Inkless Pens and Chewed On Pen Caps

“Boredom is the feeling that everything is a waste of time; serenity, that nothing is.”

-Thomas Szasz

I have this quote on my motivation wall. It keeps me going when I think that some of the stuff I pursue in my life is a waste of time. Funny, I never knew who Thomas Szasz was until just now when I googled him:

It’s so rude of me to have had his words on my wall for well over two years and not actually researched who he was. I’m so sorry Tom.

I feel like I can call him Tom. We’re practically besties now, thanks to the internet.

Doctor Tom was a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and a professor.

I had figured he was a poet or a philosopher or an artist of some sort. And this quote from the Wikipedia site confirms my assumptions just a little bit despite his career label:

“Szasz argued throughout his career that mental illness is a metaphor for human problems in living, and that mental illnesses are not “illnesses” in the sense that physical illnesses are.”

How I understood what I read on his ideas about this is that mental illness is not scientifically  measurable because it is based on behavior. And who gets to decide what behavior is normal and what isn’t? There of course is a lot more to this theory that I’m mostly not interested in. I just always kind of knew that crazy is a result of being human and a very subjective term, depending on who one is hanging out with and who happens to be judging one’s behavior. So I’m going to stop there and be mostly satisfied. All you over sensitive crazies or advocates for the crazies: please don’t  be assholes and yell at me. I’m not a damn doctor. OBVIOUSLY if you’re stabbing your eyes out (or someone else’s) you might want to take some fucking medicine.

BUT  if you look at Tommy’s face, he looks like he would have been wonderful to talk to. See? Doesn’t he just look lovely? 

Screenshot 2018-03-03 at 10.21.40 AM

I’m sure he had a super cool Hungarian accent. I can see myself sitting on his couch:

Me: Tom. Why do you think I chew on my pen caps?

(When Tom speaks, imagine a Hungarian accent because I don’t know how to type that)

Tom: Why do YOU think you chew on your pen caps? Does it matter what anyone else thinks? Do you worry about THAT, or the pen caps?

Me: Well. It’s interesting to me how I only chew on cheap Bic™ pens with the blue caps. These are the pens I write with. Other pens don’t feel right in my hand, so I only use “other pens” when I’m at work. Doing work. That I often don’t feel right about. But have to keep doing. To pay the bills. I NEVER chew on work pens. I’m not attached to them like I am my cheap blue cap pens. And do you know what I LOVE?

Tom: What do you love Heather?

Me: I LOVE when my cheap chewed on blue cap pens run out of ink BEFORE I chew all the way through the caps and make them kind of bothersome and have to throw them away before the ink is all gone. Which seems wasteful. And sad.

Tom: Why is that Heather?

(I just love when people use my name when they talk to me. Why is it so soothing? Though maybe it’s the couch in this case.)

Me: Well they’re bothersome to look at, all messy and jagged and slobbered on and also at some point harder to chew on because the plastic gets kind of  sharp and pokey and hurts my mouth a little. I also worry a bit about the plasticiser ingestion…

Tom: The ‘why’ was referring to loving when your cheap pens run out of ink. And why it might be sad to throw them away before the ink is gone.

Me: Oh. Well. I think it’s because I know that all that ink is somewhere on pages that I filled up with words that didn’t exist before.  And while it’s likely that no one else will read 99.9% of my ink words, because it’s mostly doodling, it wasn’t a waste of time. Blue ink words on paper are just…serene. The accomplishment makes me feel filled and empty at the same time. And when the ink runs out before the pen cap desecration happens it means I was focussed more on the words than the anxiety of making the words. Chewed pen caps are the bi product of angst. No one wants to see that shit.

Tom: Ahhhh. I see.  Does it make you feel sad that most of your ink words won’t be read?

Me: Oh HELL no. Blue ink  is so much different from black type. There aren’t any rules with blue ink. I fucking hate rules.

Tom: Why do you think you can break rules in blue ink but not in black type?

Me: I’m not saying I can’t break rules in black type. But when I type, I assume that some people will SEE the rule breaking. And judge. So I’m a little more careful with black type. It goes back to why I don’t generally chew on my work pens.  I don’t want people to think I’m gross. Or anxious, which can be perceived as being weak. I can be weak in blue ink but not so much in black type and for SURE not in sales. It’s a sure-fire route to failure. And I gotta pay for my blue cap addiction somehow. And some other stuff.

