Tag Archives: celebrate

WRECK IT WEDNESDAY!!! (Issue No. 9)

7 Jan

Welcome back people!! So happy to see you made it to Wednesday!

Last week I promised that I would deliver a post on building an outdoor movie screen. To celebrate my 31st birthday, I decided that having a movie night in our backyard was an awesome idea. And it was. It would have been better if it hadn’t been in the high 20s temperature-wise…and having been pouring rain for a few days prior. I was picturing a fire pit, s’mores, jiffy pop popcorn (you know, the kind that comes in the package that looks like a pit tin with a handle you heat in a camp fire?) hot chocolate, the works. Between the weather and a smaller-than-hoped-for bank account, well, let’s just say things didn’t go quite as planned.

Fear not, I do have a nice little wreck it planned for you today. It’s just not the movie screen. We cheated on the screen. We simply took our staple gun and stapled a tarp to our wooden fence…then stapled a white sheet on top of it. You people are too smart to require a tutorial on how to do that. The tarp is to block out the light, the white sheet is so that the colors appear nice and bright. Easy peasy. I had plans to build a legitimate, free-standing movie screen. Perhaps when the weather gets better I can actually deliver the tutorial on that.

For now, I hope you will be satisfied with a Wreck It Wednesday on how to build a fire pit. My Handsome (and my Braun, since he’s the one that did all the work) says this Wreck should be called “How To Dig A Fire Pit In Your Back Yard So That Your Landlord Doesn’t Find Out”. So here we go:

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With a shovel of your choosing (according to the Handsome, flat shovels work best, but if you’re poor like us, whatever you have on hand will do the trick), make an outline of the shape and size of pit you want. All you have to do to accomplish this, push the spade of the shovel straight into the ground and pull it out. Keep making these cuts until you have the shape you’re looking for.

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Like so.

Next, you’re going to work your shovel under the grass, and kind of lift upwards to loosen it.

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Like so.

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Handsome discovered that it would be pretty near impossible to get the grass up in one piece, so he cut the grass into smaller pieces.

Like so.

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Next, work the shovel under the parts closer to the center. Ultimately, you need to get the grass completely released from the ground beneath it.

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Once the pieces are loose, you can start lifting them out of the pit you’re building.

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We set the pieces of grass aside because we intend to replace it once we’re done. You can do whatever you’d like with your grass, I’m not your boss or your landlord.

Now that all the grass is out, you can start making the pit deeper. Now, the depth is completely up to you. Again, not your boss. Honestly it will depend on how fancy you’re looking to make your pit. We were on a shoestring budget, so we didn’t get any super cool stones or bricks to line and fancify ours.

Here are some pretty cool ideas from around the interwebs:

LauraCatherine.com

Shelterness.com

Houselogic.com

ThisOldHouse.com

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Handsome just dug and dug. Too bad our niece Chloe refused to teach us how to do the Duggie. This might have been easier. Just as we set the grass aside, we set the dirt aside as well. (Placing it on an old sheet just will make it easier to fill the hole back in.)

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Here, you see the pit is complete. It isn’t very deep, but it suits our purposes just fine. The ground was extremely soggy from all the rain, so it was necessary to line the pit with a layer of sand. (We found bags of “play sand” at our local Home Depot. It was actually very inexpensive at about $3.50 a bag. We only used half a bag, since again, this fire pit is not going to be a permanent fixture in our back yard. It’s not our back yard, after all.

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Here is the finished pit with the fire and all. That’ll do, Handsome. That’ll do.

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Now, hindsight is always 20/20. Considering that, Handsome has a piece of advice for you good people:

If you’re going to dig it much deeper than ours (about 6 inches) make sure that the edges are dug straight. If they are not, the edges will collapse on itself, meaning the hole will fill itself in, and you might end up with a bigger hole than you anticipated.

Now, if you are planning on doing this project and you have a little extra money in your pocket, you may want to consider buying some rocks to scatter on top of the layer of sand. This will keep your firewood dryer if there’s any moisture in the pit from recent rainfall by elevating it from the ground. Also, bricks, whether plain or ornamental, to line the inside edges of the pit would be a good idea. This will help reinforce the edges and keep it from collapsing on itself.

Anyway, this is our humble fire fit. It’s not the prettiest, but it served it’s purpose well. We can’t wait to have our own home to be able to make cool updates like these permanent. Well Folks, that’s all for this week’s Wreck. Hope it inspired you to do something creative!

XOXOXO

E

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Filet-O-Fish Fridays

27 Mar

Well, people, it’s that time of year again. For Catholics it’s the time when you quit drinking soda (or whatever it is that you choose to give up), for those of you who are not, it’s the season where McDonalds offers specials on Filet-O-Fish sandwiches on Fridays. (Hint: it’s Lent) It’s a time for reflection, sacrifice and repentance.

In light of all this reflection, I’ve decided to take a moment to chat about something that I’ve been reflecting upon for quite some time. It’s something that I never really realized I was confused about, but it turns out I was.

Forgive and forget people always say. I say, “what the f*ck?” For so long, I withheld forgiveness because I always figured that it wasn’t true forgiveness unless it was something I was indeed able to forget. How am I supposed to forgive someone who hurt me so deeply that I still feel pain just thinking about it? Am I right?

I don’t want to be that person (we’ve all met at least one) who’s been hurt by someone and their anger and resentment paints every conversation and echoes in their actions. I don’t want to fill up with so much negativity that causes anger to spill out of my pores. I want to live my life with love, compassion and understanding. I want to forgive those who have done me wrong. But I need serious help.

