Dealing with the Past ( part 1)

God knows, we all try to be the best parents we can be. We sometimes out do ourselves setting examples, working too hard, giving advice as we see it and worrying if what we have done will cause irreversible damage to our children. We think about what we do and don’t do enough of, and sometimes, out of pure exhaustion, we just give up for a little while. We are human. But, so are our children. They will see our mistakes and still make their own. As such, many will try to relive their own childhood through their children( no matter what you did or didn’t do)and  they will try to rectify the wrongs or replicate the highlights. But in spite of all this, deep down inside , the individual child will retain a unique perspective on the memories and experiences.

 I used to believe that I was only sad about my childhood from the effects of alcohol. And it sure did seem to exaggerate them. But , being more proactive about self-assessment and growth, i’ve discovered that much of the sadness is rooted in some deeper truths that remain in the caverns of my mind, even while sober and in no unaltered state whatsoever. I have ignored them, blocked them out and never dealt with them.After years of blacking out, and being told later what i had said and done, i had to acknowledge that there was something else going on. Now, I know in order to truly grow and move forward, I must face them, even if it means crying my eyes out.

So, tonight I looked into my own eyes and saw that little girl again. All kinds of memories resurfaced. And as she looked at me with all of the emotion she held inside I knew, if she were mine, I would change her world.

As a result of this I have decided to “adopt myself” do it all over. I will give myself the best, newly created  childhood experience I can manage. I will give myself the chance to raise myself as I would have chosen. 

 I need to look at myself as the little girl, from a different perspective and try to give myself that childhood. Create a new story, while retaining some of the old . It won’t be easy. I may not succeed. But it’s a start.

This isn’t for You, It’s for me

44,572 words.This is, according to my “insights” how many words i have written in this blog since it’s onset in July. 77 posts so far and still keeping up with my commitment to post daily. 940 views and 16 followers. But seriously, Folks, as much as i would love to be a “popular” world famous blogger, i do this for me, and no one else.I would write every day, even if no one ever saw one word.

Since November, i have been recreating my life.Quietly and steadily. I quit alcohol completely in January, all of my daily meds except one in April, quit “relationships” in May, and quit social media in July. That is a sh*t ton of major changes for a person. I have also bought a house for the first time in almost a decade , gotten involved in several local art events that i previously did not, and continued to run our own little monthly open mic and art venue ( along with my roomie).As of yesterday, we will be partnering with another organization to continue the monthly events while keeping them separate from our personal space.

Many changes in a short amount of time like that puts a person in a completely different frame of mind. For me- the things i let go of were “crutches” that covered up and blocked out issues that i never dealt with .It’s difficult to describe how i feel NOW without sounding glib.But i assure you that the words i write here have been written with pure and hopeful intent , and serve as a reminder for me.

I appreciate every comment , like, and view that i receive. It’s been good for me to know someone is looking from time to time. But mainly, it’s been my own therapy tool.

The next phase of my process will involve dealing with my past.Having a more conscious and clear focus these days has brought me to the realization that it is something i must pursue if i am to change my life moving forward. I hope you will join me on the journey . Thanks so much for reading.

Imperfections

 

 I like most of my imperfections. Not all of them mind you, but most. I have a lazy eyelid. I have more than a few scars. I have a rebellious nature that I cannot seem to quell. My sense of humor  tends toward sarcasm. I am short, I have curves, I have wrinkles and dark circles. I was not the perfect mother, daughter or sister. I am not the perfect nurse. I have never been the perfect partner . I cannot cook like Julia Child or sing like Pavarotti. I don’t work out like Arnold Schwartzenegger or keep house like Martha Stewart. I cannot paint like Michelangelo or act like Julia Roberts,. I do not write poetry like Byron and  my blog posts aren’t quite edited properly.

But imperfections do not always equal flaws. Each of us is unique and we are not meant to replicate exact measurements. Too many times , we place ourselves on some impossible pedestal in our heads and impede our own growth in the very areas we seek improvement. And while striving for improvement is a good thing, striving to be like someone else is NOT.

Personal example: I would love to be able to paint like..i don’t know.. about 100 famous painters. I can’t pick which is my absolute favorite. They all have different styles and mediums.

