Tag Archives: friends

Weekend of firsts

15 Sep

There were a lot of firsts this weekend.

I went to the north shore to see my friend JB and her husband. That was a first – I hadn’t been to visit them before. JB and I were friends in college – well, we knew each other in college. I don’t think we were close at all. But Facebook has changed that in recent years. We talk fairly often and she invited me up. And the north shore is always fun, so I figured why not.

I think the last time I was on the north shore was at least 10 years ago. I think the last time was when my ex-husband and I were up there probably in 2005? Or before? Craziness. It’s so beautiful there with fun things to do. Why has it been so long?

Anyway, I drove up Friday night after work. Last week at work was a crazy week. Between my regular job and my part-time job, I worked about 55 hours and didn’t get home before 8:00 any night. Needless to say, I was tired. But I knew we’d have a short weekend, so I figured how bad could it be?

Bad, but not as bad as it could have been. I was so tired. Just before I got to Duluth, I was focusing on how much I needed to focus on driving. Past Duluth, it’s a two lane state highway with zero lights. That was fun. Especially when the car in front of me turned off the road. So I had no one in front of me to be a guide. But I made it safe and sound and without accidents. Whew. But, another first…driving up there alone.

Saturday we went to Split Rock Lighthouse. Another first. I had never been there. And it’s kinda considered one of the top ten landmarks in the state to visit. So we toured the lighthouse – which involved for me a small panic attack about climbing into the actual lighthouse. It’s a spiral staircase. Open heights bother me – the sheer drop on one side makes me dizzy. But I couldn’t go down because there were people behind us. So I continued up. In the lighthouse, I was a bit dizzy but not too bad. My legs though hurt – I think all the muscles tensed up during the panic attack. And then we had to climb down. JB was awesome and supportive. I went slow and tried not to look down the left side.

Then we hiked. Confession: I don’t think I’ve ever been on a hike. I mean, I’ve been outdoors. But not walking and climbing on trails. There are 12 miles of trails at Split Rock; I have no idea how far we went. But you can see the lighthouse here:

002

And we kept going after that and looped around back to the lighthouse.

Then we went back to JB’s house and canned. I’ve never canned before but have wanted to learn. So I was excited to learn! They canned a ton of crap every year – spaghetti sauce, salsa, pizza sauce, roasted tomatoes. I helped (kinda) with salsa and spaghetti sauce. And I feel like I learned enough to be able to try it on my own! Think of the money I could save – once I make the investment in equipment that is. Bonus: they sent me home with some salsa, spaghetti sauce, and pizza sauce. Score!

Sunday we went to Tettegouche state park and did a short hike. Another first – I don’t think I’ve been to Tettegouche before. Stunning views of course:

004

Lake Superior is so breathtaking. And awesome in the awe-inspiring sort of way. Those of you who live on or near oceans know this far better than I do. But Lake Superior is just to big, so majestic, so POWERFUL. I don’t think I could ever go on that lake. Especially after you hear about the shipwrecks.

Then sadly, I had to leave. Drove home by myself. I stopped at Betty’s Pies – another first! I have never eaten there. But I’ve heard so much about it that I had to stop. And the pies? Well worth the hype and then some! I got blueberry and Great Lake Crunch. I didn’t keep all of them though even though I wanted to. But they’re so good!! (OMG I just found out you can buy them online!)

So it was a great weekend. And I could feel myself relaxing the whole time. The tension in my shoulders and my headaches went away. Ahhhhhh. Of course, now they’re back. Boo.

I’m looking forward to going up there again soon – JB said she’d teach me to snowshoe!

Grateful for the weekend

7 Sep

*I had a migraine Friday night. (This is not what I’m grateful for.) Luckily I can catch them before they develop into a full-blown headache. But it still makes me want to lie on the couch in a dark room. But I’m grateful that I can take OTC medication for it and that I don’t get the full headaches anymore. (Please don’t let me have jinxed it.)

*I’m grateful to have a boss at my part-time job who understands health issues like that and allows me to reschedule my work. Thanks, WH!

*I’m grateful for friends who have coffee birthday gatherings and invite me. And let me bring a friend to crash it. It was so fun to meet everyone else and catch up for a bit. Thanks, JK!

