Thursday, December 31, 2015

Progress Not Perfection taught me this line over and over.  My friend assured me that she did not originate the line it is also used in AA meetings.  After years of attempting and failing to clean my space, I am working on it again but I changed my thought processes.  I am not cleaning the room, I am rearranging my space to make it more useful to me.  Made more progress in two days than I have done in two years.  I'm actually excited about working on the space.  I am using Flylady's method of three for put away some place else, throw away and give away.  The stipulation that anything I give away must bless the person I give it to otherwise throw it away.

I read this YEARS ago.  Sadly it also set off major triggers as in melt down triggers.  I learned the source process the information and still struggled.  I was very disappointed in myself.  Then I worked in an environment that encouraged me to declutter and clean up on a regular basis.  Learning by example does much better than scolding, punishing and shaming.  I am a work in progress.  I decided not to take before pictures.  I don't need to remind myself how far I have come.  I know it.  I am also spending time with family and friends during my break.  I'm loving it. 

Clutter to me, home to the spider. 

Monday, December 28, 2015

Had a Merry Christmas

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas.  For many, myself included, Christmas is a delightful challenge for others it is a challenge.  We made it.  Hugs to everyone.  I finally got 4 strings of light on the Christmas tree and took the tree down today.  There were years that we took the tree down on Christmas day.  I am adjusting for the idea that my body will crash.  Rather than fight it I planned for it.  So far, still upright. 

I didn't use my camera much.  I embraced the events instead of technically capturing the 'best' shot of everything.  It was nice but I think next year I'll go back to taking more pictures.  Interesting to realize I actually engage more when I take pictures.  I tend to be an observer of events.  Taking pictures I am more engaged observer.  Progress not perfection as Flylady writes it.  I think AA uses the same quote so I don't think it is a Flylady original.  Back to the subject. We made it through another Christmas and this year we have one extra day to prepare....thanks Leap Year. 

Now it is time to reflect on the year.  Part of my truth campaign is to honestly evaluate my progress this year.  I'll keep in mind rule #1 "Stopping lying, especially to yourself."  KavinCoach also taught me to give myself credit for doing things right.  I often gloss over the good things and focus on the fails.  When I do that, I awfulize my own life.  When I recognize the good things I am doing,  acknowledge my own progress, I become my own cheerleader.   KavinCoach at the end of every session would tell my how well I was doing.  It took me years to believe him.  Now I believe him and myself when I recognize I did something well.  I also learned to recognize something I didn't do well without feeling a need to punish myself.  Yup.  I can punish myself better than any abuser.  I work at acknowledging mistakes or areas that I need to improve.  If I need to apologize to someone else for a mistake then I try to do that.  I don't always get it right.  Too often in my effort to apologize I sound like I am making excuses.  Again, I am working on progress.  I also learned the my most important things in my life Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, family, and friends.  Then come coworkers, people at church, neighbors and strangers.  After all my years of living, I finally learned that the relationships in my life are far more important than what I do in life.  However, what I do in life can either strengthen or weaken my relationships.  Interesting how interconnected do, being, and loving become.  Faith comes from hoping and hope comes from having faith.  Pray works when I put faith into my thoughts and words.  Prayers bounce of the ceiling if I have no intention of following through with anything I pray about.  My thoughts swirl around and around at this time of year. 

For me, cleaning is a good way to keep my hands busy while my mind ponders where am I at right now and what goals I plan for next year.  One of the ones that surprised me was a couple of years ago I planed to loose a lot of weight.  I did.  I lost 30 lbs.  What shocked me was how critical and down right mean I became.  I joked that I make a 'mean skinny.'  I put the weight back on but I know that isn't healthy.  This year I am going to work on healthy choices.  I tried following several health gurus on line.  One quit posting, one wants to sell me something new everyday and another one tells me he has something great to tell me then spends 15 minutes telling me that it is a great thing until I walk away and he still hasn't told me the great thing he was going to tell me.  Bust on 3 accounts.  New approach this year.  I know a lot about what I need to do that is healthy.  I need to take the time to do what I already know.  Interesting.  I need to write that down into a specific goal to make it useful.  Not sure how I'll do that yet.  I give myself to the end of January to set up yearly goals.  I don't do New Year Resolutions because I hate that breaking glass sound when I break them in a week or two.   I can have a goal back slide and still achieve what I wish to do by the end of the year. 

