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Sunday, March 29, 2015

I Want To Lie But I Won't

The last two weeks I've watched myself start to spin once again out of control.  I thought I had things figured out; I had been blaming my recent panic attacks on work.  Yesterday it finally hit me what the real problem is.  My plan was to write last night but a migraine put that on hold, I'm guessing the result of my current state.  I want to cry, I want to feel pain, I want to just run and hide.

Why do I feel this way?  I was silly enough a few months ago to think maybe I had changed.  I had made it through an event and was feeling confident.  This gave me the confidence to plan a party for my upcoming birthday.  The problem is now the closer it get the more the panic increases.  I feel like such a fool; I can't even handle an evening with friends and family.  I love my friend and family but I can't handle the anxiety that comes with being in a room full of people.

Why the anxiety?  I'm going to wonder do they really want to be here? Are they all going to get along?  Will everyone like the food I make?  What if no one shows?  I know these are silly things but these are the things that put me over the edge.  These are the things among others that cause me to freak when it comes to events.  I can't hide at my own party.

I have been trying to think of a lie for over two weeks to cancel the party.  It is now only two weeks away and I have decided for once to just be honest.  Tonight I will find the strength to just tell the truth and cancel.  Yes maybe canceling is the easy way out and I should face my fear but I think once maybe I'm just going to start with telling the truth.  I don't want to have to put on a fake smile and try to pretend like I'm happy.

I just don't have the strength or energy right now to be fake and happy Deanna. I don't want to drink enough to numb the pain. I don't want to celebrate the fact that I'm one year older.  I honestly want to scream and cry about it.  I don't want to be reminded that I'm thirty-six and afraid of love.  I know a normal person would want to be surrounded by those they care about.  But if this last year has taught me anything it is that I'm not normal and I'm ok with that. 

I apologize for planning the party in the first place.  I'm thankful for those that said they would come and feel horrible for canceling but I need to.  I fear if I don't I will be a horrible mess the next two weeks.  I can't have a repeat of two years ago when I didn't leave my room for three days after my birthday.  I'm thankful that last year my aunty and her husband spoiled me in Florida and I got to disappear.  I don't know yet what I'm going to do, maybe look at pictures and pretend I'm on a beach.  I just know whatever I decide can't be planned and is going to have to feel right, even if it's watching Teletubbies with the kids. 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Luckiest Aunt in the World

Do you ever try and imagine the worse in hopes that something good will happen?  I am always afraid to imagine myself winning something or having something good happen.  I have it in my head that if I imagine it or even speak about it out loud it will not happen.  This may be do to the fact I'm not the luckiest person in the world.  I am not saying I have this horrible life that I deserve pity but I doubt people are jealous of my life.

I might  have the opportunity to try for a promotion at work soon.  I will be one of the lesser qualified candidates that goes up for this position.  I do feel like I could handle this promotion but I'm afraid to even think about the possibility of obtaining it.  I feel like it will just be easier if I don't get my hopes up.  I'm use to rejection whether it be work or relationships but it doesn't make it any easier.

There is also the issue that in order to prove myself a viable candidate for this position I need to fill a few positions on my staff.  And these positions need to be filled with stellar candidates.  I know I can do this, I have done this before but I'm starting to feel the pressure.  In order to be in top form I took some sleeping pills last night, just to try and battle the insomnia. 

Well the pills worked maybe too good, I work up covered in scratches.  I'm not sure if my body was itching due to my anxiety or if it was a dream.  I actually scratched my one ankle to the point it burns.  The pills also left me feeling very sluggish.  It took me quite the effort to get ready for work.  I'm guessing the reality of going into work and hoping there were descant applicants awaiting on file started a panic attack.

As I was driving I could feel my heart start racing.  I kept repeating just breath over and over in my head.  At one point my eye started twitching, making driving a delight.  By the time I reached work I was breathing as if I had been running a marathon.  I heading in straight back to my desk set my things down and headed straight to the sales floor.  We had a few customers already looking around so I said hi to a few and tried to make myself busy behind the counter.  I was trying to stay out of eye contact and hoping no one saw my shaking hands. 

I decided to run in back and rub some Young Living tranquil oil on my wrists, hoping that would work.  The last thing I wanted to do was take my medication knowing there was a great possibility of an allergic reaction.  I headed back out to the floor and decided I just need to calm my breathing and get busy with customers.  I knew if I got my mind distracted I could get myself out of this state.  Thankfully it worked.  I'm not going to say I felt the greatest but I was able to function. 

A few applications did come through, nothing too promising but it is a start.  I need to believe in myself.  I'm not going to pretend like I don't want this promotion, but I am going to remember what is meant  to be will be.  Maybe all my luck is building up for the next thirty years of my life.  Plus, work is work and I need to remember it doesn't define me.  Thankfully I got to spend the evening with these cuties that helped remind me of that.  I'm the luckiest aunt in the world. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Bad Habits Die Hard

Today as I was trying to figure out how to make a low sodium and low potassium dinner for my grandparents, I started thinking about my own diet.  I can sadly say the motivation I thought I had acquired a few weeks ago as typical did not last long.  I have made eating poorly not only a bad habit but an emotional crutch.  I'm starting to wonder if I do this to purposely harm my body.

My grandpa's health has deteriorated significantly in the last three months.  For an eighty-nine year old man he is in good shape.  Sadly his poor diet has caught up with him and was hindering his ability to recover and be strong enough to handle a procedure to repair a heart valve.  Most days before three he would have consumed only coffee and donuts.  I am now watching him try to at almost ninety change his eating habits so he can be around for a few more years.

This has really got me thinking if he can do this at his age I think it is time I take a serious look at my life.  This is not just about the fact that appearance wise I shouldn't be eating what I am, I need to think about my health.  I am already at risk with my depression and anxiety and eating poor foods exasperates this disorders.  So what is it going to take to break this bad habit?

One, I'm writing about it so maybe this time I will feel some self accountability.  Second, maybe I can reward myself with a new tattoo.  They say it takes thirty days to break a habit or create a new one.  Can I try and eat better for thirty day?  Is a new tattoo enough motivation?  I also can not just decide to get a new tattoo for a birthday present to myself (this has happened before).  If this doesn't happen, no new tattoo!

