Peace and joy

It has been a stressful week in the season of thankfulness. I was out and about yesterday and overheard people freaking out about the fast approach of the holiday season…and my sister is coming from CA and she is always judging my decisions… cooking… stress… family. It seems rather ironic that the things we are supposed to feel the most thankful for seems to stress us out the most…family…

I have been hosting Thanksgiving and Christmas since I was in my 20’s. I took the baton from my grandma after she was no longer able to. My brother Luke stepped in to help out several times over the years. Looking back I don’t know how we did it.

I always get depressed this time of year. It never fails. I don’t know if it is just a lack of sunlight or the added stress of the holiday season. But this is when it usually starts and pretty much lasts all winter into early spring. But I am a functional depressive. I get out of bed and get stuff done like I normally do.

I have been having a really hard time lately. Alex decided to skip school the day before Thanksgiving break. Although half of the school may have decided to do that, he can’t afford to with his failing grades. Alex read the student handbook and found a loophole that as an adult he can pre-excuse several of his absences. I received a call from the school saying that he intended to do that, so we stepped in and told Alex that if he skips school he would lose his car priviledges over break and won’t be allowed to have friends over.

He skipped school and now we have a battle on our hands. I told him that the boy with the face tattoo could not come over for Thanksgiving as originally planned or stay with us over break. The boy can eat his Thanksgiving dinner at the homeless shelter for all I care. I am angry. Never underestimate the rage of a peri-menopausal woman. Why that coincides with teenage boy angst I’ll never know. One minute I want to hold him close and the next minute I want to smash his crap with a baseball bat! Happy Thanksgiving, huh??

I am also stressed out because Paul went to the doctor this week. He needs to have some tests done. I am worried about his health. Maybe it is nothing, but what if it isn’t?? What if something happens to him?? I told him yesterday that I am unhappy because I have not experienced a lot of peace and joy in my life. But the few fleeting moments I have experienced have been with him. I started crying and then moments later started to yell at him. What a hormonal mess!

The stress of maybe losing a life partner is terrifying. I am probably worried about nothing, but that is what I do.

Add the stress of a wayward son and my husband possibly having health issues with feeling like I am getting sick, having family over tomorrow, trying to find time to cook, covering for an employee who took the week off, less hours of daylight, feeling depressed and tired, aging, my baby getting her temps, getting ready for the holiday season, extra play practices for the musical, a teen minor with a face tattoo always hanging around our house, and raging hormones…Whew!

I know, I know…I really should be counting my blessings! I have a lot of those too.

 

What now???

Sometimes life can be stressful. When I am not busy at work, raising teenagers, or slaying my demons…I try to relax.

Work requires me to make a lot of high level decisions that effect other people’s lives. Someday I will tell you about it all, but not today. Last Friday we had a new client do some work with us and he didn’t understand the whole process of what we do. So rather unexpectedly he conference called me and chewed me out saying that I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. I’ve been doing what I’ve been doing for over a decade and he is a brand new client…and I don’t know what I’m doing??

After 30 minutes of trying to explain the process, which he wasn’t listening to, I was pissed off and wanted to tell him to take his business somewhere else. But I remained fairly cool and calm. I sent him an email with answers to frequently asked questions. But that still did not satisfy him.

I ended up sending him over to my husband Paul. Paul makes higher high level decisions and often deals with difficult clients, makes collection calls, and other stuff I couldn’t stomach doing. When the guy started to complain about me, Paul said that I am his operations manager and also his wife. Shut the guy right up.

Running a business together can be very stressful. Sometimes we have to make hard calls. I have lost a lot of faith in people. Sometimes it feels like it is us against the world. I think working together has made us closer as a couple. We make a great team both at home and at work. I can’t complain because we make an excellent living. But that doesn’t make it any less stressful.

Although most of the time I enjoy what I do, work is a big stressor in my life. I try to relax, usually unsuccessfully, over the weekend.

On Saturday morning I received a phone call from a parent of Alex’s friend saying that she wanted to come over with her husband and talk to us right away.

I could almost feel my ulcer burn. What now????

