Heya, Monster.

A SoberBlog by a TallWoman.

2016 Word in Review.

Ah, what a full, full, incredibly full year it has been. Of course there are the memes and the constant barrage of Facebook notices (I’m not hip enough to be on Instagram – not yet anyway (*smile*)) decrying the sad losses of so many artists who have been nearest and dearest to us. As a US citizen, it has also been an incredibly full and turbulent year in our government. No matter your political leanings, we have been through the ringer as a country. And on a personal level, with the exception of parenthood and sobriety, I have gone through the biggest, seismic shift of my adult life, which was losing my job at a school I loved with all my heart, to finding a new position in a new school, and adjusting. Adjusting to so much – place, people, history, the way things were versus the way things are now. … Oh! And I almost forgot. I hit my first year of sobriety on June 9, 2016 and commemorated the totally tubular event with my first ever, honest-to-goodness tattoo.

Man.

2016, you have had a lot goin’ on with your bad self.

And the word that led me through all of these many ups and downs?

kindness

Such a simple, simple word, and yet? So profound.

Originally, I had chosen the word in order to be aware of the need to be kind to myself. Being someone with a need to please, as well as a good dose of perfectionism, and trying to juggle more than I should – and all of that done, until very recently, with a hangover the size of the Northern Hemisphere…. It was pretty rough going for a long, long while. I needed something, some word to anchor me and to remind me, ‘Oh, yeah. Look out for yourself.’ Throughout this year, I found myself saying “No” more times than I have in the past (Maybe 10? Still! A good start.), and I often took time to relax or, especially, to savor moments with my family, rather than thinking about all the things I should be doing. I found the word grounded me in the important things – my babes, my hubs, my immediate family, my friends – in ways that I don’t know I’ve really been able to appreciate until now. Of course, much of the enjoyment had to do with being present rather than drunk. There is that fact. But still. The reminder to be kind to myself really gave me the gift of my People again. And for that, I am incredibly grateful.

In terms of the year itself, I will echo many similar sentiments that 2016 was not, in and of itself, a very kind year.

However.

The pain and loss I felt in the process of losing my job and then finding and transitioning to a new one was constantly led by ‘Kindness’ at the helm. Truly. The people around me were full of generosity, compassion, support, and above all, kindness. Again, I find myself so grateful…. And feeling so humbled by the hundreds of people who showed me kindness and love. I feel so lucky. So blessed. I cringe thinking what this year would have been like without all of those kind hearts around me. So, so lucky.

My word of the year surprised me in the many ways it showed up, and with whom it accompanied. I feel rather giddy just thinking about it and its many facets.

Day 570, Goodnight, Year.*man_in_the_moon_stock_by_jinxmim-d74sgx0.png

 

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Princess Leia’s Sister.

I have always felt alone with my diagnosis of bipolar. I don’t know anyone else who has it and who speaks openly about having it. In my life and in its circles, I feel like an anomaly. Like I have something no one else knows about. Something that makes me different and other and a little separate …..

I’ve also had these feelings about being an alcoholic. (Ugh. That word is so ugly, isn’t it?) Feelings of isolation and difference. I have found myself wondering ‘Why me?’ I get over it and get down to living, but sometimes I catch myself feeling alone.

Growing up, and Now – especially in adulthood – I’ve always had the vibrant Carrie Fisher somewhere in my peripheral vision as someone who gets me. Who knows about Life. Who has lived hard. Loved much. Been loud and outspoken and True to Herself. And I have always admired her for living her life unabashedly. And I find such inspiration in her living her life out loud so that others (me! and people like me!) would know that No. We are Not Alone. Nope. No way. No how. Not a possibility. In fact? There are many, many, many other people like me. Like Us. And all because this Woman, this iconic, emblematic, die-hard feminist Fisher said who she was. What she was. No apologies. No justifications. She laid it all out there. She gave her Truth to us – to me – and her example frees us to be who we are. Empowering. Hopeful. Connected.

Day 568, May the Force Be With You.

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Artwork by Katie Cook

 

Snow Days.

Hello, friends. A quick check-in today, and then I will be back later for more. I’ve been mulling my Word o’ The Year, and am looking forward to talking with you about some ideas I have…. Which words have your attention and curiosity for your year to come?

In the meantime? One of my favorite wintery songs. I could listen to this on repeat for hours….

Day 560, Let it snow, Let it snow, Let it snow!

In With the New.

Hello, friends.*

It’s been a while …. Since I’ve stopped in. …. Since I’ve read some awesome SoberBlogs. ….. Since I’ve counted my days. …..

It’s been a fun swell of activity at school the past few weeks. My partner and I opened our first official show as the New Theatre Department. It was a middle school show, which was lots of fun. Very playful. I was glad to get one under our belt. I was also glad it was not my show officially, because it let me watch her journey at this new school, while supporting her with lots of tech help. I was engaged (highly), but not in charge. It seemed like just the right combination for learning while doing – my favorite way to do things. *smile* (Note: My husband often notes I am a bull in a china shop, which is true literally in the physical world, but also true on a figurative level as well. Let me at ’em! (“’em” being anything and anyone.))

