Chadden Hunter and The Wolf

first “new” wolf piece completed tonight

Well, tonight’s experience gave me a bit of a come-up-ance.

I had gotten to work and immediately set about finishing up the piece above which had been giving me trouble. It’s been a while since i’ve done them and this isn’t my best work but i’ll get there with a few more practice pieces. It’s like riding a bike.Most people, though, don’t realize just how long one of my wolf/wolves pieces takes. There are layers upon layers, micro crosshatching over top of water color, and white gel pen , then more layers and so on( i wont bore you)…And to make matters worse , when you post them completed online coming from a cell phone pic, you can’t even see those little details because, well..pixilation transfer. But, alas, i am no photographer and will never invest in a good camera so , it is what it is. But i digress.

After a few hours i was , as usual, really sore from being hunched over so i took a break a started reading blog posts. Now, i am a big time wolf person. I love all things wolf and pretty much consider myself a lost part of the pack, reincarnated as a human.

So, when i saw another blogger post a wolf thing, of course i had to look.

As it turns out one of the images shared was a wonderful meme of a wolf pack photograph and a very wonderful ideology that i had heard once before and had forgotten. I loved it and went to share it on Facebook. It was IMMEDIATELY covered with a “false information screen” . I was peeved. So, i checked the ‘why’s’ and it told me nothing.. i tried posting again, same thing happened.My Bf even tried posting it and same thing.

So decided i must find out the truth. I did a search and found out that, indeed, it was false. The process of researching this took time. I didn’t want to believe it. But, after several descending links , the real deal was undeniable. One link even explained how the ideology and the photo came to be connected- as a structured design of a well functioning business model. Interesting. I still like the idea, but a lesson was (re) learned tonight.

The photograph was originally taken by Chadden Hunter, who had posted some time ago on Twitter that the image had been misused for years . I checked into this “Chadden” person…( still skeptical)….and he is a legitimate and well known producer/director of nature documentaries , a wildlife biologist and filmmaker who has “traveled the world” filming exotic animals all his life. Well, i was humbled and also grateful. I LOVE nature documentaries. And, in fact, i had seen a few of his. Awesome stuff.

So, what’s my point? It’s two-fold.

First, we live in an age of digital manipulation and increased false information. Many times i have fact checked a “meme” myself and been validated that i was right- it was pure bunk. This time, i was so convinced the idea was real and because i agreed with it, i almost stubbornly refused to believe other wise. Man– how many times have i seen this happen online i just can’t tell you. I have called out ( usually only to myself) so many people trying to pass off false info via this route, i thought i was immune. We have all seen this ,of course ,with political propaganda. But it happens all the time, in many ways, and we are all vulnerable to feeding into it. “Quotes” are another good example of this. Beware, beware, beware.

Second, it takes time and energy to research something with an unbiased view. The internet will lead you to wherever you want to go if you let it. Wanna believe that baby monkeys start out as bananas? It can take you there, and you will feel validated, assured that YOU were right all along. Beware, beware beware. The world online isn’t your friend or your mom. It’s trying to sell you something, no matter how subtle, and it will take any tact it needs to to that end. Artificial intelligence has already far surpassed our human minds and thats scary as sh*t.

Anyway, thanks for reading my rambling story..it was written hastily but for a good cause. I hope someday to live in a better world( on earth or elsewhere) but until then….

Beware = Be Aware.

Looking on to 2021

Random acrylic piece from about 2012

(I felt the above painting was appropriate- trying to see the light at the end of the “tunnel” sort of thing…)

Phew! After finally finishing all 10 steps for 2020, i took a short break and now am back at it. But, if you missed them, here are the topics( read : lessons learned) i addressed in order:

  1. Humility
  2. Challenges of home ownership
  3. Navigating love in the time of corona
  4. Social media 2020
  5. Roommates – new dynamics 2020
  6. Employment Changes
  7. Menopause and aging
  8. Sobriety and recovery
  9. Less involvement in the community
  10. Financial Changes

And although i do have a few days to think on it, i wanted to get started setting my next years intentions while i seem to have the urge to binge post:)-starting with the assessment/assignment.

