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October 18
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Artwork for banner adapted from "Mister X," by William P. Marks, Vortex Comics • Blog Title from "Serenity" by Joss Whedon _________________________ A fiber artist making wool felt garments and local wool fleece and yarns on the side, Previously, I have been all these things: • architecture office manager • department store clerk • restaurant: waitress, bartender & barback, cashier, busboy, dishwasher, prep cook, line cook, manager • architecture student • engineering draftsman • graphic designer • advertising art director • magazine publisher • fanzine: publisher, editor, writer, photographer, designer • garage band manager • web designer & programmer • database (FM pro) developer • software trainer • non-profit organization staff member • ad salesman • fiber artist: weaver, spinner, tapestry weaver, dyer, feltmaker • reader • writer • sailor • runner • drinker, toker • big sister • oldest child • wife (2x) • swinging divorcee


NOVEMBER 18, 2011 1:53PM

Big Sister advice

Rate: 21 Flag

One of my sisters called me today, very depressed and not seeing the point of life. Being a good big sister, I unloaded my best platitudes on her and hoped that one of them worked. It's interesting that I usually need to hear this advice as much as she does. So I'm repeating it here so I can take it in, myself. 

sistersYou are not stuck. You have lots of choices. You can stop the thing/job/relationship that you are in the middle of and do something else. Starting today, if necessary. Even if you need time to transition, you can start making plans.

Your job is not to save the planet or make everything right for everyone else. Your job is to make yourself happy, and take care of yourself. If you've gotten roped into fixing things for someone else, and it's wearing you out, start looking for the things that make you happy and formulate a plan to do those things.  

Try not to spend too much time watching or reading the news. It's depressing, and you can't do anything to change it. But you don't have to. Remember, that's not your job, your job is to make yourself happy, and that is the only thing you have control over.  

Make lists. Make lots of lists.  Make lists of things you would feel great about devoting your life to. Be specific. Don't put down World Peace. Put down More Bike Trails or Clean Up My Street. Whatever would make a difference in YOUR world. Make a list of places you'd like to visit and places you'd like to live. Make a list of jobs that might be fun to do. Don't do anything with these lists yet, just fill them up and feel yourself get interested, even excited about what might come next. 

If a relationship or a job isn't working out anymore, don't feel defeated because it didn't last. Nothing is forever, and the whole fairy-tale ending thing "And they lived happily ever after" is bullshit. Life is a succession of experiences, relationships and efforts. It's not easy, but it's ever-changing so you get new chances all the time to do something else. Life is a journey, not a destination, so treat it like a Grand Tour. Make a list of all the experiences you want to have and then make your life about achieving them. 

Don't cut yourself off from people, and depend on one person (your SO) to make you happy. That does lead to isolation and a feeling of being cornered. Friends will always help you to get free and give advice, directions, ideas, and sometimes places to stay and resources to keep you going. The more friends, the more resources. But no one person can make your life worthwhile; that's your job. 

Try to get away for a short time, even if it's just taking afternoons off to sit in the park or the library, and make these plans. Even better is a week in another town, maybe one you'd like to move to. Getting away from the routine helps you to think clearly; a change of scenery can change  your thinking about things. Imagine what other people are doing with their life and see if any of it is intriguing. 

 When something in your lists starts to stick in your head, and you think you want to go in that direction, ask someone to help you formulate your plans, like a coach. That will keep you from getting stuck, and you will have the advantage of two heads. Or get several coaches for different aspects of your plan. Just be sure that you don't do it all by yourself. 

Don't burn any bridges, but start to put dates on your plans. "By this date, I'll decide on a new city, by this date, I'll have an apartment rented, by this date, I'll take this new class," etc. You can always change your schedule, but at least you have a structure and some deadlines for research. 

Money and jobs are scarce now, no doubt about it. But there are people in your life who will help, and even if you don't get the exact situation you wanted, you can still move closer to your ideal and you can definitely make a change in your current arrangements. Most importantly, ask for help. Believe it or not, people want to help you, and will find some way to get you started on your new journey. Even the person you are leaving behind might help you, if you can communicate how the change will make you so much happier.

If you can make even a small change in your life by taking these steps, you'll be going in the right direction and you'll gain confidence in your own ability to control your life. If you can get yourself un-stuck now, you never have to find yourself in a dead-end situation again. I know you can do it!

 And call me anytime. I'm here for you.

(Hey, I haven't heard back from you. Call and let me know how you are doing.) 