I had an epiphany a few weeks ago. If you’ve read some of my early posts, you may know that there are a few people in my life that I’ve been seriously emotionally wounded by, one of them being myself. For a long time I harbored serious hatred for these individuals. But, while sitting in a class, listening to Father Barry talking about the sacraments and Reconciliation, I realized, I forgive these people. Well, in my head it was more like, “I think I forgive these people.” The reason I said think is because I was still not sure if it could be true forgiveness, since I still don’t think these people are model citizens, nor would I go out of my way to forge a relationship with them. So, I went to confession (by the way, from someone who NEVER agreed with the concept of confession, it turns out that this is frickin’ amazingly helpful and freeing). At the end, I decided to run my ideas about forgiveness past the priest and ask about his thoughts on the matter.

It turns out, forgiveness has nothing to do with forgetting. So just forget about that. (Ha, see what I did there?) His exact words (more or less, anyway) were, “It’s like a tug-of-war game. You feel all these negative emotions and that’s the tugging back and forth. Forgiveness is letting go of the rope”. Instead of continuing with the struggle of anger, you just walk away. Not that you’re forgetting the struggle, but you aren’t spending your life dwelling on it anymore.

As another illustration, during mass, a different priest explained forgiveness like an open wound. Imagine someone emotionally hurting you as causing a cut that breaks the skin. It bleeds. It scabs (forgiveness). You pick the scab (because what else would you do with a scab?). It bleeds some more (remembering the hurt). Each time that scab comes off, that cut gets smaller and smaller. Eventually, all you have is a scar. So yes, someone can cause some serious damage. Yes, thinking and talking about it can open that wound up again. But little by little, it’ll scab over and eventually heal…but you still have that scar as a reminder. Forgiveness is not something that’s done just once. It’s done repeatedly, and as it is done, it becomes easier to continue. Eventually all we have is that little scar that reminds us of what happened, so we can try to protect ourselves from the same thing happening again.

To put it into my own words, forgiveness is about losing the baggage and moving on with your life. Allowing someone’s actions or words to affect your life, how you feel about yourself or even just plain make you angry, is giving them power over your life. Who really deserves that kind of power? You do. God does. But that’s about it.  You want the key to inner peace and total happiness? Take your power back. Forgive those knuckle heads and keep it in the rear-view. Forgiveness is also a gift you give to yourself as well as to the offenders, so give it a shot. You deserve it.

So there you go, three different explanations…hopefully one of them will resonate with you. Let me know what your thoughts are on this topic.

Also, let the record show, I have given up drinking soda (I’m addicted), and eating cereal (I’m also addicted)…and I am doing well.

Three Years Gone

20 Nov

Today is bittersweet for me. It’s the anniversary of my father’s death, which, 3 years later, is still a painful thing to think about. I know I’m not alone in this pain. My little sister and brother share in it just the same. I hope somewhere, some time, they get to read this and understand that I’m thinking of them and love them to pieces. Luckily, I have a very good reason to be very happy as well: my best friend gave birth to her first son, whom I call Bowser, on this same date two years ago. It’s a strange situation for me. I love Bowser, he’s one of the coolest semi-new humans ever. He gives me reason to smile today,but I miss my dad.

It wasn’t until yesterday that I really realized that even though I haven’t  been deliberately dwelling on the approaching anniversary, it still affects me. It’s painful to deal with, even though it’s not in my conscious thoughts. It’s interesting how depression can sneak its way into your life. Little by little, it puts a shadow over your existence. Before you know it, you’re in a hole. Sometimes that hole is so deep that the sky is nearly invisible. I want people to know that they’re not alone with this.

For this reason, I feel it appropriate to re-visit a post from way back. It’s one of my favorite posts because I believe depression is a topic that is easily brushed aside by many because they don’t understand, and obscured by those affected by it. It’s not something that we can recover from unless we face it. So, I’m shining a light on it once more. I hope it helps.

The following is from Tired of trying, sick of crying. I know I’ve been smiling, but inside I’m dying…

Depression isn’t an easy thing to talk about. It lurks in the darkness of our soul, eating away at our hearts, consuming our will to continue searching for happiness. It’s an invisible ailment that many experience, but few understand. For some, it’s a fast and dramatic response to an event such as the death of a loved one, or a major failure of some sort. But many times, depression has no clear cut cause; there’s no singular traumatic event that starts the seamless progression from disappointment to sadness to depression to hopelessness.  Sometimes, the advancement is so slow and subtle; it goes unrecognized by even the person experiencing it. And therein lies the problem. How can you tell someone that something is wrong, when you yourself don’t know or can’t explain what it is? I may be alone in my stubbornness, but I find it difficult to admit to someone, let alone to myself, that there IS something wrong when I don’t even know what IT is. How am I supposed to ask for help, when I don’t even know what I need?

What we need to do is talk. We need to identify and admit the fact that depression is not only a mental problem. It is a condition that reaches far beyond just being sad. It can affect your appearance, drain you of energy, kill your appetite, and kill your social life, among many other things. If we just continue to hide or ignore that depression is a physical condition as much as a mental one, we’ll just continue to sink lower and lower. We also need to stop surrounding ourselves with people that only add to the sickness. We all know drama mongers. They peddle their crazy to anyone and everyone that will listen. I’m here to tell you, when crazy comes knocking, you don’t have to answer the door.

