Saturday, January 28, 2012

Six Senses Saturday


~ My twins learn to read and write. I believe in delayed academics, and we unschool, so this sudden interest and progression was a delightful surprise. Coincidentally, this is occurring right after their 7th birthday (which was December 30th), and 7 is the age that is supposedly most appropriate for introducing academics; when the brain is finally, really ready for it.
~ Once Upon a Time, that new show on ABC. Like I needed another show to get hooked on. Thank goodness for TiVo, so I can feed my addictions at my own convenience. :D


~ Children: Playing outside. Fighting. Being silly and loud in the early mornings while I am trying to either catch a few more winks, or sneak out from under a still-sleeping baby. Joy. Innocence (well, sort of...).
~ Audiobooks. The twins love them. I love that they love them. I love that they are being exposed (repeatedly) to classic children's literature before they are able to read it themselves, and without me having to read it to them (I am lazy...ahem, busy, and reading aloud makes my voice hurt).
~ Soothing music. I have had my "birth music" playing on repeat 24/7 in my bedroom. It helps the baby sleep, and whenever I walk into my bedroom, whether to change a diaper or haul some laundry, I step into a magical, tranquil world, even if just for a moment.


Lavender, eucalyptus, and tea tree oils coming from the vaporizers in both bedrooms. Someone has inevitably had some kind of illness requiring such treatment for over a month now. It is a comforting smell. Dropping those oils into the water as I fill the vaporizers each evening is one of those times I feel like I'm "giving from the heart"'s one of those things that I lovingly do to care for my family. I am the healer in this house, which is both a duty and an honor.


~ The warm (yes, warm) "Winter" weather. 75-80 degrees almost every day. Only a handful of rainy days or freezing nights so far. Cold fronts few and far between, lasting only a few days. Azaleas are blooming in January!! A winter wardrobe seems like such a waste of space this year! I love it. It's as if my wish came true: "I wish it was 75 and breezy every day!" -- said when discussing my hatred for both cold winter weather and stifling hot and humid summer weather...I prefer Spring and Fall only, thank you very much.
~ Overwhelmed. So many projects, commitments, activities, responsibilities. Every now and then I get to this point where I have to step back and start saying "No." We don't have to go to every playdate. We don't have to go somewhere every day. Need-to-do vs. Want-to-do. Priorities. Must maintain sanity. Must take care of myself. And if that means spending a few days homebound puttering on the computer (and spending WAY too much time with my blog...ahem...), well, that's okay. I deserve it, dammit! #oxygenmasktheory :)


~ A lot of pasta. I prefer mine with olive oil, salt & pepper, and a healthy dose of fresh, grated Parmesan. (That is, of course, if there is no fresh Alfredo sauce available.)
~ I have also been eating a lot of avocados; sometimes scooped right out of the skin with a spoon, sometimes carefully diced and drowning in red wine vinegar and seasoned salt.
~ Oh yeah, and these super-thin organic corn chips with a dip i make out of sour cream with some "Condimento Completo" in it (whose first ingredient is MSG...a fact I did not discover until I had tasted it, fallen in love with it, and then bought a jar of my own. *sigh*).
~ I also discovered these nifty "steam in the bag" sides at Target that are useful as entire single-serving meals. I really like the Thai veggies & rice one. Too bad Target is such a trek for me. :/

I could go on, but I'll stop...have I mentioned that I'm a foodie?


Apparently there has been a return of paranormal activity in our house. Years ago we had a lot of weird things happen (mainly through electronic devices) but then a psychic friend said "he just wants to be acknowledged" we made an effort to acknowledge him, and miraculously, the weird shit stopped.

Well, recently, my almost-4-year-old son has had some scary experiences at night. He woke up Daddy (who sleeps with him) and, terrified, spoke of a "scary guy looking at me" from the hallway. 4-5 nights in a row. Anyway, we did a whole-house smudging with white sage, chanting "EVIL SPIRITS, I BANISH YOU!" over and over and over, and they started sleeping with the door shut. Problem solved (or at least masked). For now.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

It's a New Year, and I Quit Smoking!

My life has changed a lot just in the past few weeks. Why? Because I quit smoking on New Years Day. Yup, that's right. If you never knew I smoked, well, ya do now. (Woohoo!) I smoked full time for 13 years. It was part of me -- part of my identity (you know, that dark genius vibe - HEH), a major part of my mood-stabilizing medication regimen, and a BIG source of shame for me. BIG.

This is me sitting in my chair on the back porch, ritualistically smoking my Last Cigarette on New Years Day (in the morning...I am also hungover. The plan was to smoke my last one right before bed the night before, but I drank a whole bottle of champagne on an empty stomach and didn't even make it to midnight....yeah.....)

So, it's been quite an experience so far. I have had days where I am totally confident, days where I suddenly dipped into a severely depressed state, days when I feel like a heroin addict must feel while detoxing (I don't really know how else to describe feeling like I wanted to jump out of my own skin). I made it through those infamous "first 3 days", slipped on day 7 (BAD, BAD day. freaking out. but that cig tasted like ashes, so that was a good thing to experience), then again on day 10 (this neighbor bitch stole my cell phone and we were dealing with the cops...again, the cig tasted like an ash tray). So then I make it to the 2 week mark. I have made it through both of the "hardest" parts. But yet, I still have cravings. STRONG cravings. The nicotine gum and lozenges don't hit me fast enough when I really, really need a nic hit QUICK.

