Breathing Underwater

I was dead, then alive.
Weeping, then laughing.
The power of love came into me,
and I became fierce like a lion,
then tender like the evening star.
-Rumi

I got a lot done last week, learned some things at work and saw a different side to a friend (both good and bad). I also managed to work out almost every day, which is helping me sleep a lot better at night. Oh, and I’m trying to get down another pant size before September so I can get back into my favorite shorts before my Hawaii trip. That and be healthier in general. I don’t know what it is, but it seems like the last year or so it has become so much harder to lose weight. Maybe it’s my metabolism slowing down, but for the same workouts and lower calorie foods, I don’t lose weight as fast. Just means I have to work a little harder at it. It also doesn’t help that my neighborhood is not very runner-friendly, or else I’d be doing that every night. I think my next move will have to be to somewhere I can run from my house in a neighborhood or on a trail. I miss running in the mornings or right before sunset, like I used to in Atlanta. It became so much easier when it was part of my daily routine and I felt much happier with my body. But I do have my stair-climber/elliptical, which helps me remove excuses. Hard to ignore it when it’s literally right next to my bed. I’m going to try to add some weight training this week to mix it up.

I also realize that part of my journey is also appreciating my body as it is, but that’s always going to be something I struggle with. I have good days and bad days, just like everyone else. I do like my hair growing out again. It’s strange, but I’ve always felt “stronger” when I have my long hair. Same with wearing flame red. One of my old friends and I had a whole conversation about our “empowering rituals.” Those small things that you do or wear that bring you a sense of personal strength. For me, when I walk into the big meetings wearing a sharp red blouse, my black pumps and thick mascara, I feel pretty powerful. And feeling it is half the battle, right? It also helps that working out a smidge makes my clothes fit better. Aside from feeling good for myself, it’s also fun to watch guys I work with (I work with a lot of them) do a double-take versus a few months ago when I was essentially invisible. Definitely an entertaining perk. I can’t say that I always like myself, but I’m making an effort to be more forgiving towards myself, which makes it easier to like myself more often. Finding that balance between pushing myself to be better and taking a breath to enjoy what I’ve been able to do is key. I spend a lot of time loving and accepting other people, so I’m working on doing the same for myself, even if it takes time.

“You know some days you feel so good in your own skin
But it’s okay if you wanna change the body that you came in
‘Cause you look greatest when you feel like a damn queen
We’re all just playing a game in a way, trying to win at life

Most girls are smart and strong and beautiful
Most girls, work hard, go far, we are unstoppable
Most girls, our fight to make every day
No two are the same”

“Something like flying
Hard to describe it
My God, I’m breathing underwater
Something like freedom, freedom
My God, I’m breathing underwater

Every moon and every star
Knows who you are, you know
So ever if gets too dark
You never are alone”

“I don’t know why I’m scared
I’ve been here before
Every feeling, every word
I’ve imagined it all
You’ll never know if you never try
To forget your past and simply be mine

I dare you to let me be your, your one and only
I promise I’m worthy
To hold in your arms
So come on and give me the chance
To prove I am the one who can walk that mile
Until the end starts

Halfway, Kentucky

I made it out to Kentucky last week for a few days to meet with some colleagues there working on some fancy projects. It was a good trip, and, though I missed my dogs, I am glad I went out. It was a refreshing trip and, though it was for work, I was able to get in some sight-seeing via taking the scenic route through the mountains of NC and TN. Somehow, no matter where I’m at mentally and emotionally, driving through the mountains with the windows down and the radio on always does something for me spiritually. I especially enjoyed some of the sights. I got to see beautiful farmland and rolling hills on my drive, accompanied by the occasional nuclear tower (or NUKE-YOO-ler if you prefer).


I also enjoyed some of the town names, such as Half Way, KY. Once I made it to Owensboro, I was treated to some of the best BBQ I’ve ever had. I also learned that the preferred meat for BBQ in Kentucky is mutton. Different, but delicious! They take their BBQ seriously. As well as their banana pudding.