Depression never affected me as a child or teen. So you can imagine my surprise and serious denial when it hit me in adulthood. Come to find out, I have a predisposition to suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts/tendencies. My mother attempted to end her life as a teenager. My cousin committed suicide when I was in high school. My paternal grandmother committed suicide when my father was a teenager. I have done some research and have found that my Austrian/German decent makes me more likely to make an attempt on my life. For some reason, people from these countries have a high rate of suicide and depression. It’d be easy to look at the statistics and family history and use it as an excuse. I could put the blame on genetics. Who in the world would argue with science and facts?

The problem with accepting that you have a predilection, especially a biological one, for something, is that we often use that as an excuse for giving into it. We let go of our power to the thought that we are destined to be this or suffer from that. Instead of telling ourselves, “yes, I am more susceptible to (insert condition here), but I have the power to avoid it”, we tell ourselves “I am more susceptible to (insert condition here); I don’t have any control in it”. We give the blame away to our genetics (or whatever variable) and in doing so, we give away our power to make real and positive changes in our lives. It’s this negative thinking that perpetuates depression, not our genes. If you think you’re worthless, then guess what? Perception is reality. The amazing thing is that you have the ability to change your perception, and in turn, change reality.

Here comes story time. I’ve talked a little about my father’s death; I think I’ve even mentioned the death of my grandma. But, to illustrate my point a little better, I’m going to tell you the whole story…the big points, anyway….

I met my ex a week before I turned 19. We were married two and a half years later. Even though I was young, I gave it everything I had, and then a little more. But getting little in return, I started to give up. I’d been unhappy for a very long time, and I was tired of being used, tired of being lied to, and tired of waiting. I blamed my husband for the way I felt. I resented him for everything I gave up to support his goals and dreams. I felt worthless because nothing I did for him was ever enough for him to value me as I once thought I’d deserved. Despite the way I felt about the way my marriage was going, we decided at one point that we were going to try to start a family. Wanting to be sure I was healthy enough for a pregnancy, I consulted my doctors. My rheumatologist cautioned me against it, saying that even if the inflammation in my feet from my rheumatoid arthritis was under control (at this point, it was not); I would almost certainly spend at least my third trimester on bed rest. I was 25 years old, and my doctor was telling me I shouldn’t try to have kids? I’m 25 years old; I should be able to get knocked up without the “ok” from a doctor…right?

Already unhappy with where my life was at the time, I received a phone call that would put me over the edge. I left for work one morning, and on the drive, I got a phone call from my supervisor’s boss telling me I was to report to him before I began my shift. My heart sank. I knew this was bad news, I thought I’d be fired, though I had no idea for what. I stood at his desk and he informed me I was being put on administrative leave and ordered me to surrender my badge. On my drive home that morning, my thoughts raced. I had decided that when I arrived home, I was going to take every pill in my bottle of Vicodin, and anything else I had. I got home, went upstairs, grabbed the bottle and popped the first pill in my mouth. I tried to swallow it. I couldn’t. No matter how hard I tried, it just wouldn’t go down. This was the beginning of what my ex and most everyone else would see as my decline. The truth is, all those little things with my marriage, the lies, the resentment, my health…that was the real beginning, but it was invisible. It wasn’t even until about a year or two before this incident that I had even noticed it myself.

The sad part about that first pill is that not being able to swallow it had very little, if anything, to do with how I valued my life. I never thought, “I can’t do this because I have so much to live for, so many things I still want to do.” As I tried to swallow that pill, I thought about my parents, the tears, them thinking that they failed at something because they weren’t able to save me. I thought about my nieces. I thought about being thought of as too weak to handle what God was dishing out to me. I even thought about my poor pup. I didn’t want to hurt the people I loved. I told my ex what had happened, and asked him to take all my medications and hide them from me. I called my doctor and got an appointment with a shrink who referred me to a program that literally saved my life.

Because of my suicidal thoughts and my attempt, though failed, my only choices were being committed to a mental facility or the Intensive Outpatient Program, or IOP. I chose IOP. Though I am not and never have been an advocate for “group therapy”, I have to say, it worked. After two weeks of talking about the things I’ve been through, how I feel, listening to others, discovering that although the causes of what brought us all to that room were very different, we were all feeling very similarly. I learned that I am not something that is broken and needs fixing. I learned some very important coping skills and started to re-learn simple truths about myself that would ultimately hold the pieces of my heart together when I thought it would fall apart.

The next couple months brought my grand mother’s decline. She was constantly in and out of the hospital. My family, especially my aunt, who was my grandma’s primary caretaker, struggled with the burden of dealing with the impending loss and the day to day wear that caring for stricken loved ones brings about. Finally, we had a family meeting with the doctors who informed us of our choices. My aunt was not ready to let go. She wanted to believe that her mother wanted to keep fighting. Eventually, we all agreed that she should be put on home hospice care.

The night my grandma died, I went out with my cousins. I got drunker than I’d ever been, at that point. I fell apart. I’d never cried harder or for such a long time. Her funeral was the most beautiful service I’d ever been to. (I’ve been to quite a few) She was buried next to my grandpa, who’d passed away a few years earlier. At the graveside service, someone had booked a mariachi band to play songs that my grandpa used to sing to his wife. It was amazing.

The next day, my phone rang. It was my dad, and he was telling me that he has cancer. Stage 4 cancer to boot. For those who aren’t familiar with cancer, stage 4 means that the cancer is very advanced and has metastasized to other organ(s). In the subsequent months, I flew back and forth from my home in southern California to northern Washington, when my father lived. In the midst of this, I was ultimately fired from my job. Meanwhile, I helped re-model the house, I cooked, I cleaned, I took my father to many of his appointments. He had a prognosis of 2 years. The cancer took him in 3 months.

