11/10/12 G.L.A.D. Chronicles Week 6 – Changes, Life, “Cemetery Junction”, EastEnders


Life has hurtled so many spit balls at me the past few weeks, I’ve not had time to chronicle it. October and November are a busy time of year at my job. UNDERSTATEMENT! Part of this is due to my complete inability to parcel out work effectively in one particular area during the rest of the year. Hence, I work harder than a one-armed paper-hanger in October and November. The adrenaline rush is apparently worth it, as I do it over and over… Fortunately, I love my job and my coworkers. Can’t imagine going bonkers for people and work I didn’t like so much!

Hey, regardless of who you voted for, the election is over. No more mud-slinging, hair-pulling, name-calling (and that was just in my neighborhood!) and NO MORE POLITICAL ADS! T.V. advertisements are back to all of those pharmaceuticals that show in the small print side effects way worse than the disease or disorder they’re treating. I think the Viagra ad says (tongue in cheek) taking this product may make your wee fall off, but hey, it’ll be alert and at attention when it happens.

Evil, cunning empty carbs getting past my sensible mouth thwarted my attempts to lose weight, dancing with my taste buds and taking up residence on my hips and stomach. Okay, time out, here’s a pet peeve of mine. When women my age (I’m fifty-three) who are a few thousand pounds overweight, like me, call their stomach: ‘tummy’. Tummy? I had a ‘tummy’ for a few short months in 2005, after some serious work at Weight Watchers. That thing stopped being a ‘tummy’ when we couldn’t  wear pants with fitted waists anymore and elastic waist bands became our closest friend.

I had the pleasant surprise of hearing from someone this week I’ve not talked to in a long time. It’s been enjoyable to hear about the changes in her life and hear she’s doing well. I’m an endless wonderer, when it come to old friends I’ve lost touch with: wondering how they’re doing, if they ever think of me, did they win the lottery and want to share the love with me? (kidding!) (I don’t wonder if they think of me!!)

One fun thing this squirrel learned how to do these past few weeks is to watch movie via Netflix in a mid-sized screen on this computer while I worked with my data entry on another mid-sized screen. A brilliant Ricky Gervais film I watched is “Cemetery Junction“. Favorite scene had to be toward the end as Led Zeppelin’s “The Rain Song” soared in the background, the very satisfying ending playing out. If you like great British films, I highly recommend this instant streamer.

OH! Another absolutely thrilling discovery for me: finding out I can see current episodes of my beloved British show “EastEnders” on YouTube. Back in the day when dinosaurs trolled the Earth and I watched EE on P.B.S., our episodes were two years behind the current show. Imagine my state of gobsmacked delight to see that I can watch TODAY’s episode (if it’s Monday, Tuesday, Thursday or Friday) on YouTube. Oh YouTube, how I love you! 

Through it all, I’ve been praying/talking with God about my ever-changing thoughts and interests. Like it or not, I seem able to dedicate about a year to any one thing I decide to volunteer at or do. After that, my mind craves a new stimulant. The past few years, I’ve gone through a phase of mystery shopping, volunteering at an animal shelter, visiting with the elderly, and writing poetry/short stories (which I still like, but my writing muse is on hiatus). We’re about to explore volunteering with Matthew 25 Ministries. They do a tremendous amount of good work throughout this country and internationally. Please check them out for yourself!  

http://www.m25m.org/

Touching on the D of G.L.A.D., decluttering is a bust at the moment. My living room is a “Sanford and Son”-dream of tombstones and Halloween decorations from the front yard. I am SURE my son Kevin will put them away TODAY, if he hopes to live until TOMORROW! 

D – Depression… my depression’s in an okay place. With the holidays approaching, I’d do well to increase exercise and getting out in the fresh air. Keeps the black hole sleeping peacefully and not knocking at my emotional door.

I made Texas-style chili last week. This week I may go for Inside Out Ravioli, if I can find my old recipe. It’s so good and fairly healthy!

