Archive | January 2016

Accepting And Asking For Help

help-523225__180I’ve got to get better at accepting and asking for help. FOR REAL. It’s 10:40 pm Friday night and my house smells deliciously of baking cornbread. It does not smell of chopped onions because I haven’t gotten to them yet. I have two pans of cornbread baked and cooling, with two more in the oven. Why am I baking cornbread and procrastinating on chopping onions you wonder? That’s because I’m the new head of the Events Committee for a community club and tomorrow is my first official event, the 1st Annual Chili Cook-Off & Tasting!chili-1159529__180 My girl, Dawny, offered to come over several times to help chop onions. Each time I demurred. I declined. I told her I’d manage. And I will manage, but I’m so damn weary and emotional right now. Its been such a long day and an even longer week. Today one of my closest friends at work retired and I was sad to see her go. I will definitely keep in touch with her and she’s throwing a retirement party next weekend. But I was very emotional all day on top of the normal stress of my workday and the end of a long week. I had errands to do throughout the day for the cook-off and I had to stop at a tire shop to get my left front tire repaired because it was flat when I came out from work yesterday.

The tire shop was an adventure in itself. I got there 10 minutes before they closed and they took my keys while I waited in the lobby. About 10 minutes later a technician came up to me stating he couldn’t find the keys for my wheel lock and asked if I knew where they were. I had no fucking clue what he was talking about, I was cold, hungry and tired to boot. Not a good combination for me. In any case, I was genuinely confused and cordial. He explained that my tires had wheel locks so no one could steal my rims and he couldn’t remove the hub cap without the key. He asked if the dealer where I bought my car mentioned where they would put it in my car. I was even more stumped and still had no clue what he was talking about. I offered to go look in my car with him and had gotten out of my seat to walk out with him when his supervisor told him he was talking to me about the WRONG car. I own a Mazda 3 and he was talking about a Kia Forte. He apologized to me and said it’s been a long day. I told him I completely understood and went back to my seat hoping my tire was an easy, inexpensive fix or repair. 40 minutes after that they were done with my car. The supervisor that corrected the technician earlier was giving me back my keys and told me they put the correct air pressure in all my tires but they were all bald so I would need new ones. My heart sank while he ran outside to verify my tire size for a price quote. However, he returned embarrassed and assured me my tire treads were fine. It seems he confused my Mazda with a Volvo. Lord have mercy it’s been a long day and week for a lot of folks. There was no charge for their service so I headed home.flatfoot-76564__180

The reason why I brought up my tire issue is because my job is over 40 miles from where I live. Yesterday I drove on my flat tire to the nearest gas station by my work and put air in the tire, then drove it home. After posting a picture of the tire on Facebook of course. Later after I’d been home for a while, a brother, Daniel from my 12 step community offered on Facebook to come over to my house to put my spare tire on for me. I refused like an idiot. It clearly would have been safer. Oh, and the onions for the cook-off? They’re still not cut and they’re not getting cut tonight. I’ll do it in the morning. Why is it so hard for me to accept and ask for help? I don’t know but I do know I can’t keep throwing events on a monthly basis with just me and Dawny. She’s got even more stuff than me going on.

What’s the lesson and plan going forward? Announce at meetings that we’d like some volunteers for the Events Committee. And the next time someone OFFERS to help and I need it, I will accept it. Especially where my safety is concerned. Most importantly, remember to take care of myself and not let myself get too hungry or tired. Such simple lessons, such a simple plan.

This entry was posted on January 30, 2016. 2 Comments

Reverb From The Universe and Just This

yoga-310940__180Today is day 27 of  the 31 days of yoga challenge and I feel really good about how I’ve incorporated a practice into my daily life. It’s brought me added clarity, balance, strength, versatility and most of all a growing sense of comfort and camaraderie with other women at my yoga studio. I’m even a little sad that it’s ending, although I’m sure my Facebook friends are sick of my daily postings about it. I started to wonder what I could do next for February. Earlier in the month when I realized how weak my upper body was, I wanted to do a 30-day plank challenge. I still might, but I came across something that appealed to me more.

