Refrigerator

The refrigerator was empty.

Before that there was options for meals in the cabinets and freezer.

Before that there was also bread, deli meat, cheese, and the promise of a sandwich.

Before that there was also a tomato to slice.

Before that there was also apples and carrots sticks for the kids to snack on.

Before that there was also a carton of milk and eggs to cook with.

Before that there was also lettuce, cucumber, and a yellow pepper to make a salad.

Before that there was also pepperoni and a package of mozzarella cheese to make a pizza.

Before that there was also a pound of ground beef and whole wheat tortillas to make burritos.

Before that there was also blueberries and strawberries to eat on cereal.

Before that there was also V-8 and orange juice to drink.

Before that there was also yogurt to pack for lunch.

Before that there was also bagels and pita bread.

Before that there was also a pork tenderloin to cook for the family.

Before that there was kitchen filled with possibilities.

Before that He asked her when She was going to the store.

Introspecting at the coffee shop

I tried to go to the library to write this morning, but dammit it doesn’t open until noon on Thursday’s. I should know this because, in the past, I’ve tried to go twice on Thursday mornings with my kids and ran into the same dumb luck.

So instead of getting free library parking downtown I parked in a public lot, which is probably more honest anyway. I was going to sneak out of the library, against policy, to get a bite to eat, move my body, and pick up a new game for my kids at the local toy story. I have a 20% off coupon. The item I want to buy costs $14.99. Saving $3 makes me happy. Plus it’ll pay for the $3 I had to pay to park downtown this morning. Ahhh life, it always seems to have a way of working itself out if you give it enough time.

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Swimmingly well

I took my son to swimming lessons this morning. He did well enough. He still won’t go underwater willingly, but he is bobbing, jumping into the shallow end, and even acting jovial in the water with the others kids, unlike the first day. My daughter and I sat together as we have for the past week and a half. Today she snuggled into my lap for most of the time. The day was going swimmingly well, but it was early.

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When my son’s lesson was over we hopped into the car and ate lunch on the way to a theater downtown to see a movie sponsored by the local library. Our spirits were high as we settled into our chairs and sat back to watch the show. At one point I found my daughter snuggled into my lap, for the second time that day, during a scary part. I held her close and put my arm around my son. He snuggled across the arm rest into my chest. All I could think about during the happy and turbulent parts of the movie was how much I love my kids.  The day was going swimmingly well.

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What didn’t make me happy about my day

Last fall I came up with a ritual that my husband and I could do with our kids during dinner every night. I called it, “What made me happy about my day.” While eating we would all go around the table and share one thing that made us happy about our day. The point was to highlight and focus on the good in our lives.

Before long this ritual was commonplace and we would take turns going first, making family dinners that much more communal. When we had guests we invited them into our happy circle.

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Mental illness: The unsung heroes and information

In the spirit of Mental Health Awareness Month, this post is a second installment about revealing my struggles with mental illness in order to help fight stigmas. You can read my first post here.

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Today I’d like to tell you a little bit about the unsung heroes behind people living with mental illnesses, provide some factual information, and share a few thoughts that have come to mind since “outing myself” about my own struggles with mental illness.

In some of the response I received after writing my blog post, people called me a hero. Although that is an extremely nice thing to say, the true heroes are the family members and friends who have to live with or be around a person who is mentally ill. The people who try to convince a mentally ill person that they need help or do not understand what they are going through, I imagine, is frustrating.

My husband is one of those heroes. Although he likes to maintain a low profile online — he’s German and stoic and private like that (unlike his wacky wife!) — today I am going to acknowledge him anyway. There were many times when I was sick that he was not only my first point of contact, but the only person who’d see my worst symptoms rage up in fire. It’s a lot for a person to handle.

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An honest take on mental illness

In the spirit of Mental Health Awareness Month I am revealing my struggles with mental illness.

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Lately I have been thinking about what got my blog started. I decided to go back and read the very first post I ever wrote, almost five years ago.

It’s titled:

“First post as I try to learn WordPress… You gotta start somewhere, folks.”

The body is a whopping 23 words long:

“So I was thinking… Most of the information I process and concepts I learn in life seem so obvious after I learn them.” 

(Wow, I was like SO smart back then. And, damn I have gotten long-winded since then).

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Over the last year I have had pain in my right forearm in wrist. I’ve put off going to an orthopedic doctor because I feared I had an injury that would require me to stop writing and stop doing yoga until it healed. As a writer and someone who enjoys exercise, those orders would not mesh well with my commitment to practicing them regularly. Even worse — as a person living with mental illness, those orders would be part of a death sentence because writing and exercise are an integral part of my treatment plan.

I started this blog in July 2011, three months after I had my first psychotic episode that led to being diagnosed with a bipolar disorder and an anxiety disorder. I was deeply embarrassed and ashamed of the complete loss of control I felt during the paranoia, hallucinations, delusions of grandeur, insomnia, mania, and intrusive thoughts. I completely lost my grip on reality and was involuntarily hospitalized. The racing and incoherent thoughts, sleepless nights, impulsively, agitation, and reckless behaviors were not a pretty sight.

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Opening up this Spring

I went for a three-mile run this morning after I dropped the kids off at pre-school. It’s the first three miler I have run in months, and boy was it rejuvenating. As it seems, spring is about to officially arrive this week with warmer temperatures. In tandem with the start of a new weather-related season, I am entering a bright, new season in my life — one filled with openness to the world around me, yet not without tentativeness when I think about exposure and vulnerability.

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