What if it were enough?

I know there are several very real and pretty complicated barriers to overcome if I want to accomplish my ‘dreams.’ Just as many, if not more, are perceived rather than real boundaries and I’ve certainly let fear of failure and “how-it-should-go” stall me. And, I obviously can get stuck in a pity party.
There’s also the fact that my dreams are blurry and while I’ve been trying to find a road-map (of any sort, anywhere, something!) nothing quite fits. Is that scary? YES.
I’d be doing work I enjoy and where I can put my health first. I’d show others that you can be successful AND manage narcolepsy AND not hide it, but embrace listening to what your body tells you. I’d help others with something practical or empowering and then maintain those relationships. I learning and loving – through travel, through culture, nature, activities, strangers and friends. At the same time, I want to be more present and less concerned about checking things off. Horseback riding was the first thing I shifted from a goal-oriented activity to enjoying for its own sake after a whole mess of experiences, and still amazes and excites me every time I go to the stable.
If I stop for a second though, technically, I’m doing a lot of this already. I want to say “BUT IT’S NOT ENOUGH”, but why? Why is it not enough?
Because I say it’s not, think it’s not, assume it’s not. Therefore, it IS not. And it will stay that way as long as I want it to. I’ve already been through the phase where I secretly wanted everyone’s pity, but pretended like I didn’t. I pretended to be fine with my life circumstances when I was so very not. Then I dropped the facade and just openly complained about the impossibility of it all (still do this some…). But what if I could truly just be ok with where I’m at? There are some real benefits. I’m getting to ride on a regular basis – last week I jumped cross country for the first time and I can’t even describe how insanely happy that made me. I actually had three lessons last week! I rode in a show jumping clinic with Kira Conner, a CIC** eventer out of North Carolina, on a cheeky pony that has scope for daaays. Then I did a little dressage test with the OTTB mare I later rode on Friday for xc and she was a star for that as well.
Did I mention I’m back at the stable where I first sat on a horse 15 years ago, all of 10 minutes from my house? And my instructor is someone I rode with in 4th grade? It’s a small world folks.
I’m making monies working at an independent health foods store, and I get to help people everyday. Of course, there are the people who come in two minutes before closing, or who call the store and launch into a diatribe about their bowel movements…  but there’s also the little girl who’s using some of our loose herbs in the rice bags she’s selling to offset the costs of a school exchange trip to Japan (!!) in October. And the vegan or gluten free customers who can’t find a certain grocery item anywhere else. And the regulars who, as soon as they walk in, you can tell them whether we have their supplements in. Or passers-through who just have incredible life stories and they happen to share a snippet with you.
Then there’s the fact that I kinda-sorta have a dog. Well the benefits of one at the moment, without the responsibility or costs. I walk/run with her most mornings, and as a Husky, she has been thoroughly enjoying the recent temperature drop we’re having in the Midwest. One of the things I love about it is that it gets me moving and outside first thing. There’s still dew on the lawns of my tree-lined neighborhood and the sun makes us squint and warms my skin when we’re walking back.  She’s taken to looking for me and will lay at the end of her house keeping an eye on either my or the bathroom window. While I know her enthusiasm is more for the walk than for me, I still can’t help but laugh and get more excited as she spins in circles (and still occasionally tries to jump on me… sigh… work in progress) and starts whimpering when she feels I’m not moving fast enough.
There’s also all the time I’ve had to learn more about myself; through therapy, through researching narcolepsy, keeping up with current events (although those can be just as depressing as my own vicious little circles…), learning more about the Myers Briggs system, the Enneagram, Spiral Dynamics and other systems. I’m figuring out what my habits are – beneficial and not-so-helpful. I’m working on my self-esteem, becoming more involved with my community, reading books, going through all of accumulated stuff from over the years.

I’m not doing so bad anymore.

Even that is scary to admit, because I think I assume by naming that, I can’t have any more bad days. Or that stating that will call forth more shit. But I’m thinking too far into the future again – something I am incredibly good at, for better and worse. Right now, I am well. I am content. I’m still keeping an eye out for the proverbial Next Opportunity, but I don’t need to go blindly chasing after it. I’ve started reading Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, and just read the part about mentors, wherein countless young women will explicitly ask (sometimes) random people “will you be my mentor?”

