Wednesday, July 23, 2014

There are Up's and Down's in the Journey

I know it's been May since I last wrote a post, but to be honest things have been rather difficult again.  Although a gigantic weight has been lifted off of my shoulders that has been there for almost three years now, I am still struggling with other aspects of my life.

One big dark cloud that has been hanging over my head has been employment.  In case you didn't know the position I took in March didn't pan out for various reasons, meaning I'm back to working my two independent businesses, Wildtree and Handmade Heart.  Although I'm becoming more active with these businesses by doing things such as selling at Farmers' Markets, I don't believe these businesses will ever be my sole sources of income.  This means I need a bill paying job as well, and the search has been less than promising unfortunately.  Over qualified, under qualified, not bilingual, problems with background checks, location of the job in relation to me, and over saturation of the job market have all been stumbling blocks.  This means that I've had to place an expiration date on my Colorado life.  Come January, when my lease expires, if I am not able to support myself, I will need to move back to Kentucky and live with my parents again.  It's still not a guarantee that I'll find employment in Kentucky, or that I'll be able to live on a smaller income there.  It'll just mean that I won't have the concern of how to pay rent, or utilities every month hanging over my head.

Running, and healthy eating have also fallen a bit by the wayside.  Running has fallen out because I just haven't been motivated, and because of a recent scare with a woman being assaulted on the path I normally take.  My healthy eating has fallen by the wayside primarily because I've gotten a bit lazy in my eating habits.  Making a box of Mac and Cheese is faster than making curried chicken salad with creamed spinach and carrot juice.  I'm the first to admit that I really do enjoy eating healthy, I just don't enjoy doing the work to eat healthy.  I also need to stop telling myself that just because it's Organic, Whole Wheat Mac and Cheese it's not as bad for me. I recently noticed this lazy tendency in my eating, and I'm slowly trying to correct myself but stress doesn't help healthy eating.

As a result of my stress, I've had anxiety attacks. For those of you who have never had a true anxiety attack allow me to explain.  It's not just an overwhelming fear, it's not crying, or feelings helpless.  It's literally your body locking up in fear.  Your heart beating so fast you can hear the blood rushing in your ears, shaking so much the floor is vibrating, nausea, numbness causing you to literally fall to the floor, muscles tightening so much you can't move them for hours after the attack, and shortness of breath so bad it feels like someone is smothering you with a pillow. There are other symptoms for anxiety attacks, but these are the ones I know from experience.  These are the ones that give me paralyzing fear.

I haven't had an anxiety attack since I got home from a trip back to Kentucky to see my friends and family.  Before I went back to see them though I was having them pretty regularly...almost weekly.  Out of nowhere every emotion hits you, and then you panic, and then the attack begins.  For me tears were the first sign, then I couldn't breathe.  Living alone, having a panic attack, and not being able to breathe only make the attack that much scarier.  Of course your first thought is "I'm dying!" when you have an attack, so being alone you begin to think "I'm going to die alone, and no one is going to know I died till the neighbors call the cops because my rotting body is stinking up the apartment!"

I never said you're rational during these attacks.

Because of these attacks I have sought medical help, and my focus has been on my emotional health and well being.  The good news, I have confirmation I'm not crazy!!!! ;-)   The bad news, until I gain more control over my emotions and deal with things I need to deal with, having another attack is a real possibility.  I've been told I need to reteach my body how to relax, massage, meditation, yoga, hiking, movies, etc.  I also have to reteach myself that even though some of these things may cost money, my health is worth the time and money to do them.  Again that's hard since money is one of the primary triggers for a panic attack for me.

