Don’t Give Up

I used to think that everyone elses life was different and more better than mine.  Then I found out that a family member of mine drinks.  Yes, this was a turning point for me.  A reality check I suppose.  I never thought that she would go down that path but, when she revealed that to me, I was kinda shocked.  Slowly, but surely, I have been listening to the stories of countles other people whom I thought their lives were peachy-keen.  Same shit all the way around.  “I wouldn’t have married him had I known what I know now…he’s an alcoholic,” says one.  “My husband is disabled so I work two jobs, ” says another.  And on and on it goes.  I start to wonder at what point did I drift off into la-la land in my life?  Why the heck is this so shocking to me?  I’ve always known that other people have issues too, so what the fuck?

The human spirit has a tendency to not give up, no matter what the circumstances are.  When the human mind says, “Oh your not good enough, ” the human spirit answers, “Oh yes you are!  Keep going!”  But a reality check sometimes is in order.  Not everything is as glamorours or as escapist as we would like it to be.  How do we as humans cope?  We try to get away from it or we go through it with the strength of our human spirit on our side.  My spirit is constantly telling  me to get the fuck up and try again, every single day.  It doesn’t tell me that its going to be easy, no, that’s what the imagination is for.  It does tell me that I am more than capable to at least get the fuck up and try again.  So I listen and get up and try again.

I become frustrated many, many times.  Standing up isn’t easy to do either, yet I am thankful that I can even stand at today’s date.  For nearly seven years I could not use my legs as effortlessly as I used to in my younger years.  A few years ago, I found out that I was walking on a collapsed hip.  It depressed me something awful.  The idea that I could not walk again brought me down to a level I had not been in before.  I struggled to get out of those depths.  I researched depression and did what I could about health and exercise and such, but there was only so much that I could do on a collapsed hip (which is extremely painful by the way and I don’t wish that on my worse enemy if I’ve got one).  I tried mindulness techniques, taking my supplements, and going out for the shortest walks I’ve ever experienced.  Eventually, I received a hip replacement.  My spirit won yet again with its motivational short speech.

Now, it speaks to me again.  It continually is reminding me not to give up.  “Don’t give up!” it says, over and over again.  You see folks, I’m facing another small dilemna, one I’ve faced before.  This time my spirit says, “Don’t give up! Find a way!  You can do this!”  My dilemna?  Finances.  My husband and I recently moved to Texas from North Carolina.  It was my husband’s idea and I went along with it.  I quit my job on the belief that here would be much better, and easier, to find work.  Once again, it didn’t turn out that way.  Now, I’m just tired of all of this bullshit.  I worked hard in NC to get work and get back into being a good steward of my finances.  We get here and find that we are struggling again!  It is very difficult to find the motivation to get up and keep going.  I was so angry with my husband and daily I try to find the motivation to do something different in this situation.  I’m at the point now that I’m not angry nor am I thinking of getting even.  I’m on survival mode now and needing to work pronto!

Currently, we don’t have a vehicle…….yet.  The bus routes are only to town and not so far out west and walking is the only thing I can possibly do at this moment.  Is it irony? I don’t think so.  I really do miss my work and the people I worked with.  I can’t spend too much time reminiscing because my spirt won’t allow it.  “Wake up and smell the coffee even if you have to make yourself a cup!” it says.  It is frustrating some days, yet I still get the fuck up and I don’t give up.  My life is not yet over and I cannot spend it on remembrances, regrets or anger.  I just have to continue to be me…determined, loving, honest, motivated (the list is pretty extensive so I’ll just stop right there for now).  I look for work via the Internet and think about ways on how to get to the interviews should there be any.  I can only hope at this moment that there will be several interviews all in one shot but I also have to be realistic and continue to apply.

I often think that I am missing something.  I’ve thought about creative ways to do this job search and getting to where I need to go.  I have hope, motivation, spirit, determination and Internet connection (thankfully). Not everything can be done on the internet though and I miss having the social connections needed to keep pressing on and looking at other areas that are in walkable distance.  I’m clearly trying to figure this out, folks.  I’ve looked in most job banks here, like LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Indeed, etc. and have applied on those as well and found that they basically have a repeat of what the other job banks have.  There’s only so much that one can do to revamp a resume without having to embellish on experience or decorations on the paper.  I’ve listed most of the transferrable skills that I possess and those I’ve gleaned throughout my years of employment.  Hence, the title of this article, “Don’t Give Up.”