I would love to have a body and face like a 100 other famous women. Also each unique-in ethnicity, height, weight, and structure. I would like to live the life of ( or be like) about 100 other famous people- some wealthy, some poor, some dynamic, some serene and peaceful, some intelligent and some wise. And I cannot imagine if I only had one in each category to choose from!

I like to read about these people- their lives, their values and beliefs, their happiness and sorrows. I learn over & over from their experiences . Many times, it’s their imperfections that have created who they are. They often express feeling awkward and ugly , feeling stupid and unwanted,  “missing something” in their lives, feeling injustice and experiencing cruelty. It is what pushed them FORWARD. If none of that was the case- my guess is- we would never have heard of them at all. 

I am not preaching self-acceptance here. There are some things we absolutely need to work on , fix or see in a different perspective. Many things are in our control and too much “acceptance” keeps us in stagnation. But there are some things we tend to focus on that don’t NEED to be changed. They are just part of what makes us who we are. Including our experiences, physical flaws, “natural” talents or lack there-of, and numerous other qualities that just “exist”.  

Attempting to be like someone else is never the goal. It is an exercise in futility. I will never get rid of my scars and my basic body structure is what it is. I cannot change the genes or DNA I was born with. My experiences are history and cannot be rewritten. I cannot change my ethnicity or where I was born or who my biological parents are. These are what makes me , what has formed who I am today, and have to a degree , determined the choices I’ve made. What I can change is my perspective about those things and my future choices. I can improve my skills with practice or enhance my appearance with some effort. I can learn from experiences and seek to correct mistakes. Take some time to address “changing the things you can” and “accepting the things you cannot”.. it’s the difference between eternal frustration and “the wisdom to know the difference

Loneliness Revisited

Loneliness Has a Reason

Out of all the articles I read on Loneliness , this one has been my favorite. Whenever I feel the heavy cloud of isolation settling around me, I refer to it to consider what I have or have not been doing that has contributed to my feelings.

I could not have given any one out there better advice than what I have found there, and it focuses on loneliness as a whole. Other than a brief mention of a “rocky event”, however, it doesn’t really address the basic reasons we feel the loneliness in the first place. Before we can seriously use any of this great advice, it’s a necessary step- understanding the “why” of it all.

First, there is the argument that, generally , humans are social creatures form the onset. While this is true, it doesn’t mean we don’t also need time alone. Second ,there is environment- For most of our lives we are socialized – by our parents and family, then by our educational system, then finally by our work life. And, for sure- we absolutely need to connect with other humans, lest we become too isolated and under socialized. But while each individual has a unique experience, most of it just entails variables of the aforementioned pattern. Thinking back as far as you can remember, ask yourself a few things:

  • As a child, or teen- did my parents encourage me to spend time completely alone?
  • When I was attending school, was alone time encouraged?
  • Does my workplace encourage it?

Most of the time the honest answer is “no” or “not really”. Sure, there are parents who work so much they just aren’t around. These children are forced to find their own alternatives and they aren’t usually very good ones. And there are some frustrated parents will  say “just go outside and play” but not usually because they want a healthy experience for YOU-lol.. But there is a rare parent indeed who insists their child “learn how to be bored” for the purposes of healthy mental /emotional growth. There should be more of them. As a parent and grandparent , as well as a pediatric nurse, I can always tell the child who has been indulged with socialization most of their lives. They are easily bored ,agitated, hyper, and prone to temper tantrums. They use any behavior they can to get noticed and can strain the nerves of even the most patient caregiver- not to mention others in public. They have been over indulged and expect constant entertainment and attention.

On the other hand, the children who have been encouraged to manage alone time and contend with boredom are polite and appreciative of other people’s time . They do not constantly interrupt adult conversations or bounce around pulling at pant legs, or getting into things they know they shouldn’t. Many will happily look at or read a book, do puzzles or find something interesting in whatever environment they are in to entertain themselves until appropriate moments or real emergencies.