Some of the internal/personal issues i dealt with this past year:

  1. procrastination
  2. lack of motivation
  3. rumination
  4. lack of trust( in myself and others)
  5. apprehension about the future
  6. unexpectedly dealing with childhood trauma
  7. patience ( this will always be there but …)
  8. discerning the underlying issues before ‘reacting’
  9. complaining…oh my
  10. mood swings

Now, those are issues that can be worked on but are intangible. Some were issues i hadn’t dealt with before , at least on the regular. I can only assume the pandemic contributed to this. The mind is very powerful- progress/change can be made but not usually in a methodic manner.

Some of the more tangible changes and goals i can work on:

  1. replacing old appliances
  2. upgrade/repair electrical and plumbing ; repaint walls
  3. pay down all credit cards to zero and get rid of a few( i’m pretty close)
  4. improve my daily life with the little “fixes” that go a long way
  5. better digital organization
  6. the usual- more exercise, better diet, – general health stuff
  7. start planning for retirement in a tangible way
  8. look into dayshift work ( oh the horror!)
  9. host a few get togethers IF Covid gets under control
  10. general household organization projects

This list is realistically attainable I can easily prepare and make a step by step plan on paper. The possible obstacles are physical and ones i can’t foresee- illness, job loss, natural disaster, etc.

So i truly do have my job cut out for me. But unlike some previous years, i have more of a sense of calm commitment and intent. No “bull in a china shop” activity or pink cloud expectations. Somehow, the total chaos of 2020 has torn me down and rebuilt me from the inside out and i am slowwwwly coming into a better more reassured state of mind. Perhaps too, it is my age- learning to let go of things that are not worth spending my energy on and refocusing on things that are( or seem to be anyhow).

It was extremely helpful for me to push myself to finish the 10 steps before ending the year so that they are fresh in my mind, and i feel a sense of accomplishment at addressing each one.It also gives me a starting point for things to come. Of course i’ll be posting on lots of other things along the way too.

So, if you are ready …let’s get going! Goals and progress aren’t going to happen all by themselves!What are your goals and intentions for 2021?

Namaste!

Step 10: Financial Changes 2020

So, FINALLY – the last step! As you can see i have spent the entire day banging out the last few steps in a fervor of binge writing. But I committed to finishing within the year and i am driven to do so in order to move on into newer horizons.Plus, i fortunately just had 4 days off , got lots of good sleep for a change, and i had no other pressing matters today:)

I have mentioned often that i bought house in October or 2019..so of course there was a learning curve regarding expenses. But the pandemic also brought many other changes into our house hold. There was a time frame when my longest time roommate was laid off for 2 months and also had some sketchy months with her regular schedule. Also, we took on another roommate to help with expenses. A month after moving in , she was also laid off. It’s been a lot of up and down, unexpected compromises and solutions . In addition, i changed agencies this year, expecting to have more options to fill in at other cases, but with Covid, that hasn’t been possible.

Over all, we have managed it fairly well.I signed a new contract guaranteeing more benefits with the compromise being having to work 2 weekends a month and 2 holidays per year. My one roommate quit her factory job and has been doing well( self employed) delivering for a company called Door Dash. The new roommate was able to get regular unemployment but has been donating blood, and selling some possessions she no longer needs in order to pay bills and rent. We hope that she will be back at her regular job soon.

It hasn’t been smooth sailing on all fronts however. All of us have had car issues..sometimes major , unexpected ones. The house has needed some repairs. Cell phones and laptops have had to be replaced. Utilities have increased. Algorithm changes online have affected art sales for 2 of us. And ALL of us have been dealing with relationship issues in one way or another.

So, how did i/we navigate all of this:

  1. We ALL did what we had to do to meet our financial obligations. This meant taking risks, making compromises, and being a little bit less comfortable for brief periods.
  2. As home owner, i allowed my roomies to trade “services” ( mostly taking on all household chores or help with large projects) in exchange for rent for a month or two when necessary. This allowed me less stress and ability to take on extra shifts to cover costs.
  3. I ate differently . Since i could not afford to purchase a side of beef outright as i did before or always purchase the expensive organic produce, i went back to less expensive meals. I also crock potted large batches and prepared more meals from less expensive ingredients like frozen veggies, pasta and rice.
  4. This year , i did not use the heat in my room until December because it is electric baseboard( unlike the rest of the house) which is super expensive. We turned off the central air by October .
  5. We did not use the dishwasher because after only a few uses , we realized it increased the water bill by triple.
  6. Sometimes the newest roommate would bring boxes to share from the food bank. It has really helped me to incorporate some items into meals to stretch them- soups, beans, prepackaged meats, and pastas are common items.
  7. Holiday/birthday gifts were curbed to a minimum.
  8. Using our toaster oven for smaller meals, microwaving leftovers, and using up food going bad first has saved electricity and waste.
  9. I personally stay on top of my monthly expenses with several formatted spread sheets. I hate it, but it must be done.
  10. Lastly, i STILL make goals for paying off credit card debt and putting money into savings.

