ON to BC

3 days.
2701 miles.
9 states.
2 provinces.
0 tickets.

Day 1.
1144 miles.
21 hours.
Ontario, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota.
1 cat meltdown. (Tibby doesn’t like the windows open.)

Day 2.
1145 miles.
18 hours.
North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington.
1 cat meltdown. (The blanket was too blankety for Tibby.)

Day 3.
412 miles.
9 hours.
Washington, British Columbia.
0 cat meltdowns.

Unfortunate Sacrifices:
1 windshield injured.
1,000,000+ bugs splattered.
0 birds or wildlife killed.

 

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Entertaining My Right Brain

It’s not all bad news bears. Here are a few of my recent projects.

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Sad table. Sanded table. Stained table getting waxed.

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Sad table. Sanded table. Stained table getting waxed.

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Sad table. Sanded table. Stained table getting waxed.

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Sad table. Sanded table. Stained table getting waxed.

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Sad table. Sanded table. Stained table getting waxed.

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Kindsight

kindsight

I’m not writing out of malice. Nor out of anger, hurt, or resentment. I am writing from a place of healing and trying to make sense of some of this hurt I have been carrying around for so long. I have chosen to share this all because I know how much reading others’ experiences and journeys has helped me understand and see things from a different perspective. If anything, I am grateful for what I lived through and what it taught me.

It taught me money won’t buy happiness.
It taught me how to be tough.
It taught me how important it is to value what you have instead of always wanting more.
It taught me that good enough is never good enough.
It taught me how important the little things are.
It taught me all about being selfless and generous.
It taught me independence.
It taught me gratitude.
It gave me role models for everything I don’t want to be.
It taught me about unconditional love.
It taught me to be self sufficient.
It taught me to expect nothing less than perfect.
It taught me that it’s better to work hard than to cheat the system.
It taught me to stand up for myself.
It taught me it’s better to be alone than in bad company and miserable.
It taught me I deserve more.
It taught me the value of sincerity.
It taught me how important honesty is.
It made me who I am and the values I hold.
It gave me a thousand reasons to stand tall when it felt like the world was against me.
It gave me the courage to follow my heart.
It taught me it’s OK to admit you’re wrong.
It taught me how important “I’m sorry” can be.
It taught me that sometimes all you can do is laugh.
It taught me about priorities and what’s really important.

By flying back and forth 3-4 times a year, often with just my sisters, I got to learn just how big and how small the world can feel at the same time.

From the age of 5, I have missed at least one significant person in my immediate family at any given time. I was an only child with two (later three) sisters, and don’t have a single memory with both my parents. But I learned that it’s possible to be really far away, and maybe even fall out of touch with people, but you can still just pick up the phone and call them like you’re just down the street and nothing has changed.

I have now had more addresses than I can count – last count was 17 or 18, but there have been a few more since. I know how hard it is to start over, and to readjust – sometimes in a big way and sometimes not. I’ve learned how annoying it is to pack everything when it feels like you barely unpacked. But I have also learned how to adapt. I’ve learned that there are some things that are really important to me – people, places, etc. – and some things that are just temporary. I’ve learned to protect the stuff that matters – whether that means moving it with me, or finding ways to recreate the space/experience/whatever in a new place, or staying connected to people that matter – and to let go of the rest.

I was bullied – badly – for as long as I can remember. I was always the odd one – too smart, too little, too pale, too blonde, the new kid, the ‘special case,’ you name it. I used to hate it and work so hard to ‘be normal.’ But I learned to own my weird and to be happy just being me. I prefer sitting on the floor to chairs. I don’t like my birthday, but think half-birthdays are really fun. I’m terrible at a lot of things, but I have fun doing them anyways. I don’t conform well to protocol and “just because that’s the way it’s done” – I grew up really fast and learned early that most of that is BS. I love thunderstorms and snowstorms, but I don’t believe in winter. I never had the ‘cool clothes’ or followed trends – I wear what I like and that’s that – though an excuse to get dressed up is a lot of fun. I’m happy to be alone, and sometimes forget that that’s a little weird – I don’t dislike being social, I just forget sometimes.