When in school, other than nap time in kindergarten, almost everything is geared towards group think and group participation . The child or teen who has a tendency to be a loner is often ridiculed or singled out for negative attention. It’s easy to see why, by the time middle school starts, fitting in and peer pressure become so intense. Many turn to negative forms of self-indulgence( computers, TV, drugs, alcohol, etc.) if they were not taught how to manage on their own. Promiscuous behavior as well as cutting is more prevalent in females. Aggressiveness, criminal activity, wreckless driving, and excess partying is more prevalent in males. The only real solution to this is private or home schooling, and if that isn’t an option, quality parenting that includes teaching tools to gain knowledge about ones inner self. Some of these can include meditation, yoga, walks in nature, and reading time- alone. P.s.- homework and study time do NOT count and sports, while they have merit, does not address individual  internal needs.

As we get into our careers or work life, most of us ( though not all) will be forced into environments where there are many people around us all the time. Much of the stress we hear about is a direct result of having to deal with “other people”, and very little stress about the actual job itself. This is not to say ( as with my own situation) there isn’t an opposite extreme where some jobs are very isolating. The real problem is a matter of balance.

All of the above contributes to the “why” , in this day and age, we have become so accustomed to NOT being alone, that when faced with it we turn to social media, gaming , and poor lifestyle choices, even as adults.. And “why” when we abstain by choice (like I have) or are forced to, we have great difficulty in processing how to deal with it. But as adults, we still have many of the same options if we put forth an effort -without needing or seeking out constant companionship, or turning to a quick fix or convenient, but purposeless or destructive activity. We have a choice. We can undo old habits and the conformity of our lives. I have made progress. But only after assessing and  understanding the reasons  was I able to seek positive solutions. I have come up with a few and expect to find more as I go.

There is a difference between loneliness and being alone, as they say, and the balance is out there if you commit to finding it…

Namaste!

60 Day Mark!

If anyone has ever even watched a movie about recovery or AA , you know that one of the things that it includes is “Coins” ( also called chips) that commemorate a set amount of time one has maintained sobriety. Generally, it starts with a 24 hr coin , then 30 days, 60, 90,120, and so on. There are also special ones in various colors and alloys designating various milestones. There are no coins for this type of anniversary( 60 days off social media)..lol. But what I do have are the following discoveries:

  1. I notice other people on their phones a lot more than i ever did.I also find it more annoying.
  2. i have WAYYY more time than i thought. I actually have multiple evenings throughout the week when i can happily enjoy an extra hour or 2 of sleeping in OR get a lot more errands ran- that extra 20-30 hours a week when i used to scroll.
  3. i don’t really know, or even care really about news. The world will go on without me regardless. Nowadays , when someone says “did you hear…..?” i can say NO( with pleasure) 99% of the time. I don’t feel like i am “missing” anything in that respect.
  4. i have a LOT less negativity in my life. No more gossip, trends, topics of the week, controversy , or bids for validation.It’s weird at first, but i’m finally settling into it.
  5. I’ve discovered ways to nurture myself and re evaluate what is important to me without being swayed by anyone.
  6. hate to say it, but in many ways have discovered who my “real” friends/family are. In no way am i spiteful about that, it’s just made me more appreciative of the ones who do reach out:)
  7. i sleep much better- no more drama filling my head
  8. My thinking is more clear and focused..not 100% of the time but way more than it has been in over a decade.
  9. i am able to entertain myself much more easily. I appreciate life more. I make better choices and decisions .
  10. I am still not where i want to be. I have a LOT to learn and struggle in certain areas ( like isolation and self doubt). But i say with absolute certainty that it feels 200% better than before.
  11. i now choose my purchases without the perversion of advertising.
  12. i am less confrontational since i am no longer exposed to billions of opinions, “trolls”, and controversial topics.
  13. in my research, i’ve noted hundreds articles addressing the abstinence topic, and it seems that most are afraid to stay without tap dancing or backpedaling that it’s ok to completely abstain (or even better for you)- which , naturally tells me that there’s something rotten in Denmark.
  14. noticed that many people who have gotten “off of Facebook” have just swapped it out with other forms of social media.
  15. there are still those who make fun of or attempt to humiliate those of us who chose not to use social media.
  16. i truly don’t care who does or doesn’t use it. If you can say your life is better for it, far be it from me to deny you your pleasures…just as long as it doesn’t interfere with mine ( hint: look up once in awhile and especially stop looking down while driving)

And now -onward and awaiting more enlightenment …Namaste!