It is definitely tempting, and easy., to do so, just give up.  My mind would like me to believe that I am stuck, but my spirit says that there is so much opportunity to be had.  I am going to make a breakthrough, I just have to take it easy on myself sometimes, as I tend to overdo it a little.  Stress management techniques, like taking walks, are helpful at times.  I also peruse positive and motivational quotes continuously, which are also helpful at times.  Sometimes I just cry and cry and cry, then I get up again and keep going.  I just don’t give up.

 

After a deep sleep

So now I slowly awaken.

So many things have occurred after the holidays.  Even my gratitude journal lay dormant for a few months while changes occurred, as if a whirlwind entered my space.  Much upheaval, many thoughts to cope with, to sort out, and always, always fighting the demons of depression and physical pain.

Then there’s realization.  The realization that hope still lives in me.  The realization that I can get through this.  The realization that I am stronger than what I believe I am.  Just beginning to settle down in an old, new place, I find that I sometimes become overwhelmed.  Then I laugh at myself and tell myself, remind myself actually, that I’ve been here before, that all I need to do is tackle things at an organized pace.  I finally pull out my gratitude journal and begin to write again.  I come here and begin to write.  I cannot forget my purpose.  I have a story to tell, even if it is in bits and pieces.  I am shy in person, but I do not feel the need to be shy here.  I can speak to you as if I know you and you are getting to know me.

I am protected by anonymity yet I am known.  My words speak of years that have passed by and times that are coming and moments that are presently current.  I simply cannot forget my purpose.  I still have goals to achieve and a long journey ahead, yet I still have time to gaze at the blooming trees and the way they seem to be ablaze in the morning sun.  God is good, I tell myself.  I am thankful for the ability to see such beauty and to contemplate it.  No negative thought can take away what is before me, the sprawling carpet of farm, the trees enclosing it, marking its territory.  A reminder of when life gets too busy yet the beauty remains.  Even when life seems dormant, it is still beautiful.  When it awakens, it shows off its splendor for the world to see.

I, too, am a part of nature.  Like nature, I slowly awaken.  I shift my gaze and look upon that which is praiseworthy and excellent, real and untouched.  I see how everything changes, slowly, ever so slowly, nature adapts to its seasons.  It follows the flow with accurate precision and I follow it.  We both meet the sun and point our faces toward it but we don’t miss our pace while we grow.

This is what happens after a deep sleep.

Ways to Beat PMS Stress and Negative Thinking

Folks, regardless of your sexual orientation or gender, we all go through some form of PMS in our lifetime. I don’t know about you, but I go through heck and back every single month and the symptoms vary. I could be the happiest go lucky person people would love to get to know. Or I could be the meanest bitch around, where people run away screaming. Then the thoughts that go though my mind about my husband are horrendous! This is the time when I start seeing the very worst in him: how lazy he is, how bad he smells, how loud he chews, well, you get the idea. It is the most uncomfortable time for me. So, this early morning, I dreamt of ways on how to beat PMS stress. Yes, folks, I dreamt it. In fact, it was the last dream before awakening, so I still had it in my mind and decided to evolve it a little by trying to make it humorous and write a blog about it.

In my dream I was telling myself to research ways to overcome PMS and its varied symptoms.  A little hard to do since the symptoms are never the same. But I gave myself little ideas, like color therapy and cooking with my husband (or at least doing something nice with him). Small, seemingly insignificant things, will take away the focus on negative thinking, dissolving it with positive action. And the stress level will go down so that hormones won’t be uncontrollable jumping jacks. With that being said, here goes a few suggestions:
– Watch sad movies:
Yes, make it a marathon! Sometimes PMS makes a person very emotional. I cry at the drop of a hat. So, make a playlist of movies, by hand or by some special app, collect the DVDs that make you want to cry (only you know what they can be), and make a day of it. Cry your eyes out. It’s okay to cry you know.

-Read a book (or several):
With PMS comes depression. With depression comes a need to escape. The most healthy way to do that is to read a book. Whether it be a romance, action, psychological thriller, or non-fiction, the need is the same. Make sure that you are comfortable enough in your spot, get your tea or coffee (ginger tea is best since it decreases inflammation), and get
to reading.

-Play a game:
I personally enjoy hidden objects games. Most usually have a story line, then puzzles, then hidden objects scenes. Yours could be role playing games, like the Legend of Zelda, or it could be Pokemon (yes, I like Pokemon and I’m not ashamed to admit it), or it could be a Sudoku or crossword puzzle. No matter what the game of choice is, your mind will remain active and in the moment, and the negative thinking will whittle away in the background.