Tom: What if you tried blue ink at work?

Me: Tell me Tom, do you sometimes wish that you had just skipped med school and dove into philosophical poetry? You’d be so much more understanding about why using blue ink at work is just crossing a damn line.

Tom: Well Heather, I’m pretty much dead. Regrets are for the living. Ones who are afraid to use BLUE FUCKING ink on a regular basis. You freak. That will be $300 please.

Me: Clearly I have hit a nerve Tom. I’m sorry you’re so unhappy. You can just send me a bill. I forgot my checkbook. And my blue PEN. Jerk.

Tom: I’m sorry. I was lashing out. I mostly just wanted to paint in watercolor.

Me: I forgive you Tom. I have to go do some work now. And for what it’s worth, I’ll ponder the idea of bringing a little blue ink into the day job. Here’s a little Marianne Williamson philosophy about WORK from “Return to Love” for you to take with you when you head back to where ever you were before our couch session:

“What you want to do is not the important question. The question to ask is, “When I do anything, how should I do it?” And the answer is, “Kindly.” People don’t normally associate business with kindness, because business has come to be regarded as simply a tool for making money. Miracle-workers are not in business only to make money; they’re in business to inject love into the world.”

Tom: Ahhhh. This is good. Thank you Heather.

Me: Thank Marianne. But I knew you would appreciate this. You seem like a miracle-worker.

Tom: I’m glad we had this visit. And thank you for taking some time to get to know me a little bit. Dead guys sometimes need the kindness of recognition.

Me: Alive gals do too. Ha! And I’m glad I got to know you a little as well. This was for sure a wonderful use of my time and not at ALL boring. But this is getting weird so you should probably go now. This wasn’t at all what I intended to write in this post. Thank you Tom. Have a good… ummm… life?  

Tom: You too Heather.


Helping Our Leaders to Lead Us


I have tried. I have really, really tried to sort out this election. I watched the first presidential debate, sticking through the entire thing with my jaw clenched painfully, in hope that SOMEONE would say something that would reach my heart and give me hope that ONE of these people really cared about me, my family, my financial and physical security and my health.

The faces of my children watching with me reflected the disappointment I felt. I think this was the hardest part of the debate, realizing none of my kids have passion for either political candidate because I want my children believe in our leaders. One of them said “Neither one cares about us mom. They only care about making the other person look bad.”

I missed the first VP debate so I found it on YouTube, thinking maybe there would some redemption with the potential “second in command” peeps. Sadly, the best part of this debate was the funny commercial I had to watch on YouTube before the debate started entitled “How to Poop at a Party”. This humorous advertisement for a product called Poo-Pourri with the hilarious phrase “Control the SHITtuation”  seemed a perfect slogan for the VP debates because within three minutes these men were interrupting and flinging metaphoric poo at each other. The same sick feeling rose in my stomach, though the thought did cross my mind that maybe these two might better serve us as options for the presidential slot that their running mates. It has to be pretty challenging for these two to defend their “bosses” who have both done and said enough upsetting things to have created an irrevocable sense of distrust among many, many voters.

Each of these people (presidential and vice presidential candidates) has had the opportunity to look passionately and humbly into the camera, ignore the poo slinging and say “People of America: I care about each one of you and promise to do my very best to surround myself with smart, equally caring people, who will in turn help me to help you be safe, fed, employed and treated fairly. I promise. With all I am. Amen.”

Yeah. It feels like we might all be in a little trouble.

So I’ve been trying to get my mind wrapped around how we might all carry on despite the inevitable “less than adequate” leadership coming our way and this thought keeps popping into my head:

“What if every single one of us made the commitment to make it EASIER for our leaders to lead us?”

The reality is, we are a difficult bunch to lead. In these United States of America, we have more rights than we know what to do with and many of us are so busy making sure these legally given rights are not stomped upon (insert ANY issue here) that we don’t realize (or maybe we do) that in the process we stomp upon other people’s rights. And this stomping has never been more evident than the present thanks to social media giving us all a much louder and more impactful voice. How does any leader stand a chance with such a diverse and difficult to please nation?