Les Miserables Tattoo
I'm sure some people are thinking a tattoo really?  I don't know why but I love tattoos.  Maybe it is because I have to dress a certain way for work, so this is my way of expression who I am.  My tattoos are the only thing I wear with confidence and I cannot explain why.  I especially laugh every time I get asked about my latest tattoo.  If people are not familiar with the work Les Miserables I get funny looks when I try and explain I have a prison number tattooed on my arm.
Mumford and Sons Tattoo


If I'm truthful I think I like the dirty looks I get regarding my tattoos.  If they are looking and judging my tattoos they aren't looking at my weight or any thing else of my appearance I deem horrible.  Plus my tattoos are that mine, they are for me and represent me.  So hopefully on April 27th I will be posting a picture of my new ink. 
Greek - to laugh

Monday, March 23, 2015

Manic Monday

I should have set my alarm to The Bangle's Manic Monday actually it would have probably put me in a better mood.  I woke up not in the best mood due to stumbling on some photographs last night.  I was going through some family photos last night attempting to put together a surprise for a family member. I forgot, in the box was a picture of me in the wedding dress that I never got to use.  Not something a single thirty-five almost thirty-six year old wants to see. 

I had the biggest grin on my face in the picture. I was so happy to be finally marrying the love of my life or so I thought.  I will never forget the pain of having to pick up the dress four months after he called off the wedding.  Thankfully my mum went with me and I only had to hold it together long enough to write out the check.  The tears immediately started falling and I rushed out of the store leaving my mum to finish the rest.  The dress hung in a closet until last summer when I finally got enough courage to get rid of it.  Ironically, the dress burned in my car.

Since calling in sick wasn't an option I had to make my way to work.  Apparently I wasn't the only one not thrilled about me going to work.  Cappy rushed the gate as I was trying to leave.  When I wouldn't let him out he started crying.  Then he ran along side the fence trying to follow me to the garage; yelping and barking the entire time.  My heart was just breaking, he has never been this bad before when I've gone to leave.  I wanted to turn around and head back in the house and curl up on the couch with him. 

Off to work I went instead.  I was about five minutes from work and just to make the day even better I spotted a truck from my ex's work.  Normally I wouldn't care but after the walk down memory lane last night, I wasn't in the mood for another reminder of my past.  I am working so hard on moving forward and that includes forgetting the past.  I thought I was a safe distance from the potential of running into him by working in Minnesota. 

Work was a welcomed distraction.  I was so happy to just have a normal drama and stress free day once I got there.  Throwing myself into my work has always been a nice distraction.  The day almost made a complete turn around.  We had been very quiet.  I had gotten it in my head that if we got out in time I could make it to the craft store to pick up yarn.  I jinxed myself, customer's started rolling in twenty minutes before close.

Some how we managed only to get out five minutes late and I started the twenty-five minute drive to the craft store.  I was trying my hardest to get there in enough time. I didn't want to be one of the annoying customers coming in at close.  Especially since yarn isn't really an emergency item.  I just didn't want to run out and needed more for my blanket.  Next time I will be buying yarn from a store closer to home. 

The day is now over and I'm ready to put it all behind me.  None of it was life or death or things that I should have even let ruin my day.  I need to some how work at not letting the little things bother me.  Until then I guess I will have some interesting things to write about. 

Calming My Mind

This weekend I had the opportunity to go and spend some time with my brother, his wife and my niece Maddie.  It was great to be back at their house again, I had the opportunity to live with them for a little over a year.  I had been really missing them especially Maddie who is so very important to me.  I was so excited to get to hang out with her.

Maddie someday is going to be in charge of something, she is so smart and so determined.  When I lived with them she always wanted me to go in the basement with her and exercise or play some crazy game.  This weekend was no different and oh how I have missed that time with her.  She is grown up so fast, when I got there she was doing her math homework.  She was also excited to show me how she can ride her bike with no training wheels. 

She had to give me a tour of the house and  show me all the changes that had been made since I lived there.  She informed me she had picked up the playroom but it was already messy again.  We snuggled up on the couch and I got to read to her.  Then she brought out a weaving loom she had gotten from her grandma.  She asked me if I could show her how to use it.  So we started weaving away.  It turned out to be a bit more challenging so I soon was the only one weaving.

I actually ended up making two pot holders, I found the weaving to be extremely relaxing.  I started wondering why I hadn't been doing any knitting at home for a while.  I had tried my hand at crochet several months ago but kept getting frustrated, I had even had my grandma try and show me a few things.  I did have a knitting loom at home and started thinking it might be a good distraction.  So on my way home I stopped at Michael's and picked up some yarn.

So my Sunday has been spent knitting a blanket.  I went on Youtube and found a video on how to make a blanket on straight loom.  At first it wasn't very relaxing I actually had to take it apart twice and start over but the third time seems to be the charm.  The plan is to finish the blanket before May for Maddie's birthday.  Lilly and Grayson were over today and they feel I really should try and get all four blankets done by Easter.  I tried to explain that is only two weeks away and I'm not sure my fingers can handle that much knitting. 

Overall I am kind of excited to add this activity to my life, I think it will be good for me.  One, as I have said before I am extremely fidgety with my anxiety.  It really seems to be helpful to keep my hands busy and calms my mind.  Second, if my hands are busy I can't eat.  It is very easy to eat out of boredom.  Third, I can still watch tv or listen to music while I do this. 

I'm excited to share the blankets with my nieces and nephews.  I treasured my blankets my grandmas made for me.  Even though the blankets were burned in the fire and only my one grandma still lives; I still have the memory.  I even have been blessed with a new blanket from my Grandma Millie.  She was kind enough to give me one of hers she had tucked away.   It brings me comfort to see it at the end of my bed.  My Grandma Millie played a huge part in raising me and making me the woman I am today.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Good or Bad

On my drive home tonight I felt my heart jump as I noticed flames in the distance.  I knew it was probably just a controlled fire but after last summer flame still make me jumpy.  As I drove past I looked off at the large burning pile of brush and realized I need to get over this fear.  I use to love fires and I want to be able to enjoy sitting around a bonfire once again.

I started thinking about fire and how it can be so useful when controlled but how much destruction it can cause when out of control.  It is one of those things that can be good or bad depending on the circumstances.  I have witnessed over the years when it has caused damage but it wasn't until last summer that I experienced that first hand. 