I like my new job, so this trip was enjoyable and not really a needed “break” from the office. More of a meet and greet since I’m new. For the first time in a long time, I am excited to go to work in the mornings and I feel like I can make a positive impact again. My previous job had started that way and gradually changed as my managers changed–this has a huge impact. I went from being able to work independently with a manager that trusted me to working for someone who barely trusted himself, much less any of his reports. This made work infinitely less enjoyable. Being trusted is a huge deal, and I am hoping to continue building relationships at my new job so I can continue being trusted. Not having it makes you appreciate it even more when you’re back in a situation where you are trusted again. It’s exciting, and I definitely work best when I’m not being micromanaged. They also are investing in my development via training and getting my project management certification. Maybe even an MBA in future if I am so inclined.

I haven’t been posting as much, but it’s mostly because I’ve been working on getting my house organized and I’ve actually been enjoying it. The garage is able to contain my car now! Not just boxes! And I’ve been doing some gardening. Mostly container plants so I can take them with me next time I move. My muscadines are filling out nicely and seem to be enjoying running their tendrils over the rough back fence. My peony is going to bloom anytime soon, which is fantastic–I love the giant, bright fuchsia flowers of the Karl Rosenfield. In the future, I’d love to get some darker red varieties and some yellow ones. I also re-potted all of my succulents to give them new dirt. Love the pale green of those. So visually soothing.

I have lost about 10-15 pounds in the last few weeks, as well. It’s slow going, but I’m trying to take better care of myself. Mostly because last year was kind of a shit show for my emotional health which always makes me stress eat and gain weight. It also helps to be back in warmer weather since I am more motivated to get out when it’s not always icy. After a few months now, I know even more than ever that I made the right choice to start this new adventure. For myself and for the dogs. They love it here, too. The city is quirky and I’m still learning about the area, but everyone has been very friendly and helpful. I have met more interesting people in the past few months through work and made some new friends.

My most common emotion these days is grateful. I have a job I enjoy and I’m closer to family now. I have a new nephew as of last week. I have planned time to catch up with old friends I haven’t seen in years. I am taking a vacation this year for the first time in a long time. I also will get to travel to some interesting places for work and continue learning. Maybe after some time I’ll even contemplate dating again. Crazy, I know!

“I was carried to Ohio in a swarm of bees
I never married but Ohio don’t remember me

I still owe money to the money to the money I owe
I never thought about love when I thought about home
I still owe money to the money to the money I owe
The floors are falling out from everybody I know”

“Well I want you as you are
Not some collapsing star
I’ll wait I’ll wait for good
What else can I do

I don’t want you as a ghost
I don’t want you as a fading light
I don’t want to be the weight you carry
I just want to be the man you come home to every night”

“Well I looked my demons in the eyes
Lay bare my chest
Said do your best
To destroy me

See I’ve been to hell and back
So many times
I must admit
You kinda bore me”

 

A Million Reasons

I really should update more than once a month, but really, life happens. And a lot has been happening this past month. I’ve lost over ten pounds by eating better and doing more.  I managed to successfully sell my house in Maine without too much trouble, though I took a bit of a loss on it. Frankly, I wanted to be done with it since the winter has continued into April up there and I was getting tired of paying for the maintenance on it for snow plowing. Having that done is a bit of a relief. I feel like I can focus more on my new NC life now with that piece completed. Here are some winners from Maine Memes:


I also moved my site to its own host. WordPress is great, but they limit a lot of the designs and features when you’re using their hosting. I also spent the last few weekends building bookcases and a desk so I could finish emptying out some of the boxes in my garage. I managed to get all of my books unpacked along with electronics and other debris from the past. Needless to say, I have filled several boxes to take to donate.

I’ve been making an effort to be more social, which is challenging for me. I have been to several movie nights with friends from work, went out to see a Carolina Hurricanes hockey game in Raleigh and even helped one of them pack for their upcoming move. Luckily, I had plenty of boxes and paper left over from my move, so I was able to recycle them by giving them to her to use.

