Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The noise

Cancelling out the noise is a critical part of maintaining my own mental health.  It's never easy, and never often enough, but when I find a moment to cancel out the noise and centre my mind, it's bliss.

I live with a lot of noise.  Even though we now live in a small quiet town and I'm not subjected to hearing sirens and traffic all day long, I work, and therefore the constant hum of electricity in the house, the lights, the computer screens, the phone and the conference calls.  All this is book ended by the noise of harping at a two year old, and the nattering of a husband who is frustrated with diabetes, work, commuting, child rearing and often times with life in general.  It can be almost unavoidably impossible to cancel it out.  To hear silence, and revel in it.  I might be one of only a few rare people who greet a power outage with a smile.

My family has been hit rather hard this year by the Health Hammer.  That's right, I've given it a name.  It's lived with me long enough, it's like that rotten stray dog that came in one day and decided my furniture looked tasty enough to eat, but has never somehow left and moved on to someone else's home, someone else's sofa legs, or area carpet.  My daughter has caught every bug known to man this year and I think I've boasted once already that we have finally seen our first full month of preschool without a sick day.  That isn't to say we haven't continued to be hammered while she's been at school though.  The hubby has had a resurgence of bad blood sugars and his diabetes is officially out of control enough again to warrant insulin, which he laments at every. single. opportunity he has to speak about anything at all.  And then I've had my own lady issues that need not be spoken of, outside of which to say that I've been in agonizing pain, so much so that it's likely an undercurrent driver for some of the anxiety and depression I've been experiencing lately.  Combined with ailing mothers and grandmothers and holiday prep that is already in full swing despite the fact that Halloween hasn't even happened yet, geesh...stop the world, I want off some days.

So with all that, how do you cancel out the noise in your head to get the space you need to remember how to breathe?  Good question.  Just a few minutes ago, I covered my ears, very like a child would do when trying to shield herself from an extremely loud bang.  Where do you have to go to find silence?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Whew - catching a breath

So, I'm very sorry that I went quiet.  It's been a frenzied few weeks in all aspects of my life, and well, there just wasn't spare time to do a whole lot of posting.

I'm hesitant to complain though.  I've had some ups and big time downs in the last couple of weeks, and I'm exhausted, but when you think of what other people are dealing with right this very moment, I'll take my hits thanks, and keep on trucking.

What's been happening you ask?  Well work has been out of control pressured.  Last week I think I had meetings from the crack of dawn til dusk nearly every single day, and in every spare second I could find, I spent it painting my daughter's room.  It took 3 coats of primer and 2 coats of paint to go from circus side show to somewhat chic (as chic as you can get with paint in a 2 year old's bedroom.  It looked great, and my design vision was feeling totally zen, until I carted all of her toys and books back into her room, and now it looks all junked up again.  I'm trying not to stress out about it, because I know that at least now, I'll be able to change things up as she gets older without having to rearchitect the whole darn thing.

When we're all done, I'll post some photos of our home's transformation.  It's been a lot of work, and there's still plenty to be done in the way of getting artwork and personalizing the spaces...but with the bones now complete and sturdy and neutral enough, it shouldn't be too hard now.

In other news, my mother in law has begun radiation and chemo treatments this week for lung cancer.  While we're not there every day taking care of her, I know it's been weighing on both my husband's mind and mine, and I can tell you that dealing with the emotional strain of not being there is not as easy as one might think.  Both the hubby and I are fixers.  And while I suspect he'd be lost in space up there, I know that I'd be busy as stink taking care of her basic necessities.  Part of me is glad I'm not there to do all that, and the other part of me is ill thinking that it might not be getting done.  This is not where my father in law exceeds expectations either.

