Thursday, December 30, 2010

Oh, And Mary......That's Not Good Enough

It's no secret I've been really depressed and pretty hard on myself for awhile now. Ever since my birthday I've felt like I could spontaneously burst into tears at any given time.

On my birthday, Scarlett came by to spend a couple of hours with me and brought me a wonderful gift. Madison made a quick drive-by and gave me a Happy Birthday hug. Pinkie gave me the "Love Dare" book I've been wanting, and I got some great gifts from Kitty. I got dozens of well wishes on Facebook. Later that day a former employee of mine from years ago sent me the most touching email. She told me how many lives I'd touched and how special I was. I felt like George Bailey in "It's A Wonderful Life". But I still felt sad; like something was missing.

Today I was having a talk with Sally, and being the wise person she is, she pointed out something very interesting. She told me that even though I have many wonderful friends who think the world of me, I seem to focus most of my attention on two very powerful people who never, ever seem to be satisfied. These, she pointed out, are the only people who's approval actually seems important to me, and because it seems increasingly impossible for these people to ever be content, I view this somehow as failure on my part. Maybe if I just try harder...?

What Sally pointed out to me today is classic codependence. I get just enough adoration from these people to keep me reeled in and coming back for more. They tell me how wonderful I am, how much they love me, and then WHAM! I'm likely to get a jab in the gut. Not in the physical sense, but with insults and words that cut me down to the core. Most times, I never see it coming. I know they both love me very much, but why I continue to let their mood swings and increasing discontentment get to me so damn much...I don't know.

I'm tired, dear readers. I'm tired of everything.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Not The Same

It's really strange celebrating your birthday without hearing from your mother. This was my 3rd birthday without her, and I don't think I'll ever really get used to it.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Quotes I Like

"There are no more thorough prudes
than those who have some little secret to hide."
-George Sand

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Do I Smell Cake? And Beer?

Well, another Christmas is winding down, and I was going to write about my Christmas observations, but after spending an hour composing the entry, I have changed my mind. Instead I will say "to each his own" and drop it.

Instead I think I will focus on something different. Like any good codependent I would always rather focus on what those around me are doing, and completely ignore what I've been doing. But today is my birthday, and what better day to think about oneself and what you want for the coming year.

Well dear readers, I'm a mess. I've gained about 12 pounds since the summer. I eat fast food breakfast every day, and I haven't set foot on the treadmill in months. I'm drinking more alcohol than ever, and seem to have lost all motivation for anything healthy or productive. I keep thinking of that commercial that says "a body at rest tends to stay at rest, and a body in motion tends to stay in motion". Well, my body has been resting so long it doesn't know anything else. At work I daydream about going home and getting on the couch with my cats and my blanket. My joints are stiff and aching, and my heart rate hasn't been above a soft flicker in quite some time. I make noises when I get up from the couch and my bed because it hurts.

I'd like to sit here and type that I've dug deep inside myself and found the motivation I need to get back in the zone, but that would be a lie. Instead, I sit here thinking about how nice it would have been to have Eggs Benedict and mimosas for breakfast, and how I'd like to stay in my pajamas all day.

God has blessed me with a relatively healthy body. I bitch constantly about other people being inactive, unhealthy and eating poorly. For my birthday gift to myself, I am going to start praying that I find the motivation I need to get up and move. I want to feel like I did awhile back when I was excited about delicious, healthy foods, and exercise made me feel really, really good. If I could just find that part of myself again, that would be the best birthday present ever.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sleep Is The New Sex



Women fought hard for liberation and equal rights in the 1960's. As they began to grow tired of the "June Cleaver" lifestyle, women wanted to ditch their aprons and venture out into the business world. They wanted a voice of their own. They wanted to show the world they were capable of producing more than just offspring. Thanks to those pioneers, most of us now work outside the home; often contributing as much or more to the household budget than the man of the house. In fact, it's more unusual these days for a woman to stay at home than to be employed.

I'm reading a book right now, loaned to me by Kitty, that takes an interesting look at some of the effects this movement has caused in the last 30 or so years. The most interesting to me, plays out in the bedroom. According to this book, women of today have considerably less sex than the women of the 1950's. The main reason for this delcine? After fighting fires all day at work, we rush to pick up the children, and are lucky if we arrive home before 6:00 p.m. Then begins the second job of cooking, helping with homework, and attempting to fit in a day's worth of domestic chores in 30 minutes; usually unsuccessfully. Now, many of us don't even end our workday when we leave the office. With the advent of cell phones, laptop computers, and smart phones, we are bringing work home, and even on vacation with us by staying in constant communication with the problems of the office. This results in frustration and exhaustion by 10:00 p.m., and quite frankly, most women are just too darned tired to think about a romp in the bedroom. This phenomenon gave birth to the phrase "Sleep is the new sex".

I remember that as a child, my mother would start her chores immediately after she saw my Dad off to work. By the time "Another World" came on in the afternoons, she was ready to lay on the couch and have a nap. After an hour or so, she got up feeling refreshed, and started dinner. So by the time my Dad returned from work, at around 5:00, a lovely meal of fried meat, potatoes, and a vegetable was on the table. By 6:00 the dishes were done and it was family time. Instead of her day just beginning, her day was winding down. I guarantee she was feeling spunkier by 10:00, than I am today.

Now before you all start sending me hate mail, saying I'm trying to undo 35 years of blood, sweat, and tears, and I'm trying to send us all back to the days of high heels and pearls....let me assure you, I am not. I've worked full time outside the home since I was 19 years old. But I do think there's merit to this subject. Unless I win the lottery, I don't see myself turning in a resignation anytime soon, but I may just take a look at refinancing my mortgage. If I could cut off ten years, maybe I could retire at 60 instead of 70!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Beautiful Masterpiece


My eleven year old daughter has an interesting school assignment. The kids are supposed to come up with a metaphor about themselves. One girl wrote "I am the bow on top of the Christmas package." One boy in the class wrote "I am a monkey." Obviously a lot of work went in to that one! So I asked my daughter about hers, expecting to hear something about being a "Gleek" or something equally superficial. But to my surprise, my daughter wrote "I am the artist of the masterpiece", then proceeded to tell me that the "masterpiece" was her life. I sat there stunned for a second, thinking about all the possibilities in this statement and then I finally said "That is brilliant!".

Of course this prompted a dramatic speech from me about how we're all really the artists, but not all our lives turn out to be masterpieces. Some of our lives turn out to be items for sale at the Hotel/Motel Art Fair, or worse yet, crumbled up messes that end up in the garbage can.

After that discussion, I went to sleep thinking about how incredibly important every decision is for an eleven year old girl. The decision to focus on school or not, the decision to stay away from drugs and alcohol or not (especially with the addictive genes in my daughter's DNA), the decision to have sex too young or abstain, and the choices we make in friends. Every decision will shape the course of her life from this point forward.

So far my daughter has made excellent choices. I will try very hard to influence her to continue to make them, but ultimately the choices will be up to her. If she stays on the right track and keeps her heart and her head in the right places, that masterpiece will come together in a beautiful, beautiful way, and I can not wait to see it!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Never Leave Your Partner Behind


A few days ago I wrote about my years of struggles with communication when it comes to my partners (Communication Breakdown dated 11/20/2010). It seems I'm not the only one with this problem. I appreciate Mystical's willingness to comment, and some of the rest of you have shared your feelings with me on this subject too, via email or in person.

My friend and sister-in-law Pinkie, highly recommended I watch a film called "Fireproof". I'd heard of the film; one of my employees has a son-in-law who actually worked on it, but I never saw it until last night. Thanksgiving night I mentioned the film to Sara, and she told me she had a copy of it at home that I could borrow.

"Fireproof" is a low budget flick which I believe was filmed in about 30 days. The actors are not great. The lead is played by Kirk Cameron, who does an okay job, but the whole time I watched it I kept thinking the rest of the cast must be church members who volunteered to take rolls, much like a Christmas program.

But if you get past the low budget and the bad acting, there really is an incredible message. In the film, the main characters are very popular and get along great with everyone around them. One is a firefighter who is respected and admired; after all, he saves people every day. His wife is an attractive woman who works at a hospital, has lots of girlfriends, and is certainly admired by one particular young doctor. Yet as popular as they are with everyone around them, the minute they walk through the doors of their home the miscommunication begins and so does the fighting. The disrespect and the constant arguing made the couple believe they were no longer in love, so they were filing for divorce. That's when the fire fighter's dad stepped in (my favorite character in the movie), and begged his son to try one more thing.

The film suggests a 40 day program called "The Love Dare" to strengthen marriages, and bring ailing couples back together. Pinkie is going to loan me a copy of that. It also addresses selfishness, and how addictions affect relationships (the fire fighter liked his online porn). The film also promotes the idea that in order for relationships to work, each member of the couple should find their own peace with God.

