Resolution #1: I will say the following mantras every day:

  1. I can have the things that I want
  2. I am powerless
  3. Be in this moment
  4. Show kindness and love to all creatures

Resolution #2: I will write 1,000 words a week, either as the Foda, or as Amy Wells, the main character in a SciFi novel I’m working on.

Resolution #3: I will publish this blog. (As of this moment, I’ve been writing posts for months without publishing them. This blog started out as a project for me. I didn’t know if I wanted to share it with the world, or keep it just for myself- but as the original Yoda says, “Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no Try.” So seeing as my entire premise is based off of this wickedly wise character- I figured, hey. No time like the present.)

Happy New Year, friends.

This year, whether it’s going to be your year or not, I invite you to believe.

Yours Truly,

The Foda

Episode VII: The Ewok Under the Bed

Episode VII

The Ewok Under the Bed

 Today’s Words of Wisdom:

 “Don’t spend a lot of time imagining the worst-case scenario. It rarely goes down as you imagine it will, and if by some fluke it does, you will have lived it twice.”

– Michael J. Fox

 The Foda’s take: “Fear, powerful though it may be, is just a feeling- it’s not a fact.”

– The Foda, circa 2013

(Just in case you wanted to quote me. Admit it. You totally want to.)

 Greetings, friends! Come in, step quietly, make sure the door doesn’t slam behind you…there. That’s better. Why so quiet? Oh, sure, I’ll tell you. After all, you’re in here with me, too.

There’s a monster under my bed. I don’t know what he looks like- I’ve never actually seen him. But I’m sure he’s terrifying. How do I know? Because I’m terrified of him! And I assume that the level of my fear must be equally proportional to the level of his scariness. Wouldn’t you agree? Oh. OH. I see how it is. You think I’m being foolish. You think I should crawl down from the safety of my little ball on my little bed and have a LOOK? Are you MAD?

Sigh. Okay, I’ll look. But first let me tell you how I know he’s going to be a blood-thirsty monster. First of all, bad things happen to me. I’m young, supposedly in the prime of life, and I’ve been unable to just stand up and walk out my front door without worrying how far I’ll make it in years. And I used to be a marathon runner. And now I set the timer to try and make it 5 minutes. So wouldn’t it make sense that more bad things are going to happen? Aren’t I just being realistic and preparing myself for it? You don’t think so? You still think I should look? Okay. FINE. But if I’m mangled and bleeding on the floor, promise- < ugh the floor is cold! >  you’ll tell my family-  < oooh this is soooo stupid >  that I lo—.

Oh.

It’s an Ewok.

Would you look at that.

Just because you’re scared something bad will happen, or will continue to happen, doesn’t mean that it will. Fear is not proof of fact, it’s living in the past, or the future- basically focusing your energy on any moment but right now. And it’s really easy to be scared of horrible events in your past, and horrible things that could happen in your future. And, mind you, I say all this with the utmost humility, because I do this ALL THE TIME. And it needs to stop. So if you, like me, find yourself scared of the unseen monsters under your bed- join me in adding this mantra to your life whenever you find yourself curled up under the covers, unsure of what to do-

Be in this moment. 

One moment at a time. 

I promise, it feels so good to let go. Because you deserve to be happy. And happiness, like fear, is not just a feeling- it can also be a choice. It just may not always FEEL like one.

Yub, yub,

<Ewok speak>

The Foda

Episode VI: Words, Words, Words!

Episode VI

Words, words, words!

Today’s Words of Wisdom:

 “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never harm me.” 

– English Nursery Rhyme

 The Foda’s take: Yeah. If you’re a robot.

 Greetings, friends! Foda Here. Today I’d like to explore the conundrum of words. Harmful words won’t show up on an MRI or CAT scan, but they do damage just the same. Anyone who’s ever been teased, ridiculed, or unfairly persecuted knows this- which is pretty much everyone alive EVER. Words may not rip your arm off Wampa-snow-beast-in-Hoth style in the literal sense, but they can rip your heart out. (Figuratively.) So when you’re dealing with a chronic illness, discouraging words from other people can seriously mess with your head… but in my opinion, it’s the words we speak to ourselves that can hurt us the most.

