Posted in adventure, Dreams, Life, Musings, random

Launched into Gratitude

grateful

I have been awake for literally five minutes, so lets hope this is coherent, but, HOLY SHIT- I just had a whopper of a dream, and woke up so freaking grateful for my life. First of all, this was just a variation of a recurrent dream/nightmare I have at least twice a month, if not more. It’s always pretty much the same- I have either quit my job already or am in the process of quitting it, and at a certain point I realize what a mistake I’ve made and beg for them to take me back.

This one was no different, except that my boss has told me that, since this is the second time I’ve told her I quit, there is no way that I can come back, but she’ll allow me to finish up some of the things I am working on. While I am there, two different people whom I haven’t seen in years remind me that I owe them rather large sums of money, and I am distressed that they never brought it up until now- I could have easily paid them while I was working, but now I don’t know how that’s going to work.

Somewhere in there, I also got another job- it pays almost nothing, and guess what I get to do? I get to review porn and write edits for it! Hahaha! In my dream, I am obviously disappointed in my life choices, but trying to make the best of it…I believe I commented something to my co-worker (who is an ex of mine that I haven’t seen in years, and also one of the people who reminded me that I owed him money) along the lines of “I didn’t even know this was a job!” As if I were lucky, but really, my heart was sinking.  I got in my car to go somewhere, and the check engine light came on. Great! No money for that, either.

The dream just grew more and more stressful in that manner until I went to my boss and begged for my job back. She said no twice, then said “Okay, fine” in a way that made me think she was never going to tell me no in the first place, but that she was just trying to scare me. It WORKED. I was so relieved, oh my God!

Here’s the deal- I get bored a LOT with my job. I’ve been doing it for a long time, and I’m always wondering if there is something else I should be doing, something more fun and more meaningful. But these dreams are stark reminders of what it would really be like if I didn’t have this work to do- what my life would really be like without this paycheck rolling in. I’m spoiled rotten, and I forget to be grateful.

I woke up grateful as hell this morning. Big shout out to my subconscious mind for giving me the kick in the ass I need to see reality. I am blessed beyond belief. I can’t wait to go to work today!

Also, there was a giant bus crash full of school children from Malawi, but they all escaped unharmed. I thought I should add that in there in case it actually comes true. I didn’t even know Malawi was a place, except I must have, because I dreamed about it. And no, the TV was not on. I’m just weird, I guess.

Posted in anxiety, Depression, health, inner peace, Life, Mental Health

Hard Work

Just the quickest of check-ins here, to prove that I am still alive and part of this blogging community. Life has been busy as all get out lately, and when I have had time to sit here to write something, I just have been coming up empty handed. My brain has been so awash with busy thoughts even when I am sitting still…thoughts about what is going on at work (and I NEVER think about work when I’m not working!) and what I need to do next, and next, and next.

My littlest girl starts back to school today, so it’s almost time to go wake her up and get back to the old routine. Part of me is relieved to be back on a normal schedule, part of me remembers it’s a lot of work, mothering a child in school. But the new school year is always one of my favorite fresh starts, and if you follow my blog, you must know by now how much I love clean slates and fresh starts. I am always up for the challenge of doing better than I did before. It’s what keeps me interested in life- challenging myself, and hopefully, teaching my kiddo to love a good challenge.

Work has been insane. We are implementing a new hospital-wide computer system, and we “went live” on August first, which is why we weren’t allowed any paid leave over the summer-training and all that- and now we are just working out the kinks, trying to figure out the best way to do everything. As is my nature, and loving new things the way I do, I have taken right to it. I haven’t had any problems at all, apart from the fact that I’ve had to work in an office every day rather than at home. That has been tough. I don’t do well tied to a desk in a windowless room with ten or so other people for eight hours straight. My boss commented that I worked better at this new thing than I’ve worked at the old stuff, and that she was surprised by how quiet I’ve been. Well, part of that is thanks to my ADHD- I have a new puzzle in front of me to work out, so my brain is fully engaged. But part of it is due to the fact that sitting still, trying to conform and behave is basically poisoning my soul, so…by hour five, I’m pretty miserable. She said I grew more and more pale as the day wore on. I told her it was because my spirit was dying. LOL. Thank God she loves me.

