Monthly Archives: January 2011

RTT: The one where I let others talk for me when I’m not babbling on myself

This week for RTT I’m linking to a bunch of awesome things I’ve come across in addition to my own current rambling randoms. This post could alternately be titled, “How many readers can I alienate by posting things that are controversial?” Promise I’m not trying to be controversial…I just find these things important and/or they were a part of my life and so I legitimately think of them. You have been warned…

I came up with the perfect analogy: A hospital birth is like a Catholic wedding. They have done it a million times, they have their strict rules on how things are done, and they’ll only allow you limited, pre-approved choices within their way to try to pretend they’re making it special for you (i.e. It will open with a prayer, which of these three do you want?).

But you’re really just a number, and a “good” mother/bride is one who goes along with their cookie-cutter process without requesting modifications, doing independent looking into how things are done elsewhere, or asking questions as to why things are the way they are.

If their type of birth/wedding is exactly what you want, then you’re good to go. But if you want anything different, even something that seems minor, you’ll fight for it the whole time up until the big day and then they may change things on you at the last minute, anyway.

I regretted my decision to have a Catholic wedding long before my big day, but for various reasons didn’t feel I could get out of it (and didn’t feel it was worth starting the hassle over). I’m glad I looked into my options for birth before getting pregnant, so I don’t feel trapped into a hospital birth! (PS If anyone ever wants to ask me what I’ve found in my now-extensive research into the area, always happy to share. I’m so glad someone opened my eyes to the possibility and increased safety of a midwife-assisted birth)

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Corey is amazing. She has written many posts that have touched me, but this one is especially close to my heart.

If you know anyone living with depression (and chances are good you do), read this.

I am scared of depression. Scared because it waits like some gray slithery dark thing around the periphery of my life, waits to suck me away, and sometimes I can feel it coming and I fight, fight, FIGHT it and I always wonder, is this the time it’s going to get me for good?

If you fight the horrible monster that is depression, read this.

This is a season. A really sucky one, perhaps, but just a season. And you are going to get through it, and you are going to be okay.

One day at a time. Or one hour. One minute. One second.

Keep swimming.

And if you can’t.. hang on. And keep breathing.

Finally, do you want to know what to say to someone fighting depression? It’s not, “Cheer up, you’ll be fine.” It’s not, “Look at these things to be happy about!” And it’s definitely not, “It’s OK, I get sad too, sometimes.” It’s this:

…I try to think of every possible thing I can [do] to let them know.. I see you. I love you. Keep fighting. Don’t let it win.

No matter how many times I read them, those last few sentences bring tears to my eyes. That’s what a depressed person wants and needs to hear. They are seen, they are not invisible. They are loved for exactly who they are. And that others recognize the battle they are fighting for their life, literally, and want them to win.

And finally, remember. Depression is NOT being sad. Depression fucks with your brain chemistry. A person with depression is as biologically off as a person with high blood pressure, or low thyroid function, or a heart arrhythmia. So no matter how many times you’ve told those things to a person when they’re up? They will NOT remember it when they’re down. Say it again. Show it again. As often as you can. It may be the difference between life and death. Or, less dramatically, living and surviving.

Seriously. Go read the whole post.

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OK, how about something fun? This is what I consider to be a pretty darn accurate conversation between a human and their dog.

Sneak preview:

Me, stomping back to the kitchen: OKAY. GIVE ME THE DAMNED SWEET POTATO.
Dog, looking up guiltily: What sweet potato?
Me: THE ONE IN YOUR MOUTH.
Dog: Oh, did you want this? I just, um. Found it. Lying here.

Yup. Sounds like a day in my house :-)

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I am now the very ashamed owner of a snuggie. But I am also the very warm owner of a snuggie!

I mean, come on, my dog doesn’t have one, so I figure I’m still good.

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I found a fabulous article titled “Why Can’t You Leave Religion Alone?” Unfortunately, it only seems to exist as a Facebook note, so hopefully you have an account. Here’s the gist, patched together by me:

Religion gets carte blanche to be as vocal as it wants, to knock on our doors and accost us in our homes, in our places of work, in our personal and professional lives.   Believers are charged with a life mission to preach, teach, disciple, shout it from the mountaintops and to “go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”  Religion…is everywhere. […] And religion is not satisfied with merely existing quietly in the homes and hearts of the faithful.