My psych eval (25 years later) part 7

Alissa would like to be close and affectionate with others but anticipates disillusionment from relationships. She lacks self-esteem and expects humiliation. Although she daydreams about what might be, her relations with others are sometimes passive-aggressive, causing others to view her as irritable and argumentative. Occasionally, she may attack others for their lack of support. In order to bind her anger, and to protect herself against isolation, she may become anxiously depressed and withdraw. Disposed to anticipate disillusionment, Alissa often behaves obstructively, and thereby incurs the disappointment she learned to expect. Feeling unjustly treated and misunderstood, Alissa acts in a touchy and negative manner.

Alissa is characteristically tense and edgy, however her apprehensiveness appears to achieve dysphoric levels that are sufficient to consider she is experiencing a clinical anxiety disorder. Ambivalent about her relationships, she struggles to restrain her resentments with partial success. The strain of isolation precipitates a variety of symptoms such as restlessness, distractibility, fatigue and insomnia, and stomachaches. Holding back her anger is stressful but discharging it is problematic in that it provokes others to react negatively towards her.

Wow, some of the things up to this point have not been very relevant to my current life. But these two paragraphs nailed it. This is totally me today. Although I no longer wrestle with low self-esteem or humiliation which I will attribute to how I was treated by my dad. My parents have always had what most would consider an unhealthy marriage. My dad was the king of passive-aggressiveness. I learned a lot from him. I am not here to blame him for my problems today, although I think I learned a lot of things that were unhealthy for my relationships.

I am tense, irritable, edgy, restless, argumentative, passive-aggressive, and angry. I am still like that this very moment of this very day. I find it very hard to express my feelings. Instead of expressing them, I do become withdrawn. I avoid. I walk away. I daydream sometimes that things are the way I want them to be so I don’t have to deal with my feelings. I stay busy so I don’t think about how I feel.

I don’t know how to express my anger in a healthy way towards others. Instead I lift weights or run marathons. I deal with it within myself and I avoid conflict with other people. But sometimes others need confrontation.

I’m afraid that if I express my anger over something I am rightfully angry about that others will be angry with me because I just don’t seem to do it right. I was taught that expressing anger and even feeling that way was wrong. I tend to be argumentative and passive-aggressive. Anger always has a way of seeping out.

But what do I do with this knowledge about myself? How do I unlearn something that is so ingrained in the foundation of who I am? Do I need to tear down my walls and start all over? Or is self-realization enough to better myself? Is this enough to keep growing, changing, and improving? I don’t know anymore… I still see myself stuck in some of the same patterns. But I am working on it. That will have to be good enough for now.

 

longevity

My daughter Arabella is currently taking health as a high school class. A week ago she had to take a longevity quiz and just for fun she asked Paul and I the questions as well.

Today I am sitting in the waiting room at the hospital waiting for Paul to complete an uncomfortable procedure that happens once a person reaches the magical age of 50. It gets one to think about life, and death.

At the beginning, I did very well on the longevity test. I smugly thought that I would be my family’s first centurion. I am doing a lot of things right. I eat my vegetables. I drink in moderation. I am not overweight or underweight. My parents are still alive. I take my vitamins. I go in for regular check ups. My cholesterol and blood pressure are low. I don’t smoke. I don’t do drugs.

Plus, I am a marathon runner. I mean, that should count for a lot more than exercising three times a week for a half an hour. Right??

I was feeling pretty good.

I am literally going to live forever. I probably won’t even die. I will be the only person to live forever without turning into a vampire first.

Then the questions took a bit of a negative turn…

Do you easily feel bored or depressed? Yes

Do you often feel stressed out? Yes

Do you always feel like you are in a hurry? Yes, yes, yes…

Do you listen to your body? No! When my body tells me to stop, my mind says push harder. Is that a problem??

Do you worry a lot? I am really starting to feel worried now.

My daughter said that according to the test, I am supposed to live to 85. Paul is supposed to live to 75 (with the average female living longer than the average male). So if her calculations are right, then I will outlive my husband by 16 years (he is 6 years older).

We’ll see…

The procedure went fine without any issues.

We might not know how long we will live (even after taking the health class longevity quiz and going in for procedures). But what we can do is try to make the most of the years we have been given.

 

 

The wedding of my best friend’s son

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There is a time in your life when you get invited to a lot of weddings. For a long period of time, that time was over for me.

