God created her, I carried her, now she is my happiness and my laughter.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Story Time

There once was a very good Chef. His father was a chef and his father before him. And as his grandfather had taught his father every recipe in The Book, a book with all the recipes and answers to making the perfect dish; so the Chef's father taught him. The Chef knew The Book. By this time he could make many dishes perfectly without even having to open The Book, he had viewed it's pages so many times. Other times he made a dish that he hadn't made in such a long time that he did open The Book to be reminded of the ingredients and all the instructions to gain perfection of the dish.

One day, the Chef found himself in a new city. He went to a different grocery and he took them back to a different house, with a different kitchen, a different stove and  a different set of tools for making the dishes. Even some of the ingredients were different than what he was used to.  Likewise, even the people who ate his food were different. The Chef was not concerned. Why should it matter? He thought of a recipe from The Book that he knew well. He went to his new, different kitchen and began to create the dish. He didn't need to open The Book. It was a dish he had made successfully many times before. Oddly, though, the dish did not turn out. He thought that maybe he had forgotten a step. So, the next day the Chef made the same dish; but this time he opened The Book and followed the directions. When it was finished he gave it a taste. It didn't necessarily taste bad; but it wasn't the same. He couldn't put his finger on it exactly; but he knew it wasn't quite right. The Chef was slightly baffled because this dish had come easily to him in the past. The Chef more or less ignored the problem. He offered several excuses for why the dish wasn't quite right. Maybe he was tired. This new city was hot and he just wasn't thinking clearly. He recalled being interrupted a few times during the making of the dish. He could have been too distracted.

Then day after day, from that point on, the Chef attempted to make the dish. And each time he made it, something was off. He could never put his finger on it; but it wasn't the dish he remembered from before. He tried making it by memory. He tried reading and following each instruction step by step like he used to do when he was just a child, learning. He invited fellow Chefs, whom he had met and grown to trust, over to offer solutions. The other chef friends had the same Book and knew all the answers just like him. In fact, when they made the dish for the Chef to show him how it was done, it was just as he remembered it. So savory and perfectly delectable. The Chef was encouraged by this. When his friends left, the Chef went to make the dish again. Yet, again, when he made it, it did not turn out. The Chef had moments of tears and frustration. He felt like a failure. How could he fail at this dish? He KNEW how to make it. He followed the instructions. His friends were making it and it always seem to turn out for them. Why couldn't he succeed? The Chef began to think that his entire, cooking days were all for nought. What was the point of all he had learned if, now, he could not be successful with what seemed like the easiest of tasks?

The Chef stopped trying for several days. But, though he stopped trying in the kitchen, the problem weighed on his mind almost day and night. Sometimes he could not even sleep. The Chef had one friend who was not a chef. He had some cooking experience; but didn't make anything real fancy. He just made normal dishes that sometimes worked out and sometimes didn't. But, the friend was always happy and positive. The Chef finally opened up to his friend about the dish. He explained the situation. The friend, at first, wasn't sure what advice he could give. So, he told the Chef the "right" answer, "You have the Book." The friend said. "Read The Book. Study it. Know it. Be it. Then you can make the dish." The Chef was disappointed at this advice and admitted, "I have done all this. I have The Book. I know The Book. I know everything that Book says. I see my other other chef friends using The Book and having success. Even if someone else asked me how to make this dish, I could tell them word for word because I know The Book so well."

The friend considered this. There was silence for a moment. Finally, the friend spoke up again, "The Book has the right answers, yes. Ideally, you should be able to read The Book, follow the instructions, and your dish will turn out. But, you have tried this time and time again and still your dish does not turn out. Sometimes..." The friend continued, "you have to discover what the recipe in The Book really means for you. What worked for your to make this recipe before may not be how you need to make it now. Things are different now. You have a new and different life, here. How can you apply what you know to get the dish that you want to make?" The friend continued with an example. "When I come to a dish I want to make, I can look up your Book and find the recipe. But, for me, it is complicated. I don't really understand all the instructions. I don't let that stop me. I find the end result that I'm looking for and using your Book as a guide, I make it fit my own needs at my own level. I find a way to make my dish in a way that makes sense to me. In doing this, I always receive the result I'm looking for."

For the first time, the Chef realized that maybe it was ok if he stepped outside of the bounds of what was expected of a Chef in his past, chef community. Just because all his other chef friends, not to mention his father and his father before him, did it the traditional way, didn't mean that he couldn't make his own adjustments to make the dish fit his needs, now, in his new city with the many differences he faced. And so the Chef pulled out The Book again. He set it on the counter and this time he also grabbed a pen. He began to take out ingredients. The knives he used now were different. So, when the recipe called for an ingredient to be chopped a certain way, the Chef made an adjustment with his pen in The Book and chopped them in a way that made sense to him with the knives he had in his new kitchen. The recipe required a certain heat for a certain amount of time. But the Chef's stove was different. He made an adjustment with his pen in The Book and used a setting on his stove that made sense to him based off of the different equipment he was using. The recipe called for an ingredient that was made a little different in the new city. So, the Chef made an adjustment with his pen to add a little more of something else to balance the taste. It made sense to him to make this change. When the dish was complete, the Chef took a bite......It was good! He sat down and finally relaxed. He realized that each recipe that he had learned in his Chef environment with other, like-minded Chefs was going to have to be tweaked. He was different now, in a different city and everything was different. The Chef could still value the recipes he loved; but he had to adjust in a way that made sense to him so that he could be successful.