[…]

Throughout our history, those who raise a simple hand of protest against these advances have been portrayed as the real problem.  Religion has attempted to marginalize and defeat legitimate questions and concerns by indignantly portraying any resistors as misguided, immoral, rudderless, angry, miserable, lost and alone.

And when skepticism challenges wildly improbable (or impossible) stories found in the bible, the Qur’an and other holy books, the religious wail, “Why can’t you just leave us alone?”

The irony is thick.

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The hubby and I bought a Groupon to get our carpets cleaned. I am so f*cking excited. I am tired of my house smelling like pee. Time for a clean slate.

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Polygamy is a fascinating topic. Love reading about it. Will have to update y’all on the two most recent books I read/am reading. They’re written by two wives of the same man. So. Cool.

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I so know this look.

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You totally don’t want to read this if you’re male. It involves blood coming out of a woman’s hoo-hah. In a ridiculously hilarious fashion. We’ve all been there, ladies…if “there” is the big wide world when you miscounted your weeks and didn’t pack supplies. Have a laugh on me.

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There is nothing to make you resent (and start to hate) cats like working at the crazy @$$ cat rescue I work at. Not all of them. But definitely the favorites of the rescue people, who then put such strong restrictions on them they never get adopted.

About 8 months ago, three cats came back in who are all siblings. Of course, the crazy cat rescue proclaimed they were bonded, and refused to even consider separating them.

Fast forward 8 months. Not. One. Person has even requested an application for them…and since the crazy cat rescue rejects more applications than it accepts, and not every app requested is turned back in, they’ll need many apps before they can go home. But the assistant manager (who is also one of the three people who makes up the cat rescue) is in love with these cats. They’re her favorites. She spends all her time fawning over them. So of course she would never consider doing something that might upset them.

Even though we’ve all noticed they’re no longer anywhere near as bonded as they used to be when they first arrived and were terrified 24/7 and clinging to each other for security.

On Friday I was in, and noticed that Cat A had been locked out of her room at night for 3, possibly 4 nights in a row. So that’s 3-4 nights and much of the days that Cat A was away from her brother and sister. And Friday we didn’t catch her and put her back, so she spent almost 24 hours away from them. She knows where her room and her siblings are. She never once sought them out. Not. Once. No crying by anyone. They were all perfectly happy.

So I wrote a note, pointing this out, and saying maybe we could consider separating them since we have had tens of people interested in adopting one or even two of them and they don’t seem to mind being separated any more.

I received a note back from the assistant manager which said, basically, no chance in hell. Because of course they’re bonded.

But I refused to give up. And wrote back that I wasn’t saying they weren’t bonded, but that they might be OK being separated because the bond was no longer exclusive.

The new manager, one of the other two people working for the rescue, came back from vacation today and read our three notes.

I’m excited to see if I’m fired when I go back on Friday.

But everyone who doesn’t work for the rescue is so dang sick of these cats, who are constantly ruining merchendise and are impossible to catch and will never get out of here unless something changes. And the cats are so miserable, because really, there is zero stability in their lives and they can’t just relax. Plus, what’s the point of working in a rescue where cats don’t get rescued? It’s not fair to anyone for these cats to live the rest of their lives in the store. So I decided I couldn’t take it anymore and I had to do something. Writing a respectful note for the good of all (but the woman who would have to say goodbye to the cats if they were adopted) seemed not-crazy.

In summary:

1) I hope no one from my store reads this.

2) I hope I still have a job when I show up on Friday. And I hope I still have one on Sunday, when I work with the manager and assistant manager…and no one else.

3) This cat rescue has given me a vindictive pleasure in little things. Like this HILARIOUS conversation about a girl’s missing cat and the posters she wanted made for it. Giggling out loud. :-) Promise, you’ll like it even if you don’t work at a crazy cat rescue!

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I now own a Prius (more on that later). Does that mean I’m a hippie?

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Y’all are awesome. Thanks for the comments I received on my last post. They helped a lot.

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It’s still Tuesday by 1.6 hours. THAT MEANS THIS IS TOTALLY LEGITIMATE. Shut up.

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Still in the same rut

I have written before about feeling purposeless. I left my old job with no plan, just the knowledge that staying there was killing me (and that that trite saying was getting closer to reality all the time). My only goal was to get better, to move beyond simple surviving and try to learn to live again.

Things have improved.

But I’m left with no purpose. No meaning.

There is nothing in my life I can feel proud of right now.

My hubby likes to brag on me, saying I started a business in this economy which is successfully into its second year.

Which sounds great, until you realize that business is nowhere close to being able to support me, let alone us. And unless I am willing to give up all evenings with my hubby, it really never will. It is a little side thing, whatever money it brings in is nice, but it’s not much. And, as it is, it has nowhere to grow.

It’s also not utilizing a skill I’m proud of, because I just know what to do. Really. I went through a year-long program, which taught me very little. For the most part, I just do or suggest what is obvious to me. I have a way with dogs. I get them. And I go off of that. But it’s not something I am proud of. Not a skill I have developed and learned about. Really not a skill I can spend all kinds of time informing myself about and improving in. Not being arrogant and saying I have all the answers…just saying it’s all common sense to me, and for the past year there has been nothing I’ve come across in my looking and trying to educate myself that suggests anything other than training methods I won’t use but have thought of, or techniques I’d already come up with on my own. It’s not like an innate skill, like photography, that you go and learn about and nurture and learn to perfect. It’s a skill you have pretty much complete or you don’t, and short of going and interning with someone amazing for awhile (not feasible or necessary for the size of what I’m doing) there’s nothing to focus on to develop this skill.

So I don’t take pride in this business. I mean, a little. I do love sitting down with someone’s dog who I’ve just met and teaching them a new cue within a few minutes. But I’d love that with or without the business. I’m just good with dogs.

But in general, it doesn’t bring in money, it’s not a skill I’m proud of achieving (since it was never achieved, just innate), and it’s not something I can really spend a lot of time working on and developing to take pride in it.

Beyond that?

I’m a retail clerk at a pet store. I am embarrassed to tell people that, embarrassed to have people seeing me doing it. I know work is work, and if it was that this was what I wanted to do, or was enough for me, or we really needed the money and I was doing it to help tide us over and support the family, OK then, I could take pride in that. But it isn’t. It’s not contributing hardly anything to our family’s income, so no pride in that aspect. It’s not what I want to do. I have no power and no respect at this job. And it consists of doing only things a high school kid could do.

I tutor a little. But it’s very random income, since the girl I tutor is horribly inconsistent about when she wants me to come over. We started out with scheduled days, but she cancelled so many that I stopped, because I got frustrated scheduling around her and then having her cancel hours, or maybe a day, before we were supposed to meet. And somehow, again, tutoring is just…not something I’d be proud to say I do.

That’s what it comes down to for me. I want to have an answer to the question, “What do you do for a living?” that I’m proud of.

Because in our society, that question comes up

Every

Damn

DAY.

I was proud of being an engineer. I loved it. And I loved being able to introduce myself as such. I had worked hard at it, but was also innately good at it, and I took pride in my combination of skill and hard work.

But that is out. I may be extremely capable at the work, but I am not at the lifestyle.

So what else is there? What else is a combination of hard work and skill that I could be proud of, that I can do given my illnesses? I’m scared to try full-time work again. I’m scared of the deep, dark hole I fell down last time I tried that took me over 6 months to climb partially out of.

I just don’t know. I don’t.

Add to that that I have baby fever. I want a kid. Which means that I’m not going to go back to school for something and leave it soon after (if I could even come up with something to go to school for). But I’m also scared of the thought of having a kid.

What if I’m just doing it because I want purpose, and I think being a mom will give me that purpose?

And then what if the kid doesn’t, and now I’m stuck?

I don’t know. I’m so scared of things not working I’m too paralyzed to move in any direction. So I decide that’s stupid, and I need to shake it off, and try something. But then I can’t come up with anything that I can do from where I am now.

An engineering degree is useless for anything except engineering.

A math degree is useless period.

Which means I can basically be an engineer…or be a clerk or fast food server or other unskilled worker.

I’m OK with starting at the bottom, as long as I can work my way up.

But where I am now, there is nowhere to work to. There is no up to shoot for.

I just don’t know.

I’m so confused and lost.

I feel like I”m circling in the dark.

And I’m coming to hate myself more and more for it, because I have been stuck in the same.damn.place for months.

I don’t know where to start. But I need (need) to find somewhere.

ADDED: Should have just included this earlier, thought I wouldn’t but can’t get it out of the circling in my mind. Just have to add that part of what is swirling around in my brain is that there are things I can think of doing..but they all involve a big risk by me/us. Things involving more enterprises of my own, but that I could work on during daytime hours, possibly even in the space that I’d use for Companions. I had previously considered opening a doggie daycare in my space..but then one moved into my shopping complex, so if I was going to I’d have to move. I’ve contemplated opening a small animal rescue using space at Companions (not the main training space to house animals, but there’s always another room anywhere) and focusing on moving animals through quickly. Things like that. But they’re all big risks by us, investments of money to get started, I’d have to move to another place which would probably cost more and cut down on profit, etc. I’m scared to do it, especially since I don’t feel it’s my money to waste. I wish I could find an organization that is hiring that I could respect and that would respect me, and would also honor the hours I’m looking for. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to exist, at least around here. Blargh.

Thank you for reading the endless circling of my brain.

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Filed under Invisible Illnesses, Life

Car advice PLEASE.

Soooooooo…I kinda broke my car.

I mean, only a little.

It happened when I drove it into another car. While we were both going at full speed.

You know, normal, everyday stuff.

*cough*

Everyone’s OK (thank god).

Except the poor cars.

Mine is dead.

Which means I need a new one.

So hey…first time I ever have to buy a new (used) car. I have NO IDEA how to weed things out, what to look for, things like that.

Our requirements:

-Good gas mileage, as it will become the hubby’s commuter when his car dies
-Able to comfortably seat 3 kids for short trips (just 2 rows of seats, but not too cramped) (I have not been holding out on you, I have no hidden children, just planning for the future so we aren’t forced to get rid of it as we have kids)
-Four doors
-Good storage capabilities (for example, I play cello, need to be able to haul it)
-Automatic transmission

If you haven’t noticed, virtually every 4-door car on the marketplace meets these requirements. So now I’m stuck. How do I narrow it down? Ideas? Advice? Thoughts?

I kind of like hatchbacks, but I feel like they have a bad rap. And I’m not sure why. I like how much space they have for hauling/moving things, since we have no truck or van. But I feel like there’s a negative vibe about them that makes me nervous. Anyone know why?

ANY thoughts or advice would be MUCH apreciated.

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Coupon VICTORY!

Yesterday I used coupons for really the first time with any seriousness. It wasn’t a big amount, but it was fun and rewarding to get so much for so little! My savings:

Original Price:
Tampax package                 $6.99
Advil 24ct Tablets              $4.59
Pantene Shampoo (x2)     $6.99 x2 = $13.98
Total:                                       $25.56

I Paid:
Tampax package                 $6.99
.                                                – $1.00 in store sale
.                                                – $1.00 coupon                    = $4.99    (29% savings)
Advil 24ct Tablets              $4.59
.                                                – $4.59 coupon                     = $0          (100% savings)
Pantene Shampoo (x2)     $13.98
.                                                – 2/$7 sale
.                                                – $2.00 “register rewards” (used instantly)
.                                                – $3.00 coupon                    = $2.00   (86% savings)
Total:                                                                                              $6.99    (73% savings)

Totally worth it and lots of satisfaction in saving almost $20 on things we needed!

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More books

It’s another post about books! I know, you’re thrilled. But I just started the 2011 A-Z Challenge, I’m three books in, and the one I just finished almost made me cry, so now I have to write about it/them.

In the order I’ve tackled them, here’s what I’ve read so far:

Stolen Innocence: My Story of Growing Up in a Polygamist Sect, Becoming a Teenage Bride, and Breaking Free of Warren Jeffs, Elissa Wall & Lisa Pulitzer

I’ve been on a polygamy kick recently. I love and am fascinated by sociology, studies of culture, of how we tick and how we interact, of what is “normal” to others versus “normal” to us. This fascination is why I love fantasy and science fiction: every (well-done) book is basically a big thought experiment in another “normal.” I firmly believe that getting outside of your normal is necessary to being a well-rounded and intelligent person, and I love books that take you there. This one is one of my rare non-fiction reads, and it will plunge you into a world outside your comfort zone.

This book is definitely biased, as is clear in the title’s use of language. But still, it is an insider view into a large polygamist sect in fairly modern times, and how difficult it can be to break free. The story is fascinating and appalling all at once, as Elissa tells us the story of her life, starting with her parents’ marriage (her mother is her father’s second wife) and coming up to present day after she testified against Warren Jeffs for his responsibility in her repeated rape. Elissa was born into the FLDS church and raised in polygamous families (yes, plural, her mother was “reassigned” to a new husband when her father was deemed incompetent by the prophet). She attended FLDS school, wore FLDS clothes, was brainwashed and indoctrinated with FLDS teaching, and at 15, since she was proving troublesome, was married to her first cousin. This is not a light read, but it is extremely detailed and fascinating, and it does have a fairly happy ending (as real-life stories so rarely do). I recommend it to those interested in the topic; if you’re not particularly interested there are definitely lighter reads out there that can still give you a glimpse into this intriguing lifestyle.

My Sister’s Keeper, Jodi Picoult

This book and author were pointed out to me by the fabulous Corey when she did her book giveaway, and I secured my own copy when I wasn’t lucky enough to win one. (It’s OK. I have still won her give-aways. Twice. Only drawing(s) I’ve ever won!) The story is about a thirteen-year-old girl, Anna, who was conceived by her parents using science to ensure she would be a perfect genetic match for her older sister. Her sister, Kate, has a form of cancer that is aggressive and “learns” each treatment thrown at it, meaning that once you’ve used a treatment it will never work again. At this point in the book Kate is near death, not from the cancer, but from a kidney shutting down in response to the aggressive treatments it has had to endure. Anna sues for medical emancipation, meaning that she can make her own medical decisions instead of letting her parents decide for her, in order to avoid having to give up a kidney against her will. The book follows the family during the legal struggle and includes many flashbacks to give us background.

Each chapter of the book is told from a different character’s point of view, and I must say, I love that every character has their own font. The book is good, and definitely pulled me in. It was a page-turner and I went through it quickly. But boy is it high on melodrama! Reading the reviews, it seems Picoult’s books aren’t always this high on the melodrama, but this one screams “Lifetime Original Movie.” So if you go into it, go into it knowing that that’s what you’re getting into (complete with corny ending!). But if you don’t mind, and you want some engaging brain candy and/or are interested in the topic, then this is a good, enjoyable book that really does look at some hard questions. Things like, what obligation does Anna have to be a donor to Kate, given that she is the only one who can be but that being a donor is dangerous, painful, and has life-long implications? What happens when a baby, conceived for her cord blood, grows up? How can parents make medical decisions for their two children, when what is best for each is opposite? The ethical questions are fascinating, and are given a fair shake in this book.

The Art of Racing in the Rain, Garth Stein

This book is fabulous. I’ll just start right there. Fabulous. I totally get why it is a New York Times Bestseller. It is appealing to almost everyone. There is no niche target audience here. It’s just good.

The Art of Racing in the Rain is told from the point of view of Enzo, a Shepherd-Poodle-Terrier-who-knows mix. I know, sounds like a corny concept. It makes a great book. And looking at reviews, people who aren’t animal-lovers agree. Which I get. Since the other major aspect of this is racecar driving, something I have absolutely zero interest in (really not a big sports fan at all, let alone car racing), and yet, in this book, it’s made fascinating.

The book starts at the end of Enzo’s life, and then Enzo takes us on a recap of all he has witnessed. Enzo was brought home by Denny when he is just a puppy, and watches as Denny goes through life: finding a wife, having a daughter who he is devoted to, becoming a semi-professional driver. And then he watches as it is all torn apart, by fate, by others’ selfishness, by trickery and lies. Enzo is there for Denny through it all, with a unique and insightful look on everything as it happens. As one reviewer on Amazon says, “Bad things happen to good people in this novel, and then worse things, and soon you are so angry, so hurt, so tear-stained and concerned that you do not think for one second to step back and say, hey, wait, this is just a story! A shaggy dog story, at that!” This book Sucks. You. In.

It is fabulous. There is no way to describe it. No way to convey its power. All I can say is: read it.

(As I was reminded today by a client and friend, a warning (and semi-spoiler alert): a dog dies in this book. This is no real spoiler, as I said, the book starts at the end of the dog’s life. But still, if you have lost a dog recently and are still hurt by that loss, this book may be too painful to handle for now. But remember it. And when you’re ready, come back. Because Enzo’s view of death for a dog is a beautiful, if heart-wrenching, thing.)

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Guess what I just did?

That’s right. I got my fat butt off the couch and WENT FOR A RUN.

For the first time since…..high school? I believe it’s been at least 8 years since I went running.

EIGHT YEARS.

And I went today.

I freaking rock :-D

(OK, so it was just a mile. And it took a little over 15 minutes. But I also did a warm up and cool down! And besides, who cares? I flipping ran!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

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Year in Review

OK, I’ve seen enough of these wrap up posts, and really enjoyed reading them, that I now feel the need to do my own.

2010 was the year I started blogging. Almost immediately I started using my blog to think things through, as my second post was a long delve into living with invisible illnesses, mine specifically, and the benefits my service dog gave (and gives) me. That post is bittersweet to read, and I remember the painful days at work I described, a good reminder that, unless something changes, I can’t keep going the way I was.

Later I blogged about going to the Vancouver Olympic Games. When I got back, I started my several-month-long search for a new phone.

Moving into March, I blogged a LOT as my world came crashing down and I realized I had to deal with my illnesses. I decided to walk 5,000 steps every day for a week.  I need to do this one again. Wonder where the pedometer went… I talked about some amusing yet shocking sexist comments I faced in my then male-dominated world.

I had a breakdown as I hit the point where I was barely able to function day-to-day and keep my full-time job. I remember feeling this way:

It feels like my mind is going to give out. It feels like it is going to shut off, and leave me rocking in place, unable to move or think or live.

And sometimes it feels like that might be an improvement.

I participated again in my first meme (which has sadly since been discontinued)! For another meme, I wrote about falling in love with my hubby. Still makes me smile! Shortly after that I formally decided to leave my job. Another meltdown ensued.

Due to a friend’s influence, I made one of the most humiliating confessions of my life.

I quit my job.

Read that one again. That was major.

Going into April, I managed to use Twilight to spur a serious discussion of depression. To counteract that, I shared some adorable videos of my puppy training. And then, because I’m a sharing kind of person, I made many happy by sharing my recipe for delicious enchiladas. Even though I can’t spell “enchiladas” without spell-check.

Toby travelled with my hubby and me to meet with my father, and there unleashed the mighty crab hunter within.

I wrote one of my favorite posts on leaving my job, and living with a chronic illness, the day before I left, in which I explained:

Saying to me, “I wish I could leave my job!” is kind of like saying to someone in a wheelchair “I wish I could sit down all day!” Not being able to successfully live a normal life is not something I am happy about or proud of.

Then,  in May, I was adjusting to not having a full-time job. And realizing that I could be happy. I want to go back and find that happiness, now that this is just my daily grind.

In June the depression came back. But on the upside, my hubby came to agility class, and took pictures and video for me, which are adorable.

During July I entered a struggle I’ve had ever since between happiness and society’s expectations. Society’s expectations have become more of mine. I need a higher purpose. And money would be nice. I also talked about how sometimes, the thought of getting better is too scary to face. How sometimes, while I hate being sick, I can’t make myself want to be better.

And, perhaps most importantly, I professed my undying love for my hubby while recounting our wedding dance. And then, in August, I told you about how an octopus shared our bed for one night of our honeymoon.

Ending August and heading into September, I blogged for National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week. I began to feel healed enough that I needed a purpose again, not just time to heal. I’m still here. I need a purpose..but I need it to be small enough that I can still survive and not relapse into the breakdown my full-time engineering brought on. I participated in my first Spin Cycle (which unfortunately ended soon after), sharing my religious journey. And I continued to flounder on what to do now.

Moving into October, I continued my fast food fast. I grieved for my old job. I looked (unsuccessfully) for someone to practice ASL with (anyone now?!)

In November I took a stand against the TSA. My frustration continued as I couldn’t define what I could expect from myself, given my illnesses.

December started with one of the cutest pictures ever. It led to some home-grown humor. And keeping with the theme, I delivered what I found to be a freaking hysterical story about boobs, but to nary a comment. *tear*

I’ve really enjoyed my 11 months of blogging, and am looking forward to continuing! I am so glad to have this record of my experiences. Thanks to all who come and comment!

 

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