What matters (you)

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via istockphoto.com

I have made a concerted effort to not post/share other people’s content as much anymore on social media. It’s too hard to keep straight what is the truth, what is opinion, what is purposefully misleading and divisive. It burdens me and my heart, however, to go silent on some topics that I was loud about for awhile; I don’t want to seem like I stopped caring. I’m not going to highlight exact issues here, please expand your mind.

I offer this.

If you’re in pain and suffering, please let someone you love know. Even me. I am, unfortunately, something I have coined “spoonie flimsy,” which I would define as not being able to be¬†there, 100% of the time due to chronic illness, but I always, always care, and love to be as there as I’m capable of being.

If you feel like no one cares about the issues you care about, take heart.¬†Your issues are my issues. Let’s take our truths off of Facebook and Twitter where there is only yelling and deafness and competition. Please tell me over a cup of coffee, or a phone call, or even a private message (where we can both sip our drinks and pretend to be in a cozy cafe of our own making). Please continue to invite others to do the same. No, I don’t think you should stop posting and sharing what matters to you, you’re an adult/human/individual/worthy creation and you should follow your heart insomuch as you don’t purposefully hurt other people with your choices.

If you feel as though no one is taking care of you, don’t be afraid to care for yourself.¬†The best way to teach other people to treat you is to treat yourself with respect, self-care, and love. Honor your body, your mind, your soul. Connect with God (if you will); if that’s not your bag then connect with stillness.

If you feel misunderstood, seek to understand. Yes, this sucks sometimes. You may learn things you don’t want to know. Start with trying to understand yourself (the scariest thing of all).

 

I love you. You’re important. If it mattered to me before, it still does.

The puzzle piece.

f5ba46271830943139e54c603e1e098c_08e6b4a7a3a7cc2f68ea3320651660-autism-puzzle-piece-clip-art_5617-5703Autism. ADHD. Sit still. Participate. Listen. Be quiet. Don’t talk so much about dinosaurs all the time. People aren’t going to want to be your friend¬†if you “______.” Pay attention in class. You have to. You have to. You have to. You have to. You have to.

I have to say, the school district, classes, teachers, extra helpers, and services my child receives at PUBLIC school are AMAZING. Public. We don’t pay any extra. He gets things I couldn’t afford to pay for myself and would probably not have thought of. Everyone loves him, accepts him, and assists him.

But.

It’s their¬†job to make sure he’s able to conform to and fit in with society. (Really, it’s institutionalized learning’s job to do that for/to all of our kids…)

So I got confused… I believe my husband¬†and I got confused. We thought it was our job to make him fit in too.

This gives me pause, because I don’t ever want him to not understand that¬†due to his differences, he will face¬†some challenges. I’m different, and I have challenges (re: bipolar disorder II). I am open with him about that.

However.

It is so easy for us to want him to mold himself into something “easier to manage” at home, too. Avoid meltdowns, please be quiet, no we don’t want to talk about dinosaurs anymore, please stop repeating yourself, calm your body.

I’m not sure why it took me so long, but since I have been achieving some big progress with my own mental health journey of peaceful acceptance, it¬†dawned on me that perhaps my son never feels totally accepted, even at home.

What really got me is that recently,¬†when we’d have an argument, or he’d do something that was not okay (for any 9 year old child, not just an Autistic one, you know 9 year old boys are kind of turds, really), his eyes would well up and he’d say “I’m sorry for my Autism.” This is heartbreaking.

But what am I doing to challenge that his Autism is “bad?” How am I reinforcing that he’s a cool person, all on his own, his uniqueness, creativity, and mannerisms included in his awesomeness? And that he is also not wholly defined by his neuro-atypicality and is a complete individual without bounds and chains?

Last night I told him… I wanted him to stop holding back who he was at home. I wanted to hear those weird dino facts. I wanted him to wiggle and dance and bounce. I wanted all of him.

You know what? In those moments, he wasn’t Autistic. He was a 9 year old little boy and he said, “I’m happy, mom. I’m so happy.”

Challenging my truth… keeping house.

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Because there’s no place like HOME.

I would like to preface this post with this: I am not a doctor, nor am I trying to be.¬†I am not a medicine hater – if that is what works for you, then please, please do what works. I, myself, am moving away from it after years, and years of medication, for my bipolar disorder.¬†What I have discovered¬†for myself, for my journey, is that maintaining the¬†health of my soul, and the health of my thought life, are the best medicines. I am hoping and praying they are the only therapy I need. If not… I’ll revisit. Please create your therapy plan with the help of those you trust and quality, professional doctors. Please find doctors who listen well, and treat you with respect. This is very important.

