The Importance of Feeling.

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Feelings. Sure, I claim that I don’t have any, or that I have just one left. However, they are there. For me, I stuff my emotions deep down inside and rarely let them out. I’ve built up my walls so high to keep everyone out that the only way I can keep from exploding is through writing (unless I have writer’s block.. then it’s all downhill from there).

Unfortunately for a lot of us in life, we get hurt after sharing what’s inside of us with others. So walls get built, and walls get reinforced as we get older. I’ve had a rough couple of decades, so my walls I built are basically impenetrable. It’s been a major issue in past relationships. I have such a hard time communicating, but it seemed as though as soon as I’d let some real emotion out, it would come back to haunt me.

So I try and pour all of that rough unbridled emotion into pages of a journal. Or if I need to express myself and I didn’t see a way around it, a letter directly to someone. It always seems to help to let the words flow through my fingers and get it all out. However, it’s not as good as just telling someone.

There’s a different feeling there, being able to tell someone that something hurt you, or that something scared you. Being able to just spill it all out. It’s refreshing to let people see that you’re not “the strongest woman” (or man) that they know.

I was at my breaking point yesterday. I was in immense pain, from pretty much all of my joints as well as my chest and stomach (IST and IBD). The pain was so horrible I was having a hard time keeping the tears back in front of my daughter. Then to pile on the financial stress (because I’ve been so sick lately, I’ve missed work under FMLA. Daycare is very expensive even if I work overtime, so missing work put me in the situation of paying the mortgage vs daycare, food vs. daycare, Christmas presents vs daycare. So after 2 months, it’s up over $1000, and frankly I don’t see a good way to fix it) it just broke me.

I went home and holed up in my room with the intention of writing in my journal. Which I did, I wrote page after page after page. Yet, no matter how much I spilled onto paper, I didn’t feel any better. The pain obviously doesn’t go away with writing, but I was hoping if I could get rid of the turmoil and stress snowballing in my head, I might be able to handle the physical pain.

Then Jon came in. He had visited me on lunch, and I had basically hopped out of the car because I thought I was going to cry. He came in the bedroom, and gave me a hug and I just lost it. I don’t know if it was because I was in physical pain, or what, but it all just came pouring out of my mouth. Everything, with tears and all. Over the course of 20 minutes, all my demons roared out and I just let it go.

After a little while, I felt better emotionally, and was able to deal with the physical pain. We didn’t find a solution, and I still don’t know what I am going to do to catch up on my daycare bill, but I have ideas to cut the costs in the future. Either way, I was able to tell someone else what was bothering me/scaring me (losing my daycare.. losing my job) and I felt a lot better afterwards. I was able to talk for a while, and then take some pain pills and get a little sleep.

That was a good first for me. I don’t open up to anyone, usually. It’s something I’ll need to work on in the future. I don’t want to muck up this relationship with my communication issues, so I’m really going to try. Either way, knowing that not everything is on your shoulders, that you’re not the only one carrying the weight is a feeling I want to feel again. I’m just glad I have a partner willing to help me take on the world.

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Snow Snow Rambling Snow Snow

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The first big snow of the season is supposed to come this weekend. Sure, we’ve had a dusting or two, maybe a couple of inches, but they are saying it could be 6-10 inches over the course of 48 hours.

As much as I hate Winter, I do look forward to the first snow storm. Something about it brings out something very childlike in me. I have so many memories attached with the first snow and getting excited for Christmas, that I can’t help but be a little bit thrilled when the first snow storm hits. Not to mention, we’ve had a handful of years where it didn’t snow until after January, so huzzah to snow for Santa.

I do have some things to do before the snow gets here. I decided against putting up Christmas lights on the outside of the house, (got the inside covered!) but I do need to move some things into the shed and pull out the snow shovels. Just generally clean up the yard so I don’t have to do quite as much in the spring. The snow is supposed to start tomorrow evening, so I know what my day plans are for tomorrow.

Thankfully I don’t have any plans for this weekend. I did most of my present – shopping online this year, so beyond one more day with a trip to a couple stores, I’m done. So while the snow is piling down, I’ll be at home with my tea, occasionally shoveling but mostly binge watching Netflix and random cleaning. Unfortunately the boyfriend, Jon has to work, so I’ll be worried about him driving, but I’m sure he’ll be fine. Hopefully the snow slows down by Monday so my own commute to work won’t be too bad.

Other than my excitement for the white shit that falls from the sky, things are.. okay. The short kid is excited for Christmas, I got her one big present and some smaller things, and of course Santa is coming to my house and Grandma and Grandpas.