Up until last summer fire had more good memories than bad.  I use to love having bonfires; watching the flames just dancing in the darkness.  I was always the one who would throw something on the fire and laugh as it exploded and scared everyone else.  My favorite prom memory was after the prom building a giant fire with my friends.  There have been nights I have built a small fire just for myself and sat and enjoyed the night.

My brain knows that a bonfire isn't the same as the fire that damaged our belongings but it's hard to get past it.  I don't want to wonder with each flicker of a flame if it is going to get out of control and destroy something.  I don't want to get scared every time I smell smoke.   I don't want to think the worse all of the time.

Last week was the first time I had been around a bonfire since the fire.  I was a little nervous at first, I kept joking with my dad that maybe it wasn't a smart idea given our bad luck.  We were burning branches from some pine trees we had chopped down that had the potential to fall on our house.  After a little while I settled down and helped with keeping it burning. 

At the back of my  mind though I never could remove the thought, what if?  I know that this isn't always going to be this way, the memory is already starting to not be as strong.  I'm thankful that I now have more of a respect for fire.  Fire can be an amazing thing when controlled but very destructive when out of control.  I makes me ponder how many other elements of our life are the same. 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Is It Friday Yet?

Normally when people ask 'is it Friday yet'?  I just nod my head and smile.  In the last fifteen plus years I have had occupations that require working weekends.  So typically when Friday rolls around it means nothing.  I'm usually just trying to make it till Tuesday or Wednesday.  This week thankfully I can say I just need to make it through Friday.  I am excited to say I have a full weekend off!

This can not come at a better time, it has been a hard week.  Yes my job has its stresses but normally things aren't too bad.  I have been lucky to be with a company for over ten years and not have to worry about the status of my job.  This week things took a little turn; we are like many other companies facing a restructure.  Thankfully my position is not part of this restructure.  So why am I not sleeping again?

I feel guilty.  These changes are effecting people I have known for years and care about.  I also feel guilty because the restructure gives me an opportunity to apply for positions I would not have been able to previously.  I hate that I want to be excited for this opportunity but its hard knowing other's lives are being effected by these changes; some positive and some negative.

I firmly believe that change is for the best but that doesn't mean that it is easy.  Structure is something that is crucial to my stability so change sometimes is difficult.  Overall the changes that have been happening at work I have been able to adapt to with little resistance but it is growing in difficulty.  One trigger for my anxiety is the unknown and right now there are a lot of unknowns and unanswered questions.

So how am I going to deal with this because my current state can not continue?  First, I am going to take a sleep-aid tonight.  I normally do not like to do this but I need to get some sleep because being exhausted is not helping.  I can not think rationally or process my emotions with the lack of sleep.  Second, I am going to control what is controllable.  I am going to wait for the answers to the unknown questions.

Third, I am going to go and enjoy my weekend with my brother, his wife and my niece.  I am going to put everything behind me for a couple of days and just try and have fun.  I'm going to let my little niece boss me around because she is too cute to say no.  I am going to razz my brother about who is a better manager him or me.  And I'm going to enjoy a glass of wine with my favorite sister in-law.

"I'm selfish, impatient, and a little insecure.  I make mistakes, I'm out of control, and at times hard to handle.  But if you can't handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don't deserve me at my best." -Marilyn Monroe

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Not Irish but Don't Care

I loved the strange looks I got while traveling in Ireland when asked if I was Irish.  It is like it is unheard of for someone to travel there who is not Irish.  I wonder how many people lie on St. Patty's Day and say they are Irish.  It is funny to think of how the Irish were treated so poorly when the immigrated to America and now we all want to be Irish.  I don't think anyone is going to stop you from having a good time today if you are not Irish.

This is one of the first St. Patty's Days in many years that I'm not out celebrating.  Why am I not celebrating?  One, I don't go out were I live too afraid of running into people.  Second, I don't really do the whole partying thing anymore so the idea of being surrounded by drunk people sober isn't really appealing. 

I use to drink way too much and St. Patty's Day was always the perfect excuse to get drunk.  I think the difference between why I drink now and why I use to drink have really changed.  Having social anxiety can make being at functions quite challenging.  Sadly I learned pretty quickly that a few drinks took the anxiety away.  I became fun Deanna who came across as far more confident than she truly is.  A few drinks and I was no longer shy or nervous. 

It was actually in Ireland that things started changing.  I'm sure most people thought I was going to go to Ireland and spend the entire trip drunk.  There is one hitch to traveling alone it really isn't safe to get drunk on your own.  So while I was in Ireland I had to learn to socialize without being pissed.  I also started to appreciate beer in a new way.  I came back loving Murphy's and Guinness, I was no longer a Miller Light girl. 

Yes there have been a few times in the last three years that I have drank way too much but it is something I am now aware of.  I really try to limit the amount of alcohol I have not only because it isn't recommend with my depression and medication but because I don't want to use it as a crutch.  I don't want to think that the only way I can make it through a function is with a drink. 

So this St. Patty's Day I will not be drinking way too much Guinness and dancing like a fool.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

I Feel Like a Big B Word

It was so amazing on Wednesday to answer my friends text that I was doing great.  I feel like so often I have to go off on some tangent on my latest melt down.  Or else I just tell her good and hope she doesn't figure out I'm lying.  But on Wednesday I was feeling great and it had been a few weeks since any real episodes.  Maybe it was the sunshine, maybe the exercising or maybe my new meds are just working.

This is how I feel - a picture at 4 seemed more
Sad to say Thursday when I woke up it was a different store.  I could tell right away something wasn't right.  I couldn't remember if I had taken my medicine the night before and didn't dare take it just incase I had remembered.  I decided it would be just best if I isolate myself in my room and hope it was only a one day thing.  So it was a Netflix day.  I was at least productive enough to write two blogs since I would not have time on Friday or Saturday. 

Friday I crossed my fingers things would be better.  I should have gotten up and gone to the gym but I hadn't slept well and was still in a funk.  I knew I needed to pull it together when I got to work; I would never let my staff see me like this.  At work my emotions were quickly turning to anger and I couldn't explain why.  Little things that would normally never bother me were just piling up.  By the time I went on my break I didn't know if I was going to scream or cry. 

