Archive for the Life Category

The year in books

I thought I would list out the books I read this year and comment on each of them. I am writing this intro after the fact and realizing that perhaps I should keep a reading journal because I’ll read a book and forget what I read. Absent from this list are 6 daily meditation books, and no I don’t read all 6 every day. Just 4 of them.

1. The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous

Since I’ve already outed myself as an alcoholic… Funny story, though. This past Sunday after church, I was having a problem unlocking all the doors of the car and so the hubby spent a few seconds waiting on me. He noticed my big book laying in the back seat for everyone to see and said, “Well, that’s bold.” And it’s still laying there in my back seat for the world to see.

2. Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions

I read through it, and then when I actually started working the steps, I went through the twelve steps portion again.

3. Jesus + Nothing = Everything

I think it was Chapter 11 that really clicked for me.

4. Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts

I had some serious trust issues.

5. Running Scared: Fear, Worry, and the God of Rest

I don’t remember much, but I remember ordering a copy for Petra. I also remember it stepping on my toes over something.

6. A Place of Healing: Wrestling with the Mysteries of Suffering, Pain, and God’s Sovereignty

I read Joni’s autobiography when I was a kid probably 12. This one made no less of an impact.

7. The Pastor’s Kid: Finding Your Own Faith and Identity

This explained so much about part of why I am the way I am. Because really, there isn’t much difference between a pastor’s kid and a deacon’s kid.

8. Glorious Ruin: How Suffering Sets You Free

This really spoke to me about my idols and addiction.

9. Drop The Rock: Removing Character Defects – Steps Six and Seven

This book was a gift to me. A wonderful gift.

10. The Hunter’s Blades Collector’s Edition

I finally finished the 3rd book. It left me hanging.

11. Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself

I had read this several years ago, but I don’t think it sunk in the first time. It was as if I had never read it, but it might be that I was just reading with different eyes this time having actually been in 12 step recovery. Unlike the first time.

12. Orange Is the New Black

So Petra added me to a book club that she and Andrea created on Facebook. This was the second book. I didn’t even attempt the first one as I had zero interest. But, this was pretty good.

13. Adult Children of Alcoholics: Expanded Edition

Either late last year or early this year I got a meditation book at Al-Anon that is really geared more toward adult children of alcoholics. As I read the daily meditations, I thought, “My dad acted just like an alcoholic.” Only he didn’t drink. He tried when he was young, but he said it didn’t do for him what he wanted it to. Anyway, I have all the characteristics of an adult child because my home growing up was every bit as dysfunctional as if there was an active alcoholic in it.

14. Shame Interrupted: How God Lifts the Pain of Worthlessness and Rejection

I just finished this last night, and I read 3 books between starting and finishing this.

I have no reading goals for next year, though I would like to finally finish the ones I have started. We’ll see.

Wrapping up

This has been quite a year. I did not even accomplish half of my goals for the year. Life got crazy! For most of the year I was not only the only one in this house with a job, but the only one with a driver’s license. That wore me out and sucked up a large amount of vacation/sick time. But Jamie finally got her driver’s license, so the pressure is off to be everyone’s chauffeur. Oh, and we also only had 1 vehicle for much of the year, so I was still on the hook until we got another car.

I got my nose pierced. And I want to get my eyebrow pierced now. I also want a couple of tattoos, but that won’t happen until Petra gets inked.

My mom had a mini stroke. Adding that into the Alzheimer’s mix, she now has 3 distinct personalities. 1, she is still Mom, but has trouble saying the right words. She knows who you are, but can’t say your name. That’s the stroke effect. 2, she is still Mom, but she has no idea who people are. Thanksgiving, she would forget who the kids were, and thought I was Aunt Pearl. That’s the Alzheimer’s. It’s sad, but expected and fairly easy to deal with because she retains that same kind and loving personality of my Mom. But then there is that 3rd one – the paranoid delusional one. This one knows who I am, but thinks people are out to get her. This one infuriates me because she is nothing like my mom. Intellectually I know this is another aspect of the Alzheimer’s, but emotional detachment is not so easy.