Last year the last of my friends turned 40. Last year the first of my friends started turning 50.

It’s strange, I’m starting to get invited to weddings again. This time for my friend’s children. Ted turned 50 this last week and ended the week with his 25 year old son getting married.

Ted and Cindy are very excited that their son choose a wonderful partner to marry. I suppose as parents you couldn’t ask for more.

The wedding itself was held outdoors in a garden. It was a little stressful because it was supposed to rain. We could hear thunder in the distance all morning. I worried that perhaps I missed the call that the wedding would be moved elsewhere. We were in the boonies with limited cell phone reception. We brought umbrellas, but didn’t end up needing them.

Despite the forecast, the wedding went without a hitch unless you count the bride and groom. The ceremony itself was short and sweet. The longest part of the wedding was the procession with somewhere around 10 couples that stood up. The pastor was a newly ordained friend of the groom. There wasn’t a sermon. We didn’t sit long enough to shift around on the hay bales.

That evening at the reception hall, I felt a little old. I was tired. I felt rather mopey. Cindy was having a great time and dragged me out on the dance floor. I made a conscious effort to get out there and have fun. We were at a wedding, a grand celebration of love. I am a marathon runner for crying out loud. I can’t be sitting around watching the young folks dance.

I knew their son since he was little.

I really wasn’t expecting to feel nostalgic. I wasn’t expecting that I would need to hold back tears as the bride walked down the aisle with her dad. I wasn’t expecting to have watery eyes thinking about kids growing up and leaving. I wasn’t expecting to feel pensive and sad on a very happy day. Emotions can be funny that way…

I’m not ready for this.

This was the first wedding of a close friend’s child. I didn’t expect that it would be so emotional.

I love weddings…

 

Fortune cookie wisdom # 16

You will be unusually successful in business.

My husband Paul seems to get this fortune cookie every other time he gets Chinese food. My typical response is to laugh then throw the fortune away. It is true though. If Paul is a natural at anything, it’s business.

The strange thing is that I started to get this fortune. I don’t know if they made extra of these fortunes at the fortune cookie shop or what. Then I thought…why not write about it?? Maybe if I stop throwing the fortune away, I won’t get it over and over again and can get new ones. Hence more writing inspiration..

I don’t consider myself to be successful at business. I don’t come up with the ideas. I certainly don’t sell anything. I am more of the diligent working sidekick behind the scenes. I have been working with my husband somewhere around 10 years now.

This year we sold our successful start up business, but continue working as employees. We are planning on retiring in another 5 years and starting another business in an unrelated field. We both decided that we would go totally crazy if we didn’t have something to do with our time.

Paul just signed up to work on his captain’s license. We are planning on starting a sailing charter business. We’ve already had people approach us for sailing trips. This is not going to be a big lucrative money making business. It would be a hobby business.

Right now, it seems like I don’t have any time. When I am not working, I am cleaning my house, doing laundry, spending time with family, worrying, running, or blogging. If I am lucky, I can read a couple of books a year for fun or travel. Unfortunately, I have to be really selective with my free time. I have more things that I want to do than time to do them.

But in less than 3 years time, the kids will all be out of the house. In five years, I’ll retire. Maybe then I’ll have the time to do everything I want to do.

Maybe I will write a book, take a dance class, start working on genealogy again, do more traveling, write music, paint… The possibilities are endless..

The cabin in the woods

Things have been getting a little rough on here lately…so I’ll do what I always do after some rough posts…lighten things up a little.

One thing I am really thankful for is having some really good friends.

A couple months ago, Harv and Kate invited us over to talk about our trip to Thailand. But we never got to sit down and talk about it because they kidnapped us and took us to see a musical. They are adventurous and fun. Never mind that they are almost twice my age.

This time they invited us out to their rustic log cabin in the woods. Rustic as in no running water. No internet. No phone reception. We saw deer on the path on the long winding road in. It was a calm peaceful place that made me leave my worries behind.

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The first thing we did after getting the tour of their cabin was to take a ride out to their tree house for cheese and wine. It was very charming.

