May 14, 2017

Saying "yes"

I had a great day yesterday.

When I started my new medication (I think it's been six weeks ago now?), and I started feeling better almost immediately, I decided to change several things in my life. Looking back at the last 30 or so years of my life, I'm starting to piece together how my bipolar disorder played a role in several aspects of my life.

Socially, I always felt awkward. I never felt like I fit in anywhere, and going out was always uncomfortable for me. If I was depressed, I never wanted to do anything at all; if I was hypomanic, I was in a great mood, but usually felt overwhelmed. Also, when I was hypomanic, I would make lots of plans with friends, and inevitably, fall back into depression and cancel or not enjoy myself. I still had friends, and would get together occasionally, but I rarely went out of my way to initiate things.

Recently, when I started feeling more stable, I decided that I was going to start saying "yes" more. I was so used to turning down plans and events for mood reasons (not knowing what mood I would be in when that day came around). I also decided to start reaching out to friends more often--even if it was just a quick text a few times a week to say hello.

I started with my friend Sarah. She lives in Arizona now, but we were the best of friends growing up. She was born just three days before I was, and we lived two houses apart for the first 15 years of our lives. We were inseparable, and we were even roommates in college. She was the maid of honor in my wedding, and I was her matron of honor years later, even after she moved to Arizona.

I think this was the first day of kindergarten

Pregnancies--2004 for me, and 2013 for her
We never stopped being friends, but we talked SO infrequently--maybe just three times a year to catch up. About a month ago, I started texting here and there--nothing major, but enough to feel like we were reconnecting. And then last week, we talked on the phone for a long time, and it was great! The nice thing about our friendship is that we always pick up where we left off--it's not awkward in any way. We still feel comfortable telling each other personal things that we wouldn't share with many people, and we know each other's personalities so well.

She was super supportive when I told her I was diagnosed with bipolar. And the diagnosis explained a LOT about my personality in college, when we lived together for two years. Anyway, it's been really nice reconnecting with her.

I've reached out to several other friends to make plans, and I find that I'm really looking forward to it. I used to feel awkward, like I had to try harder to be "normal" than other people did (I realize that sounds very odd).

A few days ago, my friend Jessica sent me a text to ask if I would want to go on a party bus to Greektown Casino in Detroit. I knew she was fully expecting me to say no, and I was probably the last person that she had asked (which I totally understood). Two months ago, I definitely would have said no! But I immediately responded that yes, I would go. She was very surprised, which even came through on her texts, and I found it pretty funny.

I was still nervous to go, but nothing like I would have been in the past. Actually, my biggest concern was spending money! Jerry and I have been trying to cut back on spending, and we created a budget. We give ourselves "allowance" every week to spend on whatever we want. I wasn't sure how much I would need for Detroit, but Jessica said she was on a tight budget, too, and we wouldn't even be spending much time in the casino--we would each play our $20 that comes with the trip's tickets, and then be done.

So, I said yes, and I committed to not backing out, no matter how I felt on Saturday. I've been feeling really good lately, and I was grateful that yesterday was no exception. I was kind of excited to dress up a little (not super dressy, but more so than usual). I picked Jessica up and we went to the meeting spot for the bus, which left at 4:00.

I only planned on having two drinks max for the night, so I didn't drink on the bus. When we got to the casino, we picked up the cards that we were given with our tickets--$20 in "free" play (I put free in quotes, because the tickets were $40 for the trip). I had already decided that I was going to play $20 on roulette--numbers 11 and 33--for just one spin. We went to the roulette tables first, and I found a table that had actually gotten both 11 and 33 in the past 10 spins, so I thought maybe that was a sign I should play at that table.

I had no clue what I was doing, but I laughed, asked questions, and apologized for doing things I wasn't supposed to--like place my chips next to the others on the squares, instead of on top of them--and one man said, "There's no 'sorry' in roulette!" They were all friendly and understanding. (In the past, I would have been embarrassed, overwhelmed, and frustrated). They spun the wheel, and the ball landed on number 31. So, 11 and 33 weren't my lucky numbers in that moment after all, and I learned that there was "sorry" in roulette, because I had just wasted $20! Haha, it was fun to imagine winning, though.

We headed over to the slot machines to use our prepaid cards. I hate slot machines! I don't understand them at all. I found a Wheel of Fortune machine, which looked fun if I got to spin the wheel (I didn't get to) and quickly ran through the $20 on the card (it was a $1 per credit machine, so it didn't take long).

Wheel of (mis)Fortune
Then I was done gambling. Jessica found a penny slot machine to try. I told her that the penny slots are probably a waste, because even if you get a ton of credits, they are only worth a penny each!

She played $3, and then she got some sort of bonus of five free spins. She won $123!!! I was shocked. I convinced her to stop playing while she was ahead, and just keep the money she won. She finished out the rest of the $20 on her card (we weren't able to cash that in, so it had to be used up or we would lose it), and then she cashed out and we left the casino.

Winner winner!
We walked across the street to Astoria, my favorite bakery. I wanted a piece of carrot cake, and it looked delicious.

