Tag Archives: laughter

Happeh Happeh Happeh (Issue No. 3)

11 Sep

As a continuation of my little research project into happiness and fulfillment, here are the things I’ve identified that need improvement:

Things I’d like to improve:

  1. Relationships (love/family/friends)
  2. Energy level
  3. Finances
  4. Personal Satisfaction

The game plan: How do I plan to make these things better? I’m glad you asked.


  • Communication: I won’t wait for or depend on others to initiate interaction.
  • Remember birthdays: I am really terrible about this, and I feel really bad about it. At the beginning of each month I am going to buy.make cards for everyone close to me with a birthday that month and send them out immediately. Goodbye procrastination!
  • Call, skype, write or email more often.
  • Be honest: if there are people in my life that just drag me down or do not contribute something positive to my life, I will not continue to waste my energy on them.
  • Forgiveness: If someone has done something that hurt me, real or perceived, I will let it go. It isn’t healthy or productive to hold onto grudges.
  • Connect: I want to find my long lost sister that I’ve never met. I want to rebuild my relationship with my little brother and sister and strengthen my ties to my big brother and sister. We are such a complicated family, with many obstacles, but with all the things I’ve listed above, I’m optimistic that it can be done.

Communication specific to my love relationship:

  • I will give him a break. He’s trying really hard.
  • I won’t say “I’m fine” if I’m in fact not. If I don’t want to talk about it, that’s what I’ll say.
  • I will let go of the past. It’s over. I need to either get over it and move on, or not get over it and end the relationship…if it’s that serious.

Energy level

  • Improve sleep: Because of my health, there are some things that affect my sleep that are beyond my control. Here are some of the things I can control:
    • Embrace the darkness: It’s amazing how just a small bit of light can disturb sleep. I’m putting up black out curtains and getting rid of any glowing lights from chargers and other gadgets.
    • Be active during the day: Duh.
    • Eat dinner at a reasonable time: 9 o’clock does not fit this criteria. Let’s shoot for 7-7:30 ish.
    • Read more, TV less. This isn’t really that big of an issue because we traded cable TV for a gym membership, but we can still do a little better. TV is not conducive to sleep, as a matter of fact, it’s usually to blame for nights I stay up late. (Like Monday night football that starts at 9:15. LOL)
    • Journal/Blog/Sketch: I need to get all of those thoughts and great ideas out of my head so my mind can rest.
  • Meditation: I’m a skeptic when it comes to “new age” type ideas. However, I gave this an honest shot for a while and was amazed at how well it worked to quiet my mind and relieve stress and anxiety. If for no other reason, I’m doing it to shut my brain up. I’ve got thoughts a mile a minute and they never stop, not even when I’m not paying attention to what I’m thinking about. I am shooting for 30 minutes a day, at minimum Monday through Friday.
  • Exercise: This is probably key to fixing many of my personal issues, so don’t be surprised to see this one a few times.
  • Eat better: Obviously.
    • Limit eating out. I will be cutting out places like Mc Donalds completely. It makes me sick to my stomach anyway.
    • Cook dinner at home, from scratch as much as possible.
    • Bring lunch to work whenever possible.
    • Make/eat more vegetables.
    • Make more fruit smoothies.
  • Clear out the clutter: Unworn clothing, unused miscellany and trinkets…I’ll be getting rid of them or finding a way to properly store it so it’s not lingering all over the house.
    • Be honest: Am I really going to use this?
    • Sentimental items are okay to keep as long as it’s properly displayed or stored.
  • Finish projects: All those nagging loose ends hanging around drain my energy and actually keeps me from getting to work on them. It’s a vicious cycle. I plan on keeping a list of current and future projects to be able to visualize what I have on my plate, so to speak.

Finances: Money, or more specifically lack of, is a monumental source of stress and general unhappiness. The issue isn’t strictly a matter of not making enough money to make ends meet, it’s a combination of that and not spending as wisely as we should. Getting a grip on income and expenditures would relieve a lot of this stress.

