worry wart

I had a ninety-minute full-body massage on Saturday. It was wonderful, but it took me a little while to fully relax. Until that happened (probably around the forty-five minute mark…) my mind wandered.

I thought about the lunch and drinks I’d have with my friend after the massage. I thought about the hair cut I had scheduled for the following day. I thought about my next date with a guy I’d met recently. I thought about an ex-friend who’d betrayed me. I thought about my novel in progress. I thought about the new Facebook ad I’d created for an existing book.

And then it occurred to me that with almost all of these thoughts came worry, stress, and fear. What if the menu didn’t have anything I could eat on my restricted diet? What if things didn’t go well with the guy? What if my new book wasn’t good? Why weren’t more readers buying my existing books? For as long as it took me to finally grasp mindfulness and give into the pleasurable pressure of the massage, I was as tense as senators at a U.S. congressional meeting.

Fear and worry have always been my Achilles heel. For the most part, I muddle through, but other times, it’s a small itch I scratch until it becomes a festering sore. Sometimes it keeps me up at night. Occasionally, it affects how I communicate with others, and causes me to do or not do things I regret later. Over the last week, I’ve been attacked by worry from more angles than I can handle. My stomach has been in constant knots and it’s making it hard to enjoy myself in the moment.

Before he passed away, my friend Alan hated when I’d get this way, and he’d talk me off the ledge. I have another friend who is pretty awesome at it too, but the truth is, no one can “heal” me except myself. When I mentally talk myself down, it helps temporarily, but then I forget what I said to myself.

As an experiment, I decided to talk myself down in writing so I could read it again as needed. I wrote down each issue currently worrying me followed by a list of arguments against it—why I was being irrational. I also wrote down the worst-case-scenario—if what I worried about came to fruition, what was the worst thing that would happen as a result? (This helped me put it into perspective) Finally, I jotted down a logical thought process for handling it in the moment—if this happens, don’t forget about this, that, and the other thing. I found it really helped for at least one fear I was stressing over!

Everyone has different ways of dealing with their demons. I’m a constant work-in-progress. For other worry warts out there, care to share your tricks?

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My thoughts on Book Club

I saw Book Club this weekend. As a writer and a voracious reader, a movie about a book club is immediately appealing to me. Throw in some of my favorite actresses, like Diane Keaton and Jane Fonda, and no additional incentive is required. That being said, I do have my own issues with aging, especially the discrepancy between how an aging woman is treated versus a man. I worried about how the women in this movie would be betrayed, and if it would trigger my own fears about aging.

 So, what did I think about the movie?

In a nutshell, I loved almost every part of it. I smiled, I laughed out loud, I choked up, I applauded, I swooned. I’m a big fan of romantic comedies with happily-ever-after endings. The fact that the couples in this movie were at least twenty years older than me had no bearing on my feelings. Here’s why.

The friendship shared by the four women was supportive, hilarious, and honest, akin to Sex and the City. They teased each other endlessly, but they had each other’s backs. The personalities were somewhat clichéd (there was the “promiscuous” one (Fonda), the “prude,” (Bergen) and the idealist (Steenburgen). There were jabs about one of the male leads needing Viagra and one of the female characters having plastic surgery. None of this bothered me because the characters were developed beyond these stereotypes. And, the truth is, many men of a certain age do take the little blue pill and many women of a certain age (and even millennials) get plastic surgery! And while erectile function was an issue for one of the couples, the other romantic story lines developed like any other romance. I’m a fan of grand gestures in romantic comedies and this movie had them in spades, and it was wonderful.

 As I watched the film, it occurred to me that the women could have been any age and have almost the same conversations. In nearly every group of friends, there’s someone who is afraid of getting hurt, not happy with her body, holding a grudge against a family member etc. Women of all ages commiserate over bottles of wine and seek guidance on what to wear on a special occasion. I liked that these women were portrayed as vulnerable despite being old enough to qualify for Medicare. With each decade of my life, I become less obsessed with what others think of me, but at the heart of it, I’m still made of flesh and blood and can’t imagine a time when I won’t seek some sort of reassurance/validation/advice from friends, even over things some might consider frivolous or immature.