The point of this post was to give you an update, to remind us all that we're not perfect and always have to keep working at what we want, it's okay to admit that you need help, and sometimes we need to "spoil" ourselves for our own health.  I'll try not to be so much of a stranger, but forgive me if I take some me time from the blog-o-sphere to take care of myself. :-)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

It's A Lonely Island

I know it’s been some time since I’ve posted a blog, but believe it or not I’m rather active online.  When I say active I should probably clarify, I’m active on social media.  Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are checked as often as 10 times a day.  I’ve discovered that this has become quite the problem for me, it’s a massive distraction, which is one of the reasons I’ve been considering leaving them for some time.

We live in a world where phone calls, and letters, and even emails are obsolete.  Facebook messages and tweets are how we keep up with each other’s lives.  This has advantages and disadvantages.  For instance, I live in Colorado, and my family lives in Kentucky.  I’m able to post photographs and news stories I find interesting on Facebook, and they are able to then connect and see what I’m doing.  I have friends who literally live all over the world, and regardless of time zones we are able to keep up with the others life, and communicate.  I also run a business strictly online, and if it wasn’t for Facebook I wouldn’t have a lot of the customers I’ve gained in the past year.  So there are some definite positives to social media and being connected.

There are also the disadvantages of this type of communication as well though.  Recently the disadvantages have outweighed the advantages for me.  When your life isn’t following the “normal” path that is socially acceptable it can be difficult to see how others’ lives are so different than yours.  I would say that 97% of my friends and family have at least one of these things going for them, they’re either married/in a serious relationship, have jobs they enjoy, and/or have kids.  I’d like to point out; I have none of those things going for me right now.  Some of the reasons for that are my choices, but some reasons are beyond my control.  I’m not going to get into those reasons, and why I can’t change them right now, but know that I can’t simply “fix” them.  I’m okay with being single right now, I’m okay with not having children right now, and I’m even okay with working jobs I don’t necessarily enjoy just to pay the bills till I can find a job I do enjoy.  My life is moving in a different way than other people’s lives are, and as I’ve said in the past, I’m okay with that.

Sometimes though it’s difficult to see the posts all over social media about someone having another baby, or how happy they are with their spouse who is wonderful, or how fulfilling their job is.  Sometimes seeing those things, and knowing that you want them and don’t have them yet, is painful to see.  That’s the place I’m at right now.  I love my friends and family, and I love that they’re happy, but I also hate how seeing them happy makes me feel jealous, and unhappy in my own life.

I really am glad that my life has not followed the traditional road, but sometimes I wonder if the traditional road would have been easier.  Easier to explain to extended family why I don’t have a boyfriend (and let’s clear one thing up, just because I’m single and happy doesn’t make me gay!).  Easier to wake up and go to work when it’s something you want to be doing, not something you have to do to barely get by.  Easier to not feel like the creepy lady smiling at the baby at the store, when you have your own child you can smile at instead.

Yeah, yeah, all things come to those who wait…and things happen in their own time for every person…and when it’s meant to be it will be.  Save me the platitudes, because honestly it’s all right for me to feel this way!  There is nothing that says I can’t feel jealous sometimes, or unhappy sometimes, or even angry sometimes over the fact that those things aren’t part of my life.  It’s only a problem when you feel like you can’t talk to someone about it and so it weighs on you, becoming toxic.

I admit that because of all of these things, I’ve become distant to many people in my life.  I don’t stay in contact, and separate myself both physically and emotionally.  In essence I have put myself out on an island with those I felt like I could talk to, and relate too, because they were in the same situation as me.  Eventually though I ended up on that island alone.  I hate that, and I want to fix it, but I fear that I’ve burned too many bridges in the process and can’t repair some of the relationships I let go of.  I’m also afraid that I don’t know how to change.


I’m not deleting my social media because this would only separate me further.  Maybe it’s time that I stop checking it 10 times a day though.  Maybe it’s time we all stop comparing our lives to other people’s, and saying if it doesn’t match up then it’s wrong.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Miss. Independent

I've always been an independent person.  Even when I was young, I remember telling my parents I wanted to do things by myself, and on my own.  I think independence is a good thing, especially in a day and age where you often have to be.  I mean I began my own business when I couldn't find work in grad school, I became an independent sales rep for a food company when I was having trouble finding work here in Denver.  I'm finding ways to make ends meet, I'm attempting to pull myself up, and I'm doing these things on my own for the most part.

