Identify what is most important )0( Eliminate everything else
The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong with the world. Dr. Paul Farmer
The suffering of others is not alleviated when no one knows about it.
There is no one right way to live. Daniel Quinn Ishmael
The only thing that you need to start an asylum is an empty room and the right sort of people.
We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be. Kurt Vonnegut

Monday, December 30, 2013

breaks

Because of how these winter holidays and the way my schedule is at work, I have a long and luscious break of fifteen days.  The nicest part is that I did not have to reschedule anyone during the two weeks that I have been ill.  I can lounge about with plenty of goo, but without any guilt.

That is all I have to log here.  

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

missing

I miss CoolCat.  The past couple of weeks of illness have been, at least slightly, worse because he is not here.  All of the days I was too weak to do more than lie down on the most convenient horizontal surface would have been enormously improved with him nestled at my side, in my lap or somewhere near, dozing himself, purring or just looking back at me with the love we shared.

I think that aspect of our relationship is what makes it difficult to bring a new cat into my home.  I just still miss him so much.  I have gone through grief when each of my pets died, but, really and truly, but nothing like this.  Everything in its time, for certain, but I cannot see a new family member anytime soon.

Aside from having a companion, nice as that is, a cat means responsibility.  I would have had to get up between naps to feed him and clean the litter box.  Whilst up I would have been able to grab something for myself to eat.  I have been eating fruit and almonds and lots of diet root beer.  The carbonation helped to cut through the gunk in my throat and I count it as good as salty gargling, which triggers my gag reflex.  As I began to feel less like a gooey and feverish mess, we would have played a bit.  He scampering around where I was settled on the sofa.

Missing him is not all that sad, now that I am writing about what that is like.  It is more about feeling lonely without him, remembering how seriously funny he could be.  I swear that he experienced fun and humor just as I did.  

I felt lonely in my other life.  I was alone in that marriage, but I always had the cats.  Cats were the one species that my ex loved above all others.  Even people.  Especially me.  Oh.  It was what it was.  In between naps yesterday, I was thinking about what I still need to do, you know, life-wise.  I have a mental list and in the midst of ticking off what others might call goals (not good at that, so I think of them as just things), I realized that I am one and a half years past the day that I left.  Holy gosh.

I should be further along in this new life, in so many ways.  I feel like, maybe not a failure, but too slackerish and stuck for where I probably should be now.  Oh, well.  Maybe I need to make some actual goals or resolutions or plans with deadlines or something.  Maybe not.  I think that I am stuck on this process because I find myself resisting any kind of control, even self-imposed.  

I lived too long and too frighteningly under all kinds of control and I respond to just ordinary, every day stuff with fear and resistance.  Stupid.  I know that it is the PTSD.  I keep having the same old conversations with my doctor and therapist.  I sometimes think that if I hear some version of 'everything in its time' one more time, my brain with shoot out aneurisms all over the place.  Worse, is that when pressed in the early days of treatment, is that the whole everything in its time was voiced first by me.  Rats.  I thought I was being clever or something, and that sort of thing will come back to bite you in the butt every single time.

Anyway, I do respect the work I and my support people have done and continue to do.  But, I still struggle with all of it.  Especially being, or perhaps more properly feeling, stuck and not where I would like to be.  I am missing some of the best parts of life and I want to reach for them, make my life easier and less fearful, as fear is still the most significant part of every day.

So, some of the things that I want to reach are:

Be able to go out at night.  I can now manage being out after dark when I am coming home from someplace, and I can make myself go to the domestic violence support group now that it is dark when I have to leave for there.  It is a short drive and I manage.  Just.  It is my hope to begin to choose after-dark activities, or even simply sit out on the porch or turn on lights indoors.  The only illumination inside here is the computer screen.  Mastering and overcoming this fear is what I most want to do. 

Choose activities.  Yeah, not just after dark, but anytime.  I keep busy with my volunteer work, therapy and groups.  I, sometime in the past several months...hard to remember..., met my friends for breakfast.  I need to do that more often, but I also really need to find other things to do.  There are often programs at the library and there are regular art-related nighttime things, like a monthly poetry, performance art and music program.  The city has regular gallery tromps and special events.  We have a small zoo and if I were any good at spitting, a big lake close enough to spit at.  I have been attending a nearby church.  There are three and a temple within walking distance and I have become slightly involved with the one I chose.  I attend services (except for the time I have been too ill), help with the after-service hospitality thing, chose a child and sent a holiday present, and spent the Saturday before Christmas helping parents choose presents for their children.  It was at a local agency and the amount and selection available to the families was astounding.  Everyone went home with a huge, black trash bag full of, gosh, so many wonderful things.  I met some really groovy people that day and one of them is a boy that was my partner when his older brother wanted to work alone.  At the end of the day he told me that he wanted to be part of the J & J Team next year.  If I do nothing else this coming year, it will be to partner up with him again.  And, the year after that, and for as long as he wants to hang out with me.

Spend more time with family.   I am so reluctant to spend money on gasoline that I do not go much of anywhere.  I should be seeing family more.  Friends, too.  

Be more organized.  I am.  Organized.  But, I would love to be able to go into my work room and practically be able to grab what I need with my eyes closed.  It is a small room, so that could be easy.

Take better care of my body.   That means using the free YMCA that comes with my extra insurance.  I cannot even write about this.  My lack of physical activity fills me with loathing.  I take the stairs at work now, and that little bit of exercise twice a week is making a difference, so who know how I would feel if I did something exercise-y a couple more days each week.  This has one cost, and that is to find proper gym shoes and some kind of shirt or top that would be proper.  Doing this would improve my desire to find more activities and friends.

Stop being so cheap.  Oh, that old money bugaboo.  Lordy.  I hate to spend any money.  Not the worst quality to hold dear, but the thought of any emergency happening and no money to handle it is making my crazier than I already am.  I am a frugal person, pretty much always have been and I enjoy it.  I like the challenge of getting the most and best for my pennies and I like the satisfaction that comes from having my version of abundance at relatively small expense.  I have an excellent connection to my available funds and I budget well.  I know when my bills are likely to arrive, their due dates and a good idea of how much they will be.  

I have four monthly bills, rent, utilities (heating and electric), my credit card (gas for the car and groceries and household stuff when I forget to take cash with me; and it is paid off in full each month), and my Internet connection fees.  I also have auto and renter's insurance payments twice a year, and I put aside the monthly equivalent so that the full amount is there when it is due.  Speaking of gas, I just topped off the gas tank last week, and it had been seven weeks since I did that, and another fill-up six weeks further back than the second one.  In the warm weather I walk to work

I also budget for food, cleaning products and I bought winterizing supplies, which, unfortunately, are not doing much to block all of the leaks in this old place.  If I could abandon everything and move to a new place and start anew, I would, in a heartbeat, even in the middle of winter.  But, I need my stuff, and the thought of moving all...or any...of it throws me into a brain freeze.   

There is more, although I think that these goals (gives me shudders to write that; seems to be too much responsibility) are enough to start.  Reading back, there are six areas I want to do better, make better, and maybe not have to think about so much any more.

Perhaps one more.  Connect with a small, furry bundle of love and make him my very own.

Friday, December 27, 2013

back and on my back

A month of working on my computer, trying to get it to work.  Switching out monitors, keyboards, cords.  No luck.  I finally took it to the computer guys, knowing it would cost a lot to have them fix it.

Fortunately, I have the best computer guys and they noodled around and found that there were problems with the mother board.  They began to explain it and I stopped them.  Frankly, I really did not want to know.  I trust them and it is not necessary.  So, goodbye to my 10-year-plus baby and hey-hey to starting afresh.

I picked up my new computer this evening.  

I feel sick.  It just messes with everything I hold dear to have put out the money for this machine.  

Oh, sure, I miss playing bubble games on-line.  I miss e-mailing my friends, but that is mostly because it is an in-the-moment free thing to do.   Yeah, I have to have a computer and electricity and all that jazz.  A desk and chair is nice, too.  So much better than trying to squat on the floor.  Even better when I do not have to struggle with the cracker crumbs that the vacuum missed and which have become stuck, embedded, into my thighs. 

It has taken money I cannot spare, money I have been saving to have my teeth fixed.  And, yes, my teeth are more important, even though the repairs are not essential to eating or stuff like that.  They would make smiling much nicer for anyone who has to look at me, though.   I work thigh-to-thigh with my clients...in the nicest way possible and imaginable...and I prefer to have them concentrate on our work instead of the gaps amongst my pearly beige-es.   I am a city girl, and with no disrespect to those who live as hermits and do not have access to regular dental care, my preference is to appear to take regular care of my teeth and avail myself of the nice dentists and assistants at the clinic.

So, anyway, I have this new computer and keyboard.  The old monitors work just fine, as does the mouse and printer, although I have not yet tested the printer.  And, it also means that I can do whatever work I can at home and not have to cram all of the extra work into my days working with clients.

