Saturday, November 26, 2011

When Insomnia Attacks


It's not that I have actual insomnia, which I know plagues tens of thousands of people. It's that I have ridiculous eating and sleeping habits that wreak havoc with my ability to fall asleep at a normal time in the evening. I heart caffeine. It's my oldest friend. I often tell people at the coffee shop that my grandfather used to put coffee in my bottle with half cream and sugar, shake it up, and give it to me. Then, near the age of four, my Dad started me on Mountain Dew. I prefer to think of it as a lifestyle, not an addiction. I have plenty of addictions, I don't need another one. At any rate, living on coffee and Mountain Dew, getting up at 6am on the weekdays, then sleeping in as late as possible on weekends -- it all makes for a difficult night. Plus, I like naps. Naps and caffeine. I realize I cause my own problems.

So, here I am, 12:35 in the morning, wide awake because I slept until almost ten, drank a cup of coffee and three glasses of Mountain Dew, took a nap, and did nothing pretty much all day long besides pick up and cash my check and write out checks to pay all my bills, leaving me with very little more than I'd started with at the beginning of the day. Michigan beat Ohio State for the first time since 2003 which was nice, but Notre Dame lost handily to Stanford which is disappointing, and Michigan State beat Northwestern which is annoying.

Our son wrote us tonight, which was nice. I was beginning to worry that he never wanted anything to do with us again. Granted, that's a fairly common teenage point of view, but it's a world of difference when you're the parent in the situation and not the teenager.

I think we'll put up our tree tomorrow after church and a quick trip to the mall to buy something for Christmas I can only buy at the mall. I can't tell you how much I hate the mall around Christmas. If we go tomorrow, maybe Steve can stay in the car and just pull around and pick me back up so we don't have to find a place to park. I've gotten quite a bit of shopping done online this year, which is great. I will have to find some time to actually do some real physical shopping, not just a zoom-in, zoom-out of the mall. Traditionally, that comes closer to the end of December. Unlike my dad, who shops on December 24th, I prefer to get mine done around the 22nd, or even as early as the 21st.

I do so love the day AFTER Christmas shopping, though. My mom, little sister, and I get up ridiculously early in the morning and get as much half price stuff as we can for the following year, and buy some items for birthdays later on in the season, and whatever decorations we think we might possibly need. One recent year, there was a horrendous ice storm and, though it took me over an hour on the toll road just to travel 20 miles, and though I fell flat on my back and cracked the back of my head in front of Macy*s, we kept calm and carried on. I remember thinking that the deals probably weren't worth dying over... but I've kept going back each year, so what does that say about my dedication to craziness? I can't do Black Friday shopping, though. I did it once. I was seventeen. I got claustrophobic and paranoid at the same time because too many people were way too close to me in an open space that was no longer open. I'm a very big fan of Cyber Monday, though.

There is no rhyme or reason to my ramblings this evening, and for this I apologize. I know you've come to expect more from me, and periodically I don't deliver. My mind is being pulled a million different directions right now. Work, kids, family, finances, friends... I feel like Silly Putty! Sometimes I'm stretched so thin I feel like I'm going to break. Other times, I feel pressed into something so I mold myself to it until it's over, then move on to the next item of business. Most of the time, though, I feel like I'm shoved inside of a hard shell to protect myself from the elements of the world.

Whatever the next leg of this adventure is, I'm ready for it. I'm tired of living in torpor.

Stephanie Jean

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving


I have a great deal to be thankful for, I know this. I have found the love of my life, we have a beautiful home that is just the right size, a fantastic family, food, fun, and furry little friends. Thanksgiving was a bit different this year -- we were going to have a whole ton of people from Florida, Georgia, and Wisconsin, but in the end, everyone bailed and there were just nine of us. It was wonderful, don't get me wrong, just different than usual because there are normally between 15-20 people here for the holiday.

Our oldest son had to work, and then opted to go to his grandparents' house afterward instead of to our home for Thanksgiving. His choice, of course. He will be nineteen in a few days. But I certainly missed him. This is a very strong struggle for me. I know he wants to be independent. He has shown that in almost every way conceivable over the past year, at times to the detriment of our relationship. There's something that resides within a parent, however, that just yanks your heart back and forth like a tornado when they're this age. The only thing I want is for him to know how much we love him. I'm not sure that he's ever understood that, or ever will. Maybe someday if he becomes a father, it will be crystal clear. It's all I can pray for at this point.