The contract I worked on ended, and we switched to a new one with a new company. I got a 4 week paid staycation out of it which was great for the first 2 weeks. Those last 2 weeks, I was calling the security office nearly every day asking if my stuff had transferred so I could go back to work. And the first week back, I filled in as site lead while the site lead was on vacation. 4 weeks of nothing and then a week of everything because I was the only one left with working accounts. I still don’t want to be site lead. Oh, and I took a 10% pay cut. It hurts. But I love my co-workers.

I was forced to admit that I’m an alcoholic. By forced, I mean I was told I needed to quit for a while and I couldn’t. For those who don’t already know. Assuming more than 3 or 4 people read this blog anymore. Once I did the 3rd step, I realized I essentially rededicated my life to Jesus, and decided to get rebaptized as a matter of owning my faith as my own. And I am 11 months sober. One day at a time.

Throughout the year while working on my recovery through therapy, and through a 12-step program (which a LOT of people could really use), I have learned a lot about myself, and have come to terms and dealt with issues that I had never dealt with. I have grieved, and I have forgiven. I have learned to accept responsibility for my actions and reactions, and how to ask for forgiveness. And I’ve learned a few things along the way.

1. Life is more peaceful when you cease to be a victim/martyr.

2. Other people are responsible for their own choices and therefore their own consequences.

3. Life isn’t meant to be lived in isolation.

4. Trying to live up to a manufactured facade of other people’s expectations (real or perceived) will drive you insane.

5. It is okay to feel. Emotions are God-given. But let them be indicators and means of healing rather than living by them. Life isn’t sunshine and roses. You take the good, you take the bad.

Getting back

You’ve heard for years “You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.” I learned something recently. Sometimes you don’t know what you lost until you get it back. I was at Hobby Lobby a few weeks ago with my daughter. She was taking entirely too long (from my perspective) to pick out yarn, so I was just kind of wandering around. I was in the art section, and looking at paint thinking how much I enjoyed painting when I was a teenager. It fell to the wayside once I made several new friends that I was hanging out with a lot, and definitely once I got a guitar. But as I was standing there, I decided that maybe I would dabble in painting again. I certainly never was (and still am not) good at drawing. I’m not being overly critical of myself in that area. I got somewhat better at drawing through drafting, and doing rough sketching, but that came from actual training. And it’s all really simple stuff too like a really basic bookshelf or table. Painting was different though. I think I had a fair amount of talent that would have improved over time. Had I pursued it, that is.

I really didn’t give much more thought to that, but I did buy some paper and watercolor thinking I would like to give it another go. I haven’t done anything with it, but the desire is there. And maybe it won’t end up like that drawer full of jewelry making items that I stopped messing with. I do have a tendency to attempt things and then lose interest. Case in point, crochet, knitting, and that sewing machine that hasn’t seen use in years. My daughter picked up and took off with crocheting, and is way better than I am. I found knitting much easier, but I may be a bit too ADD for all the stitch counting and trying to remember whether or not I’m doing a purl stitch in the middle of a row.

A couple weeks ago, I had the urge to write poetry. Like painting, I haven’t dabbled with that since I was a teenager. The thought of actually finding my old dabblings half terrifies me, but again, it’s another thing that just fell to the wayside. At the time, it was my way of working through a loss. I suppose my blogging over the years has had the same sort of therapeutic purpose, though the really deep and painful things go in my paper and ink journal. But much of that I did either semi-superficially (the blog) or sporadically (the journal) when things got really crazy in my life.

Now I have been known to overdramatize to an extent some of what I write. It’s a gift. ;) My poetry epiphany, though, isn’t. It was a dramatic realization that I have something back that I had lost though my years of self-medicating – my dreams. I described it to my therapist this way, “I feel like a teenager again without all the teenager crap.” That little bit of ideological wonder that I had before I started numbing and turning cynical.

