Monday, September 22, 2014

Betcha thought I was done talking about depression...

It's now been several weeks since my depression coming out post.  The input from those close to me was overwhelmingly positive, but I received so many messages on Facebook from people I only know vaguely that it struck me in a powerful way.

Sharing my story is a little bit scary. For a variety of reasons.

Sometimes people don't know that talking about the feels one has when s/he is depressed is more about processing than actually intending any harm to oneself, and can result in the 'welfare checks,' those 'I'm suddenly totally interested in you because you kind of scare me but we're not super close so this is awkward' interactions that arise when depression talk raises red flags.  Such interactions, while well intended, can often leave a depressed person thinking, "Will I always be on psych watch?" and wondering if 'normal' will ever be attainable again.  A promising outlook, eh?

Other times, non-depressed people will try to relate, sharing a story from a grieving period or this situation or that, and then say, "But you know, it wasn't like I needed meds or anything!"  Tell me there is no stigma surrounding people with chronic mental illness.

But, I've weighed the options, and folks, there are so many people suffering in silence that all the generic advocacy and prevalence statistics in the world won't help.  No, it is the real stories that move people.

So, in bits and pieces I'm going to share my experience with depression.  If any of you out there have your own stories, I encourage you to pipe in and help in shining light on a grossly misunderstood health issue.

Anyway, up until this recent episode, I'd always brushed off my depression as situational.

That time I spent the whole night eyeing a bottle of Tylenol at age 13, knowing that overconsumption of acetaminophen would shut down my liver?  Surely that was due to the family turmoil going on - divorce, financial stresses, substance abuse, and absent father (just to name the big issues) - let alone the hormonal havoc of puberty.

The fall of my junior year at CSU when I just couldn't keep it together? I was certain that birth control pills (and the resulting 65 lbs I'd gained in just over a year on my newly recovering bulimic frame) were upsetting my neurochemistry, but as a newlywed was not willing to open myself up to the risk of a pregnancy.  So the menage of therapy, meds (Prozac this time) and I were introduced - and yes, my mood stabilized, but the side effects put a huge damper on the bedroom.  So, 6 months later, after much consultation, we decided I would go off birth control and Prozac, and other contraceptive methods were meticulously employed.  Except that one time.  Hello, Kelsey!

The following 6 years?  I blamed that largely on the Plan B turn my life had taken, dreams being ripped from my hands, a marriage that was fairly unhappy for various reasons, two post-partum periods, and a really bad financial outlook.  I figured if I couldn't change those things, what was the point of medicating?  All the depressing factors of life would still be there.

In 2006, I took a really bad turn.  Some of the hard issues we struggled with in our marriage resurfaced and I just couldn't deal.  A new job gave me the added bonus of an Employee Assistance Program, so the therapy I'd begged and pleaded for in the past was no longer "too expensive," and I re-enlisted.  I also sought medication, because the thoughts of ending my life had shown up again.  Knowing I had two small children that would be haunted forever if I took that route shook me enough that I started talking with my PCP again.

Due to the nature of our marital struggles, I was not willing to go back to Prozac and face the consequences of a nonexistent sex drive.  So Effexor and I began dating.  Again, my mood stabilized.  Seth and I started to deal with the marital wounds we had long inflicted upon one another, and things were looking up fairly quickly.  But then, I started getting these... brain hiccups?  I've no other way to describe them than that - it was like a physical sensation, that discomforting feeling of hard hiccups that hurt your ribs, only in my brain.  It also had an electrical feeling about it, like my brain was shorting out.  It scared the heck out of me, and after a year of medicating, I decided to wean off Effexor because I was scared of the long-term ramifications.

I was good for about a year.  In the same sense that Eeyore is ok.  I was living a flatlined normal that I truly thought was life.  Various interventions, such as a diet rich in B vitamins, daily sun exposure, St. John's Wort, adequate sleep, etc., helped manage but never totally eliminated my depression, keeping it to a dull roar that I could "talk" over and slog through the daily functioning of life.  Whenever a life event rocked me, I didn't hold tightly to my regimen, or for no apparent reason at all, my depression would come on stronger out of the blue.

