Resolutions of 2012 (and what I learned from 2011)

Move forward or get stuck in the past

Choose, but choose wisely.

It is always something I enjoy doing – making my resolutions.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: Resolutions are goals.  People who are like, “I don’t make resolutions ’cause it’s stupid” are likely to be the people with no aim or direction.  They probably float through life, accidental like, waiting for things to happen, rather than making them happen on their own.  I take issue with those people.  Now, conversely, if you’re the person who is constantly setting goals and re-evaluating them, then the prior statement doesn’t apply to you.

I’m not a fan of the cop-out resolutions.  Without defining, clearly, what your commitment is to, it’s easy to let them slip away.  If you go with the ones that are often broken (weight-loss, less debt, more family time, etc), you’ll find that you will have lost sight of them by March.  Because life happens and it’s easy to get off track.  Not that those goals aren’t worthy and/or easy.  They are *very* important and often difficult to achieve.  But, I guess I’m a bigger fan of goals that go deeper than that.

When I made my 2011 goals, my life was in a decidedly different place.  I stuck with many of my resolutions, but not all.  I’m okay with that.

I learned a lot from 2011.  I learned that things can change slowly, but you often realize the gravity of those changes all at once.  I learned that emotions that are bottled up for too long will find a way out.  I learned that my strength is a sleeping giant, but it will prevail.  I learned that, without direction, I am lost.  I learned that no one will speak better for me than I can.

So for 2012, here are some of the big ones:

  • I need to keep an outlet for my emotions.  A person or activity or both.  I need a place to vent, and I need an activity to safely process my emotions.  Currently, I have those.  I need to remember to use them and not feel weak when I do.
  • I will continue to focus on my physical health.  Not to lose weight, per se.  But to keep my body healthy by keeping my mind engaged.  I lost about 20 lbs in 2012.  And I did it through active participation from my mind.  I will keep that focus.
  • I will speak up when I have a concern.  But when I do, I will be insightful and kind.  It does no good to be hurtful.  I generally don’t do that, when I do say something.  But I find that the first step is speaking up.  I will speak up more often.
  • I will read more.  I read a lot during 2011, but I want to read even more in 2012.  It helps my subconscious process things while I escape.  Plus, it makes me a better writer.  Can’t argue with that.
  • I will be featured by WordPress at least once as a featured writer.  So, you hear that, WordPress peeps?  Pay attention to me, please!  I have stuff worth saying (most of the time).
  • I will be off meds by the end of the year.  So long as I am ready, at least.  I don’t want to take myself off them before I’m ready, but I will take the steps to try to be ready to do that.  Meds weren’t ever a long-term solution.  And although I am much more comfortable with my choice, now (thanks to my very dear friend who helped me through the decision), I don’t want it to be a forever thing.
  • BFF #1 and I will go blazing at least four times this year.  I value that time, so much.  And it gives us both an opportunity to express ourselves creatively.  That’s a good thing.  Plus, I got some kick-ass photographs this year.  I want that to happen again.

I have some others, but these were the biggies.  I have one more, though.  It’s one of the most important, I think:

  • I will take care of myself.  My mind, my body, my soul.  I will reward myself with things that make me happy without guilt and shame.  I will enjoy myself, and being in my own skin.
    I am a worthy person.  I know this, deep down in the cockles of my heart.  But I will practice it, in 2012.

What are your goals?  Do you make them?  If not, why?  And if so, what are some of them?

I hope you all have a wonderful, safe and exciting New Years celebration.  Don’t drink and drive, and move forward into a new year with love and determination to be the best person you can be.

I’ll end 2011 with a quote from my favorite movie, of all time: Forrest Gump.

“Don’t you just love New Years? It’s like you get to start over.  …..Everyone deserves a second chance.”

Figuring it out, and why I wish I never did

They say that knowledge is power.  But I tend to think that ignorance is bliss.  Not knowing that you don’t know is a wonderful thing.  Sometimes knowing the truth brings pain…. I don’t always think that knowledge is power.

I had a good holiday, for all the right reasons.  I enjoyed time with family and friends.  I got to spend the days with my daughter and the hubs, and togetherness is truly what Christmas is about, for me.

But… in one fell swoop, I was suddenly reminded why I have a sincere disdain for the season.  I don’t want to share all of it, but it was related to the sexual abuse I endured for years as a child.  Suffice it to say that I really had no memory of the awfulness until Saturday night.  And it all came back to me.  With one swift movement, I went from trying to enjoy the day to really being consumed by the memories of one of the worst atrocities I’ve ever lived through.  It hurt.  I hurt.  I still hurt.  I cried and cried and cried.

I went on, through the weekend.  I mostly slept.  Besides still being on the recovering end of bronchitis (which is, in itself, exhausting), I just felt like sleep was the better choice.  I was tired. But I tried to be amicable.  Cheery was probably more than I could manage, but pleasant was as far as I could make it.

Xanax has helped control the mood swings.  Thankfully.  But unless there is a pill that makes you forget things, I sort of have to soldier through it, for now.

I fall between anger and sadness and guilt and self-loathing and disappointment and emptiness.

In a hole_Courtesy of Amy Holsinger

This is what I feel like.

For any of you who have faced depression and anxiety,you know what an oppressive companion it can be in your life.  I’m trying not to listen to the terrible things that are playing in my head.  But coming to terms with the terrible things that others have done to you can be a challenge.  I get the whole “forgiveness” thing.  Truth-be-told, I don’t want to.  Forgiveness is defined as releasing someone from retribution or debt; concluding resentment, indignation or anger as a result of a perceived offense, difference or mistake.

Here’s the thing: I won’t ever stop demanding retribution.  I won’t ever release him from it.  I won’t ever conclude resentment.  I won’t, and I will not.  I know all about the bullshit, “Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself.”  Nope.  Forgiveness is also something you give to someone who deserves it.  And he doesn’t.

And I’m angry about it.  Still.  Knowledge isn’t always power.  I was fine in the blissful ignorance that I kept company with.  As far as I was concerned, I just didn’t like the holiday.  It was fine with me.  But now I know.  I wish I didn’t.  Knowledge isn’t always power.

“They say time heals everything, but I’m still waiting.”

P.S.  My apologies to my readers.  How much does it suck to read this boo-hoo sad story?  I’ll get back to semi-normal soon.  I promise.

A Solitary Life

I went through a rough patch with my faith when I was young.  I’ve been through a lot, and I couldn’t imagine that God (who supposedly loved me), would put me through the awful things I went through.

But, I came around.  My faith is mine.  So know that I share my story of faith with you out of the spirit of sharing and nothing more.  It is not my intention to change someone’s mind, or have them change mine.  My relationship with God is very personal.  And it’s mine.  And I trust His will and guidance and I know, now, that the things I’ve been through were to prepare me for my mission on earth.  I believe that I was put here to shepherd others through their darkness.  Which is why I do so well with words.  It’s why I can convey emotion with my written and verbal communication; serenity and anger and sadness and motivation and love and fear and determination…. all part of the gift I was given.  And while it does make for a sometimes very challenging life, it is really all part of what I need to experience to be able to help other people.

I trust Him, explicitly.

And although I’m very familiar with the origins of Christmas and the pagan roots, I still choose to observe the birth of Christ as a wonderful and momentous occasion.  One man….just one… changed a whole planet.  Jesus changed everything.  I’m grateful for the sacrifice.

A wonderful friend posted this, yesterday, on Facebook.  Originally seen in Spanish, by him, he’s graciously translated it for the rest of us.
(**Side note….the irony is that my daddy had this exact. same. thing. in a frame when I was young, but I never knew what it said.  So I knew it was Divinity that placed it in my path this weekend.)

A Solitary Life
He was a man born in an insignificant little town. Son of a peasant woman. He grew up in another town of no importance, worked as a carpenter until he was 30 years old. And then, for 3 years, he was a nomadic preacher. He never wrote a book, never raised a family, and He never attended a university. He never set foot in any large cities. He never traveled more than 320 kilometers away from the place of His birth. He never did any of the things that are usually associated with greatness; the only credentials he had was Himself.
When He was still a young man, the tide of public opinion turned against Him. In the hour of most danger, his friends abandoned him. One of them denied Him, another betrayed Him. He had to deal with mockery by a jury of His peers. He was nailed to a cross in between two thieves.
His executioners, while He died, gambled for the only material possession He had left in the world: His tunic. When He died, He was lowered from the cross then placed in a borrowed tomb.
Almost 20 centuries have passed, and He is still the only hope for the world, the only comfort for the sad and Savior for the sinners. All the navies that have been assembled, all the armies that have ever existed, all the governments that have been put in place, and all the kings that have ever ruled……..
All of that, combined, has not affected mankind living on Earth as powerfully as that one, solitary life.
Merry Christmas, if you celebrate.  And if not, have a truly wonderful day!

Taking stock in 2011

I’m still sick. Remember in the comments of a recent post when I told El Guapo that I didn’t get grouchy…. I lied. I do. And as of yesterday I hit the grouchy point. Tired, voiceless, coughing, whiny, forced to be couch-ridden… I hate it. Being forced to stay home makes me feel totally useless.

It’s official: I have bronchitis. I also have laryngitis. I also have a sinus infection. I also fell off the exam table *in* the doctor’s office and sprained my wrist. Yup… Life is pretty damn fantastic. So I took the day off work (against my will… although I did work for two hours BEFORE the appointment at the doctor). Went to get my meds filled. Bought way too much to eat because I just wanted to feel better. Went home. Ate the aforementioned food (which included, but isn’t limited to: tomato bisque, grilled two-cheese sandwich, cupcake, hot cocoa, snowman shaped marshmallows) (oh…and a rib roast….but the rib roast is for later). Made my cocoa, in my favorite cup, with the snowman accompaniment. It was fantastic. The best part of yesterday. Almost. I was alone at home, but I had good company. That was the highlight of the day.

Tasty Cocoa

Hot Cocoa in the BEST cup! Ever. Ever in the history of ever.

Slept. Slept. Slept. Watched Ally McBeal. Slept. Woke up today, still felt bad, couldn’t speak. “Called” in (it was a pathetic conversation). Slept. Watched Ally McBeal (Season 2!!). Slept. Heard this quote and it moved me to write this post.

“If you think back, and replay your year – if it doesn’t bring you tears of joy or sadness, consider the year wasted.” ~John “the Biscuit” Cage

I looked back at my 2011. Yeah. There are tears. Some joy. Some sadness. I couldn’t tell you the mixture… I don’t even know that I would want to know if it was 50/50. 30/70. 80/20. It wouldn’t matter anyway. Instead, I’ll tell you it’s been a phenomenal year. For good reasons and for not so good reasons. I want to summarize the year by telling you what I’ve learned, in no particular order.

  • We teach people how we want to be treated. As I was telling my BFF, yesterday, I’ve known that for a long time. But I didn’t learn it until this year.
  • Work is what we do, but it isn’t who we are. Being who we are is who we are. That may seem redundant. But it’s not. Trust me. If you are nodding your head, you get it.
  • I am full of very many talents. I still haven’t decided how to use them in a way that pays the bills and makes me happy. I’m not sure if there’s a way.
  • Patience is a virtue. It’s a virtue I suck at. I don’t know that I’ll ever change that.
  • Love is thrilling. It’s also destructive. If you don’t love yourself enough, you’ll never know when you cross the line between the two.
  • I wanted to learn to raise one eyebrow at a time by the end of the year. I think it adds character. I haven’t learned that.
  • I did learn how to move my ears when I smile. When I smile a genuine smile, my ears move. *That* adds character.

    If you could see yourself, just for a day, you'd see how everyone else sees you. And my God, you are fucking beautiful.

    My BFF is *awesome*!

  • My loved ones know my heart. And today I got this in the mail from BFF#1 and it brought me to tears. “If you could see yourself, just for a day, you’d see how everyone else sees you. And my God, you are fucking beautiful.”
  • There are angels all around us. Open your eyes to them and they can help guide you.
  • I don’t always know best. I need to do a better job of considering the advice that my loved ones offer. They have a better view of what’s happening, sometimes.

Finally….a biggie:

  • I will be okay. Despite the struggle, the good days will return more often. The bad days will come around less. And I will survive. Because I’m good at that.

Next week I’ll do a review of my resolutions for 2011. And then make the 2012 goals. I’m really excited about that. But it was worth taking stock of this year before I did that.

Why it’s fun to make my kid cry

To start, I’m still sick.  I’m beginning to suspect bronchitis.  BFF #1 has it, and it’s possible that I got the bug from her before she knew she had it.  I got a little better for a couple of days, but I feel worse than I did before, now.  Plus, no voice, again.  I did, however, make it to the Christmas party in my bad-ass steel-gray dress (because I was so freakin’ medicated that I could have bled pseudoephedrine).  And I looked good.  So there’s that.  Yay.  Today?  Sucking.  Whatever.  It’ll pass soon enough.

With Christmas rapidly approaching (I really should put the Christmas Tree up already), I was thinking about some of our holiday traditions and how they came about.  Here they are, in no particular order (plus the reason why we do it):

  • Frozen Pizza on Christmas Eve
    We started doing this after many years of Christmas Eve dinner with my in-laws.  They are very nice and well-meaning, but their food is gross.  Not even kidding, none of us ever really enjoyed the meal.  So, one night after the meal, we stopped at a grocery store and picked up a frozen pizza for each of us.  Later that night, we realized that we loved it because each of us got what we wanted (I am a veggie pizza girl, the kiddo likes cheese, and the hubs loves meat).
  • No family on Christmas Day
    It’s just a rule.  Keeps me from murdering them.
  • Chinese Food on Christmas Day
    One year we were so broke that we took the Christmas money we got from the In-Laws and went to the cheapest chinese food restaurant that was open so we had at least something to eat on Christmas Day.  The next year, we did it for fun.  Now we do it for tradition.

Lastly, one of the biggest traditions is one that will make me laugh forever: torturing my daughter with Dora the Explorer.

Dora the Explorer / Courtesy Nickelodeon

Christmas Dora / Nickelodeon

When my daughter (now 16 and a half years old) was only 7, we would put Dora the Explorer on TV and tease her by saying we knew how much she loved it.  She would get all haughty and stomp out of the room.  All of the sudden, we had an instant child remover!  We could put it on, at any time, and she would run out of the room.  (For the record, we’ve probably watched most of the episodes of Dora.  It works to this day!)  Because of this strong aversion, I started buying cheap Dora-themed items and giving them to her for random holidays.  Christmas, Birthdays, even Easter, once.

When she was 9, I started harping on the Dora thing about two weeks before the holiday.  By December 22nd, I had her convinced that not only did *we* get her Dora stuff, but so did her Papa.  On the 23rd, everything came to a head.

Her: So… when will be taking the presents back so I can get the stuff I want.
Me: *gasp* (giving her a stern look) Not until after Christmas!  There’s no time now!  And there’s like, 4 feet of snow on the ground.  I’m not going to tell Papa to go to the store now!
Her: Mom! (and she gets really upset now)  But it’s all Dora stuff!
Me:  I don’t care.  You need to be gracious, even if you don’t like it!  You don’t want to hurt his feelings do you?
Her: (crying now)  But…mom?
Me: Knock it off.  Be graceful, not a spoiled brat!

I know… I’m cruel.  She left the room bawling and I was giggling.  The hubs scolded me and told me that I was being mean.  So I ended up going into her room and calming her down and telling her I was kidding and Papa didn’t get her Dora stuff.  She settled down and I was bummed because I was really enjoying myself.  I get it though.  It’s not nice to scar the child.

She learned a few things, though.  She learned that no matter what, she should be gracious about gifts.  Even when it’s not the thing she wants, it’s the thought that counts.  We used to have a little trouble with her, when she was young, with being kind and polite in challenging circumstances.  One thing I won’t ever tolerate is a spoiled child, so this taught her something.

I did get the last laugh, though.  The very first gift she opened on Christmas Day?  Dora Bubble Bath.  Yeah…her facial expression was priceless. I winked, and she got the joke.  But ever since then, we have that.  I told her that I’ll give her Dora panties when she gets married.  And the great thing is she knows I will.

That’s love.

When you’ve got nothin’, you’ve got nothin’ to lose

**Just to start out, for those who’ve visited my blog before: check the sweet new logo I designed. I also messed around with the background, too. I’m super happy with it. And now my blog feels a little more like mine. I thought of it in an anxiety-riddled sleepless night. Yup…this is what I think about at 3am while I’m wide awake staring darkness in the face: logos. I actually think of other things, too. People… but that’s not this post.

This post is about my job. I haven’t documented how awful my job is, because it really isn’t. The reason I am looking for a new job (unsuccessfully, so far), is because the pressure of what’s expected of me has been too much to bear. So you might be wondering what I do. I’m in marketing (and design), trying to expand a business that’s been slowly dying. Additionally, I haven’t been given the time or tools to be successful. And the worst part is that I actually hold myself accountable to those unrealistic expectations.

But now I’m starting to lose my hold on my give-a-damn. I just don’t care, anymore, about that place. It’s so unhealthy. And today, I told my boss that I was taking meds so I could handle working there. It was somewhat liberating. He said, “We need to get you off Xanax. You shouldn’t have to take that.”

…..At first I could feel the irritation creep up my back and take residence in my neck… but I simply said, “You’re right. I shouldn’t. But we should take a break from the ideal world we think we should live in, and look at the reality we actually live in.” Score one for me. And that empowered me. I actually felt better than I have in a while. I told him, plainly and directly, that I didn’t blame him. I don’t. But that my limit had been reached a while ago, and it’s not acceptable for me to live with the pressure and unrealistic expectations and slowly lose the battle everyday. Until that changes, I have to do what’s best for me. And I’m proud of that.

A special shout out to the amazing friend that always believes in me. It’s been because of that love and support that I’ve been able to continue and push through some of the deep, dark places I’ve been in.

The last couple of days have been better. Knowing that I have direction has released me from some of the weight that was crushing me.

That and……… I’m not gonna lie, I’ve been drinking my fair share of milk, lately. Yum. I see a new ad campaign ahead for dairy farmers:
“Milk….it keeps you out of the loony bin.”

This is the meaning of Christmas

I’ve long spoken of my disdain for the holidays.  The greed.  The outrageous behavior.  The ridiculous parents that spoil their children (who are already spoiled and misbehaved).  The people going further into debt because they just *have* to give that present to so-and-so because “it’s what you do for Christmas.”  The fighting between family members.  The nonsensical drinking at functions and the following justification because “it’s Christmas” and that makes it okay.

And I won’t even go into the “keeping Christ in Christmas” thing.  Today.  This time.  Out loud.  (Not gonna lie, I am totally on a soapbox in my head, but no one needs to hear that.)

BFF#2 even got me a “Humbug.”  This little creature that is ugly and, for me, symbolizes the ugliness of the season.

But beyond that, you might be asking yourself, “Why?  Why, flame, are you so fired up about this?”  I’ll tell you why.  It’s a little sad story I like to call the history of my life.  It may be depressing in the beginning, but stick with me.  It gets better, in the end.

I wasn’t always so jaded.  For the first few years of my life, I didn’t know enough to be jaded.  That all changed when I hit the ripe old age of 6.  I learned, then, that things aren’t fair.  And you know what?  I was okay with that, for a while.

We were poor.  When I hear my friends (who are all doing well for themselves) talk about not wanting their children to “go without,” you’d think they meant food or shelter or something equally important.  But no… they’re talking about laptop computers and other bullshit.  When I say, “I went without,” I mean that quite literally.  At times I didn’t eat.  At times we didn’t have electricity.  I was even homeless for a small time, and lived in a parking lot.

By the time I was 8 years old, we lived in San Diego and had it rough.  My mother was sinking further into addiction (her drug of choice was meth, but I suspect she did other things, too).  She was also struggling with undiagnosed severe hypo-thyroid disease and narcolepsy.  My step-father, at the time, was sexually abusing me, and using heroin.  We had several other people living with us, all unemployed and all addicted to drugs and alcohol.  Both my brothers were working or away from the house a lot of the time, trying to make a living and/or escape the madness.  I had no such luck.  I immersed myself in books, school, and other cerebral activities.  If I was in my head, my heart was less attached to the awful situation I lived in.  We got two checks at the beginning of the month, every month.  Disability and child support.  We lived like Kings and Queens for the first couple of weeks.

The problem is that Thanksgiving and Christmas come at the end of the month.  When I was 9 years old, I didn’t eat on Christmas Day.  Nothing.  Not over-cooked turkey.  Not mushy stuffing.  Not even gross gelatinized cranberry sauce.  Not. Any. Thing.

When I was 10, we got on some sort of list that delivered food baskets for the holidays.  We also got presents that year.  I got a jacket.  And a toy, I think.  I remember my mom asking me what I wanted, and I felt uncomfortable asking for anything.  I didn’t know who was giving me a present, and I certainly didn’t think it was right to *ask* for anything when they were being generous by giving me anything at all.  I would be happy with what I got.  And at the end of the day, that’s something that’s never changed.

When I was 11 years old, I got a bike.  Someone, a stranger, bought me a bicycle.  A 12-speed.  I was floored.  When I was 13 I got make-up and a journal to write in.  The very first entry I made in that journal was that, someday, when I was older, I would do the same thing for a kid who was in need.

When I was 13 years old, I understood these things:

  • Life isn’t fair.  And you had to deal with it.
  • Poverty existed, and I was living it, but “poor” was a state of mind.
  • The best gift you can give or get is love.
  • Regular people had the power to do extraordinary things.
  • Although adults make really bad choices that make their lives the way they are, children suffer.  A lot.
  • The kindness of strangers can literally change someone’s life (and it’s changed my life a number of times).

By the time I was 14 years old, I lived with my dad.  We didn’t have a lot.  I’d even say that we still lived below the poverty line – but we were not poor.  We chose to make do with what we had instead of going on welfare.  My daddy sacrificed so I could have little things.  I did without, sometimes, so my dad still had money to go out and have adult space.

Fast forward to adulthood.  Those bell ringers you see?  I give whatever change I have in my pocket or purse to them.  And my daughter does the same.  I was in line at the grocery store, once, and a woman wasn’t able to pay for her Christmas meal (ham, potatoes and stuffing), so I paid for it.

But the tradition I have that is the most important to me is “The Giving Tree.”  (If you don’t know what that is, go to your local grocery store and find the Christmas tree that’s normally near the service/customer service desk.  There will be a tree that has little paper ornaments on it.  You can choose a name, go buy a present, bring the name and present back to the store and they will get it to the child.)
I go to the store every Christmas, and pick a name off the tree.  I look through the names and almost always find a name of a child who reminds me of myself, at that age: a girl about 11-14 who has general interests listed but no specifics.  I look, hard, for a gift that matches those interests and bring it back.  Sometimes it’s been a diary.  Sometimes a winter coat.  Sometimes an art kit.  Every year I do this.

That is what Christmas is.  Christmas is the act of giving.  It’s the act of giving to make someone else’s life better, without the expectation of receiving and without the sense of obligation.  I do this every year because I said, when I was 13 years old, that I would.  If you’re looking for Christ in your Christmas, this is where you find Him.  In giving.

I was moved to write this post after reading The Bloggess’ post about how she gives, and the suggestions she makes for her readers.  She inspired me.  And I hope I inspire you, this year, to give.  It doesn’t have to be money.  Give of your heart.  Give of your time.  Be kind.  Love people.  That is the spirit of Christmas.  Everything else is just noise.