Sweet Seasons 11-24-18

When I was a young girl one of my favorite albums was by Carole King. I loved all of her music. In 1971, Carole released “Sweet Seasons”. I was six years old however, even though I was so young I loved this song. At the time I had no idea how much the lyrics of the song would resonate with my own life 46 years later.

The season has changed in Washington state. Winter is right around the corner. In fact, we saw early snow on Thanksgiving Day. The temperature has already dropped to 33 degrees. I’m not a fan of cold weather and I’m certainly not a fan of winter. Let’s just say, my favorite season is summer.

I woke up this morning and despite the cold, the sun was shining beautifully. I put my warm clothes on and went on my walk. I wanted to breathe in that rare winter sunshine while breathing in that cool, fresh winter air. I found myself reflecting on yet another season and the many that have gone by. I was reminded of this song I loved so many years ago and listened as I walked while allowing my mind to reflect on the many memories that have past with each and every season.

I’ve shared on many occasions that I have battled depression, anxiety and PTSD for a very long time. This past July, things took a turn in my life and I found myself no longer able to keep my head above water. My depression, anxiety as well as PTSD suddenly began to rule every part of my life. For those of you that are wondering, PTSD and anxiety are real. Depression is real. For me even a ring tone, a scent or a song can bring back the horrible memories I’ve tried so hard to hide. The racing heart beat, the overwhelming thoughts, the insomnia, fear, worry and feeling of hopelessness have been more than I could bare. Somewhere along the line, I snapped. Through it all, I somehow recognized I needed help.

Last month I finally accepted I needed the help of a therapist. My first visit, I ranted and raved. I had so much I wanted to say. The words were spewing out of me like a crazy woman. I couldn’t stop myself. I was amazed at the feelings I have kept stuffed away for a very long time. Still, after releasing all that stuff I was depressed, overwhelmed and I couldn’t breathe. The counselor explained that I had experienced so much trauma these past several years, I could no longer cope. She recommended an anti-depressant to help get some relief from the depression and anxiety and begin working on my healing in therapy. I have to admit, this wasn’t the first time an anti-depressant was recommended. Looking back, I was encouraged to take one eight years ago. I refused and have refused many times since then. My only excuse is I’ve always seen myself as a strong woman who could overcome anything. I was wrong. The result has been catastrophic. As it turns out, I’m not superwoman. I’m merely human. Like any human, I can only take so much.

Two weeks ago, I started a drug called Celexa. In truth, I was apprehensive but deep down I knew it was time. I knew I needed some help. Every day since then I have felt like a turtle poking its head out of his shell. Slowly but surely and very timidly allowing myself to come out of a fog I’ve been in for a very long time. I have begun to feel some clarity. Unfortunately, the clarity has also come with the realization of how many seasons have gone by since my depression first began. I am struggling with time. I realize it’s 2018 but for me I find myself waking up where I left off. This may sound crazy but for me it’s hard to grasp how I got here.

As I walked today, listening to Carole belt out this tune while reflecting on the many seasons that have gone by, I suddenly remembered. I knew when my depression first began. The memory was so vivid. It was Christmas night 2010. I was sitting on our recliner. The Christmas lights on our tree were the only lights in the living room. It was snowing outside. I was watching tv. I was so depressed that night, I remember wishing I could run away. I can still feel the way I felt that night. It’s hard for me to believe eight years have gone by. It’s hard to believe everything that has happened. It’s hard to believe 32 seasons have gone by and I’ve just been a character in this really bad nightmare.

I realized today, I have a lot of “stuff” I need to work through. I have so much wreckage to clean up. After all, it’s been eight years. I’m grateful for my therapist and I’m grateful for my meds but more importantly I’m grateful I’m coming out of this fog and entering reality. I found myself crying today. I was on my knees asking god for my life back. This life I find myself waking up to certainly isn’t the life I was living when my depression first started. So much has happened. So much trauma. So many losses. I know it’s going to take a lot of work but I have to do it. A friend once told me “when you’re rock bottom, there’s nowhere to go from here than up”. Eight years and 32 seasons later, I’m rock bottom however, as I enter my newfound reality, there’s nowhere to go from here than up.