In 2008, I crashed again.  This time, I'd noticed some pattern to my "episodes," and realized I was struggling most in the early spring.  That's it, Seasonal Affective Disorder.  It's the daylight, not anything long-term and chronic.  Nothing that made me totally defective, just seasonally so.  Back to a traditional SSRI, but not Prozac.  This time I went on Lexapro because my doc felt I would experience fewer side effects.  It was the same song, different verse as far as the side effects went, which resulted in me weaning off.  Again.

In 2009, my whole life changed.  I went from being a WOHM to a SAHM, had another baby, had a near fatal pneumonia with more complications than most people care to follow, the economy tanked, and our finances suffered greatly.  The depression was a slow, constant erosion in my mind.  Plus, the mental noise (the constant negative thinking) had new fodder; if I hadn't wracked up all that medical debt we wouldn't all be suffering so.  Unmedicated, I was stuck in a horrible cycle of avoiding the Hard Things (i.e. seemingly insurmountable debts, the isolation of SAHMotherhood, etc.), which made All the Things snowball out of control, which made me feel even worse about myself.

For 5 years I battled through this, unmedicated, again.  My circumstances camouflaged the evidence that I have chronic depression.  Again, I was slogging through, "passing" for functional but slowly starting to crumble from the steady wearing down inside.  It was during this time that I felt my cognitive functioning go downhill.  It seemed I couldn't remember anything, and I felt as if each day I dumbed down a little bit more.  This killed me as my early identified "bright" intellect has been part of my identity as long as I can remember; it was the thing about myself that garnered attention and made me feel special.  Without it, who was I?

This winter I went back to work and things were really looking up.  But even still, I found myself sinking lower.  I couldn't turn off my mental noise, and was battle-fatigue exhausted from the silent, constant combat in my mind every day.  Somehow, when I found myself thinking the Unthinkable Things more and more, and realized that I wasn't immediately shutting those thoughts down, my rational self knew it was time for help again.

Therapy.  Check.

Exercise.  Check.

Meds.  Check.

And I am saying hello to a stronger self in the mirror every day.  And the dumbing down?  So not an imagined occurrence.  Science proves my experience was very real.  (link is eluding me but I'll update when I find it.)

Now that I've found the right med, I am committed to lifelong treatment.  For this cloud has accompanied me all my life.  Upon initially arriving at that commitment, guilt sprang up as I worried about the damage to those I love that I incurred in my search for the right medicine.  But, I squashed that thought (with the newfound clarity Wellbutrin has afforded me) with this takeaway: I did the best I could with what I knew at the time, and that's all we can ask or expect from each other.

To those I love and who love me: thank you for your patience, concern, and grace.  They buoyed me throughout this journey more than you could ever possibly know.  Thank you for being my life support.  I love you all!

To those who are still looking for the best way to manage their demons - you are not alone!  Please reach out.  If not to a professional, to a friend who will get you hooked up with the help you need.  And if you are in the process of getting help, but just need the support of someone who gets it, I'm always hear to listen.

Don't suffer in silence.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

All's well that ends well...

I am a rare bird amongst most of my friends.

No.  

Really.

Shocking, I know, right?

A love to eat good food is common to us all, but the desire and demonstrated ability to make good food is something of a lost art with many (though not all) of my 30-something, mommyish friends.

Now, I will admit, I have not always been a culinary prodigy - it just sort of happened over time.

As the tried and true recipes in my inventory got repeated, I got brave and started eyeballing measurements instead of getting all the cups and spoons out.  Then I started getting creative, adding spices that "I bet would be good with that," and before I knew it, the go-to recipes I knew so well became my recipes with a ton of adaptations.  Many of which I don't write down and so, it's always something of an adventure when it comes to recreating the yummiest versions.