My brain has waves of energy – something I will always navigate. I’m on kind of a neutral energy wave right now after a fairly good “high” and so joy isn’t a constant vibration, I have to make sure I’m seeking it. I haven’t found enough time for scripture lately, and¬†I was very restless last night… My husband¬†and I had a small disagreement we mutually blew out of proportion… Fault¬†was a 50/50 split. He went to bed before me; we had made up, but I felt out of sorts and despondent. I has been my life-long tendency to feel that way whenever my¬†relationships aren’t “perfect”, especially¬†when that¬†disharmony is with my husband. But I’ve learned to check in with myself.

I asked myself if I really had to feel this way… And I realized I didn’t. I realized I was giving my husband too much responsibility – I was unconsciously asking him to be perfect (when I am decidedly not holding myself to that standard), and I was asking him to make me feel happy and peaceful. None of those things can be accomplished by another human being, even one so dearly loved. So I shot up a fumbling “Whose am I?” to the only One who knows… And I was at peace again.

Learning to question¬†reality. Reality vs the space in my head. I don’t want to say “I’ve arrived” because you always keep learning, always want to grow. But my brain doesn’t feel like a prison anymore. What felt like a cold, decaying prison cell with unfriendly jailers is beginning to feel like a house. A home.

There are rooms in my brain house now. Rooms, closets, storage, workspaces, sanctuaries, places to be creative. There are chores and maintenance, and sometimes like in real life you have to look at the clutter and say, “I just can’t today… Too tired…”

It’s hard to fix messes from a place of exhaustion or a place of powerlessness. And sometimes not fixing the mess can drain you more, especially when you beat yourself up about it. You must learn to say, “Okay mess, you just have to sit there and I’ll deal with you tomorrow but I’m going to let myself really rest and not make myself feel guilty.” (We are commanded to rest, y’all.

Sometimes you get stuff done. You are a powerhouse. You are doing dishes, and vacuuming floors, and making everything WORK. You are finding the parts of yourself, of your mind, of your thoughts that need a little tidying up, and you have found the strength to get after it.

Sometimes you get creative and you make BEAUTY. You get a new picture and hang it on the wall; you grab some flowers from the farmer’s market and place them on your table. Your brain house is a HOME and you can enjoy it and flourish.¬†

But¬†SOMETIMES… You find that you’ve tripped, and you’ve fallen into the cat box and Oh my goodness…¬†that is disgusting wtf,¬†get out of the cat box¬†– that is for crap what is wrong with you?!

So if you’re wise? You get out of the cat box, because you don’t belong there. (Go take a shower, girl.)¬†That receptacle is there with a purpose – it’s a toilet. It’s there so you can¬†scoop cat crap out and¬†throw it away. That receptacle is so that filth is kept to a manageable level that you can deal with, so things don’t get out of hand. It has one job. Reign in the crap, so you can deal with the crap.

This is also a good time to point out that CRAP IS A PART OF LIFE. THERE WILL BE CRAP. THINGS ARE NOT PERFECT IN THIS WORLD. But… You don’t make a seat in the middle and settle in to watch TV. I’m sure this reads as humorous (and it is meant to), but it’s also serious.¬†

How often do we become so consumed with our crappy, destructive¬†thoughts that we make them a dwelling for our being, instead of understanding that they can be dealt with and removed? And don’t tell me you’ve never sat down and watched a season of something terrible on Netflix from your brain’s cat box before, cause we all¬†have, honey.

The beauty is you DON’T HAVE TO. You don’t belong there! Take a look around and realize that you’ve tripped and fallen into the cat box and GET UP.

Get into your brain’s kitchen and whip up something nourishing for your soul! Seek truth and fill yourself up with that!

Get into your arts and crafts room and make some beauty. Look for it. See what’s already there and make some more.

Climb into the tub in your brain’s house and find some relaxation.

For the first time in my life I am not trapped in a jail cell in my mind. My brain makes sense. It’s not perfect but it’s a good brain. It’s good. Because I know WHOSE I am. And that shows me who I am. I can be at home… any time, and any place. Love to all of you.

Challenging my truth… “Surprise!”

So this won’t be the focus of this post, but I went vegan the first week of June of this year. I have experienced overall positive effects. Definitely some trial and error, but overall I’m super happy with my decision (health wise) and I’m 100% on board with the socioeconomic and spiritual positives.

