Sunday, October 23, 2016

Time? Money?

    I don't think anyone on their deathbed thinks, "I wish I had more money." But I guarantee that most people think, "I wish I had more time."  No one really knows when their time will come. It may be today, tomorrow, or 50 years from now (I am hoping for 50 years...). Of course I have had plenty of time that I wished for more money. Who hasn't? Living paycheck to paycheck, one small setback away from financial disaster can be stressful. But the last few years I have realized just how much more I value my time. Almost two years ago I lost a job that I loved, and payed well. They closed the department, so I was out the door. It was a great job, but a lot of hours.
    Once I was unemployed, after many years of 40+ hours a week, having time to spend on myself and with my family was a revelation. My income was cut considerably, but I was happier. When I found a new job the pay was lower, and I made the decision to not work 5 days a week. Despite continual pressure from the employer I have staunchly insisted that I stay part time. Why? Because time. Time has become so much more vital to my well being than money. Yes, I am poor financially. But I am rich in time. Time for myself and my family. I think a lot of people think I have slipped my gears by choosing to live on the edge instead of pursuing the almighty dollar.
    I spent far too many years working hard to make money for someone else. I slaved, sweated, stressed, and burned myself out for the benefit of someone else's bank roll. I have never made great money at any job, and the few times I tried to force the issue I was shot down. Never payed what I was worth, so always feeling like I was less valuable, Now I know better. I am priceless. I am more valuable than any dollar amount. I won't be tempted by dollar signs. I would rather live at what is considered poverty level and have some freedom. No, not totally free, I do still have to spend several days slaving, sweating, stressing, and burning myself out for the benefit of someone else's bank roll, but it is more on my terms than their's.
     A few days ago a plan came to fruition. A financial boon that I set in motion several months ago, What amounts to a federal grant that will allow me to take every penny and throw it at my debt for the next year. I estimate that I will be completely out of debt, except for my mortgage, in 9 months or so. Can you imagine? Debt free? I am about losing my mind with glee. Debt free will give me a level of freedom that I have never had. All my adult life there has been some level of debt hanging over my head. Yes, my debt is minimal compared to most, but then so is my income. Now I look ahead, planning where my meager income will go. Excited to be able to pay off student loans, my two credit cards, catch up on all bills, pay off the IRS. Yes, I am freaking a little bit. It seems too good to be true.
     Where does this leave me? With Time. Time to spend as I choose. Time, which is far more valuable than any material possession. Time to play with grandchildren, time to spend with family, time to work on my house, time to train my body and my mind. And in the end, isn't that what we all really want? Time?

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Actions. Reactions. Changing The Cycle.

   It is no secret that I do not handle confrontation well, I don't hide the fact. Hell, I can't hide the fact. I have one of two reactions: Either I get angry, soft spoken, clinical, and almost cruel; or I shake, want to vomit, get tongue tied, and can only think of how to extract myself from the situation. Yes, classic Fight of Flight reaction. In an extreme. Adrenaline fueled, exhausting, neurotic extreme.
    This last week I have had several instances that triggered the second response, Flight, in an extreme. The custody battle of the Tiny House. No, there really wasn't a battle, legally I had no rights, but it was an unexpected and harsh confrontation that has had me stressing my brains out. I haven't slept well, waking in the night with anxiety and scenes replaying in my head on endless loop. My digestion has been wrecked. Mostly I have wanted to hide in my bed with the lights off. I felt violated, wronged, intimidated, and harassed. I knew today would be, hopefully, the final chapter, and I was dreading the confrontation. That changed Friday. I had an epiphany.
    Swimming clears my head as nothing else does. It is the Zen-like quality of lap after lap. The scenery doesn't change, the only sound is my own breath bubbling past my ears, I count strokes and laps. It has a brain numbing quality, but it is meditative, calming, and mind clearing. I realized that through the whole saga of the Tiny, there was one constant: The tragic and unexpected loss of my friend Bryony. That was the triggering event, the Big Bang, the catalyst. Boil it all down, and there you have it. I let my own financial stress and sense of loss blind me to the facts. This is not about ownership of any material goods. It is the sense of loss at the heart of it that manifested in what, at the time, seemed a righteous indignation that these people would come on my property, and lay claim to what had in my mind become something of a potential shrine to my lost friend. As I swam, all the facts started lining up, filling in the blanks, and becoming a clear pattern of bad behavior on my part. Yes, I take responsibility for my actions.
    I told myself that fault and guilt were not on me, but on the actions of the people invading my home and letting accusations fly. I realized, as I swam, that if I can't control someone else's actions, I can control my reactions, which in turn can shift all behaviors involved. I came to the realization that I needed to look at the core issue here, and act accordingly. The core issue? The loss of my friend. That is where all the emotion was coming from, that deep ache, the broken feeling inside my chest, the desire to lash out and retaliate. And who was I dealing with, who was this person confronting me? The mother. Yes, the estranged mother, but the mother none-the-less. I realized, that as dysfunctional as their relationship may have been, now there was no chance that there could ever be any kind of resolution. This woman would have to live the rest of her life knowing that she would never be able to reconcile in any way, never really know the fabulous person that she had shut out of her life, never have a chance to say, "I am so sorry."  And that is a tragedy heaped onto a tragedy. I love my children with all my heart, and cannot imagine what it would be like to have them estranged from me. It would shatter me.
    So, this was my epiphany:  I lost a friend, but she lost a child. I can think of no greater loss than the loss of a child. It would ruin me. So, despite all I know, all I have been told, all the trauma behind the life and times, I would treat this woman as I would wish to be treated. I apologized for my unkind words, and told her with heartfelt sincerity, "I am so sorry for your loss." I truly meant it, every word. I can't change the past, I can't fix past traumas and abuses, but I can change how I chose to react. Instead of perpetuating anger, hostility, and drama I chose to be calm, spread understanding, peace and love. And then we talked, like rational adults, and parted on decent terms. No, we will never be friends. Hopefully we will never meet again. But my fear of accidental run-ins, or retaliations is now non-existent. I feel at peace.  I don't know if it is what my friend would want, but I can hope that they would be pleased that I stepped outside of the cycle of stress and anger, changed patterns, and altered bad behavior. I feel good about what I did, proud of myself for not letting the actions of others feed into my own negativity. I choose Peace and Love, It has to be so.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Blanket Fort, Book, Tea, Nap?