Can a person be too independent though?  This is a thought I've had for a while now as more and more people have been telling me I've become distant.  I've thought this as I realize I don't get invited out by people anymore.  And I've thought this a lot as I look back at my previous romantic relationships.  Sure I can provide for myself, I can take care of myself, I can do what I have to do...but it's sure nice to share the load.  Have I become too independent for my own good?

For so long I haven't had a choice, I've had to do things for myself.  Being away from my family, and many of my friends meant that when I got sick I had to make my own tea.  When my car's battery died, I had to either find someone willing to give me a jump, or call AAA myself.  When the trash needed taken out when it was snowing, I had to take it out.  I've only had myself to rely on for a long time.  When people ask to do these things for me, I find it weird, because I've had to do it myself. And often when they don't do it the same way I would have it's hard for me to see.  So letting go of some things that I've been doing for so long, can be difficult.

I was recently told that one of the reasons a past relationship fell apart, was because as we both dealt with a difficult situation I turned into myself for comfort, when they tried to comfort and share their pain with me.  Now this was not the only one reason that this relationship fell apart, trust me there were other reasons too.  It made me think though, how many people have I unintentionally hurt, and turned away, who were trying to help me, and I was being my independent self not seeing their offer.

Don't get me wrong, the idea of not having all the weight on my shoulders is a nice idea, but very difficult for me to grasp.  It would be nice to have someone to take care of me, friend, family, significant other, etc., but the concept is foreign to me so when people try, I guess I inadvertently push them away.  Does this make me too independent?  Am I too set in my ways?  Can I change?

My paternal grandmother was a rather independent woman.  She divorced her husband in a time when divorce wasn't acceptable, and she never remarried.  She supported herself, and my father in a career that was male dominated. But growing up I noticed things like her lack of social relationships, her strict ways things had to be done, and her her general "Curmudgeon-ness" as my family referred to it as.  I swore that I never wanted to be like her in those ways, I wanted to not only enjoy life, but enjoy the people I spent it with, and be flexible.  Part of me now fears that I'm becoming exactly like her.

I know people can change, and I'm hoping I can change.  I just don't even know where to begin this time.  I guess when you have a fear of being so far on one end of the spectrum and being totally reliant on others, you may take things too far and become too independent instead.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

What Tomorrow Brings

Two years ago today, I began one of the strangest, scariest, most wonderful journey's I've ever been on...and it seems to all finally be coming full circle.

Two years ago today I packed up my car, and began the two day journey from Kentucky, to Colorado.  I didn't have a job lined up, I didn't know where I was even going to live when I got here.  All I knew was that I felt like I needed to be here, so I had to follow my heart and give it a shot out west.  I can only imagine this is what the settlers felt when they went west.  Hopeful for new opportunities, and better lives.

The past two years have been challenging.  I've struggled with financial issues, and employment problems, and building a life here from the ground up.  But the past two years have been fairly awesome at the same time.  I've done things I never imagined doing like snowboarding, and learned to step out of my box every once and a while.  I know that without the struggles, I wouldn't have had the chance to do some of those things I've done, and enjoyed doing.  I also know that I wouldn't have grown into the person that I have become.

It only seems fitting that tomorrow, two years after arriving in Denver, I will begin at my first full time job since 2007.  Although it's still not my dream job, and still not enough to completely live on, it feels like the first real opportunity I've had in a very long time.  It will give me the chance to finally complete my Master's, and at the same time, become certified in early childhood education here in the state.  At first it was difficult to see this place as the opportunity that it is.  Let's face it, we all want the dream right out of the gate if we can get it.  I'm beginning to see though that this is a chance for me to finally grow, and complete some roads I stopped building a long time ago.  It's also a chance for me to gain more experience, and continue learning.  It's a chance!

