The Ultimate Blog Challenge

Writing Prompts to Prime the Pump

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve posted much of anything. Life and depression have shut down the part of my brain that has writing ideas and the will to write anyway.

I suspect, or believe, that the meds “stabilizing” the bipolar disorder have something to do with dampening the writing spark. The last time I did any “real” writing was when I was in a manic episode, back in March/April. I was in limerence and completely obsessed over an absolutely inappropriate guy…to be honest, he’s still in my brain, just nowhere near as much.

For those of you wondering, limerence looks an awful lot like a crush or infatuation and feels like the initial throes of excitement one feels when first falling in love. It isn’t either of those things. It’s obsession, pure and simple. It’s also not always about love and romance. Fortunately, I was able to recognize it and acknowledge it for what it was, even though I had little to no power to stop it. I even wrote the following:

This Isn’t Love
Longing for your glance, your touch.
I can’t stop thinking about you.
My mind is not my own
Excruciating anticipation.
Resistance is useless.
Excited and breathless
Can you feel it, too?
Eventually, this, too, shall pass.

Limerence
lim·er·ence
ˈlimərəns/
noun PSYCHOLOGY
1. the state of being infatuated or obsessed with another person, typically experienced involuntarily and characterized by a strong desire for reciprocation of one’s feelings but not primarily for a sexual relationship.

It didn’t end well.

My writing was prolific during those few weeks. Since then, the urge/desire/need to write has disappeared. For the most part.

Last month, I planned to get back to blogging. So, I signed up for The Ultimate Blog Challenge…then didn’t write a word for the blog. Actually, that’s not true. I started to write a post about ableism and the use of the word “crazy.” It’s in the Drafts folder.

Finally, on Sunday, I decided I needed to start small and use a social writing app, lettrs, and the prompts the admins and members offer, to get writing again. Here are the results of the past four days of prompts I’ve responded to:

Skylark Challenge 149:
Image + four words: pernicious, illuminating, children, malevolent.

The pernicious presence of the alien craft, illuminated the children, who stood frozen and fearful in the malevolent atmosphere.

Skylark Challenge 150:
Image + four words: flowing, timeless, fierce, enigma.

Writing Prompt: Thankful

To those who have supported me with love and kindness
How can only mere words express
Appreciation for your devotion and acceptance of my mess
Never treating me or my experiences as less
Knowing my heart and not judging what I confess
Friends and family do nothing but bless
Understanding my pressures and stress
Love deep and lasting given without duress

And finally, today’s prompt:

Photo Challenge
Nostalgia for What Never Was

Sitting beside you as you leaned next to me, we gazed over the bridge’s wall to watch the traffic flow below.

We searched for the odd or unusual: out of state license plates, bumper stickers, classic cars, variant paint jobs, and anything that made the vehicle unique.

You would ask me questions: Who is in this car or that one? Are they coming or going? Why are they driving from there to here or here to there? Who are the people inside? Families? Businessmen? Women on errands or on their way to work to support their families?

We would spin tales and weave stories with one another…each one more elaborate and descriptive than the last.

You midwifed my lifelong curiosity about the nature and character of my fellow humans. You taught me how to expand my imagination and to use even the most mundane of things as a source of inspiration. You instilled in me a profound love of words and language. You gave me the foundation for my writing today.

Thank you, daddy. Thank you for being you and helping me to be me.

Signed,
The Lifelong Orphan

What helps you write when you’re experiencing writer’s block?

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Ten Day Check-in

Yesterday I decided I would take pics every ten days to document my journey. It’s not really evident in the pictures yet, but changes are happening. I can feel them. Others are seeing them.

My stomach is slightly less round…a smaller “apple” than it was. 😉 My clothes are a little looser. As a matter of fact I pulled down a pair of jeans I got about ten years ago, before I got pregnant with my third, youngest, and LAST child. I was between 225-240. I can’t remember exactly. What I do know is that I squeezed into them and got them buttoned while standing upright.

WINNING!

More importantly, I’ve exercised 8/10 of the days a minimum of 30 minutes. I kind of overdid it the first few days – my intensity was good, but the amount of time each session was a bit much.

During my walk on Sunday, I had a burst of pain in the front of my right hip. Turns out I now have bursitis in that hip. I’ve shortened the time per session to 30 minutes and taken it to the water.

The doctor I saw (who appeared younger than my 31 year old son) was very encouraging and gung ho about me exercising. He said exercising in the water was good and referred me to physical therapy. My first appointment is the 30th.

The biggest challenge, for me, is the fibro-fatigue. I’m really tired, not I worked hard and pushed my limits tired, but, my get up and go, got up and went. Some of that is parenting stress.

My nine year old experiences the world through the Autism Spectrum. I also suspect she’s got some preadolescent hormone changes happening. She struggles with emotional self-regulation and is easily frustrated and angered. She’s been having increasingly violent responses and I’ve borne the brunt of it.

I’m also tired from lack of sleep. Some of which is also attributable to the issues between me and my daughter. However, I’ve had poor sleep my entire adult life. It’s a trauma thing, apparently.

So, I’m tired and pretty much the exercise and, maybe, the dishes, are the only things I’m accomplishing on a regular basis.

I’m trusting this will not last and that my energy levels will improve by the end of the month.

Overall, it’s been a great start to 2018.<<<<<<<<
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The Power of Numbers : Measuring Health and Happiness

Those of you who’ve been reading about my health and fitness journey may think I’m focusing, or maybe should be focusing, on weight loss. After all, at the beginning of last week, I tipped the scale at 258 lbs…about 125 lbs more than a woman of my short stature is “supposed” to be. According to the formulas and charts, I have a BMI of 45, putting me in the extreme obesity category.

Here’s the thing, I’m over trying to judge myself and my value according to a number on the scale. At least that’s what I’m working on.

That being said, I was inordinately happy to discover that I’d lost five pounds the first week of January.

I hate that I’ve been conditioned to the point where the number on a scale indicating I’m getting rid of part of my being is worthy of celebration.

Self-inflicted fat shaming is just about an automatic thing.

What I really want to be happy about was that I ate consciously aware of what I was eating and why.

True confession: I just ate two Hershey’s miniature candy bars because I was stressed and beyond frustrated with an ongoing issue with my child.

Guess what? I don’t feel one iota of shame or guilt. Now, THAT’S worth celebrating.

The number that should matter is how many days I chose to care about my physical health enough to exercise. Another number to be proud of is an ideal blood pressure of 129/68 after I’d worked out an hour before it was taken.

I can truly celebrate when I get the results of my next A1c blood test and the numbers measuring the previous three months of blood sugar levels have decreased. I can celebrate when the next cholesterol test shows that my choice to eat oatmeal every day has paid off by lowering the bad cholesterol numbers.

The weight changing and going down may be a consequence of the choices I’m making. However, it cannot be the number determining my happiness and contentment with myself.

One of these days the number on the scale may will the same or even go up. It will have to be an informative number indicating whether or not I need to address the actions which contributed to those results.

The scale is a tool, not the Holy Grail.

When life goes awry: It’s ok to not be ok

Last Friday was one of those days where the first domino got knocked down and the remainder of the day’s plans and goals crashed one by one.

I’m sure you’ve experienced something like that at one time or another. If you haven’t, best be prepared because you will.

My daughter had a MAJOR meltdown that morning – it got physically violent (she’s on the Autism Spectrum) and she wound up not going to school.

That meant I couldn’t go to the gym or pool. There’s no space or place in my tiny, overcrowded apartment for me to do anything, including stretching. It’s THAT crowded and cluttered.

I was frustrated and irritable at this disruption in the new routine of self-care by exercise. I didn’t take it out on my daughter, but I was experiencing a significant amount of resentment.

Parenting a child with special needs is HARD and I NEED the stress release of the exercise.

When there is a spike in stress hormones coursing through my body, especially in combination with other hormonal changes, a fibroflare is likely to occur.

“What’s that?” you may be asking.

I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia 28 years ago. Symptoms include persistent, fatigue and increased pain response to anything and everything. During my most intense episodes, just running a finger across my skin feels like a razor blade.

