Friday, December 31, 2010

Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, start all over again

It's New Year's Eve and I'm helping Queen Teen make Thank You cards for the people who sent her gifts. She and I will celebrate together with some sparkling apple juice, pizza, and a Tinker Bell movie marathon. I wonder which of us will fall asleep first, or will this be the year we both stay awake until midnight? It feels important to stay awake. I need to see this year officially ended.

And in the morning, we all start with a fresh slate and 364 days to try again. Will we learn from our mistakes? Get it right this time? Take more risks? Actually stick to that diet? How many resolutions can one person make and keep? Any?

Despite my feelings of defeat, I too will wake up in the morning with a bit more optimism. Maybe this will be my year? I can't help it. I often get the blues, but ultimately I can't stay down long. Life is just too interesting to hide under the covers.

I can't remember if I've already shared this video here, but I taught myself this song last month and it cheers me up every time I sing it. Feels perfect for a New Year.

Happy New Year, dear friends. Enjoy the adventure. Who knows what will happen in a new year that starts off 1-1-11?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

That dirty little four letter word... help

I admit it: I'm depressed. It feels a bit more intense than my usual end of the year, post-holiday, too much sugar and noise, depression. After some serious thought, I realize the reason I'm so depressed this year is because I am absolutely exhausted. I've worn myself out to the core and I simply do not have another ounce of thought, energy, emotion or knowledge to give. Somehow though, I have to keep giving. Otherwise this hectic but beautiful life of mine will come crashing down. What to do?

Usually, I don't make New Year's resolutions. Instead I lean toward general promises, like last year when I said I would "Be kinder to myself." I can say that despite my crazy life, I've managed to make some progress on that promise. I'm eating better (if you exclude December... and November... and September... and... never mind). I'm exercising more (except for December... and November... and September...). But mainly, I'm just not being so hard on myself. My tendency is to punish myself for any perception of weakness, like this...

You only got a B on that test? Why didn't you study harder? 
You just had to eat that other cookie, didn't you? You have no self control!
Stop being such a whiney baby! 
Oh for heaven's sake, stop crying. I don't care if you're tired. You've got dishes to do!

But in 2010, I managed to combat that evil, vindictive voice in my head with thoughts like this...

It's okay. You're tired. The dishes can wait.
You're a human being, Terena. Remember that.
Queen Teen can wait a minute. Finish your shower.
Look at everything you've taken on this year. No wonder you're worn out.

And so, instead of beating myself up for being tired, depressed, 10 pounds overweight and in a bad mood, I sat myself down and asked myself out loud, "Why are you feeling this way? What can you do to change that?"

Besides the obvious of finishing grad school, there is the not so obvious fact (at least to me) that I am doing all of it with very little help. My husband and I struggle to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table. We work hard to care for our child, who at 15 is still unable to be left alone for any length of time. Our families live far away and our friends are scattered with busy lives of their own. Ultimately, caring for Queen Teen falls to me. Rick helps when he can, but he needs to work more or the bills go unpaid. He and I are overstressed and overburdened. Something has to change.

And so, my New Year's resolution in 2011 is "Look for more help, and ask for it."

It won't be easy. With California's budget not just in the toilet, but all the way at the bottom of the fiscal septic tank, services for people with disabilities and their families are extremely limited. What little we had is being cut even more. But we need help, and I am determined to find it.

Being capable can be a curse. People look at me and see how strong and responsible I am, how much Queen Teen is thriving, how hard we all work and manage so beautifully. Because I appear so on-top-of-it, people don't think to ask if we need help. Well I am here to state for the record that

WE NEED HELP!!!!!!!!!!!

Was that loud enough?

I need help. Really. I know I look like I've got everything under control, but inside I am a shaking, weary, terrified, mess in need of a housekeeper, cook, secretary and chauffeur. I need therapy and a massage. I need two weeks of sleep and one-on-one meditation lessons followed by a month of yoga.

But I'll settle for someone to point me in the right direction toward getting more support for my family.

Any ideas?

Monday, December 27, 2010

I'm gonna wash 2010 right out of my hair

The first monday after Christmas and 2011 is less than a week away. I cannot wait for 2010 to be done! I want to finish everything from this year that is still hanging over my head: three more chapters in the "Red Book" to study for my exam, several blog posts to prepare, sales and inventory to total up for Medusa's Muse, my overflowing pantry to organize, all of the laundry finally done, my house scrubbed until every drop of dust from 2010 has vanished.

None of this will happen of course. With my daughter home 24/7, I'll probably get one more chapter read before New Years, if I'm lucky. Plus, my washing machine broke two days before Christmas, so the laundry won't be finished. 2010's dirty socks will most likely still be lying on the hallway floor in 2011.

I always feel this way at New Years. Instead of feeling excitement for a new year, I feel relief the old one is over. Whew! I made it through another year! Then I plop on the couch, open the champagne, and mentally prepare myself for another frickin year.

New Years is not my best time. Some people get the blues at Christmas, I get depressed on New Years.

