Not Working

Today marks ten months since I quit my last job as a medical transcriptionist and eight months since I have been in Texas with friend A. Thanks to her generosity, I have managed to eke out my extremely meagre savings this long without having to seriously look for another job. And a couple of weeks ago, I discovered that I will soon be able to draw survivor’s benefits on my late husband’s social security, so it may be that I won’t actually have to look for a job any time soon. To say that I was surprised and stunned at this news is the understatement of the decade. Once again, my dead spouse is treating me better than any of the living.

I love not working. I have not had this amount of time off from a job since I started working for pay at age fifteen. I only took one month off after I had a baby and one month when I moved across the country from Atlanta to Pueblo, and only that long because it took a while to find a job. I’ve basically been employed for nearly 50 years, so it’s safe to say I don’t even know what it’s like to not work as an adult.

This is not to say I don’t stay busy. One of the reasons I came here was to help A out around the house, etc. I wrote about my sweeping duties and these have expanded over my time here. I do pretty much one hundred percent of the cooking and grocery shopping. The teenager can put frozen things in the oven and heat stuff in the microwave, but that’s as far as her cooking skills go. I showed her how to use my rice cooker and that made her really happy and now she even cleans it after she uses it. We take small miracles where we can find them. So, I sweep and cook and shop and keep things organized. I check mail for A’s brother, who lives behind us in a small house A had built on the property for her daughter years ago when she first bought the place. He suffered multiple strokes in February when we were having terrible weather and spent nearly sixty days in hospital and rehab facilities. For a while, I was making and taking him lunch three or four days a week and adding him into our dinner portions as well. Then he decided he needed to go to an actual rehab hospital for several weeks and he made great progress with them. Since he got back, he can move around more, and do is own cooking. But I am here if he needs help and he doesn’t hesitate to call.

These are all things that A would have had to manage while doing the full time job of teaching. So, I definitely don’t feel like I’m freeloading or being a burden. I’m also happy to run errands into town like picking up prescriptions or mailing things or whatever else needs to be done. Why wouldn’t I? I know what it’s like to work full time and never be able to go to the post office or a particular place because you’re headed to work before they open and not off till after they close. I’m happy to do these things for A because she’s my friend and because I can.

I thought for a while about trying to find some kind of job on line part time but as things piled up here and more things happened regarding brother, etc., I realized that adding an actual job into the mix of the things I was already taking care of was not something I wanted to do. I realized I like getting up when I want to. I like taking an hour or more to have coffee in the morning. I like jumping into the pool when it’s not thundering and lightening outside (we have had Noah levels of rain this spring!). I like working on my quilts and having dedicated space to do so. I like taking a nap if I feel like it. I get lots done every day, but every day I get to decide when and how I get it done. *I* get to decide. And if I don’t get to something on my list, no one yells at me. No one accuses me of lying about having computer problems or other situations. I get to do the work I do on my terms and my friend is happy with it. I can be her sounding board and her shoulder to cry on and vice versa. I have mowed part of the property once on the big zero-turn mower, and I will probably do more of that, but with all the rain it’s been hard to find a dry time to mow and I need A to be here at least a couple more times before I try it completely on my own. But I will conquer it!

I’m also learning pool maintenance. A’s cousin wanted to do something nice for her, so she paid to have the pool serviced and a new sand filter put in. Again, A was at work when the job was done, so the guy showed me how to do it (I made videos!) and I have been taking the water samples in every week, adding the chemicals, clearing the filter as needed, etc. Add one more skill set to the list.

So here I am. Apparently on my way to retirement in spite of myself and extremely grateful for everything that fell into place to allow me to do it. And now, the coffee is done and the sweeping beckons. See you soon!

Anniversary

This month marks a year since I moved to Denver.  We signed a new lease this week.  I guess that means things are going well.  I continue to enjoy living here.  I joined the Denver Art Museum and am planning to go see the Monet exhibit when it comes here in October–the only place in the US where it will be.   I’m still learning how to get to and from places.  I haven’t tried the light rail yet, but hope to once the weather cools down a little.  As with any big city, there are so many choices, sometimes it can be overwhelming to narrow things down.

I like where we live, both the inner and outer neighborhoods.  When we first moved here, I was a little worried that this place would be kind of a stuck-up, “yuppie” and very white place with not a lot of distinction.  I have very happily turned out to be wrong.  There’s a lot of diversity here, in age, in gender, in ethnicity, in religion.  I like that.  I shared the hot tub yesterday with 2 kids, siblings, whose dad was working the grill for their Labor Day cookout.  There’s a dental school across the street in the huge University of Colorado hospital complex, and there are a number of those students who live here.  I hear different languages and smell different yummy aromas when I walk the halls.

I do a lot of hall walking for exercise, although I do love paddling around in the pool.  It’s bigger than the pool at my place in Pueblo, but not deep–just four feet all over.  But the hot tub is lovely and a great way to relax before my pre-work nap, or if I decide to stay up until it’s “open” at 7 am, a great way to end the day.  I haven’t tried to sneak in at 5 am when I get off work, although I probably could since most of the building would still be asleep, but it’s also never dark in the pool area and I don’t want to get reported and probably fined.  Maybe one day in the winter when people are REALLY snuggled in at 5 am.  I also enjoy going to the lap pool I found and just a few weeks ago I discovered a great massage therapist through the parks and rec department who is actually affordable.  That’s a BIG plus.

