Tag Archives: work

It Can Always Get Better

“How often do you have to come for chemo?” The woman hooked up in the chair next to me–a grandmother with a kind, yet tired face –asked me about two hours into my transfusion.

I looked up at the tubes attached to my arm, blood slowly and mechanically dripping down into the IV.

“No chemo for me,” I said, nodding my head up at the machine. “Blood transfusion because my hemoglobin was dangerously low.”

I was almost embarrassed, humbled by not only that woman, but the other people in the room who were also getting their chemo. I was lucky. I was sick, but I didn’t have cancer.

It could always be worse.


At this time last year I didn’t have a job.

Even though I dreaded returning to one I had gone to every day for seven years, that loss of security seemed like the end of the world. Every day was spent frustratingly looking for work, dealing with the unemployment agency, and trying not to let what was already a years-long deep depression completely sweep me up in the current.

I would lie in bed those unemployed months and make bargains with myself and some unknown higher power. “If I can get this job, I promise I’ll get the help I need for my (insert depression, exercise addiction, OCD here) and really make those big changes.”

“OK. That one didn’t work out. If I can get this job, I promise I’ll stop (insert maladaptive behavior), finally gain those needed 30 lbs, and dig myself out of this hole.”

Then eventually I landed a job I couldn’t have written up more perfectly for myself, one that’s the complete opposite of everything that made my last job so miserable. On even my worst work day, I always tell myself, “Remember how things were. Remember how grateful you are that this happened.”

Things could always be worse.

Yet many days are still a struggle. All those promises I made to myself, all those changes I no longer had an excuse to make are still there. For awhile, the newness and excitement of the job did distract me a bit. Then the OCD got worse, the fog got a little bit thicker. I made up new excuses to distract myself from the problems and continued to literally run myself to the ground, my body taking the brunt of my mind.

I conveniently ignored the signs, but I couldn’t ignore my mom crying about how sick I looked, the nights in my bed when my heart felt like it would either flutter out of my chest or stop, and then the phone call that I had to go in for two blood transfusions as soon as I could.

Sitting in that hospital chair, I had time to do nothing but think.

Everything I had been given could be taken away–the job, the freedom, even my life–because I refused to admit that I couldn’t outthink my physical and mental illness, that doing the same things wouldn’t land me in the same exact place.

Where it landed me was in the hospital with an IV running blood through my arm for eight hours, making small talk with a woman who had been dealt a deadly illness she was valiantly fighting. I again made all those same promises to myself that this time things would be different, that this is what it would take to finally get myself healthy.

And then when I was feeling better a couple of days later, I went back to the gym and all my old habits.

After all, it could be worse, right?


“Well yeah, it’s not cancer and it could be worse,” said my doctor a week later when I gave her my tired excuses. “But not much.”

There it was in black in white in the form of my lab results. There it was coming out of the mouth of a professional who I couldn’t negotiate with like I could–and do–with myself, which is why I’m rambling here.

Because the fact is you can’t negotiate yourself out of physical or mental illness–the latter of which is often suggested to be a choice. After all, if we know what we can do to “get out of it” but still engage in behaviors, that means we’re weak, right? I mean, we have so many good things in our lives that it’s ridiculous there are days that taking a shower is a major accomplishment.

Well, it’s not a choice.

Sickness is sickness, and I’m pretty sure that if we could get hooked up to a machine and have an IV drip some cocktail cure-all for mental illness into our arms, most of us would sign up in a second, no questions asked. It’s not that easy–nothing about it is easy. Wishful and willful thinking alone can’t cure cancer, low hemoglobin, depression, addiction, etc. or the guilt that sometimes accompanies these.

So for me–and for you–here’s a reminder.

It’s not a choice to be sick, but it’s a choice to admit that you are.

It’s a choice to do what you need to do to be healthy, even if it’s really painful in so many ways.

It’s a choice to reach out for support.