It’s like I have myself back – the self I didn’t allow myself to have, or allowed to have. The child I couldn’t be when I was a child.

Veteran’s Day #NaBloPoMo

I hated formations. I would do everything I could to get out of a formation. When I couldn’t, I was generally irritable and borderline (if not outright) belligerent. I knew there was some real work I could be doing rather than standing until my toes went numb. There was one when I was overseas that pissed me off to no end because while it was done with good intentions, the execution had the opposite effect. Because really, who wants to get up on the 4th of July and go stand in formation in order to improve patriotism. In “peacetime.” Having a lack of respect for a authority (which is not one of my good character traits), I pushed the envelope for that one. I dug out the worst uniform I owned which was one of my initial issued ones from basic, which I had worn at my first duty assignment. The pants were more faded than the shirt because that was one of the distinguishing marks of working in a combat comm unit in Oklahoma. You spent a lot of time outdoors in the heat with the BDU blouse off in just a tshirt. I found the worst looking BDU hat to wear, and probably found some mud to wade through and stick to my boots. Several of us carpooled, and so SSgt Nemec had 2 specialists and a senior airmen with her. I went all out to be a good role model. ;) When we got ready to leave, our division superintendent and commander were standing right in front of my car having a conversation. I said something like, “Hey y’all. Watch this!” I popped in a CD, skipped to the song I wanted, cranked up the volume, and blasted Fortunate Son. Despite that boldness, I was too scared to look as was Darrel and Val. But Emily looked, and gave a great description of the reaction. The commander pretended nothing was happening, but the superintendent’s jaw dropped in complete disbelief. Score! But, after all that, all of us disgruntled soldiers and airmen went to Pop Bellies for breakfast which made getting up worthwhile.

Fast forward a year later, and I still hate formations. And we all got tagged with one we couldn’t get out of. By all, I mean the entire organization, just like the 4th of July one. Only it was a workday, but a Friday, and this one required service dress/class A’s. Darrel managed to break something, so he had to stay and fix it while the rest of us dutifully gaggled up in front of headquarters. Now the occasion for this one was this. Every year the 303rd Bombardment Group who were based at RAF Molesworth during World War II would travel back to the UK for a reunion. That year was going to be their last reunion since it was so much harder for them to travel at their age. So the powers that be decided the JAC should greet them as they arrived. I was tired of standing long before they finally arrived. Let me tell you, I was not prepared for what I was about to be a part of. Yes, my uniform was sharp because I didn’t have crappy looking blues. My shoes were clean and shiny. And I snapped to attention and a sharp salute. What I wasn’t prepared for though was what I was about to see. I don’t know how many cars and buses drove through us. I have no idea how many WWII vets were in them. But there were a LOT, and I don’t think there was a dry eye among them. I know my eyes were leaking. I was filled with such pride to be able to honor those men – the heroes who made it. It was so humbling to watch those tear-filled men salute us back, and I was and still am so glad I didn’t get out of that one.

303Grifn

Because of that one, I didn’t balk at going to the Memorial Day service the following year at Cambridge American Cemetery. Talk about another humbling experience. To walk among so many men who didn’t make it back. Utterly heartbreaking.

Pict0028[1]

Pict0038[1]

Today I specifically want to remember family members who served before and with me. I don’t think there was a war since our countries founding that I didn’t have an ancestor serving in. Unfortunately, I can only put names to those since WWII. I have multiple uncles, cousins, in-laws, and a niece who have served in each branch. It’s great that my husband and I are among so many veterans among our families.

Hitting the wall again #NaBloPoMo

I ran into a friend at Starbucks last week. “You look tired.” Well, at least I looked like I felt. It was another one of those days that the alarm went off and I thought there was no way I would be able to get up. But I did, after only hitting snooze once, and was even a little bit early to work. Would have been earlier had I not had the conversation in Starbucks. I think I told her, “I need a wife.” But really what I need is another licensed driver and a second vehicle, and that won’t happen until after Thanksgiving. Next day a co-worker told me I looked like crap. Again, I looked like I felt.

