Saturday, December 31, 2011

Looking Ahead

As I browse through my Home Page of Facebook, I am surprised by how many people have commented about what a bad year 2011 was, and how much they are looking forward to starting anew in the coming year. Like my friends, I am also looking forward to 2012, perhaps more than I do most New Years.

I am moving back to Jacksonville, which is exciting for me. When  I left, I never thought I would miss that place, but it really does feel like home to me. You never know what you have until you don't have it anymore, I guess!

I am starting a new job on the 9th of January, and I am really looking forward to getting out of the customer service/answering the phones/office type work. Just because it's something I'm good at doesn't mean it's something  I enjoy doing! :o)

I don't know what the year will bring to my relationship status. I am well aware that long distance relationships are difficult. It is really up in the air, and that is the sad part of this coming year. I can't help but wonder if I will be ringing in 2013 with Chuck. I really hope that I do, but if he decides  that moving to Jacksonville (away from his family and job) isn't right for him, then  I can't blame him. I am asking a lot.

On the flip side, however, I have my girls. This is the opportunity for Ash to be parent-free for a while. Right now, the plan is for her to stay in Georgia to finish this next semester of school, and then move down to Florida with me in the Spring. This will give me time to find a place to live and get settled. It will also give her time to decide if moving to Florida is really right for her, or if she is finally ready to be out on her own.

As far as Carley, this move will provide the opportunity for me to see her a lot more often! I am so excited to be back into her every day life. Swing by and have lunch with her at school, see her on the weekends, take her to dinner after school sometimes, or whatever. This is the biggest thing that has been missing in my life. Yeah, I know Ash has been living with me for nearly 2 years now, but it's not the same. She's very independent and mature. She doesn't need me nearly as much as Carley still does. So, I believe more than anything that I am making the right choice right now.

Finally, I have gained about 20 pounds since I've lived in Georgia, and since I'm changing everything else in my life, I'm taking this opportunity to incorporate healthy habits (working out and eating better) into my new lifestyle. My first step was quitting smoking back in May... Now for Phase II: lose that extra baggage that I'm carrying around. Over the past month or so, I've developed a bit of an online support group, by keeping in constant contact with other friends that are trying to do the same thing. I love my cheering section, and I love being a part of theirs!!

Overall, 2012 looks like an exciting and promising year, and I am looking forward to my next new adventure! Here's hoping that your coming year is everything that you hope it will be as well!!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Moving to Jacksonville

Well, I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas! Chuck, the girls, and I went up and visited with my family in Michigan. It was so awesome to enjoy the holiday at home for a change. I enjoyed seeing everyone again!!

Now it's time to begin my next "Big Adventure." This week, Carley and I will be going through the things in our storage unit, and deciding what to pack now to take to Florida, and what will go down once I have a place of my own. Right now, I'm mostly just looking at clothes and any important paperwork. Other than that, I have to straighten out my insurance information, mailing address (how do I do that when I don't know what my address will be??), and so on. I do not like moving, but I am excited to be back in Florida, near Carley again. I've missed her.

For all of you that have asked about Chuck and Ashleigh... I've decided to keep them both... (regardless of the ongoing joke between Chuck & I about my dumping him the minute I hit the state boarder).

They will be staying in Georgia, while I forge ahead and look for provisions... lol. Actually, it's easier if I go by myself and stay on people's couches than bombard someone with all three of us, plus my dog (and probably my cat). So, once I get started working, I will save up some money and get a place to live. Then, I'll have Ash come down and she can get back into school and find a new job. Meanwhile, Chuck will also be looking for a new job, and doesn't want to quit his old one and move until a new one is found.

We have talked about moving back in together, but since we moved in so quickly when we met (for financial reasons), we might decide to get our own places for a while. There isn't anything wrong with our relationship, but we both agree that we never actually had the "space" we may have needed after both getting out of long-term relationships. This is still up in the air. We might find that the distance between us for a couple of months will be all we need... Who knows?

As far as the animals... My cat is currently at Ash's friend's house and she has requested that we take Pandora with us once I find a place. That's fine... I would love to have her back!! Also, Dee-Oh-Jee will, of course, also go back to Florida once I get settled....

Thank Goodness for Chuck's family!! AW and MW... Thank you so much for letting us stay as long as we have, and for allowing my kid continue to crash at your house and for my dog staying, too, for just a couple more months!! I love you guys!!!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Hey, Everyone! Here's hoping that your holidays are awesome, surrounded by people that you love.

There's a lot going on here! I've been dieting, so I've been running... a lot... I am working up to a 5k after the new year. It may not sound like a big deal to any of you that are natural runners, but let me just tell you that I am NOT a good runner. I've always loved it, but I'm slow, and I tire easily. So, this is a really big deal for me. It is my way for rewarding myself for no longer being a smoker. (I quit in May).

In other news, I am going down to Florida to pick Carley up for Christmas Vacation! YAY!!! While I'm in Jacksonville, I'm also going to be visiting VP-30 at NAS Jax. That was the last command that I was in while still in the Navy, and now they're being run by government contractors... And I have three friends trying to help me get my foot in the door down there. No guarantees on the job, but it looks like I'm going to get back down to Florida one way or another! I'm really excited to be closer to Carley.

Ashleigh hasn't decided what she wants to do. She wants to go back to Florida, but doesn't want to leave her friends up here. Either way, I support her decision (although I would love her to go back to Jax with me.) I have to face the fact that she is growing up (will be 20 years old in less than a month!!!), and give her the space she needs.

Otherwise, we are all headed up to Michigan for a week, after I get Carley on Friday. I'm driving back to Gainesville to get Chuck and Ash, and then driving to Michigan. I'm excited, because it will be the first time I'd been to one of Grandma Marion's Christmas Parties in about 8 or 9 years! Plus, I'll get to see a lot of cousins and friends that I have not seen in a really long time.

So, my karma seems to be taking a good turn (knock on wood) and things are looking up. Sometimes bad things (loss of a job) need to happen before good things can take their place.

Merry Christmas everyone!!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Say Something Nice

Apparently, I have a lot on my mind today. I don't post anything for two weeks, and here I am for the second time in one day...

So here's what's been on my mind.

As many of you know, my ex and I have a VERY strained relationship, to say the least. We can't agree on anything at all. It's a very ugly mess... to the point that we refuse to discuss anything on the phone anymore. It all has to be either via text or e-mail. I left him because I was tired of arguing, and now refuse to do any more of that with him.

Well, because of our strained relationship, every time I request even the simplest thing from him regarding our children, I am almost always running into a brick wall. Compromise isn't even an option. It's incredibly frustrating, and I still can't wrap my head around his hatefulness, even after four years.

Dealing with this situation in such a way for so long has put me into the mindset of absolute dread any time I need to work something out with him.

So, he left on deployment last week with the military, leaving our younger daughter with his current wife. I completely disagree with the situation. Not because she isn't good for the job, but because Carley should be with ME. Someone else should not be raising her when her own mother is willing and able to do it.

Regardless, I really haven't had any issues with this woman, but because I have had so many difficult situations regarding anything with my children ever since the divorce, I just naturally assumed that she would be difficult to deal with as well. Almost like Tim had intentionally "coached" her on how to react to any type of request coming from me. None of this is true... It's just an example of where my head is in all of this.

So, I had to send her a text yesterday, regarding changing the dates on when I can pick up and drop off Carley during the holidays. We were texting along, and then when it was time to get either a "yes" or "no" answer, she just stopped.

Sadly, I reacted badly.
Not one of my better moments, but at least I didn't blast her with some ugly text!
I just had ugly thoughts.

I just assumed that she was acting like Tim. He would make me dwell on it for a while, waiting a week or more to acknowledge my request, and then give me a "No" along with twisting it into a list of things that makes me so selfish for even asking in the first place, and about how I am the one that refuses to compromise on anything... and so on.

Because my brain has been hard-wired to reacting to this type of thing for the past several years, my mind automatically went into the negative when she didn't reply right away. Eventually, later on in the day, she agreed to my request without being difficult or snotty, or anything! She simply stated that she had gotten busy at work, and wasn't able to reply right away.

