Life

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When Life Feels Too Much

Published January 24, 2019 by ia84

I woke up at 4 a.m. this morning, and it took me until 9:30 a.m. to drag myself out of bed.  I’m struggling right now.  And it occurs to me that I’m probably not the only one.

If you are…

-Trying to figure out how you’re going to pay bills with money you don’t have

-Rationing your meds because even if you do have insurance, you can’t afford refills

-Eating as little as possible, cause groceries are an expense you can’t really afford right now

-Feeling strangled by your debts

-Stressed out because you keep trying to do things the right way, and life just keeps knocking you down

-A payment or more behind on your mortgage and/or bills

-Terrified your utilities are going to get turned off

-Wondering how you’re going to buy diapers

-Exhausted by your school loans

-Questioning how far your car can get on less than a quarter of a tank of gas

-Going through something I haven’t listed

-Feeling overwhelmed by everything, and considering just giving up

Then, let me say, you’re not alone.  I know there are a ton of people struggling right now. Please, don’t give up.  Eventually, things will get better.  I know that sounds like an empty platitude, but I’ve been down this road before, and I know that things will turn around.

If you’re genuinely considering ending it all, please reach out for help.  Call 1-800-273-8255 to reach the Suicide Prevention Lifeline.  If talking on the phone isn’t your comfort zone, text HOME to 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line.

And if you’re in a season of life where things are going along pretty smoothly, please be willing to be there for those around you who are having a rough time.

 

 

 

It’s entirely possible I’ve completely lost my mind.

Published January 23, 2019 by ia84

When I was growing up, every summer my family would come home to Nebraska for two weeks to see family.  One of the days we were back, would be spent getting a watermelon, and going to Guide Rock, to see my Great Grandma B.  She passed away when I was ten, so I don’t have tons of memories of her, but the ones I do have are precious.

Great Grandma B was a short and sweet lady.  She always had cookies in the cookie jar, a giant garden, and there was always a jigsaw puzzle in progress.  Even though I never worked on a puzzle with her, I was always in awe of them.  When she passed away, I was allowed to have a few of her puzzles, and that’s when my love affair with jigsaws began.

I drove my mom absolutely batty over the years because I constantly wanted to have a jigsaw going, but my incredibly short attention span meant that it would take me months to complete one.  As I got older, I fell off doing puzzles, but that didn’t mean I stopped loving them.  Then, last spring, I stumbled across a group on Facebook where people were sharing their completed jigsaws.  I wanted to share, so I joined and jumped back into puzzling.  In the last year, I’ve completed a pile of puzzles, and when registration for the 2019 Global Jigsaw Jubilee opened, I signed up.  I’d seen people’s completed puzzles from the 2018 Jubilee, and something competitive inside me had awoken.  I wanted to prove that I’m just as awesome a puzzler as all those others who’ve participated.

The event starts on 1/29, so I have five days left to prepare.  Here’s the puzzles I’m planning to work on:

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I intend to start with the Ravensburger, simply because I think it will prove to be the easiest.img_20190123_1208412052016742778206415077.jpg

Putting together the little squares of images should prove *fingers crossed* relatively easy.

Next up will be the DC Comics puzzle:

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Considering how much we love DC in this house, this puzzle is a must do.  (Points to you if you can name everyone in the image without help.  I can name at least half, but I know Tom could name them all if asked).

After that, I head into more challenging waters.  The Disney Kinkade puzzles:

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These are two of my favorite Disney princess movies.  Most of my life Beauty & the Beast was my favorite, but it was dethroned when Tangled came along.  Tangled and Moana are currently tied at the top of my favorites list.

Finally, I’m going to tackle this monster:

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3000 pieces of Star Trek magic.

Here’s the thing, I’ve never completed a puzzle bigger than 1000 pieces.  I’m not too concerned about the 1500 piece ones, but that 3000 piece one is definitely going to test my abilities.  Going in, I know that the Ravensburger and Aquarius puzzles will have the best fitting, best condition pieces.  The Disney puzzles are Ceaco brand, and if previous experience with Ceaco is any indicator, I’ll get a bit frustrated.  Their puzzles are beautiful, but pieces are usually not great.  Here’s hoping that this will be a fun experience!

