Thursday, March 31, 2016

Finding balance

I was thrown off kilter 6 weeks ago.  I am trying to get my feet back under me in the emotional sense.  I function at work but I feel I am constantly on the edge of complete melt down.  I don't want to feel this way.  I want to be the best I can be but it seems like the harder I try the worse things get.  I am slowly starting to feel less like I am in a tsunami and down grading it to a rip tide.  Yea, not much improvement. 

Not my photograph but very cool. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Highs and Lows

The last few months are giving me plenty of highs and lows.  The big bummer low was the teacher I was working with in fashion was asked to resign because of a missing test for her certification.  I was devastated.  They asked me to work with a substitute as a part time sub myself.  What I learned?  Teaching exhausts me beyond belief.  I come home so worn out that eating seems like an over exertion.  I am barely functioning other than my work.  I really dislike living this way.  The fashion show all the pieces fell together.  It was wonderful and nearly caused me to have a complete melt down.  Focusing on my photograph work kept me going.  I spent Spring break trying to feel like I can function again.  I messed up several things at school but I was proud of myself because I didn't try to blame anyone else.  I took responsibility for what I did and working towards a solution.  I am surviving my job but I don't feel like I am thriving. 

Karate is moving forward.  I am preparing for the next belt level.  Since I am higher ranking than the new students, I now help with preparing them to pass their belt test.  I was assisting one student with how to make a particular move.  In his enthusiasm for doing the move exactly right he gave me a black eye.  Some people would think this is awful.  It isn't.  I don't like getting hurt however I felt relief that I felt the pain at the time it happened.  I also didn't lash out and blame the student.  It was a genuine accident, he apologized and I feel at peace over the incident.  A shiner for a shining moment. 

Tonight was an exciting high.  I bought a groupon for an introduction to glass blowing class.  I am so excited.  I finally signed up for the class.  I carefully planned for it to happen after school is out.  I think it will be a great way to celebrate a very tough school year.  I admire glass blowing.  I took thousands of pictures when Chihuly was at the Botanical gardens.  I am working on a picture book for children.  I got bogged down when I was so overwhelmed by all the different information.  Now I get to try my hand at.  This will be me thriving.  I will take pictures and post them no matter what I create. 

I am learning that life comes with highs and lows.  If you stay at either state it is not healthy.  Healthy living includes highs, lows, successes, frustrations and many other contrasts in feelings and experience.  I've come a long way from the state of constant gray.  I am living a life I never dreamed possible.  I am feeling thankful for a counselor that helped me turn my life around and learn that life is for thriving. 

Facebook hero

8 hrs ·
Today I found myself the subject of an Internet meme. Not for the first time.
This one, however, stands out from the rest.
In 2010, semi-retired from acting, I was keeping a low-profile for a number of reasons.
First and foremost, I was suicidal.
This is a subject I've since written about, spoken about, shared about.
But at the time I suffered in silence. As so many do. The extent of my struggle known to very, very few.
Ashamed and in pain, I considered myself damaged goods. And the voices in my head urged me down the path to self-destruction. Not for the first time.
I've struggled with depression since childhood. It's a battle that's cost me time, opportunities, relationships, and a thousand sleepless nights.
In 2010, at the lowest point in my adult life, I was looking everywhere for relief/comfort/distraction. And I turned to food. It could have been anything. Drugs. Alcohol. Sex. But eating became the one thing I could look forward to. Count on to get me through. There were stretches when the highlight of my week was a favorite meal and a new episode of TOP CHEF. Sometimes that was enough. Had to be.
And I put on weight. Big f--king deal.
One day, out for a hike in Los Angeles with a friend, we crossed paths with a film crew shooting a reality show. Unbeknownst to me, paparazzi were circling. They took my picture, and the photos were published alongside images of me from another time in my career. "Hunk To Chunk." "Fit To Flab." Etc.
My mother has one of those "friends" who's always the first to bring you bad news. They clipped one of these articles from a popular national magazine and mailed it to her. She called me, concerned.
In 2010, fighting for my mental health, it was the last thing I needed.
Long story short, I survived.
So do those pictures.
I'm glad.
Now, when I see that image of me in my red t-shirt, a rare smile on my face, I am reminded of my struggle. My endurance and my perseverance in the face of all kinds of demons. Some within. Some without.
Like a dandelion up through the pavement, I persist.
Anyway. Still. Despite.
The first time I saw this meme pop up in my social media feed, I have to admit, it hurt to breathe. But as with everything in life, I get to assign meaning. And the meaning I assign to this/my image is Strength. Healing. Forgiveness.
Of myself and others.
If you or someone you know is struggling, help is available. Reach out. Text. Send an email. Pick up the phone. Someone cares. They're waiting to hear from you. Much love. - W.M. ‪#‎koalas‬ ‪#‎inneractivist‬ ‪#‎prisonbroken‬

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Jesus Lives

Greatest news in two words. 

Some may question me, "Why believe in Jesus Christ, when He didn't stop your suffering?"

My answer:

Christ didn't come to stop my suffering, he came to pay my price.  He asks me to follow him.  He will lead me by the still waters.  He teaches love, peace, and forgiveness.  He didn't promise me an easy path, He promised walking His path would be worth it.  Some days I still struggle up that path, but I do not doubt that Christ laid the path and followed it Himself.  Heavenly Father sent a Savior, a deliverer, a way home to Him.  Christ leads the way back. I hit rock bottom, I learned that Christ is the Rock at the Bottom. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Coming undone

Thanks to my sister for reposting this quote on Emerging From Broken. Facebook page and blog that encourages people in the healing process. 

“For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn't understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.”
Cynthia Occelli

I needed to remember this.  I am making progress.  It is hard work.  I may fall apart but that lets me to reassemble myself in a new way.  

I looked up Cynthia and found her web page. Looks like an interesting page to explore. 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Catch up

But never really catching up.  Spent the week trying to rest and catch up on sleep.  Doesn't work.  I feel almost as tired today as I did last Sunday.  Major Bummer.  Spring break was spent putting in a few plants, spending a bit of time with family, and generally lazing around not doing much.  But I still feel super tired.  Nine more weeks until school is out for summer.  I have a ton of stuff to do and no interest in doing any of it.  I'm tired of being tired.  When I went for sleep study, I was asked to tell them the last time I felt rested.  I couldn't come up with an answer.  I felt tired for as long as I can remember. 

Friday, March 18, 2016

Generational abuse

I come from a long line of abusers and victims.  I listen to stories of grandparents and others and fully understand that I am not unique or special.  I puzzle over how this gets repeated over and over.  One of the blogs I follow shared an explanation of how this happens.

Wow!  The section that jumped out at me and reminded me so vividly of my mother was in these lines:
Winning is about forcing someone to comply and making them jump to requests and wishes without question and without concern for personal values or boundaries.  And winning is mistaken for love. - See more at:
 Winning is about forcing someone to comply and making them jump to requests and wishes without question and without concern for personal values or boundaries.  And winning is mistaken for love. - See more at:
When the child/victim grows up with this false definition of love then they require their children to do the same thing.  I wish I understood this when I was raising my children.  I worked at changing the cycle but realize not enough.  I didn't know anything else.  In counseling, one of the first things my counselor taught me was personal boundaries and the need to have them in healthy relationships.  That means the other person has personal boundaries too.  I don't want to win.  I want to see other people grow and be themselves whatever that looks like to them.  I am hoping to be a chain breaker...sadly I already passed on some of this.  I remember the sessions in counseling when this was pointed out to me.  I felt devastated.  I also felt drowning in guilt.  I messed up.  I don't know how to fix it.  I start with now.  Now, I don't need my children to be obedient to me.  Now, I can encourage them to be their own best self whatever that looks like to them.  Now, I can see that compliance and winning has no place in a relationship.  I'm not always sure how to go forward but I am working on it. 

The other part that my sister and I remind each other over and over and over again.  Rule #1 Stop lying, especially to yourself.  I lied for years that my parents were not abusive.  I had to acknowledge their mistakes and mine.  I can't change them but I can change me.  I changed how I respond to their need of absolute obedience.  Now, I do what I believe is right and accept that it will never be enough for them because it doesn't allow them to win.  That is ok.  I don't need to let them win so that they can feel good about themselves.  Their happiness is not my responsibility.  Also my happiness is not my children's responsibility.  I feel happy seeing them but it is not their job to make me happy.  I guess, I am breaking the chain by changing my expectations. 
Winning is about forcing someone to comply and making them jump to requests and wishes without question and without concern for personal values or boundaries.  And winning is mistaken for love. - See more at:
Winning is about forcing someone to comply and making them jump to requests and wishes without question and without concern for personal values or boundaries.  And winning is mistaken for love. - See more at:

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Getting rested

Recovery from a major event takes a long time.  I start to complain it is worse until I go back over old notes as to how long recoveries used to take.  I'm doing better than I realized.  My brain is still scattered and scrambled.  I better understood my challenge when I reread a short message I sent to my sister.  I wrote plain gibberish.  Nothing made sense.  It only looked like a sentence because there was a period at the end.  A collection of words that were not related or cohesive in anyway.  Heavy sigh.  I want to recover faster but my body has its own time schedule.  My body's idea of long enough and mine do not match.  Slowly feeling better. 

Saturday, March 12, 2016


I waited to think through and process what happened this week with the the school fashion show before writing this post.  This show is a student project at the mega-level.  We spent 9 weeks preparing everything needed for the show.  My teacher prepared most of the paperwork in advance before she was forced to resign.  (I'm still trying to wrap my mind around that decision by the district.)  However, there is a bunch of stuff that must be done for all the pieces to come together.  The potential for disaster is huge.  Over all, the fashion students came through with flying colors.  The show was phenomenal.  I cheered with everyone else about how the show went.  I was so proud of all the students.  Their hard work and courage shined on the stage.  The stuff I spent weeks trying to get them to do, they pulled it off.  Yes, the actually listened to me.  Sadly for me, a giant PTSD trigger was bumped and I didn't hang around for the clapping to end.  I used the excuse of putting my camera away to leave as quickly as possible.  One teacher tried to congratulate me as I flew by.  I could barely respond.  My breath was coming hard and deep, like a runner finishing a marathon.  With the flashing lights, throbbing music, intense focus on shooting pictures, in a way, I did just finish a mental/emotional marathon.  I took a few minutes in the classroom to gather my wits about me before tackling the clean up.  The night was difficult, I forgot to do several things on my to do list, and multiple triggers were hit.  I made it through.  Friday morning, I sang all the way to work.  (Good thing the windows on my car were rolled up.)  I felt like a dump truck load of stress dropped off my shoulders.  Now my body extracts pay back.  I wrote a short note to my sister.  When I reread it later, I wrote complete nonsense.  Little clues are telling me I am seriously messed up.  I remind myself that recovery takes time.  I worked full steam on this show for 4 weeks.  I need to let myself breath and rest.  I am still so thrilled with how well the class did on this show. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016


Many people view a retreat as a get away.  Some place where no phone, electronics, or annoying people can reach you.  Some people consider retreating a failure.  I learned that there is another type of retreating which means I stop spreading myself so thin.  I stop most other activities accept the one I want to focus on.  All energies are focused on one objective.  That means I retreat from everything else for awhile.  2 more days until fashion show.  The major pieces are starting to come together.  Breathe....breathe....breathing.  Breathing is doable. 

Monday, March 7, 2016

I slept

This weekend I spent a good share of my time sleeping or playing Happy acres on Facebook.  I am feeling rested but with the underlying dread of pedal to the metal this will be a high stress week.  Fashion show on Thursday.  I know all the complex pieces that need to come together for this one moment.  I remind myself 4 more days and it is all finished.  I am super excited about the pieces the students created.  Now the rest of the show will be borrowed.  A thousand things need to be done between now and then.  I am working at keeping my 'grin-and-bare-it' part of my personality tightly leashed. I am focusing on one thing a day that is a must then cramming as much of the other stuff in that I can possibly do. 

Enjoy your is the only one that counts.  Yesterday is gone and done, tomorrow is yet to be.  Today is the one that counts. 

Friday, March 4, 2016

My job is to rest.

High stress at work leaves me overwhelmed, exhausted and easily ruffled.  I also struggle with swallowing food, sleeping, and relaxing.  My job this weekend is to rest, rest, rest, rest...did I say rest?  Yea, the big push to the end of the nine weeks of school and the fashion show.  I am watching the pieces starting to fall into place.  It is like the last 10 pieces that need to go into a 1000 piece puzzle.  Those pieces are needed but only fit if everything else is in the right place.  I am using distraction, exercise, popcorn, and other coping strategies.  I know how anxious I can get.  It is my job to sooth myself, reassure me, and take care of me.  Bless sweet husband for taking me to dinner tonight so I didn't have to think about anything when I came home.  Rest rest rest.  I can do the next 6 days, one day at a time, 5 minutes at a time, whatever it takes. 

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Run away

I'm at crisis point.  I can admit that here.  At school, I'm the one that is supposed to help hold everything together with a part time sub because the awesome teacher was forced to resign rather than allow her to finish out the year.  She had a technical issue with her teaching certificate, zero tolerance didn't allow for the decision to wait until summer.  I am running away to Happy Acres.  Yup, the Facebook game.  My daughter-in-law is a developer for the game and I started doing it to cheer her on.  Now I go to play and solve problems that if I fail, no big deal.  I am going to need to curb my choice a bit but I am happy at happy acres.

End in sight

One of the techniques I use for coping with big stuff is to acknowledge that the end is in sight.  In one week and one day this big project will be over.  I am making plans for the following week.  I am allowing myself to look beyond the intensity of the project.  Too often, I get hyper-focused on a difficult task and loose sight of anything else.  Putting a time limit or my own deadline gives me the illusion I am control of something in my life.  I am working at actively choosing ways to allow myself to relax along the way.  I am also accepting and acknowledging out loud that big stuff is scary for me.  Unfortunately, this can come across as anger or brusqueness.  I'm not unfeeling, I'm over whelmed by feeling.  Heavy sigh.  Counting the days.  7, 6, 5, 4.......

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

No Growth....

In the comfort zone. 

I reminded the students I work with that one of the purposes of a large fashion show is to get them out of their comfort zone.  The will feel scared, nervous, jittery, and a host of other emotions as the prepare for their big show.  I keep reminding myself it is their show.  I am part of the help system but it is their show and their grade.  I am watching some of the students stretch and grow.  Others are collapsing inward.  All the focus is on the show.  Then today, one of the students explained that a fellow student would probably not be there for the show.  I was already to rain condemnation on the absent girl's head.  Then her friend continued that the other girl's dad died and would be gone to bury him.  The fashion show suddenly seems much smaller in significance.  I'm reminded that there are many things bigger and harder than anything I am facing right now.  However, someone's challenge does not diminish my challenge.  May give me a bit of a different perspective but my challenge is still my challenge.  I am way out of my comfort zone.  I am challenging our students to get out of their comfort zone.  Encouragement doesn't come easily to me.  I learned by criticism and harshness.  I am working at encouraging while opening the students to different possibilities.  Jumbled thoughts as I try to calm down to sleep.