blogging

Liebster Recipient: Sovann Pen

Sovann is one of 11 Noteworthy Bloggers I listed in my Liebster award post. He opted to answer the questions and submit them to Human In Recovery.

Here are his responses:

1) Is your blog personal or professional and what is its primary focus and/or topic? Personally professional on counseling, marriage and parenting.

2) Do you have a YouTube channel or podcast? If so, please provide the title or link. No podcast yet but I’d like to do a podcast to encourage families, especially those who do foster care and adoption, in the future. I love talking with people and learning from them about their marriages and families.

3) Are you a contributing blogger/writer elsewhere? No (Does Facebook count?)

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

Definitely Facebook and Facebook groups. It’s fun to be a part of groups with kindred spirits who share and write about similar topics.

5) What piece of information or advice would you have found invaluable as a beginning blogger? Jeff Goins’ blog and You Are A Writer ebook, join his My 500 words FB group and/or take his Intentional Blogging or Tribe Writers course and listen to his podcast The Portfolio Life for inspiration. Michael Hyatt’s Platform and Donald Miller’s StoryBrand books are helpful too.

6) What social media sites do use use for public interaction and how do we connect to you? On twitter @sovannpen and FB at A New Day Counseling Center. I also invite you to subscribe to my blog at http://www.sovannpen.com

7) Are you an introvert, extrovert, or an ambivert (both to varying degrees) extrovert but not life-of-the-party, center-of-attention variety. I like to read and spend time on my own praying too.

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

Love God and love others. That and the belief that redemption and healing are possible.

9) If you had to choose an anthem song, what would it be? Can I choose two? Right now, This Is Me from The Greatest Showman, a great song and movie and So Will I (100 billion X)

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

Advocate. An advocate for grace and empathy and being brave.

11) What is your favorite quote?

This week it’s: “The opposite of joy is not sadness. It’s hopelessness.” (I’ve seen it attributed to Allistar Begg and Timothy Keller)

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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.

Prioritizing the next 28 days

I’ve just completed my fourth 28 Days to a New Me accountability challenge.

  • I got active in May by commiting to 15 minutes of daily activity. By the end, I was exercising 60 – 90 minutes a day. I was excited and confident, feeling encouraged and supported. I lost a little weight, my clothes fit better, and I was managing my symptoms better.
  • In June, I tracked my eating. I exercised the first couple of weeks, but dropped the activity when other things got in the way. Since I’m already self aware and cognizant that my food choices and eating patterns are way out of whack and very much a reflection of how I’m doing psychologically and emotionally, I’m not really sure I accomplished much.
  • July was the Ultimate Blog Challenge and I reestablished a daily writing habit. All self-care practices went out the window.
  • I decided to develop a book in August. I wrote daily, but the book has not happened, yet. Other things needed to be written and ability to write these past two weeks has been severely challenged.

Although I stayed in action all 28 days of each month’s challenge, I’m feeling very dissatisfied with myself and what I’ve accomplished. I recognize that some of that feeling is the damnable Impostor Syndrome rising up. However, I can’t help but feel as if the inner critic has valid points I need to evaluate.

I know I need to commit to the exercise and nutrition again, because those are the things that enable to me to manage my symptoms better and allow me to stay in a more constructive and positive frame of mind. I also know that I’ve been “dabbling” with my writing and it’s beyond time to get serious about actually developing it into something I can earn an income with. Otherwise, I will need to push myself mentally, emotionally, and physically to start looking for employment again, which could mean going back to pushing papers and being in an office where I’m serving an broken engine or system instead of actually having a constructive impact other than exchanging my time for a paycheck.

Luna is starting full-time Head Start on the 12th. I’ve already been in talks with the program director about volunteering and learning grant writing. I’ve spoken with the HR person and discussed a modified parent training program where I take the classroom ed portions of the Certified Teacher Assistant training program they offer. I’ve got the study books on hold with the library to study for the National Career Readiness Certification program offered by the local employment office. I’m fearful that I may have to set aside these plans for improving my skills and just take any job that can help our family financially, even if it just keeps us treading water and not moving forward.