Today, I'm taking Queen Teen to Santa Rosa for a little post-Christmas shopping with her holiday money. Tomorrow I'll study Chapter 10 (Environmental Accessibility). Some time this week, I'll do a couple of loads of laundry at a friend's house and perhaps on Thursday visit my brother and his family. Queen Teen's best friend is her cousin. I'll do my best to wipe away 2010 and accept the fact that some of this year will still be there on Jan 1st. It always is. Like my gray hair and extra pounds.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Peace on Earth, Good Will to All

Christmas Eve, 2010. Cajun music is blasting while my husband and I make Alligator Gumbo, Red Beans and Rice with Taso, vegetables boiled in Cajun spices, and Bread Pudding in Whiskey Sauce, plus a shrimp and spinach quiche for our friends who can't tolerate the spices of Cajun cooking. In a couple of hours, several friends are coming for a Cajun Christmas celebration. My husband is from New Orleans and loves to cook, so Christmas Eve is the perfect time to cook all day and try new recipes. The house smells of onion, bell pepper, cayenne, chicken stock, and Andouille sausage. The champagne is on ice, the house is clean, and I just changed my clothes into something more festive. It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas...

I've been trying to write something meaningful and important about the season, but so far all I can manage is this:

Whoever you are, and whatever holiday you celebrate, may your days filled with joy, laughter, and love.

And here's a bit of Cajun Christmas to get you in the spirit:

Bonne Christmeusse!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

It's a Wonderful Life

Right now I'm watching It's a Wonderful Life, starring James Stewart,  Donna Reed, and the brilliant Lionel Barrymore as evil Mr. Potter, who I imagine Scrooge would have become if never saved by the ghosts. I watch it every year at Christmas, reveling in classic tale of a man who's dreams never come true, but who discovers that his life has meaning after all. In fact, when the movie debuted in 1946, it was panned by critics as too sentimental and "sweet,"despite the fact it was nominated for 5 Academy Awards. But over the years, the movie has become one of the most beloved films of all time and is considered a master piece of American movie-making.

Directed by Frank Capra, famous for creating sentimental movies even by 1940's standards  (You Can't Take it With You is one of my favorites), It's a Wonderful Life tells the story of George Bailey, a man with big dreams that never come true because the needs of his family and the community of Bedford Falls always supersede his own. For the most part, George gives his time willingly, because he is blessed with a generous spirit. But when a crisis threatens to destroy his own life, George is filled with rage and in desperation considers suicide. That's when his Guardian Angel appears and through a series of miracles shows George that his life does have meaning and how much of an impact he has had in the lives of the entire town. It's the kind of movie that makes you cry at least twice, especially at the end.

Here's a clip from the movie, when George sees Mary again.

2010 hasn't exactly been a picnic. In fact, it's right up there with one of the hardest years of all, including 1996, when I got a divorce and discovered Queen Teen had medical problems. And maybe it's a mid-life thing, but I feel as if my life hasn't gone in any direction I had hoped for. Sometimes I swear I'm living someone else's life. When I was a kid, I didn't think about college, I planned to act and travel the world. Instead, I'm a middle aged mom working on a possibly useless Graduate degree, stuck in a small town, slowly putting on weight while I clean house and raise my daughter. I feel an awful lot like George Bailey, stuck in Bedford Falls, hearing the sound of his lost dreams in the roar of trains passing by.

George's dreams of travel and adventure didn't come true, but his life was far richer than he realized. He made a difference in the world, and he was allowed to see just how much he mattered. He had love and an entire town who called him friend, and when things were bleakest, they were there for him. As his brother said, George Bailey was the richest man in town.

So see the movie, and then think about your own life. I know I will. We may be surprised at how rich we actually are.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A mobile life needs a mobile blog

It's Christmas break and I'm playing catch up. I recently saw that I can blog from my iPhone, so I'm giving it a go. Will this help me keep up with my blog? Probably not, because typing on my phone is no fun. But it will be nice to jot down thoughts and read all of my blog friends posts. Has anyone tried using mobile blogging? What do you think?

This is a test, a warm up, as I gather my thoughts and stretch my writing muscles. Looking forward to spending lots of time writing here again.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Does keeping a list of blog topics mean I'm still blogging?

Here it is December and I still have two pumpkins on my front porch. November flew by so fast I barely remember what happened. I think there was a party of some type in there that involved lots of food. Or was that last year?

I've been jotting down topics for blog posts on a scrap of paper I leave by my bed in the futile hope I'll actually be able to write them. So far I have :

  • bras
  • skin care
  • "we could use some boys around here"
  • when fish try to commit suicide
  • more classic movie reviews
  • absinth
  • "I can't sleep and rest at the same time"
  • the bathtub opera
  • I think my hair is falling out
  • Why did I go to grad school?

When I actually have the time to sit and write some of these while I still remember them (why did I want to write about bras, though?), I'll be flooding my blog with enough posts to bore entertain you all. But today, I'll get back to studying for my certification exam, surviving my internship, ignoring spending time with my daughter, and now preparing for the holidays.

The holidays... there are a few more blog topics in there for sure.