Over time, I have become rather haphazard in the kitchen and my cooking has become increasingly extemporaneous.  Especially when necessity has forced me to use only the staples on hand over recent years.

And those little forays don't always work out.

Last night was such a night.  In my meal planning, I'd forecast salisbury steak for our dinner.  It's a standby meal at casa del Meyer regardless of which unrecorded iteration I've put on the table.  Seeing I was low on the usual potatoes, which would normally be served mashed, I thought, "Cauliflower mashes well - I have several bags in the freezer.  That's what I'll do instead."  Mind you, I'd never actually made mashed cauliflower, but I thought, surely it couldn't be too hard.

Heh.

So, on the tail end of my daily, 25 mile round-trip mad dash from work to the bus stop, to cross country pick up, to home, (phew! yes, EVERY. DAY.) the relentless witching hour that is two middle school siblings intent on making each other's existence miserable plus one 5 year old exhausted from full day kindergarten was in full swing.  I started cooking, trying to ignore the wailing and injurious sarcasm flying through the room, and was on pace to have dinner on the table by 6:15 - a record thus far into the school year!

I threw the cauliflower into the microwave to cook, took it out and started to mash.  The white veggies were resistant to my efforts.  Ok, I'd get my Ninja out.  Threw the cauliflower in, along with the assumed proportions of water, butter, and whole milk, whizzed that baby up.  And got white, gritty paste.  I tried a few more efforts to save it, but to no avail.

Hmmm....it was now 6:40.

Into the freezer I turned and came up with peas.  To go with the glazed carrots I already had.  So we had salisbury steak with glazed carrots, buttered peas, and slices of (whole grain) white bread with butter.  It worked.  The fam loved it but I was just a little meh.

But I still had a Ninja full of cauli-paste and I hate wasting food...HATE it.  Especially when we're in the middle of a pay period and I only go to the grocery store when we get paid.

So I culled the pages of my mental cookbook (and actually, due more to Colton's request for cauliflower soup) this recipe came to mind.  It is SO GOOD.  My kids request it.  Often.

So dinner for today was planned.

Except that I didn't have chicken stock.  (but I had bouillon!)

Or celery. (but I had dried celery flakes!)

Or onions. (but I had onion powder!)

See also: How the Spice Cabinet Saved Dinner.

So this soup would be of questionable origins.  But fingers crossed!

Then, because it didn't have enough substitution going, I realized tonight that we had no protein, something the Mister thinks is no bueno.  I wracked my brain, thinking maybe sandwiches - but then, no because the kids needed that stuff for lunches this week.  I finally lighted on a pound of Jimmy Dean Natural Sausage - no paid endorsements here, I just LOVE that sausage.  The flavor is amazing and there is no MSG!!  Sausage gravy, Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana, oh, yes, this creamy sausage pairing would be a good match.  Paired with a beer bread mix I had sitting in the pantry, mmmm.  I was drooling.


And oh, my heavens, yes, yes, YES!

I love it when a crazy adaptation works well :)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

I so did not see this one coming...

After the heavy of last week's post, I'm going to offer you something a little lighter today...equally mindblowing, but much lighter ;)

But before I do so, I'd be majorly remiss if I did not make this following statement:  Thank you, loves!  Thank you to those with whom I've long been acquainted, thank you to those I'm just getting to know, and thank you to those I don't know at all.  Your feedback has been overwhelmingly supportive, bolstering me to write more freely, well, to write more, period.  And yet, some of the confessional conversations that followed that post have further reaffirmed my stance that:
... as grateful as I am for those sideline nuggets of affirmation, these hallway assents to truth in hushed voices, these are the truths that need to be testified boldly, bravely, up front and center, and from people who've experienced the darkness and its unrelenting pursuit for their souls to shake the scales regarding depression from the eyes of everyone...
So, there is more to come on my journey witht depression and my counterpoints to some of the more conventional stigmas that may be out there.  Stay tuned.

