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This Blog or That Blog?

Life has been a tad bit crazy since deciding to move to Virginia and it hasn’t settled down since we arrived. There has been no settling for us. To our credit, we wake up every day and tackle life. Good, bad or indifferent, we are still in the game. Yay us! Sort of.

My health has taken quite a hit since moving here. I was concerned about it before moving but did my best to keep my worries private. Sad to report, that my concerns were well founded. My health is worse in Virginia. I am dealing with all the old problems and a bunch of new health challenges. I am researching and working to get myself together again. It’s just taking some time. But the life that I have envisioned for years is still just far enough of reach that I can’t get there. It sucks. Back to the drawing board.

There are days where I have a lot of down time and up till now, I have mostly been sleeping, recovering and willing my body to get it together. I’m not sure how well that is working but where the mind leads, the body will follow. So I’ve been told.

During the times of quiet, my mind keeps thinking about blogging and writing. It’s been a struggle to get it going. For the first few months, we had no internet. It’s only been within the past 30 days that we have internet in our home. Then there is time. I’m the only driver in our home so currently, I drive 2 people to 3 jobs. It was 2 people to 4 jobs for first few months. I didn’t have much time to sit still while juggling 2 people with 4 schedules. But we’ve made it work.

One of my biggest excuses has been this insane idea of starting a brand spanking new blog. I’ve been searching and trying out new names. I’ve been resisting coming to this blog to build on what I have already started. A mini identity crisis? Maybe. Maybe not. Sometimes I don’t want to tie some of my thoughts with my photography but it is so much easier to manage if it is all in one place. Does this blog allow me to do that? I don’t know but why start over? Plus, I can’t think of a new blog name that I like.

So, for now I am just going to get back to the keyboard. Hopefully.

I’m terrible at this…

Jamie

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Seeing Things

Seeing is believing or so they say.

I have been searching for a way to articulate anxiety. It is something that I have great difficulty putting into words so that others can see a little of what it is like to live with anxiety. I believe that if you can catch a glimpse of what others are experiencing in their personal struggles then, more often than not, we find a little more compassion and  understanding for things we don’t completely comprehend. At least, I hope that’s the way it goes.

I can only speak for myself but the more I begin to understand my own struggles with PTSD and anxiety, the more I wish someone else would just say, I get it, I get you. Intellectually, I know that there are a lot of other people living their best life with PTSD and anxiety. I know, that I am not alone. Bold, honest truth is that sometimes what you feel trumps what you know and those are the moments when we long for someone to love, accept and understand our struggles.

This past week, I’ve spent a fair amount of time watching the BBC hit, Luther. Thanks to Netflix, I’ve been able to catch up on four series just as filming begins on series five of the show. During one of my late night binge sessions, I came face to face with anxiety. It was the episode where Justin Ripley has been taken hostage. He is being held by the demented villain, hanging from a noose in a dark, damp, stone tunnel. He’s been beaten, branded and left for dead with a plastic bag over his head. Miraculously, Justin Ripley frees himself and begins to run toward the rusty ladder and a creaky hatch door that is presumably leading to his freedom. Up the ladder he goes and boom…that is when I see anxiety.

In a split second, as Ripley reaches the top of the ladder, I think to myself, “Oh no, don’t go out there! You don’t know what is out there!” Slamming the hatch door open, he barges out into the streets on London and his freedom. I slump back on my chair and mutter, “Oh my gosh, that is what anxiety like…” I am stunned. Suddenly, I have a visual representation of what my PTSD and anxiety feels like.

Life with anxiety and PTSD is just like being held hostage, constantly tormented by a nasty villain, all the while knowing that to survive you must break free. When you muster the strength and make a bold dash for freedom, the what if’s stop you at the bottom of the ladder. You never make it to the top and throw open the hatch door. You are crushed by a fear, worry and long list of unknowns and what if’s at the very first rung. You can see the door. You can see the noose on the wall. You need to get out. You want to get out. You’re paralyzed just long enough for the boogey man to get you again and suddenly, you’re hanging by your neck staring up at that hatch door, summoning the strength and courage to make another mad dash for freedom.

