Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Spring Has Sprung

Spring has sprung once again here in the Northland.  Its supposed to be a time of excitement and renewed energy.  Days are longer, warmer, and happier.  Nature is lighter, brighter, and full of movement.

I'm not sure what the heck happens to me during this time of year, but when the world is coming alive, I start freaking out.  Spring is a time of great anxiety for me.  Perhaps its change.  Change and I do not get along, and my brain tends to think the worst is about to happen with any change that presents itself.

For me, Spring equals IMPENDING DOOM.  Its an increase of expectations to be a part of the world.  Gone is the comfort of being wrapped up in electric blankets.  Gone is the excuse to remain inside hunkered down "because its too cold out" (even though I spend a lot of time outside in the winter).  For me, there is a bit of comfort in having the sun go down at 5:00 in the evening and having a blanket of snow covering the ground.  We had a late season snowstorm just a week ago, and man, I felt a peace come over me.  It felt relaxed and right.

When I hear people talk about the joy and excitement that Spring and Summer bring to them, it makes me question what the heck is wrong with me.  Though there are many many aspects of the warmer seasons that I look forward to, anxiety overshadows it all with a black cloud of fear.  Fear of what I do not know exactly.  I feel almost.......lonely?

As a way to combat all of this anxiety, below is a list of activities that I am looking forward to participate in during the next few months.
Reading in the sunshine
yard work
picking up garbage on the side of the road (a favorite pastime of mine)
beach days
walks by the river
sleeping with the windows open (even though I do this year round)
grilling out
mowing the lawn

Yes, there is much to look forward to.  Only the thing is, I am not looking forward to ANY of that.

Friday, March 2, 2018


So, I have heard it said that if you tell yourself something enough times, you will come to believe it.  My mind has been filled with some negative self talk lately, and I am trying to retrain my brain into believing positive affirmations.  Several times a day I go through the alphabet and tell myself one positive trait that starts with each letter of the alphabet.  The following are traits that I want to acquire and nurture within myself.
Confident (some days this is calm)
Devoted (or determined)
Encouraging (some days this is energized)
Honest (some days this is happy)
Open Minded
TRUSTING (the one I need to work on the most)

My hope is, is that if I say this to myself often enough, I will come to BE all of these traits.  Some take a bit more effort than others, but each are ones I want to nurture.


Monday, June 19, 2017

Time Marches On

Its been about 3 1/2 years since my mom passed.  Some days, I still have a huge wave of sadness wash over me, especially when I have a bit of happy news to share.

Or sad news.
Or when I am bored.
Or when I hear a song that reminds me of her.
Or when I see a commercial I know she would hate.
Or when I watch a TV show we used to watch together.
 Or when......

You get the idea.

My mom was my person.  She was the one person who completely got me.  An unspoken comfort.

Safe.  So safe.

It is so hard to put into words the emptiness I feel, and even though time is marching on, some days I feel like the grief is still so raw.  I came here to blog, but find myself completely stuck to accurately put down in words how I feel.

I just miss her.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Becoming a Dad.

In December, my dad was diagnosed with "Advanced Cirrhosis of the liver" and was initially given "weeks to months to live".  Since then, he has quit drinking, has started to take care of himself, and is making a miraculous rebound.  Unbelievable how a man can abuse his body for over 70 years, and in just a matter of a few weeks of good self care, can return to "normal" health.  Though he is pretty much Velcro-ed to the couch, depressed, very low energy, it is nice to see him sober.  The question begs to be answered of why he was unable to quit drinking when my mom was still alive and when there was a family to appreciate.  Especially since quitting drinking for him has been seemingly easy and problem free.

For the first time in, like, ever my dad is becoming....well, a dad.  He has struggled with alcoholism my whole life making booze far more of a priority than family life.  If I ever had a problem, it was Mom I would turn to (unless I had a car question of some kind, and even then, I often sought out other sources).  She may or may not relay whatever whoa I was having to my dad if and when he was sober, but seldom did I converse with my dad on an individual basis.

Just the other day, I was having a stressful, crabby kind of day.  Issues with a potential house I so desperately want to buy was clouding my mood.  My dad is providing me with a little bit of financial help, and on this day we were driving to the bank.  I was crabby.  My irritability did not go unnoticed by Dad, and I told him my troubles.  I told my Dad my troubles.  For the first time in my life.  He listened.  He sympathized.  He reassured.  He provided emotional support doing  everything a kind and patient parent would do.  And it felt good, nice, even natural.  Its so nice to have a sober Dad finally after all these years.  Just wish it could have happened so much sooner.

Perhaps he will live his last few yeas alcohol free as a way to show his true self to us kids.  And just maybe when his time is called to meet my mom up in Heaven, he will enter to live a sober eternity with the love of his life.  Finally giving my mom a life she deserved.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Introducing Brutus

Oh, its been quite the while since I last blogged; and wow, things have changed so much!  For someone whose life has been stagnant, predictable, maybe even boring, I am amazed at the direction my life has taken.  Its taken a direction I NEVER thought it would go.  And with that cliff hanger, I am not going to address all those changes with this post.

Instead I am going to introduce you to Brutus.

Brutus is a very large, looming, black cloud of anxiety that surrounds me.  Brutus has always been a presence in my life, but he has made himself so much more present particularly after my mom died. April of 2014, Brutus almost won.  Panic attacks, insomnia, constant fear, shakiness, and tears.  Oh the tears.  It was a scary time that prompted me to go to the doctor and give consideration to.....dun dun dun....medication.  Something that I so did not want to do.

