Another Successful Trip Around the Sun

Tomorrow I turn 45. 45? How did that happen?? I don’t feel 45; well not most days anyways. 45. Almost 50. I am honestly not sure how to take this. I know “age is just a number” and that there is no shame in getting older, yet every year I want to scream to the heavens, “SLOW DOWN”. There is so much to do, and time seems to be speeding up.

In the past, I have gotten a bit depressed about my birthday. I am not one who looks forward to the next number; I wish I was, but if I am to be honest here, I never look forward to my birthday. It is perhaps timely, that I saw a post on Facebook recently, written by a woman who cries every year around her birthday. Upon reading it, I realized that I share a lot of the thoughts she has, and I too, generally have a good weepy session the evening of my birthday. I have been the person who looks at the years and makes a list of everything I haven’t done, or haven’t accomplished yet. This year, however, I thought I would try something different. I’ve been told by some people around me that I have changed a lot in the last few years, and as I look back to the eve before I turned 44, I find myself in agreement. So here’s my list of how I have changed and what I’ve accomplished this year instead of what I haven’t:

  1. I made it through a really tough year of teaching. Last year’s class challenged me on many levels. While I loved those kids and worked hard for them, they took a lot out of me emotionally, physically, and mentally. Add into the mix, my first year of team teaching, this anxiety riddled human made it through. There were some upsets along the way, but I learned that I can survive the job intact.
  2. Change is not necessarily a bad thing, Sheldon. Last year saw one of my dearest colleagues leave the school. She had been there since I started and was a real source of laughter, love, and support for me. I honestly didn’t think I would get through it without a serious meltdown, and I made it through with tears, but no despondency. The weekend members of staff spent celebrating her helped, as we feted her in grand style and made a million more memories. My admin changed as well last year, and he was someone who had challenged me to try a new job, and who supported me through health issues. I had grave concerns about his leaving, but that too has turned out well. I miss him, but not as much as I thought I would.
  3. I asked for help. This is something I have a hard time doing. I don’t know if it’s because I have lived alone for so long now, but I am so used to just having to do it all myself. This year I started asking for help more. I’m still working on the guilt I have when I feel like I am bothering someone, but more often than not, I am finding that people actually want to help me. I never would have figured that.
  4. By asking for help, I have lost 39 pounds. I would love to write the number 40 there, but I didn’t quite reach that goal. I will, just not by tomorrow. After watching a good friend lose weight and keep it off, I finally asked her how, and she told me. I started the same program as her, and I am doing it. It’s as slow as molasses in winter, but it is coming off. I think I need to work on patience when I am 45. I still look in a mirror and see me as I was, but the scale and measuring tape don’t lie, plus old clothes fit.
  5. I found new medical help. For me, this is huge. When I turned 44, I was so tired of being overweight and feeling like crap despite eating clean, eliminating processed food, and going to a gym (I asked for help with that too! Crazy thing is, people volunteered to help there!) The doctor told me I just had to accept that my metabolism is slow. I did not accept that. I reached out to a naturopath who has done so much to help me with my weight loss and my general health. I found a physiotherapist who is helping me with a bum shoulder, crappy posture, and soon, my two year long swollen knee. Where traditional medicine has appeared to give up, these people are determined to help me live my live to the fullest.
  6. I swim now. Growing up, I loved being in the water, like seriously loved it. Somehow I lost that. I think in my mind, I needed to be slim and fit to wear a swimsuit, or I needed to hide my body in a flowing, cover the fat suit so that I didn’t disgust anyone. I don’t think that way anymore. I go to the pool. Not as often as I’d like, and I sure can’t swim well, but I go and I walk and back float swim, and I try.  And I will keep going. I love it. I remember how much I love being in the water. Now if only I could see without my glasses in the pool.
  7. I put myself on online dating apps! That is huge too. The idea of a relationship has long been a dream, and while I have no expectations of a life long love, I decided what the hell, and put myself out there for at least a cup of coffee. It hasn’t happened yet. I haven’t given up though. I’m sticking with my high standards, and hoping to get to at least a coffee by the time I am writing here before my 46 birthday. If only Chris Evans was on Plenty of Fish for me…
  8. For the first time in my career, I am considering leaving the classroom. I still get slight panic feelings when I write that, but I have decided to run for First Vice-President of the local union. If I lose that, I still have my classroom, but am thinking about leaving the classroom for a full time Library Learning Commons position. The job I took last year in my library changed how I look at teaching. I have no plans to leave my school library, I’d just like to pick up another one.
  9. I’m doing as Elsa once sang about, and letting go. Purging my house (thank you Marie Kondo) and finding out that all this stuff I have been collecting for years has not helped me to love my home or my mental state in my home. The purge is nowhere near complete, but I am excited to thank the things in my life that I have held onto out of guilt or emotional ties, and to make this place reflect the human I am now.
  10. And finally, one of the biggest changes in this last year, is that I am happy. I get sad and lonely some times; I think we all do to some degree. But I am really good with where I am. I am still discovering new facets of myself, exploring new sides to myself (some of which are personal and not shared in public), and I am discovering that I am not who or what I thought I was. A friend mentioned to me last weekend, that I am much more positive. I realized that I am. My mom used to say that I was a happy, positive child, and somehow that got lost. I think I have found it again. I’m tired of the constant negativity around me, so I try to inject some happy or positive now, rather than join in the doom and gloom. I talk to my therapist when I need to, and I reach out to friends as soon as I feel down.