It’s a choice not to feel guilty.

I don’t know if I believe that myself most of the time, but I don’t want to know just how much worse things can be.

Because while it’s a choice to believe that “it could be worse,” it’s also a choice to believe that it could always be better.

better

It can always get better.

Like the blog? Buy the books and cool things!

zazzle.jpg

Cutting the Cord

Last week felt like that moment you get in your car and hear only the last two seconds of your favorite song. Things most certainly could be worse, but it was a series of frustrations—a $200 bee exterminator fee, a leaking faucet, etc.—that culminated with me actually writing a blog post.

(I know. I should have called my sponsor for an intervention.)

Anyway, to say that Comcast is a frustrating company is to say that a Kardashian takes a selfie or two now and again. This won’t be a (well-deserved) Comcast rant—but it’s an important detail to the story.

I was working on Friday morning when all the sudden both my TV and Internet went out. Great. I immediately freaked the hell out—in part because I work from home and in part because that’s my default mode when things are out of my control, which is super helpful.

I looked outside and there was literally a cable cut and hanging out of a tree into the street in front of my house.

Not a good sign.

Long story short, it culminated in more than 13 phone calls to Comcast, five live chats, etc. and being told that since it was a safety hazard it was a “top priority” and “escalated” for techs who would be out there that day by 1…and then by 4 and then 5.

See where this is going?

It was a whole day of supervisors lying to me, apparently, because no one actually showed up to my house until 1 pm on Saturday. In fact, the energy company had to remove the cable from the road because of safety reasons that Comcast evidently didn’t find quite important enough to address.

Anyway, here’s the moral of the story (other than the hatred I have of Comcast.)

Internet

I enjoy my job. My job is 100 percent online, and I enjoy being online even when I’m not working. But there comes a point when you’re forced to go without it, and you’re forced to face reality—and not in a virtual sense.

I should preface this with the fact that the issue goes way deeper than just being online with me—my OCD, depression, exercise addiction, etc. have been out of control these past months and it’s a separate post.

But it took literally having this cord cut for me to realize how much I retreat to a repetitive world, covering the real issues with a virtual Band-Aid.

In those rare moments when I’m not working, I mindlessly click around the same few websites, TV show in the background that I’m not really watching anyway.

It’s really a metaphor for so many other issues with me (see above.) Is it easier to dig deeper and take steps to be healthy and happy long term or distract myself with overexercising and the Internet and worry about real life later?

Click. Walk. Click.

The thing is, it’s easy to rationalize.

I don’t have a smartphone because I don’t want to be one of those annoying people constantly checking my phone in line, in the car, when talking to people, etc. Yet everyone ignores how destructive this behavior can become because there are so many other people who do the same thing.

It’s easy to rationalize my OCD/exercise addiction because there are so many people who ignorantly claim to “wish they had my problem,” even though my health is so bad I should probably be hospitalized and the emotional (and physical) investment I place on these routines completely disrupts—and in fact, pretty much rules—my life.

Maybe part of it is that we (I) don’t always feel like there’s really anything else to stop for because these things become the life that we’ve created, for better or worse. To cope with certain things, we develop habits that have nothing to do with actual meaningful goals just so we have a distraction, a way to fill the time.

For me, even living with the constant “something is seriously wrong here” feeling, I often can’t make myself stop doing what I know isn’t healthy.

It would take being put in the hospital again to get me to stop exercising. It would take having my depression get so bad that I scare myself in order to go back to therapy. And it did take having the cord literally cut for me to realize how purposeless so many things have become.

Yes, we all need distractions—they aren’t all bad, that’s for sure. But we (I) also need intention.

I was able to work from my mom’s on Friday and Saturday, and once the basic stuff was out of the way and I had “fun” time, you know what I did?

I sat staring at the computer screen wondering what the hell I was doing. It took me 10 minutes to go through Facebook and Twitter and email, and then…mindless clicking. And then something clicked. There was nothing I needed that second that wouldn’t be there when things worked at home again. 

