Disappointment

Last Friday was supposed to be the relaunch of Invincible Summer..

I was holding off posting for days, waiting to post a pointer to my first post there.
Unfortunately, Life happened to the owner of the blog and the relaunch was pushed back, first a few days, then maybe next month, and now. . . I don’t know. She says:

I suppose I just wanted to write a note telling you that I’m still here, but I’m not sure where I’m going. And this blog is still here, but I don’t know where it’s going.

I completely understand where she’s at. I completely understand that she bit off more than she can handle right now.

I’m certainly guilty of the same thing, fairly often.

But I can’t hide my disappointment.

I was looking forward to working on more creative stuff. I do better when I have a deadline than when I’m working for myself.

Her following is larger than mine, and so is her mailing list. I was looking forward to greater exposure.

Now, I have a lot going on, too.

And I could be doing other stuff to promote my blog (I want to submit a guest post to Wild Sister, for example).

I’m about half-done writing up a workbook I want to put up here.

I haven’t even asked people here to look at the Inspired To Do Lists that I made or put a link in my sidebar.

On my To Do list for two weeks has been to create a page of the places I’ve signed up for affiliates and clean up my sidebar. That won’t really take me that long, but I’ve avoided it.

I haven’t listened to several of the more recent talks from the SSSBR. I also need to create a video and write up a piece about what I’ve gotten out of it, and I’ve been putting that off.

I’m putting it out here for accountability. Kick me in the ass. 🙂

Self-love: Cleaning & Organizing

Kind of a weird title, I know, but I just read Dominee’s post about beginning to love herself and one of the things she talks about is how messy her home was before.

My apartment looked like something out of Hoarders.
Maybe not as bad but it was pretty close. Dirty dishes in the sink that had been there for months and months. Used paper plates thrown haphazardly on the floor. Stains on the carpet and furniture because when something spilled I didn’t care enough to clean it up. Clothes everywhere, piles of empty pizza boxes, and bags of trash that I didn’t care enough to take out to the dumpster. Anyone looking at that scene would just think how lazy and sloppy I was.

I can completely relate.

At some times, my home was that bad.

It’s not now, but it’s not an organized, serene haven, either.

There’s too much stuff in not enough space, and things shoved into open boxes and shelves with little organization.

It’s not for lack of trying.

C and I are both good at organizing small bits at a time.

But we are also both bad at maintaining the organization.

Last week, we went through one day where we pulled stuff out of the bathroom cabinets and linen closet to organize the bathroom.

We finally purged a lot of stuff we’ve been meaning to go through for ages. We ended up getting rid of more than 2 large garbage bags of stuff, plus have a pile to go to storage.

After that, for the last three days, I’ve been starting at my living room, hating the arrangement.

I’ve always hated the arrangement here.

But there’s so much stuff on the shelves that it’s really a pain to move anything.

Tonight, the frustration peaked and I’ve started moving stuff.

I think it’s going to take a few days to go through the whole thing.

I mentioned before that I have been able to keep a clean, organized home at times in the past:

When I look back on my past, the times my home has been cleanest and I’ve done better at routine things are the times I’ve lived completely alone, or for a brief period when C was tiny after I kicked Deadbeat Roommate out.

Considering that C is rarely home now and will be off to college soon enough, I should be able to do this again, now. Right now, things are clean. There’s only today’s dishes in the sink, and C just emptied the dishwasher of clean stuff so I’ll be getting them done tonight. The garbage is taken out regularly. There’s no food laying around.

But it is messy/cluttered.

Part of my frustration is that when I live alone, all the mess is mine, and things remain where I leave them. And now, while C is rarely home, her messes still are.

She’s capable of cleaning and organizing. In fact, she does a fabulous job when she does it. But getting her to do it is difficult.

I WANT a more serene home.

But I also want my things close at hand all the time.

Those two things seem to be at odds with each other.

A larger place, once I can afford it, will help.

But there’s still a lot of stuff that needs to be gotten rid of completely.

And that is overwhelming.

