Fighting the Doldrums

I’m usually a fairly upbeat person, with caveats.  I still have a hard time with the advent of my beloved’s birthday, death, our wedding anniversary, and the whole holiday season.  Add that up and I struggle for the last six months of the year.   It is not every day like it was after his death, but it is still something I must fight.

When I was younger and not wiser, I suffered from depression.  I am intimately acquainted with the slippery slope on the banks of the rivers denial and depression.  If you fall in, it is extremely hard to get out without a helping hand.  The good news is there are red flags on the banks much like the ‘baton rouge’ used on the Mississippi River.  If you can find and take out the right one, solving your depression is a choice.

Begin with a self-examination.   (Your list will be different than mine.  What triggers your depression.)

  • Am I really depressed?
  • Am I suppressing anger over something?
  • Could I be sick?
  • Have I been sleeping?
  • Am I getting proper nutrition?
  • How are my allergies doing?
  • Is there a mold source in the house?
  • What’s hiding in the trash cans?
  • Have I been eating fast food or those American favorites: MSG, BHA, BHT and unpronounceable’s?
  • Water and Exercise?
  • Is it dark or raining outside?
  • Do I need to see my doctor?
  • H.A.L.T. all decisions until I am no longer hungry, angry, lonely, tired; fix my broken bits.

Once I get through the Captain Obvious reasons for my doldrums, I move on to the harder topics.  The most hated is oppression.  My youthful depression was caused by oppression, my inability to remove myself from the source and a general lack of hope.  Time, distance and recovery make it easier to look back on those days of despair and see that I wasn’t nearly as depressed as I was oppressed.  I meet so many young people today who confide that they suffer from depression and anxiety.  They see no hope and/or they see only tomorrow, not months and years down their path.

There is always hope as long as you are still breathing.  Human rights violations including abuse, trafficking, violence should be reported and dealt with.  Be brave and contact the authorities.  Talk to a mandated reporter (like a teacher or medical professional) or a first responder (fire, police, EMT).

Oppression from lack of freedoms, sometimes age and safety-related, can be worked on.  If you are young and/or rely on someone else to supply your daily needs; lack of freedom and choices often set upon you like a pack of jackals after your joy.  Freedom can easily be restored upon adulthood and/or a change of address.  Sometimes a divorce.  Recognize that lack of freedom is not permanent, it does require some effort and planning on our part.  How will you support yourself?  What skills or education can I obtain or work on now for that happy day of liberation?

I graduated High School at 17 and left home to move in with my high school girlfriends in a shared apartment across the street from the junior college.  I was banned from contacting my family for such a heinous act of liberation.  It took my father six months to get my mother to relent.  I made some stupid choices during that time, but I also made some good ones.  I was, after all, a novice at choice making!  The point is, by the time I left my mother’s house for good, I was a minor!  I had a diploma, a car I paid for, college schedule confirmation, a job, and a trunk full of household goods.  It was an extremely large trunk and I managed to fill it without parental knowledge.  I had been purchasing items for over a year and hiding them in the attic.  My mother had no clue I was about to bolt.

There was instant joy moving into that first apartment.  It was crowded, five females in two rooms and one bathroom.  We lived on mattresses on the floor for the first six months.  It was exciting to create furniture out of Basalite blocks and two by fours.  Recycle and upscale was our thing in 1975!  Everything was new and exciting. We had plenty of kitchenware and food. Needless to say, we all had diverse backgrounds and I learned quickly to survive.  If you keep your mouth shut, people don’t know how naive you really are.

I escaped another oppressive relationship of 14 years at age forty.  I was totally unprepared for the second liberation.  But, I had God, a job, friends, and skills.  My spouse defected to the dark side and another woman.  Each time I see her, I am reminded of each blow.  He is filled with regret and is unhappy with his new wife, but I would not wish him back.

Both of these relationships were highly oppressive.  My lack of choices and freedom translated into a lack of hope.  It was easy to be short-sighted.

I tackle depression differently now.  I force myself into action and charge at it like a knight with shield and lance.  Sleep, eat, exercise, etc. generally correcting the underlying causes.  I have come to accept that multiple blows to the head have left lasting effects that cannot be eliminated but can be mitigated.  I count my blessings and try to remember that God has instructed us to constantly “renew our minds” with “things that are worthy and pure”.  Focusing on positive thoughts and things, planning for the future.

