Sunday, June 18, 2017

My Struggles, My Guilty Conscience

There are a lot of things going through my head right now. I think my childhood looked to be pretty conventional, I had a Mom and Dad, older brother, younger brothers and little sister. What isn't conventional is the inner turmoil I've felt throughout life for things to be in order. My older brother has autism, this has always necessitated a certain amount of extra work for my mother. She started working when I was little and she would come home really tired. I felt a certain amount of responsibility to try and make things easier for her. Clean the house so that she wouldn't be stressed out, help with dinner.

Through the years as I've grown and made certain choices in my life, I've felt a sense of responsibility to do the best that I could with the circumstances that I've been given. I was a young mother and my husband made choices that led to many difficulties for me. We lived with my parents for a time because we were very poor, I lived with debilitating depression. I felt a sense of dread when I was in that situation, I wanted to fix things, all of my siblings were still at home and I felt like I was adding a burden to my parents that was unfair to them. I felt a great deal of guilt. So I worked hard, I went to school and I tried very hard to make due with the amount of money my husband made so that we could move out of my parents home. I was in school for a long time, my mother watched my children and my sister has helped with them even when she was very young.

I've always had some amount of inner conflict about the amount of control I had over my kids schedules and what they were watching on TV and/or the amount of video games that they played with my brothers. I wanted to be this shining, perfect mother and I've had to compromise in order to become educated. My relationship with my husband was complicated as well, I wanted to be the perfect wife, I wanted to have a stable, happy family. But I had to let those ideals go when it was clear that my husband was abusive and had abused my sister and my daughter. If only I had realized sooner! I wish I could say I would have been able to leave sooner but I know that I didn't have the support or resources I needed to leave.

Now when I go to my parents I still feel a sense of responsibility. I feel a bit of guilt and unease. For one thing, my siblings all are still living at home, it's a frustrating situation because there is a reason for the extended adolescence of my siblings (autism, ADHD, medical issues) but also I can see that my siblings are fighting to get an education as well and that gives me hope. But the strain that it has taken on my parents is difficult to see. Also the state of our family home induces guilt and shame in me.

It's a story of an interconnected chain of events that has led to a difficult situation. My father won't stand up and be the leader of the family, in a way he can't because what is there for him to be in charge of? All of us are adults. My angel mother still works every day and is trying to repair her home but the task is so great, there is so much to do and she is getting older. She has been in charge of our holidays and traditions and it has taken a toll on her. I wish I could swoop in, clean house, fix things and give her the rest she deserves... but I've only got a limited amount of physical, mental and emotional energy to spare.

I guess I'm feeling frustrated tonight.

SG 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Unconventional Wisdom

My Toastmasters Speech from Today

What we eat affects our state of well being

I'm not sure if you've heard the term "Hangry" it's a tongue in cheek term for the feeling of being hungry and how that makes people feel angry at the same time. This is a simple example of how food, or lack thereof affects how we feel emotionally and mentally.

For many years, I struggled to live my daily life, my world was a dark place. It was hard to concentrate, hard to wake up in the morning, hard to face the world. My stomach hurt all the time and I didn't know why.

I've learned that food can affect us at a deep level and it's only rarely that we realize it.

We all have prevailing ideas about what eating healthy is, conventional wisdom

In our culture, we are encouraged to stay trim, fit is the new skinny, avoid fat yet eat healthy fat, go low carb. Eat whole wheat, especially wheat bran it keeps you regular. Soy is good for your heart health. Eat a spectrum of food of differing color it's healthy.

Sometimes conventional wisdom is wrong

I learned a difficult lesson about 10 years ago, and that was that nature has a way of balancing us out when we try to control it.

I felt that I was overweight, I was about the same weight that I am now, maybe a 5 - 10 pounds more. I decided that I needed to take control, so I joined Weight Watchers.

At first it seemed like a miracle, I followed the program strictly and obsessively and I was losing weight.

If I felt lightheaded I drank more water, I was obsessed with food but I didn't realize how bad the obsession was. I found tricky ways to make the foods I craved cost me less points and started to eat bran muffins to fill me up and something called TVP or Textured Vegetable Protein which is a product made from soy to replace meat. Who needs meat anyway, it's cruel that we kill animals so that we can survive.

Well I got to a point where I could feel no emotion, the medical term is "Anhedonia." I felt no pleasure at achieving my goal weight of 120 lbs, I looked in the mirror and still felt fat. I didn't feel sadness either. I felt empty.

Eventually I went into a tailspin, at one point I was too weak to lift my baby daughter and my brain felt dry, I couldn't speak my mind. Yet I was still obsessed with following the WW program.