Be the Wolf

I raised my children with one philosophy. …”Be the Wolf”. A few years back my daughter  made me realize she had always thought it meant “don’t be a sheep”( i.e. following the crowd ) and i had to explain that wasn’t it…. entirely.

The phrase encompasses many things but basically i describe it as follows:

First of all, don’t be one of the sheep. Just because all your friends are doing, saying, wearing or  buying something- it doesn’t mean it’s right for you, or the best thing. By not choosing the same things , it doesn’t make you weird or abnormal. It makes you an independent thinker and someone with your own mind. You don’t need someone else to tell you how to think or behave. That’s why God gave you a separate brain and body. We had no Tv most of the time, did not read the newspaper or listen to the news, we did not go to neighborhood (or even very many family parties) or belong to any “clubs”. We did things without the influence of the  Zombie like world around us. 

Second, Don’t try to be the shepherd. Leaders are often put in the position of having to please the crowd. They take on the heavy responsibility of wearing that crown and often become corrupted in the process. Becoming popular is a heady experience ..but with all that power , it’s tempting to become egotistical and self-serving. Make choices in your own life, and help others when they need it. But don’t become a slave to position. 

and finally,

Third-Be the wolf. Life is about survival. As in most things, once you have obtained your basic needs it’s time to get out . You don’t need to hang out waiting for something bigger or better to come along. Leave something for others. Because it’s not always about your own needs- sometimes you have to feed the pack too. There’s a time for both. Develop a strong sense of choosing which is best option.Sometimes, it’s get in, get want you need, and get out.And live life on your OWN terms. 

Overall, my children have turned out to be wonderful, caring and discerning humans. They have chosen friends wisely and not fallen into group think. They are unselfish in ways I rarely see in their generation as a whole. They have made it to adulthood without addictions, criminal records or other destructive life choices. They have excellent careers, remain close as a family and still show an amazing amount of compassion and concern for others. I am one proud Mamma.

Best of all, they have both told me i was a good mom. Not perfect , but good.  We are loners as well as a pack, we have survived and we remain close. And that’s just about all a Lone Wolf can want in life:)

Just the Facts, Ma’am

Nursing school is no joke.

First of all, if you ask any nurse worth their salt, she/he will tell you 2 things : “It wasn’t easy” and “it was totally worth it”. Even if I hadn’tchosen to become a nurse afterwards. I have gone to school for many things prior to nursing, then ultimately realized they were not for me. That doesn’t mean they weren’t valuable or a waste of time. But, I digress.

In my first year of LPN school, we had 3 “levels” . In each “level” we had to submit  grammatically correct & edited, solidly researched papers on various subjects covered throughout. I had excellent teachers, mind you, and they would call our bluffs quicker than a hot knife through butter . You were given NO quarter. Anything less than an 84% and the paper was as good as rejected. At a certain point, submitting too many of these and you were kicked out of the program completely with NO refunds. And, yes, it happened. We were told in no uncertain terms that there was no quoting  more than 1-2 people in the field, utilizing their research for more than 10% of the paper, or basing anything on theory others had come up with ( called ‘riding the coat tails’) . Our own theories had to be backed by UNBIASED and tested research as well as the results of putting it into practice on our own. Forget using the internet for everything- we could only use 30% or less and the rest had to come from elsewhere( interviews with professionals, library reference books, professional journals, and our own , personal experience). And your resources better be verifiable which did NOT include studies funded by  any group that could be traced back to gaining a “benefit” from it. ( take for example the research done by the saccharin companies to convince people that sugar was BAD or the margarine companies regarding butter).

Also, we had to daily participate in something called “Differential Diagnosis” sessions which would be put in place randomly and without warning. Anyone not participating would be made to write a 2-3 page paper evaluating all of the theories everyone ELSE had offered during the session that day( due the next day).