  • Make a budget: List all expenditures and income.
    • Take cash out at the bank for all small expenditures like gas, etc.
    • Set up bills to be paid through the bank’s bill pay to ensure they’re paid on time.
  • Stick to the budget: Use only the cash allowed for any miscellaneous spending.

Personal Satisfaction: There are a lot of things that I can do or change to increase my self-esteem or make me feel better about who I am or how I’m living my life. I’ve made a good start, making forward progress with this over the last couple years. However, I’m a long way off from where I’d like to be. Some of these items overlap or repeat, but that’s because they’re important.

  • Figure out what my business is, and start it. Whether it’s on Etsy or even working with someone that sells on consignment, this needs to happen. I need to define what my business will encompass, build a plan, buy supplies, start production and get my stuff out in the world. Oh, and I need business cards because everyone knows you’re not legit business person without a business card.
  • Get right with my spiritual life. I’m Catholic and always have been. I’ve fallen off the wagon like most people do from time to time, not because I don’t believe anymore, but I lose sight of my priorities. Sitting in mass, my heart feels full and find myself at times stifling back tears of joy. I can’t help feeling that this is where I’m meant to be.  I would like to start a family in the fairly near future, and I want my children to grow up with faith and the knowledge of God’s love and how we are not just arbitrary beings with no purpose. I want to pass along the faith that my mother passed on to me, because it is a beautiful thing. I’ve begun confirmation classes to kick off my journey to re-acquaintance with the Good Lord.
  • Finish projects: A repeater. All those quasi-finished project lying around make it hard to view myself as a success. Small victories will help with this for sure.
  • Get back to school ASAP. Seriously. Even if it’s just a random class here or there.
  • Get into shape! I need exercise like a pizza needs cheese. My clothes don’t fit as well as they should and I just get depressed when I look in the mirror. I’m not too far off, but enough that I’ve disappointed myself.
  • Finish organizing my music on iTunes. Sounds stupid I know, but I’m so OCD that having duplicate songs and mislabeled music is really irritating.

Happeh Happeh Happeh (Issue No. 2)

10 Sep

I recently read Juicy Joy by Lisa McCourt and The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. Both excellent reads on the subject of happiness, I highly recommend them. They’ve given me a bit more focus in my life, as I continue my quest for a life that thrills me. Even though I am happier than I have been in a very long time, I know that there are always thing that can be done better. Just like there’s always room for Jello, there is also always room for improvement. SO…I’m beginning this research project, inspired by these books, as a quest to pin point the little things that might occasionally cause a little strife, and decide how to change them.

As I start this project, I am taking some time to identify some important lessons I’ve learned over the years. I am also going to identify  aspects of my life that need improvement, as well as ways that I can actually implement these improvements.

First step, what have I learned so far:

  1. I am in total control of the way I feel, the way I view myself, and the way I react to certain situations or events.
  • I make the decision to give that power/control away each time someone/thing causes me to feel unhappy or bad about myself.
  • I have the power to change the way I perceive things and in doing so, I have the power to  change the way they affect me.

       2.     Harboring hate or negative feelings doesn’t hurt anyone but myself.

  • Hatred and negativity are not constructive. They won’t change anyone’s behavior. Allowing these feelings and types of thoughts is another way of giving your power away.

       3.     I can’t control everything.

  • I can’t force anyone to see or do things my way. I need to accept that even though it would be nice for everything to be done exactly as I would have done, I am much less stressed and much happier just accepting that some people thing and do things differently.

       4.     Life isn’t about finding comfort and sticking with it.

  • Adventures, no matter how big or small, are the key to a happy life.

       5.     Take risks.

  • You never know how something is going to turn out. But if you take a risk, at least you won’t be left wondering if maybe it could’ve been something really great.

       6.     Travel as often as you can.

  • This one is directly related to adventures.
  • What good is that PTO doing you if you’re not taking it?
  • It gets more and more difficult to travel (for most) as we get older. Obligations, careers, children…these things make traveling more complicated. If I could do it over, I would have tried a semester (or two) of college abroad. Unfortunately, the ship has sailed on that one. So instead, I promise myself I will make the extra effort to get away as often as I can.