So, I’m struggling against the fatigue to still make exercise a priority. Each day I exercise, the fatigue makes me feel like I’m moving through molasses once the exercise is done. I feel completely drained. It doesn’t help that I also happen to be an insomniac.

There are days when I fight to get the kid to school and to bed, go to the gym or pool, and, maybe, wash dishes. The rest of the time I’m sitting and dozing off.

I’m trading the energy from other things so I can exercise. But, the exercise is what helps me mentally get through the day.

In the past, I criticized myself for not getting more done, or anything done for that matter. I couldn’t let myself be okay with not being okay.

This process is showing me that I can be.

The Liebster Award: Celebrating noteworthy bloggers

I have been blogging here at Human In Recovery, on and off, since December 2011. During that time I have participated in The Ultimate Blog Challenge, as I am doing this month.

Something which seems to happen during these challenges is bloggers giving each other blogging awards. These awards build community and networks. It boosts traffic and is an opportunity for bloggers to connect to a greater audience. It’s a way build their platform.

I have been nominated for the Liebster Award, both when I participated in my first UBC (read about it here) and again during this cycle, by Vidya Tiru at Lady in Read Writes (read about it here).

The Liebster’s criteria and process has evolved over the past five years. Here’s the details of its current incarnation:

  • Acknowledge the blog(s) that gave it to you and display the award
  • Answer the 11 questions that the blogger gives you
  • Give 11 random facts about yourself
  • Nominate 11 blogs and notify them of their nomination
  • Give the bloggers 11 questions to answer

I will name 11 noteworthy blogs to explore. However, I am not requiring or expecting a Liebster acceptance post.

Noteworthy blogs:
Marc Alan Schelske, “a writer, speaker, hobbyist theologian, recovering fundamentalist, tea drinker & motorcycle rider.”
http://www.marcalanschelske.com/

Sean Paul Mahoney, “a writer, playwright, blogger, tweeter, critic, podcaster and smartass for hire.” https://seanologues.com/

Sarah Fader, “the CEO and Founder of Stigma Fighters, a non-profit organization that encourages individuals with mental illness to share their personal stories. “ http://www.sarahfader.com/

Dan, “Having written his whole life, he blogs because he has to write…he can’t help it.” https://dan4kent.wordpress.com/

Mary, “a music lover who finally got off her duff (or on it, I suppose) and started sharing her opinions about music.” https://myelectronicjukebox.wordpress.com/

Robert Kennedy III, he loves “helping people create hope, generate excitement and belief in their capacity to change lives, starting with their own.” http://www.robertkennedy3.com/

Steve Austin, “focuses on everyday faith, mental wellness, and embracing wonder to encourage, educate, and empower audiences from every walk of life.http://iamsteveaustin.net/

Daniela Pesconi-Arthur, Founder and editor of The Might Women ezine is “a Brazilian who adopted Wales as “home”’
http://www.themightywomen.com/

Martha DeMeo “writes product and book reviews” at http://themarthareview.com/

Sovann Penis a licensed professional counselor, who loves “counseling because it offers healing and freedom” by “helping families with parenting challenges and with the stresses of communication, conflict and disconnection in marriage.”
http://www.sovannpen.com/

Steven Shomler, a Pyrocatalyst, Author, Culinary Storyteller, Consultant, Entrepreneur & Speaker
https://www.stevenshomler.com/

If they choose to participate, here are my questions:

1. Is your blog personal or professional and what is its primary focus and/or topic?

2. Do you have a YouTube channel or podcast? If so, please provide the title or link.

3. Are you a contributing blogger/writer elsewhere?

4. What is the most valuable, free product/app/service you have found as a blogger?

5. What piece of information or advice would you have found invaluable as a beginning blogger?

6. What social media sites do use use for public interaction and how do we connect to you?

7. Are you an introvert, extrovert, or an ambivert (both to varying degrees)?

8. What core value do you try to live by?

9. If you had to choose an anthem song, what would it be? If possible, please provide a YouTube link.

10. If you had to choose, would you consider yourself an advocate or activist?

11. What is your favorite quote?

Now, for those interested, we enter the “All About Me” part.

* If you could take a vacation anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Australia

* What is your favorite food to eat?
Depends on the moment.

* What advice would you give your younger self if you could go back in time ten years?
This line from the song, Dear Younger Me, says it all: “do I go deep and try to change the choices that you’ll make ‘cause they’re choices that made me.” What I want to say would change my life in unimaginable ways. However, it would also cost me my youngest child and my grandchildren. So, I have no advice, just, “you’ll get through this, too.”

* What would be the first thing you’d do if you won the lottery?
Pay off my student loan.

* Night owl or early bird?
There’s a difference?

* What superpower would you like to have?
The ability to clone myself and experience the memories of all the clones while they share each other’s and mine.

* Your favorite way to relax?
Water aerobics or swimming followed by a soak in the hot tub, chatting with the people around me.

* eBook or the printed book or audio book or no books at all?
If conditions allow a book at all, paper.

* What four words would you use to describe yourself?
Survivor, empathetic, committed, wounded

* Who is the most influential person in your life?
Currently it is my youngest daughter, in the sense that pretty much all my decisions and conditions are made with her in mind and affected by her.

* Do you make resolutions? If yes, what is your top resolution for 2018?
Not anymore. However, my personal goal is to transition my eating to be primarily whole food, plant-based by 2019.

11 random facts about me:

1. I am a 48 year old grandmother of three.

2. I have three children ages 31, 24, 9.

3. I am parenting a child who experiences the world through the Autism Spectrum.

4. My 31 year old stopped being legally my child in 2012. He went through an adoption process, as an adult, and legally became another mother’s child. Our estrangement has been reconciled.

5. I earned two diplomas and a GED.

6. I have the debt of one who earned a Bachelors degree.

7. I have no college degrees.

8. I have experienced two major nervous breakdowns.

9. I have a Bipolar brain impacted by PTSD.

10. I am married but have not seen my husband since December 12, 1988.

11. I am half Mexican.

Who am I to talk about relationships?

First off, let me say this: I’m not an expert or a professional anything. I don’t have a high level of education and have not acquired any defining letters to include after my name. I haven’t been trained to be a peer counselor, nor have I been employed in a therapeutic setting.

I  am a 46 year old mother of three, two of whom are adults, 28 1/2 and 22 years old. I’m parenting a six year old with special needs. My mothering has been good, at times, damaging at others, and almost always clueless while I tried to figure it out. I’m still figuring it out. I’m a grandmother of two: a toddler and an infant. So far, the grandma gig seems easier than the mom gig. I’m better at it than I thought I could be. I’m a cousin who helped take care of my baby cousin in her infancy and offered her a “safe” space as a child and adolescent. I’m a friend who’s been both a good one, a bad one, and everything in between. I’ve been an employee and co-worker. I’ve been a wife, a girlfriend, a long-time partner, and a one night stand. I’m the stranger on the bus who talks too much.

I didn’t grow up in a family that did relationships very well, if at all. My mom had me at 16. She and my dad, essentially, did the shotgun wedding thing when she found out she was pregnant in 1968. Shortly after I was born, during the Summer of Woodstock, in 1969, they were divorced. She married two more times by the time I was six. Her longest marriage lasted until I was ten. It ended after I told her about the two years of sexual abuse. By the time I was 12, our relationship had broken down to the point where she signed custody over to my uncle and went back to where we’d come from. A month or two later, we were told she’d killed herself. Many, many years later, within the past couple of years, after multiple conversations with an extended relative who knew her throughout out her brief 28 years I have come to question her cause of death. I also believe that she had undiagnosed Bipolar Disorder with a side of schizophrenia – so suicide is not out of the realm of possibility.

Oh wow! My son is about to exceed my mom’s lifespan. Deep breath.

Throughout it all, my grandmother was part of my life. However, my relationship with her really just consisted of her buying me bits and baubles, letting me eat whatever junk food I wanted, and either telling me what to do or leaving me to my own devices. My relationship with my aunt and uncle primarily consisted of me being told what chores to do, get criticized for not doing them. My grandpa was a jolly, old soul who held forth and held court while sittin’ in his draws, drinkin’ Hamms, with multiple overflowing ashtrays. I never knew which stories were true, which were hyperbole, and which were pure blarney. 

Side note: My uncle’s first wife was the younger sister of my grandpa’s second wife. My uncle and his wife were married first.

My mom only had two friends, in between husbands two and three, that I can remember. My grandma had one and she never remarried after she and my grandpa split, before I had any memory of either of them. My aunt and uncle had limited and specific friendships, as they were involved in things from the swinging 70’s not discussed in polite society.

We moved around, frequently. We changed addresses multiple times in both California and Texas. So, peer relationships weren’t part of my early childhood. By the time we landed in Portland, Oregon, when I was twelve, my social and relational skills were those of a child raised amongst proverbial wolves in an urban jungle.

It’s taken me 34 years to learn and understand what it means to be in and have true and deep relationships. Most of that growth has happened over the course of the past three and a half years, with the majority occurring in the last year.

If you read back through, from the beginning of this blog, you’ll get a good idea of how bad I’ve been at relationships. Which begs the question, “Who am I to talk about relationships?”

I’ll tell you. I’m a mother whose relationship was so broken with her son that he decided to get legally adopted, as an adult, by another family. We now engage in deep and true conversations. I have become an accepted member in his faith community, which primarily consists of his wife’s family, his adopted family, my cousin’s family, and a few others. My relationship with my adult daughter was so broken that I was terrified I would never be allowed to have a relationship with my grandchildren. Now, their faces light up when they see me. She and I have a mutually respectful relationship. 

Despite the breakdown and breakup of an 18 year, mutually toxic relationship between me and the father of my six year old daughter, we are putting aside (for the most part) the acrimony, bitterness, and angst of our past in order to co-parent her and learn how best to serve as her parents as we all learn about High Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder.

I’m risking more and starting to build deeper friendships in more face to face people. Whereas the majority of my friendships have been built through online connections, even the ones I’ve known in person. I have mutually supportive friends, online and irl. We share our lives, laughter, passions and peeves. We learn from each other. We encourage one another. We celebrate the victories, small and large. We mourn the losses. We allow and create safe space for ranting, raving, and disagreements.

I’m growing in relationship with myself and my God. Learning how to be loved and how to love myself. For the first time in my adult life, I was actually excited and happy to celebrate me on my birthday, three and a half weeks ago.

  
It is my hope that, by sharing my journey and what I’ve learned about relationships, that others might discover hope and healing in their own lives and relationships. My journey is not yet complete and there is still much work to be done. God isn’t finished with me yet. 

Isn’t that true of us all? Let’s learn and grow together, shall we?

What IS the Good News?

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For my readers who do not share my belief system, a note: this is another post where I am processing and clarifying, for myself more than for anyone else. It isn’t a sneaky effort to preach, proselytize, or convince you my religion is better, truer, or has validity over yours.

I have been engaged in the reconciliation process lately. Let me tell you, it has been miraculously, almost ridiculously, angst-free, not “easy,” but natural and free-flowing, instead of “forced.”

Back in June, for a brief moment, it seemed as if my relationship with my son was heading in a constructive direction. Then, without warning, it rubber banded and snapped. Painful emotions, on both sides, were drawn to the surface and a rupture occurred. Some may instinctively seek to place blame and either pile on guilt and shame or deny and repress, the victimized martyr – helpless. I’ve been them all.

My response, this time was different, in part because I now understand my attachment issues and how they’ve impacted my children. I understood the painful and difficult reality that he needed the emotional space from me to process his feelings and experiences with me. I resolved to give him whatever space he needed to reach his own healing enough, to reach back out to me. In the meantime, I would continue my own process and journey, so that I would be as receptive as possible when he did reach out.

It happened about a month later, quite a bit sooner than I had expected. He called me and apologized for what he had said and how he had done it, but not for doing it. I could easily accept it, because I understood it. However, I was still a little wary of how secure and lasting this repair would be.

A couple of days passed. I was experiencing a lot of pain and I was in a minor depressive episode when I was informed he was on his way over to visit. A very strong urge to run and hide from him came over me. I was afraid to have him see me like that and experience another break in our relationship this soon. However, I stuck around. I’m glad I did. In the five or so hours he was here, we processed and worked through quite a bit of our joint past. I’ve talked to him a couple of times, since then, and we’ve gotten together, just the two of us and talked.

A large part of our conversations have been spiritual in nature. Talking about religion, in general is a potentially explosive conversation. Discussing Christianity, even between Christians, can lead to rifts. He’s more “out loud” with his beliefs and understanding than I am; partially because his passion is so present and profound and partially because my beliefs and understanding have changed and evolved in ways that might be considered somewhat heretical. I also haven’t taken the time to clearly define what my beliefs are. So, when he asked me where I stood regarding Jesus, salvation, and forgiveness, I wasn’t prepared. I told the core truth, but dissembled a little bit and didn’t fully explain or disclose my understanding.

That’s partially where my post regarding a Christian Systems Check came from. Since writing that post, I’ve had a friend, who is also a pastor of mine, ask me what I see as The Gospel, The Good News. Again, I wasn’t prepared to answer. It is apparent that I need to do the work to clarify my beliefs, for myself, so that I will be prepared with a clear, honest response to questions about my beliefs.

Yeah, I know it is expected that I would have, should have, and could have done so already. Then, I realized, in some ways I already have.

November, 2010, I wrote, “A Picture of Sin.” I believe that all of us are born into imperfect, sometimes critically damaged, family, cultural, societal, and religious systems. Depending on the degree and type of dysfunction, in combination with our individual personalities and capacities, we become wounded and, eventually, cause wounds to others. This is part of understanding of “sin.” As a result of this sin, we are separated from God’s love, as well as our fellow human beings. As far as I know, we don’t ask to be born. We don’t ask to be born into a world full of wounded people who abuse, neglect, and manipulate one another; a world ruled by governmental systems that became distorted and turned into other than what was originally intended; a world where, all too often the corrupt, greedy, and power-mad seem to prosper while the rest of us struggle to just make it through the day.

Into this world, we are born, we are born pre-programmed for love, attachment, and belonging. We are born with the capacity of learning, experiencing, and growing in these things. We are born equipped with intellects and emotions to direct and inform the exercise of free-will.

However, we are and adaptive species. What we are born into and raised in shapes the development of what we are born with. If love, attachment, security, and belonging needs are met, we grow and expand into shape of loving and constructive beings. If those needs aren’t met, our shape becomes different and things like anger and fear grow into protective layers, separating us from ourselves, each other, and – in our perception – God.

I believe that God is the creative and cohesive force that created everything we know and all we have not discovered. I believe that God exists outside the boundaries of time and space. I believe God encompasses time and space. therefore, I also believe God exists, simultaneously in all of time and space. This means that God is always present.

I believe that humanity is the product and offspring of God. I believe we were created out of love and intended to be loved and to love God, ourselves and others. From the moment of conception we are loved, wanted and known. Because of God’s omnipresence in all of space and time, He (for lack of a gender neutral personal pronoun) has always known us, our lives, and our experiences – the triumphs, the tragedies, and everything in between. With that knowledge is the understanding that we see ourselves as separate from God instead of recognizing that God is part of our very beings and not just present in the world around us.

Knowing we separate and segregate ourselves in this way, God, chooses to make Himself as we are, mortal and bound by mortal limitations and boundaries of flesh, time, and space. Knowing we can’t lift ourselves up to Gods’s level, regardless of our efforts, God meets us where we are, as a human being. Not just as an example to show us how it’s done or to buy us off and appease us, but to show us that He goes through all the pain and suffering and experiences everything we do, and loves us through it all.

We get to choose whether to believe, trust, and act on that ever present love and empathy or not. When we do, circumstances may not change, but healing happens. As healing happens we can make choices that better reflect the love and care we are connecting to.

The Good News, in my understanding is that I am loved, and so is everyone around me. I can choose to believe and trust in that love and be connected to it in the here and now, thereby receiving healing and growing in my capacity to share that love with others. I can choose to share my feelings and thoughts, letting God carry me though the painful, confusing, and difficult things. I don’t have to do it on my own.

There’s more to what I believe. This is the foundation and core of it, the basis for the rest of what I’m figuring out how to articulate.

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