It doesn't have to just be a husband or wife. I highly recommend this film to anyone who has found themselves constantly snapping at any of their loved ones. It's so easy to bark at the ones we love the most. You'll get past the bad acting, and just listen to the message. Thanks Pinkie and Sara for turning me on to this wonderful, inspirational idea. "Detach" gives "Fireproof" a major thumbs up, and I hope that because of this, I can pass the "Love Dare" on to someone else who needs it.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

It's Not An Easy Thing To Do


I rarely talk about codependence in my blog these days. I haven't touched the Big Book of Alcoholics Annonymous or one of Melody Beattie's books in months. I wondered tonight if that was the missing piece of the puzzle. I stopped studying that which was once so very important to me about the same time I stopped working out and counting calories. It all connected. Healthy Mind, Healthy Body. They go hand in hand.

So tonight I did one of my favorite things. I grabbed one Melody Beattie's books and opened it to whatever page God wanted me to read today. Here it is:

"One of the most damaging things that happens to people who lived in abusive situations is that we were lied to. We were taught we couldn't trust ourselves.

The goal of healing from codependency is knowing that we can trust ourselves.Our goal isn't telling ourselves how messed up we are and that we can't be trusted. Each of us is connected to Life. God is connected to us. Some say God speaks to us through intuition. That part of us is like radar or a truth detector. It knows what's true and what's not. It will usually tell us who we can trust, for what, and for how long--if we listen and we're not blocked. That part also knows what we need to do next. It has the ability to compute past, present, future, and the unknown, then calculate the most appropriate decision in ways we couldn't by using only intellect."

Melody Beattie
The New Codependency

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Part Of The Plan

Someone once said to me, "God laughs at our plans". I thought about that for awhile, and now it's one of my favorite sayings. Just when we think we've got it all figured out, life often throws us a curve. It might be an unexpected illness, a natural disaster, the loss of a job, or a spouse who suddenly decides they want out. Often, we never see it coming. But even though it may not have been part of our plan, it was part of God's plan for us.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Things We'd Rather Not Know


Whenever I start talking about meat, my dad tells me to stop. He's not disputing what I say, he's simply just decided he doesn't want to think about it. It's so easy not to think about unpleasant things. But the fact is, there are more than one billion broiler chickens in the United States -- more than three birds for every person in the country.

Chicken is cheap. Eggs are REALLY cheap. American consumers have no idea of the impact they are having on farm families every time they get a "great deal" on these mass produced products we buy every week at the mega mart. But if you are buying these products you are forcing American farmers to "go big or get out".

I haven't preached this in awhile, but get to know your food. Ponder the fact that while everything else in the world is getting more expensive, meat and eggs are getting cheaper. Do a little research about the farms that produce the foods you and your family eat. But most important, support your local farm families!

Monday, November 29, 2010

I Wouldn't Put Up With That....Or Would I?

It's very strange how you can hear something someone else is going through and think to yourself "Aw Hell Naw! There is no way I'd put up with that bull shit!", then you realize you've had the exact same thing happen to you lots of times, and you certainly did put up with it.

It's just odd how things look when you see them from another perspective. Sometimes we can't see the forest for the trees, I guess.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Communication Breakdown

I love to communicate with other people. Whether it's talking with someone in person, by phone, text message, email, or writing in this journal, I feel that it is extremely important say what I'm feeling or thinking. So why then, have I always had such an incredibly hard time communicating with my partners? Boyfriends, husbands, whatever...I feel like they don't understand what I'm trying to say or do, and the feeling is often mutual.

This frustrates the hell out me. Good intentions go misunderstood, and maybe that goes both ways.

I would give anything to be able to get past this barrier. Often I find myself feeling jealous of friends and coworkers who have seemingly perfect relationships. By "perfect" I guess I mean they don't fight every time they have a serious conversation with their significant other.

I guess this is part of codependence, I don't know. Thinking one thing but saying another. Feeling responsible for other people's feelings. I just wish I knew how to move past it.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Coincidence?


When the television series "Desperate Housewives" began a story line about a beautiful woman (Vanessa Williams) married to an NBA player who's constant cheating broke up their marriage, my husband commented how strange he thought it was. After all, one of the shows stars, Eva Longoria is married to NBA player Tony Parker.

Now rumors are flying that the Parkers have filed for divorce after Tony was caught cheating.

Coincidence? Or was the story line created by Eva and the writers to send Tony a message?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Mary's MILFs


It's been way too long since we've had a Mary's MILF (Men I'd Like to Fix) inductee. I can't believe it's taken me this long to select today's recipient. He fits all the criteria. He's skinny, he's crazy talented, he's tattooed, and he's a heroin addict. His codependent ex-wife wrote a book about her struggles with him, and I was glued to every page.

The newest Mary's MILF is Scott Weiland, lead singer of the bands Stone Temple Pilots, and Velvet Revolver.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Ouch


Something very strange happened to me this morning. I poured my coffee, and with cobwebs still in my eyes, headed to the computer to pay some bills, write the previous journal entry, and check Facebook.

When I brought up the Facebook "News Feed", the very first entry that popped up was "Mike Brown is in a relationship". Now if you'll remember back to some old journal entries, Mike Brown is the boy who grew up across the street from me. The boy with the infamous black Mustang that I loved from afar my entire adolescence.

Mike Brown got married young. His wife was (and still is) an alcoholic. He couldn't take it anymore, and divorced her several years ago.

So when I saw those words "Mike Brown is in a relationship", I just sat here with my coffee and stared at the screen like some sort of idiot. I don't know why. I'm middle aged and married, and I don't have any intentions of being single again, but for some reason I just kept sitting here, staring at those words.

I think it's kind of like when your favorite singer or movie star gets married. You know it's completely unrealistic for you to ever be together, but you feel put out anyway. I remember feeling this exact same way when Fonzie was dating that bitch Pinkie Tuscadero.

When I was little, I always dreamed that one day I'd be Mrs. Mike Brown. In fact, that was the title of a journal entry of mine (August 1, 2009). I've always known that this will never be, but reading those words this morning pulled at a little girl's heartsrings anyway.

Old Habits Die Hard

One of my friends has a family member who is struggling with a serious and potentially life threatening alcohol addiction. The family member has been sober a couple of times in recent months, but the demon currently consumes them. My friend told me that this family member gets drunk and constantly calls her on the phone; AA calls this drunk dialing.

So yesterday I was talking with my friend and before I knew what happened, these words came out of my codependent mouth; "So what are you going to do about Pat?".

Unbelievable.

After two years of writing a journal about codependence, something inside me still thinks someone else can "fix" an alcoholic. Something clicked as the words were coming out of my mouth, but out they flowed anyway.

I obviously still have a lot of work to do.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Be Careful With That!!!


Did you ever think about what will happen to all your stuff when you die? All the photographs that meant so much to you, all the greeting cards that made you laugh or made you cry, all the love notes you tucked away into a heart shaped Russell Stover box? What will they do with your favorite, soft robe? Who's going to sift through all your things; your sock drawer, your underwear drawer? Who's going to find those items you bought at last year's Fantasy Party??? Maybe it will be your kids or your spouse. Maybe it will be your friends or your parents. Maybe it will be strangers.

I guess it's going to happen to all of us one day. It's just inevitable. When my time comes, I hope it's someone I love who goes through my things, and I hope it won't be too big of a chore for them. I hope they find a trinket or two they may want to keep to remember me by. Maybe they will treasure my concert ticket collection as much as I did. And I hope that when I go, I leave behind something more than just my "stuff". I hope I was able to impact some people's lives for the better along the way. I hope I made people see things a little differently once in awhile, and I hope that somehow, some way, I made a difference.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

My Mom

My mom became a grandmother when she was 36 years old. She was 18 when she had my older sister, and my sister was 18 when she had her daughter. I was still pretty young when all this happened, only 7 years old. We watched my niece a lot. She spent a lot of weekends with us. I remember when my mom would take my niece out someplace, she would always brag because people thought the baby was hers. My mom was very pretty in those days, and took a lot of pride in the way she looked. She was so proud of the fact that people told her she looked way too young to be a grandmother.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Your Attention, Please

Scarlet says God always knows how to get our attention. Well somebody got mine today. I've worked with Jenie for about 13 years. She's 4 years older than me, same height, and has a similar build. Jenie is going through a divorce. Since the process began, she's lost a decent amount of weight; about twenty pounds. Today she was telling me how she went on a shopping spree to buy new clothes, two sizes smaller. I told her how great she looked, then as I turned to walk away Jenie said "You can have all my old "big" clothes if you want them".

I was devastated.

Maybe that was the kick in the pants I needed.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Who's Your Inner Critic?