That said… did you know that Trader Joe’s has delicious vegan chocolate chip cookies? :p

My clothes have started fitting different – I was feeling like I was losing some weight (slowly, which is what I’m after), so I decided to check the scale today. I haven’t weighed myself all year, other than at the doctor. So… SURPRISE: apparently I’ve lost a whole two pounds. My normal reaction to this would be to freak out, cry, hate myself, cut myself down and ironically (though I know you get this if you get food addiction) to go binge.

I have worked so hard, so so so hard over the last few months to develop healthy self-talk… that it’s starting to stick. I looked at the number. I said a few thankful words to myself that it wasn’t¬†higher than the last time I’d checked, and I felt something I haven’t felt in awhile – motivation.

Not the crazy, LET’S GO ON A DIET!!!!!! kind of motivation that plagues extremists like myself, but a quiet voice that said, “Ah, well I can probably do better than that.”

So I thought about it. When I chose veganism, it was 50/50 on health/convictions. I told myself, “you have permission to take as long as you need to, to fix things up.” I realized that health and wellness isn’t all physical, and it’s not a race.

How many¬†programs had I gone on? Only to totally fail and hate life. So I’m going to make ONE health goal happen per month. August is: drink enough water. Not MORE water, but ENOUGH water. Mindfully, with care, and with love for myself. Hydrate this body. I have been doing a terrible job of hydrating and I keep putting more focus into sugary drinks, coffee, tea, caffeinated things.

If I start organically making some other healthy choices alongside my goal of the month, well then awesome. Organic is the key word – forcing myself to completely change everything about my habits overnight has never worked for me. I’m too fascist. I beat myself up over mistakes.

So here goes the rest of my life… one month at a time.

Challenging My Truth, pt 1 of…

tumblr_o1bkm0IViW1rz97e3o1_1280[Insert declaration/apology for lack of posts. Blah blah, blah.]

32. Thus far, in a little over ONE month, year 32 around the sun has been the most productive period of personal growth I have experienced in years. It’s about time, too. It’s not that I haven’t been growing until now, it’s more like the Gardener, His helpers, and myself have been planting seeds in my life, and this year all the plants bloomed.

I decided awhile ago that I was going to live my life in outrageous honesty. Radical truth. If this meant I discovered some stuff that wasn’t so great, cool. If this meant it was time to finally acknowledge and honor what was great, awesome.

I am wont to post loooooong posts, and I am kind of over that (as are you, more than likely), but this is a looooooooooooong topic. So I hope to make this a series, but I am not good at sticking to things so we’ll see how it goes. (See, honesty).

Today’s Subject #1: Mild-to-Moderate Agoraphobia & Vehophobia

Although this is actually the most recent discovery¬†I have made of myself, or at least the most recent I’m acknowledging after burying it deep and making excuses, I’m starting here because it involves you. More than likely, if you’re reading this, you’ve been affected by this so I want you to know.

Ever since I can remember, the act of getting into a car and driving it has freaked me out, particularly if I’m driving to:

  • a place I’ve never been before
  • somewhere in a very metropolitan/busy/confusing area (i.e. Seattle; WTF one-ways)
  • somewhere outside of a 10 mile radius of my home
  • honestly could be driving¬†anywhere on the wrong day
  • a commitment (appointment; friend date; Buy Nothing pick-up; recording studio time) – the added pressure of¬†having to go somewhere, even somewhere I really, really want to be, somehow makes the anxiety go up

This has actually evolved into just not wanting to go anywhere. Even if I’m not driving. If I am leaving, I prefer it to be with my husband, where he is driving, and we are going somewhere familiar. And often I don’t even want to do that.

This is where it has gotten out of hand.

I work from home, which has probably deepened the trench of “hiding-out” in my life. On the one hand, it is a grace and mercy that allows me to stay comfortably employed (I had to fight against this disorder¬†most mornings¬†when I worked outside of the home). On the other hand, it does little to challenge my most comfortable patterns.

So, this has evolved (or devolved?) into me not leaving the house much. Even to see the many fabulous friends I have in my neighborhood who I could simply walk to see. I have driven myself further, and further, and further into my comfort zone.

This is very confusing to my psyche, as I am an extreme extrovert. I LOVE people! I love getting to know people, sharing thoughts, spending time. But apparently not enough for the light to overcome the dark.

So here’s why I’m writing this, beyond me figuring out stuff that I need to figure out.

To anyone and everyone who needs this from me:

I’m sorry for canceling on you.

I’m sorry for any number of excuses I’ve made.