Many people have often told me that picking up and moving across the country without much of a plan was brave.  My response has always been in jest that it was that or stupid, I'm never sure of which.  The fact is that there is a thin line between bravery and stupidity, and sometimes we need to skirt that line more than we often do.  Moving to Denver was both brave, stupid, and a huge gamble.  I finally feel like in that gamble though the house isn't winning every hand anymore.  Sure they're still winning a hand or two, but I'm finally winning some hands too.  Sometimes you have to take a risk, and you won't know how, or when, that risk is going to payout.  You just have to keep trying, not give up, and hang on for the ride sometimes.  I don't know if this new job is going to be the "breakthrough" I've been waiting for the past two years, but I'd be a fool to not hang on and see where it takes me.

One of my favorite sayings is, "Don't give up on today, for you never know what tomorrow may bring."  Here's hoping things are finally coming full circle, and my tomorrows keep getting better and better.  :-)

Friday, February 7, 2014

Victories

Throughout this journey there have been small victories, but on January 22nd I believe I had a very big victory.  Monday the 20th of January, was my birthday.  As I've gotten older my birthday's have become just another day, and I believe this is true for many people.  You begin to not celebrate the small victory that is making it to a year older.  We often view this day, not as a victory, but as just another day to push through, only with cake.  This year I almost did the same thing, pushed through the day like it was no big deal, but instead I chose to make something big happen.

As many of you have seen I have my bucket list posted on this site.  There's nothing special about my bucket list compared to other people's, it changes, morphs, and adapts just like I do.  In the beginning of this blog though I tried to be sure several things got marked off every year.  In the past few years that's kind of gone by the wayside.  When I moved to Colorado, and was able to mark that off I kind of stalled with my goals and dreams.  For some reason just being was enough for a while.  I think we all need to do that sometimes when things get overwhelming, but we also need to pull ourselves out of that and get back to doing things that make us a bit uncomfortable sometimes.  So since I didn't do much last year for my big landmark birthday...I decided I needed to do something this year.

In March I will have lived in Colorado for two years, and one of the most common questions people ask you when you tell them you moved here is, "Do you ski/snowboard?"  I laugh because winter sports like skiing and snowboarding are such a big thing here, and sports of any kind have never been a big thing in my own life, with the exception of a soccer stint in Middle School.  I've always wanted to learn how to ski though, even before I moved here.  So after talking to some people about where to go to get lessons (I was not just going to strap some wood to my feet and hope for the best, I wanted to really learn how to not kill myself, lol), and learning about the differences in learning to ski and snowboard I signed up for a lesson at Winter Park Resort with my friend Leigh Ann who was also a novice to learn the basics of snowboarding.

Let me just say first of all that they sure as hell make it look easier than it really is on television!!! I felt like a toddler learning how to walk all day. And yes I even had to learn how to walk in snowboard boots which was a challenge!  After almost six hours of help, I found myself not only standing and going down a hill on a snowboard, but I found myself loving every second of it, even if I still wasn't able to let of of the instructor without falling.  Something that once seemed like an impossibility was not only happening, but was turning out rather well.  I didn't break any bones, and although I fell quite a few times (the chairlift is the bane of my existence!!!!) I found myself laughing each time as I laid in the snow.  I may never end up being an Olympic Snowboarder, and I may not even be able to do more than just keep my balance going down a hill, but I actually did it...and plan to do it again in the near future. (At least once more this season!!)

My very first attempt to move with both feet strapped in!
Getting off the chairlift may be the most difficult part about snowboarding!

Trying to go down the big hill for the first time!
Just taking a break because my legs were Jello!
I think every snowboarding trip should end with s'mores!!