Thanks for reading, if you are still with me, and I have to say, I feel a lot better about turning 45 tomorrow. 44 was pretty damn good, and I have a feeling 45 will rock.

One Word: Change

We change. We have to. Or we spend the rest of our lives fighting the same battles. -Captain Kirk, Star Trek Beyond

I haven’t ever participated in the whole “One Word” idea that many of my online friends do. I’ll be honest; I’ve thought about it a lot over the years, but always had a hard time choosing one word that I can focus on for a year. I didn’t choose one for 2018, but reflecting back, I think I can safely say that “Choice” was a big one for me. I made a lot of big choices since January of 2018. I went to the gym, I started a lifestyle that went through many iterations before I found one that worked for me. I chose not to run in our local union elections, even though I seriously considered it and I chose some new healthcare practitioners who have made a huge impact on my quality of life. I chose to try online dating. So 2018 appeared to be my year of big choices. But looking forward, I was torn between “choice” for 2019 or “change”.

Today I walked through IKEA with my mom. We talked about my year and hers, about the changes I want to have happen in my life, and the changes I can see occurring in the future year. I didn’t have a complete panic attack. See, I relate to Sheldon Cooper’s saying “Change is never fine. They say it is but it’s not“. I have resisted change for a long time. But I also understand Captain Kirk’s quote about fighting the same battles, and I have been fighting the same battles for a long time. My therapist has helped me see that change is not a negative, and to not fear it. It’s time to change some stuff up. It’s time to try some new experiences, to continue to change my lifestyle and my surroundings. It’s time to look at my job and consider changing it. Time to change my fear of putting myself out there and to change how I view myself.  It’s time to change my present to make my future what I want it to be.

Here’s to 2019. May we make it everything we want it to be. For me, may it bring great changes.

 

One Word: Self

I haven’t had the desire to write for a long time. Tonight, I do. It’s been a while because I have been working through a lot of stuff, and I feel like things have shifted for me in a positive way. So, instead of writing a worrisome and potentially negative post, I wanted to write something happy for once.

I’ve been working on change in 2017: changing my internal monologue, changing the house I live in, changing my job.  It’s been scary as shit to me. See, I relate really well to Sheldon Cooper’s quote “it’s not going to be fine, change is never fine. They say it is, but it’s not.” I have the “Who Moved my Cheese?” book to try and help me with changes, my friends know about my fear of change, my work people know, my supervisor knows. So when I say that I have been willingly changing things, you need to understand how HUGE that is.  But even that attitude is changing.