But the best thing I have to report is that I have been actively combating my creeping depression with tons of exercise (even when I really, really don’t want to), vitamins, and healthier eating, and it is WORKING. I’m not sure what is helping the most, and I don’t want to mess with it, so I’m just going to keep going. My anxiety is nearly gone, and the anxiety is what triggers the depression I’m pretty sure, so the depression has lifted, too. I haven’t eaten fast food not even once, nor have I indulged in Starbucks. I have really, really been giving it a solid go, and the results were nearly instant, and so obvious. I guess I just have to continue on this path if I want to feel good. Which, honestly, is a little bit daunting- it’s so much freaking work just for me to feel okay. But feeling okay is such a relief. Not worrying constantly about things that aren’t even logical is such a relief. So if I have to keep at it, I will. It’s so worth it.

So there you have it! I will try to check in again soon, but just know that things are looking up for me, and I hope they are looking up for you, too!

Posted in Blogging, fun, humor, Life, Musings, People, random

Work (yuck).

work

I had a funny thought yesterday- I was thinking, as I often have, about how bizarre it is that people spend most of their waking hours away from their families, working at jobs where they are basically forced to conform to weird rules (did anyone ever really die because someone was one minute late to work? No? Then WHY is it such a horrible big deal?) and bite their tongues when their “superior” acts like an asshat- I’m lucky that I happen to adore my boss, but I have had plenty of jobs where I was forced to nearly swallow my tongue in order to keep from losing my ever loving shit. Anyway, no matter how you crack it, I think our entire society is set up wrong, but… that being said, my dreams of travelling the country like a vagabond, with not a care in the world, well…basically ALL of my daydreams involve me not having to work. While also being independently wealthy. Which is why, of course, they are just daydreams. Yes, people wander off and live their dreams all the freaking time- of course they do! But they still have to plan, and save, and figure stuff out. And they also have to live with the repercussions, such as possibly having no health insurance, running out of resources, or realizing that they are really, really bad at being stuck in a small RV with a fourth grader. I mean, I’m sure at least a couple of people have come to this realization a few months too late to take it back.

My point is, unless we hit the powerball or invent something amazing or are born into big money, and maybe even then, work is part of life. Where in the world did I get the idea that I shouldn’t have to work? I don’t know. I am guessing it grew from the depths of my lazy nature, and morphed into some kind of belief that I was being screwed by “the system”. My brain is tricky like that.  It was just funny, because in all of the years I have bitched, internally (and sometimes externally, too) about how unfair/weird/terrible/cruel it is that I am “forced” to work, it never occurred to me until yesterday that perhaps my thinking was flawed.

Sure, I could be doing something different- something I love more, something that feeds my spirit. I have choices. But I have it pretty good, honestly. I love the people I work with, and the hospital I work for, and four days a week I can actually sit right here, in my pajamas, and work from the comfort of my own home. If I wanted to change all of that, I totally could- but that would also be work. I’d need to go to school (which I still will probably do) and give up time with my daughter, and jump through a whole lot of different hoops to get somewhere new. No one is forcing me to stay here, and no one can force me to change. So to complain, when the choice is really mine, is just plain silly. Part of life is work. There will always be a job to do.

Yet another lesson I am learning a little late in the game. Yet more evidence that my thought process can be very skewed, indeed. Sigh. What in the world am I going to do with myself?

Posted in Addiction, faith, inner peace, Life, Musings, People, random, recovery

Strength

strength

I have always thought of myself as someone who is strong- not physically strong, although I’m no slouch in that area, either (being a single mother for most of your life will help you develop muscles, trust me) but resilient, tough, capable, able to lift myself out of difficult times and situations.

Yeah, but… I’m just sitting here this morning thinking- if I created all of the difficult times and situations in my life, does that really count as being strong? I mean sure, I eventually got myself out of them, time after time after time, but…what does that say about my character, that I created so much drama and strife and upheaval? Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of myself for never giving up, for always trying to fix whatever I had broken. And I realize that I had issues that had issues, that with all the shit I was hauling around inside of me, there was no way I could have been any other way than I was until I got help. Still…

I view strength very differently now. It is no longer necessary for me to aggressively assert my “strength” by acting out or being demanding or dominating the conversation (although I do still get carried away when I am talking sometimes). I have kids, so I still raise my voice a little more often than I would like, but I don’t feel the need to when I am speaking to another adult. As a matter of fact, when my temper gets away from me these days, I feel the opposite of strong- it makes me feel diminished and weak. Funny how we change over time, isn’t it?