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Harv and Kate took the log cabin from another location and rebuilt it themselves. The cabin and shed looks like it came right off the set of Little House on the Prairie. I couldn’t believe how much work they put into it. It is unbelievably beautiful and I wish we could’ve stayed more than a few hours.

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They set up a charcoal grill on the porch to grill the venison from the deer that Kate shot from the tree house. The food they prepared for us was fantastic despite not having any modern conveniences.

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This is a sneak peak at the inside of the cabin.

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There is a little creek that runs nearby the cabin.

There is something very special about having old friends. They have been married longer than we have been alive and they have so much knowledge to share. They are eccentric, adventurous, and very happy to share their lives with each other. I hope that someday someone can say the same about Paul and I.

Vegas, part 2

I had a lot of time to myself with not a lot planned on this trip…which equates to having a lot of time to overthink and worry.

While I was in paradise, my 3 closest friends were at home suffering. My best friend Cindy was getting attacked for standing up for something she believes in. My friend Lisa lost her child in a car accident while I was gone. My friend Jen has terminal cancer.

It wasn’t as much fun in paradise alone worrying about things I couldn’t control. I’m not used to being alone, but I think I will have to start getting used to it.

I spent time alone at the pool and watched people. I saw the lifeguard pick his nose and riffle through his emergency bag in boredom. Did he think he was invisible?

There was a man who was alone listening to his music on a speaker over the music that was playing getting drunk with a bucket of beer. Out of character, I really liked a song he was playing and approached the man asking what the song was. I didn’t know it would result in a deep conversation about the meaning of life.

Why are you here? Have you ever questioned your existence? Do you believe in God? If God exists, why does he allow bad things to happen to good people? What are your thoughts on other religions? I’m still waiting on a sign that God is here…

It felt good to have a meaningful conversation. I left the pool as the man was ordering another bucket of beer.

I was feeling anxious again. It was all encompassing. I called home and my husband said that he was having a hard time and wished I was home. We just moved and put our old house on the market. Both of my children were leaving that weekend on separate trips. I was not going to be home to help them pack.

My son Alex is going on a music trip touring Europe. He called me that night. He just turned 18 last week and is a smoker. He is planning on taking his vape on the trip. He was worried it would be against the rules and regulations of the trip. I have extreme paranoia that he is going to be kicked off the trip for being a dumb ass. But he is 18 and can legally smoke if he wants to. Then he said when he gets back he is planning on working 3rd shift at the vape shop. My daredevil hell raiser son will be the death of me! I started praying awhile ago that he has a kid just like him someday. I feel bad because he always dates the sweetest girls.

My daughter Arabella is on a church youth group trip out of state. The day the kids left, the youth director resigned. She recently got divorced and moved in with her boyfriend. It is tearing up the church. Some people are taking the stand that it is not Biblical for the youth director to divorce her husband and move in with her boyfriend…others are saying that her private life is her own business.

The youth director made it sound like she was forced to resign. No one asked her to. My friend Cindy was the one that asked if marriage was not sacred in the church anymore. She asked how the youth leader was going to explain her new relationship status to the children she was leading. Cindy never called her to resign. Now everyone is attacking Cindy for questioning. They are calling her judgmental. They are calling her a hypocrite because she is divorced.

What most don’t know about Cindy is that her ex-husband started another family on the side while he was married to her. This is very painful for Cindy because she has children with her ex and wants them to view marriage as sacred with the backing of the church.

Why can’t my life and the lives of my loved ones be worry free???

Next time it will be more about Vegas, I promise..

Moral dilemma 3

We recently found out that our youth director at church moved in with her boyfriend. She divorced her husband a couple of months back and shortly thereafter moved in with her new boyfriend.

This has been tearing the church apart.

There are those that say it doesn’t matter what she does outside of her job. If she leaves, then this group will leave with her. There are others that say they don’t want the moral leader of their children showing them that it is okay to leave your husband and take on with another man. If she doesn’t resign from her position, another group will leave.

I am not judgmental or a prude, but I personally believe that the person who is getting paid with my tithe money should ascribe to the moral teachings of the church.

I personally do not care what two consenting adults decide to do in the bedroom, I don’t. I could care less about the living arrangements of my child’s math teacher. But they better be good at teaching math.