I found Ellie Hodges and her Facebook page “An Emergent Life” through Jennifer Pastiloff, of course ;-). She is a counselor who lives in Australia and she has developed a 28 day A-Z Mindful Living e-mail series for the month of February. Here is the link: http://anemergentlife.com/mindful-living

I’m excited about this because when I started the daily yoga challenge I had no clue how much it would add to my life. I imagine I won’t be able to predict or know what a month of mindful practice will do but I’m willing to find out! I also reposted the link on my page to invite any friends to join me if they were so inclined after reading about it. There are 6 of us so far, which means added personal support for each other. I mean, who couldn’t use more mindfulness and presence in their lives? We’ll be forming a closed Facebook group for us as well.

That starts in 5 days. Where the reverb comes in is with my spiritual advisor. I haven’t mentioned her as much lately because I’ve been lagging on consistently speaking to her every week like I had been doing before the Christmas holidays. We finally spoke again after a two-week break and I caught her up on the Big Island Writers Workshop experience among  other things. I was telling her about my vision board I made this past Sunday with a group of like-minded women. When I finished she said she’d like to make an observation. I’m always open to such things from this amazing woman. She said I was doing a lot of work building my future with the vision board as well as some work with my past, referring to a story I shared with her about my grandmom, Mimi, that I wrote at the writers workshop. Then she gave me a mission, should I choose to accept it… and yes, that IS a Mission Impossible reference. I just love her sense of humor and whimsy! She asked me to spend some time in the coming week being with the “is-ness” of the moment.zen-434531__180 She said the Buddha mind calls it “just this”, meaning to bring myself to the present moment of where ever I am and whatever I am doing. She recommended I ground myself to what is going on in the present moment. Like right now, I am lovingly tapping the keyboard as I try to impart to you the recognition of the reverb in her inherent mission for me. You see, I hadn’t told her about the A-Z Mindful Living challenge yet. This is how the Universe reverbs for me when I’m on a path I believe I’m supposed to be on.

Another case in point before I wrap up and end this blog. Remember about six weeks ago, I had my last session with my kick-ass therapist because she found another job and moved away? She and I left things open ended in that I was supposed to contact her the second week in January to set up a phone or skype session. Well, I never got around to contacting her and I was missing my weekly phone calls with my spiritual advisor. Needless to say, I needed to get this area of my life back on track. So I sent my therapist a text today asking to set up a time to talk on the phone. She responded in less than 15 minutes with a time and day she was available in my town because her new job didn’t work out. She’s back in town and our bi-weekly sessions are back on for the time being.

I’m on the right path, the reverb tells me so!sunset-473754__180

This entry was posted on January 28, 2016. 2 Comments

Slip-Sliding and The Most Pressing Thing

“you know the nearer the destination the more you’re slip-sliding away” — Simon and Garfunkel

slide-1015723__180Let’s get one thing straight. And I think I’m actually talking to myself more than to you. Slip sliding is not a total backslide. What happened? Another soul-sucking Monday at the job, which sadly is all too typical. It was all the more stressful because last Monday was a paid holiday, I called out sick Wednesday (in a bid for self-care or self-destruction, only time will tell) and I took a vacation day Friday to attend the Big Island Writers Workshop. So today was definitely pay-the-piper day. I stayed late to try and catch up. I’ll be going in early on Tuesday to do the same (no Sunrise Yoga class). I was starving when I left work and my commute is close to an hour. Oh, and it’s my PMS time! So how did I cope you ask? Some of you may know as I confessed on Facebook to being a fast food whore and tv tramp. I stopped at Taco Bell drive-thru halfway home and pulled over in the parking lot to devour two tacos. Once I hit town I stopped at Wendy’s and McDonald’s drive-thrus for dessert before ending up at home. Once settled at home, as I ate my yummy jr. frosty and chocolate chip cookies, I turned on the tv. I started out watching the beginning of an NBA game, then switched over to X-Files at 8:00. Once that was over, I stayed on the couch  and got sucked into a new tv show called “Lucifer”! Yes, THAT  Lucifer and against my will, I found it to be charming, funny and interesting. Shit, on a night I need to be writing my blog and getting to my yoga because it’s day 25 of the 31 days of yoga challenge.