       7.     Take good care of your skin, and for the love of everything good, don’t touch your face! (unless you’re washing/moisturizing)

  • Dirty hands on your face = zits. Seriously. Even the natural oils on your hands can cause issues. So just keep your hands away from that pretty mug.
  • Forget spending a ton of money on injections, peels, and lifts. Just take care of your skin. Try not to smoke, take it easy on the boozing (drink water more often) and get your beauty rest. You’d be amazed at how big of a difference these changes will make in your appearance. Also, make sure you wash off your makeup before bed time and use moisturizer. If you throw in an occasional scrub or mask, all the better.

       8.     Forgiveness isn’t easy.

  • It’s real hard to let someone who did you wrong off the hook, so to speak. But instead of looking at forgiveness as absolving the person of their actions, try looking at it as a gift you’re giving yourself (getting rid of negative emotional baggage and finally allowing people who belong in your past stay in the past)

       9.     Be yourself, no matter what.

  • Don’t try to change who you are to fit someone’s expectations. You weren’t created to hold back your gifts just because it makes someone else uncomfortable. You were made to pass your gifts along.

       10.    Money isn’t everything.

  • True, money does make the world go round. But like I mentioned a minute ago about what good is that PTO doing you if you’re not taking it…the same goes with money. I’m not going to say it isn’t prudent to build up an emergency fund, to have a cushion in the event you lose your job. It is. And I highly recommend it, if you can. But do you really need a massive savings account if its acquired at the expense of your personal life? Everyone tells us to save now so we don’t have to worry about expenses when we retire. Who says we’re going to make it that long? Not to sound morbid, but tomorrow is a gift, not a promise. Great, your next of kin will be most appreciative enjoying the duckets you stowed away, working your ass off, and sacrificing your personal time for. All I’m saying is don’t put money and work above your happiness. I’ve never heard of anyone saying, “Gee, I really wish I would have worked more”.


27 Feb

Welcome, welcome, welcome! Here we are again, my friends, another Wreck it Wednesday. I figure the little traditions that I began not so long ago here on this blog need to be resuscitated. So here I am, attempting to breathe new life into Wednesdays.

In case you lovely people need a refresher on what a Wreck is. A Wreck is when we chat about ways to turn your life upside down. Shake up all those ideas you have about how you’re supposed to live, how you’re supposed to look at the world. Society seems to have rules for everything. But there’s not one person on this planet that should tell you how to live your life. You do not have any obligation to live up to anyone’s expectations or ideals.

Sure, it’d be nice to stroll into Lowes or Home Depot and pick up all the things your heart desires to make your home into that image of perfection from all those magazines and websites you’ve been pouring over. But who has the money these days? An even better question is this: Why in the hell would you want to make your space into an image out of someone else’s imagination?

My best friend wanted a fire pit to add to her new backyard addition. Incidentally, she also wanted the brick planter dismantled. So here’s what I did…













Some used/recycled bricks, cheap wood, a few cinder blocks, some spray paint and a little acrylic craft paint…and there you go. A fully functional and entirely customized fire pit, complete with benches. It absolutely doesn’t line up with all those beautiful images I always see on Pinterest and on the magazine racks. Nevertheless, it’s perfect. I wouldn’t want it any other way. Besides, those words painted on the benches pretty much describe the whole reason the fire pit was wanted anyway. To inspire relationships, life, love, faith, happiness and laughter.

That’s what it’s all about, kids. Hope you enjoyed today’s Wreck.

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.


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.


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.

Puppy Bath Time.

21 Jun

Meet Guinness. She goes by many aliases. Guinness the Menace, Guinnie-Guinnerton, Pupparoni, El Puppietano, Pup-Pup-Puparoo…

Regardless of the name she answers to, she’s always the same sweet loving pup with a big personality. Depending on who you talk to, you might get different answers about her breed, but in real life, she’s a Rotti-Lab mix. Without further ado, I introduce you to my pup, and it’s bath time.

Did I mention that my pup is not a fan of bath time? Well, she isn’t. But dang it, does she look flippin’ adorable.

