What.

What did you dream of becoming when you grew up? If you ask my mom, she would tell you weather girl. Since I have no sense of direction and really bad with numbers; that was out. But the one thing I always wanted to be was a writer. I have always had stories in my head. Telling myself a story is the way to calm myself down or get my brain to unwind itself. I can start in the middle or at the beginning of my story. It’s the quickest way I know how to relax. I have three or four stories actually written down on paper.

I have one problem.


Some would call it procrastination. It’s not. I am not putting it off as much as I am trying to get it right.

I get to the middle and I stop. The middle is the boring part of the story. It’s where you have to link the beginning to the end. Sounds simple but did you read the Hobbit? Cause that middle part will put you asleep and make you put the book down before you ever get to the exciting parts.

Perfectionism also had led to me think: What will they think? I am slowly getting over that by writing here. This blog gave me an outlet to get all those thoughts out and down on paper. I send it out into the universe.

I am prone to this ideal in other areas of my life. I like to be organized, but to get me there requires forethought and time. Both of which I am beginning to think has a lot more to do my “undiagnosed/self diagnosed” ADD/Dycalculia.

I get lost easily. If I don’t have directions or have been to a place many times before; I will get lost. I cannot take an alternate route, don’t ask me. I have no idea how to find the road I was once on or need. I cannot tell you how many times this happened to me driving home from Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara to my house in San Jose. It was maybe a 10 mile drive going the back streets at most; but when a game or concert ended my normal routine was thrown off. The side street I normally took was cut off because it went through a neighborhood, so they re-routed us. This threw me off every single time and this is route I took regularly in all hours of the day! It was so frustrating to me to be so turned around. Every instinct I had was not the right one. I had to rely on my phone map to get me to where I wanted to go. All because I was re-routed.

So when it comes to house hold chores my day can spiral easily. I can start out doing laundry but on the way to do that; I realize the floor needs mopped and the bathroom needs cleaned. So instead of continuing on to point A with the laundry, I am now dropping it and filling a bucket to mop and recalling the bathroom needs cleaned. I will grab cleaning supplies to go clean the bathroom; and that’s when I will hear water. Do you see where this is going? It is a never ending circle of me half ass cleaning my house. I will leave the water running to fill up the dog self water feeder and I always, always, always forget that is filling up because; you guessed it, I have started something else while I waited.

I have little tricks I use. I purge my brain of all the chores I need to get done so I have a check list. I have to write it out on paper and see it, otherwise it just gets forgotten in my phone of notes. I set a timer for ten to fifteen minutes per chore. I have to stay on that task until the timer goes off and sometimes I go over; ADD Brain kicks in and now I am obsessed. This is where a timer helps me out. It tells me to finish it up and move on to the next item.

And whatever you do; don’t interrupt me. I will just put whatever I am doing down and say, ” okay let’s go do that.” I have had someone say to me more than once, “no let’s finish this first.” Because it doesn’t occur to me to just finish project one.

It’s all very frustrating to me. The getting lost. The not being able to do numbers in my head or tell how long something will take.

But writing. There isn’t any of that. It is just taking my brain on a long ride of imagination. Writing is letting it go and letting the story lead while I go along for the ride. It’s cathartic. It allows space for back tracking and edits. I can write a short story or I can keep developing the story. There is no timer. I don’t feel lost or feel like it should be easier. I just know my brain is better at the writing part.

Organizing, directions, and being able to keep score in a game I will leave to others more suited for that kind of thing.

So if you come to visit and notice my lap top open, music on and water running in the sink; I am probably cleaning the shower while forgetting to add clothes to a filling washing machine.

It’s who I am.

adhd_bri — I'm not a “late” person, I'm a “way too early”...
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder – Just a Bunch of Mumbo Jumbo

Diagnosis.

I am going to take a different approach to my blog this week. I am going to talk to you about something that has been misdiagnosed in me until I was an adult in my late thirties.

I have Dyscalculia.

Dyscalculia is a learning disability that makes math challenging to understand.

I had always had problems with math or numbers for as long as I can remember. I thought I was just slow. I avoided math or anything to do with counting or numbers. I cannot do mental math well or at all. I have a hard time understanding math problems or doing them. I have to really break it down and even things like fractions to this day are hard for me.

