Monday, February 11, 2013

Life, it's how it goes

Well, the blog has been on hiatus since last Wednesday, when I worked a record 23 hours.  Since then I have just been trying to get caught back up in breathing, eating, and sleeping, and of course, working at least 12 hour days, so I've once again had to put writing on the back burner.

My solution is try to play catch up at some point this week.  As I am still behind in most things, I can't make any promises of when this will happen.

Most of my life is me trying to complete tasks that are imposed on me from without - so I don't want to approach this in the same way.  I want writing to be something that I do unencumbered, not something I cram between babysitting people who don't want to meet their own obligations.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

TdJ: My children's health.....

I am so glad that this topic falls on a day that both girls are relatively healthy.  Hopefully this will limit the kvetch to a tolerable level.

At the moment my daughters are in a weird position.  The older daughter's father has been court-ordered for 15 years to provide health insurance for her.  He started doing this about 18 months ago.  So she actually has health insurance.

My younger daughter has only me, and since my 60-100 hour per week job does not provide health insurance she goes without.  Unfortunately, she is the much more sickly of the two.

My oldest daughter has no allergies, has had two or three stomach bugs and one ear infection in her entire 17 year life.

My younger daughter is only 7, but has had 20+ ear infections, 100s of stomach bugs, and has had to have two teeth pulled, when she had a severe allergic reaction to the anesthesia.  She's also allergic to 2/3 of the antibiotics that have been prescribed to her.

I've done everything I can - short of being able to afford to provide actual health insurance - to ensure their health.  I breastfed the oldest for 2 years, the youngest for over 3 years.  Neither child ever had to drink formula, and neither was started on solid food before 4 to 6 months.  I tried to feed them healthy food, and they did well until others started giving them starches, grease and junk food.  At some point I got too busy to fight all the bad influences, and so their diets aren't the best, but as long as  I am cooking, their diets are at least better than average.  At some point, I realized that genetics must play into it, and since I was fairly healthy as a kid, all their problems are probably the fault of their fathers.

Yeah, I like that theory.

This is something I am concerned about.  Since I am so limited in what I can do for them, I live in fear that they will get sick or hurt and I won't have any way to help them.  I guess this the fear of most parents, but in this household, one severe illness could mean homelessness for us.  We can do less than most people can do to prevent it, so I probably drive my daughters crazy with my herbal/nutritional/energy work/alternative medicine approaches.  They are all I have.

Yes, indeed, my daughters are all I have.

Monday, February 4, 2013

TdJ: Stress

Stress is one of those things that has been suffocating me lately.  Work.  Home. Finances.  My mother's health.  My health.  It's all been a bit overwhelming.

There is no cure for stress.

And I can see clearly the physical effects of stress on my body.  And my mind.

My cognitive levels are definitely affected by it.  I feel like about 100 people are demanding things of me hundreds of times a day, and I can't get anything done for the constant interruptions.

Tonight I actually came up with the idea of making a request form that each person at work who is demanding something of me has to complete.  That way I could track all the demands and they could see what priority their demands really are.

The bottom line is I am doing lots of things others can do for themselves.
And I am resenting them and myself for it.

So it is time to stop.

I mean, really.

I am so stressed that even writing this little piece on stress is too much.

So good night.  Sleeping will help my stress.  

Sunday, February 3, 2013

TdJ: Spirit

Another loving coincidence from the Universe:  today's topic.

For the past few days I have been trying to cultivate a morning routine of reading a chapter from Jacob Glass' "The Crabby Angels Chronicles" and the day's selection from Mark Nepo's "The Book of Awakening."  I love both of them, and consider them very spiritual beings who also just happen to be able to write, so this is a joy.

For the past two weeks I have been trying to steal time from work and housework and meeting every need of the people who live in my house to read Jean Houston's "The Passion of Isis and Osiris."  NOT light reading.  Great reading, but not light.  Not the kind of book that lends itself to being interrupted over 5 times every page.  (Which is saying something, because I have been known to devour a 300 page tome in less than 2 hours back when I could do something uninterrupted.)  So, needless to say, I haven't gotten very far in it.  However, I was able to read TWO ENTIRE PAGES this morning when I was using the bathroom, had the bathroom door locked, and the natives were asleep.