 The female characters were successful women. One was a Federal judge, another owned a hotel, and another was a well-known chef. Yet they still craved romance and attention from the opposite sex. What’s so wrong with that? I’m tired of watching television and movies where it’s the woman who loses interest in sex and not the man. Or the divorced man or widower gets right back in the dating scene, usually with a younger woman, and the divorced woman (or widow) focuses only on her career or her children. Why can’t she have both? I don’t think women lose their power because they want romantic love. I haven’t read many of the reviews, but I’m sure there are some who think the movie is anti-feminist because it focuses on women needing a man. I didn’t get that vibe at all. All four women had proven that they were completely capable of taking care of themselves. Admitting that they wanted sexual companionship and romantic love doesn’t change that.

 I had small issues with the film, for instance, I wished Keaton’s character had more of a spine a little earlier with respect to her children, but I walked out of the theater with a smile on my face and the warm and fuzzies in my belly.

Fun facts: One of Candace Bergen’s online dates played her love interest in the last season of Sex and the City. My friend also pointed out that Don Johnson, one of the male leads, is the real father of Dakota Johnson, who plays Anastasia Steele in the movie version of Fifty Shades of Grey, the book they’re reading.

Come on, get happy

Back in the olden days, like 2015, I wrote a blog post almost every week. Then my life—my publishing life—became too chaotic to maintain that frequency. I was busy writing, editing, promoting, and releasing—wash, rinse, and repeat times seven—and blogging took a back seat.

For the first time in a while, I don’t have any writing deadlines, aside from the ones I self-impose. I’m busy writing my ninth book, but for now, that’s all I’m doing with it. I miss blogging, and so I’m focused on doing it more often—much more often. Not so frequently that you’ll see my name show up in your feeds and groan, “Not her again,” but enough that when a new post is sent to your email, you won’t think, “Meredith Schorr?” Who the bleep is Meredith Schorr?

Today, I wanted to talk happiness and what it means to be happy. I have many hopes and dreams, some of which will come true and others that won’t, but all I truly want is to be happy——not ten years from now, but today and in this moment. So, what makes me happy?

Feeling loved, whether in a romantic, platonic, maternal, or other type of way. I’m at my best when I’m with someone who 100% adores, accepts, and appreciates me for who I am. (Or at least 95%.)

Loving others. There are many people in this world who have filled my heart with loving feelings. Individuals for whom I wish so much good fortune, and whose needs I’d easily and eagerly put ahead of my own. The ability to love others is something we often take for granted, but we shouldn’t.

Waking up in the morning (or going to sleep at night) with something to look forward to.

Waking up in the morning (or going to sleep at night) with nothing to dread or stress over.

Looking in the mirror and feeling pretty. Sometimes I catch a glimpse of my reflection and I appear tired and frumpy, my hair frizzy from a rainy day or high percentage of humidity. Maybe I’m sporting a PMS zit on my forehead or my jeans do nothing for my butt. Sometimes, however (and not only when I’ve been drinking), my skin is glowing, my hair is smooth, my smile is bright, my legs are slim and toned, and I look…wait for it…happy!

Writing, especially when the ideas (and words) are flowing.

Catching up with a really good friend face-to-face.

Laughing because something is undeniably hilarious.

Hugging my mom.

When my nieces and nephews refer to me as, “Aunt Meri.”

Great reviews of my novels, or when someone gives a shout-out of one (or all) of my books on social media.

A sweaty workout complete with inspiring and uplifting music

When my late best friend, Alan, visits me in my dreams (he does!) or otherwise sends me signs that he’s still with me.

When my stomach feels almost as normal as it did before I was inflicted with IBS last summer.

Feeling understood, reassured, and validated. Perhaps we’re not supposed to seek these things from outside sources, but I do, and it makes me happy when someone listens to what I say, hears me, says she understands, and agrees with me. (I’m looking at you the most, Sammy!)

Going to bed on Friday night knowing I don’t have work the next day.

I could go on, and that, too, makes me happy. But what about you? What makes you happy on a daily basis? Whatever it is, I wish you oodles of it!