We all do it. Say something wrong or make a mistake. Make a bad call or say something we shouldn't have said. Then, it happens. We replay the scene over and over in our heads until we succeed at beating the shit out of ourselves. We punish ourselves much harder than anyone else would punish us. Why do we do that? Dr. Eve says it's our Inner Critics.

It is believed we each possess seven Inner Critics. When you go inside and actually get to know an Inner Critic part, it’s surprising to learn that it is actually trying to help you (even though it is really causing trouble). This makes it possible to make a personal connection with a Critic rather than fighting it, and this helps it to let go of its judgments.

Dr. Eve suggested a website with a questionairre that helps us identify which critics may be causing us problems. If you're interested in taking the quiz, and learning more about your Inner Critics, here's the website:

http://www.psychemaps.com/Default.aspx

Monday, November 1, 2010

Having A Hard Time Losing My Quit

I had the pleasure of meeting Biggest Loser Season 8 Winner, Danny Cahill a few weeks ago, and he told us all to "Lose Our Quit". But I can't seem to Lose My Quit. I haven't had the inspiration to write in my journal, I haven't had the desire to eat properly, and I certainly haven't felt like exercising.

I keep thinking I need to have other people around me who are on track, but Sara is on track and so is Scarlet. That's not helping either.

I wore my black wrist band that says "Lose Your Quit", but that didn't work. Then today I spent a few hours in the hospital waiting room, which always seems to be inundated with unhealthy, overweight people. Today was no exception. But even though I noticed it, I still walked away with my "Quit" completely in tact.

Maybe I need to print out the photo of Danny Cahill and myself. That might give me a little motivation.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Lisa Marie Presley - Part Two

Friday, June 26, 2009

He Knew.

Years ago Michael and I were having a deep conversation about life in general.

I can't recall the exact subject matter but he may have been questioning me about the circumstances of my Fathers Death.

At some point he paused, he stared at me very intensely and he stated with an almost calm certainty, "I am afraid that I am going to end up like him, the way he did."

I promptly tried to deter him from the idea, at which point he just shrugged his shoulders and nodded almost matter of fact as if to let me know, he knew what he knew and that was kind of that.

14 years later I am sitting here watching on the news an ambulance leaves the driveway of his home, the big gates, the crowds outside the gates, the coverage, the crowds outside the hospital, the Cause of death and what may have led up to it and the memory of this conversation hit me, as did the unstoppable tears.

A predicted ending by him, by loved ones and by me, but what I didn't predict was how much it was going to hurt when it finally happened.

The person I failed to help is being transferred right now to the LA County Coroners office for his Autopsy.

All of my indifference and detachment that I worked so hard to achieve over the years has just gone into the bowels of hell and right now I am gutted.

I am going to say now what I have never said before because I want the truth out there for once.

Our relationship was not "a sham" as is being reported in the press. It was an unusual relationship yes, where two unusual people who did not live or know a "Normal life" found a connection, perhaps with some suspect timing on his part. Nonetheless, I do believe he loved me as much as he could love anyone and I loved him very much.

I wanted to "save him" I wanted to save him from the inevitable which is what has just happened.

His family and his loved ones also wanted to save him from this as well but didn't know how and this was 14 years ago. We all worried that this would be the outcome then.

At that time, In trying to save him, I almost lost myself.

He was an incredibly dynamic force and power that was not to be underestimated.

When he used it for something good, It was the best and when he used it for something bad, It was really, REALLY bad.

Mediocrity was not a concept that would even for a second enter Michael Jackson's being or actions.

I became very ill and emotionally/ spiritually exhausted in my quest to save him from certain self-destructive behavior and from the awful vampires and leeches he would always manage to magnetize around him.

I was in over my head while trying.

I had my children to care for, I had to make a decision.

The hardest decision I have ever had to make, which was to walk away and let his fate have him, even though I desperately loved him and tried to stop or reverse it somehow.

After the Divorce, I spent a few years obsessing about him and what I could have done different, in regret.

Then I spent some angry years at the whole situation.

At some point, I truly became Indifferent, until now.

As I sit here overwhelmed with sadness, reflection and confusion at what was my biggest failure to date, watching on the news almost play by play The exact Scenario I saw happen on August 16th, 1977 happening again right now with Michael (A sight I never wanted to see again) just as he predicted, I am truly, truly gutted.

Any ill experience or words I have felt towards him in the past has just died inside of me along with him.

He was an amazing person and I am lucky to have gotten as close to him as I did and to have had the many experiences and years that we had together.

I desperately hope that he can be relieved from his pain, pressure and turmoil now.

He deserves to be free from all of that and I hope he is in a better place or will be.

I also hope that anyone else who feels they have failed to help him can be set free because he hopefully finally is.

The World is in shock but somehow he knew exactly how his fate would be played out some day more than anyone else knew, and he was right.

I really needed to say this right now, thanks for listening.

~LMP

Lisa Marie Presley - Part One


When I first heard that Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley were a "couple", I had the same reaction as most of America in 1994; "Is this for real?". Last night Lisa Marie's interview with Oprah aired, and today I have a whole new take on the situation. At least on Lisa Marie's half of it.

The interview captivated me. So far I have watched it twice, and I suspect I'll be watching it more. There are three reasons for this. One, Lisa Marie's face is a haunting reflection of her father, and I can't get enough of looking at her. Two, her story is unlike anything anyone could dream up, having close, personal relationships with the two most iconic men in the history of pop culture, then watching them both crumble before her eyes. And three, even if you strip away all the fame and money, Lisa Marie Presley is a recovering codependent, and at the end of the day, codependence is the reason I began writing this journal.

During the interview, I heard the word "detach" at least twice. Lisa Marie talked about the "highs" she experienced when things were good with Michael Jackson. She tried very hard to explain how magnetic and powerful he was and that if you were fortunate enough for him to "let you in", just how wildly intoxicating it could be. She noted that she's never experienced anything like that with anyone else in her life....except her father.

By the end of the interview you came to the belief that she was very much in love with MJ, but that she felt she was "disposable" to him, just like everyone else around him. Just like everyone who surrounded her father. She emphasized that when you have that kind of fame and mix it with addiction, it is poison.

Lisa Marie commented that the happiest times in her life were when she was "taking care" of MJ. The lowest lows where when she could not. I don't care if you are Lisa Marie Presley referring to Michael Jackson, or any other codependent person who has loved an addict, this feeling is exactly the same. As I listened to her, I "got it".

The day after Michael Jackson died, Lisa Marie wrote something in her blog that is very touching to me. Touching, because in reading it I feel her pain, but mostly because it could have been written by anyone in the world who has had a close relationship with an addict. In a separate entry I will print her entire journal entry from that day, but for now, this is the excerpt I want to emphasize:

"The person I failed to help is being transferred right now to the LA County Coroners office for his Autopsy.

All of my indifference and detachment that I worked so hard to achieve over the years has just gone into the bowels of hell and right now I am gutted.

I wanted to "save him" I wanted to save him from the inevitable which is what has just happened.

At that time, In trying to save him, I almost lost myself.

He was an incredibly dynamic force and power that was not to be underestimated.

When he used it for something good, It was the best and when he used it for something bad, It was really, REALLY bad."


For what it's worth, I believe that Lisa Marie is sincere and that she did love Michael Jackson very much. Addiction and codependence have no boundaries. I believe she saw her father in him and somehow believed that if she tried hard enough, she just might be able to save him. Like so many codependent women, she was wrong. I am pleased that since his death, Lisa Marie has had an awakening, and now realizes how all the pieces of the puzzle come in to place. From one codependent woman to another, I admire her, and wish her peace, and all the very best life has to offer.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

My Hero Of The Week


I don't have a Hero of the Week every week. I only do it when something really strikes me as heroic. Like last night when I watched the late night replay of The Oprah Winfrey Show and heard Tyler Perry's story about his horrific childhood. And as a bonus, we got to meet the aunt who inspired Perry's character Madea.

One day while he was watching The Oprah Winfrey Show in 1992, Perry took the advice that it can be cathartic to put feelings down on paper, which inspired him to write letters of his painful childhood. These letters eventually became his plays. Perry's first foray into writing was in 1992, when he began writing a journal, in part to cope with the repercussions of abuse. He developed different characters to voice different ideas in the journal. This work eventually became the musical I Know I've Been Changed, about adult survivors of child abuse.

Tyler Perry stopped being a victim and let his experiences inspire him to become the second highest paid film maker in Hollywood today.

I've always liked him, but now I truly respect him. You're a good man, Tyler Perry.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Quotes I Like

"All sins are attempts to fill voids."
-Simone Well


The devil knows when we are unfulfilled. It's then he tempts us with the things we believe will make us feel better. It's then he tempts us with that which we can not resist.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Case of The Missing Coffee


I'm feeling a lot better today. The problem from yesterday isn't gone away, but it's much better. Still feeling very awkward around all the people involved, and I think I will continue to feel that way for awhile.

A strange thing happened to me today at the grocery store. I had a cup of coffee from McDonalds with me while I was doing my early morning shopping. When I got to the coffee aisle I sat it down so I could text a coworker to ask if I needed to pick up a can of coffee to bring back to work. When I got done texting I couldn't find my cup of coffee. I looked everywhere. Then I started thinking maybe I'd sat it down in another aisle. I knew I didn't, but I decided to retrace my steps anyway. No luck. I probably spent 5 minutes staring at the coffee cans, wondering what happened to my drink. It was the strangest feeling! I felt like I was going crazy. My conclusion was that one of the stock boys was walking down the aisle while I was busy texting, and grabbed the coffee off the shelf. It's the only thing I could come up with.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

What Now?


I'm not feeling so well today. Having a bad codependent day. I'm not even sure it's codependence. Alcohol was involved, but I don't really know how you'd label this. All I know is that through a series of events that happened in the blink of an eye, I was humiliated beyond my wildest dreams last night.

I've played the scene over and over and over in my head and in retrospect I guess I should have known better than to put myself in the situation. But now the damage is done and I really don't know how to undo it. I'm not sure if it's possible to undo it.

This is one of those times that I wish I could just rewind and do over. But there are no do-overs in life and I've got to deal with what happened. Right now I'm trying to find the lesson learned, or the "good" in what happened, but I'm having a lot of trouble with that. The only thing that's going to make me feel better is seeing the people involved and talking it out with them. Trust me, that's going to be enormously awkward.

Right now running away sounds like a better idea, but I guess I can't do that.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A Busy, Relaxing Week?

Weeknights for me are a pattern. Get home from work around 6:15, look through mail, change clothes, get dinner started, throw in a load of laundry, and BAM! it's 8:00 or 9:00 before you know it. Spend a little quality time with the family and maybe get on the computer for an hour and it's bed time.

So projects, like cleaning out closets, having repair work done, and (this may sound odd to most women) shopping have to take a back seat. Now here's how my mind processes this. I start thinking "That is a project I will do on my next vacation week." Then by the time a vacation week comes I have a full plate of tasks that are usually way past needing to be done.

This week was no exception. It was hectic but productive. I had a chimney sweep come in to clean and inspect our fireplace, I had a hardwood floor installed in my dining room, I had repair work done to fix my air conditioner, and I finally got my two newly acquired Siamese cats to the vet for an exam and shots. In the meantime, I spent three days trying to get the gas and electric turned on at the house Sally and I are working on.

People always fuss at me and say I need to relax on my vacation, or take some time for myself. I do that too. I took a couple of impromptu mid-day naps this week, and last weekend Scarlet and I flew to Memphis for a three day girls trip. On the flight heading down there I proclaimed that I did not remember the last time I'd felt that relaxed. Scarlet, who has had a lot on her plate with work and school, agreed. We had a weekend of eating, drinking, people watching, and taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of Beale Street. It was just what the doctor ordered!

So mine may not be the typical vacation of spa visits and laying around for a week, but it rejuvenates me to feel like I got something that's been hanging over my head out of the way.

I still have one more week of vacation to go. I'm off this coming week as well. There are several things on my plate once again, but I'm looking forward to just being off work and being productive.

Sometimes I feel like I should try to be a better time manager. That if I could get more things done during the evenings or on weekends, I wouldn't have to fill my weeks off with chores. But I don't see much changing for me, at least not right now.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I Met A Hero!


On April 15, 2010 I wrote about my hero of the week. It was Biggest Loser Season 8 winner Danny Cahill. Danny lost 239 pounds and was probably one of the most likable contestants that has ever been on the show. Now Danny is a motivational speaker and last week I had the opportunity to hear him speak.

My friend and neighbor Sara, attends one of the largest churches in the United States, which happens to be here in our hometown. Last week, the church had a "motivational week" with all sorts of different speakers and entertainers sharing their stories and their testimonies. When Sara heard that Danny Cahill was one of the speakers, she got tickets for the two of us to attend.

Danny's motto is "Lose Your Quit", meaning we should stop giving up on ourselves and our quest to be healthy. I'm going to talk more in the days ahead about losing my quit, but for now I want to say how wonderful it was to meet Danny. I even got his autograph and had my photo taken with him. And yes, I told him I wrote about him in my blog! He thanked me. Not only was his story and his journey fascinating, but he has some of the most gorgeous eyes I've ever seen on a man in my life!

I'm so glad Sara took me to this event. We had a great evening!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Isn't It Ironic?

Miss Pamela and I had a strange coincidence two days ago. While my dad was in the hospital having gall bladder surgery, Miss Pamela's dad was in the same hospital with a fractured ankle. Later that day, my Dad said "I never wanted to get old and have to have you take care of me." The same afternoon, Miss Pamela's dad said almost the exact same thing to her.

We both found that ironic, because neither man was in the hospital for an age related ailment. My dad was having a surgery that I had myself a few years ago, and Miss Pamela's dad had an accident on the golf course. It's also noteworthy that while my dad is 80 years old, Miss Pamela's dad is in his late 80's. Both are extremely healthy and active; Several days a week, Miss Pamela's dad plays golf, and my dad works at his church, painting or fixing some thing or another.

I pray that both our dads have speedy recoveries, and stay fit and busy for a long time to come.

Monday, October 4, 2010

It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year


Most people long for Spring and Summer, but ever since I can remember, Fall has always been my favorite time of year. I feel most alive in Fall. It stimulates all my senses. It's beautiful to look at, it feels good, it smells good, it sounds good, and if there's a bowl of Candy Corn or a Chili Cook-Off, it tastes good too. I could list a hundred reasons I love it, but for now, I'll stick with ten.

Top Ten Reasons I Love Fall

1. Warm sun, cool breeze
2. Colored leaves on trees and on the ground
3. Halloween
4. Both my kids have birthdays
5. Travel season is over, work slows down drastically
6. Clocks "fall back" to real time
7. Long sleeved tees
8. Chili
9. You can always find a scary movie on cable
10. Firepit in the back yard after dark

Saturday, October 2, 2010

I Got It!


My son has played sports on and off in his life. He's pretty good at anything he attempts, but does it half-heartedly. You never see that fire in his eye or see him practicing in his spare time. Going to practice always seems like an inconvenience. He gets that from me. He's just not that in to it. He'd rather shoot baskets in the neighbors driveway or play baseball in the field using cans for bases than be on a team.

My daughter on the other hand has just started playing sports this school year. Volleyball. All her life we offered for her to play soccer or do cheerleading, softball, gymnastics....not interested. She's always said she would wait until she could play volleyball and that's what she would play.

Now my daughter lives and breathes volleyball. She can't wait for practices and especially for games. Every evening she begs her Dad to take her outside to practice. After that, she comes inside and hits the ball up the stairs, waits for it to bounce back down and hits it again. This will go on until we force her to stop. During games she's in the zone. Total focus in her eyes and she's ready to play.

My point here is that I see that compulsive personality in one of my children, but not in the other. My daughter has always been more like her Dad than my son. We've known that since birth. That's not a bad thing. The intensity my daughter has for something she's interested in is great. It's what makes winners. It's what makes leaders. It's also a trait found in many addicts.

My goal with my daughter is to keep her intensity focused on the positive. If sports, particularly volleyball is that positive, then so be it. I've said since she was born that if she could use her energy for good she would be a great person. I've been educating my children about substance abuse and addiction since they were small. I'm letting them know they have the gene coming from both sides of their families and that they must always be aware of it.

It's funny how genetics works. I see a little of both my husband and myself in both our kids, but there's no doubt that the boy has the genetics of my Dad and me, and the girl is all from her Dad's gene pool.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Two Hands


I apologize for the lack of posts lately. I've been working on my other blog, documenting the journey with the new house. It's hard to keep up with two...

The other night I got a call at around 2:00 a.m. It was my Dad, saying he was very sick and was having severe pains in his stomach. He wanted me to come get him, and take him to the Emergency Room. In all his 80 years, that's the first time he's ever requested to go to the ER, so I knew it was something serious.

Turns out he was having a gall bladder attack and may have to have a little surgery. But in the hours we were in the hospital waiting for test results, something odd happened. My Dad became very needy. I could tell he was very scared. He's extremely healthy, and not used to being sick or in pain. If you've ever had a gall bladder attack, you know how incredibly painful it is. At one point, as he was starting to come down from the attack, he tapped my arm indicating he wanted me to give him my hand. He held it very tight for a long time. Neither of us said it, but at that moment I knew we were both thinking the same thing...how bad we both missed Mom.

