change · cleaning · denial · goals · home · Michele · resolve · stress · unemployment

Fear of the Unknown

If I were a Harry Potter character, I’m fairly sure the Sorting Hat would not have placed me in Gryffindor, simply because I’m not really a brave person. Yes, at times in my life, I’ve been able to stand up in front of the crowd, singing or acting, and I was, for a long time, very good at making new friends. Not so much any more. The last few years of my life have left me a very different person, and so many things scare me these days. It’s difficult to be in crowds, and the idea of having to talk to too many people I don’t know is terrifying.  I’ve had panic attacks in public places, including the local Fred Myer, where I wound up crying in the manager’s office. These events had been getting farther between, until recently, when certain things began making me very nervous.

If you’ve been reading this for long, you know I share a home with my extended family: my parents, who are 78 and 83; my younger sister and her two children, who are 10 and 20; plus two cats and a dog. During the last year my father lost his job, and hasn’t been able to find another one; he has also begun showing signs of dementia, which is difficult for all of us. Mom hasn’t worked outside the home in years; they have some Social Security coming in, but no savings. My sister hasn’t had a steady job in over a year, just temp things, and my while my niece has a full-time job, she doesn’t help out much. Hence, the only real income in the household now are my SSI/SSD checks every month, and Mom & Dad’s Social Security. Not a lot for all these people to live on. Jolene & I both get food stamps, which helps, and for now, all of our medical expanses are taken care of. The big issue is the house payment; we cannot afford this house.

When I moved back in here two years ago, my goal was to stay a few months and then get a place of my own. But things went downhill very fast; I sank into depression after the breakup and Michele’s death, and still haven’t fully recovered. It was easier to hide in this room than get on with my life. But now, I don’t have a choice, and this scares me. My parents are talking about selling the house, and this means we’ll all have to move. Sure, they’ve been talking about selling for years, but this time they’re actually doing things to put it in motion. Getting the basement presentable. Talking to realtors. Getting rid of things. And scaring the hell out of me.

My tiny room is full of stuff, and I have dozens of boxes in the garage. Every few days I’m encouraged to begin sorting, getting rid of things, both so the place will look better for prospective buyers, and so it will be easier to move. Jolene has done a bit of this in, but I’ve yet to begin, even though I’ve nothing but time on my hands.

At first I thought I was just procrastinating, as usual, being my normal lazy self.  I’ve had several conversations about where I’d go when the house sold with different people. Jolene proposed we get an RV, put Max in online school, and tour the country. I’ve discussed getting an apartment with my ex-husband and friend, Charlie (we get along well, and he’s easy to live with), but it’s never gone farther than discussion.  But recently I realized that I honestly have no idea what is going to happen to any of us, and this is nerve-wracking.  Some part of me believes if I don’t do anything, the unknown will stay far, far in the future, and I won’t have to think about it. Denial is my favorite river, and I swim deep in it.

denial-300x241

Talking about things helps, so they say. I’ve discussed this fear with Jolene, and Mom, and now you. Let’s hope it helps, because I cannot continue doing nothing, as much as I might like to. Getting past the fear is going to be hard. I may have to channel my inner Steel Magnolia and remember “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.”

books · change

Rambling

 

 

Be prepared: I’m not terribly focused.

 

It’s Tuesday night, and my room smells like Vicks Vapo-rub. I managed to catch the cold that has floated around our house for the last month, and for the last twenty-four hours I have been sneezing, sniffling and coughing. I feel like death on a stick. All I can keep-rambling-nonsense-and-drive-everyone-bananas-640x640do sit in my chair and watch television, going through seasons of Six Feet Under, guzzling juice and tearing through Kleenex.

 

We recently changed cable providers, from Dish Network back to Comcast, and I am digging the On Demand programming. Watching all sorts of shows that I missed out on the first time around, like Oz. For those of you who don’t know, Oz is a HBO show set inside a men’s prison. I watched a few seasons of Oz on Netflix, and now I am going on. This is such a freaky show, I have to be sure not to watch right before bed, or when Max is in the house. Honestly, all the male body parts flying around are, well, both disconcerting and titillating. The sheer violence is enticing, in a primitive way. This show is, for me, a guilty pleasure.