I found a therapist who is good for me. I don’t see him on a regular basis anymore, but I am able to see him when I need it. Sure, I didn’t see him for 3 months (and had few anxiety attacks!) Yes, I went twice in December, and thanks to that, I am now dealing with the “medical trauma” from Las Vegas two years ago in a different way. I can look at pictures from the trip without anger or guilt. I am becoming far more comfortable with the reality of who I am, and not pretending as much, not acting as the person I think people want to know. If you don’t like me, your loss. I’m good. I started a LOOOOONG process of going through all the physical stuff in my house, in my classroom and in my storage locker. I have gotten rid of things I held onto because they were from my past or they were my dad’s. I am continuing that since I cannot stress HOW MUCH stuff I have.

I finally said good-bye to my dad. I can talk about him with a few tears, but not the gut wrenching feeling I have had in the past. I didn’t hate the idea of Christmas this year, because I went through a process of letting him go. I still need to deal with his ashes, but that is more of a time thing.

I have a new part of my job two days a week that I ADORE. Seriously, I was going out on Fridays with a friend and was happy and excited about the stuff I had done in my job and was looking forward, not back.

I have a long way to go before I am where I want to be, but the path no longer looks scary. I have professionals, friends, and family on the path to support me when I stumble, to encourage me, to celebrate with me. So I decided that this year, I need to focus on SELF. What does that look like to me? Right now, it means not being the last person at school every day; coming to terms that while I love my job, I need to remember it is a job. I am trying to cook at home, and only eat out once a week. My control has been so much better with this. I am controlling my stress better and my blood glucose levels show it. For the first time in years, I feel like (despite the bad days) I have control over this disease, rather than it kicking my ass.  I have chosen to take a day every weekend to sleep in, rest, see friends, go to a movie by myself, do things that are not housework or schoolwork. I did it this weekend, and I feel rejuvenated and ready for the day tomorrow. And I have to figure out a way to put myself out there without setting my anxiety into overdrive. I want to try this whole dating thing, I just know it will have many fumbles and stumbles. But I want to try; I just don’t know how yet.

Tonight, I was listening to The Greatest Showman’s song “This is Me” and I can honestly say that I cried. Not sad tears, but truly happy ones, because it has taken me 43 years to come to a point where I can say to myself, “this is me, and I am happy with it”, and yes, I am. So thank you 2017 for the amazing journey of change, and to 2018, it’s time to continue shaping my best self.

What’s Going On?

And so I cry sometimes
When I’m lying in bed just to get it all out
What’s in my head
And I, I am feeling a little peculiar

-What’s Up by 4 Non Blondes

I lost a lot of hope today. I’m not overly proud of it, but it happened. After a couple of amazing days, things just crashed down on me this afternoon, and I cried and cried. I am still weepy and I don’t know if it will stop until I have answers. I know I should do the feelings chart for my therapist, but I can’t seem  to think of what I need to do to stop catastrophizing the things going on. 

I found out that the hospital where I am supposed to have my CT scan done lost my chart again. It’s all fixed now, but what I thought was a scan to see what was causing my optic nerve to swell is actually to see if I have an aneurysm in my brain. People have told me that I don’t as I have no symptoms of one. And no, I don’t have any symptoms of a burst one, but I do have symptoms of one sitting in my cranium. Not all of the symptoms, but there are some. 

Then I double checked my blood work results. The test for “clots” as many Google searches showed me, assured me that the extremely high number I got on the test means I could have a clot. The high number has freaked me out. 4,000 is high. Mine is over 10,000. Hence, severe anxiety. 

I probably don’t have either of things, but as someone with OCD and generalized anxiety, my head won’t let go of these things. Every headache today has me worrying, my increased heart rate, every time my swollen leg had pain, each time I felt some pressure in my chest, my lovely anxiety ridden OCD brain spiralled a little bit farther.

