Publisher’s View: Coping Mechanisms

Given the tragic events of the last month—and by “tragic” of course I’m referring to my local grocery store’s decision to move the gluten-free items to a different aisle—I’ve adopted some self-care strategies implemented by prestigious Ivy League schools to help their students cope when the students’ expectations aren’t met. Namely, coloring sheets. That’s right: All we really needed to know, we learned in kindergarten. So I’ve stocked my basket with Play-Doh, markers, bubbles and sippy cups (for my wine) and I’m rededicating myself to myself. Because, as we can all agree, there has been so very little self-care going on in our country in recent decades. And I just need a bit more alone time so I can deal.

In the name of self-care, and survival, I have done the following things. Frankly, the future is already starting to feel brighter:

1. I threw away my maternity robe. And it’s about time. My baby girl is now well past the age of eight, but I’ve been wrapping that oversized, puked-on piece of fabric around my body for almost a decade. It’s just soooo comfy and it makes me feel soooo small. It’s like a security blanket. But when the UPS man doesn’t make eye contact because he’s embarrassed for you and your pitiful attempt at a house dress, it’s time to move on. Bye, Felicia.

2. I cleaned out my kitchen junk drawer. And in it I found two toothbrushes once used to scrub grime out of grout, expired dog meds, glow sticks, a Matchbox racecar, three keys to who knows what and gift cards long expired. I found six pens and four pencils and a dog leash and frayed chargers to phones of yesteryear. I found a recipe for a Mexican lasagna and an overdue notice from the library from 2012. And I dumped the whole crammed drawer in the trash (Not the glow-stick bracelets. I’m wearing those). I created freedom right there under the bowl of apples. Nothing is in it now. Nothing. I surrender all.

3. I started drinking Diet Coke again. Yep, that’s right. It makes me happy. I gave up this carbonated concoction more than two years ago because, at the time, I was breaking a few of the Ten Commandments with my love for this liquid. Specifically, the big one: Thou shalt have no other gods before me. But since I’ve gone so long without Diet Coke—therefore proving that I can abstain—I’ve decided that I’m going back on the sauce. My personal rule to keep me in check: no drinking before 10 a.m., even when it is served in a Styrofoam cup with crushed ice. I can show some resolve.

4. I bought my own hairbrush. Take that, party of six. Momma now has her own $8 piece of happiness, and she’s paint-penning her name all over it. So I better not find it upstairs, shoved between your mattress and the wall, little ones. And I will no longer answer the question “Where’s the brush?” because I know where mine is—in my drawer. Now if I could only find the fingernail clippers. For the love.

5. Car napping. I haven’t personally implemented this golden piece of self-care, but one of my favorite friends did and I’m determined to try it. This is not falling asleep at the wheel at a red light. No ma’am. This is intentionally leaving a house full of crazy by backing your car out of the garage, driving around the corner and parking on the side of the street. You then lean your seat all the way back and snooze with no distractions. Mouth open if you want. Mid-day. Just pray that no police officer raps on your window.

6. I got a spray tan for no good reason. Need to lose 10 pounds in a jiff? Get a spray tan and tell the beautician to go on heavy. Who cares if it’s 40 degrees outside and you look like you just came back from Turks and Caicos…maybe you did just come back from Turks and Caicos. And you look this relaxed and this bronzed and it’s mid-

December and you are rocking it. And you smell like Doritos. And your sheets turn brown and your skin gets splotchy. But no matter. You are tan, not gray, and that’s something worth celebrating.

These are just a few of the things that I’ve done as quick fixes for emotional first aid, especially when things don’t go as planned around here. And when do things really go as planned? I’ll get out my sharpened pencils and my tranquility-patterned coloring book and I will find my happy place. Oh, wait, I don’t have that kind of time. How about puppy cuddling? Now that’s some self-care I can get behind. Hope the family dog doesn’t mind. I’m heading out to puppy-cuddling therapy, and I’m bringing my sippy cup with me.