For now, though, I bring you a plot twist that my younger self would never have anticipated.

I have somehow become a morning person.  What is happening?!?  I used to subscribe to truisms such as this:



Oh, I still love to sleep in.  Love to stay up late, love to cuddle up in the evening and unwind, but that's just it.

Whereas in the past I would just begin to get my energy in the evening and start grandiose projects (and finish them, even), I now am winding down in the evenings and, increasingly more, find myself yawning at 9:00pm.

I AM ONLY 35!!!  HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?!?!

In case I wasn't ready to admit defeat, I give you the overwhelming evidence of this transformation, by the numbers of this morning.
  • 5:30 am - 1 alarm, 1 snooze button pushed
  • 5:36 am - 1 rebuff of the snooze button's grace, I couldn't sleep and got up before claiming those extra 4 minutes of sleep
  • 2 pubescent middle schoolers awakened
  • 1 lb of sausage, 1 bag of hash browns, and 9 eggs scrambled and set to cook on the stove.
  • 1 load of dishes unloaded that's a lie - that was simply wishful thinking - didn't actually happen
  • 18 breakfast burritos assembled, individually wrapped and placed in the freezer to grab and go later this week
  • Supervision of 2 kid lunches being packed (this is an improvement over the last 2 weeks where I ended up making them!)
  • 3 humans fed (the aforementioned 2 pubescent kids, and 1 husband)
  • 1 cross country uniform found, when the plaintive cry of, "Mom, I can find my uniform," was heard, despite my urging said child to get it ready last night.
  • 1 book order signed
  • 2 school picture orders signed
  • 1 XC spirit wear order signed
  • 4 checks written for all orders listed above
  • 2 kids out the door on time (6:30 am)
  • 1 reluctant kindergartener awakened (while he loves school, he asked if he could have just one day skipped this morning.  Uhm, no), dressed and fed
  • 2 adult lunches packed
  • 1 kindergarten lunch packed
  • 1 bus stop dropoff
  • 1 margarita chicken freezer meal dumped into the crockpot
  • 2 fingers crossed that it still resembles the original contents after a day of slowcooking
  • 1 harried woman fed, showered*, dressed and made up.  *showered = dry shampoo applied, sponging off the smellies, and deodorant applied.  I can't do it all!
  • 1 blog post written
And off by 8:30 this morning.

Phew!

Where did this kind of productivity come from?

I have never, ever, considered myself a morning person in all my life.  But this is the third year of middle school mornings (which are ridiculously early, harmfully so according to this study) and like all great transitions, this switch toward diurnal living was facilitated by necessity. Also? Coffee. Obscene amounts of coffee consumed helps greatly.

I will be dead tired by 8:45.

A.M.


Friday, August 29, 2014

#thisistheface

My last post was a turning point - a point wherein I had resigned myself to a truth I'd been unwilling to embrace for a long time.

I have depression.

Long-term, never going away, incurable albeit manageable, depression.

In April, I knew that I needed to get help.  Again.  So I re-enlisted in therapy and made an appointment to see my primary care physician.  I'm happy to say that I found my "forever med" in Wellbutrin and am finding my old, "normal" self a bit more every day.

And now I have a recovery story to tell that isn't so much like some huge, dramatic Lifetime movie as much as it is me screaming to the public and anyone with ears to hear in my little communities around me that I am the poster child to illustrates the potential for a depressed person who goes unchecked because, "she seems to handle so much so well."


It's been 5 months.  I am doing great as the light at the end of the tunnel grows bigger and brighter and nearer every day.  So why say something, why feel compelled to evangelize about depression now?  I mean, it's not like I've never broached the subject before, but why so passionate now?

Because three things.

***********************************
Because of Robin Williams.

Glennon's response to the news of his death said everything I thought and felt for days:
When we mentally ill find out that one of us was taken, we feel sad, yes – but mostly we feel afraid. Monday night I was going about my business and all was well-ish and then I read the news and suddenly fell still and silent with fear. I felt shamed- like the universe had caught me red-handed with too much peace in my grubby little hands. Like I was getting too free and healthy and big for my britches and so I needed to be put in my place.
In the wake of Robin Williams' death, hundreds of bloggers weighed in and people opined on social media.  Some posts were compassionate.  Others were not, simply spewing opinions and unsound (some downright false) "facts" to huge channels, often Christian audiences.

And the ignorance must be fought.

*********************************
Then, because Sunday at church, (we're talking about Hard Things - one of the many things I love about my church - and how to deal, particularly with Addiction) we broached the topic of prescription drug abuse, you know painkillers, sleeping pills, hard core anti-anxiety drugs, etc., when somehow, antidepressants and other psychotropic meds got lumped into the mix and I felt my face go hot.

Seth was in another room prepping for the worship he was about to lead.  So I was on my own with this.

The room began to close in on me as I felt the judgment, the impending, "If people just choose joy/pray hard to God/insert some other well intended but horribly wrong mental health prosperity gospel" platitudes that would cause the familiar and all-too-dangerous echo of doubt begin to play in my head.

Comment after comment came from the audience about how we are quick to just ask for a pill instead of working toward recovery the "hard way," that people just want to be numb and escape their issues.

All of which I agreed with, as pertains to the root of addictions.  That's when it hit me, and my shame turned to indignance.  I raised my hand and said, "Excuse me," with a tone that came out more harsh than earnest, "but I think we need to be very careful in our comments and comparisons here.  People who abuse prescription medicines to achieve an altered state of mind, or high, is one thing.  People who take medicines, as prescribed, to effectively manage a brain disorder that is a medical condition is quite different."

My point was conceded and acknowledged, but then the conversation turned back to more of the same.

I sat there for a few moments, as my love for the individuals in the audience warred with my desire to scream, much like Jesus did at the moneychangers, that they were all very, very wrong and Had No Damned Idea .

Instead I left the room and sought solace in a bathroom stall where I let some silent sobs free.  Some women, wise to my struggles and recent return to living medicated, came in and supported me with words of validation.

Upon leaving the bathroom, class was over and several other ladies I love came and talked with me, again offering support in the hallway.  Later that day, two older women told me they appreciated my comment in class, that it needed said.

But beloveds, as grateful as I am for those sideline nuggets of affirmation, these hallway assents to truth in hushed voices, these are the truths that need to be testified boldly, bravely, up front and center, and from people who've experienced the darkness and its unrelenting pursuit for their souls to shake the scales regarding depression from the eyes of everyone in our churches.

And conversations need to be taking place.

*******************************************
Finally.

The third because is because yesterday I went to a funeral with my 6th grade son for one of the students at his school, who, at the tender age of just 13, intentionally, tragically gave his life up last Friday night.

It needs to be ok to be sad.  It needs to be ok to seek help.  It needs to be ok to ask someone if s/he needs help.  And it damned well needs to be ok to treat depression with meds if necessary.

We have to be kind.  And care for one another in word and in deeds.

And lives need to be saved.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Out of the darkness / And into the Son



Today was so full of symbolism, one might think I'd converted to Catholicism (not that there is anything wrong with Catholicism, folks, it's just that their faith practices seem so much more symbolic and mystical than the more literal Protestant takes on Christianity, in my very humble opinion).

As I laced up my shoes, hooked up the dog to the waist leash, and punched in the right sequences on my phone to start Pandora and MapMyRun, the emergent scents of spring - the willow's unfurling leaves, warming earth and greening grass - made it to my consciousness, whispering the hope of better days ahead.

It'd been cloudy all day - uncharacteristically overcast after such a gorgeous and clear spring day the day before.  But at about mile 2 of my totally spontaneous run*, I turned west toward the setting sun and realized, the clouds were all but gone as Kelly Clarkson's Breakaway triumphantly climaxed in my ears:
Out of the darkness and into the sun / But I won't forget the place I come from
* Totally tangential side-story: tonight I was supposed to go with my co-workers to this Nat'l Public Health Week networking event, and my husband and I finagled the schedule such that he got off work early and was able to pick up #3, drive #2 to LAX and pick #1 up from play practice in order to allow me this event.  It was nothing short of an act of Congress trying to get it all set-up, but alas! My co-workers all bailed for varying, and legit, reasons, so I found myself with some rare spare time, and took it to pound some pavement. 

So, I know you're dying to know, "What's with all the symbolism, Heather?  What does it MEAN?!?"  Or maybe not, since there is no "you" as readers anymore since I've blogged with the consistency of a hundred year drought in the past 4 years.

You see, it's been a hard week for me....for several weeks.

I've been fighting depression again, for who knows how long now.

Denial is a pretty powerful and destructive force to be reckoned with, because it got me good.   Again.

I can't put my finger on a particular trigger, or really say that I was cognizant of the symptoms picking up speed, I just know that I've been doing what I've always done, and soldiering on all by my lonesome.

The desire to sleep all the time?  Written off by the fact that it has remained just that, a desire.  I looked Depression in the eyes and said, "'Scuse me??  Do you not know who I am?  Moreover, what I am?  I am a Working Mom of Three, there is no rest for the weary, silly Depression!  What is this sleep thing of which you speak and who are you to dangle that in front of me when it's not even an option - stupid, that's who.  Yeah, Depression, you are Stupid."

As my daughter is prone to conclude when she's put forth a lacking argument, "So....yeah!"

I imagine Denial just chuckled knowingly and elbowed Depression in the ribs.  "We're a great team.  She ain't gonna know what hit her."

I guess I really started to see it in my concentration and focus.  My attention to detail was slipping, and it flustered me when I'd catch a mistake I'd made.  Stupid things like making scheduling mistakes in Outlook at work, or obvious (to me) edits that went uncaught.  I told myself perhaps I was just rusty, having been out of the working world for 5 years and it would take some time to get back in the swing of things.

I was ok.

I was on top of it.  Nothing to see here!

But then, the Thoughts came flooding in, mercilessly.

When I'd make one of those silly mistakes, my mental voice (not audible hallucinations, but you know that inner dialogue everyone has?  No?  Just me? Heh....) just wouldn't let up with the castigation; think the most brutal version of Mean Girls ever.  How could you be so stupid, I mean really, you're supposed to be smart, but Lord how you've dumbed down!  You'll never get it back, either.  Look at you, how you're trying so hard to rise above and "breakaway," but it's all for naught.  You're doomed to stay a white-trash nobody. 

And, it's not like I was so stupid and easily cowed over that I just believed everything I said in my head.  No, I raised my shield and tried to wield the Word of God and interchangeably channel Stuart Smalley.  Nope, I am a precious Lamb, a diamond in God's eye.  My worth isn't in things, or deeds, or intellect.  I am valuable because I am who I was created to be!  I'm smart enough, I'm good enough, and gosh darnit, people like me!

But the Thoughts are relentless.  They almost never stop.  And it is exhausting trying to counter them with truth ALL THE TIME.

This mental exhaustion is what gets me Every Time.  It is the chink in my mental health armor that invariably lets some barb in that will wound me in some fashion.  And then, boom!   In come more Thoughts when I'm down and before long the really Dark Thoughts come.

Most of the time I recognize the Dark Thoughts as the deceptive bullies they are, but sometimes they are so cruelly convincing that I wonder if ever there could come a time that I would lose my solidarity and fall prey to them.  Because even though I am a Working Mom of Three and I know those little people DESPERATELY NEED me more than I can really grasp, sometimes the Dark Thoughts try to persuade me into thinking that I really am messing them up more than I am growing them into beings who will ultimately become well-adjusted adults, that they could be happier if I just freed them from the craziness that I have become, and on and on with the tormenting thoughts that pull at my mama heartstrings.  It seems so cruel that Depression would use a woman's very desire to be a good mother for her children and pervert it this way to use against her.  But that's the nature of the beast.  And, because it is my own mind fighting against me, there are other good things unique to me that Depression pits against me, knowing they are tender spots.