I never really got to be a kid when it came to emotions and the like. I’m sure I could have, but that was never my default reaction – I was always more concerned with keeping the peace because it was easier to deal with. It has helped me learn that I don’t react to a lot of stuff, but the things that do bother me deserve to be recognized because they’re far from trivial. I’m pretty patient, and can bend and flow with most things – it’s not that I don’t care, though I understand how it can seem like that sometimes.

Moving all the time made it difficult to keep friends, and frustrating to make new ones when there was a good chance I’d be losing them, too. I got good at being happy alone. While it does get lonely, sometimes in a sad way, sometimes not, I’m really grateful for it because I know that I won’t settle with someone who doesn’t make my life better by having them in it.

Right now, I am learning to heal.

 

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I take no responsibility for the uniform – but the tea cozy on my head is all me.

 

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Monsters.

Alright – so… I’m in Argentina, and have been for a little over a month now. I have no f*ing idea why I came down. I do know, though, that I’m glad I did.

Nearly sixteen years ago, I left my room in two suitcases to visit my Dad for the summer, and I didn’t come back. A few years later, I began to come back for visits. A week here, ten days there, nothing that really merited unpacking my suitcase. Until now.

It took me nearly a week to empty my suitcase. When I opened the closet that once held my school uniform, I half expected to find the neat (and bilingual) labels that marked each drawer. The door still marks my height – 4’11” and 62lbs – but the labels and uniform are long gone. Instead, I found the monsters that had tormented me for years patiently waiting for me to come back. Some had grown stronger and meaner in my absence, while others just looked bored.

As I was home alone for a few days, these demons took full advantage and settled in comfortably to keep me company. In the evening, they reminded me of the fear and dread that would wash over the house when the garage would open for my stepdad. His footsteps down the hall would stop as he re-wound the cuckoo clock, marking that the house was now to be tip-toed in and that “Mummy is busy” for the rest of the night. They showed me the painting in the formal dining room I used to stare at during family dinners, doing my best not to cry under the latest round of bullying from the same man. After lunch, they sat with me by the pool, where my older sister had stood for hours with me trying to get me to jump over a broom handle – recreating my first taste of paralyzing anxiety. At breakfast, they gave me the same crippling stomach pains that would keep me home from school and unable to eat. These very same monsters that made me feel alone and insignificant, that told me I wasn’t good enough, and that made it terrifying to feel anything at all, were still here – happy doing it all over again.

It was overwhelming, to say the least. But after a good three-day total meltdown, I realized I’m bigger now; maybe even braver. So instead of running away (which clearly didn’t work last time), I am getting to know these monsters for what they are. If they’re going to hang around, I need to know what they’re all about.

When I moved sixteen years ago, I was moving away from a psychologically abusive house where I had never felt at home or wanted. What I didn’t realize was that I moved into a verbally abusive one where those feelings were not only still present, but also explicitly confirmed. In both cases, the abusers are/were my step-parents, which was hard. In both cases, neither of my parents were able or willing to defend or protect me, which was worse.

I remember at times wishing for physical abuse instead of having my insides completely gutted by a heartless slew of venomous words. I am in NO way trying to diminish the atrocity that is physical abuse, and I would not wish it on anyone – ever. But at the time, physical abuse felt like a black or white environment – it had clearly defined boundaries between right and wrong. It can be felt, seen, processed, understood, and to anyone with even half a brain, it is absolutely unacceptable under any circumstances. The psychological and emotional warfare, however, held me hostage in this dungeon of gray area that made it so hard to explain and understand what I was going through. Granted, my willingness to share my feelings was (and arguably still is) right up there with a spoiled toddler’s willingness to share his favorite toy. I was sent to therapy, sure, but after at least half a dozen “failed” therapists, it was clear to me that I didn’t need therapy – I needed parents.