 

Then we have Six Feet Under, another HBO show, this one revolving around a family funeral home. At the beginning, my favorite thing about this show was the way the dead folks would hang around, talking to the morticians. I’m only part-way into Season two, and that seems to have stopped happening. The idea of death as a business, as well as a part of life, is complex and intriguing, and I find the idea of it just fascinating. Does that make me twisted? I don’t know, or care, really. In the end, I’m not watching this because I’m interested in the deaths, but because of the characters and story lines.

 

Speaking of story lines and characters, my friend Karen is writing a book, and I’ve had the privileged of reading it as she writes, giving her some critique. I am so thrilled that she chose me for this honor; her book is, so far, wonderful! From the first paragraph, I was drawn in, and I cannot wait for it to be finished so I know what happens. Karen is enormously talented, which I’ve always known, but I think she is just figuring it out herself. I must admit to being a bit envious. She is doing what I cannot, or have not done. For that I am extremely proud of her, and at the same time, kinda jealous! When her book is done, I will be glad to share it with everyone I know.

 

The NyQuil is kicking in, and I am yawning. Goodnight, sweethearts, goodnight.

 

 

 

change · epiphany · exercise · goals · lessons · Michele

20 Questions for my 45th

Yesterday was my 45th birthday, and on the whole, it was pretty anti-climactic. I spent most of the day enjoying the benefits of Comcast on demand by watching Season 1 of Shameless. Between that I sat outside in the sun and read, which was lovely. Just having sunshine was a luxury! Oh, and I answered all the birthday greetings from friends on Facebook; that was excellent. I got a wonderful birthday gift from my sister & nephew, which they picked out weeks ago at a reptile show they went to. No, it isn’t a lizard, it is an awesome Southwesterny owl necklace. I love it!

The last year of my life has been full of so much turmoil, so many ups and downs. While I have made some changes, I’ve mostly been sitting here, in my chair, stagnating. If there’s one thing I know, it’s that stagnant water STINKS! I am so tired of my life stinking. Starting now, starting here, I am churning up the water, changing my life. (Yes, I know I’ve said that dozens of times before. Shut up. I mean it this time.)

These questions came from a post titled 20 Questions You Should Ask Yourself Every questions20Sunday on a blog about productive living. I am using them here as a way to give myself a guide for goals, etc. Honestly, this seems like a lot of things to worry about every single Sunday, and I’d only ask myself all these questions every six months or so. Don’t expect profound answers, people. If you are looking for genius, what the hell are you doing here? Seriously? Anyway, here we go.  Text in italics is from the original post, these are my answers.

 

