Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year!

    Here I am, on the cusp of a new year. Midnight is 25 minutes away, and with it the first moments of 2015. It has been an odd ending to what has been an exciting and adventurous year.
    Having my job come to a close was more emotionally draining than I had expected. It was an odd combination of fear of the unknown, sadness and a sense of loss, coupled with sheer exhilaration at all the possibilities now opening up before my like an exotic flower. I have not been sleeping well these last few weeks. At first it was because of the zaniness of internet retail during the holiday shopping season. As that was winding down and there was time to breathe, I began to feel the looming loss, which did its best to keep me sleep deprived. As if that weren't enough, suddenly Brain kicked into high gear with myriad of possibilities. My mind went into overdrive thinking of exciting, creative avenues that I am now free to follow. Suffice to say, I need to get caught up on my sleep. Now I sit on the edge of the new year, unemployed, or, as I prefer, self-employed, I am ready to leap into the unknown, and I am fucking excited. Exhausted, drained, a little sad, but excited as hell. So excited that I actually skipped several parties I was invited to, and had all intentions of attending, because I went into a flurry of cleaning and organizing in my desire to be able to start working on a prototype for a new business venture. Yes, I am being a bit secretive. Let's just say I think I have finally figured out an untapped market for creations that will let me use some of my mad skills.
    This last year has let me push myself physically farther than I would have imagined just a few short years ago. And has also let me imagine how much further I can go. I have not seen the limits of my strength, and am eager to keep pushing my boundaries. I love pushing myself, finding a limit and pushing against it until it is no longer limiting. Yes, this does keep me sore and tired a good bit of the time, but I love every minute of it.
    Nine minutes until midnight. Yes, home alone, just me and the dogs. Yes, I did get in a good, sweaty cycling workout, and make myself a beautifully healthy dinner. My festive splurge was herbal tea and dark, organic chocolate. Home alone, but not lonely, I am great company.
    Funny, now that I am not required to live by an alarm clock or work schedule, I am in a hurry to "get things done." That's what Brain keeps telling me, "C'mon, let's Get Things Done!" I want to rush through getting my home and workspace organized, rush out to buy supplies, design, draw, cut, tool, stitch. I want to dive in and get busy. I am so excited by the prospect of where I am heading that I am scatterbrained, hyperactive, distracted, attention deficit. It is making me a bit crazy.
    Three, two, one... Happy New Year! And it will be. Happy, New, Exciting, Adventurous.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Cleanse and Purge, Preparing For The New Year

    I am already taking steps towards making 2015 a productive year. Today, having the house to myself, and a cancellation of my plans for sushi and shopping with my friend, I kicked into high manic mode and started cleaning and purging. There is so much clutter involved when you have a houseful of people. It can't really be helped unless everyone is as OCD about clutter as I can be, especially at this time of year. Before I moved into my snug, little house, I made a goal to rid myself of 50% of everything I possessed. Granted, when you have lived in one house for 5 years, with teenagers, it is easy to accumulate way too much crap, so riding myself of the bulk of that 50% was actually pretty easy. Since I moved I have continued to have bouts of purging (I sound bulimic), and I still have too much stuff. I would love to reach the point where I have very little that must be stored in boxes and bins. I want to get down to bins of seasonal decor, fabric, and craft supplies only. I have a cedar chest that has mementos, mostly of my sons' childhood, and that can remain untouched. But how much "stuff" does one person need? Not as much as we all seem to think we do. I still have things stored away that I haven't needed since I moved in 3 years ago, I think it is safe to say that I don't need them.
    Funny, it just occurred to me that I just hit the 3 year anniversary of buying my little house. Three years ago, the weekend before Christmas, I spent the first night in my own home. It was freezing cold, the house had been unheated for months, and the central heat did not work. It was so cold that I shivered all night long, and barely slept, but I was so excited to be buying my very own home, that I picked out all by myself, and financed all on my own, that the cold was worth it. That was a rough winter, I hit the lowest I have ever been, but the entire time I poured all my energy into making my house into my very own, colorful home. My sanctuary. A dream come true. Oh the difference a few years can make!
   Okay, enough dawdling at the computer (well actually I am taking a moment to eat some baked winter veggies to refuel for more work and a workout), time to get back to work. I love my home, I love my life.

2015, Leap of Faith Year.

    Another year is coming to a close. I have to say that 2014 has been one of my best years ever. My demons took a backseat, and only came out to play a few times. When they did arrive, their attempts at derailing me seemed half-hearted and feeble. My inner strength seems to have been increasing alongside my outer strength. I do think that having solid fitness goals has helped keep Brain on track. This really is no surprise as I have always known that if I keep Body strong it helps shelter and defend Brain and Spirit. Keeping my life simple goes hand in hand with keeping Body strong. Limiting emotional distress caused by external forces (i.e. unsatisfying and/or toxic relationships) has been key in maintaining stability.
    I can't say that the year has been without its obvious stress points. I have had a houseful since mid-August, and that has been a bit mind-blowing. But I made the offer, and it is coming to an end soon. It has given me an opportunity to get to know new family, and renew the bond with my son. So despite the obvious chaos and stress of small children and extra dogs, it has overall been a good thing, though I think we all are ready for a change. Soon though.
    2014 was a year of physical challenges, self-imposed and intentionally intimidating. I came through in the absolute best shape of my life. Strong, fit, long and lean, rising to the challenge, and ready to do it again. I trained hard all year, sometimes to the exclusion of all else, and I am ready to do it all again. I am already stronger than I was last summer, intentionally letting my running and cycling ease off to focus on strength training and core conditioning. Soon enough I will be back in the wind, focusing on speed work, building my aerobic base, and increasing endurance and stamina. It is going to be a great race year, culminating once again with the Epic 250K in September.
    October of 2014 did bring a shock when I was called into the boss' office and informed that they were closing my department at the end of the year and I would be out of a job. Yes, I broke down and cried once I left his office. I am single, have a mortgage, and fall into the category of "less employable." I know that is a bit defeatist sounding, but statistics show that women in their fifties are "the new unemployable" no matter how fit and awesome I am. Also, I do not have a college degree, and my work history has been varied, and often blue-collar. I know I am a great generalist who can learn almost anything and excel at it, but most companies want specialists with college degrees whether the degree means jack shit or not, they just want that sheepskin. After a day of oh-my-gods-what-am-I-gonna-do I got down to brass tacks and started formulating a plan. Of course at first I started looking at the jobs listings and came to the early conclusion that I didn't want "same shit different office." I don't want to keep working 40 hours a week making money for someone else while they pay me less than I am worth. If I am going to struggle on the edge of poverty I want to do it on my own terms, for my own desires, to create my own works, to make money for myself. I have chosen to look at unemployment as a golden opportunity to build up a few business concepts that will make me a decent supplemental income so that I can actually retire in 10 years instead of being forced to work into my 70's to make ends meet on a meager Social Security income. Yes, I do know that I will have to rejoin the workforce at some point in 2015, but I want to be able to do it on my terms, and hopefully less than full time.
    On a side note, one of my first thoughts after getting over the shock of pending unemployment was the joyous thought, "Oh my  gods, just think of how much time I will have to workout and train!" Hell, maybe I can pretend I am a professional athlete long enough to get to the start line rock solid and in absolute peak condition! This excites me more than you can imagine.
    The first weekend of 2015 will add another notch to my belt, I begin Fire Investigation 200. An area of firefighting that has intrigued and interested me far longer than I have been with the department. With bunker gear in one hand and a notepad in the other, I am beyond excited for class to start.
    Another fun part of 2014 has been finding a part-time relationship that fills the physical and emotional void, and helps keep Brain, Body, and Spirit on track more than any past relationship has managed. In the past, relationships have been a trigger point for most of my deepest adventures into the abyss. Too much emotional energy was spilled out into the void with very little return on my investment, which left me a hollow shell of what I need to be. Now, through one small leap of faith, and an oddly random nudge by fate, I have slipped easily into an affair that has none of the guilt or emotional drain that I have felt in the past. Instead it is mature and satisfying on both sides, since we entered into it with eyes wide open, knowing our own and each other's parameters, limitations, and desires. Up front, no bullshit, no lies, no grief, no guilt. There are never any recriminations for lack of time. No insecurities if we don't communicate for weeks at a time. And when we do have time the world falls away and the focus is only on us. It is strange, non-traditional, and exactly what I need. Funny how things work out when you stop trying to force the issue, decide what it is you truly need and want, and then put that out into the world. I am not one to have a traditional relationship, they are too demanding of my time and energy, too needy, and cause me too much stress wanting to make everyone happy. I have found what makes me happy, and that is enough. Oddly, it is inspiring me to start a new blog soon, of freedom found, and the joys of getting what you want, no matter how off-beat, nontraditional, unconditional, wild and crazy, more than a bit kinky, and on my own terms.
    As Fun as 2014 has been, I am so excited for 2015. Life is what You make of it, no one else can take the blame or the credit, it is all on You. As of January 1st, 2015, I will be unemployed and free to start a whole new chapter in the rollercoaster that is life. I have already started writing the introduction, and can barely wait to start on page one. 2015 will be exciting, exhausting, educating, alarming, sexy, fun, difficult, deviant, daring. It will call on me to do something I am good at: Leap Before I Look. 2015 will be the Leap of Faith Year.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Steady Nerves

