Thursday, May 27, 2010

Do You Want A Job Or Do You Want A Career?

Yesterday I went to my community college to learn about a career guidance workshop they offer called DISCOVER. It's a test designed to help suss out a persons interests, abilities and values so they can be translated into a career. I came home from the workshop, took the rather intensive 3-part test, stretched my aching back, holding each pose for 4 full minutes and groomed the dog with painfully inept and dull clippers that caused my aching back to return. Then I went to have dinner with my grandmother in her little white-curly-perm dining room at her retirement home, where the old and adorable reside. She is truly remarkable, 93 and as sharp as a whip! In amazing health, she has a few problems with hearing, balance and asthma but otherwise she is a marvel. Up every morning, putting her lipstick on and blushing her 93-year-old self to prettiness. I sure hope I got her genes! Then I took her to visit my uncle (her son-in-law) at the hospital. He is very sick. It is very sad. We are praying a lot. Then I came home and presented the outcome of this DISCOVER test to my husband.

We went through it, career by career. Job description, education requirements, projected growth (or decline), average salary. At the end of it he had dismissed everything tangible or concrete and proclaimed that I was "a writer". Then he had me adding another cosmetics line to the one I already freelance for to bring in the extra money we so desperately need. I quickly watched any real change for the future disintegrating right before my eyes. His plan put me right back to square one, exactly where I am right now. Working a physical job with no growth potential. Every opportunity that is going to present itself in this business has already done so. Nothing new or progressive or moving forward will come of it. Retail is simply the wrong field for this girl to keep working in any longer. Then we started fighting. And in the midst of yelling the volleyball of expectation, fear and disappointment that we were both feeling back and forth, he asked me if I wanted a career, or if I wanted a job. And that, being a very valid question, made me stop and take pause. I had to ask myself, really, "Am I looking for a career, or am I looking for a job?". I was not confidently sure of either and vacillated between positions. On one hand I was ready and willing to make a change, unwilling to stay on the road to already been, ready to flip it upside down and do something real to make sense of this mess that I have made out of my career. On the other I contemplated moving forward un poquito by signing up with a staffing agency. Looking for something office-based. Taking a mild step forward into the possible. I was drawn to the cautious, safe enclave of stepping my foot out into the rain in order to avoid rushing into it and having to sing and dance and celebrate in it. And quite possibly slipping and falling.

So of course the initial answer I committed to was no, I do not want a career. I felt a good 1st step was to sign up for some temp work with an agency and supplement my makeup artistry income with some office experience. That was my decision last night. Open up that clam shell of what if just a little bit. But today I am not so sure. If money was not an issue (so we are dreaming!) and I could do whatever I want in this life I would write books and columns and magazine articles. I would be a housewife and dog-mom and active with my family and enjoying life with my friends. I would travel and foster-mom lost children and actively donate my time and resources to charity. I would learn languages and entertain and garden and greenhouse until every bit of my Martha Stewart-ness is content and full. I would yoga-size and rest and rejuvenate until I glowed serene, keeping union with God and Their divine purpose for my life. I would sponsor impoverished immigrants for citizenship and support disadvantaged children that choose to excel if given the opportunity.

It took another amazing night of sleep (I am actually getting tired and going to bed before 11PM!) and some talk with my mom and texting with my husband to recognize that although my heart does not skip a beat for this elusive career waiting in the wings to sweep me off my feet and fix all my problems, it is what I need to do to be a happy, successful and independent woman. So it is not so much whether I want a career, it's about the fact that I need a career. I need to develop that side of myself. I need to earn a decent income and give my husband some reprieve from the endless hours of droning and drooling behind his cubicle walls. I need to give him options and hope and gratitude. I need to move to the next phase in my that of a self-supporting, healthy, productive adult. And at this insane place in my 33 years of life, I think I am finally ready.

Thanks for joining,

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I Have To Get A Job

Here I sit having worked freelance for the last year (+1 month) and I feel the fulcrum is cresting, it is giving way, it is folding in on itself. My husband looked at me last night and said, "It's time to get a job". So there it is...this heal-rest-restore-rejuvenate and then move on with my life phase is coming to an end. A year is really more than most could ever hope for. Not that there haven't been ups and downs and all arounds during that year, but still. I have been truly blessed to have been able to take this time and not work a regular job. I pined and whined and cried for this option, this elusive opportunity, to be mine to take when I was so sick and working so hard and we were still living off credit cards. And I got it. And now it is coming to an end, and I am overwhelmingly conflicted.