I really miss Pueblo, however.  More than I thought I would.  I miss my friends and my favorite haunts, but what I really miss is the geography.  I miss the river and the Riverwalk.  I miss being able to drive five minutes and get to Runyon Lake and walk the lovely path between the quiet lake and the rushing Arkansas River.  I miss Liberty Point and the amazing views of Pike’s Peak and the Spanish Peaks and the Sangre de Cristos.  I discovered the 6th floor of our parking garage here and I love going up there in the mornings with my coffee and it was a great view for fireworks on the Fourth of July, but the mountains here seem much more distant, and the hawks don’t fly over the roof.  And I didn’t get married up there or scatter my late husband’s ashes off the edge.

Denver has its perks and pleasures for sure.  I’ve found some lovely quilt shops and great restaurants; met some good people and I have old friends here, too.  And my grandson has blossomed since I left.  He has a  really good job now, moved into his own apartment, is paying rent on time, PayPals me money for his car insurance and in his own words has discovered “I’m more responsible than I thought I was.”  I’m so proud of him I could bust.  And for once in my life, I know I made the absolute right decision by moving here, with no lingering doubts.  I don’t think that’s ever happened to me before; it a good feeling.

I started this year out on a theme of progress.  There are days when I’m not sure how much progress I’m making on any front.  But now that I’ve been hear nearly a full year, I can look back and see where I have moved forward and where I need to keep working.  Nothing stays the same, we’re always in a state of flux and flow.  I’m just doing my best to try to stay open to the process and, as always, be grateful for the small things.

morning pool

 

Still Here

Just crossed February 15 off the calendar.  A month and a half into 2019.  My leg is better. I’m still doing yoga, mostly yin.  I started taking advantage of the gym that’s right here in my own building, the recumbent bike and the treadmill, along with some of the weight machines.  I might check out the yoga room with the big TV and a whole set of pre-programmed classes on it.  We’ll see.  The advantage to going for me is I can go there when nearly everyone else is at work, so I mostly have the entire place to myself.  I love that.

I went for a walk outside this week.  The weather finally cooperated and I needed it.  Much as I love this flat, it’s dark because of where it sits inside the box–no direct light.  The gym is all windows on 2 sides and that’s great, but I wanted to be outside.  I haven’t really explored outdoor walking here yet and I miss the easy access to the Riverwalk in Pueblo and the actual river whenever I wanted to go there.  But, next to the pool that I found is a small riparian area with walkways around and through it, a few small hills and rises and the architecture of the picnic areas and benches is kind of Stonhenge-y, which is nice.  I went there on Wednesday.  It was bright and warm enough to just need a vest.  The place is also across the street from a big high school so there were a number of kids over there also enjoying the weather as well as various folks having lunch, walking their dogs, their kids and themselves.  I took one trip around the pond, which was still mostly iced over and then climbed to the top of the little hill in the middle and sat on one of the stone benches in the sun.

Cold weather is about the only time I like sitting in the sun and that was a lovely day.  Full on Vitamin D therapy!

Next week: Hopefully at least one trip to the pool.

A Moment

Today I was working at my second job.  On Tuesdays, I work at a local quilt shop, general duties, helping people pick out fabric, cutting, ringing up, all the usual things one does in a small retail shop.  I like the job for lots of reasons but one of the biggest is that the customers, other quilters, are almost invariably pleasant, creative, interesting people.   Today was a little unusual because we have a sale this week.  My boss isn’t big on sales as a business model because she says people will just wait till you have a sale to come into the shop and stay away otherwise.  But, we have a LOT of inventory on the shelves and more coming and we need to make some room, so a sale for the next three days is in effect.  It’s 20% off all fabric, but if you buy the end of a bolt, then it’s 25%.  That’s to encourage people to just snap up those small amounts left on bolts to put in their stash.

Around mid-morning a lady came in and wandered around for a while and finally settled on a bolt of red that she wanted to pair up with a blue.  I showed her where things were and she found a blue fabric she liked and pulled that out.  Turns out, she was going for the ends of bolts on both, and there were about 4-5 yards of fabric left on each bolt, so a pretty good purchase, even with a discount.

As I was unfurling the fabric to measure exactly how much there was, we were chatting about it and what her plans were for it, etc.  Being red and blue, of course, I was thinking something patriotic for Fourth of July and mentioned that.

“Yes,” she said, “I make a patriotic quilt every year and donate it to the Friends of the NRA so they can raffle it off to raise money.”

“Oh,” I said, pretty much at a loss for words.

“Yes,” she said again.  “The one I donated last year ended up going for $750!”

I suddenly wanted to grab that fabric out of her hands and tell her to just get the hell out of the store because I was NOT going to sell her anything that could be used to benefit that crazy terrorist organization.  It was really all I could do not to.  My hands nearly cramped up with the effort.

But I didn’t.  First of all, the woman was probably close to 80 years old and second, my boss, who owns the shop, also own guns, although I’m pretty sure she’s not a fan of the NRA, as I know lots of gun owners are not.   So I just smiled and nodded and sold her the fabric and was very happy when she walked out of the store.