Pretty sure I am burnt out. I’ve been burning the candle at both ends for a long time. It’s caught up with me. I wake up as tired as I go to bed. It’s like I’ve hit the wall.

I did something I didn’t want to do and stepped down from the worship team at church for a while. I didn’t give a time frame, but right now I am thinking a couple of months. I’m counting on Jamie getting her license and giving her Mom’s car to drive to take some of the pressure off of me to take everybody everywhere. At the very least, she will be able to take herself to her appointments. That will be less time I have to take off from work which means less time I have to make up at work since I am in the hole for leave and will be close to the max I can go in the hole after Thanksgiving. Anyway, back to the worship team, it’s not like it is really that big of a commitment. I was only doing a couple Sundays a month. But, over the past 3 or 4 months, I haven’t had the time nor the energy to put in the practice time I needed to. In turn, as much as I LOVE playing and singing with the band, I felt unprepared. And the last couple Sundays I played I couldn’t even keep the songs straight. Especially that last Sunday. Losing my place in a song is one thing. Playing the wrong song is a whole different thing.

I am mentally exhausted, I am emotionally exhausted, and I am physically exhausted. Perfectionism has run me into the ground. Thinking I have to know everything, do everything, and be perfect at it has beat me. That constant feeling of not being “good enough” or “strong enough” or “doing enough” has had a heavy toll.

And then it broke #NaBloPoMo

And then my quest to blog every day of November got squashed when I couldn’t log into my blog. By that I mean I couldn’t get to the admin site at all. I had to go into my hosting, rename the plugins folder which disabled all plugins, and that let me back in where I then reactivated my plugins one by one. It felt like work. Who knows which plugin shut me out.

Election day is over and thankfully I don’t have to hear any more campaign ads. I got so sick of them.

Amber only has 2 kittens left from litter #2. Our pet cemetery is filling up.

Ain’t feelin’ it #NaBloPoMo

I don’t feel like writing anything. I’m tired, I feel like crap, and I’m pretty sure it’s ebola because I’m not pregnant. And that is why you don’t Google your symptoms. I would say it’s the flu if I actually had fever. Working was difficult today. With an install team there on a system I’ve been identified as the backup admin for, I had to actually pay attention and do stuff. And a class kicked off today too, and I had to do some stuff for that. Not much, but at one point I was doing something install related when I got handed a list of students to check for accounts, and then the phone rang. In fact, my phone rang a lot today. It was crazy. Anyway, I nearly shut down at that point, but my coffee combined with a lack of food had me going full speed.

And I couldn’t find my debit card this morning. That’s the way to start a Monday off right when you discover it’s missing as you are trying to check out at Walmart. I found it later. In.My.Purse.

I don’t even know why I can’t seem to relax. I don’t feel stressed, at least not emotionally. I did snap at the hubby earlier, but I didn’t want to hear a bunch of bitching over and over about the same thing. That may be because I’m still a little irked over something he said yesterday while he was hangry.

On a good note, I don’t have any appointments this week. Yay! I mean, I have rehearsal Thursday night, but it doesn’t really feel like work when I’m doing something I love. Not that I don’t like my job, and my chiropractor, and my therapist. But talking about feelings is really hard, driving to Cary for chiro sucks after a full day of work (actually, it’s the drive home from Cary that sucks so bad), and 8-9 hours of working is, well, work. 3 hours of playing guitar and singing is fun.

I got some watercolor paint over the weekend. Something I haven’t dabbled in since high school. Would like to try my hand at it again.