My new goal is to be able to snowboard for at least 5 feet solo, without having to have the instructor hold on to me.  I have a feeling if I go back to the Ski + Ride School in Winter Park that will happen no problem.  (Seriously if you want to learn, go there they're amazing!!)  Many people would say that I didn't actually accomplish what I had marked on my bucket list, I didn't fully learn how to snowboard in one 6 hour day...but I disagree that it shouldn't be marked off.  Not only did I accomplish getting up on a snowboard and learning about heel side, and toe side and how to do them. But I think that by getting out there and trying it was a huge accomplishment.  We have to remember that we aren't going to be experts at everything, but that doesn't mean that by trying we didn't accomplish it.

I decided to put my thirty-something year old self out there and try something new.  Something many people will never try in their lives due to fear, or use their age as an excuse.  Not only was it a victory for doing it in the first place, but it was a victory for doing something many people wouldn't have.  This year I remembered that age is only a number, and only holds us back from the things we allow it to.

Thanks Leigh Ann for going with me, and for the pictures of me snowboarding (and the closing photo and quote which is perfect!). Thanks Winter Park Resort's Ski + Ride School for the awesome day and great instruction (I'll be back as soon as I have the money again!). And thanks mom for not freaking out too much at the thought of me going down a mountain with nothing but a piece of wood strapped to my feet. ;-)


Saturday, January 18, 2014

What's Comfortable

People say that things happen when they least expect them, and when they are just doing what they love and having fun.  This week is my birthday.  I'm turning an age I will never fess up to, and I must admit that my life has gone in a direction that I NEVER thought I would be going at this point in time.  That's not necessarily a bad thing though.

If my life had gone the way that I believed it was going to go in I would still be in Kentucky, or Southern Indiana living a life that was "comfortable".  At some point though I knew that comfortable wasn't what I wanted.  I wanted to branch out, try new things, and step outside of my comfort zone.  Even this week I'll be welcoming my old age by stepping outside of my comfort zone and going to learn how to snowboard. (Mark that one off the bucket list!)  The fact is that sometimes it's scary to step outside of that comfortable state of mind we all get stuck in.  In my experience it's always been worth it though.

I'm an over-thinker, and analyze my life quite often.  This is sometimes a good thing, but this also has it's drawbacks.  For instance, I find myself over-thinking and analyzing whether moving to Colorado was a good choice or not every time I have a struggle such as unemployment or financial stress.  Was moving here a bad idea?  No!  I'm happy, I like who I am, and I've met great people and done some rather amazing things since being here.  But I over-think and analyze when things are rough, and of course I feel like moving here was a bad idea then.  I'd probably be in the same situations though if I hadn't moved here.  It's easy to blame your problems and struggles on having gone outside of that comfort zone though.  It's the easy way out.

Last night I was reminded about how over thinking and analyzing can be a bad thing though.  I was awake into the early morning when many were just waking up for work.  I hadn't been able to sleep, and what little dozing off I was able to do was interrupted by a reoccurring nightmare that began about a year ago.  You see a photo of someone had come up into my social media feed and reminded me of time I had spent with them.  I miss this person, but I removed them from my life for a reason.  Somehow they keep creeping back in though.  Maybe I let my guard down because I'm hopeful that they have changed.  Or maybe they push their way back into my mind because I need to be reminded that things change, no matter how hard we hold on and fight that change.  Whatever the reason I spent my night analyzing their place in my life, and thinking about why I had let them in in the first place.  This morning I found myself with the dark circles under my eyes from a restless night of sleep, an upset stomach, and a lack of ambition and joy to do anything today.  By over-thinking, and analyzing I had allowed that person to do exactly what I had pushed them out of my life for doing.

That person is comfortable to me.  They are my comfort zone, and I have a feeling that's why I let them into my life time and time again.  The fact is, I know I don't like how they make me feel anymore.  I don't like the person I am when I'm with them anymore.  It's scary to think that moving my life away from a person is a good thing, but sometimes you have to do it.  I don't want to be that person with them anymore, so I need to change and not be with them.  Just like I needed to change and move away from Kentucky to be the better me I have become since I moved here.