Now I know what you’re thinking… I know worrying and stress is bad for me so I try to stop, but then invariably, I worry anyway, and then I beat myself up for worrying because it’s stressful, and I’m causing the stress by worrying, so then I worry about how my worrying is making me sicker! Yeah, that’s a killer. Or in more elegant prose: “Ah! There’s the rub.” (Love. Shakespeare. Such a bawdy rascal.)

So, what do we do? Welp, it’s kind of like trying to fall asleep. If you lie in bed at night wanting to fall asleep and trying really hard to relax so that you can fall asleep, chances are, you’re not falling asleep any time soon, because your brain is so busy trying to relax that you can’t, in fact, relax. Like when you try not to think of a purple elephant. (Try it. It will be ALL YOU CAN FOCUS ON.) So, again, what do we do? I’m a big fan of self talk, but I also recognize when the self talk can spiral into that nasty quagmire of endless questions and worry. So now that I’m aware that I do that, when it’s no longer productive thought, I do a few things:

Number One: Pick a few mantras and say them over and over to yourself. You’re more likely to believe something if it’s in your own voice. My favorite is: I can have what I want. 

Number Two: Focus on something you love. I feel best about myself when I’m creative, so when I start to spiral, I pat myself on the back, and nourish my soul by thinking of/working on projects that make me feel proud.

Number Three: Sing a song. Music Therapists use this technique all the time. It is almost impossible to continue worrying when you’re singing a song. (Earth, Wind, and Fire is a guaranteed mood lifter.)

Number Four: Let Go. You have good reason to be stressed and to worry. Trying to shut it down will only make it worse- like a giant T Rex looming over your head, its freakishly tiny arms waiting to pull a snatch and grab. (By the by, did you hear of new research that suspects the T Rex looked more like a chicken? Or maybe my friends are just lying to me about that….) Anyway, the point is, sometimes you have to allow yourself to feel the way you do. Oftentimes, I find that if I just acknowledge what I’m freaking out about, and tell myself I have every right to be freaking out, I stop freaking out. Odd, I know, but it works- because then, when I’m ready, I can let go.

And if I can’t, there’s always carbs.

Namaste,

The Foda

Episode IV: Power

Episode IV

Power

Today’s Words of Wisdom:

 “Take it, Cronk. Feeeellll the poweeerrrrrrr.” 

-Yzma from “The Emperor’s New Groove”

 The Foda’s take: I have a theory that most of what we do in life is through the pursuit of finding what empowers us. The odd part is that when we go looking for things that will make us feel powerful, it’s not always where we think it will be.

Power. Anakin Skywalker craved it, and look how that turned out for him: wife gone, offspring hidden, and yeah, he walked around in a hunk of black plastic and metal for the rest of his life. That’s because he tried to find his empowerment in the WAY wrong place. (The Dark Side. Taking names since… a long, long time ago…..)

Sidebar- does anyone else understand why Star Wars took place in the past when spaceships and aliens are in the token “future” camp?

But I digress. What got me thinking about this was actually the lovely lady known to you as Fumbledore, first introduced through the Wise Words of Episode II. In one of her own blog posts, she spoke about a Harry Potter shirt with a lightening bolt and the words Expecto Patronum on it that makes her feel very powerful when she wears it. This brought me to think about where I’ve looked for empowerment as a woman in today’s society… and realized it was all a lie! Lies, I tell you! Falsehoods issued by a socially constructed media frenzy of what a powerful woman looks like! This is why young women wear low tops and short skirts! This is why we break our backs in skyscraper heels! This is why… this is why…. this is why I am only now realizing that I feel more powerful in a pair of flat riding boots that make me feel like a stormtrooper than a tight dress.

What this all comes down to is, when we’re kicked down and we feel like life is out of control, the one thing we want more than anything in the world is to feel powerful- like we can kick this problem to the curb with one big hiiiiyyyyahhh! But when you’re on your last straw with a longterm problem, it may feel like your power source is dryer than a Jawa’s tunic. This is why it’s so important to really think about what makes you feel powerful- even in the littlest way- to help boost you up when you need it. Maybe it’s a funny T-shirt. Maybe it’s reading a book to your one year old nephew using silly voices that make him laugh. Maybe it’s a pair of name-taking boots. Or dorky stick-it-to-the-man feety pajamas. (Want. Those. ) Or perhaps it’s a gratitude stone you hold to remind yourself of the good things you have. Whatever it is, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, find it, and go to it when you feel powerless. Just… don’t find power in kicking cats or something twisted, okay? Because the Foda does NOT condone that tom foolery. So I ask you: what makes you feel powerful?

