sheafrotherdon
23 July 2017 @ 02:47 pm
Hunger, Bodies, and Power  
I just read Roxane Gay’s Hunger and it resonated with me very deeply.

Discussion of sexual assault, suicidal ideation, and body image under the cut. Please read (or don't!) with your own self-care in mind.

Read more... )
 
 
 
 
sheafrotherdon
23 July 2017 @ 10:09 am
Sunday reading  
Just read a lovely column called [Your Three Feet of Influence]. The author suggests that while we cannot control the world, we can choose what we do with the three feet directly around us, and whether we bring to that three feet justice, calm, and kindness or not. Great reading for this Sunday!
 
 
 
 
sheafrotherdon
23 July 2017 @ 08:49 am
 
My nieces (4, 10) have been watching The Great British Baking Show, and decided that yesterday afternoon should be all baking, all the time. So I went over and helped out, and we made the FUSSIEST BAKED GOODS IMAGINABLE. First came the Banana Bread from America's Test Kitchen. What a pain in the ass that recipe is. And yet it made the best banana bread I have ever tasted, so I can do little but shake my fist and do what they say.

Then we made Blackberry Scones, which had the best-tasting scone mix imaginable, and which took forever to make. I think I'd like them better with blueberries or raspberries, but they're very tasty (no doubt from all the butter). Again, very fussy recipe, but the end product felt worth it.

At the end of the afternoon, niece C made brownies out of a box, and lo, we were glad for it :D

Woke up this morning stiff in every place imaginable, so I'll need to do a bit of gentle yoga to loosen back up after I finish this cup of tea. I feel like Andy in Parks and Recreation - working out is great and all but at what cost? :D
 
 
 
 
sheafrotherdon
22 July 2017 @ 12:36 pm
 
Today I told my yoga instructor about my ankles and calves, and what we were doing in PT. It's always good to let her know what's going on, and we had a long conversation about how hamstrings and calf muscles can pull on ankles and plantar fascia and so on.

And then she proceeded to make the entire class about stretching out hamstrings, calves, and plantar fascia. Oh my god.

It was great for me. My PT exercises don't last a whole hour, and aren't as dedicated to holistic work, so I felt great when I was done. But mid-class I was silently cursing :D At one point she had us get into downward dog, then lower our knees almost to the floor, hold it, and then come slowly back up. She then had us shorten the distance between our hands and feet and do it again. And again. And I wanted to vocalize my feelings as "AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" I did not, however, and it was all for the good.

Yesterday at 3pm it was 94F, felt like 110F. Holy moley. Today is better so far, tomorrow will be a little better again, and Monday we've been promised a balmy 80F. The main result of all of this is that all my everyday bras are in the wash right now, as they were treated very badly by the heat, leaving me with only demi-cup lacy bras to wear today. My girls have not been this perky or fancy on a weekend in a very long time. I keep expecting to be going somewhere, but nope, I'm just the perkiest and fanciest in my house.
 
 
 
 
sheafrotherdon
21 July 2017 @ 01:30 pm
 
I'm thinking a lot about being left and leaving today. I've felt so low since my brother went home - lowness that is grief, Jan suggested, because whenever someone leaves for an extended period of time we grieve their absence. That I only get to see him once a year, and that those circumstances are not entirely of my creating compounds that. She reminded me that we do not expect a lot of people who are grieving when we clearly see the cause, and so I should not expect too much of myself while I'm working through all these feelings.

Having the feelings in the first place is a wondrous and hard-fought thing, and I'm keeping my eye on that as I process.

There's been a lot of left and leaving recently. Three people left their jobs at my place of work and left a vacuum that has still not been filled. Their leaving increased the amount of work on my plate to such a degree that when it's time for the creative part of my job I'm already depleted from the administrivia I'm doing, and my creativity feels forced and lacking. The hard conversations I had with colleagues last week happened while two of my closest local friends were away on vacation, so I felt their absence keenly, too. Then my brother. This all twists up with the bigger narratives of my life about leaving - especially about leaving England - in ways I haven't quite fully pinned down. But at least I see the patterns, or the patterns that my brain finds important, at least.

Leaving things has been my path to freedom. I wonder if, because that leaving was so big and important, I used up my share of goodwill where leaving is concerned, and now I just fear it. Lots to think about.
 