After a long time, I started to lose feeling in my arm, so I pulled away. But when I did I stretched my hand out next to his and showed him just how much our two hands looked alike. It was my way of letting him know I was part of him and I would always be there for him.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

It Ain't Fittin'....It Just Ain't Fittin'


The other day someone told me something that I just can't get out of my head. This person told me they didn't like hot dogs. I don't know why, but I just can't wrap my head around that. I can understand someone not eating hot dogs because they think they are unhealthy or because they can't stomach the ingredients, but how can anyone not like a hot dog?

There's just so many ways to love a dog! Boiled dogs....my least favorite. Dogs on the grill...I like mine with a little ketchup, mustard, sweet relish and sweet onion. Dogs broiled on the little roller thingys at the ball game or at the Target food stand. I like those naked! And then there's the artery clogging dogs I get every now and again from the Nathan's man...chili, cheese, sweet sauteed onions and green peppers, and saurkraut. These dogs I limit to about 6 a year, for health purposes.

Sigh.....how can anyone not like hot dogs????!!!!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Life Knows What We Need


I was preparing to leave work for the weekend one Friday night in late July, when a strange thing happened to me. The facilities manager of our office building came in and asked me if I might know anyone who would be interested in adopting two Siamese cats. We have two cat lovers in my office, so I immediately went over and inquired if either of them might want a couple of new additions. They both said no. I mentioned to the fellow that I'd send out an email to the rest of the company on Monday. That's when he told me there wasn't time for that.

It seems there was this man who was being evicted from his loft, which is also owned by the same company who owns the building we occupy. The facilities manager had been in contact by phone with the man all day as they were clearing out all his possessions. Problem was, no one knew what to do with these two cats. The man's response was "put them out on the street corner for all I care".

We'd been looking for the right family pet for some time. There was the ill-fated week we fostered the Greyhound, and we kept tossing around the idea of a different dog. Problem is, we work all day and no one is home to train or care for any animal. I didn't feel it was right to leave an animal caged all day, and I certainly did not want to come home to messes everywhere and pee on my floors. Plus, I'm just too tired and busy to devote the necessary time to training a dog. I don't really know how to do it anyway!

The thought of a cat never really entered my mind. A lot of people simply hate them, and have no qualms about telling you so, and many people are allergic. Plus, the only other cat I ever owned ruined my carpet by peeing wherever she felt like peeing, she didn't particularly like to be petted, and she bit. But nonetheless, these two Seal Point Siamese ended up at my house that evening and they've been there ever since!

Kitty #1 reminds me of a cheerleader. She wears a pink collar. She's perky, she's friendly, she greets everyone at the door, and she's slightly annoying. This kitty came in the door that night acting like she'd lived here her whole life. She was just grateful to be here. The great thing about cats is, they don't really know their names anyway, so we call them all sorts of things. This kitty is Fancy Cat, or Good Kitty, Pretty Kitty, etc.

Kitty #2 was so mad when she got here, that she barracaded herself in my bedroom and hissed at anyone who came near. This kitty wears no collar because you'd have a better chance of putting a collar on a rattlesnake. Good news however, this one is now very well adjusted and will come sit on your lap and let you pet her. She's very different from the other one. She's got a bit of an attitude. We call her Bad Kitty, B.K., or Elphaba, since she reminds us a little of the Wicked Witch. I have to say; I think Bad Kitty is my favorite of the two. We know how I like the bad ones!

I've had a couple of phone conversations with the ex-wife of the man who was evicted. She says he is bi-polar and in his normal state of mind would never have let the cats go, let alone be evicted. She also told me a shocking bit of news; the cats are sisters and are 14 years old. Figures! I finally get animals that I love and they are a couple of old ladies!

So I guess you never know what's going to happen. I didn't expect to have them in my world, but now wouldn't trade these two cats for anything. Sometimes we just have to trust that Life knows what we need.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I Love Season Premier Week!

Last night was the season premier of my favorite show, "The Biggest Loser". If watching that show doesn't motivate a person to be healthier, nothing will.
The show opened with these powerful statistics:

"For the first time in American history there are more obese people in the U.S. than merely overweight people."

"Two out of three of us are fat."

"An epidemic disease."

"For the first time since the Civil War, life expenctancy is predicted to drop. And the main reason: obesity"

"You can start with heart disease, cancer, diabetes."

"Childhood obesity rates in this country have tripled."

"This is the number one public health challenge of the United States."

"Instead of just talking about this problem, we have to act."

"The First Lady is right, we must act now."

Thursday, September 16, 2010

This And That

There's a lot going on in my life right now. Awhile back I wrote that I was interested in flipping another house. Well, it looks like that's going to be a reality. Only there's an unexpected twist this time; I'm not doing it on my own. Sally and I have partnered on this one and I'm feeling really good about it. Ever since I found out our offer was accepted, my mood has lifted and I don't feel nearly as depressed. I'm excited and I feel like I have something to look forward to. I understand that fixing up old, dirty houses isn't everyone's cup of tea, but if anyone would like to come see the "before" side of the project, let me know. Hopefully we'll have possession of the house by the first of October.

My daughter turned eleven yesterday. I love that little girl more than life itself. She is turning in to an incredible young lady. She's playing volleyball at her new school and has made lots of friends. I'm very proud of her and thank God every single day for bringing her in to my life. I honestly can not imagine my life without her.

Things are good right now. I just had some blood work done, and got a very good bill of health from my doctor. I'm trying to inch my way back towards Healthy Mind, Healthy Body.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Quotes I Like


Some of the people in my life are about to take on new challenges. I am excited for us all. Tonight, this seems appropriate:

"Fear not that your life will someday end.
Fear only that you do nothing with it."

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Opposites Attract

My husband and I got out of the house early this Sunday morning and met Sara and Marty-Marr for coffee. During our visit, Sara made the comment that she had advised both her daughters they should marry a man just like their dad. That sparked a conversation about the types of people we pick. Sara said we either seem to pick a person that reminds us of our parent, or we pick the exact opposite. I realized I always pick the exact opposite.

I don't know why--my dad is a great guy. But when I was growing up I was sheltered from everything. We never went to the Catholic picnics like everyone else. We never went to pizza places or the popular fish places because they served beer. My dad refused to go anywhere or eat at any restaurant that served beer. He didn't want me exposed to it. Looking back, I have to wonder if that was such a good idea.

I think it's human nature to be attracted to things that seem forbidden. So does this mean we should allow our kids to be exposed to things so that they won't be so lured in as adults? Who knows?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

No Free Parking


Have you ever played the game Monopoly? I have....alot. It's fun--especially when you are winning! We all know the secret to the game. The one who buys the most properties usually wins. When you own pretty much everything, you have a "monopoly".

Did you know that four meat packing companies in the United States, now slaughter and package about 80% of all the meat sold in this country? This has caused a 15-year trend in which several thousand ranchers are forced out of business every year, resulting in the smallest U.S. cow herd in several decades and threatening a way of life that has kept the nation supplied with beef for more than a century.

In May, 2010 the Associated Press reported the federal government is conducting an investigation into whether the "Big Four" are illegally or unfairly driving down cattle prices. And it makes good business sense; the lower they drive the prices of their product, the more they sell. When you can buy a pack of steaks for $8.99, why in the world would you pay a farmer $15.00? It's a monopoly.

Price is by far the number one objection I hear when I try to steer my friends and family to the Farmers Market for meat. I would gladly serve my family grilled cheese sandwiches one night a week in order to pay more for steaks raised by a local farmer.

People like to talk about how much better things were "back in the day". Stores were better, restaurants were better, everything was better. But every time we choose Cheap and Convenient, we are closing down another farm or another family owned business, and we are killing the traditional American dream that we are all so nostalgic about.

I get a lot of flack for my strong opinions about food, and that's fine. I don't care if people make fun of me. I know they do. Sometimes they do it to my face, so I can only imagine what they say behind my back. But I'm proud of my stand on this subject and I will continue to educate myself and pass on information to anyone willing to listen.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Pleasing The Public


We've all heard the story of the JetBlue flight attendant who quit his job after he had a go with an unruly passenger. He grabbed a beer and slid down the emergency slide, making headlines worldwide.

Whether you agree with the guy or not, one thing is for certain...any job that requires working with, and pleasing customers is hard.

I have worked directly with the public for more than 26 years. There have always been challenging or hard to please customers, but in the last five years something has changed. Customers have become unusually rude, and unreasonably demanding. Sometimes even violent. Recently, a lady went nuts at a McDonald's drive thru because she wanted Chicken Nuggets and they had already started serving breakfast. She physically attacked the drive thru attendant through the window! Heck, my own father told me to go into Lowes and "get loud" the other day when we waited five minutes for someone to come load a grill into our truck.

So today I had an extremely difficult customer. He didn't seem to have a legitimate complaint, he was just angry. He fussed about the way something was worded on his bill. He fussed about the way something was worded on the credentials he had from our company. He was rude to me, and insulted our company and our employees in front of several other customers.

I apologized for all his inconvenience and tried my best to answer all his questions. I told him I would pass on his concerns about the verbiage. Then he said in a condescending tone, "Oh thank you. You've been ever so helpful today." then he mumbled something under his breath as he stepped aside. I couldn't resist the urge to say "Excuse me?". He didn't look up. I said "Did you say something else?". He never looked up. I let it go and took the next customer in line, but I was physically shaking by the time it was over.

For the past few years now, customer service people across the country have been taught they must "totally satisfy" the customer. The idea being that "satisfied" customers are not loyal customers. Only customers who are "totally satisfied" will remain loyal to a company or brand. Many companies, including mine send out comment cards to customers. Only the ones with perfect marks count. I've even had desperate sales people beg me to mark any survey cards I might receive "Totally Satisfied". At my company we don't beg. But we are instructed to say "I hope you were Totally Satisfied today" so as just to plant the idea into their heads in the event they should receive a card.

Also, those dealing with the public have been trained to empathize with the customers. "I understand how frustrating it must be that we're serving breakfast and you can't get your Chicken Nuggets, ma'am". It's been beaten in to our skulls that the customer is always right.

Well, here's what I think. This system is starting to backfire, giving American consumers a twisted sense of entitlement. The customer is NOT always right. Often times the customer is looking to pick a fight with someone because they are bitter, miserable human beings. Or possibly they have been out partying all night and need to get some grease on.

I'm a consumer. I know how frustrating it is when I have trouble getting what I want. We're all time-starved and there just aren't enough hours in the day. We want what we want when we want it. Cheap and Convenient. But when we don't get the grill after five minutes, it doesn't give us the right to walk into the store and start yelling at people, any more than it gives incompetent employees the right to be rude to customers. Employee or Consumer, manners and common courtesy don't fly out the window just because I want to hurry home and have some bison burgers!

I predict the tide is going to shift. I think we're going to see more and more instances where low paid customer service representatives across the country snap. I believe the JetBlue guy was just the beginning.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Feeling Low

Tonight I sunk into a depression. I'm not sure if it was the thought of going back to work tomorrow, or maybe it was because I felt my Dad took a couple of jabs at me today.

I felt like a failure all day, and by nightfall it just got to me. For the second time this weekend, I retreated to my bed in hopes it would pass.

This is becoming more and more frequent. As I mentioned awhile back, it's rather new to me. I'm a pro at anxiety, but this depression thing is new to me. I don't like it.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Who Is Watching?

No matter how many books I read about substance abuse and addiction, I am never more captivated about the subject than when talking about it with my husband. I may be the self-proclaimed codependence expert in the household, but after two stints in rehab and a fair amount of AA meetings, my husband is way more educated about alcoholism and addiction than I could ever pretend to be.

Yesterday we were having one of these discussions, and my husband shared something with me. Every alcoholic who has stepped up and admitted they are a powerless over alcohol has a sea of eyes constantly watching and constantly judging from that moment on. Family members, friends always thinking "Will he fail? Will he fall off the wagon?". To them, that's okay because part of recovery is accepting responsibility for the things you've done, and making amends to the people you've hurt.

But my husband pointed out to me that in that sea of watchful eyes, there are many people who are equally addicted. Some know it, but aren't willing or able to deal with it, a few are completely clueless, and some are hiding it--hiding how much and how often they drink from the rest of us and possibly even from themselves.

So while admitting you are an alcoholic may give everyone else a free pass to watch and judge you, it also gives you an insightful gift. The gift of being able to spot another addict from a mile away.

Bill W. (the founder of Alcoholics Annonymous) also recognized this gift, and believed those in recovery should use it to reach out to others. That's how AA went from two men, to hundreds of millions of confirmed members worldwide.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

My Mom

Sometime around the 8th grade, I came home from school one day telling my mother about a technique I had learned in Health Class. You could use this technique on someone if they were choking. It was called the Heimlich Maneuver. After a quick demonstration, I went on about my day; probably doing homework and then playing Clue and listening to Bob Seger with my friend Sammy.

A few weeks later my parents and I were at the Blue Boar Cafeteria having dinner. I was sitting across from my parents who were side by side. Behind them I started observing a lady who appeared to be in distress. She was choking. The person next to her started patting her on the back. I said to my parents, "That lady back there is choking". After several seconds some of the people she was sitting with had gotten up and were holding up her arms, hitting her on the back, and generally not helping at all. At that point I said to my parents "Wow--that lady is really choking".

My mother never even turned around to look. She simply laid down her fork, got up, walked across the room, came up behind the lady, assumed the Heimlich position, and gave one big heave. All 110 pounds of her weight must have gone into that heave, because whatever was lodged in the lady's throat flew out of her mouth on the first try.

My father never turned around, or never even stopped eating. He looked at me and said "What is your mother doing?". I said "She just unchoked that lady".

As my mother returned to her fried chicken I heard an on-looker say "She must be a nurse".

Whenever this story was told later on, my mom would always remind people that typically you have to perform the maneuver multiple times before it works, and often the choking person can sustain injuries, including broken ribs. Not only did she save the lady's life, she was able to sucessfully perform the maneuver on the first try, leaving her injury free.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I Can't Even Write About It


Well, the FDA has now completed it's investigation, and concluded that filthy, deplorable conditions are to blame for the outbreak of 550 million "bad eggs".

I'll spare you the grotesque details here in Detach, just reading the report made me sick at my stomach. If you care to know more, it's easy enough to google the findings and read them for yourself.

I'm just going to leave you with the idea of getting to know your food, and supporting your local farmers.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

School-A-Phobia Part III

So there really is something called "School-A-Phobia". Well, sort of. It's "School Phobia", and the scientific name is something I don't care to take the time to copy and paste.

What it boils down to is an anxiety disorder. In fact,it was the same anxiety that haunts me today. The same one that makes my mind swirl like a tornado, full of irrational thoughts. The same one that makes me worry (sometimes incessantly) about my children, my Dad, and my husband, the same way I worried about my mom and my dog so many years ago.

This raises three questions in my mind. (1)Is this related to codependence? I'm guessing yes. (2) Is this anxiety something I was just born to deal with my whole life, or did this childhood anxiety go untreated to the point that I never learned to deal with my fears and feelings and I'm still suffering with them today? I'll probably never know. (2) Have I passed this on to my daughter? Probably so.

The good news is, I'm working on controlling my anxiety. Make no mistake, it's still there. But when it blankets me, I have the tools to combat it. As for my daughter, the teachers and counselors at her school are obviously very well trained. They don't just put the anxious child in the back of the room and have them put their head down on the table. They take action and offer techniques and advice that helps the child learn to cope.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

School-A-Phobia Part II

Note to readers: If you've not yet read "He Had Yellow Eyes!", you may want to do so before reading this entry.

First thing this morning I got a phone call from Sally, who immediately burst into laughter. She got a huge kick out of School-A-Phobia. All day we sent little emails about it and it just got funnier as the day went on. I told Sally that the best part was that the story was true; you can't make stuff like that up! By this afternoon we were even clowning around with "WORK-A-Phobia"! But then, an odd thing happened. Sally emailed me this article she found online. I edited it a bit for content, and I'll discuss it in the next journal entry. I need some time to digest it first:

School Phobia (Didaskaleinophobia) is itself a symptom of anxiety disorder in childhood. It is also known as separation anxiety, which is an inappropriate fear of leaving their parents, a person or place of trust or home for example.

Most children find going to school exciting and enjoyable although of course nearly all children have times when they don't want to go. This happens commonly at ages where children are faced with tougher school activities or exams or may have fallen out with friends. All of this is a normal part of growing up.

Children who develop school phobia, however, become terrified, trying every avoidance tactic in order to stay away from school. Parents should be aware if their child regularly say that they are too sick to go to school, they could be doing so in order to avoid anxious feelings.

School phobia can present itself in a number of ways:

Constant thoughts and fears about safety of self and parents
Refusing to go to school
Frequent stomach aches and other physical complaints
Extreme worries about sleeping away from home
Overly clingy
Panic or tantrums at times of separation from parents
Feeling unsafe staying in a room by themselves
Clinging behavior
Displaying excessive worry and fear about parents or about harm to themselves
Shadowing the mother or father around the house
Difficulty going to sleep
Having nightmares
Exaggerated, unrealistic fears of animals, monster, burglars
Fear of being alone in the dark
Severe tantrums when forced to go to school
This period of a child's life is not only disturbing and scary for the child but also frustrating and worrying for the child's parents.

What Causes School Phobia?
School phobia develops in much the same way as an adult anxiety disorder. It is always difficult for a child to break away from home after an extended period of being at home, such as the school holidays or time off sick.