I was so relieved that I literally felt guilty for having the negative thoughts.

I don't think her and I will ever become "friends," but I've said it before... I do think that if I am not allowed to look after my daughter, I believe she is good for the job. Hopefully, she will be able to see Carley's best interest in things, which is what is actually important.

Social Networking Etiquette

The night before last, I re-posted a picture that I saw on Facebook. I felt it was motivational, which was what prompted me to put it on my wall. I am not a highly political person, but anyone that is familiar with my personal situation (former military, currently unemployed) would have known immediately that I didn't agree 100% with what the picture said. I posted it purely out of motivational purposes.

The next morning, I was on FB, and checked my page... I had a whole string of 4 different people arguing about the politics that this person's photo brought up. Now, I've had my posts "hijacked" before, and I generally don't mind as long as it is a friendly conversation, or even a lighthearted debate... BUT, I do have a problem when the very first line that one of the people posted included all capital letters, a cuss word, and several exclamation points.

Now I'm offended.
I deleted the entire post from my wall.

Unfortunately, with the new way that FB has set up the Home Page, the people that were part of the "discussion" can still post on it, and were continuing to do so for another hour after it was deleted. I was less concerned at that point because it was no longer on my page.

But I feel that it got even "better." After I deleted the page, the person that was kind enough to begin the debate with the expletive, messaged me with an "apology" that went along the lines of "... the majority of my Facebook friends are very conservative and I get bombarded with stuff like that all the time, it can be tough to keep quiet when your beliefs are routinely discounted in public. Nothing personal, I'll refrain from further rants..."

First off, if I put it on MY OWN page, how am I bombarding HIM???

In any case, I don't personally feel that was an appropriate reason to blast on my page, but I was courteous and replied with a "Thank you." I also made comment that I have no problem about people and their opinions, but I prefer to keep my Facebook page drama-free.

He also added a public apology on the string of comments under the picture, as did someone else... So, I just figured it was over with and moved on with my day.

Then, later, I receive another message from him... "So out of curiosity, do you feel that if someone posts an opinionated picture or rant on their page that they are inviting feedback, both positive and negative? Or is it only appropriate to reply if you agree? I guess that's why there is no unlike button, Facebook just wants everyone to get along (or at least pretend.)."

That was the last straw.
Can't just let it be?

I'll admit that this is where I lost my politeness. I do think that people can have a polite debate about subjects... but once they become rude (and using cuss words constitutes "rude") then that is too much. I have deleted comments from my own close family members from my page before because I felt they were being inappropriate.

So, in response, I mentioned something about how I would never have ranted on his page, and that if he didn't agree with FB's lack of an unlike button, then he isn't being forced to stay, and finally, I said something about hitting "Share" and posting on his own wall. By the time I had hit "send," I was past the point of being courteous, but I no longer cared. I felt he was just trying to egg me on, and frankly, I was tired of it. Never once did he even ask me WHY I posted the picture, or what MY feelings on the subject were.

This is the way I see it... I'm entitled to my opinion on my OWN wall. To be honest, I wouldn't dream of going to his or anyone else's wall and starting crap. I feel that if he had a real problem with that picture, then he should have hit "Share" and put it on his own wall, followed my his rant. When I see things on someone else's page that I don't agree with, I just move on. I'm not in any way compelled to blast that person on a public forum. At the very most, I might decide to just message that person (although I've never done that, either).

Facebook is being inundated right now with copy/paste comments about "Taking the Christ out of Christmas by being 'forced' to say Happy Holidays instead." I have my own personal opinions on that... and they are very strong opinions, but I still wouldn't dream of going on someone else's page and starting an argument over it. How is this different? I can't help but think that if I were to post something regarding my religion on my own page, he wouldn't even consider blasting me for it. Why does he feel that it is appropriate to do the same thing regarding my political preferences?

In any case, I guess neither of us are right, and neither of us are really wrong. He was standing up for what he believed in. Good for him. I think he went about it the wrong way. When I see something that I don't agree with, I just move on. I can accept that a person is allowed their own opinions and they aren't forcing them on me in any way by putting them on their own wall. That doesn't make me right. It just makes me a different person.

So, finally, in the spirit of Social Networking Etiquette, I believe that we should listen to Thumper's Mother, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Panic Mode

Ok, I'm not gonna lie... I'm starting to hit Panic Mode.

I've spent all morning going one website at a time: GI Jobs 2011 Top 100 Military Friendly Companies.
I am on the second page, and I've applied at 3 different places. I look though their job postings, and if I find something that I think I can qualify for, I go ahead and apply.

(sn. This process takes forever because each application is PAGES long. The last one was 7 pages!)

I'm a little bummed, because I'm really hoping to find something in the field that I was in while in the military.

I'm so sick of sitting behind a desk! But, apparently, I'm going to spend the rest of my life as an Administrative Assistant, doing Customer Service stuff.

Not what I want to do, but whatever... Super.

I'm upset because I haven't received even one response, inquiring more information, or even faking interest in the three weeks since I've started applying.

I have had several friends give me feedback on my resumes, and I have shortened and reworded them to be more suitable... I think...


Does it really matter?
I keep wasting  my time, filling out applications...
I'm trying to find something in or near Jacksonville, that pays at least close to what I was making before.
I can't afford to be flexible on that because I have to be able to pay child support and be able to support myself.

It's not looking good, so I'm really starting to worry.

I'm not writing this to have 10 people tell me "Oh, you'll find something." or "Don't worry, everything works out."
I'm past that.
I've been telling myself that for a couple of weeks.

It's  NOT. 

I am running out of money, and even if I find a job, I have no idea how on earth I'll be able to GET to Florida, much less support myself until I start getting paid.

I'm frustrated.
I'm scared.
I'm sad...
...and I'm venting. 

I can't use my education, either, because UMUC is holding it hostage....

Seriously. If it can go wrong, it will.

Some days you just want to quit trying.
You want to stop trying to put up a strong front.
You want to just give in to all of the outside forces and let the walls come crashing down.

I feel like I've been holding up one wall at a time forever, and when I hold one up, another falls.

  • I am diagnosed with cancer... my marriage fails.
  • I leave Florida in the hopes of being able to support myself... I lose my kids to my ex.
  • I get my child support crap fixed... and I lose my job.
  • I feel positive about finding a new job near Carley... and find out that I can't use any of my education on my resume because the stupid school is holding my transcripts hostage. 


I really want to just say F@!$ IT and throw in the towel because this S&#% is really starting to P*!$ me off!!

Oh, did I mention that I can't zip the back window into my jeep, and winter is coming. I need new tires... AGAIN. And Rita is making a couple of funny noises that I'm pretty sure won't just stay "funny noises" forever.

Ok, I believe I'm finished for now. If I still smoked, I'd go have one right about now. Maybe a beer....

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Ex, Detox, and Jobs

Ok, so I realize that I haven't really updated lately. So... let's see...

I got a phone call from Tim's current wife this morning, asking if Ash had her necklace that has apparently been missing for over a year. I don't know if she did or didn't take it... To be honest, I don't know why she would... but whatever. I've never seen her wearing it. But, apparently, we are now friends, and can share conversations about the kids... I would actually appreciate that, since Tim won't tell me anything... However, in retrospect, I should have asked her why she didn't call me when her daughter totaled a vehicle with my daughter in it??? I didn't want to pick a fight, though.

In other news, Monica, Chuck and I attempted to "detox" our bodies before starting a diet of "making better choices." So, we were off and running:
Day 1... Monica had a headache, Chuck was irritable (he stopped caffeine and nicotine in the same day!!) and went to bed early, and I made it through in one piece.
Day 2... Monica still had a headache, and was hungry, Chuck was less irritable but very tired, and I had a ridiculous headache, which also made me irritable.
Day 3.... I woke up with that same headache, and weirdly enough... my kidneys hurt all day. Chuck was back to being irritable, and Monica decided she was done with the detox and went on to the "diet" portion by making herself an omelet for breakfast. That opened the door for me to have a cup of coffee, and my headache was gone (kidneys still hurt this morning, tho, for some reason).

So, we quit with the detox, and have all agreed to just limit the bad things (coffee for me, Cokes and chew for Chuck, and junk food for Monica). We will also be keeping an eye on our carbohydrate intake, and making sure to fill our snacks with fruits and veggies instead of junk food. We are all weighing ourselves first thing in the morning to see if any of us lost any weight from it.

Finally, the search for a job goes on...When I went through cancer and chemo, I found out who my real friends were. I learned very quickly that they may or may not be the people that are in your life every single day. They don't have to be on the phone with you on a regular basis, or babysit your kids on the weekends.

Your true friends will just step forward when you need it the most. I have had countless true friends offer help to me lately. I would love to make a list of all the people that have offered to give my resume to someone, or suggested a company or website, or gave me info on an opening somewhere, or even just gave me tips on how to beef up my resume. You are all awesome!!

Now, I don't have a job offer coming in yet, but I KNOW that when one does, it will be something really good, doing something that I WANT to do, some place closer to Carley.

I am excited about the opportunities that I know are coming my way!

I finally broke down and told Carley last night that I had lost my job, and that I am looking for something in Jacksonville. I told her that I can't make any promises, but I am trying to get closer to her. She was so excited, and that was just even more incentive for me to make sure this happens. I believe that if you want something bad enough, you have to find a way to make sure it happens.

When I lost my job, I was devastated.
I loved working for that company.
I loved my customers.
I loved the people I worked with.
I used that job as a reason not to leave Georgia.

I knew that I was unhappy being away from my daughter, but I was so afraid to quit, because I didn't know if I could find something just as fulfilling. So, even though being unemployed SUCKS from a financial aspect, I have an amazing support group, both here in Georgia, and with my family and friends. I know this was the kick in the pants that I needed to get back down Florida and to be in Carley's life on a much more regular basis.

I can't wait to see what the next step in my life will be. I am READY to get started (if only that phone would

Monday, November 7, 2011

Quick update...
Still looking for a job.
No news yet.
Looks like I was approved for unemployment, but it doesn't cover much. I have no idea how people can just stay on unemployment instead of looking for work. I can't afford to live like that!

That's about it.
Sorry so short, but I've got tons of things to do. Looking for a GOOD place to work is a full time job!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Being Grateful, Prayers

I have spent the entire morning sending out cover letters with resumes, and filling out online job applications. It's a long, tedious process, and to be honest, I have no idea if I'm making any headway at all. Pretty much all of the job site places are inundated with so many people looking for work... and just sending out resumes IN CASE they lose their current job, that I feel like I'm just getting buried in the shuffle. I feel like I need a "gimmick" or something to make my resume really stand out... I'm open to suggestions! I really don't know if I'm just wasting my time, or if the phone will actually ring sometime soon.

I guess we shall see.

I do have an appointment with the Unemployment Office tomorrow morning. I filled out everything I could about my request to collect unemployment online, on Sunday night. On the application, there were boxes that asked
why I was terminated,
if I was aware of whatever rule that was broken,
if I had been notified of this rule,
if I had ever been formally reprimanded,
if I felt the termination was justified,
and what I felt the actual reason for termination was, if I did not agree.

SO, I don't know if the Labor Board actually follows up on this or not, but they have been notified of the situation.

In other news... I spoke with a family member today, and was reminded once again that my situation is not nearly as dire as it could be. For instance, I still have a roof over my head, my children and dog are safe, and unemployment will at least cover my child support payments.

My life does NOT include any drama or violence.

While I know that we are all fully aware of how fortunate we are in regards to our support systems and the people that care about us, sometimes it is easy to get so wrapped up in our own "problems" that we forget that there are many people that have it worse off than we do....

In my case, I have just such a person in my own family.

So, although it isn't a lot, I did what I could to help her out.

Recently, a friend did something for me, and even though I don't have a job right now, I am fortunate enough to be able to forwarded the favor along to my loved one. I am hoping that very soon, she will be in a situation where she will be able to forward something similar to someone else that is needing the help.

Meanwhile, I would appreciate it if you could all just mention a "general" prayer for her at some point today. She could really use all the love and positive vibes that she can get. Her situation is difficult, but she has two very small children to care for, and that is making it even harder for her.

Wishing love, safety, and a violence-free path for all of you....

Friday, October 28, 2011

Change of Plans

Sometimes you're the bug, and sometimes you're the windshield.

Yesterday, unbeknownst to me, I became the bug.

I got up and got ready for my job, just like I do every day.
Shower, dress, pour the coffee, drive in, start up the computers, and... BAM!
The next thing I know, I don't have a job any more.
Their reasoning?

"Failure to adhere to corporate accounting policies."

What in the hell does that mean?
If there was a problem, wouldn't I have been told, or questioned, or reprimanded, or ...SOMETHING??
I received nearly a dollar pay raise over the past year, and had never been written up for anything.
I didn't see this coming.

Then, I got to thinking...
I am scheduled to start taking part in the company's profit sharing program on Tuesday... Nov. 1st.
Could that have anything to do with it?
I have no idea.

All I had was some lame excuse, and a boot out the door.

Then, I talked to my ex-boss today, and I find out that there has all of a sudden been a lot of activity at the branch where I worked. I won't go into too much detail, because the rest doesn't directly apply to me, and I don't want to air everyone else's business... but come to find out, some of it is actually linked back to when John tried to commit suicide!!

Are you kidding me??

That was months ago.

I wish I could call him right now and tell him how he as affected everyone else's lives around him.

So, I'm over that place. Even if they were to call me right now and offer my job back, I would not be interested.
I don't want to work for a company that fires people for no good reason.
I am not interested in working for a company that does not have honor, courage and commitment.
If the military taught me anything, it was that.

If I am anything at all, I am resilient. I will make the best of this situation.

"The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers."

I will take this opportunity to find a position that offers me the opportunity to move up in a company.
That was not a possibility at my old job.
I will find something that offers me the opportunity to make something more of myself.

Meanwhile, until this new career shows up, I will be making efforts to get more involved in my community.
I will be going to help out with a Habitat for Humanity build tomorrow.

I believe it's time to stir up a little good Karma...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Finding Myself

Have you ever just stopped everything and looked around?

I don't mean that you look at the things inside the room that you're in. I mean, actually take inventory of your life. Sometimes, you just have to consider what is happening, and make any necessary adjustments. "Tweak" your situation, if you will.

Recently, I've come to one of those places in my life. I've had a problem with being "happy" lately. I refuse to consider that I might be depressed, and I do not want to go on any medication for this. That was how I dealt with my life when I was married. I'm done with that approach.

So, I've decided to make changes, and FIND my happiness....

I started this blog, because I was moving out of the traditional home, rent, utilities, etc. lifestyle, and working to catch up on the bills in my life. This all seemed like a good idea, had I been able to do things my way. The problem is that when you're in a relationship, you make compromises with the one you love. He did not want to live in a tent... so we ended up living with his sister. I'm unhappy about this situation, because now we're not paying bills, and she has more. How is that right? So, I tried it for about 2 1/2 months, and it still is not sitting well with me.

I'm moving out.

Chuck and I moved in together shortly after we had met, because we were able to financially support each other. We both acknowledged that it was way too early in our relationship for such a move... however, it turned out great for us! We get along wonderfully, and we're the best of friends. Four years later, we still laugh at the same stuff, enjoy the same movies, and so on....


When we met, it was right after both of us got out of long-term relationships... and we never got our "me" time before moving in with each other. I need that time. I’m going to take a wild stab in the dark and say that he probably does, too.

Now, nobody panic... Chuck and I are NOT breaking up. If anything, my planning this move has made us even closer, because I've discussed my feelings and thoughts with him, and he understands where I am coming from. How could I not love him for being so kind and understanding… and SUPPORTIVE!

So, Ashleigh and I are moving into an apartment together, and Chuck and I will “date” like we should have to start with. It’s going to be really tough, with my paying child support and Ash not having a hugely well-paying job… but we can do this. Besides, I know that if I ever really do need help, I can ask for it. I have a lot of friends that are willing to be there for me.