Until next time,

The Foda

Episode III: Feeling Alone

Episode III

Feeling Alone

 Today’s Words of Wisdom:

“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.” 

-Thumper from “Bambi”

 The Foda’s take: While this is all well and good for a Disney movie, the problem is when people feel unequipped and don’t know what to say. Because sometimes not saying anything when a friend is in need is way worse than saying the wrong thing. After all, one can lead to a discussion- the other leads to isolation.

 Welcome back, everyone! I’m feeling a little stronger today, and ready to dig into this delicate issue. For all of you who have been combating any kind of long-term illness, life upheaval, or emotional trauma, you know that “How are you doing?” can be one of the hardest questions to answer. Either you tell the truth or wave your hand and breeze past it as quickly as a T-16 shooting womp rats on Tatooine. My favorite combination is to admit when I’m not doing so well, but then immediately put my own bright spin on things so I don’t have to deal with any of the countless cliches people dig out when they don’t know what else to say… keep your chin up, stay positive, it is what it is, etc, etc. This type of response? Does NOT feel like people understand. It feels like they’re giving me advice on how to best deal with this, when they likely have no idea what this is like- which is even more isolating. Now, mind you, this does not make them bad people- they just don’t know what else to say. (And, note of humility here- when I’m feeling angry or resentful over my current condition, I recognize that I’m really not getting mad at them for triggering me- I’m mad that I have to struggle through it at all.)

However much these responses may frustrate me, though, it’s much better than allowing someone to see what’s really going on and then having them avoid you like the plague because they don’t know what to say at all. If you’re blessed…or cursed, however you want to look at it…. to have an illness or any kind of personal trauma that ravages your insides but leaves you looking relatively normal on the outside, it can make social interactions rather difficult. When I first got sick, some people treated me horribly because they didn’t understand why I couldn’t take on extra responsibilities, and eventually had to stop working because I couldn’t stand for more than a few painful minutes. They knew I looked tired, but had no idea what I was combating internally. For others, when I admitted some of the things I was dealing with, they got that deer-in-the-headlights look and forevermore avoided future conversations. You’d think I actually was a hairy-eared green alien!

So how SHOULD people respond when you’re brave enough to give an honest answer when asked? My favorite is a supportive response that offers no unsolicited advice and no judgement, such as “That must be really tough. Is there anything I can do?” or “Wow. I don’t want to pretend like I can truly understand what you’re going through, but I’m here to listen if you need to talk.” This opens a safe place where the receiving party can divulge as much or as little as they’re comfortable with without worrying about being judged or compared to a statistic. Most times, people dealing with chronic illness or trauma don’t necessarily want help, they just want to feel like they’re not going through it alone. In this Foda’s opinion, this means I don’t want you to try and fix me through buck-up, camper! cliches or relate to me with horror stories about that “friend” you have who went through something similar. (Hard lovin’ coming your way folks: Just because you know one person who went through it does not mean you know all people. The last thing I want to hear about is your cousin’s friend who had a horrible experience with my illness. It will NOT make me feel like you understand me. It will make me feel like Bantha fodder.)

Instead, validate this person’s difficult journey. Relax, knowing you don’t have to personally understand or relate. Empathy is just good listening without putting yourself into the equation. If you don’t know what to say, ask. People are naturally afraid of what they don’t understand. As kids, we’re taught that it’s okay to ask questions. As adults, we’re often ashamed to ask questions, feeling like we should know already. So just ask! Or if you’re uncertain the person wants to talk about it, here’s an oldie but goodie: “What’s up?” This casual greeting invites conversation that can go in any direction the recipient chooses, as it’s much more open ended than “How are you doing?” or the more direct “How are you feeling?” This way, I can choose to tell you how I’m physically feeling that day, or start a dialogue about the wickedly cute yet devastatingly impractical Star Wars printed heels I found last week on Etsy. 

It’s amazing how sometimes all you need is to feel connected to another human being to feel better and more positive about the future.

Go Green,

The Foda

Episode II: Escaping the Quagmire of Anxiety

Episode II

Escaping the Quagmire of Anxiety

 Today’s Words of Wisdom:

 “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.” 