    My pager went of at 21:25, unconscious older male. I threw on my basic black class C's and jacket, and flew out the door. Despite the fog I made good time getting to the station and was given the driver's seat in the Rescue Rig. It is no secret, I love driving Code 3. Just a minute into the drive dispatch said the family had started CPR, I knew what we were heading into. This was going to be my first CPR case. "They're doing CPR, so we grab the O2 bag, med bag, and start compressions as soon as we get on scene?" I asked Cap'n Eddie over my shoulder. He grunted affirmation and asked me what size gloves I needed. As I drove up the steep, winding road I did a quick mental/spiritual check: Everything okay? Yeah, I was calm and focused. There was a family member waiting for us at the end of the driveway with a flashlight, a great boon on a foggy night. I pulled up to the house, stomped the emergency break, and actually remembered to chock the tire before I opened the compartment and grabbed the O2 bag, Joe grabbed the med kit, and Eddie had the AED defibrillator. I was first in, calling out to the people in the house, quickly seeing a woman kneeling next to a very still man. "Let me take over," I said gently, dropping my bag and kneeling next to the man, my CPR training very clear in my mind. I started nice, solid, deep compressions while Joe and Eddie started getting out the rest of the gear. During class we were told that when you start compressions you will feel and hear the sternum and ribs pop and crack. I did. It was a little unnerving, but not unexpected. I know it is better to do continual compressions at 100 beats a minute with no break for oxygen if there is only one person with hands on the patient. I did it by the book, with the Bee Gees song "Staying Alive" playing in my head as the perfect speed and rhythm for compressions. I stopped briefly to feel for a pulse, there was nothing. I got right back to it. Our duty officer arrived just as Joe got oxygen on the patient, I heard his voice, registered that he was there, but my focus was narrowed down to the man under my hands, and the feel of his chest under my palms. 20 compressions then "Okay Joe, two quick breaths." 20 compressions, "Okay Joe." The paramedics arrived, speaking quietly to me, reaffirming my feeling that what I was doing was not going to make any difference to the patient, but was what the family was needing to see. "You're doing perfect," I heard several times. Then our other Rescue unit arrived, and I was relieved by one of my former classmates. Now I got to step back and be the observer. The paramedics ran an EKG strip, there was no pulse. He stepped over to talk quietly with the family. The decision to end resuscitation efforts was made and time of death was called. We quietly gathered our things and got out from under foot.
    Stepping out into the brisk night air, my mind was still clear and focused. I looked inward to see how I was feeling. I knew I was okay. A small, nervous Blue Heeler came up to me, her eyes worried, her body language showing her concern. The dogs always find me. I kneeled down and gave her scratches, murmuring my condolences, telling her it would be okay. Oddly, it is her worried, furry face that overshadows the ashen, slack face I had kneeled over for a few eternal moments. The dogs always find me and work their way into my heart.
    We finished packing up our gear, I backed out of the driveway, and drove back to the station. We talked about the case. Eddie showing his gruff concern for me. I knew I was all right with the incident, it was a good first call of this nature. I know there will be more, many more, over the years. I also know there will be some that will effect me deeply. This was a good opportunity to see just how I would react. All of this is new, and no one knows how they will react until they are already elbow deep into something. So far I have faced each situation calmly, with good focus, steady nerves, and no unnecessary adrenaline screwing with my mind. I really love this.
    Next month I get my first class in Fire Investigation, a whole new adventure. A fabulous way to start the New Year. I am excited.

Sunday, November 23, 2014


    It has begun. I felt it today, that shadow that lurks just over my shoulder, just beyond my peripheral vision. I could feel it riding my shoulder, whispering of cold, grey days ahead. Taunting me with the looming Winter. It is odd how it manifests, a queer kind of stir-crazy. A restlessness that will not settle. An itch deep in my skull that cannot be scratched. I reach the point where tension in my chest feels as if all my insides are pressing to get outside. As if the squishy bits won't stay in the skin. Brain becomes scrambled and unfocused. Body becomes twitchy and hyper-sensitive. I knew that if I did not burn off the manic energy that was building in response to the melancholy manifesting in my soul I would pace the house like a caged beast, snapping at anything that came too near, devouring everything in my path including pets and small children. I fled to the gym, the safest recourse under these circumstances. Not my normal Sunday afternoon routine, but it may need to be added to the arsenal. I headed directly for the weight room and lifted hard for a solid 45 minutes, focusing strictly on upper-body. I realized I am still sore from the punishment I meted out on Thursday. After the quick and brutal strength training I headed for the pool, which was my main destination. I do love the soothing caress of the cool water. I knew I would swim hard, needed to swim hard. I did a tough but smooth warmup; 20 laps with hand paddles and pull buoy. Then I kicked it up a few gears and did 30 non-stop laps of strength/speed work, which jacked my cardio up higher than I normally go when I swim. It felt great, heart pounding, breathing deep and fast, shoulders burning. I actually had to pause for a minute, only a minute, then swam a mellow lap of breast stroke, letting the water cool my face. I finished with 20 laps at my "I-can-do-this-for-miles" race pace to cool down. Then I slipped into the hot tub, floating on my back, hot water covering everything but my face, and let the tension drain out of Body and Brain. It was what had to happen, what was needed to fend off the demons for another day.
    This winter has the potential to be devastating, knowing that my job is ending in a few short weeks, and my future is not nearly as secure as I would wish. But at the same time, I am excited for the coming changes, even though they are being forced upon me. Forced upon me, yes, but how I choose to deal with them is all on me. I can curl into a sniveling, whining ball and rage against the unfairness of the world, or I can stand up to it and decide that now is my chance to step forward into new opportunity. I have plans. Honestly, I have "A Plan." But it is alarming, daring, challenging, frightening. I am on a rollercoaster that that is hurtling me from elated to scared shitless, often in a matter of minutes. This is part of the energy behind today's episode of melancholic mania. I will have to be ever vigilant, catch it before it catches me, sweat it out of my system before it can turn toxic in my heart. It will be a tough winter.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Prepping For Winter

    Heading into winter I always have a foreshadowing of dread, not knowing if it will be relatively smooth sailing, or tempestuous and brutal. By this time of year I try to have my ducks in a row, a plan of action, the ways and means to confront and manage the inevitable melancholy. This year brings a few added challenges. I have had house guests since August, my son and his family, and their two dogs. As you might imagine this adds a bit of strain, since my house is small, and I am an introvert who craves silence, order, and solitude. We are managing. I am having to readjust a lot of my carefully structured, slightly neurotic, OCD routine that has kept me relatively sane the last two years or so. Knowing how easily I tread the edge of the abyss, especially in the dark of winter, has forced me to adopt a regimen that to outside eyes probably seems every bit as crazy as the inner turmoil such a regimen helps manage. It is a fine line, balancing inner crazy with outward neurosis. Right now is rather challenging, but I have done well, for the most part, and nutrition, exercise, and trying to maintain some order have helped me stay upright and moving forward.
    Last winter was one of the easiest winters I have had in over a decade, due largely in part to finally having a job that makes me happy, working with people who are upbeat, and being surrounded by the gleaming chrome of hundreds of motorcycles. I love my job. Last week my office mate and I were called into the owner's office for a meeting with him and the GM. Knowing this is never good I had a million scenarios play through my head in the few minutes it took to walk from my work area to the boss' office. We were informed that they are closing our department, and we will be out of jobs by the end of the year. I can't say I didn't see this coming, but it is a brutal blow nonetheless. We were told, in no uncertain terms, that after having reviewed our resumes, and already having laid off a number of other folks, there was no other positions we were qualified for. None. I can't say we didn't see this coming. We have had a string of problems with internet feeds, website issues, changes in corporate regulations about internet sales, all of which have effected out bottom line. We had finally managed to get everything smoothed out, about 10 days before the announced closure of our department. Of course, we were not given any opportunity to defend our jobs, it was a done deal before we even walked into the office. All things being equal, I think I am allowed to be a little pissy about the fact that I finally get out of a seven year stint at a miserable job, working with miserable people, for a company that was always on the verge of closing their doors, and start a fun job, with fun people, for decent pay, with a company that should be rock solid, and I get laid off after a year and a half. I want to throw a tantrum and scream at the universe, "This is just NOT FAIR!!" It has been a rough ten days, as we work through the shell shock of feeling pole-axed, while having to keep up our level of customer service, and wear a facade of cheer. I can't even imagine the rollercoaster of stress and emotion that I will be riding for the next eight weeks as we approach the closure of a department we have worked so hard to keep viable. Honestly, I am fucking pissed. I don't want to job hunt. I don't want to risk ending up in another office job with miserable people. I love my job, and hate that it is being taken away from me.
     Being me, the eternal optimist, I am trying to put a good spin on this, especially going into winter when I know I am one mis-step away from finding myself in the fetal position on the floor, feeling as if my world is in absolute tatters. I will be job hunting, of course, but not with any real vigor for now. I am getting paid decently well, and have full medical benefits until Christmas, at least. I will take full advantage of this. I am grateful to have an eight week head's up so I can be budgeting now, instead of hitting the end of the year broke and with bills to pay, and suddenly being on unemployment. My next few paychecks will allow me to get ahead on bills, and stock up some essential supplies. I had already started paying down the few debts I have, even paying off one credit card the week before I found out I will soon be jobless. If I can get to the end of the year with a little money set aside to offset the 40% decrease in income I will have on unemployment I will allow myself the luxury of a little down-time. Time to get caught up on home projects, my writing, and maybe start working towards a sideline business that can supplement my income. I have a lot of ideas swirling around in my skull. I know that as long as I have "A Plan" I am more likely to stay positive. No, I don't want to have to job hunt, it is a self-esteem killing, soul-sucking endeavor that can make anyone feel unwanted and worthless. If I allow myself to take my time, search for a job that will be less soul-sucking than most, all the while working on creative avenues that will have either monetary or spiritual benefits, I may just survive the winter. But it will be tough. Very tough. All I can do at this point is try to be prepared for what may come. It is going to be a rough winter.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Apathy Will Be The Death Of Us All