So, we have made it through the craziness of 2020. We hope the new year will improve. I surely would like to be able to start some house projects that i’ve been dreaming of like painting walls and replacing old appliances. I am also hoping my planned vacation to the beach in June will be paid for before i go- i’ve made the first payment and have 3 more. I would also like to be able to get back to some healthier food choices. But we are still all at the mercy of the universe.

Best advice i can give on this subject is to strive for diligence. There has been and probably will be more unexpected changes. Don’t give up, don’t over spend. Treat yourself once in awhile but do not go over board . Plan for the unexpected as best you can. SAVE SAVE SAVE- even it’s only $10 a week ( thats $520 a year and is something to be proud of!)

Again, i hope this helps someone.

Namaste!

Step 9:Less Involvement in the Community 2020

Obviously because of the pandemic, things have been really strange this year. As we all know, businesses, events, and social gatherings have been restricted or cancelled all together. This has affected us little ‘social butterflies’ intensely.

If someone would have asked me a year ago if i would be able to function this way, i may have said in my naivety- “sure! i am good at entertaining myself and often spend time alone doing art, at my job, painting and other stuff- it wouldn’t be very different.” HOW WRONG I WAS!!!

Admittedly , around February, i was ready for a break from the constant social events we been hosting and attending for three solid years- trying to build our brand as The Purple Giraffe Artist Loft. It was grueling. My roommates and i held events at our home monthly – setting up/tearing down, spending extra money to provide food and amenities , as well as coordinating poets, musicians, comedians, and other speakers . We had our main features at each event, followed by an open mic. Weather was always a factor- we preferred outdoor events but sometimes had to move inside last minute.

Outside of that, we made appearances at others events throughout the month.Two of us were visual artists so we also held art shows and hung our stuff at various galleries and participated in creative events. It seemed at times our doors were never closed and we had people coming and going at all hours of the day and night for various reasons( drop off stuff, pick up stuff, etc). and then almost every event had an after party which could last into the wee hours.It became exhausting.

This wasn’t the first time for me either. I did a similar stint for 2 1/2 years as a curator and event coordinator at another gallery back in 2012- 2015 , but was not the owner and i wanted to do things my way..So, in 2017, i started the above mentioned.

We had originally planned to stop all events when we moved out of the city, but were pressured to continue at someone else’s venue..That lasted only 4 months and it was obvious it was not working. In March of this year, we pulled out completely and focused only on producing and selling our own art- no events or belonging to galleries or collectives.

We began investing timed materials into converting a space in our new home to a proper art studio( meaning our “working” area)..And while we discussed various possibilities for opening up our home again, ultimately we chose not to do so for the foreseeable future.For one thing, we need more parking space, and additionally we have less indoor space to utilize so all events would have to be outdoors, limiting our time frame. In general, these things and other obstacles made us realize it may be a few years, if at all.

The thing is, this pandemic hit us really hard. Unable to attend any live events seriously limited our exposure and connections. Networking is #1 in these ventures. Then there was the growing isolation and depression. My roommate hardly ever painted anymore. At one point she ventured into doing Shibori Dyes, but that motivation died out quickly. I have been mainly doing watercolor art at work. Had a great month in August- highest sales ever- but new algorithms killed me. I sold only 2 small pieces September, October, November. It truly contributed to my melancholy and has made me less motivated to stay involved.

So, this year has kind of been a learning lesson. It’s a down time for us and i do not see that changing anytime soon. We can hope for spring or summer, but for now have come to an acceptance that we must just wait it out. Online events are just not gonna cut it.Many have tried, failed and ultimately given up.

In summary, what i’ve learned :

  1. There will be down times in every ones life, especially regarding projects , goals and intentions. Some are out of our control.
  2. Acceptance is key. There are just some things that will likely never revert back to “normal” and we must learn to adapt.
  3. Giving up, however, is NOT acceptable. One must learn and grow and foster their passions in whatever way they can until the tides change.
  4. Staying in touch with as many colleagues as possible is still important – i.e.- supporting them, reaching out to asking they are doing, offering help or suggestions , etc.
  5. Don’t just “disappear” completely, even though sometimes you may feel like it.
  6. There is voluntary isolation and forced isolation. Work with what you have.
  7. Sometimes a break is good for the soul, even if you can’t see it immediately.
  8. There is always always always hope.

