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Gather round again, y'all, for a trip to the inside of Aunt Stephanie's brain.

I think it's really important to talk about mental health.  I have depression, and have had it since I was at least ten, but I know now that there are things I was thinking and feeling even earlier than that that might have been the first symptoms of depression.

When I was growing up in the 80s and early 90s, mental health wasn't really something we talked about.  The first time I was really able to put a label on it, I was sixteen, but I thought that being depressed was just another part of being a teenager.  I didn't tell my parents what I was feeling because I thought I could deal with it myself.

The first time I talked to a doctor about it, I was almost 28.  I took wellbutrin for a little over a year, and this was back in the days that wellbutrin was taken once in the morning and once in the afternoon.  I was alway really good about taking the morning dose, but forgot the afternoon dose on a regular basis.  I think it helped, but that was several years ago and I wasn't terribly consistent with it.  I quit taking it shortly before I found out I was pregnant with Liam.

When I next talked to a doctor about my depression, I was 35 and about to enter my last semester of grad school.  I had been unmedicated since quitting wellbutrin, and I was miserable.  If you've ever been depressed, you know what I'm talking about.  If you've never been depressed, I hope you never understand the combination of sadness, anger, apathy, fatigue, irritability, and hatred for yourself that is depression.

When I started taking the antidepressant the doctor prescribed for me, I slowly started to feel better.  I figured out that what I was feeling and thinking wasn't normal.  I wasn't sad and angry anymore.  It felt good to not worry so much about life and not feel like I had to take everything so seriously.

I was on that first antidepressant (celexa) for about two and a half years, and had to abruptly switch meds (to prozac) due to health concerns.  I was on prozac for about five years, and I'm now in the process of switching to wellbutrin xl.

I'm not telling you this to extract sympathy or get attention.  I'm telling you this so that, if you've never known chronic depression, you understand that mental illness isn't a made up disease, it's an illness.  And for those of you who know what it's like to have depression, I want you to know that you're not doing this by yourself.  

I talk about being mentally ill and having depression to help end the stigma that surrounds the description "mentally ill."  I'm not crazy, I'm not psychotic, I'm not a sociopath.  I'm just mentally ill.  I take medication and see a therapist so that I can deal with a very real illness.  I talk about it because when I was young and going through this, I didn't have the words to describe what I was going through.  I didn't know how to tell someone, not even my parents, that what I was feeling was real and bothersome and not normal.  When I was growing up, people didn't talk about mental illness.  How could I have the words for something that was a real thing, but that no one talked about?

As I've gotten older, people have become more aware of what mental illness really is and have started talking about it more.  It's really important that we talk about it.  You know why? Because somewhere, there is another ten year old feeling exactly how I did.  She needs to know what mental illness is so that she can put her thoughts and feelings into words and get the help she needs.  I talk about it so that other people know it's a real illness that can be as deadly as cancer.  I talk about it so that people who are younger than me won't have to stay silent and die slowly.

We have to talk about it so that we become comfortable talking about.  I'm open about having depression, taking medication, and seeing a therapist so that my friends and family become comfortable hearing about it.  I don't want sympathy for me.  I want understanding and compassion for others.

Usually when I talk about my own mental illness, I talk about it a generalized sense.  But today I'm talking about it in a more focused way because I'm feeling the weight of depression more lately.

Sometimes when you've been on an antidepressant for a long time it will become less effective or stop working entirely.  That seemed to have become the case with me and prozac.  It was still working, in the sense that I wasn't depressed and angry all the time, but it had become less effective.  Full disclosure, between my brother's death over two years ago and being fired from a job I hated eight months after that, I was giving the prozac some serious overtime.

For several months, I've been feeling more and more unmotivated to do anything.  I can get out of bed and get ready for work, but getting myself to do dishes or laundry has been a real struggle.  I used to love to write.  I've wanted to be a writer since I was fifteen.  Writing is almost nonexistent for me anymore.  I'm ok once I get started, but getting started has become increasingly difficult.  I'm tired all the time and taking more naps than I probably should.  I'm an introvert and need alone time, but I've been needing more and more alone time recently and could see that it might become a problem in the future.

