A Thought on Change

Sometimes change is scary but still a necessity…

It’s early morning and I find myself awake suddenly, sleep has been fairly elusive for me for as long as I can remember so it’s not a new sensation.  I found myself journaling on paper for the first time in a long time and decided to move some thoughts here as I wind down to go back to my bed and my snuggle pooch.

Uncomfortable Territory

Last night I went to an online community which I used to spend a lot of time with for a meeting (yes recovery related).  It has been a while since I’ve been to one of these meetings and I am incredibly well versed in this particular program thus I was hoping to work through one of the tools that I have been somewhat stuck on the last few days.  I found myself in uncomfortable territory as I knew absolutely nobody in a place where I used to be a fixture, part of me was happy to see so many new people seeking help but another part of me was somewhat depressed to see so many new people needing help.

In any case, I brought up what I was hoping to work on to little effect (my tool was much more advanced and most meetings at this particular site are geared towards early tools).  I sat through a good majority of the meeting but removed myself when I felt things were going south for me, the meeting started to tilt towards other methods used by other programs.  I thought it best to leave the meeting and let them do what they need to do as it was non productive for myself and possibly dangerous to others for me to stay.  I entered the public chat instead to see what other strange changes have happened.

I must bring up that years ago this particular community suffered a problem with a technology provider going south and a large number of us “fixtures” moved on to another platform as a stop-gap measure until things got figured out.  The organization that maintained this online community hit us with a lot of push back over the change taking it as a threat and as such a large rift was formed.  I will say that our stop-gap has become fairly permanent and while small our community is incredibly tight knit.  We have genuine concern for each other and it’s not uncommon for one of us to reach out to another when we suspect they need help.

In the public chat system of the old community I saw very few familiar faces, one of which I was very happy to see as I had not spoken with this person in a very very long time.  We had some very good conversation and we also managed to help guide two newcomers to help within that community.  I didn’t dare bring up our little side group for fear of the push back (banning, etc.) from the old community, I played it fairly straight forward.  While I never did accomplish getting past my “stuck” point in the tool that I am working I felt more emotionally calm and sound having possibly helped others.

I suppose the point of all this is that I was a part of a relatively strong and large community that simply changed, I felt incredibly uncomfortable last night as the old familiar feel of the community was gone.  Perhaps had I gone back sooner when they rebuilt the chat and meeting systems and let myself stay there I might have felt more comfortable with the change as it would have been more gradual.  Fact is, during the flux time of that community I myself was in a horrible flux time.  Fact is, I’m still experiencing a flux time though nowhere near as horrible.

Change, and seeing the results of change can often be incredibly scary.  I take comfort in the thought that both communities are still around at present and that both communities have no quam reaching out to those needing help.  I take pride in my knowledge of the tools and while my lack of using the tools in the past is depressing the thought that I am using the tools actively on a consistent basis currently gives me hope.  Will I once again haunt the pages and meetings of this older community that I was once a fixture in?  I cannot say for sure, at worst I will return now and then I suppose even if it’s just to refresh myself with a more dynamic group as our members are fairly fixed.

 I can take responsibility and utilize my own agency~~

I cannot say I like the changes I see, and in the case of the meetings being geared to early tools I am not a fan of the fact that some changes I feel are necessary have not happened.  The fact is communities like these exist for just that purpose to serve a community not to serve just me.  I can take responsibility and utilize my own agency to reach out to someone directly to help me with my more advanced tools.  I have to remember my goals and my responsibilities, it’s no longer a time to hide regardless of how uncomfortable with change I am.

The world is not going to stop for me, nor should it.  And I should not stop for any discomfort whether incredible or otherwise.  I have been blessed with a very large support system, many times many people have genuine concern for my well being and to ignore this fact any longer is a disservice to those that are there for me, as well as myself.  With that thought I will close and wander back to my bed and my pooch.

Tomorrow we should face whatever changes we need to with strength and understanding.

~J

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Some Thoughts on Healthy Living

And So I Decided to Quit Smoking….

I woke up this morning after getting what I consider to be a good nights sleep (more than 4 hours uninterrupted) and for the better part of this morning found myself in a severe funk.  Not so much angry but full of anxiety and maybe a touch of depression and a whoooole lot of that frustration thing.  It seemed like everything just frustrated me, for the first morning in a while I even slacked on making breakfast which is just not like me.