“Friends of the NRA.”  Damn, who knew?

Working It Out

Every Monday, I go here and check out my Tarotscopes for the week. I check my sun sign, Taurus, and then I also check my rising sign, Scorpio, because I have so many planets and other aspects of my chart in Scorpio that I might as well be that. For the last few weeks, I can’t even begin to say how dead-on accurate these have been on so many levels. So much so that I decided to get serious about it and dig deeper. Too much crap is going on in my life right now and I’ve got to figure out some way to deal with it or it’s going to take me all the way down. Which meant I also pulled out my trusty copy of “Tarot For Your Self” (TFYS) by Mary K. Greer. If you are interested in Tarot at all, I can’t recommend this book too highly. In addtion to the history and basic meanings of the cards, there are exercises and questions and all kinds of other work that one can delve into for self understanding and transformation.

Thus, without further ado, this week’s cards are: Taurus – 9 of Swords and Scorpio – Queen of Swords

Well, two Swords cards. There’s already a lot of processing to be done, because Swords represent rational, logical and mental functions as well as communications and thoughts. Thoughts? Ha! That’s where I live, right? Stupid thoughts. Swords are also indicative of a struggle (ya think?) and point to a need for a decision about or separation from past attachments. Good lord. And there are two of them. Also, in my Zen deck, Swords equal Clouds/Mind. Mind in Zen is, if not the enemy, at least something that needs to be mastered and not allowed to master. Tough stuff.

Today, I’m just going to use the interpretations/questions from TFYS for simplicity’s sake. Let’s begin with the 9 of Swords. First, the number itself (another reason I love TFYS, numerology). Nines represent luck, fate, force, capability, integration, magic, completion, CHANGE IS STABILITY (my emphasis), and self-awareness. In the negative, isolation, delusion, lack of discipline, which I have been feeling mightily lately.

The 9 of Swords itself: Depression, suffering, guilt, putting yourself down and nightmares. Wow, because I had a couple of serious nightmarish dreams last night/this morning, which is something I almost never do. But that’s a whole other blog post. Yes, to all of the other above, as well. Have I been/am I depressed? Yes. Am I suffering because of it? Yes. Do I put myself down? Yes. Sometimes it’s humorous/ironic, sometimes sarcastic, sometimes it’s just out of habit, but yes, I do. I put myself down a lot. I’m not sure why. I think I learned it early. I got picked on a lot and when I complained about it to my mother, her advice was first, on the order of, they don’t know you and how great you are, which was good, and you should just beat them to the punch and make a joke out of it, which maybe wasn’t so good, because it taught me early to put myself down, “as a joke.” I’m learning now a lot, LOT later, that all those years of putting myself down weren’t really a joke. Me, myself and I listened maybe a little bit too well, as kids/youngsters do. So much so, that when I get compliments and kudos, I can scarely believe them, even today. I know (intellectually) that I need to push myself forward and toot my own horn a bit more than I do, but even writing those words, I am feeling the beginning of chest pains, it makes me so anxious to think about. Baby steps, honey, baby steps, you don’t have to start right now. It’s okay. Breathe.

So, on to the questions:

How are you putting yourself down? So many ways. Part of it is keeping this job. I tell myself it’s because I want to work from home–and I do, I really DO like working from home and the thought of having to get dressed to go out of the house and work in an office really does come close to giving me hives. But…I stick to jobs that barely pay and barely use what skills and abilities I have, partly because I’m a wee bit sick and tired of working, but also because (even bigger part) I don’t think I’m able to, or skilled enough or WORTH something better. Don’t think I deserve it, or something. I haven’t quite figured that out yet, and I’m also working on that. Then of course, you factor in the age thing (too much AARP magazine reading), and there’s another stick to beat myself with. But that’s the beauty of working from home–no one really KNOWS how old you are, or what you look like or anything…you just do the job and if it’s done right, everyone’s happy. I also put myself down over this relationship, over not being firm enough with E, being a weak and wishy-washy parent, not living up to some sort of amorphous “standard” that’s out there (mainly of G’s stating), that being a parent means being a martinet–a familial Captain Bligh, if you will, who says, “NO!” first and foremost to every single request and every single thing ever given to a child must be “earned” in some way, even if it’s a trip to McDonald’s. So, I don’t live up to that and so I have been feeling completely and utterly a failure as a parent pretty much this entire last year. And I put myself down about that. I put myself down because I don’t earn much money, and hard as I try, I can’t help comparing myself with other people in other jobs (friends who have long-time career tracks, etc.) and I ALWAYS come up wanting/lacking. All of the above and more. Our relationship is teetering on the brink. I want it to work, but part of me wonders if it really can. I regret every day that I didn’t call social services on the Monday after E. got here on a Friday and just turn him over to them and have them make my daughter (his MOTHER) step up to the plate. But no, me, the doormat, just let myself get stepped on once again, and now, once again, I get to pay for it by putting my life on hold, and once again, I have no idea how to get myself out of this place.

