Fear and Frustration

Tomorrow, i go in for Covid testing. Here’s why:

About 2 days before i had my first vaccine scheduled, i felt mildly congested. Since I am a smoker, exposed to cats ( very allergic) every night, and winter heating creates dry air, it was nothing too unusual for me. Still , I cancelled my first appointment to be safe and decided to give it the weekend , scheduling my vaccine for Monday. I felt fine then and the nurse said mild congestion with no other symptoms wouldn’t prevent me from getting the vaccine, so i got the first dose and had about 24 hrs of extreme exhaustion, in which i slept a lot. By Tuesday evening i felt fine. Better, in fact, than i did before the vaccine. I went back to work.

For the next week i started feeling the congestion building, but no one around me was getting sick so i figured it was just lingering vaccine effects. However, by last night ( Wednesday- over a week later) i started realizing that my mild cough was progressing ad OTC meds weren’t helping. Since i was scheduled off for the weekend, I scheduled myself for a rapid test for Friday morning.I will know results within a few hours. I then notified my employer . Unfortunately, i was told if it comes back negative, i will still not be allowed back to work until i get the other test which takes 2-4 days for results due to a high incident of false negatives on the rapid test.

If it comes back positive, i will not have to get the other test. But, i will have to self quarantine for at least 10 days and until symptoms have subsided.

That’s the meat of it.

But what i really want to express here is this. I am a nurse in a low risk job ( private duty with same client for over 6 years). Still, i mask up, wash my hands , and have reduced my outings to gas, groceries , and (since March), less than 3 small gatherings of less than 10 people ( last one in Mid December). Outside of my case family( patient)-my quarantine “bubble” has been basically 3 people- 2 roommates, and boyfriend with a few very brief visits to my boyfriends home recently where his roommate also lives.. There have only been a few rare times when i had contact with anyone else – They were brief and 75% of those times i wore a mask and stayed distant.I Chlorox-wiped door handles, light switches, spigots, toilets, etc almost daily. I use antibacterial wipes in my car between each errand i may have to run- on my hands, keys, steering wheel, etc.

In the grand scheme of things , i would say i have been isolated more than 75% of the entire Pandemic.Compared to most people i know, i have been pretty damned cautious. No eating out, no going to bars , shopping or events, and doing what i was told. I had even signed up for the gym again in November but stopped going as of the last lockdown in early December, despite it still being open and losing 2 months of paid membership ( so far). I just didn’t trust it. I even wear gloves to pump my gas and at the grocery store.Yet, still , i may have Covid.

The point is, anyone can get it from anywhere at anytime. It only takes one time. It could be that time when you didn’t use gloves to pick up a prescription at the drive thru. Or didn’t Chlorox wipe off your atm card after the cashier handled it. Any contact with any human at any time ( even if asymptomatic) can result i catching this thing. And worse, everyone has a different experience. Some are so mild it seems like an allergy or sinus issue. Some have one symptom and no others.Some get flu like symptoms. Some get everything full blast – and either recover or do not. Then there’s the long term effects to worry about.

Even with the Vaccine, it takes weeks to build up immunities. Yes, you can still get it even after your first or second dose- they say up to a full 90 days after. Or, maybe like may be the case with me- you came into contact right before the dose and didn’t know it.

It’s a scary world.

Aside from doing a complete Howard Hughes you just can’t know when , where or how. Many of us simply cannot work from home or get everything delivered .We are at risk everyday, no matter how hard we try.

I am fervently hoping this is just a cold or something NOT Covid. But i have to accept that i may be one of the millions in the statistics. As i will be off for at least 5 days, i will post updates.

I hope everyone is feeling well, and sending my prayers to all who are suffering.


Update: both the rapid test and PCR lab test were negative:)

The Sober Toolbox

In starting my journey again the first thing i needed to do was re read some posts from my first year of recovery. Last night i came across this gem( a little over 5 months sober):

“No matter what anyone thinks, i am proud of myself for staying sober and i have a better life for it. I am glad i walked away while i still had a chance. I am even more glad now that i see what i would still be going through had i not. The crazy, stressful, unnecessary drama of being and being with an alcoholic.I cannot stress enough how different my perspective is now when i see many of my old friends still going through the insane lifestyle problems as a result of their choices.The stupid fb posts. The late night calls that make no sense or cause hurt and pain to others.The lack of growth, the depression , the anxiety….and knowing how miserable they are on the inside regardless of what they may try to convince others of.Man, give me coffee any day.My life isn’t anything to make a movie out of anymore, some may say even boring, but i’ll happily take it over any of THAT!”