You know what I see as my strengths now? My ability to keep showing up, even when I am so tired of it all that I want to throw the towel in. Strength is knowing that I am just having a moment, and it’s going to pass.  Strength is taking a deep breath or five before I speak, because I know I am too angry to be reasonable. My greatest strength lies in my consistency, and I am reaping the rewards every day because my life, finally, is not an uphill battle. The decisions I make now are generally made more with the future in mind, rather than for instant gratification. And because I have made a lot more good choices lately than poor ones, I have the added and unexpected bonus of being able to trust myself. I can’t think of anything more bad-ass than feeling confident in your own capabilities. It feels really, really good.

Two years and 341 days ago, I was a very different person. I knew I was a mess, but thankfully I didn’t know how much of a mess I was. It would have been overwhelming, and I don’t think I would have been willing to face all of it. But in a perfectly timed fashion, each new layer of bullshit was revealed to me just as I was ready to see it. I am not done yet, but I am much, much better off than where I started. The strength to stay in recovery, to keep going even when I really just wanted one fucking little…whatever was available to just make me RELAX already…that has to be the single most important show of strength that I have ever displayed. Without that, none of these other revelations would have even been possible. This entire journey has been fueled by my recovery, and that is the truth.

Three years. Not even three yet, almost three. In almost three years, my life has been completely changed for the better. Do you know how fast three years goes by when you are still getting loaded? In like five minutes, no kidding. So anyway, if you are new to all of this, and you aren’t seeing the results you want, I encourage you to hang on. To really devote yourself to the process of self discovery and healing, and just keep going. The day will come when you are so much more than you ever even dreamed you could be, and it will all have been worth it. Stick around for long enough to see your definition of what strength is be totally, irreversibly changed. It’s a pretty amazing thing.

Posted in escape, family, Goals, inner peace, kids, Learning, Life, Musings, People

Some More Whining From Me. Enjoy.

Stressed man and laptop

I have been dealing with a lot of anxiety, lately (which probably means I should be meditating rather than writing this, but whatever), and I know I have written about this in the past. Unfortunately, I don’t remember what I wrote, so there is a good chance I will be contradicting myself. If so, please forgive me. I am a really wishy washy human being, and my ideals pretty much change with my mood. This isn’t so bad in real time, but when you write a blog, and state certain things as facts, then forget about them and write something totally different later…you look a little silly. I guess I am alright with that. I mean, I’m not really alright with it, but I simply don’t have time to do the research, and make sure all my stories jibe. I’m not a liar, I’m just subject to my own whims.

Anyway, about my anxiety. Yeah, it sucks. I am having a really hard time at work again, and it seems like I can only hold up for a really short period of time these days, before I am back in the realm of lousy productivity. It’s no great mystery why this is- I am painfully, incredibly, horribly bored. I know I have said this before, too. I don’t know why I would expect it to change. The worst part of all is that I love the place I work for, and I love the people I work with, and I make really good money…wait, maybe that is the best part. What I am trying to say is that there are these great things about this job, but the bigger part is always the work, and the work has become intolerable, and how do I possibly go on? How do I possibly leave? What would I do then? I know so many people who just buck up, knuckle down (is that even an expression? I think it is, but it is still very early, and those words make very little sense to me at this point) and do what they need to do, to the very best of their ability.

I am just lousy for that, though.  I am the kind of person who just fucking suffers when faced with a task that holds no interest for me. It feels an awful lot like lying, which I am also intrinsically untalented at. So, like much of the rest of my life, I am just sort of bumbling along, hoping something makes sense, eventually. I know for a fact that I have said before that happiness is a choice- and I really believe that to be true. But sometimes the choices you have to make to really be happy are not readily apparent, or easy choices to make. The thing is, I don’t want to do what I do, but I don’t know what I do want to do. I mean, writing, obviously, but what are the odds that some magazine or weekly periodical is going to come banging on my email, offering me a starring role in a great new column, because they heard…nothing, ever, about me? And when you are the single mother of two beautiful daughters, you just don’t walk away from THEIR security so easily…if it was just me, I wouldn’t give two thoughts about it, but it’s them, and I like them, and want to keep them, so…so, off to work I go, I guess.

You can see the source of my anxiety, right? I believe happiness is a choice, but I am not happy, so I must be making the wrong choices. I am a huge fan of gratitude, and I am grateful…for some things, but not others, and I feel guilty. I crave security, and I have it, but I can’t stand the price of it. And worst of all, I realize how these are just top shelf problems. I have so much, how dare I whine about it? There are so many people, people I know, who are struggling in ways that I haven’t had to in so long…shouldn’t I be ashamed of myself for complaining? I don’t know. There is a lot to puzzle out here, and I will definitely revisit this until I find an answer.

In the meantime, there is just enough time left for me to meditate before I have to leave for work. Sigh.

