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Monday, February 27, 2012

Again

It happened again.  I was driving home from Boyfriend's this morning when I heard about a school shooting in Ohio.  It's heartbreaking.  This time four students were injured while one was killed.  The shooter is in custody, but the damage is done.  

The families of the victims certainly deserve prayers for peace during this difficult time.  The world lost a young boy today.  He was just a teenager entering the prime of his life, and his future was stolen by violence.  Four other young lives were changed forever.  I do not know the extent of the other injuries.  I only hope that those victims are able to recover, and live the lives they are meant to live.  It's not just physical trauma that makes a victim.  I'm sure every student in that school has been scarred in some way.  Their security was ripped away with no warning.  A school they have to attend every day is no longer the place of safety that it should be.  Every child should be able to walk into a school building without fear.  

What happened today is not fair.  It makes me so angry that this type of violence at school is becoming less shocking, but no less devastating.  You hear it all the time.....yeah, he was bullied, yeah he threatened, we just never thought he was the type of person who would hurt anyone.  Was there bullying?  I don't know.  According to one news report, the shooter had been bullied, but I can't confirm it for sure.  Did he threaten?  Again, reports say he did, but I don't know.  Is it an excuse?  No.

It makes me sad that someone can get to a point where they think that violence is the answer.  What did that boy go through to make him take a gun to school?  What makes someone so cold that they can look at their classmates and pull a trigger with the intent to hurt or kill?  That boy was a child too.  In many ways he is his own victim.  He drastically changed his own future by committing this horrific at of violence.  He should be held accountable for what he's done, and we as a nation should try to learn how he got to this place.  Maybe this boy is part of a puzzle that desperately needs to be solved.  These kids need to be saved.  By saving those at risk, how many more lives might be spared?

Bullying is such a problem these days.  It comes from so many different directions, that victims of bullying have a hard time getting away from the cruel attacks of their peers.  To those of you out there right now who are victims of bullying, don't give up.  Hold your chin high.  You are not the problem.  I know it's hard, and it seems like there's no end in sight, but please, don't give up.  "It gets better" has been repeated so many times, that I wonder if kids really hear it anymore.  I hope so, because it does get better.  Hold onto that light inside of you.  You know how special you are even if you think nobody else does.  I guarantee someone sees it.  Someone knows.  Talk to someone....anyone.  Get it out in a way that helps instead of hurts.  If you see a student getting bullied, say something.  Don't sit back and let it happen.  Be a part of the solution.  If you hear a threat of violence, tell someone.  It's too risky to assume that the threat isn't serious.

I wish kids weren't so cruel to one another.  I wish we lived in that perfect world where everyone got along.  We don't.  We probably never will, but maybe, if we watch closely, we can change this place for the better one kid at a time.  

I was a sophomore in high school when the tragedy took place in Littleton, Co.  Even hundreds of miles away, my school felt the fear.  We looked at our classmates and wondered if there was a ticking time bomb among us.  The day we ended up going into lockdown due to a threat was by far the scariest day of my life.  I thought it was happening at my school.  I didn't want to go back.  Luckily, nothing actually happened, but that fear is so real you can almost reach out and touch it.  Over a decade later, and students are still facing school violence.  Today it was Ohio.  I always pray that this time will be the last, but I know in my heart that it will happen again.  It makes me sad, and I feel so helpless.  

I pray for everyone affected by today's tragedy.  I look at the kids in my life and watch them.  I hope that they would feel comfortable coming to me if they felt like they had nobody else to turn to.  I just want them to be happy.  I don't want them to have their innocence taken away by violence.  I want them to feel like they live in a perfect world where people don't hurt other people.  Instead, they are far too aware that this world is anything but perfect.