Boy, did i need to read that, to hear that from my sober self!

First of all , it made me feel a ton better that my life hasn’t been that crazy in years!I haven’t sobbed for hours over a bottle or drank 12+ beers to numb myself out.I haven’t woken up on the floor in a pile of clothes . I haven’t dreaded what late night FB post or messages i may have sent.And so many other crazy things.For days now i’ve been berating myself for getting a tad off track but now i realize i really didn’t stray that far– not even close!..phew!

Reading the posts prior to getting sober have always been frightening -The drama, waking with dread and anxiety, the constant fighting, damaged household items and absolute carnage the next day. I could go on but i’m sure many of my sober blogger friends have similar stories.I rarely read them( my nightmarish journal entries) anymore because i cant tolerate the humiliation. It’s insane how , at the time, it all seemed very normal and part of life as an artist..

Yes, i know the process…and after announcing it, you re read posts for a bit. I will be getting out the tool box again for the next steps. Glad i saved ’em:)

Here we go , Folks!

Play it Again, (Sober) Sam….

Wow….sometimes i get on here to catch up and find so many great gems. Tonight was no exception.

After this weekend i believe some stuff has really hit home for me and i need to start making more of an effort at getting back on track with things. I feel like i have been trying and failing in some kind of rhythmic pattern and not really sure what to do about it.

We have been dealing with this pandemic thing for almost a year now. The reactions and emotions have been like a rollercoaster for so many- from dealing with the constant fear to deciding to use the time wisely to going off our path and trying to accept that we are only human. Then again, getting off and on that horse. It’s certainly driven me mad at times when i don’t feel like i will ever be able to stay focused again.

If you have been a reader of my blog for more than a year, or perhaps even from the onset, you know that i put tremendous effort into getting sober, not just being a “dry drunk” but actually delving into the psyche surrounding why i got into the habit, why i allowed it to get out of control , and how- after 15 months i started experimenting again. Sometimes learning new things about myself , and somewhat allowing it to just be what it was. At times i have felt i was ok with “moderating”, and at other times knowing that it isn’t really possible in the long term.

What i have learned about myself is that , like any other habit, if you keep at it, it will eventually just start becoming a part of your life. Sometimes you don’t even realize it . That can be good when it comes to exercise, eating healthy and learning. But when it comes to bad habits ( drinking, smoking, etc) not so much.

Since May i have not been a tee-totaller. I’ve said as much many times. At first, it was a response to the crisis of Covid, the fear, isolation and helplessness. Within a few months it was something i did more often but was able to mainly be ok without over doing it. However ,there were a few times i went over board. By October i was doing it more often, although had learned that i had to watch myself and never go beyond a 6 pack of beer at any given time. And here we are in January.

Last year January 18th i celebrated one year of complete sobriety. I was 2 months into not smoking. This year, i have gotten back into the bad habits again. Smoking way too much, and , worst of all, realizing now that i have allowed the 6 pack on occasion to become a weekly habit again. Yup, almost once a week for about 2 months now. The problem in that for someone like me is that i tend justify it as my “one night off and i need to relax” and yet i know it’s only a matter of time now until things go awry. Indeed, the last few weekends i have exceeded my initial limit and it hasn’t gone so well.

In realizing this i am know i have to get back on that wagon again. I see the posts from other sober bloggers here and am reminded once more how fragile our hold on sobriety can be but also how wonderful it is to feel free of alcohols grip. I thank you all for this and am hereby re-setting my intentions.

I know what must be done, i know i am strong. Here’s to 2021…


Hitler and the Job Market

Hitler fact:

Bypassing the treaty of Versaille, he opened many many manufacturing factories for parachutes, tanks, planes, ships, ammunitions, vehicles and many more. Many people were put into these jobs therefore eliminating the no-job crisis.