I’m sorry for being late to stuff. I was talking myself into putting on pants. Pants are freaking scary.

I’m sorry for avoiding making plans in the first place.

I’m sorry for seeming disinterested in your thing. I’m not actually disinterested. I’m having a mild panic attack.

I’m sorry for seeming like I want you to be proud of me and/or grateful to me, just for showing up. You’re actually correct. I do want you to be proud of me cause it was probably very hard for me to get there. I don’t need special attention and I don’t feel like God’s gift to “x” gathering I’m at; just know that me showing up is special because it means I overcame the battle in my brain.

The saddest sufferer of my condition is my son. I should be taking him to the park. I should be going on trips to the zoo. I should be, I should be, I should be. I am not. I am trapped. WE are trapped.

I’m not sure where to go from here, but I’m beginning to live¬†in the light. I’m here, raw, sharing my heart. Encourage me, I guess. Know that I’m not avoiding YOU, I’m trapped in my head. Perhaps even though it is enabling, you can offer to drive. Many friends do this for me; I think they’re on to me. I think they know what’s going on IN HERE (this old brain cage of mine).

I am challenging all of my truths – by this I mean the things I’ve told myself and assumed are true. I know that I allow myself to believe I am scared to leave my nest; it’s my default¬†pattern and one I need to challenge. Leaving my life of addiction behind has been a journey – I’m over 15 months sober now and it really reveals what you’ve been hiding from. I’ve been hiding from life and I’m ready to step into the light.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading. If you know me and love me, thanks for your patience. I love you, too.

Long and overdue

So there are a few reasons that I haven’t blogged in forever, and one of them is practical:

My laptop totally died. It was a little over five years old and we tried to install Windows 10 on it and it just went “nope,” and went to its technical grave. We ended up having to replace our desktop as well (we are now total Apple fanboys with a sacrilegious Samsung TV), and laptop replacement was just not a financial priority. So it’s me and my iPad up in my office and you can see how well that went as far as blogging goes.

I missed blogging a lot, so I tried to think creatively. This is my solution:


A cheap Bluetooth keyboard from Amazon cleared things up and I’m here blogging because I can type like a normal person. Perhaps you can handle the little glass keyboard for long drawn out periods of typing but it drives me nuts.

Reason number two:

Business, depression and the case of “do not wanna.”

I had a fabulous summer of productivity. I gave up some unhealthy habits, reconnected with God, got involved in a couple of Bible studies, changed my work schedule to an earlier shift to have more productive off-time hours, and generally was just succeeding my way through life. I wrote some of the best songs I’ve written thus far and developed some close and wonderful relationships. This is bipolar dream-time. A mania of positivity and light. My ability to focus and “do all the things” at an all time, ramped up, super-human high.

It’s been a rough few years since I have had steady positive manias. Before I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder type 2 due to some very uncharacteristic behavior on my part, I had manias over and over and didn’t recognize them for what they were because they were so good. The looked good to me, and they looked good to others. Painting 9 paintings in a month when I was pregnant, when I’d never painted anything before. Unpacking my whole house, pretty much solo, down to paintings hung on the wall, in two days.

These unhealthy manias looked like insomnia, partying, and self-destruction. Things I never would have accepted in my life before I began to seek out voraciously, but nothing satisfied me anyway. Just temporary placation to fill a void that had begun to build up inside of me… Just caving into what I thought I wanted. I mean… that’s kind of the bipolar M.O. Something sounds like a good idea, and you do it. You’re “invincible” and nothing can stop you. Nothing can hurt you. Nothing can touch you. Until it does. Then the crushing guilt, the instability, the fear that next time you could do worse and worse things and hurt more and more people. I think I have written about this enough times that I don’t need to elaborate any further.

What I’m not sure I’ve covered before, and perhaps it doesn’t¬†matter because it’s whirring around in my brain and I think it’s going to come out regardless, is how I now don’t really believe that the things I did at that time in my life were all that “uncharacteristic.” I’m going to tread very lightly here and say that I am not a doctor, nor am I a psychologist, and to say that I speak for the bipolar community at large and that my experience is universal would be ridiculous and grandiose. So please know that I am speaking to my own life and no one else’s.