Fortunately, I was due for my yearly med check a couple of weeks ago.  Bonus points: the health system I'm in recently started using a questionaire  for mental health patients to self-evaluate their illness.  As it turns out, I was on the lower end of moderate depression again.

As I mentioned earlier, I'm now transitioning from prozac to wellbutrin xl.  Having transitioned from celexa to prozac several years ago, I knew what the whole process of switching antidepressants was like, and it's not enjoyable.  For the past twelve days I've been even more tired than usual, have found myself becoming impatient easily, eating more sweets than normal, and crying (It was difficult to cry on prozac.  I had to be really upset to do so.).  It hasn't been quite as awful as being unmedicated was, but it has been difficult.  I've had to tell the people closest to me that if I start acting depressed again that this is why.

Even in the midst of my body using the last of its reserves of prozac and adjusting to wellbutrin xl, even though it's still hard for me to do the things that are important, I still have to talk about mental illness.  I must be open about it so that if you have to change meds or know someone who is, you know what will happen.  I must be open about it so we can talk as freely about mental illness as we do about breast cancer and diabetes.  I must talk about it now for ten-year-old me who didn't have the words to say and for sixteen-year-old me who didn't care if she lived or died. (Sorry, mom and dad.)

So let's talk about it.  Mental illness of any kind is nothing to be ashamed of, so start talking about it and get the help you need.  Don't be ashamed to say to your doctor that you need antidepressants.  Don't be ashamed to start talking to a therapist.  Don't be ashamed to tell your partner, your parents, your kids, your friends, and all of Facebook that you have a mental illness and how you're getting help.

Just please... start talking about it.

A few years ago, I saw this on another blog I read.  Here goes:

1. You have 50 dollars in your pocket--what do you do with it?
I used to be a bank teller.  I never have more than $2 in cash in my pocket.

2. What is your most guilty pleasure?
Harry Potter Fanfiction.

3. Have you ever seen someone die?
Like the moment a person actually takes that last breath?  No.

Like the hours before and after someone passes away?  Yes.

4. Are you confused as to what lies ahead of you?
All the time.

5. What was the last movie you saw, for pleasure, and would you recommend it?
Saturday night, I made a double feature of Bridget Jones's Baby and Can't Buy Me Love on Netflix.  If you like fun chick flicks, then yes, I'd rec them both.

6. Superman or Batman?
Batman. Especially Val Kilmer's Batman.

7. If the person you like does not accept you, would you continue to wait for them to change their feelings?
I've been married for far too long to even remember what this sort of thing felt like.

8. If the person you secretly like is already attached, what would you do?
Well, the person I not-so-secretly like is attached to me...

9. Is there anything that has made you unhappy recently?
As much as I despise even mentioning the man, Trump.  Every time I see his picture or read about something he did or said, my blood boils.

10. If you could have chosen at birth whether to be a boy or a girl, which would you be?
My answer depends on my mood. Mostly, I like being girl. But there are times when i want to be a boy.

11. Which of the 7 Deadly Sins do you think you relate to the most; why?
Pride. My high opinion of myself is my horrible downfall. (this was the other blogger's original entry, and it's good, so I'm not changing it)

12. Who would be your ultimate seven dinner guests?
C.S. Lewis, J.K. Rowling, Benedict Cumberbatch, The Doctor, Rich Mullins, my brother, and Jesus.

13. Clinton or Obama?
Obama. (Please come back, Mr. Obama...)

14. Would you rather be a really good person or a really interesting person?
I'd rather be a really good person.

15. Do you believe in some form of life after death?
Definitely.

16. Which fictional character could you most see yourself marrying?
Charlie Weasley.  George Weasley.  The Doctor.

17. Best bald Star Trek Captain - Picard or Sisko?
Picard.

18. Do you have a motto? If yes which one?
Love one another.

19. What type of friends do you have?
Well, I think they're cool.

20. What place most speaks to you?
Any road, especially an interstate, that has a lot of trees on both sides.  Better still when the road curves and as you come around the curve, the scenery opens up to trees, trees, and more trees.