On one hand it is time to organize myself and execute a job (or career) search and move forward. Maybe I have to bite the bullet and take a lower paying job for more hours to get off my feet and into a chair. Maybe I have to go back to school to gain a specialized skill. Either way, the time is now. I owe it to my husband and I owe it to myself. I owe it to everyone who has stood by me these last few years for countless hours as I bitched and moaned about how horrible I felt and tough my life was. I owe it simply because now I can. I can choose what I want to do and how I am going to be successful doing it. And I can choose this on my terms and make it work. My life is a bit of a blank canvas. With the same hard work and determination and passion I have applied to all my successful endeavors sum-ing these last 33 years, I can achieve what I set out to achieve.

Which is why on the other hand I am scared shit-less. I am feeling weepy and pitiful and sorry for myself and like a complete victim. When I think of looking for a job I get woozy and dazed. And the anxiety shoots through the roof! I feel like I do eventually want to get a darn-near full-time job but I am still a long way from there. I am just getting my pep back, and am still sleeping 9+ hours a night, and still have bouts of very mild insomnia that I am quickly able to rectify with my flexible schedule. I still have unmanaged pain and unstable symptoms, and I really want to take Spanish II next semester on Tuesday & Thursday during the day. And I feel panic cold fingers of gripping fear at the thought of managing Fibromyalgia and work and my life. Oh yeah, and my happiness, too.

I suppose the truth resides somewhere in the middle, as it usually does. Let the extremes fall off of either end and absorb the two middles into one. The most progressive schools of thought for any ideal would be represented this way. But I digress... What I have been able to do is schedule an appointment with the career center at my community college to utilize their services. That is next week. 'Till then I have a little thought brewing in my mind. Maybe next time I will know enough to share.

Thanks for joining,

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Ready To Crash

Okay I have had enough and I am ready to crash and burn. My mom's surgery went well, she is recovering nicely, but the toll that took on my life is absurd! Back and forth for that while trying to study for my final in Spanish, and the puppy is sick as well... All way too much for a girl with Fibromyalgia! I feel spent, exhausted with a side of anxiety thrown in, my back hurts (sacroiliac) constantly since I don't have time to do my exercises, my marriage has been ignored for this last week, the house is a mess, our finances are in shambles and I have spent more time than I would care to admit cleaning up dog shit!

A few years ago I would have been ecstatic to have the problems I have now. I was in such constant and writhing pain and the thought of doing anything listed above was so far out of my reach, let alone pouring it all into the same 5-day period. I could barely work, was a terrible wife, an inconsistent mother to my dog, a very lackadaisical caregiver to myself and hoped and prayed I would some day just be well enough to participate in life again. And here I am. Sadly that does little to cheer me up. I do feel a deep relief to have climbed out of the dark hole of hell but this sudo-better place I am sure feels like some limbo-merged-purgatory. Neither here nor there, not too sick to function, but certainly not healthy enough to accomplish normal expectations (you know, like working full-time!). And I am angry and frustrated to still be here. IT IS SO MUCH FREAKIN' WORK TO MANAGE THIS ILLNESS! I still feel there is an undiscovered root cause of this and if they could just find it and fix it then things could return to normal.

If I was a whole woman I could do much more to get us out of this financial hole my diseases have put our family into. I could inspire creativity and hope in both my husband and myself. I could manage my sleep-diet-exercise-stress-hormonal balance ball evenly instead of each day resembling a water-balloon fight! I could work a normal job, for crying out loud! And care for children and beautify homes and faces and smother myself in puppies every day. And I could travel the world and see all of its abundant mysteries and provocations and journal a life less ordinary in order to heal hearts and in turn heal but a small part of the world. And I could...embrace the world..because it truly is my oyster...I think.

Thanks for joining,

Monday, May 10, 2010

Why Am I So Bloody Slow...?

It takes me forever to get anywhere, to get up and out the door. So many distractions and things that need to be done. I am running a bad habit of being un poco late to important places. get the gist. It slowly dawned on me over the last few days as I have been envisioning my life with some part-time office job, that critical opportunities are standing between me and success. I sleep 10 hours a night. That is just what my body requires. I can go a few nights in a row on 8 and maybe 1 night of 6 or less and still remain equipped. But if given the option I will pass out for 10 hours. My body just takes it. I believe I am still healing and need that sleep. How can I decide my body is getting the sleep it requires on 7 or 8 hours when all my evolutionary signals are blaring and clanging to get that 10 a night?