Peace 🙂  

10/21/12 G.L.A.D. Chronicles – Week 3 Perception, For A Person With Depression


I’m afraid a cheerful post isn’t in the cards for this week. I can’t write fiction. Life this week has felt like Rod Serling came back from the grave and used me for an episode of “Twilight Zone“. Things started out normally. I made use of my new inhaler and cheerfully walked a bit, ate sensibly, got to bed at a decent time and felt pretty darn good.

Circumstances took an invisible dip on Wednesday. A coworker decided to retire and a retirement luncheon went on at work that day. The Chief paid a visit for the luncheon and I exchanged a few pleasant words with him. After a time, being around humans was starting to get to me, and I went back to my office to make a cup of coffee and get back to work. If this were a movie set, you would have seen a villanous fog start to seep in under the door. My mood started to plummet and I couldn’t do much besides sit back and watch it. I wondered if the Chief were going to talk to my Captain and tell him to fire me. I wondered if the higher-ups were putting their heads together and deciding what to do with a complete incompetent like me. I wondered all kind of no-ending-but-bad things. Before too long, I thought about going in and giving my notice. Thankfully, common sense managed to keep me in my office, but the week went nowhere but downhill from there.

I write this to let you view a tiny part of what goes on in a person’s mind who has depression. I don’t always know WHY an episode starts. All I can tell you is that within a few days, I wasn’t sure what the merits of being alive were. It’s not that I felt like ending my life. It’s that I couldn’t come up with a convincing argument that life is worth all the hassle sometimes. Life is HARD. It would be so easy to not go to work everyday, to not pay my bills and let someone else pick up the tab. I began to wonder why it’s so important to me to do the right thing. Living right is EXHAUSTING. Or so it felt this week. The merits of life and death got a little mixed up for me. Life is hard, death is heaven and being with God. I don’t necessarily want to go there today, but I very much look forward to being with my Heavenly Father, Jesus, and all of my loved ones who are already there… someday.

I don’t know what’s wrong, but I’m losing my temper a lot lately, yelling like a rabid politician who’s seeing their poll numbers drop. And I don’t approve that message of how to conduct myself. Growing up with a dad who yelled more than he didn’t, I know he loved me, but man, could the guy make me shiver in my shoes when he was on a roll. I swore I’d never be that person. How I hate it when I am.

I didn’t go to church today. My still-twisted thinking decided I’d have to miss about three months of Sundays before anyone would notice, and I went back to bed. I’d show them. I don’t know if anyone noticed or not, but I felt like a jackininny when I started to put two and two together and realize what a load of bunk I’ve been falling for the past few days. I did what any sensible person does who’s having a mental and spiritual crisis. I went on Facebook and asked my friends for prayer. All I know is that I felt an immediate need for divine help and in 2012, Facebook is quicker than telephoning a dozen people.

I can’t say that I’m feeling la-di-dah wonderful now, but the pros and cons of death look a lot clearer and I feel the divine strength and ability to go a few more rounds with this thing called ‘life’. Oh, and I’m pleased to report that I’m making great progress on the decluttering project in my Sanity Room. I’ve cleared the way enough to get back to having coffee with God in the mornings. My wonderful minister, Ryan, lent me a Bible called the Serendipity Bible. I’ve got it ready for the morning and will get my backside to bed on time tonight, come hell or high water, so that I can get up and start the day with my Creator… and Folger’s in my cup!

 

10/13/12 G.L.A.D. Chronicles, Week Two… and Soup In The Crock Pot!


Isn’t it a gorgeous day? The leaves are changing, fragrant coffee perks, the weather is decidedly sunny, crisp and warm. Just breathe it in for a second, take a mental snapshot for when the climate is colder and feeling less friendly!  

In my G.L.A.D. corner, it’s been a week of revelations and realizations. Still dealing with medical tests, I had a Holter heart monitor attached to my chest for forty-eight hours. If that wasn’t fun enough, add a Pulmonary Function Test on Monday and I was beginning to feel like the display model at a medical convention! The heart monitor revealed that I have abnormalities, but not enough to call for medication at this time. The PFT, which makes you feel a bit like the Big Bad Wolf trying to blow down the Three Little Pigs houses with all the huffing and puffing required, indicated that I have asthma and will benefit from an albuterol inhaler. I used an inhaler years ago when I was an avant outdoor exerciser, enjoying over one-hundred pounds less on my body. Sorry, just had a rosy memory of when I could walk a twelve-minute mile. I enjoyed the time at the pulmonary office, as I learned loads about asthma, breathing, and how to make my life easier. I have been so convinced that all of my problems are because I’m overweight (I’m sure a number of them are), to hear that the breathing issue is not related to my weight gave me a certain mental freedom. It’s as if… now I can get on with the life I’ve been trying to pursue this year. Exercise outdoors doesn’t have to be horror to avoid anymore.

