staring down the barrel of a week off work

You can ask anyone who knows me that I don’t often take time off work. It’s not that my work means that much to me, more that I know I do better with the structure that going to work for 9 hours every day brings. And I do actually love what I do, so that helps. But anyway, more often than not the little HR system sends me a nastygram every few months telling me I’ve got so much vacation time waiting to use that I’m going to stop earning any more.

Well hell.

Part of my dilemma is that I mostly hate to travel. Flying is The Suck and driving Takes Forever. I will say that I prefer to drive because then I’m on my own schedule and I can take as much of my stuff with as I want and I can use a real restroom. I am 41 years old and have yet to use the loo in an airplane. Rather proud of that, actually.

Anyway, traveling with people is much more interesting but it still involves packing and the actual travel and then sleeping in a strange bed and the whole Being Away From Home nonsense.

It’s just not often my thing, ya dig?

So I’ve taken the entirety of next week off work but I don’t really plan to go anywhere. I much prefer to Staycation. I fully intend to be lazy, do some things around the house, maybe do a little shopping, and mostly just breathe. Oh, and knit.

I do think it’s super important to take time away from the daily grind and to recharge the ol’ batteries. If we don’t do that, and put ourselves first now and then, we end up with nothing left to give anyone else.

One of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn is that even though my brain is fully capable to running for days on end with next to no food or sleep when I’m not taking my meds and that kind of feels like flying and being on top of the world, it’s really the worst thing ever.

Anyone who tells you that they miss being manic is delusional. Mania is a liar, worse than any cheating lover. For as high as you go you come crashing, hurtling, down twice as fast and far. The end is awful. And it’s not worth a single minute of it.

That’s why next week I will be going to bed at normal hours, eating healthy and wholesome food, and taking care of myself. I need to punch my own damn reset button every now and again.

living large on a government salary

I’m a state university employee which means I’m not making the same kind of cheddar that my peers in the corporate world are. It’s a conscious decision that I made 16 years ago and I’ve never looked back. I have amazing benefits, I get to be a part of educating the future, and my colleagues at work are like family. Plus that whole week off between Christmas and New Year’s off work every year, seriously can’t beat it.

But there are some “life hacks” that I use to help stretch my monthly pay. For one thing, I satisfy my daily coffee cravings by making my own fancy stuff at home. I also have a tendency to take my own breakfast and lunch to work so I don’t have to eat out. It’s a hell of a lot healthier, too.

When it comes to buying food we shop the sales. And since I like to make my own smoothies, no kale or spinach please, I stock up on fruit when it’s on sale and in season and then freeze it myself. I’ve also started buying the really ugly bananas that are super cheap and running then through my tiny little blender and then freezing the puree in 1/2C containers. It’s great to throw in with my smoothies. It works great with peaches or strawberries that get a little too squishy. No sense tossing perfectly good food.

I have a tendency to make my “convenience” foods a lot. You like that whole yogurt / granola parfait thing? Make your own. I take a 2C container, dump in a container of yogurt, add in 1/3C of dried fruit, and then take a separate little 1/2C container of granola. (I almost always eat breakfast at work, don’t ask why.) It’s cheap and it’s super yummy and I can customize the daylights out of it.

What kinds of “hacks” do y’all use to save some green?

this is not the droid you seek

I’m in what one of my colleagues aptly referred to as a “reinvention period.” And he’s right. Every so often I completely turn myself into a vastly different version of myself. In the past this has been brought on by failed relationships, wanting to keep relationships from failing, or wanting to keep the next relationship from failing.

No more.

It’s a well documented fact that I’m not very good in relationships. I’ve been married and divorced three separate times and been in too many other relationships to remember. But they don’t last and I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. So here’s the list of reasons I’m not “that” droid.

  • I’m too old
  • I’m too young
  • I’m too short
  • I’m too fat
  • I’m too smart
  • I’m not smart enough
  • I’m too passionate
  • My taste in music is too weird
  • I’m not a musician
  • I work in education
  • I can support myself
  • I don’t make enough money
  • I have tattoos
  • I don’t have kids
  • I do have cats
  • I don’t like to drink wine
  • I have weird hair
  • I have short hair
  • I have bipolar disorder
  • I’m opinionated
  • I will speak my mind
  • I’m not great at singing
  • I’m not politically active
  • I don’t like Trump

Lastly, but I’m finding now is most important, I don’t give a good goddamn about any of those things and whether or not a man puts stock in them or not. This is me, this is the skin I wear, and if you don’t like it…

The door is over there. I’ll be busy enjoying my bellydancing class, grilling myself a steak, and rubbing my kitties’ tummies.

something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue – the magic monday edition

Things that I am thankful for today…

Something old would be a good friend I got to spend time with today. It’s not that he is old but rather that I’ve known him a long time.

Something new (sort of) is that I signed up to take belly dancing lessons that start on Thursday. I’ve done this in the past and loved it but it’s been so long ago that it’ll be like starting all over again.

Something borrowed (this is a stretch, bear with me) was the help I got from Mom with taking care of laundry.

And something blue is a picture of myself I actually don’t hate.

selfie taken in Keystone, CO in July

karaoke

When we went to the conference in July there was karaoke as one of the evening events. I wasn’t quite drunk enough to be comfortable getting up in front of a bar full of strangers and singing, although later that same night I did some crazy dancing in front of strangers. Anyway, it’s been bothering me. My excuse that night, aside from a lack of sufficient moonshine, was that I couldn’t think of The Right Song. And of course since then I’ve thought of about a thousand.