The purpose of the 28 Days accountability group, is to create something new, to transform. There’s a part of me that feels as if revisiting previous goals is “cheating.” I feel I should recommit to exercising and writing, while adding on something new. After all, being successful in following through in one thing for 28 days and then dropping it when the next thing comes around isn’t really creating lasting change, is it?

Since, my ultimate goal here, isn’t actually losing weight (though that would be nice) or publishing a book (which would be affirming), it is about becoming a wholer person. (Yes, wholer. A concept taught by my friend, Steven Shomler, is that we may not be able to achieve actual wholeness, however we can continue to move into wholerness.) My heart’s desire is to be able to live a more integrated life inside of myself and be less segmented and compartmentalized. To let go of the the controlling manipulations which keep all my separate pieces contained and restrained. My goal is to create a balance between living my life for others and living the life I want for myself.

I recently watched Cloud Atlas and one of the things repeated throughout the movie resonated completely with me:

Sonmi-451: Our lives are not our own. From womb to tomb, we are bound to others. Past and present. And by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.

The present I am currently living is the future birthed from past crimes and kindnesses of myself and others. As is the present my adult children are living and experiencing. This future was created from chaos, confusion, and conflict. I’m striving to birth a new future for myself, which will, hopefully, build into better futures for those whose lives I touch. Making choices and decisions from the paradigm of self-satisfaction and building a life of material survival and comfort will not birth the future I envision.

A new friend shared this video clip with me today:

Since I’m an eclectic learner, I needed to see the actual words as well as hear them in the video:

We are all faced throughout our lives with agonizing decisions, moral choices. Some are on a grand scale, most of these choices are on lesser points. But we define ourselves by the choices we have made. We are, in fact, the sum total of our choices. . . . Human happiness does not seem to have been included in the design of creation. . . . And yet, most human beings seem to have the ability to keep trying and even to find joy from simple things, like their family, their work, and from the hope that future generations might understand more. ~ Crimes and Misdemeanors, Professor Levy

The September 2013 28 Days to a New Me (sign up here) goal stems from my remembering that transformation works from the inside out, not from the outside in and that the basis for reprogramming thoughts, emotional responses, and behaviors stems from inner spiritual transformation. Back to the first three steps: I can’t, God can, I think I’ll let Him.

Pinterest and other mania

A few of you have already discovered my recent advent onto the Pinterest boards. When the nosy, gossipy, poser known as Facebook asked: What’s happening? I made my reluctant confession.

What’s happening Facebook? Glad you asked. thanks to Marisa, and several others, I have succumbed to peer pressure and personalized a Pinterest.

Yes, it is true. I avoided it for over a year. I was intimidated by it. All the crafty, talented, creative, and beautiful people on the interwebs were posting all of these things that showed off skill, passion, humor, and inspiration. The Muses have evolved into the 21st Century and Occupy Pinterest.

I considered myself museless. Seeing all the things that I had never learned to do, had the patience for, or believed could ever be part of who I am was as dissatisfying and disheartening as window shopping and Sears-booking. If you have to ask what Sears-booking is, well, you are way too young. However, I won’t hold that against you.

Sears-booking is what people did before internet, cable television, and malls. Families would obtain a Sears catalog, once a year I believe, and it would become their window to the world outside of their homespun existence. It may have been the first concentrated marketing effort to convince people that their lives and what they had in them wasn’t enough. In 1894, a time when the household management was the woman’s domain, clothes were crafted from homespun cloth, sewn with detailed attention and love to last from one child to the next, and the next, and the next, to be saved for the following generations, the Sears book was the inspiration for making new patterns, implementing do-it-yourself innovations in the home, and the wishlist of the entire household.