Friday, February 24, 2012

Fearless

I was recently ushering an event at the Aronoff Center.  It was part of the Smart Talk series and featured Arianna Huffington.  All I knew about her was that she was the founder of the Huffington Post, and she had basically liberal political views.  I had signed up for the event thinking it was a short event to log some hours, and I'd always wondered how interesting the Smart talk series could be.  I was skeptical about this one mostly because I tend to lean to the conservative side a lot of the time, and I wondered if all she said would just rub me the wrong way.

I'm happy to say, I need not have worried.  She was amazing.  Not only is she incredibly smart, and a fantastic speaker, but she's real.  You didn't feel like you were listening to a celebrity talk.  She really seemed interested in getting her message out, and empowering the women in the audience.  I may have been the usher in the back, but I felt like I could have been the only one in the room.

She spoke about having the support of a "tribe".  My tribe may be small, but it's mine, and I'd be lost without them.  She's right, things are so much easier when you have that tribe to talk things though with.  The support of my tribe means the world to me, especially when I contemplate doing something I may not normally do.  If you don't have a tribe, find one.  Maybe it's just you and a close friend, maybe they're friends you meet only virtually through a common interest online.  Your tribe is your support system.  You don't need to have a secret handshake or password, just a mutual respect and support for one another.  If you jump off a cliff, they're your parachute.  Now, don't actually go jumping off a cliff to see if your friends can catch you.....it's a metaphor.

She also talked about "her annoying roommate".  As you're picturing someone whom she may have met in college that made her life miserable, let me explain.  She's talking about that voice in your head that tells you you're not good enough.  We all have that voice in our heads that criticizes us far more than any other person would.  It's that voice that tells us we can't do anything right.  We don't know what we're doing.  We're doomed to fail.  That voice is depressing......and far too many times, that voice allows us to limit ourselves.  That voice stops us from chasing our dreams because we don't think they're possible.  That voice tries to make us small.  Her words inspired me to try to shut out my own "annoying roommate".  I want to see what I can do if I believe in myself as much as I sometimes try to doubt myself.

Finally, she talked about goals.  We all have those lists that we want to accomplish.  She reminded us that there's no shame to crossing something off the list that hasn't actually been accomplished.  It's not a failure, it's a declaration that that item is finished.  Time to move on.  She showed me that failure isn't something that should be feared.  Whether we want it to or not, whether we're ready for it or not, it will show up.  It will rear its ugly head and make us feel bad about ourselves.  However instead of being beaten down by a failure, we should use it as a stepping stone.  It's just one more step on the way to success.  Failure only stops us if we let it, and I won't let it for me.  Not anymore.

I want to increase readership for this blog.  I'm going to give it a shot.  Maybe some people will be annoyed by it.  Maybe some will ask me why.  It's just something I want to do.  Reach out to people and connect with them.  So, maybe I should try to be fearless like she seems to be.  Let's see how far this girl can go.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Winds of Change

The only thing that is constant is that things are always changing.  Don't ask me who said that, I do not know.  It was just in my head, but it's so true.  Time has never once stood still, so that in itself is change.  Seconds ticking by, days turning to weeks.  Nothing is the same as it was.  

It's not just time or our surroundings.  We change too.  We grow, and become different people.  Sometimes we change before we even realize it's happening.  Things grow in our hearts so quietly that we don't even know they're growing until they bloom.

That's happening with me.  I've made an important decision that will have a big impact on my life.  I'm moving.  I'll be with Boyfriend, of course, but it's more than that.  I think I've just outgrown where I am.  I really want to move.  I don't want to get out of the state or anything.  I'm definitely a girl who loves her home state, but I think it's time for a change of scenery.....a change of pace.  

Through my job I can take classes at our state capitol.  I've always loved it down there, and could very easily picture myself working there.  That little seed of thought was planted with my very first class down there.  It grew quietly until recent events in my life made it blossom into a full grown need.  First, I met Boyfriend and fell in love.  His work is in a city near the capitol, so that's where he's been.  Second, the constant threat of layoffs here is getting to be a drag.  I'm always confident that Bossman will do everything he can to keep us employed, but my heart is telling me that my time here may be running short.  This other city is calling my name and drawing me in.  