-Write:
Create a journal or several journals. Create something positive, like a gratitude journal, where you would have to force yourself to see the positive side of your life. Indeed you do have a positive side, such as your accomplishments, your family, your husband, what you’ve learned, etc. This will shift your mind from thinking negative thoughts to the more positive things in life, and help you feel much more better about life in general. You can also blog your thoughts, if that makes you feel most comfortable. In whatever format you choose, write it out.

-Do something with your significant other:
You can cook, go for a walk, do something crafty, learn about cars, etc., when you engage with your significant other. You’d be surprised at what you can come away with if you really ask questions, even something simple like changing the oil and the oil filter in your car, or why does your significant other enjoy doing certain things. You can recommend going to a museum, taking a short course, or going for a drive. If your significant other refuses to participate, don’t worry. Some of these things you can do on your own. This applies to those who are single as well. Which brings me to the next suggestion.

-Learn something new:
Life is full of new and exciting things. Wish you can draw? Then be bold and take that first step. You can go to classes, get on an online course, or go to the library and take out a book on the subject. Want to learn how to use that expensive camera you got last Christmas? Again, same as above. Want to learn about mindfulness, meditation, and chakras? Again, be bold and take that first step. You will not regret it. In fact, you will be accessing parts of your brain that you normally do not use. You will also learn how to beat stress and stop negative thinking in a constructive
manner. I’m not going to ask you to believe me. Try it for yourself and see.

-Color therapy:
Break out the crayons and color! Seriously! If you have coloring pencils and construction paper, even notebook paper, then color! Do whatever design you wish to do. It has a relaxing effect on your mind and helps to focus your mind and bring you to the present moment. There are also mandalas that are used for coloring on the web. Just pick one, print or save as a .jpg, and color (you can also use the Paint mode from your computer to color them in). Do a Google search on mandalas and it will give you a list of websites from which to choose your coloring mandalas.

-Food!!:
Just watch what you eat. It is tempting to go for the high fat, high calorie, high carb, easy to make and quick to eat, junk food hidden somewhere in the kitchen. But I encourage you, even dare you, to try something new. Make something from scratch. Try a vegan dish, or a Thai dish. Try a different way to make chicken or beef or pork. Like sandwiches? Make a Cuban sandwich! Try a low-carb dessert, with fresh fruit. There are loads of websites out there that you can search and loads of books at the library. Check it out!

-Exercise:
Simply going for a walk is exercise. You pump blood to the heart and create more oxygen to the brain. Make it a fun walk. If you have a smartphone with a camera, take pictures! It doesn’t have to be professional-style photos, folks. Take photos of what interests you the most, even if its your feet while walking, a house that has a certain appeal, the architecture of a building, etc. If you are the creative, crafty type, then window shop. Get ideas from the things that are on display in stores. How many times have you gone into a store, ready to buy something, and told yourself, “I can make that!” The whole point is to enjoy your exercise. Jump rope if you have to, just enjoy it. You will be releasing any pent-up stress, as well as endorphins, the “feel-good” hormone, which will make you, well, feel good.

-Got kids?:
OMG! I could go on and on with this section, but then you won’t read my blogs anymore, so I will be concise. If you have kids, the things you could do! You can cook with kids, have a picnic with kids, laugh with kids, face paint with kids, walk with kids (make sure you carry snacks), make snacks with kids. The things you can do with kids is infinite! Don’t have children in your home but love kids? Volunteer! Become a Big Brother/Big Sister, babysit, tutor, etc. So many things that can be done when there are children in the mix!

-Listen to Music:
I love listening to music. I listen to all types (except for rap. No offense!), and it just fills me with joy!  Make a playlist according to moods, or listen to all of your songs at once. Singalong with them or just create new dance
moves in the privacy of your own home. Don’t worry, no one will know (except me because I recommend it). If you have access to the internet, use YouTube to find different forms of dance and lessons, like salsa or country line dancing. You can do this alone or you can do this with your children or your dog. Play the music loud (if you can) or listen to it on
your headphones. Music is universal, enjoy it.

-Take a long warm (or hot) bath:
Does this really need explaining? Use whatever form of aromatherapy you have on hand, whether it be essential oils, bubbles, bubbles with essential oils, or just plain Epsom salt. Add music and candles to the mix, and you’ve created a nirvana of your own. If baths are not your thing, or you just have access to a shower stall, then take a shower!  Water helps soothe aches in your body, and the sound of water helps soothe the soul. Couple that with nice smelling body wash and shampoo/conditioner, and you will step out of the bathroom feeling like a new person (certainly not like the one that stepped in). Even if you have children in the home, this step can be done in the early morning, and again in the evening,
when everyone is asleep (sans music).

