OMG! I have Election Stress Disorder!

Just when I thought all the years of therapy had finally done their magic, and that I’d be free at last, I discover that my fatigue, nail biting,  cynicism, and catastrophic thoughts about the future aren’t related to my crazy family upbringing, but about NOW, 2016 with this psycho election! The fact that I’m glued to the TV set, watching the pundits fight about whose crimes are worse, who’s a wuss, who’s really a psychothopathic liar, who’s fingers should be on the nuclear codes, is not because I’m a glutton for punishment, but all manifestations of my new diagnosis: Election Stress Disorder! AND, to make matters worse, I am apparently in good company with half the planet!

As a psychotherapist always keyed into actionable, positive change attitudes and behaviors, this one really stumps me. How do we all feel more hopeful and impactful when every day new dirt gets dug up on our candidates of “choice,” with Russia and Wikileaks playing their hand in events as well? This is a paranoid’s wet dream! One candidate is clearly a Neanderthal, the other cast as a disingenuous double talker. And, speaking of double talk, no one ever answers a question directly anymore, but on both sides they all pivot constantly, meaning deflect, avoid, spin! I pity the poor journalists who have to listen to this day in and day out without losing their cool!

Maybe the only hope for all of us with ESD is to remember that nothing lasts forever, that most truths come out in the wash eventually, that Election Day is less than a month away, and that until then, we all can put our fingers on the “Off” button when we’ve had enough. (Now, gotta go watch the final debate….)

Technology Woes (or “Wanting to Tear Your Hair Out Now!”)

Today hasn’t been a good day. Even though I woke up after a full night’s sleep in a good mood, had an invigorating workout and a yummy breakfast, the rest of the day so far hasn’t been the best. Try this on for size:

  • I get an email saying my Eddie Bauer account has likely been hacked – “Look up the last six months of transactions on the card you use, put a fraud alert on all credit bureaus, and sign up for more identity protection!”  That, so far, has taken two hours.
  • I get another email from my patient portal saying I have an important message from my doctor’s office – “Sign in and read immediately!” (Am I dying, and they didn’t tell me in person when I went in for tendonitis? Or maybe that cyst on my arm is leprosy?) I try to be compliant, and after five login attempts I get locked out. (Where did I put that username and password information)? I call several doctor’s offices to see who sent me the mysterious message and why, and so far haven’t gotten through to any of the offices that might use that portal. The offices I did reach don’t use it.
  • I go to my site to write an inspiring blogpost and am locked out for some mysterious reason during the first eight login attempts. It must be the “infected files” on the site five different security analysts can’t seem to figure out. Now, here I am, mystery still not solved, writing a not-so-inspiring post.
  • I try to write my next article for my subscription lists and the aWeber hosting site is upside down and sideways, no buttons working properly until I’ve made about ten attempts. Finally, I get the article out, realizing it’s about two weeks late. Shame on me, I’ve been having too much fun avoiding the f#ck*#g internet this summer, and now I’m paying for it!

So, gentle reader, if you too have had days like this, know you’re not alone if you have also felt like tearing your hair out when it happened. (“happens” is more like it). You experience what we call a “lack of agency,” or an inability to intervene effectively on your own behalf. It creates a sense of complete helplessness, and that’s not good!  In my case, I can’t WAIT to get to “work” seeing my clients who have real problems, so I can hopefully have some effect somewhere today!                                    

PS. If you don’t do too well with stress, feel free to call me for an appointment at 603-431-7131, knowing that I understand…..

Do You Suffer From Pudding on Your Finger?

If so, according to my highly informed husband, you are in good company with half the planet!

Earlier this evening my husband and I were sitting in our hut tub, savoring the warmth as we gazed up at a starless, moonlit winter sky. I then began to grouse about not being able to set up “Touch ID” on my new iPhone which required a four digit passcode I didn’t know. It would have been so cool to have my unique fingerprint give me exclusive access to all my stuff in the new device! Incredulous, Thom then launched into an impassioned speech about how that was actually a good thing, as he’d read that “Touch ID” could compromise one’s security, particularly if you happen to have pudding on your finger! Apparently, this problem has plagued thousands of innocent smartphone users all over the world. (A well read, very intelligent person telling me this with absolute conviction).