 
 
 
sheafrotherdon
19 July 2017 @ 07:36 am
 
My brother's visit last weekend was really lovely. We hung out, I took him to the outlet mall for jeans (501s, on sale, are about $80 in England right now. He got two pairs, plus a shirt and some boxers, for $116 here), we cooked together, we took a walk around the local lake, and we had a good time with friends. It was so much fun, and Monday I was horribly sad after I dropped him off at the airport. In the past I would have simply quashed those feelings instead of feeling them, but on Monday I kept thinking, "I am so sad," and told myself, "just feel it." It made for an uncomfortable day, but it was honest. There's something I can feel good about in that.

I got new glasses yesterday, and while my eyes are still adjusting some, they're pretty revolutionary for me. For the last two years my reading vision out of my right eye has been blurry - not because of my eye, but because of the lenses in my glasses. We replaced them three times last time and eventually they told me that was the best that they could do. It's made reading difficult and frustrating when it used to be a real joy. Now, with the new glasses, I can see to read again, and OH it is amazing. I keep looking at pages of books and the computer and noting that I can see and just reveling in it. Yay new glasses! (And yay for a FSA that made it possible.)

I have a bunch of deadlines at work coming up and I feel singularly uninterested in everything I have to do to meet them. I will meet them, but eh. Sometimes it's just not that satisfying. But that said we're about to enter a heat warning that will last until Saturday night - real temps of 95 and above, heat indexes into the 110s, so work will be delicious because it is air-conditioned, as opposed to my house which has floor units that at best keep things at about 80F. So I am prepared to find work much more interesting as of today so that I can soak up the cool.

I hope, wherever you are, you are not about to enter a heat warning, and that you can soak up some delicious cool wherever you are (or, if you're in the global south, you're not utterly miserable with cold!) ♥
 
 
 
 
sheafrotherdon
15 July 2017 @ 10:12 am
 
This week has been a doozy. First came the workplace politics, where I discovered someone believes I have been bullying a close friend of mine into doing things she doesn't want to do. It's such an astonishing mis-read of the situation that I was actually rendered speechless when I heard, and not only is it a horrible thing to think about me, it's a horrible thing to think about my friend. I have no idea what has prompted this interpretation of events, except to say that last night I remembered that the person who believes this is firm and fast friends with a former supervisor of mine, who famously remarked in a work evaluation of me that I wasn't nice enough. (Which - what? And second - can you imagine a man ever getting that in an eval? Me either.) I have no idea if their friendship is at play in this, but the last time I was so fundamentally misunderstood was that eval. For whatever that's worth.

Learning this was unbelievably painful, especially as it has repercussions for the department in which I serve, and I spent a lot of this week feeling very low about it all.

And then there was a situation where I did every last thing right, and ended up without a reimbursement on Wednesday as I'd been promised, and so things bounced at the bank, and I ended up with fees, and then I ended up in a mad scramble to make sure my water wasn't turned off. And then there was the letter about a loan from my retirement account that has been declared in default, which means I will owe taxes on it next spring, despite the bankruptcy proceedings. *HANDS* As I remarked to Rachel, I am the opposite of King Midas. Everything I touch turns to NOT gold.

But! I started bouncing back from all this junk on Thursday, and then my brother arrived yesterday for a weekend visit. It's so fun to have him here, and it's so easy to hang out with him. Today we're headed to the farmer's market and an art pop-up market and to hopefully have lunch with some friends. The weather has miraculously agreed to stay fairly cool while he's here, too, which is nice, since the last two times he's visited it's been above 90 his whole stay. We can get out and about much more pleasantly now! I feel really lucky that we've remade a relationship as adults, and that we've both turned out as good, fun people despite the odds. It's not true for everyone's situation, and I will count myself lucky to have this good thing come out of the ashes of the old.

Off to find green beans and corn and flowers ♥
 
 
 
 
sheafrotherdon
10 July 2017 @ 07:22 am
thinky thoughts  
I was in Chicago this weekend, which was, for me, an exercise in seeing many, many things I wanted to buy and buying none of them (because, in most cases, they were beyond my means, but in other cases because I knew it would be a bad financial choice). It was a fascinating process to take a step back from and observe. I noticed that with every item I was drawn to, there was a corresponding narrative about how it would make my life better / me more attractive / my home prettier, and it's that narrative that's super hard to walk away from. I guess we all do that - put together a narrative in our heads about why we need a thing - but for me there is this dread certainty attached that says without the thing my life will be boring / uninspired / bleak. I was thinking about this last night and realized that in part that comes from growing up poor, where a lack of income really did make things uninspired and bleak. That was good to figure out, because I've long known there was some connection between being poor and spending too much, and while I could understand part of that (the part where no one modeled good spending or saving habits to me until I was an adult) that didn't explain the whole. I feel like I'm getting closer with this realization, and better armed to confront that "need" to spend.