    Some things are hard for me to put into words. Emotions and insanities are easy, they flow from me unimpeded at times, and at times I think the only thing that prevents me from spewing forth truths so raw and bare that they might see me landed in a ward under lock and key is the love and respect I have for my children and their well-being. Even in my deepest morass I still manage to put my children's safety above all else. It is not emotions or my state of mind that I have wanted to splay out in black and white, not this time. Lately what has preyed heavily on my mind is the emotions and state of the world. The insanities that have become so commonplace in the world we live in. That is the crux, that is what I have tried to come to grips with; just how commonplace insanity has become in our little corner of the Universe. I make no secret of the fact that I have been on a news blackout for the better part of a year and a half, every since the horrible shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. An event that left me emotionally reeling with the thought, "They were just babies," ricocheting around inside my skull, getting louder and more chaotic until the cacophony ringing in my brain nearly brought me to my knees. It brought me to tears, that is a fact. So I went on a news blackout. I was a news junkie, poring over crime reports, business news, world events, until I was near to overflow. Sandy Hook broke the levy. I made myself turn away. True, it is impossible to block out the comings and goings of the world, information leaked in like cold air around an old, double hung window. I absorbed just enough to keep my finger on the pulse of the world, barely.
    What is this backstory leading up to? Simple. The world is going to shit. it is in upheaval. True, it is always in some state of unrest, but like the proverbial snowball rolling down hill, it is picking up speed, and getting bigger, deadlier, and more out of control with each passing moment. Am I an alarmist? Yes. I want to beat the drums, light the signal fires in the watch towers, raise a hue and cry. Why? Why now? Why not now? All my life I have seen panic inducing world events. Over and over the world has watched with bated breath as one horrific scenario after another builds to what is surely the next world war, or environmental crisis, only to fizzle out and fade away with little or no lasting effect. But it seems as if each event is just a little larger than the last one. Now, what I see going on around the world seems so much more deadly and apocalyptic than anything in the past, and it covers the gamut of catastrophes on a number of stages. War in the Middle East, yes, there is always war in the Middle East, it seems to be a way of life, but events over the last few years have eclipsed the skirmishes of the past. The genocide in Africa is horrendous and yet barely makes the small print in the evening news. Current environmental disasters like GMOs, fracking, honey bee die-off, drought, dramatically severe weather around the globe, and the Fukushima nuclear disaster dumping radiation in an already over-taxed ocean make me look back at the environmental disasters of the past, like the Exxon Valdez oil spill with almost wistful nostalgia. In the Great US of A obesity, cancer, and auto-immune diseases are on the rise. Illiteracy is being helped along by easy access to the internet and its shameless abuse of gossip-rag headlines. Critical thinking and penmanship are going the way of the carrier pigeon; shot to death in vast droves. The rich are getting richer the poor are getting poorer. Oh, and by "rich" I don't mean millionaires with a little too much time and money on their hands, I mean gluttonous gazillionaires who are accumulating the world's wealth the way a hoarder accumulates piles of newspapers, and to the point where they are not only manipulating world governments, but in full control of the Powers That Be, and are not at all concerned that world knows it.
    Again, where am I going with this? Just this: Why is the world so apathetic about the shitstorm that is bearing down on us like a category 5 hurricane. Hell, we aren't even boarding up the windows. Why aren't we? What the hell is wrong with everyone? Why have we become so g'damned apathetic? I think we have become desensitized. First off, we have been getting slapped with news of gloom and doom as long as I can remember, and it has slowly escalated. Each disaster, each war, each end of the world event has managed to fade away, or get made into a pay per view movie. It is the Boy Crying Wolf, and it feels as if the entire world has now turned a deaf ear to the call to arms. Our world is under attack from virtually every angle, politics, religion, law, finance, greed, gluttony, apathy. We are constantly being fed a series of End of The World blockbuster hit movies and best selling novels that have an entire generation actually looking forward to the apocalypse as a viable alternative to the world we live in. Many are hoping and praying for an asteroid to hit, a plague to strike, aliens to land, or the current populist favorite; the Zombie Apocalypse. Now, instead of factions rising up against the travesties we are being assailed with, we have factions who are just hunkering down, stocking up supplies, and prepping to ride out the storm with the hope of being among a handful of survivors. When did we turn from activists to reactivists? The world has given up on the idea that we might be able to make changes, steer the world back on course, improve our chances, heal our planet. We are desensitized and apathetic. It is the worst tragedy of all. It is as if no one even cares anymore. In the end, I think that apathy will be the death of us all.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Social Anxiety

    Social anxiety is a strange beast. It is not one that it always by my side, but it does make frequent appearances. Tonight I should be at a party, an epic party, and it's just over my back fence. I was all primped, dressed up and ready to go and just could not make myself hop the fence to join the laughter. Instead I threw the ball for my young dog for a bit, then came inside, took off the epic boots, slipped into sandals, and spent the evening working on my bicycle. I have gotten considerably better with my anxiety over the last few years. I know racing has helped immeasurably, forcing me to travel alone to strange places, surrounding myself with strangers, and attempting something I know will be difficult. That is part of the allure of triathlons and trail runs, as well as part of the challenge.
    On the one hand, I really did need to work on my bike. I have had the sexy, new Vittorio Rubino tires for almost two weeks and needed to get them put on before my long ride tomorrow. I also needed to clean and oil the chain and derailleur. It was calming, Zen-like work. On the other hand, I can hear the live music and laughter drifting through the cool night air and wish I had been able to join the crowd. When I am in the mood I can jump into the chaos of a party and enjoy myself immensely. When I am in reclusive, anxiety mood I know I would feel the outcast, and have to force any interactions. I made the right choice for the evening, even if it makes me just a little sad to wonder at the might-have-beens.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Pleasant Diversion

    It has been a strange week, a difficult week. I keep finding myself skirting the rim of melancholy, and diving into my bag of tricks to try and maintain my equilibrium. So far it is working, barely. Triggers keep getting bumped, and I have to struggle to keep from falling.
    It is not often that I talk specifics, but let me indulge myself just a bit. Lately I have been surrounded by people getting married. I kid you not, they are everywhere. This is making my subconscious launch an attack on my psyche, sending me a barrage of happily-ever-after dreams, which dredge up middle of the night woe-is-me loneliness. Between my subconscious, and in your face Facebook posts it has been thought provoking, and a bit dismal. This week I came to the conclusion that where relationships go, especially the last 15 years or so, I think that I am just a pleasant diversion. I seem to attract people who are hung up on their past relationship, to the point of near obsession. Is it because I am a good listener, and willing to openly discuss their marital woes? Or do I just seem to stumble upon people who can't seem to let go of destructive, toxic relationships? I am not sure. But as I listen to tales of damaged histories, epic battles, raging bitches, and current interactions, I do my best to keep an open mind, analyzing and arbitrating as is my nature. Eventually I reach that point of critical mass when I realize that once again I am just a pleasant diversion, a safe haven for a brief respite from the battle. It is a curious position I find myself in. Oddly, I can look far back in time to my very first boyfriend and see that even then I was in the same role, as I heard him on the phone to his ex, Anita, on his 17th birthday, he was crying. He did admit that Anita was his best friend's wife. Four years later, yes, it took me four years to extricate myself from that particularly toxic relationship, and I hook up with my older brother's best friend, who, not surprisingly, is still hung up on his ex who he just called The Girl. Yes, I got to overhear phone conversations in that relationship too. And so it goes. My marriage was the one exception to the rule. My most recent breakup, well, it was 6 months ago, was no different. He is back with his "Psychobitch" ex-wife, no surprise there, though I had pissed him off when I told him I knew he was still hung up on her.
    So, here is the question, or questions: Are damaged, broken men, still hung up on their ex-wives attracted to me for some unknown reason? Or, am I attracted to that type of broken person, hoping that the power of my love will heal them? Or, are most men hung up on raving, psychobitch exes? I am beginning to think that men are attracted to women who mistreat them, and that they get a perverse enjoyment out of the abuse. I am also convinced that one of my fatal flaws is that I am too nice, too nurturing, too easy to live with. Maybe I just don't present enough of a challenge? But, the point is moot. I am in as much of a relationship as I care to be in. We see each other rarely, have a great time when we do, part ways on good terms, there is no guilt over conflicting schedules or cancelled dates. It is almost as if we have a verbal contract to enjoy as much as the other has to offer, and expect no more than can be freely and easily given. And, I don't have to compromise my easy, giving nature.
    So, there it is, one of this week's trigger points, the sore spot that is like a fresh bruise waiting to be bumped. Now I will move on, I don't have the time or energy for prolonged pity parties, preferring to analyze, criticize, and move on. And once in a while it is nice to vent, air my dirty laundry, and then get back to the business of living a chaotic, active life that leaves me so very little time for such petty nonsense.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Full Speed Ahead

    I have had so little time to sit and catch my breath, much less jot down a few scrambled sentences> Life is propelling me at a breakneck pace, and even as it wears me down, I love every minute. Not long ago I was asked, "What do you do for fun?" I was stymied. There really isn't anything specific that I do "for fun." I don't play games, I don't go to movies, I don't dine out, I don't go to concerts, or dancing, or sightseeing, or, or or... For a moment I felt a bit tragic, and then I realized, I don't do anything "for fun" because my life is so entertaining and fun that I have no need to seek it out in another form. I enjoy my life so thoroughly that there is no need for outside stimulation. And my days are filled with pleasure whether I am washing my fire engine, drilling with my station, on a 60 mile training ride or a 2-1/2 mile swim, painting my house, planting my garden, visiting my grandson, or playing fetch with my dogs. Simple pleasures abound and fill my life.
    Case in point, today was a training day with the fire district, a Burn to Learn. Yes, we burned down a house. Room by room, we set fires, made entry in full gear, played with water, let the fire build and then knocked it down, watched as the fire crept up the wall and sent demonic fingers across the ceiling. Watching the smoke build into a black mass so dense it seemed as if I should have been able to grab a handful, like cotton candy. I did reach into it with my gloved hand, feeling the heat, and watching the vapors eddy around my hand. Feeling the heat, almost painful even through our gear, and knowing that if we let the fire get out of control that we were totally surrounded by easily combustible materials. We controlled the fire, kept it in check, managed, almost tame, but it wanted to escape and run wild. It was essential training. And it was more fun than anyone should be able to have and still call it "training." After we had lit and extinguished fires all through the house, and the structure was becoming dangerous, it was time to let it go. The speed at which the house became fully engulfed was astonishing. The heat radiating from the inferno was nearly unbearable even 100 feet away. I was glad of my protective gear, even outside watching the blaze consume the old house. Returning to the station we washed down the Engine and Tender, and even that is fun for me.
    What do I do for fun? I live my life. Full speed ahead.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Minor Mania