I tend to do things like this when I’m stressed and overwhelmed. This slip-sliding away or mini self-sabotage. Or is it? I mean I actually did refer to myself as a fast food whore and tv tramp on Facebook. But I wasn’t beating myself up or looking for validation. I was holding myself accountable. The truth is I usually do crave junk food when I PMS. I could have and used to eat way more fast food in one sitting than two tacos, a jr frosty and three cookies. As for tv, well I went pretty deep in the writer’s workshop Friday, so I need to vegetate a little after that and a typical stressful Monday back to work after only working two days last week. I had a lovely friend comment on my whore/tramp post that I must have had a stressful day and if that’s the case then I earned it. She was reminding me to be compassionate with myself.

Here is more truth, I’m now beyond the point of a growing dissatisfaction with my current job. That was so two years ago. I’m nearly past the point of caring because what I value has changed. The spiritual expansion that therapy, yoga, and writing has wrought makes it increasingly difficult to function in my current job. As my Higher Power and the Universe continue to provide opportunities to further my growth and strength with living from my heart, it creates a dissonance that is getting harder to reconcile. It’s time to be accountable and  proactive about coming up with a resolution I can live with.

The most pressing thing is to continue moving forward, mindfully from the heart, purposeful in my faith. Some days that may look and feel like old behavior. But it’s just a little slip-slide as opposed to full on backsliding. My favorite slogan in the 12 step rooms, which I’m finding a lot outside them as well is, “we strive for progress, not perfection.” I also firmly believe that movement is life. Therefore, the most pressing thing is to continue moving forward, no matter what.road-247305__180

This entry was posted on January 26, 2016. 3 Comments

The Tastes Of Childhood

It has been a long Friday. I was blessed to wake up at my daughter-in-love, Mary’s house with my grandchildren. I delivered belated birthday presents for Ava, who turned 4 on the 9th and Charlie, who turned 2 on the 18th. They are a joy and a delight, even when they have to drink their “hot chocky” before warming up to Mae-Mae!12573080_10208737285331759_6662837618014241501_n They opened their presents, I got to enjoy breakfast and a little bit of play time with them before I had to shower, dress and leave for the Big Island Writers Workshop in order to get there by 10 am.

The workshop is run by Beth Bornstein Dunnington, a writer/actress/director who lives in Hawaii but comes to the Mainland a few times a year to hold these events. There were 9 women and 1 man, including Beth.12565373_10153904321033188_6322022130077601714_n The aim, according to her is not to teach us how to write, but to give us prompts to choose from so we can write and allow our “stories” to unfold. This was such an incredible day full of intense feelings of humor, empathy, horror, commiseration, validation, comfort, identification, authenticity and above all truth. The prompts I chose revealed so much of my story to me, as Beth said they would. Some of the stories I knew, some I didn’t. I will leave you with the most lighthearted writing prompt that brought laughter and shared recognition with many. The prompt was the title of this blog…

I can tell you about the tastes of my childhood through specific people and places in my life.

Mimi’s (my maternal grandmother) rice pudding that I begged her to make all the time, which she always served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. She always made it from scratch and her memory with no raisins because I didn’t like it that way.

My dad’s creamed chipped beef on toast, which he made a lot when my sister and I spent the occasional weekend at his house. He learned to make it as a cook in the Army and it tasted like it’s nickname: shit on a shingle. I hated it but he made us eat it.

My mom’s favorite dinner, which I refuse to eat or force my children to eat to this day, was liver with onions and lima beans. She would make me sit at the table while the beans and liver got cold and congealed. It was nasty before it got cold. Chef Boy-Ar-Dee spaghetti o’s sweetened with sugar, baked beans with hot sausage, milk toast (YUM), McDonald’s as a treat every other Friday (payday), fried potatoes, fried pork chops, fried chicken, fried apples. Grits, bacon, and eggs over easy all mixed up together (I still eat this today).

a yummy bowl of milk toast!

a yummy bowl of milk toast!

Marilyn (my dad’s California girlfriend and my half sister, Rena’s mom) made the nastiest macaroni & cheese that my dad insisted we eat. I stuffed as much as I could in napkins and put them in my slippers to avoid eating it. * Before California, in Pennsylvania, she made me and my sister Michelle our first homemade tacos (YUM).