-Every Star Wars character ever

The Foda’s take: That bad feeling? Not an omen of doom. Just the uneasy state of being that accompanies not knowing what’s going to happen next. And that not knowing? Feels horrible, it does. But a predictor for the future, it is not.

Welcome back everyone. This week I got some bad news. A new flare up has decided to wreck havoc on my system, putting up a big giant STOP sign in its wake. This has given me plenty of time to sit alone and think about every little thing that’s happened to me along my lengthy Lyme journey, and painstakingly try to piece it together in hopes I’ll solve the puzzle, like the petite little Foda I am. This deep reflection has brought me to one resounding conclusion: I may never know the answers I so diligently seek. Which in the world of me? Drives me CRAZY. Therefore, in an effort to stay sane, I of course picked up the phone, ready to share my questioning woes with the smartest lady I know. Let’s call her… Fumbledore. That’s right. The Female Dumbledore. Anyway, I’m spilling my guts to Fumbledore, and she lands this little nugget on me: “These are not the droids you’re looking for.” Oh, my mistake, what she really said was: “You’re never going to get all the answers you’re looking for.”

OUCH. Harsh, right? Read on. Because then she body slams me with this:

“When I’m anxious and turning something ‘round my brain over and over, I fill my thoughts, my actions, my days, with something I love. When I catch myself getting caught in the quagmire of endless worry, I redirect that energy into something I love. I invest myself so much in the things that bring me joy, that I want to think about them all the time, letting the brain obsess over THAT instead of the problems out of my control.”

Okay, that wasn’t exactly a DIRECT quote, but that really is what she said.

It’s all about love, people. Huzzah!

So naturally, wise little Foda that I am, I immediately pulled out my moleskin journal I take with me everywhere and made a list of the top things that I love, trying to limit it only to the real, meaningful things. Like family, singing, and shoes… you know, stuff like that. And while I’m not too thrilled to be bested in the words of wisdom department, I’m totally fine with being her Padewan learner…. this time.

So this week, I’m giving it a shot. Taking control over what I can, and redirecting the quagmire to focus on something I love. So in closing, I ask you: What is it you love?

Go Green,

The Foda

Episode I: Overcoming Chronic Illness: A New Hope

Episode I

Overcoming Chronic Illness: A New Hope

 Today’s Words of Wisdom:

“Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny.” 

-Yoda, Episode IV

The Foda’s take: So, like….. don’t….. start.

 Hi there! Come on in and welcome! Welcome to Words of Wisdom on hope and overcoming illness from the Female Yoda. The Foda, if you will. Now I know what you’re thinking. Yoda was a tiny green puppet who dissipated into thin air on the swampy planet of Dagobah. (And if you didn’t know that, really, why are you here?) Thus, the birth of The Foda. I’m tiny, long winded, and rarely say anything in the most direct way possible. Also, I’m wicked wise. And three years ago, I started turning green. Lyme green. Oh, I heard that! Your inner dialogue going: say WHAT?! You heard right. Three years ago I started my journey towards becoming a Lyme-a-been. (But “been” pronounced the British way, like “bean.” As in, one day I will have become a Lyme-a-been, as in, am no longer now…. having…. the Lyme.) Told you speaking oddly I do.

Sidebar- by what percentage would you say a play on words gets less funny when you have to explain it? 

Moving on. Yup, me and my bad self had a tangle with a microscopic woodland creature (sorry, can’t speak four letter words here) and it changed my life forever, putting me into the Lyme light (too soon for puns?) and giving me a condition called Lyme Disease. But, silver lining, it also has gifted me with a journey chock-full of character building experiences. And the green exterior really helps me pull off the whole Foda thing.

So here I am! Spouting off wisdom and finding silvery linings through combating chronic illness- and no, it’s not just the smoke coming off of the murky swamp R2D2 fell in upon arrival. And while I may be slower, more reclusive, and generally living 40 years beyond my age bracket, when all is said and done, no one will be able to say my life wasn’t interesting.

This is my journey. Maybe it’s your journey too. Easy, it is not. But, hey. As Kermit the Frog once said: it’s not easy being green. So come one, come all, fellow Lyme-a-beens and Star Wars fiends. And welcome to the wonderful wise world of the Female Yoda.

 Go Green,

The Foda