I’m trying to share in her excitement but of course, for I assume all single parents, the holidays are a stressful time. Jon has helped out with some gifts, and has been helping me tackle some things around the house I haven’t had time for so that’s definitely been helping. Just trying to stay on top of all the household chores and the finances is kicking me when I’m already down.

Of course my FMLA for work had expired, and getting it renewed isn’t exactly easy. I’m trying to be patient and understanding, but it hasn’t been easy on the corporate side of things. Thankfully I have a couple of friends who either work in employment law or are very familiar with FMLA that are guiding me through it. Of course, all of that just adds stress on top of what I already am dealing with, plus being sick. That’s how it always works. When it rains, it pours. (Or in this case, SNOWS!)

Other than that, one thing I don’t have to worry about is my car. My lovely Rav4 hit 250,000 miles the other day. We rebuilt the transmission 2 summers ago, so that’s been good. However, my wheel bearing went out. I went to get that replaced, and also replaced the ball joint as well as finally getting new tires for it. It was time, I couldn’t put it off any longer as they were pretty bad and I was sliding on just wet pavement. Of course that set me back quite a bit, but it needed to be done, and thankfully it is done just before the big snow.

I am still reminding myself to think of the good things, because like anyone else under a lot of stress, it’s easy to take life for granted. I’m very lucky, even though I’m having a tough time with my health, I’ve also been much sicker. I may be stressing about finances, but I have my house, car and decent job. I may get overwhelmed, but I’ve got a smart cookie for a kid, and a very loving boyfriend (who brought me a chai at work today because I was having a rough day!). There’s an upside to everything, and I am very blessed to have the life I do and the people in my life.

Stress: It’ll Make or Break You. (Hint: Make isn’t fun either.)

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There’s always another curve-ball it seems like. It’s always one thing after another, or at least that’s what it seems like this week. Sometimes, it’s hard to keep a brave face on, to keep the smile going.  It feels like I’ve been asking for a break from the Universe for years now, but that’s how it goes.

After my surgery, I was positive that things would get a bit easier.  I mean, hell, I wouldn’t be admitted for sleepovers at my favorite hospital every month.. so that would be a bonus? While that’s absolutely true, I haven’t had more than a couple bad days with my Crohn’s Disease since, life just throws one more thing at me after another.

So surgery happened, and then the headaches/migraines started. MRIs (and the different variations of that I had done) showed nothing. The doctor ran all the neurological tests, and nothing. Tried some pills, and after a month and change, I occasionally get a day where I only get a headache for part of it.

I finally start getting used to the headaches, and learn how to “head them off” when they start, and start altering my lifestyle to maybe get rid of them all together. Stress makes everything worse, so why not lower stress in addition to exercise (hello weight gain from new headache medicine) and eating better. Things are looking up!

Until my car takes a big giant shit on that plan. My transmission hates me, so after it started slipping gears, I took it to my mechanic, who despite my insistence that I just had one done, blew $150 and gave my transmission a flush. That didn’t work, so I took it to a well-known transmission joint. They kept it for a week, changed out the valve body and a couple of other things.. and nada. So I took it back again, and for the tune of $1500 to $1800, they are fixing it. They said it would be a week… that was more than two weeks ago.

We rented a car for the first week and a half, but after running dangerously short on money (and hello beginning of the month, also known as *ding* your mortgage is due) we returned it.. after being told, oh, it’ll be done by Monday at the latest. Well, that was this past Monday.

While all of this is going on, Ryan’s job runs out of work. So when we need the money the most, we’re relying on my income and side jobs. It kind of works out, I was able to drive his truck to work this week a bit, but of course the side jobs come out of the woodwork on days I have to work.. so I was out of luck. Thankfully Ryan’s brother lent me his car, which was a life saver. Lets just say I was having an anxiety attack before he offered.

It doesn’t help that the guy snaps on me whenever I call for an update (because they have YET to call me to let me know what’s going on). So after a long day at work, where my office is SEVERELY understaffed temporarily (of course, while all of this is going on.. seriously, I must have some bad karma or something) and I’m running at stressed-the-fuck-out, I get to call this guy, and get snapped on, when I’m just looking for an update on when my life might get easier.

Then add into that, my daughter’s school is nothing but a pain. School starts on Tuesday, and of course, they have yet to send out ANYTHING about transportation or, I don’t know, school supplies or even her teacher. I’ve been trying to arrange a bus to pick her up from daycare, and it’s a major pain in the ass. Meet and Greet is on Monday (and I have no idea who her teacher is) and I promise this right now, if I go in, and they don’t have transportation set up, I will have a melt down.

