- I had a really good appointment with my wellness nurse this past week. I am ready to start the 30 day detox diet next week.
- This year my husband started a seasonal business that I helped him out with on a very limited basis. He had a successful first season.
- This week my husband started a new job doing something he has always wanted to do with finance and spreadsheets. I’m not sure where this is going to lead yet, but I am grateful he found something to do that he loves.
- My daughter Angel outside of working a full-time job started babysitting for her best friend’s baby and also babysits occasionally for a pre-teen girl. It’s been great having a baby and young kids in the house. I’m grateful for the joy of having a baby in the house and that her parents chose life after an unplanned pregnancy.
- I’m grateful to have a vacation planned again. Not only do I want to visit all the continents, I want to visit all of the United States. In January we will be visiting Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. We will be spending at least one night in each state.
- We have been having a really hard time with our youngest child. Friday night Paul decided to take us out to eat for hibachi. We went with Angel and her boyfriend Dan and our son Alex. I’ve been really grateful for the support of our adult children and close friends during this time. It was nice to have an evening away to get our mind off of things.
- I’m grateful for a warm fire in the fireplace while I write this as the first snow of the season is starting to fall.
- Sadly yesterday our dinner plans got cancelled. But I’m grateful for a quiet evening at home where we watched a YouTube show about personality and faith.
- I cleaned the oven, refrigerator, microwave, counters, and sink this week. It’s nice to have the time to get the house the way I want it.
- I completed my resume this week. I decided against the seasonal driver job. They have a no bumper sticker policy and I have a carful. I really want time to focus on my writing and my book. I’m looking for a job that would be a good fit for me. I’m grateful I can be selective.
It was hard to work for the census because at times I knew I was causing others pain with the questions I was asking.
I had to deal with loss rather frequently. I can’t tell you how many times I spoke to people who lost someone close to them. I felt callous and impersonal about it sometimes. I know you told me that your dad died, but did he die before or after the census date.
I spoke to a man who lost his wife this year. He was out in the yard with his children when I pulled up. When did your wife die? Was it before or after the census date? I always felt a bit awful about it.
As I was getting ready to leave, he told me that I could turn my car around in the driveway and drive out instead of backing out. His driveway was on a hill. He said his wife left the house to go to work one icy morning and slid into a tree. He told me not to worry, she did not die in the driveway. She died after a long battle with leukemia.
I felt sad for his loss. I felt bad for his children. So I took a few extra minutes to listen. I told him I was sorry for his loss. I could tell it meant a lot to him. Sometimes people just need someone who is willing to listen.
I was working late one Friday evening just about ready to wrap things up for the night. I didn’t prefer to work late on a Friday night because…well Wisconsin…drunks…
I pulled up to a house with a for sale sign in the front yard. I rang the bell and a man answered…drunk, slushy, and slurring. He said he never filled out the census because he had nothing to live for and didn’t care.
He said back on the census day he had the life he wanted, but that life disappeared. His wife connected with an old boyfriend on Facebook and then she was gone taking their baby with her. I could tell it was really painful for the man to fill out the census questionnaire as if they were still together.
The man was very emotional during the interview almost teetering on the verge of suicidal. He said he was moving out the next day. He said he had nothing left to live for. His dreams were gone.
I wondered what I should do. I tried to say comforting things. But only time, not alcohol, could take away the raw sting of his pain.
Thankfully at the end of our conversation the man said he had a friend staying with him that evening to help him move the following day. When he opened the door to go back inside of his house I saw his friend inside. I knew at least for that night, he would be okay.
Twice I went to the same prefab home in a bad neighborhood. There were already a couple census notices cluttering the rundown stairway outside the front door. There was also a notice stating the gas and electricity was going to be shut off a week earlier.
Both days I visited, it was piping hot outside. All the windows were closed tight and the shades were drawn with the exception of a set of venetian blinds that slanted cockeyed. I knew it must’ve been hot inside without power to run a simple fan.
I knocked but no one ever answered. Inside in some back room a dog barked and barked. I updated the case notes and walked away. It troubled me. What happened to the owner of the house? Were they inside dead or did they just walk away from it all? Maybe they were at work. It wouldn’t have been as disturbing if I didn’t hear the dog inside. Was the dog going to be okay?
Sometimes the hardest part of being a census worker was the what if scenarios that ran through my mind. I know I have a tendency to worry. I mean, maybe everything was fine but it didn’t seem that way. What could I do about it anyway? Call the police. Bust the windows. Break down the doors. I had to assume everything was fine unless I knew for sure it wasn’t.