Watch out walking trails, here I come!

I mentioned a discovery last week. I’ve finally been able to stop dousing myself with hateful, negative self-talk. This week I’ve pondered all the times I tried praying about it, asking God to help me stop loathing myself, but the negativity continued. What changed things was the time spent waiting for these tests to happen and the results. At the time, I did not know they’d come back with such positive results. I asked myself, “What if you’re dying, or have a bad disease to deal with; how do you want to spend your time?” and that’s when I finally became able to see what a total time waster self-loathing is. I started living each day as if it could truly be one of my last. I found out that I liked a lot of how I spent my time. The one thing that blared out was the self-negativity. The first time it started, I stopped, and said, “Really, this is how you want to talk to yourself? This is how you want to go out?” and I saw the absolute insanity of what I’d been doing.

Here’s the funny part of this story. As I said,  asking God never seemed to help. Last night, I was having that thought and a quiet voice inside of me said, “Who do you think set up those circumstances?” D’OH! God was there all the time, right in the middle of it. Who would know better than Him how hardheaded and resistant I am to change? Talk about a humbling moment. Once again, I have reason to thank God for His grace and knowing just the right way to reach me, when that seemed all but impossible.

************************

One thing I want to do more of is home cooking. I love using my crock pot. There’s something so nice about coming home from work and smelling wonderful things bubbling away in the pot. I’ve acknowledged that I don’t care for cooking in the evening. For whatever reason, it doesn’t bother me at all to do the meal prep in the morning before I leave for my day job. So, work with your strengths. I asked friends this week what type of recipes they like to see. A few responded ‘meatless’. I might add that the few meatless ladies are slim, very pretty and have beautiful skin. I think that’s something all of us could enjoy a little more of, so I shall be happy to pop a meatless recipe in here and hope that some of their wonderful ways rub off on me!

One of my favorite cookbooks is “Fix -It and Forget-It Lightly” by Phyllis Pellman Good. I’ve used many of the recipes in this book. The one I’m showing here is new for me, so I invite any of you who might be interested, go to the grocery, get the ingredients and try it along with me. Please come back and tell me what you think of it. In future weeks, I’ll use a variety of meats and meatless recipes, maybe even a few for desserts. (Life is short, don’t forget dessert!) Feel free to say what type of recipes you’d like to see. I’d love for us all to get healthier together. Wow, I just looked at Amazon, you can get a used copy of this cookbook as cheaply as one shiny penny! Plus $3.99 shipping. That’s considerably less than I paid, but mine was bought at a school fundraiser a few years ago.

Oh, a D update: the Depression has definitely been snoozing contentedly this week, I’ve been continuing to Declutter my sanity room (where I pray, meditate, write, etc.) I had an extraordinary gift while decluttering. coming across two cards from my mom, who passed away in 2004. Seeing those cards made my insides light up like a lighthouse beacon and I hugged them to myself for a few minutes. Another precious discovery was a packet of letters from my niece Kelly, who died unexpectedly at the age of fourteen in 1986. I read the last letter from her, written a few months before her death, and a torrential downpour of tears ensued. It’s okay though. It feels like I have this lovely connection to Kelly that I’ll treat myself to, one letter at a time, every so often. Those two things alone have made the whole decluttering project worth it! Mind you, the cleared out space and fresh start are lovely too.

Now for that recipe…. White Bean and Barley Soup.

10/06/12 G.L.A.D. Chronicles – Week One


This blog is an egg of an idea still very much in the nest. Thoughts can come a plenty, but some, on further examination, seem as appealing as yesterday’s dishwater… cold, with the bubbles burst flat. 2012 is shaping up as the year that will either knock me out in the eleventh hour or see me become a dogged woman pursuing a seemingly out-of-reach goal. I vote for the second choice!