Two weeks before he died, I decided to make a book for my dad. I wanted to have him write down stories about himself, about growing up, about life. I had so many questions to ask him. I worked hard on that book, trying to make it perfect. Unfortunately, by the time I was done with it, he was no longer speaking, and barely moving. I ended up with a very beautiful, but very empty book.

If you’ve noticed anything in my posts, you’ve probably noticed my propensity to relating my life to music. Today is no different. As it turns out, there is a line from a Social Distortion song that is cold hard fact. Mike Ness sings, “Reach for the sky ’cause tomorrow may never come” (By the way, that song is called Reach for the Sky.) I decided that this empty book was not going to be the story of my life.  Losing my father so quickly prompted me (after a great deal of wallowing in grief and self-pity) to evaluate my life and the way I was living it.

The fact is that it’s easy to give up. It’s easy to put the blame for our disappointments and misery on everything and everyone around us. What’s not easy is taking a look in the mirror and realize that we are the only thing standing between us and bliss. It’s not easy taking responsibility for our unhappiness and depression. The way I felt about my life and my marriage was no one’s fault but my own. As soon as I took ownership of that fact, I got my power back.  I decided that I can’t wait for happiness. It’s not just going to walk up to me one day on the street. I have to actively seek it. My book will not be blank, it’s going to be filled with all the awesome things I am going to do, all the adventures I’m going to take on. I’ve been doing all the things that made me who I am. I’ve been doing all the things that make me happy, all the way down to my shoes.

I also began to understand that everything, and I mean everything, happens for a reason. If I had not been married to my ex, I would not have come to understand how little I actually loved myself. If I had not ended up with rheumatoid arthritis, I probably would have ended up with children with a man that I did not love, a man who didn’t truly love me. My suicide attempt led to me getting the help I really needed. If I hadn’t gone though the Intensive Outpatient Program, I wouldn’t have learned the tools that would later keep me from spinning out of control with the subsequent tragedies of losing my grandmother and my father. If I hadn’t been put on administrative leave, I would not have been able to spend so much time with my father before he passed away. If my father hadn’t been taken so swiftly, I probably would not have had the courage to finally take my life into my own hands. I would have continued being miserable, and blaming my ex for it. Like I said, perception is reality. My reality is a happy one, because I perceive it to be.

While I’m happier than I’ve been in a very long time, I still continue to struggle with depression. I’m not going to lie. There are days that I feel just like vanilla ice cream: white, plain, nothing special. But then, I Googled vanilla, and I learned that vanilla is actually one of the most complex flavors on the planet (another scientific fact). So, while I may just be feeling like vanilla, I am actually quite special. This gives me hope that though I’ve been battered by storms, I’m not quite destroyed. Little by little, I begin to strengthen and bloom again.

I Didn’t Even Have to Use My AK. I’d Have To Say It Was A Good Day…

19 Sep

I’ve been blessed with many many good days since I took a hiatus from this lovely blog. I’d like to say I’m sorry for neglecting you all, but honestly, I’m not. I’ve had some seriously good times this spring and summer, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Don’t believe that kind of fun is possible? Well, here are my last 5 1/2 months in photos, you can judge for yourself…

I finally got my new tattoo done. I designed this while my dad was going through chemo. 5 1/2 hours of work, and it’s not quite finished.

Had a delicious breakfast date….with the most delicious banana french toast, EVER.

Seriously, if you’re ever in San Diego you need to have this french toast at Perry’s Cafe. Trust me.

Dinner date that ended at my absolute favorite place for dessert….Extraordinary Desserts in Little Italy  (San Diego). You have to try this place too if you’re ever in town.

Road tripped up to the Bay Area with my besties to see my little brother play LaCrosse in the Sonoma State Shootout. The Seattle Starz took the championship, and my brother even won his All Star game! He is an amazing person. I can’t say enough how proud I am of him. Can’t believe he’s only 14!

Since we were in the area…we swung by and saw the old Golden Gate for a bit.

It was pretty chilly out there by the Frisco Bay. Definitely should have brought sweatpants.

And since we were already that far north of home, we figured we’d spend a couple of days in Yosemite National Park. But not before passing by the windmill farms and taking a tour of the Jelly Belly factory.

Did you know that the blueberry Jelly Belly flavor was invented for President Ronald Reagan’s inauguration in 1981? True story.

Once we got to Yosemite, we did some hikin’ n swimmin’.  This place is seriously gorgeous. I wish this was what people thought of when they think of my beautiful state of California.


Takin’ a dip in the river was exactly what we needed after all that hiking. It was so relaxing and peaceful.

I flew out to Salt Lake City to meet up with my best friends. We really squeezed a lot of livin’ into that week and a half!

Rock climbing.

Dirtbiking.

Visited the Hogle Zoo. I’d never seen a Bald Eagle so close before, so beautiful.

Visited Cabela’s for the very first time. This place is so frickin’ cool if you love outdoorsy stuff, which I do. Guns, fishin’, campin, hikin, climbin’…it’s all here!!!

Visited Temple Square in Downtown Salt Lake. I’m not Mormon, but I think anyone can appreciate the beauty of this architecture.

We also did a little self tour of the state of Utah’s capital building.

Ta-dah!

I spent some time at the beach, skimmin’…trying to anyway.

Okay, I went to the beach a couple of times…

What can I say, I’m a California girl.

Even my pup likes the beach.

A lot.

Me and my friends spent a little time in Old Town San Diego to have the best Mexican breakfast around at Coyote Cantina (Chilaquiles with fresh handmade flour tortillas) aaaand did a little goofing around….

We are silly gooses.

