Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Lost My Direction

It is 5 o'clock in the morning and I sit here drowsily contemplating my heart. My passion and focus are gone. Thrown into a frenzy of long work days and out of town guests, house cleaning, laundry, scrubbing puppy piss off the carpet, bill paying and cooking. Creaking back pain and exhaustion, and just like that, it is zapped. Too frivolous to carry on in times of high demand? Too indulgent to make it a priority? I suppose. But I also know I am getting sucked back into the downward spiral of productivity and pressure that has been my downfall once before. Obligation coupled with expectation, self-imposed or otherwise, are very easy to focus on and will quickly pull me off track. When I think about blogging, a heavy wave of dis-interest and exhaustion wash over me. When I think about studying literature it feels so distant, like someone else thought of the idea but is long gone, leaving it broken and lying in the dust. The outside influences in my life are poking through the armor of self-acceptance and purpose that I worked so hard to cloak myself in.

Once again, this is my life and if I don't like the course it is taking then it is up to me to do something about it, stop giving into the demands of others. People look at me now and give no heed to the struggle that managing my daily life costs me. I appear normal, vibrant and healthy (by the grace of God!), but that has been part of the problem all along. It is hard to see what is not right in front of you. Sadly I am letting these pressures effect me, as my internal self will naturally rise to the occasion of expectation if I don't stop her. I never would have dreamed that constructing a life around doing nothing would be so difficult. All I know now is it is time to retreat once again, to nurture myself and narrow my focus.

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

112 Degrees

It is so hot hot that just going out to get my mail at 4:30 in the afternoon makes me feel sick. It's just this overwhelming oven of a temperature. So hot you can feel yourself dehydrate and become drowsy, all within just a few minutes of stepping outside. However hot it gets, though, I much prefer it to anything resembling cold. Snow is a joke, rain throbs, cold damp pierces and chilly overcast depresses. Sunny and warm to raining and hot as hell work quite well for me. Arizona compliments my aches and pains beautifully with it's dry, arid environment. There is actually a lot about Arizona that is working for me right about now. The speed, the sunshine, the on-vacation vibe of sultry, sweaty nights. Retiree's and snow-bunnies flee to whatever pleasant-now but miserable-winter haunt they call home and the rest of us, the strong and brave, come out to play in the summer's desert heat-wave.

Living in San Francisco with Fibromyalgia was simply awful. 55 degrees year round, with cold wet damp penetrating every layer of clothing and stabbing right through the muscle, chilling the bone. I ached and throbbed and creaked with a pain that was unreal the last few years we lived on the Peninsula. But then winter would come and it would get even colder, even worse! I could never get warm and never get out of pain! The hot tub was the only relief I got, Percocet offering a mildly nauseous blanket of dullness to a writhing, growling beast of pain. I did not realize how bad it actually was until we moved here and I discovered the pain of real Fibromyalgia, the normal kind. Not the pain rattled can't walk to the bathroom from my bed in the morning because I feel like I am going to break kind. If what I experience now is to Fibromyalgia then, I liken it to what a broken leg is to being a quadriplegic.

So Arizona is working out for me just fine. A long, hot summer and short, snow-free winter compliment my lifestyle perfectly. Sure, I miss California, the City. The hustle-bustle of accessibility, so many people in close proximity. The moodiness of the weather and inhabitants alike. I am so glad to have done it, but am glad it is done. My husband and I moved there when we were 25. I spent the most formidable years of my life shaping and molding my character amidst the China-town, financial-district, preppy, homeless, punk-rocker and Mission-bound-misfits that filled the streets with amazing sights and sounds. The vast array of ethnic diversity and financial extremes formed a true awareness in each other, of each other, and our innate differences. I gained an appreciation for the delicious individuality of all of God's children as I mingled with other unsatisfied souls searching for that 1 spot on the planet that just feels like home. I will move from this place one day, for I have not yet found my spot either, and thankfully these $300 a month air-conditioning bills will come to an end as well. But whatever adventure comes next, I am really enjoying Arizona right now.

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Monday, June 28, 2010

Living In The F-Wow

Things have been crazy. I worked 5 days 2 weeks ago (something I have not been able to do since 2005) and 20 hours last week and we have had the new puppy for a little over a week now. My husbands best friend came to stay with us over the weekend, and we partied it up a wee bit more than usual. Now I am hurting and nervous. I am walking through the process of appealing a financial aid rejection but it does not look like I am going to graduate school. I already have a bachelors and they will not offer loans to take pre-requisite courses to get into a masters program. So perhaps I am back to Spanish 102 & Journalism 101? Maybe this is for the better. Maybe going and jumping right in is not the best course of action for me. I am a little irritated but do not feel shattered or let down. Just a curious sense of discovery about what course my life is going to take as it settles and unfolds.