I needed the people who I was supposed to be able to trust and count on to be there for me. I needed them to stick up for me, to stop the abuse, to tell me I was doing alright. I needed them to listen to me, even when I wasn’t able to talk. I needed to be hugged, to feel loved, and to know that as their kid, I (along with my sisters) came first. I needed them to at least occasionally put being a parent ahead of being a spouse or a scorned ex. I needed a home – not just a house.

I got lucky. I was able to find a lot of this support from other places, and have a lot of people to thank for helping me through some of the really rough times. In the last few years I have started to created my own home, but I am still carrying around this old void that I need to close.

It’s a process, but I think I’m starting to heal. I have been able to show my Mom what my depression looks like up close. I think it has helped her understand it a little better. It’s also just nice to be able to share what I am going through – especially since I can’t really just hide from the world like I normally do at home.

It’s going to take time, but I am really glad I’m here. Monsters and all.

Fear

 

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Soul searching

But I’m part ginger, so you can imagine how it’s going. 

Taking some time away from one life to stick my toes in another. More to come. 

It’s always cuter when a minion says it.

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Totally my bad.

Thank you for the lots of love and concern re my last post, but I think I need to clarify a bit. With regards to coming off my meds the last time – I was completely under my doctor’s supervision, and she was just unfortunately a bit too confident in my ability to adjust. I went from a supra-max dose of two medications down to zilch in a little under three weeks. More on this at a later date.

As for right now, I have made the decision to stay on my medication for a few reasons.

  1. I have finally reached a level of generally consistent manageable steadiness. After nearly a year and a half of bouncing all over the place, I’m mostly ok. And this is a good thing.
  2. You don’t stop taking blood thinners just because you stopped having heart attacks. You stopped having heart attacks because the blood thinners are working.
  3. Continuing that analogy – you don’t give up on taking care of yourself just because the doc prescribed blood thinners for your heart disease. This is no different. And actually – from now on I will be referring to anti-depressants/anti-anxiety meds as thought thinners. It just sounds way better. Because they don’t cancel out or anti- depression or anxiety. They just help make it manageable. They thin the thoughts out a little so they don’t weigh so heavily, and so they don’t get stuck as easily. So – just like on blood thinners, you still have to eat apples and take the stairs at work, on thought thinners you have to practice mindfulness and, well, take the stairs at work. (This is not to say that once on thought thinners, you can never come off. It’s just to say that they’re not a crutch, a scapegoat, or a one-stop fix-all solution.)
  4. Because the thought of bottoming out again is terrifying. And I think that means I’m probably not ready.

On unrelated notes:

  • Tibby (the kitten) is slowly losing her resolve and letting me smother her with kisses.
  • I think I may have accidentally acquired some incidental super-blonde highlights post hair relaxing.
  • The hardest part of my runs is the first 5 minutes. When I’m still at home and have to force myself to go. Inertia is my nemesis.
  • There is no sexy way to take off socks. Seriously – I dare you to try and find one.
  • Running out of coffee is an emergency that happens far too frequently in this house for my liking. I realize I am solely to blame.
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Tell me, please. How can I not interrupt this napping adorableness with copious amounts of unsolicited love?

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To pill or not to pill.

After my big declaration to wage war on depression on Monday, I got to thinking; do I really need my meds and that refill I whined so much about? Could I maybe wean myself off now and give this a shot without them to really get a feel for what works and what doesn’t? Could I save myself the $300?

Full disclosure: You are NOT, under any circumstances, supposed to decide on your own to just take yourself off these medications. Bad things can, and likely will happen. (What they don’t tell you is that even under the ‘guidance’ of a GP, you can also hit rock bottom in the world of withdrawal and find yourself curled up on the floor outside your bathroom in a cold sweat, nauseous, shaking, with a racing heart, dizzy, and struggling to breathe.) But when your get-what-you-pay-for ‘free’ medical system leaves you SOL – well – there really isn’t a doc for me to go to. Also: see above for previous experience.