Then something odd happened. I added walnuts to my cereal. Somehow that little bit of fat triggered an intense feeling of well-being and happiness. That sparked a desire to figure out what I was doing wrong, I still felt confined by the WW program and tried to fit more fat into that model, eventually I had to let go.

That was the hardest thing

I let go of the conventional wisdom, I put ideas on trial and I tried out a lot of unconventional things.

It all came back to food

I found through trial and error that I do a lot better when I don't eat anything with gluten in it and through a very bizarre episode of an angry fit of rage I found out that milk triggers an emotional response for me (I feel anger, sadness and my ears ring when I drink a lot of milk). I cut these things out and felt quite a bit better but still had lingering issues, I finally paid a visit to an allergist who identified some other allergens

Sometimes people feel bad when I tell them I can't eat certain things. It's hard for them to understand that knowing that I shouldn't eat these foods has been a big blessing. I no longer suffer from debilitating depression, anxiety, chest pain and illness. For the most part.

Conventional wisdom led me astray, it was unconventional thinking that led me to the truth.


Sunday, May 21, 2017

Happy Moments

Tonight was another moment of serendipity for me. I showed up at my parents house just as my brother's home teachers showed up. They asked my brother about his production company and he points at me, so I jump in and tell them all about the studio and how things came together then mentioned that we don't have morning hours because I have work and my brother has school. So one of them volunteered to man the studio on Tuesday's and Thursday's haha, so we now have an 'employee'. He'll only come record people if they book during those times, and we won't have to pay him unless he records someone so that works perfectly. :)

Let me tell you I am pretty chuffed that someone wants to man the booth during the day for us haha

He's coming by tomorrow to learn the ropes so to speak. :D

SG

Friday, May 19, 2017

Good Moments

So I feel sometimes that my blog is dominated by the hardships I face and it can get a bit tedious to read through my old posts seeing page after page of frustrations. So I'm making a conscious effort to record moments that were good. This afternoon I had a few good moments I want to jot down before the happy feelings get away from me.

I went out to lunch with Darrin, he has been a good friend to me for a long time. I don't have many long time good friends so I cherish the ones I have. We went out to lunch and had a good conversation, he gave me several good ideas for my little recording studio and he gave me an update about his sweet Dad. That made me pretty happy.

Then getting back from lunch I met 2 of my other long time friends on the stairs and got big hugs. That pushed me into endorphin overload and I'm now really, really happy. :) Plus it's Friday :)

I hope you are having a good day.

SG

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Perspective

I had a nice walk today, there's a pretty nice trail by a nearby park, with an incline hill at the beginning and a flat stretch for quite a long ways that winds through a cute little neighborhood with a regrettably busy street that runs through it.

Something that I was reflecting on during the walk and when I got home is that if the focus for exercise is on improving looks then it can become something that is a destructive, obsessive or harmful force in our lives. Acknowledgement that improving looks is a piece of the motivation for exercising with the inner motivation turned towards improving health and mobility is a more sustainable and fulfilling goal.

Motivation is something that can be misunderstood, for instance the motivation to go to school or to learn. When I was a little girl I thought that I needed to know everything in order to be acceptable to other people. There was a perfectionism in me that drove me on to keep doing things even when they became boring or difficult. A sort of self torture in a way. I disconnected from others because I was afraid to let go of the task that I was doing. Worried that I might not pick it up again if I stopped.

This might sound like discipline, in some ways it was and is, but I was irrational in my discipline doing things sometimes just for the sake of it rather than taking a balanced approach to them. This caused stress and disconnection with others.

I've grown out of some of those tendencies. Partially they came from the fact that my world was a dark place for a long time, that was a side effect of eating foods that were not good for me (gluten, dairy, soy, cashews, etc.) Not many people talk about the effects of food on the mind but I understand the correlation because I can see a difference between then and now.

Partially the stressful tendencies came from fear. I was fearful of not having my fathers approval. He would sometimes rail on my brother asking him if he had a brain, berating and belittling him for simple mistakes or carelessness. My brother even took the brunt of my mistakes and carelessness because even if he said he didn't do it my Dad didn't believe him. So I felt that if I was perfect, if everything was clean, if I knew everything, did everything right... then I would be acceptable and worthy of love.

It's a tendency that has been hard to break over the years even with my new found freedom from the utter darkness that surrounded me for a big part of my life.

Another thing that I was thinking about is that sometimes our present moment can seem to be all that there is. That the happiness we are feeling will continue on or the sadness will not leave. Those transitory feelings are an illusion.

Rudyard Kipling's poem "If" really speaks to me because it is a reminder that we need to be able to put things into perspective and that striving to be balanced will help us to be successful.

