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Okie dokie, so it’s been just over a month since my last post and I’m not even sure what I’ve blogged about and what I haven’t…  I’ll start with this – I’M DOING GREAT!

I’m not trying to say my life is perfect because it isn’t, but everything is soooo much better, wow!  A little recap:  I lost my job in the beginning of September, was denied unemployment, started beauty school in the middle of September, my car blew up, my appeal for unemployment was successful and I received everything I was owed from the day I lost my job forward, started a full-time job with great benefits in the middle of November, going to school part-time before I go to work, we had friends over for Thanksgiving and this is my last week of orientation at the new job.  Whew!

On top of all that I am completely off all prescription medication – no sleeping pills, no anti-depressants and no anti-anxiety medication anymore for this girl!  Also – no more counseling or psychiatrist visits!  Life has done a one-eighty for me, the only downside being that I have gained 14 pounds since I started my new job almost 5 weeks ago, ugh…

Financially things are still pretty hairy, we’re recovering from six weeks of only one income so all of our monthly bills are behind – including our mortgage which is 3 months past due – and we actually had to open bank accounts somewhere else because we were so far overdrawn in all our accounts…  😦  So, yeah, life is still kind of scary at times when it comes to money BUT I know it’s going to work out and be OK.  I get my second paycheck from the new job this week and the biggest challenge will be sticking to our budget while at the same time trying to entertain my husband’s parents for a week or so during Christmas.  Gotta love family, eh?

My girls seem to be getting along quite nicely, which is fabulous.  My husband got a second job delivering pizzas on the weekends which has been a great source of pocket cash for extra expenses and I’m very proud of him for working so hard for us.

Speaking of “us”, he and I have been steadily improving too.  Last February I gave him an ultimatum and two months to kick his addiction to pornography and get his act together.  I have to say that I honestly did not expect him to pull it off.  I thought that I would be well on my way to being single by now but he really surprised me.  The amount of effort he has put into saving our marriage and becoming a better human being, man, father and husband has truly shocked me, it really has.  I’m so very impressed and wish I had stood up for myself a long time ago, although it may not have had the same results 10 years ago as it did this last year…

And while words can’t really express how pleased and proud of him I am, now we get to the storm cloud of my silver lining – because nobody’s life can be all rainbows and unicorns, eh?  I’ve recently discovered that now my heart has some changing to do.  It was very unflattering to discover exactly how much of me wanted my husband to fail so I could finally get a divorce – be free! – and it would be his fault.  I think (now) that has been the biggest reason I never left, it couldn’t be my fault that my marriage didn’t work.  Twisted logic, I know, but consider my upbringing:  My mom left my dad when I was in grade school and I never thought she should have, I always believed their marriage could have been saved if she had tried harder and the things I learned after I became an adult only supported that belief – making the divorce her fault – and I have done everything I could think of to be as little like my mom as possible.

I think God used my faulty reasoning for good.  If I had left when I “should have”, according to some people, none of this would have happened.  My husband wouldn’t be a nice guy now.  My children wouldn’t have this fun-filled relationship with their father, full of teasing, smiles and laughter and none of us would have experienced how completely God can change a life.  There are still some days that aren’t great but those days are much fewer and farther between than they were even just a year ago.  I KNOW that everything is going to be OK now!

So all in all I am ecstatic to be off my medications…  I’m thrilled with my school and new job…  I am excited about my children’s improved relationship with each other…  I am in shock and awe of the “new man” I have for a husband…  I’m a little nervous about our finances…  and I am trusting in God to complete the work He started.

I think this is a good place to end a year and begin a new one.

OK, so maybe it started in August and ran over a bit into October…  Here’s the rundown, and my apologies for not having blogged for so long but I think you’ll understand:

August 27th – I turn 40.  (Not entirely bad news, it’s just a number, right?)

August 30th – Our washer and dryer died.

September 1st – Our hot water heater caught on fire and needed replacing.

September 4th – I lost my job and signed up for unemployment.

September 9th – We are not eligible for food stamps.

September 13th – GOOD NEWS!   I signed up to attend a beauty school’s Nail Technician program with my husband’s somewhat skeptical blessing.  I’m tired of the office life!  I have wanted to be a Nail Technician since I was in my early 20’s but the money and the time to go to beauty school never made it to my house at the same time so to make money I did what I was best at, answering phones and office work… for 20 years…  and now the opportunity of a lifetime, a miracle has come my way!