So the dilemma, as I continue to prepare my Just Feel Better arsenal for this project, is whether or not to continue to supplement my own brain chemistry with pharmaceuticals.

 

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Frankly, everybody needs a friend who will make them a nest.

 

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Just be happy.

Sure. And you can just be taller.

After spending no less than four hours trying to get my antidepressant prescription refilled, I have come to a rather obvious conclusion. The problem was not that my psychiatrist did not think to refer me to another one, knowing full well I was unable to return to the clinic at school. It was not that my GP did not give me enough refills. It wasn’t even that the system here in Canada requires me to have a referral from a previous doctor in order to see a new doctor, despite being unable to see said previous doctor. It was also not the fault of the walk-in clinic which is overused because of these other challenges with our system. The problem wasn’t even that the pharmacy assistant made the decision to only fill half of my prescription when I took it in, without thinking to ask when I dropped it off.

No, while all of the above made for a rather tiresome and unproductive morning, these aren’t my problem. My problem is depression itself. And if I’m honest, the medication I spent so much time tracking down is only about halfway helpful. So as I look to embark on a 4-month hiatus from life as I know it, I am also embarking on a full-on shakedown with depression.

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Remnants of my pharmaceutical shakedown to find something that works.

What will this look like?

I will chant and mediate. Run, lift, yoga, and clean up my eating. I will color, write, read, and paint. I will take a break from social media. I will clean up my sleep schedule. I will establish a morning routine, a night time ritual, and perfect my happy dance. I will do whatever other trick, tip, or hack I can find (within reason) that may help with depression. And I will catalog my experiences here.

So help me if one more person tells me that “I just need to feel better.” This is not about out-willing depression or proving that medication isn’t the answer. This is not to belittle depression, anxiety, or anything else. This is to try, test, and see what helps and what doesn’t for me and to share that with you. I am open to suggestions, comments, and thoughts. Yes, I will continue with my medication until / unless something changes. This is about finding balance.

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I don’t make the rules.

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Oh, hi!

What do we do when we promise to do something daily and then go up a mountain on horseback for 5 days, only to come back down and totally drop the ball on writing again because, well, there’s just so much to write about, where should I start? We totally continue to drop the ball (how many balls are there?!) and don’t write anything for another 2-3 weeks, because, well, now there’s just so much more to write about, plus there might be that need for a “sorry I haven’t written” post that just sucks – because, really, does anyone care?

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So what do we do? We (uh, that would be just me) just pick up and keep going. Because that’s what mindful people do. And I’m mindful. Sometimes. When I remember.

So here we are. Nestled back into my reading nest at home (thank you Urban Barn) in the middle of a Thursday morning, watching my (not-so) kitten snuggle up to her big brother in his laundry basket.

I feel like good blogs have a theme. A topic of some kind. And – well – in case you haven’t noticed – I have the attention span of a cracked out goldfish in a room full of shiny things. So – nailing down some kind of ‘theme’ hasn’t really happened. Nor am I sure that it will. But some things I want to address in the near future:

  • Morning routines
  • Just feel better
  • Crayons to Ink – the fuzzy logic behind the name
  • The back rows of 747s (sometimes also the bulkhead and occasionally first class)
  • Superhero parents (or lackthereof)
  • The idiocy of immigration policies

Stay tuned.

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Goals

Monday seems like a good eaday to review my goals and update progress. At least this Monday does. So here we go:

1. Daily blogging – check

2. Daily yoga – not unless squirming around counts 

3. Running – check. Once. Last Monday. Erp.

4. Push/Pull-ups: no push, some pull in the pool off the diving board. 

5. Headspace (meditation) – check. 

Disclaimer – I’ve been posting from my phone, so I’m pretty much leaving formatting and editing in the hands of WordPress.  

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