What does G.L.A.D. have to do with it?

The letters stand for what I hold dear (God’s grace), something I take way too for granted (Life), a few ghosts (Activity of the physical variety would be my ghost from the past. Activity of being a light to others is my Casper from the recent present. Spending time with God in prayer, contemplation, more listening, and less moaning like a rattling old ghost myself.) and some daunting D words (Depression, Dietary choices, Decluttering). I think those three are pretty tangled together in my case.

For a female who’s read enough books about health and diet to stock a small-town library, why am I still so overweight? Knowledge alone isn’t getting me thin. I believe that I’ve had depression to some degree most of my life. As a teenager, I’d have episodes of feeling “The Black Hole” crowding in on me. I knew when that happened, I wasn’t fit to hang out with humans. It would last a few weeks and then move on. Life would feel normal again. I never really knew what brought it on, but I could surely feel it coming. I discovered aerobics in my late teens and noticed when I did them… well, I discovered a few things. My first real experience with aerobics was with a Richard Simmons album (yes, that’s right, one of those shiny black discs that played at 33 rpm) titled “Reach”. The problem with doing a workout to a vocal prompt with no visual guidance is that I put my back out shortly afterwards. I don’t think the goal of using his record was to end up walking like Quasimodo!

Anyway, making myself breathe hard, break a sweat and choose foods that didn’t come in plastic wrappers seemed to keep Black Hole away and my clothes would magically fit. When I had too many dates with ice cream from U.D.F. (United Dairy Farmers to those of you not from Cincinnati) and Twinkie boy, my clothes would mysteriously shrink and that ‘Rebel With A Cause’ Black Hole would come knocking. I don’t know if I associated these things back then. I just knew I looked sassy in my faded jeans and size ‘Small’ British band t-shirts. 

I suppose these chronicles will be about pursuing the G.L.A.D. and leaving the G.A.S. behind….

G-Gritting my teeth at the thought of ever

A-Accepting

S-Sue as a human with any redeeming value whatsoever 

I had such a surprise breakthrough this week. This involves backing up a bit and giving you some background.

Oh, how the years go by….

September 25th was my 30th wedding anniversary, a momentous milestone these days. My husband Craig and I celebrated by going to a retirement party for a friend of Craig’s, being held at Great American Ball Park during the Reds game. Before I loved squirrels, I adored piggies. Imagine my delight, seeing a few of my porcine friends at the ballpark.

Why do I want to sing “Macho Man” and “Y.M.C.A.” when I look at this construction worker pig?

What a jolly piggie!

Everything went pretty well until time came to head back to the car. Overweight and out of shape, long walks and stairs are things I tend to avoid. Hence why I’m overweight and out of shape. On this evening, I didn’t have a choice. It was h-u-m-i-l-i-a-t-i-n-g. When you’re sweating so hard and panting loud enough to cause a slew of calls to 911 because people hear a pervert following them, it’s scary. Climbing the stairs in the parking garage, I had conflicting thoughts blaring through my brain. The first wondered why it smelled like a mens urinal at the bus station. Did these people never hear of regular deodorizing and sanitation practices? The second image centered around my chest which felt ready to explode. I wondered if this was what a heart attack felt like and questioned if not, how could it possibly hurt worse? The third was a passionate prayer that God didn’t let me die right there in that urinal needing sanitation. What’s gross is when you’re sucking air that hard, you REALLY get the stench of urine in your nostrils.

For a few weeks, my heart has acted oddly, sounding like an out-of-tune-Mayberry band, with the odd, but regular, heavy heartbeat. Breathing during any exertion has become increasingly labored. It causes me such embarrassment that I try to hold my breath when anyone walks past within earshot. Heaven help me if they linger longer than twenty seconds. If that happens, I pretend I’m thinking about Robert Downey, Jr. in “Iron Man“. I wonder if I might experience simultaneous combustion if I were ever to walk on a treadmill and watch “The Avengers” at the same time? Oi, now there’s something to think about.

