Thursday, March 23, 2017

Thursday Therapy: Get The Fidgets



I spent a good portion of my later childhood raised mostly by my Grandmother - these were the most "normal" days of my life back then, hanging out with my cousins in the field beside our house, singing music that made our Grandmother roll her eyes, wandering in the woods behind the house. Playing Barbies.

We grew up in Central Florida, where in the afternoons the high temperature is almost always somewhere between "why am I so dizzy" and "holy shit my arm just melted off." We got up in the mornings, ate breakfast, and went out to play; we were only "allowed" back in the house for bathroom and drink breaks, which had to be kept quick, and lunchtime.

I look at my kids and shake my head - they're good kids, but they're spoiled. When my cousins and I were my oldest daughter's age, we cooked our own lunch if we didn't want sandwiches - we'd boil up a couple of packs of Ramen, and argue quietly amongst ourselves because some of us liked it with a lot of broth and some liked it with only a little.

I say "some" but there were three of us, not counting the one older cousin who mostly did his own thing. And I think it was just me who ate Ramen with no broth. It's saltier that way, when you drain most of the pasta water off before adding the seasoning pack. And I liked it salty.

Stop it. Can't you see I'm trying to be serious?

Growing up, my grandma had a lot of really funny little Grandma-isms. She always hated for us to watch too much TV - she said it would cause square-eyes, and when she said it, her own eyes would crinkle with amusement. In those days, she was exactly what you would imagine a grandma to look like, short and just a little portly, with a stern demeanor and a perfectly set salt-and-pepper perm, held aloft with enough AquaNet to choke you half to death even from the next room.

She could be funny at times (and sometimes she still is, though it's considerably different now, and by the way, #FuckYouAlzheimers), but she didn't like a lot of extreme outward emotion - which is likely why she and I took so long to find our way around each other. I'm obviously very open emotionally even as an adult, and I'm sure this must have been even more so when I was a child.

She didn't like a lot of noise, and she wasn't fond of my cousins and I getting too rowdy. Dana and I were bad about having lots of private jokes (we still are, and by the way Dana - "KekoKeko," if you're reading this), and we also had a sort of strange telekinesis that always seemed to set us up for trouble. We'd just exchange what would for most people be an ordinary instance of eye contact - for us, this was a direct trigger for unstoppable giggle fits, which never failed to annoy our Grandmother.

As a child, we found that terribly amusing. As an adult now, and indeed as a mother, I often wonder what it was she thought we were giggling over. I wish I could ask her. I wish she could remember, if I did.

She used to get irritated when we'd get to giggling, and she'd snap, "Girls! Cool your heels!" And of course, we'd laugh even harder because that's ridiculous. One time, one of us actually sat down and tore a shoe off, yanked a sock off, and started blowing the bottom of her own foot.

Anyway. Another thing I remember her saying was that I'd "got the fidgets." I was an early riser and so was she, and I'd often sneak out in to the living room while everyone else (but her) still slept. She'd be at the kitchen table having her coffee, and she'd shake her head and sigh. I'd take my book and go silently to the couch (when I had the courage not to go hide in the bathroom, reading on the floor - she was a formidable woman in her heyday), and sit down to read. And if I couldn't get comfortable, my wriggling would annoy her, and she'd say with quiet sternness, "Brandi - still still. You got the fidgets."



It's funny now though - for some reason God saw fit to bless me with two early-birds who rarely sleep in, who somehow seem to instinctively know even if I wake up early on purpose to claim some alone time. Two kids with ADHD, who wake up totally alive every day, at full speed and full volume.

God's funny like that.

"God has a most wicked sense of humor." 
-Maureen O'Hara

Anyway, now I've learned to fidget on purpose. I have a single-decade rosary ring that I find comforting when I want something bumpy, and I wear it pretty much 24/7. I find that when I'm in therapy, when I'm bored, when I'm anxious, whenever my hands just need to be busy, I can slip it off and spin it around in my hands, and it helps. Bonus, it reminds me to pray.


I also have a fidget cube, which was given to me as a gift from my therapist. I tend to keep it in my pocket on days when I'm anxious; I like that I can pull it out to work with my hands. It's got different textures and sounds, and I find different ones more helpful depending on what mood I'm in - the girls have both used it too, and they also like different sides of the cube depending on what they're feeling. I find it helpful if I'm driving through a lot of heavy traffic too - this never used to bother me, but lately I find a lot of traffic triggers my anxiety. I like that this helps.