My own mother has been ill, and trying hard to recover from heart troubles, and she's not rebounding as easily as she did the first time.  They've put 2 new stints in one of her arteries, and well, her body isn't taking too nicely to having them there.  Because of the heart attack that is induced during the procedure and complications from emphysema  she's not able to walk the length of her driveway without feeling in trouble and in need of a rest.  This is probably weighing heavier on my mind because again, with a toddler and a full time job and responsibilities of my own, I'm not able to pitch in and take care of her the way I would like, and the way I think I should be.  It's another one of those complications that comes from having children late in life.  When I should be worrying less about my kids, or having my kid help more so that I can have more time for elder care, I'm still in new mommy mode, and unable to devote the kind of attention she needs to her, precisely when she needs it.  You know, old people stop caring for anything that happens in the world after 4pm.  And when it happens, it's not like it's gradual.  It just stops.  And nothing you can do to suggest doing something after 4pm will work.  It's like the hard wiring of their synapses changes.  It's completely irreversible.  And what makes it all harder is that I keep listening to her tell me what she's doing to look after my Grandmother.  oh what I wouldn't give to work part time right now, without taking a financial hit.

But what puts all of this into perspective for me is this.  I'm able to complain about such things as not having enough time to devote to more people as though it were a luxury.  I don't know exactly if that's good or bad, but I think, depending on your perspective, it's not all that bad.  These are the people in my life who mean something very dear, and who are in some respects, my best friends.  And I have so much love and so many people who are special priority for me, I'm so very lucky and blessed to have them.  And none of this is about wanting to find any time to be with them, because none is usually spent at all.  It's about finding "more" time to spend with them.  It's about the fact that I recognize the fragility of everything around me, and the idea of not getting 150% of every single opportunity I can get with them is unacceptable, and stressful to me.

So I'm tipping my hat to the "have nots" today.  May you find peace, good health, comfort and unconditional love with someone who is a trusted, true and faithful companion forever.  May you one day find yourself as lucky as I am today.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


I participate in an online community for moms.  I connected with it, when I got pregnant with my daughter and was spending that dreadful first three months with the biggest secret of my life, and morning sickness that made me curse all the women who had given birth before me.

One of the threads in that community got me to thinking.  The question posed was "what advice would you tell your 15 year old self?"  I couldn't come up with just one thing.  Now that I'm staring down the double barrel of 40, there is sooo much I would tell myself at 15.

Here's my list of 15 things I would tell my 15 year old self:

  1. You are more precious than gold. 
  2. You are worth every good thing given to and done for you.
  3. You will change the world somehow, some day, for someone, and you probably already have a million times.
  4. Your grandfather was right. There is a lesson and an opportunity in everything you do.  Learn from watching others mistakes as well as you learn from your own.  And learn how to be diplomatic when you speak.
  5. Don't fight with your father, and go on every single family trip you can no matter how appealing the extra cash from working is, or how dull the vacation sounds.  You only have 6 years left with your father.  You won't remember the fights, but you'll have a hard time remembering the good moments too because there were just too few of them.
  6. The best moments and the best memories happen when you make them, and are better when they are every day moments.  Soak up every last one of them, and remember every possible detail.
  7. Stop worrying so much about boys.  Boys will come eventually, and over time, there'll even be a couple good ones.  The best ones for you, will be the ones your parents dislike the most, BUT you should always trust the instincts they gave you.  They're good.  And when they tell you to get out, do it and don't look back.
  8. Being alone is as much awesome as it is the suckage.  One day, you'll be so entrenched in family and togetherness you'll be desperate for a good chunk of alone time.
  9. Learn to love exercise right now.  Today, you are not fat, despite what everyone in the world keeps telling you.  Listening to those voices is going to hurt you for so long.  If I could show you a picture of yourself in 25 years, you'll completely understand why.
  10. You are always good enough, and better than you give yourself credit for.  There are a lot of painful moments heading your way, and lots of disappointment.  But every single day of your life, there are a million things to love and be happy about.  
  11. Belly laugh every single day and marry the man who makes you do that even on the days you want to shake him.
  12. You are going to have the most awesome kid one day.  She is perfect and she is yours and she is just like you in so many ways.  Motherhood is the most rewarding job you will ever have, but it's also the  ost challenging, and I'm serious about that - it's not as cliche as it sounds.  Some days you're going to wonder if that child was sent to kill you - but she's not.  She changed the entire universe the first time you saw an extra line on that stick, saw her first ultrasound, and heard her heart beating for the first time.  She could run a country one day.  She's that bad ass.
  13. When it comes to figuring out what you do with your life, do what makes you happy every single day, and the money will come.  What I mean by this is don't get sucked into "just gotta get a paycheck", cuz those jobs pay great, but they make for a long and painful death.  Do yourself a favour and take some practical theatre courses at university, and think about doing something charitable for your day job.  Live your life for some of the stories you can tell versus the paycheck.  Seriously, it's worth putting the time in now to find a passion and make a career of it - they get sick benefits and lifelong careers at some of these charities and it's impossible (really impossible) to make the switch later on.
  14. Love yourself and your own company.  You are a pretty freaking awesome individual, and despite your flaws you are your family's primary bread winner, primary caregiver, and that dream you had of being super woman, well, you've been there, you've done it, and you got the t-shirt.  It really isn't worth the ativan, BUT, you did it!  And you were awesome at it!  
  15. You rock and I love you.

Monday, October 1, 2012


Anyone who treats someone suffering with depression and anxiety will tell them that the bulk of their recovery and management of the illnesses are lifestyle.  Medications do their part and are often the most critical part of getting control of the illness early on.  I've said it before that they gave me the head space I needed in order to confront some demons, and to build the coping skills I'd need to manage the illness long term.  Let's face it, once you have it, you always have it.  It's not a virus that just outstays it's welcome a while or leaves in a few weeks.  Mental illness has some serious staying power.  It's really a dark horse you seem to have to ride forever and ever.  Kinda like the Ghost Rider.  You're never really rid of it, even when you try to use it for good.

So for me, I think I've said it before.  I try, the best I can to reward myself often (probably too often), and I try to make sure that I make moments where I'm able to laugh at least once each day.  I try to do something fun with my kid every single day, and I sometimes fail miserably at all of it, but trying is 50% of the battle.

Because I work from home, I have the added challenge of doing all this while staying within the same four walls just about 22-23 hours of every single day.  I don't get out a lot, if it's not to run errands or drop and collect the child from preschool.  That's a lot of time to stay couped up.  Sure, it's awesome.  I don't have to fight traffic during a commute.  I add about 2 hours a day when I can hang out with my kid instead of worry all the way home about what I'm going to make for dinner, and generally speaking on slow days, during my work breaks, I can do my laundry, clean my dishes or dust something.  All this I couldn't trade for the world.  But nothing comes with out a price, and the price I pay is not having much of a social life, not getting much interaction with people who aren't collecting money at the end of a grocery store checkout, and frankly all that means that the four walls I see every day, better create an environment that brings me peace, air and tranquility.

So we've been working hard at getting that in place.  The people who owned our house prior to us had some strong paint preferences, and did a piss poor job of loading up every single space on the walls with photos/prints or some other kind of chachke, and they used everything from cement anchors to screws, to all out 2 inch nails to hang some of this crap.  And most of the rooms were colour blocked - as in 2 completely opposite colours in the same room.  Seriously.  We're not talking feature walls...we're talking colour blocking.

And so the effort we've undertaken so far is to lighten the place up, and balance it out.  Every room in the house doesn't have to be the same colour, but they should at least make sense, be neutral and calming.  We're almost done, and then furnishing and art and decor will take this all home.  It's already been 10 months of slogging through the hardest parts.  We have literally 2 rooms left to paint, and my house will be a sanctuary that will support my mental wellness the way it should.  I have a winter planned already of heavy duty sewing that will replace most of our window coverings, and am dreaming up plans for landscaping and artwork in the spring.  Come this time next year, I'll be able to focus my spare moments to making halloween decorations, and doing crafts with my child.  I'm so looking forward to that!