Having fortuitously been saved from this apparent horror, I began to wonder how many unfortunate souls have suffered from pudding on their finger?
– while x-country skiing
– while driving in a hurricane
– while making a speech in a political campaign
– while swimming with dolphins
– while clapping enthusiastically at a Broadway show

The gruesome possibilities are endless! It’s something new we probably haven’t worried enough about! OMG!!!!

So, if you too have been unable to set up “Touch ID” on your fancy new phone, don’t complain! Don’t get frustrated! Count your blessings while you manually key in your old passcode with the rest of the masses. And remember, sometimes this new-fangled technology can be a really, really dangerous thing……

Technical Difficulties

I am a person who likes to feel in control. When I sign onto things, I like to think I can count on certain outcomes. Maybe I’m rigid.

Case in point: I am the host of a BlogTalk Radio show called The Couplespeak™ Relationship Forum. I’ve been doing the show for more than three years, have interviewed lots of fascinating guests, and have prided myself on being well prepared with an understanding of the issues, and questions that don’t seem totally moronic. What I don’t count on is encouraging callers to use the 877 toll-free line, then having them reach dead air, nada. Or, when I purchase a transcript of one of the shows, I don’t expect it to read like hieroglyphics! What drives me crazy at this point in my life is dealing with products and services like this where all the tech support people are lovely, helpful and earnest, but the technical realities seem to come from the Stone Age!

Am I the only one who doesn’t understand why suddenly the hugely expensive universal remote in the master bedroom no longer turns on the “PVR”? (whatever that is). Or, why the answering machine has decided not to answer? Is it just me, or have you too wanted to throw your fax machine out the window when it takes hours to connect, then suddenly stops giving you a “transmission report”? Not to mention my office microwave which inexplicably now takes two minutes to heat up a warm cup of coffee. Oh, I forgot – how about my wireless landline phone which now magically flicks off of “speakerphone” mode in the middle of a call? Is it unrealistic to expect that if I don’t log off of the Square app on my phone, that I wouldn’t have to log back in after the last transaction thirty seconds ago? Is it too much to ask that if I’ve set my alarm for 8 AM that I could change that to 8:10 if I want to snooze some more?

Am I the only one with such maddening, baffling and pervasive technical difficulties? Am I just too rigid in my expectations, or have I mysteriously landed on another planet?

Indecision Crazies and Mayor Rob Ford

Indecision is defined by the Merriam Webster dictionary as “a wavering between two possible courses of action.” I define it as “going crazy”!

Today I couldn’t decide what I wanted for breakfast. Then I couldn’t decide what to wear for my day at work. Then I couldn’t decide if I was hungry for lunch, because earlier, I couldn’t decide whether to throw out a two-day old salad or pack it, so I sort of packed it, but then didn’t eat it, because I couldn’t decide if it would sicken me or not. Then I couldn’t decide whether or not to go to an evening professional meeting, because I couldn’t decide if the blizzard was coming or not. After I didn’t go to the meeting, I regretted not going, feeling like a wuss. Later at home, I couldn’t decide whether to watch some TV, read, answer emails or make some calls. So here I am, not knowing why I’m writing this post, half reading the subtitles on the bizarre news I’m not really watching.

Things could be much worse: I could be Crack-smoking Mayor Rob Ford in a fast food restaurant, not able to decide if he’s been drinking and drugging or not, slurring words and shouting obscenities in an offensive Jamaican accent in front of the entire world.

It’s all a matter of perspective!

Marital Conspiracies

“All you need to do is to augment the salad.”

It’s what I say to my husband Thom about three times a week when we touch base before coming home from a long day at work. He generally calls and asks what the deal is for dinner on a midweek night. I know he’s exhausted, and won’t be very chirpy about doing anything elaborate for an evening meal when neither of us have given any time or thought to it. So, I tell him this, even when the leftover “salad” now consists of three pathetic pieces of lettuce and a lonely chunk of tomato in the bottom of a giant bowl. (Not to mention the fact that there’s nothing else in sight for dinner). I know if Thom gets home first he’ll add Spring Mix, onions, tomatoes, celery, carrots, pumpkin seeds, nectarines, Feta or Blue cheese and who knows what else to the salad he’s “augmenting.” But if I ask for that beforehand, my sweet natured hubby will get very cranky – and I don’t  want to come home to a cranky hubby at the end of a long day with cranky clients.