I wouldn’t expect a drug and alcohol counselor to be out getting drunk in the possible presence of clients. There are certain things that are expected when you take on certain job positions.

So the battle begins…the ripping and tearing starts.

I feel so torn. I really like our youth director. She is great with the kids. I even like the guy she is living with more than her husband. But that is beside the point. I can’t make decisions based on feelings.

To make matters worse, our choir director and organist recently resigned from their positions due to an unrelated matter. I have become close to the organist. She has been teaching my son how to play piano the last couple years. My son has always been a difficult teen to raise and she has been a very positive impact in his life. It pains me deeply to see her go.

Maybe it is time to find a new church home. It has gotten to the point where I don’t even want to go to church anymore. I feel so much sorrow over this.

If my children decide they want to be in a relationship, I want them to marry one person and stay married. I don’t want them to be like our youth director…several broken marriages with children from each marriage growing up in broken homes acting like everything is rosy living with a new guy.

Would I still love and accept my children even if they don’t live the life I want for them?? Absolutely, without a doubt!! I made the decision to raise my children Christian. It is not easy and I want a church that will back me up on this. Is that too much to ask?

I am not even opposed to people cohabiting, or am I? Last weekend Angel’s best friend from out of town came home with her live in boyfriend. They wanted to stay at our house for the night. I really struggled with what to do. My daughter Angel is an adult and today my son is an adult. I have a really hard time seeing my adult children and their friends as adults. To complicate things, Angel’s friend also belongs to our church. I told Angel that her friends were welcome to stay but I would be setting up separate sleeping arrangements for them.

Would I respond differently if the adults living together were my age? Would I respond differently if I didn’t still have a child in my house watching every decision I make and using that as a moral compass?

Honestly, I really don’t care what other people decide to do. It is no concern of mine. But if that person is tasked with the paid position of teaching my children Christian morals, I feel really uncomfortable with that person not practicing what they preach.

Is nothing sacred anymore, even within the church??

Fortune cookie wisdom #6

Advice comes in all forms; some help you and some hurt you.

My husband received this fortune cookie over the weekend. He wouldn’t let me read it and teased me about it for hours until I started giving him advice. **Please note that I said hours before the unsolicited advice arrived.** Once I started giving him advice, he handed over the fortune cookie laughing. He knows how much I love giving advice.

I am good at giving unsolicited advice. Turn in your homework. Get good grades. Drive carefully. Be sure to turn off the lights when you leave the room. Should you be eating ice cream before supper? You will find things easier if you clean your room.

Hey, sometimes people even ask me for advice. Notice that my friend Cindy asked me, instead of her husband, to help her pick out a dress for her son’s wedding.

Now before I start a ‘Dear Alissa’ blog, I’m going to tell you something shocking. There was a time in my life when I didn’t give good advice.

Well there goes my opportunity to make $$ reading two paragraphs of someone’s life and telling them in one paragraph to trust their gut instinct or follow their heart. Damn, I really wrecked that for myself by coming clean with you.

It happened a long time ago back when I was in college. There wasn’t a way to get advice online, so we actually had to rely upon the opinions of real people.

One of my best friends from high school and roommate, Mary, asked me for some advice. She was dating a guy that dropped out of high school and was threatened by her going to college. He had no money and couldn’t hold a job for long. He slept on a dirty mattress (without bedding) on the floor in someone else’s house. His hobbies included drinking and doing drugs.

Now Mary wanted to get married to this guy. Her parents and family advised her not to. She asked me what I thought she should do…Do you love him?? What could possibly go wrong? I mean, love is all you need. Right??!?

Several years down the road, Mary had dropped out of college and worked several jobs to help support her 3 kids because her husband didn’t have a job. She lived in a house that later became condemned. Her daughter had health problems because of the lead paint on the walls. Her husband still had his hobbies of drinking and drugs. He had no interest at all in being a family man.

Not surprisingly, the marriage ended in divorce.

I wish I could’ve given Mary the advice I would’ve given her now. Stay in college. That guy is a loser and is no good for you. You can do better than that.

I wish I had the knowledge and experience then that I have now.

So, here I sit sequestered to a life of giving my family unsolicited advice that they probably won’t heed. But at least most of it is good advice.