Depression is darkness.  As is Shame, Depression's all-too-often present sidekick.

But that's where I break the mold.

As shameful as Depression would have me feel about the fact that I have a dysfunctional brain, that I can't just "get over it," I am an over-sharer at the core.  Which is embarrassing sometimes, but more often than not, has led to many powerful moments where the other person says, "Me too."  These Me Too Moments have saved my life more times than I can count in my 34 years.  So here I am.  Sharing, in the event that this may be a Me Too to someone who hasn't yet vocalized their struggle and happen across this page.

and because I am a Kelly Clarkson groupie, singing:
Everybody's got a dark side / Do you love me? /Can you love mine?
So, all of that to say, that tonight was the first night in a long time that I felt hope instead of despair, that I felt the promise of Spring and the assurances of my God that behold, He is making New Life!

So with that, I'm out of the closet (of depression, y'all!).  Navigating some options to take care of this, trying to put one foot in front of the other every day.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Behind the eight-ball...but it's all good!

So here I sit, almost 3 weeks since my last blog post - when I'd determined to write more frequently this year - and still yet to start the online bible study Made to Crave that started on the 19th.

But there's no self-flagellation this time, for I have two VERY GOOD REASONS for the silence.

1.) I've been more socially connected IRL (also a goal for the year as I spent a good portion of last year wanting to crawl into fetal position and hide from life).  I've been hanging out with girls from my MOPS group, seeing the bestie regularly, and all around investing more in lives of the folks I care about.

2.) I had a BIG INTERVIEW via phone on the 9th for a job I'd been praying about.  Followed by a face-to-face interview on the 13th.  I put a lot of prep time into these interviews as they were for a position I felt COULD BE THE ONE, you know, that forever job I would love and still be able to balance family with because it was only 3/4 time and amenable to school hours?  Yeah, that perfect storm was brewing, so I was miserly with my time and didn't get around to blogging.  The rest of that week was spent being busy so that I couldn't think about the wait...though I got an inkling that this would work out Thursday when my mentor/former boss texted that she'd been contacted for a reference and proceeded to rave about my abilities to them; this happened again in an e-mail Friday night from a fellow long-time non-profiter.  Sidenote: I have an amazing village of women in my life - locally and in my computer - and I am so blessed for each and every one of you!

Monday was MLK Jr. Day, and thus, another long wait that about drove me crazy (or maybe that was just having all three kids at home with little planned to do).  Tuesday morning, I got the kids all back to school, save for the girl child as her school had a special IB planning day much to the chagrin and "No fair"s of her brothers, and tried (unsuccessfully) not to will my phone into action.

At 9:48 am, my phone buzzed alive and caller ID showed the organization's number.  This was it.  The yes or no call.

I quickly told Kelsey to quiet the TV, this was about The Job, took a deep breath before answering, and kind of held it as the hiring supervisor introduced herself and did the whole "The reason why I'm calling is" preamble.  Then when she finally go the the part where she said, "And, I'd like to offer you the position," I breathed at last and this burden of the past 11 months' joblessness just fell off my shoulders while my soul simultaneously screamed silent gratitude to God.

I went in for my first day Thursday.  Yeah, consider that.  This time last week I didn't even know if I'd have a job, and now I've already got two days under my belt.  That is mind-boggling to me, still.  So the rest of Tuesday was filled with lots of squeeing on Facebook and also arranging morning care for the littlest guy (since he's only in pre-school in the afternoons), filling out transportation requests for him, and getting info to the school about the two ladies who are going to help watch him in the mornings so that they are authorized adults. Then I had to catch up all the housework so that everything was functioning come Thursday morning. It was insane how quickly Tuesday and Wednesday went by.