I made a horrible choice I just stuffed my feelings in food.  I knew I needed to calm down before I could address some of the issues with my staff but I just couldn't get a grasp.  I wanted so bad to just punch someone and it didn't even matter who.  I felt so ashamed for feeling this way.  I felt like a ticking time bomb.  The rest of the evening I kept it together but it was a long evening.  I felt so hungry but I knew I wasn't hungry it was my emotions.

I tried calming myself that evening but had no luck.  I needed to sleep but I kept waking up.  So once again I started the day out on the wrong side of the bed.  On my way to work I realized I forgot to print out the tickets for the concert I was attending right after work.  Great one more thing to upset me.  Thankfully work was busy leaving little time to think about my roller coaster of emotions.  My aching feet helped as well give me something new to focus on. 

Work was done I should have been in a better mood but something just still felt off.  I made my way into Minneapolis letting my anger get the best of me while driving.  Nothing better than wanting to just smash your car into the one in front of you that can't manage to do the speed limit, not that I would ever do that. Thankfully my friend was printing off the missing tickets so it was one less thing to have to beat myself up over.  Not to mention she also left her house without printing them off and had to go back - I guess we all make mistakes.

Once we got to dinner I was feeling a little bit better.  I was proud of myself that I didn't have any anxiety over getting to the concert.  I was extremely laid back about just taking our time enjoying dinner and making our way to the concert.  This was also because we had plenty of time something I have learned is needed to prevent me from obsessively worrying about missing something. 

I was so thankful we had the concert to go to and it was really good.  I had been listening to Neulore's album Animal Evolve all week but you don't know what to expect.  They put on a really good live performance and we were far from disappointed.  I even got a little teary during one of their new songs that they were trying out.  It was nice to just loose myself in the performance.  I tried to block out the girls next to us that wouldn't stop talking, not worth making a scene. 

After the concert I purchased an album for my collection and the band was nice enough to sign it.  It is nice to meet genuinely appreciative musicians.  I have been lucky over the last few years to get to meet a few musicians and the majority of them have been really nice.  We got to do a meet and greet with the band Fun when they were just getting famous and thankfully Jack and Andrew were super nice because Nate seemed like the whole thing was a huge inconvenience. 

So after an amazing night you would think this big B word would be in a better mood, not the case.  I'm not sure what my issue is because I had a really great evening and have no reason to be in this mood.  I guess I'm more confused now than anything.  I'm use to the anxiety, I'm use to being so depressed I just want to shut down, I'm not use to this anger.  It is taking me all my energy to hold it together and be positive at work which is not making it any easier.  I feel like a ticking time bomb. 

My goal is to make it through work tomorrow and then Tuesday I need to figure out what is going on.  I need to figure out what is the underlying issue.  I can't go around fantasying about punching people in the face, I'm not that kind of person.  I really wish my feet didn't hurt so bad it would be nice to just go for a run and release this pent up anger.  Maybe I can find something to break or destroy on Tuesday. 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Man's Best Friend

A couple years ago when I was really trying to figure out how to handle my anxiety I looked into getting a therapy dog for anxiety.  Some sites made it sound like it was as easy as getting a doctors note and registering your dog on a website.   This would allow me to bring the dog into public places like a service dog in an effort to help with my social anxiety.  After doing more research I found out that there was a lot more involved.  I decided as much as I loved animals that this probably would not be the best avenue.

Well last year I fell in love with one of my mum's foster dogs.  He is by no means a therapy dog but has helped me tremendously.  Studies show that having a dog can be very beneficial for those that suffer with depression.  Some of the benefits listed on WebMD are uncomplicated love, responsibility, activity, companionship, routine, touch and social interaction.  We have lots of companionship here at my home.

As far back as I can remember we have always had many pets, one of the best parts of my childhood.  My dad traveled a lot for work so he had a hard time saying no to my mum and us kids who loved animals.  At any given time we had three to four dogs, a couple cats and other various critters.  Our pets have always been family and a huge part of my life.

We currently have a house full and some might shake their heads but its full of unconditional love.  First, there is my dog Cappy, aka Captain Wentworth.  He was brought into our home about a year ago from the rescue organization PNC Midwest Rescue.  My mum has been fostering with them for a couple of years now.  He was rescued from a shelter, where he was found as a runaway and would eventually be euthanized if not adopted. 

How could I not fall in love with those big eyes immediately. I was lucky that he also bonded with my dad, so I had an easy sell when I asked for permission to adopt him.  He is the biggest baby, I often have to carry him to bed because he is too lazy to get up.  When I am petting him if I stop he will hit you with his paw until you start again.  He loves going for walks as long as I carry him the majority of the way.  He would just prefer we drive around.

So the rest of our gang!  We first have Scarlet our only non-rescue and she is the poster dog for why you should adopt.  We love her but she is by far our most obnoxious dog.  My parent's got her while they were traveling in their semi truck.  We are not sure if this is why but she is afraid of almost every house hold appliance we have.  We can not even walk over to the cupboard where the mixer is stored without her barking. She is lucky that she is tiny and cute. 

Savannah is the first dog my mum adopted from PNC; she was a puppy mill rescue.  We frequently have to remind friends and family that she is not one of our fosters and they cannot adopt her.  She is the cutest thing ever.  She sadly has had a lot of health issues, mainly of the skin due to being born in a puppy mill.  My mum has done an amazing job of researching and trying a variety of things to get her healthy.  She currently is a little too healthy and maybe going to need a diet.

We then have our old ladies both are also rescues from PNC.  They were both surrendered because they were too old to have anymore puppies.  Sassy, as her name states is a sassy little redhead.  We normally change their names when we adopted them but this just fit.  She is like having a tiny old grandma living with you who gets burst of energy but for the most part wonders around in a daze.  Occasionally she manages to wonder back to my room and she will bark until I let her in and up on my bed.  She also likes stealing toys from Cappy, she is the only one he is afraid of taking toys from. 

Whoppie Pie (again we just left the name) is our other old lady and our first foster failure.  She is a lot like Sassy very vocal especially around meal time.  I tease my mum that she probably isn't saying very nice things to her.  She gets very vocal while my mum is making her meal.  The kids find her to be very entertaining especially given the fact she has only one eye.  (This is common of Pekingese that have not been well cared for given their face shape.}  They like to point out that she only has one eye but four legs, they come up with very silly things to say.