Speaking of which, I have felt very unsettled and disjointed these last 2 weeks. Very disconnected from the true self I felt I had just found. There was a lot of reflecting on the past but not much attention given to the future. I am still a bit bewildered and confused as to how I came to be here but don't feel as stuck here as I once did. I see possibility and the beginning of better emerging slowly, if only can I step forward to claim it. I know it is up to me and it can be done. I attempt daily to live in faith, not fear. It is the key to success and happiness. It is the only way to live in harmony with your maker, and therefore yourself. Stepping out of what has been into what will be. And believing in the best possible outcome. Expect it. And do not settle for anything less.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Bringing Home Baby

Here I sit on a cool and bright Wednesday morning at 5:42 AM, with an exhausted husband regretfully schlepping to work, a very jealous 5 year old that needs constant re-assurance and attention, and a new puppy! I can most decidedly take 90% of the responsibility for this committed endeavour, with the other 10% lying with my husband for simply not stopping me...

We went to Home Depot a few weeks ago to get a pot for a palm tree that is quickly outgrowing it's modest housing, and out in front of Pet Smart next door there was a rescue organization with puppies. We decided just to take a quick look, ever present in my mind that a diamond-in-the-rough could be waiting right underneath our noses for us and not willing to loose the right opportunity. We approached a play-pen with 4 Chihuahuas and 1 Yorkie-Poodle mop-of-curly-brown-mess looking puppy in it. The Porkie (sorry, just can't do Yorkie-Poo) and a little caramel colored guy were rolling around ferociously and playing passionately. We asked, we held, we searched our souls to find a place for this sweet dear stray 7 month old mix into our home and into our lives. She had been rescued from the pound just days before her lethal injection and displayed a horrible fear of people. And for whatever reason, having been in this situation many times before and never having even been tempted, we decided to go for it.

So the puppy frenzy ensues, a mess of adoption forms and puppy supply orders, fear and doubt that we are making the right choice, concern for our A-#1 golden-child 5 year old Yorkie and his feelings about the whole thing. But something inside caught us...and she has been home with us for 3 whole days now and is amazing! She is such a dear and sweet thing, so scared and unexposed to civilized life. And so smart!! As I watch this puppy slowly let her guard down and collapse into the heap of exhaustion that has been kept at bay by her constant fight-or-flight survival instincts, I am falling in love.

Now the kind of love I have for the two men in my life is rich and complex, seasoned with experience and deeply bonded. I know this will take a while with her, but she is everything my baby boy is not. He is clean and shiny and entitled and stocky and perfectly behaved. She is so scared of her own shadow it is taking her days to slowly learn to trust us. She is skeleton-skinny and shy and lithe and tired and dirty. There is something about her that is just plain grateful, though. With a fresh shave and clean bill of health we are moving forward to make this her home. But she is damaged. Weary. Not unlike we are. And while she deeply sleeps and constantly eats and potties all over my house, she seems to be fitting in with us just fine.

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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Bad Bad Girl

I don't feel that I indulge my bad side anymore. For years, starting at 14 and ending at 28, this chica partied a lot. It started in high school and just kept on rollin' into college then marriage then adulthood. It was not until my 3rd pancreatitis attack that I hung up my bar stool and learned how to deal with my problems sin alcohol. Alcohol is in no way responsible for causing my pancreatitis, just the worst thing you can consume if you have pancreatitis. The experience was so brutal and the threat of death so impending that it finally caught my attention. I knew I had to take responsibility of my health and gave up drinking for 9 long months. On our 4th wedding anniversary we went to a beautiful restaurant tucked into a beautiful cove on the beautiful northern California coast line. I ordered a gorgeous glass of Pinot Noir and gazed at the orange-glowing ball of sun setting on the horizon as I sipped heaven from a glass. When I told my mother later on that I had finally had a glass of wine she said, "I bet it was so good!" and I told her "Yes, it was truly amazing!".