We had a good time, however. Watching football, eating too much, playing poker and Catch Phrase, and visiting with family. Apparently, surreptitiously hiding clown stickers around my house was a pre-decided past-time as well. Thus far, I've found 13. Once my family fessed up, I was told that I had many more to find. One was above my bed. ABOVE MY SIDE OF THE BED! STARING DOWN AT ME! Have I mentioned I greatly dislike clowns? Gotta love 'em! (The fam, that is -- definitely NOT clowns!)

My cousin (adopted sister) is back from South Korea and we have her until December 9th, when the Army removes her from our grip once again. It's bittersweet. She, also, is more than old enough to make her own decisions, and it's so hard to watch her leave, knowing it will be so long until we see her again, and she'll be so far away. We love and pray for her every day, though, and know that God is watching over her way better than we ever could.

Work is a struggle as well. We've had a bad few weeks, financially, and every day just looks more bleak than the last. I know that God will provide. I'm not living in fear of how we will be supported, I just dread the tension that comes with each passing day. I awaken wishing I could stay in bed another half hour, two hours, another day, or week. I feel strongly that there is something else that I'm supposed to be doing, but I haven't found the guts to follow my gut.

Now it's time for Christmas music. I usually hold back until the day after Thanksgiving. My husband has an entire MP3 player dedicated solely to Christmas music, and I saw it charging up today, so I know what tomorrow holds. I'm okay with that. Christmas is a time for joy, celebration, for remembering the Greatest Gift of all, and I'm most certainly ready for that. Whether or not I still have a job next week, whether or not my son recognizes my love for him, whether or not I become a 'real' writer -- I am a child of God. I am precious in His sight. I have great love for some, and some love for all.

What more could possibly matter?

Stephanie Jean

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Keep The Faith

I'm reading this book called "Experiencing God" concurrently with the Big Blue Book from Alcoholic's Anonymous. No, I'm not an alcoholic (and no, I'm not just saying that because I'm in denial). I'm reading it because a very close friend of mine recommended it as a life-path regardless of alcoholism, and since he is someone I look up to as much, much more evolved than myself on the spiritual path, I decided to give it a shot. Reading both of these books at the same time is a bit surreal, I must say. I read a chapter in each one when I sit down to read, and almost always, one sheds light on what the other says.

I have a very hard time dealing with anxiety, as do many women in my family lineage. Mine manifests itself in the most harrowing ways, and it's nearly consistent. It's almost like I have no rest emotionally. Whenever my cell phone rings, I immediately think it's bad news. Whenever I call a loved one and they don't answer, I think something must be wrong. I am inherently a person who does not have an easy time trusting others, so I constantly think something's going on behind my back. I can't shake it, it seems. Even when things are going really well in my life for a good amount of time (which rarely happens, hah!) that's when I am most anxious because I am waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Getting that off my chest has been therapeutic in and of itself. My daughter calls my Spiritual Guru Friend (from paragraph one) my 'shrink'. He recently gave me the advice to just sit with my anxiety next time it occurs. Don't try to fight it, don't feed into it, just sit with it like a distraught child and see where it takes me. And let me tell you something, he's a genius. The few times this past week that the anxiety has crept in, I've done exactly that and after just a few short moments, it stops its pouting and stomping for attention and goes off somewhere else in my brain to amuse itself without bothering me. I'm not saying I expect this to happen every time, nor do I expect it to steer me away from a full blown anxiety attack when it is wont to occur, but it might. It just might.

I digress. In reading these two books at the same time, I'm noticing a constantly woven theme. The theme is faith. Faith in a Higher Power. Faith in God. Not just faith in name, but in action. I can't just say that I have faith that God's going to take care of things, and then sit around and worry that God's not going to take care of things. That makes me both a liar and a hypocrite simultaneously. And I greatly dislike liars and hypocrites, so I want no piece of that cheesecake, my friend.