Thus creating over millions of jobs.

And those jobs were lost when he lost his ‘position’. Many families lost their livelihood and descended into poverty.

Do we feel bad about that?

Not really. They were profiting by doing something that should not have been done in the first place.

Yet, all over Facebook, people are whining about the loss of jobs from The Keystone Pipeline being shut down by the new POTUS.Jobs that never should have been created in the first place. Jobs that robbed people of their homes, their clean water , and their ancestral land.

I do try very hard not to be an ass on social media. I comment only here & there on threads, and almost NEVER post directly about anything controversial or political on my own page. Usually the short comments i make lead to assumptions that i am looking for a debate..

In truth, my goal is simply this… always look at the big picture. History repeats itself. Leaders come and go and jobs come and go with them. New ones will be created. Possibly better , more humane jobs that will help heal this place we live in.Jobs that may improve the environment, promote unity, give back to the community.

As we move forward in life, if we are lucky, we begin to see more often that things are not always as they first appear.As Eckhart Tolle says:

“Suffering has a noble purpose: the evolution of consciousness and the burning up of the ego”


Vaccine Day

While i have many feelings about this Covid vaccine, the most prominent one is anxiety. But today is the day.

Originally i had scheduled it for this past Friday but rescheduled . I had such increased fear about it , i just couldn’t go through with it. First off, i had a little congestion and was feeling run down from the usual insomnia issues. So i asked a few colleagues who had the first round and received mixed reviews. Then looked online- same thing. Eventually i called my employer and asked some questions which wound up being VERY stressful because the person i spoke to told me she had to report my “symptom” of congestion and i might not be able to work. This pissed me off because one should not fear having to lose work just to ask some questions. I have congestion every week at my case due to the fact that i am allergic to cats. I am also a smoker and there is a lot of dry heat this time of year in their home. It generally goes away on my days off.. I was told the following as well: If the decision is that i may not work due to a bit of congestion, i will have to go get tested and will have to be off until results come back.. In fact , if at any time i decide to be tested for Covid ( even if i am asymptomatic and just wanting some peace of mind) if will not be able to return until test results come back( 2-10 days) . This testing is not paid for by the employer. Second- only the vaccine itself is paid for by my employer- any bad reactions or time needed off for reactions are not covered. Additionally if i do get Covid, i will only be covered for unemployment compensation or any medical help if i got it from my work place and can prove it( meaning if i got it anywhere else- say a gas pump- it would not be covered) As a nurse, it is an impossible situation here. Vaccine is paid for, nothing else is.

For months, i had been hearing about this vaccine- the conspiracy theories, the over-the-top hopes for an instant cure, the lack of “time” for testing it, the possible adverse reactions, and may questioning just how long it would be before we could get it. Most of the time, i asserted that i would not wish for it to be mandatory for us simply because we are nurses. After all, if all the hype is to be believed, why are they using us as “guinea pigs” – what will they do if they wind up killing off all the medical personnel?I know this sounds extreme, but it is not unheard of for certain populations to be used as testing fodder unbeknownst to them at the time.

After exhausting myself into oblivion about it i decided two things:First, I took an oath as a nurse to put others lives before my own, so if getting a vaccine that may help us turn the corner, even if it is a risky one, i must do this. Second: the hype about it just being another way to line the pockets of the rich may or may not be true- but who cares- i do that everyday anyway when i put gas in my vehicle, among other things.

So here i go tonight, despite my fear and trepidation, knowing too that i would rather do this while i have a choice ( pretty sure it will become mandatory for us at some point) and while many others are having to wait in lie behind us.

And i will repeat my mantra-Only God knows my time of death, i do not control it . It is the right thing to do, and do it i shall.


But we are FREE…Aren’t we?

Sometimes days or weeks can go by and i do not have a single thing to write about. But this isn’t one of them.

The problem is, there is so much to say, i cannot begin to put together the thoughts into words that would have any power or meaning behind them to effectively project the intensity . And it’s because of that intensity, i have almost become numb.What else is there to say anyway?