I finally saw the Hoover Dam for the first time. What a sight! This new bridge they’ve built is impressive…and the heat out there was oppressive.

I moved out of my apartment….and after pitching a fit, I got my whole deposit back. Thank you.

Watched my Padres play his Astros at Petco Park.

Padres won. 🙂

I went to Big Bear and learned how to ski with my big sister and my little Chickin Nuggit. (That’s my niece’s nick name)

Took a day trip to Tijuana, Mexico with my mommy.

Couple of strawberry sodas, couple of beers…

And one of my all time favorite meals ever. Birria de Chivo. Basically a slow cooked dish made with goat. It sounds gross, and doesn’t look much more appetizing, but let me tell you, eating it makes my heart smile…especially with homemade corn tortillas and quesadillas.

Oh, and then there’s the paletas (Mexican popsicles)…those made our mouths smile too.

Speaking of hearts smiling, I got to see my other best friend tie the knot. It was a beautiful ceremony. I think this was the first time I actually cried at a wedding. I’m so happy for them both.

This is me and the newlyweds.

And me n my buddy Nick-o-Lah.

We celebrated my mommy’s birthday.

And I made some fabulous cupcakes for the occasion.

Thanks to my mommy, we got tickets to see Dwight Yoakam. We got a little crowd to do the electric slide with us when he played Faster than You. We had an amazing time!

Visited the San Diego Wild Animal Park…or I guess they’re calling it the Safari Park now. Either way, I’ve never seen such awesome views of lions, ever. We even got to see a cheetah do the 100 yard dash up close.

I finally got some really old film developed. This one was from Halloween a couple of years ago. Incidentally, I was a little concerned about developing this roll because I don’t remember a good chunk of that night…

Oh yeah…we moved to Texas.

I’ll probably write a little more about this particular event a bit later. For now, let’s just say it’s humid.

One thing I don’t have pictures of is my 10 year high school reunion. We made it back to California for that a week and a half ago, and it went much better than I was expecting. So that was good. Again, more on this later.

Last but not least….I’ve done some work for the next Makin’ It Monday. Here’s a sneak peak!!

I’ve been taking life one day at a time, trying my best to take advantage of every opportunity sent my way. I have to say, I’m fortunate for my friends, without them, most of these trips may not have been possible. I am also fortunate to have a hunger for adventure. Sure there are every day responsibilities to tend to. The bills need to be paid, the housework and laundry needs to be done, the pup must be fed, sure. But why did I spend so much time waiting around for the right time to take trips and little adventures? Why could I not see that tomorrow isn’t a better day to put a smile on my face? The answer is: I didn’t make it a priority. I wished for happiness and adventure and spontaneity, but did nothing about it…like it was just going to fall into my lap. Silly goose. If you want something, get after it! You get one life, that’s it. There’s no do-overs or rewind buttons. If you’re unhappy, then change something because you are the only thing standing between the life you live, and the life you want to live.

I didn’t write this post to brag about all the cool stuff that I got to do this past spring and summer. I’m writing this post to inspire you. There is a little bit of extraordinary in our every day lives, it’s a matter of how you look at it. I am writing this post to point out to you, my wonderful readers that a lot of living can be done without being a millionaire. Sure, it requires a bit more creativity and imagination…maybe even a bit of compromising. But it can be done. So stop sitting at home, blaming the fact that there’s too much laundry to do, or the dishes are dirty or the baby needs a bath to be able to go have a picnic or something. Just start living. It’s as simple as that.

PS If you’re the kind of person that can only be pleased with a first class flight to Paris and staying in a ritzy hotel, this post isn’t going to help you, sorry, Charlie.

Happy Birthday, W_lt_r…

18 Sep

You might be curious as to why I didn’t completely spell the name in the title of this post. Walter is my father. He was in the Navy for 20 years and when he’d write me a letter, he always signed it W_lt_r (Daddy). He left letters out because I wasn’t allowed to call him Walter, only Daddy. It was one of his little ways of being funny, I suppose. It always made me smile.

Today is my Daddy’s birthday. According to his initial prognosis, he should still be alive for me to make him German chocolate cupcakes.

Unfortunately, he’s not. Instead, I’m sitting in bed 1,500 miles away from home and his grave, thinking about how much I miss him. I’m thinking about how wonderful the last birthday we spent together was. I’m thinking about how badly I wish that I could have that day back.

Many days have passed since that last birthday. I’ve grown and learned a lot about life, and I’ve struggled with the sadness and depression that comes with loss and change. I’ve been striving every day to live my life in a way that would make him proud. Unfortunately, the way I celebrated his birthday last year would not have met that particular goal. I was by myself at a bar, falling to pieces. It’d been a long, long time since I had felt that alone.

I didn’t make him any cupcakes this year. I didn’t visit his grave to leave him a card and Fosters tall boy. I am home, away from home, but I don’t feel so alone. There won’t be any drinking tonight. Though there have been some tears and probably more to come, I am not falling apart today. I am grateful for that. I am thankful to have someone here who loves me, and does his best to  hold me together. Maybe it’s a gift from my Dad? A way to ease the moving on? I don’t know, but thank you either way.

Here’s to you Daddy. I hope you’re smiling down from Heaven on all the good changes I’ve made in my life. I miss you every day.

P.S. Tell Uncle Peter I say hi.

Daddy’s last birthday – 56 years old

Who Are You Calling Inspiring?? …Oh, Me? Well…

9 Apr

I never really expected anyone to read this blog. I first started because I love to write, and share new ideas. I have had a long difficult road, rebuilding my life from loss and depression. I found that putting my thoughts together and having a space to share helps to remind me that being genuine, loving, and forgiving is the key to happiness. Imagine my complete surprise when I received a nomination from a fellow blogger, calling me very inspiring.