*I’m grateful for having a friend like SP who is willing to go to the Renaissance Festival with me. And who laughs at the all the people with me. We always have a great time. Thanks, SP!

*I’m grateful for finding my friend ML at the festival who worked out there when I did 20 years ago and who still does. I haven’t seen him in probably 18 years. We lost touch and then he found me on Facebook. But it was so awesome to see him in person. And get the giant bear hugs from him again. He was the kindest person when I worked out there – always very welcoming. I have a soft spot for him (along with the other guys I knew out there: EC & MC). Thanks, ML!

*I’m grateful I was able to focus today and get a lot done. While not watching TV. It feels good to have accomplished so much! Thanks, brain!

For giggles…here’s me and MC while on duty…in 1996. How was that 18 years ago?!?

renfest

Here we go…

2 Aug

In October 2010, I moved back with my parents. Partially to help them out as they got their house ready to sell, and partially to save money. You see, I had a plan of how to reach some financial goals in terms of debt and retirement. So I had to spend as little as possible. But I needed to keep dancing. Yes, needed. I can’t imagine my life without it. So for four years, I lived on a cash-only basis, I didn’t go out much, I didn’t buy a lot of clothes, I ate out less, I put my stuff in storage and stayed with friends paying cheap rent. My target date, if all went according to plan, was July 1, 2014.

And you know what? I MADE IT. I’m now debt-free, I’ve looked at my retirement and savings and am track, and I have a habit of operating with cash only, no credit.

When I moved four years ago, I knew where I wanted to live when I was out on my own again. And I found an apartment in that complex. The rent is a little higher than I was planning on. But I readjusted my budget and just know that things will be a bit tighter for a short while. It’s worth, though, to live in a grown-up place in a neighborhood I love.

July was crazy. I moved. And after moving so many times (2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, and now 2014 – yikes), I know that moving is the most stressful thing I can do to myself. Luckily, I’ve had a lot of practice over the last few years in how to cope with it. Rule number one: Have professionals do the actual moving. Rule number two: Unpack as quickly as possible. I moved on a Wednesday morning and had the last things done on Saturday. BOOM.

And while money is tighter, it’s not horribly tight. I can still go out with friends, I can buy some clothes, and most importantly, I can still afford all my dancing. And I’m excited to live my life again! I’m in my own apartment, which hasn’t happened since 2010. I just feel like it’s all starting over, I get to be a grown-up again and not crash with friends. I really can’t describe how excited I am. I’ve been inspired to cook and bake again, and I’ve started going to the gym every day before work. (OK, it’s literally a two-minute walk door-to-door, so how can I not? But still…I’m there every morning!)

And I love my apartment! It’s got enough space but not so much that cleaning’s a pain. All my stuff fits in nicely, and there’s great storage too. The kitchen is fantastic, although I haven’t cooked with an electric stove and oven in years. But I’m adjusting to that.

I owe my parents and my friends a lot for letting me live with them and pay cheap rent. I can never describe to any of them what that support and help means to me. Without them, I would have had to stop dancing. And can you imagine me without dancing? That’d be one sad Cathy. Let’s not go back there, shall we?

I wish I was a better writer so I could convey just how energized I am now to do THINGS. I’m knitting again, I’m baking, I’m reading, I’m RUNNING again (right? yeah it’s been a while)…I am HAPPY. So very happy.

happy-dance

I’m lucky to have the friends I have

27 May

I have good friends. As in these-people-really-know-how-to-be-a-friend kind of good.

I feel especially that right because I’m having another stupid episode. The details don’t matter, but it’s a convergence of things happening that is making me feel insignificant. AGAIN. I’m so tired of fighting this stupid wiring in my brain on this shit. I hate that it’s a constant struggle. And while I know it’s just faulty wiring and I have many more tools to fight it than I used to, I still hate it. I would love to be carryfree and not an overanalyzer. (That’s a word.)

I’m lucky to have a therapist who is really good and who can help. I’m lucky to have friends who will put up with me when I hit these episodes. I never show how bad the episodes are – I rarely even talk about them here in any great detail – because I’m afraid that the next time will be the time no one wants to deal with it and I won’t have any friends anymore. Totally irrational fear. Based on some real past experiences.