What is the source of your depression? Have you got a few weeks? I’ve thought and thought about this. Why do I feel this way? Even, what right do I have to feel this way? Does a person have a “right” to be depressed when all of their physical needs are being met? I don’t know. I feel like I don’t know anything anymore. Maybe that’s part of the source of the depression–that I don’t know how to best handle my own life anymore, that it’s been hijacked by people and circumstances beyond my control, and yet, it all stems from that one fateful decision that I didn’t have the strength enough to say no to. Pretty much, all negative feelings in my life stem from that. “Separation from past attachments.” Hoo boy. Anyone want to lend me a machete? I need to do some serious past hacking here.

What can you do to improve the situation? This is one way. For me, writing is catharsis, and I haven’t been doing enough of it. It’s my process, my therapy. G gave me a new journal, too, and I started using it, but I stopped. I think I’ll put it into the new (well new to me) car I had to buy in order to get E back and forth to school every day, and maybe on my way back from those trips, I’ll stop and write every day. Then again, I was going to stop and walk every day and yet, I haven’t. I have good intentions and then I end up going straight to hell. But. A journey of a thousand miles starts with one step and it’s never too late to start. (AND, “You can’t get it wrong and you never get it done…” I don’t really care about the last part, but I definitely need to keep reminding myself about the first part. “I’m not wrong, I’m not wrong, I’m not wrong.” Yes, just keep saying it. Chest pains, please stop. Like, NOW.)

What dreams or nightmares are plagueing you? Last night, I dreamed I got up the guts and took myself to see an old lover, at his house, on his property, in front of his family (yes, he was married when we had our affair). He, of course, was horrified, and pretended he didn’t know me, even though I was clearly there to see him. There was nothing sexual involved, I just showed up somewhere that seemed to be his house/property. Then we were walking on a beach, and he was knee-deep in surf, still in a suit. We were talking about something, but I don’t remember an actual conversation. Then the beach changed to a swamp and then some huge swamp-thing slithered up out of the swamp water and turned into a dragon. I crouched down in the belly of an old tree and he disappeared (how appropriate). After that, I woke up. I can’t say this dream has “plagued” me, but that relationship has. I’ve been letting it go, too slowly, over the last few years. I’m pretty much done with it–I want to be done with it, which helps. Other things that plauge me? Never being able to do one single thing that I want to do ever again. Never being able to travel anywhere. Never having my bills paid off. Never just being able to get in the car and spend a few nights in Taos or California or where ever without having to make a million different arrangements, whether it be for the grandkid or my work schedule or a pet. Never being able to take time to myself without feeling completely guilty. Like right now, writing this extra long blog post, I feel like I am neglecting G because she’s home and hasn’t been nearly all summer, and so we “should” be spending time together, etc., blah, blah, blah.

Zen says the pain is to wake you up. If that’s the case, I need to be 110% awake RIGHT NOW because I am tired of hurting.

I want to leave all this pain for a moment, so let’s move to the second care, Queen of Swords.

TFYS says court cards operate in two ways, i.e., each court card repesents the person for whom the reading is being done (me) and someone that person (me) may know, especially someone on whom I may have projected some of my personality. Okay, G. Well, that makes perfect sense. Additionally, TFYS says that Queens represent inner and personal control, rather than worldly control. That also makes sense in that I’ve always felt that I had better control of my own self than I ever did of anything else in my life. Relationships, jobs, other circumstances could be going to shit, but still, I managed to keep calm and carry on. Now, it seems to be the opposite. Outward things might really be fine, but inside I feel like a rumbling volcano about to do a Mt. St. Helens. For any younger woman reading this, be warned. It’s NOT over at puberty. Just sayin’.

On to the Queen of Swords herself: Channels thought. Able to speak on behalf of others Makes her point well. Sees through deceit and dissembling. Intelligent and self-reliant. Sharp tongue. Usually fair but can be vindictive. Love of ideas.

All true enough, but something seems to be missing. Able to speak on behalf of others is great, but don’t I get to speak for myself? I think that’s the great lack here. I’ve not been speaking for myself enough. Not nearly enough. All my early “responsibility” training is hard to shake. Suck it up. Don’t make waves. You’re the example. Blah, blah, blah. I’m fed up with all that. Be your own example, use your own brains. I’m nobody’s blueprint.

And the questions:

How are you utilizing your mental and communicative abilities? Not nearly as well as I should be. I know I get defensive when G wants to have a discussion. I’m sure I don’t listen as well as I should before I start to rebut or respond. I need to learn how to use the pause, to not be afraid of the pause. The pause is powerful. I’m also letting all that past stuff get in the way of clear communication. What’s right here, right now. Just because it’s MY baggage doesn’t mean it should be everyone’s baggage. That’s not fair, and the Queen of Swords is fair. Also, according to Zen, judgments, all judgments, are products of our conditioning. All of this work is trying to get through to the truth of my heart, not the judgment of my mind. I may not be there right now, but I’ll get there. I will. Baby steps.

Who is helping you see the alternatives by pointing things out in a rational, perhaps critical, way? Well, that would be G, of course. To be honest (or TBH as the kids like to text), it seems like everything out of her mouth over the last year has been critical. But, again, I have to own my own conditioning. I have to learn how to listen and be fair, to hear that she IS trying to help, even when I percieve it as once again pointing out my shortcomings. She isn’t doing that. I’m using her words to do that for myself. I have to be able to learn the difference.