Namaste!

Step 8: Sobriety/Recovery 2020

As i have mentioned many ,many times on this blog…I have not been a tee totaller this year. I spent 15 months AF from January 18, 2019 through May 2020. I admit, the stress of the pandemic started getting to me.

However this does not mean that I am not still on my recovery path. Nor does it mean I believe I am not an alcoholic or that I can moderate. Through various experiments I have learned that it is a slippery slope, and I can easily succumb to my old habits at any moment.

Fortunately, there have been only a handful of times ( about 5?) that I completely slipped and wound up “wasted”. A few of those times were not good and had consequences. Once I missed the next night of work because I felt so awful. That had never even happened at the height of my heavy drinking. Another time I said some not so nice things to someone I cared about and had to work for weeks to repair that damage. Mostly though with the slips I slept horribly, waking with the same old dread and guilt of times past, with a messy house, a messy head, and berating myself for being so stupid.I have not yet “relapsed” however.

Now, don’t get me wrong( and here is where I get a lot of flack )there were some good times as well. On the nights I had only a predetermined , limited access to beer( my choice of alcohol) I did ok. I painted, played board games, and enjoyed the company of friends- at home. Usually 3-4 beers is a good stopping point but never any more than 6 over a period of 8 hrs or more. With that amount, and as long as it is only once every few weeks, I seem to be fine- no hangovers, no memory lapses, no major upsets or issues. Those times I slipped, there was unexpectedly more access to alcohol ( i.e. someone brought more ) and it was not a good thing.After about 5, i will keep going if there’s more.

In all honesty, I can say I am now much more aware that planning is key. Enough time to drink slowly over many hours, not pound it all down to get the big buzz, and NOT having access to more when it’s gone are the biggest things I need to be careful about. Many, many times in my past, if there was any in the house I would just drink it at the first opportunity, but now I can have the stuff in my fridge for weeks and not even care. Also, most times, especially if I am alone, I will simply have 2-3 and stop….almost like a normal person.

So -my intentions going forward:

I am happy with where I am at with it for the most part, but it took many months of mistakes and risks to get where I am. And I am under NO illusions that it can change at any given time. My saving grace in all of it is to constantly remind myself that as I AM an alcoholic( and that will not change), I just need to  choose what type of alcoholic I am going to be.

I will not be a raging , black out drinker. I will not allow it to take priority over any plans or daily responsibilities. I will not allow it to affect my friends, family, or job. It will NOT be daily, or even a regular choice.

I will be vigilant. I will be clear minded . I will accomplish my life goals . and I will not allow it to control my decisions. This is where I am on the path right now. When I feel unsure,anxious or depressed – I abstain– no matter what.

It’s as honest and transparent as I can be. I could find that it isn’t workable for the long term, and I am certainly open to that.

Big hugs for all of you out there who have helped on my journey- some are struggling with slips and relapses, some are doing awesome and have years of sobriety under their belts. Every post keeps me in check, so thank you..

You all rock!!

Step 7: Menopause and Aging 2020

So here we are at the end of the year and I only have a few days to get in the last 4 steps as intended. My 2019 Ten Steps seemed easier to get to , but likely because I did them over a 6 month period. For anyone just joining me here, those previous steps covered life applications in general, while these apply to 2020 specifically , and even more specifically to my own experiences and forthcoming assertions.

And away we go…

I am unsure as to the exact moment I realized my odd and ends symptoms may be related to menopause. Many times I go back to posts from years ago , in my 40’s , and was quite sure I was soon going to hit that looming milestone any minute. But, in hindsight, I was still many years away from the actual process.

This past year has brought no uncertainty to the fact. If you aren’t aware, menopause is considered to be one full year without any monthly cycle ( menses). Indeed I have gone 10 months without, had one, then another 10 and had one. So, it is in progress. Oddly, we only spend one actual day “in” menopause- the rest being perimenopause or post-menopause.