As I worked my way through the last four years of my life with counseling, self assessment and awareness, and the help of those who love me, I have come to the conclusion that there was a darkness inside of me aching to burst out and that yes, I suffer from mental illness, but it was only the broken padlock to a storage unit full of crap that needed to be dealt with. Do I think that my bipolar broke the seal on that stuff and let it all out? Absolutely. Do I think that part of the equation was beyond my control and “not my fault?” Absolutely. I think that if I were psychologically built “normal,” I would have been able to continue to keep it all inside and had a “normal” life, just like everybody else. Resentments, disappointments, anger, confusion, self involvement, selfishness, self-loathing… how many of us experience those things in life? Pretty much everyone. Those thoughts and attitudes are the cornerstone of unhealthy human behavior, and they need to be dealt with. You have to look those things square in their ugly faces and say, “look, we need to figure this out.” When you don’t, it leaks out instead of being worked out. And that happens to everyone, not just the psychologically atypical.

So I dealt with it. I dealt with my crap, I acknowledged the parts of me that needed fixing. I made a lot of apologies. I made a lot more mistakes. I corrected behaviors and then fell back into them again. I prayed a lot. A lot of other people prayed for me. And I was (am!) blessed enough to be surrounded by people who were and are pulling for me, supporting me, and doing their very best to understand my complications.

This summer I had one final experience, after my baptism, that looked like the old me that I was trying to leave behind. The me that picked temporal satisfaction over lasting and healthy enlightenment. I divorced her that day. I had one final talk with her and said, “I’m clinging to you because you’re safe. I have been okay with you being here because you’re not a challenge, and everyone expects you to not do any better. Heck, a ton of people really enjoy you. Doing¬†better is terrifying because it means you can do worse. Staying in a non elevated¬†position means not disappointing anyone… not disappointing myself. But you’re not me anymore, and I’m leaving you behind. GO. AWAY.” I was free. I just let go (there’s a poem like that floating around the interwebs somewhere).

So then the mania that had flooded my brain and my body again became glorious because it wasn’t tainted. It was full of the grace and majesty of Christ and the blessing of healthy pursuits and the beauty of raw creativity. It was energized and magical. My connection to Holiness was direct and pure. I wanted things that were REAL that the world doesn’t understand to be real but I do. I do.

Now we’re getting to the downward spiral, and honestly, some heartbreak for me personally. Followed by more enlightenment, it gets better, seriously. ūüėČ

My husband was observing me. He was enjoying my mood, my better wife-dom, mom-dom, all-the-things-dom, but he was getting concerned. He came to me and said, “You’re doing too much. You need to slow down and you need to drop something from your schedule.”

Mania me is extremely overconfident and self-righteous. “Um… no I’m not! I’m handling this all amazingly! I’m reading three books right now and studying the Bible with you every night and being a good mom, and praying regularly, and feeling connected with God, and helping counsel friends who are going through hard times, and, and and…”

Look at me. Look what I can do. Look how strong I am. Look how useful I can be. Useful. Useful. Useful.

Oh, to be useful. Dependable. My mom is useful. I never have understood it. She can handle being on several committees at once, and come home and knit stuff, and make some hand-made cards, and then go to her sister’s house for coffee. I don’t get it. This is like her M.O. She’s a behind the scenes, make it come together, never need the spotlight type of gal. And if she says she’s going to do something… she makes it happen.

I always wanted to be like her, you know? When I was a little girl I thought I’d grow up to be this pro-mom type because that’s the type of mom I had. And I never, never did.

Except when I’m manic, and not a self-indulgent, emotionally stunted mess! Hey, that version of myself can get it done, man! But she slowly tapers off. She wanes and waxes, and I can’t depend on her to stick around when I need her to. Manic me writes checks that depressed me, and heck, sometimes even just plain old stable me, cannot begin to cash.

The school year hit me hard because it is an always¬†type of thing. I HATE ALWAYS THINGS. I already have a job, and I already have a family, and I love them to death, but they are ALWAYS things, and I just don’t have enough room in my psyche for more of that, thank you very much. EVERY Monday through Friday my big second grader has to wake up at 7:00 am and take 45 minutes to put one leg in his underwear and perhaps a sock on in the correct direction. EVERY Monday through Friday I have to clock into work by 7:00 and I’m expected to talk¬†to people! (If you ever read this boss, I love and appreciate my job, and know how lucky I am to work for you) The nerve of life to go on with the same level of expectation every day, of every year, for years and years and years.

The first thing that I lost was my direct, energetic connection to God. What had felt like iMessaging a buddy who was always near their phone started to feel like two tin cans and a string. I never doubted God was there at the other end, but I couldn’t hear Him clearly and it felt like betrayal, honestly. It felt like I had the rug pulled under me, just when I thought I was doing well and obeying him and being a good and faithful servant. It almost physically hurt. All I wanted at that point was to sleep.

