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[personal profile] machshefa
My apologies for linking to an flocked post earlier today. (Irons hands)

Below is the text cut and pasted from Ari's journal. I was in session all day with no break and this is my first opportunity to repost it (with Ari's permission, of course). It contains wonderful, thoughtful advice.

*hugs Ari

This post contains a lot of advice unlooked-for - please know that it comes from experience and is meant with tremendous respect, affection, and compassion for all concerned. It might sound preachy. So be it.

The Chicago Fangurls who were at Ground Zero this past weekend are crashing, and crashing hard. They did everything humanly and spiritually possible in the intense burst of crisis, and they do themselves and our community proud.

That said.

The time for adrenalin is over; from here on in, it's going to be a question of stamina.

Here's what I wish someone had told me (I think Annie tried) when we got Dad's terminal diagnosis, or at least soon after.

1. Take care of yourself. A terminal diagnosis happening anywhere on your radar is a great deal like having a new baby. In its absoluteness and its enormity, it can expand to fill every spare moment, thought, and corner of your heart. If you focus entirely on that to the exclusion of yourself, you will break, quite possibly at the worst moment for the person whom you're wanting to help.

So take care of yourself. Do what you do in ordinary times. You don't have to feel guilty about needing normalcy. Normalcy, as I said yesterday, is its own joy; although the potential for sadness right now is extreme, so is the potential for beauty and joy. You may notice small things becoming beautiful. You may find quiet or intense joy in simple acts of kindness, pleasure, and connection.

This road will not get less sad, but there will be moments of tremendous beauty, tremendous peace, tremendous laughter, and tremendous joy on the way.

If you get enough sleep, enough "you" time, enough food, liquid, and [your own personal favorite here], you will be able to fully participate as your absolute best you in something that, although it's immense, is a part of everyone's life.

If you don't, you're going to crash, burn, trainwreck, and be a burden on your friends.

So please post your con pics, your con recaps, your fun moments, your frustrations with your coworkers, your cute animal pics, your writing frustrations, your excitement about your upcoming weddings/moves/jobs/ etc., your thoughts on the movie, the new friends you've made, your flowers, your food, your shoes, your fascinators.


I promise it's not disloyal; I promise it's not trivial by comparision; it's that whole life and connection thing that we value so much we get on planes to go watch movies with Very Specific People.


I can also practically guarantee that when T's settled enough to wish for some internet time, she's going to want fun, interesting, real people stories to imagine and think about. In a way, our LJs are each other's novels - let's give T some good chapters to read/have read to her both in our fics but also in our worlds.

She's still T.

It was awesome to read yer-all's LJs when I was recovering from surgery (once I'd recovered enough to have any interest in anything past the morphine) - it gave me an escape into a world where healthy people were doing normal things, and my imagination brought me to the grocery store aisle where New Motherhood hit Scoffy like a ton of bricks, to the barn to visit my Godpony with Ana, to Machshefa's dining room where Twin1 and Twin2 were doing homework and to the foster home where her soon-to-be kittycats were living. It also took me on a sad, scary journey with Tasha, one that touched my heart profoundly and made me proud to call her "friend" although we've never met.

These things were all precious to me because life is precious.

It's not a betrayal of loyalty to share the mundane. It's the opposite. And it will help. Trust me.


2. There is an order of caregiving that may sound harsh but actually works: Take care of yourself first. (In "newborn baby" mode, this translates to "When baby sleeps, Mama sleeps." There's a different maxim that means the same thing in the Search and Rescue community - take care of yourself first so that other rescuers don't have to rescue you.)

(Told you I was blunt when things are big.)


3. We're all addicted to stories that come at us in print or online. I don't think there's a single person on this f-list who hasn't stayed up ALL NIGHT reading or writing something because it was just too compelling to put down.

You can do that for three days. (At least that's the longest I've ever marathonned. :D) You can't do that for much longer than that. *checks watch* Chicago Ladies, it's been three. Step away from the internet for a time.

Most of our information is going to come to us through the written word, and, because we are compassionate, caring, generous people and avid readers, we're particularly susceptible to getting caught up very thoroughly in the very intense, painful impact this has on our community.

Please be aware of this and take care to step back and breathe sometimes, and remind your good friends to do the same.

Keep an eye on each other. Things will come as they come, and you never know when things will go from "situation quiet" to "situation very not quiet all hands on deck right the fuck NOW!" when you will best help by being on your game and not strung out on adrenalin and lack of sleep.


So Mama Ari's advice to Chicago Fangurlistan is this:

Sleep. Protein. Do something simple that feels good. Re-read a fic, snuggle a pet, watch a movie. Get into your jimjams early. Your systems are still in shock. Recover.

T is in the best hands she can be in for now; for a day or so, really, there's not a lot anyone can do. This will ramp up soon, so take a couple of days now to restore your minds, hearts, and souls to what peace you can.


I have three more pieces of advice for everyone, no matter who you are or where you are.

Some of you know this, and some of you don't, but Fangurlistan saved two lives this weekend. In both cases, cell phone codes became extremely important.

This advice is crucial and comes from experts:

1. Lock your phone.

2. Make sure someone with you knows the code.

(This advice comes from Mr. Ari, who spends a fair bit of his life looking for people who've gone missing and helping people who are in crisis. Location data from an unlocked phone could be a stolen phone; location data from a locked phone increases the chance that the phone is with its actual owner; someone knowing the code means you can get in touch with someone's family RIGHT NOW.)

3. If you were at Ground Zero in Chicago this weekend, please protein load. Your cortisol levels are bound to be completely out of whack; protein will restore them really quickly.

(This advice is from YogaLady Therapist.)

*hugs to all*

~ Mama Ari

Date: 2011-07-21 04:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you, Machshefa. I never knew that about the phone. But it makes a lot of sense.

Date: 2011-07-21 05:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I don't know T and am not involved in this. My warmest good wishes for fortitude and good will go to all of you who are. Four years ago I saw my dearest friend through cancer to the other side (not the side we wish for). The only piece of advice I'd add to this excellent post is: if you're going to see the friend who's ill, cry your damn heart out ahead of time, so that you can be as cheerful as possible when you're in her/his presence. Whatever you do, do NOT cry in front of the friend who's ill.

The shower is an excellent place to sob like a banshee.

You are all heroes.

Date: 2011-07-21 11:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you for this post and for the updates.


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