In A Word…

Musings from the West Coast

Rebuilding in St. Louis

It’s been a complicated year, full of doctor appointments, job coaching appointments, and heartache. July is here and I still don’t have a job. I already know that I’m lucky to be in a safe situation without truly dire circumstances, but even so – starting over is difficult.

I’ve been journaling to try to make sense of what happened to me last year at about this time. There’s really nothing I can say about it here except that I need to be mindful of myself and my daily interactions, which is much easier on my anti-anxiety medication anyway.

Small things like getting a library card feel big. Big things, like finding a job, feel challenging. My only goal is to take those challenges head-on, which is an ongoing thing.

I spent some time reading Dick Bolles’ “Guide to Interviewing”. It’s circa 2014, but there are still some relevant suggestions in it. He invited everyone who read “What Color Is Your Parachute” to network with him on Linkedin. I did, about a year before he passed away. Reading the guide was like asking for his advice from beyond the grave. It’s so clearly written in his voice with unmistakable crispness on how one should conduct themselves while interviewing.

He also mentioned that you should write and send a thank you note after the interview, whether it went well or not. I’m going to talk it over with my job coach and see how he feels about it as a practice to implement into my hunt.

I have tons of experience. It’s just a matter of someone needing me at their company.

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Where I have been; Where I am now.

This has been a somewhat complicated post to think about.

Last winter, for reasons I don’t yet feel comfortable sharing, I entered myself for care and treatment in a hospital. I learned a lot from the experience, including a few things about myself that technically place me under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

I’ve been having nightmares about how to explain it to my extended family and friends. There are a large percentage of people I’ve spoken to that have encouraged me to remain silent about my diagnosis during interviews and meeting new people. Alternately, those within the community say that being forthcoming about my mental health is typically well-received.

The stigma is real.

On a personal note, I’ve temporarily moved back to St. Louis to get my head on straight, as much as I can, and save up to move back to the Pacific Northwest. This means searching for volunteer opportunities, finding a new job (or Disability), and figuring out how to never have a tailspin like the one I experienced last winter.

I’m cut off from my child but feel lucky that there are wonderful people here that know what I’m experiencing and are willing to help me learn.

Time for “V. Moves Out On Her Own – Part II”, whatever that looks like, hopefully this year.

If you, or someone you love is living with mental health concerns, check out the National Alliance of Mental Health for your state’s resources. I was provided a list of Missouri resources by a case worker and it helped me immensely with some of the more overwhelming aspects of just… what to do next.

On Being Alone

With a blank page,
a thousand small

sifting particles
float, muted motes

of memories
twisting, passing

each other’s lonely
writing chamber.

Simple Baked Potato Soup

This recipe was passed on to me by a family member, so I more or less cook it from memory now. I don’t post recipies here a lot, but this feels worth sharing for the holidays. 

Original ingredients:

  • Chicken and/or vegetable broth (1 can for every lb of potatoes)
  • Salt and pepper
  • (Seasoning salt and chives if you’d prefer)
  • Potatoes – Brown if you want to peel them, red or yellow if you don’t. We NEVER peel them.
  • 16 oz of cream cheese for a 5lb bag of red potatoes
  1. Cut potatoes into eighths or manageable chunks.
  2. Cover with broth
  3. Add salt and pepper
  4. Cook on high for 4-6 hours or low for 8-10 hours
  5. Leave the cream cheese out to soften, then cube and add sometime during/after you’re done cooking (original recipe said “add within the last hour of cooking” – so if it was high for six hours, you add it at the 5 hour mark)
  6. Simmer for an hour or until it melts.

Garnish with cheddar cheese, cheddarjack jeese, or Pepperjack cheese (I used to have trouble with pepperjack because I’d shred it and my family would get nervous:  THOSE ARE PEPPERS!!!). You can also fry up bacon for “baked potato” soup

Modifications to mine, this month:

  • Almost an entire 3lb bag of red potatoes
  • Two small/med heads of Broccoli and about ½ a slice of red onion, chopped
  • 8 oz cream cheese & 2 cans chicken broth
  • About ½ cup of chardonnay (Cheap box wine, last of my box)
  • About ½ cup of alfredo sauce (to thicken it up, you don’t need as much broth if you use broccoli)
  • About ½ bag of Italian shredded cheese and Colby jack cheese, also to thicken it up, because it wasn’t going to HURT anything at that point

 

Happy Cooking!