Granted, I have a lot to have anxiety about with the recent job applications / interviews and everything else going on with my life and add into that PAWS (post acute withdrawal syndrome) and I’m already a ball of stress.  So like an idiot a few days ago I decided to  quit smoking….. I’ve got lozenges (almost out) and a stack of patches (never really worked) along with tins of flavored toothpicks (probably going to be crapping splinters for a while) but the edge still comes and goes.  What the hell was I thinking?

I’ve got a good support system in place but it’s still difficult and so now I suppose I’ll rant about it.  Just after noonish I decided to indulge in one of my favorite dishes to eat as well as cook (and don’t laugh, it’s a big deal) a big bowl of Ramen (Or in the Hawaiian culture “Saimen”).  Just the time it took me to prepare it, my focus on chopping the vegetables, frying the perfect egg, simmering the pork to make the perfect broth, mixing my own seasoning blend, and putting it all together made me feel better.

Eating it in traditional style (quickly, slurping as to cool the noodles and unlock the broth flavor) gave me a sense of calm and happiness that I have been missing the last few days.  Now some might think “healthy living is in the title, isn’t Ramen horrible for you?” NO!  If done right it’s a very nutritious dish not to mention a very fulfilling one to explore.  A quick google search on traditional Ramen houses will yield a very interesting culture and a whole new world built around this wonderful part of my life.

Unfortunately throughout the rest of the day I lapsed in and out of the anxiety over and over, at the beginning of this post I was feeling it with a heavy edge to my demeanor overall.  By the time of this paragraph I am finding myself a touch less on edge and feeling better overall.  I know the nicotine and the overall habit will pass with time and I just need to hang in there.  I know my health will only get better and I will be able to extend my hiking enjoyment by sacrificing my smoking habit.  And then there’s that whole money thing, I sat down on day one and started calculating the cost of my smoking over a years time ($2445.00 a year on average).

Just uhm, wow!  So $203 a month on the low side that’s insanity considering all it does is appease a self imposed edginess from starting up in the first place.  So, wish me luck and I hope I can keep this up!  I’ll keep everyone updated!

~J

Of not sleeping and avoiding going absolutely nuts!

So, it’s been a while since my last entry as I’ve been running at 100 miles per hour for a while now. Moving is hard enough but being a pack rat definitely exasperates the str- er frustation.

I hesitate to say struggle even though it seems that way. I have received unparalelled support from family as well as the upstairs neighbors.  I always knew I was a packrat but I was not expecting to have packed so many emotions away as well.

In particular the last two days have been filled with emotions good, bad, sublime, regretful, fearful, strong, even guilty. I have found myself so high strung and stressed that sleep has evaded me now 3 nights in a row.  It comes in little 15-45 minute spurts and I wake up with night terrors or a severe panic attack.

So I change my sweaty pajamas and try again as I know it will get better soon.  I find myself stress cooking which I don’t think of as bad.  In fact not only is it a more positive way of dealing with stress than many other methods I’ve engaged in but, I’m eating healthy food which I suppose is keeping me going.  Maybe I’ll write a cookbook on that someday “Cooking yourself sane”??

All in all I’ve made great strides, I am still throwing/giving away a lot and have listed a lot to sell.  I’m also remembering a lot of past experiences and people in my life and realizing that I’ve been amazingly blessed and lucky.  

It’s almost as if I’m reading my past as someone else’s story sometimes and thinking “this guys a few fries short of a happy meal”.  It’s not that I’ve come to realize most of my struggles and problems are self inflicted, it’s more that I’m beginning to accept it. I have always known I self destruct but change is tough.

I’m still working on changing and I suppose it’s going to be a long task.  For tonight though I’m feeling pretty okay about tomorrow, I even managed an entire 2 hour nap without waking up badly!! 

I have to confess though being on my inversion table and absolutely exhausted from putting it back together might have contributed.  In any case I figured while I wait for my “ham and bean with stress reducing veggie” soup to cool enough to freeze / refrigerate I would stop digging in boxes long enough to post.

A good friend once told me “Don’t be afraid of life”

~Joe 

(Note the image is yesterday’s stress cook not my soup lol)

Letting Go in a Positive Way

There is a difference between memories and physical objects

I love my grandparent’s home, I grew up here I have memories here. My grandfather built me a clubhouse in back, I used to climb a plumb tree and pick gooseberries and raspberries to eat on the spot. I remember my grandmother used to pick me fresh strawberries from the garden when I would stay the night and I would sit and dip them in a bowl of sugar to eat in the evenings before bedtime. I used to use the crawlspace under the stairs as a clubhouse, in fact “no girls allowed” is still scrawled on the little wooden doors. I remember watching Sesame Street on the color TV, one of those giant cabinet deals that must have weighed a thousand pounds!

I know this neighborhood, I listen to Revelry in the morning and taps in the evening from the nearby army base. I can hear the coal trains on distant tracks, I love this home. My grandfather always wanted a champion yard, it’s one of the best in the neighborhood and has been as long as I can remember. When I was in my late teens I moved in to get a jump start on a new life and tonight I sleep in the same room and the same bed as I did then.

Now word is they signed a year lease on a place in Arizona where they have been wintering the last two years. I think it is best for them, much better for their health as well as mobility as it’s a somewhat assisted living place. So, it’s inevitable the house here will go up for sale sometime in the future. I know they are stressed about telling me even though I already know as they are well aware of my attachment to the home. In all reality yes, I will be sad however this is the best thing for my beloved grandparents and I support that above any brick and mortar “thing”.

I’ve been dealing with a lot of “letting go” lately, today we moved all my belongings out of the home I shared with my wife for over a decade. Today was very emotional and between pondering this post and pacing the house aimlessly I’ve been stress cooking. Cooking has been a solid fall back for me to keep my mind off things, currently I am working on a soup for tomorrow with various beans, fresh veggies, and pan seared pork seasoned with turmeric, garlic, rosemary, and a little bit of Portuguese sausage seasoning. Unfortunately, now I am at an impasse waiting for the beans to soften, boil and soak… boil and soak… repeat.

It’s been an emotional week for me, and I need to remember to keep a positive mindset. My mother is in town and we have done well at mutual support. I also have an excellent support system in place by way of my online community at HipChat, everyone there has been nothing short of a god send for my sanity and most importantly my sobriety. So today I am going to re-frame, my life is in a reconstruction phase (go figure the title of this blog) and I have some flexibility in how I move myself forward. I can focus on the positive and create a better me and that is what I choose to do today.

The house going up for sale? I’ll probably get furniture and *hopefully* kitchen stuff for my new apartment. My grandparents moving out of state permanently? I can always visit, and I know they will have help when they need it from the place they are moving to. Moving all my things? Well, I need to go through them it’s an opportunity to clear out all the junk I’ve been dragging around. I will soon have a place where I can sit and not be bothered, a place of my own again. And it’s dog friendly so when things stable out I foresee a pooches in my near future!

I’m off to find something to cook,

~Joe

When life gives you lemons, take em free stuff is always cool!

Staying positive on a semi bad day

This morning was a mix of lemons and sugar I must say, I currently have two big things in life I am trying to accomplish:

The first is that of a career change, finding a job is tough nowadays especially when changing careers. I’ve spent the last 21 years in the tech industry which on my resume reads to other industry HR as “He won’t stick around long as he’s overqualified”. Holy hell I’m sick of being considered overqualified for different industries just because I’m highly qualified in a separate area. On a separate note, just dealing with small business owners schedules puts me in a waiting game and I hate uncertainty.

Today I was supposed to have an interview with a local wood shop which I have been incredibly excited for. Woodworking has always been one of my favorite hobbies, my grandfather and great grandfather were both master carpenters I collect hand tools I absolutely love it. This morning I got a call to reschedule the interview as the owner had to do an emergency delivery today.

I really want this job!

On a positive note the call went very well and I was able to express my ability to “roll with the punches” to the owner of a small family run business that requires everyone involved to be flexible. So, the lemon is that I need to wait, the sugar is that I had the chance to exhibit my flexibility. I really want this job!