Posted in Life, Musings, People, random

Happy Monday!

I know, I know- this is not a popular sentiment.

monday

Mondays are the days when we must drag ourselves out of bed at an unreasonable hour, and suit up for jobs that may or may not be sucking the life right out of us. We have to deal with our ungrateful children at ungodly hours, and make them do things THEY don’t want to do, while simultaneously preparing to do things WE don’t want to do. Life is tough.

But what if- and bear with me, here- what if, instead of being all pissy and moany about it, we decided to be grateful. Grateful for our jobs, because we have them, and grateful for our ungrateful children. Because they are healthy and perfectly imperfect, and because, really, who would you be without them? Gratitude for our messy houses and disgusting pets. Gratitude for the hot water in our shower, and the coffee in our cups.

Every day of the week, I begin with the intention of doing my absolute best that day, no matter how I feel. It doesn’t always work out, but I mean for it to. It gives me something to shoot for. It gives me a baseline to come back to, when I feel a bad attitude creeping up on me.

Wherever you are, if you are reading this, you are blessed. You are doing something right. You may not be living the life you imagined, but the life you ARE living is good, and filled with possibility.

So, Happy Monday! Make it a great one.

Posted in escape, Goals, inner peace, Life, People, random, travel, writing

Back to Reality

RealityIt is five thirty in the morning on Thursday, and it is almost time for me to start getting ready for work. My vacation is officially over. The past few days- since Monday, I guess, I haven’t really done anything special, at least not the way most of us would view things. But to me, these hours have been the most important of my vacation. I have gotten to write every single day. I worked on my book, and this is my fourth blog in as many days. You probably have no idea how big of a deal that is to me, so let me just tell you- it is HUGE.

I feel like a real asshole when I complain about my “real” job, because it has allowed me to have the life I dreamed of just a few short years ago, when I was still living in a shitty apartment in Sparks, Nevada, trying to figure out how in the hell I would survive from one paycheck to the next. At that time, all I wanted in the world was to make enough money to stop the fear that was constantly gnawing at me, enough money to put some space between me and those freaking bill collectors so that I could stop having an anxiety attack every time the phone rang. All I wanted back then was that, and to be able to move home. I was so tired of the high desert and the lack of green, so tired of all that open space.

One by one, I crossed each of those things off my “must-have” lists. For the longest time, I was happier than I had ever been just to pay my bills and still be able to fill up my grocery cart with anything I wanted at the store and not have to keep a running tally in my head to avoid embarrassment at the register. Today, my life is good. I live in a place so beautiful that people come from all over the world to visit here. Sure, my house is pretty run down, but I have it at a bargain price (for this area, anyway) and both my daughters have their own rooms. I am a five minute stroll from the beach. I am not rich, by any means- that child I added to the mix, not to mention the dog and the three cats- have sucked up quite a bit of my money…But still. There are women who would love to have the life I have. Shoot, I love to have the life I have!

The funny thing about dreams, though, is that they change. Once you get to where you want to be, if you are anything like me, you immediately start looking for the next level. That is where I find myself today. I will get up in a few minutes, get in the shower, get myself to the job that helped me make all this possible, and I will try to do my best, and to have gratitude for all of my blessings.  I know, though, that this is not how I want my forever, the rest of MY ride, to go.

When I sit down here, at my little tile topped table that my mom loaned me a gazillion years ago, in this little breakfast nook, surrounded by windows and skylights letting in the light of the new day…this is my favorite time, place, and thing in the world. When I pass four hours writing, like I got to the other day, it feels like half an hour. Four hours at my “real” job can sometimes feel like twice as much. I feel so guilty saying this, because I owe my employer so much for giving me the means to a better life, but sometimes it feels like torture. Like eight hours of absolute torture. And that makes me feel really sad.

Still, I am one of the lucky ones. Some people feel exactly as I do, only they don’t know what else they want to do. They don’t have that one thing that makes four hours fly by in the blink of an eye. They haven’t yet uncovered what they are passionate about. They may have the same dreams of buying a big old house and restoring it from top to bottom, of long, unhurried vacations with their kids, of travelling the world, but they have no idea how they will get there. Because I have this thing inside of me, this imagination and these stories and this need to let them out…it’s almost like I have a bridge between me and everything I want. Or, at least, all of the tools and supplies to build that bridge. It is up to me whether or not I will put in the effort to do it. Hmm…I never thought of it like that before.

I am going to go to work now, back to my reality. I am going to have a great attitude, and show my gratitude by being the best employee I can be. But I am going to be back here, right here in this spot, tomorrow and everyday after that, working on that bridge. That, I can promise you.