 

By now, you know that Trump withdrew the United States from its commitment to the Paris Climate Accord.  I don't want to go into details about what the United States actually agreed to do in the accord or what our withdrawal from the accord means for the environment.  I have deliberately avoided reading any other articles encouraging you to keep doing your part for the environment.  I wanted what I had to say be my own words, even if I'm sharing the same brain with other people.  So please be patient with me, especially if you've read articles like that since June 1.

Now then.

The thing about international climate agreements like Kyoto and Paris is that it's the countries working together to lower fossil fuel emissions and greenhouse gases.  The key is that we're working together.  One country can work towards those goals, sure, but it's more effective if other countries are working towards the same goals.

In the words of the Wonderpets, "What's gonna work?  Team work!"

Yes, the United States has withdrawn from the agreement.  That's not a good thing.  But Americans can still make a difference.  Are you recycling?  Great!  Please keep doing it.  Do you run a small (or large) business that is consciously using green practices to reduce your carbon footprint?  Excellent!  Please keep doing it.  Do you walk or bike to work several times a week?  Fantastic!  Please keep doing it.  Are you eating less meat? I mean, I know, think of all that yummy pulled pork you're missing out on, but it's still a sustainable move.  Please keep doing it.

There are so many things that we, as individuals, can do to live healthier, more eco-friendly, and sustainable lives.  While it would be better for the United States to be in this agreement instead of withdrawing from it, that doesn't mean change can't happen.  It means that I, and you, and our families and friends here in the US need to keep doing all those small things that help the environment--because all of us individually doing lots of small things will make a difference.

I'm frustrated by the lack of forward-thinking in the current Federal Administration, but instead of letting my frustration consume me, I'm going to continue to incorporate an increasing number of environmentally-friendly practices in all areas of my life.  You keep up the good work too.

 

Yesterday was Memorial Day.  It was also, technically, Day 3 of Liam's summer vacation, though he insisted it was only DAY 1! because the previous two days were the weekend.

The past three days, Liam has told me he's bored more times than I can count.  There are 101 more days of summer vacation, and I'm really starting to dread them.

Are you familiar with Phineas and Ferb?  If not, the theme song to this (TOTALLY AWESOME!!!!) Disney cartoon will introduce you to the general plot:

Here are the lyrics in case you need them:

There's 104 days of summer vacation
And school comes along just to end it
So the annual problem for our generation
Is finding a good way to spend it

Like maybe...
Building a rocket
Or fighting a mummy
Or climbing up the Eiffel Tower

Discovering something that doesn't exist (Hey!)
Or giving a monkey a shower

Surfing tidal waves
Creating nanobots
Or locating Frankenstein's brain (It's over here!)

Finding a dodo bird
Painting a continent
Or driving your sister insane (Phineas!)

As you can see
There's a whole lot of stuff to do
Before school starts this fall (Come on Perry)

So stick with us 'cause Phineas and Ferb
Are gonna do it all
So stick with us 'cause Phineas and Ferb are
Gonna do it all!
(Mom! Phineas and Ferb are making a title sequence!!)

The problem is that most kids aren't Phineas and Ferb.  I wasn't, and I was a kid in the land before time (AKA no internet.  My GOD, what did we DO before then?!).  Even so, I managed to keep myself contentedly relaxed and bored by entertaining myself.

Do kids not entertain themselves anymore, or is it just my kid?

Last night, Liam and Jeff went for a hike with the Boy Scouts, and I had three hours all to myself. Most of which I spent on Pinterest  frantically looking at ways to keep a pre-teen busy during summer vacation.  Judging by the lists I saw on Pinterest, my kid isn't the only one who doesn't entertain himself when faced with NO SCREEN TIME. (Gasp!  What kind of mother AM I?!?!?)