So, I'm applying for jobs...Jobs that will keep me employed with my state.  If things work out I will be employed a little more south than I am now.  I'll not only be out of the attic, but I'll be out of my parents' house for the very first time.  I'll be out of the city where I grew up for the first time besides those vacations I take every year.  It's new and exciting, and terrifying all at once.  What a rush.

I have no illusions that it will be easy.  I know in this economy it's not like I can walk into an office down there and say, "here I am, hire me".  It's been a while since I've gone through the hiring process.  I've never left my comfort zone.  This is me finally feeling all grown up.  It's going to be a wild ride, but a fun one.  I'm taking a leap of faith that I can only hope I'm ready for.

I won't be far from my family.  It's really important to me to still be close enough to be with them because we're so close knit.  If you had asked me a year ago if this was even a possibility I would have told you that you might as well ask me to live on the moon.  My head couldn't grasp that idea.  However, I think my heart was already planning, scheming, and preparing me to move on.  

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Case of the Mondays

Fridays and I usually get along pretty well.  I get to see Boyfriend.  I have the next two days off work.  I get to sleep in on those two days.  Yep, I love me some Friday.  Last Friday, however, was not so nice to me.  It slapped me once, then slapped me twice and set me out in the cold.  The weekend could not have come at a better time.  I needed a break.

I got some bad news.  Two bits of bad news actually.  The first is that I may be looking at layoffs in my office in the next few months.  So, yeah, bummer.  The other bit of bad news isn't mine to share.  It's sucky, but it's not detrimental to anyone's health or anything.  It just, well, sucks.  

I cried.....a lot on Friday.  Crying just seems to be how I process things when they get to be too much.  I'm a crier and I'm darn good at it.  I just hate it when it happens at work.  It's not so great having one of the customer service people looking like scary blotchy girl, but that was me.  It felt like everything in my stable world was slowly crumbling one little bit at a time.  I kept waiting for more bad news to jump up and start chipping away at what was left of that once solid foundation.  I kept waiting to fall.

After I pulled my shit together at work, the rest of the afternoon was a haze.  I knew I still needed to do some crying to work all the kinks out, but I was determined not to do it at work.  I held everything together right up until I walked into Boyfriend's apartment.  He asked how I was doing, and I burst into tears.  Poor guy.  I'm sure that's not what he had in mind to start the weekend.  He was great though.  He kept telling me it was all going to be OK.  He told me that he'd never let anything happen to me....that he'd take care of me.  He said all the right things, and he made me believe them.

Saturday was a much better day.  I started to look at the bad news and decide that I wasn't going to let it tear me up.  I was going to take that bad news, flip it around some, twist it, and beat it until it became good news.  I can look at it as a brand new opportunity.  New beginnings perhaps.  I don't know what's going to happen in the next few months, but I know I'll land on my feet.  Exciting things are going to happen for me, I refuse to give up the driver's seat.  I'm in charge of my life, and it's going to stay that way.

Monday's here and I overslept.  That happens when you don't turn on your alarm clock.  I don't feel like I'm falling down a deep, dark well....maybe that extra sleep did me good.  Don't get me wrong....I don't see a time where Monday and I are best buds, but this Monday is much better than last Friday.  Maybe today, a case of the Mondays is a good thing.  Life's what I make it.  I'm going to make it good.  So, bring it on world.  I'm ready for ya.

Friday, February 10, 2012

About Anxiety, Part 2

Panic attacks were not new to me, but after that visit to the ER in high school they had a name.  Panic.  Yep, that was about right.  Anxiety, why yes, I'm feeling quite anxious actually.  The relief that came with finally knowing what to call this monster faded quickly.  Yes, I now knew what it was, but I had no idea what to do about it.  I didn't ask.