 September 16th – MORE ABOUT THE SAME GOOD NEWS!  My first day “back to school” and it was soooo weird after over 20 years.  I brought my paper, pen and pencil and I was so excited that my girls made fun of me and I didn’t care a bit!   I should graduate sometime in January of 2014 so it’s roughly four-and-a-half months and almost every day so far has flown by – I go home feeling like I had FUN at school, I really love what I’m learning!

 September 20th – My unemployment claim was denied.  (I am appealing it.)

September 21st – Our oldest daughter turned 18 and we had this HUGE party planned for over 3 months with 10 people invited… guess who spent money, lots and lots of money, that we didn’t have?

September 24th – I lost my phone.

October 2nd – My car died.  Dead.  Seized engine dead.  Over-sized paper-weight dead.  Tacky Red Neck Lawn Art Dead.  Walk to school and be late and then wonder how I’m going to get home dead.  Dead dead.

You know, sometimes so many bad things happen in such a short amount of time that all you can do is sit back and giggle hysterically.  That’s pretty much where I’ve been.  To tell the truth I’m kind of sitting back wondering what else could go wrong and thinking I might want to grab a soda and popcorn to watch the next disaster go down…

But in spite of all that something really good that has happened through all this.  I’m actually  very happy right now, strangely happy right now given all the above circumstances.  I don’t think I need my depression pills any more kind of happy, weird huh?  Somehow, for the first time since I was a child I 100% believe that God is fully in control and everything is going to be OK.  Not Never-Going-To-Have-Another-Problem-For-The-Rest-Of-My-Life-OK but All-My-Needs-Will-Be-Met-And-Taken-Care-Of-OK.  I actually have more peace and trust in God more now than I did when I had my job and was making good money!  Have you ever heard “Blessings” by Laura Story?  I feel like I’m living it…  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1CSVqHcdhXQ  I KNOW everything is going to be OK and I haven’t felt that way for a long time.  I guess if this is what it took to get me to this amazing, emotionally stable place then I wish it would have happened earlier!

What my life looks like now:
I’m looking for a job I can do after school and on weekends.
I’m trying to get my Pampered Chef business to make us some money.  (I had two shows last month, whoo hoo!)
I’m wondering how I’m going to make up the two house payments and numerous utility bills that we’re behind on.
I’m driving the car my nearby best friend is selling me on payments.
I found a cheaper phone plan and my entire family has new phone numbers <aggravating> so now I don’t have to find my other phone, lol!
We replaced the washer and dryer with used ones but unfortunately had to buy a new hot water heater.
Starting next week I’ll be ready to give manicures and pedicures to paying customers at school now so hopefully I will start getting tips!

Life is life.  God is God.  God is bigger than Life.  Life is going to be OK.   🙂

Last week I overheard a lady on the bus say:  “It’s terrible, there’s no shadows on the ground from the sun, it’s just terrible!”

She seriously sounded like the world was going to end if the shadows didn’t come back so I, of course, quickly glanced out of the bus window and was able to see the shadow of the bus on the sidewalk…  Whew!  That was close!  To be fair it was a really faint shadow because of the smoggy atmosphere but the shadow was most definitely there so I don’t think she had very  good eyesight.  But like many of the tangents in my life it made me think…

A shadow is essentially proof, in darkness, that something is standing against the light, blocking it from reaching the surface.  Shadows can be very dark or very faint, depending on your light source and the opacity of the object causing the shadow… and, apparently, your eyesight.

A shadow is not good or evil in and of itself, it’s all in how you perceive it.  Some examples are:  The lady on the bus viewed the absence of shadows as something terrible and unnatural, scary even but people under trees in the middle of a hot summer view shadows as a blessing.  At night, when a statue is lit from the bottom the shadows make the face look very creepy and it becomes a wonderful place to sit and tell ghost stories.  When that same statue is lit from the top it appears normal and your ghost stories have less umph.  Walking from bright light to deep shadows can be unnerving because you can’t see anything until your eyes adjust whereas going from deep shadows to bright light is usually quite nice.  Your perspective changes everything, eh?