I guess the difference now, is that I am used to not being able to smoke. I'm just used to having to deal with the cravings. The cravings still totally suck. Even typing this, all I want to do it go light up. I keep reminding myself about how bad it tasted those 2 times I slipped, and how I can still get that nicotine through a piece of gum or a lozenge (but that is so TIME CONSUMING -- it takes 30 minutes to get the full dose from one of those things!). So, on top of all my other meds, I'm somehow surviving, but my moods are all over the place and my mental illness is more apparent now than it has been in a loooong time. Just like I was afraid it would be. And I hate it. I mean, I gave up a mood stabilizing drug that has been coursing through my brain on a regular basis since before my brain was fully formed. (I think. I'm actually not sure at what age the brain is fully formed, but I was 16 when I started smoking regularly, and hooked at 17.)

I have had a lot of anger and resentment surrounding my quitting, actually. I did not quit because I wanted to. I did not quit because I was ready to. I quit because I felt like I HAD to. We simply cannot afford to support my smoking habit anymore. We are living on grants and loans as my husband finishes college. Smoking is too expensive. The guilt about the money we were spending on cigarettes was suddenly too much. Then, of course, there is the shame and humiliation of being a smoker when the rest of my life/social circle/philosophies are soooo nowhere NEAR smoke-friendly. (I AM bipolar, you know. ha. ha.) It was the one vice I had brought with me from my youth. Of course I could see all the good things about quitting. But I DIDN'T WANT TO. So, as a result, I often have periods of sullen resentment family? society? the world? existence? I didn't want to quit. I wasn't ready.

This is an excerpt from an email I sent to a friend several years ago, trying to explain my addiction to her:

the addiction is stronger than i am. it is stronger than my love for my children. and that sucks. but, it is basically part of my treatment for my crazy-lady issues, and the doctors have even told me not to worry too much about it. for some people (like me), quitting can be more detrimental than continuing to smoke, depending on the circumstances. i know it sounds totally ridiculous. the statistics about people like me (bipolar) are scary. we have shorter life spans due to reckless behavior (which i guess smoking could be considered one), and a huge majority of us smoke.

for me, it was not long ago that the thought of quitting would literally cause me to panic. i want to quit for all the right reasons, but that want is only 49%... the other 51% is the addiction telling me i can't live without it, and that's the dominant part. that has caused be to become defensive about my smoking, because i KNOW it's awful but the addiction is too powerful.

i have always been very self-conscious and ashamed about the fact that i smoke. i don't advertise it because i know people judge -- i'm either ignorant white trash or crazy. either way, i don't want to be judged any more than i already am for things i really CAN'T hide. not that it's that easy to hide the fact that i smoke. i know i probably stink most of the time.

my mom gave me such a complex about it because she's probably the most anti-smoking person on earth. i remember her disgusted snarls when she smelled, saw, or just TALKED about smoking when i was growing up. and when i became addicted as a teenager, i was everything my mother hated. isn't that what every teenage girl wants? ;)

well, that was one part of my past that i couldn't leave behind. i took the addiction and the shame into adulthood. i'm supposed to be myself and not worry about what other people think of me, but i don't want to burn bridges either, ya know? so many people have told me to get over it, own it, if they don't like me for me then sod 'em! well, that's easier said than done, especially when you want to surround yourself with positive influences, not many of which smoke (because it's bad for you and your children and it costs too much money and you stink, blah, blah, blah, thanks mom). i have always tried to be respectful of other people's hatred of smoking by not doing in front of them, going far away from them to do so, avoiding children as much as possible, etc.

i recently confronted my mom about my shame, and she assured me that she doesn't see my sister and me as monsters because we smoke, and that she doesn't think i love my children any less. that made me feel better. it's ridiculous how powerful our mothers' words are, regardless of our age.

So, I finally became (deep breath) ready after contacting the Florida Quitline. They did a Quit Coach session with me over the phone after some initial screening questions. We went over my history and my triggers, and developed a plan. They sent me (for free) 2 weeks worth of nicotine patches and a quit smoking guide (which was very helpful -- full of checklists and exercises to help you prepare). I put the rest of the supplies I would need for the 8 week program on my Christmas list, and got them! They have an online support forum which I spent a bit of time in before my quit date came up, but have since abandoned it, for some reason (too many other social networks?). I had a few weeks to mentally prepare, and when Quit Day came, I was ready.

Anyhoo, that's all I have to say about that right now. I have a whole 'nuther post planned about all the awesome changes that have occurred since I quit. There was a day a few weeks ago when I cried to my husband, saying "Why didn't I do this sooner?"...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Blog Makeover Amendment

Last year, in this post, I wrote this:

"I have taken some time this morning to make a lot of changes here on my blog in order to make it more...appropriate...for the public eye. I hid several posts that are very personal and/or FML-style venting. I want to be able to use this blog for positive things, more like recording the happy memories and successful accomplishments, as well as participating in all these fun blog events I keep seeing."

Yeeeeeeah. Wellllll, I went back and re-published most of those posts. This is MY blog, about ME. I want it to be REAL. I am nutty, so my blog is allowed to be all over the map, too. And over the past year or so, I have learned the value of being authentic (for several reasons: the unassisted birth of my 5th child, my Nonviolent Communication study group, and the suicide of a dear friend -- the latter two will perhaps be blogged about in the future). Not only does it make the writer feel liberated, but the readers feel better, comforted, knowing that others have struggles and quirks, that they aren't the only ones that are "weird" or have shameful/embarrassing secrets. So, I will still participate in blog parties or whatever, but I don't want to mask who I really am. And truthfully, it's the "inappropriate" things that I am drawn to write about the most. So be it. :)