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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Duality

January 2, 2017

I’m not super sure where to start. I’m not even sure I want to start at all. It’s been a while, I don’t know how long, and my creative juices have not only stopped flowing, I’m not sure there’s a body of creativity left. When I imagine my own well of creativity, I see a dry, cracked, dip in a hard, unforgiving ground. Nothing left of the water that may once have settled there, that may once have freely flowed along the channel, nourishing all it encountered. Now, just a dry, dusty space. Perhaps even a bit of rhyme along the edges, as if was once cool and clear had become stagnant, salty and toxic.

I have given myself to a cause that has not given back. I have spent my time and money, my heart and soul, my body and spirit, my health, my essential essence, on something that now feels as if it was never going to work.  And I feel like there is a part of me jeering from the sidelines at what’s left of my optimism. It’s not an attractive duality.

On one hand, I am alive. I have a better job than I did five years ago. My children are mostly grown and are mostly happy and healthy.  I have a better car than I did five years ago. On the other hand, I have more expenses as a result of the last five years. I don’t feel, financially, that I have gained any ground. I actually feel more stressed and more pressed that I did then. But that’s not the biggest issue.

Five years ago I was consumed with optimism for the future. Five years ago I had a plan, I had specific goals. Five years ago, I had no idea what my plan was going to cost me. Beware, you dreamers, you may get what you want, but you might not like the price you will pay.

So here I am, in my precarious space, looking back and wondering if I can even dare to look ahead.

I don’t have it in me to replicate the steps I took five years ago. I will never again risk everything for a dream. My grandfather would say, “never say never”. And perhaps I will find the courage to risk again. But right now, I just want safety. I want to wake up and know how bills will be paid, to know I am safe from eviction, to know I can keep my car for another month. I want to know where grocery money will come from for the month. I want peace.  And right now, I have none of those things.

I got exactly what I wanted, five years ago. I traveled. I started over. I gave literally everything to a relationship I wanted above all else. I got my wish. But what now? We still don’t live together. We still have no real plan for how to be a couple in real time, in real life. I just don’t know what my life means right now.

I have been on the brink of despair a lot this past year. I have semi-seriously contemplated ending my life in favor of the unknown. I value my life too much to actually end it, though. I wouldn’t put that kind of burden on my kids, either. But yeah, it’s been a rough patch. And I don’t know exactly how to get out of my emotional or financial predicament.

I feel like a complete failure.

But… perhaps because I have always had a spark of optimism regardless of how bleak things seem, I have started a course in dreaming and planning for the future. Crazy, right? I am at the lowest point in my life since those dark days when I was 17, and here I am meditating and free writing about creating a “best life”. Duality. It’s my thing, I guess.

So here’s to 2017. Whatever comes, I’m here. I’m not ready. I’m probably as far from ready as I have ever been. But… just bring it. We’ll see what shakes out.

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!!

I’m not stupid, and neither are you.

Feeling Dismissed.

It happens to everyone, and it never feels good. I am not talking about some boot-camp setting where the drill sergeant yells that the session is over. I am not talking about being asked to leave the room during a meeting. I am not talking about being fired. Although being dismissed can mean any of those things, I am talking about when you feel like your view, your opinion, your experience or your contribution is under-valued.

I don’t have a grown-up job. I don’t have an advanced degree in anything. I have a few terms of Bible College (shocking, I know). I have an Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts (with a concentration in English). I have a couple of additional years of creative writing classes and photography classes in my education list. I have over a decade of experience in Restaurant Management (with the highest scores on my exams and certifications).  I have nearly a decade of experience in Workflow Management (basically how to get stuff done with the least effort, in the least time, with the least amount of resources).  Until my recent marriage I was a single mom for nearly a decade.

I have won national awards for my writing. I have been published in some pretty snazzy anthologies. I tutored Psychology and Statistics at the college level while I took my creative writing classes.  I helped many students graduate college, even if I ended up not gaining my degree myself.

I wrote and implemented the Employee Manual and developed the training courses for the last company I worked for. It was my “unofficial” job to make sure we were in compliance with the ever-changing safety and labor laws.

I worked with the Math department at my local community college and helped streamline the way they taught Basic Statistics. Many students were failing, and they couldn’t keep tutors. The reason was, even though this was a basic class, and required for all students in any degree program, every teacher used different texts and teaching styles. There was no uniformity. As a Stats student, I was able to overcome this and achieve a better than perfect grade. I was a highly sought after tutor and well paid for my efforts.  At my suggestion, the Math department standardized the texts, the tests, the homework, and the way stats was taught. As a result, even the most math-impaired student could pass, and most did. I am especially proud of this last bit.

I could go on. But most people don’t see past the first two things. I don’t have a grown-up job, and I don’t have an advanced degree.

What that means is… I am often dismissed.

My husband does have an advanced degree.  My mom and my uncles have advanced degrees. Many of my friends have advanced degrees. For some reason, it can feel as if they think they are more right than I am in most things… by simple virtue of their education. It’s not easy being in a relationship with someone who’s always right, be it friend, family member, or spouse. Even when they say they see your point, it still often feels like it’s coming from a place with just a little higher view of the world. And that, to me, is infuriating.

Because I try very hard not to dismiss others. I know my IQ. I know the strengths of my intelligence. I know that no matter what room I walk into, I am likely the smartest person in it. That’s not arrogance, that’s fact. It doesn’t matter that I haven’t reached my “potential” (whatever that is supposed to mean). It doesn’t matter than I never finished my degree. It doesn’t matter that I have bottomed out on relationships. It doesn’t matter that my kids don’t have the world’s best mom. What it means is, I’m pretty damned smart. I have the tests to prove it.  What’s more important, to me, is that I remain curious about the world. I read a LOT. I study a LOT. I read journals, and articles, and I try to keep on top of what’s happening in the world. I read about medicine, science, psychology, farming, politics… whatever catches my interest. So I know I’m not only able to grasp the nuances of what is happening around me, I am also able to apply it in some way.

I am most endlessly fascinated by why people act the way they do.  And so I pay attention to people. If I dismissed someone’s opinion because I didn’t see the value in what they had to say, because I didn’t feel their education or experience gave them a right to their view, it would be my loss. They don’t need my approval, but I value their participation in our interaction. That’s not to say I don’t mess up. I do. I am rude, I am arrogant, I really piss people off. But I do try not to, and when I know I have behaved badly, I apologize. Unless you are one of my ex-husbands. You guys totally deserve it. But I digress.

So when I am dismissed, when my views are de-valued, I want to cry, “UNFAIR!” Because, honestly, the people who dismiss me the most are usually the people who, in spite of my sometimes feeling like they are talking out of their asses, I listen to. I try to see their views, even when I disagree. I’d MUCH rather have arguments than end conversations with dismissals. So when the tables are turned, it feels like a real attack to be dismissed.

I have found ways around this. I am obnoxious enough to push through most dismissals. I can usually “gently” maneuver the conversation back around to where the person actually, in spite of themselves, really listens to me… and shockingly enough… I am found to have a valid point after all.

But that doesn’t mean the hurt is gone. It feels like a betrayal to be dismissed, especially when it’s by someone whom you love, who loves you. I almost wrote “claims to love you”, but the fact is, most of the real damage to us is done by people who really do love us. But painful or not, betrayal or not, at the end of the day, I have to choose to accept dismissal or fight to be heard. For me, the fight is worth it.

I’m Not Pregnant

Most people who know me would be astonished. Not that I’m not, but that it would even need to be said. I’m in my mid-forties, my husband is a little further down the line than that (although don’t say nearing fifty, he hasn’t quite reached that level of acceptance).  We are at a hugely vulnerable time in our lives and in our marriage. His health is precarious, at best. We are facing a forced separation and which continent we are going to inhabit, or even if we can inhabit one together at all, is anyone’s guess. So the fact that I have reached the age of irregular cycles adds a layer of interest to an already MORE than interesting time in our lives.

I really didn’t think I was. I’ve been late before. But I also have three grown/nearly grown daughters. So I know what it feels like to be late, and to wonder, “What if?” It was an interesting several weeks. I didn’t take a test. I didn’t feel like I was pregnant, and I do know what that feels like. I don’t have any bad habits, and I eat pretty healthy. Nothing in my life, or lifestyle would change with the knowledge that I was not alone in my body. At least not yet. So even if I WAS, I didn’t think I needed to KNOW. Not right away. I figured Mother Nature would give me a clue, sooner or later, and she did.

But what about those weeks? What about the stuff in my head while I wondered? It wasn’t a constant thing, by any means. Last year, I went several months where nothing happened. After two negative pregnancy tests and a follow-up with my doc to make sure nothing was wrong, I made some peace with the fact that my body is changing. Things are simply less predictable now than they used to be.

Still, it is interesting what a lifetime of programming can do to a fertile imagination. I wondered, what would I do? I had some great conversations with my husband regarding the, “What if?” question. It was great to know we were both on the same page. We would have been terrified. And thrilled. And terrified.

So now that I know for sure, I am relieved. But I also mourn the second chance I won’t get. I know. I’m selfish. I have three amazing, beautiful, intelligent daughters. My girls are a blessing that any mother would be grateful for. I have friends who are trying desperately to have even one child, and I have three. How DARE I feel sad that I can’t have even more? But there it is. I do mourn, nonetheless.

I know a few women in my age bracket have “second” families with new husbands. I think, if you’re healthy and can afford it, go for it. I never saw myself in that scenario, but last year’s scare, and this year’s… whatever it was, has made me think about it. And while I know how difficult it would be, I would embrace the chance to raise a child with this amazing man it took me a lifetime to find. And so I do mourn that loss.

My husband would have made a brilliant father. Plus, he has the most amazing blue eyes. It’s a shame that no child of mine will look at me with those eyes. No baby of mine will call him Daddy.

But then I come back to myself: this life I have chosen; the man I love who loves me more than I ever could have imagined; the family I have, oddly scattered as we may be. And I am so grateful. I have a life and a love beyond any dream I ever had. I am fulfilled, satisfied beyond the wildest imaginings of my youth.

And yet, even so… what if?