This whole pressing 'fertility/infertility' issue I have -- it's a matter of faith, of trust. Am I going to believe God for what He's told me? He said to be fruitful and multiply. He said that children are a gift, a reward. He didn't ask for my human ingenuity -- He didn't say "I might not be able to take care of this alone, so you should look into adoption or IVF even though they're really expensive". He told me something, and I just have to believe it will happen in His time, and stop trying to force the issue. I have to live my life as though the baby will arrive any moment. I don't know if I'll get pregnant or if someone will ask me to take their baby or if the stork's going to drop one off, or what, but I'll get one. Both books, "Experiencing God" and the Big Blue Book, tell me that I'm not the one in charge. I have to accept my circumstances and see where God wants me working within them. Acceptance is the key to all of my problems today. See? It's like they're mirrors, reflecting one another in their wisdom.

Other things: I was told today that I don't have to try to make peace. The teller may be younger than me, but she sure had some good advice. I spend much of my life trying to make peace between people when most of the time it's not my problem. The problem I have with that, however, is that a lot of times the problems are between people I love and care about. When I see two people I love and care about not getting along, it hurts me. I want them to be closer. I want peace. I want kindness, and forgiveness, and compassion. The problem is, the only ability I have to make that happen is prayer. I can't force people's hands or hearts. I can only tell them what I think and then sit back and pray that they do the right thing. That goes for my friends, my family, and most of all, for God.

I cannot tell God what to do. I can tell Him what I want, though He already knows, and I can ask Him for things, but ultimately, He knows what is best for me. I can continue to ask for something again and again, but if He has something better in mind for me, why would I settle for the lesser thing that I want instead of the massive blessing He has in store for me?

Acceptance is the key. Right?

Now... I just have to accept that.

Stephanie Jean

Friday, November 4, 2011

Worn Out

Periodically, I ask myself, "Why is life so hard?"

I know that's a pathetic question when my life really isn't all that horrible in comparison to many others. But I always hated when teachers graded on a curve. Why should I compare myself to others? I'm entitled to my feelings from time to time, right? Just because there are horrible things like famine and flooding and devastation doesn't mean that I can't just be really, really frustrated and want to kick somebody because I've had a bad day. Or a bad week. Or a bad month. Or a bad few years.

I just want to vent for a few minutes. I don't like to do this, but sometimes I have to.

It feels like most of the people in my realm of existence are out to get me. Like, no matter how much good I've done, it's not enough. No matter how hard I've worked, I didn't do a good enough job. No matter what I plan, it falls apart. No matter how much I pay towards eliminating debt, something else comes up that has to be paid for. No matter how stressful a day has been, there's plenty more waiting for me the next day.

I'm tired.

I am physically and emotionally tired. I just want to take a break. I want a Sabbatical. A nice, long, month or two of rest. I feel like I deserve it, you know? I've worked since I was thirteen years old: babysitting, doing yardwork, fast food, office jobs, cleaning houses, coffee shop, teaching high school, teaching college, warehouse. I've taken one single unemployment check my entire life, and it was only because I was working a contract job that specifically directed us to take the check for the month we were out of the contract before the next one started up.

I told my husband today that I'm going to write a musical about our job and use the music of Queen. The customer's song would be, "I want it all... I want it all... I want it all... and I want it now." And, in the end, our song would be We are the Champions: "I've paid my dues time after time. I've done my sentence, but committed no crime. And bad mistakes, I've made a few. I've had my share of sand kicked in my face, but I've come through." That's what it feels like every day of my life. I had someone tell me this week that I was just a little too intelligent to be working at a coffee shop. That sentence was wrong on so many levels, I can't even begin to describe it! First off, are you assuming that people that work at a coffee shop aren't intelligent? And secondly, that being what your argument is predicated upon, you deem me only a LITTLE too intelligent to be working there? And I could go on and on. The condescension I put up with in one day working there is more than I've dealt with the rest of my life, and that's saying a lot. Any shred of optimism for humanity I had in the past has slowly withered over the last five years. Now I just fake a smile, close my eyes and shake my head as I walk away.

Sleep. Sweet, sweet sleep is what I need. It heals so many wounds.

Stephanie Jean