Earth Day

In honor of Earth Day I thought I’d share the bird feeder my daughter made for her recycled object project. She did the work herself (with just a little sharp object and glue oversight from me). All the materials used were recycled from other projects or collected from around the yard.

Milk jug bird feeder decorated with paint, moss, twigs and vines.

A plastic milk jug made into a lovely bird feeder by my 9-year-old.

A Dark Place

I’ve started 2 or 3 different posts in the last 24 hours. I thought all of them sounded a little dark and saved them and sat them aside to go back to later to see what I was trying to say and what was bothering me. There was something I didn’t really consider until just a little while ago. I am in a really dark place right now.

There are a lot of reasons. Well deserved ones…everything from long-term unemployment and the related financial disaster it brings to totaled cars that can’t be replaced because there’s no money. When coupled with chronic illness and the related pain my new Dr won’t treat it is a recipe for disaster.

I know this. I understand this. The logical part of my brain is trying to hold everything in perspective. But with every set-back (and in all honesty with only one exception every piece of news we’ve gotten in the last 4-6 weeks has been bad news or a set-back and the good news wasn’t all that great) I just seem to slip a little deeper into this dark place.

You may have read a few weeks ago where I talked about feeling bad for a little bit, allowing myself to feel the feelings so that I could move on and feel better. Only as I each of these moments comes up I’ve had a harder time moving on and feeling better.

I know this will pass, I just need to hang on. It would be easier if I saw any chance of things getting better for us, but I don’t see how they will. At least not any time soon. We aren’t just operating in crisis mode any more, we’re in last-resort-no-other-choice-or starve mode. In the past the miracle we’ve been praying for would come along, not to save us necessarily, but to put us on a better path. Our miracle is at least a month overdue and I’m beginning to think we’ve reached our allotted number for this lifetime.

But I won’t give up, I can’t. As dark as the place I’m in is, and as much as I want to, I can’t. I need to find a way to make things better for my girls. I want to feel better, I do. I’m just feeling overwhelmed and stuck in a dark place. I’m praying I find my way out soon.

In the mean time, I hope that you’ll bare with me.

Feel Like A Slacker

I feel like such a slacker right now. I have had a horrible week. Scratch that, horrible few weeks. Not every day has been bad, just the majority of them. At one point we had to call my mother-in-law to come help with the kids while Hubby was working.

I’ve been getting the bare minimum done. Most of the dishes are getting washed. Dinner is getting made some nights, other nights the girls have to wait for their daddy to get home at 7 pm to make dinner (poor hubby has an hour commute each way on top of a pretty physically demanding job and has had to make dinner as soon as walks in the door). Some email gets read, not enough are getting written. I’m trying to stay on top of the job search, but I know I’m missing things. And, as I’m sure you can tell, my blog has been a little less…bloggy.

Cocker Spaniel mix asleep on couch

Wish I could kick back like this and not feel guilty about it.

I shouldn’t feel bad. I have a good reason for frick’s sake. I mean I had to text my husband while he was down stairs watching TV to come upstairs and help me out of bed so I could take my contacts out…I fell asleep while my daughter was doing homework and when I woke up the house was dark…This is not exactly normal behavior. I shouldn’t be beating myself up about all the stuff I’m not doing.

But I am. Just like so many of us with chronic illnesses, I tend to measure my day by what didn’t get done rather than by what was accomplished. Despite my best efforts to be kind to myself, I keep getting caught up in the thought I should be doing more.

I’m praying the tide turns soon and I start to feel better. I’m basically without health insurance until the end of November when the coverage at Hubby’s new job starts, so I can’t go see anyone. Even if I had insurance I don’t know who I would go see. The appointment with the new doctor was…interesting – I don’t know that I want to see her again but I’m afraid to switch doctors after something she said. Frankly I think the stress and anxiety over the fallout from that appointment is causing a serious Fibro flare which is really strange for me. Usually I have major Sjogern’s flares where my knees or ankles or everything swell for days or weeks and have lots of little few day Fibro flares. This would be the first serious long-term Fibro flare.

I know I need to relax and take.care of myself. But just for most of with chronic illness, that’s easier said than done. I’m going to focus on doing the best I can and try to celebrate my accomplishments instead of feeling like a slacker. I have a feeling it’s easier said than done.

Ring Around the Blue Collar

gautier steel mill

gautier steel mill (Photo credit: macwagen)

I come from a long line of steel mill workers, assemblers, miners and other manners of true blue collars. Generation after generation working their way through the ranks at the unions. A few became “White Hats” (supervisors) along the way. These were men and women who worked hard their whole lives. Most of them didn’t finish high school — they dropped out help support their families. They were and are tough. I cannot be prouder to continue their legacy.

Labor Day has become about the end of summer. About parties, and pools and picnics. It used to be a little more about the men and women whose blood and sweat literary built the United States. The people who died in dangerous jobs to create a better world. To remember and honor those who fought for safer work environments and to establish the laws we take for granted today.

This Labor Day I want to thank the people out there doing the tough jobs I couldn’t do. Thank you to the people fighting for workplace safety and equality and making sure the laws are followed. Thank you to anyone whoever put in a hard days work on the production line, or down in the pit, and thought that what you did didn’t matter. . .