In other news, I booked a trip to Hawaii with Dad for us to go see Oahu, Kauai and the Big Island. It will be my first real vacation in quite awhile, so I’m very excited! I have a picture of Kauai on my desk (next to my dogs) as my work inspiration. I’d like to think that if I were any of the islands, I’d be Kauai, based on what I’ve read.  It is also the home of many film locations (Jurassic Park) and lots of wilderness, which I dig. I am also excited to see the volcanoes and observatory on the Big Island, another one of my obsessions. Here are some of my favorite wallpapers.

wallup.net
www.richard-seaman.com

wallup.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Work is good and I’m learning a lot. I am glad for the change and looking forward to new challenges and making new friends. I’m also excited to meet my cousin’s new baby coming soon! April should be exciting!

“Found my heart and broke it here
Made friends and lost them through the years
And I’ve not seen the roaring fields in so long, I know I’ve grown
But I can’t wait to go home

I’m on my way
Driving at ninety down those country lanes
Singing to “Tiny Dancer”
And I miss the way you make me feel, and it’s real
We watched the sunset over the castle on the hill”

Ch-ch-ch-changes

Soooo…in the past few weeks, there’s been a flurry of activity in my life, some of it stressful, but most of it good. I have only recently been able to slow down a bit, rest and reflect on all the past few months. Here are just a few of those events/realizations.

I learned to steel myself against unhelpful criticism and find my value. My previous job was in an industry that I knew about and I’d been there long enough to feel comfortable. After some re-orgs, I wasn’t necessarily appreciated as much by my new chain of command, mostly due to their newness to my job function. Despite multiple conversations where I voiced my desire to make changes or improve myself or processes, I met with a great deal of resistance and sometimes even avoidance. I gave it time, thinking that they’d come around. Well, sometimes they don’t. And, despite my eternal optimism about people, I had to admit to myself that the only thing I could change was myself. In talking with others and getting feedback, I realized that I wasn’t just overreacting–I wasn’t being heard. So, what next? I thought. What do I have to offer? It’s a scary question to have to think through, but it is a valuable one. In revamping my résumé, I had a chance to see what new skills I’d learned and how I had grown. With a strong network of friends and family, I was able to recognize where I needed work still and, at the same time, how much I’d accomplished in the last four years.

I had to figure out how to go confidently into job interviews in entirely new industries where I know nothing. Along with the self-examination that had to happen, I was immediately terrified about having to go “out there” and knew that my next steps would involve a huge investment in social niceties and public speaking. Those are not my strong suit, but I can make it work when I need to. The previous step was necessary before I slung myself head first into the world of job applications, awkward phone screenings and talking myself up (again, something I don’t like doing). I prefer to be out of the spotlight, quietly providing massive support and strategy for my teams from backstage. When in the “hot seat” I am most effective when arguing on the behalf of others, but sometimes struggle when I am in a position to fight for myself. Again, it was a good experience that forced me to face both my social anxiety and develop some salesmanship on the fly. I did survive several months of no replies, replies with rejections (primarily because the companies couldn’t do out of region hires), and some phone interviews that ended in rejection. I recognized fast that while I had gotten comfortable in my current job, I had to stress my ability to learn quickly to get call backs from pharma, manufacturers and other industries. And, in the end, my experience with manufacturing and my adaptability were what helped get me my best job offers.

Christmas was essentially non-existent save for some gifts from my folks, but I was genuinely excited about the New Year for the first time in a while. Due to all of my job chaos, I gave notice in mid-December and then spent most of the month dealing with the aftermath of that. I also did a lot of paperwork and coordinating for the relocation.  So, I’ll just celebrate Christmas THIS year. On the up side, I was actually excited about everything happening, even with the chaos and “unknown-ness” of it all.

I had to leave my friends in Maine (along with my comfort zone). This goes along with the excitement–the sadness and uncertainty of leaving my cozy network of good friends and coworkers in Maine. Leaving my best friend and her new baby was the hardest by far, especially since I know it might be awhile before I can get up to see them again. I spent my last week or so meeting with as many people as I could and, ultimately, had two or three going away parties. I was greatly surprised at the people who came forward to tell me they would miss me–people with whom I had only brief interactions came to tell me how I’d made such a positive impact on them at one time or another. I was moved by their stories and genuinely surprised that I’d affected that many people in a short time, especially considering my general reclusiveness. It was a great boost and I left on good terms with a really grateful feeling.

Moving is always stressful. Moving 1300 miles away is more stressful. Full pack and move services help to lower stress. As generally adaptable as I am, I hate change. Well, change over a short period. I didn’t hear back about my relocation plans until the second week of January and needed to start the new job in the third week of January, soooo…that was stressful. What helped was the relocation package included both monetary help and a full pack and move service to make sure I had minimal manual labor to deal with myself. Fantastic. I’m considering it for all of my future moves. All I had to do was do coordinating via the phone and email and then just get in the car and drive south with my dogs.

For less rent than my 2br/1ba small townhouse apartment in Maine, I now live in a 3br/2ba house with a fenced back yard. The dogs were ecstatic to have their own space to play. The low-cost of living in NC was a huge reverse sticker-shock for me. But in a good way.

l05b56845-m0xd-w1020_h770_q80  l05b56845-m13xd-w1020_h770_q80  15975042_638199412804_3816826139591525058_o

I’ve had to start all over at my new job. I went from being the expert to knowing pretty much nothing. Luckily for me, it’s a feeling I enjoy. For an introvert, I’ve seriously forced myself to be social since my move. And that’s not a bad thing. I am learning so much every day and meeting so many new, interesting people it makes it worthwhile. I know that any social investments I make now will always pay off. I am trying to stay open and to say yes to things, no matter how mundane. It has worked for me before in the past and I’m having good luck with it here, too. Getting past the “I know nothing” phase usually goes faster when you’re willing to put ego aside.

Paying for snow plowing at the old house (for the realtor to show it) while enjoying 60F weather here is the emotional equivalent of taking out a $100 bill every few days, setting it on fire and watching it burn. This is just a given until I get it sold. Fingers crossed that it will happen in the next few months. I can feel my cheapo nerve get set off every time I see the weather forecast for the Northeast.

Mom and Dad can visit me now. With the entire set of dogs! Oh boy! It’s nuts, but great fun! So many dogs!

Trips with Mom to Charleston are now a doable thing. It’s a lot of fun and I’m hoping to be able to plan some trips around the Southeast this year.

Falling asleep after yoga or movie night with new friends in a new bed in a new house with my tired, happy dogs = the best. I have so much to be grateful for these days.

 

“But in times of trouble
I can turn to my mother
And I know that she gon’ understand
So at age 18
I cried to my mother
And she told me, “young man”

“There are moments when you fall to the ground
But you are stronger than you feel you are now
You don’t always have to speak so loud, no
Just be as you are
Life is not always a comfortable ride
Everybody’s got scars that they hide
And everybody plays the fool sometimes, yeah
Just be as you are

 

“My soul, is in Africa with you boy
Looking at the stars
On this diamond sky
Giving you my smile
So you can keep it on your mind
Floating on your blazing eyes”

 

To Build A Fire

Last weekend I was able to take part in the Becoming an Outdoors Woman in Maine Winter Skills Weekend up at Bryant Pond 4-H Center. It was pretty fantastic–I got to be outside most of the weekend with some amazing ladies! For my antisocial self, it was a good balance of groups and being alone. Made some new friends and got to see some old ones, which is always a good time.

Our first day there I went ice fishing with the group on North Pond. We arrived pretty early. I stepped onto the ice slowly and heard it creak a bit, but it felt solid. I followed the group out to the center of the pond about 700 feet from the shore. We drilled holes into the ice and measured it at about 16 inches, which is good for a group and small vehicles. We learned about bait types and how to set traps and jigs. As the sun rose above the hill behind us and hit the ice around us, the lake seemed to come alive. The groaning and loud popping around us was incredibly unnerving. Air pockets that had formed the night before came to the surface and would crack loudly below our feet as we slid from trap to trap.

12806115_613031454594_3608136212908041145_n12801675_613031489524_5755246667167248495_n

10011737_973265312784374_8246883432951524477_o10420341_613031469564_570181600119105548_n

 

I was closest to the first trap to flag and knelt down to pull the line out of the water. The bait was gone, an obvious hit and run. I put fresh bait on the hook and fed the line back into the dark water below. I stood up and turned to watch the sun glistening off the ice and listened to the water moving under my feet. I turned back to the trap after hearing a clicking noise and saw the line being reeled out again. I knelt down, began pulling and soon felt a strong resistance on the other end of the line. After pulling slowly for a few seconds, a pair of beady eyes and rows of teeth drifted to the top of the dark water. No one mentioned we’d be catching prehistoric predator fish. I managed to get the pickerel out of the water by pulling him sideways onto the ice, but not without a fight. Luckily, I was wearing gloves or else the spines and teeth might have been a danger. We took several fish back with us for the cooking class.