Even though I work in Mental Health, have seen the benefits of anti anxiety and anti depressant medications (as well as the harm), it is not something I wanted for me.  But I got the medicine filled and sat it in my cupboard as a way to de-sensitize myself to maybe taking them one day.  I never did.
Instead, I began to practice mindfulness.  That coupled with some great "friend-therapy" sessions and support, helped ease my anxiety somewhat.  It eased it enough to begin to function again.  Tears lessened.  Impending doom lessened.  But Brutus still remained.

And he remains still.  Some days, Brutus is so over powering that he hijacks my thoughts.  Though I KNOW the thoughts are so irrational, the thoughts still come.  Mindfulness tells you to recognize those thoughts, and then let them go.  Brutus holds on with a death grip.  He doesn't just hold on to one negative thought, he holds on to several.  All negative, most are fear based, and many are self loathing.  Some days Brutus is able to convince me that I am worthless, that I can't  do my job well, that I am a burden to those who know me.  He tells me that there is nothing but negativity ahead in my life.  All the "what ifs" come to play with the outcome never pleasing.

When Brutus takes full control, I get "stuck" so much so that I can't even talk about why I am anxious.  Brutus tells me "It doesn't matter why you feel like this because you don't matter".  Brutus tells me that I am "stupid" and "crazy" for feeling this way.  And I really hate feeling that way and begin to think that maybe Brutus is right.  When Brutus is here, it is exhausting to say the least.  Its tiring to constantly battle Brutus; a CONSTANT rational vs irrational internal fight that can be triggered by one word in one sentence that Brutus holds onto.

Brutus has made himself a little more scarce these past few days, and it is so nice without him!  My mind is more at peace. Freer.  Brutus continues to whisper negative thoughts, but they are more manageable and less tiresome.  I'm not entirely sure what happened, and maybe I am just in a better head space that is not allowing Brutus to be overpowering, but I will take it.

Right now, I am able to push Brutus down when he tries to creep up.   The "What-ifs" are met with "What will be, will be" or "we will deal with that when/if it happens".  And I remember to TRUST.  Trust that where I am is where I am supposed to be.  Remember my blessings (and they are so plentiful).  Remember to choose love over fear (something I struggle oh so hard to do).

So for now, I will continue breathing and continue trusting.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Fun Finds Up the North Shore

So the other day my friend and I took a drive up the "North Shore".  What a fun treasure that was!  I've lived here my whole life, and I have been up the North Shore several times, yet I discovered a whole new undiscovered (by me) world!

Nearly halfway between Duluth and Canada lives a little town called Silver Bay and there is a whole lot to see and do in Silver Bay.  Who knew!?

The first exciting fun find was giant chairs!

I have always wanted to sit in giant chairs, and there they were just calling our name on the side of the freeway.  So we took that as a sign and got our photo opp.  How can you not smile sitting in giant chairs?  When we were leaving, an older couple was pulling up to also sit in the giant chairs.  The excited smile on the lady's face described exactly what we were feeling.

Next we drove up this mountainous terrain called Palisadehead.  This was quite the fun find! High up on rocky cliffs gazing down at the Caribbean looking Lake Superior was breathtaking in every sense of the word.

I had to crouch kind of low to the ground to keep my bearings and my sanity.  It was scary being up so high with no real protection in between you and the ledge where you would plummet to the bottom of the rocky cliff into the frigid and quite rocky water below.  When we were done, I had the Jello legs.  But it was well well worth it.

Then we headed to Black Beach where we were in search of black rocks.  Instead we found nothing but a bunch of NO TRESPASSING signs.  They were every few feet, clearly marked, with a "Violators will be Prosecuted" warning.  We decided to risk it.  We ventured out of the car down a path toward the beach.  We hear a vehicle slowly approaching.  And what do you know, its a cop.

I start kind of running back to the car and the cop.  Heart is pounding.  Cop asks, "Having fun?"  Our reply, "We are trying to".  He questions, "Trying to?"  We explain we were trying to get to the Black Beach and asked if he knew how we could get there.  His response was "Not legally.  What do those signs say?"  We hung our heads in shame as we solemnly answered, "No Trespassing......"  However, the cop then directed us to follow him while he showed us the correct, though still illegal, path to get to the Black Beach.  I thanked him for not arresting us.

On our way home, we really wished we would have answered differently when he asked us what the sign said.  After having a significant conversation in English, we wish we would have answered, "Senor, no hablo Ingles".  Though funny to us, it may not have been funny to the cop so we were pleased with our result.

The beach was different than we expected.  Still cool.  A beach full of taconite, which gives it the black color for which it is named.  We didn't stay long, but just took a glimpse since we were there illegally.  We were both so angry that someone (mining company) could claim a whole cool beach for themselves and not share it with the public.  How can that be?!

Our fun find adventure ended with a trip to the candy store!  What a sweet finish for an awesome day.  Can't wait to return next year to see what other hidden gems await us Up the North Shore.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Family Dinner

July 24th would have been my parents' 49th wedding Anniversary.  My dad was having a hard time around this date (even though they never spent their Anniversarys together).  Still, it was another milestone.  Another first.  Another absence noticed.

So, we decided to have a family dinner out at a restaurant with the whole family, including significant others and Dorie.  Even when Mom was alive, we never all got together at a restaurant before.  She would have enjoyed that.  Days prior to the dinner, I was kind of dreading it knowing it would likely be just a drunken dinner filled with anger, sadness, and worry about how the drunks are going to get home safely.  Well, to my surprise, dinner was very pleasant.  Few memories were shared as well as some laughs.  It was nice.  Nicer still that Dad bought all of our meals.

There was one very noticeable empty chair.  Like for real.  There were 7 of us all together (Jim brought his girlfriend), and we were seated at a table for 8.  So there was a very prominent empty chair, and it was right next to me.  Right where Mom would have been sitting.  Or maybe she was sitting there.  Maybe the chair was empty as a reminder that even though she was not there physically with us, she was there in spirit.  At least that is what I would like to believe.