The second is that I am looking for a place to live, I don’t require much just a little space of my own that is affordable. I’ve found a little apartment in a 4 plex on the lower west side of town which is run down but quiet and very nice with trails and convenient access to the rest of the city. Nice and central which for me is a big plus. I’ve been waiting on the property management company who seems to be lagging.

The downside is waiting once again last night I put in my application so that they can run my background check. I’m not concerned about the check so much as aside from an auto accident recently I haven’t had any trouble with the law. In fact, I used to hold a clearance, it’s just the waiting game that is driving me insane. The good news is that just a few hours ago they contacted me for a copy of my driver’s license which tells me something is going on.

So today has been a mixed bag, I’m still hopeful and continuing to look for other open positions to apply for as well as other places to live. Life doesn’t stand still because someone else is dragging feet. I’m not going to let it bother me today and I am not going to let it cause me to drink today. In fact, I am working on firing off my resume to other places and peeking at rentals all around town. I’m going to spend the next few hours doing this and then I plan to spend some time with another passion of mine. I am going to spend some time in the kitchen cooking something, no idea what yet but it’ll come to me!

Life is tough sometimes but we can always learn from our mistakes and there is often always an alternative option or activity to cope. Someone once told me “When life gives you lemons, take them free stuff is always cool” hence the title of this article. Today I’ve got a lot of free stuff, I’m going to take it and see what I can do with it.

Pucker up folks,

Joe

The Positive Benefits of Creation

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One of the authors hobbies, Gummy art.

Why not take action to improve yourself?

Creating something, whether baking a cake or building a table, even snapping together a Lego set or creating a blog entry can become an incredibly cathartic process of not just focus and self-reflection but also discovery of one’s own capabilities. Often it can also serve as a distraction or outlet from a myriad of problems we encounter through life be it anger, depression, addiction (urges and cravings), and of course boredom.

Smart Recovery © calls this a form of VACI or Vitally Absorbing Creative Interest and it is recommended in point 4 of the program “Living a Balance Life”. While it is very true that engaging in a hobby or activity (which can be anything ranging from hiking to simply meditating) is not just beneficial but in many cases required to achieving life balance; I would like to suggest that activities that produce some sort of output can be useful in all stages of life (or to frame within SMART© Point 2 “Coping With Urges” and Point 3 “Managing Thoughts, Feelings, and Behaviors”). In the interest of not seeming to focused on one single program I will also point out that many 12 step sponsors will recommend a sponsee perform a task when called about an urge or craving.

This translates farther than addiction though; often with scenarios of high anxiety, depression, even avoiding or reducing the extent of dementia, or Alzheimer’s symptoms. The positive effects of a hobby are far reaching in that it exercises the mind, helps to achieve focus, generates a sense of accomplishment and, in the case of creating something it can also produce income or a gift for someone else.

Recently my personal experience has been that when I have an urge come on I can manage it very quickly and easily by engaging in one of my favorite “creational” hobbies, cooking. Often by the time I assemble all the necessary pots and pans and utensils and whatever ingredients I will need the urge has disappeared. Sometimes instead of cooking I will start a wood working project or fiddle with any manner of craft from stained glass, building a camp stove out of a coffee can, photography, and yes even this blog.

The articles for this blog is not only a very good example of a creational hobby but also in my opinion a very timely and excellent demonstration of how effective such things can be on changing overall attitude and improving well-being. I started this blog approximately three days ago, this is the fourth day and I have already noticed a major shift in my overall attitude to the positive. I find it easier to engage in conversations with a much more upbeat and relaxed tone, and shrug off comments that I would ordinarily respond to with argument or insult. I haven’t had an urge or even so much as a slight craving in the last two days, and my sleep has been better than I can ever remember throughout my adult life.

Here where I am at in Colorado, I impatiently await the days I can go out with my cameras and snap pictures of whatever strikes me in hopes for those few great shots that I may print and frame as gifts for friends and family. I cook a meal once a week for my much younger cousin who is living on his own for the first time a few blocks away. These creational hobbies not only provide me joy and absorb time that I might have normally spent looming in depression, but they also bring along a secondary feel good when I do something for someone else just because.

I invite anybody reading this to take a good look at what creational hobbies might become a useful tool in adjusting attitude and lifestyle to a more positive and productive meaning.

Happy creating,

~Joe