My musings turned me towards wondering – where the shadows are in my life?  What bad habits are standing up, against the light and causing a shadow on my surface?  Where am I dark?  Is the darkness OK?  Am I providing people shade or scaring them with my shadows?  What I am using for my light source?

For me personally my light source should be my Bible because it is the standard of my faith and I believe it is the written word of God.  “Should” obviously implies that it isn’t… not really.

I had to apologize to God this morning because I haven’t been a very faithful follower of His for the last few years…  I allowed my circumstances, my bad shadows, to drag me down and I’ve just kind of stayed there for quite a while, having elaborate pity parties and pushing away the people who love me.  I’m trying to change but definitely can’t do it by myself, I need God’s help!  Thankfully His mercies are new every morning…

Next weekend, for my 40th birthday, I’m going out-of-town on a trip with my two best friends, (who are finally going to get to spend some time together, whoo hoo!) and I’m just going to bask in the shade of our girlfriend-ness.  We are all believers but my friend from high school has a very strong faith and I really need that encouragement, that renewing right now.  I’m ready to start my relationship with God over and want their support.  I need to reach back to the people at my church who have reached out to me and try to start over.  It’s time to come out of the bad shadows and make a new beginning!

It’s official, I am now seeing a Psychiatrist.    They’re very kind and call their facility a “Mental Wellness Center” but still… I’ve entered into the Needs-Seriously-Professional-Help Level of Mental Illness now and I’ll be seeing a Counselor once a week and a Psychiatrist once a month.  Apparently the Psychiatrist will make sure my medications are appropriate for my situation and the Counselor can help me deal with my stress.  I’m telling my boss that my appointments are with a “Stress Management Specialist” and a “Medication Specialist”, ha, ha…

I had an hour and a half appointment with my counselor, a much more thorough session than I’ve had with any of my other counselors and even though it was an evaluation she seemed to pick up on what was important to me and what topics would be good to pursue in future appointments.  The week after that I had an hour appointment with my psychiastrist and she asked me many of the same questions – without looking at the counselor’s notes – so they could see if they both got the same or similar diagnosis after the evaluation.  They did.  While I didn’t recive any “official” diagnosis at the end of my appointment with the psychiastrist she did say that she agreed with the counselor on my being depressed and having General Anxiety Disorder.  The counselor said I am Hyper-Sensitive to Criticism (true) and the psychiatrist thinks I am borderline Bi-Polar II.

I have to say I’m somewhat relieved.  Half the battle is knowing the name of your enemy.

The psychiatrist also said there is no pill to fix my stress (I knew that…) but that the counselor would be teaching me coping techniques to deal with it more effectively.  And speaking of pills my “Medication Specialist” drastically changed my meds.  She upped my anti-depressant, ix-nayed the Xanax completely, and cut my other anti-anxiety in half with an eye towards quitting it completely.  and the psychiatrist is leaving my sleep med the same, which is a real bummer because my regular doctor had cut my sleeping med down from 10 mgs to 5 so I haven’t been sleeping well for most of a month… I was really hoping for a change in sleep meds.

After giving my boss an update from my Specialist visits he has extended my Performance Improvement Plan until the end of August because “of the efforts I am making to ascertain whether or not a reasonable accommodation is necessary” (to do my job because of my health/stress issues) so now I don’t have to worry about whether or not I’ll be fired any second now – at least for another three or four weeks.  Whoo hoo?

Today I’m feeling exhausted but OK, which has been the norm for the last three-ish weeks.  I am doing my job as best I can and I feel like I’m making less mistakes and improving my speed.  We’ll see how August goes and what they say on my evaluation.  My birthday is at the end of August, hopefully I don’t get fired as a birthday present…

The psychiatrist also said “Maybe this isn’t the job for you”.  (I didn’t tell my boss about that part.)  Maybe she’s right but at the moment all I want to do is go home and sleep – not get another job – and sleeping won’t pay the bills.    At any rate, I’ll keep my eyes open.  This job has excellent benefits and great pay but if I’m sacrificing my health then I’d be better off being a greeter at Walmart eh?

  I go back to the counselor tomorrow and once a week for the rest of August and I’ll see the psychiatrist at the beginning of September.  I have to say that after a week of the new med dosing I am feeling better emotionally, although still tired physically, and overall my mental state is much more positive, yay!  Now let’s see if I can stay on top of my work and not make any mistakes until my review at the end of August…