Catnip for Kids

Published January 5, 2019 by ia84

About a week ago, I agreed to something crazy. I said I’d babysit my two nephews (ages 5 & 4) and niece (age almost 2) for 1–2 hours yesterday. All by myself. The only time I’d ever babysat them by myself before was one night when their mom was gone and their dad needed to run to the store. They were already all asleep at that point, so I was basically just making sure there was a responsible adult in the house.

I was really nervous. Much as I want to be a mom, I’m not great with kids. I blame the fact that I grew up a very sheltered only child. I had cousins, but they all lived hundreds of miles away. I was constantly surrounded by adults. I always feel awkward when talking with kids. I either talk way over their heads, or I talk down to them. So, the prospect of being alone with three small children, two of which can be quite strong-willed and rambunctious, was daunting. I had agreed to do it, so I pushed through the anxiety and showed up at their house yesterday morning.

And I discovered something really weird.

I had thought the kids would like the GoNoodle videos. I was introduced to them a few months ago by a teacher friend. The music is so fun, and the dances are really easy. My idea was to wear the children out. Turns out Aunt Malia was the only one who was dancing.

The boys requested to watch a video that was nothing but hands opening packages of little dinosaur transformer-type figures. That was the entire video. The hands held up a package, opened it, showed the toy to the camera, and then moved onto another package.

I had heard that unboxing videos were super popular with kids, but I had never before witnessed it. The rumors are true, kids are obsessed with them. It was while watching a video of a jungle animal toy set being unboxed and put together that I realized all three children were sitting quietly, entranced by the scene before them. Who are these children, and what have they done with my nephews and niece?

I was genuinely baffled by how fascinated the kids were by watching a stranger open and play with toys. Even more bewildering? These videos had millions of views. Which means my nephews and niece aren’t the only ones obsessed.

Today we’re going to talk about the…Oh look, Squirrel!

Published January 4, 2019 by ia84

My suspicions started a while ago. One of my friends is a special ed. teacher, and she regularly shares on Facebook different articles she’s found that relates to her work. One day she posted an article about an adult getting diagnosed with ADHD. I was intrigued, and hopped over to read it. As I finished the article, it struck me that it could easily have been written by me, but I didn’t have ADHD.

Did I?

Curious, I began to do a little research, and while I didn’t fit every single symptom of ADHD , I realized I had most of them. It took me a few months to work up the courage, but I finally got myself to the doctor and into therapy.

Last August, I was officially diagnosed with ADHD, and I started taking an antidepressant that is supposed to help with both my depression and my ADHD. I can track the ADHD symptoms and anxiety back to childhood, and the depression has been fairly constant companion since I was sixteen.

Do you have any idea how relieved and angry this diagnosis made me?

The relief comes from finally knowing that I’m not stupid, lazy, or just plain losing my marbles. It comes because I finally am getting a treatment that actually is doing something.

So, if I’m feeling all this relief, why am I feeling anger?

When I was growing up, I was taught that ADHD (and autism, and schizophrenia, and a whole raft of other mental issues) wasn’t real. I was told that ADHD-and pretty much any other mental condition-was one of two things. Either it was bad parenting, or it was demonic.

Now, I do believe in angels and demons, God and Satan, Heaven and Hell. However, I also believe in science and the fact that the brain sometimes doesn’t quite do its job right. To me, the brain not being able to produce enough neurochemicals is no different than the pancreas not producing enough insulin, or the heart having a valve that doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to.

What else was I raised to believe? Antidepressants are evil. They will turn the taker into a zombie. People don’t really need antidepressants, they just need to try harder.

I’ve spent years trying hard. And I’ve failed hard. Over and over and over again.

I’m angry because the symptoms were present for so long. I’m angry that those who saw the struggle never brought up the possibility that I might have ADHD. I’m angry because when I’d say, “I don’t get this.” for the twentieth time to my teachers I was told it really wasn’t that hard; I just needed to apply myself more and study harder. I’m angry because when I’d say I was having trouble focusing, or I couldn’t function because of my depression, I was advised to just power through it. I’m angry because when I’d say I was really having trouble with my memory I was advised to just spend less time on my phone (to be fair, I probably should spend less time on my phone, but the memory problems started years before I ever had a smart phone). I’m angry because this last August was the first time since I was a little kid that I genuinely didn’t feel exhausted the second I woke up. While I’m thrilled that I awoke feeling good, I’m angry because I should not have gone 26-ish years without a decent rest.

