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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

On the Edge

Visit my other blog jackandjilly.org to read my new post On the Edge

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve: A Tribute to Nastalgia

Christmas Eve is and has always been a special day for me.  I suppose everyone feels the same in some way.  As a child it held this sort of magical feel to it...like a denseness in the air that you could almost breathe in.  I've been a little disappointed in my adult years at how ordinary of a day Christmas Eve has become.  My sister once told me that once I had children of my own it would become magical again. But no matter how dull it may feel for whatever reason, the memories of Christmases past keep it alive for me...atleast until those fantom children arrive at some point in my life (I do hope).  Every year on Christmas Eve, my parents would load us kids up into the car and we would head to my grandparent's house. There would be food, music and general merriment.  My mom or my aunt Judy would usually lead some sort of activity-slash-story for the young kids. And then there was the passing out of the presents. The announcement of this ritual always brought shouts of excitement from the kids.  The little ones would jump up and run to the tree, and as my grandmother would direct them in which present went to whom, they delivered them like excited little elves buzzing with joy.  And you couldn't open them up any old time you wished. Oh no. You had to go in procession of age. We started with the oldest children (also known as "The Four Girls", to which elitest group I belonged),  and worked our way down. Then came the adults. With everyone looking on, you would open your gifts, announce who it was from, and then hold it up for everyone to see.  You would either then look at the gift giver and give an acknowledgement of thanks, or go give a hug in gratitude. After all the gifts had been opened and songs had been sung, families began to disperse to their respective households for the night.  We always tended to be the first to arrive and the last to leave (I attribute that to my mother, who is always setting up and cleaning up for every event I think I've ever been to in my whole life. Just goes to show how service oriented she is).  On the ride home, my dad would always take the back roads and try to find streets with light-adorned houses for us to look at. I can remember watching out of the window, wondering if I might catch a glimps of the silhouette of Santa and his reindeer against the moonlit sky. When we arrived home, it was pretty quick to bed because by then it was usually far past our bedtime.  My sister and I would go into our room that we shared and compare our gifts and talk about what Santa might bring in the morning. I can still feel the warm feeling of the evening as I drifted off to sleep.
We no longer hold our Smith family get-together on Christmas Eve, mainly because we all grew up. Grandchildren started to marry and have children of their own. We do still have our gathering every year, however, usually sometime on the weekend leading up to Christmas. Last night, as we all hung out together and ate food and sang songs, I had a flood of nostalgia wash over me.  It was never about the presents. For me, it was always about the love that we all shared for each other as we celebrated the birth of the One who made it possible for us to be together forever. I will be forever grateful for the precious gift that is Jesus Christ, and that I have a family that still enjoys being together. Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Musical Musings

I love music. Like speaks to my heart and calms my soul kind of love. Interesting thing though...some days, i literally can't stand for anything except piano music. With maybe some strings thrown in. If I even hear a voice it grates my nerves. Now what sense does that make? I have a theory. Piano has always made me feel grounded. Like everything is right with the world. I suppose that's why I stuck with the lessons all those years. And why to this day, when my soul feels in turmoil, putting my hands on those keys instantly melts my sorrow away. My only wish is that I played more, and that I was better than I am. Maybe I should work on that.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Mrs. Walker

Here I sit today, trying to focus on my tasks at hand, engaged in a tug-of-war between my daydreaming mind and what needs to be done. I tend to get frustrated a little on days like this...its sunny outside, somewhat warm (and lets face it, after the rain and ugliness of the past two days, who isn't distracted by that?) and I'm stuck at a desk with a to-do list. And then in walks Mrs. Walker. She's one of my oldest residents and by far the most colorful character in the place. I love her. She calls the office every couple of days just to say hi to me or ask if I have any candy canes for her. Today she walked in bearing gifts in the form of chocolate and a bribe to try and get me to come help her clean 10 pounds of chitlins she just bought. True story. A few weeks ago when I informed her we were doing our annual apartment inspections she called to let me know she just put 3 holes in the wall so we would have something to be worried about in her unit. Of course she was joking, but after we left she called me to let me know we had forgotten to fold her laundry while we were there. Mrs. Walker brightens my day. Sometimes she makes a bad day turn around when she comes in just to chat for a few minutes and make me feel better. I'm so grateful for wonderful,different, and even eccentric people. They make the world a much more interesting place to be.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Just Jill

There are days where I sit in whatever little space I happen to be in, listening to musical favorites such as Ray LaMontagne or Citizen Cope or my recent love Brett Dennen.  I begin to feel so at peace with myself that I start to suspect I'm an imposter. Like I have this stuck-in-overdrive need to define myself. And for what? So I can fit into some kind of category neatly filed away in the "walks of life" folder? I personally feel that my need to do this is out of a deep concern that I'm normal, boring, unoriginal. Which is ironic only because I spend the other half of my energy worrying that in fact I may just be abnormal afterall. Sometimes its exhausting living in a jilly world. I remember this one time my sister filled out some stupid facebook or email survey about me (that we all used to do in the beginning...don't act like you didn't), and upon being asked to describe me using terms such as "sporty, classy, etc" she instead said: she's just jill. I know, I remember the oddest things. But that's besides the point. Maybe I don't need a label or a category to belong in...i mean who really wants that anyway? I guess its that part of ourselves that still exists in 14-year old land where all we want in life is to fit somewhere. Maybe I'm okay with just being jill. I like jill, she's pretty cool...even with all of the unpredictability. Does that make me a bad person?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

So, I guess i'm human....

It can be a humbling (and even embarrassing) experience when we suddenly realize we have limits we didn't used to have. I've seen this type of thing happen with people such as my grandparents or even my own immediate family, but I guess I forgot that it can happen to me too. All I can tell you is I don't like it. At all. For the past little while I've been trying to define my own new limits as my ability to handle high stress has gone way down (hard to admit...i used to thrive amidst stress, especially at work). I say that like I have control of those limits, but I don't really. Not yet anyway. It's more like bumping into a brick wall head first and then realizing it exists. Mainly I spend most of my energy focused on the confines of my emotional and mental state. However this week I went crashing into a physical boundary that, quite frankly, upset me. My brother and I moved all of our big furniture that warranted a U-haul. Luckily we don't have much. Let me give you a little bit of back story....
I've always prided myself a little on my physical strength. Thanks to my dad, I inherited an abnormal amount of muscle for a girl and if you gripped my bicep you would think I lifted weights on the regular even when I don't. I could lift very heavy things without breaking a sweat. For the past year, I've been experiencing a great deal of physical pain...mostly joint and nerve pain. I've become progressively weaker and I'm not thrilled. Last night when we were trying to move stuff...I knew it was gonna be really hard for me. We lifted my brother's dresser and I thought my whole arm was gonna come off. We set it down and he went to try to call his buddies and see if someone could come help him. By the time he came back into the room, I was already in cry mode. We picked the dresser up and then he said, "Are you crying?" yes, yes i was. Why? because I was frustrated at how weak I had become. Frustrated at the pain that hit my joints immediately when I tried to lift something heavy. And I was embarrassed because I couldn't lift a stupid dresser with my brother. He of course told me I was being silly and shouldn't beat myself up over it. Limits...yeah...not a fan. I guess i'm human after all....

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Thankful Heart

Leave it to me to do my "thanksgiving" post two days late. That's just how i roll. Besides, I'd hate to be predictable.
There are always little snapshots in time where I think about where I might be in my life a year from now. This of course leads me to look backwards and see where I was a year ago. Only one thing remains consistent...I am never where I thought i'd be. almost never anyway. Last year, I was just thankful to be alive...because most of the time I felt dead. Last year at this time, I had far since slid into a black hole that was spiraling downward. After wandering around down there in the dark for awhile I came across a little bit of luck and a lotta bit of miracle and stumbled upon an escalator back up.  Fine by me, didn't want to take the stairs anyway. Which leads me to my first "thankful"...escalators. Literally and figuratively. Literal escalators are those fancy things that make me move up stairs faster-than-your-average jilbeez. My figurative escalator, however, exists in the form of God. Oh how grateful I am for His all-knowing wisdom in directing my life, and His unending love for me.
My second thankful is my family. i'm so blessed to have a functional disfunctional family. I feel lucky that I am close friends with all of my siblings and my parents. I hear horror stories from people who are alienated from their families and i can't even imagine what my life would be like if that were me. And I don't want to. I don't want to sound like I have favorites in my fam, because I don't, but I need to give a special shout out to my mother. She is truly one of the most selfless people i've ever known. She serves others before even thinking about herself. And she always has the time to pick up the phone and talk to me when I need a sounding board.
I'm so so thankful to have a new job. Stepping away from managing a crazy pizza store has already done wonders for me physically and mentally. It kind of fell in my lap at just the right time...proof that I have a Heavenly Father (with the help of a great friend) that is watching out for me. I have normal workday hours, 40 hours a week, much lower stress....its good people. very good.
Don't let me forget my friends now. Because I have some pretty fantastic ones. Many I don't get to see very much, but I still love them something fierce. And I'm grateful to have ones who actually seem to want to hang out with me. I'd hate to truly be a loner.
That leads me to my last-but-not-least thankful. My tests and trials. While they are not fun, they keep me on my toes. They keep me humble. They remind me to always look to my Savior Jesus Christ. I'm continually learning patience in the Lord's timing. I wouldn't be me without them.
I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving with their families!

Friday, November 25, 2011

So What?

I am often amused at the extraordinary-ness and complexity of the human mind  It's ability to do things against your will even in the awareness of what is going on is amazing. Let me give you a "for instance".  The other night I was delivering a few pizzas...and by few i mean nobody wanted any that night. I was scheduled out at a specific time, but the owner came by to visit and we all got caught up in chit-chatting. We hadn't had a single order in almost an hour and as I went to get my stuff together so I could go home the phone started to ring. Apparently everyone had suddenly awakened at 10pm and wanted pizza. I ended up having to stay 2 hours past when I was scheduled out. Ordinarily this would have been no big deal...it was thanksgiving eve and I had no plans...and I needed the money considering our slowness earlier. Lately, however, quick changes in plans..no matter how small..throw me into a tizzy. I went full-blown freak out inside of myself.  I got irritable, slightly explosive and my moods started swinging like a third grader at recess. I realized the ridiculousity of this, almost like i was sitting in my own passenger seat watching the flipping out, but yet i couldn't make it stop. I called my mom on my way back from a delivery just to process the frustration of it all. After about 45 minutes, the swings passed and I was exhausted from containing it inside rather than let it out on innocent bystanders. And all I could really do was laugh. Hey, it was either that or cry. I laughed because it makes no sense why I get like that. I laughed because even while i know this, I can't see it coming or stop it once it arrives. I laughed because people that see these episodes in me must think I'm a complete loon. Maybe I am...so what.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

It's Complicated....

Some days, i really want to write. But then i stop myself because i figure nobody really wants to read about what i want to write about. And then i hem and haw over whether to write anyways because i feel compelled or go with the whole "i'm in hiding" act. Do you see this? This is kind of characteristic of my life lately. I go back and forth about whether i like my job or hate it. I go back and forth between feeling "normal" (whatever that is) and feeling like i'm stuck in some alternate reality pinball game where my life is the machine and i'm the ball. And most notably, as of late, I go back and forth between accepting my reality and thinking this is all a big mistake. Either way, my life is...to put it mildly...complicated. 


I guess really what there is to do is figure out what there is to do. And by that I mean "what is my next step."

There is only one word that comes to mind..."Acceptance."  Problem is, I don't know how. Let's take last week for example. I felt fantastic. Normal. No pain, no real irritability. No swift mood shifts. No bad panic attacks. It was great. I miss feeling like that. Lucky me...i got to feel like that almost all week. I started having ideas for the future. I started making plans for going back to school or steps to starting my own business. I started having this conversation with myself:  "I'm not really bipolar. My doctor was mistaken. See? This is all blowing over. Maybe it's just something i've been eating or because i haven't been taking the best care of myself. Maybe pretty soon I will feel steady enough to come off my medication."  etc, etc.  Remember how sometimes when you rave about something great, either you or your friend over there will say "sssssshhhhhhhh....don't jinx it!" yeah. jinxed it. this girl over here.

You know what I don't get? How quickly it can all change. Like one day I feel fine...i'm in a good mood. The next day, i feel like i'm in the battle of my lifetime. It literally takes every ounce of my life force energy (as i like to call it) to hold it somewhat together, to not let my mind go through that door. After all, I don't want to flip in front of that person there, or that person over there. They might think i'm crazy if they knew what was going on inside of me. What would they really think then? What do my friends think? What does my mom or my dad or my sister or my brothers think? Really people. It's exhausting in every sense of the word. And why do i care so much about what other people think? Are they going through it? no. well, some of them do because of their interaction with me, but they don't reaaaaaallly get it. Maybe I don't want to write about it because I'm worried people think I should hide it. Or that I should just snap out of it. Or that I just need to think about other things. But you know, how can I help other people if I stay quiet? And how can I help myself? I can't help by being quiet, and so I won't. First step....acceptance. It may take awhile. It's complicated.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Just Focus and Go Deep

Tonight while I was driving around in my car I was listening to a lecture given by Brad Feld at Stanford University on entrepreneurship. Brad graduated from MIT and has started, sold, and invested in many successful business ventures. Despite the fact that i cringe at the way he pronounces "entrepreneur" (which i will forgive him for. Poor guy is too smart for his own good.), he is pretty fun to listen to. After the lecture, he opened up the mic for a Q and A session.  One student asked Brad what MIT taught him about entrepreneurship. His response was: "I don't think MIT helped me as an entrepreneur. What MIT did was teach me how to think. My experience was very simple. MIT was a constant assault on my self-esteem. From day one all the way through. continuous. I was top of my class in high school and got a 20 on my first physics class at MIT. What do you do when you are 17 years old, fresh into college and get a 20 on your first test? You go to your room, shut the door and cry for an hour. But I look back on it and it taught me how to go deep on a problem, and stay on a problem even if I was lost, and keep doing it and digging at it until I got somewhere. You just focus and go deep."
Here's why i loved what he said: There comes a time in our lives, several times even, where we look at our lives and realize we have no idea what the crap is going on. Or atleast that's my experience. Half the time I feel like my life is characterized by a run-a-way horse and I'm the goofy pig-tailed girl flopping around behind it hanging on for dear life. Through it all, I've been blessed to learn that a loving Heavenly Father is at the reigns and I just have to "focus and go deep" and keep trying to fight my way back up to the saddle. Right now I feel lost about a lot of things...my health, my next step...but I know I must be patient and put first things first. So I'm going to focus....focus on my health and doing what i can to feel better so I can move foward. And so I start my cleanse tomorrow...ready or not (and i'm not, but what the hey). I'm gonna have to dig deep in the beginning. Its no easy feat to cut out all processed things, my beloved caffeine, dairy, bread, sugar, etc. But I have to keep my eye on the prize and know it will be worth it to not feel like i'm dying every day if this helps. So thank you Brad for your words of encouragement, even if they were meant for business and not my personal issues.  "Focus and Go Deep" just might make it up on my wall with some of my other favorites such as being  "Creatively Disciplined" and practicing "Diligent Joy". I'll leave you with those thought provoking little tidbits....

Friday, October 21, 2011

"I'm waiting for my friend...."

We all have the occasional awkward and unusual encounter with perfect strangers out in public. I thought i'd share my latest.

My friend stefanie needed a ride to the airport in the middle of the night/early morning so i volunteered because a) i'm usually up at odd hours of the night and b) i'm awesome.  Don't forget that. We stopped to get gas on our way out of winston and I went in to stock up on caffeine since I was already feeling a little tired and i had atleast 3 hours driving until i got back home. As i went to get my drink of choice, i ended up in a minor altercation with the door of the cooler thingy. Don't laugh...it was hard people. I approached the counter to pay and, being my usual friendly self, made a joke about the drink cooler being jill-proof. Nothing. No laugh, no obligatory "i hear ya", not even a smile. Just a blank stare from the girl. okay fine, no talking. you hate your job. i get it. I was about to walk out the door when i hear behind me a random "I'm waiting for my friend."

I turn around to face the counter girl and find her about 5 feet away, holding a shiny dime in the air.
"Do you see how shiny it is?" she asked, clear excitement in her voice.
"I do...that is one shiny dime you have there" I replied.
 "Do you know what year it's from? 1964!" she exclaimed, "This dime is real silver, not like the ones we have today."
"Oh," I said, "Are you a coin collector?" (I should note that i'm now half inside, half outside the door with stefanie just watching and waiting for me, probably wondering what the heck kind of conversation i got myself into now)
"No, I don't care about coins. I just save them for my customer friend. He comes in almost every night to get coffee. He trades me cookout shakes for them."
"Hey now, that's a nice trade!" I told her. I then waved and smiled and hurried out the door before she could keep going. Its not that i'm mean, i just have places to be.

So here's my question, a point that stefanie made as i recounted the story once we were back on the road. If she trades the coins for cookout shakes, does that mean her drawer is always off at the end of the night? Certainly she "buys" the coins from the store first. And what was with the silent act until i'm almost out the door? As for the encounter....Strange? kinda. I've had much stranger. Awkward? Definitely. But hey, it's these kind of things that make life interesting, yeah?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

You Can Make Your Pathways Bright....

Sometimes I have a hard time accepting my reality. And so, in order to deal with it, i choose not to deal with it. Instead I find myself waiting....waiting for the day when "it" is over.  Whatever "it" is. Somedays its being depressed. Somedays its being overweight. Somedays its being irritable or anxious. Somedays its the pain that has taken over my body.  Speaking of that pain....did you know it is a 3 month wait to see a specialist? 3 MONTHS. My doctor recently got lab work back that warrants sending me to see a rheumatologist. My appointment is literally not until january. I guess its a good thing i'm not dying. Just one more thing to wait for. But you know what? I'm so so so so sick of waiting. I'm sick of not being able to get out of bed until I absolutely have to. I'm sick of being energetic and happy one minute and being irrationally angry the next. I'm sick of crying for no apparent reason except that i feel guilty for my mood swings or my lack of willpower lately. I just want to be ON THE PATH....on the path to healing, in whatever form that is going to be. Does my medication help? absolutely...and i'm grateful to have it right now while i'm learning to cope with all of this. But I don't really fancy being on medication for the rest of my life. That's right, i said fancy. There are things going on with me that I legit cannot control. But there are things that i can, things that i can do for myself that will make my path easier. Like getting more sleep (check on that one...almost too much if i do say so myself), eliminating foods from my diet that don't support healing, less stress (doing well with that one too...go ahead, pat me on the back. i don't bite).  Why have I not done many of these things already? Well, please feel free to reference that sentence up there....yeah, that one about the willpower. I don't know why except that i just...couldn't. (Please keep all of your opinions about my willpower to yourself, they won't help my guilt problem.)  And so, I can see my path....all lit up and lined with rows of spinach. Imma gonna go get my Popeye on....anyone wanna come with?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Letting Go

I've always thought that I was someone who forgave easily.  "Forgive and Forget" seemed like something i was pretty good at....until i discovered that it wasn't.  I've admitted to myself recently that i never really forget. Bothered by this, I've often wondered if that means I don't truly forgive people. I certainly want to. Maybe I just don't really know how. I suppose I can't "forgive and forget" properly because I look at the situation selfishly. How could they possible do this to me after I've loved them so much, how can they not understand me, why can't they just love me for me when I love them for them?...etc.  You know the drill. When I look at most of my heartbreaks over something or another, I realize it was hardly about me at all. It had to do with them. Still, I struggle with letting go. Letting go of my hurt, letting go of my victim-hood....because at some point along the way I've earned the right to feel jaded. OH THE INJUSTICE OF IT ALL! Laughable, am I right?

Being faced with the need to let go isn't easy for me. Especially not when it comes to matters of the heart. Those who know me know I love deeply no matter what the relationship. But sometimes the love you have for someone needs to be set free...so that you can truly move on and be happy for them in their life's events as they become separate from yours. I've learned that the longer I've loved, the harder it is to let that love go. I refuse to feel like all those years of loving are for naught. Instead I will try to find happiness in the lessons learned and the memories shared, and feel gratitude for opportunity I had to feel love in my heart. And then, with only a slight grimace, I will wish them all the happiness they can bear in this life and let go of them once and for all.

Friday, October 14, 2011

My House of Horrors

I was at my sister's house yesterday when she asked me "hey jill, do you ever feel anxious when delivering pizzas?" I knew she was referring to that horrible time i was robbed at gunpoint and they jacked my car while on a delivery. I answered yes to that question, but surprisingly not because of the robbery.


I recently stepped down from my position as a general manager and took on the role of special events manager (wake forest football games, basketball games, concerts, etc) due to health reasons. Because special events only takes up a day or two a week, i fill in my time by running some shifts here and there and mostly driving. I was transferred to a store that has quite the abundance of country. At night sometimes i find myself delivering to houses out in the middle of the woods where, upon driving up to the house, i think to myself "wow this would be a fantastic setting for a horror movie." And while that might seem funny to most people, we all know my inability to tolerate movies like that. So, what makes me anxious? The other night I was delivering to a customer. It was rainy and dark, and as i curved back and forth on the back-country road I started to come up on a small bridge over a little creek when it happened...a flashback. One i hadn't thought about in a while, or at least since the last time it was rainy and i crossed over a bridge like that in the middle of nowhere.

I was eight years old. My dad, my sister, my brother and I had all been in High Point visiting my grandparents. It was pouring....like flash flood type of pouring. As the roads even became flooded my dad decided we needed to hurry and get home before it got worse. In those days, the best way to get to High Point was by back road i believe. My dad had a pickup truck with one of those camper tops on it. We often sat back there on bean bags (yes, lets hear the collective gasp. These were in the days before "click it or ticket"...ya'll remember, right?) Anyway, I remember looking out the window and being amazed at the flooding that was happening. Knowing me, i was probably also a little paranoid. We were driving near the Davidson/Forsyth county line when we came upon Muddy Creek.  There was a car ahead with flashers. And when we looked to the left....there was a large woman stumbling up the creek bank covered in blood. Those of you who know me know that this quickly became a jill-unfriendly experience. My dad pulled over and hopped out of the car. Apparently this woman and her fiance (they were to be married the next day) had run off the road and into the over-flowing creek. The car was in the creek bed and the water was so high that the car could not be seen.  She was bloody from fighting to get out of the car and fighting her way up the briar-infested bank. Her fiance had not made it out of the car.  My dad came back to the truck to get a rope...he was going to tie himself to the bridge and jump in to try and save him. I was terrified watching this all from the truck. I kept fearing that the bloody woman would come up to the truck window where us kids were....and i was very scared of her. I was further terrified when i saw that my dad was going to jump in the now rushing river. As my dad prepared to go, he got a strong impression that it was too late and he need not risk his life by jumping in. Now as an adult, i cannot imagine the horror that woman went through, not to mention losing her fiance the day before their wedding.

Whenever i cross a small creek bridge on a rainy day or night, the fear of that experience comes back to me like a flash of lightning. And then i get a feeling of gratitude....gratitude that i have a father that had the courage and compassion to try and save a stranger. gratitude for the knowledge of what happens when we die. gratitude for a loving Savior that comforts us in trying times such as when we lose a loved one or when we are scared. And gratitude in that same Savior who paved the way for us so that we can live again.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Hot Dog! That There's a Weiner....


I know that according to any of you PETA people out there, this probably shouldn't be funny. 
News flash: it is.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Part 2

The way i just wrote that whole story seems so clinical. I hate writing that way. But I wanted to give those I love the history...so that maybe they could understand what i've been dealing with, and maybe they could look back and see the signs that were in front of us all. Here's the thing....I can't wrap my own head around it. I don't know how to get you to understand. I don't know what this means going forward. But I do know one thing....this too has its purpose. Maybe its just my inner hypochondriac speaking, but I've always known I would have to deal with some kind of illness, and that it would be significant in my life. Maybe that's even why I get so freaked out about every little ache and pain. I mean really...i'm quite obsessive about it. Annoyingly so, some might say ;). I was prepared as much as I could be for some kind of physical illness. I was in no way prepared for a mental one. I mean, I know myself....people like me don't have a mental illness, right? I know that logically its an absurd thought, but it's one that apparently i'm fighting against. Moving forward, i want to ask for everyone's patience. This is a frustrating time for me, and I know its frustrating for some of you that are closest to me. But it's all going to work out, and I know that because God always has a purpose. And I will discover that purpose and use it for good. That is my promise.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

It's Not Easy Being Green....I mean Blue.

"It's the loneliest feeling in the world--to find yourself standing up when everyone else is sitting down. To have everybody look at you and say "what's the matter with her?" I know what it feels like. Walking down an empty street, listening to the sound of your own footsteps. Shutters closed, blinds drawn, doors locked against you. And you aren't sure whether you're walking towards something, or if you're just walking away." 


I didn't write that quote, but i most certainly can identify with it. I've been trying to decide how to write about this subject. The reality is I don't know how. But i'm going to anyway, because it's important. It's important because i need to be heard. It's important because somewhere out there somebody is going through what i have, and nobody wants to talk about it. So I will.

I think I've spent most of my life feeling a little like an outcast. I felt like that with my friends growing up, I felt like that with my family....It wasn't anything they did or didn't do, I just felt that way. Like i was holding my breath, waiting for them to run away from me. This may come as a shock to those who have known me my whole life because I never really talked about it, but its true. I guess as I got older I just assumed everyone felt that way. And maybe they do....I believe we all have it in us to feel scared we aren't enough in some way. When I was in middle school I began to notice my tendency to drop into what I know now was depressive episodes. It was intense, and I remember specifically being in 7th grade, lying on my bed to the glow of christmas lights I had hung in my room, listening to music I had recorded from the radio. I remember crying myself to sleep sometimes, just because i felt misunderstood or sad. I didn't talk about it because I didn't know how. I was afraid I wasn't normal. The first real time i remember atleast trying to talk about it was with my friend i've known the longest in this world. She was staying the night, and while we laid in our respective beds I just began crying. She heard me sniffling and asked what was wrong. I couldn't tell her because I didn't know. She probably doesn't even remember that experience, but I do.

In high school I forgot about that stuff mostly...I was too busy trying to find where I fit and having fun. You see, I have these two sides to me. On one hand I can be talkative, energetic and a ton of fun. On the other I can be broody, quiet and extremely introverted. I've always done my best writing during those times by the way. Looking back I wish I would have recognized things for what they were. But I was so afraid of being different, afraid of being weak or fragile. Surely everyone else felt just like this too, right? I tell you all this now because some people might ask "well where did this come from out of the blue?" It's not out of the blue. You just didn't know about it.

The past three years especially have been my very own version of Dante's Inferno. My experiences themselves haven't been that bad per se, but strictly speaking about the raging battle inside of me. And now i'm just tired. The pivotal moment i'm sure was being car-jacked three years ago. That really became the catalyst for what was to come. As a result of that event, I felt like everything I had ever struggled with came back to the surface to haunt me. After the panic attacks started came a really really bad bout with depression. I'm not sure i would have survived through that as well had it not been for an angel during that period of time. She knows who she is. It was very apparent for me why I had been sent there to her and her family. I needed her and she needed me. Funny how Heavenly Father works things out like that, ya know? It wasn't until after I had been struggling with panic attacks and depression for some time that I finally sought counseling. It took them about 10 minutes to diagnose me with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The sessions helped and i refused medication because i didn't believe in it. Not for me anyway. Plus i was hanging on to the hope that it would all just go away. During this time I also developed a bit of social anxiety. I had never dealt with that before, and I watched myself helplessly as I became flaky....I would be on my way to some event or meeting and just turn around and go home. I just couldn't face other people sometimes. I don't like flaky people, because I had never been that. It was really hard for me because I couldn't control it. I would go home and find the smallest space in my room to hide in. There was a small space between my bed and the wall that was my favorite. That summer I moved home and started feeling a bit better, so I thought i was in the clear....foolish me. As I moved again and began the stressful schedule of going to school full time and working full time, the panic attacks got worse. way worse. The only thing that made me really feel better was to call my mom or go to Provo to hang out with my brother and his wife. I should have sought help, but I just kept holding on to that hope that one day it would just stop. I'm not sure at what point exactly that it happened, but the panic attacks took over my life. I'm talking full on panic disorder. Sometimes a few times a week, sometimes a few times a day. Sometimes they even lasted ALL day. Wanna know what a panic attack feels like? Pretend you are having a heart attack and there is nobody to help you, you feel the terror as the reality sets in that you are getting ready to die and can't do anything to stop it. That's what it feels like. It seems extreme and over dramatic, but its the truth. It is very traumatic. Over and over again. Even just thinking about it now makes my skin crawl. Can you see how this could make you depressed? Through it all i just began to feel numb...mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

My sister once said I wear my panic attacks like a badge of honor. You're darn right I do. I've earned it. It's the toughest thing i've ever had to deal with, and i wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. Not a soul. So I will feel proud of myself for making it through all of that completely unmedicated. I felt like xanax was a cop-out, even when i wanted something to make me feel calm. I didn't want an addiction problem either. As I moved back to NC and took on a very stressful job, things just got worse. Panic attacks, depression....I ended up back in counseling this spring. This guy was awesome, but we made a lot of ground and I felt like I was done. And that was a mistake. During this time I also started talking to my doctor about my panic attacks. I had decided I was ready to try medication because it wouldn't go away and I was just so tired of fighting. Of course I picked the one doctor who doesn't believe in medication until absolutely necessary...and I'm really grateful for that. At the time not so much. I saw him several times over the next few months before he finally suggested something for my anxiety. Physically everything checked out, so he put me on an anti-depressant that is commonly used for anxiety disorders. At first I thought it was okay...i was sleeping a bit better. But the side effects were a doozy and I didn't much care for them. about the time the medication was supposed to kick in, I ended up at the beach with my family for vacation. I noticed that week that not only did my anxiety pick back up, but I also was feeling kind of empty again...depressed. The next few weeks, my anxiety and panic attacks got way worse, my mood swings escalated, my fatigue was incredibly bad....it really is kind of a blur to be honest. I ended up in the hospital because I had the worst panic attack i've probably ever had (which is saying alot) and couldn't stop crying. They pulled me off the medication and I went to see my doctor. After a very long conversation detailing my experience on the anti-depression, the nature of my panic attacks, and other things, he said "I'm about 95% sure you're bipolar."  Let me just tell you, I never wanted to hear something like that. I've been devastated ever since. But something about it resonated in my gut...almost like i knew. I knew he was right. He told me that one of the quickest ways to tell if someone was bipolar was to put them on a unipolar medication and watch them get worse. We still have some tests to do before the definitive diagnosis, but I just kind of know. I can't explain how, but I know my own truth.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Just Some Jilly Thoughts

I just want you all to know that I've had a ton to write about this past month. I just haven't because i didn't know what to write. Does that make any sense at all?  If there were a word to describe both fantastic and horrible at the same time, I would rename the month of August.  I had so much fun with my family as we went down to the beach and spent some time together. My brother and his wife (along with their two adorable kids) came to NC and we were all together for the first time since before they had kids.  I never wanted it to end, and i never wanted them to go back. I've been in such a struggle for some time now, and it finally reached its pinnacle this past month. So that beach trip...it was more than just a vacation from my job. It was a vacation from myself. I truly truly desire to start writing more in depth about some of my struggles, and feel like i should do so. But i've been holding back because i'm scared. Scared of what people i love will think.  Scared you will all think i'm being way too personal, or that i want pity or attention, or that i'm just being dramatic. Scared you won't take me seriously. But i have a drive that is beyond all of you, not because i don't love you, but because I feel like I have a duty to write about my experiences so that someone out there, someone who doesn't have the amazing support system I do, will know that they aren't alone. Because alone is sometimes a very scary place to be.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Musical Musings

I was listening to some music and decided i'd let the music and a few excellent songwriters do the writing for me tonight. These are a few of my favorite songs, by the way. Hope you like them!





Thursday, July 28, 2011

Never a Dull Day...

I always joke that I have so much hope in humanity until i go to work and deal with the general public. That actually held true today. There are a few things i just can't understand, such as how people think they can bully someone into getting what they want for free, and feel perfectly entitled to do just that.  I realize its a bad time out there in the economy right now, but really enough is sometimes enough. Some days, all i want customers to understand is that we are a business and not the local soup kitchen. Hopefully you all get that instead of just thinking i'm insensitive. Anyway, enough of my ramblings and on with today's jilly adventure....

Today was going normal enough. I guess that should have been my first clue that something interesting was lurking around the corner. You see, normal isn't really my style. The day moved slowly...too slow for my taste. So i sent everyone home and then promptly got kicked in the tail.  Apparently everyone in my delivery area decided that 10 pm was prime dinner time. I must have missed that memo...probably floating around somewhere in my office. A few minutes before close the phone rang. Some students ordered $57 in food. 6 pizzas, 3 orders of wings...paying cash. Now i've been in this business for a long time. An order that big for some students this late at night to that school and paying cash...it reeked of scam to me.  I instructed my people to hold off making the order until i could do a call back to confirm the order. I called the number they gave us and was immediately sent to voicemail. I left a message and began cleaning up the store while i waited. After 10 minutes and no call back, i decided to try again. This time i got them on the phone, they confirmed and i made the order.  I thought no more of it until about 30 minutes later.  The phone rang and i answered explaining we were closed.  It was the students.  The girl on the phone claimed that they just received her order and all of the pizzas were ruined like they had been dropped upside down and she would like her money back. No problem, our policy is to remake or refund...and my oven had been off for 25 minutes so refund it is. I thought it interesting that all of the pizzas were ruined so i asked her to send pictures to my cell phone of the pizzas so i could show the driver and question him about his handling of the pizzas. I told her that once she did that i would call the driver and have him turn around to return her money. 5 minutes went by without receiving the pictures. Finally she called back and said she sent the pictures to me. I told her i didn't receive them. She didn't address that at all, and instead said:

Her: So i was thinking...we deserve 6 new pizzas.
Me: Okay, so you'd like a remake instead of a refund?
Her: No, i still want my money back. But i'm unsatisfied and your job is to make me happy. So i also want 6 new pizzas. That would make me satisfied.
Me: (realizing something is off here) So how many of the pizzas were ruined?
Her: Well, two. But because we were inconvenienced i want all 6.
Me: (dang my temper). Okay, first of all I explained you could get either a remake or a refund. I want to help you, but you do not have the right to call me up in a threatening tone and make ridiculous demands that i cannot and will not do.
Her: Excuse me? In case you forgot, i'm the customer. And the customer is always right.
Me: I will give you the money back for the pizzas that were ruined, but not all of it.
Her: (She begins yelling and everyone in the background...around 15 people...is cursing at me now)
Me: Ma'am, if we are going to work this out I need you to stop yelling and listen to what i am saying (I always say this to a yelling customer, and it almost never works. I use this as a precursor to hanging up on them, because once they are yelling and out of control like that, no progress is ever made. just fyi.)
Me: Ma'am, i need the yelling to stop or i will have to hang up the phone
(She hangs up so i don't have to)
(She calls back)
Her: I decided i'll just take all the money back. I'm willing to drop the 6 pizzas.
Me: Well, like i said, I can give you the money for the ruined pizzas. But the chicken was fine and so were 4 of the other pizzas
Her: You act like you don't trust me. I just spent 57 dollars for some food, why would i try to play you?
Me: Because you just spent 57 dollars and you are a student.
Her: Well i want my money back. all of it.
Me: I tell you what. Since we are having a disconnect here, i'm going to give you the franchise office number and someone will call you tomorrow about getting your money back
Her: No i want it tonight. I'm coming up there.
Me: Well ma'am, we won't be here. We're getting ready to leave for the night.
(She hangs up)

It's really a shame a typed up version of a conversation cannot portray tone properly. That was the key in this conversation for me. I knew what she was trying to do. Trust me, i've done this long enough. I was sitting in the office, finishing up some end of the day stuff when i hear some banging at the door and one of my drivers say "Jill, call 911."  I peak my head around the corner and sure enough, a guy was trying to pull the locked door open and shouting "you better open this *&^%* door!!!". Um....no thanks. I saw the three girls behind him and new we had our lovely student group here to get their money. I picked up the phone and called the police. While i described the situation to the dispatcher, they kept yanking on the door so hard i thought it was going to come off the hinges. And they kept pointing at me and yelling for me to open the door "or else." Imagine their dismay when two cop cars rolled in.  The officer came in and i explained what was going on. He said they had the pizzas with them. I told him i would be willing to reimburse them for the ruined ones, which i had explained to them on the phone. I told him what they had demanded, and he said "well, that's ridiculous! no business can just give stuff away like that!" EXACTLY!!! Ah, i love it when the police take my side. (its happened twice this week).  Anyway, he brought that one girl in, we talked, i offered a partial refund and she accepted. I noticed how quiet she was. Where did the bully go? I took the time to nicely explain to her why i was only offering a partial refund and where this whole situation went wrong. She looked at the floor the whole time and simply said "well if you would have just told me that"........? really? I only told her that how many times?  I gave her the money and had the police remove them from the property. The officer came back and said to me..."Listen, i deal with the public just as much as you. Don't people just baffle you? Some people you just can't get through to..." Amen, sir. Just another interesting day in the books. And that's part of the reason i love my job...its always different. Not that i like all that drama. I remember when i was in utah a guy was upset about a pizza and threw a bottle at me so hard it dented the wall behind me...really dented it. He had aimed for my face but luckily i ducked and it missed. I remember watching the slow-mo replay from the cameras and one of the drivers saying "nice reflexes!" I guess i owe it to playing all those sports growing up. I just can't imagine why people get so upset about pizza that they are willing to do things worthy of being thrown in jail? I mean come one people, its just some dough, tomato sauce and cheese. Is that really worth it?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Community

I've spent a lot of time feeling lonely. And by lonely i don't just mean single. I mean that i haven't felt like i really "fit" anywhere in a while.  I think the last time i really felt like i was a part of something was when i lived in Maryland. I really loved my ward there and felt like i was an integral member to that ward family.  But since then, i have mainly felt like an outsider just passing through....at school in Salt Lake City, in my single's ward there, in my ward now after i moved home and even sometimes at work. I suspect that mainly it is because i've been so "busy".  This whole past year felt like a whirlwind resembling the likes of a category 5 rolling across Florida. Its been fast and intense.  But lately that has begun to change. A few months ago i was starting to feel antsy, that feeling i get when i'm about to be struck by my next nomadic escapade. It reminded me of a talk i once heard a few years ago given by Wendy Watson Nelson. She said, speaking of feeling antsy, "It may mean that your spirit is restless because you need to do either something different or more than you are presently doing." But the strike never came...not in the way it usually does. Instead I noticed that i started to feel more at home again here in Winston. I felt that urge to be a part of my ward, to get to know people there. Yesterday, as i was driving home from a meeting at church, i had the overwhelming feeling that i was right where i was supposed to be...in my job, in my calling at church...and it felt so good it literally brought a smile to my face. Today i was further reminded of that as I walked in to Walgreens down the street from my apartment to pick up a few things. I was almost immediately greeted by name from a regular customer of mine at work who was standing in the checkout line. A few isles over i saw someone i knew from church. And because i often pop in there after work (gotta love places open 24 hours!), the guy behind the counter saw me in line and said "hey! haven't seen you in a few days. how's it going?" While i know this makes me sound like i must go to Walgreens every day, i promise i only go in there like twice a week. The real moral of the story is this....i felt such a strong sense of community. For a fleeting moment, i felt a wave of nostalgia for the small Everwood-esque town i never lived in (do any of you remember that show?).  It just feels good to feel like a part of something for the first time in a long time...without all that nosy neighboring and small town drama...

Sunday, July 24, 2011

I Mean...For Reals?

So I just happened to be hopping my way through cyberspace and came upon something that, quite frankly, is somewhat disturbing. And i want your opinion...so let's play pretend for a moment, shall we? Okay, close your eyes for a second (or maybe don't...that might hinder the whole reading thing we got going on here). Pretend that money is literally no object. No money attachment whatsoever. Now tell me....what is the absolute most you would pay for a pizza? $100? $200? How about $4200? Yes, you read that right...4200 DOLLARS. Well it happened my friends. Homedude right here, Domenico Crolla, created a pizza that sold for just that.

It comes topped with cognac-marinated lobster, champagne soaked caviar, and get this....edible flakes of 24-carat gold. I kid you not. I mean, i won't lie I make a dang good pie...but flakes of gold? And all i can think about is the absurdity of it when we have people out of work, starving children, etc. But i guess as long as some rich guy is happy....

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Tender Mercies

July has it in for me. The whole month. As of today, i have officially disowned July as my birthday month. Because no month that is attached to such a wonderful occasion as a person's entry into this world would ever do this to me. In fact, these last few weeks have been nothing but an experiment in the elasticity of my sanity.  But i guess when your month starts out with waking up to a strange man standing in your apartment, it doesn't exactly bode well. That sanity i just spoke of....it almost failed me today. completely.  Luckily i was saved at the last second...but i'll get to that later. You see, last night my walk-in cooler at work went out again. The 4th time in 3 weeks. And so last night found me, yet again, moving all of the food out of it, stuffing it into the makeline and coke cooler and shipping the rest of it off in shifts to another store. To say that i am annoyed at this process is an understatement. I left work at 2 something and had to be back at 9 a.m. I knew i had the whole cooler thing to deal with so i was already counting on it being an interesting day.  After a 4 hour nap, i woke up to find a voicemail from my opening driver explaining that he was sick and couldn't make it in. Nice. I tried to call a few drivers but to no avail...dread for the day was already starting to build up at this point.  Luckily one of my drivers answered and agreed to come in early to cover, which made me feel a little better. (the driver that had called in did call back to make sure i had gotten his message, and upon hearing the stress in my voice came in anyway despite not feeling well.) This feeling was short lived, however, because as i backed out of my driveway (i made sure i looked...the hedge makes it very hard to see) i suddenly heard a giant thud against my car. looking frantically around and seeing nothing, i glanced in my rear view mirror and saw a bicycle wheel scrunched against my rear windshield. Panic set in as i thought the worst...what if i had hit a child? Already starting to cry, i threw my car in park, jumped out and ran to the back of my car. There i found a grown man, my neighbor, on the ground. His wife (who had been reading on their porch and heard the noise) was already sprinting across their yard towards us. Another neighbor working out in his yard was also running across the road. As i began to apologize and ask the man if he was hurt, all three of them began yelling at me.."are you crazy? don't you know how to look when you *&%$# back up? You just hit a cyclist. What the *&^%$ were you thinking?" Completely shaken up by what had happened, i tried to blink through the tears and tirades and focus on the man i had hit. I again asked him if he was hurt. He replied he was fine, jumped up, said some nasty words to me and rode on towards his house. I asked his wife if we should call someone and she said "no, we know where you live. We'll find you if we need to." The neighbor across the street apparently didn't feel done yelling at me despite my tears, apologies and explaining that i didn't see him when i had looked (he had come quickly around the corner on the sidewalk near my driveway after i had looked that direction and proceeded to back up...not to excuse myself, i'm just sayin...) I yelled back that i understood the situation and did not need his input to make me feel any worse. He glared at me then went back to his yard. I stood there for a moment, crying, mouth agape at what had so quickly occurred and called my mom (because, you know, moms have that way of making everything better). My first thought was that the people were going to try to sue me, since they didn't hang around to have any type of conversation about what happened. So I went to their door and knocked. nothing. i rang the bell. nothing. Then I called the police on myself. The officer showed up, i told him what happened, did the whole info swap thing and then he went to their door. Of course they answered for him. After about 10 minutes he came back out and told me the man had said his bike was fine. His ankle was a little jacked up and already wrapped and had ice on it, but he refused medical services when the officer asked him. The officer told me that they seemed surprised i had called the police, but that i had done the right thing. He explained that because i had filed the report, I was now protected if they later tried to sue me for medical bills because they refused help and fled the scene first. I felt better, mainly because Mr. Officer here was incredibly cute (hey, it made my mood a little better) and nice. And the neighbor across the street came back to apologize to me for yelling. He said that clearly i was upset and his yelling didn't help anything. No sir, i assure you it did not. We shook hands and i was on my way to work. I won't lie...i cried all the way to my store. I was late, my store was outta whack because of the walk-in...yeah those first several hours were rough. Finally i had gotten more calm. In the afternoon, the repair guys came and fixed my walk-in, so i began trying to get all the food back into there, started trying to coordinate drivers to go pickup the food that was at the other store (several trips...ugh), etc. And of course, right then the food truck pulled up to deliver my next shipment. I was not ready. At the same time, we started getting very busy. and then up came the stress level again and I started to lose it this time. I wonder what it would look like to walk into a food place and see the person running the store sobbing while they make pizzas and answer phones. Because that was what was going down at my store today. All the stress of this past month had finally hit its pinnacle. I thought i was going to break...or walk out. And was about to that point where i could not take any more for one more second when my cell phone rang. I looked at it and saw it was my brother Joseph. Because Joseph doesn't call me that often due to his busy schedule, i wanted to answer despite being busy. When i said hello, however, instead of my brother's voice i heard the sweet sweet voice of his 2 1/2 year old daughter Claire. "I love you Jill, I miss you Jill" Then she sang (without even knowing about my mood) "if you chance to meet a frown, do not let it stay. Quickly turn it upside down and smile that frown away."  At this point, i was weeping. I want you all to know...Claire never calls me. Its been over a year since i've seen her and she only remembers me by pictures. Even when i talk to Joseph and he tries to get her on the phone, she rarely gets on to talk to me. And here she was, giving me the most precious gift of her sweet voice and song at exactly the moment i needed it. After she was done, she handed the phone back to her dad. We talked a few minutes about some beach stuff (only 3 more weeks!!!!) and then he told me, "sorry to bother you, but Claire insisted we call you right now." And in that moment i knew....I was receiving a tender mercy from the Lord. I know we all believe different things, but let me tell you this. I think the Lord knew what i needed in that moment. And that little girl was the answer. For whatever reason, she knew she needed to call her Aunt Jill. And i could not be more grateful.  My mood picked up considerably after that. Then my friend Stefanie stopped by to order pizza and give me a much needed hug. At the end of the shift, a GM (and friend) from another store stopped in to kidnap me. I had vented to her earlier in the day, and she felt i needed a drink. (don't worry, it was sans alcohol). It was nice to just sit and relax and enjoy my virgin strawberry daiquiri with someone that cared enough about my day and my sanity to take me out. As stressful as this month has been for me, there have been those tender mercies along the way just like those today to give me strength and remind me that God is mindful of me. And that I am loved.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Body Lovin'

Yep, its me again...at 4 a.m. How ya doin. Probably sleeping, yeah? Maybe i'll give that a shot someday. I hear it does wonders. My best friend said something to me tonight that i can't get out of my head. She had asked me about a career goal of mine. I had responded that yes, it was still a goal. I asked her why she thought of that (as it came up very randomly) to which she said..."I just think it is your destiny."  I joked with her "destiny, huh?" yada yada yada and then she said. "yes, you were destined for greatness." boom. serious boom.  I can't shake that statement.  Now i want to be clear, when i think of greatness i don't necessarily think of fame or fortune. But I do think that achieving greatness is having a positive and great impact on your world. Your world may be just your family, or at work, or those in your geographical region. It might literally be the whole world as we know it. This series of thoughts led me to remember a portion of a mantra i had created during a life coaching session once, something that spoke to me: "I inspire my world." Because that is what i want. I want to inspire others to pursue happiness and achieve greatness, whatever that means for them.  But i also realize i have to start with myself. Tonight as I was reading about learning to be at peace with my body as it is right now and the empowerment that can come from that to propel myself forward, i wondered what that would possibly feel like. There have been only snapshot moments in time where i have felt okay and accepting of my body in its various sizes and stages. (After having several children, my sister once joked that looking through her closet was like taking a trip through "the various sizes of Laura." I have that same experience when looking through mine, only without the whole bearing children thing on my resumé as a worthy excuse). But do you know what i can remember easily? All the moments where i felt horrified by my body. You know how you do all those group get-to-know-you games and there is always that question: What is the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you?  Well I always replied i didn't have one. I generally attributed that to the fact that i had a father who delighted in trying to embarrass his children. Kinda makes the skin tough to those kind of things. The truth? I definitely have one. And nobody knows about it (except for the people that were actually there).  But i'm going to share it with you, because it was a pivotal moment for me in developing a more in-depth hatred for my body and my "situation".  And in order to begin accepting and finding peace with my body, i need to find peace with this story which means sharing it with all of you. When i was about 19, i went to the fair with a group of close friends.  We were having a good time, riding rides and doing whatever it is you do at the fair.  At one point, there was this one ride we all wanted to get on. It looked exciting, and being the ride lover that i am, i couldn't wait.  On this ride you had your individual little seat (actually you were standing) and a bar came across your shoulders and locked you into place so you wouldn't go flying into davidson county when you started being whipped around here, there and everywhere. As people got into their places, the ride-tender (i feel the word carnie is derogatory) came around and started latching everyone's body-hold-into-placers. And then he got to me. And he couldn't get it to latch. I was even sucking in. Still, no dice. And so, right there with everybody looking on (the ride was situated so that everyone was standing in a circle facing each other), he told me i had to exit the ride. I was too big. Single most humiliating moment of my life. One i almost never dwell on, and for good reason. I guess for most people, this would be the moment that would give them the motivation to lose weight. For me, it gave me the fuel to further victimize myself and go into emotional hiding. As i write this story, i can feel the embarrassment and hurt all over again. I can cry the tears that i didn't allow myself to cry then in front of my friends. And you know something? I now can say this: so what. Goodbye story i never told anyone. You no longer have any hold over me. I officially strip you of your power to pull me into a steaming pile of victim mud. I'm on a path to personal greatness here, dang it. Please step aside.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Food for Thought

I'm becoming increasingly annoyed at my urges to write. Mainly because they tend to happen at 5 a.m.  I think its because it is the only time in my life when its quiet enough for me to really think clearly.  But all that aside, it is time i fess up about something. And i apologize if my intimacy here makes you uncomfortable. But for a long time i have felt called to talk about my experiences in this area. Whether it is to help me or someone else, here goes: I have a huge, huge issue with food.  Call it an addiction, an eating disorder, whatever you will....i have it.  There, I said it. Out loud. For people other than my family or close friends to hear. While i'm sure nobody is all that surprised by this news, I have a reason for writing about this other than gaining your pity.  You see, I believe that when you allow yourself to speak something that is true about you, you become willing to own it. And when you own it, and release it for others to see, you take its power to control you away.  Because now there is no mystery to it.  As i've written previously, i have researched and decided to take on a predominately raw lifestyle. But as i plotted and planned, gathered recipes, read blogs and books, even bought lots of food (that subsequently went bad in my fridge), i just couldn't get started. And i didn't understand why. I mean, I have motivation...health, weight, sleep issues, no energy, weight...and i have knowledge. I even have experience. I know i can do this, and i know i want to. The problem, i realized, is this...that there is a problem to begin with. This is no news flash to me, but i guess i thought that my issues would disappear if my symptoms disappeared. (see the above list...health, weight, blah blah blah).  backwards, huh? I remember over the last decade or so and my struggles with my relationship to food and my body image and i think...how can i possibly expect to achieve anything if i don't get down to the root cause? Because i've done the revamp my food intake thing, i've done the lose 80 pounds in a year thing...and what happened? Nothing changed. I was still just as obsessed with food. I recall my sister saying to me sometime within the past year or two, "When you are heavy and feel unhealthy, you obsess about whether or not you are dying. Then when you lose weight and get healthy, you obsess about getting healthier." She knows me, its true.  And because i didn't focus on my relationship to the food or my relationship to my body it all just came back anyway. And then came the guilt, then came the depression (which i tend to dabble in anyway), then came the "i have to change my diet again" mentality, which becomes followed by the "last supper" mentality (eating all of your favorite foods because you know that surely this will be the last time you get to have them, for tomorrow you start eating better). Its all really sickening, isn't it? Why are we so incredibly consumed by food anyway? All it is meant for, really, is to sustain life. That's it. Unfortunately for me, and most of you (because i know some of you are reading this thing and nodding your heads), food has become an experience. And therein lies one of my problems. I'm a foodie. I literally derive pleasure from eating food, going to new restaurants, watching people cook food, etc. This brings up another issue: I am a chaotic and emotional unconscious eater (wrap your head around that, would ya?).  I get very busy, forget to eat, become ravenously hungry, binge, forget to eat, cycle continues. Or i feel tired or slightly sad or stressed so i grab for all things chocolate. And it drives me crazy to not be doing something while i eat. For instance, my favorite thing to do while eating is to read. I suppose this came about during my early years reading the cereal box while eating breakfast (IF i could wrestle it from my sister, that is). But if i have nothing to read, i like to watch tv. If i'm driving, i cannot listen to music, I have to listen to talk radio. I like to be intellectually stimulated while i eat. don't worry, i know i'm weird. But actually its very common for unconscious eaters. Its that whole start-eating-the-box of-candy-during-the-movie-and-suddenly-your-fingers-are-scraping-the-bottom-and-you-are-surprised-you-are-done type of thing. Get the picture? Basically i've discovered that i need to heal my relationship with food first if i have any hope of getting rid of any of the symptoms. And while i feel like that is going to take time that i don't have because i wanted to get this whole raw thing on the road, i have to remind myself that it is okay. Because time is really all i have anyway compared to the rest of my life. And won't it be so worth it? Some of you may be wondering how i'm going to do this. Several people that i know personally, and some i know just through friends, have used the book "Intuitive Eating" to help them deal with food addiction and eating disorders. I began reading it yesterday. Quick overview: it talks about letting go of any diet mentality (as rampant as it is in our society) and learning to listen to your body. I have decided to write about my process as i read this book and start letting go of my issues with food for all of you to read. After all, if i share it then it loses power over me, right?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Bobby Todd

To say this has been an interesting week is an understatement. Severely.  And while this week included working literally 24 hours straight non-stop physical labor (except for a 7 am run to get breakfast) in order to be ready for an important inspection at my store (got a good score, by the way, and i have yet to recover from that loooong shift), I instead want to share today's story with you.  You see, i walked into work only to find that my walk-in cooler was broken...again...for the 3rd time in 2 weeks. A. Noy. Ing. ugh. So, we get to work getting all of my food out of it before it goes bad...stuffing it into the makeline and coke cooler and sending all my dough to another store to keep cool. In the midst of this i also had only about 30 minutes left to get my food order in. We get it all taken care of but i was already cranky. Can you really blame me? It just has not been a good 2 weeks after all.  I have cooler problems, one of my full time drivers out for a death in the family, my assistant on vacation, my other assistant being loaned to cover another store where that manager is on vacation, a body that is very very sore and tired still from all of that heavy duty cleaning, etc.  So yeah, i'm cranky. get over it.  I get a call from the hair salon across the parking lot. They wanted a pizza. I told them the price...the special we currently have running. He says okay, i go on my way.  About 2 minutes later the phone rings and its the hair salon again. This time its the dad of the guy who runs the hair salon. He says:
Guy: I get a discount from your store, why is it so much?
Me: Oh, i'm sorry. I was not aware that you get a discount
Guy: Well you must be new
Me: Um....nope. Been the GM here for over a year now.
Guy: Well, don't you know who i am? (in a very condescending tone btw)
Me: Am i supposed to?
*side note: I don't really respond well to people talking down to me. Sometimes i handle it well, but most of the time it flares my temper...especially on days like today. Its something i need to work on, i know.*
Guy: I'm Bobby Todd
Me: And that makes a difference to me how? other than you ordering pizza every once in a blue moon?

Anyway, i went ahead and gave him the discount. Partly because i knew i was being slightly rude to him, and mainly because i couldn't wait for him to come pick it up so i could ask this very question..."If i give you a discount here, do i get a discount over there?"  Because if he said no, it would be the end of 50% off for him as he knows it. I'm not trying to sound harsh, its just business. I do have discount agreements with people, but i get something in return...like 50% off Arby's or 50% off oil changes. That's how it works. One customer i give 50% off to every third order of hers because she orders 3 times a week. Stuff like that. Sooo, guy walks in, i tell him the total, he pays me, yada yada yada. Then i popped the question:

Me: So does this mean i get a discount on getting my hair cut?
Guy: Um...(makes some joke that was totally irrelevant)
Me: Haha. Seriously though, since i'm giving you a discount here i get one there, right?
Guy: (again makes some comment totally unrelated to the conversation)
Me: Why are you skirting the issue?
Guy: I'm just playing with you
Me: i'm actually being serious. So basically you are telling me no?
Guy: Well, we run a small business and we can't really afford...
Me: So basically i'm giving you a discount at no benefit to me. You don't even order regularly.
*by this time one of my drivers has gotten closer to listen to what's going on*
Guy: Are you trying to hustle me?
Me: No sir, I'm just merely stating the absurdity of it. What entitles you to a discount at my store? I'm a business, i need to make money to continue to be a business. If i'm not making money on you, i need a good reason. And you are refusing to give me one
Guy: Are you threatening me? Are you saying if I don't give you a discount at my salon that you won't give me a discount here?
Me: That's exactly what i'm saying. I'm a business person.
Guy: I know you are sweetheart, that part is certain.
*side note: this whole conversation is taking place without yelling. Just thought i'd throw that in. Also, the way he said sweetheart got under my skin.*
Me: Don't call me sweetheart, you aren't my grandpa (did i mention he was really old? and looked like a mischievous version of Santa? Don't judge me...i'm not a bad person)

As i walked away from him, he said to my driver "she won't be hear in 6 weeks. Guarantee it."
I won't lie, this was the final straw for me. I had had enough with Mr. Bobby Todd and the way he was speaking to me. I'm not proud of the way i behaved, but i promise there is a moral to this story, so stay with me.

I turned on my heel and ran out the door (he was already halfway across the parking lot by now) and shouted as loudly as i could "I WILL be here in 6 weeks sir, you can count on that!"  He spun around and said "are you a prophet? are you prophesying?"  I almost laughed here...mainly because in my world its such a crazy old man thing to say. By my world i mean my dad or his dad...they would totally say something like this. (dad, just for the record, i'm not calling you old.)

At this point i yelled something back about no i was not prophesying, i was just promising...blah blah blah. By this time i was fuming. pacing around the store. And then i begin to feel embarrassed....embarrassed because i had allowed my temper to the better of me. I expressed this to one of my drivers and he told me that i shouldn't be embarrassed. He had heard the old man and said he had pushed me and kept egging me on. But still, that doesn't excuse me from acting that way. Is that how Christ would have me act? Did He lose his temper when he was being tempted, spit on, called a liar, etc? No He did not. If one of my goals is to become more Christlike, i certainly failed today. I decided that after a cooling period, i would go over there and smooth things over. As i looked up, however, i saw Mr. Bobby Todd walking toward the store. My first thought was, oh no...he's coming in for round two. As he opened the door, he smiled at me, and i smiled back...hoping for the best. As he walked in I noticed there were tears in his eyes. He apologized to me, saying that he was out of line, that sometimes he gets rolling and goes too far. "My son always says i do that..go too far," he said.  And then he said something that pierced me to my core. "I was sitting over there eating and i remembered that you are a daughter of God. And my job on earth is to love you. If i can't love you, then i am nothing in God's eyes."  I told him i was sorry too, that i was having a bad week and did not intend to be so irritable with him, because it was not his fault. I also told him i so much appreciated his respect for what God thought of him, and the humility to act on it. I told him that i appreciated it because i too have a close relationship with my Heavenly Father, and i know i did not act accordingly. Needless to say, i too was now teary eyed, and as we shook hands...two friends now in the Lord, my boss walked in to see this exchange. After Mr. Todd left, my boss said..." are you crying? who's he? what's going on?" I told him the whole story and he said "so now you are in here crying with a man that you were yelling at 20 minutes ago?" yep. Because that's how i roll. He said he shouldn't be surprised...and i guess he shouldn't. I do tend to have weird conversations with perfect strangers. But that's part of what makes me who i am. I will say, the thing that touched me most was how fast the man allowed himself to be humbled and maybe even chastised by the Lord for his actions. I don't know him, but i could tell in that moment that he was a man of God. And oh how greatly i respect that. I learned something from him today. I learned, or rather remembered, that I want to be closer to God. Closer to the point that i don't react that way in the first place. Closer so that i may remember more easily that everyone i come in contact with is a child of God, and deserves to be treated as such. And i learned that while my boss and my employees thought i was crazy for standing there crying with a stranger with whom i had been arguing only moments before, i didn't really care. Because i got it...what i needed in that moment. And i know that Mr. Todd did too.

I learned a few hours later from one of my drivers that apparently Bobby Todd is very well known in the hair community in Winston-Salem. I just kind of laughed. I guess that's why he said "don't you know who i am?".  I do plan to go over there tomorrow and just do a follow up conversation with him tomorrow...just to let him know he can still get his discount...because for some reason i feel connected to him now after that powerful moment we shared. That and i want his customers to come buy pizza from me after they get their hair cut....

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Let Me Clear My Throat...

I kept thinking today about how I wish I was one of those people who smiled all the way through any adversity. Or never spoke an unkind word about anyone. Or never needed to vent about anything. But you want to know my problem? I'm far too flawed for all of that...yet. Problem numero dos = i'm an out-loud processor. I just have to talk about things in order for them to make sense to me so that i can deal with them. For example, i'm in the midst of another hidradenitis flare and it is kickin' my tail. And i wish i could suffer the flu feelings and fatigue and pain in silence. But i just can't. I'm not looking for pity, i just want someone to get it. And i feel even worse when i realize that there are people that i know personally who suffer far worse things...and are pleasant about it. I admire them so much. I wanna be them when i grow up. But i'm just not there yet. In fact, i'm a big baby. I can withstand quite a bit, but do trust that i'm going to talk about it. That need to "talk about it" has been getting me in trouble lately.  I've been learning some hard lessons at work about who I can trust and who can't wait to stab me in the back. I try so hard not to take it personally...but I can't help it. You see, I have a love problem. Meaning, I love everyone i work with. Everyone. Even the ones i don't like. And that love problem extends outside of work encompassing my whole life. I feel like i work as hard as i possibly can. And i feel like i'm more than fair to all of my employees. But i guess sometimes it's not enough. Because people are human with flaws of their own and will always do what they deem necessary for what they think is their own survival. Still, i have felt my feelings of trust and belief in people shattered over the last several weeks and it leaves me wondering what it's all for. Surely there is a lesson here somewhere. And while i know that part of that lesson is that i can't really trust anyone in the business world, i refuse to give up on people. Because where would that leave me?

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Happy Birthday To Meeeee"eeeeeeek!"

I can't even take credit for that title. Thank you Stefanie! Haha. Today was my birthday. So, naturally, it was a weird day.  My birthday always seems to be that way. I guess it's fairly fitting, since i seem to be a target of weird happenings in my life anyway, beginning with my first days on earth. Today started out normal enough despite that whole not sleeping thing, which has really become quite normal by now. I met my parents for lunch, went into work.  About 2:30pm and i was already exhausted. One of my fantastic drivers offered to stay later than scheduled so that i could go home for an hour and catch a quick nap since i was supposed to close.  I went home, crawled into bed...i had a good solid half hour for the power nap. I finally drifted off and was asleep for approximately 10 minutes when i was jolted awake by the sound of my door opening. Yes you heard that right. I want to be clear about something....i live alone. And i ALWAYS lock my front door, even in the middle of the day. Anyway, back to the jolting awake thing. I had been sleeping hard...you know, that exhaustion/hungry for sleep feeling where you go right slam bam into a deeeeep sleep and wake up all discombobulated? Well that's what i was feeling while i was trying to get my bearings and determine what exactly i had heard...and then i heard footsteps. I sat up in my bed (more like shot up) and there was a man standing there. I'm not making this up. I shouted something, but have no idea what, and watched as the man turned and high-tailed it out my front door, saying something that may have been an apology. I jumped out of bed, still very very confused at what was actually happening and very scared and started for the front door. i looked out the window and there he stood...on my porch waiting for me to come out. I opened the door a crack and asked who he was.  He explained he was the maintenance man from the property management company i rent from. He apologized and said he had knocked first, but when i didn't answer he let himself in. I kind of let him have it, i won't lie, to which he replied "well i just wanted to let you know your neighbor was having some water drip down his walls so we need to drill some holes outside your window because its coming from your window unit. We're gonna do it from outside, we just didn't want to startle you with the sudden drilling." And you think walking into my apartment unannounced was the answer to not startling me? really? To which i replied "so then why the crap wereyou in my apartment? what if i had been in the shower? what if i had had a gun for protection? why didn't you just call me to let me know what's going on?"  He stuttered out some other apology and then went on his way to go drill his holes. I. Was. Livid. Not to mention, now my head was reeling from being awakened from a deep sleep AND i was now having a full blown panic attack. I quickly called the aforementioned neighbor, who also happens to work for me, and now i'm crying and trying to make sense of it all.  I told him what happened, to which he replied "He did WHAT?!?!?" yeah...exactly. He told me he could be home in 4 minutes...and when i heard him roll up i also heard him get out of his car and start giving the maintenance men what for about scaring me like that. It's kind of nice to know you have a neighbor that watches out for you. By this time it was time for me to go back to work, having had no nap and a panic attack to boot. I went down, quickly spoke to my neighbor who was still fuming on my behalf, and headed out.  I was torn between calling the property manager or showing up to their office in person.  I ultimately decided i could be meaner over the phone. And i needed to be mean. Because they deserved it. I also remembered the woman at the front desk is this sweet lady that i could never yell at in person.  I'm not afraid to admit it, i hid behind the safety of the phone. It was for the greater good, i assure you. I called and let loose my fury over the situation, how scared i was, how i was now having a panic attack, and just how inappropriate and unacceptable this whole thing was. I mean sure, i could understand him coming in if I had been the one to call in the maintenance order and expected them to come sometime this week. But i had NO idea they were coming. No call to say "hey, by the way, your neighbor complained of leaking water coming from upstairs so we may be by to check it, just in case we need to come into your apartment." Is that really too much to ask? And all this time, what i'm still wondering is this...if he didn't need to fix it from inside my apartment, why oh why was he in there? It not like i live in a complex or anything...its an old detached garage with one apartment downstairs (my neighbor) and one upstairs (mine). They obviously knew my neighbor wasn't home, so gee..could that lone car in the driveway possibly belong to the tenant upstairs? Wow, her car is here but she didn't answer the door when i knocked...its probably for a reason. Maybe i should just call her and tell her whats going on. I mean, how hard is that thought process? The lady at the office kept apologizing and said "oh, do you work nights? are you a day sleeper?" to which i replied "yes, but does it matter?"  She then said "well, i guess we'll put you on the 'always call first' list then." yes, you do that lady. Because if this ever happens again it won't be pretty. I still can't get over the situation and how he thought it was okay to just walk in with no forewarning at all. Nobody wants to wake up to find a strange man standing in their bedroom doorway. Nobody. Especially me (if only all of you knew how incredibly paranoid i am about my personal safety.)  Don't worry though, my birthday wasn't completely a wash.  About 10 minutes after i got to work, my neighbor came in looking all serious and said "you gotta come see this, you won't believe it." I thought he had done something bad to his car because of the way he was acting, but when i got out there he popped open his trunk and shouted (happily) "would you just look at that?". I looked in his trunk and saw this...(from Dewey's...yum!)

He also gave me a card, a big hug, and told me that he was glad to have me as a neighbor, boss and friend. I think he knew i needed something special after the fright i had...and it was. Totally made my day (and my crew didn't mind either...after all, i can't eat all that by myself!) For those who don't get the "would you just look at that?" reference, its a phrase we say at work all the time derived from this video.  This is just one of the characters this guy does while his buddy films it from afar. hilarious. Anyway, know what else made my day? A visit from my friend Stefanie! She brought me balloons, a watermelon (in support of my decision to start a raw lifestyle) and some pizza hut coupons. Silly Stef. She also hung around for quite awhile (which i loved) and kept me company while i was stuck at work. I'm so grateful for my loving family and AWESOME friends!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Here We Go Again

I really should be in bed right now. But we all know by now i don't sleep, don't we? I blame Utah. That's where it started. I guess juggling a full time third shift job and full time school during the day will do that to you. Well that and a fierce battle with a panic disorder that mainly shows its ugly face at night. Whatever...i've kind of accepted all that by now. Moving on. The reason i'm up tonight? Stabbing pains in my arms. And the dread that comes along with knowing what that pain means. It means another flare-up on the horizon.  This has been a regular occurence for the past 8 months or so. For those who don't know, I was recently diagnosed with Hidradenitis Supporativa. What is that you ask? Well, you can read about it here.  In short, my glands create abscesses that swell and become very painful until they burst (mine happen to stay under the skin and do not burst). As of recent, researchers are beginning to find supportive evidence that it is indeed an autoimmune disease but has not been definitively decided yet. Mainly because what they think happens is hair folicles or glands or sweat ducts clog too easily and then your immune system attacks with super force, creating the abscesses. I don't know about all that or how it works, all i know is it's not a good time. During a flare, i also tend to battle restricted movement of my arms, a low-grade fever and intense fatigue. There is no medical cure, and they really don't even know the cause. The last flare i had landed me in the E.R. because i couldn't take the pain anymore. The doctor there, as well as the surgeon i followed up with a week later, basically told me i was just kind of in for a ride. Basically its about managing pain as best you can during a flare-up. Isn't that lovely to hear? Yeah i didn't find it very comforting either. Because i believe that our bodies were designed to heal themselves if given the proper tools, i began to research natural cures. As i poured through online support groups and blogs and other websites i found only one way that people became symptom free (outside of surgery...which i was told by the surgeon was a last-ditch effort and only about 50% effective anyway). Raw foods. People that eat a plant-based diet of 80% or more raw, living food were able to achieve complete healing. Interesting. Wanna know the even more interesting part? I've actively been studying raw foodists (anyone that eats 75% of their diet that way is considered a raw foodist) for over a years now. Before i started dealing with this. I don't even remember how i happened upon it, but i do remember feeling intensely that i needed to know this information, and have continued to feel inspired that i need to move in that direction. Just to be clear, i'm not necessarily saying that EVERYONE should eat like this. What i AM saying, however, is that Heavenly Father designed my body and knows the best way for me to take care of my individual body. And maybe He was giving me a heads up this past year...so that i would know what to do when i got hit with this and before it gets worse. That being said, i've been gathering recipes (raw food is WAY more interesting than just eating apples, after all) and reading everything i can about it, incorporating green smoothies in my diet, and breaking my addiction to caffeine (which has been pretty successful if i do say so myself) in order to prepare myself for this transition. I'm excited...and scared. But i look at the benefits to me personally....panic attacks make me feel like i am dying, literally, during them. Part of what freaks me out even further in those moments is knowing i'm not very healthy, so i very well could be. Having my health back would mean knowing that it is indeed just a panic attack. Or better yet...panic attacks and my bouts of night-anxiety could disappear all together. Yes please. It would remedy my life-long battle with my weight, which i am quite sick of really. Yes please. Raw foodists almost never get sick. Yes please. Energy through the roof. Umm...after my battles with fatigue, there is nothing i could want more. You get my drift, right? I thought about not telling people about my decision because then they feel like they need to weigh in on the matter...such as trying to tell me why i'm wrong or extreme. Well tell that to my intestines that no longer tolerate wheat, grains, dairy or even meats anymore. I'm sick of feeling sick, thank you. Or they may feel the need to say something if they see me eat something cooked ("hey, i thought you were raw now"). Well the thing is, i'm not looking to go 100% raw. i don't believe i should completely cut out all meats or grains or cooked veggies. But i am looking at 80% or more...thats my goal. that basically means that just 2 or 3 times a week i would eat something cooked. It also allows for social situations so i don't have to be that weird girl that brings her own food everywhere..even to restaurants. no thanks. Now this is a lifestyle change, a pretty intense one at that, so i'm assuming it will take me some time to really transition into it. But i suspect that what lays ahead is well worth it. And i can't wait.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Goodbye Caffeine (again)

Well things around here have been interesting. Last night included a trip to the emergency room for a very enlarged and VERY painful gland under my arm. I just couldn't take it anymore. To spare you all of the details, i will just say that when they cut into it, it didn't turn out to be what they thought. In fact, they don't know what it is. Meanwhile, now i have two holes in my armpit with a bunch of gauze stuffed up there and can barely move my arm. good times.  They decided to just put me on antibiotics and painkillers until they can find out exactly what's going on. I know an opportunity when i see it. what is it you may ask? The opportunity to cut off my caffeine supply while i'm taking the good stuff for my arm. No headaches here thank you. I figure in a day or two when i stop taking the pain meds i'll have been through the worst of the withdrawal. This is what i would like to call a "two-fer". see? opportunity.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Pursuit of Happiness

There's a paragraph in a book i read that i just have to share, right now while i'm thinking about it. The author was sharing her thoughts during a quest to find balance in her life. Its especially important to me given my dwellings upon my personal happiness lately. I also like how it can also relate to the gospel...although to me, happiness and the gospel are the almost the same thing. Enjoy.

"People universally tend to think that happiness is a stroke of luck, something that will maybe descend upon you like fine weather if you're fortunate enough. But that's not how happiness works.  Happiness is the consequence of personal effort.  You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it.  You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings.  And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it, you must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it.  If you don't you will leak away your innate contentment.  It's easy enough to pray when you're in distress but continuing to pray even when your crisis has passed is like a sealing process, helping your soul hold tight to its good attainments."

~Elizabeth Gilbert ~    Eat, Pray, Love

I Can't Think of a Title

Here i sit, reading a book and being unable to concentrate because i just feel so frustrated. I am literally consumed today by thoughts about my store and how i can make it perform better, how i can hit my numbers until i work myself into a tizzy....and then i realize...this is the struggle. The struggle between having my job be just a piece of me or something i do and allowing it to be all of me.  And then i pull myself back. Back into that space where I am actively trying to shed bad habits and bring on new (well not new, just forgotten) more enriching ones. Back to the place where my job is just a small part of my life, not who I am as a whole.  I've been trying to learn the art of meditation in a form that works for me. My counselor agrees that this would be a wise practice for me to learn given my tendency to be stressed and anxious and obsessive.  He also suggested that maybe it would work well for me to place it right before my scripture studies to help me relax and focus, allowing me to experience true joy and peace in my every day.  So that is what i will try. I will say my experiment is going well...i have spent more concentrated time reading and studying and writing and much much less time zombied out on my couch. I feel like my overall mood and outlook has improved, but everyday i have to keep choosing it. But you know, the struggle of choosing it and bringing myself back is what is making it so fulfilling at the same time. Sure, its hard. But what part of life isn't? It's kind of the point, is it not? The confidence that comes from knowing i am the master of my own mind is well worth the journey.