So I shut it off.

I went home and finished a magazine. I put in a DVD (that still worked even though cable was out) and actually watched it—not just had it on in the background while I was online. I wrote a rambling blog post that probably 10 people will read. 

And while it was a pain in the ass for two days, life went on, as it tends to do. 

Because unlike service from Comcast, you can always depend on that. I owe it to myself to pay attention. 

So do you. 

Like the blog? Buy the books and cool things!

zazzle.jpg

Advice For the Class of 2015–Welcome to Adulthood!

Hello Class of 2015!

Congrats on moving that tassel over to the other side and grabbing that diploma. Now I know you’ll be getting tons of great advice about adulthood from family and overpriced Hallmark cards you’ll take the money out of and then pack/throw away, but I’m a true helper.

How? Because I know eventually your idealism will be replaced with realism and if you’re not prepared, life can feel as rough as waking up in a frat house called the “Ass House” wondering how your bra got on the ceiling fan…hypothetically speaking.

Anyway, here are a few bits and pieces about adulthood that may or may not pertain to you, but that you should be prepared for nonetheless. Remember, you’ll get the job and “hopes and dreams” stuff from everyone else. I’m just keeping it real.

exhausted

It’s true. Being an adult is mostly being tired all the time and acting incredulous any time someone tells you what the date it. “What? Where did the summer go? How can it be December already?” Yeah. Get used to that.

And while you think you’re tired now from studying (partying) and working (at a job 20 hours a week), it all changes when you’re an adult. You don’t even have to stay up late, as in, after 10 p.m. One morning you just wake up, look at your alarm clock—the lamest game of Whac-a-Mole ever—and count down the hours until you can be back in your little nocturnal worry pod of overanalysis (your bed.)

So there’s that.

When you do pull yourself out of bed you will learn that “Snap, Crackle, and Pop” is no longer referring to cereal, but rather the sound of your joints.

Coffee seems to be a staple of adulthood, and while you’re probably spending 20 percent of your paycheck on overpriced bean juice in the form of lattes and mochas from Starbucks right now, get used to the plain stuff. Or at least that’s what I’m told.

I haven’t had coffee in more than 12 years because of health issues, which gets the same reaction from people as if I told them I club baby seals (which no, I don’t do either.) 

Anyway, if you drink coffee as an adult, you have to talk about how much you like coffee, need coffee, and want an I.V. of coffee hooked into your arm. At least that’s what I gather from social media, which brings me to my next point.

For every reaction, there is an equal and opposite overreaction—usually be someone on the Internet. Learn to weed through the noise and for god sake, live life offline and don’t depend on the validation from strangers. No one really cares what you look like in the bathroom mirror. Except you. Sorry.

As an adult you will concern yourself with more important things like remembering to put out the trash and the recycle bins on the same day—and if you do it before the neighbors, the feeling of satisfaction is equal to at least, like, five Instagram “likes” or whatever currently floats your boat.

Other notable accomplishments?

Putting laundry away the same day that it’s done, going to the store and NOT immediately making a list of the things you forgot at the store, using up a bottle of shampoo and conditioner at the same time, sneaking an expired coupon past the cashier, bringing in all the grocery bags in one trip—no man left behind!—winding up a garden hose in under five minutes, and making the right decision as to whether or not you should cut the grass now or if it can wait until later. Is it going to rain? Am I safe?

The weather. You will talk about the weather a lot. Or gas prices. 

“Make it a double” will no longer refer to the trendy drinks at the bar—when you’re legally old enough to drink, of course—but rather the Sleepytime Tea you will need to try and relax at night.

And if you’re single and your pilot light goes out more than you do—NO JUDGEMENT I LOVE MY COUCH AND MY COUCH LOVES ME, SO JUST MOVE ON—a “booty call” will only refer to being butt dialed by your gay best friend.