  1. What did I learn last week? – If you have trouble answering this question, it’s time for a change.  It doesn’t matter how old you are, you should learn something new every week.  That baby powder doesn’t get rid of ants; that baking with gluten free flour is not that easy; and that I have no wish to date or do anything else with guys from Craigslist.
  2. What was my greatest accomplishment over the past week? – Reflecting on your accomplishments is a healthy way to raise self confidence and contentment.  It’s also an effective way to track your progress.  Umm, I didn’t do much of anything last week. Big fibro flare, all sorts of health issues. However, I managed to read about 6 books, not a record for me, but pretty good. And while I have not lost any weight, I’ve not gained, either.
  3. Which moment from last week was the most memorable and why? – It may open up your mind to new passions and goals, or simple pastimes worth revisiting. So much fun just goofing around with Max. He was on Spring Break, and was sick half the week, but when he was feeling good, he and I took turns teasing each other in the odd little way that we do. It reminded me how much I love kids, and love being social, things I miss, hiding in my room.
  4. What’s the #1 thing I need to accomplish this week? – Everything else is secondary, and should be treated as such.  Nevertheless, this question will also shine light on other noteworthy tasks. The same thing I needed to accomplish last week–get my ass out of this chair and EXERCISE!! My biggest goal for this year is to get healthy, and lose weight. The only way I can really do that is by exercise, which I never do. 
  5. What can I do right now to make the week less stressful? – Set reminders in your calendar, get your laundry done, fill the car with gas… organize yourself. My doctor said I should schedule in exercise, thinking that would make me more likely to do it. When she told me this, I, of course did nothing; now I am thinking it’s the right idea. 
  6. What have I struggled with in the past that might also affect the upcoming week? – The idea here is to learn from your struggles and better equip yourself for future encounters. Pain. Last week was full of pain. And the coming weeks likely will be, as well. I am hoping that more exercise will help with some of the pain, and will allow me to break free of the evil ibuprofen monster which is messing up my tummy. 
  7. What was last week’s biggest time sink? – Steer clear of this in the future.  Setup physical barriers against distractions if you have to. Television is always my biggest distraction. I may have to hide my remote. And the chargers for my electronics, so I don’t spend too much time online. 
  8. Am I carrying any excess baggage into the week that can be dropped? – Physical clutter, mental clutter… eliminate the unnecessary so the necessary may shine bright. Oh, I could spend weeks cleaning up just physical baggage. My little room is small, and I will work on getting rid of more junk this week. I got rid of a lot of clothes a few weeks ago. But magazines, papers, and other crap still needs to go. Big fun.
  9. What have I been avoiding that needs to get done? – Pencil in a time to get these things done.  For any 2-minute or less tasks, consider scheduling them first thing Monday morning. Didn’t I just cover this?
  10. What opportunities are still on the table? – If it’s still available and you want it, make a concrete plan to go after it this week. I’m writing. Not as much as I should, but I am. And I will figure out two things soon: a job, and a place to live. These will be on hold until after my disability hearing on April 18th. Once this limbo is decided, one way or the other, I will make a decision. 
  11. Is there anyone I’ve been meaning to talk to? – Regular communication can solve problems before they fester.  Always keep an open line of communication to those around you. Yes, some near, and some far. I’d rather not mention names here, but just know some of you will be getting a phone call or email this week.
  12. Is there anyone that deserves a big ‘Thank You’? – Take time each week to thank the people who have helped you.  Your kind gesture will not go unnoticed. My baby sister, Jolene. She’s been here for me throughout everything, and never gets enough credit from anyone for everything she does. Same goes for my mom. 
  13. How can I help someone else this coming week? – The easiest way to get what you want is to help others get what they want.  If you help them, they will remember you when you need help. I am a lazy bugger, and do very little around the house to pull me weight. I chip in when asked, but I should do more…
  14. What are my top 3 goals for the next 3 years? – You’ll never make any progress in life if you don’t setup realistic goals for yourself. This is a difficult one. Three years, three things. 1) Get my own place again. 2) Get my book written  3) lose 100 pounds
  15. Have any of my recent actions moved me closer to my goals? – If the answer is no, something needs to change. I’m starting on writing, but on the others, not so much…
  16. What’s the next step for each goal? – Knowing the next step is the key to accomplishing the whole. I don’t have an answer for this. Any ideas?
  17. What am I looking forward to during the upcoming week? – The answer can act as a great source of motivation.  If nothing exists, schedule something to look forward to. I don’t have plans yet, but I’m working on it. Suggestions?
  18. What are my fears? – Consciously address your fears each week and slowly work on resolving them.  It’s all about taking baby steps. My biggest fear now is about that upcoming disability hearing, and it’s outcome. I’ve been waiting for a year for this to happen, and I am, frankly, terrified, that these people who know nothing about me, will decide that I am “cured” of a lifelong disability, and will  cut off my health insurance. I can figure out a way to get by without the money, but I need that insurance; without it, I have no way to pay for medications, doctor visits, etc. And then I am back where I started, with seizures all the time, pain and suffering.  
  19. What am I most grateful for? – It’s a smart way to keep things in perspective, and something you should never lose sight of. Every single day I am grateful to be alive, grateful that I have a family who loves and helps me. 
  20. If I knew I only had one week to live, who would I spend my time with? – Another helpful reminder… Life is short.  Spend more time with the people you care about. I’d tell my family how much I loved them, every day. I’d find a way to get to Albuquerque, and see the friends there that I miss so much. Elissa, Kathy, Karen, and the rest (anybody else hearing the Gilligan’s Island theme song?). 

 

These are my 20 questions, and my answers, such as they are. Someone told me last week that 45 isn’t a landmark birthday. Well, for me it feels like it, especially since I know so many who never made it this far. I miss Michele every single day, and will, for the next 45 years, or until I see her again.

breast cancer · change · finances · home · Jolene · kitty · Michele · moving · Portland · transition

I’m BAA-ACK!

I know, you missed me. Now you can rejoice, because I won’t go away again–I promise! Lots has changed since I last posted, including location, obviously.

The last few months have been a time of many changes in my life, and the changes just keep on coming. (I feel like a David Bowie song…) A psychologist I spoke  with ( I’m seeing a psychologist. Big surprise there.) said that I’m in a “time of transition.”