Mid-December, I will begin my New Year’s list.  I will create new workbooks in Excel for my finances.  I will create a “2020 To-Do List” that includes new additions for the year and also the previous decade’s accomplishments. It is so easy to get bogged down with how much I have to do.  Breaking it down into baby steps and prioritizing it helps.  The first year I started taking items off the To-Do sheet and keeping track of the completed tasks, it was no big deal.  In the second-year, I repeated the exercise and something amazing happened.  I suddenly felt better about what I had gotten done and my mood lifted.  Now, the years roll by and the list has gotten long.  I can look back and say, “I did that!”

This is just a rambling blog of a few tools I use to combat depression.  There are more tools, but word limits!

For now, I have accomplished a blog, had some ferocious purrs from my lap warming kitty, and have a stack of firewood waiting for a cheery fire and a hot cup of cocoa!

fireplace.jpg

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Filed under depression, Fitness, Grief, Homeowner, Inspiration, Projects, Stress Reduction

A Potty Rant

I’ve turned to my WordPress outlet to vent!  Just skip this post if you aren’t interested in my little rant.

In my grief, I needed to keep busy.  My life had these gigantic holes in it and I filled it with working on my punch list and to-do list.  I built a nice little room in the attic.

Someone in need asked to stay for a few months.  He is over 55 and had lost his job. He was working is way through the social services system to have a much-needed surgery.  I do feel that this is what God wanted me to do.  I just didn’t realize how much money this would cost me!  God will provide the means, he always has.

My visitor does pay a few hundred dollars a month to help offset the utilities, but it doesn’t provide any extra.  My PG&E jumped from a low of $53. a month to $300.  My water bill doubled.  How can one person have such a large footprint!

This week it came to a head, literally.  He broke the head!  I have a macerating toilet.  When he moved in I gave him the lecture that only poops and tp go down the toilet.  When his adult daughter came to visit, he had to tell her only poop and tp, no sanitary products.

The toilet motor bound up.  I called a plumber and he took out hundreds of baby wipes from the macerator tank and from around the blades.  Well, it seemed like hundreds to me.  I helped him with the shop vac by holding the hose so it wouldn’t kink.  It took over four tries to clear the tank and the plumber had to take it back apart to release a clog in the pipe portion as well.  The visitor does need to use something due to his medical condition, but that is a lot of baby wipes and they don’t flush.  Read the package, it says do not flush.

I gently but firmly confronted him with the facts and reminded him that only poops and TP go down the toilet!  He said well I’ll have to go boom boom downstairs then.  No, you don’t get to clog that toilet either.  Only s**t and TP go down the toilet.

The plumber told me sanitary products are their bread and butter.  People do this all the time!

So the purpose of this rant is to tell you, in case your mother didn’t, ONLY POOPS AND TP GO DOWN THE TOILET!!!!!!  Wrap anything else it TP and take it to a trash receptacle that gets taken out regularly.  If the bathroom trash doesn’t get taken out every day or so, here’s a novel idea:  TAKE IT OUTSIDE YOURSELF!

To sum up:

  • It’s not boom boom, it’s poop.
  • It’s not ok to waste resources, even if you are paying for them.
  • Changing the location does not make it ok.
  • Pick up after yourself.
  • Skip Starbucks and put some money in savings so you don’t have to live with someone else when you lose your job.  https://www.financialpeace.com/

Thanks for listening to my rant.

 

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Murphy Has Moved In!

Granite installedIt has been a few months since I posted anything.  I have been busy!  My daily routine is to start my day by getting up, go over my daily task list with my creator, count my blessings, pet the cat until he purrs and get dressed.  Victory already and I’m still in the bedroom.

It doesn’t take Harlan long to convince me he will continue to twist around my ankles until I feed him.  Task accomplished, off to feed the girls. Six lovely free range hens.  Then hair and makeup and off to work.  Woot!  More success!

My employer strongly believes in accomplishing more with less, so every day is stressful and I break the stress by a brisk walk on my 15 minutes.  Some days I forget to take a break, not good.  I watch the clock way too much until I can leave to start working on my house.  I am so much closer, but everything has been an ordeal whether or not I do the work myself or hire a contractor. Lather, rinse, repeat; since January.

The counter tops were to be installed in my kitchen this Saturday.  THEY DROPPED THE 52″ GRANITE SLAB ON MY NEW BAMBOO FLOOR!!!!  It was seriously damaged through the protective cardboard, the slab did not fare well either.  The workers were polite and very apologetic and gave me the option of a $200. discount for a repaired counter top.  I declined and they came back on Sunday to install a new slab.

Even though the workers were good (except for the drop-age), I was exhausted at having to babysit them for TWO DAYS!  I couldn’t go anywhere, not even to another room.  The company insisted that I stay in visual distance at all times, for their protection as well as mine.  I understand this, but the entire weekend was spent doing nothing!  I went through paper and shredded bills, so almost nothing.

The cabinets are Natural Hickory by Kraft Maid and they are IN!  The counter-tops are a lovely granite.  (But don’t match the tile I picked out, slightly different from the slab in the store.)  The last big repair is the kitchen floor tile (and the repairs to the bamboo floor). I don’t know how much I will get done since NaNoWriMo begins in a few days. I released my Municipal Liaison status due to my crazy schedule. Someone with more time can carry the county banner this year. I will be so happy to have a normal life again!

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What Have I Been Up To?

Pink

I’ve been absent for a while, thanks for sticking with me.  My mother passed away and my house fell apart.  I’ve found that when something big happens, like my leaking roof and five rooms with water damage, God is using it to keep me busy and keep me out of trouble.

It is unfortunate that God has to use such measures. However, He know my heart.  I would most likely try to rescues the situation, if I had the energy and time I would hop on my high horse and try to save the day.

The roof has been re-engineered and has been completed.  The rain has stopped and dry days are forecasted.  I’ve pulled out the wet cabinets, sheetrock and insulation.  There is not much left to rip out, just one little block I can’t pry out without causing more damage.

I’m not Rosie the Riveter.  I have to study and learn what the code is, which tools to use and how to use them.  Generally, it’s a very slow process.  They money tree has not produced the greenbacks for the repairs and the insurance company is not paying for all the damages or the upgrades.  I’m cutting costs where I can.

New studs have been installed and mold has been treated and cleaned.  (I’ve been living in a trailer in my driveway.)  I have painted everything that is nailed down with Red Guard, a paintable vapor barrier normally used near water service.  Expert advice says that it will help keep water from coming through any small cracks in the stucco.  I even installed an extra layer of water barrier in the sink area.

I still have other rooms to work on, but the kitchen/den area is ready for the electrician, cabinet installer and plumber.  I hadn’t planned on a kitchen remodel, but who puts 1977 cabinets back in?  The silver lining to this costly project is free.  I discovered a beautiful  load-bearing beam behind layers of sheetrock.  It matches the smaller one on the other side of the room.  The smaller beam took me five months to remove all the paint and plaster.  It took me about an hour to pull down the sheetrock from the newly discovered beam.  I can’t wait to sand it down and apply a light finish.

beam

 

 

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Apologies for Success!?!?

I originally wrote this and let it sit, it’s a touchy subject with me; apologies from people who don’t really mean it and over/under exaggeration to the point of lying.  I was embarrassed for a young professional woman at a recent party.  She apologized for all the world’s woes, none of which she created.  She did so, making sure my friend got lots of eye contact and even got close to her face for emphasis.  My friend is an introvert and was born outside of the US, it was threatening to her personally and she took a step back.  She is extremely intelligent and holds a professional position in a male dominated field.  She is well aware of the struggle for ethnic women to be successful, she does not need a lecture on it.  Yes, we can and should do better, but, please don’t lecture the introvert or get on the current soapbox. A meaningless apology about something you had no part in, no control over and are simply parroting what you think is popular, does not bring about change. Kindness and honesty bring lasting change.  Look at the lasting changes Gandhi and Dr. King brought to the world!