It is all good, albeit expensive.  And, I am hoping to stop complaining and worrying about the money.  Everything in its time, for sure, but it is difficult to hold on to that sometimes.

Maybe all the angst is because I have been ill for a few weeks.  Some kind of cold, upper-respiratory stuff.  I had a fever for too many days, my ears still ache, as does my throat and glands and head.  Sinuses and lungs are full of mucus plugs, semi-solid nuggets of rubbery and disgusting things.  Ugh.  I have been resting and napping round the clock and I am looking forward to celebrating the holidays sometime next month.

I think the worst part was not having access to my favorite medical resource; now I can browse my way back to health any time I like.

Therapy and all that are going well.  Another anti-depressive med has been added to my treatment regimen.  So far it is fine.  No icky side-effects.  

Like everyone else, my life is full of all sorts of stuff, but I find that when I am feeling punk that none of it matters much.   Now, off to find out if I can still play games without having to reinstall all the stuff to play.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

still broken

I will figure this out. 

I will not buy a new computer.

Even if my computer is truly unrepairable...and I do not think that is likely...I will not buy a new computer.  Yep.  Mostly because I cannot afford to.

It is interesting to not have it available for working from home.  I have to do everything here on the two days I work.  That means long days and no matter how I plead, I cannot wear my jammies to work.  Not even my daytime jammies.  Bummer.

Plus, I miss checking out the sites I like and playing bubble games when I cannot sleep. 

I am not buying a new computer.

Now, I am leaving early to drive through the frigid North to attend my grandson's holiday program.  I am hungry, so I plan to eat fast food french fries all the way.  Yay.

Holiday wishes to everyone, everywhere.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

mein Computer kaputt ist

Yes.  My ten-year old computer is still broken, or some damn thing.

Thank goodness for staying late at work.  Rats.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

thanksgiving

I am staying home today.  It feels like bliss, even though my intention was to actually do something.  I had planned to volunteer for a holiday meal program, but that did not work out.  As the week got away from me anyway, it is all good. 

Our family get-together will be on Saturday, and I have a lovely afternoon of making desserts on Friday to look forward to and keep me in the holiday spirit.  All of it is easy-breezy stuff and I am kind of looking to have a nice time in the kitchen.

Holidays are tough for lots of people, even those who truly enjoy them.  So many special things to do, certainly with tons of helpful fun, hopefully even more tons of help from others, especially the co-celebrators.  It is for me, a little difficult, but it seems as though I should just be soldiering through it and and be honoring of how fortunate my life is, particularly when I have so much for which to be thankful.  I do.  I really do.  And, I try to keep things about me as much as possible, but working with people who struggle as much as I do and often have more significant issues and problems can be, well, I connect with most of them in a nearly-friendship-way and it is impossible to not care about them and be concerned about how they are doing in the rest of their lives.

I know that sounds grandiose, bragging or conceited, but I love my work and I really do care about my clients.  I am not enmeshed or anything, and I never have any contact with them outside of our working together.  But, that does not stop me from caring or hoping that our work together is helping at least a little bit.  I think that, maybe, because I struggle with holiday stuff, that it makes me more sensitive to how other people do.  And, I am positive that millions of other people have the same feelings about all of this.  We all do the best we can.  Hope for the best.  Hope to do our best.  Do my own best to do my best.


I am having a nice and restful day.  I might work on my holiday gifts.  Maybe I will not, and take a nap instead.  I am having my favorite comfort foods for lunch, roasted turkey wings, sautéed kale and iceberg lettuce with avocado and a sweet little tomato.  I might have a glass of wine later, but only if I remember.  Maybe I could carry the bottle around in my pocket, you know, just in case.

It is my assignment to bring my daughter's favorite rolls (from our favorite Danish bakery) and desserts.  Because I am dedicated to getting the best result from the least amount of work, the desserts will be of the very, almost insanely, easy kind.

There will be a creamy pumpkin pie, with ready-made crust and no actual cooking.
Chocolate mousse filled puff pastry shells, the ready-made, frozen ones. 
Raspberry and mascarpone filled turnovers, from the similar puff pastry sheets.
Dark and white chocolate covered nut clusters.  But, I am thinking that the boys might like the ones made with cereals, pretzels and candies.  I will decide at the market when I shop tomorrow morning.
Lastly, the boys and I will be making turkeys from cookies, candy corn and prepared frosting, ready-made in a cool tube thing.
I am also roasting three heads of garlic in the morning before I leave the house, to go with the rolls and mashed potatoes.

So, happy holidays, especially Happy Thanksgiving today!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

yikes

One down.  I visited my dentist today, and had my teeth cleaned, and had my broken tooth appliance assessed.  It cannot be repaired.  The replacement cost is over a thousand dollars.  That is the yikes.

On a brighter side, I had no tartar or plaque, and that is with not having my teeth cleaned in over two years.  I take good care of my weird mix of regular teeth, that little appliance and all kinds of crowns and stuff.  I  have my own scalers and use them every week or so.  I brush twice a day, adding a third time when I have ten or twelve hour days.  I floss. 

I have a night guard because I have TMJ, because of, well all that other stuff.  It does not work and has twice moved in my mouth and choked me awake.  Turns out that it was not made properly in the first place.  I have had that thing and been struggling with it for a year.  The brighter side of that is that because it was their fault, I am getting a new one at no cost, along with a big apology.

I also have gingivitis on one tooth, a back molar.  I mean, how can you have that on one tooth?  You can have it on one tooth if your night guard does not fit properly and you have to wear your flipper twenty-four hours a day, and that teeny bit of plastic that looks like a tooth causes an allergic reaction or some such nonsense.

So, a fluoride treatment and an expensive bottle of swishy-washy stuff (neither of which was covered by insurance) and it should heal.  Nicely and well.  Yay.

Other than that, it was a pretty decent day, particularly getting a tiny tube of paste and a new toothbrush.  Yay.

Next week glasses and the week after a check-up.  This week family on the weekend.  I am not a huge fan of holidays and extended family.  It is too much for a shy person to take sometimes.  Not always, but often it seems too stressful, although I am very grateful to have great family around which to be shy. 

I have a pretty darn fabulous life now.  Lots of things for which to be grateful. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Nightowl

Another night without easy sleep.  Nothing new, but last week's sort of non-crisis, I have to factor in the sometimes difficulty sleeping.

Even worse, or maybe for the best, is that one of my fiber club friends told me that I have to watch Downton Abbey.  I set my little antenna to run and now I can get one of the Public Television channels that carries it.  I watched for the first time tonight.  It was the last segment from last season.

Damn, that program is good.  They are repeating season three next month.  Does that mean there will be only four programs?  Anyway, I am surprised that I like it so much, as there is not anywhere near the gore and special effects I enjoy in the forensic programs I also like, although there certainly is plenty of drama.  Plus, it is not possible to dislike anything that has Maggie Smith in it.  She is my favorite character in the Marigold Hotel film, too.

So, anyway, this trouble sleeping is most likely part of how much trouble I am having lately, you know, with the old depression thing.  It has to be a part of it.  And, I am wondering, or at least considering, that it might actually be connected with the holidays.  If asked if the holidays are in any way problematic for me, I will deny it, but they probably are.  Darn.  I hate admitting that.

Like, grieving and all that.  Loss.  Just past the anniversary of the divorce.  Knowing to expect more grilling from my daughter's in-laws next weekend and knowing that I am ill-equipped to fend them off.  Just past the anniversary of the divorce.  More darkness hours.  Cold.  All that.  More.

I accept that I am stuck right now.  I do not have enough of a problem with it, I am told.  I should be more pro-active about doing things that will elevate my mood, get myself out there, wherever there is, do more things, especially things that I could do just for myself. 

All of this is coming in tomorrow's therapy.  But...but...but, I think that I should be allowed to wallow for as long as I like, a little bit, maybe not planning to keep on until the time change next Spring, or anything, but I can be sad, even if it is for no good reason.

Oh, yeah, I want my mental health to keep improving.  I really do.  It is what I want and need and, frankly, besides, who would choose to be a sad wallower all the time.  Not me.

I do need to pull up my new big girl panties and move on.  Yes, I do have brand new panties.  Someone alert the media.

It is just that I have a broken tooth thing, with a dentist appointment this week. 
Thanksgiving is this week. 
I need to make an appointment to get new glasses.
I have a doctor's appointment next month, just a check-up, but still a pain.
All first world problems. 
All of them.
Poor me.

Fortunately, I do have bad brain chemistry for an excuse, but there is not any excuse for me not doing the work, which I really do not feel all that much like doing.  Poor me.

I think that I am using work to avoid lots of things.  I really, really and truly hate to admit that.  I think that I am letting the naysayers, the critics, the Debbie-Downers, the cynics and the complainers have too much influence on me.  Who is it that said that the complainers do not get a vote?  I cannot remember, but it just has to be true, yes?