So today, this is what I gleaned from Jean Houston.
We have been isolated from myth and stories that help us make sense of our lives by industrialization.  I would go out on a limb and say that technology also does this.  Like the David Foster Wallace quote that I posted yesterday, we are alone.   We can't know what others are thinking.  However, myths used to serve as a bridge.  Unfortunately each generation is farther and farther away from being taught those myths.  They shouldn't be "taught;" they should be known.  My own children don't even know fairy tales.  They are unheard of at their schools, but everyone knows about Captain Underpants.  (Not to put down Captain Underpants, whatever gets them reading).
With this loss of story/myth that used to a be a common thread weaving us together in our lives, psyches and morals and ethics, at large in our communities, there is a disconnect.  We want to believe in something bigger, more substantial, and more permanent than ourselves.  It just isn't readily available in our culture.

And from what I see, lots of people are filling that void with religion.

This is not, in and of itself, a bad thing.

However, from what I have seen, this has served to divide rather than unite.  Many religionists are very sect-like in their approach.  I am learning that Christians and Muslims alike are very judgmental and convinced that their narrow view of their faith is The One True Path.  So we get suicide bombers. Holy wars, and constant bickering.  Not what the founders of their religions had in mind at all.  I do not claim to be a Christian, and I don't even know enough to formulate a sentence on Islam, but I can tell you, I bet today's extremists have missed the boat.

So what is my version?  It's mine.  It's not yours.  I do not want you to adopt it or convert to it.  I KNOW it is not The One True Path.
So I am not "praying" that you will convert to my beliefs.
I am not "praying" to "save your soul."
I am not going to argue with you or shove my beliefs down your throat.
I am not that sanctimonious or narcissistic to pull that shit.

I believe Jesus had it right when he said "Love One Another."  And when he could ask God to forgive those who crucified him, I believe he was acting as he spoke.  This is the standard by which I measure all things.  

I believe Buddha had it right when he said, "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it or who has said it, not even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense."  I also believe the Buddha had it right when he purported that all life is suffering, that suffering comes from desire, that there can be an end to desire, and the eight-fold path (Right view, Right intention, Right speech, Right action, Right livelihood, Right effort, Right mindfulness, Right concentration) leads to the end of desire.

I believe Nietzsche was right when he said, "One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star."

I believe Henry Miller was right when he said, "The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware."

I believe Walt Whitman was right when he said:

“This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.”

Finally, I will close with a story from Jacob Glass and "The Crabby Angels Chronicles:"

Our dear Brother Jacob discovered this some time ago as he struggled to see the innocence in others.  As he tried valiantly to follow Jesus' entreaty to love others, he grew to resent them more than ever.  As with most of you, he thought it would be easier to love others if they would simply be more lovable.  On the sidewalks of Los Angeles he would try to practice love by mentally greeting each person wit h an inner "Namaste" - trying to see the Christ and Buddha in everyone.  Instead of bringing peace, it simply amplified his own feelings of guilt over the endless judgements that arose from within him as he failed over and over again.  
It was his concept of "love" which got in the way.  We encouraged him to simply silently greet each person with "Fuck you my brother - fuck you my sister" instead.  Immediately, a lightness came over him as he began to laugh at his own ego thoughts and in that moment he felt his one-ness with every person who he saw and his heart opened wide.  Infinite love is not about the words or your concepts of what "spiritual" looks like - it is an experience.  

"You can indeed afford to laugh at fear thoughts, remembering that God goes with you wherever you go." - A Course in Miracles

Finally, if after reading this, you are angered, I am sorry.  Please go pray, and don't tell me about it.  

If after reading this, you feel sorry for me because I am not a member of your church or of your faith, and you want to tell me about it, don't.  

If you want to pray for me, pray instead for yourself that your heart and mind be truly opened to accepting your fellow humans.  

And if you don't want to pray for that, feel free to pray for anything listed below (maybe you can turn it into a Prayer du Jour exercise!):

1.  True Peace
2. End to "Holy Wars"
3. Clean, non-engineered food and water for all humans
4. Cure for Cancer
5. Guidance
6. End to Addictions
7. That No Child EVER Go Hungry
8. That No Child EVER Be Killed
9. End to Judgment
10. End to Hatred


Saturday, February 2, 2013

DFW quote on aloneness and the function of writing

"We're existentially alone on the planet.  I can't know what you're thinking and feeling and you can't know what I'm thinking and feeling.  And the very best works construct a bridge across that abyss of human loneliness." 
- David Foster Wallace

TdJ: Wanting to Escape or Kvetchy Tune But I Can't Dance to It

If I didn't know better - and I do, so I know it is true - I  would think I was a broken record.  I AM a broken record.  The song is called, "My Life Sucks and I Want Out."

So instead of playing the broken record.... Since it is a Saturday, and I had planned to try to take a day off from the demands of others, I want to explore instead ways I CAN escape, if only for a moment.

Cooking.  Last night I made couscous with saffron and chives, vegetables in a garlic butter sauce and tofu Korma.  Chloe was out with friends, but Tim acted like I had fed him dog shit.  He shoved the food around on his plate, and before even sitting down to take the first bite, said, "I'm not going to eat that shit."  Never mind that I had to clean the kitchen before I even started cooking (and I have not cooked since last Sunday, so none of it was my mess).  Never mind that I had worked 13 hours yesterday alone (I know, it was a short day for me).  Never mind that I am the only one who has been buying the food for the household since 2010. Never mind he hadn't even tasted yet.  Never mind that he could have gone down around the corner to the men's homeless shelter to eat if he doesn't like what I serve.

The thing that really bothered me is that I let him take away the enjoyment I had in cooking a healthy, balanced meal.  Not too many of these get cooked in my house unless I am the one doing it.  And I really do love to cook.  I just let him take me from a small moment of enjoyment in my long, shitty day of working to support him and my children, and make me bitter and hateful and miserable.  And then I let his actions make me sit there and try to choke down my healthy food past a lump of hate in my throat.

I know that alcoholics are incapable of feeling gratitude and that asking an alcoholic for love/support/acceptance is like going to the hardware store for a loaf of bread.  I know that expecting - even for a second - that an alcoholic could meet any emotional need I have is setting myself up for disappointment and failure.  YET I still let it make me angry.

In this situation, I let him short-circuit my escape.  It's almost as if my greatest need can be answered by an emotion-Tardis (for all you Dr Who fans out there), and he - and others - keep fucking with the wiring and software.

I mistakenly thought that someone would have gratitude that after 13 hours of working to support everyone, an hour of cleaning up after everyone and cooking, that I was making them dinner.  My grave error.  My fault for having an expectation for gratitude, or at least acceptance  (and quiet).  

Another escape I love is reading.  I don't get to do it near enough.  When all my other responsibilities at work, home and with the kids are done, there is nothing left of my energy to do it.  I am going to try to read a book that I have not gotten past the introduction for two weeks because of work.

Interruptions also keep me from my escape of reading.  I get interrupted to be asked to perform repugnant tasks, answer work calls, answer other calls, fork over money for cigarettes for the alcoholic/canned dog food for the dog/social life (movies, dinner with friends, etc.) for the 17 year old/school events for the 7 year old/reminders that my bills are all due and shut off of utilities from my mother (who cannot fathom why I can't take care of a household of 5, work 65-90 hours a week, and financially support it all on a salary that comes out to minimum wage when you do the math), or look at something on facebook with a laptop thrust in my face.

I have been able to afford 2 massages in the last 10 years.  But I love it.  It really helps the fibromyalgia, and if I could get massage regularly I think I would feel better.