Example: Patient is age 35 , presents with urinary bleeding, temperature of 101, and fatigue. The class had to ask questions about family history, other symptoms, test results, etc.) then give theories . 9 times out of 10 most of us were wrong about our diagnosis.  Because we failed to ask important questions, weren’t aware of a particular disease process or because we had simply nodded off from exhaustion and hadn’t paid close attention. Lesson? All of it is unacceptable when you have a human life in your care. We all wrote a LOT of extra papers at first and learned very quickly to be thorough. Anyone going through medical school of any sort will tell you that even without the extra work- you are exhausted ALL the time. There is no social life, and there is very little sleep. In one year , our class of 35 dwindled down to 20, and only 14 actually graduated.

In RN school , the requirements were even more tedious.

Fast forward to life after graduation and a few years of field experience . I learned to use the same approach with just about all aspects of life. Anything of importance requires steady, intense and persistent research and in many cases- practice. Any goals I wish to attain, any issues I need to resolve, or any problems I wish to address. And I follow the same strict, rigid standards I learned in school. No skimping, no cheating, no copying. Even when it comes to personal assessment and analysis. 19 years later, I am still more grateful for the lessons in sound research and evidence based theory than any specific course . (Which is why it probably grates my nerves when I see the lack of it being perpetuated online ) As they say…

If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.

Excuses, Excuses

By the time we reach age 4 or 5 we start training to become a master of excuse forming.

 My stepfather said something to me every time I made up excuses to get out of something I didn’t want to do or had no legitimate reason why I couldn’t do them ( like a book report or a hated household chore).  He also used it frequently when I complained often about something I WAS still doing , even though I obviously continued to do it (Like eating too many cookies or staying up too late).

“Excuses are like ____, everybody has one.”( insert your own word here, mine wasn’t very P.C.)

 The phrase stuck with me over time, and I heard it often in the back of my mind when I KNEW I was making excuses, procrastinating or in denial. It was like this for me for approximately 2 years before I decided to deactivate from Facebook, and got worse as time went on.

Some of the excuses I used were:

  1. It helps promote my art/business/etc.
  2. It’s how I connect with friends I haven’t seen in years or decades
  3. It’s how i find out about local events, and even deaths & illnesses
  4. It doesn’t affect me the way it affects some
  5. I can walk away anytime I want
  6. I don’t use it THAT much
  7. I know how to avoid it becoming a problem
  8. I just won’t scroll anymore
  9. I’ll limit myself to __ minutes a day
  10. It’s part of life, almost everyone does it

And so on. Ironically, those last 6 excuses and rationales can be and are used for just about any addiction or bad behavior. It’s about avoidance and complete denial that we can actually control things- our drinking, our smoking,  our substance use- or that it doesn’t matter. But it also applies to such “innocent” things as scrolling and excessive time online doing very little of importance. 

I posted before about the lies we tell ourselves. And how deeply they become embedded in our psyche. We will reason, manipulate, justify, defend and do or say just about ANYTHING to continue a bad habit. Or perpetuate an unnecessary one.

If you have said any of the above about taking a break from Facebook here is my challenge. Try it for  a week..2 weeks or 30 days. No need to commit to 6 months- because I can tell you, it is NOT easy. The first 30 days felt like 6 months!!! But, you won’t ever know how much of a “crutch” you truly have , if you don’t test it out. Worst case scenario, you miss someone’s explanation of the bad cold they had all month.

 On the positive side, along the way and in spite of my occasional lament, I have found alternative ways to cope. Healthier, more productive ways. Constructive and self-empowering ways. Meaningful and growth oriented ways. If you haven’t truly asked yourself “why do I need it?” and come up with a legitimate , verifiable answer, then perhaps the answer is in the question. You don’t. You are choosing it. And choosing everything that comes with it no matter how destructive or negative that may be. Namaste!

Penpal? Forget it!

WARNING: There are NO free “penpal” sites anymore.I don’t care what they tell you initially. I’ve tried several and all of them turned out to be not so free and very much akin to dating sites. Even the most widely known and “reputable “ suggested ones( InterPal, Global Pen Friends & PenPals Now), . This is absolutely maddening to me. Many years ago, when I got my first PC, I was intrigued that I was able to write to and get responses from around the world via email pretty easily. I never had to “create an account”, “pay for “enhanced services”( read you get one contact free, pay for the rest) or had to enter more than my name and email. This time around -all of that applied to everysite. The sites ( 7 total) that I visited were nothing more than shams and vague covers for dating services or money making schemes. So very disappointing. It’s truly a sad , sad world out there.