Now, I want a mentor as much as the next person. I’ve never asked someone if they would be/are my mentor, but I’ve done it with opportunities: I will literally ask myself if this is my next big thing. Nine times out of ten, when I’ve had to ask that, I’m trying to make it something it’s probably not. The most influential opportunities/decisions I’ve had, I didn’t need to ask. I either knew it was, or went in with no expectations. To be clear, that’s not lowered expectations, but none, and it’s helped create some of my best experiences, or ‘lead-in’ opportunities because whatever it is, is enough. Point being, I know how to just be and ‘catch’ big possibilities that come near me with forcing it, but doing that on a daily basis is more challenging. I’m making a concerted effort because where I’m at and who I am right now must be enough, otherwise I’ll spend more time in the mindset of my last several posts here, which only creates more of the same.

Here’s to succeeding, surely failing, and then succeeding again at being enough.

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Chasing stats and other distractions

Not long after publishing two days ago, I got my first like. There’s always that giddy feeling of someone else acknowledging whatever you just threw out on the internet. Before long, there was another one. More affirmation! And then a third, a fourth – I found myself going back and forth between clicking the little bell and then checking various versions of my overall statistics. I had x views in June, and then improved that in July. I checked the past several weeks – each week had been better than the last. I can do this, I can make it. I just have to make a schedule, stick to it, start researching and planning out some topics I want to teach everyone about.

Yesterday was much of the same, but it didn’t feel as sparkly. I went through and visited the sites of everyone who liked my rambling about authenticity and no bullshit. Deep, esoteric thinkers, raw photographers, story tellers, poets and lifestyle/travel bloggers  that I’ll probably continue to stalk a bit and then decide to follow. But do I follow everyone, one at a time – would I leave anyone out? None, is it too soon?

The excuse of overthinking

Too, too much overthinking. Too, too much going on; that I see, hear, want to comment or write something about, do something about. I’ve spent much of the last year and a half with not enough: social interaction, money, energy, independence, gratitude, joyful experiences, purpose. Lately I’m having trouble deciding what my priorities are, and as a result have a dozen things juggling at once. Which is better than randomly accepting commitments as I used to, trying to be busier than everyone else. I am entirely past that, thank God, though I still have some second guessing guilt with each “no.”

I don’t want to be that busy anymore, ever again. As I state that though, I have an online puzzle waiting for me, and an unfinished podcast about marketing manipulation paused because I was wanting to write up some of my takeaways. And here I find myself.

It reminded me of how inundated I am with messages and knowledge from all corners of everywhere, in my pursuit of “learning” and how I bounce from thing to thing when I’ve consumed it but, having not processed it, can’t apply it yet. I get incredibly frustrated when, later I may try to explain the concept to someone and find that my understanding isn’t enough to relay it externally. In response, I go learn something else, consume another thing, I suppose hoping that this time it’ll just stick. Shitty cycle. I don’t know if that makes any sense, but it (kind of?) does to me.

Gotta publish by x time

I’m leaving my house soon, and already found myself battling the inner dialogue of “hey, if you publish this just before you leave, you can look at stats when you get back!” What’s my motivation for that? It doesn’t matter when I share shit (so, no idea yet). There’s also the worry that I won’t finish this if I leave it because it’s a little (lotta) all over the place. This is so damn uncomfortable because I’m the one who knows what I want to say, knows what I’m doing, can answer any myriad of questions or help you with any number of tasks. I know how to write something of decent quality, convince an audience of my point of view or educate a listener. I’m not doing any of that right now. I’m making up random tags, holding back on the ‘discover’ one because isn’t that a little too self-promotional right now?, and creating subheadings that have nearly nothing in common with what follows them.

Put it in a journal…

Yea, maybe I should. Safer there. I don’t know if my desire to share this sort of post stems from desperately wanting validation or if I think there’s utility in my mess. Makes me wonder how it would change; two posts of this ‘style,’ if I can call it that, is hardly enough to assume anything. Maybe in a couple weeks I’ll change this back, sweep out my dusty confusion and dribbling emotion and exchange it for a logo, marketing strategy, professional pictures and some sort of “product.”

The above just reeks of self-deceit right now; I’ve tried it and in no way was ready. I applaud those who are doing this authentically right now, in the near future, or have done it in the past. I felt like a fraud, incompetent, and beyond that, it just felt not right. At the very least, I’ve learned to trust that. Icky as this is, it seems a bit more right… I think.