Hostage. Break out. Collapse. Repeat. Once a day or ten times in a day. It doesn’t really matter. To accomplish anything against anxiety and PTSD, you inevitably have to do it a hundreds times before you reach the top of a rusty ladder and find your freedom.

You see, I’m not trying to fail. I’m not the big screw up that you told me I was. I am not incompetent at life. I’m just a little tired. I’ve broken free a hundred times just to make a phone call. I’ve scrambled down a long, dark, damp tunnel repeatedly just to make a social event at Christmas. I’ve stood sobbing at the bottom of my rusty ladder under the weight of a thousand villainous thoughts attacking and dragging me backward just to mail a package at the post office.

I know you can do these things with ease, trust me, I know freedom is easy for you.
This is what it is like for me.

Be brave.
Jamie Christine

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PTSD

I was diagnosed with PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, in 1997. This may sound strange, but, I am just beginning to really understand how much it affects me and my life every day. Well, sort of, not really. It is all just so difficult to explain to myself and near impossible to convey to others what I handle on a daily basis. In the past few years, I have gained an even broader sight into my own self, particularly, my anxiety. I am noticing that for the most part, I am experiencing anxiety symptoms all day, every day. I live in a near constant state of anxiety. What is even stranger to me, most people I meet would never know.

I came across this article on Facebook about PTSD. I had difficulty finishing the article because the symptoms were spot on. I will have to read it in short sessions. One paragraph at a time, slowly absorbing the accuracy, until I can finish. Why? Because I read it and I am overwhelmed with the realization that this, too, is me.

Suddenly, I experience anxiety. I practice breathing. I pace a little. I gain control and push forward with my efforts to stifle the spinning out of control feelings in my mind. I’ve been managing the whirlwind for most of my life. I am used to it. So familiar with it that I am just now beginning to see that not everyone lives like me. Any way, I stumbled onto this article and it struck home so I am sharing it. Maybe you will understand more. Maybe I will understand more.

Five Invisible Symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress

Be brave.
Jamie Christine

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Out of Gems

Occasionally, I play those cheeky games on Facebook. I limit myself to one at a time because they tend to be time-consuming and you always reach a point in the game where it is nearly impossible to be successful without purchasing on all those special, sparkly gems that you need for all those extra game goodies. All those lovely unicorn trees and dancing water flower sprites inevitably end up being a requirement to complete a mission or adventure. These games are designed so that eventually you will need a sparkling pink marshmallow boat load of gems in order to be successful. In a cruel twist of fate, the world you were building suddenly comes to a screeching halt unless you dig into your wallet and surrender those debit card digits. There is always that small amount of money that you easily rationalize spending. “Pft! It is only a $1.99”, however, once you give into “it is only” then everything becomes a slippery slope and soon, you need more gems so you spend more money on precious glittery little gems to fill your cartoon kingdom with yummy flying magic dragon tarts.

Meanwhile, here in the real world, I live on a tight budget that does not allow for too many gem purchases. My household tends to allocated our money for more tangible items such as food or a place to live. I know that there our other households where twenty dollars a month isn’t a deal breaker but at my house, there are weeks where twenty dollars is the difference between eating or not. That is just my less than sparkly reality. I do, however, still enjoy playing a game every now and then.

More often than not, I have to stop playing in all those magic kingdoms because I arrive at that tipping point where I can not continue dwelling in my fantasy world without purchasing gems. I lose out on missions or special buildings due to lack of gems. The worse ones are the special missions for extra wonderful prizes in which I start the mission but find that I am unable to successfully complete it because I lack a sparkly boat load of gems. Eventually, I quit playing.

