Purging

November 21, 2012

I’ve been slipping through the years
My old clothes don’t fit like they once did
So they hang like ghosts of the people I’ve been

-You Can Do Better Than Me, Death Cab for Cutie


The day I had to put Abby down, I thought about taking off work but figured after so much crying and reflection, it would be better to stay busy. I worked all afternoon and happened to have plans to hang out with Ern that evening. She lives about an hour-and-a-half south of me, so we sometimes meet at a Panera that’s halfway between us to chat and work on whatever crafts are currently occupying our attention. That night as I sipped on iced coffee and knitted, in the back of my mind I’d preemptively begun worrying about going home to an empty, Abby-less apartment. In fact by the time I actually got home, I’d worked myself up into quite a tizzy, thinking I would have a meltdown and cry for 100 hours and not be able to sleep and howl pitifully at the moon. When I finally walked through the front door, I felt a twinge in my gut but was determined not to obsess. Without a plan, I wandered into my bedroom closet, which was a HELLACIOUS mess, and dove into the disarray head first. That poor closet had been neglected for far too long and was full of stuff that needed to be sorted and donated. I ended up spending hours in there and the fruit of my labor was several garbage bags full of clothes and purses. As I’d been losing weight, I’d given some clothes away but was afraid to deliberately go through my entire closet and purge, thinking it akin to asking the God of Cellulite to smite me with hundreds of wobbly pounds. That night though, I managed to overcome my ridiculousness and let myself live in the present moment. It’s finally time to let go of all of this, I thought. Before I stumbled into bed, I hauled all the bags to my living room, planning to make a Goodwill run as soon as possible. But as it often does, life got in the way and my piles sat neglected for a few weeks until tonight when after a bit of straightening, I decided I had to get that stuff out of my apartment. I felt sort of melancholy loading the bags into my car, not because I’ll miss my clothes but because I got the courage to pass them on the day I lost Abby. That really good thing happened on a really sad day. Funny how life works, isn’t it?

Unearthing

November 10, 2012

I’m getting ready to buy a new laptop and having used several different ones over the last few years, am trying to consolidate all my files. I’ve finally managed to get everything onto one machine, which is major progress. Now I need to go through the lot and purge and re-organize. Like, for example, do I REALLY need a high-res version of this before photo of my storage closet from 2006?

Before

Ahem. Amongst all the silliness, I found a list of goals from January 2009. Happily, I met quite a lot of them! Here’s the rundown with updates:

  • Read a book a month
    • This seems like a reasonable goal but I fell short in a big way. There are sooo many great books I want to read – my Amazon.com wishlist is a shameful 29 pages! It’s not that I don’t have time; I just haven’t been making time. The last book I started was Tina Fey’s hysterical memoir, Bossypants. I definitely want to re-commit to this goal.
  • Get & keep alive 3 new plants
    • Done!
  • ASSORTED HEALTH COMMITMENTS THAT NEED (ALL CAPS stet – ha!)
    • I’m guessing I planned on expounding on that deep thought at some point but never did. I’m proud to say that in the last few years, I’ve made major progress in the health department. I started consistently exercising again in the spring of 2010 and aside from temporary breaks after surgeries, haven’t stopped! (For me, that’s a major accomplishment because in the past, I would only exercise in fits and starts and give up after a few months.) I’m also doing all kinds of things to keep my issues in check, including journaling, writing down my food, & attending a support group weekly, all of which has helped my mental health tremendously as well. I can always improve on this front but am pleased with my growth.
  • Bubble bath once a week
    • Done, at least once a week and usually more often.
  • Manicure once a week
    • I feel compelled to clarify that I meant at-home DIY manis, because they make me feel fancy, but I definitely did not do them once a week. I think once a month is more reasonable. (Sidebar: I’ve never had a pedicure because I think my feet are ugly and they’re very ticklish and I’ve read too many fungus/infection horror stories. Maybe 2013 will be the year to overcome my neuroses and get a pedi?)
  • Learn to do something cool with new camera
    • I’m not exactly sure what I meant. I started Instagramming in April of 2012, which has encouraged me to take more pictures more often and to think more creatively about the ones I take. I would love to experiment more, especially with Instax and light paintings.
  • Buy: couch cushions, new vacuum, tires, bed
    • Aaaand consumerism rears its ugly head. I ended up not getting new couch cushions but this summer finally got a new couch, which I love! (More on that and other fascinating home-decor dets soon.) I also got a new vacuum but again, not until recently. The tires and bed I did get in 2009.
  • Start a vacation fund
    • Sadly, I did not meet this goal. It’s added to my list for 2013.
  • Learn to knit in-the-round
    • Nope but still dying to learn.
  • Try to be less judgmental of myself and others
    • ♥ this one and think of it often. So important!
  • Make shower curtain
    • Nope but that hasn’t stopped me from buying fabric for it. ;)
  • Don’t be afraid to write some query letters for writing projects
    • I didn’t do this until this summer. More on this soon, hopefully.
  • Score a freelance gig
    • At the moment, I can’t remember if I did any freelance gigs in 2009. There may’ve been one I ended up bailing on because I didn’t have enough time? I’m definitely seeking a freelance writing gig but am less concerned with taking on Web design projects. There’s other stuff that’s more important to me now.
  • Re-quit sugar
    • Done! This time it’s been almost a year.
  • Remember that baby steps matter
    • ♥ this one too and could do with reminding myself more often.
  • Embroider
    • I did some cross stitch but actual embroidery didn’t happen until 2011 and I still haven’t finished my 1st project.
  • Journal every other day
    • I don’t journal that often but much more often than I used to – I’d say at least once a week.
  • Recommit to recycling
    • (God, I’m such a dork.)
  • Walk Abbs
  • Church twice/month
    • A few years back, I started going to church more often but stopped and let this goal fall to the wayside. I went with my Dad a few weeks ago, which got me thinking about this issue again. I’m still mulling over where I want to take this goal.

I have to say, I’m surprised and pleased with my progress overall and so glad I found this list! A few years ago, I realized that after some painful setbacks, I stopped making goals for fear of not achieving them so I’m glad I got back on the horse and am inspired to keep at it in 2013!

Progress

November 9, 2012

I don’t blog much about politics, although I’m guessing most readers have a pretty good idea where I fall on the spectrum. But yesterday I read something that is so incredible, I had to share it here because I think regardless of how you feel about the outcome of the election, it’s news to celebrate:

Thanks to a surge of both female and minority candidates, white men will no longer constitute the majority of the Democratic House caucus. -BBC

So inspiring!

And a bit o’ gratitude → When I was swimming laps this afternoon, I happened to be in the lane closest to a wall of windows. It was gloriously sunny out so sunshine was pouring into my lane, dappling the water and penetrating its depths. It was SO lovely that I wished I had an underwater camera to capture it. Then I got to thinking about how odd the lifeguards would think it was for me to take pictures in the lap pool. Then that thought led to another and before I knew it, I’d swum 50 laps! I have to tell you that my swimming time is so precious to me. I always feel so much more calm and centered afterward.

Bear

November 8, 2012

NaBloPoMo has been a bit of a FAIL for me this year but I don’t want to completely give up. I also don’t want to have to keep mentioning my failings at the beginning of posts when I’ve missed the day before. So I’m still trying but won’t bore you with excuses when I don’t hit the mark every day. Onward! :)

The other night I got giddy about the upcoming holiday season when I saw all of the Christmas ornaments at Target but then felt tears stinging my eyes because this will be my first Christmas without Abby. :( I had to put down my sweet, fluffy girl a few weeks ago. It was heartbreaking but definitely the right thing to do because her arthritis had gotten really bad and her senility was getting worse. I’d been trying to prepare myself for awhile but it didn’t make it any easier or less traumatic. Abby never liked going to the vet and would always be nervous and pace-y while we were there. I did not want her final moments to be like that so I did some research and discovered Curbside Care Mobile Veterinary Clinic. I am so, so grateful to have found them. It allowed Abby and I to be together in our calm, familiar environment at the end.

I miss her so much and am still adjusting to life without her. Like when I get home from work in the evening and realize I won’t get to see her big grin. Or when I make plans with someone and think, “I need to take Abbs out first” and then remember she’s gone. When I’m feeling blue, I just try to focus on how lucky I was to spend 15 years with such a wonderful creature. She changed my life in so many ways. Before Abby, I was afraid of dogs and hadn’t thought much about animal rights. I had no idea how amazing dogs are and how much they enrich our lives. I really do feel blessed to have spent so much time with her.