Once the middle school show closed, I jumped into running my two shows simultaneously. Out of the frying pan and into the fire, I suppose. One show opens in January, so we are getting a handle on deadlines, design, and overall responsibilities for everyone involved (me, our awesome Technical Director, and 23 kick-ass high schoolers), while the second show (Big. Musical.) just auditioned this week, and will get underway in February. I feel like the auditions this week have really cemented my feeling like this place is really and truly my new home. There was something about the way the kids’ energy built and built over the week. And yes, they were much more responsive to me during the week – smiling at me in the hallways, laughing at my stupid jokes, and just perking up when I would walk by them – which I realize is all because I was holding their sweet thespian fates in my hands…. But in all of that energy to please me, I don’t know. It made the transition from last year’s teachers to me and my partner more Real for everyone involved, I think. It felt like there was a shift in the kids’ attitudes and understanding of the huge changes that have taken place in their theatre department (3 faculty left last Spring and 3 new faculty arrived this Fall (Talk about Drama!)). They seemed to accept me more completely than before, which feels so good. I think they’re starting to trust me, because we’ve been through things together now. And yes, of course there will be bumps in the road for all of us – we all hold onto our want for ‘What Was,’ but it feels like we’re moving forward and creating the New Normal together, and that feels So Good.

In other, more superficial news, I have a hair appointment today. Wah-Friggin’-Hoo! I am so looking forward to a change. Well, perhaps a minor change (a little more platinum?), OR a major change (bluuuuuuuue, anyone?!). I cannot wait.

On the house front, we are in a Waiting Mode. Projects are getting done by a really good contractor, which makes me soso happy. And then, perhaps in February, we will be at the front of the selling season, and have a little bit more luck in finding a great fit, as well as selling our little bungalow. ….. Of course, in the meantime, we are going to meet with a financial planner to talk about possibly figuring out how to push-out the house we have so that it becomes the house we want – through and through. I’m okay with considering both options at the moment, because the more we do, the more I like what we have. The issues are space and practicality, which could each be solved with a move OR major renovations. All exciting. All possible.

In sober news, I find a lot of strength this holiday season from just knowing how much better my life is without the Drink. At night, I still marvel that I have 1. So much time; 2. An awake brain; 3. Real connections with my babes and the hubs; 4. Energy; 5. No need to soften or blur my Reality. I like what I have. I like what I think and what I feel. Life doesn’t hurt as much as it did when I was drinking. There are tears and challenges, anger and fears, but it is all exactly what it is. Life’s negatives are not heightened or multiplied by feeling ashamed of myself, nor exacerbated by the time drinking took away from me. I have broken down the million-foot-high hurdles I built up for myself. I enjoy my Life for what it is. I no longer wish it was Something Else, nor that it looked like Someone Else’s. I like my Life, thank you (sincerely and whole-heartedly).

Day 543, Awake, Alive, & Grateful.

Last Night…

I did a huge sink-full of dishes after my babes went to bed.

And then I corrected work and reported final grades for my students.

Played a little of a silly video game just because I wanted to.

And then I read a bunch of political articles on Clinton and Trump.

Watched several hilarious video shorts on the same subject.

Coordinated my new book club’s next meeting invite.

Took my vitamins and meds in a long-series of nights taking vitamins and meds (the longest consecutive stretch of nights in my life).

Read a book.

Visited with the hubs.

Fell asleep.

All sober.

Day 515, and still surprised by the little things sobriety gives back to me.large_happy-birthday-present

501 Blues.

Not actually Blue at all. *smile* A nice shift from my last post.

Some time off on the weekend. Time with babes, the hubs, friends, my books.

For your viewing pleasure…. A blast from my past. This commercial makes me giggle.

Day 501, Take it away, Neil….

October Road.

It’s early morning. I can her our grandmother clock ticking. My family is tucked in their beds – mostly. My daughter stole her way into ours, which was the impetus for me getting out of bed, and thus, finding myself here in my chair with a hot cup of coffee. I’m quite happy she did. I love starting my days off a little earlier than everyone else, reading, and just waking up on my own. It’s nice to be awake and to have some time and space just for me.

I’ve been feeling this way – this relaxed, contemplative way most of this past week. On the one  hand it’s very nice because my brain has stopped going a thousand miles a minute every second of the day. With the new job, I didn’t realize until I had stopped spinning, that I was in a constant state of stress and anxiety. I was trying to race as fast as I could to write curriculum, clean, grade, plan, collaborate, learn the community, organize, and take stock, that I didn’t even notice how hard I was working to stay caught up with even the most basic responsibilities of getting through each day and doing what I was hired to do – teach.

This is my sixteenth year as a teacher, but this new job is really Brand. Spankin’. New. I am writing it from the ground up, which is exciting to do, because I and my partner are designing a theatre program to follow students through each of their elementary and secondary years a child’s entire elementary and secondary school years. The structure before was a bit too nebulous and focused on Fun. I am definitely not opposed to fun, however I want kids to be challenged and to grow as artists. It’s exciting, and I know in the coming years, this planning will do the program a lot of good, and help us to create a lot of depth. However, I am a little frustrated because I am covering basics with most of my students at every grade level, so that next year, I will have to write even more curriculum once we have students on the same page and with the same skill sets.

Then, I look around my space and in my rooms, and I just see a Mess. Granted, it is entirely my own fault because it was my idea to flip the costume and prop room inside-out, as well as the library….. Yeah, it’s a mess. Ha. And I know, from growing up with my father, whenever I was feeling stressed, he would tell me to clean my room so that my mind would feel better. A good rule of thumb, as long as one has the time and the energy to do so. *smile* I have kept my office quite clean so that I have a space I can escape to, but…. Yeah. Maybe I will work on prioritizing the other rooms again so that I don’t feel trapped underneath a mountain of Theatre Things.

This post is sounding quite negative, but overall, I am feeling better than I was. I should have written more last week, but I was feeling tired and sad and …. Oh, wanting to isolate. Dagnabbit. Stupid human tricks that keep repeating themselves. Argh.

Anyway, the other feeling I’ve been really having trouble with is melancholy. The longer I am at my new job (which, even though is overwhelming, I am really loving – and I’m not just saying that as a perfectionist in order to appear perfect to the outside world – I truly love it and the students and the people), the more and more Real it feels that I have lost my old job and my old community. With the fall weather exacerbating everything, I just feel Sad. And lonely. The communication from my old people has been little to none, which further breaks my heart. And I know everyone is as busy as I am, or more so, but it just makes me sad. I definitely feel like I am grieving again in many ways. The two months of grief and franticness and loneliness surrounding the initial news of my job loss in April seems to almost be repeating itself from August to September to now.

However, like I said above, I feel like I am stepping out on the other side of those feelings of sadness and spinning my wheels. I am still definitely in there. It’s not a quick fix by any stretch of the imagination, but at least I can now see where I was and what I am moving away from. Why can’t we see our full situation when we are in the thick of things? Is it because we don’t have perspective? Because we are too close to it all?

Day 496, a little James to walk with me today and to make the day brighter….

 

Love Is Love Is Love Is Love…

“There is no originality in tyrants, and they learn nothing from the demise of their precursors. They will be brutal and stifling and engender hatred and destroy what men love and that will defeat them. All important battles are, in the end, conflicts between hatred and love, and we must hold to the idea that love is stronger than hate.”

– Salman Rushdie, Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights

Day 490, People of the US, please Vote.

love-is

 

Sick of the Sick.

My, oh, My. Our household cannot catch a break! Since our babygirl is now a kindergartner, she is in a (cess)pool of new people and new germs. While I, at the same time, am a new teacher, and am similarly surrounded by said (cess)pool of new people and new germs. We have been in-session for the past 6 weeks, and we have lost 3 of our weekends and several weekdays due to calling in ‘sick.’

Argh.

This is round 4 for my girl and myself. Our boy (3-years old) keeps catching it from one or the other of us. It is like a merry-go-round…. Ridiculous.

This weekend, my daughter and I were basically quarantined from Friday night until this morning around 11 am. Being sick and taking care of someone who is sick is not the easiest thing in the world. However, I found my adrenaline would kick in when my girl needed me (needs me), so in some ways, it makes my illness less pressing. It’s interesting how our bodies are biologically programmed to be able to prioritize someone else’s needs over our own, isn’t it? I’m just thankful it happens at all. Yesterday, I had practically rolled myself into a ball of shivers, chills, and aches. But anytime she needed me (for strep test, x-rays, blood-draw which went horribly bad, followed by a massaged finger-prick (any 5 year old’s worst nightmare)), it all dissipated to some extent so that I could care for her. Of course, my symptoms came back eventually, but for those important moments, I was mostly okay and could help her.

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In other news, the no drinking is still going okay, but I have had the craziest, strongest urges for a cigarette these past 2 weeks. I haven’t acted on the impulse, but it is so weird to suddenly be craving something I haven’t for 8 years. Maybe it’s the stress. My stress is through the roof with school, classes, making over spaces, parent-teacher conferences, etc. I am just maxed out. A lot of bubble water is being consumed, and swear words are being used.

Day 481, Still here. Still kickin’.

p.s. The book below is one of my favorites. So sweet. So comforting.images-1

 

A Whole Lot of Nothin’.

Yep. That’s about sums up my motivation and drive today. I’m home with my sick babe and rather than cruise through the house and make it look awesome, spotless, and wonderful, I have been mindlessly surfing the internets, listening to music, and thinking, “I should be reading my book right now.” Oh, about a hundred times.

Nothing feels kind of nice.

Especially when I stop with the guilt and the should-dos.

Nothing doesn’t happen very often – for me, or anyone, I would guess. So, here I am savoring nothing. I’m going to turn my tuneages up and shut down the naggy voice in my head.

Be well, friends.

Day 465, Live long & prosper (immediately or later – it’s up to you).

nimoy-hero_0

Oh, Leonard Nimoy. You are so wonderful.

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