So as I bring this opus to an end, you can see that there has been a whole hell of a lot going on in my head this week, just from these two cards. Some of it is heavy, very heavy, I won’t lie. This past year, since June of 2013, till now, has probably been the heaviest and most difficult of my entire life. No wonder the chest pains. Heart’s truth wants out, I get that. I have to remember that amongst all this angst and processing, I have to let go of it for a while. I have to find places to relax, spaces to breath, times to laugh.

And, most of all, remember that I can’t get it wrong.

Brisk

As summers go in Pueblo, this one was relatively mild. We had only a few days of near 100-degree weather, and one of those was this month, breaking a 90-year record. Yesterday, a cold front blew down from the north and right now it’s 43 degrees, after a high yesterday in the 80s. Welcome to Colorado weather.

After I did all my morning errands, getting the boy up, in the shower, fed and to school, stopped at social services to make sure his Medicaid got re-certified, and getting home, I decided to walk around the park. I’m much more likely to go outside to exercise when it’s chilly than when it’s hot. The overnight clouds that brought rain here and a little snow to the higher elevations were trying to blow out in a hurry. The neighborhood was quiet. People had either already left for work or weren’t up yet. The park is still summer green.  As I walked down the dead end that leads to the far corner, I noticed a large blue dragonfly on the street. Thinking it was frozen, I bent to touch it. It moved sluggishly, water droplets clinging to the gauzy wings. Not frozen yet, but I doubt it will survive the day.

I don’t know why I love this time of year so much. Things are fading and dying. The colors are dusty, having lost the brilliance of summer. To me, it’s beautiful. The quality of light on a fall afternoon is more striking than at any other time of year. The days are getting shorter, even though we still have two weeks till the Equinox. There is just something about the energy of this season change that calls to me in a deep, visceral way. If it were possible, I think I would live in autumn all the time.

The other day, I burned a significant number of items from a certain point in my past. A couple of weeks before that, I tossed a big box of video tapes from the same time. Fall is a good time to clear out. A lot of people think of spring cleaning, but for me, fall is more symbolic for that. Maybe it’s because school starts in the fall, and that always signifies a new year, a fresh start, hope and enthusiasm. I haven’t had much enthusiasm lately. I’ve been far from my peak in many ways for a long time. I’m not sure why. There are a lot of external reaons, but I’ve had external chaos in my life before and managed to go on and be fine because internally, I had a deep sense of joy and connection to the natural world. This seems to have vanished. I still enjoy being outside in Nature. I know I need to do more of it, but I make excuses not to, just like I make excuses not to blog or write or exercise.

G of course is worried. For the first time in ever, she is at me to go to the doctor. I suppose I should go, get some labs, have them tell me I’m too fat, and get it over with. There may be a physical/physiological/hormonal component to all this. I’m willing to entertain that. I also know part of it is my job/work schedule. For example, today is Friday. I got up at 5:30 a.m. and if I don’t go soon and take a nap, I wil be up for nearly 24 hours before I can get any significant sleep. I understand that’s not great, but there’s not much I can do about it. Just like my body loves this time of year, it also loves to be up in the morning and even when I do my best to keep a regular sleep schedule and practice all the sleep hygiene in the world, I can’t get this body to sleep more than three or four hours at a time during the day. I try. Heaven knows I try. But you can’t force yourself to be sleepy or go to sleep no mater how many deep breaths you take or sheep you count.

Sometimes, things shift. I had something like this happen a few years ago then the above items I recently released were more important to me. I remember I was in my office at work and I heard a whispered voice. It distinctly said, “Your time with this is done.” And so it was. All the feelings, magic, attachment, wonder that I had previously felt regarding those things was over in nearly an instant. It’s taken me this long to admit it and let go of them. At the time, I wrote the following poem. I think it’s even more relevant now:

Summer’s End

Lammas blood flows
Slow and thick;
Now the zenith’s reached,
And sun has peaked.
Beneath the sanguine season’s breeze
A hint of winter rustles
Its chilly notice.

My heart has shifted;
The summer king falls silent within.
Whispered messages are stilled
In anticipation of a colder clime.
Where shall my soul anchor
During this time of approaching squalls?
I call and no one answers,
Or, perhaps, I can no longer hear.

First leaves fall crisply to the ground,
Drifting upon autumn’s freshening breath.
In this early glimpse
Of this year’s death, I wake.
Where have I been?
Adrift in Spirit’s vessel,
Alight with Heaven’s fire.

But now the wind has changed
And sent me back to know,
Sometimes when prayers are answered,
The answer’s clearly no.

 

The weather is brisk today. Perhaps, one day, I will feel brisk again, too.

Hungry For Sleep

If you’ve read this blog or my other blog for any length of time, you’ll know that sleep is something I often struggle with. I have a hamster wheel in my head that doesn’t turn off easily just because I lie down at night. Most of the time what I’m thinking about isn’t anything bad or worrisome (though sometimes it is), it’s just thinking…about recipes, about blog posts, about what I would do if I won the lottery, about what I forgot to do that day and what I want to get done the next day. We all do that to some extent, but my wheel is really a perpetual motion machine and it’s nearly impossible these days to get it to slow down long enough to let me get some significant rest. Add that to swapping out work/living schedules every four days and you’ve got a great formula for instant zombie…just add insomnia.