Well, thank you so much to Angela, my friend at MyDailyCreativity. It means a lot from a fellow trooper to have  this “Very Inspiring Blogger Award” passed on to me. She is a strong woman taking a creative approach to grief recovery. Everyday a new post, and each one reminds me that there is not just one way to recover from a profound loss. Her journey is a personally inspiring one, and definitely one worth following. 

To accept this award I am supposed to nominate 7 other blogs that I find inspiring:

  1. TheFauxMartha – Delicious recipes and beautiful photos to match, it’ll make you embrace your inner chef.
  2. Love&aSixFootLeash – Beautifully written tales of a pit-bull rescue. It makes me laugh, makes me cry, makes me want to build a doggie-farm to take in all the neglected and abused pups. 
  3. SaraForshawsBlog – An interesting mix of posts, all of which make me smile.
  4. SimpleLifeofaCountryMansWife – Each post makes me strive harder to live my life more simply, enjoying every drop of life.
  5. MuyBuenoCookbook – Food that is as beautiful as it is delicious. These ladies have inspired me to embrace my heritage, and learn more about mexican cuisine.
  6. ThePioneerWoman – An inspiration. I can’t say it any other way. Food, life, home, family, crafts…
  7. Tom.Basson– Words that inspire me to be a better person.

I am also supposed to tell you 7 Little Known Things about me. Well, here you go:

  1. I would like to have kids some day…but I’m terrified of being a parent.
  2. I love making people happy with my cooking/baking.
  3. I am addicted to stickers and have been banned from purchasing any more.
  4. I am also addicted to books. (but I have not yet reached the point where I require an intervention)
  5. I have a very difficult following written instructions, especially recipes.
  6. Music can regulate my emotions.
  7. I can’t buy gifts too far in advance because I get so excited about it, I have a hard time keeping it a surprise.

Again, thank you so much for this honor. I am so thankful that I’ve been able to bring some sunshine into your lives.

So Fresh and So Fresh and So Clean Clean….(ain’t nobody as dope as me)

4 Apr

I know it’s Wednesday and you all must be wondering where this week’s Wreck is. Well, I’m interrupting my previously scheduled Wreck in celebration of a very special occasion.

It happens to be Lent. It is the commemoration of the 40 days that Jesus spent fasting in the desert, being tempted by Satan. For us, it is the season of sacrifice, charity, fasting, atonement and forgiveness. Lent gives us a fresh start, spiritually, and is the foundation for positive growth. “Cleaning” and “de-cluttering” the soul and spirit is not always easy. It can be painful, confronting your past transgressions and mistakes. Airing out those skeletons can come with consequences. There are times that even with forgiveness, relationships cannot be saved once the truth is brought to light. I think this is one of the hardest parts of the season. I also know, however, that without this season of atonement and forgiveness, we cannot grow and become the happy people that we are meant to be.

I’ve thought for a long time that life has a funny way of placing things, situations or people in your path at the exact moment you need them. Whether it’s an opportunity to exercise your ability to forgive, or to love, or maybe it’s an opportunity to understand what it really means to have faith and perseverance–it’s a message meant to help you grow. The reason I mention this is because I’ve just been reading a manuscript for a book called Through the Eyes of Another by Karen Noe. I will be posting a review for the book in the coming weeks, but for now, the premise of the book is to receive your “Life Review” before making your transition from this world to the next  (or whatever you believe lies after life) by writing letters. Though the topic might seem strange and arbitrary, it turned out to be a very inspiring book. It encourages the reader to write letters to various family and  loved ones, telling them why and how much you care about them, and acknowledge the things that you are sorry about, ways you’ve hurt them or caused pain. The next part is apologizing for the things that you’ve done. The purpose of these letters, more than anything are meant for emotional and spiritual healing. In my opinion, I can’t think of anything better that could have been put in my path to bring my attention to the fact that, while I have not had soda like I promised on Ash Wednesday, I have kind of neglected the whole contrition and atonement part of Lent.

Deep down, we all know deep down that these letters do need to be written or these conversations need to be had. We don’t reach out to those we love and those who love us to tell them how much they mean to us. We don’t tell people enough that we are blessed to have them in our lives. We don’t see clearly how our actions have caused hurt or pain in other lives. We certainly don’t always apologize for causing that hurt. God has given us this season as an opportunity to become better people, to be a little more like his Son. It’s not about Mardi Gras, Ash Wednesday, Good Friday,  Easter Sunday, hardboiled eggs or even delicious ham. It’s about His only Son sacrificing his own purely innocent life for us sinners to have life eternal. All that’s requested of us is to live our lives with love, humility, honesty. He doesn’t even care that we all commit sins daily. Contrition and repentance is the key. Doesn’t sound like such a hard thing to do. Right?

Tomorrow isn’t going to be a better day to let those people in your life know that you love them. Next week could very well be too late to make amends with that friend you’ve neglected. Today is the day. Make it one that your Father can be proud of.

 

Tired of trying, sick of crying. I know I’ve been smiling, but inside I’m dying…

1 Feb

Sound familiar? If it does, we need to talk. Get ready because this is gonna be a doozy of a personal post. (a reeeeeeally long one.)

