Moving

I’m looking for a new apartment. I don’t really want to move, not really. The reasons for moving are by far financially motivated. We do have issues with this place, and my daughter is the most unhappy here, but nothing here would prompt me to leave if I could more easily afford it.

When we rented this apartment, we were in a different financial space. Or… I should say, I thought we were. A lot of things have come to light in the past few months that lead me to believe that most everything I believed was not, precisely, true. But what is truth anyway, but something perceived. So I won’t go too deep just now into what I thought was true versus what I now believe to be true.

Regardless, I am looking for a new place.

What I find really interesting is how that theme seems to be creeping across my life in all areas. It’s not that I hate what is, or that I am motivated to move on to something different or better. I feel like I am being forced out of where I am.

My job, heh. I was so excited about this new job. But, as with all things, what was billed is not what I got. And that’s okay. But I just can’t do the hours or the stress. I thought I would be working in a fast-paced, patient-centered environment. What I got is a pressure-cooker of over-worked staff, just trying not to kill people with the pace and strain of too much work and not enough bodies or time to do it. Maybe I’m just getting old, but running around for 11+ hours a day is just too much for me. And If I’d known it would be like this, well… whatever. So, I’m looking for an exit.

But, trying to move while trying to survive a poor job choice? Not so fun. And I have, literally, no support. I feel like my movements throughout the days are just me being forced into choosing the least worst scenario.

I feel the same way about my social media presence. Because I am pretty much a hermit unless really motivated to get out (or more likely, by some miracle, not too exhausted to get out) most of my social interaction is online. My husband likes to sneer at my love of Facebook, but honestly, it’s where my friends and family are. Whatever.

But, I am so drained by what I see in the world. I just want to shut it all off. I feel like, there’s so little I can do, and so little hope that things will go well regardless of what I do or don’t do… it’s incredibly depressing. And so many of my friends, to their credit, work so hard on our global future, and it hurts me to see their efforts being swept aside by our new administration. I feel like I am being forced to choose between interacting with my friends and not drowning in negativity. If I take a break from social media, my life will contract so much. However, perhaps I will feel less like the world is a terrible place. I just don’t know.

I talk to counselors, and I get a lot of the same kind of double-speak. If you don’t want to see it, turn it off. If only it were that simple. I’m supposed to reach out when I need support, offer support where it’s needed by others… yet… turn off the spigot of news that comes along with all of that? It’s really not possible. Unless I move to a commune… and that’s unlikely.

My kids want my support and interaction, but don’t want to know how unhappy I am. I get that. But I want their support, too. It’s hard being a mom with strong daughters. I raised them to be independent… and they are.

I recently joined a pen-pal group. I decided I needed some non-political, non-judgmental interaction. And it’s sweet getting a card or note in the mailbox from someone who doesn’t know me at all, telling me how great it is to be able to communicate. I like it. I know that my own offerings are also appreciated.

I also recently went to the local college to see, realistically, what I might do with my many credits, how I could forge them into a degree that could lead to a well-paying job. The advisor seemed genuinely surprised when I asked her what degrees they offered lead to the greatest success for students. She didn’t think they tracked that.

She said, “I go to work and go home. I don’t really pay attention to what’s out there for jobs. I guess we offer these programs ( a few I had mentioned) because there is a need in the community, but I don’t know if our students are finding work.” She went on to say that in their allied health programs, the students are waiting, sometimes years, to gain entry to advanced degrees because it’s so competitive.

You could say I was disappointed.

What good is an advisor who has no idea how to guide her students? She DID tell me she would be happy to register me, though. I told her I would think about it.

Do I need a career counselor? A life counselor? I don’t really have the energy to plot my own best course right now, yet treading water is getting harder.
The things I’m good at don’t (apparently) pay the bills. Or the rent.

So while I am half-heartedly looking for a new apartment, I am also considering moving out of my current life, too.

Perhaps I WILL join that commune.

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Pushmi-pullyu

Dr. Dolittle had a creature that made him a lot of money, a pushmi-pullyu. This creature had two heads and two front bodies. The benefit was, the animal cold both eat and talk at the same time. The drawback was, it couldn’t decide which direction it wanted to go. No matter where it went, half of it was uncomfortable walking backwards. Therefore, it spent most of its time standing in one place. But that creature, on display, was a source of some pretty good income for Dr. Dolittle.

I have felt kind of the same way most of my life. Not the Dr. Dolittle way,exploiting outlandish creatures for profit. No, I have felt more like the pushmi-pullyu, forever trapped between coming and going, and watching others profit from my efforts.

There is a battle inside me. Dramatic? Probably. True? Definitely. I want opposite things in life. I want adventure and I want stability. The adventure side of me wants to travel, write, take chances, jump off cliffs (well, maybe not THAT one), etc. The stability side of me wants a 9-5 job, paycheck every 2 weeks, and the ability to know what’s going to happen next week, next month, next year.

Now, some people do have both. They have a steady job that pays well enough so they can vacation and travel and jump off cliffs. They can pay their bills without worry and can spend their free time being adventurous. They can take chances in their work because they are secure in their profession. They enjoy their profession, and therefore have the emotional energy to pursue other passions in their downtime.

I would say not many people have both, but they do exist.

Far more people have the stability. They have a regular job with regular pay and they go to work five days a week to pay the bills. They spend their downtime “recovering” from drudgery. They go on vacation once or twice a year to escape their regular life.

Some people have the adventure. They travel, they backpack, they scuba-dive – all over the world. They don’t have 9-5 jobs, and their income is either based on the results of their adventures, or (more likely) they have some family money behind them and can afford to live without a steady paycheck.

Of course, then there are the majority of us. We don’t have “good” jobs. We struggle every month to pay the bills. Our life is a never-ending series of adventures in poverty. We take chances by playing the lottery, spend our tax returns on frivolous enjoyment, and continually make choices that keep us in the hamster wheel of the service class.  And for most of us, we stay in that wheel our entire lives. So, what does all of this have to do with a fictional creature in a children’s book?

Everything.

We all have within us a duality. A sense of conflict between doing what we think we want and doing what we think we should.  Most people go their entire life with this feeling just a slow burn of small dissatisfactions. Perhaps they act out as teenagers, but eventually settle down. Perhaps they blow-out with a mid-life crisis, but then meekly put the pieces back together.

Some people just never settle down.  They never lose the strong sense that there is something else they should be doing, some greater cause to pursue.  A very few reach great heights because of family circumstance, good choices made with good guidance, or luck. The rest of that group tends to stay in low-paying jobs because those are the jobs that don’t tie you down.

Not everyone who flips hamburgers is an adventurer at heart, but I’d bet serious money there are more would-be adventurers selling you your morning coffee than doing your taxes.

Me? I’m spectacularly good at making no money. I rise to the top of every low-level job I take, because I am driven, ambitious, conscientious, polite and service oriented.  I am the “lead”, the “shift manager”. I am the “boss”, who isn’t really, ever, the boss. The service industry loves my type of worker, and I have always increased my employer’s profits. But I’ve never made anything close to a comfortable wage for myself.

I have been termed “underemployed” because I have a vast skill set, yet little to show for it. I have no degree, but have taken classes in nearly every discipline. I have aced creative writing, trigonometry, psychology and anatomy & physiology. I have tutored students who have gone on to good jobs with good money.

I have traveled and lived in much of the US and in Europe. I have been asked to speak at conferences all over the world. I am published. I have been front-page news in my local newspaper and middle-ish news in the Wall Street Journal. I have an outlandish CV.

And yet, I work in a service industry job in a health care facility. I can’t pay my bills with the paycheck I make.  I am exhausted at the end of each shift I work, and I can barely muster the energy to write a grocery list on weekends, let alone anything else.

Why?

I know I’m not alone. I know there are many, many people like me who have tasted what it’s like to live a life of grand adventure, but who seem stuck in the mire of poverty.

I don’t have the answer, because if I did, I would act. It’s not college. I’ve tried that. I love school. But I have never been able to “nail down” a major, something I can see myself doing for “the rest of my life”. It’s not about taking chances. I’ve done that. I’ve lept off the cliff and soared for a while, before both my life and I came crashing down. Is it laziness? I don’t know. I work 50+ hours a week, on my feet. If I were lazy, would I be able to do that? Is it mental illness? I seriously ask because I think it might be a little bit of depression and anxiety that holds me back.  I think there is a lot of truth in the last one.