So I started lacking the energy to go to four nights a week of commitments. I’d miss one here and there and feel that wretched guilt piling up inside me again. Flake. Commitment-phobe. Worthless. Disappointment. Your friends aren’t going to trust you to do what you say you’re going to do. They won’t understand that the thought of putting on pants makes you want to cry. That you aren’t fun and bubbly and talkative right now so they won’t think it’s “you” and you’ll find yet another way to let everybody down.

Finally a week came where I went to nothing. I did nothing, I saw no one. I never changed out of my pajamas. Missed all 4 commitments. I was so ridden with guilt over this that it drained as much of my energy as if I’d gone¬†to all of them! I had to do that horrible things wives do occasionally and look my very loving and wise husband in the eyes and say, “You were right.” And I quit everything.

It was the right choice. This was about a month a go and I have turned around completely again. My mania is back (or is it stability?) I’ve seen friends a few times, started attending church again, and I redecorated my whole first floor (it looks amaze). I permed one of my My Little Ponies’ hair on q-tips. (Yes, yes I did.) And I’ve realized a few things.

  • I have stopped looking at my bipolar disorder as a negative and started looking at it as an alternative brain wiring. I will continue to call it bipolar for the benefit of discussing it with other people but internally, I’m comprehending that it’s the way that I am.
  • I am seeing the spiritual parts of it, as they may wax and wane, as a gift. With tears in my eyes, the other day it occurred to me that maybe not everyone gets to feel the direct connection to God like I am blessed to a few times a year. Maybe those periods of time are a day, a week, or an entire summer. Maybe I go 4 weeks not feeling that immense joy and light, and maybe I go 8 months. But those times exist and if they are something gifted to me by God then however much time He chooses to bless me with I will celebrate. When we go back to the tin-can phone system, He and I, I’ll try to remember that one day he’ll shoot me an iMessage. And even if He never does again, He did. He did.
  • The creative parts are a joy that I cherish. When the muse is flowing I am a powerhouse of song writing, and thoughtful expressions of dynamic thought. When it’s time to be creative, it’s time to be creative. When it’s not time, maybe I should read a book. Or take a class on HTML5. Or do nothing. Maybe I am to learn the art of waiting.
  • Not all parts of me are good. Not all parts are bad. I think that true mental and emotional health for any of us is to get to know our faults and positives and figure out which faults are fixable, and which are just those you cope with. For example, if I say it is an excusable part of my character to belittle someone I love for sport, I am an asshole. You can, and probably should fix that. But if I somehow feel like I am at fault for going through periods of depression, of nothingness, and therefore feel like I should be able to “fix” it when I am likely never going to be able to, I am doing myself a disservice. I should instead figure out how to prepare for and deal with those times in a healthy way that causes the least amount of damage to myself and others.
  • I will likely¬†never be “dependable.” This means I: will never volunteer for the PTSA; may not be able to show up to your party that I was so excited for, because pants; will do my best to stay in communication with my friends but may drop off the face of the earth for a bit (please don’t take it personally); will probably not be traditionally¬†useful. Around 60% of people with bipolar disorder cannot hold employment and I have been at my job for over 8 years. Around 90% of marriages where one person is bipolar end in divorce and I have been married for almost 13 years. (And I don’t believe in bad luck, so you can hush it with that #13 business.) I have just enough inside of me to overcome the odds and anyone who isn’t okay with that probably has no business being in my life. (For both of our sakes.)
  • I AM: creative, thoughtful, passionate, loving, transparent, honest, loyal ¬†and diplomatic. In the zombie apocalypse I will probably not be able to help with the horses, or grow the vegetables, but I will be able to entertain. I’ll bring my ukulele and my bad jokes.
  • I am blessed, blessed, blessed to have a long queue of people who seem to love me just the way I am.

If you made it through this long-winded post, well, thank you. Thanks for sticking with it. It’s hard to stay in a period of self discovery when you’ve hit the skids. It comes so naturally to “learn about myself” and others when my energy levels are high and buzzing with electricity. The triumph of this entire cycle is that I was able to keep learning through my depression and to not turn back to destructive forms of comfort to cope.
Looking forward to 2016. With thankfulness, Christina.

Fitness geek?!