I remember as a child that I wouldn’t like to do homework or work on any math problems. I just wouldn’t do them. Or I would procrastinate, and I never asked questions because I was feeling dumb enough already so imagine having to ask again how to add a fraction. I was never given a test or diagnosed because every thing else seemed to be fine. I won’t self diagnosis myself as having ADD but I think I might have a bit of that as well. My grades in school were just okay. Some subjects I did well in; but, others I was just maintaining. I was an average student. Sitting in a classroom never interested me and everyone else seemed to be doing a much better job at learning. It became easy for me to just not perform my best. I often wouldn’t turn in homework or wouldn’t complete it. Time management seemed to escape me. I was separated from the rest of my class in math because I just wasn’t keeping up or understanding the assignments. Without a diagnosis it only made me feel worse about my ability to do something that so many others seemed to have no problem advancing.

I could go on about things in my learning years that I look back on and wonder about. I also can’t read sheet music; which is pretty odd for a person who played an instrument in band since I was in the fifth grade.

I am a pretty smart person. I just happen to lose things, lose track of personal items, or have problems understanding measurements of time. I have several alarms or timers on my phone. I am now always early for things because I midjudge how long it will take me to get there and I hate being late.

I also cannot count back money or count back change. I have to use a calculator. I cannot do it in my head; and I have had the comments said to me like, “Can’t you do it? It’s just a quarter.” And how society is going to hell because no one can count back change any more. Some days I would just nod my head and other days I would say, “I can’t do it. It’s a hard thing for me to do mental math because of my learning disability.” I would try to smile when I said it but shame would often over take me.

Now let’s get to the part where I finally figure out, with some help, what in the world is going on with me. It was like a veil had been lifted and I could see.

I had decided to go to Dental Assisting school after my ex and I first separated. It was his way of helping me with a career and I really loved learning for the first time. I never missed class and made some friends along the way. It was challenging and I really enjoyed it. Until we had to start remembering the numbers on teeth. Yes, our teeth in our mouth get numbered. That way in a chart the doctor or assistant can make sure they are working on the right tooth in the right part of the mouth. It took me longer to learn the order of the teeth both backwards, forwards and upside down. I would often get confused and have to start over or get them completely wrong. It should be simple but my brain couldn’t go from looking straight on to a persons mouth to being behind the chair and count. No one could figure out why this is the part I was struggling with until one of my advisors looked at me and said, “I think you have Dyscalculia.”

We sat in her office and talked about it. She explained what it was and why she thought it related to me. I started having these “AHA” moments. I went home and did research. All of the sudden my life started making sense.

The fact that I had always struggled with numbers of any kind: I cannot find North or follow directions well. I have no sense how long it will take to drive from point A to point B. Even simple things like cooking is hard because I have to measure or work with fractions. I started figuring out how to learn things and used guides to help me memorize things like how the teeth were numbered. I also didn’t feel so bad about not knowing mental math or understanding fractions. I went on to pass and graduate from Dental Assisting. I worked in that field but struggled finding a job; and most of it was me holding me back. My fear of doing anything with numbers is a big hurdle.

Now some time has passed and I recognized the signs in my daughter. I wish I would have known exactly what was going on when she was in the third grade and started to struggle. After I was (self)diagnosed it has been easier for me to notice why she struggled with numbers. She has help built in with her schooling, things like extra time for tests or can take her test in a different room and all of her teachers are aware of her needs. She says she hates to ask for help because she already feels “dumb” and she doesn’t want to stand out any more. I keep telling her that I wish I had all the tools she has available to help her when I was in school; and I always stress she isn’t dumb numbers are just hard for her and they will get easier. She has all the tools and she walks around holding a calculator in her hand, so things are a little easier. We just can’t cook together because if she asks me about measurements we both end up starring at the measurement cup or I have to break it down into parts; which isn’t always a bad thing. We have work arounds. She has more information available to her now and I am grateful for her teachers that continue to help her along the way.

We both are creative. She draws and I write. I would like to think we excel at both those arts. Numbers just aren’t our jam. And that’s okay. God had to keep us humble.

It’s okay to ask for help. Even as an adult. We are always learning. I don’t feel as ashamed when someone asks me to do subtraction in my head. It’s just not how my brain works. I do have stories always going on in my brain. Every thing I do I have a story line. It’s how my brain handles tasks. I daydream, I spend a lot of time writing, and some times those stories are short or go unfinished. We all have our gifts. It’s what makes us unique.

We weren’t meant to be the same so the next time you try to fit someone into your box and they don’t fit; it might be because they weren’t meant too.

*For more information visit https://www.additudemag.com/category/adhd-add/related-conditions/learning-disabilities/dyscalculia/

Selfish.

June is never an easy month for me. It hasn’t been since I made the selfish decision to move away from California 6 year ago; every year I send my daughter back to spend time with her dad. Not just a week. The whole summer. It was the agreement for this selfish decision.