My storage unit is 10x10x10 and filled to the rafters.

I know a lot of the stuff that’s in there, but I can never find it when I go looking.

So, for the next few days, I’ll be seriously looking at stuff and hopefully purging as I move things around, because dammit, I deserve a comfortable place to live in.

I thought about taking some “before” pictures, but I’m just not that brave.

Self-love: Who are you?

Silly question right?

I’m me, of course. But who am I really?

How can you love yourself, if you don’t know who you are?

When I look back at the years of depression, I discover that I’m not who I thought I was, or at least, I didn’t act like I was that person.

I thought I was a person who was open, loving, kind, contemplative, hippy-granola, vibrant, generous, a little bit wild. I thought I cared about people and animals and the environment. I thought I was politically active.

I thought I was going to raise my kid with a spiritual, social and ecological consciousness.

I thought I was someone with strong faith in things you cannot see, in the goodness of people.

But when push came to shove, when life got hard, I turned into someone I didn’t recognize.

I lost my faith, in anything spiritual and most of all in myself.

I lost my spark, my hope.

I began to hate people. I was full of anger. (And of course, there’s that whole “depression is anger turned inward” thing.)

I intellectually knew things I *should* be doing to make things better, but I was incapable of doing them, which fed the cycle more, leading to beating myself up.

I allowed my kid to grow up thinking McDonald’s was the best meal ever, instead of giving her mostly healthy homemade meals. In the beginning, it was because I was working and tired. Later, it was because I was depressed and would “forget” to cook something (really, I just couldn’t get out of my chair). I allowed her to grow up thinking sitting at a dining table was only for special occasions. I allowed her to grow up with a TV always on in the house. That is so not who I thought I was.

I was “into” yoga when yoga wasn’t cool. But for the last 15 years, I’ve barely had any yoga practice at all, much less a daily practice that I once had. Ditto for my spiritual practices.

So, now, here I am.

I’m not currently depressed, but I’m also not the person I used to think I was. And I don’t know if I can ever be that person.

So, who are you?

Are you who you think you are?

Look at the things you believe about yourself.

And then look at your actions.

Do your actions reflect your stated values?

If not, then you need to look at both those things, and you have two choices.

1. Start working on making your actions match your values.
2. Adjust your image of who you are.

I’m working on both.

For example, for the first time in my life, I’m making lists of things that need to get done, and I’m making a concerted effort to get them done.

There’s a couplefew of reasons for me doing this.

  1. It’s part of my journey to be more disciplined.
  2. In the past, I often sit in my home, thinking about the housework or paperwork or other stuff that needs to be done and get overwhelmed. Then nothing ever gets done, because I’ve spent all my energy THINKING about it, instead of doing it. Making lists is helping me capture the stuff that needs to be and frees up my head for other things. So far, I’m not always getting it all done, but I am getting more done than I have in a long time.
  3. This is also the first time I’ve made clearly defined goals, and if I just continue to sit on my ass not take any action, then I won’t make those goals.
In the past, this would have made me feel . . . restricted, confined. But right now, I’m seeing it as key to the changes I want to make.
So, do your actions match your values? Are you who you think you are? Can you become who you want to be?
You have to know who you are, before you can move forward, before you can love yourself. You have to accept yourself, warts and all.

Establishing routines

Last year I read David Allen’s Getting Things Done in an effort to try to be more organized.

I started to try to keep at least some of the lists he says to keep.

It didn’t last long.

I know keeping lists can be good for people with ADD and other such attention problems. (While I have not been diagnosed as ADD, it often goes hand-in-hand with bipolar and when you look at some of my patterns of behavior, it’s really similar to ADD people.)

But I just can’t seem to keep up with it for more than a week or two.

I can see how, once the routine is established, it can make things easier. But establishing it as a routine seems to be beyond my capabilities.

Yesterday and today, I started to go through a big stack of paperwork, shredding and throwing stuff away that needed to be gone and filing what needed to be kept (I found my DD-214 and disability award letter from the VA, but still can’t find either one of our birth certificates or my driver’s license.)