What if each of us stepped back from what we think we know and deserve, just for a minute, and ask our leaders, whether they be politicians, bosses, teachers, or parents “What can I do to make it easier for you to lead me and the rest of your minions?” Now I realize that is a little bit JFK “plagerism-ish” but despite the fact that the world has changed exponentially since the 1960’s, we are all still simply human, even our leaders. We need, now more than ever, to be asking what each of us can do for our country, and for our state, city, school, office and home to make this life we are are all trying to live to the best of our ability, a little bit easier, so that we aren’t all so desperate to be told by our leaders. who are ONLY human. that “everything is going to be okay”.

The reality is, it’s up to us to make things okay.

So, I’m going to pretend for a self indulgent moment that I am a presidential candidate and have been asked the question on national television by a member of the audience “What can I do to make it easier for you to lead me?”

Imagine that I am looking into the camera, which zooms in on my face, compassionate, kind and honest. (This is PRETEND. It’s like a movie people!) This is my moment to change the country for the better because what I say will be heard by MILLIONS upon MILLIONS of people who will APPLY what I say to their everyday thoughts, words and actions and I’ve only got two minutes to answer, IF I’m lucky and the person next to me doesn’t rudely interrupt my once in a lifetime opportunity. I take a deep breath and begin:

“My good and wonderful minion: this is a wonderful question, thank you! The first thing I would ask of you is to realize that I am doing my very best. All leaders on a large and small scale, from presidents to parents are doing their best. But we as human beings bring with us into this life adventure the baggage of our upbringing and our life experiences, of our successes and our failures, of our joys and our heart breaks. Not one of us begins our life thinking ‘I’m going to set out to be the worst, most heinous leader in the history of time.’ Life experiences change us and while we all truly care, sometimes we get a little lost in the chaotic shuffle. Leadership is complicated, especially for us politicians and humanity is not perfect. If it was it wouldn’t NEED leaders. We are all doing our best. If you can realize THIS about every human being, including yourself, you’ll be more apt to live in compassion, which by its very nature allows goodness to prevail.

I would ask of you to look to the person on your left and to the person on your right and recognize the following: they each have value; they are each struggling in their own way; and they each could use a helping hand. I would ask that you offer your hand and help pull the people around you out of their struggles. Do this every day. All day. Sometimes it’s as simple as a smile or a kind word. Sometimes it takes more effort in the form of your time, talent or treasure. While you can not be all things to all people, you CAN be aware of your immediate surroundings and change your small part of the world by giving of yourself in small ways. I speak to myself as much as I do to you, because it is very, very easy as humans to forget about others as we struggle in our daily lives. But if we all take the approach of giving of ourselves, of listening to our fellow man and seeking to understand what it’s like to walk in their shoes, we will in turn be met with similar kindness and compassion.

I would ask that in this age of social media and the ability to reach millions of people with the push of a button, that you consider carefully everything you publish. Ask yourself: is it kind and meaningful or is it cruel and pointless? As technology continues to advance, our social responsibility becomes more and more important.

And lastly I would ask that you to stop wastefulness in its tracks. Water, food, clothing, shelter, transportation: do not take these things for granted. Be thankful if you have them and treat these resources with great care: use what you need, share if you have extra. It’s really that simple. Resist throwing away anything that still has use for you or for someone else. We live in a country with amazing abundance. If we are each good stewards of what is available to us and give what we have but don’t need, there will always be enough. For everyone.

It is up to each and everyone one of us to keep our country strong, good and plentiful. We must each be a leader within our families, our cities and our nation. We must each be examples of kindness, compassion and good stewardship, and we must each strive to do our best so that our country will continue to be a great and honorable nation.”

This is how I would answer the question that needs to be regularly asked by us of our leaders. I realize my answer is simplistic. But maybe it really CAN be as simple as living by the golden rule and treating others as we wish to be treated. When I watch the second presidential debate tonight, I am going to do my very best to look upon these candidates from a more compassionate and less selfish perspective than I did during the first debate. The reality is WE picked these candidates and so it is our responsibility to make it easier for one of them, in all their human weakness, to lead us. They are each doing their best. And so must we.