All of this is going on, and it takes a toll on you. Ryan and I have been fighting like cats and dogs over the stupidest shit, just because we’re both so stressed out. It’s hard to remember that the other person didn’t cause this. Then, I find myself snapping on Noodle over stuff I normally let slide.. and then apologizing to her and beating myself up over it for days. It’s not easy, and I’m just waiting for a call that something else has gone wrong.

I’m trying to focus on the good things.  Like we both *do* have incomes, and mine is stable. Noodle got to go to the summer camp at her daycare, so instead of dealing with me being stressed out, she got to go mini golfing, to the water park and beach and to a festival. While I beat myself up about this being a stressful summer, I have to remind myself, Noodle’s had a pretty good one! I have to remember, I have my house, which thankfully didn’t incur any damage in that tornado that plowed through town last week. As of now, my car is being fixed, even if it’s a major inconvenience at the moment, in the years past, we didn’t have cars, or relied on one. Of course, even though my body isn’t completely okay, my Crohn’s is damn near in remission for the first time in just under a decade.

I’ve got to remind myself, while things are stressful right now, I’m damned lucky to be sitting at home, writing, with a cup of tea, a sleeping child, and my dogs (and asshole cat) lounging on the couch. They could be a lot worse, they have been a lot worse. We are lucky.

Stress, Happiness, Family, Home and Work: Rambling Does a Soul Good.

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This last year has been turbulent.  There were so many ups and downs (it seemed like more downs than anything to be honest) and to be completely honest, I was burning out and pretty damn near miserable.  The worst part is?  I didn’t realize how miserable I was, despite it tearing apart my life.

When you’re not happy, it truly does impact all aspects of your life.  A big part of my issue was work itself, and after I started burning out, I no longer wanted to be a part of it.  I felt helpless, taken advantage of, and angry.  Little did I know, I was taking all of that home with me.  My relationship with my boyfriend suffered, I was working 60+ hours a week, and was so crabby during what little free time I had, I threw most of it on him.  My daughter felt the brunt of it as well, I snapped on her for simple things more times than I’d like to admit.  Of course, working so many hours, made me feel like I missed out on her life (which I did, and I regret wholeheartedly), which made me resentful, which made me angry… and the cycle continued.

The stress from work, and my by that point, unhappy home life impacted my health.  In 2013, I had no hospitalizations.  In 2014 through now?  What, 3?  4?  With several ER trips in between?  It’s been ridiculous.  Crohns isn’t caused by stress, but it most definitely is impacted by it.  So, on top of everything at work, and at home… add in hospital trips.  When you add in hospitals, you have to remember to subtract pay and add stress at work from missing work.  Take all of that and re-route it back into the unhappy job, which leads back into the unhappy home.  Do you see where I’m going with this?

Towards the end of the year, I realized that work was my main issue, and was getting the impression that I was bringing it home and affecting my family.  I made a goal to make it through Christmas.  I had talked about it with Ryan, and once Christmas was past, I would make a decision and decide whether I would leave or stay.

Oddly enough the timing of that final conversation coincided with a demotion.  For whatever reason, my management decided instead of making changes I had been asking for, that it would be better to put me back into the customer service pool and bring back an old coworker as the new supervisor.  I jumped on it.  Sure, I was a bit angry, not at the demotion itself, but at the lack of help I had received, the lack of support I was given and the lack of training (which is improving markedly since then, might I add) for my position.  However, I knew I wasn’t right for the position yet, and at that point, I didn’t want it anymore.

Once I was firmly back in my customer service position, I vowed to leave work at work and to bring the happiness from home there.  I had never been good at separating work and home, never.  Not even when I first started working at 15 years old.  This time I was determined.  That was the first step.  Within a few weeks I was getting comments from family, friends and coworkers that I seemed markedly happier.  Little fights with the boyfriend seemed to happen less and less.  I started to sleep better at night and I realized that it was because once 5pm came along, I *refused* to be aggravated about work, I *refused* to be angry.  If I did manage to bring home those feelings, I did something immediately to put it out of my mind.