Yesterday, I started on the most recent stuff. It was mostly from this year, a little from December last year. It was all still in my inbox.

I thought I was done.

Then I found another whole paper grocery bag’s worth of stuff that was mostly from last year and I went through that today.

I’m pretty sure that I have piles shoved in boxes and bags from the time we lost our last apartment in 2006, because I don’t remember doing a really big purge in all this time.

An established routine of dealing with stuff as it comes in would be very beneficial. If I could handle this stuff once a week or even once a month, it would only take a few minutes, instead of hours over a few days.

And I always tell myself I’m going to.

But then I don’t actually follow through and do it.

This is all wrapped up in that self-discipline thing, the same way housework is.

And I have the same problem with housework.

While C was in FL, I did a lot of deeper cleaning than normal, and I was even pretty good about getting dishes done most days.

Now she’s back, and she’s still never home, and everything is going to shit again.

I mean, really. She’s home to sleep, shower and get dressed and then she’s off either being social or working or at tae kwon do.

It’s not much different than when she was gone.

And yet, I find myself abandoning things that had almost become routine while she was gone.

WTF?

When I look back on my past, the times my home has been cleanest and I’ve done better at routine things are the times I’ve lived completely alone, or for a brief period when C was tiny after I kicked Deadbeat Roommate out.

My bedroom was mostly a mess, but the rest of the place was just fine.

Why is that?

I’ve lived with roommates, friends and lovers. I’ve noticed that whenever I first move in with someone, I get depressed almost immediately. Which, you know, can’t be good.

But why can’t I keep the place clean when I live with someone else when I obviously CAN when I live alone?

I know part of it is because when I’m alone, any mess is mine. I made it, I gotta clean it up. And things are always where I left them. Now that C is home, she’s leaving stuff laying all over the place, says she’ll pick it up , but doesn’t, etc. And I think that’s part of it.

But it can’t be all of it.

Now, I *did* grow up with routines. My stepfather made sure of that. Dishes done every day, other stuff done once a week or once a month, and I was the one responsible for pretty much everything except his laundry. Mop the kitchen floor once a week, once a month, scrub it and wax it. Bathroom cleaned every week. Vacuuming and dusting at least once a week. I probably only cleaned my room about every other month, though. And I always did the best job on that when it was something I wanted to do instead of being forced to do it.

I know the benefits of having that routine. If it never gets really bad, then it’s not that much work.

So, why do I let it get bad before I do anything about it?

I was talking to Pale today and I pointed out that I always SAY I don’t have time. But if you add up all the time I spend online and/or in front of the TV, I’ve got plenty of time.

So, why can’t I make myself Just Do It?

I am making myself go to the gym, and that’s going well, even though I don’t have an established routine. I don’t go at the same time of day when I work out. I always mean to go in the morning, but then I don’t. I don’t want to go during the busy hours of the day (especially the 4pm-9pm crowd), so sometimes I go at 10 p.m. or later. Or maybe I’ll go around 10 a.m. or even 8 a.m.

But the point is, I’m going. I did take 10 days off recently, but I’m still going. So, I can be somewhat disciplined.

I had tracked every meal for about 15 weeks. Seriously. And now I’m starting to slack off on that.

Why am I slacking? After 15 weeks, that should certainly be routine, no?

Medication Discovery

While my daughter is visiting family back east, I’ve been working on getting some stuff organized in the apartment.

Today, I started going through my old medicine bottles. I’m a little freaked out.

I know that I’m not always “good” about taking my meds. Sometimes I skip a dose (or three). For several months, I only took half of the anti-depressant I was supposed to take. I’m *usually* good about the mood stabilizer, because I find it difficult to sleep without it. My prescription for that is “one or two as needed” and most of the time, I only take one. I only take two if I’ve have trouble sleeping for a few nights.

I’ve also got anti-anxiety meds that are supposed to be on an “as needed” basis. Since they are addictive, I very rarely take them.