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;   
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;   
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster 
    And treat those two impostors just the same

And that's all she wrote.

SG


Thursday, May 4, 2017

The best of days!

Today started out pretty ordinary, morning routine, get the kids to school but then I got to work and stumbled across an inspirational speaker Kyle Cease and I really understood and appreciated his message. It opened my mind to the ways that I can let go of past regrets and open up to all of the possibilities that are around me.

Then I had the honor of attending Toast Masters and being the Timer. I was able to get up and speak during table topics and I didn't completely lose my train of thought nor sound like an idiot, always a bonus.

I felt so great that I was walking on rarefied air and everyone seemed to notice that.

Then one of the most exciting things happened, I got to go home and earn $200 bucks from a client who came over to record a demo in our booth. An actual, voice over booth client! :D

He came in and there was no hesitation about our location, our set-up or anything! A benefit to the condo that I moved into at the beginning of the year is that it is right off of State Street. Now that might not seem like a benefit because we have a noisy street to put up with, but for a business it is a prime location!

So now I am looking at the possibility of being able to work from home, it's a part time opportunity at the moment but it definitely has potential to turn into a full time career!

Exciting times!

SG

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Word Paintings - What they Mean to Me

I came up with the term "Word Paintings" to describe the vivid recollection of memories or descriptive writing that I sometimes like to do. I haven't created a "Word Painting" in some time now. I will pick the habit back up soon...

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Dreamer

Alternative speech for Toastmasters tomorrow

Last time I spoke, I spoke about finding my voice. I described to you the difficulties I have faced, and my hereditary family silence. Today I will speak to you about dreams.

I have always been a dreamer. My father came home with a diary once from a trip that he had taken, he said he bought it in China town.

It was beautiful, it had a shiny green cover embossed with different symbols and the paper was patterned with catfish and boats.

What I held in my hands was to me a glimpse into another world and I dreamed of parasols and china dolls as though someone had transported me into another world.

I was not content with dreams though, I turned many of my dreams into reality.

By brother Daniel, just 18 months younger than I was my traveling companion in the land of dreams.  We sailed the high seas out in the snake-pit on a section of bush pushed down by some planks.

We built our own carnival, with bean bag toss, pinball machine and rides in sleeping bags down the stairs.

It's a good thing my parents never really knew what we got up to.

We built a boat out of 2x4's and plywood, which never got to the river, but it did serve as the platform to our rope swing.

As an adult I have fallen into the void at times, where no dreams can surface, that is when I have been facing my reality and fighting for a place in the world. I've been fighting the demon foe called poverty, and burnished the sword of determination to finish school.

A tiny sliver of a dream surfaced after I was done though, a little bit of a leftover dream from my scheme of a grand and beautiful house. A place to record music, a place to sing, a place of literature, a place to dream.

So when I found myself in the position of needing a new home. I put my feelers out and had my real estate agent send me links to affordable places. Suddenly, in the middle of Year End turmoil a link to a condo with 2,200 sq ft. came through.

I pulled it up and as I flipped through the photos my heart sang. A tiny backyard for a garden, a room for each of my kids and 3 bathrooms, a large living room and family room and then, the bonus room. I knew what that would be for.

I went that night to see the place, and it was exactly as I had hoped. I walked through each room until I found the bonus room and there it was, the large walk in closet, there I would build a voiceover booth. In the rest of the room a dance studio for my son.

Why, you might ask would I want such a thing? Dear friends I don't know, I could tell you my youngest brother is a sound engineer and was very happy I built this booth.

But that was not the reason, not really, the reason is that it is a part of a dream and I need to have a place to dream.


Thank you

SG

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

As I Began to Love Myself – Self Love Poem by Charlie Chaplin

As I began to love myself I found that anguish and emotional suffering
are only warning signs that I was living against my own truth. Today, I know, this is “AUTHENTICITY”.

As I began to love myself I understood how much it can offend somebody
As I try to force my desires on this person, even though I knew the time
was not right and the person was not ready for it, and even though this
person was me. Today I call it “RESPECT”.

As I began to love myself I stopped craving for a different life, and I could see that everything that surrounded me was inviting me to grow. Today I call it “MATURITY”.

As I began to love myself I understood that at any circumstance, I am in the right place at the right time, and everything happens at the exactly right moment. So I could be calm. Today I call it “SELF-CONFIDENCE”.

As I began to love myself I quit steeling my own time, and I stopped designing huge projects for the future. Today, I only do what brings me joy and happiness, things I love to do and that make my heart cheer, and I do them in my own way and in my own rhythm. Today I call it “SIMPLICITY”.