Broken Resolutions

Friday, December 25, 2015

Make New Memories....

Merry Christmas everyone.  Arizona was cold for a short while and back to much warmer weather.  This is the season for reflection, love, sharing, and triggers.  Yup, one of the worse times of year for me.  I work hard to not feel more depressed, discouraged, and over all meh.  I am learning to cut down how many thing I do.  This year DH put up the tree.  I put on one string of lights.  That's it.  However, I baked all sorts of goodies and bread.  I visited friends and family.  I created many beautiful memories.  Maybe I'll finish decorating the tree on Christmas or go visit family. 

One of the hardiest things about memories is some haunt me.  However, I read Michael Provosts post on Facebook and rethought what I am doing.  Michael is an amazing photographer that I follow on Facebook.  Due to time difference, he often posts his awesome pictures just before I go to work.  He includes quotes with his beautiful pictures.  I feel so uplifted and encouraged.  He posted why he does what he does and gave me permission to share his thoughts.  I think the thing I came away thinking about is the importance of creating new beautiful memories to overwrite the old disturbing ones.  I am noticing that the more lovely memories I stuff in my head there is less room for the ugly memories to push in.  Today I was sitting with my sister and finishing her book cover for her next book.  I had fun.  I baked bread which I do almost every year.  So I am adding new things to old ones.  Enjoyed lovely time with family and friends this week.  Creating beautiful memories goes a long way to making Christmas a beautiful time of year. 