I could keep listing things, but I think you get the general idea.

This has been a huge adjustment period. I’m still wrapping my head around the diagnosis. Even though I had been suspecting it for months, it’s a whole different thing when it becomes your reality and not just a suspicion.

A few weeks into starting treatment, I told my husband that I had realized just how bad I truly had been doing. It scares me that I was in that terrible of shape for so long. I also told him he’s an amazing man for loving me and hanging in there with me.

Since I was a teenager, I’ve been living in a brain fog. Going through the motions of life. Making decisions, most of which I regret. The only thing I don’t regret? Marrying my husband.

I’ve spent so long wandering. Most of the time my goal has been to survive the day.

In the last few months the fog has started to lift. Really, truly, lift and clear. It’s like when I put my contacts in every morning. The fuzzy world around me is suddenly clear.

I feel like me, the real me, is crawling out into the sunlight. I’m meeting this girl that I haven’t seen since childhood. I’m trying to figure out how to balance the childhood me with the adult me.

I looked in the mirror a few months ago, and the woman staring back at me was different. There was happiness, joy, optimism radiating from me. My face didn’t just look like a fat blob with eyes, nose, and a mouth. I looked human. Genuinely human. I feel human. I feel present. I’m suddenly here, on planet Earth.  I’m not just sitting on the sidelines watching my body go through its day. I spent decades being detached, so it’s very strange to suddenly find myself connected to my body. I didn’t realize until the last few months just how long it’s been since I’ve been present and involved.

I’m learning to take ownership of my life.  I’m actually thinking for myself, not just relying on others to tell me how to think.  I’m realizing that it’s okay for me to admit that I love coffee, and make-up, and that I’m a dog person.  These may not seem like big things, but up until December, I never would’ve been able to say these things.  I’ve even started being able to make “simple” decisions (the first time I was able to decide within 15 minutes that I wanted Taco Bell for supper, I wanted to cry due to joy.)  I feel like I’m finding my personality.

This healing process is just that.  It’s a process.  Some weeks it’s really rough, some weeks I’m actually getting normal things done (like laundry and dishes), and it’s not feeling like quite as much of a herculean effort.

I’m feeling better than I’ve felt in decades.

Back to the fields, you peasant!

Published January 3, 2019 by ia84

This Christmas, I received one of those 23 & Me DNA testing kits.  I hadn’t ever planned to get one, because I know that I’m not guaranteed super accurate results.  However, since it was a gift, I figured it didn’t hurt to give it a try.

Now, as far as ancestry testing goes, I’m expecting to see results that place me as being mostly European.  I’m definitely built like someone you’d expect to see working the fields hundreds of years ago.  From doing genealogy research, I know that there’s German, Czech, English, Scottish, Welsh, and Irish in my background.  I’m curious to see what results I get regarding Jewish, Mediterranean, and African ancestry.  I have my suspicions, but so far haven’t turned up anything concrete in my own personal research.

I have absolutely no idea what to expect from the health report.

I sent in the kit last week.  I don’t think I’ve ever intentionally spit that much in my entire life.  As of yesterday, according to the app, my specimen is currently in the genotyping stage.  Sometime between January 14th and the end of the month, I should have my results.

If you’ve done this type of testing, I’d be curious to hear what your experience was.  Did you find out anything surprising?  Meet any new family members?

I’ll fill y’all in once I get my report back.

It’s the end of the year, as we know it.

Published December 31, 2018 by ia84
photo of fireworks

Photo by Anna-Louise on Pexels.com

Here it is.

New Year’s Eve 2018.

Oh, 2018, what can I say about you?  You’ve not been a particularly good year, but you definitely haven’t been the worst year.  I’ve learned a lot this year, and as cheesy as it sounds, I’ve definitely grown as a person.  I’ve learned so much about myself.  I’ve stepped up and taken ownership of my life.  It’s been a scary, exhausting experience, but something that needed to happen.