The good news is, I think I may have found a partial cure, at least for the days that I work, which is really critical, since I have to be more than just semi-coherent, or I could make a bad mistake (more on that in another post. Or not.).  A couple of months ago, our cross-corner neighbors had a garage sale in anticipation of moving. They’d had one once before and we picked up a couple of things there, so we decided to check it out again.  This time, they were selling an XXL army cot. I didn’t even know they made XXL army cots! Thinking that this might make a nice extra bed if E. ever had someone to sleep over, we negotiated and got it for $40.00 including a carrying case. Of course, it promptly went into the garage, and nobody came to sleep over. But it was there.

Several weekends ago, after struggling with trying to find bed space at 5 am when dogs have spread out like patients etherized upon a table, and then waking up and wanting to go out, I was wracking my brains trying to figure out a way that I could get some sleep without putting the rest of the household in a tailspin. I remembered the cot. I thought it might just fit into my tiny meditation room, which is usually cool, dark and quiet even in the summer time. It has a window, but also one of those old-fashioned light blocking shades, so when I pull it down, the room is really dark, since it faces the north side of the house and doesn’t get any direct sun.

I waited for a day when everyone was out of the house. I wanted to struggle with this on my own. First, I had to find where G had put the cot, not always easy, but fortunately I found it in only the second place I looked. It was a little heavier than I remembered and the carrying case was sort of ripped at the bottom, so the two stabilizing bars kept falling out, but pretty quickly I got it down into my meditation room. Now, if you clicked on the link above, you’ll see that this thing is BIG. Converting the measurements, it takes up something like 23 square FEET. I mean, there are people in this world who live full time in that much space. I was really hoping I would even be able to unfold it in my tiny meditation room.

It opened easily and the basic set up was done. It fit! The top end was right up against the bookcase and the opposite end had about an inch between it and the wall, and if I pushed it toward the low coffee table under the window, I had JUST enough room to stand up and be able to change clothes, etc. between the cot and my large altar/storage cabinet on the opposite wall. Yes! So far so good.

Then, I had to get the end pieces in. I managed the first one, and the first peg of the second one and then I hit the wall. There was no way I was going to get that fourth peg in, especially in that tiny room. So, I tipped the cot over and managed to get it out into the main room where I had more space to maneuver. Still no go. I simply did not have the strength to pull or shove or push that bar down over the metal peg. I was stumped. And I was wary of even sitting on the cot without those bars. I sure didn’t want it collapsing underneath me, even though it’s only a couple of feet off the ground. I’m having enough back/hip problems as it is.

Then it hit me. The go-to place for instructions on all things. YouTube! Yes, folks, there is a YouTube video about how to set up this cot. The trick? Get a hammer handle or something equally sturdy and use it as a lever to wedge that final peg in place. On more short trip to the garage and my bed was set! Tipping it back over, I carefully eased it back into the room and lo and behold…I had a bed. I. Was. Thrilled. I dragged out my sleeping back and put in on the cot in place of a pad. Then a spread out a light cotton blanket and a comforter (duvet) that we don’t use much any more and I was ready to sleep.

That was several Fridays ago, which is my work week Monday. That night after the end of my shift, I took a melatonin, got into the room with the help of the light from my phone, put my eye shages on and got horizontal. The cot held me nicely, didn’t creak too much, and I lay quietly, trying to clear my mind and allow sleep to come. It came slowly, in increments, but I felt it. I tried to remain conscious of the process, even as I wanted to become unconsious. It’s very interesting, paying close attention as you fall asleep. You feel it approach and then it really sneaks up on you quickly. The next thing I knew, I opened my eyes and stretched. I felt quite rested. The room was still cool and quiet. If anyone was doing anything upstairs, I couldn’t hear them. I eased myself off the cot, got presentable and went upstairs to find a clock.

It was 11:30. I had slept for nearly six and a half hours! I haven’t slept that long in a row in years. I felt GREAT. Rested and, what was really surprising, well fed. I know there is a correlation between insomnia and eating–that the body tends to confuse being chronically tired with being chronically hungry. I get that. When I’m sleep deprived, I feel hung over, so it makes total sense that the body would try to make up for lack of rest with too much food. That day and the next (I slept nearly 6 hours the following night), I really wasn’t hungry at all. It was kind of amazing. I was thrilled that I seemed to have found an answer to my sleep situation.

So now, a few weeks later, I’m still sleeping on the cot on my work nights. I’ve left it up because it is kind of a struggle to move it in that small space. I miss my meditation room, though, which is entirely taken up by the bed. I’m thinking of taking it down on my days off. I have yet to sleep another six and half hour night. Four in a row is about what I get on the nights that I work. I try to make up the difference with naps here and there, but since E. started summer weight training for football, he has to be at practice at 7 a.m. three days a week, so I’ve been staying up  to take, and waiting there at the high school to minimize trips. I’m going to start walking around the track while I wait since it’s cool enough in the early morning. I did that last week and it was nice. Got a mile under my belt and could have done another. Then I come home and try to sleep for a while. I think that might work better. Everything is a work in progress, and maybe I’ll get this sleeping thing down. I know all the experts say people should sleep at least 8 hours a day, but I never have done that, so I doubt I’ll start now. I’m just happy to have a quiet place to rest that doesn’t interfere with everyone else in the house.