It use to upset me. To be told I ran away and that I was being selfish. I put her first and everyone else first. I had put myself last. That had to stop. So I used a sell of house to finance my future. One persons definition of selfish is someone else’s freedom.

None of this has been easy. From the first few months of struggling with school and her making new friends, to her crying because she missed her dad and her friends; and me repeating that I did the best thing I could for us. We still struggle. It hasn’t been easy. Her anxiety became real and tangible. My anxiety was real and tangible. I questioned myself and my decision making abilities a lot. But she has grown and overcome. Just like I hoped she would. I have been to therapy. She has been to therapy. We both came out of it realizing we are a lot stronger and to trust ourselves a little more.

Everything I did I did was to move us forward. To move me forward. I packed that u-haul with everything we owned, I pepped talked the hell out of her and me. I remained stoic and positive. I was exhausted; mentally and emotionally beat up. I was told I was lazy and I just didn’t want to find a job. People’s words have a way of sticking with you and those words pissed me off. Anxiety held me back sure, but so did trying to be a mom.

Now when I get told I am selfish or arrogant I can’t help but smile. I have said thank you. It took me a damn long time to get here. To get that place where I stand my ground and stand a little taller. If being selfish is how you want to look at it, then you are looking at it all wrong. Selfish for me is confidence, a little arrogance, mixed with fear and a whole lot of self belief.

It’s years of listening to someone run my life and letting them. It’s years of being told what dreams I could follow and what dreams I shouldn’t. That’s on me. Letting someone else have that much control. My anxiety still makes me second guess some things in life. I learn to breath and let it go. I don’t need to have that much worry in my life any more.

It has made me harder. I am more independent. I am a little more selfish, but I always can look myself in the eye at the end of the day and tell myself I did the best I could.

6 years.

I think I am failing every day at being a mother but I am assured by those who love me still that I am not. I think every mother feels that way. At the end of the day I am just trying not to raise an asshole. I think I have done pretty good with her. She has more determination than I give her credit for because I still want to protect from life. That may be a little selfish. I also want to see her get out there and kick its ass. That’s selfish too.

June is hard. I will cry because I worry. I will then go into her room with a trash bag and a box. I donate any clothing I know she hasn’t worn and I throw away the trash. I will get her new bedding and hang up shelves. I will put it all away so it eases my worry and anxiety. So I can open her door and remember how it will be when she comes home. It will clothes on the floor and chocolate. Tea cups left on her end table. It makes me crazy but brings me comfort. I know she will come home tan and full of attitude.

And I will be here. Cleaning her room, taking mini road trips, hanging out with Craig and our friends and family; and being a little selfish with my time.

It’s a good thing. 6 years of growing and figuring out who we are in this world. Learning being selfish is not always a bad thing.

Learning.

I felt the saddle start to slip to the left. It was a rookie mistake and I couldn’t believe it was happening.

Blueberry and I had started galloping across the prairie with our eyes on the lead cow. We just had to get in front of her to get her turned around. Not usually a problem. Depending on the day and the cow. Blueberry is pretty cow-y so he knew what the goal was. What he didn’t count on is a rookie mistake.

I leaned put pressure in my right stirrup as I pulled up on Blueberry begging him to woah. I knew it wasn’t going to end well. And the more I pulled the further over the saddle slipped until I was bracing for impact.

I had my water break and rechecked my saddle. Tightened up where I needed too. We had been gathering pairs for summer pasture. It gets to be a long process because we have to be one thousand percent sure everyone has their exit buddy. Not everyone pays attention. And it was a warm day. We had the first group and were set to get the others we had left on the flat.

Blueberry had been feeling spry. We had been having a good run. I am out of practice. I call myself a weekend warrior because I come in as an extra hand most days long after my sister and dad have been at it. My 8-5 Monday through Friday paycheck tends to interrupt my ranch hand life. Blueberry was taking care of me, and so when we stopped for water I checked everything from his head down and re-checked my saddle. Or so I had thought. It felt tight. It felt fine. This is the saddle I consider “my saddle. ” It’s my dad’s 1973 high school all around saddle. It’s comfy and light. I had moved around in the saddle with pressure on the stirrups to be sure. We were both hot and sweaty.

It wasn’t until I hit fourth gear on my horse that the world turned side ways. It had been a long time since I had purposely taken a dive off a perfectly good horse, but there I was reins still in my hand and looking for a place to land. I learned some things from taking some unexpected falls from perfectly imperfect horses. But I don’t bounce like I use to so when I landed I tucked my shoulder under me and hit. I saw blue birds circle me as I got up to all fours.