    Minor Mania has been my companion of late. It is distracting, leading me hither and yon, preventing me from focusing on anything for any length of time. This has effected my endurance training more than anything. I know, one would think that mania would be the perfect workout companion, but it is not. I am too distracted to keep my head in the game. I can't concentrate on form, technique, or training drills. Mania is intruding on my training time, luring me off to work on several projects at one time, flitting from task to task, keeping me occupied for hours, until I force myself to stop in order to get in a 2 hour workout before bed time. It is cutting into my sleep, as I find myself mopping a floor at 10:30 at night, when I should be in bed asleep, attempting to get at least 7 hours of sleep. Lack of sleep leaves me with less than optimal energy for my evening workouts. Last night, what should have been my long swim, was a struggle. Yes, it was a friday evening, at the end of a long, tough work week, so being tired is not surprising. But I was too tired to swim my full 2 miles, and I only had energy for one set of power pyramids (50 yards easy, 50 yards hard, then 100/100, 150/150, 200/200... it is pretty demanding). I did get a good night's sleep last night at least, since it is the first day of a glorious 3 day weekend. But I skipped my morning cycling workout so I could get outside early to work on my Bronco, then I was planting trees, then working on the Bronco, then pulling weeds, then planting, then hacking blackberries, until 8:00 pm. Yes, I did get in a 90 minute cycling workout, but I should have done 2 hours this morning as well. Tomorrow I will get out for a 50 mile ride, that should help remove me from the temptations to let my attention wander to tasks that need to be done. I will say, I am taking full advantage of Manic Mode, accomplishing major tasks on the To-Do List, regardless of its impact on my training. Tomorrow, after my bike ride, I hope to begin work on my Hugelkultur mound garden, Yes, I could just say "mound garden," but honestly, I just like saying "Hugelkultur." It is one of those words, like "Fartlek," yes, I could say "speed play," but "Fartlek" just sounds so much more entertaining. Now I sit, sipping my rosemary tea, trying to unwind, knowing I need to get some sleep to recover from my amazingly busy and productive day, but I am having a tough time shutting down Brain and Body. That is one downside of Mania; no Off Switch.
    I could take something, I do have a little white pill that will put me to sleep in a matter of minutes. But I won't. I weaned myself off of all meds. No more pharmaceuticals. No sleepy pills, no happy pills, not even pain relief. I am clean, and happy with being clean. I maintain my balance with whole foods nutrition, exercise and clean living. Don't scoff, I feel amazing. On that note, I will shut off this electrical distraction with its stimulating videos of cats doing silly things, dogs being rescued, and flash mobs dancing in rail stations. Time to let my body rest and recover, I have a 50 mile bike ride in the morning before I can continue on with my Minor Mania.

Friday, May 23, 2014


    "Home is where the Heart is."
    I know I mention my beloved little home quite frequently. It is my sanctuary, my escape from the world, my shelter from the storm of humanity, and it is also a the cornerstone of my freedom. Yes, it does tie me down, take my time, make demands on me, and yet it is so much a part of my freedom that I doubt I could ever give it up, or even share it easily. I know, it is a small, simple house. A 1958 Ranch on 1/3 of an acre, surrounded by farmland. I have wonderful, mature shade trees, including one of the largest and most magnificent Birch trees I have ever had the pleasure to know. There are 3 mature apple trees, the largest and gnarliest of which I have dubbed "my Apple Ent." There is also a Green Gage plum, an heirloom variety that is absolutely luscious. I leave a ladder under the tree when the fruit is ripe and every evening after work I climb the ladder, gorge on plums, and toss some down to my eagerly waiting dogs. It is a peaceful, pleasant, uncomplicated place. My corner of the world.
    I bought the place, or more correctly, I managed to get the bank to buy the place and I send them a monthly tithe to live here, 2-1/2 years ago. I moved in over Christmas weekend of 2011. It was the best Christmas ever. The first night I stayed in the house it was so cold from having sat vacant and unheated for so long that I could barely sleep. It was like winter camping indoors. The first 6 months were filled with all the fun things of owning a home; every surface had to be cleaned and painted, floors were scrubbed, cupboards dismantled and reassembled, pegboard torn down, finding a place for everything, purging myself of unnecessary possessions, reveling in my freedom and independence.
    So here I am, my third summer quickly approaching, and I have been hit with yet another Manic Nesting Phase. It comes and goes, my desire to build, repair, plant, paint. With the coming of the sun I feel the urge to plant. My first spring here I planted 2 Stanley Prune trees, a Texas King Fig, 3 grapes (2 White Himrod, and a red seedless), and herb gardens overflowing with varieties of sage, mint, lavender, thyme, rosemary, oregano, and tarragon. I grow heirloom tomatoes every year, and have a small raised bed in the back for salad greens and sugar snap peas.
    This year I am adding more permanent plantings. I have 3 new apple trees awaiting their new places of honor. With the climate extremes we are seeing I wanted cold hardy and heat tolerant varieties. I settled on 2 heirloom trees: The Early Rambo (no relation to Stallone) that ripens in August, and the Roxbury Russett which ripens in October. Both are good for fresh eating, canning, and cooking. The Roxbury is great for storage, lasting up to 6 months. For my pollinator I opted for a Golden Delicious since they are a nice all around apple. I also have raspberries, and tomatoes ready to go into the ground, and the plants I have started from seed; heirloom sweet pumpkins, Blue Kuri squash, slicing cucumbers, and a profusion of sunflowers. I want to get my strawberry bed built, but that may not happen yet.
    As geeky as I am being about gardening right now, one epic addition will be my mound garden, aka Hugelkultur. It is a way of building up a raised bed on a foundation of logs, creating a self feeding garden that holds moisture for weeks on end, is highly productive, and easily maintained. It is going to look fabulous when it is covered with the lush vines of my pumpkins, and with sunflowers popping up between the vines.
    I am continually working towards being more self reliant. I want to eat off of my own land, to literally enjoy the Fruits of My Labor. I am making slow but steady progress to self-sufficiency. I know I will always need an income, so will never be truly self sufficient, but I can produce more and more of what I need, lessening my dependency on the rest of the world. Next year I will hopefully have my chicken coop built so I can get a small flock, and maybe, just maybe, I will get my bee hive. So many plans for the future! This is a main reason that I so love my little house, I see it as my ticket to freedom and independence. It is so much more than a mere house. It is my shelter, my sanctuary, my home, my sanity.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Full Moon

    This week was the full moon, the Flower Moon, to be precise. A full moon is a time to perform prosperity rituals, a time when the power of the moon is at its fullest. Rituals can be simple prayers, or elaborate, fully accoutered shin-digs. I prefer simplicity, sending my hopes and aspirations out into the Universe, the full moon acting as a signal boost. This last week, as I stood on my back porch, gazing up at the moon framed between my two, giant willow trees, I pondered my needs. Prosperity. What did I need? What changes did I want to happen to improve my life, my comfort, my actual prosperity? As I stood there, bathed in silver luminosity, I ran through the litany: wealth, health, happiness, love. With a bit of a shock I realized that there was nothing to ask for, nothing I wanted or needed that I don't already have.
    Wealth? Yes, I could use more money, who couldn't? But the reality is that I have my little house, and despite a near constant struggle to pay bills and "get ahead" I really do have everything I need. I am well fed, have a solid house, though not debt free I am doing all right. So, no need for wealth.
    Health? I am the healthiest I think I have ever been. Yes, I am older, and do feel the aches and pains of someone who has lived an active life, but g'damn, I feel great. I am strong, healthy, slender, well toned, and getting more fit by the day (or at least by the week). I am doing things with my body that I could never have imagined 3 years ago.
    Happiness? It is no secret that I struggle with depression. I have let this become a public fact within the barely censored words of this blog. Some days I feel so imbalanced that it is a struggle to keep a "normal" facade at work. But, I do manage it, and manage it quite well. But my strong, vital physical shell, my Temple, protects my delicate spirit, gets me through the toughest of days. Then I escape to my lovely little home, and do what needs to be done to return everything to balance. My demons have been relatively calm and quiet these days. I think we have developed a truce of sorts. Besides the depression, I am actually incredibly happy with where my life is. I have my cherished freedom, I live my life the way I wish, in a way that was only a heavily guarded secret a few years past. I am not burdened with possessions, yet have more than enough creature comforts. I am surrounded by adoring animals who entertain, help keep me grounded, and chase off most hints of loneliness. I have rid my life of toxic people, am surrounded by people who's company I enjoy, family who nurture my soul, and am working towards the inner peace that comes with a simple lifestyle. I am the happiest I have been in a very long time.
    Love? Here is a bit of a tricky subject. Do I have a soulmate, a spouse, a partner? No. Soulmates are highly over-rated. Spouse, been there, it was a good marriage, but I have no need to tie myself down. Partner, yes it might be nice to have someone to help share the load sometimes, but then I would have to give up some of my cherished freedom. Not a price I am willing to pay. I do have a "partner in crime" as I like to call him. We have an understanding that works exceptionally well; no ties, no guilt, no recriminations, no need for daily contact, no endless texts. We get together a couple of times a month, enjoy our time together immensely, then each of us goes back to our separate lives feeling content and satiated. Love? No, it isn't love, but it is a great friendship. As for love, I have my family. The unconditional love and respect of my children and grandchildren, my parents, my extended family. What more do I need? If I am feeling the need for love it is easy enough for me to stop on my way home, gather my grandson in my arms, and feel his little arms wrap around my shoulders in a heartfelt, innocent, loving hug. And don't underestimate the joyous greeting of dogs at the front door, and their absolute love for me. What more is there to life and love?
    And so, as I stood on my back porch, gazing up at the beauty of the full Moon, feeling her silver rays bathing my face, I realized that I do not need a prosperity ritual since I have all that I want and need. Instead I sent out a prayer of thanks to the Universe, a heartfelt appreciation for all that I do have. I am a very prosperous, lucky woman, and now I know it.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Caved In To Social Media