I went to one other house that had service disconnect notices on the door. It was nice looking but neglected. The lawn wasn’t mowed. In all ways it seemed vacant.
On a stormy day I visited another property in the middle of nowhere that had a sign on the door stating it was an abandoned property. The silence seemed louder than the thunder that boomed in the distance. I found it to be disconcerting and creepy. Again things weren’t taken care of. There were branches cluttering the long windy driveway. Weeds, the grass unmown and dead in patches. Were there wild animals living inside?
With the exception of the rundown prefab home, the other two houses seemed pretty nice. They weren’t that old. They just needed a little TLC. When I think of abandoned or service disconnect houses, this is not what I had in mind.
I had to wonder…what happened to the people that were living inside? I wish the walls could whisper back to me their stories…as my imagination wanders…
- I got my haircut and I really like how it turned out even though my daughter said I have the same haircut as my son.
- My husband motored our sailboat to its winter home. I’m grateful for his safety. The weather turned and he had no choice but to bring it back in strong winds, waves, and icy temperatures.
- I’m also grateful he has some pretty wonderful friends to take the boat back with him. Although they wore their winter gear, they got wet and were absolutely freezing.
- My best friend’s husband had surgery and is doing well.
- My husband planned a surprise date, something he has never done before. It was something simple, a trip to the local museum. But I haven’t been there since the kids were little. We are starting to get used to being able to do things without the kids. It is lonely, but in some ways it is nice. Now we started to plan a monthly surprise date night.
- I am in the beginning process of planning a trip this winter. Everything I had planned this year got cancelled or put off so it is nice to switch into planning gear again.
- We have been having problems with our 17 year old daughter. She wants to move out and live with a friend. It’s a long story that I will probably tell someday. This weekend we talked to her and set boundaries we are comfortable with. Her behavior has been causing us all a lot of stress, but I’m grateful we won’t continue to let her treat us poorly.
- I’m grateful for a supportive best friend.
- I’m grateful to have more time to blog.
- I’m grateful to feel like I am healthy and strong to be able to handle the dark days ahead.
As part of the census training, we learned about the greatest threats to us as census employees.
The greatest threat of harm was actually slipping and falling. It is very easy to get distracted especially when you are finishing up cases on your census phone while walking. Whoops! Guilty. Thankfully I didn’t fall but I did almost get into someone else’s car. I’ve also been on enough rickety staircases to last me a lifetime.
The third greatest risk of injury was due to car accidents. I could easily understand how that could happen especially when you have to find an address that is poorly marked at dusk.
Today I want to talk about the second greatest threat of injury, animals. I was more likely to be attacked by an animal than a person. I did worry at times of being assaulted or murdered although the percentage of injuries or deaths were rather small from those threats.
My supervisor told me about an employee who was swarmed by bees after knocking on an unused front door. I did come across nests rather frequently but lucked out in that regard.
I was more wary of dogs. I carried treats in my car. It was always a judgment call. How threatening does this dog appear? How old is the dog? How big is the dog? Are there signs that a dog lives there? Did the beware of dog sign hold any merit?
One day I had to make a house call in the middle of nowhere. The front door appeared to be a sliding door. When I knocked on it two Dobermans answered. They hurled their massive bodies against the sliding door and snarled at me. Next to the sliding door was an open window. It wouldn’t have taken much for the dogs to crash through the screen and maul me to death.
It shook me up a little. What if the dogs were outside when I got there and we didn’t notice each other right away?
I was wary of scary looking dogs. Thankfully most of the time the big scary looking dogs had owners nearby.
I went to several hoarding houses. It was always a struggle to get to the front door. I had to touch iffy things so I wouldn’t fall as I squeezed through tight passages of old toys, garbage, and practically a timeline of their whole life. I often felt like I violated them in some way. They were showing me parts of themselves I would never want a stranger to see.
What always struck me was the smell even with my mask on of rot and decay. The yard a graveyard of old cars filled with you guessed it, more junk. One place had chicken bones in front of the door the second time I visited. It creeped me out like they were doing some sort of voodoo hex to get rid of me.
As I was leaving one of the houses a woman came home. I felt uncomfortable and embarrassed like I got caught snooping inside of her house. She told me she was remodeling her kitchen. Uh huh, yeah right.