I went to restorative yoga. I breathed. I imagined a calm scene from a fanfic I am currently reading. I kept saying one of my favourite lines from Chirrut or Yoda or some smart Jedi or Jedi wannabe. “All will be as the Force wills it” keeps going over and over in my head. And yes, I do believe in some greater power or “force” out there for lack of a better word. I am trying to believe that it will be okay. 

But the part that has been the hardest, is the part that I can’t quite get past. I don’t want to go through all of these appointments alone. I don’t want to go through this alone. Don’t get me wrong, I have amazing people around me who will be there for me, and help me out, but I still come home to an empty house and sometimes I don’t want it to be empty. I just want someone to sit with me as I am crying and tell me that I’m okay and that they love me no matter what. I know that not every human is fortunate enough to have this partnership with someone, but I crave, no ache for it, and I am terrified that I will never have the chance. 

I have no answers about what’s happening to me. I just keep imagining the worst possible scenarios. I realize I may need to go see my therapist early as I traipse through my own confusion. I just want answers so that I can keep moving forward. I want to believe that whatever is wrong is fixable, that it won’t interfere with camping plans, that I won’t disappoint my mom again by “wrecking” another holiday. I want to believe that modern medicine will have answers for me. Really though, I just want to know what’s going on.  At least the 4 Non Blondes gave me an anthem. 

And so I wake in the morning                                                                                                                                                                          And I step outside.                                                                                                                                                                                               And I take a deep breath and I get real high.                                                                                                                                              And I scream from the top of my lungs.                                                                                                                                                 What’s going on?

New Dawn, New Day

Yeah, freedom is mine, and I know how I feel…

It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me…

And I’m feelin’…

Good

-Feeling Good by Nina Simone

Summer holidays. Two months away from the identity of teacher, two months of freedom from routines and expectations of others. Two months to put my plans in place, to make the smaller changes I have been making into a larger reality, and to take action on some of the things I have learned about myself over the last 7 months. 

It is time. I have been living with the ghost of my father since he passed away almost 17 years ago. His ashes have been in my house for 14 of those years while I waited for decisions from my family on what to do with him. But I know he wanted to to be buried, so this summer, I will find where his mom is buried and start the proceedings to get his ashes dealt with. Time to lay him to rest. On his birthday this year, I had a major meltdown after my therapy session, and once I talked about it with my therapist last time, I understand why it happened. I understand why I needed to drive around and visit the ghosts of my past. (See this post for more on that day) I will always mourn the loss of my father, but I don’t feel the gut wrenching abyss anymore. I believe that I have finally said good bye to him. I feel like the connection has finally….ended. So it is time to bury him physically, and to move on. 

I haven’t only been living with the ghost of my father, but I have been consumed by a house of my past. When dad died, I kept so much of his stuff to try and hold onto him a little longer. When mom retired, I willingly took a lot of her teaching stuff that didn’t sell at her sale because I felt like it was important to let her feel that her collections mattered. They did, to her. But not to me. I have so much of her stuff that I have to sort through. I have toys from the shared childhood of my sister and I, furniture that was in our farmhouse, paintings that do not reflect what I like or what I am interested in. I have, quite honestly, kept so many things that I have attached value to, that I am drowning in stuff. 

But, it’s a new day. I have realized that is time to let go of so many things. To purge my existence of stuff that I really do not need nor want, in some cases. I am going to try to go through it all over the month of July. I won’t be able to purchase new art and furniture yet, but it will happen, and I am starting to look for things that reflect me. My goal is to decrease the amount of stuff in this house by 40%.

I am heading back to yoga this week. I am going to put on my suit for swimming, not for lounging at the pool, and go to the pool so that I can walk lengths in the water. I’m trying for Wednesday on that. I may need some courage there. It’s been a while, and I am nervous. I want to work on going to bed at a decent time, and not sleeping the day away. I want to get through a night without the glucose sensor going crazy. I want to go for a walk, outside, and not feel pain and embarrassment at my physical fitness. I know these things will take time,  but I have two months with no job stress to start adding these healthy habits into my day. 