I am watching the world around me go completely crazy, and watch some of my previous thoughts and statements become almost prophecies fulfilled. I have both conquered and i have failed. But we are free, at least, aren’t we?

As a non participator in politics, i watch as the various groups continue to bark orders, make demands, incite violence and vie for position in the ring. I watch family members changing into brainwashed drones, even taking classes to learn how to keep their civil “liberties”. I watch friends i’ve known since high school becoming people of middle earth- the Ringwraiths, Orcs, and Balrogs. And i watch those scorned for being ‘different’ fight and rise, then disappear again from sheer exhaustion. I am not sure who i am among them.

In a world wallowing in the anxiety of a pandemic, i struggle to find my own way. There is no need to reach out when i am drowning, because others are also drowning and cannot help..So i keep swimming, always in a rip tide, my head bobbing up for air when i get a lucky break.

With a mindset that seems very different from the rest, i make my art, pay my bills, set goals, and navigate obstacles breath by breath. I no longer defend my positions or actions.No one hears or notices or cares. I just do them. But, we are free , aren’t we?

Governed by the violent, tread on by the powerful, pushed this way and that by the shifting tectonic plates, our footholds are tenuous at best. We find a temporary reprieve in accomplishments, or by dropping out or managing everyday crisis or joining the ranks of false activism.

And I find this freedom to be an imposter, a sham, forcing us to wear mask figuratively and literally. To both hide and cry out, to be fearful and rebellious. To straddle the lines of sanity and depravity. We are free to be alone –on a cold and barren shore.

But…we are free.

Aren’t we?

How to Regain Organization and Order

I often find that a disorganized mind and disorganized home seen to go hand in hand. Many of my friends who are often late, cancel last minute, or don’t show up at all have homes that could be contenders for an Extreme Hoarders episode. Those same friends seem to have issues in many other areas including lack of self esteem, self control, and sometimes even holding a job. I am convinced that a great deal of those issues would at least decrease in intensity if they were to spend some time organizing.

I have helped quite a few get organized in my time. From simple office clutter ( piles and stacks of papers , and unruly filing cabinets) to entire homes. It is something i enjoy doing so i never mind helping. I firmly believe that the first step to un-cluttering the mind is un-cluttering your environment.And i have seen extraordinary results!

The biggest thing that holds most people back from organizing is the sheer magnitude of the job. There is an overwhelming sense of “Where do i even start?” and “This is impossible, i give up “. It becomes a vicious cycle of guilt and apathy.

So where does one start anyway?

What i always tell people is to start with just one area. It might be a desktop, a coffee table, a closet or just a corner of one room. Setting aside a few hours even once a week can lead to miracles months down the road. Of course the key to these miracles is NOT to re clutter the area once it has been dealt with, and ,unfortunately i’ve seen a lot of that also.

Upon starting any project with someone i often hear many reasons. Some are quite valid- a mental or mood disorders like bi-polarity, depression, etc. Sometimes there was a brain injury in the past or physical event which left the person disabled. But more often it just happened over time, starting with a single pile of paper or closet. The single pile became twenty, some stuffed into boxes , and shoved away . This went on for years until and entire room became filled. Or a closet became a catch all for just about everything…then the next closet..and the next ..until there were no more closets and corners were put into use. Naturally over time, it became a habit and then an overwhelming problem.

What works for each person is very different. Some can easily use an alphabetized filing system for everything, or by utilizing a simple storage system that can be purchased online or at a store.Once the system is in place, some can continue to stay organized. But not always. It is easy to lapse and return to old habits. Here is what works for me:

  1. i have talked about it before but having a small inexpensive notebook that i can carry in my purse is exponentially better than a million post it notes or even and appointment book. I write down whatever i need to in it throughout the day..grocery lists, items i want to order, appointments, phone numbers, tasks i need to complete. I refer to it often ad cross off items as i address them, transfer information to more appropriate places ( calendars, etc) and then rip out the pages as they are completed.
  2. i keep one small area of a desk ( some use a basket or bin) to throw any invoices or things i need to file later. I do NOT let it get out of control. I set aside a time every 2-3 weeks to go through the pile and file in appropriate places, or whatever needs to be done.I also do not start another pile in a different spot.
  3. I get to a store every 6 months or so to buy whatever new storage containers i might need. This is especially true for basements, garages, attics, and studios. Then i set a time ( this can take a few hours or a few days but i put it on my calendar!) to organize and label accordingly.
  4. i create and use check lists for several things: household tasks, regularly purchased household items, budget/bill pay , and a calendar that works for me personally. I keep a master copy on paper in a file or on my laptop to print out as needed.
  5. There is a designated place for EVERYTHING in my home, work bag, etc. I am certainly no Martha Stewart and some items may seem out of place for others. For instance , i know i always keep my phone and other chargers in a small zipper bag in my work bag, i keep certain medications in a Sunday through Saturday box and others in a small container in my purse which i refill as needed.I buy duplicates of some things like my favorite hairbrush and comb and keep a set in my work bag and in my bathroom I know from experience if i do not return something to a designated spot immediately, i will lose it.
  6. Some stuff in my home is labeled for a certain room- certain tools like hammers and scissors MUST stay in that room. I often have duplicates for other areas and make sure i or anyone else using them returns them to the same spot after use.I can get very very cranky if i go to find something and it hasn’t been returned to said spot!
  7. I have a routine for my morning and when i wake. If this varies i can be off for the rest of the day, sometimes for a few days. In the mornings before bed i am sure to take 15-20 minutes putting my much containers in the sink, my laptop/phone on chargers, my dirty clothes i the hamper, etc. When i wake i have my coffee, a few smokes and go through messages, email, etc. writing down what i need to remember in my notebook. I then take my bath, gather anything i need for errands and work ,pack my lunch, and then get out the door .I take a nap before work or at least rest for an hour. If any of things things get disrupted i get irritable and definitely do not function as well.
  8. i almost NEVER use post it notes!These can easily get lost. And i limit my written organization to the small notebook, one dry erase wall calendar and a stapled “packet” of my monthly budget, a paper calendar, and an expense sheet for misc. purchases.I throw all junk mail in the recycle bin immediately. I have a spot to throw any items that need to go upstairs and take it with me when i go up right away.
  9. When i see any area getting a bit messy i know i need to address it promptly. Procrastination is the enemy here.
  10. Last and most importantly, i run a tight ship. I do not let others( in my case- roommates but always applied to my kids or partners in the past) in the household get by with sloppiness or not adhering to the above when using any common items/areas or with their own items. No piles of paper, no dirty clothes left lying, no sink full of dirty dishes left for more than a day.We all have weekly tasks that rotate, we all share the costs and take turns buying commonly used items, and we keep all common areas neat and clean.

I hope this helps someone, and am always open to new suggestions. I recently read a blog about having a bin to place commonly misplaced personal items and will be starting one for myself shortly…Thanks Judith ( https://artistcoveries.wordpress.com/)!

Happy organizing!

New Day, New Debt Plan

I wanted my New Year to have a positive start, and in that regard i am happy to report i started it by paying off a single credit card. This home department store card started at $2700 for a new fridge plus a few hundred for minor household repair items..so approximately $3000 as of last December. It is by no means my only credit card debt. I also have a card that was opened for a mattress purchase several years ago ( about $4000) that is now down to $915 which i intend to pay off this year. Additionally, i retain a revolving credit card through my credit union with a balance of just over $3000.

I took screen shot of my bank account today and (covering any identifying #’s) i wanted to share this little bit going forward in the new year:

I am always a person with a plan…

Beginning with that first line…i use my checking for almost 100% of my daily/monthly transactions. It is a rare event that i hold cash in my hands. The balance shown is after paying my mortgage, the credit card mentioned, and electric bill for this month. There are still a few smaller purchases to come out of that balance before my next pay check as well as car fuel for work. I was fortunate to have received our “stimulus” money just in time to indulge in the bill paying privilege. Last time i had a few days of planning to ‘treat myself’ before a huge unexpected car repair costing more than said stimulus. So this time i will count paying bills as my ‘treat’…

Second line: i was also able to add $100 to my savings. This savings account has been anywhere from $300 up to $4000 at any given time. I have never had to wipe it out completely and continue to keep as much in it as possible for emergencies ( and there have been a few large ones!). If i hadn’t been diligent, most of those emergencies would have become crisis’. But ultimately my goal is to have 3 months worth of regular bill costs saved up.I have never attained that goal but have come close. I keep trying!

Third line: This is my car payment. It’s much higher than what i would like but at the time i was in a bad situation and in order to get out of it had to go upside down in my new loan. My car is still valued at less than what i owe and the only viable way out of it without a major hassle is to just pay it off outside of any major disaster. Fortunately it is a good car and should have a few years left. Prior to this i had never been upside down, and it has been very frustrating!! Anyway- the original loan balance was well over $32,000 back in 2016, so i feel grateful to be where i am at. I haven’t paid this months payment yet- it is due in 10 days .

Fourth line: This is the revolving credit card. Up until November i had it paid down from about $4000 from moving costs and such to about $1000. Then i bought my current laptop plus 4 new tires, along with car inspection costs. Additionally i made my first payment on vacation for this June . Payments are broken down into 4 so about $2500 will be added over the next few months.Additionally a few smaller monthly bills come out of this account that are not able to be paid conveniently otherwise. They are on an auto pay.I just made a large payment on the first so am unsure why it says my next payment is due January 7th…i’ll keep an eye on that.

SO…what does all of this mean?

To me, it means that once again i will have to buckle down. My priority after housing costs, utilities, food and car payment will be two fold: paying as much as possible toward the credit card and still contributing to savings each week. This does not take into account other expenses such as car fuel, medical bills, and other misc. expenses.After my vacation is paid for( and for which i can use PTO time for that week off for the first time in over a decade) i will begin to invest more in home repairs and upgrades.

Side note– There’s not much any would be scammer can do without additional info. here and i do not encourage anyone to put forth much more than this online ( for example: sharing your personal income totals or heaven forbid where you bank ,etc.)I share this small bit of information so as to help others in their quest for not only financial survival , but attaining financial goals in spite of , well..almost any excuse they may have. I realize there are some legitimate exceptions but for most i know it is simply a matter of self discipline and planning as well as getting back on track after unexpected events.

Now if you made it this far ( i know, #’s are boring! )..let’s put it into perspective. Without giving out specific information , someone may look at this and think “wow…she must make a nice income for a single person” and some would even add “especially for a woman”. Let me assure you this is NOT the case. I make less than half of what the average RN makes in this country. I choose this- because my working environment is much more pleasant than most. There is always a trade off.

Never the less, in short explanation- i am a planner.And not only do i plan, i follow up on that plan. Some of the income i derive from having two rent-paying roommates. I also sell my art as much as i can and i trade services or goods for services or goods as i can. I borrow when i can rather than buy, and i do without for long periods of time when i have my goals set. This means( read with emphasis)— i don’t get that new cell phone, that new ( car or tech) gadget, that new outfit or purse, i do not eat out or get “beauty” treatments. Only recently have i started self care with chiropractic sessions and monthly deep massages because it is covered under my HSA. I don’t deprive myself with rigidity but i also limit my indulgences. I rarely travel for pleasure and when i do it is very low cost. My motto in financial regards has been “Eye on the Prize” for almost 2 decades now. I have made mistakes on occasion and i am not perfect but over all i am not unhappy. On a monthly basis , some income rolls into the next month . I still live pay check to pay check like most in a sense that missing one week without pay would affect my life , if i had to go a month without i would surely be in trouble.

But here is the good news, as i see it. I own my own home( for the 4th time , in fact).My credit score is excellent. I eat well . I am able to enjoy creative endeavors, and buy small gifts for my friends and family on occasion. I am able to give to charity in various ways regularly. And i am not drowning in oceans of debt to such a point where i cannot see the light. I work with what i have and put effort into investing in my future.I have no lofty ideals of being “debt- free” or owning stock and huge properties. I will likely never be wealthy.I understand on a deep level that awful things can still happen at any moment. But i do endeavor to be averagely comfortable. And this, my friends is a mind set and requires commitment.

On occasion, i touch upon finances here and i hope it in some way helps or inspires others to do better. But mostly it helps me to return to posts later down the road to gage my progress or lack there of.

May you all have a fortuitous new year!