The good news is that I have a tentative plan now from last night's research, one that doesn't include me being Head of Liam's Personal Entertainment Committee.  (I know, I know, I should have been thinking about this long before last night, but I didn't wait until the middle of July.  Point to me.)  I'm thinking: library once a week; reading time every day from all of the books he checked out; swimming (maybe every week); working on his blog (maybe book reviews of all the books he's reading?); filling up the Netflix queue with some good movies for a quiet afternoon; STEM apps on the iPad; begin to learn a new language on Duolingo; and other possibilities. (as you can see there's a whole lot of stuff to do before school starts this fall....)

Now you tell me:  what do you do to not be your child(ren)'s personal entertainment committee during the summer?

As an added bonus, here is the extended version of the Phineas and Ferb theme song.  Because it's fun.

 

 

So I can think of many things I'd love to do, though I don't have a bucket list (you know, that list of things you need to do before you die).  Maybe I should have a bucket list.  Do you have a bucket list?

But this is not that list.  This is a list of fifty things I'll never do.  Ok, I know, never is a long time.  I could change my mind on some of these items, because hey, I'm allowed to change my mind.  But since I'm not getting any younger and I seem to be set in my ways, I'm pretty confident that these are the things I'll never do.

  1. Read Twilight.
  2. Watch the Twilight movies.
  3. Get a tongue piercing.
  4. Tattoo my face.
  5. Get drunk.
  6. Eat liver.
  7. Find the fountain of youth.
  8. Run a marathon.
  9. Run a half marathon.
  10. Run circles around my back yard.
  11. Consider Sarah Palin a serious political anything.
  12. Send Rush Limbaugh fan mail.
  13. Wear anything that is mustard yellow.
  14. Camp.
  15. Bungee jump.
  16. Enjoy red wine.
  17. Enjoy most white wine.
  18. Consider Justin Bieber talented.
  19. Wear leather pants.
  20. Go to any country that forces women to wear a head covering.
  21. Be a judge for American Idol.
  22. Be a judge on any show Simon Cowell is on or has his hands in.
  23. Like Simon Cowell.
  24. Think Tom Cruise is sane.
  25. Carry a purse.
  26. Have a pet rat.
  27. Like football.
  28. Understand why people like The Sound of Music and The Wizard of Oz.
  29. Smoke a cigarette.
  30. Smoke a cigar.
  31. Smoke a turkey.
  32. Change my mind about Severus Snape.
  33. Believe Fred Weasley is dead.
  34. Kick ass and take names.
  35. Consider myself "plucky."
  36. Become an extrovert.
  37. Smile all the time.
  38. Mudwrestling.
  39. Join the military.
  40. Cheer for the Cardinals.
  41. Consider Coors or Bud anything but horse piss.
  42. Join a girl gang.
  43. Wear high heels.
  44. Join a convent.
  45. Finish this list... holy crap, am I done yet?  This is taking forever.  Wait, I mean Stand-up comedy.
  46. Intentionally swallow a tapeworm.
  47. Give love a bad name.
  48. Rule the world.
  49. Vogue.
  50. Stop believin'.

So-- what are fifty things that you won't do?  Or even just a few?

Gather around, everyone.  Aunt Stephanie wants to tell you a story.

I'm telling this story second-hand, with permission.

 

M is like a sister to me.  We met in high school and have been friends since then.  She's 41, has had bi-polar 2 all of her life, and is in the middle of perimenopause.

Without getting into too many details, this is important.  Perimenopause is the time when a woman's hormones get all outta whack and her uterus does really stupid things.  Some (good and forward thinking, in my opinion) doctors will agree to perform a uterine ablation or a hysterectomy for women who undergo way too much monthly uterine stupidity.  After all, a woman who is 41 and child-free by choice has nothing to lose by having one of these permanent procedures done.

In an attempt to alleviate the symptoms of hormonal wackiness and stupid uterine tricks, a few months ago M's doctor instead recommended a newer IUD that uses an an extremely low dose of hormones to regulate these types of shenanigans.  Medically, this is pretty good advice, so M took it.