When I have stepped outside of my comfort zone, I've found new adventures, had fun, and discovered new skills and passions.  I'm not saying every time you step out you're going to find these things, or that you have to do these things every day.  I'm saying you have to step outside of that comfort zone and be a bit uncomfortable sometimes to find those things that you do enjoy doing, and love.  As I turn another year older I hope that I am able to do this more often.  To take more chances, be uncomfortable more, and find more of those things that I enjoy and have fun doing.  I hope that by doing this other aspects of my life will begin to improve and advance, and a snowball effect will begin to take place.  I don't know if that will happen, but I want to at least try.  First things first though, I have to try snowboarding before I can know if I'm any good at it and enjoy it.  ;-)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Dear Santa

Dear Santa,

I know over the years I have asked for many things such as, a Pony, Teddy Ruxpin, violin lessons, a television, even just plain old cash.  Over the years you have gotten me some items I put on my list, and some were just dreams of a young girl with no understanding of what the holiday's are truly about.  I know it's been years since I've written you a letter, or provided you with a list, but even a woman in her thirties sometimes needs to hold on to a holiday wish.

I have a special request this year, and it's not something that will be easily wrapped up with a bow, and placed in your sleigh.  It's a wish I've discovered many people have this time of year, but only this year I truly feel like I really understand why they are wishing for it.  You see, I don't want things this year under my tree, I want my family.  Although I know this is an impossible request because of work schedules, airline prices, and various other reasons it's still my only request this year.

Last year I spent the holiday's alone as well, and although difficult, what got me though was the belief that I would be able to be with them this year.  This year I found myself in another situation of being unable to be there again, and this time the pain is more raw, and almost unbearable.  I can't travel this year because I am again having to work, to make not even enough money to survive on.  My family can't come spend the holiday's with me, because with a mother who is a minister she is working Christmas Eve, and no one can afford the insanely high airline prices this time of year.

Sure my family has visited me for a week here and there, and I have been able to go and visit them for a short time as well.  The thing is that as a man who travels the world in one night I'm sure you understand Kentucky and Colorado are not close together.  I can't take a weekend to go back home, the flights alone would take up most of my time away.  And although technology helps span that distance, virtual hugs can't compare to the real thing.

I know I am not the first person who can't be with their family for the holiday's, and I know I will not be the last.  Military personnel, emergency workers, medical professionals, and various other professions have to work too.  And maybe I can't be with my family this year because I'm supposed to have a better understanding of what these individuals go through every year.  I don't know the reasons, but what I do know is that everyone deserves a little time with their family this time of year, and when you don't have that choice the holiday's are far from enjoyable.

My family under my tree I know you can't really provide Santa.  I mean elves can't make them in your workshop.  But maybe you could help me find my hope and faith this Christmas, because I've begun to lose those over the past two years.  Maybe you could help me find my belief again that I won't have to spend every holiday alone.  Because to be honest, crying every time I see a commercial on TV about a family reunited for the holiday's really puts a damper on your night.

I know New Year's isn't really your department, but it sure would be nice to have a job next year that would allow me to live comfortably and lets me have some time off to be able to see my family more than one time a year, and on the holiday's.  Maybe you could help with that.

I still believe in holiday miracles, and I still believe in the holiday spirit.  I mean it was 14 years ago today my mom was diagnosed with a life threatening blood disorder that turned that Christmas upside down too.  She's still here though, by some miracle she beat it, and she's seen and done thing none of us were sure she'd ever be able to that year.  So I know nothing is impossible as long as I keep fighting.

So Santa, as you get ready to pack your sleigh, and venture out on your one night worldwide trip, please don't forget to drop a little hope down the chimneys of those of us without our families to share the holiday with.  Some of us need it more than you know this year.

Liza