Which brings me to Dr. Dolittle and his pushmi-pullyu.  I want to break out and do great things, but I want to stay safe and small, too. I haven’t been able to keep going in one direction before my other half takes over and drags me back. I haven’t stood still, far from it. But I seem to end up in the same place, regardless of how far or how long I run.

The funny thing is, I’ve never liked the Dr. Dolittle books. Never. Even as a little kid with a voracious reading appetite, I just didn’t like them. And the character I hated the most?  Shocker: the pushmi-pullyu.

What does it all mean? I’m as interested in the answer as anyone else.

 

Happy New Year!!

Welcome 2014!!

As most of you know, Henning has spent the last three months in the states with me. As you also know, I was booted out of Denmark, so our situation has been complicated by not only health issues but logistical issues, as well.

I have been busy making a new life in NH, while Henning has been figuring out home hemodialysis in Denmark. We had planned on his being able to travel with the NxStage System One (the only portable home dialysis machine) but due to tons of red tape and a complete lack of urgency of his care team, time was ticking away, and away, and away.

Thanks to NxStage and HDU (courtesy of Rich Berkowitz) Henning was able to travel to the US for a conference in October. He was officially invited by HDU, and Rich gave us tons of advice and lots of pushing in the right direction. NxStage stepped up and got on board, as Henning is the first Scandinavian and only one of a handful of Europeans on home dialysis to travel to the US, and perhaps the only one to do so for  such an extended visit. This is a Very Big Deal, medically speaking.

Thanks to some sponsorship, good connections and a lot of great timing, Henning’s visit has been relatively drama-free. He did have some access issues at first. In Florida at the conference, it was getting pretty urgent as he was unable to dialyze for nearly three days. That’s a lot of days. NOT good. But due to some great support, material, emotional and physical, from NxStage staff, he was able to finally get a good cleaning and we had a great time, over all. I’ll post more about the conference now that I will have some free time to really work on my backlogged posting.

Once we were back in NH, access issues continued to be a problem. Thankfully we have great support here as well, again thanks to NxStage finding a local doctor willing to work with them and Henning. International prescription and care issues continue to be a problem with home hemo users and international travel. His doc did a scan and discovered Henning’s venus access site was about 1/4″ away from the actual fistula. Again, NOT GOOD. And… also… no great surprise. I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again, Henning’s care in Denmark is sub-par, and that’s the most flattering comment I can make.

Once Henning established a new access, he’s had no further access issues. In fact, dialysis has been pretty boringly unremarkable, and that’s GOOD.

We have visited some great friends, had some great dinners out, done too much shopping, and spent too much money in the three months he’s been here. We took the girls to New York City the weekend before Christmas, and that was quite an adventure! The girls had never been, and it was great seeing the city fresh from their points of view. Neither Henning nor I had been to the City during the holidays, and we did have a few cranky moments in the crush of Times Square, but otherwise we had a blast. We walked over 120 blocks, and checked off almost everything on our “If you could only spend one day in NYC what would you do” list.

We had a quiet Thanksgiving and Christmas and spent lots of time with the girls. Our oldest lives next door to us, so spending time with her, her fiance and our grandson is always fun!! Megan and Larry are getting married on New Year’s Eve, so I’m thrilled that Henning will be able to be here for that.

We are sad to see his time here end. He goes back to Denmark on January 6th. So we have just a few more days together, this time around. We are already planning the next visit sometime in the spring.

Look for more posts as we catch up after a few months of just reveling in each other’s company.

I am launching a new site, as well. I have decided that it’s time for another journey in transformation. Anyone that knows me knows I spent several years before I met Henning in Self-Discovery Mode. I have managed, with time, therapy, and lots of introspection, to “get past” a lot of major life issues. As most of you also know, I still struggle with finances and fitness. SO… I have decided to challenge myself with a long-term project I call 60 to 50.

You can read about it here: http://60to50.wordpress.com/2013/12/30/welcome-to-60-to-50/

Join me as I say goodbye to 2013 and welcome 2014 with open arms and an open heart.

Happy New Year!!