12771632_973265396117699_5650976530624296452_o12794813_973265412784364_5905901998581181485_o12794813_973265412784364_5905901998581181485_o12768116_973266052784300_8518331358931917022_o

In the afternoon, I learned about placement and building of winter survival shelters and finally about winter survival skills for multiple scenarios with a professional Maine guide. One of my favorite stories of all time is Jack London’s To Build A Fire and so I jumped at the chance to be the first to try to build a fire! We managed to get several fires going by the end of our evening session. We had a great dinner of pork, bear and pickerel, all from less than five miles away.

We went back out on the ice at night to go fishing for cusk, a nocturnal species that is pretty tasty. Being on the ice during the night was both scary and breathtaking with the combination of creaking ice and a vast velvet blanket of pinprick stars. The girls caught a giant cusk fish!

12814205_973270922783813_3557375108015341680_n

The next morning was spent at the shotgun trap range, shooting clays with a small group. We went over the different gauges of shotgun and learned about dominant eyes and such. Apparently, I’m left-eye dominant and managed to do pretty well after several rounds–finishing four double clays by the end of the session! Shotgunning was more fun that I imagined, so I may have a new hobby in the future.

12779179_973268346117404_4541364523048772403_o 12440789_973268392784066_994753288268734905_o

Overall, it was a great weekend. I learned a lot and met other women interested in learning, which doesn’t happen often these days. I am glad I pushed myself out of my comfort zone even if part of me wanted to sit on the shore for ice fishing. I think that these small things that I survive while being uncomfortably anxious only serve to keep me grounded. I definitely have to fight my inner monologue in some cases, but it is good for me to step out now and then.

This year’s been quite eventful thus far. I was able to have dinner with Lorraine Warren, the famous demonologist, and her team a few nights ago, but I’ll save that for another post. Let’s just say that it’s only March, and I’ve successfully done several new and scary things for myself: learning how to snowboard, ice fishing, shotgunning, and eating dinner next to “haunted” objects.  I have also been working on forgiveness and letting go of things, both physical and emotional hangups. Clearing out junk in my house and in my mind and heart. I’ve been able to make amends with some people from my past and forgive myself for situations I have been blaming myself for for a long time. 2016 is a good year for forgiveness and courage.

Good To My Soul

Christmas has been good this year, even without the snow I requested. I got to laugh with family and friends and that’s more than enough for me. I also got some swanky new kitchen gear which has led to my kitchen becoming a disaster from the cooking frenzy. Luckily, we’re supposed to get some snow tomorrow and I’m spending the day home with my puppy. It’s the lovely small things.

I am looking forward to 2016. This past year has had many ups and downs, leaving my head spinning a bit. I don’t necessarily wish for a predictable new year, but I’d like a year of more growth. 2015 was a year of realizations, rationalizations and consolations, though they were all needed, and, hopefully, I can use the new knowledge to better myself in the coming years. I have become a bit more self-aware and independent this year–painful but also powerful.

I am excited to have several interesting events coming up this winter–a snowboarding trip to Sugarloaf with good friends, a survival skills 4-H outing and some snowshoeing. I can’t wait to be outdoors, even in the cold. I’ve always thought that being in the woods is good for the soul. And this next year my only resolution is to be good to my soul.