Some definitive changes in that regard for 2020 (symptomatically speaking) :

  • Increased loss of eyelashes and eyebrow thickness
  • Increased insomnia
  • Difficulty shedding belly fat
  • Increased emotional volatility (mood swings)
  • Drier skin
  • Increased facial wrinkles
  • Decreased skin elasticity
  • Chronic fatigue

In addition to the above, other changes have occurred that are , as I see it, related to aging itself- although MANY overlap:

  • Increased body pain
  • Decreased physical endurance
  • Changes in dietary tolerance
  • Increased grey/white hair
  • Changing views on the world around me
  • Changing perceptions on myself in every way

Considering this list ( and I could have go on and been more specific) I felt a post was in order about how I kind of “dealt” with things. Sometimes I used tried & true methods from experience, but I have also initiated a more open mind to some unique solutions.

For instance, the insomnia has been a huge one for me this year. In fact I have been having major issues with this since June. Having this issue pretty often for decades, I tried everything I knew without any real results. I even went back to my Dr. for the sleep medication I had been off of for 2 years. It did not work this time around. Bottom line is, I’ve discovered that I do indeed sleep wonderfully- AT NIGHT. But being a night shift nurse makes the whole thing unresolvable without quitting my current job and looking for day work. Day work is a whole other can of worms I wont go into. So, as of yet I have found no true solution. I just try to take full advantage of my nights off– sleeping sometimes 12-15 hours.

If you haven’t noticed though, most of the above listed are not necessarily life threatening or serious problems. I have to admit however they seemed to be for a while. But I slowly realized that they were mostly my own vanity. So the solution became a process of acceptance and re-learning self love. The thing that helped me the most ( just being honest here) is finding a partner who truly accepted all my flaws , inside and out. Hairy legs and armpits, no make up, hair roots growing out, grey hairs, more body fat, dressing for comfort- you name it. I tested this guy intensely as to his tolerance and he passed every time and has never wavered. His acceptance helped me gain confidence and security as far as my appearance. Since that proved to be true, I now sometimes go out of my way to look special for him. He never mentions it either way and I love that about him!

The other stuff that may affect my health in the long run I have had to address.I have managed to keep off 10 of the 15 lbs I lost in January/February. But not by continuing to follow the strict calorie diet or continuing to walk many miles each day. The truth is, I’ve stopped doing anything at all and by having less stress about them, I believe I have leveled out. I eat what I want, when I want, as much as I want. I did start back at the gym a month ago because I love lifting weights, but now we are on a lockdown again so..all I can do I sigh and wait for it to be lifted. What I can say is- that particular activity benefits me in more ways than one. It reduces stress, increases my self-confidence  & body strength, and reduces my pain levels.

I have also invested in myself–weekly chiropractic sessions, monthly dep massages, and several therapeutic items at home including pillows and miscellaneous devices ( heating pads, massagers, and spine/neck extenders).I use them as needed. I added some supplements but a daily whole food vitamin is the only one I’ve stuck to . I have also learned not to go beyond 2- 2 ½ cups of coffee a day because it really gets me out of whack emotionally. I stretch often and daily go through a ‘grateful’ list in my head.

I am still looking into therapy options, but have been hesitant for various reasons. Many are only held online right now with the pandemic and I am not comfortable with having my deepest thoughts being recorded on such a scary format. All I can imagine is what records are prone to being hacked in this crazy world. If I don’t have them on anywhere on the internet, so much the better. I will continue to look for someone who still see people in person, even if I have to wait.

So, in summing it up I would say if you are experiencing any of the above:

1.Most importantly- do whatever you can to decrease your stress level. It is the single most beneficial tip I can give you. And I mean anything- smoke more pot, masturbate more( stop blushing we are all adults here!), eat some comfort foods regularly, binge watch your favorite shows without guilt, take a break from strict rituals, etc.

2.Don’t be afraid to try new solutions, but don’t try anything too sketchy. For instance- yes, I will put onions in my sox for a flu remedy, but I will not buy some crazy, unproven snake oil remedy on the internet. Use your best judgement, but keep an open mind. Binaural Tones meditation is still one of my best go to solutions. Regardless of solid proof, it is free, can’t hurt to try (unless you have seizures which is the only precaution) and you’ll never know if you don’t.

3.Drink lots of water, but plan your bathroom access. You will need both.

4.Sleep as much as you can and make it a priority.

5. Stop trying every wrinkle cream on the market. I simply stopped wearing make up daily and decided to accept myself. Same with haircoloring, and other special , expensive “fixes” for vanity issues. My facial routine consists of 2 things: micellar Coconut water to clean and rinse off debris, followed by coconut water in a light cream base. Both are made by Palmer and are super cheap. My skin looks better now than it did 3-4 years ago.