The worst of the hoarding was located underneath a huge tree which had a bug infestation of some sort. The bugs crawled on me some odd mix of a gnat and flea. The woman said the DNR had been out because of the bugs and it was caused by something other than her remodeling.
I felt dirty there. The bugs made me feel creepy and crawly. I wanted to wash my clothes and jump in the shower but again I had more stops to make. Why would anyone want to live that way?
The hoarding caused great sadness in me. My parents are what I consider to be hoarders. They mainly collect paper item clutter such as long paid bills and receipts that they keep in stacks on the floors, counters, tables, and couches. They kept phone books from the 70’s from a different city.
My mom is a big collector of food. Although there are two people living in her house she shops for 10. She has multiple refrigerators and freezers full of rotting food. It causes my mother great emotional distress to get rid of things. It causes us distress that she keeps things.
At times I have to fight off an OCD tendency for cleanliness. For example, last week I washed my windows. While I saw all the imperfections, smudges, and dirt I left behind multiple birds kept flying into the windows. Maybe I have been filled so much with dirt that nothing will ever be clean enough for me. Maybe my perception is off too. Sometimes I have to tell myself that my best is good enough and I have to let the rest go.
My mom is embarrassed to have people over. People feel uncomfortable in a hoarding house especially if they are not used to it. My brother’s sister-in-law stayed there once and said it was so disgusting she was never going back.
My dad rarely showers. You have to be careful where you sit. You have to be careful what to eat. It’s best just not to go there. I mourn that. I want it to be warm, happy, and cozy like Christmas morning but we never celebrate there.
I remember what it was like living there. When the old power lines were taken down in our neighborhood, we went with our mom to collect probably a hundred of the insulators. We had to collect items like the tabs off of soda cans. We never got rid of broken items or outdated technology. My mom still has clothes in her closet from the 1980’s. I could keep going…
They never said no to anything. At one time my parents even accepted a huge unusable old rusty satellite dish. There are rooms in their house that are unusable too. Thankfully they were not much for outdoor displays of hoarding. If a shed is full, it’s time to build another shed.
It’s really hard to understand how hoarding can be satisfying especially for items viewed as junk. Hoarding suffocates me in feelings of despair. Going home is not pleasant. I wish it was. I could write for hours what it feels like to be a clean freak daughter of hoarders…
But as a census worker this was an uncomfortable situation I was already prepared for.
- I updated my address and am ready to vote. I also helped my son register as a first time voter.
- We met with a new doctor for Arabella and we really like him. I think he is going to be able to help her.
- I have been struggling with my daughter’s depression and decided to take a drive by myself to clear my head. I headed up north and discovered unexpectedly that my dad was up there alone as well. I said some things I needed to say to him. He did say he was sorry for hurting me and also said he loved me. I think God guided me there and it is crucial for my healing process. I have been fluctuating between rage and forgiveness far too long to be healthy.
- I am done working for the census now. It’s been an expected yet not easy adjustment. I’m grateful to have extra time to get some of the back burner tasks done like washing windows and changing light bulbs.
- Yesterday I got out my winter clothes. I got rid of a bunch of clothes I don’t wear anymore. It felt good to get rid of things I don’t need and to get ready for winter.
- I’m grateful that although I live in a COVID hotbed, so far all of my family and close friends have been safe.
- I’m grateful our president recovered from COVID. There is so much chaos and craziness in our country right now that I couldn’t even imagine more…
- I’m grateful to finally be able to talk to my best friend. For some reason she didn’t receive ANY of the texts I sent to her this month. I was really starting to worry.
- It is absolutely gorgeous outside right now with the fall colors. I really need to try to enjoy each season because I think I am going to be stuck here for quite a while. I think I’m going to have to challenge myself with gratitude in this area especially when things get dreary, cold, and dark.
- Arabella’s senior pictures turned out really cute.
I met with my therapist this past week. At the end of our session she asked me what I needed. I told her that I wanted more enlightenment on my path towards healing and growth.
Be careful what you wish for.
The next day I had the first appointment with my daughter Arabella to see a psychiatrist. She has been struggling with depression and anxiety the past couple months.
Honestly, I didn’t really understand why she was struggling. We tried to give her a wonderfully normal childhood, something my husband and I never had.
The doctor started with me asking about my family history regarding mental health issues. I probably rattled off a dozen close relatives that struggled with anxiety and/or depression myself included. After awhile the doctor cut me off and didn’t even bother asking for my husband’s family history of mental health issues.