Spooked

I happen to be a hyper-aware person and am typically not someone who can be “got.” When I gather myself up and decide to paint at home, I’ve always got one ear and eye on the two doors in our spare room. I’m almost never home completely alone, so I’m always anticipating my mother or sister to either ask what I’m doing or, worse, just walk up and look. What’s the big deal though? I think it’s because my painting skills are so far behind my drawing skills (which are burnt out honestly) that I don’t want anyone to see these beginning stages… Though as I say that, I’m using one of these doodles for the featured photo, content to share it to however many handfuls of strangers. It could also be that I assume family or anyone who knows me off the internet would see this as a poor use of time; which I don’t particularly care about per say, but I don’t want to hear about it. So, mainly avoidance it appears.

greens and yellows

I thought until recently that this “one eye open” behavior might be true for all situations, but I recently discovered at least one place where I am comfortable enough to be spooked. If that sounds confusing, then my younger sister would agree with you. I unintentionally scared her the other day, and after her yelp of protest (and my apology) I quipped that it was a good thing because it meant she was enough at-ease to be caught off guard. She still didn’t understand, and maybe I’m making this whole thing up.

Whether I’m at home, in the car, at a friends, or a public place, I couldn’t tell you the last time someone said “gotcha!” to me. In the past month or so, it turns out my place of employment may be the exception. I usually have a book with me and when whichever coworker I’m with that day goes on her break, it’s easy for me to get lost in my story. To the point that even if I’ve just glanced up to check if a customer is about to come in, the bell has me jumping about off my stool. At first I was embarrassed, but really, what’s the big deal? I’m enjoying my book! I’m relaxed! Something I am perpetually working on.

Like sharing my thoughts. It’s so easy to say no, this isn’t worth it. What’s the point? I’ve written about this so many times you’d think by now I’d either have quit or gotten over it, but nope, I still wonder if I’m contributing anything of value. Whether it’s on Medium, Facebook, a discussion or random comment on another blog. What could I possibly contribute that hasn’t already been said?

I get spooked, convince myself it’s not worth it. Then I’ll find a spark of inspiration, state I’m changing my ways, join something new, write about something else, think I’ve got something figured out. And then the familiar insecurity sidles back up to my side with a shiver. It seems I’m always on the verge of action in so many areas, but that I can’t quite reach it for any of them. Or I skip five steps ahead mentally and find myself surprised that I’m physically in the same place, as if I can’t believe that didn’t translate.

Then there’s the opposite: I haven’t gathered enough information to write on this! Or I need to write an epic to do it justice (who would read that anyway?), and I don’t have time for that or can’t get into a flow long enough to create some masterpiece. Or find the right tags to promote it – not that I would do that anyway. It’s all so silly, but I find it important. Whether it’s important for it’s own sake or because I want to follow some special protocol for success is likely another part of my problem.

TL/DR: I’m just another human whose blog is not going how they envisioned it because their life is not going quite as they envisioned it. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing; said human just isn’t sure how much of their soul they want to bare, if it would be of any use to anyone, and how they want to go about doing it.

This Twisted Web

abstractish.jpgAnother piece of ‘art’ courtesy of yours truly.

Let’s set the stage. I’ve currently got over $60,000 of student debt to pay back before I die. The reasons for that amount are their own story. Had I got into nursing school my freshman year of college, or applied to OT school after my junior year (and made it in, and graduated, and then got a job), I might have more or less loans, but I’d likely be able to pay them off in due time. If I were working as a full-time recreation therapist, having not gone to OT school, the progress would be a bit slower, but still achievable.

Instead of getting references and GRE scores near the end of my junior year, I was served with a incurable chronic illness diagnosis and some medication Rx’s.

And now, in spite of some more Rxs’, I can only work part-time. I can’t do that as a recreation therapist – if I end up making too much I can say goodbye to my Medicaid health coverage, which is enabling me to work in the first place. However, I’m also not making enough to comfortably take on all of my student loans, and this is while living at home.

How am I expected to escape this web? Watching the progress of the latest healthcare massacre bill, I’ve nervous. What’s going to happen to me? Maybe I won’t lose my healthcare immediately, but what about a few years down the road? I still won’t be working full-time as far as I know, so I won’t be able to get employer insurance. And without those essential medications, I regress. I can’t concentrate or remember things, and then it becomes difficult to stay awake. Not just difficult, impossible. I remember falling asleep while standing up, during conversations, dazedly walking from here to there and not remembering how that happened.