I snapped this picture a few weeks ago, before Abbs stopped being able to go on our daily walks:

I Vote for “Biscuit Brownie Town”

November 4, 2012

You guys, I know it’s only day 4 of NaBloPoMo and I’ve already missed a day but sadly, I’ve got a good excuse. The first half of yesterday went pretty well. My new mattress was delivered and set up without a hitch and although I wanted to faceplant into it and sleep all day, I pressed onward to vote early. When I arrived at the early polling place for my county, it was sunny out but sleeting, which was strange but I managed to find a parking spot & make my way into the building. Once inside, I found a reeeeeally long line that snaked all the way around the building and back. At the time, I didn’t realize just how long the line was or I might’ve given up and tried again later. Once I knew how long I’d have to wait, I had already invested enough time that it felt silly to leave. I ended up standing in line for more than 2-1/2 hours! I was not wearing appropriate footwear so my tootsies were hurtin’ but I’m so glad to have cast my ballot and grateful to live in a country that offers me that freedom.

Next up, I decided to visit my Dad at the facility where he’s been convalescing and found him in HORRIBLE mental condition. He was confused and could barely put a sentence together or accomplish basic tasks. I took him to the ER and he was re-admitted to the hospital. It was a long, hard night and I hated for him to have to go back into the hospital but it’s where he needs to be for now. I made it home around 1 a.m. and immediately crashed onto my new mattress for a night of fitful sleep.

It’s been really hard for me to focus at work lately because I get calls and emails about my Dad’s care all day long. I’m realizing that helping him is going to require my full attention, at least until things get better, so I’ll probably be using some FMLA time to get off work.

And now for my favorite text of the week → I was telling my friend (whom the tabloids refer to as Maxine Dangerous) how dumb it is that the place at the hospital where you go for mental health emergencies is called “Crisis.” Her response?

Okay, suggestions for rebranding “Crisis”: The Bahamas, Unicorn Happy Town, Lollipop Land, Monopoly City, Biscuit Brownie Town

LOLz!! :)

Vote

November 2, 2012

It’s waaaay past my bedtime but even a professional procrastinator like me couldn’t abandon NaBloPoMo on day 2, so I’m showing up! I’ve got a busy weekend ahead. The plan is to get up in a few short hours and vote early. I really want to avoid the long lines next week. I will be SO glad when the election is over. I feel very strongly about my choice, but the constant, back-and-forth political flim flam is driving me crazy!

Remember on Sunday...

Let’s Get This Party Started!

November 1, 2012

JenFul blogged every day last month, which put the notion in my head. Lord knows I haven’t been making enough time to write lately & I sure could use the catharsis so today, ill-prepared and by the seat of my pants, I decided to embark on a NaBloPoMo adventure! Stay tuned for scintillating minutiae about blustery November days, peppered with shaky cell phone snaps of my ill-conceived endeavors.

New YearFrankly, I can’t even believe it’s November. At the beginning of the year when I started back to work, I created a fresh Notepad document and filled it with goals and to-dos. Just the other day, I realized we’re at the tail end of 2012 and I’m still using that document, entitled “newyear.txt,” to keep track of things.

In crafting news, I just finished this burlap bubble wreath:

Burlap Bubble Wreath

I thought it needed a little something extra so I added 2 yarn-loom flowers. (I am now totally addicted to making them and want
to put a flar on everything I own!) I followed this tute to make the wreath. It requires a bit of finessing but once you get the hang of positioning & pinning the little squares of burlap, you’re set!

P.S. The directions that came with my yarn loom ($2.99 @ Michael’s) weren’t the greatest but I found some awesome tutorials on YouTube.

Updates

October 17, 2012

When last we met, things were pretty shitty. Happily, there’ve been some improvements. I was super stressed about finding a new-to-me car and determined not to have a car payment. Luckily, a Honda dealer not a mile from my place happened to have my exact car, only a year newer. I looked around but it seemed like my best option. I had a mechanic look at it, haggled, and snapped up that sucker as quickly as I could. I hope I made the right decision. Big adult purchases always make me nervous. I’m terrified I’ll somehow blow it and forever regret my horrible decision. It’s been about a month and so far, my new hoopty is doing well. I haven’t managed to come up with a name that suits her though. She has a few more bells and whistles (steering-wheel radio controls & a sunroof) than the Goose but beyond that, is the exact same car – model and color! I’ve been so grateful to not have to adjust to a new ride on top of everything else.