I’ve always struggled with anxiety and depression since I can remember. I always thought my struggles were caused from the childhood trauma I endured. I always had this fantasy that once I made peace with my past and healed from the trauma I experienced then I would finally be free from the chains of anxiety and depression. Poof! Gone! I would finally be the carefree person I always wanted to be and not the person I am and always was.
I also have the fantasy that if I had enough faith in God I would be free from this. But I kept giving it over yet God refused to take it away. I felt guilty because every time I tried to cast it off it came back. There was some shortcoming in me. I failed to have enough faith. But maybe some things cannot be changed. Maybe I just have blue eyes. Maybe I should not expect God to change them to brown.
I’ve seen all my children struggle with anxiety. We did everything we could possibly do to give them a normal life. I’ve watched my mom suffer from debilitating anxiety, panic, and insomnia. I’ve brushed it off saying she always had so much to worry about. I’ve watching some of her siblings struggle with anxiety. Anxiety almost seemed normal.
I’ve watched my dad struggle with depression. At times I have wondered if he was going to end his life. I saw his father and his father’s siblings struggle with anxiety and/or depression. His aunt on his mother’s side. I watched my own siblings struggle. This all seemed normal too.
Over time I learned how to outrun my demons. Being an extreme runner burned off the anxiety. Always keeping busy or immersing myself in work keeps my demons at bay. But that means I can never relax or they come back. Writing soothes my soul. But it never goes away.
Trauma and difficult live circumstances makes the anxiety and depression worse. But guess what? Even if I don’t have anything to worry about I create scenarios in my mind. I have to constantly fight this battle within myself.
This week I received a new piece of enlightenment. Even if I never experienced childhood trauma, I still might have struggled with anxiety and depression. In fact, if I didn’t experience trauma then maybe I would feel worse about myself because there wouldn’t be a logical reason for it.
We live in a world that constantly makes us try to feel worse about feeling sad. You shouldn’t feel depressed because you are rich, good looking, smart, popular, etc…… I’ve been guilty of doing this myself. Her life is perfect. What does she have to feel sad about?
What if it is simply and purely genetic like my blue eyes? What if it was a pattern of behavior passed down from my ancestors centuries ago? A genetic propensity paired with modeled behavior is hard to break. I could wear colored contacts but that wouldn’t really change the color of my eyes.
Even if I tried to give my kids a wonderful life, I still might have passed this on to them. I also have come to the realization that although I can manage it I will never be free from it. That’s the kicker. I thought if I healed I would be a different person. But the truth is, I am still going to be me.
Maybe growth and healing isn’t about changing into a different person. Maybe it is the freedom to accept myself and others the way they are. Maybe that is the missing piece to missing peace.
It was like I stepped back in time the moment my feet touched the ground.
They invited me into their living room in the garage. It was furnished with a couch set featuring tan upholstery with flowers accented with a wood frame reminiscent of the 1980’s. They had an ancient box TV that played an old John Wayne rerun.
I felt like I walked into my grandparent’s house although this couple was probably in their late 50’s. Their 20 something year old son was visiting sitting on the recliner. The man was grilling burgers outside and offered me one along with a beer.
It was a calm and relaxing atmosphere but I had important government work to do. As I was working with the woman on the census questionnaire, her husband popped in and I thought I heard him say something about not to forget Lori. Earlier they mentioned an elderly parent who lived with them.
I started to fill out Lori’s name when the woman stated that I misheard because no one by the name of Lori lived there. I laughed saying that I couldn’t fill out the census on ghosts. The woman stated that Lori was the name of her sister who died two years ago. I was mortified and started apologizing profusely. The woman said maybe it was a sign that Lori was still with them.
This year we had to collect the census data 4 to 6 months after the census date. I am surprised that I didn’t run into anyone who reported a family member that was alive during but passed away after the census date. Maybe someone did and they just didn’t tell me, I don’t know. For the census date we had to collect the info that was valid on April 1st. Yeah, April Fool’s Day and Census Day were on the same day in 2020. No joke.
These people were some pretty decent folks. I almost wished I could have deleted their info and come back another night at the end of my shift for a burger and beer. We could sit and watch old movies. We could talk, laugh, and pretend it was 1985.
They asked if I was sure I didn’t want something on the way out, water perhaps. I said I wanted everyone to be as nice as them. I smiled as I waved good-bye wishing I could have stayed for the burger and beer. But it was time to move on to the next house.