A few weeks ago I quit another one of these games. I spent weeks building a shiny, thriving city. I attempted special mission after mission, only to fail, repeatedly. My wonderful, carefully planned city became a futile exercise in wasted time. I invested hours planning, decorating, harvesting and selling all kinds of weird items only to run out of time. Every mission designed to only be successful if you purchase gems and use them to grow 300 boots on a tree in less than 24 hours. Sigh. Discouraged, I quit showing up every day.

A week after I abandoned my city. I was grocery shopping when it occurred to me that all these failed missions are ireily similar to how I feel some times. I feel like, years ago, I started out to build a life. I had huge sparkly, magical dreams. In hindsight, all those unicorn, marshmallow, glitter filled, sugar plum visions were fruitless missions that I was unable to complete due to lack of gems. All those elusive gems necessary to a construct a successful life, whatever they were, I was missing them.

Instead, I attempted to succeed despite where you are or what you have. I am not sure that has gone well. My kingdom looks more like a nuclear bomb went off rather than a joyful world of success. The moving to Prescott endeavor is a perfect example. I’ve wanted to move to Prescott for close to a decade, no lie. Finally decide to go for it only to discover that affordable housing for a family with pets is near impossible to find, let alone secure. I need a gem to finish this quest. I have no money to click and make one appear.

I am at the point where I have to ask, do I abandon this effort or do we pursue further?
Where are all the gems?

Be Brave.
Jamie Christine

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Lonely Girl

Loneliness.

At one point in time, in everyone’s life, we all come face to face with the formidable opponent called loneliness. None of us are immune from experiencing seasons where we feel like we have been hung out in the storms of life all by ourselves. I wish I could change that but it is simply a fact of life that we all must learn how to wade our way through. No amount of wishing will ever change that reality. We all will face loneliness. Each of us will be alone at some point for whatever reason.

I must stress that it is imperative to say, loud and clear, I have had tremendous support and friendships throughout my life. I have been on the receiving end of some of the greatest outpourings of love in my life. I am extremely thankful for the people who joined my life and provided support whether it was in the form of friendship or money or just a phone conversation to let me vent my frustration. I am an abundantly blessed gal in this department of life. I see these loved ones. I acknowledge their gifts and help in my life. I am in both debt and gratitude to some superb people.

I am not speaking about having a life void of family, friends, loved ones and all the brilliant, extended support they contribute to our lives. I am talking about the loneliness that shows up right as you are about to fall asleep and in the dark, you come face to face with the stark reality that despite generous love and support, when it comes down to the grit of life, it is only you.

Your life may be full of loving family and friends but when the gnarly, huffing, beast of loneliness stares into your soul, you are stripped of all pretenses and you know, you are the only one who is responsible. You are the only one who is going to catch it when the shit hits the fan. You are the one who will feel the brunt of any bad choices. You are the one who has to muster the strength to carry it, whatever it is.

Loved. Supported. Encouraged. Helped. Alone.
Truth is, we can have all the extended love and support in this world but still be alone.
At least, I have always felt this way. Maybe this is my truth.

I had one of those lone moments again today. Only this time there was added element. I’ve been looking for housing in Prescott. It is turning into a nightmare. Any place that we can afford, doesn’t take pets. Any place that takes pets, we can’t afford. That is only part of the problem. The few places that we can afford and allows for pets don’t have rental units open for months. Which means, if we move and have no place to live, I am spending our savings on a hotel while we wait for a place to live and I can’t do that because as a mother, as a human being, this reality makes you the biggest failure. Ever.

I was on the verge a major meltdown today when I stopped myself, closed the bedroom door and applied for a job in Prescott. When I successfully applied for a job, I sat staring at the computer screen and was overwhelm with the ugly glare of that haunting, burdened beast. I uttered, to myself, “I never thought I would still be alone at almost 50 years old.” That’s the blaring, cold reality. I am still alone and responsible.