Original text:

I sat in yet another session by an individual who made choices that capitalized their success, then made a career of apologizing for that success!   Making money twice over, ARRGH!  While I understand that people can change, I see this as another form of greed.  The latest one was a “true confession”, the author wrote a book on it.  That is, after making A LOT of money doing what is now socially unacceptable.  He apologized for being successful, he apologized for being white, he apologized for his birth parents, he apologized for his trust fund, and he apologized for many things he could not control.  It is boring, droll and really poor taste.  It insults all those individuals who happen to fall into the categories the speaker was apologizing for.  He did not, however, talk about any philanthropic activities he put that money to work in.

If I tell a better story, yell louder or repeat the story often, does that make it a better cause? Should I apologize for things I have no control over; my ethnicity, hair color, height, parents?  Would I want my daughter to apologize for her ethnicity? It is boring and disingenuous to apologize for something you have no control over.  Instead, motivate me, inspire me with your optimism and heroic everyday efforts for your cause.  Inspire me by what you are doing now that is different.  Give me a reason to think differently. Challenge me to do better in a positive non-judgmental way.  Persuade me to be a partner in your passion for excellence.  Win me over with kindness, truth, logic and real facts.

I check facts for publication and write engineering specs.  I translate engineer speak into plain English.  It was natural for me to pick up my phone and ask Dr. Google if the facts presented were truth.  I found a small grain of truth and widely exaggerated falsehoods.

The “true confessions” the speaker is currently making money on are not entirely true. The speaker was still doing the same thing that he “confessed”, only the venue changed.  Profiting in a shady way, not quite telling the truth and misleading the public.

This is not a new experience for me.  I belong to several authors’ venues and we often have speakers.  Several years ago, I listened as a semi-famous individual apologized for the mistreatment that goes on daily to dairy cows in California.  Really, in California where a plethora of watchdog organizations for animal protection and rights exist?  There may be more people living in California that care passionately about animal treatment that those that do not.  Every one of them is a whistleblower.  I’ve personally been to large scale dairy farm to check it out. I wanted to know. They may not be “Happy Cows” as the ad states, but the herd was certainly well cared for. The milking area was extremely clean and the ladies were very well fed.  The dairyperson explained that sick and mistreated cows cost money.  Common sense tells you that this visible dairy would be a favorite target for animal rights groups to take a look at.  These are operations that enjoy excellent reputations and are highly regulated and inspected.  I’m not saying mistreatment does not occur, but it does not occur in the exaggerated scale presented in the speech.  Dr. Google did not support the speakers assertions.

Exaggerating a grain of truth, whether it is a positive or negative one, has become too common place.  Don’t be common!

Do you check facts with Dr. Google, Yahoo, Bing or a fact checking site?  List your favorite sites below!  If you don’t check facts, today is a good day to start.  Please don’t be led by these obvious dupesters, gaining recognition and money on partial or no truth!  Please check facts, don’t follow the herd (pun intended) mentality.

P.S. If anyone else wants to apologize for their trust fund, please send me a check.  I can and will find a worthwhile way to spend it for you!

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Waiting 10 Months on a Permit!

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Repair work in progress after old balcony removal.

I have written before about my awesome list of things I need to get done.  I started with 100 line items and I’m ecstatically reporting the list sits at 25 today.  It represents a lot of my time and an additional $32,000.  Ouch!

I’ve budgeted $10K to construct the replacement second floor deck over the patio.  My handyperson is visiting his grandchildren in Illinois and will be back in a few weeks.  I hope to have the permit from the city by then.  It is about a 50/50 shot, I’ve been working on it since September 2016.  The plan check engineer had just a few more items for me to include, but my engineer was in a vehicle accident!  He is o.k. but the vehicle was totaled, someone ran a stop sign.  It could have been worse and I so glad they are alright.  I’m hoping to get his results this week so I can submit the final changes.  The plan check engineer says he wants a P.E. designation, something that the code DOES NOT require and will cost me a lot of money.  My Civil Engineer is doing a lot of work for free, he has quite a bit of experience but is young working on his E.I.T. (engineer in training, precursor to the P.E. designation).  He has access to state-of-art design programs that take the guesswork out of the plans.  The building code gives the city leeway to demand just about anything, but it is not required.  I will give it one more try with all the plan check requested changes.  Keeping my fingers crossed and saying my prayers!

This will be the only job I seek a permit for.  It has been a painful process, with five trips down to the city.  The clerk (who is NOT an engineer and has no building experience) continually refused to take the plans for submission.  She finally saw it my way when I mentioned that I have made five trips and the exposed second floor doorways present a liability exposure for me.  Oh, and probably an exposure for the City as well, since they refused to even begin the permitting process.  I convinced her that we should let the plan check engineer tell me what he wanted and stop guessing.  (Yes I was a bit snarky.)

I will be revisiting the problems I have experienced with her after my job is complete.  She has created unnecessary obstacles, malicious ones, and even told me to have a man come down and help me out.  I’m not particularly a feminist, but that statement made my blood boil!  I have been a technical writer for 30 years.  I’ve worked for various building and manufacturing businesses.  My father, brother, and foster sons are in trades.  I know my way around a simple build like a balcony/deck.  It’s simple construction and physics!  I will be addressing this issue with the City Manager before long!  I don’t need this level of headaches in my life.

The final work on front of my house will be complete today.  I will write a separate post after I have a nice photo, it’s looking fine and dandy!

 

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Working on Me!

Admin Stairs - topThese are the stairs that I have mastered, twice a day.  There is a matching set at the other end of the parking lot that we circle three times to make up one mile.  It has not been easy and I huff and puff, but I have achieved some success. Around 20 pounds since Thanksgiving, 40 pounds in the last year.  That’s three dress sizes!  The last one is a little slower to come off.

It’s easy to do something for someone else, not so easy to be your own best friend.  Fitness is one of my goals for this year.  My weight was starting to signal early signs of medical problems ahead.  When your feet scream at you in pain by the end of the day, check your weight first.  My loving daughter let me know that one pound of fat can exert 7 pounds of pressure on just your knees.  No wonder my poor feet protested!

Seriously, diabetes and other medical problems run in my family and I am doing my best to beat the odds and avoid it all by eating right and exercising.  That means getting my weight down another 40 pounds.

While I’m at it, I’m working on my financial fitness as well.  Selling some stock, why was I keeping it anyway, some of it was a negative rate of return and some down in the 2% range.  I’ve kept the good performers and dumped the bad.  I have a new financial guy and he wants to manage all of it, but I’m a little on the cautious side.  I decided to compromise and keep my star performers, liquidate the bad actors and send the cash to him to invest.  He has one year to convince me he can handle my retirement money.  I can do about 5-7% on my own.  He was a little surprised when I told him that.  The money in my 401k was doing 3-4%, time to make some changes.  So I rolled the account out for him to handle it.

We all know that God has just two rules for us to live by, Love God, Love others.  That little rule that goes like this:  Love others as yourself.  Somehow we are able to lie to ourselves that we are doing good by giving away all our time.  Giving all your time to a cause, even to your family, is not a good thing.  Balance is a good thing.  If you do not spend the appropriate time taking care of yourself first, the quality of the remaining time degrades.  It is not giving your best to others.  Spending an hour on fitness at least 3 times a week keeps you healthy.  You are able to give to others a rested healthy persons time as opposed to a tired, run down and possibly sick persons time.

I’m sleeping through the night for the first time in my life.  No more sleepwalking, RLS and insomnia.  They finally figured it out; after a lifetime of extremely low REM sleep waking up felt like I was swimming through mud.  I am so grateful that they did since I have much more energy and as a result, I can exercise more and get in shape!

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Taking Care – Goals

The nasty head cold is circulating at work.  It has hit just about everyone, including me.  I don’t get the flu, but this hit me hard.  I beefed up on vitamins and hand washing, it still got me.  The nurse was afraid it could go into pneumonia and I have been on bed rest for the last two weeks.  BORING!!!

I did follow the doctor’s orders and made myself rest and take care.  I focused on my nutrition and being still.  I spent some time going over my goals for 2017.  I am a list maker and I need to look back to celebrate accomplishments in order to move forward in a positive space.   It has been hard to rest the last few days.  I’m finally released to return to the land of the living.