Have a wonderful day.

Posted in Life

F***ing Girl Scout Cookies

It’s that time of year again…you can’t go anywhere without being accosted by them. Brownies. Girl Scouts. So cute, with their dimples and their little curls, perched behind their fold-out cardboard tables, running up to greet you as you exit Walmart, Safeway, wherever the hell you are. There is NOTHING you can do to avoid them, with their little hopeful eyes beaming up at you.

“Would you like to buy some cookies?” They chirp innocently, full of excitement.

Well of freaking COURSE I do, you little demon! Of course I want to buy all forty seven remaining boxes of your crack-like cookies- I want to take them home and dig little holes beneath my house to hide them away in so that I don’t have to share them with my children. I want to sit in my car and eat as many as I can without throwing up before I go in to greet my family, because I know as soon as their beady little eyes fall on that box, it’s all over. Bye- bye Samoas. See ya later, Tagalongs. It’s been real, Thin Mints.

Not that it matters. Because every single time I step outside my house, there they are- little tiny, sweet and perky, Girl Scouts. The future of female America. I mean, it’s practically un-American NOT to buy a box or twelve. It’s like spitting on the American flag when you dis a Brownie, man. You are effectively crushing the hopes and dreams, maybe destroying the heart, soul and drive of a girl who  dreamed of being PRESIDENT someday. That is, until you came along and ruined EVERYTHING. So just suck it up and pull out your wallet, asshole. This kid wants to spend the night in the San Francisco Zoo, and win an Ipad. (Actual prizes in this area. What happened to the shitty bikes and cheap rewards of my childhood? An IPAD? I want a do-over!)

I promised myself that this year, I would be strong. I would not cave in to the nonsense. I told myself- “Courtney, since joining the gym, you have managed to GAIN six pounds. You watch “Cupcake Wars” on the treadmill. Your relationship with food is not healthy enough to deal with Girl Scout cookies. Just say NO.”

Hmm. This didn’t work for the war on drugs, and it never worked on me, either. My boss, who has a beautiful and awesome little girl who also happens to be a Brownie, approached my desk. I steeled myself for the sales pitch, throwing my shoulders back, setting my jaw resolutely. The conversation went something like this:

“So, we’re selling Girl Scout cook-”

“How much are they? I’ll buy five boxes!” I swear to you, she never got to finish her sentence before I was writing a check. What is WRONG with me?

Fast forward a few weeks. I had been doing really well. I was eating better, feeling better, back on top of my game. I show up for work, and there, piled on my desk in lurid reds, yellows, and greens, are the devil’s obesity bait. “Come on…” they giggled, “you KNOW you wanna.”

“Just ONE.” I told myself, ripping open the tagalongs, those delicious peanut-buttery, chocolate cookie dream fantasies. I’m not really clear on what, exactly, happened next. All I know for sure is that, a few hours later, I felt tremendously ill. Like, Oh my God, I need to lay my head down on this mouse pad, NOW, -kind of bad. I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out why I felt so sick. So, as I lay there, I rolled my eyes over towards the box, and realized I had eaten EIGHT cookies. EIGHT. I don’t even know how it happened.

“Good.” I thought, “That’ll cure me for the rest of cookie season.” Oh, how naive. Before the day was even over, pretty much the second my nausea dissipated, I was back at it again. I had foolishly set the box on the empty passenger seat on the way home, and wasted no time at all polishing off another…ok, three other, cookies. Which, looking back, I don’t feel so bad about now, since the other four boxes were just inhaled by my so called loved ones the second I walked through the front door.

So far this year, I have managed only twice to walk away from armed Girl Scouts. Once, outside of Walmart, and only because I had no cash (not that that excuse will work- they take checks, those devils.) and I was too cold to be stopped on my way to the car. The other time was at farmer’s market in downtown Monterey, and that time, I think I was still driving around with a box or two stashed in my car.

“Sorry!” I called, rushing past, “I’ve already bought a bunch this year!”

“Well, thank you for supporting Girl Scouts!” They answered, diabolically.

“And thank you for contributing to my impending obesity!” I hollered back. They actually had the nerve to LAUGH.

Other than that, though, all victories have been theirs. Today, I munched my way through one entire sleeve of Thin Mints. I left the other sitting on my desk, assuring myself of further feelings of self loathing tomorrow. My boss said- “We’ll be out of cookies by this weekend!”

All I can say to that is, Thank You, Jesus. Even my fat pants are getting a little snug.