Unfortunately, M's own hormones contribute greatly to her depressive episodes.  Several rounds of birth control pills (additional hormones) have triggered depressive episodes.  This is in M's medical records.  The doctor who gave her the IUD knew about the hormone-related depression, but thought that, since there is such a low dose of hormones with this particular device, it wouldn't affect M's mental health.

You can imagine how angry I was at the doctor when M told me last week that she was battling another depressive episode and actively suicidal.

The good news in all of this is that M's doctor very quickly removed the IUD, her psychiatrist adjusted her medications, and her therapist put her on sick leave with strict instructions for M to check in with the therapist every single day this week.  She is battling the depression like the warrior she is.

The bad news is that she is battling a severe depressive episode again because her doctor thought a low dose of hormones would be better for her than a hysterectomy, even though M's medical files say that hormones send her into depressive episodes.

And here's what I hear in this whole thing:  the medical community would rather try to kill my sister instead of taking away her ability to have a child.

Oh, I know.  That's simplistic and melodramatic.

But if you're a woman, you know it really isn't.  Women are insulted and berated all the time for choosing to be child-free.  Women who want easy access to birth control for themselves and other women are called sluts, even though they'll be called sluts if they get pregnant.  (Slut if you don't want a kid, slut if you have a kid. Makes sense.)  Women who have heavy periods are generally told to deal with it because the only truly permanent ways to reduce heavy bleeding will render them sterile.  Yes, a woman can use hormonal birth control methods to reduce heavy bleeding, but the use of hormonal birth control contributes to depression in women and it's so common that depression is listed as a side effect of most hormonal birth control methods.

I understand that no doctor is going to recommend ablation or hysterectomy for a teenager.  But if a woman is child-free or done having babies and she wants a permanent solution to the monthly uterine hijinks, why is she not able to choose that for herself?  Why is a woman's ability to have a child sometime in the future more important than her current mental health?

If you're a woman, you've probably had a doctor say or do something that reveals how much patriarchy affects women's health issues.

I have another friend who is a few years older than me, has two kids, and is done having children.  She has such heavy bleeding that it gives her migraines and usually keeps her home one day a month.  A uterine ablation isn't a medical possibility for her and her (male) doctor won't agree to a hysterectomy "because she only has a few years of this left."

I had a tubal ligation five years after our only child was born.  The (male) doctor asked me two questions before he agreed to perform the procedure:  what did my husband think about me having a tubal ligation and what would I do if our child died sometime after I had it done?  He apparently wasn't convinced by my own desire to not get pregnant ever again.

Personally, as a pro-life mother, I'm exhausted by the stupidity of a system that thinks of me as nothing more than a hormonal incubator and won't allow me or other women the health care we need for our mental and physical well-being, simply because it might hurt our ability to reproduce.

Women are not just incubators for the next generation.

 

(Warning: NSFW due to language.)

 

Bitch.  Cunt.  Pussy.  Sissy. Douchebag.  Twat.  Boob.  Slut.  Whore.  Skank.  Slag.  Tramp.  Prude.  Frigid.  Lesbo.  Diva.  Feminazi.

In just those few words, I could be insulted for being a jerk, weak, stupid, a person who likes to have a lot of sex, a person who doesn't like to have sex, a lesbian, dramatic, or a passionate feminist.  Five of those are insults based on feminine body parts.  The others are based on just being a woman.  At least five of those (pussy, sissy, douchebag, twat, boob) are also used to insult men.

Compare that to gendered insults based specifically on the masculine:

Dick.  Prick.  Bonehead.

The list is significantly shorter and based on just one male body part.  They are used in place of jerk and stupid.  There aren't really any insults for men who like to have sex; in fact, most cultures celebrate men who have many sexual partners at the very same time they are denigrating the women with whom the men are having all this sex.

In "The Harmless Sounding Phrase That is Terrible for All Women," Karen Rinaldi writes:

A few weeks ago, I was talking with a friend about another friend’s husband who had called his wife a “stupid bitch” in front of their daughters in a moment of anger. He later apologized to the family. He’d had a hard day at the office. He didn’t really mean what he’d said, and he’d humbled himself in front of his wife and kids. We knew that he was basically a good guy. Basically a good guy. 