Whatever. I’m in a committed relationship with various vegan edibles and we’re very happy together.

My point is that things change, but don’t worry! Even though this sounds a little bit less than exciting, remember that every day really is a gift. True, some days it’s a regifted package of razors from the dollar store or something you would like to return for store credit or Kohl’s cash, but it’s still better than the alternative.

So go forth and prosper. Delight in your youth and the future that you get to write—yes, write. Don’t just text. Like, pick up a pen and some paper and write. But don’t ever become a writer—they have issues.

Or so I’m told.

Good luck!

Like the blog? Buy the books and cool things!

zazzle

P.S. Facebook has changed it’s reach AGAIN and only 5-10 percent of people are seeing my updates. To ensure you’re not missing a thing, add my Facebook page to your “Interests” lists, subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter.

Funny Notes, Cool Cakes, and the Cutest Animals on the Internet

True story.

USE UP

Anyway, it’s been a couple weeks since I dropped a bunch of GREAT links on you from 22 Words that I highly recommend you click on, read, and share with the world because you JUST CAN’T KEEP THE AWESOME TO YOURSELF.

Or at least find one or two things that make you smile. And if you can’t find something to make you smile below, you probably have no soul. No soul, I say!

At any rate, I’ll try and write something new at some point in time in between playing the connect the dots and doing that work thing, but for now, enjoy.

35 Hilarious Notes from Seriously Unimpressed Neighbors  (Be glad you don’t live by these people.)

Road-Tripping Guinea Pig Wins the Heart of the Internet

40 Funny Notes Left of Windshields for People Who Can’t Part (a lot of you on my Facebook page seemed to relate.)

Stay-At-Home Dad Hilariously Uses Post-It Notes to Tell His Story

Could This Adorable Dog Be The Smallest Pug in the World (the only thing cuter than a pug is a teeny, tiny pug.)

30 Ridiculous Notes from Roommates Who are Tired of Dealing With Your Crap

Absolutely Brilliant Ways to Subtly Mess With People

36 Honest Thoughts EVERYONE Has Had While Driving

Incredibly Stunning Cakes that Look EXACTLY Like Other Foods  (I can’t even make a cake that looks like a cake, much less looks like a burrito.)

Amazing Pictures Taken at EXACTLY the Right Moment (So, so cool.)

40 Hilariously Honest Notes Only Kids Could Get Away With Writing 

Cancer Survivor Creates Empathy Cards She Wishes that She Had Been Sent

30 Parents Who are DEFINITELY Smarter Than Their Kids  (One word: OWNED)

Shameless Animals Who Want JUST ONE Bite of Your Food (food + animals = win)

Like the blog? Buy the books and cool things!

zazzle

P.S. Facebook has changed it’s reach AGAIN and only 5-10 percent of people are seeing my updates. To ensure you’re not missing a thing, add my Facebook page to your “Interests” lists, subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter.

Things You Should Spend Your Time on the Internet Reading

In my defense, it IS my job to look at the Internet.

Internet

At any rate, if you’re going to go look at the Internet for the 103rd time today, I have some suggestions from the gazillion things I’ve written for work. This is not an exhaustive list of things I’ve written, but rather a few things I thought you might like. 

(Disclaimer: I do encourage following of 22 Words, but I was not paid to say that and also don’t want people to think that’s annoying which is why this is a disclaimer in parenthesis.)

So new post next time, but lots of good stuff below. 

Hilarious Dogs Who Instantly Regretted Their Questionable Decisions

40 Hilarious Flyers People Actually Took the Time to Create and Post

Cat With a Broken Neck But Got a Second Chance at a New Life

36 People Who Should Just Stay Out of the Kitchen Forever

Mom’s Remarkable Photo Series Turns Special Needs Kids Into Superheroes

41 Cats Who Made Questionable Choices They Instantly Regretted

Graduation Cakes That Have Failed in the Most Hilarious Ways

36 Restaurant Typo Fails That  Change EVERYTHING About Eating Out 

Photographer Captures the Beauty of Food in Stunning Rainbow-Colored Pictures

Epic Fails From People Who Had Just ONE Job

42 Strange Things People Found on Their Receipts

Warning Signs That Prove Common Sense Isn’t So Common

50 Insanely Delicious Things You Can Do With Oreo Cookies

Like the blog? Buy the books and cool things!

zazzle

P.S. Facebook has changed it’s reach AGAIN and only 5-10 percent of people are seeing my updates. To ensure you’re not missing a thing, add my Facebook page to your “Interests” lists, subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter.

Just Enjoy the Walk

My mom’s dog Chauncey is allergic to bees.

We didn’t know this until he got stung for the first time a few years ago, which unfortunately, was when I was taking him out for a walk. His little 13-lb body swelled up within minutes to the point that he looked like a hideous, wrinkly, bloated caricature of himself and he started having trouble breathing.

I swooped him up and ran the half mile back to my mom’s house. She wasn’t home–which is why I was walking him–and so I threw him in my car and literally sped the 10 minutes to the vet with him cowering and shaking on my lap the hole time. Long story short, he was eventually okay after the vet gave him an emergency shot and sent me home with drugs and an epi-pen for future accidents.

But for the first few months after that, he wanted nothing to do with me taking him for a walk, and any fly that even came within feet of his head made him crazy. Understandably, he was scared it would happen again.

Eventually he got over it and I could walk him again, and while he still is extra alert with bugs, he’s pretty much back to normal. He loves going for walks.

For me, even though I know we have his emergency kit and I take my phone just in case, I’m still scared every time that I walk him.

I still remember that day.

In fact, I still remember “that” day in the sense that I remember all of those days. I remember traumatic things that happened 15 years ago, being stuck in the blackout for three days while living in the heart of Detroit, getting sick and being in the hospital, the day that I lost my job, the stress of this last big “basement filled with water and expensive repairs and cleaning,” experience, etc.

Of course you never forget those things, but with me it’s always been different.

Every time we get a storm, I get neurotic about losing power (and now about my basement flooding again.) Every time I start to slip down, I worry that I’ll end up in the hospital again. Now that I have a job that I love and adore, I’m paranoid it might get taken away.

Nobody puts this stress on me but me, but in a sense I’m always afraid to get stung, afraid to have it all happen again.

This is good in the sense that it makes me prepared. This is bad in the sense that it can also makes my OCD ramp up and I physically wear myself down to try and gain some control, but also suspicious of all the good things, wondering when the other shoe is going to drop.

OK. Now I’m rambling.

But my point–I think–is that sometimes bad things happen because you made a bad decision or sometimes for no reason at all. Sometimes good things happen because you work hard or maybe you just caught a break. When either of those things happen, you have to learn to just accept it.

joan

Shit happens. Sunshine happens.

I don’t know what that means but I’m just trying to say that you’ll never forget “those days.” Whether you were seriously ill, lost a job or a loved one, or suffered any type of trauma–you know you’ll never forget. It changes you, but it’s up to you to decide that direction of change.

As for me, through all the stuff that’s happened, I didn’t believe people who told me that things would get better. I wanted to, but when you’re in the middle of whatever that thing is, everything seems so far away.

Now that I’m kind of working on getting to that other side, I realize that they were right (have to insert “knock on wood” because, well, see above.)

Things might now work out exactly as you want them to–or when, but then again, maybe they’ll work out even better than you planned at a time they needed to happen. Whatever it is, you’ll get through it. And when you do and come to unfamilar place of “happy” or maybe “content”, don’t waste time wondering why.

In other words, don’t shit on your sunshine or shine the light on the shit or something kind of like that. Maybe a bit more eloquently, don’t be scared that you’ll get stung again.

Instead, enjoy the walk.