In the words of Carole King “Sometimes you win sometimes you lose
And sometimes the blues just get a hold of you
Just when you thought you had made it“. But like the song there’s ” A sweet season on my mind” and this new season certainly appeals to me.

https://youtu.be/sbrO4rmbSPM

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How To Avoid the Holiday Blues 11-21-18

How to Avoid the Holiday Blues 
As we approach the holiday season and the onset of winter, some of us will succumb to seasonal depression. Shorter daylight hours, colder temperatures, and the beginning of winter can trigger feelings of moodiness, lack of motivation, and fatigue. Coupled with the stresses of the holidays, some of us can feel even more anxious and overworked. Social gatherings, the financial burdens of buying gifts, and the pressure to feel festive can trigger holiday anxiety. Family visits can prove taxing and painful feelings can surface with the memory of lost ones and the simple realization of the passage of time. If you’re going through a difficult time, it can be tough to see others with extra joy in their lives. You should know that you are not alone. There are ways to manage your symptoms and get the help you need. Here are some ideas about how to take a proactive approach to staying positive:
  •  Keep active-A lack of energy can be a drain on your mood. It is important to engage in exercise or other physical activities that release endorphins and boost your energy levels and frame of mind.
  • Stay on your side-Critical thoughts of oneself often arise during the holiday season. It is important to recognize when the inner critic starts to get louder in our minds. We need to take a kind attitude towards ourselves.
  • Don’t abandon healthy habits-Try to limit alcohol intake, avoid overeating, and get plenty of sleep. Try not to let the holidays become a free for all as over indulgence can sometimes add to your stress and guilt.
  • Chose family time-Don’t feel guilty about choosing the time you spend with your family. This holiday season seek out places and people that make you feel good. Design a holiday of choice in which you decide who to spend time with and where to go. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind and be true to yourself.
Don’t let the holidays become something you dread. Instead, try and take steps to prevent the stress and depression that can transpire during the holidays. Learn to recognize your holiday blues triggers and try to combat them before they lead to a meltdown. With a little planning and some positive thinking, you can find peace during the holidays. 

Life Is A Struggle Sometimes 9-9-18

I’m on my walk this morning. I love taking walks especially outdoors. I love the freedom and the peace that only nature can provide. I pray while I walk. I talk to god, I even yell at him while having a complete bitch fit. I’ve been known to call god the “F” word during my rants among other profanity. I’m not going to pretend I’m a saint by any means.

Being outside alone on my walk is about the only time I can think or vent when I have to. I have no idea if God can hear me. At times I wonder if he even exists but nevertheless, after I’ve made a complete spectacle of myself alone in the wilderness I put my headset on and listen to music. Today’s playlist includes “Little Guitars” by Van Halen. This señorita loves this song! Lol.

These past couple of months have been so draining. I have been so depressed. In July I found out the man I’ve been dating was cheating on me. That was a real blow. Somehow I didn’t see that coming. I battle PTSD and anxiety. This blow only intensified those battles. In addition, I’ve found myself feeling overwhelmed with family obligations. One being my mother. That woman drives me insane. She demands so much of me. I’m a people pleaser so I spend my days pleasing everyone, including my mother while failing to please myself.

I’m struggling with insecurities about where I am in life. Last week I drove to Spokane to file bankruptcy. I have to admit, succumbing to accepting I could not dig myself out of the financial hole I’ve found myself in thanks to being sick was another blow. I feel like an absolute failure. I’m better than this or so I keep telling myself. I just can’t seem to find my purpose anymore. Ironically, I drove to my appointment with a ziploc bag full of change to give to any homeless person that might tug on my heart strings. I actually thought to myself “really Velma?! You’re filing bankruptcy but you’re giving away change?! What’s wrong with you?!! ” To add fuel to the Fire September 14th is the anniversary date of the day my life changed forever. It’s the day my dad passed away. I’ve been on an uncontrollable spiral of destruction ever since. I hate September. More importantly, after seven years I’m still heartbroken. I’d give anything to have one more day with my dad. One more phone call. One more joke. He always made me laugh. Losing a parent really sucks!! This is one of the last fun memories I had with my dad, uncle and cousin. We look like thugs but we were all together.

I thought I would share today not for any reason other than it’s my way of saying I get it. I know life can be a struggle sometimes. Some of you might be in the thick of a challenge right now. I post positive affirmations every day on Facebook, Instagram and even on my blog but I want you to know that I struggle every day too. My challenges may not be your challenges but they are challenges nonetheless. I’m sure some days you wonder if god exists. I do too. Everyone does. We are all human. All I know is we can’t give up. None of us can. We have to keep fighting and keep moving forward. Eventually good days come and we look back and realize how far we’ve come. Trust me. I speak the truth because I’ve been there. Have a great day!! 🌹

Letting Go 4-12-18

I saw this quote this morning on a blog site called Random Writings. Jim has a wonderful blog site and I enjoy reading his page everyday. This mornings post really hit home. I couldn’t resist blogging my own experience of the importance of accepting that at some point it’s time to let go of expecting what we want and just move on and start living.

For me this quote is so true. In the weeks and even the night before my dad passed away my dad’s sister managed to transfer all of the property my parents had spent their entire life working for in to her name leaving my family penniless. The story that led up to this is long and even unbelievable so I won’t go in to detail. All I know is one day my parents net worth was well over eight million dollars and the next day my father was gone and my mother was flat broke and homeless.

For seven years we have been in a lawsuit fighting to get everything back. In that time I’ve battled cancer among other things including depression. This has affected my family in such a negative way. Despite it all, my aunt has fought us every step of the way. She made millions on the property while my mother and I have been broke. We found ourselves living in one of our rentals that she now owns.

We are grateful to have a roof over our head however it’s the circumstances that have been challenging. The home is old and needs much work. The septic tank overflows all the time. It’s over 50 years old and needs to be replaced. My mother and I have gone without water and even a toilet for days at a time. A month ago one of the pipes broke and flooded the basement with sewer. I noticed it when I walked downstairs barefoot and stepped in sewer water. I’ve been so sick ever since. Black soot comes out of the vents and there is mold downstairs. In short this home is a parasitic environment. Our attorney has tried to get my aunt to do the much needed repairs while we have pushed through this lawsuit but she has refused. We didn’t know my aunt before her arrival months before my dad passed away. In fact, my dad hadn’t seen her in over 40 years. We have since learned she is a slum lord as well, in our opinion, a manipulative, greedy thief.

We were set to go to hearing May 31st. Yesterday my mother and I dropped the lawsuit. We are walking away. We have no idea where we will go or what we will do but we have given up on expecting to receive what we think should happen and just move on. Life is short. This quote is a reminder that it’s time to just start living and hope for the best. We don’t always get what we want but who knows, maybe what we wanted is not as big as what god wanted for us in the first place. I hope so any way.

God Forgives The Maximum 2-20-18

In the Our Father we say: “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” This is an equation. If you are not capable of forgiveness, how can God forgive you? The Lord wants to forgive you, but he cannot if you keep your heart closed and mercy cannot enter. One might object: “Father, I forgive, but I cannot forget that awful thing that he did to me….” The answer is to ask the Lord to help you forget. One must forgive as God forgives, and God forgives the maximum.”

—Pope Francis, as quoted in the book The Hope of Lent: Daily Reflections from Pope Francis by Diane M. Houdek

This affirmation came to me this morning from the Franciscan Dominicans. It was sent as a reflection to focus on during this lent season. It was ironic since for lent I have made the decision not only to pray for the people who have hurt me but for the ability to forgive them as well as forgive myself and have the strength to finally put the past behind me.

My father passed away on September 14, 2011. My life changed forever that day. That day my heart broke in a million pieces. Since then I have been on a journey that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. I have tried very hard to put the pieces of my heart back together, however this has proved to be a difficult task. They say you attract what you put out. I suppose this is true. When you have a broken heart you become a magnet to attracting more people in to your life who are all to willing to break your heart and bring more sorrow. That’s what happened to me.

The good news is I’ve finally recognized this and I’m eager to move on and put the pieces of my life back together. I’m tired of being sad. I’m tired of being angry. I’m tired of waiting for an apology that will never come. I’m tired of just being tired and I’m tired of trying to change the past instead of trying to change my future.

The next 40 days I will pray asking god to heal my heart. I’ll pray for the strength to forgive the people that brought me so much pain and succumb to forgetting the past that has led me down this painful road. And yes, I will be praying for the people who broke my heart. I know it will be a difficult task but a necessary task for sure. After all, how can I ask for forgiveness when I can’t offer forgiveness myself.

They say it takes 28 days to form a habit. I’m hopeful that in 28 days I’ll develop a habit of forgiveness and finally find the peace and joy I’ve been searching for and spend the last 12 days of lent living a life free of the negative emotions that have held me hostage and replace that with hope for a brighter future as I close the door of my past once and for all.

Crazy Train 9-11-17

Do you ever wake up in the morning and wonder “How in the heck did I get here?”  You find yourself living a life that seems like a dream and not a good dream at that.  Maybe more like a nightmare.  You’re lying in bed and the only voice in your head is Ozzie Osbourne belting out “All Aboard!!!”  Is your answer yes?  Yeah…Me too!!!

September 14th will be the anniversary of my dad’s passing six years ago.  What a journey it’s been. The only way to describe it…..It has certainly been one hell of a “Crazy Train”.  I have spent the past six years grieving.  When I say grieving, I mean for two years I cried every day.  I slept with my dad’s ashes next to my bed.  I had nightmares every night.  Up until a few months ago I stopped believing my dad was coming back and finally accepted that he was gone.  I’ve spent more days then I can count balling my head off.  I’ve spent six years trying to figure out how to live my life without my dad as my sidekick. I haven’t done a very good job at it either.  Three of those years I found myself fighting cancer among other things including a crazy boyfriend who I should mention was not only a freak, but he was 20 years older than me and made my life even more crazy than it already was. I have battled grief, cancer, abusive relationships, loss of work due to illness, memory loss, anxiety, depression, PTSD and the real clincher, I lost everything I ever worked for.  My life is in financial disarray.  I’m not only rock bottom, I’m even living with my mom.  How embarrassing.  Somehow, this life isn’t what I had in mind for myself.  I feel like George Constanza from Seinfeld.  I’m unemployed, a nut and I live with my “parent” and let me tell ya, living with my mother hasn’t been a cake walk.  I have often joked I’d like to throw momma off this “Crazy Train” I’ve found myself on.

For those of you who have followed me, you know my story.  My story is not your typical Hallmark feel good story.  No, my story is more like a VH1 TV Series.  The difference between my story and say… those reality TV shows on VH1, my story is the real deal.  You can’t make up this crap.  I’ve been on a Crazy Train since September 14, 2011.  Like the song “I’ve been going off the rails”.  The good news is as I approach my dad’s six year anniversary, I find myself coming out of this fog and I’m beginning to hear the whistle blow.  I am beginning to hear Ozzie belt out “Stop Ahead” opposed to “All Aboard”  FINALLY!!

Dying sucks!!!  Especially when the person that dies happens to be your dad, best friend and the only side kick you’ve ever known.  My dad was all of the above to me.  A week before my dad passed away, we were on our way home from seeing his doctor who had told us my dad only had a couple of weeks left to live.  I was devastated.  I asked my dad what I was going to do without him.  I’m not sure if my dad recognized that I was serious.  He told me I was going to be fine and asked me to watch over “Mother Superior”.  My dad’s nickname for my mother. My dad and I had a special bond.  He wasn’t just my dad, he was my best friend. Undoubtedly the most important man in my life.  Was my dad perfect? Hell NO!  Daddy was a rebel!!!  A fun rebel who always looked out for me.  My dad used to say “Velma, men are like greyhound busses.  There’s always another one at the next stop, going to the same place for the same fare”  I believed him which is why I wasn’t one of those women that cried for too long after a break up.  For me it was on to the next.  Unfortunately, while my dad’s words of wisdom came in handy when it came to boyfriends or even an ex-husband, his words of wisdom didn’t include living without him. My dad was and will always be the Greyhound Bus I will never be able to replace.

Today is a new day.  Life is getting better.  I am finally on the mend.  I am ready to start over.  I’m even eager to begin a new phase in my life.  A life without my dad, but a life with purpose.  People always say time heals all wounds.  These words are true, however I don’t believe there should ever be a time limit on how long it should take to heal from the loss of someone you love.  Many people have lost their parents.  Many of them have bounced back in a matter of months.  It took me six years.  My advice to anyone who might be grieving the loss of someone they loved, give yourself some time.  I don’t have a time limit. You shouldn’t either.  It’s different for everyone.  There is a light at the end of the tunnel.  And if you find yourself waking up from what seems like a bad dream which is actually your life and you hear Ozzie Osbourne belting out “All Aboard”……Don’t worry about it.  In every “Crazy Train” ride, there’s always a stop and a new beginning.  As my dad’s anniversary approaches, I am ready to get off this “Crazy Train” and start living life again.  My dad is no longer with me, but he will always be with me in spirit.  He will always have a place in my heart that is hidden from the world.  My private place where the love for my dad will live on forever or until we meet again.

Stay In The Game 8-1-17

Stay in the game”And it came to pass. . . .” — The Bible

We can’t always be sure that things will always work out, but we will always have the strength to make it through. We can trust that eventually both the bad and the good will come to pass.

I’ve had the good ripped away from me and felt sorrow until I could drown. But it passed.

All I’m saying is that sometimes the bad guys win and the good guys lose. Sometimes it’s the other way around. Sometimes nothing that we do seems to swing the decision one way or the other, but we can always come back tomorrow. There’s always another chance to play the game, dance, sweat, and cry. And maybe it’s the experience, not the outcome that is the true prize.

If you’re feeling a loss of strength or confidence, let go of the desperate need for a positive outcome in your life. Realize that this, too, will pass. Gain your strength from knowing that whether an event is good or bad, we’re enriched by our experiences. Only we can choose to learn from them or allow resentment and foolish expectations to destroy their value.

Dust yourself off. Pick yourself up. Step up to the plate and get back in the game.

God, give me the hope, faith, and courage to live my life today. – Author Unknown