So thanks, friends, for hanging in there with me. I feel so grateful that you haven’t left me yet. And don’t worry – I’ll pull myself out of this soon. Then we can have fun again.

Chicago outings

22 Feb

Last weekend, I went to Chicago to visit my friends JF and BF and their kids.

My friend SP wanted to go see her friend, too, so she rode with me. I had to work Friday morning (boo) so we left around 1. First stop, coffee and doughnuts! Great way to start a road trip – caffeinated and sugared up. We talked a lot in the car – lots of secrets and analyzing life.

We hit the Illinois border around 7 or so. Both SP and I brought change for the tolls. At the first toll stop, I was shocked – three dollars!?! You can tell it’s been YEARS since I drove to Chicago. Apparently I’ve been flying there for a long time – I was still expecting the forty cent toll. Whoa.

SP dropped me off at my friends’ synagogue and took my car to go the rest of the drive to her friend’s (about 45 minutes). I stayed with my friends for Shabbat which was interesting. I think the only Jewish ceremony I’ve been to was their wedding. My friend JF translated into Catholicism for me, plus the books (I’d call them hymnals but I’m guessing that’s not the right word) were in Hebrew and English both. It was a beautiful service. Then we went to their house.

They moved into this house about a year ago, and I hadn’t seen it yet. Of course, it was gorgeous, and very relaxing.

Saturday morning, we just hung out and watch the Olympics. Then we went to lunch at a pizza and pasta place that I can’t remember the name of. Oh well. After lunch, we were going to go to the Museum of Science & Industry to see their Walt Disney exhibit. But by the time we were done with lunch, it was around 1. It would have taken an hour to drive into the city plus time to park and buy tickets blah blah blah and the museum closed at 4. So we decided it wasn’t worth it. The main reason I went to Chicago was to see them, not the city necessarily, so I was fine not going into the city on one trip.

So instead, JF and I went to a movie which I never do at home. We saw “The Monuments Men” – it was really good. I mean, how could it not be with such a great cast including George Clooney and Hugh Bonneville. And it wasn’t the greatest movie ever, but it was a good story and well done.

Saturday night, we went to dinner at a great Mexican Tex-Mex whatever place called Cozymels. (We had a great debate in the car about whether it was Mexican, Tex-Mex, or something other cuisine.) Excellent food, great table-side guacamole, and lots of good conversation and laughing.

Sunday, SP and I left around 1:30. It took us about 7 hours to get home – silly Wisconsin drivers who go the speed limit and don’t get into the right lane.

All in all, it was a great weekend. I so needed to get out of town, it was great to see JF and BF, and the time in the car with SP was so fun.

Then this week, I got a cold.

Olympic glory

18 Feb

I love the Olympics.

sochi_logo

Especially the winter games. I mean, there’s HOCKEY.

mens_hockey

(side note: my friend B has a great list of Olympic boyfriends. You should go check it out! And keep an eye out for her boyfriend bracket. The annual contest that people get very passionate about.)

And now there’s (almost) ballroom dancing.

ice_dancing

But I found out this year…it’s a lot more interesting and fun when you have someone to cheer for.

The brother of my good friend ND was on the US men’s skeleton team. And ND did a great job keeping people informed on when and where to watch the runs. So many people were cheering so hard! I’ve only met Matt once, but it still felt like I was cheering for someone I knew. And when he won the BRONZE MEDAL…

matt_bronze

…yeah, I got a little teary-eyed. Because even though I hardly know him, I’ve heard so much about his journey from ND. It just made it a little more real and less something you watch. It made the Olympics an actual event to me and not just a TV show. I’m so glad I got an Olympic experience like that.

Daily prompt: The first person

21 Jan

Daily prompt from January 18: Who was the first person you encountered today? Write about him or her.

This was the daily prompt on last Saturday. Saturday, my roommates were out of town, so I woke up to an empty house. I got up, got ready, had breakfast, drank coffee…all in complete solitude. If that sounds like a nightmare to you, you must be an extrovert. To an introvert, it’s ideal. (Read this article for a bit more insight.) Then I went to the dance studio for my lesson. And the first person I saw there? My teacher.