It is starting to dawn on me that Fibromyalgia is my bad side now. Since I have gotten sick it has absorbed every "bad for you" action I can do and beaten me to the punch every single time. Life is a balance of the yin & yang, and a productive person can only allow so much indulgence before the scales tip. But a person that is forced to be lazy or sleepy or unproductive by elements beyond their control, where does it give? When I indulge Fibromyalgia I confuse it with indulging myself, so when it comes time to blow off some steam and really have a good time I am full of guilt and should not's or not a good idea's. But all along I have been neglecting the real need for indulgence. That little bit that lives inside everybody. The part that sticks to the rest of your progressive, do-gooder life and feeds your soul with the danger, excitement or joy you just cannot find anywhere else.

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Sorry To Bring This To Print

I am as sensitive about polite conversation in public as the next person, which is why when feminine hygiene commercials come on at dinner time I am appropriately offended, but this topic is a major one for females with Fibromyalgia. Please only read the next paragraph if information about the female monthly cycle is what you are looking for. Otherwise, it will surely alarm you. Feel free to pick up at paragraph 2 if you skip it, it gets normal (as normal as I can get) again then.

Why do I feel like my entire world is re-set every month when I get my period? Sleep and wake times go haywire, food and pain medicine consumption increase. My mood gets snappy and irritable and crabby and then once it finally comes, oh my! I think my entire life-force is draining out of me as the cramps radiate out from my belly to my lower back, thighs, legs, upper back, arms and torso, so pretty much everywhere except my head. And if I do indeed have to work, the amount of pain medication I must take makes me stupid and forgetful and that is just not good at work! Thankfully I don't have to work today. Just a housewife day at home. I feel that no matter how much progress I make during the rest of the month, it is all lost once this damn hormone cycle hits. My doctor says this is normal and happens to all her female Fibromyalgia patients but I am freakin' sick of this! Ages ago I read an article in one of those women's magazines like Vogue or Elle about a woman who credits her unbearable PMS (more in line with PMDD in my opinion) with keeping her on track in life. Her mood gets so sour and she challenges and questions all the choices she has made in life that have put her where she is. After the storm clears, she feels fresher and clearer and more capable to move in the direction she really wants to go in life. Well I say good for flippin' her! Glad she can see the positive. All I know is my entire existence is leveled for about 1 week a month and that sucks.

On another note, we have decided it is time to increase our family size, and I have barely begun researching breeders in Arizona, but a little Yorkie puppy is on her way to our house! I find myself without any work all week, and I just want it to get to the weekend. I start to get a little off balance when there is not enough demanded of me. It is important to keep balance or objectivity flies out the door. I am finding I am so enraptured in writing, blogging, etc. that I could do it for 20 hours a day! That is not balance.

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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Major Improvement

A few months back I went hysterical with Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction. I was in horrible pain with major anxiety and was referred to a very specific physical therapist. I would speed into the parking lot and race through the mid-day heat baking the desert to the ground floor of the Mayo Clinic. I would briskly fly down the corridors and impatiently zoom around walkers and wheel-chairs as I hurriedly and repetitively pushed the elevator buttons, knowing that if I was more than 10 minutes late my appointment was, poof, gone. I would barely catch my breath in the waiting room and he would usher me in to the treatment room and place hot-wet-packs on my back. And that is when the sweat would really get pouring! Ribbons and rivulets down my face and neck and back. After a while he would come back in and in his Arizona-tempered-Dutch-accent chat politics and ethics while he pushed on my lower back. The conversation was quite pleasant, but the first time hurt like hell! The second was not much better, but what he really taught me to do was stretch my low back, and stretch I do!

I encorporated his style and key stretches into a very modified deep-tissue-intensive-yoga-stretch routine that would bend and flex and twist and turn my aching back in every direction. It became very easy at night to just start stretching as we were watching TV. I grab my cell phone and access my stopwatch function, and hold this series of about 10 poses for 3 minutes each. And it truly resets my back. If I don't do it for a few days I hurt oh so much more, and if I do it daily feel major improvement.

But what is so strange is that it seems to have done more than just help my back feel better. It has opened a floodgate of healing in so many areas of my life that I sit here feeling truly bewildered as they flow past my head on each side, not knowing where to look or what to start with. So much progress in so little time. Hallelujah! Now I just need to figure out what to do with it...

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Monday, June 7, 2010

Maximum Timeframe Appeal

This is the appeal I sent to the financial aid office at my community college. I must be re-careering and have a registered degree goal to qualify for financial aid:

I obtained a Bachelors Degree in Art when I was 22, worked in the field for a few years, and did not enjoy the profession. In the eleven years since I have worked my way up the career ladder as an executive in Prestige Cosmetics, and then back down again. A few years in I became ill with a serious non-terminal illness. The high stress and physically demanding nature of my job caused me to climb right down that ladder I had worked so hard to ascend. I assumed a position as a retail Makeup Artist, but this too is quite physically challenging, and I can only work very part-time. After years of hard work my illness is managed and I am at a place in my life where I need to explore how I am going to define myself professionally, and support myself financially.