“Augment the salad” has now become code for any unsavory requests we want to make more palatable, by minimizing them to each other. Last night it was putting the kayak holder on my car in the dark, so I’d be ready for today’s excursion to Newcastle at the crack of dawn. Two days ago, it was re-attaching a rewired lamp to the wall by my reading/writing chair. On Tuesday before going to work I had to “augment” his “salad” by helping him haul and unload a house-sized trailer of brush to the dump (which was then closed!) Two days before that, it was a “five minute job” of helping him take four air conditioners out of their windows and into the garage. The “salad” list goes on and on. It’s a weird, conspiratorial folly we embrace by default.

So, how do you “augment the salad” in your marriage?

The Little TV That Ate The House

It all started as a benign thought: Wouldn’t it be nice to actually see the news, not just hear it when I’m getting dressed in the morning? The old dinosaur TV was good for one thing – it was so big and wide that I could put my whole breakfast on top of it while putting on my makeup at the sink. I could even fit my morning coffee there! But alas, as I heard about all the craziness in the world on the news each morning, the reception was so bad that it was hard to make out who the nuts were – too much static.

So off we went, (I co-opted my unsuspecting husband into my TV caper), to find a nice new 32″ flatscreen. Because I’m fussy, of course it had to have 1080 P (or whatever letter of the alphabet they give for the most pixels. Up went the price and the search. But what a deal at $299! Put it in the cart, please. But wait! $299. doesn’t give you squat for sound, so let’s just add a soundbar with a built-in boombox,  so Dave, next door, with his $35,000 home theater will be impressed. What’s another $149. (reduced from $279. as an “open box” item)?! Put it in the cart! But speaking of “cart,” how’s the whole new contraption going to fit on the teeny antique side table the old dinosaur sat upon? Nope. Gotta go get a new “cart”.  Up till 3 AM researching carts on the internet. (I’m fussy, so a new one would have to match our bedroom furniture nicely, not one of those chrome monstrosities). Finally find a TV stand to the tune of $400., but oh, such a perfect match, and what another great deal at a 20% discount! So in between clients, off I go to get the stand. In the meantime, we realize the old TV cable box wasn’t HD compatible, and the new TV is of course HD, so off my husband, Thom goes to deal with Comcast for an upgrade. That was almost the end of Thom, dealing with customer service people in China to pick up a new box one mile away from where he works. Of course they screw up and turn off the cable service in the whole house, so Thom comes home to NO TV ANYWHERE, NOT EVEN THE DINOSAUR TV. (And on a Friday night with Thai takeout, Thom wants his TV!) After 3 hours of intercontinental wrangling, the service is back on, I walk in, overflowing with the new additions to our family, and I now sit here wondering “hmmm….. $770. later, why was it that I had to actually see the news?”

Nothing Is Ever Easy!

Have you ever had days where everything you try to do seems to get complicated by red tape or bigger problems?

Try this on for size:

I go to get a routine “balance and rotation” at my local car service place for my practically new (28,000 miles) car I’ve kept in great shape. It ends up requiring new brakes and more complicated fixings I can’t even comprehend, to the tune of more than $300.! (and 3 hours waiting time, not 45 minutes)

I proudly paint all the trim on the back of the house after carefully matching the color to the existing one, only to find it’s mysteriously WAY bluer and more glossy than the previous color, so now it looks like we’ll either have a two-tone trim, with windows and doors and upper floors one color, and the ground floor another color, or I’ll have to re-paint the whole side of the house.

I do my 23rd BlogTalk Radio show, only to discover that the crackling sound of someone eating corn flakes has gotten worse. I don’t eat anything during shows, so I’m not the culprit, it must be the USB port, the Skype connection, or my headset. This mystery has still not been solved….