I’m looking forward to 2019.  I have plans for this blog.  I have plans for my life.  I have plans to drink a ton of coffee.

You may notice a few changes to this site.  I’ll be documenting my jigsaw puzzles, and I’ll be keeping a daily log as I try my hand at making a temperature blanket.  I know that every year I make the pronouncement that I’m going to keep this blog more up to date, but this time I actually have a plan.  Crazy, right?

Finally, we’ve been talking about it for years, and have finally tried it. We have a podcast! Tom & Malia Have A Podcast. That’s right, the Boy has a name, and it’s only taken me almost five years to reveal it.  There’s only one episode, so far, and I know it’s a bit rough.  It’s fifteen minutes of us talking about the new Aquaman movie, and because I’m easily distracted, Spiderverse comes up as well.  This will be a learning experience, but should be a fun journey.

And that’s about it for now.  It’s almost time for the annual New Year’s Eve Diablo 3 gaming session.

See y’all in 2019!

You may be weird, but are you ‘make a fake baby announcement to celebrate your new instrument’ weird?

Published July 17, 2018 by ia84

I’m so exhausted right now, but the house is making weird noises, and the dog is restless, and it’s all very unsettling. It was really unnerving when she sat on the bed and stared at the door and refused to budge. Thanks, dog, I need more anxiety…

Here’s a fun fact about my youth that quite a lot of people don’t know. I mean, the people that were around in my youth know, but anyone who met me after summer of ’03 is unaware of this. Actually, I just realized I have to start this story back before I was born.

I was born into a musical family. My mom plays piano, drums, and autoharp, and she has one of the most beautiful voices in the world. My dad played the tuba in the Navy band, but he was also in a country western band that the Navy sent out to play gigs. He and my mom had their own band as well. This all was years before I was around.

Growing up my folks played and sang together a lot. Once I got old enough, their duo turned into a trio. Mom played autoharp, dad played guitar, banjo, and mandolin. We’d sing together at all kinds of things. Churches, town festivals, nursing homes, etc… After I moved out to go to college, we didn’t really play and sing together anymore. Every great once in a while we’d do a number, but it was a rarity.

Recently, the instruments have come out, and we’ve been practicing again (with a few new additions to the group. We’re now a quintet).

Dad rocking the banjo

Mom makes it look so easy (it’s not)

A little over a week ago, I got to rehearsal early, and I was watching my dad play the banjo. A thought suddenly struck me, in my nearly 34 years of life, I’d never asked to try the banjo. I’d tried every other instrument in the house, but the banjo always seemed almost sacred to me. I think it had something to do with it being such a part of my dad, I didn’t want to accidentally damage it. Besides which, I’ve had years of epic fails trying to play stringed instruments (I have fat, small, stubby hands which doesn’t help at all). The closest I get to even minor success is the piano. I’m a brass and woodwind girl. Give me any of those instruments and I’m golden. I’m not tooting my own horn (pun definitely intended), I really do have a gift when it comes to brass and woodwind instruments. They just make sense to me.

Anyway, back to my story…I’m sitting there, and I asked my dad if I can try the banjo. He handed it over to me, equiped me with picks and gave me a very brief lesson on how to pick. And y’know what? My fingers understood. My parents were thrilled.

I didn’t think much more about it, until last Saturday. Last Saturday, I was given a precious gift. My own banjo. I was given it, with the explanation that “You need to get the music back in your heart.” Which was much more true than I wanted to acknowledge. I’m realising that I’ve tried to purge almost everything to do with music from my life, which would probably shock those who knew me years ago. I don’t handle emotional pain well, I box it up and hide it deep inside myself.

I’ve been practicing everyday. There’s something very soothing about practicing the picking pattern dad taught me. Trying to play the assbutt C chord is less soothing. D isn’t much better. A7 is awesome, but open G is my current favorite. Yesterday, in an attempt to be funny, I posted the following image to Instagram:

Kermit, of course, is in honor of Kermit the Frog; and Martin is because of Steve Martin. Two very important banjo players (apart from my dad).

So, now I play banjo. 2018 has definitely had it’s fair share of surprises.