Julie, my mother’s sister who was only 12 years older than me, let me have all the junk food I wanted: Middleswarth chips, sour cream and onion Doritos, grape soda, orange soda floats and grape soda floats.

Nana (my paternal grandmother) made thick ass pancakes with corn in them eaten with Karo syrup (Not a fan, but as a child you didn’t say such things to Nana). Her delicious fish frys on Fridays during Lent.

Uncle Lorenza’s tapioca pudding which he let me eat while it was still warm. Helping him make lasagna.

Baloney sandwiches on white bread and Hawaiian punch. Hoagie sandwiches from the Turkey Hill Mart.

The summer I spent in Cairo, Georgia when I was 9 years old. They served cornbread with every meal and not the sweet kind out of the box. Okra- DOUBLE YUCK!.

Being allowed to sip grape wine at large Holiday dinners. Enjoying THAT so much, I made a point of helping clean up afterward so I could drain the remaining glasses of unfinished wine.

This entry was posted on January 23, 2016. 2 Comments

Flat and Discouraged

sad-505857__180 (1)I’m not sure if I’ve ever come right out in my blog to state that I suffer from depression. Today it’s diagnosed as a mild dysthymia and, for the most part, isn’t nearly as debilitating for me as it was back in the day when my drug & alcohol use was so rampant and my coping skills were nonexistent.

It feels like it’s always been a part of my outlook on life, but I don’t believe that is really true. I know that I tried to commit suicide for the first time when I was in the sixth grade and that attempt failed. I turned to drugs and alcohol shortly after that and my next attempt was not until my early 20’s after I’d been married with children for a short while. That attempt wasn’t successful, mainly because I couldn’t get past the hesitation razor cuts, scrapes really, across my wrist. I actually confessed that attempt to my husband at the time. He was shocked and quite shook up about it. I don’t even think we were living together at the time, but we were still messing around, which was a pattern with us until after I popped up pregnant with our third and final child. Anyway, he was upset enough to write me a beautifully encouraging letter that I still have today. I sought help from various therapists and psychiatrists over the years. One of them convinced me to try anti-depressants but after taking them for a few days, I just couldn’t get past how tired and sluggish they made me feel. I got some measure of relief and would always end the therapy to try to move on with my life. But I always came back to the place of suicidal ideation. However, I never could get past the fact that it would be my children to find me dead. I just couldn’t bring myself to subject them to that kind of trauma and legacy. So what changed or happened? I sought help one final time after being sick and tired of being sick and tired shortly after giving birth to my last child, and they felt my drug and alcohol use contributed to my depression. I was referred to their center for drug and alcohol abuse. That was nearly 20 years ago.

I don’t need medication for it and for a long time I wasn’t in therapy. Two years ago, I reached out to a local therapist to help me with a family issue. This was through my Employee Assistance Program at work. The family issue took one session, but I was authorized for six and the therapist felt there were some things that came up for me personally in that first session that warranted further exploration. I continued my therapy with her for two years. Many times during that process I often wondered what the hell I was doing or accomplishing, but I kept at it. Looking back now, I learned I had been deeply unhappy with how I was choosing to merely exist through my life and how helpless I felt to change it. With her help, I was able to affect some real changes in my life. Changes that have really awakened so much in me. Some days I feel I and my life are unrecognizable, other days it feels like it hasn’t really changed.

Or worse, I feel so overwhelmed with how much I and my life have changed that I don’t feel I can live up to it. This makes me feel flat and discouraged to the point I stop showing up and that’s what I did today. Ooh, I have a blog now, I wrote an essay that was published, I attended a yoga retreat on a scholarship, I’ve done 19 days of yoga. Big fucking deal my head says. Now, what? Do you really think you’re going to accomplish all those goals to get you out of the life you’re living now? This is where my mild dysthymia takes me periodically. It’s not a good place. I try to remember how far I’ve come and I have good, long time friends that remind me of this. The trick is to not get so overwhelmed with how far I have to go. road-1030789__180 footpath-692082__180

 

This entry was posted on January 21, 2016. 5 Comments