I get notified of some possible fraudulent activity by some sociopath on my main business credit card, so I have to spend the next week contacting all the billing departments of all the vendors I do business with of the change to a new card. In the process, I discover that not all the passwords on file jive with the ones I have recorded, so that’s another several hours! (Not to mention all the websites that don’t work properly…)

I get notified of an enormous “quality credentialing” process I need to be on file with, which requires me to dig up every detail of my professional life back to the time of the cavemen. (“When did you start and stop using your maiden name, when did you start and stop hyphenating it with your married name”?) Mind you, I have trouble remembering what year I graduated High School, let alone the specific days when I graduated from college and grad school, and what their numbers and faxes are! This requires a trip to my office to actually look at the degrees on my wall.

Then, as I do the bi-annual transfer of clothes from and to the attic (5 huge boxes), I discover that it will take me until next winter to get the whole job done. So what if I’m wearing sandals in February…

And, my favorite pair of cozy, black jeans has totally disappeared. (Probably the same bandit who took off with my credit card number, or the same wiesel who changed the color on the paint can!)

All I can say is two things:

1. Thank God for my clients with their “normal” problems!

2. Nothing is ever easy!

PS. For more of my musings about life, love, and the absurd, sign up as a subscriber (on the right) to get loads of free articles.

Extreme Packing for a Measly Three Day Trip

Does this look familiar? Are you one of the control freaks (like me) who prepares for a little getaway by packing everything you could possibly use in any weather or eventuality?

My husband and I are going for our ritual little end of summer getaway to Block Island for a long weekend. It’s a lovely little escape from all the hustle and bustle of the mainland, and actually reminds of an Ireland – France combo with its rolling hills, stone walls, and ocean cliffs. The problem though, is when you get a weather report which indicates tornados going into the weekend, sunny warm days, and 55 degree nights. So what do I do? I practice extreme packing for 31/2 seasons, bringing everything from bathing suits, beach towels and chairs, to Polartec jackets. We also bring all our own liquor and wine because the prices there are exorbitant. Oh, not to mention the seltzer for spritzers, piles of fruit, sandwiches and chips, cookies and whatnot. Then there’s the workout shoes and outfits for hot, cool, or freezing conditions.

(One of my mottos is “Be prepared!)

The only slight snag in the plan is that we have to fit all this crap in the wee little dinky trunk of our old Beemer 2-person convertible! There’s barely enough room in there for a big sandwich! I wonder what would happen if one year we just played it all by ear, weren’t so over-prepared, and just let whatever happened, happen. Would the sky fall in? Would we have a better time?

I may never know because I’m wedded to the illusion of control…………….

Wish me luck!
Susan Lager

PS. For more of my writings about the deep and the mundane, in and out of relationships, go to my website,

Weird Day

How’s this for a weird day:

I wake up to a spider lazily crawling across my hand. I go downstairs to find Mackey, my cat, has vomited all over his food bowl. He’s looking very bored as he sits illegally atop our most precious Italian leather chair. I go onto my computer to check my email, only to find that all the information in the footer area of my website has mysteriously disappeared. My webmaster has also mysteriously disappeared, and no longer works for the hosting company.The weird day is now into full swing…..

I’m en route to an orthopedic appointment when a Sirius XM radio show about affairs comes on, and before I know it, I’m on the air, excitedly chatting with the usually arrogant host, even though I’m in heavy traffic and now late for the doc. I meet with the doc who seems like he’s stoned, show him the mysterious bump on my foot, and he tells me, no, contrary to public opinion, I won’t need a major, bone-shaving operation, I just walk an awful lot, here’s two cheap insoles, walk less. I get a rare parking spot directly in front of my building, so, for once, no need to walk. I see several clients, and they’re all having a wonderful week, no problems in sight (?) I find as yet unidentified brown, chewy things in my salad, but hungrily eat it anyway. I spend the next hour waiting to die. Nothing remarkable happens, except my fax machine won’t work. I go to my mailbox, and there’s nothing there, not even a coupon. I see some very big, strange thing swimming in the pond outside my window. (????)……  Later, my husband and I watch a movie we both like, and he actually stays awake for the whole thing!

Some days are just weird.

I’m outta here,
Susan Lager

PS. For more precious insights, check out this website.

PSS. What do you think happened to the footer?

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Susan Lager

I am a licensed, board certified pyschotherapist and relationship coach in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Through my psychotherapy or coaching services, I can provide you with skills and tools to transform your life.

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