When I was a naive, 23 year old, single mother whom struck on her own to make the best life anyone ever had come true, I envisioned a life that blossomed and grew as I headed into my senior years. I dreamed of a large loving family and a warm, picture perfect home with a roaring fireplace. Life did not turn out like I tried to make it happen. Instead, I am alone, carrying more responsibility, handling one crisis after another and just starting over again. Hell, I’ve started over so many times, I can’t even remember how many times I’ve done it.

I don’t know what this is but it is not the life I set out to create and the older I get the colder it gets and the more alone I am.

Just not cool, life. Just not cool.

Be brave.
Jamie Christine

 

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Friday Frenzy

Friday is my first day of work at the seasonal job. It’s finally here. Time to make some money. 😉

I had a busy, worrisome week. Lots of anxiety. Too much stress. But, I am hoping to end the week on a thankful and positive note. That’s my plan anyway.

Thankful to a dear friend who has offered to help with the rent for this month. Just a loan due to the fact that I could not find a job that would start in enough time to get paychecks rolling in. Applied for emergency financial assistance with an organization about 12 days ago. Haven’t heard anything back from them as of Thursday night. Not a peep. One thing I have learned, people are rarely in as much of hurry as you are at any particular moment. It always ends up feeling like they are just not as concerned about the prospect of being homeless. I have some things listed on-line to sell but no one has even commented. I’ve sold nothing bringing in no money. None-the-less, a good, wonderful friend has offered to loan us the money and we can pay her back when the paychecks start coming in or the financial assistance grant is approved or not. I am thankful for her help and friendship.

Positive note. I am finally starting work. I can not express enough times how frustrating this process has been since my contract with the newspaper job ended in August 2017. It feels as if it has been drawn out forever when reality it has been just a few days over 2 months. Oh good grief! Two of the most stressful, worried filled, irritating and annoying few months. I actually feel like it has been 6 months. I’ve applied for more jobs than I ever have in my life. At least 100 jobs applications. No kidding. How a person can put out that many freaking applications and barely get 4 interviews is beyond me. So many of my applications were never even viewed. I am so frustrated by it all. Job searching has worn me so thin that I am sure I am transparent by now. Crazy thing, it is not over. I just have temp work through the end of the year then we move. I have to find a job in a new city. Oh gracious, somebody help me!!! The good news is Friday morning will find me working, earning a paycheck for at least the next 8 weeks.

Here’s to a new job and the money it brings!
Be brave.
Jamie Christine

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Morning After Doubts

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I can not speak for everyone but whenever I make a huge life changing decision the morning after is always filled with doubt. I think it is pretty normal, pretty human thing to do so I do my best not to beat myself up when I find my mind swirling in doubt and confusion. I wake up in a panic, often mumbling out loud, “Did I do the right thing? Is this the right choice? Is this a mistake?”

Here’s the thing…
Personally, I think doubt can be useful when used in the right way. I think it is healthy to examine our choices, sometimes we have to do it multiple times. I think doubt causes us to do that provided we stop, control are racing thoughts and re-evaluate our decisions. Every time we have normal doubts then we are being presented with an opportunity to adjust our course or continue forward in our choice. It is important to recognize it as an opportunity to pause and search with in our hearts, minds and desires. Are we headed in the direction we want to travel? Is the life we wish to build?

I know that people say not to doubt, however, I think, that there is no harm in asking the important questions of our choices because we are responsible and accountable for our choices. Every decision we make defines the road we traverse on and manifests our lives. Our choices create our lives so why not take a few minutes, a day even, to re-examine our decisions because they are changing your life.

I think fear is a far worse culprit than doubt. Fear can seize our minds to the point that we never even make a decision. We just stop or even worse, we fear our choices which results in never taking a step. It is okay to use doubt to re-evaluate our life path. It is not okay to live in fear of our life path.

For myself, I asked the necessary questions this morning. I looked within again and said, yes, again. If I don’t seize this window of opportunity, I may regret it. I don’t want to look back on my life and say, “I had a chance to know you, to value you, to love you but I let fear of change stop me.”

Twenty years from now, I won’t regret the decision to move.
Be brave.
Jamie Christine