So…my dance teacher. I’ve said before that I’m extremely lucky. He is an excellent dancer and an even better teacher. His teaching style fits my learning style very well. He knows when and how to drag me outside my comfort zone and when to just leave it be for a bit. He has learned how to deal with my thinky place and whether (in his words) I need a kick in the pants or a hug to get out of it. (Sometimes he guesses the wrong solution. No one’s perfect.) He has seen me at my darkest, craziest place, and I still feel supported. It’s really the first time, outside of a romantic relationship, that someone has seen so much of that side of me and has not walked away. (It’s also the first time, outside of a romantic relationship, that I’ve shown someone so much of that side of me.) That means a lot to me.

He’s not perfect. He is extremely private, which can make conversation awkward at times if he feels it’s going to a place he doesn’t want it to be. He rarely missteps in dealing with people – when he does screw up, he feels very bad about it. We’ve had our arguments and our run-ins, and we’ve always been able to talk it out and move past it.

We do tend to debate on lessons. Not about dancing, but about stupid things. (The latest was the use of “you” vs “one”. I lost.) In the battle of words and wit, I lose. Always. I keep trying though.

He listens and is willing to sit down and talk about goals or issues or problems about dance. I’ve let him dictate what we work on when because he knows my goal (to be the best dancer I can be) and therefore he knows how best to get there. (One of our debates was about that goal. He says that my actions and manner tell him that my goal is to the best dancer. Period. Read about that here.)

I trust him 100%. Except when he compliments me. I’ve gotten much better at believing him. It was hard for a long time because I felt like it was his job to say those things. Then I realized that while part of his job is to keep me happy, he does NOT have to use those particular words.

He’s got a goofy sense of humor that I laugh at, sometimes because it’s just weird not because it’s funny. Other students sometimes say he’s too serious. I have not experienced that. He’s serious about dancing, but he tries to be a little goofy with me to help keep me from being too serious and thinky.

He changed my life as dancing has changed my life. Which is a topic for another day. For now, I’ll leave you with a picture (actually it’s a picture of a picture because I don’t have the electronic file) from our Lindy hop dance at showcase. It’s one of my favorite pictures.

Lindy!

I still thank the stars that I started dancing and that I got him as my teacher.

It didn’t get better

27 Nov

But then it did.

So when I last left you, I was starting to come out of my funk. But then, for whatever reason, I couldn’t sustain it. I fell back in the funk, and it got worse. On Tuesday, I took some medicine to help. It took the edge off a bit, but the anxiety kept creeping back up.

By Thursday, I was in horrible shape. My stomach was upset, I was incredibly nauseous, everything I ate made me want to throw up. That night, I talked to a friend of mine who is a GI doctor. He told me something I didn’t know: anxiety produces acid in the stomach. Even if you don’t feel heartburn, you can still have excess acid in your stomach. He suggested I try a Pepcid Complete to see if that helped. And it did. I took another anti-anxiety pill Thursday night.

I stayed home from work Friday. And I realized that morning that some of this anxiety was due to Showcase. I missed the last Showcase because of my broken foot. And apparently I had some doubts about whether I was good enough, about whether I could prove I was still a good dancer, about showing improvement since the last one I did a year ago. (To which my friend SP said “I don’t understand this ‘good enough’ you speak of”. And she’s right. Everyone is good enough. It’s just my stupid standards for myself.)

So I talked to my therapist Friday night and saw her Saturday morning. We talked about Showcase. And I just kept reminding myself about medal ball a few months ago. I was checking out of Bronze III, and at medal ball, I felt like every dance (all 4 of them) was going as perfectly as they could. There were mistakes of course, but I felt like I OWNED the floor. I really felt like I was a great dancer. So in thinking about Showcase, every time I got nervous or started thinking about being good enough, I just thought about medal ball.

I also realized that some of my anxiety was just from the fact that my ex-boyfriend has looked up my LinkedIn profile about 6 times in the last two months. It makes me miss him, and it makes me sad that we’re not together, even though it’s right we’re not together. So you know, once I had a good cry about that, I could move on.

Sunday morning I woke up for Showcase. And I was EXCITED. So excited! I felt I always feel on Showcase morning – like it’s Christmas morning.