    Suddenly, Autumn. It seems like just yesterday it was too hot and sunny too work on the west side of the house. The last few days, grey and stormy. Today started with a nice break. The sun was shining, things were drying off, I went out and picked some grapes for breakfast. An hour later it is dark, the wind is whipping the trees and ripping leaves off, and rain is slanting sideways past my windows. Yes, just last week I found myself saying, "I almost wish we could have a few rainy days so I could have a little down time." I really said it, and knew I would live to regret the words. Today I am barely functional. Not in a bad way. Just in a lethargic way. It is an "Eat carbs, read, and sleep" kind of day. I am still in my fuzzy, leopard print bathrobe, or "Housecoat" as I prefer to call it (sounds a little less coma inducing). Today feels like Blanket Forts, Earl Grey tea, and easy reading science fiction.
    I know that in a few hours I will suddenly get hit with a rush of hyperactivity linked to my chronic need to feel like I accomplish things on my days off. Last Sunday was such a bust, because of the psycho-drama that mentally and emotionally threw me down a ravine. I got nothing done all day Sunday. Now, here I am, a few days later, still not managing to get anything done. Hell, I even skipped my morning workout (freaky, I know). Now, it is barely past noon, all I have managed to do is make breakfast and feed the animals, and I am ready to crawl back in bed for a nap. Admittedly, I have not been sleeping well the last week or so, again, thanks to the recent psycho-drama that was foisted on me.
    I shouldn't feel so bad about wanting to catch up on sleep. "Sleep is the Golden Chain that ties our health and our bodies together."  I have rarely slept well, in my entire adult life. If I make it through the night only waking 3 or 4 times, that seems like a good night's sleep. I can't imagine sleeping soundly through the night. "I have always envied people who sleep easily.Their brains must be cleaner, the floorboards of the skull well swept, all the little monsters closed up in a steamer trunk at the foot of the bed." So maybe a plan to nap, rest, recover, recuperate, is not such a terrible, or slovenly idea. Yeah, it does grate against my nature. I can't quite allow for a day of total lassitude. But for now, maybe it is okay to allow myself the chance "To sleep, perchance to Dream."

Sunday, October 2, 2016


    Sometimes I think I am a magnet for psychos. Just like kittens and stray dogs, the crazies seem to find me. Maybe it is because they know I am non-confrontational, as well as disinclined to fight against unfair demands. I just try to keep them calm, then disengage and escape as soon as possible. It makes me feel like I surrender to their aggressive, intimidating tactics. Give up without a fight, It is humiliating and degrading, But yet, I know that there is no "winning" with sociopaths, people without scruples. People who are, in and of themselves, so devious and manipulative that they suspect that everyone else is the same. They can't believe that I am not trying to outsmart them, or cheat them, or somehow take advantage of a situation. They cannot imagine that I would do something just because it is the right thing to do, or that I want to help a friend. They want to know what's in it for me? If I try to convince them that I am not out to profit from a tragedy, they think I am somehow running a scam. Because that is what they would do.
    We all react in ways that mirror our own personalities. I assume that people are trustworthy, honest, and will honor an agreement. Because that is what I would do. Sadly, I think I am in the minority. Today proved my point to the Nth degree. It was a brutal, stressful lesson. One that will likely cause me stressed out sleepless nights for a while.
    I hate that people come into my life and damage my trust. It has happened more than a few times over the years. I fight back from it, try to return to my previous gullible, trusting self. But each time it is a little harder. It makes me feel violated. I think that this kind of emotional and psychological attack is worse than a physical attack. Physical, I could fight back, and would fight back. Emotional or psychological, I retreat and do my best to shield my inner psyche from the assault. I still come out of it feeling shellshocked, drained, physically ill. Today was spent trying to just regain a sense of balance, get my churning gut under control, reduce the tension in neck and shoulders that was causing a headache that made me feel like my scalp was being peeled off. There was a level of PTSD involved. Reacting and over-reacting. Shaking that took hours to subside. There is a reason I live where I do, trying to limit my contact with horrible people. Twice this week, the horrible people have come to me. Come to my house. Tainted my sanctuary. Invaded my life.
    Hopefully, I have set things in motion to make them leave me alone, These horrid, crazy people that have sucked me into their petty universe. It is easiest just to acquiesce, so they will leave me alone. I will take the high road. Disengage and walk away. I can't let their crazy infect my sanctuary. But g'damn, it is so hard to shut it out.