 

‘Versaries and Such

(NOTE: There are links in this post. The link color is very faint, but hover your mouse and they will show up.)

Hard to believe, but this week a year ago, I hurt  my shoulder really badly at a hot springs.  I finally feel like my entire upper body is getting back to normal. I’m swimming again, up to a mile, and half-heartedly looking for other possible open water swims to do. Keeping that in the back of my head.  On the not so good side, my left hip decided to go south on me, but I have found an excellent massage therapist and now that I have a little more discretionary income, I’m trying to see her twice a month. It makes a difference. And I’m worth it, to coin a phrase.

In June, E will have been with us for a year. I find that nearly impossible to believe. I feel like this year has crammed at least two or three years’ worth of activity, angst, and arguments in it. Although things are calmer now, there are days when my head just spins with confusion about everything.  I find myself drawn more and more to Buddhist readings, to meditation (even though I find all kinds of excuses not to do it), and trying to go with the flow. I’m trying not to get into disagreements with G, even though there are times when certain situations literally set my teeth on edge.  She would probably snort at this but I really am trying to release the need to be right, to have things my way (because my way is always the sensible way, of course). I won’t lie. It’s hard as hell. Dammit, I like being right. But, in the long run, it won’t really matter all that much, because E will go off and live his life and we are going to have to figure out how our lives will re-converge as a couple, and who won what argument four years ago won’t matter a hill of beans. I really, REALLY have to keep telling myself that, especially on the days I want to run for the hills.

Also, we’ve started volunteering for a pretty cool organization. G found them on FB, and so far we have housed a dog overnight and taken him on one leg of his journey to his new owner, and in a week or so, we will be fostering another dog (an Italian greyhound) for a while until a forever home can be found for her. E really, really wants a dog, but we are not up to owning another one, so we thought that it might be a way for him to get to care for other pups and learn about other breeds (he’s kind of hung up on pit bulls).

E starts weight room/football practice June 2. They barely finish school and whammo.  I hope this summer will keep him exhausted and in line. I don’t mind trucking him around for it, even though I anticipate that will become a bone of contention as well, since the high school he wanted to go to is the farthest away from our house (Pueblo distance, it’s maybe 7 miles). But those contretemps can wait untill they arrive. I don’t have to anticipate anything. I’m learning that day by day.

Let’s see what happens this year…

 

 

Cold Feet, Pinkeye, and Learning to Sleep on Cue

So, now it appears that I have to fear for my life because I sit too much. I saw an ad the other day for one of those treadmill desks, so you can walk and work at the same time. I’m sure that’s a great thing, but whoever invented that probably never gave a medical transcriptionist being paid on production a second (or even a first) thought. I type for a living, therefore, I sit. Deal with it. Enough about that, except that sitting in pretty much one position for a long time exacerbates my cold feet problem. Now, I know a lot of you are going to say it’s age, it’s creeping deconditioning, it’s incipient diabetic neuropathy or PAD, or PVD, or the latest popular diagnosis, but I can assure you it’s none of those. The fact is that I’ve suffered from cold feet all of my life. As a teenager, I remember nights having to get up and run hot water over my feet in the sink before I could go to sleep. I cannot fall asleep when my feet are cold. Given that, I think that the dual-controlled heated mattress pad is one of the best inventions ever. Also space heaters under the desk. Let me tell you, those are two things worthy of a lot of gratitude. These last few months have been a real challenge, because the last thing I want to do at 5 a.m. when I get off work is to be kept up even later by cold feel that won’t let me fall asleep.  When your feet are really chilled, it takes a while for them to re-warm, and that means time awake that I would really prefer to spend sleeping. Sleep has become quite valuable to me in recent months. More about that in a moment.

In addition to cold feet, I’m also apparently prone to pinkeye. I don’t get colds, haven’t had the flu in years, stave off most other transient illnesses that drop people for days at a time, but pinkeye…wow. I guess everyone has their Achilles’ heel, and that’s mine.  For the past few weeks, I’ve felt like I was just on the verge of getting it–that itchy, gritty feeling, eyes runny in the morning–and most of the day, just an all around “muzzy” feeling when I tried to focus on anything.  A few weeks ago, I had a pretty comprehensive eye exam from my favorite optometrist, and I finally splurged out on new everyday glasses (after 10 years). I got my computer glasses (that I now refer to as my indoor glasses) a couple of years ago, and they’re still great, but I knew my old glasses were actually too strong, as I could not focus my left eye on anything closer than nearly a football field away. Sure enough, my left eye had “improved” yet again, by nearly a diopter in power (whatever that is).  I mean, given my uncorrected vision is 20/400, it’s not huge, but it is noticeable. Basically, it meant that my right eye had been doing all the work because my glasses were simply too strong to allow my left eye to focus on anything. So, now I have a bright new shiny pair of outdoor glasses, and a clean bill of health on my eyes. No glaucoma, no retinal problems, the tiniest bit of a cataract, but per the doc, nothing to be concerned about at the moment.