I have issues with chronic eye fatigue, because I have underactive oil glands in my eyelash ducts or something like that. This means by the end of the day, I can't see well enough anymore to do any sort of detailed, close work - but when I can remember my eye drops well enough to stave it off, I also like to color when I'm anxious, depressed, bored, or just moody. I find the mandala patterns soothing (when they aren't blinding), and there's something incredibly satisfying about sitting down to fill them in. It's rhythmic, almost mindless. I have several different books I pull out now and then, and even a set of coloring pens that I keep for only myself - but as soon as I fill up one of my books and can justify getting a new one, I want this one next:


I love that it's edgy but still motivational, so I can release frustration while chilling out - and also remind myself that whatever's going on, it'll always get better.

Another thing that eases me is Legos. It feels a little childish to admit how much I still LOVE Legos, but I can't help it, I do. I love that I can build anything. A house, a box, a car. A robot. I can build as small as I want, or as large as my collection allows. And when I'm done (or if I screw up), I can always take it down. I can go back to fix it. I can change or adjust it. Legos create calm, but they can create a lot of other practical things too, like storage for on top of your desk, boxes to put on a shelf. The best part is when you don't need them anymore, you can take them apart and just make them into something else. My girls seem to find it satisfying just to stir them around, listening to the bricks click against each other.


Recently, it came to my attention that one of my biggest supporters is about to send her nephew overseas. Karen Henderson is a frequent commenter here - she was also one of the first people who ever signed up to support my Patreon account, and her unwavering support has meant more to me than I can say.

More importantly, she's a proud veteran, a woman who has taken up arms to serve our country, who has given her time, her tears, and her blood to this land and its people. She's from a family of veterans, and as the next generation of her family heads off to fight for our country, he's asked for just one thing - something he can take with him to battle the long nights of homesickness, the long days of stressful and rigorous work. He asked for a way to keep his stress levels down, a way to keep himself busy in his downtime - a way to bond with his fellow soldiers.

He asked for Legos, and since this isn't his first time deployed overseas, I imagine he knows well what works for him.

If you've been reading here very long, you know already that I'm extremely loyal to my country, that I am pro-military, and that I hold our servicemen and woman at the greatest level of respect - especially those who have been overseas, literally risking everything to protect the freedom and safety of families like mine.

"They know what they signed on for."

Yes, that's true, and that's why I respect them so greatly. No one tricks them into signing up and then surprises them with the risks inherent to military service. They know when they sign that contract that at any moment, the military can and will rearrange their entire lives. They know that they're likely to lose loved ones, marriages, friendships. They know that in the course of their daily job life, they're likely to be called to sacrifice their own bodies, their limbs, their sanity. Their lives.

For me, for my friends, for my daughters. For my nephew, for my brothers. And they know what they signed on for.

If you've enjoyed my blog for any period of time, and you come around just to "listen" to what I have to say, thank you. If you've just found this site for the first time, welcome.

And if you love and respect my country even a fraction of how much I do, help me support our military in a small way that will show a spirit of strength and hope to a young man heading off to place so much different than the one we take for granted. Donate some Legos. It can be as many or as few as you want, and you can send them to this address:

Karen Henderson
1368 Mount Sherman Ward Rd
Magnolia, KY 42757

Thank you.

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41 comments:

  1. I color and do puzzle when I'm stressed too. I love that coloring book and added it to my wish list.
    Thanks so much for mentioning my boy. I carry a small folded American flag in my purse my brother came me years ago when he was deployed to remember all the families who have loved ones overseas and away from them.

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    1. Glad you liked the coloring book - that's one I can't wait to get ahold of either! No need for thanks about your nephew though; I meant every word.

      That's cool about your flag!

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  2. This made me laugh because we stayed with our gam during the summers and she couldn't let us back in either. If it was too hot, we had to stay indoors and go out after the noon sun. But I remember fighting with my cousin one day and she made us duke it out before she let us back in. Unfortunately I was the one getting my ass kicked. lol

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    1. Haha! I have a similar story - my stepfather made me and his daughter fight one time because we couldn't get along. He put boxing gloves on us and made us fight til someone bled.