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Excellent advice, thanks sis!
That's fine advice for anyone . . . and I've always wanted a sister that had good advice, so thanks for sharing!
So sweet. You are a loving sister.
We all need to hear this advice. You have a comforting and encouraging voice. Thinking of your sister ... and of you.
What a wonderful sister you are! (And let US know how she's doing!)
Sometimes the best advice is the hardest to hear.
Hope you do hear from her soon.
Thanks everyone, but I wasn't kidding when I said it was platitudes. I read this over now and think, god, how insufferable, just like a bossy big sister! Why do they still call me when this is what I serve up? On the other hand, I guess people do get stuck and need a nudge. That's me, the nudger.
They still call you because they appreciate what you have to say. You're not preachy, critical or judgmental. Instead you offer a shoulder to lean on, and lots of reasonable suggestions. You gave your sister a ray of hope that things can change and that she still is in control. And you're a good listener which is the most important thing. Maybe that's all she needed.
Well Ardee, when this world is getting me down, and nothing is in its right place, and living becomes just a task, and my burden's too heavy to bear, and when I can't cling on to the past, cuz I'm not proud of anything I've done, and each moment seems like my last, cuz I'm robbed of all I've won (lyrics courtesy of Arthur Brown, Rest Cure), I'll know whose post to check out. Great advice of the hard knocks, bootstraps variety.
Diana, you are welcome!
Owl, sisters always have lots of advice. Sometimes its good...
Greenheron, I am trying to be that.
Anna and Jeanette, I haven't heard from her; might have pissed her off by posting this. Thanks for sending good thoughts to her, though.
Neil, you strike me as someone who plays the advice-giver as well.
Thanks Margaret, though I'm not famous for listening. But I talk a good game.
Thanks Arthur, er, Abra.
The one about not listening or reading the news is a great one. So much of it is sensationalized and focused on the negative. You would think decent people don't exist anymore. Thank goodness that this site exists. I find wonderful uplifting stories here.
November, that's what I like about OS too.
UPDATE! It seems that my sister has made the step of breaking up with her SO and is starting to make plans to move to the Pacific Northwest as soon as possible. She really wants to move to Alaska, but she is willing to stay in the lower 40 if she can find a job. If anyone is reading this and lives in Oregon, Washington State or Northern California and has suggestions as to: good towns to move to, good towns with jobs, and any other advice and suggestions, she and I appreciate it!
I love big sisters. I've got two.
You'd be a good one too, I think.
One time nearly twenty years ago when my ex & I decided to call it a day, my eldest sis sat us both down & said Whatever you do, keep talking to your girls. Let them know what's going on. Don't make them guess.
I could not have heard wiser words.
The girls are young women now, & regard their aunts with love & awe, as do I. Big sisters are the best.
Kisses, Kim, to the women in your life, and to you. Brother, Husband, Dad, the connections that make you who you are.
Your a good soul and because of this your even greater. Cheers and more and keep up the great advice. I really enjoyed your pointers and more.
Thanks Algis (belatedly) and Kathy!

The news is that she has chosen Corvallis Oregon, and is now saving money and gathering suggestions and info as to places to live and possible jobs. Message me if you have any ideas for her!
Great advice, Leslie. Now why didn't this make EP/cover???
Thanks, Gary. But I don't worry about cover spots. And hopefully, everyone has a big sister with the same good advice.
Ardee, having two sisters I love more than life, I am so glad I found your post. Such a wonderful 'Big Sis' advice, I'm going to share it with mine. Your sister is lucky to be your sister. Best wishes.

Fusuna, my sisters may not always believe they are so lucky, but I hope so! Thanks!
And i thought big sister advice was...big girls don't cry...
I think you might be an Architect of Psychology. If this post was an apartment building, I would want to move into the 14th floor and set up my own room with a view!
"And call me anytime. I'm here for you.

(Hey, I haven't heard back from you. Call and let me know how you are doing.) "

I just had one of these conversations myself, with one of my (3) sisters. But I'm afraid I didn't do nearly as well as this, I should print this off for next time...great advice, you are a wonderful sister...
I needed to hear this advice today. Thanks!
I never did come back and thank you late visitors for commenting, but I did read your comments when you left them. (pretty lame isn't it - I say I'm always there for you and then I'm not.) But Algis, mhold, Heidi, and today, emma, I really am glad that you came and let me know that something I said was helpful. Just so you know, you CAN message me anytime and I will be a good coach if you need one.