Friday, November 30, 2007

For Me

Tonight is my night.

1. Bubble Bath
2. Candles
3. Trashy magazine
4. Chocolate

It's like perfection in an evening.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


In addition to my last post:

It's not that the people who "can't relate" bother me. God knows there are uncountable situations that I can't relate to. It's the people who are closed minded and unwilling to learn. Thankfully, these are few and far between. I've found most people who I've opened myself up to have warm and loving hearts and a desire to share and learn more. It's about attitude.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Mental Health

On Saturday night I had the privilege of attending the "Idea Exchange" at Aqua Books (which is a quaint and jam packed used book store that is just lovely). They do this evening once a month and pick a topic of discussion. A brief presentation is followed by the opportunity to ask questions and discussion ensues with hot, strong coffee.

This time the focus was on mental health and the spiritual component I have a lot to say on the topic of mental illness. It's kind of personal. I'm in what one would call "recovery". They don't talk about "cure" for this kind of thing. Even if it only takes you down once, you get tagged with a diagnosis. Or more often, multiple diagnoses.

I have strong and conflicting thoughts and feelings about when I hit bottom. Most of the time I think I have concrete thoughts. It's well versed in my head. But then I open my mouth and my words just fall out and hit the floor. So most of the time, I stay quiet.

In some ways it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I learned a lot about who I was, what I believed, and found direction. It shaped me more than anything in my past has. It taught me how to deal with uncomfortable emotions, how to be honest, how to fight life's battles. I met lifelong friends and we walked the uncomfortable path towards healing together.

But in many ways - more ways, I think - it was the worst of times. I remember not seeing any light. I remember being forsaken by God. I remember paralyzing fear. I hurt friends. I made terrible choices. My whole being ached from the inside out while I sat in those hospital walls, looking out the window and seeing life continue at the University as if the world hadn't fallen apart. I remember the alone-ness. And friendships that didn't make the storm.

I'm better now. Sometimes I think I'm better now than I was before the person who got so sick. Stronger. And sometimes I believe the exact opposite. I think about the past with blanks. Someone recalls a memory that included me and my mind can't find it. The memories I do have occasionally visit my dreams or invade my thoughts. Mostly I think of people I hurt and disappointed. I think "that wasn't me." I don't want to remember because it hurts. It still hurts.

Most of the people in my life these days get it. They knew me before, during, and after. They've done research and educated themselves. They respect me and think I'm strong. They believe that mental illness should be open for discussion. Not hidden in the perfectness of religion or image. My friends, family, husband surround me and lift me up, accepting all of my past, present, and future. They strive to connect with others who struggle as they did when they watched someone they loved falter. They make me proud.

Occasionally someone just doesn't get it. They don't get that some struggles last in some forms for a lifetime. Or that my normal isn't theirs. And it frustrates me. Usually these are the people who don't really know me at all. I only talk to people I trust about these sorts of things. I said it's personal. You can't know unless you've been there. Or walked to the edge with someone who has.

The old patterns and thoughts are usually tucked away in a safe place. Usually. Sometimes they re-appear in my thoughts. Rarely in my actions. My brain tells me that my body isn't perfect and that it must be. Anxiety grabs ahold. But I'm stronger than that right now. It may take me a little while to realize it, but once I do I'm in a position to win. I know who my supports are. I know where and when to go for help.

Mental illness. Oh yeah. It's personal.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Day Off

I didn't intend for this to be a day off. I got up early, rode the bus, and arrived at work 20 minutes early. I reported to my superior for my first day of orientation to the Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) clinic. Shortly thereafter, I got the news:

"Val, we're going to have to re-assign you because of that cold sore. Our patients are just too immuno-suppressed to have you around."

After lengthy debate it was determined that I may as well return home and peruse the internet, reading about various cancer related topics.