At this point I am at a loss as to where to go, with the exception of prison inmates, to find a valid, safe and reliable way to connect via writing only . I guess this blog is about it. So here is my plea. If anyone reading knows of a way to accomplish this, please let me know. But, one whiff of predatory activity, attempts to “hook up” , sell me something or ask me to sign up for something- it’s off. Thanks in advance!

The Perfect Solution

1.In 2007 I weighed 107 lbs. I have gained 15-20 lbs. since then. In the past few years I have tried various diets and been off & on with my gym routine. I’ve been both disgusted and angry with myself alternating with giving up at times.

2.I quit smoking after 25 years in 2001. I re started in 2011. I have tried many different options for quitting over the past few years, to no avail.

3.As I explained once before in a previous post, I have suffered with neck & back pain from an injury in my early 20’s that has become chronic progressive arthritis. There is no “cure” just a zillion things to help with the symptoms. I have tried almost every single one of them over the past few decades

4.I love playing pool. I always have. The thing is, I suck at it. Once, a 5 year old beat me who had never played before – and he could barely see over the table. I have tried videos, special balls, reading strategy books and even taken lessons. I’ve owned my own pool table ( twice) and a variety of special pool sticks. AND I used to WORK in a pool hall.

5.This past year I started going through menopause. It has been a night mare. I’ve been doing mega research and trying everything under the sun to deal with it. I cannot take estrogen and am allergic to CBD. There are days when I just want to crawl under a rock and hide.

Now, what do all these things have in common ?

They are things that I never gave up on just because I haven’t I have found perfect solutions. All of them are  issues that may :

  1. Never be resolved
  2. Are unlikely to be resolved
  3. Can be resolved with a LOT of effort and discipline
  4. WILL resolve eventually 
  5. Have been mostly resolved
  6. May be resolved but may come back
  7. May resolve but not without consequences

Now can you match the first list up with the second? 

 “Wait, you say, is this a trick?” Nope.

Just because I listed 5 issues and there are 6 answers doesn’t mean I messed up doing the math. Here’s the deal.

  1. I have a plan for the weight gain. The reason I do is because I know my body. I know why I have gained the weight and not ALL of it is my fault( some is normal aging, some is menopause ). But, the majority of it is. And, I know myself. I have the discipline to fix it. So #3 is the answer.
  2.  I truly hate what smoking does to my body and how it makes me feel. That isn’t enough for me to stop. What will likely happen is I will keep trying various methods until at some point , the pain and discomfort and possibly hospitalizations will force me to quit. Or I will die. Sad, but true. So, #7
  3. I worked on this for many decades. I have discovered that 99% of my pain is resolved by consistently sleeping on the floor. It took years of trying every suggestion, wasted time, money and disappointment, not to mention exposure to medications before I found the solution. This does not mean it wont come back, because , well, “progressive” So, #5 & #6
  4. I still like to play pool. I have accepted that I cannot play well and I still do not know why. That doesn’t mean I will never play. I’ll just enjoy it for what it is. So, #2
  5. Menopause sucks for sure. I will continue to try anything reasonable to alleviate the symptoms. It is also not forever, so # 4

Now, boys & girls which # didn’t I use? That’s right, #1. It’s never an option.

And there is no “Perfect Solution”. Except the solution to keep trying. If there was only one option for anything we would all be looking, doing, saying and believing exactly the same. I just keep going. I test new things. If I fall off the cart, I get back on. Think about these examples-If gastric surgery were the only option for weight loss, if nicotine patches were the only way to quit smoking, if AA was the only way to quit drinking we would all be cured or not cured based on only the choice to do or not do ONE thing. Ridiculous!  This applies almost every problem we can have in life. So, don’t give up.. keep trying… as long as you are breathing, every minute is another chance. And the possibilities are endless! Namaste!