This story, or analogy, is based off true events. The people in this story are real, though names have been left out to protect the innocent. :) It's a story about how I feel about my Spirituality on a regular basis. Just because I know the solutions to my problems doesn't make me successful. Just because I have the answers doesn't mean I know how to apply them. Just because I can give someone else great advice about matters in their life, doesn't mean my own advice can be easily applied back on my own life. Why? Why does it come so easily for some people to be determined and successful. Yet, for me, I feel like a continual failure who makes one mistake after another. And when I try to get back on track, when I try to apply what I KNOW from my own Book, it doesn't take. It's true that a friend in my life suggested to me the idea of adjusting. I need to no longer rely on the traditions of my past. It may not actually apply to me now. I'm very different now. I'm a single mom, living alone, doing it alone. What are the basic commandments? How do I apply them to my life where I'm at without comparing to others? In a way, I'm starting from scratch. I'm taking what I absolutely know for sure and have no doubt to be true and finding how it applies to me in my life.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Phase of life: Weird

No matter how old you are in life, there are just some circumstances that require you to need your mom. I'm a pretty big girl and maybe other girls my age are handling things on their own. I'm sure some of them don't even have a mom for one reason or another. But, I'm not ashamed to say that when life turns weird....and I mean, haven't a single idea, thankful to be a Christian so I can rely on God kind of weird....I miss my mom like never before. Partly because my mom, through all my life, has not just been a mother. She has been a friend. I'm reminded of a poem I wrote for my mom when she was "retiring" from homeschooling all 5 of us children. I will not share said poem with you because only heaven knows where it's archived within my computer. But, it's about the memories I had of my mom growing up. They weren't memories of the things she taught me as a mother; but rather the things she taught me as a friend.

Today...this week...this month, I'm longing for my mom to be here and I'm starting to wonder if there will ever come a time where we are just living together for the long term. My house is in disarray today. Unlike other days' disarray-ments, (it's a word if you think about it) today it's a mess because I'm preparing to move. The funny thing is, I prepared to move when I had personally decided I needed to move. I felt like I couldn't afford to live here anymore and was going to move my family of 3 plus 2 cats and a dog into a one bedroom apartment. I gave my notice with property management that I would move out by the 1st of April (2017). Two days later, after sleepless night of tossing and turning over the idea, I finally re-worked my budget and told my property management that I had changed my mind. A few days after that (yesterday) they called me back and informed me that the owners of the home actually wanted to sell the house and so I would have to move out after all.

This is one of those situations where you don't know whether to laugh or cry or pack a few belonging, change your names, and live on the run. I chose to laugh....at first. Luckily, I hadn't unpacked anything yet and had started a garage sale so I felt a little ahead of the game. The matter of where to go is what started to make me feel overwhelmed. I'm not great at making decision on my own. I can't really remember an important decision in life that I HAVE made on my own. Yet, this time I truly felt like I was on my own, humanly speaking. No one was going to swoop in and just tell me what to do, where to move or how to pay for it. As the day went on, I not only was recovering from flu-like symptoms (I had the flu shot), but I also finally started to feel the pressure of all that needed to be done. My laughter turned to tears.

I rather like these phases of life, in a way. It puts me in a place where I HAVE to fully rely on God. I can't even really open any doors. I crack a few windows at this point and God, in his infinite wisdom and power, has to somehow let me know which crack to seep through.

Let's not forget that I also didn't get my tax return this year due to some dumb mistakes several years ago. The return got garnished by a collection agency. So, I'm $7000 poorer than I expected to be at this point. It's also my year to pay for the girls' spring break trip, which takes place end of next week. God has really shown that He is going to provide. So, I'm not necessarily worried. And in a way, doing this alone is part of a prayer I prayed a while back that I would learn how to be alone. Why I prayed that is beyond me. It's funny how God answers the prayers we regret praying sometimes. But, I jest. I'm actually thankful for the lessons and the growth that will come out of this for me.

In short, (and trust me, this is the short version) I just miss my mom. I wish she could be here and I know she wants to be. Between her husband, parents and four other kids I really don't know why I have to share ;) But, I know my mom is praying for me and quite honestly, if someone is going to pray and get their prayers answered, it's going to be my mom. So, I'm thankful that she is doing that. If it is all that she can or would do, it would be enough.

Over and out.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

It's time to be normal

It's been a while since I posted. However, in my defense, I thought blogger had deleted my webpage because it didn't load properly the last time I tried to get on. This blog is mainly being written for my daughters to read some day. It's more of a journal than anything else. And not one that I'm good at keeping up with. But, everyone once in a while; I will have a moment in life that just bears having record made of it.

Today is the Saturday after Thanksgiving. We had a very pleasant Thanksgiving with Liz and Josh and David. Just a small, humble gathering. We didn't get rowdy playing games or sit around a fire doing s'mores; but we did good. It was fun. With mom and dad being in Chicago there was a fear of the winter holidays being a drag. I give credit to God for giving us all a peaceful, enjoyable Thanksgiving. Nice to know we CAN survive with out the parents, when needed.