Jan and I also did some EMDR work on Friday about the bankruptcy, and while I can't begin to tell you all the twists and turns my brain took me through (it was such a messy web) the end result was that I realized the bankruptcy has left me feeling exposed and vulnerable. I feel like it's revealed a terrible flaw in me for everyone to see. But where that's become poisonous is that it's hooked itself up to an old, old story in me about my abuse being because of some terrible flaw in me. That the two are not to do with one another doesn't seem to matter to my brain - the one happened, the second followed, and so I've been experiencing hyper-vigilance and shame and all kinds of other PTSD symptoms. So now I need to program in reverse - the abuse was not about me, and was not my fault. Likewise the bankruptcy does not expose some terrible flaw at my heart, but rather a process of learning. And the best thing I can possibly do is to keep talking about it so that I don't give in to that impulse toward shame.

We always talk about my general health and whether I'm sleeping etc at the beginning of session, and I told Jan this time that my sleep has been poor because either I have the windows open and I'm too hot to sleep well, or I turn on the a/c unit and can't sleep because it's so loud. She pointed out that it's likely not the loudness alone that's making me sleep poorly, but the fact that I can't hear what's going on in the rest of the house. When I can hear everything, my hyper-vigilance is satisfied that I will wake up with a threat, but when I can't hear anything but the a/c, it remains revved up. So that explains an awful lot.

I also came to another conclusion this weekend - that I need to put progress on my new book project on the back burner. I've been looking at these summer months as a time to work primarily on that project, and then do everything else between times, but it's not doable. I need to reverse that - work on all my other things and then work on the book project when I have the time. I'm sort of bummed that the writing has to take a back seat, but on the other hand I'm so relieved to know that I now have time to get everything else done that it feels good. If only there were more hours in the day, you know?

I hope everything is well with all of you! I'm off to the eye doctor this morning, with the hopes that they will figure out why my one progressive lens has been useless for reading for the last 15 months. It would be lovely to read without things blurring!

 
 
 
 
sheafrotherdon
03 July 2017 @ 03:53 pm
 
I just remembered that I have blueberry bushes! Lots of green berries who will love the heat we're having, and a first little harvest. They're so tart and good!

blueberries from my garden
 
 
 
 
sheafrotherdon
02 July 2017 @ 10:22 am
 
Friends, I am one tired-out Cate today. The early part of last week was all about work, and then I left on Wednesday for Boston and spent less than forty-eight hours in the city before flying home. I don't recommend this as a person's first opportunity to see a place, but I'm glad that I got the chance to see a bit of the city amid all the stuff I had to do. (I was in town for the meeting of a national board on which I now serve, and we met in Boston Public Library, which is really freaking beautiful, and has an exceptional café that I highly recommend.) By virtue of getting up early and pounding the pavement before my meeting started on Thursday morning, I managed to see the old statehouse (which is so integral to illustrations of the Boston Massacre that it made my history geek heart all aflutter) and the long wharf, which is allegedly where everyone dumped the tea. And then I was in a basement conference room for two days (which is not nearly so bad as it sounds - it was a very nice conference room!).

What I saw of Boston was charming and inviting, and I experienced some real cognitive dissonance about how much like England so many of the green spaces were (not to mention the older architecture) while Cape Cod houses abounded. I liked it, though. I wish I had had more of a chance to explore! That said, I can say this for sure about Boston:

1) All coffee products, everywhere I went, were inexplicably cheap.
2) Logan airport is tiny
3) You should visit the new part of the Boston Public Library and snag one of the chairs by the huge windows so that you can be online and people watch at the same time. Perfection.

When we took off from Logan on Friday afternoon, we did a huge circle above the bay, and I could look out and imagine the whole harbour besieged by British tall ships in the 1770s, and it gave me the chills. Clearly I need to go back to Boston and soon.

Got back to my home at 10pm on Friday night, and then 8.30am on Saturday morning I was on the road with my friend M and her two daughters to go shopping for their family vacation in Florida. We shopped like champions, ate gloriously fried food and milkshakes for lunch, and got home in time for me to get a hair cut. Then it was time for our friend and neighbor S's popsicle party, so all the kids went in swimsuits and had epic water fights for three hours while the parents/assorted other adults sat around and drank beer and chatted. It was a lovely way to spend an evening, and when I got home I went right to bed and slept the deep sleep of the righteously tired for ten hours.

I am glad to be in my own home today, able to nest a little! I hope your weeks have been good to you, too! And here's to a good week coming up.
 