So there she is. She’s 70-ish pounds of lovie dovie furry wonderfulness. If you can’t tell, I love her a lot. With good reason. She’s the most well-behaved pup ever. I hope her sweet little mug put a smile on your face today.

You Are My Sunshiiiiiine, When Skies Are Graaaaay…

10 Apr

Ever have one of those days that you just feel…blah? Sometimes there’s a good reason for it, other times you feel like that for no reason at all.Whatever the case may be, I have a little playlist for you. Now, some of these may not be your typical cup of tea, and some are just silly, but trust me. I can hardly keep myself from cracking at least a smirk when I hear these tunes:

  1. Lookin’ Out My Back Door – Credence Clearwater Revival
  2. I believe in a Thing Called Love – The Darkness
  3. Holiday – Vampire Weekend
  4. Knee Deep – Zac Brown Band (feat. Jimmy Buffett)
  5. The World is New – Save Ferris
  6. Good to Be Me – Uncle Kracker
  7. Love Shack – B-52s
  8. Bicycle Race – Queen
  9. The House is Rockin’ – Stevie Ray Vaughan
  10. Hey Ya – Outkast
  11. Cheeseburger In Paradise – Jimmy Buffett
  12. You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet – Bachman Turner Overdrive
  13. Luck be a Lady – Frank Sinatra
  14. Under the Sea – from Disney’s The Little Mermaid
  15. The Bare Necessities – from Disney’s The Jungle Book

I hope that these songs bring a little bit of sunshine to your day. But now that I’ve shared my playlist with you, what songs make you smile, no matter what mood you’re in?

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.

I got ShamRocked…

22 Mar

I had the opportunity to attend Blake Shelton’s Well Lit and Amplified tour in Las Vegas on Saint Patrick’s Day. Wowzers! The show rocked my socks off. The line up? Dia Frampton (from the show The Voice) opening for Justin Moore and Blake Shelton. Here’s how it went down…

Walked from our room at Excalibur and made a…quick stop at the craps tables when we got to Mandalay Bay…

Okay, so it wasn’t a quick stop, but we’re in Vegas, so oh well. (My little brother would argue that we couldn’t get somewhere on time if our lives depended on it, but no one asked him.) We left the tables about 10 minutes after the show started. We got to the metal detectors outside the event center only to realize that we had both brought our pocket knives. Now before you raise your eyebrow at me, let me start by saying that I carry my knife on me just about everywhere I go. Its habit, so I didn’t even realize until the metal detectors were upon us. A very nice older gentleman tried to get us past security, as we were upstanding citizens and didn’t attempt to hide our weapons…to no avail. Then he suggested that we try checking them at the bell desk. He did caution us to the fact that they may not check them for us, since they’re weapons. Soooo….I tucked them into my hoodie’s pockets and handed it to the very nice bell desk attendant. Crisis averted.

Needless to say, we were not punctual enough to catch Dia Frampton’s performance. We also missed Justin’s first song.

Color us happy to know that we had made it for all of our favorite Justin Moore songs. I call that winning. He was charismatic, funny and connected to his audience instantly. He has a modest disposition and a “kiss-my-ass-if-you-don’t-like-my-music” attitude…it really felt like we were hanging out with friends than sitting in an event center with thousands of strangers. Maybe that’s just because we have a rough-around-the-edges group of friends (let’s face it, I’m pretty rough around the edges myself) but, aside from making amazing music, we found him very likable and entertaining. Extra kudos for putting on such a great performance despite having laryngitis. What a trooper he is!

Now, Blake Shelton. Well, the man is talented. Contrary to what some people think, he is not a new comer to the world of country music; he’s well established, though he has admittedly been on a hot streak, so-to-speak. His abundance of attention is well-earned, let me tell you.

He opened with a cover of Footloose that actually didn’t make me cringe. In fact, I enjoyed it very much, especially since he followed up with three more uninterrupted songs before pausing to speak to the audience. Like Justin, he was funny and modest and expressed his gratitude for his fans. Always nice to hear you’re appreciated, especially when you’re spending money you don’t really have on concert tickets. It turns out that he and Justin make excellent touring partners, considering their shared distaste in the suits trying to censor them and attempting to push conformity on them. He has an irreverent humor and attitude that made him immediately likable. He spoke about his experience with the tv show The Voice. He shared his admiration for his peers on the show and even played (most of) a Cee-Lo Green song. It made me smile.