The girls and I got our tree today and set it up. This time last year marks the anniversary of my depression worsening to the point of getting on medicine again. I have upped my dose once since I got on it again last year. That is good news because that means I'm still taking a pretty small dose. This time last year I was crying uncontrollably on my couch as I sat in front of our newly lit tree and wished to have someone in my life to share it with. The girls were with their Father at the time and I wasn't living with Dave like I had the year before that. I was truly alone for the first time on a memorable day and I truly felt very alone. I remember inviting a couple friends over, all of whom couldn't come over for one reason or another. I had fallen into this downward spiral that I couldn't get out of. Finally, my mom came over and sat down with me in my living room and just listened as I expressed (rather in a hypervigilance state) how down and depressed I really was feeling. My mom insisted I get some help. Coincidentally, (or a God-thing) I had my yearly doctor's check-up that very week. When my doctor asked me how things were going and I started bawling again, she sent me to the psychiatrist right away.

So, that was what I was doing this time last year. I admit as the holiday neared, the tree was carefully picked from the rest, decorations were chosen and we began to transform the living room to the holiday spirit once again, I was became a little nervous that things would be bad again. God knew my heart and mind this year just as much as He knew it last year. He allowed the day to go exactly the way He wanted it to go. He knew I was ready for the day He was about to give me.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching the girls choose the decorations and hang them on the tree. Emma mainly just wanted to hang the tree-topper star. Jacey helped me a little with the lights, but otherwise, her favorite job was hanging the ornaments. She likes to hang them on the light bulbs instead of the branches. I just sat on the couch and watched. I didn't care or feel anxious if two blue ornaments were too close together or if the majority of the decorations were in the bottom two feet of the tree. I just watched and took pictures and enjoyed. Who cares of it's not picture perfect? The girls and I bonded, fondly. This is one thing that I think God was waiting for me to learn. The concept of "not everything has to be perfect."

The tree was up and decorated by 10 in the morning. So the day continued. The house was a mess and over the course of the last few days I was really becoming sick of it. Because it wasn't just becoming a mess over time. It was clean as a whistle one day and the next looked like a tornado went through it. In the past year and previous years before I was on meds, I wouldn't have even cared. I was so anxious all the time making me feel exhausted all the time, which made me feel depressed all the time. I simply didn't care what happened to the house. Well, this past week, for some reason I just decided enough was enough. Why did I have to live this way? Now, this question is important to remember for later on in the story. I began to assess the situation and something I had always known, became very clear to me as I did so. I have these two children who just run around the house doing whatever pleases them. They eat when they are hungry and leave the food out, they take good toys outside and lose them, they don't respect their things, they leave their clothes on the floor where ever they happen to be when they change (and mind you they are changing about 17 times a day.)

It was things like this that made me feel like a bad mother. People would sometimes tell me I was doing a good job and that my kids were doing great. I would just blow off their comments as "they are just trying to make me feel better." Because surely they wouldn't say those things if they knew what went on in my house. I started to ask myself another question. (Which is also important to remember) "Why should I let my kids rule the roost? Why can't I start making some rules and enforcing them?"

This sort of thing happened through out the week. I began to feel like "nesting" and wanted to start throwing things out left and right. Working full time and doing full-time, online schooling didn't give me much extra time to do anything. So, finally, I get this lovely 4-day weekend. I made a plan in my head of what I was going to do and how I was going to do it. Now, bear in mind, that always in the back of my head I'm dreading the start of this new life-goal because of the depression and anxiety that I'm so used to haunting my drive and sucking my energy dry. As I carried about my day yesterday and today preparing for "the new normal," I would stop every so often and take a moment to realize I still had energy. I still had my drive. I still had the gumption to complete my goals. My ideas still felt fresh in my mind. I have those thoughts after completing my various tasks and chores of the day. Yet, still in the back of my mind I would think, "Ok, that may all be true for now; but I better get this done while I can because soon the depression will settle in."

Well, we are up to-date. The girls were good about picking up some clutter around the house before we decorated the tree. So, after we decorated, they went to play outside and I got busy with the main task that was keeping me from feeling the "new norm"....laundry. Today, I literally washed every article of clothing (of the girls) that we owned (save just a handle of outfits that some how managed to stay in the drawers.) On top of that, I also washed all the blankets and bedding that was strewn about the home, for some reason. "Why did I do this?" you might ask. As I had mentioned before clothes were just being thrown every which way and staying put where ever they landed. Well, in spite of many of them being clean to begin with, there was no hope of just putting them back in the drawer now. What with all the cat and dog fur that accumulated on the floor, I had no choice but to wash them all. I stood on my feet all day by the edge of my bed folding clothes, going through all of them piece by piece and only keeping the ones that we really needed. Two big trash bags later, I had narrowed down their collection. Sure, I put on my show as I folded laundry. But, this did not keep me from noticing how badly my feet were beginning to ache and how much I would just like to sit down. As soon as one load was folded, sorted through and put away, another was dry and ready to be started on. This kept me busy until it got dark outside. I noticed the tree again as I walked in from the dryer with the last load I was planning on folding tonight. The lights were so pretty. I had that moment where I stopped to consider my state of mind. Was I depressed? Was I on the verge? I strangely felt ok. I started to feel it creep up a little bit as I considered the feeling of sitting alone in front of the tree again this year. So, I fired back by letting the girls stay up a little later than planned. We sat together on the couch silently and just watched the tree. That was enough for me.