I am still a bit underwhelmed when I get up every day. Not like before, complacent dread, but more like passive boredom. I am still searching for that all-elusive compulsion to jump out of bed every morning and go take on the day! But if I step back and keep a stock-market mentality (overall up with a few down dips here and there, current economic crisis not withstanding), the direction I am moving is certainly up. I have a lot on my plate this next week. Mom's surgery Tuesday & Wednesday, final on Thursday. Goin' to Tucson on Saturday for work. And I am just recovering from that last go-to-L.A.-twice-in-one-week flare-up. Oh boy...

Thanks for joining,

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Freedom To Be

I am becoming accustomed to a freer, more joyful energy since my husband stepped his foot out into the unknown and started to find his own way. I am being re-introduced to the man I married again! Theory hypothesized and tested, people can weather marriage like a storm, knowing the stormy time will not last forever (even if it seems to go on for a really, really long time). One day you will walk in sunshine again, hand in hand, if you work hard, give it your all and don't accept defeat. Those are actually pretty good qualities to live by in all areas of your life...

How many children are told by their parents that they can achieve whatever they want in life with not much more than a decision and a whole lotsa hard work? Is it even half the kids that are growing up in the USA today? I see a large faction of society in the States that are complacent with the station they were born into. They never move far from home. If they travel, it is usually the same destination annually (God bless the time-share!). Their parents live near by, as do their children and grandchildren and families plant deep, generational roots within a community and tumble in this turnover perpetually. Occasionally, a person will pop out of this order and feel the need to march to the beat of their own drum. These are the people that cities collect. The offbeat, the misfits, those not content with a ready-made life. People that are searching and have not yet found what they are looking for. Those that like to share their time and space with strangers. Always, and lots of them. They have found anonymity in the thick of the masses, they have found the freedom from judgmental and gossiped observation required to feel themselves. They have found their individuality, finally comfortable with the skin they are in and the space they take up on the planet, smushed up around dozens of others.

Living in bohemian, eclectic and unique San Francisco is an entirely different experience from living in the valley of heat and sunshine wrapped around a convincingly lovely facade. We mingle amidst east to mid-west transplants here, retired folk, snow-bunnies and resort hoppers. Where I live now is Agrestic perfect. So tidy and clean. Such a vast space was once upon a time a developers dream project, and they have done well. We now live in the land of flower-encrusted gated community signs and sweeping, smoothly pathed avenues adorned with fountains flowing on every corner and labeled-tree-species dividing every median. And I really like it! I am not in an "exciting" phase of my life right now. Those were my coming-of-age years in San Francisco. I am in a rebuilding phase now, and I relish the quiet and warmth. The peace and ease. The people are pleasant. The weather is pleasant. The cost of living is damn pleasant (after San Francisco's prices, for sure!). And pleasant will not get me by for the rest of my life. Oh Lord no. But while I am still healing from a whopper of a cluster-fuck of disease, I am getting along quite nicely here.

Thanks for joining,

Friday, May 7, 2010

Mind-Body Connection

When rage comes up toward others because of their own dysfunction it is extremely difficult to let it go. The real problem is their reaction to their perceived environment, be it greed, lust, liquor or fear. So logically you cannot own their behavior and transfer the reaction to yourself. But damn, it is so hard not to! And boy, am I ever full of rage for certain people that exist in my life right now!

Stress is the biggest aggressor for a flare-up. After a couple of hours of pent-up rage or anger my throat gets sore. My glands feel heady and I flash feverish. It feels scratchy to swallow and my head begins to ache. I used to refer to this as my "afternoon-flu", like it was an expected visitor, an old friend I knew was coming to visit every day right around 4 o'clock in the afternoon. It was only a matter of days before I was glued to the sofa in a full-on flare-up. The never ending cycle of push-crash-rebuild-push-(not too sure if this is really happening but oh here we go aga..i..n...)-crash-rebuild-push...well, you get the picture. But now my life is pretty steady and stable. And I am not constantly on the brink of exhaustion from less-than-normal activity. But the second that rage hits its like it is right back to 2007 on the bottom floor of that department store. I am looking through a screen door of blurred vision and have a vice-grip headache squeezing my brain. My throat is inflamed and my body pulses feverishly through the Percocet induced complacency of total-body pain. Wow, have I come a long way, baby!