My dad came by, like the cowboy he is, and only stopped to ask if I was okay before he was gone. I have several memories in my brain of him doing just that. My sister wanted to make sure I could actually get up before being hollered at by dad. She at least has a little more empathy but cows were on the move and before there is a mess; you gotta go.

I nodded and got up and looked at my saddle and gave Blueberry a pat. He was still standing there looking at me. The saddle side ways.
I thanked him for being a good horse and started the process of untangling him from the mess.

I stood there in the dirt and sage brush and blew out a breath. I did a quick check and realized I was fine. Just a bruised ego (and later some neck and shoulder pain). I unsaddled and then re-saddled him. All while he stood there and waited for me. When I met back up with my sister and my dad yelling at cattle; all they asked is what took me so long.

Growing up with a cowboy for a dad you learn some things. The first thing I learned is no matter what it is you have to get back up in saddle. That has been true since the first day I was unceremoniously dumped at the age of 5 or 6 in the middle of a field. My dad rode by and looked down, “Are you okay?” When I just nodded and sat there on my butt, he rode away to get my ride. I don’t recall getting back on that horse, but I am sure I did.

I carry that lesson through my whole life because it applies to whatever situation I happen to get myself in. It has to be done; I just tell myself to put my foot in the stirrup and get on with it.

Just check the cinch one more time.

Moving.

Did you know we moved? Well we did. We bought a house and moved down the street. Same town. Same street. Just down the hill. It wasn’t how I planned. At all.

First of all, the house buying process hit so many speed bumps and brick walls. We persevered and with some help; we finally defeated all those road blocks and got into a complete mess of a house with good bones.

In my dream brain I had this fantasy on how moving was suppose to go. We had a good portion boxed so I had this idea; we could move some in the garage and then when we went to move the rest would be so easy. I had this slow move, organized process all set in my mind. I wasn’t worried. It was going to be fine. I should know me better by now. That’s now how any of it and none of it would have got done if it wasn’t for a horse trailer (that’s country for u-haul), my family and lots of deep breaths.

What happened was 3 days of frantic packing and moving. Moving boxes from house to horse trailer and repeating the process until exhaustion. You never know how much you have until you have to pack it up and put into boxes. I won’t be able to find most of my things until next year. Our garage is smaller so now it looks like an episode of hoarders. I want to call the women from The Home Edit and have them come in with containers and rainbow my whole space. I do have the next best thing, my sister. She doesn’t get paid and she has to deal with my shit ass attitude; but she is the organizing queen. She will also toss without remorse and tell me that I have too much shit and I need to get rid of some of it. Obviously or I wouldn’t be in this disaster where I can’t find my shampoo!

I have also been told they are never moving me again.

The bright side is I get to unpack. I am going to get to settle into this house and this life. I loathe change and crave stability. I understand why. My brain doesn’t do well in chaos or change. It panics and searches for any time in the past to give us some sort of grip on the situation; but it comes with the last few times we had to move and how much anxiety that caused. I have to breathe and remember I survived that and this is so much easier.

So my ADD brain starts to refocus on what we can do; which is unpack one box at a time and get side tracked by dirt on the floor. Unbox and remember that I have laundry in the washer. Unbox and look at all the wine glasses we now have on display on the shelf. Unbox and remember to be grateful and say thank you for this opportunity to grow and learn to adapt.

It’s all I can remember to do. In the midst of life; and I hope to have a lot left to live, is to remember it’s all apart of the journey. I will try to remind myself that I am not the organized person I would like to be and embrace the mess that I am.

Complaint.

I reached up and hit snooze on my watch. The annoying buzzing against my skin had gotten my attention without the beeping too. Grace, our lab, groaned and stretched. I mumbled something that sounded like go lay down, but she stuck her nose under my arm any way. Jax, our chihuahua, began to dance on my back and lick my ear. Angus, our black cat, not known for subtlety jumped on the bed and meowed loudly. Jax growled at Angus, and in turn Grace became more excited at bumping me. It was my turn to groan. I didn’t want to get up. I didn’t want to go through all the morning routine. I just wanted to stay in bed. I rolled out of bed and headed to bathroom. I growled at the animals. I frowned at my refection.

I could lay in bed and complain. I could lay there and talk myself out of letting out the dog, feeding the dogs, feeding the cats and working out. But I brush my teeth and start my day. Grace dances at the door and Jax dances in the kitchen. One wants out and the other wants his morning banana. Then the cats. The all want something to eat before heading out to hunt. I let Grace in, feed her, let Grace out. Let the cats out. I sigh and stomp and repeat, “but I don’t wanna!”

It’s 5:30 am and I am the only one up with the pets. No one cares but them. No one is going to listen to me whine, but them. And they just want their food. I sigh and I scroll. I sigh and let Grace back out. Before I can talk myself out of a good mood; I take my butt into my room and I change into my work out clothes.

I have learned in my life that complaining gets me no where. It just delays the action. It delays the thing. Whatever the thing is will still be waiting for me. I will still have to do it. Now not only am I in a bad mood because of the complaining but now I am behind schedule. Mel Robbins (follow her on IG) taught me about the 5 second rule. She said to treat it like the space shuttle lift off and count down; when you get to one you have to do it. Whatever it is. Get out of bed, push play on the work out, clean out the dishwasher (which literally takes 3 minutes. Seriously.); whatever the thing is that has you saying, “but I don’t wanna.” Count down from 5 and then do it with a happy heart.

Did you know that complaining rewires the brain? The brain likes to make things easy on itself, so as you complain it simply splices the wires for the easiest route. So over time it’s way easier for you to think about the negative. The brain already built the route for it. Humans love to think a like, so the more we are around a negative voice the easiest it is for us to be negative too. Not to mention the stress. Every time I am around some one who just complains, I feel my stress level go up.

So as I walk out, set out my weights, turn my play list to my “work out jams” and push play on another “I’m gonna die” work out; I change my brain. I change my thoughts. I start thinking about all the things I am grateful for in this moment. Like I am so fortunate to be healthy and I know without a doubt that this work out is about to kick my ass; but I will be so much better after. My brain gets to burn off that negative energy. I get to not think for 30 minutes and I keep pushing myself; even when my brain wants to say quit. I just tell it to shut up and do 5 more minutes. On particular grouchy days, I repeat the “just 5 more minutes” until the end. I just lay on the floor at the end and smile. I smile because I know I just did something for myself. I just helped my brain into a good mood and now I can do hard things. I can smile at every one and I can try to put my RBF away for the day. I don’t make any promises, but on those days I say “be nice it’s not their fault you’re being a cranky bitch. ” That’s my pep talk and it seems to help.

The next time you want to complain re-wire your brain with gratitude. Think of just one thing to be grateful for in that minute and breath. It will all work out. Your brain loves the easy route, so teach it the fastest route to gratitude. So far it works for me. My complain list is way down. Not my drama for having to do it any way, just less complaining.

We can all be happy, people.

Coffee.

I took down the bag of coffee from our cupboard and poured them into the coffee grinder. I took a big inhale, as one does of fresh beans, but to my shock and dismay they smelled off. Like old, burnt coffee beans. I looked at the bag. French Roast. That may explain it, I thought. Just a bitter coffee bean. As I went through ritual of pouring in the water and turning the machine on I kept waiting for that delicious smell of coffee. It never came. Even fresh coffee smelled bitter and burnt. What the ……

I persisted. Other brands smelled the same burned and bitter.

I realized something after trying in vain to get my favorite brand of black coffee to smell amazing to me; Covid-19 had ruined my smeller. Not only that it ruined coffee for me. That once delicious smell that I would inhale and make me think of sunshine and better attitudes to come in the day was now lost. Gone.

Great. I kept thinking just great. Don’t worry. I am an over comer of obstacles. This is just one more thing for me to figure out and find a work around. I have been told I am pretty competitive and a little stubborn; so letting something like a virus defeat my connection to smell wasn’t going to happen.

See coffee and I had only been together for a little over 15 years. It was too short of a marriage to give up without a fight. We had a nice romance going. Coffee was there at 5 am when my 1 year old refused to stay in her crib and I realized that it was just going to be me to get up with her. She would sit in her high chair and have some milk; I would wipe the sleep from my eyes and watch brown liquid gold quietly fill up a glass pot. Only after the I poured my first cup would I look at her and ask what she wanted for breakfast. It was usually dealers choice, but I still liked to give her an option. Her only complaint was how slow the wait staff was being. Since that was me; she had to wait it out. Our clean up crew (Tiber the Lab and Rion the Rottweiler); however, were on it. They didn’t turn down tips in forms of pieces of food dropping from the sky either.
I would just stand with my hip against the counter and hold my warm cup of joe.

I quickly realized coffee was always there. It came in different forms but no less delicious. It was there to keep my eyelids pried open when heartbreak wanted me to sleep; it was also there after a night out of drinking and my head wouldn’t stop pounding. Just black please. Okay maybe two sugars and some cream. Or when I would sit on a comfy chair and laugh with my best friend.

Not too much though. Me and caffeine. We have an uneasy understanding. Too much and my heart rate gets a little crazy, I get a little hyper and I feel like a bumble bee (well what I imagine one feels like). I vibrate. I get lots done. I also have a slight anxiety attack along with my get up and go. It’s kinda like drinking whiskey. I am good with two. Four and I have creative ideas of what we should do next. They are rarely amazing ideas and always end up with a drive through looking for food.

I do miss the smell of coffee. I wish it would come back. I wish mint would taste right again as well. But then again, maybe there is a bright spot to all this. Maybe looking for healthier options is not such a bad thing. I chew a lot of gum, so I am sure my jaw appreciates the rest from the constant addiction of chewing. I have replaced black coffee (monk fruit and creamer) with sugar free vanilla lattes. I didn’t say I was giving up coffee. I just said I didn’t like the way it smelled; but lattes still smell and taste just as delicious. A 12 oz latte can last me most of the day and into the next; because that much caffeine is too too much for me. Some days I like to fly around like a bee and get so much more done.

I don’t think it’s the taste or smell of black coffee but what the routine meant to me. Slow steady mornings. A giggle from a little brown haired girl having a quiet breakfast with me. She’s now fifteen and learning to drive. She is just as independent now as she was then; and just as stubborn. She is learning to like a little coffee in her life as well. She always loves tea; but has dipped her toes into what coffee flavored drinks she likes too. I think mostly because she needs something to sip and something to drink to keep her eyelids open.

For now I will take my sugar free vanilla latte to go. It works with my hectic life pace of running late and being too chatty. It’s the stage of life I am in now. It warms me and keeps me going. Not too much. Some days I need a little more water. And some days I still drink it black, a little cream and two sugars while on the sofa waiting for Sunday Brunch. It’s just as good.

Manufactured.

I had an anxiety attack the other night. It was full blown meltdown and pacing. The cause. Disharmony, people pleasing and the biggest of all; lack of sleep. The stress of someone else’s opinion on my life caused me to lose sleep. The anxiety was a manufactured result of waking, sleeping, waking and crying and pacing. I finally turned on Good Luck Charlie and let that play in the back ground. My brain shut off and I was able to sleep.

I am not telling you my anxiety drama to be one of the cool kids. Anxiety is a part of life. I understand that it is our body’s response to fight or flight. It keeps us moving. I use to suffer from stress and anxiety a little more often. It would become a full body paralysis of shaking and indecision. Manufactured by someone’s need to control every aspect of my life and remind me of what I was doing wrong that caused them to react a certain way to me.

Manufactured.

I had come home from a Halloween Party. I had, admittedly had a little more to drink than I should have, it was at a friend’s house and I was having a good time. I thought we both were having a good time; until the way home. I could tell by the look on his face that he was getting less and less impressed with me by the mile. I remember being happy and bubbly. Or something like that. What happened when we walked through our front door was another matter entirely. We had a two dogs at the time; they gotten into the trash. He was not pleased. The yelling began and the dogs ran outside. What happened next I am not telling you to have you roll your eyes or think I am looking for sympathy. That shipped long sailed. I made my choices and I also lived through the consequences. The lab ran outside because he was being punished and being yelled at. It went on long enough that I had cleaned up the mess and taken the trash out. I went outside as the dog was being drug out of the dog house and I placed myself between the dog and the man who was hell bent on making this dog learn a lesson. I looked into his eyes and I told him that was enough and to please stop. What happened next happened so fast I can’t recall the exact chain of events. I was shoved out of the way and unto the ground where I was smacked with the end of belt on my legs. I laid there for a few minutes after he went inside and the dogs came to see me. They were both still panting and anxious after all the commotion. I remember hugging them and apologizing that I was too drunk to drive us any where. I eventually got up and let us all inside. I went into my very tiny bathroom to wash up. I closed the door and turned on the water. The door was flung open and he got a chair and sat it outside. I continued to find face wash to wash my face as he began his manufactured reasoning behind his violent outburst towards me. I don’t think the words I am so sorry ever came out of his mouth. What I did get was a run down of the things I had done wrong that caused him to be upset with me all night. I can’t tell you what he said, I had sobered up some but my brain had also shut out the tone of his voice. Anything he said to me after that door had flung open I didn’t hear. I am not sure how long I was made to sit on the floor of that bathroom without leaving. Did I try to leave? Probably not. By this point, I knew very well that his need to prove himself right was more important then any rebuttal I could make. I got the biggest floral arrangement I have ever seen the following day. I rolled my eyes and threw them out.