And how did Showcase go? Like medal ball. I felt like I was a great dancer, I was happy with how I danced, it felt so amazing to be back dancing on that floor again. My teacher and I could not stop making jokes while we were dancing, just because I was so happy to be dancing and in such a good place that I couldn’t stop teasing him and being a smart-ass. And my parents came out to see me, which was nice. And a couple of my friends came out too, and their support means so much to me. I was so grateful for it.

So I’m doing much better now. SO MUCH BETTER. And I’m in that place again where I just want to LEARN ALL THE THINGS with dance now.

learn all the things

I just want to improve it all and fix everything. My teacher, of course, loves it when I’m at that place. I’m a lot easier to teach when I’m there versus the thinky place.

There were a few people who really got my through that week: MS, SP, SH, CS, DP, LS, and others. I’m lucky to have friends like that in my life.

And I’m so lucky that I’m happy with dancing again!!

Pissy rant ahead

17 Nov

Pissy rant ahead. But hang on til the end.

I’ve been in a horrible funk the last two weeks. I read blogs like “Hyperbole and a Half“, “The Bloggess” and Wil Wheaton’s, and I admire how open they can be about their struggles with mental illnesses. And I think we should all be that open about it. But I still want to hide that part of myself. I hate that part. I hate that my brain is wired for that. I’ve come to accept that I’ll never be cured of it. All I can do is try to manage it when it flares up.

Mine shows up as anxiety. I’ve learned A LOT over the last seven years or so how to cope with it and how to have less of it. Those of you who knew me 10 years ago can attest to that. But I still have it. Usually, I can tell what has triggered the latest episode. Then if I deal with the trigger, the anxiety goes away.

Sometimes, it takes a while for me to be able to figure out and deal with the trigger. Until then, the anxiety shows up as a lack of confidence in myself and in my value and worth to the world. Then it starts showing up as losing my sense of humor, making poor eating choices, and not being active.

A few weeks ago, I noticed an episode was starting. And I (still) have no idea what triggered it. And it slid down the slope so quickly, I never had a chance to catch it.

And it’s been awful. I had a long talk with a friend of mine about a week ago, and he was trying to help me figure it out and pull me out of it. God bless him. But nothing worked. But while talking to him, I heard myself saying things about how I hated being this person, I hate being around this person so how can I ask anyone else to be around me, nothing I do matters, I don’t know how I can contribute anything, blah blah blah. SIGH.

So here I was yesterday, still in a funk, still feeling anxious. I slept about 3 hours Friday night (I love it when my old friend insomnia comes back). I’ve had a ball of knots in my stomach for about a week. I’ve been unable to stop eating crappy food – way too much sugar consumed lately. And all I could think about was what was wrong in my life.

I kept mentally going over the list…

I’m overweight
My foot still bothers me sometimes where I broke it
I don’t have enough money
I’m tired
My cardio stamina has not come back fully from my foot and my bronchitis
Who would want to hang out with me really?
I have nothing to offer anyone

And it spirals from there.

Now, the rational part of my brain knows this is not true. It knows that there are lots of things I can offer. But as the Bloggess says, depression (or anxiety) lies. Your brain tries to tell you differently, and it’s wired to believe it.

So yesterday, I had a dance lesson first thing. I went to it exhausted and drained and anxious. (Thankfully not anxious about my dancing.) It was an OK lesson. My teacher and I got a bit short with each other, mainly because I was pissy. Which made my responses to what he was saying be short. And he was trying to pull me out of it by giving me a kick in the pants. Which sadly this time did not help me. So I was getting more and more frustrated with myself. Not thinky. Just frustrated about being THIS PERSON on my lesson and in my life. And wanting to get over it but not knowing how because all the tricks I have weren’t working.

I left the studio and was going to go to the gym. I got into my car and immediately burst into tears because I was so frustrated with myself. But also, I clearly needed to process something. I’m still not sure what. So I cried in my car for about 10 minutes. Once I stopped crying, I decided that I was too tired and emotional to go workout. Probably not the right decision but this is what anxiety does to me. Instead, I decided to be a productive member of society and run a crap ton of errands.

Then I had about an hour to kill before group class. The only reason I went to group class was because I knew my friend CS was going to go, and we usually have lunch afterwards. I knew it’d be good to hang out with her, so I knew I would go to group class. To kill time beforehand, I went to my favorite coffee shop. I finished reading the book for book club next week. Then I had about 20 minutes to kill.

Then I thought about this blog I follow. I think the author writes to remember the good times in life, not the bad. Maybe I’ve been doing the opposite and have been focusing on the bad and the negative. I am Irish after all. So what if I deliberately tried to focus on the good things?

So I decided to start a list. Brainstorm what is good in my life…physical, emotional, talents, gifts, anything positive. No censoring except for censoring out the bad and the negative. Just write.

So I did. And you know what? I had two things on it: I have great hair (yes, I’m vain about it, it’s the only thing I’m vain about) and I can dance.

Again, I know there are a lot more things. That’s just how deep the anxiety hole is right now – I can’t even see the rest.

So I went to group, which was fine. Then me and CS went to lunch with her husband MS and our friends SH and SH. And it was actually a fun lunch. I started to enjoy myself a bit, which I haven’t been able to do much recently. Then we split off for the day. I had an appointment to have my hair colored. So I went to the awesome Jennifer, and she colored it. I love seeing her for my hair. She pushes me to try new things but in a very gentle way because she knows me. I enjoy chatting with her. And she makes me feel beautiful. This time, she added slightly more red to the color. And when she dried it, she curled my hair. So I had fancy hair, which made me feel so good.

Then I met SP for dinner. She really wanted a doughnut, but we couldn’t find parking near Glam Doll. So we ended up at Butter, and I could feel myself relaxing more and more the more we talked. I got to hear all about her most recent trip, we talked a little about my issue the last few weeks, and then we just caught up. I always have a good time with her! Afterwards I needed groceries and she did too, so we went grocery shopping together. And we ended up making fun of so much stuff in the store. Like the Barbies. And the Twister Skip game. And trying to find window insulating kits. Which we walked by about 3 times before we asked someone for help. And the how to speak Wookie toy. And the sandwich post-it notes. And the Christmas music samplers. Oh good, we laughed for about 30 minutes straight, I think.

And by the end of the day, after crying a little and seeing Jennifer who made me feel pretty and laughing with SP, I felt so much better. I slept all night and have had a productive day so far today. Laundry’s done (almost), food is made for next week, bills are paid. I still have a little knot in my stomach. But I’m hoping I can cling to how I felt last night and this morning, and just keep building on that.

Because I hate being the anxious insecure person. And I want to be who I normally am now. And I will fight to get back there.

Because Showcase is next weekend!!! And I’m ready for it. And I will ROCK IT.

I saw this on Facebook on Friday and need to have a giant version of this framed:

Don't stand in your way

Because really, I am and I do. And I need to get out of my own way.

Looking in the mirror again.

12 Nov

People have been holding up the mirror for me again. I’ve talked about that before, and before, and before, and before. (Apparently this is a recurring thing for me.) I’m always shocked by how others see me.

For instance, I’ve been called “disciplined” about 3 times in the last month. Which is intriguing. Because to me, discipline is a negative. It means rigid, controlling, this…

bad-discipline

But clearly these people meant it as a compliment. Typical me, I can tell you exactly where I’m not disciplined. In case you’re wondering, it’s diet, exercise, and dance homework. But these people have helped me see that I am disciplined. I do eat fairly well for the most part. (Don’t look at last week though.) I do work out at least 3 times a week. (Let’s ignore last week on that.) I do practice dance on my own, maybe not as often as I would like. I do laundry every Sunday. I make food for the following week on Sundays. I pay my bills and track my expenses every weekend. So I am disciplined, but in a good way.

I was told today that I’m beautiful. Now, that one is difficult. Because I know I’m not beautiful. (Which sounds totally narcissistic or that I’m fishing for compliments – neither of which is the case.) And again, being me, I can tell you in what ways I’m not. (See my nose and my weight around the middle. And my height.) But the fact that someone thinks that I might be beautiful? And this is not the first person to tell me that. It does not compute in my poor little brain. Because yes, I still see myself like this…

fat-girl

But having someone point out that I might be considered beautiful? Makes me think about what my good assets are, and makes me realize there are some. And how someone might actually think I’m cute.

Still…

mind-blown

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