Tonight, I am finishing the last of the treats I bought and used as my emotional crutch to get through the end of one of my hardest teaching years. Tomorrow I go back to my healthier choices, and back to writing about my feelings and anxiety on the feelings chart my therapist provided for me. Today, I rested and read fluff and watched Netflix and just did nothing. But tomorrow? Tomorrow is a “new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me.” And you know what? I am excited to start. 

I’m feeling good. 

The Cluttered Chaos

Another post of struggling. I seem to only write about the hard times, but I also find it is the only thing that helps right now.  In this chaotic mess of my mind, there are so MANY things that I want, need, and crave to blurt out here for my own insanity, but my list of “have to” is growing longer every day.

I have to write report cards, have to clean my classroom, have to get files done, have to make room for my new teaching partner, have to do laundry, have to clean, have to get groceries, have to, have to, have to. And all I want right now is to curl up in my bed and deny the world’s existence; to read the books sitting on my shelf or check out fanfiction or watch and rewatch Sense8.

So I am sitting in front of my screen, trying to come up with comments for the last time on a group of students who I love, but who have frustrated me and brought me more chaos in this brain of mine. I can’t focus. The intention is there, but the fingers stumble, and I blame my cold hands, so I make tea, and then find the focus linger elsewhere by the music playing. Every emotion I have right now wreaking havoc on my anxiety and causing tears to well every 5 minutes. But I HAVE TO.

And I really, really don’t want to.

People have unknowingly added to my plate this weekend, caused the anxiety to increase, to develop new layers that I do not know how to handle. The shaky feeling inside is back and I do not have the time for it. I should be yoga bound, but I cannot spare the time; I should try meditating, but I do not know if I can handle my own thoughts.

So I write. A jumbled, tumbled, messy write. Something that would not pass any muster of criticism or judging. I want to scream to the universe, to cry until there are no tears left, to rip the crap that surrounds me, physically and mentally, out of my head and my space, to get it gone so I can find some semblance of calm.

But I cannot, because there is no time, no space. And always, always there list of “have to”.

How Do You Keep Fighting?

A couple of weeks ago, during my therapy session, my therapist gave me what I considered a HUGE compliment. He said, “You seem like a Star Wars kind of person. Someone who is determined to try to save the Galaxy.” I thought it was awesome. Now, the rest of therapy ended with me as a raw and emotional mess for three days afterward, but that phrase, oh, that phrase, made me happy. I felt like a proud member of the Rebel Alliance (or the Kindergarten/Play/Let Kids Be Kids Alliance). I could CHANGE THE WORLD! 

I have been trying to affect change. I changed my practice. I have learned, read, researched, gone back to school, adapted, planned, gutted stuff and recreated. I have joined committees, meetings, planning events and spoken up with a loud voice for the rights of the child, for the importance of play in the curriculum, for the importance of authentic assessment and reporting. I know I have pissed people off with my opinions and my rantings. My soap box has been pulled out more times than I care to count. I have been told that I don’t think anywhere near the damn “box” that we are supposed to think outside of. 

And today, it seems like all of my advocating, soap box talking, arguing, and more has fallen again on deaf ears. I can’t go into more detail without giving away confidential information, but how do you keep fighting, when your battles are constantly lost and you never see any evidence of change? At what point do you just decide to trudge along with the rest of the world, and just do what you are told? It sure looks easier, and I am tired. I am tired of hearing about the testing of young children and of forcing more academic learning on younger and younger students. I am tired of play being removed from the lives of children, and of the continued insistence on tired assessments. I am tired of seeing sexism, racism, anti-environmentalism, discrimination, and people just being……MEAN. 

How do you keep up the fight?