    Because I don't already have enough on my plate, I have decided I need stop being a pussy and get onboard with some self promotion. To this end, and to finally cave into pressure to hook into social media, I have started a new, public FaceBook page just to link my writing, and maybe expand my readership a bit. I do know I have readers all over the world, not many, but it is titillating to think that somewhere in Russia, or Malaysia, or China, someone is reading my postings and thinking, "Who the hell is this batshit crazy American?" I have enjoyed my public self-flagellation, flaying myself open for the world to see, even if it only a handful of people. Honestly, I have wished to know more about who my readers are, I feel that since I share most of my deepest, darkest secrets that there must be some small bit of kinship. I do have some friends who read my ramblings and give me near instant feedback. One friend said, once upon a time, "It is like looking in a mirror." My original intent for starting my blog was to improve my writing skills. It is said over and over that aspiring writers should keep a journal. Well, I'm not much of one for "journaling" so to speak, but I realized that there is something of the exhibitionist in me. Some quirk of my personality that makes it easier for me to write regular entries if I know that someone, somewhere is reading them.
    What started as a simple exercise quickly became an outlet for long pent up emotions, and secrets I kept even from myself. It soon became cathartic for me to pry open my skull, let the words pour out in a senseless morass, and stir them about as I tried to make sense of it all. Writing is one thing that kept me sane during some of my darkest hours. It was often my lifeline to reality as I stumbled about in the darkness of the abyss. It was where I came to self-analyze, self-flagellate, and sort through the chaos that was wreaking havoc on my health and happiness. It wasn't long before writing became far more than mere self expression when I realized that, despite what I was going through, I wasn't alone in these feelings of despair. Oddly, I came to feel almost like a Pied Piper of sorts, playing a tune that was so familiar to so many, letting others understand that they were not alone in their fight against demons. I know I am not the only one who has found themselves on the floor, curled into a fetal position, crying with silent sobs wracking their body, wondering if the tears would ever stop.
    Depression is a curious place, it lies and tells us that we are alone, and we will never leave. It is a lie. We are not alone, and depression does not have to be a permanent residence. I am convinced though, that the demons that followed me up from the abyss are mine to keep forever. I am oddly comfortable with this, and have even seemed to build a shaky truce with my demons. We understand each other, and I think I might feel lonely and abandoned if they were to disappear. They are part of who I am, they made me who I am.
    Once again, I am rambling. I can't help it, I am tired, the day was long, I swam hard, abused my legs with a series of barbaric strength training exercises, and topped it all off with a massive, though ridiculously healthy, dinner. Brain and Body are starting to fail me now as the hour grows late. Damn, rambling, again. My pint in all of this was to share the link to my new FaceBook page, with the hopes that readers will pop in and maybe get a little bit better acquainted. It is still bare bones, but it is a start:

Monday, April 28, 2014

Rambling Pep Talk

    There are days when I feel beat up, beaten down, and struggle against feelings of defeat. It isn't easy going through life alone, working so hard to make ends meet, taking care of all the little things that keep life moving along, fixing broken vehicles that I can't afford to take to a mechanic (or just staring blankly at them, in some cases), plumbing, painting, wiring, mowing, pruning, slashing, burning, planting. Not to mention cooking and cleaning, keeping myself well fed and decently clothed. Let's not forget the Fire District, with a weekly drill night, and random pager tones that can go off at any time, night or day, calling me out to anything. And then there is the Ironman training to add a whole different dimension to an already complicated and busy life. I choose to go through life alone because I don't have time to spare to try and build a relationship. I choose to go through life alone because I have already wasted so much time and energy on relationships that went nowhere and benefited me very little. (If anyone is wondering, I do not  put my marriage into this category. My marriage, though it ended after 15 years, was a mutually beneficial partnership with a very nice man that produced two fantastic sons, and I have absolutely no regrets in that department. In case anyone was wondering.) So here I am, sipping my rosemary, sage, mint tea, alone, overwhelmed by the accumulation of broken vehicles, dirty dishes, tired feet, and low bank account, having a lonely little pity party of one. I choose to be alone, and yet cry out to the universe over the injustice of having to toil through a lonely life, without the benefit of a partner. See; Pity Party. Some nights I just can't help myself. It was a tough day at work, I'm stressed over finances, but I get home thinking I will fire up the motorcycle and get him ready to ride to work the rest of the week. Guess what? He won't start. He turns over just fine, but wont fire. He has never done that before. It is devastating, he has always been one friend I could rely on.  And then to top it all off I have had so many reminders of happy couples seemingly thrown in my face at every turn. Everywhere I look, everyone I know seems to be in a happy relationship. Hell, even my meathead younger brother who has struggled with substance abuse all his life, has been with a wonderful woman for over a year, and has been sober for the last 6 months. Everyone is hooking up but me. It is weird, feeling like the only single person in the universe. Yes, I know that is not true, really. But within my little universe it seems to be the truth. Remember; Pity Party. What this all boils down to, knowing myself as I do, is an over reaction to stress as I flirt with the edges of depression. Yes, Spring is here, but this is often a really tough time of the year for me. I know I need to keep my head down and just keep moving ahead, but it isn't easy. I get so tired, and yet keep doing exhausting things. I don't know of any other way to cope and deal. Just keep moving, pushing, reaching, striving, painting, pruning, planting, mowing. I will keep fixing what is broken, painting what is dull, pruning away dead limbs, planting seeds of change. I will do it alone because I choose to. I will battle loneliness and despair, combat it with activity and training. I will continue to burn the candle at both ends, falling into bed each night exhausted, knowing I did not waste a moment of my precious time. Too much time has been wasted already. But g'damn it is tiring, and difficult to do it all alone. But in all honesty, I know that I do so much more because I am alone. It is the rock and the hard place. But I chose this. It is my choice.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Wear Your Seatbelt

    Yesterday, another quiet Saturday evening disrupted by the bleating of my pager. It was a motor vehicle accident. A pickup that had flipped and rolled, ending up on its side in a ditch. The lone occupant was partially ejected through the rear window. An excellent public service announcement for the need to always wear your seat belt. From the moment of my very first call I knew that it was not my place, nor my inclination to judge any of the victims, my patients, these people who may very well be having the worst day of their life. How they got to need our help is not what is important, but how kindly we treat them is. Once again, I found myself cradling, protecting, a bloody head. Talking calmly, quietly. Reassuring this once-stranger that we were doing everything and anything to get him out of the truck and onto a life flight helicopter. I am good at this. At least this one aspect of it. Staying calm and kind in the midst of a certain level of organized mayhem. Flashing lights, power tools, metal being wrenched apart by freakishly powerful cutting tools that make cutting metal as easy as slicing a piece of pie. I find that half of my brain shuts it all out and focuses strictly on the entity and life form in my care, while the other half of my brain keeps tabs on the comings and goings of my fellow First Responders. An interesting thing about motor vehicle accidents; the paramedics are not allowed to approach until the patient has been extricated. Only firefighters in the proper protective gear are allowed to be hands-on at the scene. We are fortunate to have a number of very qualified people in our organization. My station has several EMTs, and one paramedic, who happened to be first on scene. I was in the second vehicle on scene, oddly, in the officer's seat. I directed the guys in the back seat to set up traffic cones and then I was immediately put in charge of head and neck stabilization. Once you are in that particular job, you stay there until it is done. It is a critical, though narrow, duty. And one I take very seriously. It may not be as glamorous as attacking the vehicle with the Jaws of Life, or shearing through steel with power cutters, but it is what I am good at. Once the roof of the truck was removed, and we carefully rolled the patient (who was doing far better than one might have expected) onto a backboard, carried him to the waiting gurney, then and only then could I relinquish the job to the Life Flight paramedic. I stepped away. One of my cohorts gestured to me, suggesting I shed my turnout jacket. I looked down and realized I looked like a walking biohazard. Oddly, it didn't bother me as much as it might have. I was doing something I am good at, and if it was a bit messy, then so be it. I know a day will likely come when I walk into a scene that is far gorier, with a patient who is not doing so very well, and it will be shocking and disturbing. I will likely come face to face with death from a multitude of causes. All I can hope is that when this happens, I will still be able to speak calmly and kindly, reassuring my patient that we are doing everything and anything we can to make sure they get where they need to go as quickly as possible. I do love this job.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Life Is Funny