“I am a sturdy soul
And there ain’t no shame
In lying down in the bed you’ve made
Can you fight the urge to run for another day?
You might make it further if you learn to stay”

“Even when you’re high, you can get low
Even with your friends you love, you’re still alone
We always find the darkest place to go
God forgive our minds, we were born to roam

Wherever is your heart I call home
Wherever is your heart I call home
Though your feet may take you far from me, I know
Wherever is your heart I call home”

Saturn Returns

I have taken the last few weeks to really focus on healing. I have been focused on work pretty intensely since last November/December, so I am taking some time off soon to travel and also some time to decompress at home. I have changed my eating habits back to some healthier options which makes me feel better overall. I forgot how much better I feel when I really cut out the sugar (refined sugar, I still eat fruit). Went to the doctor two months ago and then went back again this week and got good news. My cholesterol numbers are all great and my BP/pulse are “like a marathon runner” which is always a bit amusing to me, especially since I could barely make it through my 5K.  My doctors basically told me that I am my own worst enemy (the neurologist: “You can’t turn it off, can you? It’s a wonder you sleep at all.”). I knew this already, so I am now in the process of trying new tools to help slow myself down and manage my thoughts better. This includes doctor recommended CBT, yoga/tai chi and meditation. It is good to know that the rest of me is functioning well aside from occasional abdominal pain or tension headaches.

One of my more whimsical friends says that in our 28th year Saturn returns to the point it occupied at the time of our birth and is often associated with a “first life crisis.” Saturn brings tough lessons to be learned and challenging times, opportunities for us to work through our own blocks or bad habits. Scary as it may sound, I kind of like the notion of a reflective year. A time to think deeply about past events and make positive changes to improve ourselves for our own sake.  Reassess our goals, careers and relationships. Sounds easy, right? I’ve been doing some of this along the way, but I think that it may be a good thing to take time “off” to really figure out what I want to give, what I want to contribute to relationships and to my own small piece of the world. Not going to become a monk or anything, but definitely taking some time to think about what I want in the next few years. Will it be a different role at work? Or maybe a different degree on the side? Doing something more long term for my favorite charities? I think there are several great options. I just need to contemplate and then commit.

I’m grateful to have a good job, but I also feel like it is such a narrow use of my strengths. Because of this, I’ve looked for other opportunities on the side, helping at the children’s center and volunteering at the hospice center nearby. I think somewhere along my career path I lost my teaching/mentoring/helping/”good karma” outlets.

Commitment to much of anything other than work has been an issue for me the last few months, but I think this will get better with time and self-care. My hope cactus is always blooming, so it seems, in a most persistent (and impressive) way. I suppose that it is a part of me, so I should embrace it along with my flabby arms and piggy nose. I realize that this blog has been a mixture of contemplation and sadness the last few months, though it has been helpful to have another outlet. I am moving in the right direction, just slowly. And I am learning more about myself.

I really like Amy Winehouse’s version of “A Song for You” (Leon Russell will always be my favorite, though)…

I love you in a place
Where there’s no space or time
I love you for in my life
You are a friend of mine
And when my life is over
Remember when we were together
We were alone and
I was singing this song to you”

“Calling your name in the midnight hour
Reaching for you from the endless dream
So many miles between us now
But you are always here with me
Two words
In your hands
In your hearts
It’s whole universe
You are always here with me”

“Excuse me for a while
While I’m wide-eyed
And I’m so down, caught in the middle
I’ve excused you for a while
While I’m wide-eyed
And I’m so damn caught in the middle

And a lion, a lion roars would you not listen?
If a child, a child cries would you not forgive them?

Yeah, I might seem so strong
Yeah, I might speak so long
I’ve never been so wrong”

“It’s not a silly little moment,
It’s not the storm before the calm.
This is the deep and dying breath of
This love that we’ve been working on.

Can’t seem to hold you like I want to
So I can feel you in my arms.
Nobody’s gonna come and save you,
We pulled too many false alarms.”

 

“It isn’t very difficult to see why
You are the way you are
Doesn’t take a genius to realise
That sometimes life is hard
It’s gonna take time
But you’ll just have to wait
You’re gonna be fine
But in the meantime

Come over here lady
Let me wipe your tears away
Come a little nearer baby
Coz you’ll heal over
Heal over
Heal over someday”

“If I could say anything, anything what would it be?
A good question for our destined reality
I would tell you that I love you
Even when it didn’t show.
I would tell you that I love you, baby,
By now I hope you know.

If you could go anywhere, anywhere what would you see?
Take a step in any direction, it’s make believe
If your mind is always moving
It’s hard to get your heart up off the ground
Yeah, your mind was always moving
But your thoughts never made a sound

And we won’t break if we let go.
You and I already know
We were bound to be set free eventually.
So, here we are now
You can say anything”