I wonder if that little bit of pith will work in therapy tomorrow.

Anyway, I really am excited about my new underwear.  I bought new socks, too, the cushioned and soft leg part for people with diabetes.  Really cheap, too.  I now have enough of both that, should the weather prevent me from doing the laundry every week, I will be fine for two...count 'em...two weeks.  Yay.

What is the name of that sock part that is on top, on your lower leg? 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

ill

Health is a balancing act, especially when you have something intrinsically unbalanced.  Like mental illness.  And, especially when you know you are doing your best to be healthy and still doing a pretty crappy job of it.

Although, because it is a mental illness, figuring out medications and therapy, self-help, developing better supportive habits, all of that can be more difficult, more complicated than something physical.  I know about this because I have physical crap, too.  Diabetes, arthritis since my mid-20s and superior oblique myokymia, a weird vision disorder.

I watch what I eat as carefully as possible, given my financial constraints.  Good, clean food is not cheap.  Affording better protein is a constant challenge.  I do my best, and I am still not on insulin, but I worry about it.  I need to lose weight.  I am fat.  I am obese.  I am huge.  I am walking as much as I can, but I know it is not enough.  I need to find some way to afford a membership at the Y, or something.  I need someone to come along with their fat-be-gone wand and make it all go away.

Exercising as much as I can is good for my arthritis as well.  Movement keeps my joints juiced up.  When I am stiff and creaky I walk, even if it is icky outside and this place is small, I can make the circuit from the living room to the bedroom.  It is boring, but I move things around to make it more interesting.  Sometimes I cannot find things later, but that is part of the charm.  I take pain meds, lots of over-the-counter stuff because it is pretty cheap and I do not have to be monitored by my doctor and deal with those icky co-pays.

The myokymia is a brain thing, too, completely unrelated to the bad brain chemistry that supports my depression.  There is a long chronicle of my experiences with that disorder, which I first noticed in the early 80s, and modified with surgery about eight years ago.  It was not cured, but it did get fixed enough so that the result was a less obstructive vision thing.  It is worth mentioning only because it took decades to get diagnosed, never had any support about it and it is in the past, something about which I am proud because I stuck with searching for help until I found it.  Now that I am writing about it, I am really proud of that whole process.  Good girl, J.

Woven through a person's life is all things physical and mental and no one escapes this life without some wonderful combinations, as if life were not complicated enough already.

It is interesting, only to me I guess, that I am hoping to mess with my hippocampus lately.  I am doing well in my work, but it is not enough.  My relationships are stellar, but it is not enough.  I am being properly medicated, at least I think I am, although maybe all of this struggling means that I need more or better happy drugs.

Anyway, I have been working on this stuff for months and months now, months of struggle, months of just plain trying to get over myself and how sad and lonely I am, moments of serious despair.  The only thing helping is that I have not had any harmful thoughts.  If you have mental illness, you know exactly what this is like.  If you do not have mental illness, you cannot understand.  This is absolutely different from the hopelessness caused by any kind, type, manner of physical pain and despair.  Absolutely.

I am a grown up person, an adult, old enough to know better, do better and get over myself.  My brain will not cooperate and all of the eating well, exercising and surgeries combined will not make a difference unless I find another way to manage my depression, PTSD and, although this seems minor and it probably is, my nearly crippling shyness. 

I do what I have to do.  I have meaningful work that makes much of my successful functioning possible.  The people with whom I work, both my clients and the staff are the best. 

I have a lovely daughter and son-in-law, two brilliant grandsons and all of them love me like crazy (not a Freudian slip). 

I have a small cadre of excellent friends.  There are two that I can depend on without hesitation or reservation. 

I have a life that is safer than I have ever, ever, ever experienced.  More than I ever imagined.

Most people do not have all of these things.  Many people do not have any of the blessings I have.  I am aware.  I honor.  I care. 

I am not handling this, or doing well enough on my own.  I learned today that I need more frequent therapy.  Fuck.  I want to be healthier and I am willing to do whatever it takes, but, seriously, fuck.

Even though we did not discuss this, I need to find a better doctor, the basic kind, what the heck are they called.  Primary care.  Yeah. 

You know, the time when we need to be the best health care consumer can be the time when we are least able to do that well.  Like when we have mental illness.  Like when there is this delicious alchemy of the physical and mental and spiritual.  I know mind/body does not really exist, that we are the entirety of every aspect of what we are, you know, the whole shebang.  Bang.  Bang.  Bang.

Oh, gosh, I have done this before, at a time when I had fewer personal resources, but lots more money.  I am more experienced, smarter these days.  I have made progress beyond my wildest dreams.  I can reclaim my healthy life.  Like epilepsy or diabetes or whatever, mental illness does not just get cured.  It does not disappear.  It can only be treated.  For some of us, it is a life-long struggle.  You can just never let your guard down.  Well, you do, but ignoring things never helps and maybe that is what I have been doing.

I am not looking forward to more sessions.  I do not want to talk about any of this crap.  I do not want to, but I will.  I will show up.  I will do the work. 

Maybe it is the holidays coming, or that it is so dark so early now.  Maybe I am feeling so sad and crappy because I have SAD.  Whatever.  Damn.

Interestingly, I am not depressed about this amping-up of my depressive symptoms.  Maybe it is because there is no point to it, or maybe it is because better health means more to me now that I have this new life.  I am not feeling crippled or despairing.  I might even be feeling some relief that I am no longer struggling alone with this.  Whatever.  Fuck.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

things I learned today

I try to learn something new every day, whether I want to or not.  Truth is that I could not avoid leaning new stuff if I tried.

So.  Today.

People will lie to you until they have exhausted every other choice but to tell you the truth.

You...speaking of women here...can have a man for a friend.  I think. 

You cannot eat homemade sweet potato salad, bell peppers, celery and a soft drink and avoid having a soundtrack from your lower intestinal tract for the rest of the day.

You can take a risk and turn the furnace on and only double the utility bill.  Yay!  Oh, I cannot help myself, just yay!!!!!!

You can give away the last of your money, manage well enough for the following week and find out that the person used it to improve her health.

If I do not visit the laundromat tomorrow I will not have any big girl panties to pull up in an emergency.


I am working on the crazy and the lazy parts of myself that do not want to do the work, whatever that is.  My therapist asked me a few weeks back what I would do if I could do anything and I told her that I would just stay home.  Did not even have to think about it.

Right on the heels of that she asked me where I would live if I could live anywhere.  I said Wyoming.  Just like that and it only took a moment to realize that I would like to live in the middle of actual nowhere.  I have notions, probably exotic, probably most of which are myth-based, about living there, a flat lander, a loner.  A Wyomingite.  No close neighbors, no regular mail delivery.  Am I a hermit just below my skin?  If you scratch the surface, do I not run and hide in a cave?  If you search me out, do I not send my friends, the bears, after you?  Maybe.

Needing to plan and stockpile whatever I needed, not just in the snowbound half of the year, but pretty much all the time.  Animals for which to care, warm bodies and cute antics and living creatures who need me and like me and, aside from our joint survival, ask nothing else from me, nothing unreasonable.

All that blessed time alone.  I can work, although not the work I am doing now very easily, but it could be done.  That is why the goddess gave us satellites.  I could sleep and paint and write and create and craft on my own schedule.  Technology exists so that I can break my isolation whenever I liked.  In the summer the boys could spend time with me in my wilderness.

I guess I could do all of that here, and still be able to shop for fresh vegetables and see the boys every month.  I could have that if I craft it right.  I could get a cat and hunker down for the cold months to come.  Long and selfish four-day weekends for those weeks and weeks.  Have the boys come for a week during Christmas break.  I have all the stuff I need and could drag some of it out and paint a bit.

I bet that if I think about this, that I could be a Wyomingite right here, in non-Wyoming.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

work

I still have not got my stuff together for that actual job, but the volunteer work is going brilliantly.  I am glad for the people we are helping, but it is good for me to remember that this helps me as well.  The work we do can only be as good as the progress of my own healing and recovery.  It seems, maybe, that they should not be that closely connected, but they just are.

The new program of offering time for only job searching, registrations and applications is going well.  Plenty of drop-ins, but few enough that I can get used to working with a group that will always have widely ranging needs.  Truth is that even though I knew from the work I have been doing with clients, that the struggle to navigate the process was difficult for most people, mostly because of the lack of computer and on-line experience.

And, despite my expectations, the further truth is that the problem is that I waited too long to do this.  And, we need to hold a workshop at least once a month to teach and lead people through the process of searching on-line for jobs.  I have already written a tutorial that I can use, but I am struggling to find the time.  I think it will have to be in the evening one month and during the day the next session. 

What we need is volunteers, something we have been trying to obtain nearly since we began four-and-a-half years ago.  Volunteers can be found for other jobs, but this one seems to be more complicated that interests most people.  I need help!