Factors such as moving to a new area, a divorce or a bereavement can cause immense stress to a child and set off disturbed, anxious behavior that can escalate into school phobia.

Additionally the child's family often unintentionally reinforces school phobic symptoms. When a family undergoes a major stress such as moving house or a bereavement it is common for a child to express mild refusal to leave the primary caregiver (who may also be anxious, distressed, depressed.)

This can escalate if the child is not firmly encouraged to leave the caregiver; in fact, they are often inadvertently rewarded with extra attention from their parents. The child's anxiety about leaving is reinforced and the child doesn't have the opportunity to develop ways to cope with the separation.

At the age of about 13, I went through a period of what my doctor called 'school phobia'. I became irrationally anxious, depressed and scared. I would regularly seek the assistance of the school nurse, call my mother to collect me and sit alone somewhere, hiding.

Feeling that way at such a young age is dreadful, it is not only scary but confusing too The psyche of a child is very superficial until this age and the sudden realization that life is not all about play and fun and in fact quite daunting, challenging and delicate, comes as quite a shock to a child.

Children discover their mortality a varying ages but this realization too, can cause a child immense distress if not handled correctly by parents or guardians.

Will My Child's School Phobia continue into Adulthood?
The extended implications of school phobia can be far reaching. In the very long term, it can lead to anxiety and panic disorders in adulthood, as in my case, although there is little evidence that these children are more susceptible to serious mental illness.

Research suggests that much more effective treatment is required for school phobia to prevent problems in later life.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

He Had Yellow Eyes!


My daughter has always had a lot of anxiety the first few weeks of school. This anxiety intensifies if she is starting a new school, which she's only done a couple of times in her life. Once when she transitioned from day care to pre-school and again when she left pre-school for elementary school. This year, not only is she starting a new school year, but she's also starting a new school, and she's now in middle school. She's had a big transition. Luckily, the new school has administrators who firmly believe in making the new school year a good experience for everyone, so she's actually been able to spend a decent amount of time talking with the counselor and getting herself acclimated to her new environment.

The poor thing gets it honest. I never enjoyed school. I cried the first few days at the start of every school year, all the way up until 4th grade. That was the year my parents moved into the house where I grew up and I started a new school. I was determined that would be the year I didn't cry....but I did. Only a little though.

But that was a far cry from my earlier days. When I first started kindergarten I cried. This continued on to first, second, and third grades. Only there was no really cool school counselor to give me an in-school therapy session. I remember my third grade teacher sat me at a desk in the back of the room and had me put my head down while I sobbed. When she asked me why I was crying, I told her I missed my dog and I missed my mother. And I was quite sure my mother was missing me! One day, during one of my crying episodes, this evil boy named Steve who looked exactly like Scut Farkus from the movie "A Christmas Story" came up to me and said in his most patronizing voice "Do you miss your mommy....and your doggie?". Then he burst into laughter. I hated that kid. In fact, later that school year he was forced to stay after school every single day for about 5 minutes to give me and my friend enough time to run home. I should look that kid up on Facebook and give him a piece of my mind.

Anyway, in the first or second grade, my mother took me to the doctor. Not a therapist or anything, just our regular family doctor (I'm not sure I was even seeing a pediatrician at that point. They probably hadn't been invented. Please keep in mind this was the late 1960's). My mother wanted to find out what was wrong. Why I cried at school. I guess the answer about us missing each other wasn't getting it for her. The doctor examined me and asked me a bunch of questions, then he gave my mother his official diagnosis. "School-a-phobia", fear of going to school. I'm quite sure that isn't a word, but that's what the doctor told my mother.

In retrospect I guess that was probably my first psychological profile, and the first attempt at finding out what was wrong with me--why I worried incessantly and let that constant worrying interfere with my life. It's a question I still explore all the time. It's just that now I have fancier names for it than school-a-phobia.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Maybe Something Good Will Come From All This?

I don't typically copy and paste stories from other sources, but once in awhile they are just too good to pass up. Got this one from MSN.

Jackie Dearing of Bloomington, Ill., sold all of her 50 dozen eggs at the local farmers market on Saturday, including carton after carton to new customers worried about a large and growing salmonella scare linked to millions of grocery store eggs.

“Almost everybody who came to our booth mentioned it,” said Dearing, whose family runs Dearing Country Farms, a small-scale meat and poultry business. “Anytime something like this happens, people think a lot more about where their food comes from.”

As a recall of more than 550 million eggs tied to two industrial manufacturers widens , small egg farmers across the United States are echoing Dearing’s experience. Sales of eggs at farmers markets, co-operatives and roadside stands reportedly spiked over the weekend as news of the outbreak linked to at least 1,300 illnesses reached shoppers.

“I think this is the consumer’s way of saying, ‘Until this blows over, I’ll get my eggs from another source,’” said Susan S. Joy, general manager of the Nebraska Poultry Industries, an agency based in Lincoln, Neb., that represents all branches of the turkey and egg industry including both small growers and large farms.

At a farmer’s market in Redmond, Wash., Sue Martinell of Sky Valley Family Farm sold out of 80 dozen chicken eggs on Saturday, leaving only duck eggs to buy.

Customers lined up for eggs at stalls at the Inner Sunset Farmers Market in San Francisco from the time the market opened until they sold out, said Elizabeth Howe, regional manager of the Pacific Coast Farmer’s Market Association.

“People are realizing that it’s not the safest decision to buy eggs shipped from huge factory farms in the Midwest, where traceability and accountability is limited,” she said. “At the farmers’ market, you can shake the hand of the farmer who collected your egg that morning and I think that is much more reassuring.”

Across the country, in Arlington, Minn., customers at Bar-5-Meat and Poultry wiped out a supply of 165 dozen eggs by 11 a.m., said owner John Wemeier.

“Instead of buying one dozen eggs they were buying two dozen to three dozen,” he said. “It looked to me like they were kind of stocking up.”

It’s a trend that could well increase as federal officials struggle to identify the source and scope of the massive recall. U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg on Monday said that it could take weeks or months to complete investigations now centering on two Iowa farms, Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms. The firms share suppliers of chickens and feed as well as ties to an Iowa business with a history of violations.

In the meantime, mom-and-pop producers could step in, said Karen Blakeslee, a food scientist with the Kansas State University Research and Extension Service.

“This is making consumers more leery of what’s happening with the big manufacturers,” Blakeslee said. “I think the small farmers are really going to pick up business.”

At least one official with the egg industry cautioned consumers to put the issue in perspective. Krista Eberle, director of food safety programs for the Egg Safety Center and the United Egg Producers, said that the recall of 550 million eggs affects only a fraction of the 80 billion eggs produced in the U.S. each year.

“It may seem like a lot of eggs, but it’s actually less than 1 percent,” said Eberle, noting that non-recalled eggs are safe to eat.

That argument might not sit well with shoppers like those who flocked to buy eggs at the Willy Street Co-op in Madison, Wis., said Lyn Olson, director of the store’s cooperative services.

“Over and over I heard, ‘Thank God I already buy organic.’”


My sentiments exactly.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Get To Know Your Food

Headlines for the past few days: 550 million tainted eggs. A business man who has been cited for numerous health, safety and employment violations over the years, and at least 1000 sick people (personally, I'm thinking this estimate is conservative and wonder how many other people, like my 80 year old father, have suffered with diarrhea and abdominal pain all week after eating at a chain restaurant last weekend).


These tainted eggs come from places called Sunny Farms, Sunny Meadow, and Wholesome Farms, but if you've been brave enough to watch the reports on television, you know there is nothing sunny or wholesome about the chicken factories where these eggs came from. My husband literally has to look away every time they show these dark, filthy places on the news.

Who doesn't like paying less than a dollar for a dozen eggs? It's Cheap and Convenient! But the method in which these cheap eggs arrive at your neighborhood grocery store or mega mart is disgusting, it's often inhumane, and as we've seen this past week, there are often consequences.


The eggs I buy are not produced by a business man, they come from a farmer. A farmer who recognizes me and knows my name. I've seen the chickens that lay the eggs I buy. They are free range, and really do live in sunlight, they have not been given drugs, hormones, or antibiotics, and they are treated humanely. Their eggs aren't cheap, I pay $4.00 a dozen. To me, an extra $3 every couple of weeks is a small price to pay to know my food source, and feel good about what I'm eating.

Six Week Challenge - Week Six

I have an aunt who tells this story. Every day she walks out back to check on her flowers, water the tomatoes, and just get some fresh air. And every day her next door neighbor waits for her to do this, and comes outside for her daily dose of fresh air and a little "fence talk". The strange part about it is that during this neighborly chit-chat, the neighbor tells my aunt how much she weighed that day. I understand that is her way of being accountable and staying on track, but my aunt thinks this is the craziest thing she's ever heard. She's talked about it for years. I'm glad this Six Week Challenge is over. I'm starting to feel like my aunt's neighbor, and I'm guessing my readers can sympathize with my aunt.