Jessica got something for later, because she wanted to eat at Wahlbergers, which recently opened in Detroit. We sat outside and I ate my cake while she had a burger. We had several hours to kill until the bus left, so we started walking around downtown. I couldn't believe how much night life the city has on a Saturday night! I'm used to going to Detroit during the day, and it's not busy at all. But there were tons of people out enjoying the nice weather.

There was a band set up in Campus Martius, so we sat at the fountain and chatted for a little bit. Jessica had never played Keno and said she wanted to try it, so we looked around for a little while trying to find a bar that had Keno (you can play for a long time with very little money, so it's really the only gambling I ever do). We didn't have luck finding Keno, but we really enjoyed walking around downtown. People watching is the best!

Campus Martius at the fountain
We went to Pappy's, a bar across from the casino, and each had a vodka tonic. We found a little table by what I thought was a glass window, but it turned out to be a big open rectangle that looked like a window, only without the glass. It was perfect for sitting and chatting, while watching people walk by and enjoying the night air.

At 9:15, we stopped at Astoria again because we thought a piece of baklava would be the perfect ending to the evening in Greektown! We took that with us to the bus and ate it there. It was SO good, but pretty rich, so I just ate half of my piece (considering I'd had cake earlier).

We both talked about how far Detroit has come as a city, and how it would make a great date night or just a fun place to hang out with friends on a Saturday night. My very favorite thing to do in new cities (or when I go on trips to visit people) is to walk around the city and just check things out and people watch. Even though Detroit isn't anywhere "new" to me, seeing it in a different perspective (on a Saturday night) was almost like exploring a new city.

It was also nice to realize that I could out in a situation like that (party bus, casino, bars) and have fun without drinking. I had one vodka tonic, but that was toward the end of the evening. I used to feel more comfortable socially when having a few drinks, because it relieved any social anxiety I was feeling. Yesterday, though, I had a great time.

I'm really glad that Jessica asked me to go, even though she was sure I'd say no. If I had said no, I would have missed out on a very fun evening with a good friend in my favorite city!

This morning, I woke up to my usual routine, and my kids wished me a happy Mother's Day. They gave me a gift they'd been working on for a very long time--some fill-in-the-blank books about us! I had them make similar books for my parents and for Jerry last Father's Day, so I was very excited that they made the books for me.

I sat down with each of them to read through their books and look at the pictures they chose. It was funny, and even interesting, to read about their memories--things I had forgotten or just didn't consider very memorable. There were things we did together that must have made an impression on the kids, because they wrote a lot of memories that surprised me.

Eli's memory of when we went to Cedar Point and
there was a downpour--the whole park flooded in minutes!

Noah's memory of when we went to Cleveland for a night
before heading to Punta Cana in the morning

It was funny to see what they think I do during the day when they are at school (watch TV, eat ice cream, etc. Hahaha!). For the record, the only TV I watch is in the evenings with the family, or with Jerry before bed--honest. It was very cute to read the things they thought I was good at, and the things they think I need to work on.

This made me laugh! Eli's memory of our hotel inHershey, PA,
which was definitely an "experience"
Noah's list of things I always have time for.
I loved that he notices these things! I never knew.

It was basically just like seeing myself through my kids' eyes, which was both funny and enlightening. I loved the books!

In addition to the book, Eli made me rose out of clay in his after-school art club. I was amazed! It is so pretty, and Eli really is such a talented artist.

Jerry had to work today, but he had helped the kids put the finish touches on their books yesterday. Becky is coming over with Lucas any minute, and I can't wait! I haven't seen him in at least a couple of weeks.

Happy Mother's Day to all of you moms out there! :)


  1. Happy mothers Day!!! Great job saying yes!

  2. You would like the book "A Year of Yes " by Sondra Rhimes, very funny and very inspiring. She pledged to saying yes more for a year and watched what happened!

    1. You're the second person to recommend this to me--I'm definitely going to check it out. Thank you!

    2. Okay, I actually just ordered it on Amazon. I need something for the long flight to Portland!

  3. Happy Mothers day! This is so great, way to say YEs!

  4. thanks for being so candid with your life. It is beautiful to read and while we all struggle with different things- it is powerful to feel you aren't alone! Hugs!

    1. Thank you, Brenna! I have gotten so much support through this blog--and I am eternally grateful for that. I appreciate the comment!

  5. What a lovely gift from your boys. Jerry was so very thoughtful to think of doing this for you!! My hubs doesn't usually get me anything for Mother's Day, telling me, "You're not my mother." But this year he got me a beautiful Precious Moment figurine that I have been salivating over. So maybe after almost 47 years, he finally got the message. My boys (all 3 of them), also remembered me with visits as well as lovely gifts--I guess I did something right?!)

    I have a friend like your Jessica. Beth and I grew up together, became best friends in 5th grade, and she was Maid of Honor at my wedding, as I was at her's a year later. She moved out of town, but when we speak, which isn't as often as it should be, it's as if we've never been apart. Today is her 66th birthday, and taking a hint from you, I texted her a "Happy Birthday" message. Thanks for the great idea and Happy Mother's Day to you Katie!!!

    1. That's great that you have a best friend that you met so long ago! It's really nice to have people in our lives (whether frequently or not) who have been there since we were kids.

  6. Happy Mothers day! Happy to hear you are doing well. Your kids are the sweetest :-)


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