I’ve only actually done karaoke once, at a tiny country bar with my second husband. I’m pretty sure I sang “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor. It’s a great song. The one above by Pink is too. And so is “I Am Waking Up Today” by Bowling for Soup, and “Into the Mystic” by Van Morrison, and pretty much anything by Flogging Molly.

Way back I actually could and did sing, quite well. I was in choir at school and loved it. I sang constantly. When I was diagnosed with bipolar and started taking lithium I lost my pitch. Can’t carry a tune in a bucket these days. Pretty well the only time I sing is when I’m alone, in the car or the shower. I’m just way too self-conscious about the way I sound.

But I shouldn’t be. I sound the way I sound. I’m good at lots of things, I don’t have to be good at everything.

So next time the opportunity to go out and do karaoke presents itself I have every intention of raising my glass.

august, you hit like a little bitch

I’ve completely lost track of how many hours I’ve worked since returning from the conference. I’m at that place where numbers have ceased to have meaning. Nights, weekends, early mornings… It’s all blurring together. Today might be Friday, but then again it might be next Thursday. Who’s to say.

But truly, I thrive on this nonsense.

I loathe boredom and I really do prefer having a lot to do as opposed to very little. I do remarkably well when I have more things to do than I really should be able to get done. There’s almost something magical about the stress of needing to do my best when I’m sleep deprived.

I may have stumbled on the secret of how to cram 36 hours worth of crap into a 24 hour day. Maybe. Then again, I may also have developed a recipe for poo scented shoe inserts. Only time will tell.

What I know for sure is that people keep saying nice things, the kittens are adjusting to the move at home, and I actually did some knitting last night. Life is good enough right now.

when last we left our heroine…

My trip was good, all things considered. There were no real issues with the travel itself, we saw some beautiful scenery, learned some neat stuff, and had a good time. I actually laughed more than I have in a very long time. I needed the laughter, probably more than anything else.

It was an opportunity to recharge my muchly depleted batteries. I have a tendency to push myself far harder than anyone else ever would. That’s great, but only to a point. I had been working too many hours, going in on weekends, and not allowing myself breaks. Not good for anyone but seriously not good for someone with mental health issues.

And now the real fun starts. August on a university campus can, and often does, provide a close simulation to all of Dante’s levels of Hell. This is my 16th go at this. Bring it.

I enjoy the challenge. I enjoy helping people. I enjoy pushing myself to the absolute limit just to see if I can push a little further. One of my mantras, one that I think should probably turn into a tattoo soon, is “fall down seven times, get up eight.” I love it because, well, I just don’t know how to quit.

the only thing that stays the same is change

I should be finishing packing, or getting the last few things done for work, or cleaning something, or…

But I’m procrastinating. This isn’t usually something I do, honestly. I’m much more of a “get this crap done NOW” kind of girl. No sense in putting off until later what I can do right this very minute. But sometimes I get in a funk, and sometimes change is at the heart of it all.

Backstory – I’ve been living in the very lovely basement of the home I grew up in for a good number of years now. I love it. It’s spacious, I have a 1/2 bath here, my own full-sized fridge. It’s like a studio apartment with an attached house. But my mom and I are trying to get healthier and part of that is having a place to exercise. The basement is the most logical place for that so I’m moving upstairs.

I’m actually looking forward to it. A “normal” bedroom again sounds like fun. And the walls are pink (as is the carpet) and that sounds like fun, too. Plus, if something happens and either of us gets sick in the night it’s safer.

But it’s a change. I really do try to see any change as an opportunity for growth and good stuff. All of this will be done before life at work explodes again with the start of the Fall semester. I’ve booked movers to come take care of the furniture for us since there is no way in hell that the two of us can wrestle this stuff around.

I’m very much looking forward to going to this conference for work, but that’s some change there, too. I’ll be out of my normal element, but I’ll have a good chunk of my tribe there with me, and I know that will help.

And my therapist’s office just called saying they have a cancellation for this morning. Praise the squirrels.

Now I just need to decide if I’m going to take one of my little stuffed dragons with me or a squirrel…

on traveling

I would greatly prefer it if the fun and adventures would show up on my door step, encompass a single amazing day, and then leave me to sleep in my own bed with my own pillow and my own kitties. But alas, that just ain’t the way it works.

I’m not sure if it’s actual a by-product of any of my mentalness or just a personality thing but I’ve never really liked being away from home, even as a kid. My family typically did road trips, partially because that’s just how people took vacations back in those days. I’d rather road trip than fly any day, but alas, that just ain’t always the way it works.

This time next week I’ll be enjoying (I hope) the sights and sounds of Keystone, CO and the InstructureCon 2017 conference. Many of my good pals from work will be there and there are 4 of us flying out together, so that will help.

But as someone who lives with bipolar disorder, routines and sameness are critical to maintaining my mental health. I need to know that certain things will be done in certain ways and at certain times on a very regular basis. If not, well, then chaos takes over. For short spans of time though I can pull of pretending I am quote-NORMAL-endquote.

I will take the necessary bottles of medication, the essential oils to help with anxiety, things to distract my hands on the short plane trip, and I will do what I often do in situations like this…

I will get by with a little help from the amazing people I work with, many of whom I am privileged to call friends.

turn the page

Change is HARD.

My world feels full of change anymore. The department I work for got restructured in February and that created a fair bit of upheaval. We’re making a significant software switch on campus and that’s causing more upheaval. My continuing relationship with my ex is in a perpetual state of flux. I lost an uncle to suicide this summer.

Life is constant change and change can be HARD. But life is also constant opportunity for CHOICES.

I choose to see all of the change as a chance to make my life better.

I will be more than the labels I wear and I will be better than the foul mood I find myself in right this very minute and I will be the compassionate human being that I know myself to be.

I choose to see the good in the changes.