So that was a long, drawn out way of getting to my point. The Six Week Challenge is over, and I won't lie....I'm very glad.

I managed to squeak out one more pound this week so I had a total of 8 pounds. One pound short of my "revised" 9 pound goal. Miss Pamela tells me this is nothing to scoff at, and she's right, but I must admit this is far from the goal I had in mind when I started this thing.

I've been doing a lot of thinking about why this is. I get high and low. I was so stoked in the beginning of this challenge, and I envisioned myself triumphant on the scales at the end of the six weeks. I envisioned myself with strong, flab-less arms, I envisioned Healthy Mind, Healthy Body. And while I'm pleased with removing almost all the extra weight I packed on this spring, I was far from attaining those types of results. So why didn't I? I can't blame the time frame; six weeks was plenty of time to see some big results. Like always, I started out on fire and then hit one snag and gave up. In this case, I got pretty sick with bronchitis and instead of allowing myself a few days to get better and then getting back to it, I petered out and pretty much stayed there.

I had the pleasure of spending a little time yesterday with Madison. She was talking about this same thing happening to a friend of hers. You just get to a point where you hit a wall, get depressed, and then it's hard to get started again. But sometimes it's a series of getting started again; over and over. You can't just give up when you veer off track.

Healthy Mind, Healthy Body is elusive to me, and has been for a long time. I can wrap my head around it for awhile, then it slips out of my grasp and is very hard to catch again.

I'm not giving up my quest.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Don't Worry....We Have A Plan


Last night my friend Puddin attended an Ovarian Cancer awareness dinner. The dinner was held at a lovely hall that sits on the campus of the Masonic Home here in our town. When she told me where she was going, I got a funny feeling in my stomach. I've been to the place several times. Our company used to have a dinner there every year. Since most of our clientele is elderly, you could count on at least one person falling down the big staircase that leads to the main doors of the facility. There was an elevator lift that we tried to get them to use, but most of them would refuse, and almost every year there was at least one fall.

But that's not the thought that creeped me out when Puddin mentioned going there. No, the thought that makes me shudder when going to or passing by that area is something else.

My father has always been a Mason, or Free Mason. He doesn't attend the meetings, and hasn't for years, but he's always kept his dues current. And my mother was a member of the ladies version, the Eastern Star. Now I'm still not 100% sure exactly what the Masons and the Eastern Star do. I don't think anyone is; it's a secret. The movie "National Treasure" implied some things, but I don't know how accurate that may be. When I was a little girl my parents would matter-of-factly say to me, "Mary, if anything ever happens to us, you will go and live at the orphanage at the Masonic Home". "WHAT? The orphanage??? Have you seen Annie?". The thought of losing my parents and moving to an orphanage with a bunch of secretive, ancient old men who run the fish fry on Saturdays was horrifying to me! Truth be known, it still is, but at my age I guess I can stop worrying about it now.

But to this day I get a woozy feeling every time I drive past that place.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Adventure At The Hair Salon


I had looked at the school calendar at least two dozen times. I had "First Day of School, August 18" practically tattooed on my arm. It was on my calendar at work, it was on my calendar at home. On Monday night I went to Open House. I met my children's teachers. As we left, all of them said "See you on Wednesday". But on Tuesday when I went to get haircuts for the kids, every bit of logic and reason I knew flew out the window. My hairdresser asked why the kids weren't in school. I told him they started the following day. He said "Really? Are you SURE about that? My son goes to Catholic school and they started today. I'm pretty sure ALL Catholic schools in the district started today". Then he questioned my son's haircut, coming back with "My son has to have his hair cut above the ears. Are you SURE you know what you're talking about with this longer, Justin Beiber-like cut?".

Believe me when I tell you I became an obsessive compulsive train wreck. It didn't matter that I had read the haircut guidelines OUT LOUD....TWICE the night before. It didn't matter that everyone in the school said "See you Wednesday". At that moment, sitting at the hairdressers, I was the new Baptist mom starting my first year of Catholic school and I didn't know anything!!! Why oh why didn't I have an iPhone??? At one point I almost called Scarlet's office and asked her to throw all her work aside and bring up the school's website to verify both pieces of information for me....but I didn't.

I forced myself to trust myself for once. I forced myself to ignore the overwhelming irrational fear I was having and just trust myself.

School did start on Wednesday as I thought, and the haircut was fine. I don't know what part of me is so insecure that I want to think everyone, even the hairdresser knows more than I do. I'm pretty sure Dr. Eve would say it's my Child Self, and well....she just needs to go take her nap.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

This And That

I'm very proud of myself for something. I was finally able to communicate something to someone last night that I've been having a lot of trouble getting out of my head, let alone my mouth. Dr. Eve is going to give me an "A+" today.

Good Luck to everyone who is starting back to school this week. To my wonderful children, who are both starting a brand new school, and to Scarlett who resumed her classes this week.

Thank you to my wonderful mother-in-law Cher, for spending two days a week this summer, driving out to our house to watch my children. It enriched all our lives, I believe! I will miss our Monday and Wednesday dinner/rap sessions.

Thanks to my Dad for taking the kids two days a week all summer. You are a very important part of our family and we are thankful for all that you do for us.

Congratulations Miss Pamela, on conquering the "comments"!

Enjoy your week, friends.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Six Week Challenge - Week Five

Last week I was feeling pretty defeated, but a smack on the hand from Miss Pamela brought me back to reality. Even though I never posted a goal, I had one in my head, and I think I set the bar a bit too high. Now I have a new goal, which is much more attainable and I'm feeling a little better about things. I'm sick of this challenge however, and am glad there's only one week left. I wonder why that is? I hope it's not because I'm going to start eating anything that's not nailed down afterward...

Weight/Eating:
I'm down 1 pound this week, for a five week total of 7 pounds. After last week's weigh in, I immediately found a gourmet cupcake shop and put an end to the insatiable craving I was having. I had a lot of cravings this week, but somehow managed to stay strong.

Exercise:
Only hit the treadmill once this week. It felt great. It rejuvenated and refreshed me. So why did I only do it once? Beats the hell out of me.

Mental Health:
Feeling good and feeling strong. Since I'm not really working out, I certainly cannot blame this on exercise. I guess there's just nothing going on right now. The kids start school this week and I'm a little stressed about that, but that's about it.

Temptations:
Aside from the cupcakes on Monday, Friday night pizza once again became the week's biggest temptation.

I'm ready to wind this thing down. I want to get rid of the nine pounds I gained this Spring. I'm only two pounds away from that goal. I'm quite confident I'll make it.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Kindly Step Aside

Oh, Codependent Mary--please just step aside today and let your Wise Self do the thinking and the talking! You'll have a much better day if you do!

You would think that by the middle 40's, people would stop feeling the need to throw birthday parties for themselves, with the exception of milestone birthdays perhaps. But not only have we been invited to a birthday party tonight, but the invitation specifically said it was a "keg party". Seriously? Isn't a keg party something you have in college? Then the invitation went on to say "things shouldn't get out of hand, we're all old now". Interesting.

Of course reading such an invitation immediately set the codependent side of me in to motion. At first I decided not to tell my husband about the party, but the birthday girl contacted him directly after she didn't get an RSVP from me.

I can't help it; it makes me angry when people invite my husband to drinking events. In my mind I feel they should know what alcohol does to him, and how every time he comes off of a drinking episode, there is a wasted day (or two, or three) of rehabilitation, followed by several days of remorse and guilt. I feel like they should consider how many tens of thousands of dollars we've spent on rehab. I feel like they should respect what alcohol has done to our family, our marriage, and our lives--but that's not how it works.

People, especially other alcoholics, love to drink with my husband. And because he is unwilling or unable to make the absolute commitment of never drinking another drop (he still thinks he can be an occassional social drinker), he is often handed alcohol by people close to both of us; sometimes even by people who have supported me through the roughest, rock bottom, drunken times. One night he went to a party and made the decision not to drink. A woman, who I consider to be my friend, kept pushing the icy cold beer bottle into his face. He kept saying "no". At one point, this friend actually took his hand, pryed it open, and placed the bottle in it.

Codependent spouses take things like this personally. "How dare you disrespect me by inviting him to a party?". Of course, it isn't about me at all. It's not even about the pushers and the other alcoholics, you can't blame them. It's only about him and what he chooses to do. And if you love or live with an alcoholic, that's the absolute hardest thing to wrap your head around.

Alcohol is a demon. Not for everyone, but for many. Fortunately I am in a good place today. If he makes the decision to go to the party and to drink, it's on him, not me. I've got things to do today and I refuse to spend the day consumed by "what if".