To this day I have a very visceral response to any time I try to leave a room during an argument if anyone tries to keep me in a room. Now I know my anxiety response. I can get my brain out of the immediate flight or fight mode and calm myself down. That has come with therapy, lots of personal development and lots of thought work. I also left the relationship that was no longer serving me in the best way. He isn’t a bad person; he just wasn’t the person for me. My empathic self could not stand up until we had broken up and I had a lot of coming to Jesus moments with myself and with my therapist.

So my 1 am waking, walking, pacing, crying anxiety attack made me remember all the times I couldn’t calm myself down. All the times I stood shaking uncontrollably when something small happened. It took me years to be able to watch a scary movie or watch a show with violence in it. But that’s part of healing. The work. I didn’t expect to get there over night and I didn’t. Some days I have a step back but my self talk is better at getting me out before I get to caught up on the manufactured hamster wheel of anxiety.

As anyone knows after you go through some trauma in your life; you have choices. You can either sit in it and pull others in it with you every chance you get. Or you can choose to do the work it takes to heal yourself and become a better person for you. After all, you can’t control someone else and their behavior. You can only control what you can do for you. For me that comes in the form of some times being too stoic or appearing unsympathetic. I am much better at telling you how I feel but I also still hold back; still make too much space for other people’s emotions. I am a work in progress but I also learned that not all love shows up as love. Some love shows up under the umbrella of control. It’s why I tell my daughter things like, “It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been with someone or if you think you love them; if you are unhappy or if you feel that you not being treated right and they refuse to work with you or blame you: get out. And don’t ever let anyone make you feel as though you are less then.”

My anxiety is less today. I started working out again after taking some time off to feel better after being ill. It makes dealing with life a lot better. I also got some sleep. That is the most important thing for your brain is good quality sleep. Drink your water, get at least 7 hours of sleep, get outside and move your body for at least 30 minutes a day.

Remember some people manufacture emotions.

verb manufacturedmanufacturing\ ˌman-​yə-​ˈfak-​chə-​riŋ  , -​ˈfak-​shriŋ , ˌma-​nə-​ \

transitive verb3: INVENTFABRICATEknown to manufacture evidence4: to produce as if by manufacturingCREATEwriters who manufacture stories for television

December.

Sigh.

December can suck it.

Once upon a time when I was a wee little lass; I use to look forward to the Jolly Fat Man. I loved the tree being put up and my mom always had themes. She still does. I didn’t catch that particular gene. As of this moment, we still don’t have a tree up in our house even with my constant chattering of “we need to get a tree” I really want a fake tree but my daughter insists a real tree is better. So no tree yet. I did get out the boxes but not as much as usual. Tis the season

December can suck it.

My grandpa decided to leave this Earthly Plane one December. He sat down to read the paper and just like that the Angels said “okay big guy. Time to come home.” That was a sad December. It was cold and we had Grandma put up a tree for sense of normal. It seemed sadder to see the big ol’ tree sit in the living room and no one seemed that excited about it. So all those Christmas pasts always come flooding into my memory bank this time of year. I always see him with a glass, kicked back in a chair with a black and white dog next to him. Probably giving sage advice all while the noise of the family went on around him.

This year has been full of ups and downs. Loss. Loss of loved ones, loss of jobs, loss of what feels like our freedoms; but in this year of upside down time I have focused on hope. Cause even though December can suck it; it has been a year full of growth. We can’t go through something like this and not be changed. We can’t go through this and not grow. Those lessons that we have been learning are a good thing and will forever be our teacher in change and forward motion.

Tragic loss is a great teacher and a hard master. She comes in without warning and destroys everything in her path; and then when we least expect it she serves us the lessons of hope and growth we are meant to learn if the loss hadn’t happened. If the person we love the most was still around to make us laugh and watch us grow.

I never wanted the growth part of the hurt. God, that ache in my chest never went away. That pain that I couldn’t quite reach or make go away. I wanted the people that I lost back in my life and things to go back to whatever version of normal I had come to expect. My grandpa use to come to all my basketball games and after I was living on my own he would stop by and take me to get ice cream. Little things.

Loss makes a person fearful. It takes away that sense of innocence. All the sudden everything is wide open and scary. It can either stop of us from enjoying life that is still in front of us. The good and the bad. The beautiful lesson I learned is there is no safety net. It was always an illusion; so the best thing to do is do it afraid. Do it despite having that huge hole in your chest. Do it afraid.

As I have had growth thrust upon me I have learned to trust that God ( High power, spirit or energy whatever word you want to put in there); always waits for me to ask for help. I have learned to trust the process. Otherwise that incredible heavy foot of anxiety and out of control sets on my chest. I begin to spin and when I do that I realize I am trying to control too much and I am not asking for help. Prayer in my car or in the shower is a great stress reliever. It has also gotten me through many situations where I just had to do it afraid.