Like the blog? Buy the books and cool things!

zazzle

P.S. Facebook has changed it’s reach AGAIN and only 5-10 percent of people are seeing my updates. To ensure you’re not missing a thing, add my Facebook page to your “Interests” lists, subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter.

Grilled Cheese, Pie and Some Kids With Really Bad Hair

So…we meet again.

I’ll be honest in saying that I’m still trying to get my thoughts together on a more introspective post, but lately my thoughts by the end of the day involve introspection along the lines of, “I would like a second opinion on the fact this jar of hummus is labeled as eight servings” and “Why does the letter ‘W’ have so many damn syllables?”

alphabet

In other words, my brain is fried.

To be honest, these past couple of weeks have been a real emotional roller coaster. I’ve had some awesome unexpected things happen with work–I’m still one of those annoying people who loves my job–and my writing, but then I’ve also had some really unexpected crappy things happen.

We’re not talking life or death–I’m trying to keep perspective–but rather things beyond my control like a flooded basement with six inches of water and thousands of dollars of clean-up and sewer line replacement that wasn’t in the financial or emotional budget.

Let’s just say I’ve had more men going through my house this past week than I’ve had the past eight years combined. Unfortunately, none of them look like Bradley Cooper, unless Bradley Cooper suddenly morphed into a middle-aged, dirt-covered foreman with the stereotypical plumber’s crack.

Anyway, it kind of threw me because for the first time in a long, long time, I was feeling…happy? Content? I still have a long ways to go–and I need to save this ramble for that introspective post I’m pretending I will write–but I’m actually kind of okay. Not too high, not too low, but just settling into a new and slightly uncomfortable/unfamiliar normal. Then all this crap happened.

But, through the help of some friends and carbs, I’m trying to accept that something bad luck is just that–bad luck–and that good things happening are just good things happening. Sometimes it’s the result of hard work and sometimes it’s just a good thing. You have to accept both and not let either of them go to your head too much. It’s a constant work in progress.

But I digress–as usual.

Speaking of work, I thought I would drop a few links on you from 22 Words in case you want some good weekend reading. I’ll be back at some point with a more coherent post, but for now–what the hell is up with “W,” you know?

Detention Slips That Prove These Kids are Too Hilarious To Care (and hilarious comments on my Facebook page.)

30 Haircuts So Bad That These Kids Might Actually Hate Their Parents Now (We’ve all had a mullet…admit it.)

Hilarious Grocery Store Fails You Won’t Believe Actually Happened

30 Innocent Spelling Mistakes that Make These Kids Seem Completely Inappropriate 

20 Restaurants Where You Can Torture Yourself with Tasty but Insane Food Challenges (I’ll pass on 7 pounds of Italian food, thanks.)

Company Logos with Hidden Images You’ll Wonder Why You Didn’t See Sooner

40 of the Most Amazing, Mouthwatering Pies You’ll Ever See 

The Most Breathtaking and Dangerous Flowers in the World (Mother Nature is pretty kick-ass.)

Ridiculous Pet Products that Prove Some People Are Crazy (Three words: Dog sex toys.)

True Animal Heroes Who Saved People From Certain Death

35 Epic Grilled Cheese Sandwiches that  Celebrate April as National Grilled Cheese Month (Seriously. So much delicious. The end.)

And finally, I’m honored to say that I’m included among a fabulously talented group of women as a 2015 BlogHer Voice of the Year Honoree for my “10 Commandments of Grocery Shopping” post. I’m not tooting my own horn–I think it’s broken–but rather humbled and grateful and extending my congrats to everyone there on that list.

With that said, rambling over. See you back here next time.

Like the blog? Buy the books and cool things!

zazzle

 P.S. Facebook has changed it’s reach AGAIN and only 5-10 percent of people are seeing my updates. To ensure you’re not missing a thing, add my Facebook page to your “Interests” lists, subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter.