Preparing for…?

With all the obstacles we face as a species, racism, sexism, classism, violence, terror, hunger, disease, pollution and plain old stupidity it’s not surprising that so many people are afraid. Fear can be an unforgiving task master taking control of a person, changing how they see those around them and the world in general. For a lot of people creating a safe space filled with things that convey a feeling of security or learning a skill that could help keep you alive are ways of fighting back, taking control of the fear.

I am not comfortable referring to myself as a ‘Prepper’ because of the negative connotations. It conjures images of a gun carrying, scruffy bearded right winger living in the woods waiting to hide or pounce, depending on their chosen vision of the future. It may not be a very accurate picture but it is the most publicized aspect of the philosophy and the reason I decided to join the Nervous Nelly club.

A Nervous Nelly worries, fidgets, thinks, over analyses, thinks some more and eventually freaks out about their current obsession before taking any action.   Right now, ok for the last couple of years actually, I have been obsessing about the future path of the human race. I think overall people have evolved in the right direction: developing compassion and empathy, placing a higher value on life (all life), realizing the earth is a responsibility, not a commodity to be used then tossed aside. Of course there will always be pockets of petulant people who put greed and desire above all else but I see hope in the responses of activists all over the world who are standing up in the face of injustice yelling “NO”.

One thing that keeps popping up in the back of my fidgety mind though, is time. Is it too late? Is it too late for the living to learn and adapt to a different world? Is it too late for the earth to do a U turn and recover from the damage that has already been inflicted? Is it too late to teach our children that leading a productive, meaningful life is more important than fame and money? I don’t know. So, I worry and plan and make lists. Planning helps to soothe nerves and get your mind in order. It can also remind you of all the basic skills you never bothered to learn or considered DSC_0308important before. And while you can find all the information you need about self defense, building a fire, finding water or navigating your surroundings in books, having the information doesn’t actually give you the ability to accomplish a task. I can read all I want about human anatomy and surgical procedures but that doesn’t mean I could remove a ruptured appendix without killing the patient. So the plan is to learn to do something new, a useful skill to help me feel more confident about the future. Plus it distracts my brain from all the stuff I don’t want to think about. A stock pile of freeze dried food won’t insure your survival in the case of a natural or manmade disaster but the ability to find, prepare and preserve food might. Being able to keep yourself warm and dry when there isn’t any traditional shelter gives you an advantage.

There’s no way to know the future so that means there is no way to really prepare all of the stuff needed to see you through a catastrophic event, but, stock pile or no, skills still give you an edge. Look at how our ancestors, prehistoric man survived. They didn’t have canned peaches or spam or powdered milk. Early humans were successful because they learned to work within their environment and create what they needed; they developed the skills then passed them on to their off spring. Did it suck? I’m sure, but we are all living proof it can be done and that gives me more than hope, it gives me confidence in humanity.

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Life, anxiety and meds – taking you where you need to be.

Someone recently reminded me that life is a journey laid out before us like a twisting road, always hiding what’s just around the curve.  It makes me nervous.  For the longest time I’ve been just living day to day, working away at a job I hated because it was what I knew and I made good money.  I like money but I’m afraid of heights so as I ascended the corporate mountain I closed my eyes.  I focused on what the money would mean to my family not realizing, once again, my life wasn’t about me.

There are people in this world wired to find happiness in bringing joy to others  but for some the happiness ratio can get skewed when they aren’t a priority to themselves.  Moms and wives do that a lot contributing to the high divorce rate.  No matter how hard you try, you can’t make a home a truly happy environment when you feel in your heart that you don’t deserve it.  This concept is causing me a lot of anxiety right now.  I don’t want the people I love to be hurt by my actions.  I feel selfish.  It’s stupid I know (my husband told me) but my brain can’t let go of the idea of my joy bringing sorrow to someone else.

I’ve been having repeated debates with myself about how to deal with the money and happiness issues, quickly followed by an anxiety attack then medication.  I have however, told my husband that I won’t be going back to my previous field of work, accounting.  Well at least not in a regular office.   This decision is going to mean a lot of  changes in our lifestyle, not all bad, but change can still be difficult even in the best of circumstances.

Making the decision to ditch the career path was step one.  Step two was telling my husband and this blog is step three.  I’m not sure what the fourth step of this adventure will be, I haven’t been able to get past three yet, but here’s to hoping for solid footing and strong stairs.

Smile – you never know when it might brighten someone’s day!

 

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What Jesus would do, but I can’t seem to master

I’m not what anyone would call religious but I am a Christian, meaning I believe in and try to live by the teachings of Jesus. Let me emphasize the word try because that is what I will spend the rest of my life doing; trying to live up to the example he set during his time on earth.

One of my biggest struggles is patience and I am continually tested because I still haven’t mastered that skill. For anyone who isn’t naturally a patient person it can be difficult to slow your brain, as well as your mouth, and see the situation from another angle. That can be made even more difficult when you live in a culture that thinks it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission or a society that gives no weight to the adages used by our forefathers to remind them that everyone matters in the eyes of God.

Think before you speak – If a comment doesn’t produce or lead to anything positive why release the words to the universe? Words have power, for good or bad, and it is up to us to make sure that what comes out of our mouths does no harm. This goes hand in hand with one of my favorite expressions.

If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all – Just think of how much we could all learn about each other if we just learned to shut up once in a while. Not everything that goes through your mind needs to come out of your mouth. See above for further instructions.

Treat others as you would have them treat you – Common sense right? I always thought so but apparently humanity is completely lacking that trait today. If you don’t want someone to take your stuff, then you shouldn’t take things from others. Duh! Be what you want to see. Refer to Jesus for the perfect example.

The ability to live by these “rules” leads back to patience. You have to be patient with yourself and others in order to put someone else first and that is what these maxims are about, other people. The me, me, me world we live in today sends the opposite message so it is up to each of us to ignore the negative and find a positive path through life, a path created long ago by a teacher who is still waiting patiently for the rest of us to catch up. Just take a deep breath and see above for the instructions on taking that first step. Trust me when I say you won’t be alone.  I’ll be there, struggling every step of the way not to let my impatient nature lead me in the wrong direction.

WHAT I HATE TODAY

WHAT I HATE TODAY

  1. People who use guilt as a weapon. Guilt is a negative emotion that can eat at a person’s soul, so why would someone who loves you want to contribute pain to your life? It’s not right to hurt another person just so you can get what you want.
  2. Unrealistic Expectations. Stop expecting everyone in the freaking world to do what you want when you want it! No one owes you anything. As a matter of fact if you have unrealistic expectations you are probably the one in debt to others.
  3. Manipulation. Don’t lie to me or twist facts to make your actions right. The truth is the truth.
  4. Frenemies. Why? What’s the point? Don’t be nice to my face then go out of your way to talk about and put me down to everyone around you to make you feel better about your crappy life!
  5. Slugs. They are slimy, gross and like to eat my cucumbers!

Facing the truth of you

I have had to face and fight inner demons for as long as I can remember. I was always afraid, always doubting who I am, never able to let go of my own hurtful thoughts. Never being good enough for anyone else killed any hope that I could ever be enough to deserve the life I desired for myself. It was a losing battle for a long time. I engaged in a lot of self destructive behavior and frankly when I think back to those days it not only makes me grateful that I am alive but so sad for the girl who thought she was a throw away; not deserving of kindness much less love. Very few people in my life know that side of me because it’s what I wanted. I didn’t want pity or for anyone to know what was really happening to me at home. My problems were no one else’s business. My pain wasn’t up for public inspection.

At 17 I lost my grandfather. He was the only father I had in my life, the only man who loved me and wanted nothing but for me to grow into the person he knew I could be. The next few years were rough. In the end I hope I made him proud but it took time and someone who loved me, even when I couldn’t. He fought for me like no one else besides my grandfather. I honestly didn’t know why he bothered in the beginning. There were so many other girls who were way prettier, smarter, thinner, stable, secure in themselves, not terrified of being touched, not afraid of the world. I brought my inner chaos to his life and he faced it head on, so that meant I had to as well. Was it easy? Hell no! It has been a daily uphill struggle to be “normal”. Therapy helped. It helped me realize that I wasn’t nearly as screwed up as others who had faced similarly horrific experiences. I was also diagnosed with a mental health disorder and began taking medication to get it under control. I didn’t realize what it was even though I saw the symptoms; I just couldn’t connect it to what was going on in my head. I hate to admit it because it makes me feel weak for not being able to fix it on my own, but the medication has made a real difference.

Years later I have had to face the fact that I am who I am. I’ll never be able to erase my childhood, I will always be on medication and I will continue to have anxiety issues, but it’s ok. No one is perfect. Some of us are fixer uppers that have been passed over time after time, disappointed and hurt, left standing empty. However, it only takes one person willing to put in the time and help patch the holes in your heart to bring you back from the edge of condemnation. I am thankful everyday that even though my grandfather can’t be here, he sent me the one man who could love me, in spite of me.

A List of My Memory Moments

It is so easy to get caught up in the world around you that you can forget to actually be part of those moments that make up your life, the moments that create memories.  To me, memories are gifts you get to open over and over, reliving the event, reviving the emotions. It terrifies me that I may lose the ability to pull those memories up from the depths of my mind. I watched my grandmother suffer from a severe form of dementia that eventually caused her death. It was awful seeing the light slowly fade, realizing she was slipping from our lives even as her physical form continued to exist. We had to say goodbye a long time before she left this earth. I think about my children and grandchildren enduring the heartache of loosing someone they love a little bit at a time. In the middle of those thoughts I have to tell myself to stop. Stop dwelling on something I can’t control, stop crying, stop letting tears and fears keep me locked up in my own head, stop letting anxiety cloud my mind. It’s a hell of a lot easier said than done but I am pulling out a tried and true therapy tip – make a list. Since I love lists anyway I thought it could be a good start.

  1. Sneaking off with my grandpa to get ice cream
  2. Hugging my mom goodbye when she left me in my college dorm room for the first time
  3. My first kiss
  4. Driving on the interstate for the first time
  5. The first time I saw my husband smile
  6. Holding all three of my children for the first time
  7. Seeing my mom getting to enjoy being a grandmother
  8. Playing tea party
  9. Taking family pictures in the park where my husband and I were married
  10. Seeing my youngest son perform with his college marching band
  11. Meeting each of my 5 grandchildren
  12. Cooking with my nieces
  13. Arguing with my sister about nothing
  14. The view of our backyard – no matter the season
  15. Harvesting food from plants I grew
  16. Funerals – sad but important
  17. Coloring my hair bright blue
  18. Taking Teresa to her prom
  19. The last Christmas we were all together
  20. My grandmother teaching me to play cards
  21. Working on cars with my uncles
  22. The first time my husband told me he loved me

 

This list can’t keep the wolves of anxiety at bay or prevent my memories from being lost if that is my path in life, but right now, the act of simply creating it made me smile and smiles are good.

 

 

For my beloved

EVERYTHING I WANT

Being enveloped by your arms

And surrounded by your

Whispered words of love

As we lie in the dark,

I know in my heart

You have everything I want.

A mouth that makes me

Melt when we kiss.

Work roughened hands

With a sensual, gentle touch.

Strength that makes me feel safe,

Tenderness that makes me feel loved,

And passion that makes me feel wanted.

 

MBL

For the Love of Fred

My memories from childhood all seem to include one of the many pets who were a part of our family over the years. One of my earliest is of sitting in my grandpa’s lap watching my uncle’s cat give birth. She had seven little squirmy blobs I immediately fell in love with. There was always a cat or dog ready to cuddle up at night and chase away the monsters under the bed.

The day I realized not everyone considered animals to be just like people I was heartbroken. I remember seeing a man kick a dog making it cry out in pain. I became so upset and started crying. One of my older cousins was confused by my reaction because to him it was “just a dumb dog”, but not to me. I thought that anything that can feel pain should never be subjected to it, and to be honest, that’s how I feel to this day. It’s what I hope I passed on to my children.

When my husband and I started spending time together it didn’t take him long to discover my first love. It also didn’t take me long to find out he didn’t have the same depth of emotion for our four legged fury friends. He learned to tolerate having pets in the house and to even like our first cat, Cleopatra. Over time I began to see him change a little bit with each new animal that came into our lives. And then came Fred.

He was six months old when he and his sister were taken to the animal shelter because their owners couldn’t handle them and their small children. Sad, but I’m glad they made the decision to let them find more suitable homes. The little girl was adopted quickly leaving her brother all alone. Fate stepped in that day and guided my husband to visit a friend who worked at the same shelter, where he found his new best friend. Those big brown eyes and soft floppy ears won over the whole family at first sight but the change in my husband really touched my heart. He started out as a sweet innocent puppy but quickly became “The Buddy Fred” who could do no wrong. Fred could get on the furniture, sleep in our room, run in and out of the house and all the other stuff previous pets had been forbidden. He was even allowed to ride in the truck. I was amazed at how much he loved this dog from the minute he saw his sad face looking up at him from the shelter cage and trust me, the feeling is mutual. Fred does not like to share his daddy and is not afraid to use his big paws to push away anyone who gets too close.

I am happy to report that six years later the Buddy Fred is still going strong and now has a little sister who has my hubby wrapped around her furry paw. Having Fred in our lives made it possible for him to open his heart to other animals who need our help and deserve to be loved. I’m so thankful for the sweet, goofy, loving, adorable little hound that came into our lives and led my husband into the pet parent universe without a backward glance. He even wants to get another basset hound one day – a tiny little puppy to love, cherish and spoil rotten like the rest of our furry clan.

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Love for the Long-haul

The ability to love is a precious gift.  The people you choose to share that gift with is up to each individual.  Sometimes, you pick the wrong person and love bites you on the ass but it also provides lessons to help you make better choices in the future.  One major problem with love is that some people never learn.  They won’t listen to the messages their heart keeps trying to pass along and just continue to give their love to undeserving people.  They allow other feelings, like passion or attraction, to take on the lead match-making role.   Let me say right now that there is nothing wrong with being attracted to or feeling passionate about someone, both are important for any successful relationship.  Those feelings however, should not be the priority during the search for the special person you want to be a permanent part of your life.  Trust me, your genitals will lead you astray!

When it happens for real, when you listen to your heart and learn from your past, there will be no doubt about what you feel.  And that feeling, the one that makes your heart beat a little faster and naughty thoughts flicker to life in the back of your mind, is what changes ‘mine’ to ‘ours’.  That same feeling is what helps you not kill them 20 years later when you have one of those days.  Every woman knows the day I’m talking about; when a single look can put flames in your eyes as you growl “go away”.  That love is kind of like the moon, waxing and waning, sometimes totally out of sight, but always in the background ready to shine.

Love can be hard.  Giving up part of who you are so you can weave someone else into your life can seem impossible at times, but when it’s right all the harsh and painful moments bring you closer as a couple, keeping you both safe and warm in each others arms.

My advise for long term love:

1.  Keep your mind open to all the possibilities because love can be found in the strangest places.

2.  Listen to your heart – even if it’s not pleasant, it’s always important.

3.  Hold on to that “pitty-pat” feeling.  Draw from it during the times of conflict and difficulty.  It will help you hang on until it passes.  And it will if you face it together.

4.  Face it together.  Turn to them for support, even if what’s wrong is all their fault, that connection will give you the strength to put up with the dumb stuff.

5.  Give as good as you get.  When you are given love, return it times 10.  When you are given a load of crap, throw it at their head.

6.  Don’t be afraid to fight.  Sometimes you can resolve problems if you fight fair and if not, pissed off sex can be so hot!

Good Luck!DSC_1019

Positive Side of Reality TV

Television has been a big part of my life since childhood.  Gathering all together to gobble down bowls of popcorn while watching a special show or a favorite movie was family time for us to share.  It meant everyone was in the same room focused on the same thing without the conflicts and trash talking that comes with board game competitions.  Who would consider Monopoly a threat to family harmony?

Now, however, the TV has a much more central place in our household.  When my children were little I became aware of the hold the glowing screen could have over there tiny brains.  More than once I found myself channeling my grandfather who had his own name for the devise – the idiot box!  I would stomp into the living room, turn it off mid whatever they were watching and yell at them to go outside to play like normal children.  They would whine but always had fun once the complaining stopped.  We eventually found a happy medium for everyone with me easing up about time but not Sponge Bob; he is still banned.

In the last few months I have had to do another rethink concerning television and some of the new shows.  My aunt, Teresa, is developmentally challenged and came to live with us full time when my mother passed away 15 years ago and she loves, I mean loves, to watch TV.  Her obsession used to be old shows she remembered from her childhood like The Waltons or Little House on the Prairie, an all time favorite.  Lately though she has discovered reality TV and TLC.  I sat and watched a few of the shows with her, quickly becoming addicted to seeing into other people’s lives.

My husband raised the point that I was doing exactly what I used to yell at our children about when I thought they were watching rubbish.  I pointed out that the key word in this argument was “rubbish” and that while children are not psychologically developed enough to differentiate between entertainment and education, I am perfectly capable of making that distinction.  He just stared, conveying his disbelief with the cock of his eyebrow. I took the high road and stuck my tongue out.

His argument did make me rethink some of the choices Teresa and I had been making concerning how our TV time was allocated.  I listed some of the more entertaining but questionable shows trying to come up with a positive spin to justify my argument.  A few of them had absolutely no defense; Toddlers and Tiaras, Big Brother, Teen Mom – all gone.   Three others did make the cut, one being borderline in his opinion but that’s just because he just doesn’t understand the female mind.

My 600 Pound Life – Watching this show has had a positive impact on Teresa and I both.  Seeing the struggles the subjects face and also the road they traveled to get to such a dire place in their lives has made me look at food and my own weight struggles with a new perspective.  Food isn’t the cause of weight gain, it’s a tool that can be used for good or bad.  You make the choice of what you put in your mouth.  Teresa is a soda and junk food junkie but seeing these people fighting for their lives opened her eyes to how the stuff she loves could hurt her.  Now she only gives me the evil eye for a couple of seconds when I tell her she can’t have candy all day.

Hoarding Buried Alive – This show made me realize how even the most put together person isn’t always what they seem on the outside.  You can hide a lot behind nice clothes and a made up face.  It has helped me with Teresa as well.  She has been a hoarder in training her entire life.  She never wants to throw anything away and has accumulated a mountain of just stuffed animals.  I have had to ban them as gifts from our family and friends.  While the stuffed animals have stayed, she has been more willing to let go of other things.  I told her she can’t bring in anything new unless something old goes out because it will pile up and take over her room.  She doesn’t want that so I feel like we have made progress.

Say Yes To The Dress – Ok, I admit this one is a stretch but I love to see all the beautiful gowns I will never get to wear!  I mean when could I ever spend $10,000 on a dress?  Teresa likes to see which ones they pick and when they put on the veil.  I have learned a lot about fabrics and which styles look good for different body types and that I should never wear anything called a mermaid cut.

My husband still doesn’t like any of the shows but now he jus shakes his head as he walks away instead of questioning why I’m “watching that stupid crap”.  I think it’s a step in the right direction.

 

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