I sure hope this list of suggestions help you find new ways to beat PMS stress and negative thinking. I personally use many of the methods on this list, and they help a great deal to shift mental perspective and negative moods. Because PMS can last for many days at a time, I find myself using several methods in a day, throughout the entire time I’m PMSing. I hope this helps you as well.
If you have additional suggestions/comments, feel free to add. I’m always looking for new ideas to inspire and motivate me to do stuff.

I’m so happy that you stopped by today. I hope that you have a very pleasant and lovely day.

On depression, photography and mindfulness

For a long time I have had struggles with the constraints of depression.  The way it just sneaks up on you sometimes and threatens your overall well-being in a matter of days.  Sometimes the overwhelming sensation of falling, like Alice going to Wonderland, just takes too long to subside, and the journey may seem long, dark, ominous, and bleak.  Then there was the longest battle I’ve had with this dark side of humanness: two years of depth, with a lot of prayer, a lot of support from my husband (who really made an attempt to understand what was happening to me), and the determination to take that daunting climb out of that underground cave.  I went from studying the effects of the Stanford Prison Experiment (of which I felt my circumstances were similar to), to having a collection of positive quotes and even studying a textbook on positive psychology.  I’m not crazy about taking pills for any condition, especially if I am aware of alternative methods, such as proper psychotherapy and psychiatry skills, so whatever I was prescribed was short-lived and really did not have the effect on me as the doctor felt it would. Only I knew what I needed and I sought it out as vigorously as I could.  Still, I was not completely out of the hole.

As I began feeling physically better (I was suffering from a severe case of gouty arthritis on the knees), I wanted to go out more, to socialize more, to change my perspective more.  Slowly, but surely, that is what began to happen.  My husband and I moved from one place to another and the change was exactly what the imaginary doctor ordered.  We went from an overcrowded and loud city to a rural paradise that only God Himself can create.  I was born and raised in the city, but my heart and soul were meant for the countryside.  My husband and I still struggled, but the environment was set up to be able to surpass the struggle, or at least go through it with a much clearer mindset.

We arrived in rural upstate New York toward the end of July and was very surprised with what I saw.  Of course this was not my first time traveling from the hustle and bustle to an absolutely serene countryside.  But it had been a few years passed for me, and my body, my mind, and my soul and spirit welcomed it with such wide open arms.  The air was cooler and cleaner and everything was so green.  In fact, we were in Greenville, NY, part of Greene County.  No lie.  Oh and we lived right across the road from a creek.  But I digress.

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Basic Creek, NY 81 (West), Greenville, New York 12083 (Original photo by Yvette Roman)

That August, my husband bought me an HTC One M7 smartphone and I loved the equalizer on it very much when it came to listening to music, but, little did I know the larger role this phone would play in the upcoming months.  As the summer months turned into fall, which then turned into winter, I found myself falling again into the throes of darkness.  This time I decided to take a proactive approach to this situation.  During previous studies I had encountered several ways to fight the battle against depression, including but not limited to, eating well, taking supplements, daily exercise (even simple walking), meditation techniques, and mindfulness.

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This tractor was just sitting there, near the bank of the creek. Greenville, NY (Original photo by Yvette Roman).

According to Wikipedia, mindfulness is ” the intentional, accepting and non-judgmental focus of one’s attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment, which can be trained by meditational practices…”. (See Mindfulness).  Wildmind.org also defines mindfulness as ” … the gentle effort to be continuously present.”.  (See What is Mindfulness).  Wildmind also states that “in mindfulness we’re concerned with noticing what’s going on right now.”  So, I took that very seriously and began searching for ways to practice mindfulness by noticing what’s going on here and now.  I decided that it was time to take whatever I’ve learned so far about battling depression and putting it into action.  I will take up photography.  So I did.  With an HTC One M7 smartphone.

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I love barns and sheds. They have such character! Greenville, NY, along NY 81 East. (Original photo by Yvette Roman).