Michael Provost
My Dear Friends,
A Personal Christmas Story or Why I Do What I Do....
When I was a very young boy I had a dog named "Sport". Sport was a mix of so many different breeds that it was impossible to know what kind of dog he was. Basically, he was a raggedy little mutt that followed me home one day. To sum up a description, he was small, he was light brown, he had one white-eye and one brown-eye, and I loved him very, very much. Once I convinced my parents to let me keep him and got him moved into our house, he expressed his gratitude to me by following me everywhere. Our relationship was very basic: I fed Sport his food and walked him. In return he licked my face, jumped all over me, played with me, and happily did all the tricks I taught him. We were inseparable, Sport and I. He was my best friend. He would even stop and pose for me when I took pictures of him with my toy camera. He loved it when I took his picture.
At any rate, it was during this period of my life that I heard tell of a legend that on Christmas Eve a miracle occurs. The miracle being that at the stroke of midnight all animals can talk. Back then I believed in Santa Claus, The Easter Bunny, The Tooth Fairy, Leprechauns, Trolls and pretty much anything else, so this seemed entirely plausible to me. Also, at the time, along with my toy camera, I had a small children's tape-recorder. So one day I was struck with the idea that I would try my darndest to stay awake until midnight on Christmas Eve, sit in my room with Sport, and when the moment of the wondrous miracle occurred, I would record the voice of my beloved dog when he talked to me.
So Christmas Eve arrived. I set everything up, got into my pyjamas, and sat on the bed with Sport. My bedtime was 8:00pm. I tried as hard as I could not to fall asleep. I sang songs to myself. I fought pirates and ghosts with my toy sword. I talked to Sport. I tried everything I could possibly think of to stay awake, but to no avail. I think I lasted until about 8:20pm.
The next morning was. of course, Christmas Day, and when I woke up I forgot all about the fact that I'd missed the miracle. I ran like a maniac downstairs and tore open all of my presents. After a few hours of playing with my new toys, I remembered that I had fallen asleep and missed the midnight miracle of Sport talking. So I figured, well, maybe I'll do it next year. I went back up to my room and my toy tape-recorder was sitting on my dresser where I had left it. But what was strange was that the tape that I had put inside of it was sitting on top of the recorder. So I put the tape in and I pushed "Play". Suddenly, in a very low gruff voice I heard the words, "Merry Christmas, Michael." Now, what had actually occurred was that my father had sneaked into my room and recorded those words on the tape, but I didn't know the why's or the wherefores of it. I didn't think in those terms back then. At that moment, at that time, I believed that I had somehow actually recorded the miracle of my dog speaking to me at midnight on Christmas Eve!
I remember running down the stairs with the tape recorder and playing it for my parents. I remember how amazed I was that Sport had actually talked to me. The miracle had happened! I remember playing the recording to all of my friends. In fact, I played it for anyone who would listen. There were the skeptics of course, but my belief that it was the voice of my beloved dog was unshakable. After all, I had it on tape. I had recorded and preserved it for all to hear.
It was about four-months after that. I was taking Sport for a walk just after it had stopped raining, and he saw a cat on the other side of the street. He started to run after the cat. A car was coming down the street and couldn't stop in time. And Sport was gone. I was of course devastated to have lost my best friend. For days afterwards I was inconsolable. My parents tried their very best to comfort me, but it didn't help. I would sit in my room and play the recording of what I believed to be Sport's voice over and over. The fact that I believed I had preserved a recording of his voice made me feel closer to him. It helped me to get through the loss.
I have no recollection of the toys I got that Christmas morning, but I kept that tape for many, many years. Even after I came to the realization that there was no way a dog could have spoken into a tape recorder and that in fact it WAS my father's voice, I still kept the tape. Why did I keep it? I kept it for the memory of Sport. I kept it for the young boy who believed in the miracle, and was comforted by it when he had lost his best friend. The boy who believed in the magic and the wonder of Christmas. And when I lost my parents, I kept it because it was a recording of the voice of my father. It made me feel closer to him. Unfortunately, the day arrived when I put the tape into the player and nothing happened. They just didn't build those old cassette tapes to last back then. Despite my best efforts the recording was gone forever.
I write of this now because Christmas is a time of memories, both old and new. Because I realize that through most of the days of my existence, by one method or another, I have been recording the times and the moments that make up the journey that is my life. And in turn, I have shared them with my friends. I'm not exactly sure when or how it started, perhaps it was the recording of Sport, but it became my passion at a very early age, and remains so to this very day. Thankfully, I have been blessed with the gift and the means to pursue that passion. And within the images that I capture, I preserve the memories of the moments, the times, and the places that have touched me. I also believe that in many of those same images I have touched and preserved the spirits of the souls who I have loved, who have loved me, and who have shared the precious moments of my life. For one reason or another, a good many of those souls are no longer here, so those photographs serve to bring back the memories of the love and the warmth that I shared with them. They comfort me and they make me feel closer to them. They remind me of the magic and the wonder of the moments that we shared.
My dear friends, I thank you for the grace, the warmth, and the light that is your friendship. Thank you for your most generous and kind words that reflect the beautiful, radiant light that is you. Your words that never cease to inspire and embolden the heart of this man journeying upon the path of his destiny. Thank you for allowing me to share the moments of my life with you. It is my sincere Christmas wish that your hearts be filled with warmth and love at this very special time of year. This Christmas, may you write new memories in the pages of the book that is your life. May those memories be recorded and preserved in your hearts as forever golden. And whether they be with you in body or in spirit, may you be surrounded by the love and comfort of those who are most precious to you. May you be filled with the joy of the season. And for a moment perhaps....just perhaps.....may you be filled with the magic and the wonder of it all.
Merry Christmas and God Bless You.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Following my own advice

I'm following my own advice by backing off and slowing down.  Our Christmas tree is up but only has a single string of lights on it.  I think it may stay that way.  I am blogging less to give myself time to hit top priorities my family, friends and editing for my sister.  I am starting to feel like the downward spiral is slowing to a stop and I'm heading for a turn around.  My dear friend let me chat today and tell of all the set backs I had the past 5 months.  I am sometimes unaware of how far down I am slipping until I am in a total mess.  Thankful to DH for reminding me that generalizing specifics makes things look worse than they are.  Many of the things I struggled with were outside of my control.  However, I can make healthy decisions about what I can actually do to help in a situation.  I was proud of myself when I called and followed up because I was worried about a situation.  A 5 minute phone call assured me that I did what I could in that situation.  I also went to get the granddaughters Christmas presents I bought last summer.  I looked blankly at the empty spot where I thought they were located.  A whole box gone.  Sadly, in that particular room my hoarders tendencies would make that possible.  Rather than melting down, I went on an emergency shopping spree.  I was delighted to find just what I wanted at a price I could afford.  The store clerks eyes widened as I heaped stuff on the conveyor belt.  I smiled and explained I had 6 granddaughters.  She was so lovely and kind.  The best part was the granddaughters that live close by opened their presents last weekend and they loved the hasty substitute gifts.  Amazing how a potential disaster can be averted and the outcome can be better than I expected.  Getting back on track will take time but I am no longer feeling like I am plummeting down in a crazy emotional free fall.  Thankful for my sister helping with my dishes.  Her service to me lightens my heart when so much was dragging me down.  Thanks Judy.
Straitening out the pieces

Sunday, December 20, 2015


I buy presents all year long.  This year I lost the presents I bought.  Last minute shopping to fix the oops.  I felt like I failed.  Until the grandkids opened them and were delighted with the substitute gifts.  My sister posted a reminder.

I can't mess up Christmas because it is not about me.  Tree still has one string of lights.  Presents were given to grandkids so that they can enjoy going to other grandparents on Christmas day.  A friend joked with me that I had a 'non-compete rule.' I am blessed with seeing the kids that live close by on a regular basis.  I enjoyed wonderful food, great company, and a Merry Christmas feeling.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Minimum Christmas

September I took a giant step backwards.  Several events hit me hard at my core beliefs.  I am just now starting to recover unfortunately that puts a bit of crunch time on Christmas.  No cookies, no decorations, no packages sent, 4 Christmas cards made it out the door, not a good start on the holiday.  I remember a conversation with KavinCoach.  He asked me, "What is the advantage of hitting bottom again?"  With a twisted smile I answered, "It is familiar territory." 

The answer he was looking for is I know what I need to do to get back in the game of life again.  I know that I need to stop extra activities, pull back from routine things, even ones I enjoy.  Minimize, reduce, and make choices of self care.  Not an easy task.  I was raised to put myself last.  I learned it by example and expectations given to me.  I learned it well.  Now, I am breaking a lifetime of habits and creating a new life path.  My second counselor explained it by saying that habits are like ruts gouged by water.  Eroding into my mind a set way of doing things.  To change that path I choose to create new channels and new habits, sadly in times of high stress, I slip back into old habits. 

Slow down....


School semester is ending.  My life at work is finally slowing down.  However, my life at home is revving up.  I seem to put myself in a mess without any help from anyone else.  I feel ok for this time of year.  I'm far behind on my to do list.  I'm dropping many activities that I usually try to do.  My symptoms from PTSD are telling me that this time of year continues to be a struggle.  I decided to do less.  Worry less.  Say no more often.  Prioritize family activities, other stuff not so much.  Still the PTSD is stamping on my sleep, my peace of mind, and my desire to engage.  Right now I just want to be a bear.


Saturday, December 12, 2015

A bit of oil

I joined a group on Facebook that prompts service and kindness during this Christmas season.  This post caught my attention.  I often don't have strength to make big things happen but I could use a bit of kindness to help things go better. 

Do you have an 'oil can' of kindness?
There is an old story of an elderly man who always carried a little can of oil with him everywhere he went, and when he would go through a door that squeaked, he would squirt a little oil on the hinges. If he encountered a gate that was hard to open, he would oil the latch. And so he went through life, lubricating all the difficult places, making it easier for all those who came after him. People called the man eccentric, strange, and crazy, but he went steadily on, often refilling his can of oil when it was nearly empty, and oiling all the difficult places he found.
In this world, there are many lives that painfully creak and grate as they go about their daily work. Often it seems that nothing goes right with them and that they need lubricating with "the oil of joy" (Ps. 45:7), gentleness, or thoughtfulness.

Today's challenge:
Do you carry your own can of oil with you? Are you ready with your oil of helpfulness each morning?
Your oil of cheerfulness will mean more than you know to someone who is downhearted. Or the oil may be a word of encouragement to a person who is full of despair. Never fail to speak it, for our lives may touch others only once on the road of life, and then our paths may diverge, never to meet again.
We cannot know the grief
That men may borrow;
We cannot see the souls
Storm-swept by sorrow;
But love can shine upon the way
Today, tomorrow;
Let us be kind.
Upon the wheel of pain so many weary lives are broken,
So may our love with tender words be spoken.
Let us be kind.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Bit by bit

When I start to feel overwhelmed I go back to inching through life.  Maybe a little army crawling when I can't get up.  My frustration with myself adds to my misery so I let myself off the hook.  I let go of several activities.  However, sometimes I need to enjoy activities that I love doing.  Too often in my effort to "do" everything I forget to be in the moment and enjoy that moment.  I love Christmas music.  I am going to share links to a few of my favorites.  Sharing something that brings me joy....

Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer original video

Silent Monks Sing the Hallelujah Chorus

Cast in Bronze Carol of the Bells

Sugar Plum Fairy by Tchaikovsky - Glass Harp LIVE (HD)

Josh Groban - O Holy Night [with lyrics]

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Pain changed me

At age 32 I could only be out of bed 20 minutes a day.  I passed out daily.  The doctors assured me there was nothing wrong with me.  I saw no end in sight.  My children took care of much of the house work that wasn't done by DH.  I did not choose this.  I did not know how to change it.  I hit bottom.  God loved me at the bottom and encouraged me to keep moving.  He reassured me that the only way He could direct me is if I moved.  So I struggled forward taking on my own research as to what was wrong with my body and why I couldn't function.  Finally progressing far enough I entered counseling with DH still thinking that if we fixed our marriage then everything would be fine.  I was so naive.  Stunning revelations in those first 6 months of counseling.  I did not know what dissociation was.  I did not know that my blanks of time were for a reason.  I did not know my own past.  All of that changed with an all mighty crash.  I am in better shape than I ever have been.  I can do more in a day than I could in a week at age 32.  The pain of remembering.  The pain in my body.  The suffering changed me.  I believe for the better.

Years ago when email was fun with lots of stories I received this in my email:

Potato, egg, coffee

Once upon a time a daughter complained to her father that her life was miserable and that she didn’t know how she was going to make it.  She was tired of fighting and struggling all the time. It seemed just as one problem was solved, another one soon followed.   

Her father, a chef, took her to the kitchen. He filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Once the three pots began to boil, he placed potatoes in one pot, eggs in the second pot, and ground coffee beans in the third pot.  He then let them sit and boil, without saying a word to his daughter.  The daughter, moaned and impatiently waited, wondering what he was doing.

After twenty minutes he turned off the burners. He took the potatoes out of the pot and placed them in a bowl. He pulled the eggs out and placed them a bowl. He then ladled the coffee out and placed it in a cup.

Turning to her he asked. “Daughter, what do you see?”

“Potatoes, eggs, and coffee,” she hastily replied.

“Look closer”, he said, “and touch the potatoes.” She did and noted that they were soft.

He then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg.

Finally, he asked her to sip the coffee. Its rich aroma brought a smile to her face.

“Father, what does this mean?” she asked.

He then explained that the potatoes, the eggs and coffee beans had each faced the same adversity – the boiling water. However, each one reacted differently. The potato went in strong, hard, and unrelenting, but in boiling water, it became soft and weak.   

The egg was fragile, with the thin outer shell protecting its liquid interior until it was put in the boiling water. Then the inside of the egg became hard.

However, the ground coffee beans were unique. After they were exposed to the boiling water, they changed the water and created something new.

“Which are you,” he asked his daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a potato, an egg, or a coffee bean? “

In life, things happen around us, things happen to us, but the only thing that truly matters is what happens within us.

Which one are you?

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Reconsidering Santa letter

I read this on Facebook and wanted to share. This so suits my thoughts these days.  I laughed out loud and glad I was at home so nobody would stare. 

PS If you don't like your Facebook feed you may be part of their negativity experiment.  Hide post and likes on the stuff you do like improves it.  Beautiful pictures and words of encouragement are most of the things I get now.

Mary Starshine Dear Santa,
I've been good all year
Most of the time.
Once in a while.
Never mind.
I'll buy my own stuff.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Loving Christmas

I love Christmas.  I love the lights, the decorations, looking for presents, baking, music, and the reason.  I feel sad that it also brings triggers, unreasonable expectations, frayed tempers, and many other aspects of the season that has nothing to do with the reason.  I am a believer that the reason for the season is Christ.  Wise men still seek him.  Good will to all men, women and children is still a wonderful goal.  Glad tidings still shared.  The angels sing and those that believe hear their songs.  Song sings in our hearts when we help one another, when we care for the poor, when we share with others, when we seek ways to come unto Christ.  He came as a baby and showed us the way to return to our Father in Heaven and broke the bonds of death so we could enter into eternity. 

“Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village. He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty, and then for three years He was an itinerant preacher. He never owned a home. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family. He never went to college. He never put his foot inside a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place where He was born. He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but Himself…. While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against Him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed upon a cross between two thieves. While He was dying His executors gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth — His coat. When He was dead, He was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.”
“Nineteen long centuries have come and gone, and today He is the centerpiece of the human race and the leader of the column of progress. I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever were built; all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man on this earth as powerfully as has that one solitary life.”
—The famous essay, One Solitary Life

I found a link to what the internet thinks is the original version.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Not my monkeys

At work, I experienced a series of events that were seriously stressing me out.  I came across a blog or a meme that reminded me that in some situations I can truly say, "Not my circus, not my monkeys."  I use this when I am taking responsibility for something that is not my job.  I tend to over step and try to 'fix' situations that aren't my responsibility.  My counselor first pointed out my tendency to take on responsibilities that aren't really mine to do.  It is a carry over from childhood when I was held responsible for my mother's happiness and my younger brother and sister from about nine years old until I married.  It wasn't my responsibility to care for the younger siblings but  I worried about them.  Tried to make sure they were safe.  And was punished if they did anything wrong.  The craziness of holding one person responsible for someone else led me to behaving like I could 'fix' someone else.   Years of counseling drove home, the only person I could fix was me and wow did I have my work cut out for me working on fixing myself.  I sat down with myself and asked..."Is this my circus and are these my monkeys?"  If I answer no to either one I back off.  One of my coworkers was stressing out to.  I told him, "Not your circus, not your monkeys."  He thought about it over the break and came back feeling much better about his job.  One of my major challenges is to not take on responsibilities that rightfully belonged to someone else.  Learning to be responsible for myself is actually tough because I was trained to put my needs last.  Learning to follow airplane instructions will help, put the oxygen mask on myself first.

Thursday, December 3, 2015


First part of December and I'm feeling ok.  OK is awesome.  Too many years I'm sick.  Overwhelmed. Shutting down....I'm none of those.  OK is good.  I believe in this world of extremes OK is looked down on as not good enough.  I like OK because for me it is progress.