So even though December can suck it; I look forward to gifts, trees and family and creating memories. I am also looking forward to facing the next year braver than I was this year and pushing myself to do it afraid.

Begin.

I love getting up when it is still dark. I love that quiet early morning light. This time of year everything is quiet. There isn’t a bird making a sound and the ground is crunchy with frost. I sling my feet out of bed and search for my pink fuzzy slippers. They are around here some where. If I was organized or thought ahead, they would be right beside my bed. I am not. So I pad across the cold tile to the bathroom and see them sitting next to the sink. The dogs are stretching with excitement. They know the routine. Out the door to go to the bathroom they go. I rub my eyes and look around trying to remember why I am awake. I flick on the kitchen light, because well, it’s dark and the littlest dog of our tribe is jumping around. Jax gets a banana. Well part of one, if I give him too big of a piece he won’t take it. I let the other two in and they promptly sit. They each get a little banana too. It will do until they get fed in another hour.

Begin.

We are out of dog food this morning, so I take the defrosted stew meat and dump it in a pan to get a quick warm up. Normally I would feed it to them raw but it’s being mixed in to some other grains so I give up some garlic powder and turn it off. The pack looks at me expectantly. I shake my head no and tell them it needs to cool first. I don’t know why I explain everything to them, but I know they understand. Grace sighs and Sophie keeps sniffing the air.

I turn to fix my drink.

It’s not coffee this early. I need to wake up first. My daily habit to begin my day like I had every day for two years had came to a woah when I got sick, so I forget how this little bit of liquid gold helps me begin. This being my first week back I am taking an easy route. I get on my stationary bike and turn on TBS. While I was sick I would get up and hit the sofa. In case you weren’t aware there is more than just the news on at 5 am. There is either Every Body Loves Raymond or George Lopez reruns. So I turn it on and peddle. I increase my resistance during commercials and I tend to be peddle at a good easy speed during the show. I get bored easily and often times have to resort to Instagram to keep me going or I just want to dive off the bike and sit on the sofa. I am only using this week as a beginning. I needed a transition. It’s so easy to just keep sleeping in and not working on myself. So while I think about my next routine, I am allowing this little bit of exercise to help me begin.

After my show ends and I look at my watch to see that I did make it to the 30 minute mark; because I am a little bit competitive no matter what I try to say about myself. I also have found that my temper needs a run for about a mile or so before I am able to people. The more wore out I am the better I feel about the rest of my day. Growing up my parents always told us to get outside; turns out that’s not bad advice. Fresh air and horse hair make everything amazing. It’s cold and dark, so I am happy for my indoor work out

I make my way back to the kitchen to prepare the dog’s food and kick them outside to eat. They are excited as I am.

When I go back inside, I am not as excited. I notice that Sophie (the 9 month old Australian Cattle dog/border collie cross) showed her displeasure at not getting her way by promptly tearing into a succulent and spreading the dirt across my white-ish and blue rug. It would be great if she wasn’t such an asshole. That’s her barking at the door to be let back in. She has stopped jumping on the door to just an annoying bark to remind me that it’s cold and no one has thrown a ball for her yet. I ignore the barks. And remind myself she is just a baby and this too shall pass.

My dad should be here any minute. He has been picking up Grace and Sophie to take them on his morning route. I am not sure where they all go or what they get to see; but they are always excited to get to ride along.

Begin.

I clean up the mess and hit the shower. As much as I don’t want to, I know I need to begin the rest of my day. That includes being an adult. I turn on my podcast and turn on the water. I have started the routine of putting something good and worthwhile between my ears each morning. It fills me up and I know that I have developed a routine that helps me when the day goes to shit. No not every day does. There is GOOD in each and every day. My attitude determines it and so do my thoughts. I have found it’s better to just replace the shit thinking with the I AM thinking. I AM capable. I AM amazing. I AM deserving. I finish getting ready and some days those jeans just don’t fit like they use to, but you know what, I am grateful. I am blessed. I am healthy. Doesn’t mean I don’t still don’t have off days. They are just fewer between now. I just begin.

I know it takes a effort to begin and stop counting days to begin a habit. I know once you do something enough, it becomes routine. A good routine will take you so many places you didn’t think you could go.

This December as we wind down this crazy year; I am thinking of all the ways I began. All the ways I look forward to beginning. I just know I just have to say yes.

What are you looking forward to begin? Just begin.