    Funny how events manage to make me take a good, long look at where I'm at, in all regards. I have really come to the conclusion, that despite some efforts to the contrary, I am in no way, shape, or form even remotely ready to allow myself to enter into anything resembling a "normal" relationship. I don't feel any bitterness or angst at this realization. Maybe a bit of gloomy resignation, though. I have waded into the waters of relationships, twice in the last year or so. And twice failed. I think I emit a "do not enter" vibe. Early this year I tested the waters with my toes, and was shocked at my own lack of interest. Truly, no interest. I felt nothing. It frightened me. Made me feel broken, damaged, unbalanced. I walked away and resolved to just let it all go. I do not need anyone to make me feel whole or complete. I actually feel more vibrant, intact, and vital than I have in... in... in I don't know how long. A decade? More? I finally feel like I am my very own person. Deep down to the core, I am Me. I am Mine. It is a giddy sensation, really. The funniest part, is that in my realization that the last thing on earth I need or want is a relationship, I have managed to find a kindred spirit in the morass of life. No, we don't want to go steady. We don't feel the need for daily texts, endless chit chat, date night, declaring our... our... whatever it is, on Facebook or other social media. Instead, we get together when we have some free time, which is a rare thing for both of us. There is no pressure to spend X amount of time together, or apologize for a busy life. It is unique, this thing I have found, it fills a need without being needy. It is the absolute least complicated situation I have ever found myself in. There are no lies, no broken promises, no failed expectations. It is open, honest, interesting, a bit deviant. There is nothing grown-up or adult about it, and yet it is a most mature and intelligent exchange. There is no pressure for me to give up one iota of my freedom, no requests for compromise, no passive-aggressive ploys for attention, no guilt tripping over my ridiculously full and fulfilling lifestyle. I am Me. I am Mine. And that is the way I like it.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Thought Provoking

    I had my evening interrupted by my pager, a cry for help from a lonely, depressed man with art supplies scattered about his isolated home. There was quite a bit of blood, honestly more than I have seen before, although it was not a life threatening amount. I am touched deeply by situations such as these, knowing that he must have been in deep emotional pain to have inflicted so many wounds on his body. I've found that on scene I may not be the most knowledgeable, or even the most helpful, but one thing I am good at is being kind to patients. The compassion and empathy I feel for people in tough situations runs through me like my own blood, warm and vital. Helping a patient onto a gurney, careful to prevent further pain, cradling their head to prevent them hitting it on the railing, lowering it gently onto the pillow. Covering them to keep them warm, and to help protect their dignity. Even holding their hand while they vomit. Yes, I've done that, too. It is what makes me most useful at the scene, I think. Last night there was a deputy who asked me to ask the ambulance driver to hold up for a moment so he could find some clothing for the patient to take with him. He had been stripped down to what we call "trauma naked," in order to fully assess and appropriately treat his wounds, of which there were many. In passing, I told the deputy, "You are very kind," he thanked me, the other deputies had teased him a little, good naturedly, but teased him none the less. But to me it was a very compassionate act, one the deputy did not have to do. It is the little things I see in life that have the most impact sometimes. My life has certainly changed in the last 2 years. It is amazing what can happen when you decide to free yourself from the weight of others' inability to move forward, stop letting your life be tied down by what is instead of what could be, and go off in pursuit of your own dreams. Two years ago I never could have imagined I would be here and now.

Friday, March 21, 2014


    Cetalopram, Trazadone, Tramadol, melatonin, MSM, lysine, niacin, naproxim sodium, ibuprofin, pancreatic enzymes. Antidepressants, anti-anxiety, anti-insomnia, anti-inflammatory, antacids. Sleep aids, pain relief, relaxants, digestive aids. Prescriptions, over the counter, herbal, naturopathic. There was so much I needed to take to feel a semblance of balance, mentally and physically. Two years ago, life pushed me to the breaking point. I nearly broke, but did not. I bent. I bent low under the weight of all that that swirled around me, threatening to envelop me, suffocate me, beat me to a pulp. Two years ago I was willing to do whatever it took, whatever the doctor prescribed, whatever herbal remedy seemed to offer a glimmer of hope, in order to bring my mind in off the ledge, to pull myself out of an abyss that threatened to swallow me whole and regurgitate me as a pile of hair and bone. It has been a long two years, a remarkable journey. Tonight, I sit here sipping my mint and rosemary tea, after a dinner of green smoothie, reveling in the fact that I am no longer taking any form of readjustment. No prescriptions, no over the counter, no herbal remedies, no meds of any kind. None. It is mind boggling, actually. After decades of reliance on some form of pain relief, digestive aid, sleep aid, and antidepressant, I am free and clear. I have been "clean" for several months now, since before Yule. The funny thing, I can't say I feel any better than I did when I was juggling a pharmacopoeia balancing act, but I definitely don't feel any worse. I am sleeping decently, which for me means only waking up 4 or 5 times a night. My mood swings are moderate, especially compared to the unbridled mayhem of two years ago, though still possibly alarming if viewed in public. My chronic joint pain is exactly that, chronic, but NSAIDS certainly weren't helping all that much, as I know now. The chronic heartburn that plagued me for 20 years went away when I stopped consuming wheat. Yes, I do have a delicate digestive system, but I think that is related to hormones as much as anything, and the fact that our government allows food manufacturers to slowly poison us with chemicals and genetically modified Frankenfood.
    The long and short of it is that I am managing my mental and physical health through clean eating and manic exercise. I know that my quirky, slightly obsessive eating habits have made a world of difference in how my mind and body feel. I also know that two to three hours of rigorous physical activity nearly every day has a monumental effect on how well I sleep, how my body feels, and how my brain functions with fewer missteps. No, it is not easy. No it is not an exact science. Yes, it was far easier to medicate things down to a mellow grey and live my life in a bit of a fog, but I do not want to live in fog. It is a delicate balancing act, and I know I am always walking that fine line. I am more fragile without the help of doctor sanctioned little helpers, but that is a risk I am willing to take. Yes, I keep my guard up, work hard to protect myself, build high walls around the delicate garden of my soul. But, to be free of the shackles of one more little white pill, to not panic when I run low on sleep meds, or pain meds, or happy pills, is a freedom that I never imagined. I feel like it is one more step in regaining my power, rebuilding myself stronger and better than ever, reconnecting to a part of myself that I had thought gone for good. One more step down the path towards ultimate health and fitness of body, mind, and soul.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Too Fragile

    So much ricochets around inside my skull, seeking a way out, an escape into the sunlight. Too much. When I swim I manage to quiet my mind, mostly. Lap after lap, concentrating on stroke mechanics, hearing nothing bu the sounds of my hands dipping into the water and the bubbles of my own, rhythmic breathing. It is a good time for Brain to shut the hell up. Cycling is much the same, with my legs pumping in steady cadence, sweat pouring off my body, muscles pleasantly burning, mind quelled as I concentrate on smooth technique. There is always too much to think about, to analyze, dissect, flay, vivisect. I see the correlation between my drive for physical strength, and my inner fragility. I hate that I am fragile, delicate, sometimes brittle. I want to be strong, supple, powerful. I know I hide myself away, avoiding situations that might reveal my inner weaknesses. This has become reflexive, protective, self-preservation. I seem to have a talent for extending myself at the wrong moment, in the wrong place, maybe in the wrong way, and I bear the brunt of the backlash. It has made me reactive, over-reactive, flinchy, twitchy, gun-shy. Once burned, twice shy. Well, more than once burned, but who's counting? I have decided to truly listen to my inner voice, finally. Instead of rushing along, diving in too deep, leaping before I look, I have come to the the realization that I am just too damned fragile to risk that part of me that is most easily harmed. Instead I will continue on, making Body a sacred fortification to shelter the delicate Id, that part of me that is so susceptible to whim, desire, unthinking action. That part of me that takes me on dangerous trips where I lay my heart on the line. That inner voice that sings the Siren's song, luring me to take the plunge and likely drown in the cold, dark depths. Body is strong, powerful, protective, the rest of me is delicate, brittle, fragile. I will heed common sense that tells me to shelter the fragile Me, the delicate Id. For once, I will listen to that voice that tells me I am too easily broken to take risks. Once again, I build a protective shell, to keep myself whole and sane.

Monday, March 3, 2014

What Price Freedom?

    Freedom comes at a cost. Both financial and physical. Looking at my bank balance (which is quite ugly at the moment), and having spent part of my evening trying in vain to massage my own shoulders after many hours of arduous do-it-yourself home improvements, I can't help but think how nice it would be sometimes to have a partner. I see other couples sharing expenses, splitting chores (many hands make light work), being there in support at times of need, and giving the occasional shoulder rub, and I can't but help be a bit envious. True, I answer to no one. My body, heart, and soul are mine to do with what I will at any given moment without having to check in with anyone. I do the mental account balancing, pros and cons, pluses and minuses, checks and balances. Sometimes my accounts come up short, usually though, they are stable and solid. But I do pay the price, there is no doubt. I know that down the road, the older I get, the less likely it is that someone will enter my life as a reliable partner. Oh sure, I have a partner in crime, but that is a whole 'nother situation altogether. I really do think that I have mentally reached the realization that I will likely be alone, at least in the whole "life partner" kinda way, for the rest of my life. After my latest failure in this arena I have just come to the point that I almost don't care anymore. I mean really, what is the point? Do I want someone in my life demanding time and energy, likely leaving me in a deficit? Or would I rather be queen of my own little world, and to hell with reality? But I do pay the price. I struggle, I admit. Life is tough for anyone who is going it alone, unless they are fortunate enough to make a good living, which I do not, and they can afford to pay for services, which I can't. Instead, it is all on me, every bill, every cooked meal, every home improvement, every dish washed, all me. No wonder I have absolutely no spare time. That is the price I pay. A small price for freedom, really, but sometimes it hurts nonetheless.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Uncharted Territory

    Life has an interesting way of luring me down darkened side streets. Oh how I have strayed from the safe and narrow confines of the vanilla way of life. Freedom of heart and body, and the realization that love is not enough, nor what I seek, has allowed me the latitude to search for new pathways that lead to interesting, dark, forbidden areas. Always alluring, are the dark secrets that lurk deep within, hiding from the light, protected from the public eye, held tight, wishing for an opportunity to let them out into the light to play. Wish no more. My freedom has led me to realize that only I can make the choice to pursue these tantalizing daydreams, images held tight in my hand, clasped close to my chest. I have set aside fear of rejection, reproach, scandal, scorn, raised brows, and ostracism. I have chosen to explore the unknown with a willing partner in crime, though our antics will never see the light of day. Such things are best left to the shadows, or so I believe. None the less, to embark on such an odd odyssey, such unfamiliar, unsafe ground, is enough to have rekindled the fire that I had thought lost to me, doused one too many times, until only ash remained. Once again, I burn bright, a white-hot flame, a conflagration. No, this is not about love, because love is not enough. This is uncharted territory, new to me, the deep unknown, Here There Be Monsters.    

