I’m about to enter a period of uncertainty (but, really, when is anything certain in this temporal world?). On Jan. 1, I’ll go from working a 40-hour-per-week “day job” – with my creative work during nights and weekends as my “side hustle” – to being mostly self-employed with a change to on-call status at the company I’ve worked for since 2015. This means I’m reviving my freelance editing career (launched in 1994 as a “side hustle” to my full-time newspaper job), adding virtual assistant work to that and writing more books. I published my first book this month, and I’m already working on Book 2, a prequel in the series.
This may be an uncertain period, but I’m wildly excited to see what the Lord is about to do. I’ll have more time for the things I’ve been shoving off to the side for way too long, but it also means irregular income. (Pray for us!) I’ve learned to roll with a certain level of uncertainty 😊, even though it’s uncomfortable at times. I know that the Lord is faithful, and He’ll never leave us or forsake us.
I actually started my first blog, Suzy & Spice (suzyoakley.com is my THIRD blog), during a year of tremendous uncertainty, upheaval and family illness. I’ll share the details with you sometime, but I wanted to share this fun post below if you’re heading into 2020 hoping for a little less crazy and frantic.
Originally posted on Suzy & Spice in 2011, when I was working full time, in school part time, trying to sell our house 90 miles away and generally STRESSING OUT. (As for the headline, if you don’t remember Susan Powter and her tagline “stop the insanity” from the early 1990s, it won’t mean anything to you, but old-timers will get it. 😊 Also, a nod to my late friend and colleague Michael Storey, who had a satire column in the voice of his dead cat Otus and periodically talked about the “humidity pods” that descend on Arkansas each year.)
Stop the insanity (pods)!
A giant insanity pod has descended upon me and has taken up residence on top of my head. For the past few days, it’s been trying to make its way through my dense thicket of hair to creep into my cranium and wreak havoc with my internal circuitry. It threatens to annihilate me if something is not done to stop it.
What is an insanity pod, you say? You won’t find the precise definition in any dictionary, but an insanity pod is much like the humidity pods that descend upon Arkansas about this time of year and don’t leave until October or November. It’s a presence you dislike, but you learn to live with it, much like you learn to live with oily skin, or a husband who steals the covers. Until it’s time to cry out, “Enough is enough!” or “Out, out, darn pod!”
But, unlike with the humidity pods, you have some measure of control – within predetermined parameters – over an insanity pod. For instance, you can control how large it gets and how long it stays attached to your brain – or whether it makes it past your scalp in the first place.
In case you have never heard of insanity pods, we offer this helpful Q&A:
How do insanity pods form?
No one knows for certain how the first pod came to be, but it grew and spawned other pods (much like Amish friendship bread). They approach the most vulnerable victim first (they can tell who you are). They begin by spotting someone with an overloaded schedule, too much stress from the challenges of life, a poor diet, the inability to sleep through the night and a merely compulsory reading of the Word. To that they pile on more stress, which leads to impulse eating, more insomnia, uncontrollable drooling, chocolate cravings and a worried mother (well, that last one is just a fact of everyday life, but it becomes more obvious as the insanity pod tightens its invisible tentacles around your nerve endings).
How do insanity pods manifest?
The list of symptoms is exhaustive, but, among other things, the pods cause forgetfulness, crankiness, night blindness, a messy house and the Scary Mama Voice when the dogs misbehave (which means when they act like themselves).
Who suffers from insanity pods?
As mentioned above, the pods attack the most vulnerable members of society first. The most likely victim is female, age 35-55, premenopausal, works full time, goes to school part time, volunteers at church and takes care of children, an aging parent, a chronically ill spouse or at least two pets – or all of the above. (We should mention that the sufferers include not only the victim, but relatives and members of the victim’s work and social circles.)
What can a loved one of an insanity-pod sufferer do to help?
Just stay out of the way, baby.
How does one “stop the insanity”?
As with an addiction to alcohol, food, shopping, gambling or Dancing with the Stars, the insanity-pod sufferer, or IPS, must admit her affliction. That is the first and most crucial step. (If the malady is caught early enough, there is no need for a formal 12-step program.) Then she must recite the insanity – er, serenity – prayer:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and sufficient distance from sharp or heavy objects that can be used as weapons.
The next step is to begin removing obstacles to sanity, starting with items (even seemingly important ones) on her social, business and volunteer calendars, even if others don’t understand why this is happening. Would they rather find out about it in the newspaper or on the 10 o’clock news? (“Disgruntled worker takes out 23 colleagues, then turns the staple gun on herself – coming up after the break!”)
Relief can be immediate, much like when an Alka-Seltzer grants the first gut-relieving belch. In fact, when the first one or two items fall off the calendar, the IPS begins feeling lighter and the furrowed brow begins smoothing out. Then recovery can begin in earnest.
Within weeks (or perhaps days, depending the sufferer’s commitment to the program) a balance has been struck – the schedule is more manageable, school is out for the summer, the sufferer’s mother and the dogs are speaking to her again, the husband has stopped sleeping on the sofa. At this point, it is probably safe to approach, but proceed with caution. There could be a relapse. It is best to monitor the IPS from a distance for a few days to be sure equilibrium has, indeed, been restored.
How can you tell when the insanity pod has left for good?
As there is no immunization at this time, there is no way to permanently remove the threat of insanity pods. But you can minimize the risk by remaining vigilant. The sufferer should get adequate sleep and exercise, stay hydrated, restrict caffeine, take long baths, play with the dogs, spend time with her husband, immerse herself in a few pieces of quality literature (no, we’re not talking about People magazine), work/play in the garden, write in her blog, eat 1-2 ounces of dark chocolate daily, watch Saturday morning Food Network and/or HGTV, listen to music, visit her mother more often (this should go without saying), pray and read Scripture regularly, and start reading the Sunday funny pages again.
This way, when the fall semester begins and the cycle threatens to repeat itself, the insanity pod will be less likely to try to park its ugly head on top of this particular victim’s. It will simply move on to the next unsuspecting forty-something woman and try to suck out her brain.
Help researchers find a cure for insanity pods! Contribute your suggestions by leaving a comment below. Or just send me a check.