Then there’s the vitamins, calcium with vitamin D and iron pills (all prescriptions). And the allergy nose spray, and the new prescription nose spray that’s supposed to stop my nose from running. . .

Is it any wonder I didn’t want to go back on birth control pills? Sheesh, I’ve got a lot of meds.

Anyway, I was going through, consolidating half-full bottles and the like*, and found unopened bottles from 2009, 2010 and last year. Holy crap! No wonder my mood states had been all over the place! I’ve been “better” about taking them since about the time I started working on fitness, but still skip the vitamins and such quite a bit.

This is just yet another area where self-discipline comes into play.

If I’m not disciplined enough to take my medications regularly, which I know help me with other parts of my life, how can I be disciplined in other ways?

I was talking to my high school BFF the other day and one of the things we talked about was having a clean and organized house. Neither one of us has been good about that for some time. She grew up in a very organized home. My home wasn’t as organized, but my step-father really, really tried to make it so.

There have been times that I can vaguely remember that I was much more organized. Particularly when I had this small apartment in Chula Vista, after my ex left. Things had been chaotic for several months (including having several roommates), and I reveled in having my own space, with my own things, organized in a way I wanted. That was the most organized and clean place I’ve ever lived. I liked having people over. I didn’t have much to be embarrassed about. I even had a party there. It was a bit non-traditional (I didn’t have a couch and only one chair in the living room), but it was mine. Once a week, I did a deep clean, and it wasn’t hard because everything else was mostly ok.

I miss that place.

Even when my daughter was small, I was better about things than I am now, particularly after I got rid of the (then) deadbeat roommate (who has apparently turned out to be a really good guy).

I was writing in my journal** and talked about how I would sometimes “clear the decks”. By that I mean I would clean, organize, throw stuff out, make things fresh. I was always like that. Things would get out of control, and then I would spend a whole day clearing the decks. Even that was better than what I have in place now (i.e. chaos).

It made sense, when I was working full-time, running the tutoring business AND going to grad school. But since January, I haven’t had that excuse and I still haven’t done more than casual cleaning and the stuff that HAS TO get done.

I have gotten into a fairly good routine with working out. Now, I need to make sure I’m taking my meds the way I’m supposed to and get other routines into place. When I start working again, I’m going to need those routines.

*If I misplaced the current open bottle, I know I have more, and so just crack open another one. Yes, I’m really that disorganized.

**I swear I’ve done more writing in the last two or three days than I have in the last three years. Am I manic?

Catch up, where I’ve been, things on my mind

So, yeah, it’s been almost a year since I wrote.

From mid-August to mid-January, I was student teaching while taking a grad school class to finish requirements for my teaching credential. It was exhausting, physically and emotionally.
Smack-dab in the middle of it, I had gallbladder attacks, near constant for most of the month of October. In mid-November, on my 42nd birthday, I had surgery to take it out. 
I only missed four days of teaching, but I think I pushed myself too hard.
When I finished the semester, I still needed to finish writing one paper to close out my grad school class. 
But I collapsed, physically and emotionally. It took more than four months before I was even able to leave the house. I had intended to substitute teach during the remainder of the school year, and the mentor teachers I worked with would have had me fill in for them, but I could not bring myself to finish the paperwork necessary to do it.
How messed up is that?
I just finished that paper, finally. But it was after the Incomplete had already reverted to an Unsatisfactory. I don’t know yet if I’ll be able to get it accepted. I’m waiting to hear from the department director and my counselor about it. I think it will probably go through, or there is an appeal process I can use. 
I’m beating myself up over it. There was no reason for it to take this long.
Except, now I’m wondering if I can really handle teaching? Can I? If one semester wore me out that much? Should I have tried harder to get full disability back when my therapist thought I needed it instead of fighting to work and finish school? 
Anyway, during the workups leading to the surgery, I discovered that I’m insulin-resistant. The doctor also had mentioned metabolic syndrome. When my mother was diagnosed diabetic a few months ago, I finally got serious about losing weight. 
My friends and I started a blog 2 years ago to support each other losing weight:  http://2010flacas.blogspot.com/ . However, all of us gave up, and stopped writing. Since March, I’ve been blogging pretty consistently over there, working out and counting calories. My highest ever weight was last June at 199.6 lbs, in March I was between 193-196 lbs. Right now, I’m around 178 lbs and lifting heavy weights. The others tell me they’re inspired, but they rarely write.

What I really wanted to write about today, though, was something that happened in early May. I wrote about it on the Las Flacas blog as “an emotional punch to the gut” but I didn’t talk about it in detail over there.

I think I’m ready to talk about it now.

My ex-husband called me, totally out of the blue.

It’s been 18 years since he left me, and 11 years since the last time I spoke to him. He called a couple of days after what would have been our 19 year anniversary. 

He told me he’s been seeing a therapist and the therapist wants him to explore problems in his previous relationships. So he called me.

Now, he knows that I’ve been in therapy. And I know there’s no way in hell that his therapist told him to call me. Because, you know, of course I talked about him in therapy, but I was never encouraged to CALL him. Because he needs to explore HIS feelings about the relationship, not mine.

There were a couple of times when his voice trembled, like he was nervous. And toward the end of the very brief conversation, he said he’d call me back when he had more time to talk (because he called me on his ten minute break from work – to talk about relationship issues! Um, yeah). 

I said, “You know what? Just don’t.”

He sounded very sad when he said, “I shouldn’t? Don’t?”

No, really, just don’t.

Thing is, you see, he’s still with the woman he left me for, 18 years ago. And I’m fairly certain they are actually married.

And if he’s in therapy and exploring previous relationships, that means there’s issues in his current relationship.
I really don’t see where it’s up to me to help him fix his current relationship!
But also?
He called me on his break from work. 
So SHE wouldn’t know he’d called me.
And he’s obviously been online stalking me for awhile.
Last year, he sent me an email when his cat died.
He sent it to my tutoring email address, which had to be found on my business’ website. I assume that’s also how he got my phone number.
He said he’d been “keeping tabs” on me for some time.
That’s creepy, isn’t it?
I mean, he left me and cut me out of his life. So why is he “keeping tabs” on me?
It could be that he’s turning 40 next January, IIRC. I’m sure this is a mid-life thing. Perhaps he has some regrets.
I don’t know.
I don’t care.
Except that he still has this stupid effect on me. 
My dreams have been full of reunion scenarios.
That pisses me off no end. At least I’ve been able to use that anger to fuel my workouts.
But it also distracts me from the million and one things I have to do.
I still have steps to take to finish my credential.
I have to create invoices for the contract job I’ve been doing. I need that money.
I need to look for a job, write a teaching resume, contact people for letters of recommendation. . .
And I’m fighting my brain coming up with stupid fantasies.
It’s a waste of emotional energy.
Maybe if I were dating someone, that would go away? But it’s not like I’ve had any energy to spare for that.
I put up a profile on OkCupid a few days ago, but I’m thinking of taking it down, because I’m not really ready to date.
I need my energy for other things right now.
SO GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY HEAD, ASSHOLE.


Realizing my fatal flaw

Since my step-father’s death, I started tutoring to bring some kind of cash in. I got an entry-level job in a new field. And I finally finished school.

My daughter and I rented rooms in other people’s homes for about 15 months, then moved into a one bedroom apartment where we still are.

But, my life still isn’t where I want it.

I’m fat. My apartment looks like a cross between an episode of Clean House and Hoarders. I need a better job. I need to grow my business. I need to save more money. My daughter is learning horrible food and chore habits because of my inability to be consistent.

Over the last year, I’ve realized that all of these problems could be solved with one, simple attribute: self-discipline.

This is the one issue that Bill and I butted heads over for many years.

He tried to teach me that it was important, and I resisted every lesson.

I’m only realizing at 40 years old how this has cut off my nose to spite my face.

Can I fix it at this late date? Can I change?

Can I ever be the person that:

keeps track of what I eat
pays attention to what I spend
exercises 3x a week
has a clean, organized, nice place to live?