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Tied To The Moon

"For women who are tied to the Moon, love is not enough. We insist each day wrap it's knuckles through our heartstrings and pull. The lows. The joy. The poetry. We dance at the edge of a cliff and you have fallen off. So it goes. You climb back up again.

You rare girl. Once again you have a body that belongs to no lover, no father, belongs to no one but you. Wear your sorrow like the lines of your palm, like a shawl to keep you warm at night. Don't mourn the love that is lost to you now. It is a book of poems whose meters worked their way into the meter of your pulse. Even if it has slipped from your hand, it will stay in your body.

You loved a man who treated you like absinthe; half poison, and half goddess. He tried to sweeten you, water you down. So you left. And now you have your heart all to yourself again. A heart like a stone cottage. A heart like a lover's diary. Hope like an ocean."

Clementine Von Radics

I wish I could take credit for these beautiful words. They reach deep into my soul and speak to me of secrets and sorrow,  I am tied to the Moon, she is a goddess who shines her pale, silver light down to light my way through the night, to chase away my demons. My mind plays with thoughts such as these, that love is not enough. I don't think this out of any sense of love lost, or taken, or denied. These are not the bitter, jaded thoughts of a woman scorned, or betrayed, or cast aside. I used to think that it was my love that was flawed, faulty, not worthy. No, it is not that simple, romantic love is not enough for me. I wish it could be, but it is not. I think this radiates off of me like a palpable wave, making me untouchable, intimidating, unloveable. Again, these are not the words and thoughts of an oft-jilted, resentful ex-lover. For one who wears her heart on her sleeve, has "a heart, strong and true, loyal to a fault," one who can see the beauty of spirit, and the worthiness of nearly everyone, one who all too easily gives of the heart, this is a heavy burden. I wish it were so simple, to find "true love," and ride off into the sunset to a happily ever after. But I know that will never be my fate, because love is not enough. The realization of this, some time ago, actually, has led me to seek out alternative paths, stop looking for love, and find a different way. I am tied to the Moon, I am hers, and she is mine, and in the darkness we will shine.

Friday, February 21, 2014


    Processing. Processing. I don't know why I am ever surprised when things don't go according to plans. "Battle plans never survive first contact." Ain't that the truth. Even when, or maybe especially when, my plan is to keep it simple, uncomplicated, no strings. Instead, things become complicated, complex, and definitely entangled. For once I decide to keep emotions out of it all, avoiding the serious, seeking play, plain and simple. It doesn't work out. Am I falling for self-induced reverse psychology? Now, here I sit, sipping rosemary tea, grumping at the dogs while I try to figure out what just happened. Funny, at any other time I would have been elated at this turn of events, instead I am stuck here almost fuming that things are going so well. This is not what I expected, and with my vivid imagination, I can have astonishing expectations. Now, all I can do is process. Digest. Gestate. Ferment. See what happens next. I did not want complications.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Lighting The Fire

    If you do not like the way things are, change them. If you aren't getting the results you want, change the way you are doing things. If you aren't finding what you are looking for, try looking for something else. I know one definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result. There are aspects of my life that fit this definition. I was looking so hard, and making attempt after attempt, and getting nothing but a heart full of grief every time. Every. G'damned. Time. Failed to the point that I thought I was finally broken. And I don't break easily. I feared that I had lost the fire. The spark that has always been a vital part of who I am. The spark that had dimmed, but never been extinguished, and had roared back to life with furious, manic energy seemed gone, lost to me. I tried to rekindle it the same old way, and there was nothing. Nothing. I felt like I was filled with cold, grey ash. I was so frightened that this time it was truly lost to me. Since what I had been doing was so obviously failing, I have decided to do something else. I am standing on the edge of a mighty precipice, staring off into the unknown, mist swirling about my feet. There is a Siren song of carnal desire encouraging me, urging me on, drawing me like a sailor to the sea, a moth to the flame, the bee to honey. This is no plebeian affair. There is nothing staid or grey about it. This is not going to be comfortable or easy, but that is why I choose to go. I have had comfortable and easy, it is not enough for me, it pales, loses the fire, and apparently it shunts me off to be Friend Zoned. No more sedate, calm, unassuming, proper, and inadequate. I have chosen a new path, a different route, the chance to take life by the balls and run with it. It is exciting, innervating, insane, arousing, alarming, intimidating, spiced with danger, spine-tingling, sensual, heart-stopping, marvelous, and absolutely crazy. I am stepping into a whole new world. Into the unknown. The fear and excitement of not knowing what is coming, where this will go, how far I can take it, where it will take me. The spark is back, and has leaped into a fire that is blazing hot and furious. My maelstrom is back. I have recaptured my spark, am lighting the fire, and about to pour the gasoline.

Saturday, February 15, 2014


    Thirteen years ago I made a vow to myself that each year on my birthday I would be healthier than I was the previous year. This isn't an easy promise to keep, but I have held up my end of the bargain. Each year I like to look back and do a mental accounting, make sure I am still on track, and think ahead to what the next year might bring. Last year was pretty epic, I have to say. My birthday last year I was at the lowest weight I had been since having children, I had finally had knee surgery (although it only fixed part of the problems), I had participated in three sprint triathlons, and a number of running events, a 6 mile obstacle course race, the firefighter stairclimb, I was in what I thought would be a long lasting relationship (amazing how I can be easily fooled in that regard), I was in the middle of firefighter academy, and was looking at a summer of training for my first half-Ironman. Not too shabby, and a far cry from where I had been the previous birthday, when my weight was down to the lowest it had been in probably 20 years, I was on the road to becoming more fit than ever, but I was in the middle of an emotional crisis and nervous breakdown, but knowing I would be mentally and emotionally healthier and more stable once I got through the "perfect storm of stress," as my doctor called it.
    Where am I this year? I completed my half-Ironman last September, and had a glorious time with it, it was truly the best swim of my life, and one of the coolest accomplishments I have done. I am actually 10 pounds lighter than I was last year on my birthday (though 5 pounds heavier than I was at the peak of my training), and a size smaller. I am probably the most slender I have ever been, at a solid size 10 (size 8 in some brands). I am at the most fit I have been in my life, I know that if I wanted, I could, with two weeks to taper properly, do another half-Ironman right now. This last year, along with my 70.3 race, I ran several tough trail/adventure runs of about 6 to 7 miles each, I ran 2 trail half-marathons, a 10 mile road race, an obstacle course race, the firefighter stairclimb, graduated firefighter academy at the top of my class, got EMR certified, learned to live my life with a pager at my hip, am currently single and not looking for any more heartache (got dumped, twice.... like I said, I am so easily fooled in that regard). I lost my Wolfhound to cancer, and still miss my big, hairy girl. I finally got a new job where I am appreciated, love my work, love my boss, and love my coworkers, which has removed a major stress point in my life. I am no longer on any anti-depressants or sleep aids, even if I do still struggle a bit in that arena, I can't afford anything that might interfere with my ability to answer my pager in the middle of the night. I am working out everyday, sometimes twice a day, preparing for a full Ironman length race in September.
    So, this last year there have been highs and lows, as there always are. But my highs are higher, and my lows are not quite so low, and are more likely to have a solid reason behind them other than "it is just that time of year," or some ongoing stress point that I can't seem to resolve. I am slimmer, lighter, stronger, and have better endurance than ever before. I am learning to swim smart, ride strong, and run tough so I can cover 250K under my own power this coming autumn. I eat conscientiously, and always healthy unless I choose to indulge myself. I make conscious choices to improve my health and my life, and don't allow life to just toss me about like a leaf on the wind. Yes, I am single, and lonely at times, but my life keeps me charging ahead at such a breakneck pace that I don't have energy to waste fretting about it (which may be why I am single, no one can keep up with me). I do get to help people when they are having a bad day, and get to drive a fire rescue rig and fire engine while doing it (which is totally epic on all counts).
    I can easily say, that this year on my birthday I am healthier than I was last year, far healthier than I was the year before that, and galaxies ahead of where I was the year before that. It is hard to imagine just how far I will go by this time next year. Only time will tell.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Blue Blatherings

    Sitting here, on the eve of my birth, pondering life, wondering if I dare take out my soul and examine it. I have avoided writing of late, thinking that to voice my feelings will just give them more power over me. This is not my S.O.P. Normally, when demons whisper in my ear I find it most helpful to drag them kicking and screaming into the light, dissect them, flay them wide open for all the world to see, learn their names so that I might have power over them, and vanquish them back to the murk they crawled out of. But this year feels different. This is the year that I seem to have gone cold inside. I am learning that it is not that I have gone cold, but that I may have finally reached that point when I have withstood all I can, until I just can't take another hit. Knowing that the next blow to fall could very well be the fatal one. Or not. Knowing this, I have wrapped my heart in bands of steel, clad my soul in cold iron. It is all I can do. Protect myself. Protect what is left, and hope that in time wounds will heal and I will become whole again. Or at least a close proximation of whole. Just the act of voicing these thoughts inside my own head makes the world seem in shadows, and lends a chill to the air. Hugo senses it, and tries to crawl into my lap, all 90 pounds of empathetic lunkhead with a heart of gold, as he tries to comfort me. He knows, even if he does not understand. Hell, I don't even truly understand.
    Here it is, the eve of my birth, and Valentine's Day, both equally bitter reminders that I live alone, and my source of comfort on cold, grey days, are a pair of ill-mannered dogs, and a trio of diffident cats. This is not where I thought I would be on my birthday this year. I don't know what I was expecting for a birthday, I have spent the bulk of my birthdays alone, and basically uncelebrated this last decade, so why should this be any different? Although it has nothing to do with my birthday, tomorrow is the annual banquet and awards ceremony for my fire district. So I will dress up and go hang out with the one group that I know would at the very least, attend my funeral and give me a good send off. But it is also called "The Sweethearts Banquet," since it is a way for the firefighters to honor their significant others. I will be one of the very few there that does not have a significant other, so it will be another reminder of my status. I really hate this time of year, there are reminders of loneliness at every turn, reminders that I really am one of the few single people that I know.
    I tell myself it does not matter, that I am happy being single and independent. And it is true, the majority of the time. Or at least that is what I tell myself. I talk a good talk, too. I do love my independence. I love my strength, my self sufficiency. I love the way I have arranged my life, and the goals that I am striving for. I tell myself that the reality is that I do not have time or energy for entanglements. But I would make time, if it mattered.
    See, I started writing a few lines about my impending birthday, and it quickly digressed into another woe-is-me pity party, guest list of one. This is why I have been silent on these pages. I know myself well enough to know I should just keep my mouth shut, my head down, and wait for this to all blow over. But that is my fear, that it won't blow over. Here I am, in an endless loop. Time to call it a night. Tomorrow, for my birthday, I will write again. I will write of goals reached this past year, promises to self, and plans for the coming year. I refuse to dwell too long here in the state of self pity, there is too much to do to waste this kind of energy.