6. And finally, stop trying every new diet that comes down the pike. Not everyone loses weight or feels great on Keto, low calorie, raw food or vegan diets. Find one you can live with that makes you feel functional, or even find a few and change it up every few weeks. If you are less than 20 lbs over weight , it is likely not going to cause any health problems. The less strict diet, the better- and variety is key.If you have more than that amount, find a healthy one that you enjoy and get your body moving.

So there it is. I have 3 more steps to address so I will be banging those out over the next few days. Hope this helps someone..

Namaste!

Covid in York ,Pa 2020

Just a quick ,spontaneous post after reading through some others regarding the state of Covid and restrictions here where i live.

Sometime about a week or so ago, we were all given 2 days notice that our state would go back into lockdown until January. It’s the same thing as before- restaurants, bars, libraries , and gyms are( supposed to be) closed . We are supposed to still wear masks, socially distance and wash our hands. But as has been said from the onset, a plethora of problems and conflicting views will likely make this another lost cause.

For one thing, some of the businesses have refused to close, and even some sheriffs departments and other authorities have issued statements that they will not enforce the guidelines ( stating their “respect for individual freedom”). Half or more of my online friends and indeed , much of my own family, have decided that masks “don’t work” and they are just going to “live their lives”. hell there are still people calling for our governer’s removal because he is “trying to take away our civil liberties'”( by calling for safety restrictions).

On my end of things, i work outside the home as a nurse. I wear a mask at work when within 6ft of anyone( patient or family). However, since it is their home they are not required to also wear masks, meaning the parents and other kids are free to roam around the nurses without one. the kids also attend school. Additionally, my one roommate works as a delivery person outside the house. Although she does everything possible to follow guidelines, there are still risks. The other roommate is laid off( receiving benefits right now) but still goes out & about at least daily to AA meetings, and visiting with her kids on weekends. Last week she announced that after 2 days of being around the kids, her ex told her that a household member tested positive. She has been masking and keeping to herself but still is not completely quarantining.

I also have to do necessary things like get groceries and gas , deposit cash at the bank ( no way around that, i don’t trust ATM’s) and other such things. I do my best to follow as many precautions as i can but fear that its pretty pointless.

I expect to get Covid. I really do.

Because theres no real rules, no enforcement, no consequences and worst of all NO CHOICE for those of us who have to work outside the home. We are not offered any compensation by our government( state or other wise) to stay home( unlike some other smarter countries). So we can’t just quit and stop paying our bills.Businesses that refuse to comply have no consequences, no fines, nothing.Theres no one stopping anyone to see if they are out & about for non essential reasons. And even when signs are posted that masks are required, no one seems to enforce that either.

I am reading about countries in something called a tier 4 lockdown and wonder why the hell we can’t get our sh*t together here. 7 more dead THIS WEEK in my small city. Over 300 dead in same city since this started. Thousands of positive test results and growing every day. But no one to help us stay safe.Not really.

It’s chaos.

And my stress levels are through the roof. I pray you are all doing well and i’ll keep doing the best i can as long a i can in spite of it all.

Namaste.

How I Made it Through

The Dragon ( thanks Dwight!) has been put in a corner.

Yes, he is still there, but brooding. And while i don’t feel completely victorious, i do feel relieved.I don’t feel strong..or brave..or self righteous. But i am at least breathing again.

Synopsis of my day yesterday:

I woke, as stated, with a deep sense of dread..anxiety building to peak levels within the first hour. I knew i didn’t have anything around to numb my senses except coffee and cigarettes. I knew both of my roommates were preoccupied and weren’t deserving of my melancholy again. I was alternately determined to “put on a good face” and also hide in my room to save them from my sh*t.

I had slept later than usual- finally- until about 4p ( thanks to making sure to take a sleeping pill- as i DID anticipate i would be feeling like i did and wanted it to be as short a time as possible). I rarely take those pills because i hate being groggy, and sometimes they don’t even work anyway. But the plan was- sleep as long as possible to avoid those raw, ugly, negative feelings and avoid exposing my roommates to them.

I got up and knew i had to keep busy. I made homemade soup in the crock pot, cupcakes and a cake. I ate a few comfort foods. Then i set about cleaning things i normally don’t ( like the fridge and dusting/vacuuming my bedroom). i was online off & on, read a few blogs, and did a LOT of pacing around just picking up things.

I made a list..including those items as well as some phone calls to make.I sent a few messages to my boy friend and neighbor, chatted briefly with one roommate.Drank a lot of water, coffee and tea. I stretched through out evening, took some pics of the beautiful snow, and read through emails.

By about 9pm i realized i was just not going to be able to contain my sadness or keep that (false) positive vibe any longer. I didn’t want to bring anyone one else down. So i set up my lair- heating pad, multiple pillows, white noise, cozy blankets and pajamas on- and hibernated in my room- falling asleep early.I t was all i could do.

You know, sometimes it’s like that. You just have to exit, before it becomes overwhelming and starts affecting others. Before you are too much in your own head and start spiraling down.

There’s no easy fix, no perfect cure, no definitive solution. You are just trying to breathe.

And i write this to ALL of my friends in recovery..no matter where you are in the process– one week, one month, 6 months, a year- or over 2 years in my case. These are the days you pull out all of your tools. You wield all of your weapons. And even if you don’t quite manage to slay that dragon completely, you survive.

And live to fight another day.

Namaste.

Snow Cold Sober

I can’t breathe.

Others are out shoveling, playing in the snow … watching movies, eating comfort food , enjoying the day .- But I am struggling.

I live in the Northeastern part of the United States. It is winter here and today is a very difficult day for me. More difficult than even those close to me can imagine or understand. Not my boyfriend. Not my roommates. Not my family. But i know some of you on here can relate.It’s a trigger.

I can’t breathe.

Today is what we call a “Snow Day”. And not just an ordinary snow day– it’s a blizzard. Out there-kids are off school, lots of us are off work, and businesses are closed. Most years of my life this was one of the days i most looked forward to- the unexpected joy of a day to loaf around, enjoy home made soup, hot chocolate , comfy clothes and, if i was lucky, a nice fire place. Then, alcohol entered the picture. Those times when i stayed in , drank wine with my partner and/or some friends , singing along and dancing to some holiday music and playing some board games. We would look outside a couple times throughout the day and marvel at the beauty around us and then go back in for another round. Usually, we would eventually all toddle in to cozy up and settle down for a nice winters slumber. Until it became toxic.

And I can’t breathe.

You see, yesterday, i chose NOT to buy alcohol in anticipation of this blizzard.

The dread started even before the snow. It began when i first heard it was going to snow. Of all the things that trigger me to want to drink, this is probably the worst one. My mind starts going through all the reasons( read:’excuses’)that i should just relax and have a few ( too many).The process goes something like this:

# 1-i know i will be stuck indoors for 2 days. i know i have nothing of any importance to attend to. Why not? Not hurting anyone , right?

#2- i start remembering all the great times with boyfriends in the past – snuggling up , drinking , feeling romantic .

#3-Because of that i start getting sad because this time my current boyfriend can’t be here with me.It would have been our first snow day together ( insert sad, sulky face).

#4- i will be alone and sad and have all of these memories.

#5 i want to drink.

#6 This would be the absolute WORST time for me to drink.

I know i chose wisely but that doesn’t stop the roller coaster. I wake up, look outside and begin riding the waves of depression and anxiety. and…while everyone else seems normal- they don’t see, they don’t know, they don’t understand.

I. can’t. breathe.

.

Step 6: Employment and Changes 2020

One of the other changes i made this past year was leaving a company i had been with for 7 plus years in the Home Care Nursing field. Not sure how this works in other countries, but here in the U.S. there are several types of agencies. Some deal strictly with veterans, some with the elderly, some with hospice, some with kids ( meaning under 21 years of age) and some agencies with a mixture.

It is always interesting to me that whenever someone finds out i am a nurse, their first question is “which hospital?” There are seriously so many fields of nursing out there, yet the common mind set generally is that we all work in hospitals. It takes a bit of time to explain what my job entails and sometimes i just wish i could answer the question with “_______ Hospital”.

What i do is stay for a shift overnight, 5-6 nights a week at a family’s home caring for the night time needs of their child. They may also have day shift nursing , in which case the nurse may attend school with said child. There are levels of care -high, medium and low tech. I spent over 15 years doing high tech , which entails those coming home on a ventilator and with a tracheostomy. Generally our clients come home anywhere from age 1 month up to a year after birth. This is often because they are either seriously premature or are born with other serious medical issues requiring 24 hr care at the hospital for many months before they can be released into their family’s care and almost always they require private duty nursing to do so.

At any rate, i have been in this field( private duty) since about 2003. The first year after graduating LPN school i spent at a mental health/Mental retardation facility whose patients were children as well. I didn’t care for facility work and eventually found pediatric home care to be a better fit. When i completed my RN degree in 2008, i also spent a year in an acute care hospital, but then returned to private duty nursing- first as a clinical manager, then as a clinical educator- both admin positions . I have now been back out in the ‘field'( hands on care) for over 10 years. So there’s the back ground.

Most pediatric agencies are pretty similar here as far as pay and benefits. Home care pays about half or less of what most facilities pay but then again you are only dealing with one patient at a time.. Benefits can vary. The last agency i was with offered a higher hourly pay but no benefits at all. After about 8 years i decided to roll the dice and switch. Switching agencies is no easy task here and can take 3-4 months between state and company requirements, which is why i delayed so long. And even after that process ( i officially started in February) it was not smooth sailing. There was a probation period, benefit delays and continuing education and requirements.

I am still glad i made decision, in spite of taking a $4/hr pay cut. There is almost always a compromise when deciding to change employers. At least now i have decent, affordable health care ( which i STILL had to fight for) and PTO. Additionally, the new company is much more reputable and is very interactive with the staff.

So after this long lead in i suppose i could give a general type of advice and some steps to consider or take if anyone out there is thinking about switching themselves. This i basically what i did:

  1. I took some time a year before hand to look into various agencies in my area.
  2. I not only researched the companies online, but also by calling the places and speaking to a recruiter. But the biggest help was word of mouth from other nurses. I cannot stress enough how important it is to get confidential, private input about a potential employer.
  3. When going in for an interview, be prepared. The very first company i applied at slapped a series of tests in front of me before i was even allowed to be interviewed. I was NOT prepared- not the first time, nor when i returned for a second chance.I was not hired and was humiliated. Totally my fault and lesson was learned.
  4. In regards to that, i found out shortly after that not being hired there was a blessing in disguise. Although they had a very high pay rate, i learned that they also had a terrible reputation for an incompetent and uncommunicative office staff. The next agency was much more organized and handled everything with a decent amount of communication and support.
  5. As i stated, there are almost always compromises. Weigh the options, pros & cons. Never overreact to poor treatment at a current job by jumping into another before all things are considered. You may find sticking with your current employer and working out some things on a case by case basis is more viable in the long run. It took me more than 3 years to even decide to leave. I tried very hard to work out issues, until it became apparent that some things were not going to change.
  6. Keep in mind, no matter how wonderful things look at the onset, there will still be bumps in the road. I assumed my health coverage would start within the 90 days as promised. But there were multiple internal issues and i didn’t get coverage until 5 months in. Additionally, the coverage was not as i expected or was led to believe. I had to fight for 2 more months and sign a new contract to get affordable, acceptable care.The new contract entails committing to several weekend shifts a month, 2 holiday shifts per year and at least an average of 36 hours per week. I know this doesn’t sound terrible ( and it isn’t really) but previously i was able to make my own schedule and had no required # of hours or holidays, etc. Adjustment is key!
  7. There may be a learning curve. Mine was going from paper work to technology. i had to learn to enter my notes on a tablet instead of using paper forms. Additionally, we continue to adapt to new state regulations regarding this and ,in turn, new apps for signing in and out, etc. It’s a real pain in the patella, but fortunately we have been given enough time to work out the bugs before it become mandatory.
  8. Be willing to go the extra mile whenever you can. I stay extra hours as needed by the family each week. I do extra cleaning and organizing. I am sure to meet all of my agency’s requirements( such as continuing education and state regs) on time. I take up the slack as much as i can when issues arise. In this way, i have always been given an excellent reference should a need arise to make further changes in employment.
  9. Stay abreast of changes in policy and continue to consider your best options. If a company suddenly announce a pay rate or benefits change, be sure it is in your best interest to accept the change or begin the process of looking elsewhere a.s.a.p.
  10. Don’t waste your time.Every new employer is an opportunity for learning and growth. It may not always be positive but you can learn none-the-less and utilize that information and experience going forward.

Ok..sorry so long and boring but again, i write this blog mostly for myself as a touch stone. Hopefully someone gets something out of it as well along the way.

Namaste!