Given that, when all this other stuff started happening, I figured pinkeye, so I went to the eye doctor I’ve been to in the past (an MD) in case I needed a prescription. Well, turns out it was just environmental irritation, for lack of a better term. It’s been massively windy here for weeks, with dust and anything else you could imagine in the air. Plus the trees are starting to bud, and the elm trees really set me off. I was happy to hear that, but not so happy that the doctor wanted to prescribe me some $100 antihistamine eye drops (“my favorite”–I bet). I politely declined. I’ve been using a couple of different OTC drops, alternating between the two and they did all right, but weren’t really cutting it this time. So, I was at the grocery store the other day and stopped at the pharmacy counter to see if they had anything different. After looking at the various selections, I took a chance on a brand I had not heard of before, Similisan Allergy Eye Relief. It’s a homeopathic formula and the bottle was about $6.00. It does say to discard after 30 days, but it’s not a large bottle, so it will probably be done by then. Let me tell you, these are by far the best eye drops I’ve ever used for this type of problem. These things work! I’ve been putting them in every day, usually just once a day, but maybe twice if it’s really windy, and I have had almost 100% relief from the itching, burning and watering. I was flat out amazed the first time I used them. First, I don’t like putting stuff in my eyes. It’s a quirk. I can’t even look at someone putting in eye drops or contacts without my eyes starting to twitch and water. I don’t know why, it’s just a reflex I guess. These drops do not sting, in fact, feel very cool and soothing as soon as they’re in. If you’ve got those spring (or other seasonal) “allergy eyes” I can’t recommend them enough. They also have a dry-eye formula and even one for “computer eyes.” So if you’re having trouble, check out the site above and give one of them a try. At under $10.00, even if they don’t work, you won’t have lost much.

And now, to sleep, perchance to dream. Aye, there’s the rub, all right. Sleeping has been problematic for me over the last several years anyway. Call it aging, call it menopause, call it whatever you want, but sleep and I have had a rocky relationship that was just starting to settle down when this new job came along. Man. I am pretty much useless to anyone for the four days that I’m working. I think I’m finally getting into a routine, and learning to sleep when I must, which I guess is a good thing. Working 10 hours out of 12 is kind of weird anyway, but especially challenging doing it overnight. I’ve got a pretty good routine going by now, but it involved me learning how to snooze on cue, which isn’t the easiest thing to learn, especially if your body is resistant to sleep anyway. I work from 5 pm till midnight, not all that different from my old schedule. The trick now is, that I have to keep working until 5 am, but get a break in there somewhere. At least my boss and coworkers understand that working overnight IS a bit different. So, I take my break at midnight and try to sleep until 2 am. At first it was hard because I just went into my meditation room, lay down on my makeshift bed and tried to close my eyes. Didn’t work very well. One, the room was cold, two, my feet were cold, three, I was too hyped up from trying to be on top of everything with this new job.

Then, I changed it around a bit. I started coming up to the bed in G’s computer room (I’m afraid to go to our bed because I worry that I’ll fall asleep TOO soundly and not wake up). It’s just a twin bed that we picked up at a garage sale for a day bed/guest bed. That was pretty good. Then, I realized I wasn’t going to just fall asleep in a snap, so using the timer on my phone, I now read for 15 minutes, which gets my mind off work and usually gets my eyelids drifting in the right direction–down over my eyes. Then, I set the timer for an hour and 15 minutes to an hour and a half, and firmly close my eyes and do my best to blank out my mind.  Now that I’m getting a bit more familiar with the job, it’s easier. I set the phone alarm and put it up by the pillow so it only wakes me and no one else. I use eye shades to block out the light (that room doesn’t have the light-blocking shades our bedroom does) and so far, so good. I’m still worthless on Tuesdays, when I transition from nights to days, but I’m getting better.

And now, my feet are warm, my eyes are clear, and while the sleep situation isn’t ideal, at least I AM sleeping, and managing to remain more or less coherent during the day. I guess you’d call that a win/win all the way ’round.

Ten Things For Today

It’s Monday, and I’ve come down with the cold I get about every five or so years. It’s not really that bad, but I’d like to take to my bed with the heating pad and a good book so I could read and doze until I felt better.  However, life goes on.  Today, I am grateful for:

  • Working from home, so no one can see the kleenex pile up around my feet or hear my croaking cough or see my Rudolph-bright nose.
  • I’m so happy that G and I decided that a Keurig coffee maker would be our one and only gift to each other this year. Very easy way to make cups and cups of hot tea.
  • I’m grateful that G had an early VA appointment here in town today and that she’ll bring me back a few things from the store.
  • I’m grateful that E spent the night at his cousin’s house last night and won’t be home till this afternoon.
  • I’m grateful that today is my Friday, because I need the rest.
  • I’m so glad I’ve learned about essential oils and making my own salves because I’m slathered with good smelling stuff that’s helping me breathe better.
  • I’m grateful that I thought about putting a dutch oven full of water and cinnamon sticks down on the gas heater to add some moisture and aroma to the very dry air of our house.
  • I’m thrilled to be using G’s moist-heat heating pad from the VA, alternating it behind my back, over my chest and around my shoulders. Definitely makes me feel better.
  • I’m grateful for this opportunity to focus on my vibration and find out why it got out of whack with this physical manifestation.
  • I’m so grateful that I started this new blog.

So, It’s Monday, it’s right before Christmas and I know you’re busy, but what are your ten things to be grateful for today? I’d love to know. Give me the link to your blog or put them in the comments.  I hope you’re having a great day and that a wonderful week follows.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!