But I really feel, all of this pertaining to me and not any other Fibromyalgia patient, that there is an aspect of Fibromyalgia that is the result of an intense mind-body connection. I have always had hyper-aware senses. I notice EVERYTHING, to the point of exhaustion. I began self-medicating in my early teens as a way to escape this, among other dysfunctional behaviors. I was not given the skills to manage this intense gift in my formative years. I also genetically carry bi-polar disease (and that darn triglyceride malfunction!) and learned responses including manic-then-depressive episodes, throwing tantrums, irresponsible choices and fits of uncontrollable rage. I know full well that I was sick in my spirit long before I became sick in my body and can't help but conclude there is an inevitability there. A deep, unconscious connection.

Finding peace in my spirit is an exercise that is always practiced. Day in and day out, family and strangers, clients and co-workers. I must feel good to be me in those few private moments each day we all have to ourselves. Those few sacred moments before I fall asleep at night and the first few minutes I experience as I awake in the morning and assess my surroundings, realizing the life I have built for myself. It is there that anger and resentment and fear and regret build up into inner knots and hills and mountains in the pit of the stomach. And if you keep building these, everyday, in many different ways, then eventually that will become you.

The answer; live a life of truth, prideful humility, forgiveness and integrity? For perhaps it is in forgiving others that we become free, it is in humility we are recognized, it is in just and right behavior we are heard. So let me find my spirit, and dig that darkness out of the deep pit it is sitting in (a pit I try to keep empty, so as not to let it overwhelm my life), and forgive them for their shortcomings, and be the kind of wife my husband is proud to call his, and don't condemn them for their fear and anxiety and oppressive ways of living. And then thank God that is not me.

Thanks for joining,

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Prescription Medications Good & Bad

I do not believe I have discussed prescription medications yet and have very definite opinions about many of the drugs the FDA has approved to treat Fibromyalgia, and others it is has not.

I currently take:
~Tricor (Hypertriglyceridemia)
~Neurontin (Neurotransmitters/Fibromyalgia)
~Welbutrin XL (Depression & Anxiety)
~Lexapro (SSRI Depression & Anxiety)
~Tramadol (Pain)
~Felxeral (Muscle Relaxer)

As needed:
~Xanax (Sleep & Anxiety)
~Valtrex (Viral Flare-Up) addition to all the supplements (yes I know I am nuts!). In my opinion I am still on too many medications. The problem is that when I go off any of them all sorts 'o symptoms come flooding back. I took Lyrica and Cymbalta in the past and was not a fan of the side effects. At all. Neurontin is much better for low side effects but not nearly as effective in treating the pain. That is where the Tramadol and Flexeral come in. I am happy I have a non-narcotic way to treat my pain, but not happy with the amount of pain I still have remaining in my body. I was on Percocet and Vicoprofen for over a year and a half. I know the misery of relying on opiates for pain relief. Nausea, mood swings, constipation, need I go on? My newest problem is Sacroiliac Joint Disorder, where the joint at the base of the spine that connects to the hip freezes. I am stretching daily (3 times) and seeing a physical therapist. It hurts, it all hurts so much more with this pain sensitivity, yet is still getting better every day, I think.

Thanks for joining,

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Everybody Should... some time or another in their life:

~Love something unconditionally.

~Get really pissed at their parents for the myriad of mistakes they have made along the way...and then forgive them.

~Live outside of their home state for at least one year.

~Commit to a belief that is greater than yourself.

~Make one truly un-selfish decision. A big one.

~Admit to their mistakes, no matter how small or large. One of the most attractive qualities in a person is when they can admit fault. One of the worst is self righteous indignation.

~Leave their home country at least once. It is very important to see how others live.

~Exercise compassion, humility and non-judgment. The rest is easy from there.

~Treat life like it is the balance of the 5 star points of life that it is. Manage your sleep, diet, stress, exercise and hormones. If you do you will live a long life of good quality, hopefully.

~Don't live for anyone else. Find peace with your path in life and don't seek approval or acceptance from others to define your success. This life is yours and you only get 1.

~Create an inviting and comfortable living space you can retreat from the stress of the world to.

~Don't bite off more than you can chew. Don't over-fill your plate. In other words, don't commit to more than you can do and still be a person you are proud of.

~Pick a few quality relationships to invest in over an abundance of quantity.

~Set goals and work toward them. You will be amazed at what you can accomplish if you focus your mind on it.

~Never stop learning. Knowledge is the source of power.

~Go through something really awful...and come out a better person for it on the other side.

~Recognize that the road to true and lasting change is fraught with many twists and turns and attempts to de-rail you. This is just the process of life and if you keep getting back on that road to change you can accomplish amazing things.

If you have been blessed enough to go through any of these experiences and come through to the other side it only gets better from here!

Thanks for joining,