Granted, it was great knowing that in the midst of a panic attack I wasn't going to die.  However, in the midst of a panic attack, I felt like I was dying anyway.  I felt like if it was panic or anxiety I should be able to control it.  You know, mind over matter.  I was wrong, way wrong.  You cannot control a panic attack.  Sure, sometimes they might be caused by that raging storm threatening to throw the trees across the street.  Sometimes though, they're caused because I'm conscious.  No reason, just panic.  Breathe in a paper bag?  Right, I love feeling like I'm suffocating.  Keep telling myself that it's just a panic attack.  There is no such thing as just a panic attack.

I can sit here now and tell you that a panic attack is just my brain being tricked by chemicals telling it we're about to fall off the edge of a cliff.  I KNOW it's all about chemistry.  Knowing that doesn't change the way I feel when it's happening.  Rational Attic Dweller is totally gone in those moments where my life is taken over by the anxiety.  I knew there was medicine out there that could help.  I was still in high school though, I didn't want to be that girl that had to be on medicine to be "normal".  Leave it to a teenage brain to go and figure that it's better to be the girl who freaks out for no apparent reason than the girl on "crazy pills".

So, at fourteen I found out what the problem was.  I was twenty-seven by the time I finally found myself in such a desperate state that I went to the doctor again.  My biggest fear was that he was going to look at me and tell me I was making it all up.  I was afraid that all those years of thinking I knew what was bothering me were going to evaporate in one doctor's visit.  As I was sitting there waiting for him, I actually thought about leaving.  I had to physically force myself to stay in the chair in that exam room.  That wait did nothing to help with my anxiety.  Finally, in came the doctor.  He asked what was wrong, and I melted.  I became a puddle of tears and fears.  I had a panic attack right there in the doctor's office.  That's certainly one way to make sure he knew exactly what I was talking about.

He handed me a tissue, put his hand on my back, and told me it was going to be OK.  For the first time, I actually believed it was.  He told me I wasn't crazy.  I was normal.  I just had chemicals in my brain trying to convince me otherwise.  Yes, there's a pill for it.  In fact there are several we could try.  He told me not to let anyone else's opinions of people on medication to drive my own decision to get help.  I saw a light at the end of the tunnel that day.  All my feelings of darkness and hopelessness began to evaporate.  I had hope that maybe, just maybe, anxiety didn't have to rule my life.

You know what, the doc was right.  We had to play with the dosage a little, but we finally got to a point where I'm in the driver's seat, not the panic attacks.  They're not gone completely.  The pill is not a magic miracle cure.  They just don't come nearly as often.  Many times when they try to interrupt my day I can feel them fade out before they can become a problem.  Some sneak through.  Sometimes I have a panic attack.  Now though, instead of a world of grays and blacks, I live in full technicolor.  I feel normal.  I feel free. I feel like I am a regular human being.  I'm finally getting to know who I am.

The first time there was a severe storm and I didn't dissolve into a great big, anxiety ridden mess, I cried anyway.  They were happy tears.  I wish now I wouldn't have waited so long to take the medicine.  I might have gotten to know the real Attic Dweller in high school.  Instead, I'm just now able to know who I really am.  I go and try new things.  I laugh through haunted houses.  I sit on the porch during a thunderstorm.  OK, sometimes I sit on the porch during a thunderstorm.  I'm still scared of the storms.  It's an actual honest to goodness fear of storms.  That's OK.  I can live with that.  I can live with feeling scared, just as long as I'm not always consumed by it.  I can feel.  That's most important.  Now that that fog of constant anxiety has lifted, I can feel.

This is where I beg.  Medication only has a stigma if we let it.  Don't let how someone else might perceive you hold you back.  Modern medicine has provided us with a way to break free.  If you need it, take it.  It's much better on this side.  Trust me.  