 
 
 
sheafrotherdon
02 July 2017 @ 09:49 am
 
My mom and I have a complicated relationship, and our phone calls on a Sunday often veer into that complicated territory. Which is why I wanted to record for posterity that today my mother said she was consistently amazed by all the things I do and the places I go, and she thought it was fabulous that a kid who came out of such a (socio-economically) poor background could get to where I am. She didn't outright say "I'm proud of you" but she clearly meant it, and it's rare that she ever indulges in straight-up praise, so I am going to enjoy the heck out of it.
 
 
 
 
sheafrotherdon
27 June 2017 @ 12:07 pm
 
Today is PTSD Awareness Day! Do you have questions about PTSD that you've been afraid to ask? Wondered about stuff that you couldn't find an answer to online? Been curious about something? Feel free to ask me - I am so, so happy to talk about everything I know about PTSD. ♥
 
 
 
 
sheafrotherdon
26 June 2017 @ 05:05 pm
 
It's twenty years today since the first Harry Potter book was published. I didn't read it at the time - I entered around the time Azkaban came out - but it was a book destined to work change in my life and bring me into the world of fandom, from whence came this blog. I'm more irritated with than appreciative of JK Rowling of late, but HP got me through the end of grad school, cemented a variety of awesome friendships, and introduced me to this thing called fanfic.

So, in celebration of all that is good about HP, here's the very first piece of fanfic I ever wrote, a good 12.5 years ago now. Excuse purple prose and such - I was a newbie :D

[Bonfire Night], Remus/Sirius, G, ~1500 words.
Remus has toffee, and it's not the only thing that Sirius wants
 
 
 
 
sheafrotherdon
26 June 2017 @ 11:33 am
 
Thank you a thousand times over to everyone who's bought me a cup of coffee. I'm especially touched by the single cup donations - you have no idea. And I'm working on my feelings of guilt and shame around this whole bankruptcy business. I'm turning things around in my mind piece by piece and I will absolutely get there, I promise.

I went to see my psychiatrist this morning. They had me pee in a cup to make sure I wasn't abusing Adderall, which is either a really smart policy choice or kind of invasive - I can't quite figure out how I feel about it. And then I was seen by the nurse, who had just stuck herself with a needle by accident and almost passed out because she hates needles (and yet is a nurse?). She asked me what are, apparently, some standard questions about how patients are doing, one of which asked me to say if I was partially recovered, almost recovered, or cured. "Are you kidding me?" was not an acceptable answer (though she was amused). The whole experience was so odd. Were there more options near me I think I'd be looking for a new one, but my friend G has been to the only other psychiatrist recommended in a 75-mile area, and he refused to prescribe on the first visit. Which again - perhaps a smart policy? But it left her without any ADHD meds and he had no openings on his calendar until the end of July.

*hands*

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com
 
 
 
 
sheafrotherdon
25 June 2017 @ 05:00 pm
 
Sunday has been slow and pleasant. I went for a walk early, before most of the neighborhood was awake, and I did about 3000 steps. Talked to my mom - wow, the judicious editing that went on in that conversation, because I absolutely was not going to tell her about the bankruptcy - and to another friend, and then, bit by bit, tidied my house. I cleaned up the kitchen, did a whole bunch of laundry, and pulled together my clothes for my trip to Boston this week.

It's a lightning trip - the folks organizing my meeting have me arriving late on Wednesday night and leaving again Friday afternoon. Between times I am booked solid. I'm excited to be part of the stuff we'll be working on this week, but I wish I had more time to see the city, and to see friends (several of whom are on here). I'll be so near and yet so far.

I've spent a little time with the numbers from the bankruptcy today and it's going to be mighty close. I'm locked into contracts on my cell phone and cable/wifi. My car insurance is sky high, of course, because of the accident, and my initial looking around suggests I won't get better rates elsewhere with that on my record. The places I can economize most are going to be on utilities (using the a/c units as sparingly as possible), and food. I am lucky in many, many ways - I get to keep the house, I get to keep my stuff, and I can make cooking into a challenge so that I try to find the cheapest ways possible to eat well. (I know there are some great websites out there about this). There are positives here. But I'm also being realistic about the fact that it will be a long, hard slog.

One of the slogs will be getting from today to payday (which is Friday). I will be reimbursed all the expenses related to my trip, but that means I have to outlay them first, and I am broke. So please forgive this, but I'm sticking a little 'buy me a coffee' button on this post. It's through Kofi, which gives a person the ability to literally donate the cost of a coffee to someone else. I don't deserve support - god knows I have done this financial stuff to myself - but if you have a cup of coffee to spare, I would be so grateful.