And that’s the phrase that kept swirling in my head. It occurred to me that the common refrain, “He is basically a good guy,” confirms one of our most pervasive biases. A colleague who made a sexist remark in a meeting? Well, we think, he didn’t mean it. He’s basically a good guy. The young man who insulted his date in front of his friends? He didn’t think she would take it so personally. He’s really a good guy...

When has anyone ever heard, as a pardon for a woman’s bad behavior, “She is basically a good woman?” Never. Because as frequently as we hear, “He’s basically a good guy,” we also hear, “She’s such a bitch.” Women are not so readily forgiven for their transgressions, no matter how small. The woman who refuses to accept blame at work for something she didn’t do? The woman who disagreed with her date in front of his friends? The wife who got too drunk at the neighborhood party?

A woman in a position of power in the workplace is called "Bossy;" her male counterpart is  called a "Leader."

Wives and girlfriends"Nag" their partners about things that need to be done; husbands and boyfriends "Remind" their partners of the same things.

A woman who forgets a few things is called "blonde" or "ditzy" or "airhead;"  a man who forgets a few things has a "momentary memory lapse."

Calling out a man for misogyny is usually reserved for blatant acts of physical and/or emotional abuse or assault.  We're really quick to call a man who physically abuses his wife or girlfriend a wife beater.  But what about the man who jokingly calls his partner a bitch or slut?  What about the men who catcall the girl walking down the street minding her own  business?  What about the father who calls his son a sissy because he cries when he's upset?  Or what about the baseball coach who tells the boys on his team that they throw like girls?  How about the teacher that claims boys do better in math than girls?

Misogyny isn't just about being outspoken in your hatred of women.  It's in the little things like jokingly calling a woman a bitch or slut because she did something that offended you or had any sexual partners before you.  Like catcalling a girl as if she is public property because she's walking down a public street.  Like calling your son a sissy for crying or telling a boy he throws like a girl, as if women are inherently lesser than men and telling a boy he's acting like a girl is the ultimate insult.

Misogyny is all about men who believe that women are weaker than them, not as smart as them, not allowed as many privileges as them, more emotional than them, and generally just not as good as them.

Men > women.

Language is powerful.  I'm super tired of misogyny and I'm super tired of the language it creates.  I'm tired of being told women are weak and that I'm weak because I'm a woman.

#Resist #NeverthelessShePersisted

 

 

 

 

 

1

Imagine this:

You've just found out you're pregnant.  Your hormones are all over the place, you're nauseated all the time, food doesn't taste good, and you can barely make it past 7:30 pm before you're falling asleep sitting upright on the couch.

Sounds like a lot of fun, right?  Let's keep going.

Not only are you pregnant, you're a non-traditional student (aged 29) and just started your second semester back at college.  It's really important that you do well, and since you're majoring in English, you think a class on Charles Dickens might be just the thing for you.

Then you start reading Bleak House and Nicholas Nickelby, and wonder why you thought this was a good idea.  "Bleak" is now forever associated with feeling nauseated, flat, and tired.

Finally, you also work full time, so your Dickens class is from 6-9:30 pm.  Your professor, though really nice, is also a boring lecturer and has a habit of turning the lights out to show scenes from some of the movie adaptations of Dickens' books.  It's embarrassing, but you fall asleep in class most of the time.

Christmas was a few days ago.  You probably read or watched A Christmas Carol.  It's traditional, quite possibly one of Dickens' most well-known stories, and you're wondering how in God's name I could possibly not like Charles Dickens.

I'm sure you guessed that I was the pregnant, bored student reading Dickens too late at night.  Maybe it's unreasonable to not like an author because of these types of associations.  True.  I've thought of that.

Maybe the most important reason I dislike is this: he prattled.  Why say something in fifty words when you could write it in 500?  Over and over and over again.  In the same book.