Depression isn’t an easy thing to talk about. It lurks in the darkness of our soul, eating away at our hearts, consuming our will to continue searching for happiness. It’s an invisible ailment that many experience, but few understand. For some, it’s a fast and dramatic response to an event such as the death of a loved one, or a major failure of some sort. But many times, depression has no clear cut cause; there’s no singular traumatic event that starts the seamless progression from disappointment to sadness to depression to hopelessness.  Sometimes, the advancement is so slow and subtle; it goes unrecognized by even the person experiencing it. And therein lies the problem. How can you tell someone that something is wrong, when you yourself don’t know or can’t explain what it is? I may be alone in my stubbornness, but I find it difficult to admit to someone, let alone to myself, that there IS something wrong when I don’t even know what IT is. How am I supposed to ask for help, when I don’t even know what I need?

What we need to do is talk. We need to identify and admit the fact that depression is not only a mental problem. It is a condition that reaches far beyond just being sad. It can affect your appearance, drain you of energy, kill your appetite, and kill your social life, among many other things. If we just continue to hide or ignore that depression is a physical condition as much as a mental one, we’ll just continue to sink lower and lower. We also need to stop surrounding ourselves with people that only add to the sickness. We all know drama mongers. They peddle their crazy to anyone and everyone that will listen. I’m here to tell you, when crazy comes knocking, you don’t have to answer the door.

Depression never affected me as a child or teen. So you can imagine my surprise and serious denial when it hit me in adulthood. Come to find out, I have a predisposition to suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts/tendencies. My mother attempted to end her life as a teenager. My cousin committed suicide when I was in high school. My paternal grandmother committed suicide when my father was a teenager. I have done some research and have found that my Austrian/German decent makes me more likely to make an attempt on my life. For some reason, people from these countries have a high rate of suicide and depression. It’d be easy to look at the statistics and family history and use it as an excuse. I could put the blame on genetics. Who in the world would argue with science and facts?

The problem with accepting that you have a predilection, especially a biological one, for something, is that we often use that as an excuse for giving into it. We let go of our power to the thought that we are destined to be this or suffer from that. Instead of telling ourselves, “yes, I am more susceptible to (insert condition here), but I have the power to avoid it”, we tell ourselves “I am more susceptible to (insert condition here); I don’t have any control in it”. We give the blame away to our genetics (or whatever variable) and in doing so, we give away our power to make real and positive changes in our lives. It’s this negative thinking that perpetuates depression, not our genes. If you think you’re worthless, then guess what? Perception is reality. The amazing thing is that you have the ability to change your perception, and in turn, change reality.

Here comes story time. I’ve talked a little about my father’s death; I think I’ve even mentioned the death of my grandma. But, to illustrate my point a little better, I’m going to tell you the whole story…the big points, anyway….

I met my ex a week before I turned 19. We were married two and a half years later. Even though I was young, I gave it everything I had, and then a little more. But getting little in return, I started to give up. I’d been unhappy for a very long time, and I was tired of being used, tired of being lied to, and tired of waiting. I blamed my husband for the way I felt. I resented him for everything I gave up to support his goals and dreams. I felt worthless because nothing I did for him was ever enough for him to value me as I once thought I’d deserved. Despite the way I felt about the way my marriage was going, we decided at one point that we were going to try to start a family. Wanting to be sure I was healthy enough for a pregnancy, I consulted my doctors. My rheumatologist cautioned me against it, saying that even if the inflammation in my feet from my rheumatoid arthritis was under control (at this point, it was not); I would almost certainly spend at least my third trimester on bed rest. I was 25 years old, and my doctor was telling me I shouldn’t try to have kids? I’m 25 years old; I should be able to get knocked up without the “ok” from a doctor…right?

Already unhappy with where my life was at the time, I received a phone call that would put me over the edge. I left for work one morning, and on the drive, I got a phone call from my supervisor’s boss telling me I was to report to him before I began my shift. My heart sank. I knew this was bad news, I thought I’d be fired, though I had no idea for what. I stood at his desk and he informed me I was being put on administrative leave and ordered me to surrender my badge. On my drive home that morning, my thoughts raced. I had decided that when I arrived home, I was going to take every pill in my bottle of Vicodin, and anything else I had. I got home, went upstairs, grabbed the bottle and popped the first pill in my mouth. I tried to swallow it. I couldn’t. No matter how hard I tried, it just wouldn’t go down. This was the beginning of what my ex and most everyone else would see as my decline. The truth is, all those little things with my marriage, the lies, the resentment, my health…that was the real beginning, but it was invisible. It wasn’t even until about a year or two before this incident that I had even noticed it myself.

The sad part about that first pill is that not being able to swallow it had very little, if anything, to do with how I valued my life. I never thought, “I can’t do this because I have so much to live for, so many things I still want to do.” As I tried to swallow that pill, I thought about my parents, the tears, them thinking that they failed at something because they weren’t able to save me. I thought about my nieces. I thought about being thought of as too weak to handle what God was dishing out to me. I even thought about my poor pup. I didn’t want to hurt the people I loved. I told my ex what had happened, and asked him to take all my medications and hide them from me. I called my doctor and got an appointment with a shrink who referred me to a program that literally saved my life.

Because of my suicidal thoughts and my attempt, though failed, my only choices were being committed to a mental facility or the Intensive Outpatient Program, or IOP. I chose IOP. Though I am not and never have been an advocate for “group therapy”, I have to say, it worked. After two weeks of talking about the things I’ve been through, how I feel, listening to others, discovering that although the causes of what brought us all to that room were very different, we were all feeling very similarly. I learned that I am not something that is broken and needs fixing. I learned some very important coping skills and started to re-learn simple truths about myself that would ultimately hold the pieces of my heart together when I thought it would fall apart.