My shin seems to have healed and only hurts a teensy bit toward the end of my walks. This injury made me realize how much I’d come to need the relief and release I get from walking. Turning on my iPod, turning off my brain, & hittin’ the road is so cathartic and meditative, with the added bonus of making me feel connected to nature since I’m outside. I’m hoping that winter won’t force me indoors. Since it gets dark so much earlier these days, I bought an obnoxious neon vest to wear for safety during my walks. The humiliation is far outweighed by my desire to avoid the drudgery of the treadmill.

Sadly, my Dad is not better. He improved enough to be released from the hospital but a few days later, ran into trouble again. He’d been sleeping in my bed and I was sleeping on an air mattress. One morning, I went into the bedroom and found him sitting on the edge of the bed. When he saw me, he stood up, and Frankenstein walked toward me, mumbling for help, followed by crashing to the floor on poor, unsuspecting Abby. He was completely incoherent and I was scared to death. I tried to get him up but could not, no matter what I tried, and was so afraid he’d break a hip or worse, so I had to call 911. At the ER, they ran lots of tests and found that one of his medicines caused his sodium to plummet to a dangerous level, which made him, quite literally, delirious. (The doctor said we were lucky he didn’t have a seizure.) He stayed in the hospital for a few days and was then released to a longer-term care facility. Since then, his mental condition has deteriorated even more because he was taken off a lot of medicine while he was in the hospital. At this point, his doctors aren’t sure he’ll even be well enough for assisted-living, which is heartbreaking. I do have hope he’ll get better, but I know it’s going to take a while. I’ve never seen him like this, but I’m trying to stay positive.

One day last week, I reeeeeally needed some downtime, so I followed Cakies’ lead and made some black cat & ghost lights for my kitchen windowsill. It was so relaxing and restorative, I promised myself I’d make more time for crafting in the midst of all this craziness. I’m hoping to be back soon with pictures of a new fall wreath and knitting projects.

Trifecta

September 29, 2012

My grandmother used to portend that bad things happened in threes, which was all my anxiety-prone mind needed to commence fretting when something unfavorable arose. Despite this, when what turned out to be the first of 3 bad things happened to me recently, it didn’t even occur to me to worry that 2 more awful things were to follow.

I

A few weeks ago, I was heading home at lunch to take Abby out since I had to teach in the evening and wouldn’t be home until late. I was following a curve in the road when I saw a 4 x 4 barreling toward me. The driver, who was yakking on his cell phone when he hit me, later told me that the look on my face was one of abject horror, probably because I couldn’t believe I was getting into another car accident. This one, however, was decidedly not my fault. He plowed into the driver’s side of The Goose, ripping the side mirror off, tearing up the doors, and shattering the windows. “I just couldn’t stop,” he offered in disbelief. It had just started raining so he might’ve hydroplaned but I more suspect inexperience was the culprit; he’s very young and this was his first accident. On the scene, he told the police he had insurance. My car wasn’t drivable so he gave me a ride back to my office, as he happened to work nearby. During the short drive, he apologized several times and told me he’d been listening to Christian music at the time of the accident. It’s possible he was trying to butter me up but I thought he was being sincere. We exchanged phone numbers and I assured him that the most important thing was that no one was hurt. It didn’t take long for my insurance to uncover the icky truth – that he was uninsured. That meant my insurance would cover me and then go after him. Unfortunately, the cost of the repairs was enough that they opted to make my vehicle a total loss and give me its value. They compensated me well but finding a new-to-me car in good condition when I only had a paid-for rental car for 5 days seemed impossible. Plus I love The Goose and was not ready to give her up. *sad commiserative honk* :(

II

I’ve been concerned about my Dad for some time. He’s bi-polar and has always struggled to keep his medicines regulated. I hadn’t actually seen him face-to-face for several years, not on purpose but because things kept coming up that made visiting difficult. But my brother and I could tell from talking to him on the phone that he was in bad shape and rapidly deteriorating. We tried intervening from afar but it was clear he needed an on-scene advocate so he flew to Indianapolis. I was wholly unprepared for the terrible state he was in when he arrived. I’ve never seen him in such awful condition and I’ve seen him in a number of bad states. He was a mere whisper of himself – a complete wreck. Ultimately, he had to be hospitalized for several weeks, which was scary and difficult but absolutely the right thing to do. I visited him almost every day before realizing how heavily it was weighing on my own mental health. It’s so sad to see someone go downhill and feel totally helpless. Thankfully he’s doing better but can no longer live by himself so it’s up to my brother and I to arrange assisted living, sell his apartment, make sure he’s being well taken care of, and OH, not have a nervous breakdown during the process. Overwhelmed doesn’t even being to describe how I feel. Double :( :(

III

Because I know better than to prove my grandmother wrong, I fell in my office, tripping over nothing but falling summarily on my knee and turning my ankle. Other than searing mortification, I didn’t feel much right away but a few days later, had terrible pain & swelling in my shin. I could barely put any weight on that leg so I went to the doctor. Luckily nothing is broken; my doctor thinks I tore a ligament. For my exercise for the last few months, I’d been swimming 2 days/week and walking 3 days/week so I was really nervous about this injury derailing my momentum, which caused me to spiral into panic that I would gain back a ton of weight (160 pounds lost at last check!!) and die alone, with rabid, feral dogs feasting on my bloated corpse. I was determined not to let that happen so I kept exercising but was in a ton of pain, even swimming laps, forcing me to relent. I’m in the midst of a week off, which seems to be helping but it’s clearly going to take several weeks to heal. This injury has highlighted a bizarre fear I have when I’m in the midst of any ailment, physical or mental – I’m seized by the awful thought that I’ll never be well again. I know it’s not rational but it sure is a bitch to counteract!

So there you have it – my triumvirate of suck. I’m in full-on one-day-at-a-time mode and trying to take good care of myself in the meantime. In the past, I would’ve just used food to deal with my feelings about all of this but I’m hellbent on keeping that nonsense at bay. That means using all the tools I’ve learned about over the last few years – therapy, support groups, exercise, journaling, meditating, mindfulness, and reaching out, to name a few. It’s really putting me to the test so I sure would appreciate some positive vibes directed my way.

Morning FAIL

July 18, 2012

When I teach in the evening, I have to get to my day job by 8 a.m. so I can leave at 4:30 p.m. and get to campus by 5 p.m. Other days, I come in around 9 a.m. Even though that’s only an hour difference, it’s like night and day for my anti-morning body clock. Throughout my life, I’ve tried to turn myself into a morning person. I enjoy accomplishing a lot early in the day but inevitably, my stubborn mind & body don’t conform easily to that rhythm so waking up early is always difficult for me. I often feel anxious and exhausted and oogy.

This week happened to be a perfect storm in my schedule, since I had to be in the classroom Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday evenings. All day Sunday, I kept thinking about how I needed to be up early Monday morning so I should go to bed early and get plenty of solid rest. Naturally I slept like shit and woke up a lot, topped off with the most bizarre dreams. In 1 dream, a mean girl from high school snarked at me that when people lose weight, it makes them look short. (Oh mysterious psyche, you never fail to entertain!) In another dream, I met Kanye West at this beautiful, verdant cliff in Portland (which I’ve never been to.) He was working on an album in an amazing modern, glass-windowed building. I’m sad to report that he was on my mind because of his cameo on Keeping Up With the Kardashians the night before. (Don’t judge me!) Needless to say, when I finally woke up Monday morning, I felt like I’d been run over by a cement truck. Fortunately, I made it through my 3 hell days and my schedule will now be more reasonable.

Remember when the Goose was being repaired? When I got it back, I found all of my belongings in it except for my pool sandals. I keep them in my car and because of my neurosis about walking barefoot in locker rooms, wear them pretty much every second I’m at the gym and not in the actual pool. I can’t imagine anyone would steal something so insignificant but I have looked all over and cannot find them. (Naturally I immediately replaced them with sterile neoprene boots.) Where are you, sandals? Come home, Mama misses you!


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