We currently only have one foster right now, Albert.  He has been with us for a long time now and is going to be hard to find a home for.  I don't know his entire background but he had to have been abused.  He is old and has a few medical issues and mainly is crabby.  He can be very sweet he just isn't good around other dogs or children.  He has gotten better with  our dogs as long as they stay out of his area and we keep him locked up whenever there are kids over.  I do really think it the right home he would make a good dog but it would be with someone really special.  It's sad because you can tell he really wants to be loved on.  He gets so excited when we pet him and even on occasion will join us on the couch with the other dogs. 

I cannot express enough how much I believe in adopting pets.  There are so many amazing animals out there that are just waiting for the chance to join a family.  I also want to stress how important it is to really think about the work that goes into having a pet.  It is so sad to see how many animals are just given up by people that changed there mind about having a pet.  Having a pet is super rewarding but is a lot of work.  It is one of those things that you really need to do your research, so you get the right pet for your life style.

If you get a chance please check out PNC on Facebook they are currently having an auction to support this amazing organization.   

Music Therapy

You might ask why I always write about music?  I am a firm believer in it being therapeutic.  I decided to do a little research on the topic.  At first I could only find research on the benefits of playing music; as I have written about in previous posts I'm not talented in that department.  I did though find an article on about a study on how music effects the brain.  I know I am a nerd! 

Levitin and colleagues' findings are published in the journal 'Trends in Cognitive Science' if you are a nerd like me and would enjoy some light reading.  They published a meta-analysis of 400 studies suggesting physiological benefits to listening to music.  Their study on the relationship between anxiety and listening to music was done on patients about to go under surgery.  The patients were either given anti-anxiety medication or assigned to listen to music.  The scientists then tracked the patients level of the stress hormone cortisol and the patient's rating on their own anxiety level.

This was only one study but it did show that the patient's who were assigned to listen to music had lower cortisol and anxiety levels.  So my enjoyment of music might be beneficial to my mental health.  Now if only my insurance would pay my iTunes bills and for me to attend concerts I would be set. 

For me it has been an awesome week for music.  I got tickets to the Gentlemen of the Road stopover in Waverly, IA to see my all time favorite band Mumford and Son's!  They also released their first song off their upcoming album Wilder Mind.  I am not going to lie I was very nervous after hearing that they had ditched the banjos and gone for an electric sound.  My worry was for nothing, if the rest of the songs are even half as good as Believe I am sold.  I wanted to just drive around on Wednesday listening to the song and singing at the top of my lungs. 

After purchasing the tickets for the Waverly Stopover I decided to check out the other bands.  A few of them I had heard of but other than the Flaming Lips I did not own any music from the other artists.  The first artist that has joined my music library is Jenny Lewis.  I remember seeing a music video of hers in the past because it featured some A-list celebrities but had never taken the time to check out her music.  Well she has won me as a fan, her songs She's Not Me and Just One of the Boy's have instantly become favorites of mine.  I'm looking forward to getting to know the other artist over the next three months.

As I said it has been a big week, I am also attending a concert on Saturday for a band I just recently discovered on accident.  I have the app Shazam on my phone and was recently somewhere and really enjoyed a song - when I used the app it popped up as the song Shadow of a Man by the band Neulore.  I have never heard of the band but when I went and looked it up realized they were playing at a venue close to me this weekend.  I am all up for new music so a friend and me will be checking them out on Saturday at 7th Street Entry part of First Ave, located in Minneapolis, MN.  I'm excited to let everyone know how it is. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Day Dreamer

My brain never seems to stop, it has three settings: problem solving, anxiety filled or day dreaming.  I excel when I am in problem solving mode; probably why I'm most relaxed at work.  I struggle with my down time when there isn't a problem to be solved.  My coping mechanism is day dreaming.  I have been a day dreamer as far back as I can remember.  I even remember my elementary teachers having to talk to my mum about it.
My new tank - from Maurices

I know this probably isn't the best coping mechanism but it is what I know and find comfortable.  If my brain has to be going non-stop it's nice to get some thing from it.  It is usually during these day dreams I can come up with different things to write about.   I dream about trips I want to take and the possibility of a better life for myself.  I've recently started writing as much down as I can; using this creativity to expand my writing.

On the flip side of things I do worry that day dreaming isn't healthy for me.  I worry that it keeps me from being present in the moment.  I know it is ok to do when I'm doing a mindless task like this afternoon as I cleaned.  I just want to make sure it never interferes with me being in the moment. What also worries me is recently some of my day dreams are feeding my anxiety.  

Prime example, there is a house for sale that has caught my interests and become a frequent day dream.  Buying this house is not in the cards for me currently.  I hope though if I keep the house in my dreams it will motivate me to get myself in a situation were I could purchase a home.  This started out as a harmless day dream and possible motivation until my anxiety took over.  One night I couldn't sleep because I had become overwhelmed with the realization I did not know  what color I would paint the kitchen.  I couldn't stop myself, I kept searching through Pintrest for the perfect kitchen. 

Thanks to Pintrest and Ikea the house is completely decorated in my head.  I also understand the realization of any of this happening is not possible.  Just as I know and understand Taylor Swift and me are not going to be become best friends but it is fun to think about.  I guess the point I am trying to get to is day dreaming might not be practical but it is a welcome escape that is sometimes needed.  Escaping into a book or movie isn't always possible so I create one in my mind. 

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Motivation Maybe??

What motivates me?  I am not really sure how to answer that question and that troubles me.  We talk about motivation a lot at work; it is a big part of my job motivating others.  At work I know that my work ethic motivates me; I would never want to do a bad job.  I am motivated by helping others and problem solving.  But once I walk out of the doors at work I am lost. 

As I have written about a few times I struggle with body image issues and wanting to be healthier.  I want to be healthier, I want to look and feel better and I want to be able to look in a mirror.  I know that I make poor choices with food and I should work out more but I don't.  I always hope that something will motivate me but often I just convince myself it really isn't going to matter or I don't attend the event.  My last two class reunions are prime examples. 

So have I found my motivation? Maybe?   One thing I have wanted to do for a long time is go to an outdoor music festival were you camp and enjoy music for a long weekend.  I have a few friends who have also wanted to do this but between our schedules and other things we have not been able to make it happen.  That is until today!  We decided to just go for it and bought tickets to Mumford and Sons' Gentleman of the Road stopover in Waverly, IA.

