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How To Begin

It’s time to move forward. Even if I start with baby steps.

 

Photo on 3-28-17 at 12.42 PM

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Focusing on What Works

When I first started this, I had intended to try to post something every day. I managed two days, got the feels, and walked away for a spell. Emotions are exhausting, and when you’re battling depression and anxiety it’s even worse.

What I originally intended is probably not what I’m going to end up with, but I am trying to move forward anyway. Part of me wants to beat myself up and quit simply because I didn’t meet a goal I set for myself. The healthy part of me says, “Who cares? It’s your goal! You can change it if you want!”

I have discovered that I definitely feel better in the spring. Winter really does have an impact on my mood and energy. This is something I really noticed this year. As soon as the days warmed a little and the light increased, I had more energy. I’m doing a lot better than I was in February. I still have difficult days, but I feel like I can rejoin the world.

I’ve been so focused on the negative lately that I have decided to spend today focusing on what works for me. Eating right, exercising, getting enough sleep. These things work for me, but I fight it every single day. I need to make it my routine, and I need an attitude adjustment!

I haven’t been very happy living in New York and have spent a lot of time whining about how I want to move back to Rhode Island. Moving is a tremendous pain in the ass, as well as expensive. I haven’t even been here for 2 years and feel like I’m sabotaging myself. I can choose to be happy anywhere that I am. It might be difficult, but I can start rewiring my brain.

What has been wonderfully helpful has been getting out and exploring. The weather has been nice, so I’ve been getting out and hiking. I bought myself an Empire Pass and started heading out. I live near several NY State Parks , so I have no idea why I didn’t do this sooner! I need to be out in nature. This is an absolutely stunning area scenically, and I have been a fool to not take advantage!

Recently, we were at Lake Minnewaska. If it is this beautiful on a chilly spring day, then I can’t wait for blue skies and sunshine to visit again!

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Another place that I have always loved is Storm King Art Center. My partner had gotten me a membership as a wedding gift in 2015 and has continued to renew it for me. I don’t know why I didn’t take advantage of it as much as I could have last year, but I’m not making the same mistake this year! I have been trying to go at least once a week since they opened for the season last month. It will get more difficult as the weather gets hotter, but this sculpture park is where I need to go to feel “right sized.” Knowing that this week would be a hot one, I did manage to get there yesterday.

 

Today, I will go to the gym. I will eat healthy foods. I will read a book. Today, I’m okay. I’m not perfect. I never will be, but I’m okay, and the only person I owe anything to is myself. I’m working on it.

Grieving is for Life

Day 2

March 29, 2017

Today is my dad’s 80th birthday. Rather, it would have been. Technically, it still is, but we stop counting birthdays when people die, although we don’t forget. He died in 2007.

This picture was taken in 1993 shortly after my mom had died. My dad and I drove to visit my mom’s family in Minnesota and stopped in Las Vegas on our way back to California. My dad and I had never taken a silly picture like this together, but I took advantage of his grief and talked him into it while we were at Excalibur. I do not regret it.

My dad and I were close. My sister had gotten married and moved away a couple of years before my mom died, so we were alone. My family has never been exceptionally affectionate, so we use a lot of sarcasm and humor to get through pain. That’s definitely how my dad and I adjusted to this new and empty life. A lot of laughs and a lot of silence.

I wonder what I’d be doing today if my dad were still alive. If he were healthy. We’d have lunch and end up at a bar somewhere, I’m sure. If we were still living in Port Hueneme, I’m sure we’d be grabbing a cup of coffee at the snack bar down by the pier at Hueneme Beach. Nothing would be planned. We’d spend the day going to his regular haunts and visiting with his friends.  So many of them are gone now, too.

I don’t remember a whole lot of my childhood, but there are certain memories that really stand out quite vividly. I think my earliest memory of my dad was when I was around 3 years old. We had gone to see the Rose Parade floats with my grandparents after the parade. I don’t remember any of the floats, but I do remember that there were miniature monkeys on the wheels of some of the floats designed to look like they were operating them. I remember my dad holding me up because it was wicked crowded. Later, when he would talk about this day, he would grumble about those crowds and how he’d had to walk back to the car using drainage ditches. Good times!

Another happy memory was my dad getting a bike of his own, and on Saturdays, for awhile, my sister and I would ride to the beach with him. I don’t know how many Saturdays we did that, or why we stopped, but I do remember that it was fun. My dad insisted on wearing his cowboy boots.