So, it’s not the adventure that I wanted when I started writing this blog, but it is a new chapter in my life. I will be going back to “Minimum Payment Hell” but maybe it will give me the opportunity to sit back and remember who Brenda is... And then, when Chuck and I do decide to move back in with each other, it won’t be for financial reasons, and our relationship can be stronger because we’re both happy with ourselves first.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Survivor Tattoos

This past weekend, my older daughter, Ashleigh, and I went and got tattoos.
It was my birthday gift from her, celebrating my 5 year anniversary.

Ashleigh's is on her foot...

Mine is on my back, between the shoulder blades.

Thanks, Ash! I love you!! ~Mom

I Bring it on Myself

*sigh* My mind is in turmoil.
Why can't I just accept things and be happy?
How do I look around and say, "This is enough for me"
I miss seeing a smile in the mirror.
I want joy in my life, like the fresh air.

I feel so much love for those around me,
and yet I push those people away.
I know that the sadness I feel is inside myself.

This is not something that I can blame anyone for.
Not even myself.
Who can help their feelings?

Every day that goes by,
without doing something to try to fix this sadness
Is a day wasted.

I was only given a certain number of days on this earth.
I can't stand the thought of wasting even one more.
My patience has grown thin.
I can no longer tolerate myself in this light.
It's time to change the bulb.

I don't know what to do,
or where to go,
to find the happiness that I seek.

All I know is that I have to start somewhere.
Somewhere is better than nowhere.

The sunlight awaits me
and I need room to dance.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Five Years Cancer Free

**This got pretty long, and I'm sorry about that!!**

Today makes 5 years. I can't describe what I'm feeling. This should be a celebration. Instead, I almost feel like I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. Below are sections of what I wrote 5 years ago in part of my blog. The site was called, My Life With Breast Cancer.

...about 6 months ago... I had found some lumps in my breast.... they were just little cysts, and were no big deal. ...a few weeks ago, I found a big lump on that same breast, but didn't panic, because I knew my 6-month check up was coming due. I had the check up, and I was told that the lump that I found was scar big deal. BUT, under that were several calcium-like deposits.

The dr. referred me to Baptist Medical ...

When Baptist re-took my mammo and sonograms, they figured out that it was one lump, NOT scar tissue. The lump turned out to be rather large.

So, I got my biopsy done ... They took 6 samples from the one large lump and then drained 2 cysts. Then, the dr. saw on the ultrasound that the gland under my armpit was "unusual" so she took 2 samples of that. They called me with the results.
I do have breast cancer.
...Invasive Ductal Carcinoma.

The dr. seemed pretty positive ... She said I have a rough year ahead of me ... I'm carrying an 80% survival rate.

...the biopsey on my lymph node came back negative, so they sent me to get an MRI. They also wanted to get a better idea of the size of the tumor... is
 larger than they first suspected from the mammograms, and although the origional biopsey on my lymph node came back negative, they said that it still looked irregular.... I need to get what's called a Sentinel Node Biopsey done.

Because of the size of the tumor and the fact that cancer can get worse very quickly in younger people (your cells grow at a rapid pace when you're younger, both good cells and bad), we want to get this taken care of as soon as possible.

I know that God has not decided to do this just to make my life miserable. He hast to have a long-term plan. ... Right now, I have a positive attitude (I'm invincible!) but down the road, I may be angry, and hit the whole "Why me????" stage.

...bloodwork on Thursday on Thursday of next... In order to just put me "under" once, he's going to have me come in 2 hours early so they can inject me with some dye or something that will go directly to the two lymph nodes that they're worried about. Then, he'll make an incision to remove the tumor, and another in my armpit and remove just those two nodes.

Many of you have commented to me on my positive attitude and the ability to maintain my sense of humor. While many of you may see it as my being strong, it may really be a slight bit of self-denial and a way to make light of the situation. Whatever it may be, it seems to work for me.

Really, I have no choice in the situation. I could sit around feeling sorry for myself because this has "happened" to me. I won't do that, though. I have too many people in my life to survive for... starting with my girls! So, my only other option is to look this in the eye and take it head on. Step by step, I know that I'll get through it with the help of all of my friends and family.


All along, I've had this "I don't feel sick, so there's nothing wrong with me" attitude. Then, I went to meet the radiation oncology doctor yesterday... after the appointment, I went home and enjoyed some quiet time, where my mind slowly started to take over. By the time I had to go to work, I was NOT in a good place (in my head). Fortunately, I have one of the coolest bosses in the entire world. Betty closed the place down, and let me just relax. I needed that more than she could possibly know! There was just no way my head was into working last night. I couldn't focus on anything. My mind was everywhere and nowhere all at one time. Definately a mess.--------

Just a side note ... surgery is at 10:55 tomorrow morning. If you could all set the alarms on your cell phones, watches, or whatever, and say a quick, silent prayer around that time, I would really appreciate it! I know God is watching over me, but every little bit helps, right?

If the lymph nodes come back positive for cancer, I will require another surgery to remove those. Also, some of you have asked about reconstruction. The dr. said that 95% of these types of surgeries do not require plastic surgery, because my body should naturally build up scar tissue ... So, I should have a small scar from the incision, but nothing worse. The stitches will even be under the skin, instead of the outside.

..the doctor took out the tumor and sent it down to pathology. It tested positive for cancer cells on the outside of what he took out, so he had to go back in to remove some more tissue, which came back negative for cancer on the outside. So, he got as much as he could from the tumor area.

Then, he ended taking out three of my lymph nodes. ...found some cancer cells in the first two, and the third one came up negative, so he stopped there...


Well, I finally got my friend, Tammy, to help me remove the bandages last night. I was so worried about how "mangled" I'd be that I couldn't even look in the mirror until she swore to me that it wasn't as bad as I was imagining. I was so upset about looking that I felt like I was going to pass out and had to lie down on the bed!
So, I finally caved in and gave it a look... I have a horizontal cut where they took out the tumor that is about 3 inches long, and another cut under my armpit that is about 2 inches long. I think they should heal up pretty well, though.


... The lymph nodes came back negative for cancer.... YAY! As for the tumor itself, the invasive cancer only took up about 1cm of the tumor. It was surrounded by what they call "pre-cancer" or non-invasive. He said that it looks like they got all of it out with the exception of one area, so he wants to get back in and take more out in that area. That would also be an outpatient procedure.

I had a minor allergic reaction to the meds (chemo) so they stopped the drip and want me to return next Wed. for a different mixture of my "coctail."

...they had given me a saline drip, and then added benadryl to it. The benadryl knocked me out, and then they added herceptin ... while I was asleep, Tim saw that I was all red and flushed. He stopped the machine and got the nurse. hands had also started to swell up. They monitored my temperature ... (low-grade fever) and finally decided to just send me home instead of continuing. Now, the doctor said it could be from either the benadryl OR the herceptin. So, when I go back on Wed., they're giving me less benadryl to make sure it isn't the herceptin that I'm reacting to.

Wednesday and Thursday were spent sleeping, trying to get all of the benadryl back out of my system. ...aches in my legs that feel like the growing pains we'd get as kids. I was also having cramping, which felt like PMS cramps, but I knew that they couldn't that time, nothing tasted good at all... water, crystal lite, soda... NOTHING! ....I started having a nose bleed that lasted for about 45 minutes or so...

I talked with the doctor first, and she was concerned that the Avastin was causing my nose bleeds (had two right there in her office) and I had three of them today. So, rather than pump more chemicals into my system, she decided to hold off ...
Right now, my blood counts are a little low. Not dangerous, but low enough that it makes me tired pretty easily. I make myself a list of things I want to get done in a day, and am lucky if I get even 1/3 of them done. I'm not lazy, I just have absolutely no energy in me at all. It's very frustrating! So, I'm going in next Wednesday to get an Aranesp Injection to help boost my blood cell counts.

I've been fighting a sore throat for over a week now. My throat hurts so bad that I can barely swallow, my glads under my jaw bone are swollen, and my ears hurt whenever I try to swallow.

The Day my Hair Started to Fall Out

Shaving my Head - I can't read this post without crying. I will never forget that day, as long as I live.

I went and got my usual Monday Blood Test yesterday, and I had the nicest compliment! I had one of the scarves that I bought in Spain wrapped around my head into a bun in the back, and a lady came up and said how pretty it looked and even had me show her how to do it! She was so sweet.

Since I've lost my hair, I've begun wearing large earrings, large "Hollywood" sunglasses, and lots of bandannas/scarves. I've tried to wear my wigs, but just can't seem to get comfortable in them. They're not really "me." So, fortunately, I have a large collection of hats and scarves, because I always wore them before I went bald!

So, Friday rolled around, and I spent all day in bed again. Nausea, lack of appetite, and screwed up taste buds will do that to a girl. I felt totally crappy and just wanted to be left alone to die. Lucky for me, my family won't let me off that easily (that was sarcasm). Didn't do much that night. Just hung around the house.

Why is it that people think it's ok to tell me about how their Great-Aunt Bea died from lung cancer 20 years ago? Do they think I really want to hear about that? Then, they try to turn the ending into a positive by saying, "You'll be fine, though, because they've made so many advances in medicine since then." WTF??? Why tell me about someone who has died at all? Do they just HAVE to hear themselves talk? If you don't have a good story then KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT! You're not being helpful to anyone at all.

Oh, and in the grocery store the other day, I actually had a guy ask me if I was "suffering from an affliction." Do I look like some rebellious teenager trying to get my parent's attention by shaving my head? I'm 31 years old! YES, I'm suffering from an affliction! GRRRRR! People just annoy me.

I feel fat, ugly, bald, scarred, pale, nauseous, tired, bored and boring, and angry/bitter. I'm sick of it all. And the LAST thing I want is for people to call me up trying to cheer me. It's not helpful. There is no cheering. This is cancer. No matter how you look at it. Funny thing is that it's not the cancer that makes me feel like crap. It's all the Drano they insist that I need. I just want to tell them to stop the drugs. I can't take it any more. Then I look at my girls and think, if it is helping, I have to do it for them. So, I'm stuck.

By now, all of you who have wondered this past week why I hadn't posted are now wishing that I STILL had not posted. Maybe I should have waited for one of my "good days" to let everyone know how I was feeling. Sadly, I haven't had a good day since Tuesday, and the more consecutive bad days that I have, the deeper into the pit I fall. I'll come back up eventually. I just don't know when. It's hard to see the light at the end of a very long, sick tunnel.

Oh, and on top of it all.... Brittany Spears actually SHAVED HER HEAD! What an idiot! I would kill to have hair, and she does it just because she's a spoiled little brat, trying to get attention. She makes me sick. I wish I had hair.... and she makes the news because of it! That's the worst part. People are at war, dying from dieseases, starving to death, being persecuted for their faith... and Brittany Spears makes headlines for shaving her head. Grrr! Stupid B!tch.

Alright, I guess that's enough venting for now. I'm going to go wallow in my pit for a while.


Yesterday, my youngest asked me if I was going to die. Who put that into her head? What does she know about dying? That has never even been an option for me. I haven't even considered that I might die, so why is she asking this? I feel like someone trying to be "helpful" has mentioned to her that I could die from breast cancer, so now she's worrying about it. I can tell it's been bugging her for a little while, because she couldn't look at me when she asked, and was crying when she finally said it.------------

I am SO OVER this whole cancer and chemo thing. I'm done. I don't want to play their stupid game anymore. I can think of 1,001 things I'd rather be doing with this particular year of my life. Having cancer is NOT one of them.

I've been feeling both hot and cold for the past couple of days... clammy, I guess. Terrible feeling. Plus, the taste of food is aweful, so I can only eat fruits and steamed veggies. Everything else is pretty gross. It's hard to stay hydrated this way.

...the platelets were low... I got my blood work done again this week, and the platelets were still too low to do my big dose of chemo, so it was just Herceptin again today. The good news is that they were up to 92, and once they reach 100, I'm in the "safe zone" to do my chemo again. So, although I'm 2 weeks behind schedule, they are going up on their own. That means that I don't have to come in for injections every day this week, and I am no longer in danger of needing a transfusion! YAY!

My head hurts, my stomach is upset, I can't decide if I'm going to throw up or just sit next to the toilet, and my muscles ache everywhere. I feel like I've been beaten with a lead pipe.

This is where my blogging ends. This is when my life completely turned to shit. I found out about some things and pretty much started drinking a lot to hide from the reality of it all. Eventually, it led to a breakdown in October 2007, where I admitted myself into the hospital, by telling them that I was an alcoholic. I am not an alcoholic... I just couldn't figure out how to get away from everything... Away from a cheating spouse, away from the doctors and chemo, away from my kids (I realize that sounds horrible, but I wasn't able to cope), away from work, and away from the upcoming radiation therapy. I couldn't be strong any more, and that was what everyone still expected from me!

When I got out of the hospital, I stayed home for about two weeks before I finally left for good. I did finally go back to the doctor and finish chemo and radiation... and was finished with all of that by January 2008... just in time for my divorce to be final in February of that same year.

Many of you have asked why I just "gave" everything to Tim without fighting for anything. After reading this, hopefully, you can understand that I just didn't have any fight left in me. I couldn't fight with him any more, because I was so busy fighting for my health. I had to take priorities. Unfortunately, I've spent the past several years paying for those choices. If I had been better equipped (mentally) to deal with all of this pressure, I might have been able to have my children with me instead of leaving them. This is why when people say that they think I'm a strong person, all I can think is, "No, I'm not. I failed at the most important thing. My children."

But, I didn't write this blog as an excuse for my choices. I shouldn't have to explain myself. I know who my friends are and who loves me.

This is to aknowledge that it has been 5 very long, difficult years. Cancer changed my life, and it's not done yet. No matter how many years pass, I will always be a Survivor.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Rainy Day

This is for my girlfriends from over the years:
Jannian, Dodie, Mocha, Nic, Sylvia, Tammy,
Andrea, Carolyn, and Jennifer...
I miss you.

Sometimes I get into a mood.
My friends get that.
I feel down.
I don't want to talk, or be social, or even associate with other people.
My friends bring me out of that shell.

It's not like I'm in a bad mood, because I will talk with people. I just don't feel like "sharing" or "listening."

So, it's raining outside. It's dark, dreary, and wet. Seems fitting for today's thoughts.

This mood has been creeping up on me for a couple of weeks now. Ever since I stopped working at Michael's, I guess. I feel like I have no purpose. Since I don't have my own place, I am pretty limited on things to do. Even though I feel completely comfortable with the people that I live with, and love their home, it still isn't mine. We are really trying hard to pay off bills and get Chuck's car running, so we don't do very much.

So, I go to work, go home, sit on my [growing] butt and watch TV.

This is my life.

What's the point?
There is no point.
I'm just saying... what is my goal? I go to work so I can pay bills... but I'm not able to enjoy any of the money! I understand that it's part of being an adult, but what about all those things we looked forward to when we were kids?

I couldn't wait to grow up! Now that I'm an adult, I'm not taking advantage of it properly.

For the first time in my life, I'm not surrounded by friends.
This is why I spend so much time on Facebook. I miss my people! My friends "get" me.
They know that I like to just vent. Once I do, then we can move on to the next subject.
They don't take me seriously, unless I need to be taken seriously.
They understand the difference.

So, back to feeling blue.
Don't get me wrong... I love Chuck's family. They are wonderful, and I couldn't ask to be surrounded by a more fun-loving, caring family.
But... it's his family. If Chuck is bugging me, I don't think it's good to vent to his sister!
I miss just sitting around, talking with the girls.
I miss doing "couples" things.
I miss my family.
I miss bbq's on the weekends, with kids running around.
I miss my kids.
I miss going places and doing things.

I've finally decided that I don't really care for Georgia. I've been here almost four years and have literally not made any close friends. Oh, I've met people. But everyone is so family oriented around here, that they won't let anyone new in. I don't have a friend that I can call on a Saturday afternoon, while Chuck is working on his car, and just say, "Hey, let's run out and have a drink." Chuck and I don't have another couple to go places with on a Saturday night. Never, in my adult life, have I ever NOT had someone to hang out with.

And, since we don't really do anything, I have no idea how we could possibly meet other people. It's sort of like dating. I'm not about to ask for some woman's phone number in the grocery store! lol.

Most of the friends I've had in the past were easy to meet. We just clicked. Why don't I "click" with Georgians??

So, here I am.
Work, TV, bed.
Work, TV, bed.
Work, TV, bed.
Some people are perfectly happy with that. I'm not. I'm discontented. It's nothing new, though. I've always been that way. I only get to live once, and every day that I live like this is a day wasted. It's lost and I can never get it back. My friends have always understood that, and were willing to go and do fun things with me.

Not here. There's really not much to do here.

I keep thinking I should get a hobby... but they all cost money. The better/more fun it is, the more it costs. That defeats the purpose, a bit, doesn't it? I'm trying to get out of debt here. Besides, I don't have a friend to do that hobby with! Why is this so hard??

I know it frustrates Chuck when I feel like this, but it's not his fault. It's not anybody's fault. I've got choices to make...

Live here, in GA, as an adult, paying off my bills...
...or sell off everything I own and spend the next 3 months backpacking through Europe!

Go to work at the gas company every day...
...or find a job that pays me to travel the world! (I've been working on this for a long time, to no avail.)

Guess I'll just put my head down and go to work, just like everyone else... and pay my bills... and be responsible...

But I don't have to like it...
...and I don't have to stop reaching for the stars!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Links to Support my Theory

NY Times article re Stress and Cancer

Life Script: Illness Caused by Stress; see #10

NewsMax Health; practice relaxation techniques

Stress and Your Health

Just a little extra reading for anyone interested. I can't believe I have never researched my theory before. Apparently, there might be something to what I'm thinking.

Feel free to share any thoughts you might have on this!!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Surviving Life

Due to Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I have a lot on my mind....

I am nearing my five-year anniversary of being diagnosed with breast cancer. I am extremely proud of this achievement. I can't say I almost died, because I honestly can't ever remember thinking that it was an option. I have two beautiful daughters that need a Mom, so I wasn't going anywhere. I was too stubborn to consider it a possibility. I probably would've gone ballistic on a doctor if they tried to tell me something like, "You have 3 months to live." This leads me to my first point:

Why do doctors think it’s alright to tell someone how long they think they'll live?
They don't know.
There is no possible way another human being, even a doctor, could know such a thing.
I could get hit by a bus tomorrow.

I firmly believe that many people have died because a doctor was arrogant enough to give a timeline to that person. If someone says to a sick person that they are expected to be dead in 3 months, then the odds of that person being dead in 3 months just went up 25% (ok, I am making up these figures, but you totally get my point). It makes me mad.

Of course, on the other end of the spectrum, someone like me would have stuck it out just to prove that arrogant bastard wrong. Ha!

The next thing on my mind is that I firmly believe that how you live your life has a lot to do with illness. I’m not talking about smoking and lung cancer or anything like that. This goes deeper.
Something I can’t actually prove.

I often wonder if people that are diagnosed at a similar age as I was, can look back on their life and say, "This was the cause." I believe I can. I was in a bad marriage; it was stressful from day-one. We weren't good to each other, and then, in an effort to get away, I left for a year and a half.

I don't know what was worse... living in that unhealthy marriage, or being an unemployed, single parent, stressing constantly about money, a place to live, trying to fix my marriage for my children's sake, and so on.

Finally, we reached an agreement and the girls and I moved back to Spain with him. Of course, things did not get any better as long as we were living there. I was there for my kids and that was it. But, once we moved back to the states, things were great for a year. My 30th year was honestly the best year of my life. We had a house, our marriage seemed to have improved, and it was like starting brand new. The pressure was off. The stress had left the building.

One year later, I was diagnosed with cancer.

All of that stress in my life over the course of several years had built up, and once the stress was gone, my body reacted with cancer.

Before you think I'm completely off my rocker, let me try to explain in a different way.

When I was in the Navy, we often heard that when a Chief runs Maintenance Control (high-stress position) for several years, then retires, they very often die within 5 years, from either a heart attack or stroke. This is because their body has lived and dealt with such a high-stress environment for so long, that once the stress was no longer there, their body couldn't adjust and it is what ultimately kills them. I believe that my cancer was caused by a similar situation. My body dealt with stress and negativity for so long, that when life became less stressful, then that is how my body reacted.

This is just my theory.

Finally, this leads me to my next point.
This is for all you religious people.

I do believe in God. I am not at all good about going to church, but I do have my own beliefs. I don't know about what God really thinks about divorce because I've never had the opportunity to ask him (I have a whole list of questions for that interview, if it ever comes up!).

I do believe that God gave us our lives to live as well as we can, with the time we have. I also believe that as his children, God loves us unconditionally. Because of this love, even if he does not agree with divorce, he still wants us to be happy with ourselves.

That being said, my other theory is that because my marriage was so unhealthy to both myself and my ex, and ultimately, our children, then God gave me cancer to force me to finally have the courage to take the final step and leave for good. For ten years, we were bad for each other. I was on anti-depressants for a lot of the marriage.

I went from being an outgoing person, that was usually the center of attention without even trying, to being told to shut up in front of my friends and told that I was always wrong, to becoming an introvert that actually goes out of her way to avoid being in the limelight.

But, I thought that being there would be best for my kids. They needed a Mom and a Dad. I thought they needed us to be in the same house, with the dog and the white picket fence. Cancer arrived, and the way that each of us reacted to the news said a lot about our personalities. I won’t go into detail, but it didn’t go well for our marriage.

The fighting, the arguments, the hurt feelings…
It became much worse that it was when we lived in Spain.

So, one day, I woke up and refused to continue. I never would’ve had the courage to walk away if I had never been diagnosed with cancer. Just like an addict, I had to hit “rock bottom” before I would make the necessary changes. It was hard to do. I was so afraid. I had no idea where I would go or what I would do. The only thing I knew was that I might survive cancer, but there was no way I was going to survive this marriage. I had to leave.

I’m grateful for the new life that I’ve found, and since he is now remarried, I can only assume he’s grateful as well. If God had not loved me enough to give me cancer, and the will to fight it… and the courage to walk away… who knows where I would be today.

I guess that makes me a survivor in more than one way.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Childish Enthusiasm

Alright, people... It's time to break out the Party Hats!!
My birthday is coming up on Tuesday.
I will be turning 36 years old.  

My whole life, I have always heard that people "should not ask a woman her age." Whatever. I can't change time. I figure that considering all of the things I've been through, I am doing pretty well for my age. In fact, it seems that no matter how old I get, I still get excited about my birthday.

I joke around about it being a National Holiday (still working on that),
but really... I am just excited that I've made it this far. 
I've been to a lot of places, but there is still so much more to do!

That is why, every year, around the end of September,
I start telling people that my birthday is coming up.
Yes, I act like a child.
Why not? I'm not hurting anyone!

Although I've run out of fingers to hold up to show people my age,
I still love to hear the words, "Happy Birthday!"
I love chocolate cake and ice cream.
I love loud music, sugar highs, and adult beverages.

I enjoy gifts, but for me, that isn't what my birthday is about.

I just want to celebrate!
I want to do something fun!
Just for one day, I want to stop worrying about money.
I want to forget being responsible.
I want to grab life with both hands and enjoy the wild ride for what it is.

I still dream of skydiving, racing cars, flying fighter jets, riding bulls, and fighting fires.

For one day, I just don't want to feel bogged down by the everyday stuff that life consists of.
I need to embrace my childish enthusiasm for living!!

Unfortunately, because I am turning 36 years old, and my birthday landed on a Tuesday, I still have to be the responsible adult that I don't want to be.

I'll get out of bed, pour my coffee and drive into work.
I'll spend the entire day answering the phone; just wishing the people on the other end would just acknowledge that it is my birthday.
Seriously, how could they NOT know???
I'll do my job until 5pm, and then drive home.


I hope that when your birthday rolls around, you don’t hide that fact, and lie about your age.
We all have amazing lives that should be embraced.
Every day is a gift to be cherished.
Of all days, your birthday is a day to celebrate.

So, the next time people laugh at me for being so excited about my birthday, I’m just going to look at them and ask, “Aren’t you excited to celebrate your life? Because, I’m excited about mine!!”

Monday, September 26, 2011

It's Fall Y'all

Autumn is my favorite time of year. It always has been, even as a child.

Springtime is lovely, with the flowers and the earth bursting with new growth.
I love the warmth of the summer, and when I lived in Florida, I loved going to the ocean whenever possible.
Winter is fine, if we can get enough snow to go sledding.

But none of these seasons warm me on the inside the way autumn does. So, I've decided to list off some of the reasons that I love, love, love this time of year... Feel free to comment and leave even more reasons, if YOU also enjoy the crisp, cool fall weather!

I love driving through the mountains and seeing the fall colors on the trees
The cool, crisp air, first thing in the morning, as it warms a little during the day
Bon fires at night, with s'mores
Caramel Apples
Corn mazes and hayrides
A steaming mug of hot apple cider
Going to haunted houses with friends
Costume parties
Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte
Pumpkin pie and whipped cream
Thanksgiving and cranberry sauce
Fuzzy socks
Flannel pajamas
Hoodies and blue jeans
Hiking Boots
Playing with the kids in the fallen leaves
Carving jack-o-lanterns
Cinnamon candles
Steelers and U of Mich football
Snuggling under a blanket with my hunnie
Hiking in the mountains

Oh, and of course, the two very best things... Halloween and my birthday! :o)

I hope you all have a wonderful week, enjoying the first stages of autumn. Our leaves are just barely starting to change colors. I'm ready to find a corn maze and start planning my Halloween costume!

Friday, September 23, 2011

One Down, Four to Go

So, I called Michael's yesterday and quit my job.
I felt bad for not giving them a notice, since they had me scheduled to work 7 out of the next 8 days and will need to find someone to fill in for me...
Wait... my PART TIME JOB had me scheduled to work 7 out of the next 8 days? WTF? Maybe I don't feel so bad after all.
I rarely saw my boyfriend.
I saw Ashleigh even less because she was sleeping when I got up in the morning, and she was usually working when I got home at night. Then, I would be asleep by the time she got there. Most of my news about my own daughter was told to me by other people in the house. Well, at least I know she's still alive...

All in all, though, Michael's really wasn't a bad job. I liked most of the people that I worked with. I'll really miss my discount, though! Chuck and I were talking about all the free time I was going to have, and we decided that we needed hobbies so we wouldn't drive eachother nuts. Damn, can I get my job back so I can get my discount on craft stuff?? lol. Guess I'll just use one of the friends/family coupons and stock up! lol.

Today is payday. I am super excited to announce that Chuck and I are paying off the first of five large bills today. I wish I could just put out a huge list and take a gigantic red marker and put a great big, fat line through "Bank of America Loan." Regardless... it's done. I'm so happy!! This has turned into a pretty good week.

I also realized that when I told everyone about the hearing, I didn't tell you about my visit with Carley. It was WAY too short, of course, but it is always good to see my little girl. Well, I don't know about "little" so much. She's getting tall!! It makes me sad to see how much she has changed in between my visits. But, she's funny, smart, and beautiful. I couldn't be more proud to call her my daughter. I can't wait to see her again. I did snap this picture during our visit, though (we were doing Mad Libs).

I guess that's about it. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!! I might start a hobby, since I'm free for two whole days!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

9 Things Successful People Do Differently

I know that I don't normally post twice in one day, but a friend posted this, and I really felt that it should be shared. We all view success in different ways, but in the end, I'm hoping that I will have a successful life by my own definition. I hope the same for all of you. Perhaps this list will help move you in that direction! ~B

1. Get specific. When you set yourself a goal, try to be as specific as possible. "Lose 5 pounds" is a better goal than "lose some weight," because it gives you a clear idea of what success looks like. Knowing exactly what you want to achieve keeps you motivated until you get there. Also, think about the specific actions that need to be taken to reach your goal. Just promising you'll "eat less" or "sleep more" is too vague — be clear and precise. "I'll be in bed by 10pm on weeknights" leaves no room for doubt about what you need to do, and whether or not you've actually done it.

2. Seize the moment to act on your goals. Given how busy most of us are, and how many goals we are juggling at once, it's not surprising that we routinely miss opportunities to act on a goal because we simply fail to notice them. Did you really have no time to work out today? No chance at any point to return that phone call? Achieving your goal means grabbing hold of these opportunities before they slip through your fingers.
To seize the moment, decide when and where you will take each action you want to take, in advance. Again, be as specific as possible (e.g., "If it's Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, I'll work out for 30 minutes before work.") Studies show that this kind of planning will help your brain to detect and seize the opportunity when it arises, increasing your chances of success by roughly 300%.

3. Know exactly how far you have left to go. Achieving any goal also requires honest and regular monitoring of your progress — if not by others, then by you yourself. If you don't know how well you are doing, you can't adjust your behavior or your strategies accordingly. Check your progress frequently — weekly, or even daily, depending on the goal.

4. Be a realistic optimist. When you are setting a goal, by all means engage in lots of positive thinking about how likely you are to achieve it. Believing in your ability to succeed is enormously helpful for creating and sustaining your motivation. But whatever you do, don't underestimate how difficult it will be to reach your goal. Most goals worth achieving require time, planning, effort, and persistence. Studies show that thinking things will come to you easily and effortlessly leaves you ill-prepared for the journey ahead, and significantly increases the odds of failure.

5. Focus on getting better, rather than being good. Believing you have the ability to reach your goals is important, but so is believing you can get the ability. Many of us believe that our intelligence, our personality, and our physical aptitudes are fixed — that no matter what we do, we won't improve. As a result, we focus on goals that are all about proving ourselves, rather than developing and acquiring new skills.

Fortunately, decades of research suggest that the belief in fixed ability is completely wrong — abilities of all kinds are profoundly malleable. Embracing the fact that you can change will allow you to make better choices, and reach your fullest potential. People whose goals are about getting better, rather than being good, take difficulty in stride, and appreciate the journey as much as the destination.

6. Have grit. Grit is a willingness to commit to long-term goals, and to persist in the face of difficulty. Studies show that gritty people obtain more education in their lifetime, and earn higher college GPAs. Grit predicts which cadets will stick out their first grueling year at West Point. In fact, grit even predicts which round contestants will make it to at the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
The good news is, if you aren't particularly gritty now, there is something you can do about it. People who lack grit more often than not believe that they just don't have the innate abilities successful people have. If that describes your own thinking .... well, there's no way to put this nicely: you are wrong. As I mentioned earlier, effort, planning, persistence, and good strategies are what it really takes to succeed. Embracing this knowledge will not only help you see yourself and your goals more accurately, but also do wonders for your grit.

7. Build your willpower muscle. Your self-control "muscle" is just like the other muscles in your body — when it doesn't get much exercise, it becomes weaker over time. But when you give it regular workouts by putting it to good use, it will grow stronger and stronger, and better able to help you successfully reach your goals.
To build willpower, take on a challenge that requires you to do something you'd honestly rather not do. Give up high-fat snacks, do 100 sit-ups a day, stand up straight when you catch yourself slouching, try to learn a new skill. When you find yourself wanting to give in, give up, or just not bother — don't. Start with just one activity, and make a plan for how you will deal with troubles when they occur ("If I have a craving for a snack, I will eat one piece of fresh or three pieces of dried fruit.") It will be hard in the beginning, but it will get easier, and that's the whole point. As your strength grows, you can take on more challenges and step-up your self-control workout.

8. Don't tempt fate. No matter how strong your willpower muscle becomes, it's important to always respect the fact that it is limited, and if you overtax it you will temporarily run out of steam. Don't try to take on two challenging tasks at once, if you can help it (like quitting smoking and dieting at the same time). And don't put yourself in harm's way — many people are overly-confident in their ability to resist temptation, and as a result they put themselves in situations where temptations abound. Successful people know not to make reaching a goal harder than it already is.

9. Focus on what you will do, not what you won't do. Do you want to successfully lose weight, quit smoking, or put a lid on your bad temper? Then plan how you will replace bad habits with good ones, rather than focusing only on the bad habits themselves. Research on thought suppression (e.g., "Don't think about white bears!") has shown that trying to avoid a thought makes it even more active in your mind. The same holds true when it comes to behavior — by trying not to engage in a bad habit, our habits get strengthened rather than broken.
If you want change your ways, ask yourself, What will I do instead? For example, if you are trying to gain control of your temper and stop flying off the handle, you might make a plan like "If I am starting to feel angry, then I will take three deep breaths to calm down." By using deep breathing as a replacement for giving in to your anger, your bad habit will get worn away over time until it disappears completely.

Here We Go!

Well, to start off, I feel like a zombie. I drove 7 hours south, stayed in a hotel, got hit on by some guy working @ Starbucks, went to the hearing, hung with Carley for a couple of hours, then drove 7 more hours home. It was 12:30 by the time I got home last night.

What happened to the days when we would go out drinking on a Tuesday night, get home around 3am, and go into work the next day without even feeling tired??? This whole "getting old" thing is for the birds.

Anyhoo, I know you all want me to stop babbling and tell you how the hearing went.
I'll get to that.

First, though, I need to establish something. I'm tired... that means that whatever I write may or may not make sense. Seriously. It's taking forever to even type this much because my brain doesn't seem to be sending the proper signals to my fingers. Grrr...

So, here we go:

First, we were able to work out the kinks of what I actually owed in back child support. The State finally recognized what had been paid. I will not claim that I am perfect. I was extremely broke after the divorce, and so I freely admit that I had missed a few months, and didn't pay the whole amount for some months. I have no problem admitting that I owed something. My problem was that they claimed I owed a LOT more that what I actually did. So, we came to a number that Tim and I could both agree on.

Next, they looked at my financials and his, and the Judge crunched some numbers...
My support is reduced by $180/month.

It isn't what I wanted, but let me explain further. My lawyer had come up with a lower number, using what is called the "20% rule." For those that are unfamiliar, the 20% rule says that if I have Carley at least 20% of the year, then my child support is drastically reduced. Well, last year, I did have Carley that much. Unfortunately, my ex was less than cooperative about summer vacation this year.

(If you ask him, he'll claim that he cooperated freely.)

Here is what happened... I asked if I could have Carley all summer, with the exception of the 2 weeks she always spends with his Mom in Tennessee. I have absolutely no issue with making sure his Mom gets Carley during the summer, even though he has NEVER made an attempt to help Carley see or even talk to anyone in my family. So, he responds with "Yes, you can have her all summer... Except for this date, and this date, and this date, and this date. She has to be in Florida during those times."

I had no idea why she had to be in Florida for those dates, but I obviously didn't have the money to drive back and forth to Florida countless times, especially if he refuses to meet me even part of the way. So, my only option was to choose the longest time period that he gave me, which was 10 days. I was told that she HAD to be back to Florida by July 31st because they were going to go on a "family vacation."

Carley told me all about the cruise they were all going to take. So, I made sure she was home on the date told to me. Turns out that they never did go on that "Family Vacation" and I was never called and told that I could keep her longer. They just allowed me to bring her back on the agreed date. So, she sat at home for the next three weeks, waiting for school to start, when she could've been up here with me for those three weeks.

So, because I did not get Carley for enough days this past year, the 20% rule does not apply to me, thus the higher child support amount.

They did remove Ashleigh, but only pro-rated her back to February of this year. When she graduated high school, I contacted the State of Florida and asked them what paperwork I had to file and whom I needed to file it with.

Maybe I seem stupid to a lot of people, but I have literally NEVER had to deal with the legal system. The worst thing that I've ever had happen is that I got a speeding ticket once. So, I am completely lost/clueless when it comes to filing official documents, especially from an entire state away. If you walk in somewhere and say, "I need to file this," they will look at it and tell you where you should actually be. When it gets mailed to the wrong department (same building), it just sits in someone's box for months.

So, I attempted to file the documents regarding Ashleigh graduating way back in August. But, they weren't filed correctly until February.

One final thought. Tim did try to throw me under the bus by bringing up my part-time job. The judge asked me, and I explained that I had gotten it in order to pay the lawyer. I told her how much money I made, and that the State of Florida is aware of it, because they've been taking money from those checks as well to send to Tim. She told me that I needed to quit the job, or they would consider that as part of my income and I would have to pay more. So, I will be quitting my Michael's job as of today. I hate not giving a 2-week notice, but I am not about to give him the opportunity to increase my support.

I guess things didn't go as well as I'd hoped, but I am still happy. The fact that they never aknowledged the support that had been paid really bothered me. So, that's a weight that's been lifted.

Plus, with the extra $180/month, I can set that aside and actually SEE CARLEY MORE OFTEN!!

That right there made all of this worth my time.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Road Trip!

As many of you have heard by now, I talked to my lawyer yesterday. We are scheduled to have a hearing to adjust my child support payment tomorrow. My lawyer was full of positive news, and I am very much looking forward to having all of this past me. I would love to share everything that she told me, but I don't want to jiinx anything. So, until everything is settled, you'll just have to live with "it's looking good."

Meanwhile, I am working today (at lunch right now) and will be driving to Jacksonville after work. It's usually about a 6-7 hour trip, but since I'll be attempting Atlanta during afternoon rush hour (dumb, dumb, dumb), there's no telling how long it will take. I am going to try to take 285 around Atlanta, instead of 75 through it, though. We'll see if that makes any difference at all.

The last time I tried some smarty-pants move like that, I got stuck for several hours behind a wreck, on the road outside of Macon... Middle of summer, jeep almost out of gas, with Ashleigh. We kept having to turn the jeep off so we wouldn't get stranded (neither of us wanted to walk for gas), and so we couldn't use the a/c. Totally miserable.

Anyhoo, I am making the trip alone tonight. There are good and bad aspects of Brenda making a road trip all by herself. It's good that I get to think things through and have a plan of action... for the rest of my life, apparently, since it'll take at least 7 hrs to get there and the same to get back on Wednesday night. On the negative side, I'll be able to make myself a plan of action... for the rest of my life, only to change my mind the next time I have a spare minute to reconsider.

Seriously, how am I still sane? Does anyone else do this to themselves? Sometimes I feel like I'm teetering on the edge.

I have two sides of myself. When I am worried about something, I do tend to become more quiet and introverted, because I'm replaying the entire thing through my head... I have this uncanny ability to view something from every possible angle. I've often believed that this is exactly why I've been fortunate enough to never break a bone (Knock on wood!!). I have the abilitiy to see all the things that could happen, and if breaking a bone is a possible scenario (I weigh the risks), then I won't do it. I should work for an insurance company... I could TOTALLY be one of those risk-assessment people.

The other side of myself doesn't want to be left alone when I'm stressed BECAUSE I know that I will play and replay the thing over and over and over again in my head. It's not pretty. I have been known to freak myself out, because my mind always automatically assumes the worst possible scenario.

This is where I'm at right now. I am looking forward to having this hearing out of the way. I am super-excited to see Carley tomorrow, even if it is just for a little while. I don't even mind all the driving. I am not so excited to have the time to let my mind replay every possible outcome of this hearing. I know that one day I will drive myself (no pun intended) crazy with all of this over-analyzing.

Since I don't have anyone to ride in the car with me, I am certain that several of you will be receiving phone calls at some point tonight. All I ask is that you listen for a few minutes, talk me off my ledge, and then distract me with something interesting that is happening in your life.

Every now and then, my mind just needs to be put back into neutral.
It needs to consider other people outside of its thick, bone-headed coating.
A time-out, so to speak.

I just know that if I am not distracted, I will worry myself sick. Then, I won't be able to eat tomorrow, because of nerves. Then, when we get to the hearing, I'll be all nervous and hungary... low blood sugar... can't think straight... pass out....

See? Do you see what my brain can do? Seriously. I'm a mess.

I will post a blog once this is all over with, and share the outcome.
Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone that has listened to me complain about "poor me" and my situation over the past few years. I am finally getting close to the light at the end of the tunnel. I just have to get past this hurdle.

Anyhoo... expect phone calls. You know who you are. :o)