Once again we will be road tripping to Iowa for a Mumford and Sons concert.  The first time we saw Mumford and Sons in concert was in Council Bluffs, IA in 2011.  It was the most incredible concert I have ever seen.  I know it is a night none of us will ever forget.  Especially when they played "The Cave" during the encore as a storm rolled in and large rain drops splashed down on us making the moment even more magical. 
My goal for this time is to enjoy the festival and not be self conscious.  I know this is asking a lot of myself and I am going to have to put in some hard work a head of time.  Yes I could just learn to be happy with how I look but I'm not healthy and that is also an issue. This needs to be a two-fold I need to have better body image but I also need to start making healthier decisions. 

So will knowing that we have this awesome event help motivate me?  I hope so.  Will putting it in writing help?  I hope so.  I want to be able to write about the festival and smile with confidence in the pictures.  I want to go and enjoy the time with my friends and the music and leave the anxiety and self doubt in Wisconsin. 

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Fighting Fear with a Friend

Eight years ago I hired a shy girl as a sales associate at the store I was managing, Kendra.  I would never have guessed that we would end up being really good friends, let alone someone I consider a best friend.  I started out as her boss and quickly realized we had a lot in common.  We both had a desire to travel and I was envious that she had already been to Europe in high school.  I found her desire and drive to travel  motivating.  It was around that time I made the decision to go back to school and finish my bachelor's degree.

I was amazed by her determination to make travel a part of her life.  The first trip I remember her going on after I met her was a two week tour of Belize during her spring break.  I feel like this trip helped her start to come out of her shell.  At work I didn't have to push her as often to talk to customers.  It was also the beginning of her dropping her camera in water on her trips, something we tease her about. 

I ended up transferring to another store.  I was always good about keeping work and friendships separate but it was nice to no longer be her boss.  Plus she had been given the nick name KenKen which I had would have probably accidentally written on her review.  It was also around this time KenKen got really serious with her traveling and volunteering. 

Her next trip was a one month independent study in China.  During her time there they had the task of setting up a 'living museum'.  They went around and collected artifacts from villages for this museum.  I remember her being so excited to try all of the exotic foods.  I realized at that point I am not very adventurous and would have probably been very hungry.  Even if it tastes like chicken I don't think I could convince myself to stomach certain things. 

I want to kick myself for not having my ducks in a row and not visiting her on her final study abroad.  For her final semester of college she spent the three months in Europe.  The first month she lived and volunteered at homeless shelters in London.  During that time she not only worked in the shelters but interviewed the homeless, trying to discover and analyze the different circumstances that brought them there. 

The second month of her travels were suppose to be entirely spent in Malta but only lasted two weeks.  There was not as many opportunities as she had in London so she returned to London after spending two weeks in Malta.  For her final month she was able to travel around Europe with other students in the program.  She graduated that December with a Bachelor's in Sociology and a minor in Anthropology. 

I then saw a very determined person set her stakes on getting into the Peace Corps.  This was not an easy task and I on occasion saw her frustrated and overwhelmed.  She pushed through her fears and put herself out there.  One of the first things she did was get her certificate in phlebotomy.  Having experience in the health field would help in the application process.  She also increased her volunteering with the Minnesota Aids program and the Minnesota Literacy Council.  

Her life became a waiting game.  She would not have much time from the point of getting accepted, receiving an assignment and then leaving.  In January of 2012 we were all set for her to leave to Guatemala when her assignment got pulled.  I had to laugh because she was actually excited because she did not feel Guatemala was not remote enough.  Her wish came true when she got assigned to Uganda in May of 2012.

For the next 26 months Uganda was her home.  I missed her so much during that time but was so proud of what she was doing.  I was always excited when she was able to get to an area with cell phone service.  During her time there she organized and worked at six youth camps.  She also went around and provided education on malaria.  Her big project while being there was building a library in the village where she lived. 

Even though I know she was ready to come home she decided she couldn't be so far across the world and not take the opportunity it see a few more countries.  I remember her first Facebook post being about a twenty-four hour layover in Qatar, her traveling became a geography lesson for me.  From Qatar she set off on a world wind tour of India, Nepal and Vietnam.  Two things that she said stood out to her were vising the 'killing fields' in Vietnam and swimming with the plankton. 

The last two countries she visited were Cambodia and Thailand.  Once again her camera went for a swim while in Cambodia during a pedicure with fishes.  She was disappointed to not being able to take pictures while in Ta Prohm of the temples where Indiana Jones was filmed.  While in Thailand she had the opportunity to go bouldering, a form of rock climbing over water. 

I could be jealous of what KenKen has accomplished and gotten to see but it is hard to be jealous of someone you love and are so proud of.  She is a great example of how you can overcome your fears with determination and live out your dreams.  Kendra's example has given me the drive and determination to continue to travel.  Check out Kendra's blog and read about her experiences in Uganda first hand.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Why Why Why

Last week I purchased a vinyl copy of The Airborne Toxic Event's new album Dope Machines to start building up my vinyl collection again after the fire.  When you purchased Dope Machines from their website it came with a bonus album Songs of God and Whisky.  As I was downloading this on to my computer I was immediately taken back by the song title "Why, Why, Why".   It brought back a painful memory.

The song has nothing to do with the actual events that took place in my life but those three words were words that sent my mind into a whirl.  I want to say this happened about four years ago but will forever be burned into my memory.  I was just getting off work and pulled my phone out to see I had a Facebook message from an ex.  This was shocking for a few reasons, one we were not friends on Facebook, two we hadn't spoken since his engagement and three I knew from talks he was getting married the next week.  So it was very cryptic to get a message from him that simply said, "why why why".

I was flooded with a multitude of emotions and instantly became sick to my stomach.  I decided to simply write back and ask if everything was ok and then await for an answer.  He wrote back informing me that his future step daughter must have sent me that message on accident.  This sent me into a rage.  I couldn't understand how a three or four year old could send me such a message.  I have nieces that age and yes they can get on the phone and send messages.  What they can't do is search for someone and then send them actual words. 

I should have just left it at that and not even taken the time to respond but I think all my anger towards him had finally built up.  I sent him back a horrible message congratulating him on having a genius for a future step daughter and to never under any circumstances contact me again.  I don't know who sent that message him, the step daughter or the wife but it hurt.  It was just another confusing message from a man who had played with my heart time and time again.

This is all in the past and I think it should stay there but it did make me think about how often words can be so harmful.  I know this is something I have struggled with.  I know that it is my insecurities that causes me to lash out with my tongue but I also know that is not who I want to be.  I don't want my insecurities to harm others. 

Yesterday an olive branch was extended to me via a friend that I had hurt by my words.  I had apologized for what I had said but we hadn't spoken in almost a year.  I was overjoyed when I received a text message from her asking that we just move on.  I didn't deserve to be forgiven but she did and I am so thankful for that.  To me this is one important reason I continue to work on myself and my insecurities because I don't want them to harm others. 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

World Book Day

In honor of  World Book Day I thought it would be a great opportunity to write about a few books that have been instrumental in my growth and recovery.  I'm not a huge fan of self help books but I enjoy books that have an emphasis on psychology. I think it is important to try and understand the science behind depression and anxiety.

One of the first books that I had success reading was The Feel Good Handbook By David D. Burns, M.D.  It was suggested by a previous counselor as an assignment.  I am a life long learner and went into therapy requesting homework.  At first glance this book is intimidating based on its size.  The book is a handbook so it isn't as long as it looks because it contains assignments and resources.

I went through it one to two chapters per week depending on how intensive the work was in the chapter both emotionally and or time consuming.  For this book to be effective it is important to do the exercises.  The book uses cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), giving you the tools to overcome negative thoughts.  My only disagreement with this book is its stance on medication.  I do not believe that counseling alone is always effective. I think sometimes in order to get a person out of that dark hole you need medication first and then counseling.  Two tools are better than one.

I now use the book as a resource if I'm struggling in a certain area or if I know someone who is struggling with something specific.  I have frequently turned to the communication section when I feel I could use a refresher.  It is also nice to go back and read my answers and see my progress. 

Another book I have found to be greatly inspirational is The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor.  This book is based on the concept that happiness leads to success.  This book looks at the theory that so many of us think if we become successful we will achieve happiness.  The authors details studies he preformed at Harvard proving this theory to be untrue.  His examples make a valid point.  The majority of the book than goes through seven principles to achieving happiness so you can achieve success.

The last book I'm going to be completely honest I have not finished but feel it is important to mention, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey.   I have the seventh habit to finish.  This book is a tough read but well worth the time.  I made a deal with myself that after each chapter I could read a fun book.  Even if you only read the first section on being proactive it would be well worth your time.  It was a nice follow up to the other two books reiterating the concept of having control over our responses. 

I know these books are not always top of people's 'to do lists' but I think it is important to take advantage of other's education and experiences.  And if you need to treat yourself to a fun book afterwards here are a few suggestions.
  1. Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn
  2. White Oleander - Janet Fitch
  3. The Book of Tomorrow - Cecelia Ahern
  4. Jemima J. - Jane Green
  5. Persuasion - Jane Austen

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Coffee and Dance Moms Equals a Bad Night

When you read articles and books on how to overcome anxiety, many of them recommend removing and or limiting your caffeine intake.  I did not think this was a necessary step in my recovery and overall improvement.  That was until earlier last year when I had a panic attack on my way home from shopping with my sister and kids.  We had been running errands and I decided to have a coffee even though it was later in the day, something I had been trying to stay away from doing. 

We were heading home after an eventful day of shopping and I'm sure a few crazy moments with three small kids.  This was a very typical afternoon for my family and me.  I don't know what else could have triggered what happened other than the coffee.  I was driving us home and I began feeling my mind racing as well as my heart.  At no time did I feel that we weren't safe but I knew it was going to be a long drive home.  I made the decision that night to finally remove caffeine from my diet. 

Despite my mum's suggestion to go slowly with giving up caffeine, I quit that morning.  I don't think it was even 4p.m. before the migraine started.  I thought it would maybe last a day or two I could never imagine I would be so ill for five days.  I was so stunned that something like caffeine could have such miserable withdrawal symptoms.  You hear all the time how caffeine is a drug but until I gave it up it really didn't sink in. 

Once that week was over I did actually feel really good.  I was even surprised to find I had more energy than when I drank coffee.  I had read articles in the past about increasing energy and always laughed at the idea of removing caffeine.  I did though miss the actual drink.  It reminded me of how I felt the few times I quit drinking for health reasons.  I never missed how the drink made me feel I missed the taste.  The only thing I didn't miss was spending the crazy amount of money at Starbucks.

I was caffeine free for about three months.  I let the stress of the fire and my new job get to me and I started back on the caffeine band wagon.  I wasn't sleeping with the insomnia from the fire and I needed something to keep me going.  Did the coffee even help?  I don't know but it was a type of comfort in a challenging time.  In my mind it was better than binge drinking my feelings away.

I did attempt again about a month ago to give up coffee.  I even was smart this time and took my mum's advice and did it slowly.  I only lasted a week this time.  I really like coffee!!  I am not a big pop drinker or much of anything else but I enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning and an occasional latte.  I have tried to limit myself to one cup and never after noon.

The last two weeks this has not been the case.  My sleep pattern has been all over the place between my trip, work and the kids.  Yesterday was a good example of why I can not have caffeine after noon.  I was bringing my niece to dance class and grabbed a coffee on the way.  I know these types of situations make me nervous and I was already feeling anxious with all the extra responsibilities for the week.  I was a ball of nerves by the time we go to dance.

I sat over in the corner keeping to myself as I scrolled through Twitter.  We then got called into the class room because they needed to try on their costumes.  I made a joking comment about picking a crazy night to have to bring her to dance.  The other mom's just stared at me blankly.  I then had to attempt to convince my niece to try on her costume.  I know dance costumes are small but this was beyond small.  I mentioned to one of the teachers and she made a comment about tights and no underwear helping.