I laid the girls down in their own beds, which was part of my "new normal" goal I was going for. I took my load of laundry into the bedroom. Jacey wasn't quite asleep yet so I decided to put off turning on my show. I didn't want to distract her from sleeping. The girls had fussed a little bit about being in their room again. After all, they had been sleeping with me every night for the last several weeks due to the various number of house guests I seemed to keep inviting into my home and regretting later. As I laid them in their beds this night they started to fuss a bit and I said, "Girls. It's time we start being like a normal family. The kind where we sleep in our own beds, we do our laundry in a timely manner and we pick up clumps of fur that are hanging out in the corners of our home." The said, "Ok and good night." ha ha

That comment I made to them, though, stopped my in my tracks, mentally. I ran another assessment of my mind to find the depression that was sure to be there after being tired, my feet aching and all these menial tasks that I would normally find so overwhelming. And I smiled on the inside. Because for as silly as I would seem to a "normal" non-depressed, non-anxious person; I wasn't feeling my usual overwhelmingness from the parts of life that were making me feel normal again. I have always preached that as a depressed person, you must accept the "new-you." When depressed you just can't do things the way you used to. I used to care about picking up the tuffs of fur. I used to enjoy laundry. I used to see a spill on the floor and clean it up right away. I no longer did those things because they genuinely felt like more than what I could handle in a day. So, the relief of discovering that I was not going to wallow in depression tonight from all I had tried to accomplish, made me feel like a victor.

If you don't currently or have never suffered from a real, honest-to-goodness, diagnosed depression then you won't think anything of this victory of mine. And that's okay. Because I have accepted that this is who I am now. I can't keep trying to compare my house and parenting skills to my mom or other moms who seem to have it all together. Every individual person deals with a variety of different things in their lives. If it isn't depression its something else. Depression happens to be my thorn in the flesh. And yes, I do grow tired of fighting back the urge to defend myself when I know another mother is judging me for the way I brought my kids to school or for the way my house looked a mess or the things I forgot to do that any normal mother would have remembered. But, I've embraced the fact that other people don't have to "get" me. God is putting me through a trial that is not understood by everyone. If I had some kind of cancer, no one would say a word about my messed up house. In fact, many would probably offer to come help me out on a weekly basis. Because people understand physical illness. It's something they can see and be sympathetic towards. Yet, my cancer, is invisible in my mind. It doesn't show on my face as I'm quite capable of carrying on a normal conversation and holding smile with a steady gaze. It doesn't show in the way I dress because I still value professionalism and want to be classy. It doesn't show in hair loss like other cancers. It doesn't show in my body with illness in my eyes. Or does it? Depressions shows in many ways in a person's life.

Here's some wisdom from my mom: an observation, which I clung to and remembered whenever I felt I like I just wasn't cutting it. "It's not normal to be ok with sending your kids to school without brushing their hair." (And I'm paraphrasing here.) "It's not normal to watch your house fall apart around you and not care enough to just do some basic pick up." My mom wasn't being mean. She was trying to understand me. She recognized, when many others don't, that, yes, something is wrong with me. And though it's not a physical illness like cancer that people can see, relate and sympathize with, it's still just as serious. Depression: the cancer of the mind, as I affectionally call it.

NOT TODAY, though! And what a relief! Remember those questions that were important to remember. I can not tell you the last time I cared enough to even make a quandary of such questions. It was like all of a sudden the depression went to sleep long enough for me to open my eyes and in astonishment think "Why am I living like this?"

As I puttered around the house and realized all the things I was doing that used to overwhelm me and make me crywere no longer bringing me down, I had no choice but to just praise God. He has brought me through so much in this last year. I think it's pretty neat of Him to celebrate the anniversary of starting meds with such a successful day. I don't plan on tomorrow being the same as today. I've lived with depression long enough to know that it doesn't go away. But, what a joy would it be if God actually saw fit to heal me of this burden. Could the "me" I used to be really ever pop up again? I try not to hope. I've accepted who I am with depression. I've accepted the tears, embarrassment, changes and looks of judgement from others. I've accepted that its a feeling I will most likely always have. So, if God works a miracle and gives me my mind back, I'll have no choice but to rejoice in His Name and serve Him more fervently. Tonight, on my anniversary with zoloft, I say "goodnight" with the Joy of the Lord in my heart and hope for tomorrow.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Change is in the air

These last few weeks have been relaxing, life changing, happy, and full of relief. Since I started on my medicine last Christmas, I certainly had my ups and downs. As my body got used to the dose I started to slip back into the depression from which I came. So, I'm taking a higher dose now and am not comfortable going any higher. I've always believed that my depression, while physically apparent in my life, is also considerably controllable by my spiritual walk with the Lord. Sadly, my walk with the Lord was failing miserably. I had reached a point where I truly believed God had given up on me. I did not feel like I had a purpose to be used by Him. I thought he only needed me to keep the girls in church. As long as I did that, I was doing all that he needed of me because I couldn't handle anymore. My temptations were so great and I was failing as a Christian every day. I begged and pleaded with tears and crying out for my heart to change; but those prayers weren't being answered. The devil had me real good believing that there was nothing more I could ever do for the Lord. I had turned to worldly sins which made me feel well enough to get through the day. In fact they made me so happy sometimes I felt like I didn't need my medicine anymore. Foolishly I truly believed that God was ok with me living in this sin because at least it kept my depression at bay which allowed me to get through the day with out biting my kid's heads off. Work was starting to be a place I dreaded. Likewise, I hated being home. So, I was getting no relief anywhere I went. I had given up in many areas of my life from hygiene to house work to church ministries to eating healthy.

Finally, spring break was upon us. It was my turn to pay to get the girls to Seattle to see their dad. The travel plans went by without a hitch. I had plenty of money from my tax return to get them there as well as take myself to Idaho for some quality time with my sister. We took a few days and stayed at a nice hotel, planned a spa day and treated ourselves like royalty with a shopping day and a personal consultant. It was so fun and relaxing and just what I needed after a very stressful first quarter of the year.

Now, I have been home for a while. My first day back to work was met with a lay off of 19 people to include, yours truly. The day I got laid off was a little emotional; but strangely it was also a relief. The strange thing was that on my way to work I prayed and asked God again to show Himself to me. I had such a great vacation with my sister who prayed with me and encouraged me the whole time. I didn't want my first week back to work to be a bust. I asked God to really prove himself to me and show me what I needed to change in my life. Sure enough as soon as I walked down the hallway past my boss's office I was laid off. I knew this lay off was from God. I knew He was letting me know that He wasn't done with me yet. The first step towards change was to leave that job. It weighed me down spiritually, emotionally and physically. My greatest temptation lay in wait behind those walls. Now, I was free. Free of trying and failing, free to put myself in a place where I was completely reliant on God again.

It also worked out really great because my mom was in town packing up her final belongs as they had moved to Chicago. It was a blessing to be able to spend some time with her which I would not have generally had the ability to do. As always she was a great help and friend to me while she was back in town. It was so good to see her again.

Upon her departure back to Chicago, I was feeling a little better than the last time she had left. The first time she left it was very sudden and I did not handle the emotions of the event very well. This time I was prepared. I had spent several good days with her, played some scrabble like we used to do and prepared myself for her to be gone. However, after she left I cared less about the domestic chores of the day and I craved my temptation an awful lot.

God had been preparing my older sister and Domestic Warrior Leader, Kimberly for this very time in my life. If for no other reason, her molding and making was for someone exactly like me who needed a humanly, unconditional love with no judgement and the absolute care to be there for me by text, skype or phone anytime I called on her. I knew God was doing something in my life; however, getting back to a place of full trust and surrender to Him was not easy. I sometimes felt so anxious that I couldn't move my body I felt so weighed down from the pressure of the change going on in my heart. I started to make better choices and leaned on my accountability partner for support. She allowed me to express my deepest, darkest feelings - the "truths" that I hid inside for no one else to see or know about. She didn't help me wallow in my despair. Rather she continually pointed me back to Christ, His forgiveness and the Love God shared with both and all of us. She promised to pray for me and then followed through with that promise. She has never made me feel like I'm too much of a bother or that the feelings I'm having in a particular moment are stupid as I often feel like they are.

I still miss my temptation so much sometimes it hurts and I cry. My kids see me crying and want to know what's wrong. I tell them I lost a good friend and that is what it feels like. Sometimes I feel like the day is going well and then all of a sudden I burst into tears caused by a searing pain in my heart like I've lost a loved one. The battle is real. It's not easy; but it DOES have it's victories.

My life was not feeling any more organized being home. I took Jacey out of daycare to save money. While some might think, "Oh, great you get to spend some quality time with your daughter." I'm thinking, "Oh great. All this time I have to spend with a 3 year-old and I'm so tired already." I have had a hard time finding the joy in being home. I thought I didn't clean my house or stay organized because I was too tired after working all day. It turns out, I don't clean it anyway ha ha I'm still just as tired and frankly I don't know how I pulled myself out of bed each day to work a 40+ hour week. I'm exhausted just doing what little I do. I was feeling so overwhelmed that I had Domestic Warriors help me with a schedule. Kim sat down with me again and I told her what I wanted to accomplish in a day. She helped me put it together to where I wouldn't feel overwhelmed and at the same time feel like I'm at least accomplishing something each day. Today was the first day I got to try out my new schedule. I had set reminders in my phone to go off at each task that was imperative to get done such as eating or helping Jacey learn her letters. If you look around my house you won't see much of a change; but I feel amazing. I followed my schedule even with some set backs. I've had down time, play time, eating time and clean up time. I feel very accomplished in spite of still having much to do.

Change is in the air. And I think it's a pretty big one. God seems to be prompting me to move to Idaho. I would be close to my accountability partner and some other spiritual guidance there. This move might require that I homeschool the kids which in turn may cause an upset with my ex-husband who for some reason is instant the kids go to a public school. I will drop dead before I send my kids to a public school for reason we can talk about another time. So, much prayer is going into this change. I will need to be able to raise enough money for the move which might mean a part time job at another low paying job. I dread the thought of that and am praying for other options. I have also applied to work at a zoo in Idaho as a volunteer coordinator and am trying not to get too anxious while I wait for their decision. I know that it is in God's hands and He knows my heart.

Thanks for listening again.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Long awaited

This is the eve of a much needed break from work, from responsibility, from life. It was difficult to get through the work day. Things were slow as most others have taken off for the holiday. All day I was excited to get my mini vacation started. Traffic has been awful. It's been frustrating having to drive to and fro tying up loose ends from the last couple week, slowly getting all my errands complete and getting the kids home. The evening started out nicely, though. We took some electronics we didn't need to the pawn shop and got $20. Then I had something to return at Walgreens. With all the extra cash I was able to grab a couple really pretty make up bags for the girl's stockings and we also picked up some movies.

Coming home, however, was hard as it has been for the last several months. My home is not a place I enjoy being at and I hate that. I know the girls feel it too. My house is just a place with the essentials we need to be comfortable. A place were we come home and spend our evening being too tired to enjoy each other's company. Then we get up too tired to have a pleasant morning. Sometimes I feel more at home when I'm at work than when I'm at home.

A few days ago I had a glimpse of hope, though. I had a new patient doctor's appointment at the VA hospital. I found out I had free medical there and signed up right away. My appointment was first thing in the morning. The experience was amazing. Everyone was very friendly and I felt really happy there. The nurse practitioner who saw me that morning started asking about my medical history. As soon as we hit on depression I immediately started crying. My "How depressed are you" survey did not score well. The nurse was very concerned. I had been feeling this way for a long time but my depression was so misunderstood by everyone around me that I thought maybe I really was the crazy one. I kept thinking I just need to pull myself together. To be honest, I was waiting for the girls to get older. I kept thinking if the girls were just a little older and taking care of their selves more, things would be better. My last experience with medicine was not good so I never even considered doing it again. I feared losing the girls if someone knew I was mentally ill. So, I spent every single day barely making it through and feeling the whole time like something was wrong with me. I had no idea what I was doing with the kids and I had no idea how I would make it through the end of the year. My thoughts became worse and worse. I cared nothing about what other people thought of me. I knew that they did not understand me, so I just did what I could, what I felt I had to do to get through the day.

When the nurse strongly encouraged me to get on some medicine, I had a bit of nerves; but otherwise had no problem agreeing. I knew that I needed to try one more time, a different kind. I couldn't keep going on the way I was going. So, needless to say, I'm now taking half a dose of Zoloft. The first couple days I felt nauseous and dizzy; but I was determined to keep at it for the designated amount of time. The nurse told me it would take a couple weeks to fully feel the affects so I wasn't expecting to be feeling much better already by day 3. Perhaps God was allowing things to work quickly because I was at the end of my rope or maybe that's just how the medicine was working for me; but either way I was finally starting to feel like myself again. It had been years since I had even been in the presence of the true me. I had forgotten things about myself. My energy level was higher. I was happy in the mornings and patient with the kids. I had more gumption to clean up a mess. Such a difference from what had become the norm for me. I can distinctly recall moments when a plate of food would fall on the ground and I would just stare at it and then walk away and think, the dog will get that later when I let him in. I would spend hours with food on the floor of my kitchen and I didn't care at all. It had been so long since before I was depressed that I had forgotten what it was like to see a mess and desire to clean it up.  My relationship with my children already has greatly improved and it all happened naturally. I always knew that kids were forgiving; but I was always too depressed to care how much I was hurting them. Now I see that even just a couple days of feeling better, being patient with them and having fun with them, they seem to have already forgotten about who I used to be.

I went from crying every morning for weeks upon weeks and tearing up at every emotional thought, to feeling secure and steady. A month ago, I'd be bawling my eyes out to write a post like this; but tonight I just type. There is no crying. There's no over exaggeration of my feelings. There's no feeling like things are too overwhelming.

Now, I still suffer from quite a bit of anxiety. I have medicine for that as well but don't get to take it often because it makes me very tired. I still have moments when I dread going home and I still struggle to get out of bed in the morning. The initial affects of the medicine seem to be evening out. But, I'm not quick to judge it because this is an emotional time for me with Christmas around the corner, I'm feeling lonely, my monthly is due and I'm on new meds. I will give the medicine the allotted amount of time for trial and get it to a point where I can feel the way I'm supposed to feel all the time. Though I still have my moments, I can tell even the moments are not as bad as they used to be. It's nice not crying all the time. I still have overwhelming thoughts sometimes but they are about half of the feeling they used to be. I used to worry about the future and the control I lacked but I hardly care about that at all anymore. I've gained back a lot of happier emotions in my day to day and feel a lot more comfortable with simple things like engaging in conversation; although I still often dread days that are busier than other days. I'm not yet capable of adding anything to my schedule. I can work, eat, sleep and get the kids where they need to be. That's the extent of what I can handle right now. Thinking of putting the girls back in an extra curricular activity feels overwhelming as well as adding to my ministries at church. My hope is that in time as I get a good dose that works for me, I'll be able to add those sorts of things to my days and not feel so overwhelmed by it.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Happy Change in Plans

I haven't posted since my birthday although I lay awake at night thinking of so many things I could blog about. I know full well if I don't do it right that minute, it won't get done. So, as expected, here I am months later, finally updating. Normally this time of the year, I would be writing about feeling nervous, lonely and yet slightly relived because the girls are going to Washington. But, this year their trip actually got canceled. I was so happy for Emma because she would get to spend Thanksgiving with her cousins; but then her cousins' trip got canceled as well. It's hard being a 6 year old, just learning about the concept of time and how it passes. When Emma gets the news that she won't see her dad or her cousins, you can see her trying to accept it in her mind. She tries to think of alternative solutions; but doesn't realize the canceling of the trips is completely out of everyone's control. She doesn't understand about personal and/or financial hardships. She's too young to know that it's ok to cry and thankfully she's too young to recognize that her dad canceling his trip is painful.  She thinks if she sends her piggy bank to her cousins that will be enough to get them here. It's just so hard on a mother to watch such a little, beautiful face take it all in. And she does it so lovingly and thoughtfully. I can actually learn something from her innocence about accepting disappointment and change in my life.

I, myself, have to accept that my quarterly "break" from parenting is going to be put on hold. Yes, there was a part of me (a big part) that was kind of glad their trip to Washington got canceled. I felt somewhat like I had won. I had "called it," and I was right. But, the selfishness and pride of those thoughts went away shortly after seeing how hard it was for Emma. Then I spent several weeks struggling with heavy depression due to life struggles and just as I was coming out of that, I got sick for a week; I thought, "Good grief, I sure could use a break!" I started to think about how much easier it would be to come home and go to bed early with out feeling guilty, or to go out with a friend on a Friday night and not feel guilty or rushed to get home before I owed more than I could afford to a babysitter. The more I realized what I was missing in getting my break, the more I started to feel grumpy and it seemed every feeling I had for a while was exaggerated because I was seeing the week for what it could have been rather than what it was or had to be.

But, I'm over that now. If the girls never went away again, I would be thankful that they were mine and that I had the privilege of watching them grow and loving them every day. There are little moments each one of them has that are so hilarious or special and I can't imagine missing that look on their face or that comment or that conversation or that special moment in their life.

It won't always be this way. It's just that I'm living in an annoying phase of life right now. Depression came back, I'm fighting temptations that I thought I had conquered two years ago, I'm floundering to know what to do with school and work; and I find I can't give up control to let God lead in my life. I'm ready to throw in the towel. It seems easiest to just come home and go to bed. My house is always a mess and unorganized anyway no matter how hard I try to keep up with it. At least when I'm sleeping I don't notice all that. However, with all of this going on, I find I'm able to take one day at a time. I tend to not even think about the next day. Every night I go to bed thinking I'll take a day off work and then I wake up and decide I'll go to work after all. I just keep telling myself, "This too shall pass." Right now, I'm happy if I sleep through the night and make it through an evening with out being grumpy.

Tomorrow Nick and his new bride, Lulu come into town for Thanksgiving. Emma is very excited to see them. She is laying beside me now, having put her self to bed and just closed her eyes and fell asleep. So easy for her to do. She's wearing bright pink lipstick which she begged me to let her leave on through the night. Jacey is sitting at the foot of the bed, wide awake coloring and talking to herself and insisting that I respond to everything she says. I've gotten pretty good and saying "mmhmm" in various tones depending on the tone of her comment or question. She was funny earlier, I wouldn't listen to what she was saying so she started counting "1, 2, 3..." she got all the way to 6 before I realized she was counting at me because I wasn't listening to her as I do with her for not doing what she is told. She's much more lenient than me counting all the way to 6. I never let her disobey past the count of 3, ha ha. I have much to be thankful for even when it's harder to see.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

30 and Thriving

So, for quite a while I was refusing to tell anyone that didn't already know how old I was turning this year. Thirty seemed like that age where by now you should have your life relatively figured out. I felt like for the most part I was still acting like someone in their mid-twenties and I definitely felt mid-twenties. Thirty felt....older. Not old, but definitely older. But, then my other 29 year old friends started having their 30th birthday parties and none of them randomly combusted into flames afterwards. They seemed to carry out normal lives, normal, successful lives. And I started to realize that 30 wasn't so bad. It was just an age. It was also nice realizing that I no longer felt attracted to those young immature college aged guys who I wanted so badly to act their age. It's the over 30 that care about taking care of a family and that was becoming attractive to me.

So, it caught me by surprise when the eve of my 30th birthday I sat alone at home and found myself feeling depressed and crying spastically. It was the second to last night I would get to myself before school started. With mom watching the kids two days in a row during the summer, I've had Wednesday nights to myself and I've always embraced it with gusto. But, this night I started to miss my kids. I thought about waking up in the morning, the day of my birthday, and no one would be there. Liz had planned for the family to get together the day after my birthday to celebrate. I had always disliked the idea from the moment she presented it to me. She said she wanted to celebrate on Friday and she would take me out to a movie on Thursday, my actual birthday. So, I could have my birthday poker party with my friends from work on Saturday. I like celebrating with my family on the exact day. I mentioned that to Liz but she had some reason why Friday was just easier for everyone and she seemed so happy to be planning the celebration at her house I decided to just let it go. Going to a movie would be fun and at least I would get to do something with someone on my birthday.

Well, all day on the 29th, I was feeling emotional because it dawned on me that I wouldn't see anyone on my birthday, not even my kids except for going out with Liz later in the evening and then I would pick the kids up at Liz's house after the night was done. They would be sleeping by the time we got back. So, I sat Wednesday night thinking about that and feeling down. I considered taking the next day off so I could just relax and do something fun for myself; but the next morning I ended up going to work anyway. Not surprising. I like my routine.