Because I also have a physical disability (arthritis) I decided that walking, not briskly, but at a leisure pace, fulfilled the physical exercise portion of the no more depression workout, and allowed me to also take in the scenery with a different eye.  And I saw everything!  The sky, the bare trees, the old pickups nestled in their parking space, a field tractor near the creek, the snow, the sun, the signs….everything.  I attempted to learn what I could about my smartphone camera: ISO, shutter speeds, special effects, macro, etc.  It was a little frustrating at first.  I was seeing everything around me with a different set of eyes for the first time and I had an innate desire to capture what I saw with my eyes on digital film.  It wasn’t working out.  But mindfulness isn’t about rushing into anything, it is about being present in the moment, sort of like living in the moment.  So I learned a new craft, slowly.  I became better in my photography as time went by.  I learned more about the technicalities of photography in general (there is so little out there about smartphone photography techniques).  I joined Facebook photography groups.  I even created my own photography group entitled, Nature Photography. (See Nature photography. This is a private group.).

This is the center of town, near the cross streets of NY 81 (going east/west) and NY 32 (going north/south). Greenville, NY

Today, I still consider myself an amateur photographer and I photograph when the opportunity strikes (always!).  I still haven’t upgraded from my smartphone to a digital camera but that’s okay.  I still haven’t learned fully about other functions and ways to manipulate the way photos come out.  I try my hardest to publish my photos in its original content, meaning no special effects and no editing, like the one shown above.  I think and feel that my photos reflect their honesty that way and can also be seen differently and more creatively if naturally blurred or if the environment is naturally two-toned.

Basic Creek, overpass view, facing southwest. Greenville, NY
Car bridge facing Red Mill Road, off of NY 81. Greenville, NY (Original photo by Yvette Roman).

There are many ways to fight the depression monster: one is learning something new, another is practicing mindfulness, yet another is watching what foods you put into your body.  I searched Google for many, many days trying to find creative ways to do things and new things that I can learn to do. So, if you find yourself having a blah moment, suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, depression, or anything that clouds your mind, first seek the advice of a physician.  Second, do some research.  Third, do something new and different.  The list can continue from there.  Live your life now, my friends, not tomorrow.  And if you have other helpful links, please feel free to share.

I am grateful for you and I hope that you live in the moment.

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At the boardwalk headed toward the beach, Kure Beach, North Carolina. (Original photo by Yvette Roman)

Gratitude journals

I don’t know how everyone else might feel about having to write down everyday, morning and night, into a gratitude journal.  A gratitude journal is similar to that of keeping a diary.  However, in this particular journal, one is to list or talk about all of the things that one is grateful or thankful for each and every day.

I remember the days when I used to keep a diary.  In fact, I still have one-subject notebooks teeming with random notes, quotes, ups and downs, that occur to me every so often.  It’s hard to keep up these diaries.  With a gratitude journal I find that it is also a little hard to keep up with.  I try to find things to be grateful for on an everyday basis:  the birds singing in the morning, the ability to see the sun rising, the ability to hear the mighty ocean waves roar and crash into the edge of the beach, learning photography (a daily challenge), learning new crafts (I just finished my first wood chip carving…yahhhh!), being filled with gratitude toward family and friends who have been there for me when I really thought no one would be, etc.

While there are soooo many things to be grateful for, it still is a challenge to remember to write them in a journal every morning and every night.  Those of us who are accustomed to keeping journals in general usually keep a generalized journal and input everyday feelings, thoughts, and activities that can either happen during the day or during the week.  Some of us lead extremely busy lives, whether it be working outside of the home or as a stay at home parent.  Still some just reach out for the bedside journal when negative thoughts and feelings arise and we feel that we have no one to talk to, so we spill all of our innards into this journal.  So then, how do I manage a gratitude journal?

According to www.oxforddictionaries.com, the definition for gratitude is “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness”.  Therefore the focus of keeping a daily gratitude journal is to be more in tune with the positive aspects of life, of thought, of feelings, of people, of circumstances, of faith, and of everything in general.  To be able to open up this journal daily and re-read previous entries should provide a feeling of accomplishment, of the fact that we, as human beings, living in this world filled with peril, can actually still see it as a beautiful place.  That other human beings, not so well known in the media and social circles, are actually kind, gentle creatures.  To see that one can also be as kind and appreciative in almost any situation, no matter how bleak it may be.

I guess that it is well worth my time and energy to write daily entries into my gratitude journal.  No one else has to see it.  No one else has to know about it.  It’s between me, myself, and I.  Managing it shouldn’t be difficult and being grateful shouldn’t be difficult either.  Stopping for a moment to help another, to pay it forward, to say thank you, to wash a dish…those are the little moments of gratitude that can be immortalized on paper.  Those stacks of notebooks can contain immense volumes of gratitude that no other individual can steal from me.  A gratitude journal can serve as a constant reminder that, no matter where in the world I end up, there will be a whole host of individuals who have positively changed my life and a record of how I was able to pay it forward.

Of those things and more, I am grateful.