Goals for 2017 (subject to change)
Celebrate 2016 accomplishments
Finish attic bedroom
Move pantry move to new location
Build balcony (includes concrete work)
Kitchen remodel
Finish medical needs
Continue to lose weight and build strength
Remove carpet and lay hardwood floor in my office
Improve home security
Take a vacation
Save $$$
Stay out of debt
Resume Saturday patio brunches during the bloom
Finish at least one of two novels in progress
Let go of the novel that isn’t up to par and focus on the good
Grow critique group
Teach needle skills
Get notary license
Be more sustainable
Be humble and kind

I don’t know that I can do everything on my list of goals, but I’m sure going to give it a try!  Nothing is every gained by failing to take the first step.

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Burst of Energy!

panoramic-photo-project-status-12-20-16It’s been a few weeks since my last post.  I’ve been putting the time to good use in my attic room conversion!  All the sheetrock is hung, 90% of the taping is complete and at least one coat of “mud” has been applied.  The finish skim coat has been applied on about 10%.  I hope to get the rest of the taping/mud done this week and possibly the texturing sometime around Christmas.  The panoramic view might be difficult to get a good idea of the room.  It helps to orientate yourself if you imagine the wooden door and the glass door as opposite each other.

framed-and-insulated

Overkill Support Beam

Here’s another view of the early days when I first split the room in half at the top of the stairwell.  I’m not very fast, but it is getting done.  I used to be able to work only a half day on Saturday.  Since I’ve been sleeping better, I can now do an hour or so here and there after work and a whole day on Saturday.  If I had a whole Saturday!  I can also wake up as a functioning human by 8:00 a.m. now.  It used to take me until 10:00 a.m. to be able to think straight at work.

 

It’s been a large project, but I wanted to do everything above code requirements.  I’ve managed to do a lot of the construction using recycled/reclaimed materials.  The drywall looks like a puzzle because a lot of it was left over from construction sites.  It was free because the corners were slightly damaged.  I managed to get contractor packs of insulation for $50.00 at a going out of business sale.  I saved almost $500.00 there!  I did have to invest in two new LED lights and a fan.  I paid a professional electrician to alter the wiring.  My HVAC guy at work gave me the “T” to divert A/C and heat from the main line and coached me on how to do it myself.

I’ve made tentative arrangements with a High School senior art student to use the wall with the wooden door as a canvas for a senior project. Maybe a Dawn Redwood.  I love all things Sequoia!  I’ll post a photo if that happens.

The room is a little more private that my other bedrooms and I hope to have some very special visitors in it!  I think my WWOOFer* will like it!  I plan on giving them three choices of where to sleep.  This next year will be exciting as I attempt to transition from a consumer to a sustainable producer of my own food.  Who needs well over 5,000 sq. ft. of green lawn?  I would much rather have some zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, herbs and more in my garden.

*World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms.  WWOOF has allowed Urban Gardens into the organization.  I already have a couple of WWOOFers that are interested in visiting my “garden”, several want to help in laying out the new format I’ve chosen.

https://wwoofusa.org/

Lots of changes, exciting times!

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My Brain is Broken – Why RLS?

I’ve always had what my mom called the wearies.  Even as a child I would shake my legs to fall asleep.  I remember my cousin shaking her whole body to get to sleep.  This was more normal than not in my family, so why would I question it?

I’m getting ready to retire in a few years so a round of medical appointments and routine screening.  My generalist was not happy with the non specific pain in my legs and my chronic exhaustion.  He sent me to a neurologist.  What seems like a million questions later and his diagnosis, broken brain.  Actually, low dopamine levels.  Just talking about my history of sleep walking, sleeping a few hours a night, waking up and trying to fall back to sleep resulted in almost no sleep night before last.  I’ve started on a very low dose of a drug given to RLS and Parkinson’s sufferers.  It’s so low that I didn’t expect to really notice any difference.  I managed to sleep approximately six hours straight through and was able to get out of bed before the third alarm went off.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still exhausted.  Just much less exhausted.  I’m hopeful that I will someday soon wake up rested and wonder at the experience.  Just think how much Mrs. Winchester could get done if the hammer didn’t feel like it weighed a ton and I could keep my eyes open!

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