In the middle of his performance, he let the band take a break and did an acoustic set at the end of the catwalk. Just him and his guitars. He tested the crowd’s “Blake Shelton music knowledge” as he played a number of songs from his early days. The crowd sang along…so we passed.

Later in the show, Dia Frampton took the stage to sing a duet that will appear on her upcoming album. I have to be honest. I wasn’t a fan. I don’t watch The Voice, so going into this, I had no idea who she was. It was my least favorite part of the show, even more so than having to wait in epically long lines for beer. Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure she has a beautiful voice and is immensely talented. But she seemed and sounded very nervous and it made me glad that we had missed the opening act completely.

The set list as a whole was awesome, all the songs we hoped he’d play…all except for God Gave Me You.

The show ended, and the crowed cheered. Of course we weren’t going to let him off the hook quite yet. Blake kindly obliged us with an encore that even Justin Moore came out for. Our patience was handsomely rewarded as he closed out with God Gave Me You.

:::::sigh::::: I couldn’t have asked for a better show. We sat in the cheap seats, and still had a decent view that didn’t at all detract from our enjoyment. If you ever have the chance to see Justin Moore or Blake Shelton, I highly recommend that you jump on it.

I give this Saint Patty’s day show a two thumbs up to the sky. (Yes, my thumbs may be small, but powerful, they are.)

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.



Rockin’ it ‘Til the Wheels Fall Off…

25 Jan

Or should I say, Rockin’ it Even After the Wheel Fell Off? Yes, that would be a more apt title for what I’m going to share with you fine people today.

Last weekend, my friends and I attended Monster Jam in San Diego. It’s been many years since I last attended a monster truck rally, so I was pretty excited. The show was sold out, and since I do not make a living writing this lovely blog, we were in the cheap seats at the top of the stadium…no mind, these trucks did not disappoint, regardless of your vantage point. Besides, me and my friends are more of the “Lets put on overalls, Billy-Bob teeth and mullet wigs” kind of crowd anyway.

Now, the highlight of the evening was by far the “Freestyle” portion of the show. For those of you who have never had the pleasure of experiencing this thunderous exhibition of giant tires, rolling, jumping and racing, the “freestyle” event is where each driver has 90 seconds to rack up as many points as possible. These points are accumulated via said jumping, rolling and any other tricks that the drivers can come up with. When this 90 seconds is completed, the driver then has an additional 30 seconds as a “bonus round”. This results in two scores, one for regulation and a second as a bonus. He or she with most points, obviously wins.

Amidst all this super charged chaos, I walked away with some distinct and surprisingly profound lessons. Now, to illustrate what I’m talking about, please take a peek at this video of Grave Digger free styling it up. You will notice that at one point, while doing “donuts” one of his rear wheels comes off completely. Now, most drivers would have called it quits. They would have chalked it up to a loss and been done with it. But not Grave Digger. No. He literally rocked it until his wheel fell off….and then some. As a matter of fact, he got more air, better stunts than any of the other trucks on 25% less rubber.

My friends and I were completely blown away at the performance. We decided that never again will we miss a Monster Jam, it was way too much fun. The shouting, the cheering, the good old fashioned kind of fun I remember from my childhood…it was epic.

I’m sure you’re asking yourself how in the world this experience left me with some sort of profound lesson. Well, I’ll tell you. I saw his performance as a textbook example of persistence and tenacity. He took pride in his work, and he wasn’t about to let something like a missing tire stop him from giving his fans the show they come to expect. To find some sort of meaning in something as loud and rough as a monster truck rally, it’s got to involve some serious stretching of the imagination.

Call it silly, but I’m doing my best to see things in the best light possible. I have resolved to be that adventurer in search of treasure I spoke about in God is great, beer is good…People are crazy. I will see opportunity in every experience. There is too much beauty in this world to let it fall on blind eyes.

Thank you Grave Digger.