An Adultitis Fighter is someone who rallies against rules that don’t exist and engages in ruthless, senseless acts of silliness that undermine Adultitis and its unadventurous version of adulthood. Once a month, we shine a light upon the most remarkable among us, holding them up as a dazzling example of what we should strive for in this epic battle against a formidable enemy.
If you would ever have the privilege of meeting Angela Dunlap in person, you will walk away a better person for having had this experience. She is a ray of sunshine! Her spirit shines bright and it is a gift to those she encounters.
Luckily for the world, she works with a variety of college students and staff of all ages and has the ability to shine this light generously on the daily, sending a ripple effect out continuously. Angela also has an amazing superpower of capturing wonder with her gifted photography skills. This is a playground she frequents regularly on her journey of fighting Adultitis. Angela has a very peaceful vibe about her and luckily for us, she shares below some of the ways this is intentionally possible. She is an encourager, a light beam, and we are blessed to receive her peace!
In recognition of their efforts, Adultitis Fighters of the Month receive a special mini-canvas hand-painted by Jason, along with a certificate of honor, a sweet patch, and other Adultitis-Fighting tools. We asked Angela some questions about how she fights the Big A and what advice she has for others…
What are some of your favorite ways to fight Adultitis?
My favorite ways to fight Adultitis include dancing and being mindful. It’s difficult to be grumpy or angry or sad if I’m dancing. I do a bit of car dancing, kitchen dancing and (rarely) out-on-a-dance-floor dancing.
Once, my job required attending a program orientation in a Chicago suburb, a 2.5-hour drive from my home. When I got there, the presenters said that we would be cutting the session short for those who were also attending the afternoon session, which I was not. So, I drove round-trip for 5 hours for an hour session. Adultitis got a bit of a hold on me that day – I was absolutely steaming. I got in my car, opened the sunroof, rolled down the windows, cranked up the tunes and head-banged my way toward the interstate. While stopped at a stoplight, a truck pulled up in the next lane. The driver looked down into my vehicle and said something about how he was glad I was enjoying my day. I smiled and said, “Thanks.” His observation allowed me to recognize that perspective changes everything. I continued to car dance, but with the stress and anger released.
I also meditate every morning, which gives me a solid Adultitis-fighting foundation for my day. In daily recognizing all the people and things for which I have to be grateful, I rarely suffer Adultitis for long. It does creep in sometimes, but when I bring myself back to the present moment, I realize the sadness, the anger, the frustration, are from things that already happened and are gone or are from imaginary times and places probably never to be. I usually end up being melodramatic about the little frustrations and stressors, which makes other people smile and laugh.
When I get to major emotions, I call them by name and invite them in to have tea with me. Saying “Hello, Anger. Why are you with me today?” helps me give voice to the emotions that have arisen. This allows for facing and embracing that which I am experiencing – a much better plan than running away from the emotions or hanging on to them in an unhealthy way.
Who or what has been the greatest influence in your own fight against Adultitis?
My sister is a great Adultitis fighter although she probably doesn’t know that’s what she’s doing. She randomly sends cards and small gifts to her two children, who grew up and moved to the Fargo area 10 hours away. She makes bets with them and pays up when she loses. She lost to her son this year and had to dye her hair his favorite color – orange!
She also joins me on my photo challenge adventures. A couple years ago, we took a weekend trip to lighthouse hunt in Michigan. A more recent example stems from a sister-time shopping trip. On the way home, we stopped to get some fudge for our mother, who is mostly housebound. After getting the fudge, we were driving away when she noticed a pink gorilla on the sidewalk. She pulled back in to the parking lot so that we could take a selfie with the gorilla and share it via the family group text … including her children and our brother who lives in North Carolina. Her son immediately sent a photo of him in front of that very same gorilla. I guess fighting Adultitis runs in the family.
What is something you loved doing as a child that you still do in some form today?
Read, including young adult books, which are absolutely still amazing to me. Color, although I prefer colored pencils or markers over crayons for certain projects – all Crayola brand though – smile.
What is your strategy for dealing with people who are obviously infected with Adultitis?
I’m practicing seeing all beings through eyes of compassion (it is taking me LOTS of practice), so on my good practice days, I recognize that they are suffering, suffering more than I am. So, I offer a smile, a self-deprecating look at the situation – which sometimes lightens their mood a bit – and internally, I offer them lovingkindness: may you be peaceful and at ease, may your heart be soft and open, may you be safe and protected, may your body be healthy and strong. While I’m not sure this has a visible effect on them, I am certain that my interaction with them becomes calmer and less stressful. I am hoping to get better at this so that I am doing this before I send out icky vibes into the world, instead of after and I’m trying to make up for the badness I sent out (smile).
What advice do you have for someone who is feeling overwhelmed by Adultitis?
Stop to breathe. Breathe in slowly. Exhale slowly. If you are breathing, there is hope. Acknowledge the experience, but don’t bury it and don’t hold on to it. Think of something to be grateful for. Shine your light on that gratitude and share it with someone else if possible. Or, just take a moment to be silly – dance in the car, heartily wave at a stranger like you know him or her, make a face at a child to see if she or he laughs or makes a face back, blow the paper covering your straw at your unsuspecting lunch friend.
Anything else you’d like to share?
If you are struggling, give yourself grace. If you see others struggling, give them grace. Thank you for being you. We need you in this world doing what you were born to do and being what you were born to be.
Congrats to Angela Dunlap, November 2020 Adultitis Fighter of the Month. Thank you for making the world more awesome!