So, it is going to be what it is for a while and we are going to do our best, or as close to that as possible. 

One of the other things I have been trying to do is find funding for scholarships for people who can benefit from having the official certification for using fork lifts of all kinds.  The program is in place in our town, sponsored  by the local business organization, but they do not offer any help with the cost.  I asked them.  I asked them for ideas, based on their broad experience, for resources to which I could apply for funding or grants.  They have no idea, so I have been searching for help on my own. 

I cannot qualify for most grants, but our library can and so that snag is solved.  But, where to find the money is so depressing a way to spend an afternoon or evening.  This afternoon I took the Internets again and found plenty of dead ends.  Most search results are for folk willing to accept my money to help me through the process.  I know how to write for grants, but please do not tell anyone because they will ask me to help them.  I know that sounds selfish, but writing for grants is very-time consuming and, frankly, exhausting when trying to match every detail in the application process. 

Then, I found a site with all kinds of articles and I thought, "Well, cool and groovy, maybe I will find some tips at this new-to-me site."

Yay!  I found a sidebar link  It looked so promising, offering an article about  how you should not pay for job help.  Yay!

When I clicked on the link, this is a screen shot of what popped up.  Good freaking grief.  Seriously?


You get to the point where you should not be able to be truly surprised by anything, and then, in full cliche mode, you get surprised.  This one kind of delights me because it is so funny.  Sad, sure, but really, really funny.

I guess that is enough searching tonight.  Still have to make lunch for tomorrow, which is going to be wonderful, sweet potato salad, celery and bell pepper strips, yogurt and a couple of apples, and a peanut butter and jam sandwich, something I always take in case one of my clients is not properly fed.  The sandwich and apples are something they can easily take away with them.  I know that it is stupid, and I cannot do it every day, but it makes me feel better when the person next to me and I are trying to ignore stomach rumblings.  I remember what that is like, oh, like it was just last year.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

abundance from the other side

The past couple of weeks have been interesting and have given me the means to express another viewpoint I have on having.

I know my life is abundant because I do not have to pack all of my belongings into a big duffel bag and haul it around with me all day because if I leave anything where I live, it will be taken by other people.

I know my life is abundant because I do not have to stress over where my next meal is coming from.

 I know my life is abundant because I do not have to fear becoming ill.

I know my life is abundant because I do not have to be painfully uncomfortable during the cold, icy and windy winters here.

 I know my life is abundant because I do not have to worry about my safety when I am asleep.

I know my life is abundant because I have not destroyed all of my relationships with alcohol or other drugs.

I know my life is abundant because I have the choice of not having some things so that I can have other things that make more sense for me, like trading the convenience of having a fancy phone for having Internet access here at home.  Or not eating out and using that money to provide some services to other people who are in the same desperate circumstances in which I found myself last year.

I know my life is abundant because I have done the hard work that is required to heal and recover from the extraordinary life experiences of the past few hundred years.  I absolutely know that my life is chock full of hope and promise and the ability and willingness to take possibilities and make all things possible.

I kissed a girl and I liked it...nuh...this afternoon I kissed a cat and we both liked it.  I made a second visit to the shelter and might have found a cat that might like to live with me as much as I might like to live with him.  He is a lively 13-year-old tabby who was surrendered last week by a family who had to transition his owner into a nursing facility. 

Oh, what to do.  I miss CoolCat so much.  Ordinary, unrelated noises make me think that I am still hearing him around here.  I have muscle memory that makes me think he is still here.  I thought, always thought that it would be too difficult to not have a cat around me.  I will forever miss CoolCat and Lilliput, and it is only time before I adopt another cat, but it just does not seem the right time.

Maybe it will never the the right time and I just need to let things happen without stressing.  But, gosh, that cat today, Tiger, is in much the same place as I am.  I never should have stopped by there today.  I am not ready and now all I can do is wish him well and wish him a new, hopefully forever family.

Crap.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

abundance

I am letting go of more things and people.  People is the sad part of this, but it needs to be done.  Actually, it is one person, a woman who was supportive when everything hit the fan, even lending me her sewing machine during the time I was homeless.

That sad part is not so much letting her go, although that is terrible, but that she now feels that I owe her unquestioning compliance and to present myself as being in full agreement with her in a program that we are supposed to co-manage.  I have tried, but some of the things she is proposing are not as ethical as I need them to be, and the amount of control she needs right now is just too uncomfortable.  I guess that I am not breaking our professional relationship, but maybe just taking a break from it.   I love her and I love the work, so it is my hope that I am able to return to the program.  It is also necessary that I need to have less attachment to, how can I say this, to what is right for me, and to be more flexible within the group and program dynamic.  After decades of not having choices, having the ability to make my own choices and decisions is a heady experience and I do not want to become too invested in having what I think I need, especially if it might conflict with the work I am doing with other people.  I am stuck on this.

So, anyway, I need to pay attention to the positive parts of my life.  Ordinary abundance is something that I am noticing more often.  The little things that are not all that little.

I have friends, like real friends, meaningful work, a safe and warm place to live, enough food and the means to keep everything going most of the time.

I appreciate the relative safety this place provides, but I get a little thrill when I pass by the bedroom door and see my bed and when I go to bed I do not have to lock the door and push the bed against the door for extra protection.  I no longer have to keep a cell phone tucked into my bra in case I need to call for help.  This one is not little.  It is huge and I am grateful every single day/night.

Finding gasoline at a newly reduced price and having a full tank of the stuff in the car.  I am usually able to put just a quarter tank in at a time, maybe half a tank, and this filled tank feels so rich.  I am gas rich.  In a good way.  Cool.

As things settle down, and I finally get around to unpacking my stuff (most of which was boxed up and stored by my friends and recently returned to me), I am finding that I have gone from having hardly anything to having way too much stuff.  I am grateful to my friends and to actually having all of this stuff, but most of it needs to go to people who need it more than I do.  I now have abundance to share.  Cool.

Starting this week, I will be walking to work.  I should have started doing this when the weather was nice and before the snow season began, but I am going to do it as often as it is safe.  Same thing for walking downtown to my therapy and group meetings.  Exercise by default.  Painful to begin, but eventually entering the cool zone.

As a volunteer, I am grateful to be able to do whatever they will let me, and having the director (of the place where I volunteer to help with employment and referrals to social services) give me full opportunity to add an extension of that program in any way that needs be, is just the most wonderful feeling.  I have worked hard to get this far with the work, but it could not have been done without the support of, well, just everyone in the place.  It is difficult to remember the blessings in my life; I need to be better at that, instead of allowing fear to rule what I do.

I have the financial ability to cover all of my basic needs.  I am struggling with the knowledge that raising my furnace temperature to 62F is going to raise my utility bill, but I am pretty sure that it will not make other bills difficult to pay.  Being warmer this winter is so wonderful.  One of the things I found when unpacking these new boxes is a couple of blankets and some socks.  Even during those below zero weeks to come, I will be comfortable in my little flat.  I also bought and made some things to help reduce the drafts in this old Victorian and darling building.  It has already made a difference for the outer door, still needs a few additions of wind-blocking materials, but so easy to do.  Way cool.

Whilst I still miss some foods, I am managing with the discount markets and have increased my abilities to be resourceful and inventive with ingredients.  I try to buy only what I can eat in a week or two and that is helping me to dramatically reduce food wasting.  Very cool.

Some things need more work. 

I need to be a better housekeeper.  I am organized, but messy sometimes.  
I need to recycle more.  I just do.
I need to find a church and actually show up for services.  I think I have found one, but do not attend often.
I need to be a better friend.  Spend more time with people I like.  Exert myself to find new friends.
I need to exercise more.  I live within walking distance of a facility that I could join. 
I need to spend more time with family.  Finances prevent this, so maybe I could make and sell stuff.  But, what is the problem.  I have few skills in that area.

I need to do all of these things, get better at them, sure, but there is so much more.  Cool.



Monday, November 4, 2013

crunch

Crash.  Crinkle.  Ouch.

I live next to an attorney office.  I think there are three in there, plus an elder gentleman who comes late, leaves early.  He uses a cane and walks with his head down.  I do not know the stories there, but my best guess is that he may be one of the founders of that law firm.  I often walk with my head sort of down, too, because my close-up depth perception is shot, although it is no a particularly aware way to walk around town.

His schedule of arrivals and departures is as erratic as my own, and I regularly see him emerging from his mini van or walking towards it in the late afternoons.  When I see him now I sometimes wonder what his life must be like, semi-or fully retired or just allowed to have the run of the place.  I like to think that he still handles clients and cases, that he is the wise elder, that his wisdom is a welcome and necessary, an essential part of the work they do there.

But, he often seems too fragile to be driving.  It is comforting to see him in that van, because it affords some extra protection that a smaller, more low-profile vehicle would give to him.  I remember driving a mini van and always appreciated the higher view it gave me, whilst making sure that I did not allow the size of my car to block the line of sight for those around me who might be trying to turn or enter traffic or just not get stuck trying to pull out of a parking space.  My van was one of the smaller types, I was often blocked by taller vans and SUVs, and was aware how difficult it was for me to leave a parking space.