As many of you know, recently a very close friend of mine passed away. I will state here that it is highly unlikely that I will blog about him at any time, in a lengthy way. I choose to cherish most of my memories of him dear to my heart, and to keep them private. Thank you for all of your support and condolences; he is the first person to leave my life too early, and there is nothing else in the world like that kind of hurt. I am choosing to move forward in my life quickly, while harboring the sweet thoughts of who he was, knowing that I will never truly get over his loss, but seeking to not fall into so many pits as I have before. To honor him, now, more than ever, nothing will stop me from pursuing health.


These days, I’m a whole new woman in many ways. My personal goals are pretty much healthy¬†food prep and to get myself to the gym. Along with all the wonderful blessings of this time of year comes all of¬†the consumerism. Gifts between friends and family – there’s nothing wrong with that. Lately, though, my urge to CONSUME has been reduced. I am less and less inclined to get “stuff.” Be that as it may, there are things in this world that we need to get from point A to point B, and now that I’m getting into this fitness lifestyle, I have a few holes in my gear. This year, my wish list looks like this:

It cracks me up how excited I get about all of this fitness stuff. My best friend used to tell me about the cool compression shirt she found, or a pair of shoes that helps her stability and stance, and I pretty much humored her and did the smile and nod. I guess after 3 years of doing life together, she kind of rubbed off on me. ūüôā

One thing standing in my way at this point is that it is VERY hard to find good workout clothes when you’re plus sized. Monday night after working out, I went to Fred Meyer to find THE MOST AMAZING WATER BOTTLE EVER. I was complaining to¬†the cashier about the small (pathetic) plus size section, and how finding¬†good plus size workout wear was so difficult. It’s kind of a slap in the face: you’re fat? Good, no working out for you, stay that way! I am¬†working my booty off to get OUT of plus sizes,¬†but on the way down, I need good athletic wear, and it’s very¬†scarce¬†– and expensive! Okay, all good quality workout wear is pretty pricey, but it’s hard to want to spend a ton of money on clothes I’ll shrink out of in a few months. Thank goodness for LB, which has a fairly good and extensive line of workout stuff, and lots of coupons. My awesome hubby is picking up two pairs of workout leggings for me tonight. They are pretty cool because they have compression.¬†My New Balance running shoes will arrive tomorrow. Even my feet make finding workout gear difficult because I wear an 8.5 2E/WW (I call them double wides). After a ton of searching, I came across these gorgeous shoes (because let’s face it, normally I get nursing home shoes, amiright?):

shoe (1)My last pair of athletic shoes… which are over… um… probably 5 years old now (for goodness sake) were New Balance and so I’m a little biased, but I seem to do really well with them. I’m sorry for going on, and on, and on… but I’m really excited. Excited for fitness stuff!!! (So weird…) I have been friends with health nuts for years. I never thought I’d be one too!

Getting back on the elliptical!

exerciseI did something last night that I was sure I’d never do again: I went to the gym. (I also didn’t blog – ha!)

I made this decision on Tuesday, when I purchased my second membership to the beautiful and well-appointed local gym that’s just about 2 miles – and only 4 minutes! –¬† away from my home. When we first moved to the middle of what used to be nowhere, but is quickly becoming Suburban Somewhere, I had joined this lovely gym. I enjoyed my membership for close to two years, and then I got lazy about my health and quit. Because I had also purchased an unlimited child care pass, this gym was too expensive to not visit several times per week. At that time, it made no sense to keep the membership. Fast forward to today, and as you all well know by now, I am taking care of myself again. This time, I plan on making it a real and realistic lifestyle change, not a “weight loss plan” with a deadline. As my food choices get better and better, my body wants to move. That has been an interesting phenomenon in and of itself.

So the embarrassing part of this story? After signing up to go back to the Nice Gym… I went and cancelled the cheaper, more bare bones gym membership I had purchased at a place that was about 5 miles away, and approximately 15 minutes drive time, in traffic. My motivation for this was the price, which was about 40% of what I paid at Nice Gym (with unlimited childcare membership). But…

Guess how many times I made it to that gym?

I’ll give you a hint: It’s two.

Guess how long I’ve had that membership? A year.

Guess how much having that “cheaper” membership saved me?

IT DIDN’T BECAUSE SPENDING $20/PER MONTH THAT YOU DON’T USE IS $240 YEARS OF WORTHLESSNESS. Actually, That means I paid $120 dollars for each of my gym visits. If that weren’t so exasperating, perhaps it would be hilarious. (Okay, it’s hilarious.)