Trivial thoughts for Winter

Depression is not inextricably linked to winter for me. I have a lot of love and joy attached to Christmas, my family, my son, New Year’s Eve celebrations, my sister’s birthday, and so many other things. Three of my favorite holidays (Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day) fall into this part of the year. I love the glisten of holiday lights, the magical float of snow in the air, the crisp in my lungs and breathing the hot air out like a dragon’s smoke.

I know the above paragraph sounds really sugary and imaginary, like I’m discounting pain, hardship, or other things that happened in my past over the holidays. Working on Christmas or Thanksgiving, my mother’s death, days away from Christmas, other little petty dramas (and a few big ones) linked to this magical season. Dwelling on the darkness gives it power, acknowledging that they happened and moving on is forgiveness, or healing – or both.  Knowing that some things cannot be fixed is half the path to moving on.

Working on the holidays isn’t so bad, it’s time and a half.  I have a Christmas book with notes on how to prepare for the holidays, hand-written by my mom.  (I can’t believe how quickly this year has gone by, is it really November? Pinch me. Please.) This is the perfect time of year to ignore whatever petty anxieties have been sneaking into the blood, and shake them loose. Good luck with yours. I’ll take all the luck I can get with mine.

I may never be perfect, but at least I feel like I’m going to be okay. Maybe eventually.  I hope.

Unless I post something else before the holidays really kick into gear, this is my seasonal wish to you:

Wherever the hell you are, whatever you celebrate, don’t be afraid to let the sparkle wash over you once in a while. It’s not a bad thing to drink it all in, catch a snowflake on your tounge, hum along to a familiar seasonal melody, and share a coffee with a friend.  Blessings. (VBT)

Actual Update: September 2017

In June, my rent outstripped my income.  I missed a payment. I was nearly evicted.  I put in my notice.

I also took part in my first art show since moving out to Seattle.  It was amazing.  As an aside: I didn’t actually sell anything, but my brother pretty much insisted to take it as an experience (and report back).  What I learned: Bring prints with you if you do an art show.  Come hell or high water, bring prints.  Stand near your stuff.  Get Critique from other artists before you go and during the show.

In July, I moved over the course of two days out of one apartment (barely) and into a new one.

I also reminded myself that I am not alone, visited at least three restaurants I had never been to before, and decided that I’m probably going to have a LONG time before I can mentally handle dating again.

In August, I finally cleaned my mom’s china cabinet and found a home for it.  It is now a bookshelf.  This is after it has been sitting in storage room after storage room, waiting for me to add two panes of glass.  No panes necessary now, just easy book access.

I also saw the end of a long-running commitment to an elderly member of my son’s family, as she moved into a group home.  Arguably the hardest decision my mother-in-law has had to make since moving out to Seattle with all of us, which was likely equally as hard.

In September, I bought a key at an antiques shop that magically fits the cabinet.

I can’t wait to see what unlocks next.

A Quick Update

I’m a little bit short on internet and long on bills right now, so I’ve fallen behind on both this blog and AnimeBinge in favor of making sure that I don’t miss work and that I don’t miss opportunities to get my son involved with something for the Summer.

My professional twitter will likely slow its updates for a time as well.

On the flip side, I just had my birthday, and it was LOVELY.  My birthday falls right around Mother’s Day every year, so it makes me reflective of my mom, but this year I have been much more aware of all of the other moms around me than I think I’ve ever been.  I know it’s not easy to be a single mom (or single dad) and even those who are in real, but strained, relationships go through tons of daily challenges.

One last thought – I’ve been prepping a follow-up post to all of my Herald articles, because I’ve just hit article number six! (Yay!)