Al-Anon meetings.
I try to get to as many as I can.  It's hard, because they are at 6:30PM on weeknights and usually I am still going strong at work at 6:30PM, especially if I started work any later than 4AM.  (My days are scheduled where I try to do paperwork, emails and scheduling between 4AM and 7AM, take calls and work in office or in the 10 counties our company spans now from 7AM to 7PM, and then do emails and paperwork from 7PM to 10PM or 12AM.)
Sometimes I feel like I am dragging a 1000 pound ball and chain with me up those stairs and then trying to saw through the chain for a hour in the meeting.  Sometimes a few links fall off, but the weight is never entirely gone.  It is lighter for a little while - sometimes hours, sometimes just a few minutes, depending on what text messages, emails and phone calls my phone has received during that hour while I was trying to escape.  Most of them include a chastisement or haranguing for not being immediately available when the caller or inquirer contacted me.

It's funny how everyone thinks every desire they have is a royal emergency.  It's also funny that most of their desires are simply desires to not do what they should or what is their responsibility to do.

Many days I feel like I am surrounded by people who are simply looking to dump their tasks on me, and that my main task is to say, "Grow up and take responsibility for yourself.  It IS your job to do your job, or to get a job, and support yourself."

Simply mystifying for a person like me with an overdeveloped sense of responsibility.

Which is why I want to escape.  Which is what I want to escape from.

I can escape.  Just for a moment.  If I want the moments to be longer, I let others wait.  I don't let their opinions uproot what I know to be true.  I don't even give a moment's attention to stupid comments like I heard last night: "Junk food is a matter of opinion."   I know in my common-sense, non-alcoholic heart and brain that junk food like snacks and fast food or greasy empty carbs are not a matter or opinion, it's just what the alcoholic wants to eat.  I don't worry about other's desires - they are CERTAINLY not concerned ONE IOTA with my mine.  I let other people take care of themselves.  There are resources out there for them.

Don't like what I have to offer?  Go elsewhere.

And then, and only then, will I have time to breathe and take care of myself.

Nothing remains as it was.

“I give you this to take with you:
Nothing remains as it was.   If you know this, you can
begin again, with pure joy in the uprooting.” 
― Judith Minty

Friday, February 1, 2013

TdJ: Physical Pain

The beauty of the Topic du Jour technique is that there are only thirty topics.  So on months, like the last one, that have thirty-one days, the reader is spared the evil kvetch for a day.  Alas, February is only 28 days, so the reader gets no such reprieve.  However, it will spare the evil of the last two topics, so maybe....

Hmmm, physical pain.  I've already said so much about this, it seems redundant to go further.

I am no stranger to physical pain.  I have at least two chronic diagnoses that over 90% of other people I have met are on complete disability for.  I always get the reaction, "How can you work?"  from these people when I admit that I too share their disease.  In all actuality, it never ended my mind that I can't work.  In the early 1970s, I remember seeing a comical paperback book title: "It's Been Down So Long It Looks Like Its Up To Me."  I have no idea where I even saw that book.  But I do know that almost 40 years later, that phrase sticks in my mind.  (I don't even know what the book was about.  I didn't read it.  I sight-read signs and the spines of books when I was three and four as my  bored English teacher mother was on bed-rest with her pregnancy with my sister and taught me to read as a lark. Hence, I read alot of things I did not really delve into further.)  That phrase kind of sums up what life is like in my nuclear family.  If I don't do it, it doesn't get done.  Occasionally it gets done, but grudgingly and haphazardly.

So, while I would like to give into the physical pain, or give myself a break at times, I am too much of a worrier and control freak and not willing to be homeless or live in utter filth.  Which, without my efforts, no one else is really invested in preventing.  I am aware of this.  I have no choice but to accept it.  As a result, I work through the pain.

The ripple effects from this are bitterness (Hello?  You have read this blog?) and exhausting (ditto) and increased pain.  I have aged 25 to 30 years in the last 10 years.  And basically little concern for my own self-care.  Simply put, I am too exhausted/bitter to do the things I know I need to do to take care of myself.  If no one care enough to help me, why should I bother?  And of course, on any given day, I have at least 50 other people demanding my attention, diverting it from any type of need I personally may have.

Compassion fatigue coupled with physical pain.  Wow, I may have found the cure for codependency.

Or not.

(image from