You see, it did matter. Because if it weren’t for my mom and dad, and my aunts and uncles, and my grandmothers grandfathers, and my great-grandmothers and great-grandfathers who worked those same lines I wouldn’t have been able to go to college. I wouldn’t have been able to learn video production or to tell stories the way I do.

Thank you to everyone who helped build the United States of America figuratively and literally.

United States of America

United States of America (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1st Day of Our Next New Beginning

School backpacks leaning against a door

We’re as ready as we can be for the start of our next new beginning.

Today is the start of our next new beginning. It’s the first day of school for the girls and the first day of work for my husband. The girls will be starting in new schools in a new state. My husband will working full-time for the first time in nearly 10 years, he’s mostly been a stay-at-home Dad since we moved to Virginia. For the first time I’m going to be the one in charge of getting the kids off to school and making sure homework gets done and everyone gets to where they need to be while I do freelance work from home. It’s a whole new world for all of us.

We’re all trying to act pretty confident, but I think it’s pretty safe to say we’re all a little scared. You know, I think that’s ok. It’s a pretty big change for all of us. New (old) state. New schools. New jobs. It’s a lot for anyone.

For a family that has unique circumstances, like chronic illness and a long stretch of unemployment, that much change seems like a bridge stretching over the Grand Canyon stretching out in front of you. You know all you need to do is take that first step, but it’s a doozy. There’s not a lot of choice but to move forward so you do. You just have to have faith that you’ll make it to the other side.

We’ll see what lies ahead. One way or another, I think we’ll be okay.

UPDATE:

Everyone got on their way with on mild panic. The bus forgot to pick up the oldest and we had to get that straightened out. Other than that everything went off without a hitch. Now it’s a matter of convincing myself to do start the ambitious list of things I made.

Teenager waiting with backpack as as car passes

My oldest waiting for the bus that forgot to pick her up. Great way to start the day.

Girl getting on yellow school bus.

This is first time she’ll be taking the bus to school (she used to walk to school), so this is VERY exciting.

He Got the Job, But We’re All in it Together

My husband got the official call last night, he’s got the job! No idea on start date yet, but isn’t that amazing? Since neither of has worked since February it’s freaking spectacular! He hasn’t worked full-time in 9.5 years (he’s mostly been a stay-at-home dad) so it’s a little scary and nerve-wracking for all of us too.

But that’s ok. We keep telling the kids, and have since I lost my job, it’s alright to be worried, or scared, or angry. Mommy and Daddy are sometimes too. But as long as we stick together and lean on each other we’ll be ok. If we learned nothing else by leaving our hometown and moving to a different state it’s that we can stand on our own and depend on ourselves to get out of whatever mess we get into. Some sort of help may arrive eventually, maybe, more often than not it’s too little too late. But the four of us can get through anything as long as we talk things out, are as honest as possible and stay together.

And I have a feeling the changes aren’t over yet. The job is over an hour, and over a mountain, from where we just moved. Which isn’t horrible in August. But come a Pennsylvania winter in our ONLY car, a small engine Ford Focus, it gets more…complicated. I personally was in a car that spun out and ended up in a ditch at the very top of that mountain in a snowstorm late one Christmas Eve. It gets ugly fast up there.

Of course there’s more than one way over, or around any mountain. Or problem. There are short-term and long-term solutions. Like buying a second car, if we can find one we can afford. Or moving back to our hometown which, strangely enough, just so happens to be where his new job is located. Or any number of other possibilities yet to be thought up and explored.

Both are valid ideas with differing degrees of do-ability under the current circumstances. It’s going to mean taking some time as a family and talking. Figuring out together what’s best for all of us, we’re all in this together.

So About Starting Over…

A few days after my last post I lost my job. The good paying, decent health insurance coverage, sole-support of my family of four job. Yes, it was also the job I hated, the job that was taking a huge toll on my physical and mental health and generally making my life a living hell, but it was a JOB! I have a family to support and complicated health issues to try to manage and it becomes very difficult to do that when you suddenly have no means to do that.

All of my plans on taking time to think about what I wanted to be and where I wanted to be were scattered into the wind while my family have gone into survival mode.

IMG_0396Not that we haven’t tried to look at this as an opportunity for us. When I told the kids I lost my job that this was our chance to do anything. Where did we want to live? At first they picked London. But given we don’t know anyone there, had no job opportunities there or means to get there to look for job, they agreed that might not be the best idea. Instead we decided to move back to western Pennsylvania where my husband and I grew up and most of our family still lives.

I’ve been doing some freelance work, combined with the severance package we made it through seven months, longer than we thought we would. My husband’s gotten a part-time job working retail and is on the verge of getting a full-time job, which is great. But the benefits won’t start for 90 days, and we’re can’t keep paying for COBRA (well maybe we could but that would be pretty much his whole check). My next freelance project that I was told to clear the end of July, all of August and some of September for at a full-time level of effort has suddenly been put on hold, so I now I don’t have work (or money) coming in.

But, if there is one thing I know, it’s that things tend to work out the way they are meant to. Whether I like the way they turn out or not. I’m trying not to worry, because we all know that worry only makes health problems worse.

For now, the kids are registered in school. The oldest has started her Freshman year of marching band and having a blast. The youngest is looking forward to starting a new school far away from a bully problem we couldn’t get rid of back in Virginia.

As for the blog, I think I’m back on track. If for no other reason than giving me a place to put some thoughts….and things…

So stay tuned. You should be hearing a lot more from me!