Thursday, February 9, 2012

About Anxiety Part 1

I knew I was dying.  I couldn't breath, I was in pain, my chest felt like it was going to explode, and I was on the verge of passing out.  I was crying uncontrollably, and shaking so bad I couldn't go for help.  How long could I survive like this?  Would someone find me in time to help me?  Was I going to spend my last moments alone in pain, trying to escape from a dark room that was threatening to swallow me whole?  No.  I survived.  Of course I did, it would be creepy to be writing this blog from "The Great Beyond".  I had a panic attack.  It wasn't the first, and wouldn't be the last.  Every panic attack was just as terrifying as the one before.  Actually, each one got more terrifying because in the midst of it all I'd convince myself that this attack was the one that would be too much to survive.  It's a dark world to live in.  It's a world where any single moment could be the one that sent me into a spiral of fear and anxiety.  It was unpredictable and awful, and I waited far to long to do anything about it.

I have been having panic attacks since elementary school.  The very first one I remember came on a day when we were having snack time recess.  I was sitting on the floor with a group of girls from my class playing a game. One of my classmates said, "when you hear a train it means a tornado is coming".  That thought was awful to me.  So, I argued back, "no way!"  Brilliant response, I know.  My classmate held firm, "Yep, that's what trains are for, that's why the come around, to tell us when tornadoes are coming."  I was shocked.  My babysitter lived up the street from railroad tracks.  I knew at some point I'd hear a train every day.  I was scared to death.  Of course, as kids can do sometimes, my classmate had her facts about the relationship between trains and tornadoes confused.  I didn't consider that I had heard trains many many times, and had never seen a tornado.  In my mind, it was now a fact that if I heard a train there was going to be a tornado..  Later that day I heard that train and froze in my tracks.  I was terrified.  I felt sick.  I couldn't breathe, or move even.  It was horrible.  I was seven.  

Dealing with panic attacks at that age isn't easy. I was the girl in school to missed a lot and cried a lot.  If I knew we were having a fire or tornado drill, I'd miss school that day.  I knew rationally that the drills didn't mean that there was a fire or tornado.  If there is one thing that does not describe panic attacks, it's rational. They don't need a reason.  The trigger doesn't even have to make sense.  They are like snowballs rolling down a hill.  They takeoff, get bigger and bigger, and overwhelm you in an instant.  If I hadn't been such a good student my parents probably would have thought I just wanted a day off school.  They would ask if I had a test or an assignment that I was trying to get out of.  I was never trying to get out of anything.  I loved school.  I just couldn't face it some days.  My parents were very familiar with the voice of the school secretary calling them at work.  I can't even tell you how many times they had to come and get me in the middle of the day.  I can tell you that out of all those times, only a handful were due to actual illness.  The rest were panic attacks.    

What was happening to me never made sense, until I was a freshman in high school.  It was near Christmas and I was just getting over a virus.  It was Sunday night and I was allowed to sleep in the living room since I had been sick.  I was going back to school on Monday, but was allowed to stay up and watch Touched by an Angel.  That week's episode was about a young girl who got sick, but they found out it wasn't just a virus, it was a heart condition and she died.  That episode affected me so much that I began to worry that my virus was something more serious.  That thought was supported by the fact that once again my chest was tight and I couldn't breathe.  I went into my mom's room and laid in bed with her.  I was fourteen years old and she was patting my back telling me it was ok.  

It was my idea to go to the hospital that night.  I thought I was going to die and I wanted the doctors to fix what was wrong so I could live.  They took X-rays, did an EKG, and diagnosed the issue as a panic attack. Finally, it had a name.  I knew it was right.  All those times growing up when I felt just like I had that night had a name....a reason.  They were real, not just the imagination of a scared kid.  That diagnosis from the ER doctor was just a single, small step in a journey to get help.  It was a journey that took years.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Paged

I'm going to try something different.  Well, different for me anyway.  I've known that I want to write about some of my crafts and other different topics other than my random musings on life.  I also know that not everyone wants to hear about my crafts or my weight loss issues, etc.  So, I've added nifty little tabs to the top of the blog.  I'll write about more specific things under those tabs.  Crafts go under crafty.  So, if you were worried about Attic Dweller turning this vehicle around and heading down the craft road, rest assured.  Crafts are just a passenger along for the ride.  There is some fun stuff that will end up there, so you may want to look anyway; you may be surprised.  

Occasionally I'll feel the need to review something I've seen or read.  Using your powerful skills of deduction should lead you to figure out you can find that under the reviews tab.  I'm always working on my weight and overall health, and sometimes I need to talk it out.  If you're in the same boat or would like to take it upon yourself to help keep me in line, you can go to On The Scales.  Finally, I've got a lot of little stories, and maybe even some larger ones I've written or am writing.  I am a writer after all.  That's how this whole party got started.  I dream of being a published author who can go into a store and pick up a book written by me.  Until that time comes, I'm publishing here.

There is nothing on any of the pages yet except for On The Scale.  I'm getting to them though, and of course you can come straight here to hear random thoughts that pop in my head and beg to be written down.  Now, don't you feel all informed.  I know, not one of my most fascinating posts, but I needed to point out those pages.  That's right folks, you've all been paged!  I'm sure something will happen today that will provide material for a fun post to add later.  My life is exciting that way.  

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Just Because She Can

Breaking news:  please be on the lookout for an older gentleman dressed in white.  He was last seen in our area approximately a year ago, and not returned since.  Authorities now fear he may have been kidnapped by a rival and could be trapped in an unknown location.  He goes by the name Old Man Winter.  If you see him please contact Mother Nature.....she's the one that seems to have misplaced him.

It's February first.  January flew by, not that anyone noticed it was January.  I mean, seriously, after that whole Happy New Year thing, January was pretty hard to detect.  Apparently the "weather gods" got confused about what they were supposed to be throwing our way.  Don't get me wrong, there have been a few days where my teeth were chattering while I was outside.  I have seen a little snow on my car once or twice, but it was gone so fast, I could have been hallucinating.  Maybe my brain was just showing me what I assumed I should be seeing this time of year.

Oh, snow has threatened to dump inches on us, but it fizzled out before it could even give us a dusting.  Believe me, I'm not complaining at all.  I wish every winter was like this.  I'm no fan of snow.  It's pretty, but geeze, it's a nuisance.  Don't need it, don't want it.  We've been near sixty degrees two days in a row.  Much as I'm enjoying it, I should not be able to walk outside with no coat at the beginning of February.

Has winter organized its elements into a union and gone on a strike against the seasons?  Maybe Winter got mouthy and got itself fired.  Maybe Spring did such a good job last year, Mother Nature gave it a promotion to six months instead of three.  All I know is that if this keeps up, poor little Puxatony Phil is going to be out of a job.

The joke in this area is that if you don't like the weather, wait a few minutes, it'll change.  It's true.  Yesterday the sun was shining, and it was so nice, right up until it randomly started pouring rain.  So, this fits.  I never expect anything in regards to the weather around here because I will inevitably be disappointed.  I feel for our weather people sometimes.  No matter how much of a sure thing a storm system looks like.  Even if it's right on the horizon and we can see the lightening from here, it's still not a guarantee.  It might take a detour and head to Louisville instead.  No predictability.

So, when I go on and on about how nice it is to be enjoying this "spring like" weather, I know that at any minute Mother Nature could get cranky and send us a Hurricane.  Forget that there's no Ocean in hundreds of miles.  Mother Nature don't give a shit!  She plays by the rules of the Honey Badger.  She's bad-ass like that.  I'm going to pull out my sunglasses, toss my coat in the backseat and enjoy the pretty, warm day.  Heaven knows what I'll get tomorrow.

......and just when I get used to this kinder, gentler version of Mother Nature who is taking it easy on us this winter, she'll dump three feet of snow on us in July.....just because she can.