So far I have done some reading. But let's face it - who can read for 8 hours straight? I promise I'll make up whatever time I lack during the remainder of this week. So far I've enjoyed my heating pad (while reading!), played with Bentley, made a grilled cheese sandwich (didn't taste near as good as what I remember from childhood) and a hot mocha. I still intend to take the dog for a walk and peel the potatoes for my Husband's curry that he plans to make tonight.

I love unexpected days "off"!

Sunday, November 18, 2007


My background is Mennonite. As such, I grew up pacifist. I learned to turn the other cheek and to believe that war and fighting were the wrong responses to any situations.

And then I married a Baptist. Not just any old baptist - a police officer! One who fights for safety on our streets and carries a gun. Scandalous!

We've had lots of conversations about pacifism and what that means. It's so ingrained in me that it feels like my very nature. But at some point things turn grey. I mean, if my child's life were in danger, I would want the husband to fight for our child.

The other day we were listening to the radio and I heard someone speak on the subject. I didn't get the name of the person and it was only a couple of minutes long. He claimed that he believed that as a Christian it was right to turn the other cheek if he were in danger. But he also believed that if someone else - his family or his country for example - were in danger, that it was his moral responsibility to defend them.

Any thoughts on this?


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

13 Reasons to Feel Cranky

I've been feeling extra pinchy lately. Upon sitting in the tub to reflect on any good reasons for these feelings, I came up with an early Thursday 13.

1. Deathiversaries. Nov 15th marks one year since Aunt Wendy died. The chaos left behind has been nothing short of tragic. And we miss her.

2. Changing body shapes. As happy as I am about the Baby on the way, the changes I see in my body bother my non-rational, fat-fearing mind. My immediate reaction to the belly protrusion is to think of it as an INtrusion. I'm learning to appreciate the curves. One day at a time. Sometimes.

3. Winter darkness. It's dark when I go to work and when I return. Enough said.

4. Full time work. I'm a much better nurse when I work part time. I like people a lot more.

5. Uncalled for interruptions when all I want to do is enjoy a hot bubble bath.

6. Hormones. I'm pregnant. Blame it on the Baby.

7. Sore backs. And not being able to take anything for it.

8. No snow in the middle of November. Everything is grey and brown. Yuck. I'm ready for a nice white blanket.

9. Cancer. I think only good people get it. The antidote - be nasty.

10. Wind. I don't mind cold if it isn't windy out.

11. Christmas music in November.

12. Malls packed with holiday shoppers. In November.

13. Long bus rides. My commute to and from work isn't any shorter than driving out to Portage. And it's a lot less enjoyable.

Now that I've got that all off my chest, maybe I'll be just a smidgen less cantankerous. I know the Husband hopes so...

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

It's True - I CAN be Surprised

Last Friday I had plans to go out with a friend and co-worker from my days in Portage. When she suggested that I join her in her city instead of mine, I agreed with no suspicions.

I picked her up and we went out for dinner. We walked around the corner and, to my total shock, almost all of the staff I had worked with were sitting there with balloons and presents! I got a gift cert for Sears, a few independent gifts, and these beautiful flowers. I tend to think I'm a hard one to surprise. But apparently, it can be done!
It made me miss my friends and co-workers all the more. Maybe I'll go back. And then leave again. Cuz that was a darn good "going away" party.
But honestly - I miss them.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Pumpkin Carving

It's the Sunday morning of the time change. Just by a push of the button on my clock, my life has gained an hour. I wish the world would do this more often. My newly acquired "up in the morning" sense woke me an hour earlier than what I had hoped for. Thus I have the time to make coffee, eat a relaxed breakfast, catch up on people's blogs, and write one myself. It's not that I don't have plenty of ideas that I want to write about. It's just that work interferes.

As usual Oct 31 came and went. It's really not one of my top ten favorite days in the year but the Husband always seems to enjoy it. This year I went along with him for the first time and participated in carving a pumpkin. His is Homer. And mine is the one eating the poor, unhappy gourd. I'm quite pleased with my result.

Maybe I'll do it again next year.