Some of the benefits that Nice Gym has with their premium membership are:

  • unlimited classes
  • free 30 minute personal training session each month
  • sauna
  • unlimited tanning
  • very nice locker room with showers
  • 4 minutes from my house (let’s keep it real folks – that’s the real winner-winner-chicken-dinner right there)
  • smoothie bar (doesn’t mean much to me right now, but some day I may not be so sensitive to things and I’ll be able to indulge in this again, once in awhile)
  • beautiful children’s room with a huge play space and multiple slides, as well as very competent childcare providers who are kind and caring

I elected to skip out on the $20/month unlimited childcare fee. If you bring your kid to the gym every time you go, this is a great deal, but I will probably not bring Xander every time. Your other options are to pay $4.00 for each individual visit, or $30 for a 10 visit punch card. My monthly membership, with all of those benefits above, is $29.95 plus tax. The Cheap Gym membership was $15 for me and $5 for unlimited care for Xander. It was a great deal… except for the part about me not using it. They have no classes, no locker room/showers, no sauna, one free training session per membership, are too far away, and their kid’s room is not nearly as fun. The staff is really sweet there, and they keep things clean. They recently had a remodel with new equipment and flooring – they’re just bare bones. And if bare bones is all you really want, then $15/month is a really great deal for a gym. But no amount of money is a good deal if you don’t use a service.

All this has me thinking: what does “worth it” really mean?

It starts with this: I am worth it. You are worth it. Then what follows should be:

  • priorities
  • goals
  • dreams
  • achievable realities
  • guidance from experts
  • realistic expectations
  • convenience and usability

I realized I had been shortchanging myself, my health and my need for convenience, for $10.00 a month (or $30.00 a month with the childcare option). I hadn’t taken my driving time into consideration, let alone the time of day I’d be traveling to the gym. Since I get off work at 5:30, it was right at rush hour. I also failed to consider what types of services I’d be giving up by switching to a more low tech gym. I hadn’t considered that I already felt comfortable at Nice Gym and that switching would feel foreign to me.

I think it’s okay to pay for convenience, provided that you will use that convenience. I think it’s okay to want the best for yourself when you’re taking your health into your own hands.

I haven’t blogged about my experiment in giving up on eating out (any eating out: fast food, coffee, frozen yogurt, restaurants – all gone), but $10.00 is a trip to McDonalds, and $30.00 is a trip to Red Robin. Both of those choices were detrimental to my health,¬† and yet just over six weeks ago, I was perfectly comfortable shelling out the dough for 30 minutes of food pleasure (followed by several hours of food torment later on… I’ll spare you the details).

When your priorities change, so does your mindset, and I think throwing some extra dollars at the gym is the best decision I’ve made all week!

On Happiness

From BrainyQuote.com
From BrainyQuote.com

For quite some time now, I have carried around a list of goals in my mind like an anchor. Sometimes an anchor centers you; it pulls in your focus and reminds you of what’s really important to you. And sometimes an anchor is just that: a dead weight. A dock. A standstill. Goals are wonderful- without them, we wouldn’t push ourselves on towards anything better. But recently, it’s become really evident to me that your goals should not push you towards some THING that is better; they should push you to be some ONE who is better.

What’s better? Is it having more money? Is it having power, or position, or a ton of people who fawn over you? Or is it this:

Found on Intentionally-Inspired.com
Found on Intentionally-Inspired.com

Happiness to me, these days, is all about what you DO. If what you do aligns with who you want to be, and most of us want to be a source of light and love to this world, you will always be happy. If your happiness is not on how much joy you can scoop up and gather to yourself, but rather how much joy you can scoop up and hand to other people, happiness just isn’t all that hard to find.

I think this is something that’s really important for those of us with mental illness to remember. It’s very hard to “feel” happy sometimes when you’re struggling with depression, or the guilt you may feel after some pretty stupid things you’ve done while manic. (Or whatever your experience happens to be.)¬†Write down a list of the good things you DO. I think DO turns into FEEL pretty quickly. Don’t write yourself a list of the not so good things you do. You become what you focus on.

The best Christians focus on becoming more like Christ, and less like Joel Osteen. *ehem* They do best when they aim FOR something, instead of just running AWAY from what they fear. You can spend your life running from your demons, and focusing on that, or you can spend your life chasing the dreams that God gave you.

Speaking of which, I’m learning the ukulele and it’s the best thing ever!

I had a dream for years about learning an instrument so I could sing and play. But did I do anything about it? No. I just stewed, and wished, and didn’t put in any time, money, or effort towards my goal of being an instrumentalist as well as a vocalist. Until recently. See, I’ve been on this DO kick.

And I really, really, really like it.