The next couple months brought my grand mother’s decline. She was constantly in and out of the hospital. My family, especially my aunt, who was my grandma’s primary caretaker, struggled with the burden of dealing with the impending loss and the day to day wear that caring for stricken loved ones brings about. Finally, we had a family meeting with the doctors who informed us of our choices. My aunt was not ready to let go. She wanted to believe that her mother wanted to keep fighting. Eventually, we all agreed that she should be put on home hospice care.

The night my grandma died, I went out with my cousins. I got drunker than I’d ever been, at that point. I fell apart. I’d never cried harder or for such a long time. Her funeral was the most beautiful service I’d ever been to. (I’ve been to quite a few) She was buried next to my grandpa, who’d passed away a few years earlier. At the graveside service, someone had booked a mariachi band to play songs that my grandpa used to sing to his wife. It was amazing.

The next day, my phone rang. It was my dad, and he was telling me that he has cancer. Stage 4 cancer to boot. For those who aren’t familiar with cancer, stage 4 means that the cancer is very advanced and has metastasized to other organ(s). In the subsequent months, I flew back and forth from my home in southern California to northern Washington, when my father lived. In the midst of this, I was ultimately fired from my job. Meanwhile, I helped re-model the house, I cooked, I cleaned, I took my father to many of his appointments. He had a prognosis of 2 years. The cancer took him in 3 months.

Two weeks before he died, I decided to make a book for my dad. I wanted to have him write down stories about himself, about growing up, about life. I had so many questions to ask him. I worked hard on that book, trying to make it perfect. Unfortunately, by the time I was done with it, he was no longer speaking, and barely moving. I ended up with a very beautiful, but very empty book.

If you’ve noticed anything in my posts, you’ve probably noticed my propensity to relating my life to music. Today is no different. As it turns out, there is a line from a Social Distortion song that is cold hard fact. Mike Ness sings, “Reach for the sky ’cause tomorrow may never come” (By the way, that song is called Reach for the Sky.) I decided that this empty book was not going to be the story of my life.  Losing my father so quickly prompted me (after a great deal of wallowing in grief and self-pity) to evaluate my life and the way I was living it.

The fact is that it’s easy to give up. It’s easy to put the blame for our disappointments and misery on everything and everyone around us. What’s not easy is taking a look in the mirror and realize that we are the only thing standing between us and bliss. It’s not easy taking responsibility for our unhappiness and depression. The way I felt about my life and my marriage was no one’s fault but my own. As soon as I took ownership of that fact, I got my power back.  I decided that I can’t wait for happiness. It’s not just going to walk up to me one day on the street. I have to actively seek it. My book will not be blank, it’s going to be filled with all the awesome things I am going to do, all the adventures I’m going to take on. I’ve been doing all the things that made me who I am. I’ve been doing all the things that make me happy, all the way down to my shoes.

I also began to understand that everything, and I mean everything, happens for a reason. If I had not been married to my ex, I would not have come to understand how little I actually loved myself. If I had not ended up with rheumatoid arthritis, I probably would have ended up with children with a man that I did not love, a man who didn’t truly love me. My suicide attempt led to me getting the help I really needed. If I hadn’t gone though the Intensive Outpatient Program, I wouldn’t have learned the tools that would later keep me from spinning out of control with the subsequent tragedies of losing my grandmother and my father. If I hadn’t been put on administrative leave, I would not have been able to spend so much time with my father before he passed away. If my father hadn’t been taken so swiftly, I probably would not have had the courage to finally take my life into my own hands. I would have continued being miserable, and blaming my ex for it. Like I said, perception is reality. My reality is a happy one, because I perceive it to be.

While I’m happier than I’ve been in a very long time, I still continue to struggle with depression. I’m not going to lie. There are days that I feel just like vanilla ice cream: white, plain, nothing special. But then, I Googled vanilla, and I learned that vanilla is actually one of the most complex flavors on the planet (another scientific fact). So, while I may just be feeling like vanilla, I am actually quite special. This gives me hope that though I’ve been battered by storms, I’m not quite destroyed. Little by little, I begin to strengthen and bloom again.

 

 

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YES, IT’S GONNA BE AWESOME!

29 Dec

YES, IT'S GONNA BE AWESOME!

I’d like to say, “Thank You” to all those who put up with my bat-shit -crazy shenanigans all year, and still have the decency to wish me a Happy Birthday.

The nice thing about having my birthday this close to Christmas and New Years (and I do mean the ONLY nice thing) is that my birthday truly marks the beginning of a brand new year. I mean, sure, a birthday in July is fun, but how fitting is it to begin a new year, with a new age this close to the actual beginning of a new year?! Last Year, a wonderful lady I worked for used an etch-a-sketch as an analogy for New Years. So, for my bithday, I bought myself a bright red etch-a-sketch (the original, of course) and to symbolize all the terrible and emotionally hearwrenching things that had occurred in 2010, I scribbled until you could see the insides of the toy. Then, on my birthday, I shook that puppy (figuratively, I would never ever shake a puppy…or a baby. LOL, love you, Shauna n Noodle) until it was pristine, like nothing had ever happened. I erased the year that had been so trying on my heart and soul, just like that. I had a brand new slate.

Luckily for you all, you get to start over with a new year too, so grab your etch-a-sketch, boys & girls…
It’s time to wash away all the hurt, pain and disappointment of 2011. Let’s celebrate a toast to MY BIRTHDAY and to 2012: may it be full of Joy, Love, Laughter, Friendship, Health, Forgiveness and Happiness sweet enough to rot our teeth! We all deserve it.