Since then, as the weeks pass, I realize what a mess I was.  I wasn’t sleeping well, I wasn’t eating well, and I was perpetually grumpy.  My Crohns Disease started to flare again around Christmas, and I have been back in the hospital twice since then (one was just an overnight, the other almost a week).  The downtime while being sick really pushed home the changes I needed to make.  I have been doing great leaving work at work, and enjoying my home life.  My stress levels were markedly lower once I started focusing on how much I enjoyed doing silly little activities with my daughter, once I started working on my hobbies again.  I started to tweak my diet and cut out some of the fattier foods I eat and try to cut down on coffee.  I quit smoking again (wish me luck) even… that’s the newest, I haven’t had a cigarette since Saturday.

Needless to say, I’ve noticed a huge difference in myself.  I’m enjoying my life a lot more now, and I finally feel like I have my priorities straight.  It took a long time for me to realize that my family and my health come first, no matter what.  No more going to work sick, no more sending my daughter to school with a cold, no more rushing back after hospital stays.  No more bringing home work and no more stressing about it after the day is done.  The benefit also crosses back into the office.  I feel happier heading into work (or at least the dread of a new day isn’t there anymore) and I take my lunch breaks and work on something I’d like to.  When you feel better, you tend to have a higher quality of work.  I  also make it a point to enjoy cooking (like I used to) and my family is benefiting from home cooked meals again.  I’ve even done my best to bring as much music and art as possible back into my home, which is one thing I noticed fell out of my life this last year.

So while I still have quite a bit going on with my health (new doctor, new medications, and new symptoms – a blog post for another time), I’m enjoying myself, my home and my job a lot more these days.  I wish I would have listened to my friends and family earlier, maybe I would’ve caught on to how miserable I really was.  However, you can’t change the past, you can only create the future, and more importantly, make sure you enjoy the present moment.  Here’s to hoping for a better year, a healthier life, and more happiness through out it all.

Awareness Week: Back with a Flare!

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It’s like awareness week… just the mere thought of Crohns Disease, woke the damned thing and it came back with a vengeance.  After a couple of months with few problems, I flare as soon as awareness week hits.  Yup, Crohns.  I’m freaking aware of your presence.  Jerk.

Ahh well.  I guess that’s the nature of the beast.  At least I made it through Thanksgiving with few other problems besides bloat and cramping.  I’m sure since I’m feeling a tad bit better today, it’ll flare back up right before Christmas.. then shortly after my birthday.  As always.

Crohns has taught me to look at life a bit differently over the years.  I don’t cancel much because of my disease, not any more at least.  I’m lucky to have a job where management understands that with chronic illness, it always comes back sometimes.  Hell, each time I got stuck in the hospital, I still had a job waiting for me when I came back.  I used to cancel a lot of plans and such when I started to get sick.  I still do on occasion, but mostly I just do them on my own time table.

For instance, we had plans to come up to my parents house this weekend, to relax and visit, but also to cut down a Christmas tree.  The boyfriend suggested that we stay home since I was feeling so rough.  Honestly, it was tempting to spend the weekend in bed, but I know if I take my time and don’t push too hard, I could make the trip.  I just move a bit slower, enjoy the slower things.  Instead of roaming on the ice, I sat by the fire.  Instead of running around outside, I enjoyed the apple cider from the crock pot (which apparently soothed my innards pretty good).

I guess my point is, is that almost anything is do-able in a flare, it’s just a matter on making yourself comfortable doing it.  There will always be some days that you are in far too much pain to do anything other than curl up in a ball, some days where you start designing your bedroom around the toilet.  Some days though, it’s worth taking a chance and doing what you want to do.

I’m glad I got to come up and relax away from traffic, wailing sirens, and the rush of normal life.  I’m glad I’m able to get a break.  It’s almost time to take the kids to get trees, so I’m off.  Hope everyone has a happy Sunday.

Chai tea and Frustration

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It’s been an oddly relaxing few days, even despite a sick kid and lingering stress.  Snuggling on the couch and time with my family has really brought forward what I really want out of my life.  More or less, it drove home what really is important, and what’s a bigger priority. 

Sometimes you just need life to smack you in the face for you to get your head on straight.  I learned not to let others take advantage of my skill and of my time.  I learned that spending time with my family is important, and that my family is just important as everyone else’s family. The idea that I should schedule one day a week to spend with my family is absurd.  I learned that if I’m not careful, I’m going to miss my daughter’s childhood… and damage my relationship with my boyfriend.

It felt good to have some time to get my brain back on track and to discuss my options with the boyfriend.  I set new rules for my life and things are going to change, one way or another.

Here’s my overly cheesy end note: you make your life, only you can change it.

Chasing it down.