Not earned #NaBloPoMo

I do a lot of reading. I was thinking about how many books I have read this year, and then I checked my Goodreads account, and maybe not so much. I’ve started a lot of books in the last 5 years, mostly non-fiction. Many of those didn’t get finished because I would just lose interest. I decided a couple weeks or so ago that I would not start another book until I finished the last book of R.A. Salvatore’s Hunter’s Blades Trilogy. Seriously, I’ve been reading The Two Swords for like 3 years. It’s time to finish. So I did finish it. And it didn’t wrap everything up so I now have to find the next book(s) in the series. Ugh! Or I could just tell myself that I killed King Obould Many Arrows in Neverwinter Nights and call that closure. ;)

The nonfiction I’ve read has been mostly Christian living books and most of those I have come to view as how-to books though that is probably not the intent of the authors. So many of them left me feeling even more that I don’t measure up. Less worthy and more unlovable. Totally inadequate. I had fallen again into thinking that I had to do a bunch of right things to be worthy of God’s love. The false gospel of salvation by works.

It is kind of ironic that while I grew up in church that I really started to learn about who God really is through recovery from alcoholism. In church I learned how to feel perpetual guilt and shame. I learned through addiction that I could numb and ignore my feelings. I made alcohol my higher power. In recovery I am learning that God really is the Higher Power I really need.

I have heard several well meaning Christians over the years say something to the effect of “Just believe in Jesus and your life will be great.” That’s just a subtle form of prosperity gospel which is not the Gospel. I can also tell you that there is a world of difference between being freed FROM sin and being freed OF sin. Salvation does not free you of sin. You are still going to sin. You won’t be perfect no matter how well-dressed and well-spoken you are when you go to church. And if you have a potty mouth, you’re going to say “shit” at church no matter if you’re 18 or 41. Or that might just be me. ;-) The point is, keeping up an outward appearance of holiness is such a deadly façade. It is completely deadly to nonbelievers who consider us hypocrites. Which, by the way, we are because we don’t live up to our own standards if we are truly and completely honest.

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

I’m going to try a little something #NaBloPoMo

Since I didn’t blog at all in October (I did do a lot of journaling), I thought I would give NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) at try and see if I can actually blog every single day in November. And to start it off, I’m going to recap October – mostly in pictures. ;)

My therapist told me I needed to get away an chill out because I was winding down September about to breakdown. So I spent the first weekend in October in and around Wilmington because what better way to chill out than on the beach!

Beach therapy. #beach #sand #ocean #sun

A photo posted by Martha (@dragonlady42) on

I hit a small beach at Ft Fisher, and there was hardly anyone down there but fishermen. That was fine as I wasn’t going in the water anyway because the red devil went with me to the beach. It was a good chance to relax, and had a friend tell me when I got back that I looked at lot better than I did before I left. I really enjoyed doing what I wanted when I wanted. I even enjoyed getting sunburned in October.

Um, ouch. #burn #worthit #yesiaminpajamasat5pm

A photo posted by Martha (@dragonlady42) on

Then I got called out by my daughter’s therapist for my avoidance, and after making a remark to Petra, she told me I needed to call my sponsor. Of course I didn’t. ;) But, I did make a plan to stop avoiding and had a family meeting and made Jamie get her learner’s permit.

IMG_3250

She also started crocheting again and I took this hat.

IMG_3252

Looks like I’m wearing my thug eyes.

I’ll finish this off with Halloween. Chad was the Ultimate Warrior, and I failed to get a picture of him. Jamie was an Adventure Time character, but since I didn’t get a shot of Chad, I won’t post that one. I, however, decided to go as Stevie Nicks. The $6 Walmart wig doesn’t really capture her hair in any era, but the witch dress kind of hearkened back to the White Album/Rumours era when combined with the top hat.

IMG_3262

Warner Bros Records

Warner Bros Records

Ok, perhaps I didn’t pull it off. Oh, well. People just thought I was a witch, and that’s ok. One of the baristas asked me where my broomstick was. Haha! 12 hours was way too long to wear a wig and I had a splitting headache by the time I got home.

There was a lot in between the beach trip and Halloween, but that all went into my journal. And therapy sessions.

So we will see if I can pull off this whole blog post a day thing in November.

New babies

Since I haven’t been able to motivate myself to actually write anything, here are some cat pictures since Amber hatched again over the weekend.

Newborns:

She had one more after that:

And her remaining 2 from first litter just because: