Category Archives: Stress

Overload…

I can only begin this post by stating I am aware of the privileges I have as a white middle class woman. I recognize my experience is different from that of a person of color. In fact, I recognize my experience is different from that of a person with a visible disability, instead of my invisible illness. In societal terms I am, within the boundaries set forth for women, acceptable, and to a large point, welcome.

So I can only begin to imagine the stress my less welcomed fellow Americans are undergoing right now. I can only extrapolate from my own sense of powerlessness the helplessness they must be feeling. I share in their anger and dismay but I cannot fully understand how they feel.

I can only hope there is something I can do to help put an end to this madness.

There’s an added complexity for me, one that is the underlying cause of this post. My invisible illnesses are made significantly worse by emotional stress. I am literally making myself sick reading about everything that is going on with my beloved country every day. So I need to strike a balance between knowing what is happening so that I can find ways to help and giving myself space to process so I don’t make myself sicker. (Again, I recognize that being able to give myself that space is – in and of itself – a privilege.)

This is a concern I have heard repeated in the SpoonieSphere. Many spoonies want to help, want to make a difference, but are experiencing this same drain on their already limited resources. Many can’t march with protests, most don’t have extra money to donate. What are the best ways to help while still “putting on our oxygen masks first”?

Let’s begin by choosing some reputable news sources that come out once or twice a week. For example, Code Switch by NPR has been recommended along with New York Times’ The Daily . These two podcasts provide fairly thorough reporting on what’s happening in the U.S. You can also give British papers a read through, I find the U.K.’s take on our happenings to be less biased one way or another.

Second, there are some things we can do at home to help support the fight against hate.

  1. You can stand against hate in social media. Confront those who spew hate, and loudly disavow it on your social platforms. Be one of the voices condemning it.
  2. You can support your local marches and vigils, even if you can’t attend. Perhaps you can make a few signs and give them to the organizers to hand out to people, or you can use your social network to enhance the message of the protest.
  3. Write to your representatives in the government. Let them know you stand against racism and you want them to stand against it to. Write to everyone who represents you. You can do it in email, through the post, or via petitions.
  4. Personally message the people you know who are targets of these attacks. Send them a loving and supportive text or email or card. Call them. Let them know you are a member of their community who loves them and wants them to be there.

There are things we spoonies can do without making ourselves sick and we should do them. I don’t know about you but sitting around doing nothing is untenable for me.

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Life’s not fair…

Struggle. We are in the midst of a fair amount of struggle. Between creating a business and paying for our existence on one salary, Lee and I have been clinging to edge for years now. We are hopeful, we remain cheerful most of the time, and we work really hard to try and improve our lives. However, each time we crawl up over the edge, each time we end a month in the black instead of the red, each time I get another client or another case, each time we get more money, something happens to smack us down.

It could be a medical crises for a dog, a broken pair of $600 glasses, a broken root canal requiring fixing, or any other myriad of things. Something always happens to wipe out our pathetic savings account and leave us teetering once again on the edge.

Yesterday it was the complete and utter destruction of Lee’s laptop and backup hard drive. His pricey system (understandable for one in his industry) was crushed into non-existence by the critical failure of the shelving system we put in place above his desk, placed there to manage the very tiny space we both work in. The shelves failed and came crashing down onto his desk and laptop sending all of his important things to the floor at breakneck speed.

Everything is wrecked. Destroyed. Kaput.

We came home from a lovely barbecue with friends to an office floor covered in all of his most important things, broken and scattered about.

All I could think was, “We know life’s not fair, we have figured that particular lesson out, why another example?”

My poor husband, the man who tirelessly works to take care of this family, has nothing left of his most important personal things. Worst of all, we can’t afford to replace them. We have teetered on the edge for too long. It will be months before we can get him a system that will allow him to do everything he likes and needs to do with it. He will have to make do with the old workhorse I used in law school, my six year old laptop we gave to Marlena when I got my new business computer. It’s old and slow, it will process word documents and connect to the internet. That’s about it.

We are defeated. It’s a small thing compared to a death in the family or a very sick child, but it’s our personal albatross. We suffer from an unending line of high priced emergencies, wiping us out time and time again. We can never seem to reach the point where these emergencies are simply something to handle and move on from. We are trapped in a cycle of scrambling and desperation.

And all we can do is keep on scrambling.

“It’s always darkest” or “In the clutches of a panic attack”…

Johnny, You can do it…. says Jaime Escalante to his students at Garfield High. I hear him repeating his favorite phrase in my ear each time I try to build this thing I intend to call a practice. Practice is a good word for it, I feel as though I am in rehearsal for my professional life, instead of in it. It would feel different if I wasn’t making it up as I went along, but instead was being told what to do. Damn it, I should have just gotten a job.

This is so incredibly hard, and there is no guarantee at all that all this hard work will result in money. (Though really, I would love to have some money, it’s nice to be able to buy things, pay bills, visit family from time to time.)

I have had great success in the long term, high risk/high reward side of my business. My one environmental client will give me as much work as I can handle and then some. Of course, I only get paid for that work as part of the damages portion of a settlement or winning lawsuit, so I can’t count on that money to pay my monthly bills for at least another year. (Try telling that to your creditors, “just one more year guys and I will be all set!”)

So, to balance out my business and pay those bills I have been building a “bread and butter” side to the practice. To begin with it was children’s advocacy. I have been working with the Office of the Child’s representative (OCR) for over six months now to get added to the contract for state pay cases. This would insure a modest, but consistent income I could use to pay those pesky monthly’s while I build my environmental empire. (Yes, I am queen of the nigh extinct creatures, the polluted waters, and the wasted resources.) Things were going along great until the OCR met with a huge budget crisis in the new economy and stopped hiring new attorneys. Including me.

So… no bread and butter there.

Then I thought I could get a job working with the various legal temp agencies doing document review. It pays even less than the kids work, but it’s still good money. So down I went to interview with two very nice women who are very interested in getting me work. Unfortunately, all the clients they have who are okay with me representing my own clients in my off hours require me to work Monday through Friday, 40 hours a week. The clients they have that will work with my schedule and let me work 30 hours on a M, W, F, schedule require me to take no additional clients.

So… no bread and butter there.

I sometimes panic, thinking I was a fool to believe I could work in the law, raise my children, and earn some money. It would seem the odds are stacked against me making one out of three of those things work. Either I can take everything on speculation and have no guaranteed income (a situation my creditors dislike heartily), or I can work for pay but only full time, or I can raise my kids and work at Taco Bell (Starbucks is likely way too popular for me to even try in this economy, I am sure there are hundreds of CEO’s trying to land jobs as Barista’s.)

I have reached out to a mentor of mine for advice and help, and he is noodling on the problem, so I am hopeful. However, I could use a little you can do it these days, there are so many indications that maybe I can’t. This business is the riskiest thing I have ever done. I would like to believe it is going to take off and get me flying, but there is a inside me saying I will land, Splat, flat on my face.

Since the invention of the kiss there have been five kisses that were rated the most passionate, the most pure…

And then there are the kisses you discover your 6 year old sharing with her 6 year old friend when he’s over to stay the night.
Monkey and Simon were upstairs, playing in her dress up trunk, like they have a thousand times. This time however, they were pretending to be married, because my darling child is obsessed with kissing.
She and I have had many discussions about how mommies and daughters don’t share romantic kisses, brothers and sisters don’t share romantic kisses, and that she is too young for a romantic kiss.
She sees kissing all around her. When we take her to see Harry Potter she sees kissing, when she watches The Princess Bride or Star Wars she sees kissing. Then she, being a method actor in the extreme, wants to see what all the fuss is about. Regardless of the conversations we have had about kissing, my daughter bravely forges ahead, to try out this kissing nonsense on Simon.
Why him? Because I am sure in a moment of idiocy I explained why you don’t try to romantically kiss your 3 month old brother by stating those kisses are reserved for boys, when she is older.
Well, Simon is a boy, and now, she is older.

The two of them in particular have had an increasing aura of suspiciousness about them over the last few months, and his mom and I have been keeping a closer eye on them, we just didn’t realize their playfulness and curiosity had gotten to the point of kissing!

Ack! Sadly, this means no more overnights between Ellen’s kids and mine. It has been coming for a while, this need to separate the girls and the boys, but it is the end of an era.

I now have a Girl. A Girl who knows which of her friends is a Boy, and is aware enough of the differences that she wants to kiss him. And lock the door to her room while she does it.

No good deed goes unpunished.

Especially when you have children.
Children are loving, snuggly, persnickity, perverse little wretches.
Today we planned to go to the beach. We were supposed to leave the house at 9:30 this morning in order to catch the sea before high tide and meet Ellen and Tiff.
We woke up early, with an hour and a half to spare, and I gave Monkey her requested breakfast of apples and peanut butter and cereal. I told her we only had an hour and a half before we had to leave to meet our friends at the beach for a day of swimming and fun. She excitedly jumped around and then asked to play on the Xbox.
“Er… no,” I said. “”You need to eat your breakfast, so we can go to the beach.”

And here is where the good deed is punished. Sad that she was not allowed to spend the hour before the beach on the Xbox, Monkey defiantly settled at the table, set her ankles up on it, and slowly, painfully picked up a single frosted mini wheat, and began to gnaw delicately on it’s edge.

Sighing and shaking my head, I went about my packing of snacks, dressing of baby, and otherwise preparing to spend the day doing something fun with my children. Occasionally I would toss out to Monkey that she needed to eat, as I would not be spending six dollars on a crappy piece of pizza on the boardwalk if she failed to fill up on breakfast. I would also not be getting her fast food.

An hour passed. It was 15 minutes until departure time. She had managed to consume about 5 frosted mini wheats, and one apple slice. Argh.

Finally I told her to finish getting ready. She meandered up stairs, spent about 20 minutes in the bathroom without managing to brush her teeth, and only when I yelled up “If you are not ready and down here in ten minutes we are NOT GOING!!” did she actually scurry to brush her teeth and hair, and put on her shoes.

Of course, by now I was grumpy, having spent the morning dealing with She-Who-Will-Not-Be-Fed, instead of getting to engage in the excitement of beach trip preparation.

About 10 minutes into the drive the comments started:
“Ooh..a Wendy’s!” “Look mom! A McDonald’s.” “Mom, can I get Ice cream?”

I just don’t get it. Why, why on earth, would she decide to goad me to the point of canceling the trip?? Does she like me in a bad mood? Argh! Of course, my mood was not improved by carting the huge bag of supplies, beach umbrella, and baby to the beach. Nor was I cheered by the bouts of crying Otter engaged in. I did cheer up when we went down to the water and splashed a bit. Pictured here:

It was also nice to see the kids splashing, and to hang out, however briefly, with Ellen and Tiff.

However, the trip was fairly stressful for me. I swear, I am at the point where leaving the house at all is simply too much trouble. Maybe I will become a hermit.

What would Freud say?

Last night I had the following dream:
It was the day I planned to start Otter on Rice Cereal, his first solid food. However, we were out of Rice Cereal, so instead, I made him stone ground whole wheat spaghetti noodles in a butternut squash sauce.
I placed him in the high-chair and began to give him his food, one tiny, cut up noodle at a time. He tasted his first noodle, got very interested, then started grabbing huge handfuls of noodles and stuffing them into his mouth.
“No, Otter!” I exclaimed, while desperately trying to retrieve huge streams of noodles from his mouth, “One noodle at a time, this is the first time you have ever eaten real food! You might choke!”
As I frantically pulled noodles away from my boy, he kept grabbing them and shoving them in his mouth. Sauce went everywhere, noodles flew, and I kept trying to get back to one wee noodle at a time.
He looked as happy as a baby can be, trying out his new noodles, playing in them, with his little baby mouth shaped like a monkey, upper lip sticking out, noodles dripping down his chin.
When I woke up this morning, at the now usual ungodly hour, I just laughed.

Bed, bed everywhere, and not a wink of sleep.

Otter woke up this morning somewhere around 5 or 6 am with an intense desire to discuss the crown molding around our bedroom wall. He lay in bed with me, nursing contentedly, but letting go every few moments to spill milk on the bed and point at the walls and comment loudly. In about half an hour I was completely awake, yawning like mad, and lying on a milk soaked bed with a very determined interior decorator in the making. I am uncertain if he likes the crown molding, or dislikes it, but it certainly seems to be worthy of much comment.

Why, why has my son found his voice? Is it all the yammering I do at him all day?”Who is a cute baby?” “Would the baby like some food?” “Is Otter flying?” “Where is sister? Do you see sister?” “Who has stinky feet?”

Maybe he feels the need to comment in the morning because he knows he won’t be able to get a word in edgewise for the rest of the day.

Sadly, I could have napped today, but I can’t nap. I have never been able to nap. I either have to fall asleep accidentally or wait until bedtime. I believe it comes from my years as an insomniac, I lie in bed, thinking about all the things I could be doing with my time. When I try not to think about it, I lie in bed, telling my self to stop thinking about all the things I could be doing with my time. No naps for me, but I will need an early bedtime tonight.

Scott and Sierra are in town for the week, hanging out with us and being generally warm and cheerful. I am happy to have them here, and Monkey is thrilled. She loves her Dot.

Well, off to work for me, the frog waits for no one.