I adore a long book.  I have several books on my shelves that are at least 500 pages, and some of them are 1,000 or more.  It's not the length of the books that matters, it's that the story is actually being advanced by all of those words filling the pages.  J.K. Rowling, George R. R. Martin, and Victor Hugo are all verbose, but when they could write something in fifty words, they wrote something in fifty words.

Dickens needed a good editor.

Dickens sucks.

I hope you've enjoyed the "Things I don't like" series.  It was fun to gripe about silly things instead of politics.  Any thoughts or comments on this series?  Is there a series of ideas you'd like to see me explore in 2017?  Please let me know in the comments.

2

Rebuilding anything, in general, kind of sucks.  Even if you wanted that thing torn down.

One year ago today, I was fired from my job of eight years.

While part of me would prefer not to put that out there, the other part of me wants you to know this story, at least the short version with only the really important parts mentioned.  The executive director and I didn't get along.  He wasn't the person that hired me, and he moved me from a job I enjoyed (mostly) to one I didn't (mostly).  I knew I was going to get fired eventually.  I had been praying to be fired.  It was a good thing for me.  It really, truly was a great thing.  When he fired me, he called me toxic and told me I was terrible at my job.

I was happy to be fired, but I'd been dealing with his dislike for three years and had just been told I was an awful human being and employee.  A year later, I can still hear him telling me that.  It hurts a lot less now, thanks to being out of the situation, a lot of therapy, and lots of people I worked with telling me to ignore him.

I'm in the process of rebuilding that part of my life.  The foundation of my work life was completely destroyed.  I'll be honest with you:  I'm only now beginning to lay the first few stones.  I sat in the dust and rubble for several months, dirty and hurting.

I have a new job.  I'm basically doing the same thing I was when I got fired, but I'm working for a church now instead of a state agency.  My boss, the church pastor, tells me I'm doing a good job.  His wife called to tell me how excited he was that they had hired me.  The people in the church are friendly and kind and happy to have me here.  It's a part time job, it's quiet, and I have three day weekends.

I wanted to mark the day because it's the day I was set free.  But at the same time, my world was torn apart.

Shit happens.  I'm a Christian, but I don't think that everything happens for a reason.  Sometimes shit just happens, our worlds are ripped apart, and all we can do is sit in the dirt and rubble, catch our breath, and rebuild.  We have to grieve, take care of ourselves, and begin to heal.  We have to understand that it's much easier to say those words than it is to live them.  In the process of being gentle with myself, I've had to question if I'm being gentle with myself or if I'm just being lazy.  I quit writing,  I started writing again.  I quit writing again.  I sat on the couch a lot and binge watched netflix shows.  I looked at a lot of job postings and got frustrated nearly every time I did so.

Rebuilding is difficult and it sucks. But the value in it is that when you start to clean up what's left, you can look at every single old stone and decide how it will fit into the new foundation.  Some of the old parts of your life are shattered and have to be discarded, but some of them are just scratched up.  You might have to polish them up for quite some time, but when you get done, you'll have these gleaming, glossy, shiny stones that are stronger because they've been refined.

At least I hope so.  I'm still in the process of refining and being refined.   A year later, I'm a little stronger than I was.  I'm a little more hopeful about my life.  I don't dread each morning anymore and marvel that there are still people in this world who are so nice to me.  I feel like I can breathe again.

This month's crazy thing I dislike is another movie: The Sound of Music.

When I was little, TSoM was shown every year during the Thanksgiving or Christmas holidays, I think on CBS.  When we were smaller, my brother and I would sit together in our dad's arm chair and watch it.  I don't ever remember my parents sitting down with us to watch it.  I don't know if one of us chose it or if one of our parents turned it on for us.  What I distinctly remember thinking every single time I watched it was, "Isn't there anything better on tv right now?  Why do we have to watch this again?"

In hindsight, it was probably the most intelligent thing on tv, as these were the days before we had cable.  The pickings were slim back then.

Now when I'm faced with the commercials for the yearly showing of this classic, this is what I sing:

the hills are alive