And now I'm going to go resolutely not think about things and fold laundry.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com
 
 
 
 
sheafrotherdon
25 June 2017 @ 07:24 am
 
Yesterday was a good day - a lovely respite from the week. In the morning I took coffee over to my friends who had been holding a yard sale since 6.30am, and then hung out with them until the yard sale was over. (Another friend bought me a rocking chair at said yard sale - it's the chair in which we all rocked my friend's children when they were babies. Awwww.) Then I took two of the assembled friends' kids to an open art morning at the new local art collective, and I ended up painting something myself. Someone had painted a canvas and didn't like the end result, so I painted over it with all kinds of geometric shapes. Here's what it looked like part-way through:

art I made

I had no idea what I was doing, but it was super calming and fun and the kids had a blast. I got to bring the painting home, so now it's on the wall on my stairs. Yay!

In the afternoon I went for a walk around the local lake with another friend. It was a gorgeous day - 74F and breezy, which made walking an absolute joy. We had lemonade afterwards at the coffeeshop, then we picked up her husband from the train station and I dropped them both back at home. I joined my yard-sale friend and her kids for dinner, and then finished out the day with some Tiny House Nation (the best!) and an early night.

As I lay in bed I found myself trying to do an accounting of where I hadn't been at my best that day - where I was thoughtless or short-tempered or . . . you get the idea. And I realized - this is a hold over from the merciless church I was raised within, which taught us that we had to mentally list our sins every night and pray for forgiveness or we'd go to hell if we died in our sleep. (And you couldn't review what you had done that was good, because that would lead to the sin of pride, ergo . . . )

Wow.

What a soul-sucking habit! I've been doing this review of the day in my head for years, but only just realized where it's rooted. So I set my mind on a different course with love, and marveled again that I am as functional as I am given the particular circumstances of my childhood. Yikes.

I don't know what today brings, save a hope to go outside a bunch since it's again a beautiful day. Have lovely Sundays, everyone (or Monday if you're already there!)
 
 
 
 
sheafrotherdon
23 June 2017 @ 03:00 pm
 
The deed is done. I filed for bankruptcy, and my court hearing is on August 4 at 9am.
 
 
 
 
sheafrotherdon
22 June 2017 @ 11:13 am
 
This has been a tough week. There were the brain shennanigans that colored the early part of the week. Then yesterday I had to do bankruptcy counseling online, a process that asked me to painstakingly enter all my credit card debt, loans, and expenses (which took 45 minutes), and then go over it all again with a credit counselor in online chat (an hour). (This is the . . . third time I've provided this information to someone? Ugh.) This produced a certificate which I sent to my lawyer and allows him to file, so tomorrow I drive an hour to his office to sign off on everything. I don't know what this means in practical terms and it's making me anxious - and that's on top of the regular anxiety I feel around money at all times. Wow, am I tired.

Then, this morning, my company announced a position that I would be really good at, and which would be a promotion, and I'm trying to figure out whether I apply or not. The biggest downside would be the lack of flexibility I would have with my hours if I got it, and I'm not sure that's negotiable. I think that's contributing to my overall state of mind - it's a great opportunity, but I'm really not sure that I can do it and have PTSD at the same time. (I feel like Josh Lyman. Where's my Leo McGarry?)

It's also hot, and my house doesn't have central air, which makes doing the tidying, cleaning, and laundry that would make my house feel like a refuge very hard to accomplish. Yikes-a-mighty, I need a brain transplant. Or lacking that, the equivalent of a caffeine jolt to the brain - something that makes it feel energized and sharp. Right now it's very sluggish. Poor brain. Needs a vacation.
 
 
 
 
sheafrotherdon
21 June 2017 @ 11:52 am
Compassion on the Inside  
After feeling jetlagged all weekend, I went to work on Monday, did a ferocious amount of cleaning out my inbox, and decided it was time to adult and make appointments for all the medical stuff I needed to get checked. So I made appointments with my therapist, psychiatrist, dentist, dermatologist, primary care physician, and eye doctor. And promptly crashed into depression right afterwards.

I went to therapy yesterday and said, this is so weird – I know the moment it hit, but I can’t figure out why it would hit like this. What’s this about? So we did EMDR because on the surface none of it was adding up.

Here’s what I figured out.Read more... )
 
 
 
 
sheafrotherdon
19 June 2017 @ 07:57 am
 
This song has been on my mind all morning: the stirring answer to the question "do you know who you are?"; the support of the ancestors who have gone before us; the idea of being part of a chorus of voices, even if we cannot see everyone else who surrounds us. Take a few moments to watch and listen, maybe.