The 1943 Sears News Graphic wrote that the Sears catalog, “serves as a mirror of our times, recording for future historians today’s desires, habits, customs, and mode of living.” ~ History of the Sears Catalog

It sounds a lot like Pinterest to me.

But I digress.

The point is this. I avoided Facebook for years believing that I had no place in that sphere with my depression, self-imposed isolation, and complete loss of passion and interest in life. One incredibly devastating and traumatizing event happened, in a series of such events, in my life and as a result I located my father, whom I had not seen since I was less than a year old, and a connected with a sister who had suspected of my existence when I’d had no knowledge of hers. At her urging, I joined Facebook. It was the second step in this journey of healing and recovery I embarked on in 2010.

I’m realizing I have believed these lies about all the things I’m NOT over the truth about all the things I AM. The power of believing, not just believing but immersing myself in them for so long has been similar to the pickling process (as I understand it). It took a pure, firm, healthy cucumber and transformed it into a smaller, wrinkled, more sour version of itself. It’s tasty for those who like pickles, but probably not a whole lot of fun for the cucumber, if a cucumber had feelings, that is. Writing this analogy just gave me a new revelation and understanding. The end result is not bad, it just means the cucumber has been transformed by it’s experiences and is different than it once was, but it’s purpose is the same: So it is with me.

AH HA!!!!!

Back to Pinterest. A day or so ago (I lose track, insomnia will do that to a person) Amy West, a bloggess extraordinaire I met through Le Clown’s blog, A Clown on Fire, with her post, “Zen and the Art of Blogging,” put out a Facebook feeler to see if any other bloggers who were mom’s wanted to participate in an an ongoing project with our children and art and blog about our activities, as a way of getting more engaged and connected to our children and our creativity. I volunteered, though my bleary eyes initially thought her broadcasted request had said it didn’t involve art or children. Yeah, insomnia will do that too. Pinterest is part of the process, optional, but still part of the process. When it comes to this blogging and social media thing, I’m starting to adopt the attitude of, “Go big or go home.

Speaking of going home . . .

It seems as though we are looking for a new one. If we get the one I found on Craigslist last night, Mr. Jade will have his new home in the same place ours will be; on the bank of the Umpqua River in rural Oregon close to the coast. It will be a five mile walk down a graveled drive with only five or so neighbors to reach the main road, which is a State Route. A wood stove for heat (I’ve never had that before, a little scared) and my only access to the outside world will be the internet and Direct TV service provided by the landlord.

For years I’ve lamented not being the domesticated woman of yesteryear and being capable of scratch cooking and homesteading activities like organic gardening and fallen into the easy excuse of fibro-fatigue and convenience reheating and mixing of pouches, boxes, and processed foods. Initially we will be without a vehicle, as I have been for the past couple of years. There is also no public transit system within walking distance since the main road will be five miles away. Therefore, Keith and I are in talks about postponing his hearing aids so I can get a freezer to place on the 60′ covered deck and stocking up on non-perishables, frozen meat, fruits, and veggies and equipping me with the necessary tools to cook and bake, as well as household necessities. It will be sink or swim and I’m determined not to sink. So, Pinterest and other internet resources to guide me in the process, here I come!

Prayers and positive thoughts about us getting this place and making this move within the next 30 – 45 days will be very welcome and much appreciated.

I am who I am

A few days ago a young Facebook friend of mine posted a link to this article: 6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person.

It was a difficult read for me, partially because of the language, I, personally, am no longer comfortable with the use of the F word as part of my regular vocabulary. When I was in my teens and twenties, I spouted it often, loudly, and proudly. These days, something about it jars my psyche. That’s just me and I work very hard to not judge or be overly distracted by how others use it, unless it’s within hearing of my four year old daughter. That being said, I don’t usually willingly choose to subject myself to movies, television, comedians, and entertainers who liberally use that and other curse words as part of natural dialogue. I guess I’ve gotten prudish in my old age. However, since I respect this young woman’s insight and intellect (I’ve known her since she was a young child) I decided to push through. If it was something she considered worthy of sharing, then the least I could do was make the effort to move beyond the unpleasant surface and delve deeper to understand what she found compelling about it.

The second reason I had difficulty reading it was because of its harsh and belittling tone. I could almost hear the brassy tones of Jillian Michaels’ no-nonsense, brusque, exasperated, and brash voice shouting the words I was reading. Don’t get me wrong, I actually have a lot of respect for her and what she does, after being an avid watcher of Biggest Loser off and on for years. However, perhaps it’s a sign of PTSD, when anyone’s voice is yelling around or at me, spouting of judgmental statements in ways that seem to dismiss and diminish the reality of another’s thoughts or feelings, I just flinch and shrink. A part of me starts shutting down inside. I sensed that trying to happen and a strong disinclination to read past the first paragraph or two of the article.

The actual message itself made me want to run and hide: The only thing that matters in this world and in this life is what you do and what other people get from you.

Ewww. Ouch. Seriously? That seemed quite the opposite of nearly everything I’ve been processing and working through. I felt myself figuratively curling up in the fetal position because of all the things I can’t or don’t do or the things that don’t get done well. Earning an income. Parenting. Keeping my home clean and sanitary. Cooking. You get the idea.

I kept on and finished reading it with mixed emotions and set it to simmer in the recesses of my mind.

On Sunday I attended a church service where the message was essentially: You’re a Christian? So, what are you DOING with that to benefit your fellow church members and the community. Whoa.

Again, this is a message I have heard numerous times and in various ways. My go to process is to list the obstacles to me DOING whatever it is I believe others expect me to be doing. That leads to me playing the inner recordings of, “blah, blah, blah, cry me a river, quitcherwhining, you useless sack of flesh,” statements that the internal, infernal liar tells me EVERYONE around me is thinking. This time, as I listened to the message and thought of the message and words in the article, I considered that, perhaps, God, the universe, whatever, was actually trying to get something through the dense matter in my skull.

I thought about this blog and the transitions it has taken from being my personal dumping ground of angst and drama and is now a place where I am helping others in different ways: Author Interviews, Bloggers for Peace, and Monthly Manic Mondays with Marisa, to name a few. My improving and developing relationships with some loved ones and friends also came to mind.

I took the message to heart and thought of ways to do more with my writing in the context of the church during the Annual Meeting after the service. Then because Luna, in her boisterous, social, and independent willed way, would not be stifled, I left the meeting, overwhelmed with frustration, anxiety, anger, and self-defeating thoughts of how bad a parent I was, that people were judging me, I was just taking up space and not contributing anything. Never mind the fruit salad I had shopped for the night before, prepared that morning and brought for the potluck. Never mind the fact that I was not just trying to occupy and monitor Luna, but also her other little friends who were in the meeting because a place for young children had not been provided.

Monday morning I sat in cat crap and completely lost my cool. The poor cat was almost toast, I was so overwrought. Luna looked me straight in the eye and said, “You hate that f*****g cat?” Obviously, I’m not completely opposed to using the word. *sigh* LaLa made an appearance while I was still winding down and reframing my thoughts and emotions. I snapped and snarled at her since I hadn’t completely transitioned. She accidentally stepped fully onto the arch of my foot, sending pain radiating throughout my body for hours. It just wasn’t a good mommy day for me. I tried to cancel our home visit with the Head Start lady, but she didn’t get the text. It was a good thing. I talked to another adult for a bit, but Luna being the focus and getting her attention and play needs met was the highlight. I got out of my head and engaged in play with them.

After that, I committed to the Blog for Mental Health 2013 project. Then I read It Is What It Is on Black Box Warnings and realized, I may be doing it imperfectly and inconsistently, but I’m living in acceptance of things as they are and doing what I am able, as I am able to be of value to myself and others in healthy and constructive ways. I am who I am, I am doing what I do, my life is what it is, and it’s all okay, even when it isn’t.

Inanity and hilarity in the mundanity of it all

I don’t know what life would look like without the angst and drama of being me. I often think I would like to find out.

There are a number of bloggers whom I’ve encountered over the past several months who are able to take life’s mundane matters and write about them with simplicity and, more importantly, with a tongue-in-cheek, humorous bent. Sometimes it’s seriously bent, which many of you know from encounters with Le Clown.

Some of the ones who have lightened my load with their lighthearted approach to everyday life include but are not limited to:

daddyranman – a proud new papa chronicling his parenthood experiences with lots of pictures not quite showing baby Rangirl’s face.

Miss Four Eyes – funny, slightly twisted, and she wears glasses

Free Penny Press – Lynne has an easy, fun, and inspiring way of looking and writing about the world

When I take the time to read what others are writing about, I’m often struck by how “normal” and mundane their lives are, but the mundanity isn’t a bad thing, it’s something to be treasured. Especially when I read how the ones living these extraordinary lives of ordinary people are doing it with humour  humor (I’m not Canadian or from across the pond, I’m an American. I can’t even stick to my own accent when writing, I absorb and mimic what I read as well as hear, apparently), grace, and such positive and life-affirming approaches.

That’s about the time my eternal, internal critic kicks in and starts comparing me and what I write about to what these other, more joyful, and much less verbose bloggers have to say with their written words, splashy photos, and creative graphics.

Okay! THAT’S ENOUGH!

They do what they do, and I am so very grateful for it. Reading their stuff, makes me exercise my stiff and creaky smile muscles. It reminds me that life isn’t always angst-ridden and dour, full of conflict, stress, and strife. The tectonic plate of their words and perspective butts up against mine and the occasional mindquakes shift and redirect my thinking and viewpoint.

What a wonderful gift. With that gift I gain the understanding and realization that I am growing and increasing in my ability to appreciate the absurd, witness the miracle in the moment, and recognize that there are things to enjoy and appreciate in my life. That’s amazing to me, and a bit of a miracle in process.

However, none of that means that my writing and the life I live is less than or worse than anything anyone else has to offer. It is different and somewhat difficult at times, but that’s okay. I’m doing what I need to be doing right now. It’s helping me to grow and change and develop into the person I’ve wanted to become for so long. However long it takes, is however long it takes for me to reach the point where everyday life isn’t my own Poor Man’s Peyton Place soap operatic reality show.

In the meantime, I can visit, read, laugh, appreciate, and comment, thereby practicing and tasting what it’s like to be a lighter, happier, and snappier version of me.

Stay tuned, programming on the Kina channel may be expanding and incorporating sitcoms as well as drama. We’ll keep you posted.

Taking the good from the bad

I’ve had a couple of occasions over the past few days where others have made me reevaluate some things and make me think about what’s good in the midst of the things that feel so bad.  My friend Dan from dan4kent commented on a recent post that reading my blog has become a mental vacation for him.

WHAT?!?

How in the world is it possible that this angst-ridden public display of me slogging through my difficulties with relationships, depression, and fibromyalgia could give anyone a mental vacation? I’m not sure that I understand how or why it is, but maybe I don’t have to.  Maybe it is just enough that I accept that there is someone out there who is able to appreciate and benefit from what I write about.

The focus of the writing is about my life, thoughts, feelings, and relationships with others.  A lot of what I write, when I’m writing is my mental and emotional trauma and drama pouring itself out through my fingers on the keyboard and appearing onscreen in what I try to make comprehensible, if only to myself.  I do very little editing and revising, however, I do try to read through it and determine if I could understand what was being said if I was reading someone else’s writing.  Essentially though, it is stream of consciousness writing.

Maybe what I’m writing isn’t as narcissistic as the mental voices tell me it is.  Reading through many of the comments I get, shows me that other people can relate and understand what I’m going through and they offer encouragement and hope.  Sometimes I get a comment from someone who has benefited in some way from reading what I’ve written.

Dan tells me my writing here is a display of quiet and powerful courage.  Others have said they don’t know how I open myself up and put myself “out there” like this and seem admiring of the fact I have done so.  To be absolutely clear, this blog is my lifeline.  It is the only place in my life where I can open up to myself about all the things that are affecting my ability to function in the real world.  Unless there is some kind of external obligation or crisis happening, I’m almost a non-functional vegetable.

Being able to have this space helps me to process, store, set aside, and let go of overwhelming emotions and churning thoughts.  It’s helping me to start to deal with the accumulated mental and emotional clutter and to keep my head above the waves of suffocating thoughts, feelings, and events that my life seems to continuously consist of.

Sometimes, I’m able to reach the shore and even explore what other people have written and how they live and deal with their lives.  Which winds up helping me too, if only to get out of my own head for a while.  I guess that may be what Dan meant by a mental vacation.  So, even though much of what I write about feels “bad” to me there’s a lot of good that is coming from it and it isn’t just for me, which makes the good even better.

The other thing that happened to make me reconsider the things I have seen as bad, was in a home visit today from two of the service providers now involved in our lives.

We spent a lot of time discussing the current circumstances and factors that contribute to or exacerbate Luna’s issues:

  • Jerry’s job for the past 6 months as an OTR truck driver
  • Jerry’s unexpected unemployment
  • The past legal issues that are impacting his employability, which we just recently found out about
  • My untreated health issues
  • The disconnects in our relationship with each other that make co-parenting problematic
  • The possibility of undiagnosed issues with Jerry
  • The past relationship issues

During the discussion we also went over all the things that have been and are being done to deal with things:

  • Engaging and coordinating multiple service agencies in providing support for Luna: Educational, Therapeutic, & Social
  • Applying for necessary economic supports with regards to housing, unemployment, food, and medical benefits, and
  • Obtaining the details from the other state with the warrant and sending a solution based letter to their judge

It turns out there is an active bench warrant for Jerry for passing a bad check in 1999.  He sincerely thought the issue had been resolved.  When he was on active duty and had the money to resolve the issue, he had sent it to an extended family member to pay it off.  He had been reassured it was resolved and didn’t follow up with the court.

It took a couple of phone calls: transfers, disconnects, and call backs, before we finally got someone who could give us information.  She was barely civil. I finally had to stop her and tell her that I needed to speak and felt that she wasn’t listening to me because she had the information she had.  Initially, she tried to tell Jerry to turn himself into their sheriff’s office, not going to happen.  We got the case number and the fax number and she said we could write a letter and fax it to the judge.  She refused to give even her first name.

As soon as we got off the phone with her, I found their mailing address and composed the letter.  I knew that part of the letter needed to contain a solution to get the obligation cleared, but with Jerry being unemployed, we don’t have the money to pay it.  So, I did the research and contacted the Department of Community Justice for our county and called the manager of the Community Service office to see if Jerry would be able to do community service here to satisfy the judgment there.  It can be done, but the request has to come from the other state. I included his name and contact information, suggesting that community service here as an option to resolve the matter.

Our visitors were amazed and complimentary about my ability to know how to navigate all of these things and come up with the solutions, especially the ones regarding the legal issue.

That knowledge and ability to navigate systems and understand how to get through the red tape to get things done has been acquired through the past 26 years of living my life and dealing with so many other episodes of lost income, acting out behavior of my older children and their scrapes with the legal system, and just trying to survive life with ongoing depression and fibromyalgia.

I’m tired and drained and often only see my personal history as a series of failed relationships and futile efforts.

Hearing what these women had to say made me realize that I have grown and learned and that I am applying what I’ve learned in ways that are building a better present and future for myself, for Luna, and for my relationship with Jerry.