When I got to work, the technicians were really in a mood. I had passed out a memo about some new procedures the day before and it did not go over well. I was so mad at them all for acting so childish and non-professional and expecting me to bow to their every need and wishes. Blanca came in late carrying a bouquet of beautiful yellow, orange and pink flowers. She said, "Hope these birthday flowers cheer you up. I know you are having a hard time with the techs." That was a nice surprise. Then I went upstairs to my desk and found a giant balloon attached to it. It was nice to be remembered.

The day wore on and the more it did the more I grew tired of playing the passive aggressive game with the technicians. My tasks were all complete for the day and the rest of the day would have just been spent on busy work so I decided as a salary employee I was just going to take off a couple hours early. A girl I work with upstairs told me to just go home and since I didn't have the kids I should do something just for me that would make me smile.

So, on the way home I grabbed a large Code Red Mountain dew and a bag of microwave popcorn and  came home, plopped down and watched my Gilmore Girls show. the more I sat there the more I thought about my evening with my sister. I texted her and said, "If you get off at 5 and I only live a couple minutes away, why are we not meeting until 6?" She didn't answer right away and I figured she was busy at work; but I considered calling because I could always meet her at the church at 5. My evening was getting boring and I hated waiting around. Finally I heard back from her. She said, "She had gone to QT over lunch and the car was making weird sounds. Josh wanted her to get home, stop for oil on the way home and he wanted to look at the car. She asked if I could pick her up." I said, "Well, I could just pick you up at the church and take you home later because I have to get the kids anyway." She said, "Well, this is Josh's only night available to look at the car." So we agreed I would pick her up at her house around 6:15.

Well, around 5:30, I was practicing my violin and thought, you know, I could always just head over and wait for her. If Josh is home I can visit with him or otherwise just play with Gauge. I decided to head over to her house. I get to her street and I see two familiar looking people walking down the street. As I get nearer it turns out to be Patty and Alex McCarthy. I didn't think anything of it at all. I knew Alex worked at the near by Frys. I pulled up to them and said, "Hey, you two get back to where you belong." Patty said, "We do belong here. What are you doing here?" I said, "Well, Liz lives on this street, don't you know?" She said, "Yes, that's who we are going to see. We have something we have to give her." In that moment I thought, huh. That's odd. Why are they walking then? I asked, "Oh, did you just pick Alex up from work?" Patty said, "Yes." I said, "And you decided to walk down here?" She said, "Yep." I said, "Well, I can give you a ride the rest of the way, if you want." (We were only about 4 houses away) Patty laughed and said, "Sure, we'll take a ride." It all made sense in my head. They got in the car and we continued to the house. I didn't really think anything out of the ordinary was happening. It wouldn't be unlike Patty to randomly decide to come to someone's house and give them something. They could have said they were passing out tracks door to door and I would have believed them.

We started walking up to the door and I started to feel weird. Here Patty and Alex had walked all this way to give Liz something and we were supposed to go to a movie. Was our evening going to get delayed? What were they giving her? Should I be here for it? I didn't want to intrude in their visit. Patty knocked on the door and didn't wait for Liz to respond. She just walked right in. And even then I thought, "Ha, that's so like Patty. She's so much like Grandma. Liz doesn't even know she's coming and she just walks right in."

But, as she does open the door she yells "SURPRISE!" Everyone else starts to realize I'm there too and they jump out from the hallway, "SURPRISE!" Turns out Patty and Alex were there for a surprise birthday party for me. I was so taken aback. I started remembering all the lies I had been told over the course of the last couple weeks. I'm hard to surprise. I ask a lot of questions and I notice when things are off. I couldn't believe I had been fooled. Patty was the perfect person to see walking down the street. She's the only one of the group who could have done that and I would have thought, "Well, that's just Patty. Who knows what she's up to now."

It was so special and I felt so happy. They hadn't forgotten how special it was to me to celebrate on the day, after all. They hadn't forgotten I was feeling weird about turning 30. Jacey ran up to me several times to hug my leg. Even Jeff was there. Seeing Jeff there was what really made the party special. Liz had gone out of her way to invite an "outsider" to make my day special. And Jeff, being the outsider, had put that aside to come and be there for me. I was overwhelmed with his amazing friendship in that moment.

It was such a fun party. Heidi and her family were there as well. I don't have a large group of friends but my family knew who meant the most to me and it was perfect. Mom's lasagna was just cheesy enough and though Emma had given me a scare the other day when she told me Jammy had bought me a mop when I really, really needed and wanted a vacuum, I did end up receiving a steam vacuum and it is awesome! I can finally walk barefoot in my house again. (Just a little plug in here: those steam vacuums really are amazing! If you have hardwood or tile floors, this is a must have!) Now, I'm just curious if Emma knew she was tricking me with the mop story or if she thought the vacuum was a mop. Either way I was so happy it wasn't a mop.

I was slightly disappointed that I had gotten all dressed up to go out and watch a movie, but I got over it quickly. Thank you to everyone who came and prepared to make my day special. It will be a birthday to remember for all time. And thanks to Josh for putting my vacuum together before I left.

Now, I have much to do to get my house ready for poker tonight.