That intention brought me to your Career Center and led me to utilize your DISCOVER workshop. As I combed through the litany of careers that are suitable for my talents, capabilities and values, I was reminded that all I have ever been passionate about is writing and reading. Yet I was not mature or dedicated enough right out of high-school to pursue anything so challenging, so intense, as the study of the classics of literature. I researched a little more and immediately fell in love with the BA in English Literature. And a literary career in academia or as a professional writer, published author, magazine column contributor...the possibilities are endless.

I am petitioning for a Maximum Timeframe Appeal because I wish to take the undergraduate lower division classes required to obtain a Bachelors Degree in English Literature at your institution. I have a natural passion for writing. I manage an online blog pertaining to my health struggles and have discovered the sheer joy of putting my writing "out there". I need to hone, sharpen and develop this natural talent with instruction and discipline, which I expect to find an abundance of with this chosen coursework. A degree in English Literature will teach me how to write for an audience by (re)introducing me to the classical writings of our time. It will take a raw talent and morph it into a marketable skill.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

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Thursday, June 3, 2010

I Figured It Out!

A few weeks back I set out to explore the career portion of my life and figure out a way to fix this near-miss never-satisfied under-challenged physically-exhausting mess that I have made out of my professional existence. It's a complicated story and I am still a little confused as to how I got here. When did I get so off track? I graduated in 1999 from a California State University with a bachelors degree in Art, Interior Design. I was good at it and liked it well enough so I spent the early part of my 20's working in a sales driven aspect of the field. After I got married in 2001 I decided to make a change. I needed a break from the endless pressure and outpouring of creativity required to make the numbers happen. By this time I had developed into a pretty fierce saleswoman, though, so when Bloomingdale's called I figured a job at the cosmetic counter would be a nice and easy "break" while I figured out what to do with myself. Should I take some CAD classes and try for a position with a commercial design firm? Should I go back and get my Masters Degree? If so, in what? I needed some time to de-stress, to think and ponder and explore... That was 9 years ago.

We moved to San Francisco and I rose quickly, promotion after promotion, into cosmetic management and makeup artistry at a prestigious department store on Union Square. Then I started getting sick. So I quickly descended that career ladder that I had so rapidly sprung up just a few years before. Luckily I had a great reputation in my field and I was a skilled manager and makeup artist with a lot to offer. Quickly I was snatched up by one of the department store biggies and am now a freelance makeup artist for that line. It is a fun job. I love doing makeup. I love meeting and discovering and getting to know all different types of people. I love making a woman feel more beautiful, or better about herself, or more confident. I believe I contribute positively and directly to the betterment of society. But it is also a job that is just too bloody physical for me. So here I am, looking for a career, an inspiration, a purpose. I recently had a day dream that I never do anything about this and find myself floating from job to job, never really satisfied, with no real way to self-support, into my 40's with a very limited set of marketable skills. And realized I absolutely do NOT want that to happen. I am bright and intelligent and deep and soulful. I am developed professionally and have loads of ideas and boundless innovations and want to harness it, use it and challenge it to come together and form into a career that is my passion.

Perhaps this is why I took the bare boned results of my DISCOVER test, the basic precepts of community service, working with people and contributing creatively, and applied it to the only thing I have ever been passionate about for the entirety of my life. I objectively sorted through the litany of options and once I read the curriculum for the MA in English Literature I was a goner. I had fallen in love. I had discovered a way to channel all my interests onto the paper and envelope myself in literary study. I had found a way to research the evolution of our humanity via the written word while defining myself professionally and honing my writing skills! I believe one day my voice will be heard. It may not come from my throat, but it will be loud and resonate clearly. And I feel like I took the first step down that road to success with this discovery.

I anticipate this opportunity to further explore and better myself will absorb my life for quite a few years. I feel I am up to the challenge, for this is something I have chosen. It is not some awful disease that takes over every part of my life and forces me to absorb pain and sickness into every cell of my being. I had absolutely no choice with that one. Fibromyalgia took everything away from me and I have had to fight bitterly for the last 5 years to get some of it back. Taking Spanish and getting an A was truly a transforming experience. It opened my eyes to a whole other side of myself that has been lurking beneath the surface. It perpetuated the confidence to recognize that I am at a point in my life where I can make the commitment, and I will be successful.

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