Back to the story, this has all vexed me enough to call my doctor and ask for an inhaler. He wanted me to have a stress test and a pulmonary function test, to see if there’s anything to worry about. The stress test has come back normal, for which I profoundly thank God. The P.F.T. will take place Monday. I sincerely hope I’m simply an old gray mare who’s ‘just’ obese and out of shape. If this is the case, a box of Clairol, diligent exercise and mindful eating can improve my symptoms dramatically. I think I’ve danced with denial long enough. That’s a mental exertion all its own.

On October 1st, I weighed in at 252 pounds, measured a 48″ waist, and I currently have an energy level of minus ten. Transparency must be my middle name. I don’t have the wherewithal to skirt the truth. The waist is the only measurement I hold interest in, as the number is one of the indicators for heart health. I’ve apologized to my heart for treating it like crap and I’m trying to make amends.

Oh, the breakthrough, I nearly forgot to write about it. Note to self: add Distractible to my D words. As I worked on something at my day job this week, my perpetual negative self talk kicked in and started to drone on about what a nincompoop I was. From somewhere inside me, courage hopped up and I said out loud, “I am NOT worthless and I’m NOT a loser. Period.” What the heck? In all my fifty-three years walking this Earth, I’ve never had the natural response of thinking I’m somebody and refuting that negative b.s.

Please hang out and take a walk with me.

09/14/12 Depression Sucks, But It Doesn’t Have To Be The End


Cat, with its mouth open

Cat, with its mouth open (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hello everyone. The summer brought a lawn that I nicknamed Tumbleweed Connection and a drought in my blog. My writing vibe was dry and dead. Inspiration seemed as elusive as fitting into size 12 jeans… just not happening!

I wondered what it would feel like if I were to write a meaninful blog sharing insights into a life pursuing a relationship with God and then I realized I don’t even know what that looks like. Who can define such a relationship? Isn’t it rather relative, a matter of perspective? For some, it could be the ‘twice-a-year-letting-your-backside-hit-a-church-pew’ (Christmas and Easter). For others, it’s prayer 24/7. For a few, it’s talking to God throughout the day about all matters great and small.

I fall into the third category. It doesn’t make my way any better or worse than the rest of the world. It just makes it my way.

What if I measure it by how happy I am? I don’t think that would work either. I’ve had the summer from hell. A very bad bout of depression that isn’t quite over yet. Something about a dark night of the soul comes to mind.

Depression is so hard to explain to a person who’s never had it. It’s having every blessing you could ever hope for, yet you still feel on the verge of tears and ready to walk away from everything, crawl into a cave and hope there’s a landslide, so that the opening to said cave would be covered up and you could hide endlessly from humanity.

It’s looking in the mirror and wondering about God’s sense of humor in making a mutt like you, while looking at others and feeling sure they have all the answers. You’re the only one who could possibly be this stupid. You trudge along and try to get through the episode. Part of you wouldn’t care if you didn’t.

Then something happens, it can be miniscule or gargantuan, the happening is different everytime. Maybe it’s hearing a dear friend is really sick or an acquaintance has lost a longtime job and may lose their house. Or maybe it’s when you’re delivering the newspaper with your son and you make the acquaintance of a cat, an adorable feline who wants… DEMANDS your attention… you give her fifteen minutes of cuddles and then when you try to leave, she proceeds to put her teeth in your leg. For whatever reason, this doesn’t even phase you. You patiently have a conversation with this feline, explaining that this behavior isn’t cool, that if you’re going to hang out together, she must keep her teeth in her mouth and not on your leg… and you guess you’ll just have to come back next week and give her some etiquette lessons. The whole time, she sits there gazing at you like she’s actually listening! You walk away feeling a little bit lighter and smiling, not really sure why, but life seems a little better, suddenly.

In that moment, I talk to God; laughing about the absurdity of speaking to a cat as if it understands me, wondering how many people saw this daffy woman …. being who she is… and suddenly life doesn’t seem so bad.

I bet the prayers of friends might have had something to do with it. Maybe God knows better than anyone what the best way is to reach your hurting heart. It might be crazy as heck to everyone else, but it works for you. 