Transition. Oh, yeah. BIG TIME.

In March, about two weeks before my 44th birthday, I left the relationship I’d been in since 2009, and moved from Vancouver back to Portland. It was a very difficult thing to do, but one that had been a long time coming. Making that decision set me free, in many ways; don’t misunderstand me, I wasn’t being help prisoner or anything, but emotionally, I felt trapped. And financially, there was no way out. So I’m back in my parents house, where my money is mine, and I have my freedom while I’m waiting for my disability appeal hearing. That part of my life is up in the air: I don’t know how long it’ll be until the hearing, or what they’ll decide. So my life is definitely in transition.

The largest change was also the worst, and has knocked me off my feet, broken my heart. On April 12, my best friend, Michele Miller Mahmood, died. The breast cancer she’d been fighting took her, and the world lost one of the best people ever created.  I’ll write more about this later, because Shel deserves an entire post, and entire blog, all her own.

I’m struggling to find my way in this new world, to transition into a life where I am on my own. I’ve always treasured my family, but suddenly, they seem so much more precious. My sister, Jolene, is going through her own transitions, yet has given her time to help me when ever I need her. She’s wonderful, and I am so thankful for her.

People keep asking what I’m going to do now. That’s the million dollar question, folks! Let’s figure it out together, shall we?

change · eating · exercise · fat · food · goals · happy · resolve · skinny · weight

The Incredible Shrinking Jonna

Food & eating is a strange thing for me. While I don’t actually eat large amounts of anything, I do have a tendency to snack on things like potato chips. Easy enough to fix–if I don’t have it in the house, I can’t & won’t eat it. Same with my major weakness– Pepsi. I’m a junkie: I can’t have just one, and if it’s in the house, I’ll guzzle it until it’s gone. But if I’m not around it, I’m okay. So I don’t buy it.

I’m the wrong person to take to those “all-you-can-eat” type restaurants, because, I am not a big eater, and I never eat enough to justify the price. Everyone else is going back for thirds & fourths, and I’m sitting there, waiting to leave, drinking my sixth glass of Pepsi.

At regular places, I’m fine, because while I’m somewhat picky, I also like to try new things. And because my eyes are bigger than my stomach, I always have a doggie bag to take home!

My boyfriend, Steven, asks me at least once a day “Did you eat anything today?” because he knows I get involved in what I’m doing, and forget, until suddenly it’s five-thirty in the afternoon, and all I’ve had all day was that cup of coffee at nine. No wonder my head aches!

You’d think that someone who seldom eats, or eats very little would be a tiny little thing, wouldn’t you? Well, you’d be wrong. I’ve been struggling with my weight since I was nine-years-old! When I had my tonsils out at age 13, I lost about 20 pounds, because I refused to eat for 2 weeks (I was scared it would hurt to swallow.), but that didn’t last. Again, at age 35, I lost quite a bit of weight as a side-effect of an anti-seizure medication I was taking. The pounds just fell off, and I felt great–while it lasted, which was for about 19 months. And then it all came back, with friends, after changing meds. Of course, now I know that my body chemistry, my thyroid & pancreas, and a whole bunch of other things are all messed up, and have been since I was about nine, which is part of the reason I’m fat. But a bigger part, I know, is that I don’t eat well, and I seldom, if never exercise.

Yes, I admit it. While my internal chemistry may have triggered the weight gain, I’m responsible for it staying. (Never thought I’d actually say that out loud. And I didn’t– I typed it. You can’t prove this is even me…)

Yeah, yeah, I know, you’ve heard all this before. Fat girl gonna change, Yadda yadda yadda.. Since last September, when I first posted, I’ve actually lost weight, in spite of myself. In spite of doing very few of this things I said I would do, for various reasons. Seems as if whenever I make & declare plans, the Universe says “Oh, no, you don’t!” and throws up a roadblock. Well, look out, Universe, I just got a GPS that’ll get my by whatever you got! In September, I was weighing in at about 206 pounds, on a good day. (Another thing I never thought I’d tell the entire world.) Today, the scale says 188. I’m pretty damn happy, considering that I’ve not been able to get to the treadmill since before Christmas!

Still on a body that’s only 5’2″, with small bones, 188 is a lot of weight. So I am determined to make sure those numbers continue to go down! The picture above was taken in August 2010, and is my official “Before” shot. Look for pictures of the incredible shrinking Jonna coming soon!