About an hour ago there was a larger than usual clashing sound, sort of like the sanitation guys when they are so nicely taking our garbage away and have to deal with the dented, rusted and just plain sorry metal trashcans.  Not like the lovely plastic ones I have.

I looked out of the window to see a vehicle that was leaving the law office next door, trying to back up onto the curb of my front yard.  In the street was a black sedan on which, not only the bumper, but much of the front end was on the ground, and the black car had been pushed into the side of a white car that was driving in the opposite direction.  The door of the offending vehicle opened and the elder gentleman slowly emerged.  By the time he was fully out of the van, a man had come out of the law office building, where he checked on the gentleman and the people in the other cars.

The passenger in the black car was shaken up a bit, but the other drivers seemed to be fine, although you never really know about all of that, even when you are a part of an crash, I am guessing.  I was back-ended once and did not realize that I was hurt until the other driver took off.  I would not have been able to do anything, as no one got his license number, but, you know.

All the vehicles have been towed.  All the debris has been cleared from the street.  The cops are gone, as are the rescue/ambulance guys and the fire truck.  I did not watch what was happening, but a few minutes ago I took another look and the elder gentleman was still talking to the police.  I looked again later, to see the view as it always is, so he much have gone inside.

The thing is that in order for him to have caused that huge amount of damage to the other cars, he had to be roaring out of the driveway, over the sidewalk, and at a great speed, which makes me think that he accidentally pressed on the gas pedal instead of the brake.  Maybe.  I have never seen him drive fast, but I did not see the impact, so just guessing.

And, the thing goes further than you do not have to be driving on the expressway or in tight traffic downtown to a smash to happen between two, or more, cars.  You do not have to be in slow-like-molasses rush-hour traffic, surrounded by drivers as irritable as yourself.  You can have an accident anytime, even if you are the cause and have done something stupid, it is still an accident, which is why they are called accidents.  I used to have a friend who was an insurance company investigator (formerly an under-cover police officer and a clown at some point, as well) and when people would stress over having done something stupid and needed to use their insurance coverage, she would assure them that that was the purpose of insurance, to cover stupidity of one kind or another.

Driving safety is important for everyone, but most particularly old folk like me.  I am a stunningly good driver.  I never speed or dodge about in traffic.  I figure that as long as I am there, in the driver's seat, rubber to the road, that I may as well pay attention, and so I do.   I do not telephone or text, but I do eat sometimes, but not soup or spaghetti or salad.  I think that because I am paying attention, that I probably get to see more close calls than someone who is late for work or a party or driving buzzed on the way home from that party.    Along with that, it is my most sincere hope that I am not any part of close call observation or experience for any other drivers.

I am alert and aware and know that even though I have not yet had an accident, that one could really happen just about any time.  Earlier this year I took an AAA ancient older driver's course.  I did it to receive a discount (small, but welcome anyway) on my car insurance premiums.

Anyway, I am aware mostly because losing my ability to drive means that I will only rarely see my daughter and all the boys.  If I do have an accident, or some kind of close call, my plan is to stop driving.  Oh, sure, if someone slams into me, then I might reconsider...if the cost of repair are not too great or I am not too greatly shaken by the experience.  This is kind of on my mind because of the accident my daughter and her family recently had, air-bag-deployment, totally-trashed-car included.

I pushed for experimental vision surgery eight years ago, oh, has it really been nine?  Anyway, my vision was getting so much worse that my only alternatives were to stop driving or find a way to modify my visual disability.  The surgery could have taken my sight, but it worked and I can still drive.  However, should I feel that my ability to drive safely becomes compromised, I will voluntarily stop, sell my car and learn to depend on the kindness of other people.  Or, I may have to give in and move up north so that I am living closer to my family. 

But, gosh, I hope that does not happen for a long, long time.  I love my work here and I have worked so hard to craft this new life, so I guess that I could do it again.  Up north.

I have to leave shortly for a big meeting.  On the drive over I will be trying to not pay such strict attention to my driving that I neglect to do so safely.  Could happen.  But, I cannot have an accident.  I have too much to do.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

sulphur pools

When I am trying to avoid doing anything useful, I come here and noodle around on the passive-aggressive notes site.  Since CoolCat's passing, it is one of the default things I do to elevate my mood.

The best part of that site is that it links all over the place and time is much linear than ordinary.  Today I found a note about a sign at an active volcano which has sulphur pools in the crater.  The signs says,

It is costly to take an injured or dead person out
Avoid unnecessary expense

I just hate it when someone has to drag someone's body out of a sulphur pool, living or otherwise.  Don't you?

It made me think of all the opportunities I have for going astray.  Sometimes I am distracted or resistant to making some change in my life, and there are plenty of times when I am just, plain, too lazy to do what needs to be done.  There I go, stumbling and lurching along, stuck in the same old patterns, making the same old mistakes, trying out new ones, not paying attention and falling into the same old sulphur pools.  It stinks more than it burns, and that is the truth, especially at this place in my journey.

A good example.  I went to a church service last Sunday and it was nice, the sermon was very nice and the people I met at the hospitality thing following the service was even more nice.  I ran into four current friends/acquaintances...pleasant surprise...and met more nice people.  My intention was to go again this morning, but I slept late, did not have enough time to shower and get dressed, and realized only later that I could have gone because of the change in Daylight Savings Time. 

Which, is ridiculous, because if I really wanted to go, the alarm would have been set and I would have showered last thing yesterday.

Sulphur pool.

The reason I did not return there is because I am just...this...close...to making some decisions about where my spiritual life is going.  I had another meeting with my adviser this past week and we had a good session.  I am taking more responsibility and am now seeing her just once a month.  I felt stuck there last week, and I had this popping moment of clarity yesterday about how I am over thinking this.  Now that I have choices, I am stuck thinking that I have to analyze and have all this angst about what I do not want.  Like being a superficial part of the community, as though I can even explain what that means. 

Sulphur pool.

So, I am going to take a risk and just let the whole church and faith thing be whatever it is going to be.  I am releasing any qualities that I want it to be for myself and for the church.  I have always simply gone along with the flow, doing whatever someone else wanted me to do or expected or wanted to control.  I think that is making it difficult for me to release my relatively stupid expectations about what I should do and expect.

Sulphur pool.

I have lots of them.  I cannot seem to avoid them entirely, but at least I can haul my sorry ass out on my own now.  I am tired of scraping the stink of failure off of my sorry hide. 

I am tired of not doing things or making decisions because the burden of doing that seems overwhelming at times.

A good example.  My daughter called this afternoon to tell me that they bought a new car.  The reason is that they were rear-ended by an inattentive driver, and the car was totaled, to the tune of more than $20,000 in estimated repairs.  The very young woman who hit them was very upset by having caused the accident, and nearly incapacitated when she walked up to my daughter's car and saw my grandson in the back seat.

The doors were all stuck shut and whilst the air bags were scary, everyone was properly buckled in, with my grandson in the middle section of the rear seat because the little one was visiting his other grandmother at the time.  But, the best part is that no one was hurt.  The second best part was that the tow truck guy let my grandson help operate the controls to lift their car onto the towing ramp.  One of the state Sheriffs who responded gave them a ride home, which was another thrill because the boys love cops more than anything. 

So far so good, but I have not spoken to her in more than a month, just before the accident.  Both of us are busy.  Me moderately, her insanely.  Between caring for two busy young boys, college classes and a husband who travels internationally half of the month, I hate to call and find her busy, especially when she has a moment to herself and is studying..  That means that when I want to call her, I hesitate, try to figure out what she might be doing, and then not call.

Sulphur pool.

No more.  I am planning on calling whenever I feel like it.  If she is busy, she will let my call pass on to her voice mail and call me when she has time.  Her plan is the same in this direction.  I am hoping that this strengthens at least of bit of the reserve that we have between us, during this whole divorce mess.  One can only hope, and this has never been a fail/pool, so it would be nice to keep it that way.

A couple of things.

Cystic acne, particularly more than fifty years of it totally sucks.  Mine is triggered by stress, so I have had it often over the eons.  I have had the latest breakout(s) for nearly two months and I am really tired of the pain and disfigurement. 

Frozen meatballs from the market are not good.  I bought some and have baked them, served them plain, with seasonings, gravies and, today, homemade tomato sauce.  Ewww.  Erp.  I am so disappointed, as I like the low-fat nature of those little spheres of meatiness, but they are a pain to make.  I do, however, have a nice, big pot of saucy, mushroomy spaghetti.  Enough to last for days and days.  Yum.

Friday's job application lab was interesting.  Only three people came, but that is because we have not sent out press releases or letters to the agencies.  It was very helpful in determining the level of experience and need of  the people who will come to this lab, and the kinds of support materials and tutorials I will need to create.  Allover, it was a satisfying experience.