Maybe you can pass the blessing on and pray for someone else having a bad day/month/year/life. Maybe, just for today, the depression doesn’t win, God seems a little closer and you have a smidgen of insight into why you’re here.

To straighten out cats with wayward teeth!

Abundant blessings to you. 🙂

1/15/12 Depression, Bipolar, and How I Manage My Mental Melees


English: Melancholy

Image via Wikipedia

Hello all on a beautiful sunny Sunday. I’ve got the back curtain open, looking at the bare, naked trees. So much brown in the winter. The only green is on my face when I think of people in warmer climates. 🙂 Alas, I am here and there’s always hot coffee to warm a soul up.

I’ve been indulging my passion for poetry lately, having discovered a website for working poets and putting my sweat equity into words there lately. Poetry is an interesting thing, if you’re drawn to it. It demands total focus, absolute quiet to go into that Deep Down Well where your true thoughts reside. I’ve posted four pieces so far, and the one that is by far gaining the most attention, comment, discussion, and suggestion that I may be bipolar is a work titled “Asylum For Conflicted Thoughts.” It is a completely true inner conversation I experienced a few months ago at the height of a particularly nasty depressive episode. It’s apparently a bit chilling for non depressed people to read. People with mental issues hugged it to them like I had written a personal anthem just for them, giving voice to their struggles and their hopes.

I don’t believe I am bipolar, as I’ve asked a psychiatrist during a meds check. For you blessedly unmedicated individuals, a meds check is when you go to talk to the doctor and discuss how you’re doing, to see if you need to adjust your dosage, increase it, or just say the heck with it and look for the nearest bridge. Kidding on that last one! I asked her WHAT I was, as I don’t really know. I know I have depression, anxiety sometimes, menopause all the time, excess weight which is either aggravated by the other three or the other three are aggravated by the excess weight. The jury still debates about that one.

She said I am clearly distractible (well, DUHHH!) and yes, depressive, but she did not see bipolar.

Meanwhile, a Christian counselor I saw a few years ago said that, yes, she saw ‘a touch of bipolar’ in me. To which I question, how can you be a bit of something? If you take a pregnancy test and it indicates “young lady, you are indeed a bit pregnant” what do you do with that? Decorate the nursery, or hope the bit goes away and get on with your daily life?

I’m not sure why I’m talking about this today. I suspect because after countless people commented on how accurately I could describe bipolar, I wasn’t sure whether to feel proud that I could paint the scene so well, or go into a panic about a possible new problem to add to my laundry list, or maybe just read each person’s opinion, ponder it a bit, and get on with my day?

The jury will have to debate that one as well.

To fully include you in this debate, I shall include a link for the aforementioned poem. The interesting thing I noticed is that after I physically got the poem down on paper, the harsh inner critic, as I call it, went away and I haven’t heard from it since then. I have no idea what to make of that. Here is the link:

http://www.fanstory.com/displaystory.jsp?id=487569

I should warn you that with each piece we publish, we choose a picture to enhance the words. The picture may seem a bit stark. I just received notification that the piece reached All Time Best status. That’s where we poets get to puff up with happiness for a bit!

I do love to write: poetry, this blog, letters, rhymes, jingles, greeting cards. I suspect part of it is because I can control the words that fly out of me fractionally better. Part of it is probably approval seeking on my part. The funny/not funny thing about that is: as I seek approval, I am terrified of rejection. What draws my curiosity about this is, why does approval or rejection from people I don’t sleep with and/or who don’t pay my bills, why does that possibly matter?

I don’t know.

12/14/11 Christmastime Hues


Some love this time of year
Anticipate it with golden joy
Be it pretty lights, family and friends
Or the birth of God’s little boy.

Others views aren’t quite so rosy
It’s the hardest time of year
No Hallmark family Christmas for them
Blue Christmas, not a whiff of cheer.

Then there are the ones, they feel some of both
Make it their quest to bring hope and love
Melancholy gray tries to swallow them up
They cling to God their Father above.

They miss the loved ones no longer here
Times from the past, now just a memory
Traditions, laughter, feeling connected
Waiting… to see what this Christmas will be.