As I began to love myself I freed myself of anything that is no good for
my health – food, people, things, situations, and everything that drew
me down and away from myself. At first I called this attitude a healthy egoism. Today I know it is “LOVE OF ONESELF”.

As I began to love myself I quit trying to always be right, and ever since I was wrong less of the time. Today I discovered that is “MODESTY”.

As I began to love myself I refused to go on living in the past and worry
about the future. Now, I only live for the moment, where EVERYTHING is happening. Today I live each day, day by day, and I call it “FULFILLMENT”.

As I began to love myself I recognized that my mind can disturb me
and it can make me sick. But As I connected it to my heart, my
mind became a valuable ally. Today I call this connection “WISDOM OF THE HEART”.

We no longer need to fear arguments, confrontations or any kind of problems
with ourselves or others. Even stars collide, and out of their crashing
new worlds are born.Today I know THAT IS “LIFE”!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The Scenes to the Play of Life

Some thoughts I've gathered going through my week:

Life is like a play and different people are in different scenes

When we are little we play the role of baby, then child, then teenager, as we pass into adulthood we play the role of young adult, adult, middle aged and old aged.

The young have difficulty understanding the roles of adulthood and in some ways adults forget how to play the roles of the young.

Life has always been hard, I'm not saying that in a fatalistic or pessimistic way but it is a statement of fact.

I remember clearly hoping for the next stage in life thinking that I would escape the uncertainty, loneliness and difficulties of the stage that I was in. To a certain extent I now look back at the seemingly carefree days of my youth and longing for simpler times (when I wasn't in charge of making sure everything was OK).

The characters in my play when I was little included my grandparents, my parents, my brothers and sister, my cousins, aunts and uncles, the kids at school and the kids in the neighborhood. In the auxiliary scenes were people in my church, my teachers, principal etc.

I had a certain world view, my days were spent at school, at church and at home. I had difficulty making friends because I am a deep thinker and most of the time it was hard to convey my thoughts to others. I liked to play with dolls, do my hair and make-up, a lot of the same things as other girls but I have never been able to just think of shallow things. In the back of my mind were the stacks of books that I wanted to read, the things I wanted to influence and change (in my family), and the projects I wanted to take on in my own fantasy world. I wanted to have fun, I had a lot of fun, but it was usually me coming up with wild schemes and plans, I was always thinking of something new to do. It was hard for me to relate to other kids, other girls especially. I was a Tom Boy I suppose though that terminology seems to have changed. I can't say that I felt like a boy so I will stick with Tom Boy.

I was lonely, in my own world trying to learn about everything, I broke out of that world when my cousins would come over and when my brother and I would play video games. There again I would play video games and even got addicted to them but I felt some amount of shame for wasting my time so I found myself turning away from them.

My desire to fit in led me to make stupid decisions. Like going along with my "friend" who went shop lifting. Luckily I got caught and had to talk to a judge and that ended my shoplifting career. What was not so lucky for me was that I wanted to have a boyfriend, that desire led me to become a young mother.

And the scenes of my life changed.

As a young mother I was still a teenager so I still felt the desire to play and do fun things. This led me to put up a swimming pool outside of the window in our kitchen and climbing through with my kids. I still liked to watch Pokemon and play the game. I was jealous of my cousins who could still go out on dates and I really just lost touch with them because they couldn't relate to me and we couldn't do a lot of teenage things together.

The player in my life were still the same but with the added dynamic of a husband (who was still a teenage boy) and babies who needed me to be a mother.

I had a great desire to be the kind of mother they deserved, and I desired to go to school in order to be a good example for them.

Fast forward to my life now. My children are all growing up, my youngest is 10, I've been divorced from my first husband now for 6 years and separated/divorced from my second for 6 months. I don't know how this stage of life is supposed to work, I get the whole going to work and providing for my children aspect but I no longer go to church so that whole community of people and set beliefs is no longer there. I made breakfast for my children this Easter morning, and gave them small Easter presents but they will have to wait to do their Easter Egg hunt at my parents. Then that is getting awkward, unless my nieces are there the only one who is still technically a child is my youngest girl at 10. This developing stage of my life is me, without the support of a husband, without that consistency... and it's weird. Who do I let into the scenes of my life's play now? I don't exactly want to be in a relationship right now, I don't think I've found the right person, I don't know if I will ever find the right person. The person who I thought was right, turned out to think I was the wrong person and left... and that has been really hard for me. I gave my heart, my hopes and dreams to someone and the relationship that we had... and now it's gone.

That is the play of my life right now, the scenes don't make a lot of sense to me. I don't really know how to play this part, but I will figure it out.

SG