I watched some cat videos this morning.  I want a cat, but seem unable to make the commitment right now.  Want, need and grieving.  Such a small issue.  Such a large heartache.  Such a tiny problem.


Thursday, October 31, 2013

thanks

I am thankful about so many things that I cannot remember all of them.  That is not true, I am grateful, but I also remember every single good thing that has happened to me, all of my life fershure, but most especially this past year and a half.

I can recall each of them, in excruciating and sweet detail.  My memory is good.  Good enough to make being in relationship with me difficult.  Not impossible, but if someone remembers everything, it is sometimes uncomfortable, on dozens of levels, not the least is that it becomes impossible to lie to that person about past conversations, events and stuff like that.  Not that I hold people to the same burden of memory that I have, and the simple truth is that I have my memories/truth, the other person/people have their own memories/truth and somewhere in the middle...or at either end...the actual truth about what was said or what happened.

Everything we remember is filtered through our emotions and beliefs at the time when memories are captured.

Except, whilst my memory is not eidetic, it is precise and includes sounds, smells, the weather, what everyone there was wearing, where they were standing/sitting, and on.  Yeah, I would not be all that eager to have me as a friend, either.

It was especially difficult for my ex.  He knew that I had this creepy memory capability.  He still lied to me, about me and bullied and bashed me into total agreement with what he said and did; my compliance was part of his control over me.  Long and boring memories, frankly, moving on.

Anyway, I had an occasion for being thankful and the opportunity to express that this afternoon.  Thursday is my default head day.  It begins with my spiritual adviser, followed by my therapist and then group.  One stop shopping/expanding/shrinking/sharing.  All I have to do is remember to keep the parking meter fed.  Since the day is pretty much shot after all of that hard work, the afternoon is for laundry, where I get to relax with a book, just sitting, people-watching and chilling.  Sometimes I sit and stare, zone out, and, really, it is the laundromat, so who cares.  It is a nice couple of hours.

Just as I arrived there, I noticed a woman across the room and went to say hello to my old friend, C.  She said that she had looked up, thought she recognized me and was not sure and was not going to say 'hey'.

Not only was it nice to see and talk to her, but it is an opportunity for which I have been waiting for a whole year.

One of her sons was my ex's attorney.  As bad at that experience was, the whole terrible and abuse-riddled divorce process, the one, singular and not-horrible thing was his attorney.  Despite my limited knowledge of how difficult he might have been as a client, that man, the attorney, seemed to be one of the most honorable people I have ever known.  Or, met I guess.  No matter, he was a plain decent person and I sometimes think that if my ex had stumbled upon or searched for less decent legal representation, that we would still not be divorced and every last cent would have been stolen and I would have given up long ago.

Fortunately, I had a decent attorney as well.  Expensive, but ultimately successful in helping me move on and do so with a portion of what I should have received.  Different attorneys and I would have nothing, so yay for good lawyers.  Yay.

So, anyway, I was able to share how deeply I respect M with his mother.  Surely she already knows what a fine son he is, what an amazing...and decent and honorable...person she and her husband raised.  And, of course since she and worked in the same school all those years ago, and because my daughter was one of her favorite students, and because we still hold each other in high regard, it was the nicest kind of love fest.  Like, really nice.

Then, her husband, B, rolled up in their SUV, accompanied by their little dog, I was able to say hello to him and share just a few words about his fine son.

So, not only have I been able to be thankful for this honorable attorney, it has been one of the few not horrible memories that I have from all of that mess, I was able to nearly re-experience those feelings again with his mother.  I asked her to share my thanks and gratitude with him and to give him a hug from me.  That might not be appropriate litigant behavior, but none of us are litigating any more and no attorneys are being hired and paid, so, well, go sue me for wanting him to know how much I appreciated, still do, who he is and how he is.

He represented my ex beautifully, and I was able to appreciate this only when everything was nearing the final resolutions a few months ago.  That is just prior to finding out that he was my old friend's son, someone I had never met or knew much about in the first place.

Crazy, huh?

Yet, if he had been a bad player in this whole mess of a divorce, I would probably not give a rat's patootie about any of this, just the way I feel about my ex.  Just a thought, but it is stuff like this good son/lawyer/person issue that keeps defaulting into thinking about my ex.  Crazy.

I am also thankful that we are beginning my new program at work.  Tomorrow is the first day that I will be using the computer lab (where they conduct computer use classes) for the exclusive use by people who need to use the Internet for job hunting and related tasks.  I plan on being really strict about keeping everyone focused on employment-related stuff, but I am used to working with middle-aged toddlers who easily lose focus.  Maybe I could offer a reward of after-session treats as a bribe for staying on task and not using the time to check their social media accounts or play Mah Jongg.

Thanks for everything.
So long, and thanks for all the fish.
Thanks for the memories.
Thanks for sharing.
Thanks for the heads-up.
Thanks from the bottom of my heart.
Thank ya for bein' mah friend...
“A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all other virtues.”  Cicero

Life is so freaking good.  Who woulda thunk it.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

60

I turned the furnace today.  My intention was to wait until it was consistently 52F indoors.  It was what I did last year to save money, and what I was going to do this winter season, as well.

When I looked at the thermostat a few minutes ago, it was at 55F, and I thought, 'well, great, only two more degrees before I can fire up the beast in the basement'.  Then I came to my desk to begin working and had to uncover one of the heating vents, where I had placed a box with some papers that do not have a permanent home.  I guess that if they are simply tossed into that box that their home should probably in the trash.

On the top of that orphan pile was a sheet of paper, folded in the way that I do for the handouts from the domestic violence survivor support group.  Some of those meditations I just throw away when I get home, but others resonate for me and I hang on to them.  I do not keep them in any kind of meditations that might be useful again place, and I often find those saved thoughts on my desk or in my purse or one of my bags.  Maybe on the little table in my bedroom, or in the car. 

When I come across one, I unfold the paper and read it again.  The message on this one is titled "Owning Our Power."  The pages are from a book of meditations by Melody Beattie.  One is shared each week as a starting point or the only point if no one has anything they want to share or discuss, which, frankly, never happens.  Yeah.

Anyway, this one concerns the patterns and habits we develop when in relationship to someone who is not good for us.  Relationship-wise.  It is about being held under the spell of someone, and says, halfway in:

"There may be a powerful tug-of-war between feelings of anger and our need to be loved and accepted, or between our head and our heart."

and a bit further:

"We don't have to stay under a spell."

Whilst most of the ideas and thoughts in these meditations (interesting aside is that I keep typing medications instead of meditations) are spot on for my relationship from that other life, as surely is for other people, not everyone of course, but some people, caught in the thrall of someone in their lives that they use and keep because it feeds their own pathology, their own need to be treated badly, and more importantly, their need and desire to not take personal responsibility and make the changes in their own beliefs and behaviors that they use as a barrier and excuse for moving forward and taking care of themselves.

I am not making excuses for the creepazoids who abuse others, but only that I believe that this aspect is a part of my marriage.  It was not in the beginning of our relationship, the ex and I.  I bonded with him, married him and stayed for most of those years because I loved him like crazy (important word, I am thinking, right now).  It was only later that I was sufficiently groomed and tested that what he did became the determining consideration in every single way that I responded and behaved.

This is important.

That process was so gradual as to be unnoticed, like the transit that the earth makes around the sun.  Sure, we notice the rotation that brings us dawn and day and night.  We notice how we tilt and enter winter, to be followed by spring (short that it may be) and gardening fun and round the heart and measure of seasons, the Turning of the Wheel.  However, we do not notice the more than three-hundred days it takes for our little planet to circumnavigate the sun, at precisely the distance that allow life to exist here.  Well, at least until we screw it completely up...another story, but the metaphor is just as precise for how I have lived, as the conditions that make our planet the glorious and nearly unbelievably amazing place it is.

I always had choices about how I would treat other people and how they would treat me.  I just did not believe it, or that choice was even possible.  I marvel at that whole thing.  Surely he did not meet me and decide that I was the one who could be molded into the submissive person he wanted in his life.  Surely he did not marry me with the intentions to manipulate and mistreat me.  Surely I did not enter all of that mess with the purpose of being hurt or the goal of being killed.  Surely there was love there at some point in his heart; perhaps not the same quality of crazy love that I had, but there must have been some sort of caring and loving and cherishing and good will.

I think about this more and more, wondering where that moment was when things could have gone in a better direction if I had only noticed or understood what was happening.  As hard as I think, I cannot find a single time when I could have done something different enough to change that direction.  I have been using the road not taken process and they all lead to dead ends.  I would have had to be aware and much smarter when we first began becoming closer.  I can think of many times when I should have walked away, but that is now, back then I was too stupid to notice, too immature to make better decisions, too needy for that crazy love.