And the job - wow.  I just couldn't be happier or more blessed.

Despite only working 30 hours/wk, the organization considers that full-time for benefits purposes, so my portion of the premiums for medical, dental and vision are FULLY COVERED, and the family rate is affordable enough that we will all subscribe to my plan.  Also?  It is effective immediately.  No 90 day waiting period as is customary with many local employers.  Thus, we are happy to report that the rush to make sure we are in compliance with the Affordable Care Act mandate for coverage is over.

My schedule is 8:30-3:00 M-F which means I get home before my kids are done with school, so except for Christopher, not much is changing for the kids' time with me.

But the most amazing, makes-me-feel-so-grateful-and-see-God's-hand part in it?  Is the organizational culture.  It is CLEAR from a policy standpoint as well as the staff interactions that this is a place that values their employees and makes them aware of that at every turn.  The result is so much positive energy that I can't help smiling all day long.  I really have enjoyed getting to know my supervisor's personality and style, and am happy to report that we "click" very well.  On Friday, she and her boss, the medical director of the organization, met with me to go over more of the job duties and functions and they stressed to me how open and willing they are to send me to trainings that will help me grow and develop deeper skills helpful to my position.  I left the meeting feeling nurtured and ready to thrive.

2014 is off to a great new start!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

"You and I, we're like diamonds in the sky.."

Credit: DIKMA
So...

Turns out, I have a pretty amazing husband.



This is not news to me, per se, I mean, eighteen years {fifteen of them married - we are getting O L D} with a person go by and you kinda should know what you got, amiright?

But this past week, I'm seeing him with renewed appreciation.  He shines brighter than ever.

He works a physically taxing job, despite a significant level of chronic pain, 10 hours a day, 5-6 days/wk. And then spends his Saturday doing the same job in a neighbor's garage to "help them out."  The man lives out Colossians 3:23 daily, doubly inspiring and blessing me as a result.

He is an active and engaged father - and his love speaks to our kids in ways mine can't.  He's the dad that is out playing with all the kids at church/school functions while the other parents socialize.  Currently, he's teaching a Wednesday night boys' class at our church, grades K-6 {what a spread!} and more boys are writing God's word on their hearts than I've seen in awhile.

He's a grade A smart mouth - which means he's quick, maddeningly so at times - and he entertains us all with his quips.  He's especially good at musical parody and can lighten a room's mood up almost instantaneously.

Even though gifts are not my love language, he still spoiled me above and beyond what I'd spent on him at Christmas with gifts that were thoughtful and just want I wanted/needed.  This was especially touching because I hadn't really communicated any ideas to him on account of I didn't really care what he got me because it is our time together, his praise and affections that mean the most to me.  He just knows me that well.

I love that his embrace totally envelopes me and his shoulders so readily absorb my tears when my demons try to breach their containment.  That over time, he's learned not to talk and explain away my feelings, but to hold me tight and soothe my pains as he patiently rides the wave of the moment with me.  That he's come to know my feelings are a whole process, and given time, I'll get over them.  And that his physical nearness and touch make me feel more secure in a world that's unpredictable and unfair.  Or when all is good and well, too ;)

But what really spoke to me, even though I hadn't specifically said I was low, is that he's astute enough to read between the lines -and then- act upon that intel.  I'm a words of affirmation girl, through and through, and the more people who hear/read them, the better I feel.  Typing that makes me feel incredibly shallow, like I'm a fisher of compliments, but it's more like the Proverb says:
Pleasant words are as a honeycomb, sweet to the mind and healing to the body 


^^^ That?  Is Serious Romance in the 21st century for the words of affirmation types, y'all.

Babe, you make me feel better, but moreover, you make me want to be better.  Here's to another wild and crazy year.  I love you.  You shine so much, but we shine brighter together, you and me.
When you hold me, I’m alive / We’re like diamonds in the sky**
** Yes, I know the song is about drugs.  But I'm claiming interpretive license here.