Sunday, February 9, 2014


    I weary of feeling like a wounded animal. It comes on me so strongly that I have to wait for the bulk of it to pass before I even allow myself to write about it. I keep telling myself that all I need is time. Time heals all wounds. Maybe so. But how much time? How much longer. Will I ever feel whole, or will I always feel as if the scars are just waiting a slight prod to burst open again? I know that parts of me are held together by scar tissue, but I would wish that the scar tissue had more strength than wet tissue paper. It takes so little to rip it wide open, and then I am left frantically trying to hack together an emergency bandaid to halt the hemorrhaging. It does not work so very well. I pack the wounds with gauze, liberally apply a salve of exercise, healthy food, positive thoughts, plans for the future, but the seepage continues. So many times I have thought that the healing process is finally complete. So many times I have been proven wrong. I just want to get on with life without the shadow of pain that follows me like a loyal dog. I know I try to rush the healing, using all the tricks in my kit bag. None of it works. Some treatments backfire, leaving me feeling shallow, sullied, alone, lonely. I tell myself that it is just that time of year, when I always am more susceptible to feelings of angst, ennui, melancholy. The time of year when, from my little perch in the world, it seems as if everyone manages to move on with their lives, leaving me to trail behind, dragging a wounded limb, no longer part of any pack. I am the omega. It is far easier for me to make the conscious decision to be the loner than to allow myself to feel the outcast. How much longer? How much more time? I wish the universe would give me an answer. If I knew there was actually a time frame it would make it easier to pull though times like these. Instead, I pull back, drift away, let myself dream of summer sun warming my skin. Yet knowing that even the summer sun does not heal. But does time? I am beginning to doubt that as well. Maybe damaged is just the new normal.  

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Time To Find Silence

    I managed to find a place of quiet inside my head this weekend. Silencing the waves of bleakness. It is peaceful at the moment, the silence. The shelter of my home, the zen of lap swimming, the meditation of a bicycle on back roads in cold winter air, the seduction of healthy food, the peace of winter gardening, tending my surroundings as I tend my spirit. I shut myself off from the world, surround myself with nothing but what is mine. My fortress of solitude. There are reasons I wish I could be a Hermit in The Woods, not the least of which is the harm that seems to befall me when I become entangled with someone. I should be glad that there is no way I could truly hide myself away from the world, because I very likely would, and that would not be healthy. But what is "healthy?" Who sets the bar on healthy? My body is very healthy indeed. My brain functions better than most. In so many ways I am at the top of my game. So, as I sequester myself away, who is to say that my self made hermitage is not the healthiest place for me to be? Here I find peace, quiet, solace, solitude, surrender, sanity, health, happiness. I do cherish my time away from the world. Is this what makes me difficult to love? That I am distant, distracted, and have very little need for human interaction? It is true. I need very little. But I do need some. Maybe that is the crux, I need less than most, and am trying to find it on my own terms. I am not unbending. But neither am I particularly flexible. For all the time I spend working, training, and trying to maintain my little corner of the world, I have little time to spend elsewhere. But if I choose to spend some of my time that means I am spending it on something of great value to me. I don't think others appreciate that. Minutes are like diamonds, small and priceless, irreplaceable, valued beyond reason. If I give someone my time, willingly, gladly, it is evidence of how priceless they are to me. This is not understood. Maybe someday I will find one person in the world who understands and appreciates this. If not, then I guess I will get to keep all my priceless minutes for myself, and that is not so bad. It gives me time to find the silence.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

New Manifestation? Or Same Old Song and Dance?

    Still trying to regain my balance and footing. I don't know why I am struggling so hard against whatever this bleakness is. I could easily lay the blame on heart break, heartache, and rejection, but that seems too trite and plebeian. There has to be more to it than that. I can't have been so deeply effected by just one thing. Can I? No. Despite the barrage of dreams to the contrary, I know there has to be more to it than that. Yes, I am still feeling as if there is a blankness to the very core of my being, an emptiness, a force field that deflects and negates positive energy and joyful emotions. Oddly, this is like no other winter melancholy I have known, and trust me, I am a bit of an expert on my various stages of melancholy. Maybe this is just a new manifestation. A mutation, grown out of my ever increasing physicality that has somehow altered the way my heart and spirit are dealing with my regular visitations to peer down into the darkness of the abyss. I know that when a motion causes the body pain,the body will become reluctant to repeat the motion, even over-riding the brain to some extent, lessening the motion in order to lessen the pain. Maybe this is what Spirit is doing, learning from repeated blows that it is time to back off, circle the wagons, throw up defensive walls to any and all intruders, benign or malevolent. I have always known I can be a slow learner, maybe this is one such case. Hit me over the head often enough with an idea and eventually it will sink in? Is that what has happened? Maybe this is merely self-preservation at its most extreme. Somehow that is slightly more comforting than the thought that I have finally broken, snapped, succumbed, given up entirely. Defense I can understand, surrender I cannot. But it seems as if this is all far beyond my control, I have no say in the matter. I have even tried to buck the tide, force the issue, get back in the game as it were, but to no avail. I have tapped into my vast arsenal, tried and discarded one weapon after the other, as they all prove ineffectual against this strange, new, shadowy adversary. Maybe, this time around, it will not be a war won by direct assault, but a war of attrition. I will keep using all the weapons at my disposal, despite my lack of success, because I really don't know what else to do. Definition of insanity? "Doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result." I have never tried to deny that I am crazy, but that was one aspect that to this point I had tried to avoid. Now it seems it is my only recourse. Oddly, another version, said to be the original version, comes from Narcotics Anonymous, "Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results." Maybe that is the crux, I repeat the same mistake, I lead with my heart, and see where it has gotten me. Or maybe it is just a new manifestation of the same old melancholy, a new face on a familiar demon, same old song and dance but just a different tempo? Regardless, there is nothing for it but to keep moving forward, getting up each morning, throwing myself into training, pushing Body to the limits so I can fall into bed at night exhausted, then start it all over again. I just don't know. This time, I just can't figure it out.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Must Rekindle

    It is that time of year again, when my demons start to stir from the dank caverns I have banished them to. I am struggling. The doubting whispers, mostly quiet for so long have returned. I've had a few tough blows lately that sent me reeling, and from which I haven't even begun to regain my footing. On the outside, all seems well, I am fit, strong, radiant even. Inside I feel as if there is a gaping hole, filled with cold ash, that is unresponsive, cold, silent. This is a first for me, this feeling of nothingness. So unlike me. So unlike the mercurial, tempestuous whirlwind that is my "normal." It feels awkward, alien, disturbing. It has been several weeks since I realized the nothingness was there, and I have been doing my best to analyze, dissect, and understand, but how can you dissect nothing? Oddly, I feel fine in most other regards. Oh sure, I am a tad weepy, oversensitive to sad songs, inclined to rehash recent events over and over in an attempt to make sense out of the senseless. But overall, Brain and Body are in fine fettle. Spirit seems to be hiding in the shadows of this latest, weirdest manifestation of melancholy, and I can't for the life of me figure out how to lure it from hiding. Skirting along the depths of this recent murk, I am tempted to attempt to regain control through pharmaceutical means, but I am reluctant. I know there are little pink pills waiting in an innocuous brown bottle that could take the harsh edges off of this melancholy, but I do not want to return to that path. I prefer to stay the course, doing all in my power to rectify and right the situation through what amounts to hard work, clean living, and pure thoughts. Yeah, sounds corny when I put it that way, doesn't it? But it is truth. I want, no, I need to repair this gaping blackhole that has taken up residence where my heart is supposed to be. It is not like me to feel nothing. Of course, there are a few people in the world that will always warm the coldest of cold, brighten the darkest of days. The Bean, my Bright Bean, the glowing child that I would sacrifice my soul for, he is the one that will always fill my heart with warmth, joy, love. He is a balm to my jangled nerves, the healing touch that makes the rest of the world fall away into irrelevance. But I can't be dependent on the warmth of another to banish the cold that has taken up residence inside my temple. I must find a way to rekindle the fire. I must find just a trace of glowing ember hiding beneath the cold, dark ash, and blow on it gently until it brightens and sparks back to life. Only I can cradle the glowing spark, nurse it back to a flame, and feed it dry tinder until it is once again a crackling blaze. But I have to find that dying ember, before it too goes dark and cold. Until then, I will keep Brain and Body trained, nourished, treasured. I will keep my temple strong until I can return flame to the candles on its altar.