My anxiety was quickly replaced by anger.  I am not stupid and I may not be a "dance mom" but her butt shouldn't be sticking out!  I wanted so badly to say horrible things to these women but instead ranted via text to my mum and sister.  I kept calm and even tried talking once again to a few of the moms but they ignored me.  I will not be giving up caffeine even though I know I should.  I will though not be volunteering to go to dance any time soon.  I will enjoy her dance program only because I love her and she is an amazing dancer. 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Temporary Mom

Tonight is the start of an interesting week.  My sister is leaving in the morning for a well deserved vacation.  In her absence my mum and myself will be taking care of her three kids. Lilly age six who is suppose to be falling asleep next to me right now, Grayson who is four and Waylon who just turned one.  I am beyond excited to spend the week with them and a little nervous that everything goes ok.
DeNucci Photography

I am blessed that my sister has let me take such an active role in her kids' lives.  I also had the opportunity to live with my brother, his wife and my niece Maddie for a little over a year. Getting to have that time with my niece was something I will cherish forever.  I always wanted to be a mom and this has been a wonderful substitution.  I never realized how much I could love someone so unconditionally until these kids came into my life.  They help take away the hurt of not having my own kids. 

I would say for the last five years I have done a really good job of convincing people and myself that I didn't want kids and that I was ok with not having any.  To be completely honest that was not true and it really hurts.  I don't understand why having kids wasn't in my cards, but I am slowly coming to terms with the realization that it will probably not be a part of my life. 

The reality is my fear of not being a mother is as great as my fear of being pregnant.  Yes I have always wanted to have kids but I have always known that in order for that to happen I would have to face my fear of being pregnant.  (Also at this point in my life there are lots of other factors including the lack of a father.)  When I say I have a fear of being pregnant I am being honest in saying the idea of a life growing in me doesn't seem like a miracle it sounds scary.  I could not even put my hand on my sister's belly when she was pregnant.  I know this all sounds silly and you may even say this is a good reason I don't have kids. I know if it was the only thing in my way of being a mom I would face this fear.

So this week I am going to make the most of the time with my temporary children.  Unlike most parents I have help; I will be tag teaming these kids with my mum.  I also have the flexibility with my job to be available for most of the week.  I will of course be volunteering every afternoon to be the one to lay with the baby so he naps.  Our biggest challenge with the baby will be keeping him from learning to walk when his mom is away.  He is so close and I would hate for her to miss those first steps.  Also the less mobility he has the safer all our belongings and dogs will be.

I am looking forward to getting my niece ready for school every morning.  I may even convince my sister to let me give her highlights and bangs.  The afternoons with my little buddies will be just as much fun.  We are going to have to find some afternoon activities so we do not overdose on Tellatubbies.  (I of course have them hooked on an English cartoon.)  The big event for the week is going to be a sheet tent on Thursday evening.  I will be searching Pintrest for ideas.  More than anything I want my sister to be able to enjoy her week and the kids to have a week they will never forget. 

I May Have a BBC Addiction

I would like to say I haven't written in three days because I have been busy with work or had a horrible migraine but those would be sad lies.  I feel silly to say it is because once again I got sucked into a series online.  I apparently have no self control and could not like a normal person watch one or two episodes a day.  Now all I can think about is an article I read on a study done at the University of Texas researching depressions and binge t.v. watching.

So yes, I need to work on this issue but in the mean time I can tell you about all of the interesting t.v. series and movies I have watched during those periods when I go into my "shut down" mode.  I will warn you that my taste in movies and t.v. series is as eccentric as my taste in music.  This is all going to have be blamed on my mum (and yes I do call her mum -- too many British shows). It started with her introducing me to the t.v. series Have You Been Served an English comedy showed on PBS here in the United States. 

Anyone who knows me would say I'm obsessed with the United Kingdom.  This is true to a point my fascination with Europe started there but it doesn't end there.  I think as a young girl it was easy to fall in love with England they had Princess Diana.  How could I not dream of going there?  I may have been the only 8th grader reading all of her biographies but I was beyond intrigued.  With this curiosity came an intensive interests in other cultures and countries.

One of my favorite things about technology is how it has made the world more accessible.  Seven years ago I moved and hour away from my family and friends into a small apartment.  I did not see any point in paying for cable and I had no interest in trying to get local channels.  So I started at first watching movies online via Netflix and then my attention turned to the world of British t.v. series that were available.  I became hooked in an instant.  I also think this awoke my passion for Europe and especially England.  It was one year later I made my first trip across the pond and took a two week tour of the UK.
The trip opened my eyes up to the world and how much I wanted more out of life.  I came home with a list of books, movies and t.v. shows I need to watch.  It was not long after I stumbled upon the band Mumford and Sons (who at the time were not very well known).  I was immediately hooked, even took a seven hour road trip with friends to see them play in Omaha.  I took my love for the band and England a step further when I had an Englishman tattooed on my back along with one of their song titles.  Yes, I'm sure people shake there heads but when it comes to my tattoos they are for me and I don't care what other's think.

So you might ask, what was the show that kept me away for the last three days?  It was a sci-fi series on BBC America called Orphan Black.  I am not a huge sci-fi fan but I was hooked on episode one.  If only I would have paced myself the two seasons could have kept me entertained until the third season premieres on BBC America mid April.  I would like to say this is the first time this has happened or that it is going to be the last but I really don't see myself ever getting this under control.  I am the same way with books - I have stayed up until four in the morning to finish a book.  I have a hard time with the concept that a book shouldn't be read in one sitting.  My brother would suggest that I just stick to movies. 

I thought it would be fun to post some of my favorite foreign t.v. series and films.  I am not limiting it just to England even though that is where the majority of the shows I watch come from.  You can tell when I have been binge watching BBC because I get a slight English accent.  

Favorite Comedies:                                                        Favorite Dramas:
1. Miranda (UK) on Hulu                                                1.  Downton Abbey (UK) PBS & Amazon
2. Outnumbered (UK) on Hulu & Amazon                     2.  Call of the Midwife (UK) PBS & Netflix
3. Derek (UK) Netflix                                                      3.  Orphan Black (Canada)  Amazon
4  Gavin & Stacey (UK) Hulu & Amazon                       4.  Upstairs Downstairs (UK) Hulu
5.  Moone Boys (Ireland) Hulu                                        5.  Gran Hotel (Spain) Netflix
6.  Little Britain (UK) Hulu, Amazon & Netflix             6.  Velvet (Spain) Netflix
7.  Idiot Abroad (UK) Netflix                                          7.  The Cut (UK) Hulu
8.  Pram Face (UK) Hulu                                                 8.  The Paradise (UK) Netflix
9.  The Office (UK) Netflix                                             9.  Bomb Girls (Canada) Netflix
10. Moody Christmas (Australia) Hulu                          10. Offspring (Australia) Hulu