So.  Here I am.  I feel regret for not making choices that would have been good for both of us.  I do not regret leaving, though, because it was the only choice.  Not the most reasonable, not the most supportive for both of us, not the most understanding or loyal or generous, and certainly not what he wanted.

It was the only choice.

Now, with this past year supporting me, I am choosing different things. 

Recently:

I have chosen to decline a job that would use my skills and energy is a great way, but does not support my desire to work directly with people. The job required creating relationships with companies and organizations that ultimately support the kind of work I prefer to do, but lack the personal interaction I want.  I have developed the beginnings of a plan to free-lance my services to several agencies.  I am in the middle of creating a new program at the library, so that agency work is temporarily on the side.

I have chosen to get rid of perfectly usable things and replace them with frugal items that more properly and personally reflect who I am and what I want.  First I donated the dishes from that old life, replacing them with the least weird choice I could find in my price range.  Then, I donated those and bought another least onerous set and they work perfectly with the mugs I already have and I am completely satisfied with them.    Things fall into alignment when I pay attention to this stuff.

I have made a choice to not be at the beck-and-call of a friend.  I have been helping her a lot recently, with a head lice problem.  She makes it very difficult to complete the process of getting rid of those little bastards, who do not exist anywhere but on our heads and do not provide benefit to anyone or anything.  Anyway, she is tired of the burden of lice and whilst she has plenty of people in her life that could be helping her as well, I am the only person she asks and am the only person with whom she feels comfortable venting and talking.   This week she made unreasonable demands on my time and I declined to change my schedule from the days and times on which we had agreed.  She was particularly incensed because I would not put off doing laundry until next week.  I go to the laundromat, she has a washer and dryer a dozen steps from her kitchen.  I am allowed to refuse to let people take advantage of me.  She called me today to hint about me coming to help her again, and I kept silent and did not offer.  I could hear her frustration and the stress in her voice, but I kept thinking that if she wants help, she needs to ask for it.  My offering all the time, other people just hinting or stating their needs, none of it is good for any of us.    Of course, I could be asking for what I want, but that is not going to happen any time soon.  I will continue to take care of my own needs.  It is what it is.

I chose to turn on the furnace.  It is a choice that is connected to feeling and acting poor, which is silly because I am relatively poor.  To turn on the heat and have it higher than 52F is a huge financial decision on my part, one that requires me to use savings intended for emergencies.  Like, if I get sick or the car breaks down, or whatever crappy thing might happen.  This heat/furnace/extra-expense thing is an exercise in trust.  I am deciding that if I use this money to be warm this winter that I will have what I need should crappy stuff happen.  My only regret with this is that I could not do this last year when CoolCat was still here.  Both of us could have been comfortable.  I am also preparing for when the utility bill comes.  Lordy.

As long as I am spending money willy-nilly, I am choosing to buy better food.  'nough said, and on to actually doing it.  Since last Thursday, I have had pumpkin ravioli, the most delicious beef soup ever (with more cooked beef cubes in the freezer for next week), roasted butternut squash, lovely bread.  Today I will be making a curried squash and sweet potato soup.  It will be a nice pot and I am hoping to have enough left for lunch tomorrow.

I may have intentions when I begin to write, have something I want to work out, but the truth is that the process takes what it needs, and (like painting) decides what it wants to say.  So it is here.  All I wanted to write about was feeling empowered to turn on the damn furnace.  What I got was an understanding of how the decisions I am making are, well, they are considered.  I am not lurching along anymore, I am making changes in my life that make sense, both right now and for the future.  I never would have believed or dreamed that I would have everything I have now, this great life.  Man.

Today signifies something else.  It is the one-year anniversary of the murder of an abused wife and two of her fellow employees by her ex-husband.  I was newly installed in this flat at that time.  At work we were all settling in to the belief that my ex would not bother me there.  There was a series of murders of women who had been in abusive relationships, including a police officer, and I can, even now, hardly express how distressing that was.  The deaths of those women and the havoc caused in their families seemed like a personal loss.  If they could be killed, with all of the precautions they took, then no one was safe.  Not women, certainly not children, not men who are abused.  Along with those incidents were schools and malls and random killings all over the country.  There have been recent ones, too, and I have to wonder if there were always so many terrible and intimate crimes or am I more attuned to them now.  I wonder if I will ever feel safe from that other life.  Maybe this insecurity about safety is one of the costs of being here now.

Did you know that today is the 216th anniversary of the first parachute jump?  Talk about courage.  Or, maybe stupidity, but I prefer to think of it as the embracing of adventure, willingness to take extraordinary chances and change the concept of what one might be capable.

During this process, the entirety of the past few years, especially this last year and a half, I have been challenging my old notions and beliefs about what life might be, of what risks I might be willing to take to have this new life. All of these things are how and why I am so invested in crafting my life, and it is a constant amazement how inter-connected and relevant so many things are.  Everything that spewed out of me today is part and parcel of the kind of forward movement I need right now.

I need to be more conscious and respectful of how this works.  Now, off to make soup, and maybe set a loaf of bread to rise.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

poverty

I am posting this in both places.

Today, since Saturday morning coffee was cancelled, I am cleaning a bit, organizing a bit more and trying to do nothing useful.  I was reading articles on Yahoo! and just had to click on a story about the yearnings and obsession for a gold some-kind-of-smarter-than-me phone.

As I read I thought that even though I try to avoid judge what other people want or have or use, I was being screamingly judgmental about this guy.  And, I felt badly about it, at least until I read some of the article's comments and found that my petty judging was not an isolated thought.  I had company.

Following that, more articles, a couple of recipes that look delicious but that I will never make.  Then, two more, articles, not recipes.

They concern different aspects of poverty, and I am drawn to them, not only because finances are a major area of struggle for many of my clients, but because I have experienced it myself.  I know that I harp on this, but the truth is that financial insecurity is a huge problem, not only for the poor...whatever the hell that is supposed to define anyway...but for many other families, those who are barely living from paycheck to paycheck.  Fewer and fewer people are managing savings accounts and are not more than a missed pay period away from being destitute.

We are entering winter in this geography and there was an announcement this week that people had until a certain date to clear up and either pay their past-due utility bills or make some kind of arrangement with the company, which, here, is one company for both electricity and gas for heating and cooking.  However, we have a state law that makes sure that no one goes without heat during the colder months.  There are some people who never catch up on what they owe and I cannot imagine what that might be like.

I have been happy in my life.  I have been afraid and lonely and just plain scared to death.  I have been confused and stupid, careless and just plain heartless, and I will be all of those things again and again and, yet, again.  Maybe even today.  What I am not currently is poor.  What I am, currently, is a person who is trying to do her best to make tiny pokes at the system of poverty here in my own town.  I cannot express how important this is to me.  I survived that other life and the way I honor and pay back for every good and decent thing that has been offered to me since then is to continue to do this work to the best of my ability.

And, it truly is very tiny, my work.  I admire and support those who make efforts on a large, even global, scale.  That is infinitely beyond my abilities, but I can help in my own and very local ways.  I will most likely never make all that big of a difference in the life of anyone, but I do not care.  This is about the moments and my recent bout with envy and how I am doing everything in my power to foster healing and recovery in my life.  I wonder sometimes if all of this work is part of my pathology.  No matter.

Two viewpoints of many:

CNBC - U.S. News
As holidays near, food stamp recipients face cut
Published: Saturday, 19 Oct 2013 | 9:00 AM ET
By: Allison Linn    | CNBC Senior Business and Economics Reporter
http://www.cnbc.com/id/101118630?__source=yahoo|finance|headline|headline|story&par=yahoo&doc=101118630|As%20holidays%20near,%20food%20st


Yahoo News
Imagine - no extreme poverty. It's possible by 2030, says report.
Eric Pfeiffer, Published Saturday, October 19th
http://news.yahoo.com/new-report-says-extreme-poverty-could-be-eliminated-by-2030-023809373.html

Friday, October 18, 2013

envy

At group yesterday, we did an exercise in feelings.  We had that with the person who previously led the group, but I think that I was the only one who remembered.  It is a full page, four columns, some positive feelings, others not so much.

One that I was struggling with last time/previous therapist was envy.  During that other life I do not remember being particularly envious or jealous of anyone or anything they might have in their lives that I did not have.

Oh, sure, it would have been nice to be loved and to feel safe, but the truth was that my needs and wants were small.  I guess there was not any room for desperately wanting more than love and safety. 

Now, in my new life, I have lots of stuff, much more than I thought even a few months ago.  When I left last year and was in hiding, I had only what I carried with me that day.  After three weeks my attorney arranged for me to return to the house to get clothes and medications and shampoo and things like that.  My daughter and a couple of friends helped and during those visits, they brought boxes and threw as much of my art stuff into them as possible and put them in storage for me.