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I feel like I lost something along the way, like it fell out of my pocket while I was walking down the street one day.  It feels like I lost it at home, in the morning rush, while I was trying to get my child off to school so I could head to work.  I feel like I lost it at the office, in between the screaming customers and cranky coworkers.  I feel like I lost it while trying to balance the work I’ve brought home, with the work I already had set up for me there.

My creativity is missing, have you seen it?  My fingers used to itch with ideas to put on paper, with stories streaming through my head.  I used to have to STOP what I was doing, multiple times through out the day, just to write an idea down.  I could sit down with my cup of coffee and write and write, whether it was with my journal and pen or computer.

Somewhere this past year, I lost it.  That doesn’t mean that I haven’t occasionally sat down by the computer, grabbed my notebooks, and… tried.  It just doesn’t come.  If I sit there long enough, the only feelings, the only things that come is stress from the job, and the feeling of failing at home (the result of working long hours and bringing work home with me).

My fingers don’t itch, my journal is sparsely filled with meaningless entries, and my blog is stagnant.  Don’t even get me started on my drawings or my knitting.  Lately, it feels like there is nothing left in my brain but stress.  There’s this underlying wave of anxiety lately, if I give myself a moment, it threatens to drown me.  I get up in the morning, get my kiddo to school, work 9 hours (often without a lunch, which was a big journal writing time for me), get the kid from school and head home with another 2-4 hours of work.  I manage to fix dinner, throw in some activities for the family on the weekend, and bam!  The end of the day is there, I head to my room to conjure up something to put through my pen and just end up with the same anxiety.  Unfortunately you can only write so much about one topic before you start pissing yourself off.  (Yes, that was a full admission that *all* writing I do is for myself.)

Things seem to be slowly calming down at work, I’m slowly (read: the difference is in literal minutes) working less at home.  I’m slowly starting to feel the real draw back to my ideas, but now it’s pushed by the irritation, the HATRED of how I’ve sold my mind short.  I think of all that I could put through my pen, I think of all the time I could spend with my daughter (my true muse) instead of hovering over my paperwork, and then stressing over everything else.  I think of how much I just want to STOP.

I think of how much I just want to walk away.  How much I want to just say “screw your fucking (insert inane purchase at any retail/CS job I’ve worked), I’m done.” and go home and write.  How much I want to listen to my daughter’s make believe stories and spin whole tales about each character… for the pure point of telling a great bedtime story.  I think about the years I’ll spend working, and if they’ll be limited by my disease, I think about whether or not I’m spending what limited working years I have working in a stressful environment.  If I’m sacrificing my “healthy years” (those of you who personally know me, just started laughing) slaving away behind work orders and phones instead of with my family and my art.  I start wondering what’s worth it, and what’s not.  I start wondering what I really want, and what just gets me by.

Then.  THEN.  I think about how much I enjoy my industry (even if I don’t enjoy my job anymore).  I think about the great example I’m setting for my daughter about work ethic when I show up to work every day, even when other’s would call off.  I think about my co-workers, who sometimes drive me up a wall, but whom I consider my friends.  I think about the joy I find when doing my job correctly, and getting out and finishing at 5.  I think about how much easier things are with my extra paycheck (yes, I’m *finally* not the breadwinner in my family), and how much quicker I can accomplish my material goals.  I think about how much easier it is to get yelled at by a customer then it is to try and crank out material and get published.

I ran away this weekend, my daughter and I came up north, to a part of wisconsin I’d like to live eventually.  My parents will eventually retire here, and this is one of the only places I feel like I’m able to let my mind wander.  After work on friday, I packed the car and we drove up here in the dark.  I needed a weekend away to clear my head, despite planning to come up here much more this year, I haven’t made it.    So this weekend it is.

Last night, while laying in bed, I realized that something has to change.  Now I’m not saying I am going to up and quit my job (despite the rallying cries to do so), but something… anything has to change.  I need to learn how to say no, how to go home at a reasonable time and instead of working at my own desk, how to walk away from my to-do list and pay attention to myself and to my family.  I need to learn to let my words and emotions flow through my fingers like they used to.  I need to stop fearing that I’ll offend someone with my writing, that I’ll upset someone at the office or in my personal life.  I need to stop censoring my thoughts and written word and maybe… just maybe my creativity will come back.  I need to learn balance, how to do the job I (used to) love (and learn to love it again), and how to nurture my family and my own pleasures.

Last night, and today, I’ve realized what I want and it’s not the feeling I get out of the way things are now.  I have to make a change, and I’m the only one who can do it.  It’s my life and I’m the one leading it… I need to get my priorities in order and enjoy it.

Life is a lot shorter than we’ve been lead to believe.