      Thankfully it wasn't me - I probably would have cried a river if she had been bolder and got me first.

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  3. This article brought back so many memories to my childhood. I remember eating ramen noodles my favorite was the chicken flavor.

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    1. Mine are the beef! I like to add veggies to them now.

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  4. I will definitely donate some Legos! So amazing.

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  5. I am from Central FL too. I for sure remember not being allowed in the house most of the day lol I try to do this with my daughter now, and she loves being outside.

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    1. Mine bicker and argue, so I throw them out for a while. But then they just bicker louder and come in every three minutes. I told them if they do that this summer I'm going to lock the door - and they keep on because they know I won't.

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  6. this article make go back in time, when i used to spend all my afternoon drawing dress and dreaming about everything and anything.

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  7. Fidget is such a great word and you never hear it anymore. Those are great childhood memories. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Of course! I'm glad you liked the post!

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  8. I love thinking back to my childhood memories. Even though it feels like a lifetime away. Thank you for sharing your memories with us.

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    1. No problem! It's good to look back sometimes.

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  9. This is so wonderful to want to help support our military. I'm always grateful for all they do for their country.

    Your grandmother sounds like a lovely person.

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    1. She was definitely something special in her heyday! Not that she isn't special anymore, but that she isn't so much herself now. I'm glad you liked the post!

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  10. Great childhood memories. It's amazing how our past stays with us as adults. Sounds like you had a beautiful childhood.

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    1. Well I don't know that I'd call it all beautiful - but I think all lives have moments of beauty, including mine.

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  11. This was such a fun read! Childhood memories are so precious and we can all relate to them! Love it x

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  12. I love your methods of coping with your anxiety, I think having things to keep your hands busy when you have the fidgets and also having creative ways of dealing with it, like coloring and legos are great. It's so wonderful that you are helping Karen's son get legos to take with him on his deployment. I am a huge supporter of our military too, and any way we can help our soldiers.

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    1. Thank you for your comment - I was thrilled to be able to help Karen support her nephew as he heads out for his deployment.

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  13. I wish I had some legos to donate. What a wonderful cause. You now just have me thinking about my grandmother. She used to babysit us grandkids most of the time while our parents worked. She was quite the stern lady.

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    1. I can relate - my grandmother was pretty stern herself. We used to have a family thing where she'd get mad and we'd all say, "Oh no! Grandma's on the warpath again!"

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  14. i've never heard that word before but it makes sense. My mom would say something similar but in Spanish... I don't really remember the word, but it sounded funny.

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    1. It's funny, the things we remember, isn't it?

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  15. Grannies are special in their own way and that's how they make sure that we remember them as we grow up. I think as we go on in life we find out what helps us cope. It's so nice that you're also donating for the army.

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  16. I definitely enjoyed reading this post. I really think grandmothers are amazing! I'm sure you have so many fond memories of her. --Marceline Dementori

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    1. I definitely have great memories of her! Even recently - when she's lucid again, she's hilarious!

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  17. Great tools to help with stress and anxiety! I generally just try to calm down by reading a book.

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    1. I like reading too - the fidgeting tends to help me when I'm anxious enough for reading and music (and other similar activities) to not work anymore.

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  18. hahahaha i used to watch soapies with my grans and i vaguely remember the characters even. was some awesome memories! will definitely check out the coloring books. I gave all my legos to my lil cousin but maybe when he's old enough...

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    1. I remember watching TV with my Grandma too - she liked to watch the news at night, and we also would watch Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy. It was always fun to see if we could figure out the answers to the questions.

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  19. "And five is five." Lol. I definitely remember (some) of our inside jokes from growing up, and cooling our heels will never get old. My best therapy is talking to you. You always get it even when you don't, and generally, by the end of the conversation we're both laughing so hard our stomachs ache over something completely off topic. So .... thanks for not counting. ;-)

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  20. Your post makes me misses my Gran. Yeah sometimes she's annoying because she's very strict and skeptical. But she is also a huge spoiler and generous Gran :)

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    1. Mine had the strict and the skeptical, but she wasn't much of a spoiler! But she taught us strength and steadfastness, perseverance, and to be strong.

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