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Showing posts from December, 2021

Pocket of Joy: Queer Eye Season 6

My final post in the 2021 "Pocket of Joy" series, which was inspired by the one and only JVN and his commitment to embracing joyful little moments no matter what else is going on, is all about the premiere of Queer Eye Season 6 on New Year's Eve--tomorrow!! I never get tired of watching these guys swoop in and fairy dust a random person who has become stuck in the mud--one at a time, over and over, like the title character of "The Star Thrower" does, enjoying the singular salvation of each and every one. It reminds me that in every human life there is suffering and difficulty and unfair disadvantage, but there is also a limitless sea of opportunity in which to play. Getting washed up doesn't mean we're done as long as we can accept a little help diving back in there. This show is a fun reminder for everyone who has survived the past couple of years that when we're at our worst, there are so many ways in which things can get better. May we all keep o

Mental Health Monday: Making the Best of Depression and Dissociation

Along with most human beings, I experienced some trauma in my childhood, and I can make an educated guess that I've also inherited some genetic risk factors for mental illness; my family includes four or more consecutive generations of women who have been institutionalized for mental health reasons. I also received many opportunities to build resilience as a child; my parents provided me with more love and stability than they had experienced growing up, and they challenged me in positive ways that helped me develop traits of self-mastery and grit that protected me from sliding into addictions and disordered behavior patterns. I practiced acceptance and perseverance to get through episodes of depression, anxiety, and dissociation and to find myself in a better, not worse, situation after each one passed.  When I wrote my novel  Leirah and the Wild Man , I made use of my memories of dissociation and my ways of coping with it and applied them to my grim little title character. I thoug

Pocket of Joy: Generating $1K in 1 Month for Bookstores Just by Writing a Story

What a magical Christmas surprise! Last week, I started to feel pretty depressed after hearing anecdotally and seeing in the media that many people who identify as book lovers have suddenly and catastrophically lost their ability to actually read novels. (Yes, I realize that this is a whimsical thing to be depressed about when there is so much suffering in the world right now, but I'm sad about everything else, and yet I still can't help feeling sad about literacy too. Skip this first paragraph if you can't stand the sound of a tiny violin today--My attitude has already been readjusted.) The story goes that this decline in literacy started at the end of the 20th century with the expansion of internet culture, which wasn't just another distraction but changed people's brains on a neurological level. Then the pandemic's mental fog and toxic stress accelerated the loss of literacy. The story implied that I was a functionally extinct sort of dinosaur for having take

Mental Health Monday: Accepting the Silence

We thought that maybe this would be the After Times by now, or at least we would have them scheduled in our 2022 appointment books--the last vaccinations for the last little people in our families, releasing us finally from this constant dread. The last wave of death. The last holiday without hugs. But no, there are no answers yet. There is no resolution. There is no closure. There are only closures and cancellations, again! Saturday Night Live and other shows with audiences have pulled up their stakes without warning. Return-to-work dates for office buildings have been declared absurd. Businesses are shutting their doors "for the holidays" but especially for these particular holidays. Again, we wait, without knowing if there will ever be clear answers about what's happening, for how long, and what we're supposed to do in the meantime. I am trying to accept and appreciate that. I've already forgotten why or how to be angry at America's cultural and personal c

Pocket of Joy: Being a QUITTER QUITTER GLITZ AND GLITTER!

Sometimes it's better than a turkey dinner , especially in the time of Covid . As a follow-up to my recent advice to " let yourself eat cake ," I think we should all unironically consider the advice of Prince Richie McRichface with his wife Mrs. Sparkle and every other million/billion/trillionaire who exhibits this rare rich person behavior: saying something both honest and compassionate that actually aligns with their own observable actions.  I know, it's much easier for someone with "f u money" to quit a toxic employer / family / racist nation / whatever and fly off into the sunset, but it is also possible for people with "f u self-worth" to make a daring escape into the fairy-tale wilderness of prioritizing health over wealth. Many regular people are taking opportunities to switch to better jobs or deciding to retire early , which isn't exactly "quitting" in the way that word is normally used. Some people at that candle factory in

Mental Health Monday: You Need a Nap, a Snack, a Hug, and a Good Story

Alas! And alleluia! I cannot spill any tea nor sling any fudge as promised last week because for now, my family's immediate financial security and access to health care have been restored in exchange for our discretion. I'm sure you know how it is. Sometimes we can make a clean, healthy break and leave a toxic relationship, family, or employer behind us forever. And sometimes that isn't as possible or simple as we would like it to be. So while we learn to survive a harmful situation that can't be ended quite yet, we must be careful not to give up anything that is not required. For example, my husband has promised himself and his family that he will no longer work overtime or agree to do anything in exchange for money that would unnecessarily risk his life or his health.  Now let's pause and send some healing energy to the survivors and surviving loved ones of that candle factory in Kentucky that bullied low-wage overtime workers into staying in an unsafe building w

Pocket of Joy: Hot Chocolate with Extra Cheer

 Cheers to Galliano and Crème de Cacao!  It sure is nice to drop a little naughty in a mug of hot cocoa to wind down in the sparkly evenings of this high-intensity time of year. Any creamy, sweet, or chocolatey liquor will do, but at my house we love the sophisticated and festive complexity of Galliano and the sweet, deep chocolatiness of Crème de Cacao. Although we are dairy-happy people who would never turn down a heap of whipped cream on top, we also appreciate the respectably delicious alternative of macadamia nut milk.  What's your favorite way to naughty up a nice little cup of cocoa? Jean Michelle Miernik is the author of the very nice, deliciously naughty novel  Leirah and the Wild Man: A Tale of Obsession and Survival at the Edges of the Byzantine World .  

So Just Fudge Everything

Ohhhhh fffffffffudge! My family is having a crisis for Christmas... along with many other families, of course. I can't talk about ours yet, but do come back next Monday for the spilling of the tea, slinging of the fudge, and so on. In the meantime, I am eating ice cream for breakfast, at my desk, in my office, while wearing my daughter's novelty Santa hat, and I don't care who judges my fudge. Let yourself eat ice cream. Or cake. That's right, let yourself eat cake. This is 21st century America, and cake is cheaper than onions. If you're having a hard time this holiday season, know that you are not alone. The world is stupid right now. Try to enjoy some sparkles and sprinkles anyway. At stressful times, I like to remember what my Holocaust survivor father-in-law used to say, that he could do without necessities if only he had the right luxuries. So don't worry if you drop some balls this season. Eat ice cream for breakfast, or cake, or both. Accept every gift an

Pocket of Joy: Supply-Unchained Gift Giving

Happy Hannukah, St. Nicholas, Solstice, Christmas, Three Kings, Kwanzaa, birthday, or other winter celebration that involves gift-giving! This is a great year to try out some buy-nothing-new gift ideas that don't fit in a box or that can be wrapped creatively, using found-around-the-house materials like old scarves or tea towels, craft materials, holiday catalogs from your junk mail, or painted-over shoeboxes. There are many ways to get festive and express generosity toward loved ones without spending a lot of money or worrying about shipping and delivery, such as... delivering homemade baked goods or casseroles giving handmade crafts hosting a game night, in-person among the vaccinated or virtual to include parents of young children, the immunocompromised, and others too vulnerable to gather safely indoors regifting new stuff you don't want or need regifting your own used books scouring thrift stores for funny/ugly holiday sweaters getting vaccinated, then offering childcare,