After the first divorce hearing, he was ordered out of the house and had a two week deadline to remove anything he wanted.  He did so, but through the process of getting rid of everything and preparing the house for sale I found many of his things that he had missed.  I made sure that he got them, and then went to work clearing everything out.

As I was doing that it was clear that the two of us had more stuff than any dozen people should have.  Family and friends were invited to come and take anything they liked.  I kept my bed, some clothes and a wardrobe.  I did that because I had no prospects about where to live.  I had no money and my ex made it very clear that he was keeping all of our assets.  It came as a difficult surprise to find out that when the house sold, that the proceeds went into a trust account, to be divided after the final decree.  He asked to withdraw most of what he believed to be his share and I agreed, despite opposition from my attorney.

Frankly, even though it would be a long time before I was comfortable taking that share, I knew that I could not take all of that crap with me or put it in storage or anything.  So, I have what I have, and most of that is because I have friends who wanted to help and then did a fine job of doing just that.  It is still too much and whilst I am finally going through, tossing and organizing and donating, it is interesting that I feel weird about the process, but that is for another time.

So, anyway I have lots of stuff.  I have my life and I am moving strongly, moving-moving-moving. into feelings of safety.  The longer the periods between threats, the better.  I think that now that everything is settled, the energy on that other side is much less, maybe even fading away completely.  I no longer startle when I hear a car door close or slide into a panic attack when someone walks onto the porch.

As all of those feelings regarding safety decrease, there seems to be room for some submerged feelings to surface, and one of them is envy.  It is not the only one, but it is around a lot lately.

At first I discounted it, attributing it to gaining control over my depression.  New meds were working well, few side-effects and it is increasingly easier to manage even the really challenging days.

It pops up every once in a while and surprises me each time.  An example was yesterday.  I was exhausted from therapy, group and spending the early afternoon at the laundromat.  In that little strip mall there is a regular grocery store.  I do all of my food shopping at the two discount markets in town, as well as the dollar stores.  And, I do very well at those places.  I started home.

But, feeling depleted and dreading the kinds of energy drain that shopping at those markets, brought me back into the strip mall parking lot and I shopped at the regular grocery store.

It was amazing.  The place is huge.  I had forgotten how really big it is.  It is full of the most amazing things.  I bought some of them. 

Pink Lady apples instead of a bag of non-crunchy no-name apples.
Two small pieces of beef and a rump roast instead of a couple of frozen rolls of ground meat.
Iceberg lettuce.
Bread.
Celery and frozen green beans were on sale for the same price they are at the discount markets.  Score!!!!
Same thing for butter and a few other items.
There were other things that were way beyond my budget, things I usually buy, and I will get them next week at my usual stores.
I am drinking, right this moment, diet ginger ale that was on sale for a crazy cheap price.  Yum. 

There is absolutely nothing wrong or missing with the food I usually buy.  Being in that large, bright and fancy market was interesting.  Mostly in a good way.  

It was a period of pure indulgence, and I am glad that I did it.  How lame that is.  And, it is not that I feel deprived about where I can afford to shop, because I do not.  It does not stress me a bit, and it allows me to have money to spend on other things I could not afford otherwise.  Like this computer and my monthly fees to connect to the Internet.  Not giving that up.

So, here is where envy comes in. 

I felt envious about all of the things I could not buy there.  Stupid.  I know that.  I am well fed and very happy with everything, absolutely everything.  And, yet, there it was.  Regret about having to watch what I was spending.  I noticed that I felt nothing about what other people were buying, only the items I was not buying, but sort of, kind of, wanted to put in my cart.  Stupid.

Same thing happened last week at group.  One of the women was telling about her 214 purses and how difficult it is to organize them.  She struggles, receives help and can have as many of anything she likes.  I do not particularly like purses, or shoes for that matter, but I felt envy about her purses, handbags, clutches, and pocketbooks.  Stupid.

One of the other employees where I do most of my work has the most wonderful and cute assortment of holiday sweaters.  Just seeing them, well, I feel happier when she wears them.  I feel envy at that abundance, even though I would never wear any of them myself.  Stupid.

There are a few more, but I cannot remember any of them, so they were/are probably just as stupid.

Except that it is not dumb.  Or really all that stupid. 

As I become healthier, as I heal and recover, I have room in my life for all sorts of things, feelings included, and they all are not going to be fun.  As much as we might want, it simply cannot be high noon, sun shining, birds singing and unicorns frolicking with the bunnies.  Sometimes it is gloomy and it rains or snows and I am alone in the meadow.  All I can hear is the wind and the patter of drops on the leaves and feel the water dripping from my hair.  The air smell delicious, though I do miss the bunnies.

So it is with my new range of feelings.  It was not safe to have them in that other life.  They are not only possible now, they are welcome, they are honored and fully experienced, as it is true that there is no light without darkness.

Not stupid.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

best compliment ever

Thank you so much.  No one would help me at xxxxxxxx.  You're a nice lady.

It does not get better than that.  Nothing can compete with hearing those words.  Except for stuff my family says to me, but that is another part of my Universe, and, so there.

Today began badly.  I overslept by an hour and a half.  Yep.  Even I can hardly believe it.  Rush.  No breakfast.  No biscuit baking for my lunch today so that I could make little sandwiches from the left-over corned beef.  So, I was forced to craft a sandwich from orange infused dark chocolate wrapped around a slice of beef and an apple slice.

It was surprisingly good, but I now have a stomach ache.  Not a repeatable recipe.

My first two clients were no-shows.  We waffle back and forth here about whether or not to telephone these folk the day before to remind them of their appointments. Like they do here for registrants to the computer classes and like the doctor's office does, and no-shows are not only an inconvenience, but can be costly.  I get that.

I have finally ended the debate by choosing to not make those phone calls.  People come to me because they experienced or are still having trouble finding and keeping jobs.

And, my belief is that dragging themselves over here and doing the pre-job work they need is their responsibility.  No employer is going to make daily calls or deliver reminders to anyone concerning their need to be at work the next day/shift.

They need to remember for themselves.  Period.

Now, if I did not always have work to do, a seemingly endless process of research and support for all of my clients, that might be different.  Sitting here, twiddling something, would not be my first choice of activity, even if there were the potential of a client actually showing up for his/her appointment.  To have that person show up on time would be welcome.  And surprising.  There are exceptions.  My first client after lunch was a half hour early because she could not wait to get started.  It was nice and I kind of expected it of her when we spoke last week.

She did some really hard and successful work, as well.  I wish that I could say that the majority of the people with whom I work are like her, but they are not.  One of the reasons they come to see me is that they have consumed all of their other available resources.  They arrive, if they arrive, late, are unprepared and unwilling to do the work.

I have had clients fall asleep whilst I am typing something we just discussed.  This same client missed several appointments, and his solution to oversleeping was that I would call him an hour before he was supposed to be here, wake him up and then he would not miss his scheduled time.  I did not call and he has not made another appointment

I have had clients arrive reeking of alcohol.  When I mention it, the single, every-single-time, reply is "Oh, that's from last night."

Really?  Well, I guess it can be, as alcohol, especially in quantity takes as long as it takes to metabolize in each unique body, so it is possible to reek when you show up here after lunch for your appointment.  Really?  Maybe if you consider 5:00 a.m. to still be part of last night.  I mean, in the winter time it is still dark outside.  Looks like night.  Yep.

I had a client who made appointments and showed up only if it did not interfere with anything else that came along, oh, like having coffee with a friend.  He is also the person who told me that he does not get any respect when he goes for interviews.  His interest is in law enforcement and he believes that when he arrives for an interview (and, he has had quite a few) that someone should first give him a tour of the place before discussing the job.  I do not give him the respect he deserves, either, because he now is prohibited from making appointments, although he can call in the morning, and if there is an opening in the schedule, he can have that slot.  He actually did that, once, and did not show up.  He also arrived on another day and wanted the open appointment that was there when he called in the morning, did not want to be written in the schedule book (because he had missed the previous time) and was incensed that it had been filled during those several hours by someone who had the nerve to actually show up.  Really.  The nerve.

There are a great many clients who are angry and frustrated at losing what they believed to be life-long employment, as our economy worsens in some sectors and companies have to more strictly steward their resources.  It is unfortunate that loyal, mostly hard-working employees are losing their livelihoods through no fault of their own.

They arrive feeling defensive, particularly when they meet me.  My first name is kind of ambiguous, not all that gender specific, and there were lots of times when I was producing art that patrons or potential customers would be surprised to discover that I am female.  So, I get, and I honor that from them.

When we start to work and they have to define and share their work experience, they become more defensive, often confrontational.  In that early part of the process, the stark details of the work they have done appears to be quantitatively less than the real and actual experience of what they do.  It is only through working through the process that we, as a team, pull out and properly express the work to which many of them have devoted their lives.

It is no surprise that this is more difficult for men.

Another client just left.  Another Thanks.  No "You're a nice lady.", but I did get a "This is amazing.  I can't wait until next time."

Good day.