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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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Martin Luther King Jr.

Today’s post is simple.
I encourage you to take time out today to honor Martin Luther King Jr, his movement and his family.
He was an uncommon man among commoners.

MLK’s Final Eulogy – Listen here.

Inspiring-Martin-Luther-King-Jr.-quotes-Keep-Moving

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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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Oh! The Resolutions…

I confess. I don’t have resolutions.

I never do. Many years ago, I made the New Year’s Resolution to never make another one. It is the only resolution that I have ever kept. Now, before anyone flips out and lectures me about the importance of making goals, please give me at least a blog post to explain why I do not make resolutions.

I was in my early twenties when I bid a final farewell to many of the New Year Eve’s traditions. I do not rub my hands in bowl full of coins for more money. I do not eat black-eyed peas or herring on a cracker for good luck in the coming year. I do not frantically change my calendar to welcome in the new year. I do not do any of that stuff and I do not make resolutions to fix my weight, my job or my soul.

I do acknowledge that these traditions are social activities that bind us together and therefore they hold importance in society and communities. Eating black-eyed peas or making wishes together are common activities that we can focus on instead of our differences. In short, they bind us together in a common act or desire. We all want to hope that our lives will be better in the new year. In reality, they are superstitions that do not actually have any credible influence on how much luck manifests in the next year of our life.

Why did I quit good luck superstitions or new year resolutions?
There were two reasons.

Reason number one. I never managed to keep or fulfill any of my resolutions. In truth, by mid February I had all but forgotten my carefree resolutions. I came to understand, that my resolutions were no different than any of the other good luck activities. I did not really give any serious thought to what I set out to change. I hastily, and in my early years, drunkenly, prattled off a list of my faults that the New Year was going “correct” for me.

Reason number two. When good luck or the magical “new” year did not produce a whole new me, I became discouraged. I concluded that I was a bad person responsible for the entire universe gone awry. I was the ultimate failure because even good luck could not come my way. This was a dangerous internal dialogue that no amount of black-eyed peas was going to fix. Wishing wasn’t going to make see myself in a more positive light.

Good luck was not the answer. It never worked. On a hap-hazard, laughter filled, wine induced New Year’s Eve, I announced that I was never going to make another resolution and trust luck to fix all my problems. Instead, I started making goals. I focused on three goals a year that I was responsible for manifesting in my life. That’s is when things began to change. I no longer sat back and relied on fate to solve my problems. I took time to consider the direction that I wanted my life to go, made goals according to my plans and then worked on meeting those goals. Sometimes I do not actually make my goals.That is okay. I work toward them. I have discovered that working toward my goals shows me what I need to do make to them a reality. I practice reality every year not good luck.

Hard work will be the primary tool in shaping the life you desire. 2017 did not hate you. 2018 is not going to magically make your life better. The New Year is not a fix all moment. It is a day on the calendar. Nothing more, nothing less. It is a good time to reflect on your life and your goals. It is a good season to come up with a plan. It is a great idea to celebrate with family and friends. These things are absolutely true. Superstitions and good luck are not the Universes handymen to problem solve your life.

I don’t intend to sound harsh but that was the difference for me. Resolutions, black-eyed peas and bowls full of pennies relied on some good luck fairy to swoop down, waiving a magic wand that was going to make all my problems disappear. When that didn’t happen, I could easily blame luck because I did not have the life I wanted or wasn’t the person that I wanted to be. I held no responsibility in the outcome of a year, an entire year of my life. Making goals meant that I was responsible and accountable for my how my life turned out. I made the choice to do away with superstitions and empty wishes. I embraced the reality that I was in charge of my goals coming true.

Maybe, reality is cold and harsh. At the end of today, the New Year is not going to bring you a better life or make you a better person. January 1 is just a day on a calendar. Sure, it is the beginning of a new calendar year and that is good for marking time but not so good for life changes and life plans. The next 364 days are in your hands.

My goals for this year are really a continuation of the direction I was headed in when 2017 ended.

Goal 1- Establish an online blog and business. This has been developing for many years. I am getting close. Closer than I have ever been.
Goal 2- Move out of the Valley of the Sun. I need to get out of this valley for a variety of reasons. Health and happiness being the top two.
Goal 3- See my mom, Jeri. I’ve seen her once since April 1993. It sucks.

These next three goals are kind of a given in my life. They apply no matter what year.
Goal 1-Be kind. Learn to practice kindness every day.
Goal 2. Be thankful. Learn to spend more time expressing gratitude and less time complaining.
Goal 3. Photography. Learn more. Do more. Grow more.

Make goals in reality not resolutions hoping for good luck to fix your world. You’ll get a whole lot more accomplished and next New Year’s Eve, you can be proud of what you have done and not spend the evening blaming the calendar for not making all your dreams come true.

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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Where are you?

Sunday, December 17, 2018

It has been a long time since I have had time or energy to write. The seasonal job proved to be more than I anticipated. It was a tremendous struggle to work the job and complete the temporary assignment. The job itself was not difficult but it was physically demanding. I spent many nights in pain, unable to sleep and barely able to function for days. I am happy to say that I did fulfill the job assignment and it ended on a good note. I am now in recovery mode physically but happy to have seen it through to the end.

I thought a lot about writing, photography, crochet and moving while I was shipping out all those custom order Christmas cards. I find it humorous that some times an easy way to identify what is important to us is by the things we miss in life. If we do not miss some thing, it must not have been that important. Photography, I knew I would long to do again. There is never enough photography in my world. Crochet, was a bit of a surprise but I do find it relaxing. I also enjoy making practical and useful items. Blankets, scarves, hats, those sort of things. Writing. This one really surprised me because for the most point I have fostered a love/hate relationship with writing. It is something that comes natural to me but I have resisted it with a fierce determination for the majority of my life. I often have words, sentences or paragraphs rolling through my mind. I think about words just like I see photographs. Typically, I push them aside till they fade away into oblivion. I was caught off guard when I discovered that I actually missed being at home pounding at the keyboard. I literally stopped in my tracks when the desire to go home and write filled my mind and heart. So, here I am.

Moving.

Moving has been an adventure in my own mind. It always is though, isn’t it? Relocation, whether from one house to the next or one city to the next, it turns everything upside down. My decision to move proved to be no different. In the past few weeks, I have researched a variety of cities, in a few different states for a kaleidoscope of reasons. I’ve been to Maryland, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina. I have scoured coastal cities, mountain towns, bustling downtown neighborhoods and quiet college towns. I have cried a little, laughed much, wrestled with anxiety and had a few “hell no’s” for good measure. I have crunched numbers until my calculator up and walked away disappearing forever.

Through all the researching, discovery and indecisiveness, where have we landed?
Arizona.

The thought of leaving Arizona proved to each of us that this magical state we live in is indeed home. As I explored the idea of living anywhere else, my mind quickly focused on counting the days till I could get back to Arizona. The more I considered leaving Arizona, the more I realized that I just wasn’t done here. There is so much more that I desire to do and see here. I would often tell myself that adventure lies anywhere but my heart just could not let go of the fact that I wasn’t finished here. As the weeks hurried by it became very evident that we wanted to stay in our home state of Arizona.

And where is Arizona? Believe it or not, that is only about 99% decided, maybe 98%. There is a slim chance we may only move a far as a different apartment in Chandler. We are however aiming for Prescott or Prescott Valley area. We’ll know in 12 days if we make it.

Be Brave.
Jamie Christine