I remember desperately running stairs, pinching and scratching myself, eating or drinking, anything to stay awake. And usually failing; unable to concentrate because everything about me is just.so.tired. and then getting to the point where cataplexy is inevitable. Not feeling like anyone believed me, and questioning whether I was, in fact, making it either worse than it was or making something out of nothing. The depression that whispers at first and sounds inviting, but only wraps you in a cold blanket of self-loathing or numbness.

I know I’ve written this all before, likely multiple times, but I think it’s because I’m still trying to make sense of it. Myself had no idea what was going on and truly believed I was causing my own problems. I coped in every way I could possibly find, and a lot of those were not healthy. I try to revisit this time period, to learn from it, and find that it’s hard – I cannot stay long because it feels suffocating, overwhelmingly sad and dire. I’ve obviously got some processing to do, but I’ve come so far in the last few months. I can’t lose that, whether it’s to my loans or job or insurance.

Reality may hit sooner than I’d like. Here in a little over a year, this unicorn of a job that was literally placed in my lap, with an amazingly compassionate manager could be gone. With an aging owner in another state, this local health foods store has been picked apart by large chain competition also has an expensive lease that will be counterproductive to renew. What then? Grad school, to do what, escape? Or pile on more loans? Start my own business, but with what saved up?

I’d love to get out of the web, but with no ground, branches, or anything in site, I don’t know which way to jump. If it were just me I had to worry about, it might (or might not) be easier, but my jump will inevitably create ripples or waves for others. Dwelling on it doesn’t help me, as I’ve learned the hard way, but I think acknowledging and giving it a voice on my own terms does.

All in Good Time

IMG_2442.JPGHonestly, the lion has nothing to do with the title. Beyond the fact that I hate searching out stock photos just to get some clicks, but I also intensely desire having a visual of some sort (if it’s my own). Thus,  a lion drawing, sketched from a picture… I did not take.

Silent nearly 6 months, and here I am. I gained a job in January and lost the job by April. Gained another therapist, but lost my insurance again the same week I was “let go.” Thankfully, unintended medication vacation lasted about 5 days this time, compared to over a week back in December. I gained employment thanks to earlier-gained therapist in June, so happy birthday to me. Not as a recreation therapist this time, nor full-time. I’m an associate at a health foods store, working about 20 hours a week, and it suits me just fine right now.

I’ve been in such a hurry for I-don’t-know-how-long. I thought I was past this and had slowed down after graduating last year, was taking time for self-care and recovery, but that’s where I had myself fooled. My mind is at least two leaps beyond both my body and immediate circumstances. After listening to a podcast I’ve been considering where I’m at in relation to three systems: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Covey’s Dependent/Independent/Interdependent relationships, and the Graves model.

Maslow

It has been a long time since I’ve looked at my man Abraham’s pyramid. Not as long as I had originally thought (high school??) however, because I recall trying to explain the concept to my patients in the inpatient psych unit during a group earlier this year. As an unrelated aside, it wasn’t a hit, which I am now realizing is probably due to my patients and I being at different Graves levels. Ah, hindsight.

And where am I? Almost entirely in level two, aka safety. I have shelter (though I’m not always welcome in it), but for the past year and a half my health, job, finances and security have been constantly shifting around on the cracked base of my eating habits and (literally) broken sleep.

Covey

In his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” Stephen Covey talks about the paradigm that all of our relationships fluctuate between dependence, independence and interdependence. Take our relationship with our parents for example and you’ll get what I mean. The fact that I am once more dependent upon my mother is a tough pill to swallow. The other relationship this is applicable to is my chronic illness: I’ve been dependent on narcolepsy’s whims for longer than I realized, and too many times I’ve tried to separate myself from it before I was ready. Each time I’ve tried to “forget” about it, or think that I’m somehow “better,” my reality is usually checked in short order and I am once again dependent on sleep’s whims.

Problem is, it’s not going away. I’m still learning to work with it and not think of it as something that must be overcome.

Graves

I’m too lazy to include a link to explain the Grave’s model right now, but in short, it’s a way of looking at societies as a whole, or yourself. You can zoom in or out as much as you please. I’ve deduced that mentally/cognitively, I’m a lot higher than where I’m at physically. And by that, I don’t mean my body, but my environment and surroundings. So my mind doesn’t really mean shit if my home life, family and community are three levels different. I’ve got to work from where I’m at.


And that leads to where I’m talking about everything happening in good time. Time is an abstract and completely subjective concept anyways, so why measure it right now? I can’t manipulate it to my will and rushing it has only tripped me up. I’m working on being kinder to myself, and kindness has no deadlines or timestamps.