I have a lot of sad memories, too. I remember my dad had a friend called Hoppy who lived in an apartment in the same building as the Top Deck bar. Hoppy had been sick for a long, long time, and he lived alone. My dad would go keep him company and make sure he had whatever he needed. I don’t recall ever meeting Hoppy, but he often sent little things home with my dad for me and my sister. Now that I think about it, I never even saw a picture of him, but I know that I still have his dogtags somewhere.

I don’t know what Hoppy was sick with, but I knew that he was in a lot of pain. My dad went to visit him one day and found him slumped over in his apartment. Hoppy had shot himself, and my dad was the one who got to find him.

I don’t remember how I found out about it. When I think back to that time, I mostly remember how it felt. I remember that my dad was not okay, and I didn’t know how to deal with it. I do remember that I was trying to mow the lawn and couldn’t get the lawnmower started, so I was frustrated that my dad wasn’t helping me. I remember my mom telling me to back off because Dad was hurting, and I remember being confused by it all. These days, I feel ashamed for how I behaved that day. I would love to say that I was only a kid (was I 10? 11?), but the truth is that I was a bit of a spoiled brat who only thought of herself. I wish I had known better how to comfort him.

Regret is something I learned after my mom died. I suddenly realized that I really and truly could not fix past mistakes. There were no more apologies I could make. Shortly after my mom died, I was flooded with these memories of everything I had ever done wrong to anyone. Is that a normal part of grieving? I don’t know, but those memories, like the one above, have stayed with me longer than most.

Today is my dad’s birthday. I will make a nice dinner. I will listen to ABBA. My dad mostly listened to country/western… Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams… In my twenties, I got him hooked on ABBA somehow. He loved their song, “I Believe in Angels,” and instructed us to play that when he died. That’s the song we played the day we scattered his ashes in the Pacific. So, dinner, ABBA, and maybe a quiet walk.

Mostly, I need to be gentle with myself. Grief is not a process with an end. It stays for life.

New and Unsure

Day 1

March 28, 2017

I used to love to write. When I was younger, I enjoyed writing poetry and short stories. I don’t know for sure when that stopped. I don’t know for sure why I stopped. I just know that it is something about myself that I miss, and I’m hoping that this will bring it back to me.

So, why blog? Why start today? Well, last weekend I was at a workshop in Rhode Island and had the opportunity to chat with an old friend. He knew I wasn’t working and was curious about what I was up to. I didn’t know what to say. Such a simple question, “What are you doing these days?” and I go into a tailspin! He saw my discomfort and tried to be encouraging. He said a lot of things, but the only thing I really held onto was, “You have to do something.” So, here I am doing something. Is that enough of an answer? I don’t know, but it’s all I’ve got at the moment.

These days I feel that I am a complete failure. I graduated with my masters degree in social work in 2012 and started working as an Organizer-in-Training with SEIU that same year. I wanted to be a macro practice social worker. I wanted to be out in communities helping to make change. Taking a job as an organizer made sense at the time, but it was a tremendous mistake, and I wish I had trusted my intuition and quit much sooner than I did.

I was a bit of a mess when I quit that job and needed to regroup. I took some time to pick myself back up. In the meantime, I filled my days with volunteer work. I was trying desperately to stay relevant.

In 2014, I took a couple of jobs as a campaign manager for two different campaigns. One was paid and the other was voluntary. The two campaigns were very different from each other. One was for a candidate running for the House of Representatives, the other was a ballot initiative. While the campaigns were different, there was a bit of overlap with who the players involved were. Rhode Island is a small state, so that’s to be expected. I don’t want to get into it too much in my first post, but let’s just say that I left that work feeling very jaded. It wasn’t as traumatizing as SEIU, but it definitely left me wondering what the hell I should really be doing.

I decided to get my clinical license in social work. In my heart, I wanted to work for a hospice agency, and to work for hospice you really need to get serious about being clinical, so I scheduled my test and started studying. I kept up with my volunteering and was beginning to feel like I had direction again. Confidence was returning. I was going to be alright. Life was making sense again.

Wow… I haven’t been writing long and I’m already feeling tired. I have stuff I need to do around the house, and I’d really like to get to the gym. I guess that’s enough for today, eh?