Love my (eccentric, odd, extended) family #Life


This week saw an unplanned visit. Which was a truly enjoyable time. At the same time, I continued to embrace change at work. While the final stages of one project led to exhaustion.

This week my stepdad paid us a brief visit. This was my mother’s second husband who was there during my formative years of elementary school. And then was an intermittent part of our lives over the many intervening years after. It had been quite some time since we had seen him and his wife. He had never even met my kids.

It was a brief visit. But enough to remind me how much I enjoyed his presence. And in particular one shared story really demonstrated how much I enjoy what is surely an unusual family.

The year was 1977. This was after the divorce and his remarriage. Mom had taken us to see Star Wars A New Hope.  As we stood in line, The 2 of them came up to visit, as they were going to see the same movie. Then her sister also came over. A man behind us began to make noises, which caused this little woman to turn and round on this much larger man and just tell him off. It was extremely funny. And that fact that we all share this story as a family event makes it all the more fun.

Anyway, I just enjoyed the moment of seeing these folks again. And embrace my extended family. The visit even prompted me to reach out to their daughter, my ersatz step-sister (to go with my other 3 step-sisters, Step brother, and foster brother.) It is just another source of joy for my life.

I changed teams at work this week and moved desks. Still doing the same job. It is all due to growth at the company. Which is a good thing for me. I have also been enjoying a change in our parking situation. I now have to walk a little over a half a mile from my parking spot every day. Which guarantees me a good amount of physical exercise every day.

Today is the final, last day of cookie sales. I went and helped the girls at their booth yesterday (as an excuse for some exercise.) They have a booth today and that is it. It has been an especially exhausting last week or so with the final push for Emily to reach her goal.

The most unfortunate part has been that Kim’s schedule at work changed. Which means she has in effect had almost no sleep this week. It has made this final push that much harder. However, that will mean that the end of it all next week will be even sweeter.

So this week saw a reminder that it is best to keep an eye on the bigger picture. Embracing all the good parts of our life. Know that times will change; if we just focus on the people and not on the little things that we know have an end. Do what we can to overcome all the other little obstacles.

Community, duty, acceptance #mentalhealth #life


This was an interesting week. In the past 2 weeks, I have seen some great examples of real community. Which did not deter me from realizing that my made up personal duty was just creating personal grief. Which led me to just take the initiative and I am now feeling better.

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Tuesday night we attended a free concert at our son’s high school. (We did not know about this choir concert until that morning, he said was not told about it, in a stunning example of teenage ‘forgetfulness’.) It was a group concert made up of choir groups from all of our Westside schools. From a select choir from 3 elementary schools, choirs from both middle schools, and the different choirs from the high school itself. It truly was a community event. Which not nearly enough people attended or publicized it. I think it is great to live in a place that is willing to channel and encourage that kind of community.

Just the week before a different community gathered to celebrate some youngsters. It was the Cub Scout pack crossing over ceremony for the Pack that Danny was a member of. And I helped gather some extra ‘alumni’ from the Pack to attend. Because it was a chance to honor the Committee Chair who has been a guiding force behind the Pack for many years.

When I reflect on these two events I am encouraged that I live in a place and time where, despite the current tenor of cultural and political divide, people can celebrate community. A community that thrives because of its diversity. A community of different genders, ethnic backgrounds, cultural backgrounds and economic status.

I am not a community organizer, or gatherer, or leader. That is just not me. I wish I was, but I know myself better. However, I do know that there are folks out there that do that sort of thing. And it heartens me to realize that events like this are taking place.

Speaking of organizing and community. When I put together the most recent iteration of the boys D&D game it was partially out of a sense of duty. I wanted to do my part to spread the joy of this game. And also to provide an option for the child of a departed friend. The game had become a source of tension in my life recently. I was beginning to sense that at least my boys were not enjoying it as much. And I was not enjoying it as much either. Well, this week I was planning the game and that sense of unease was coming on again. So I accepted that as a sign. And realized that it was not smart of me to keep plunging forward with something that was creating personal problems out of a sense of duty. So I just decided to place the game on hold. And my mental unease greatly diminished as a result. A line from one of my favorite book series was apropos in this case for me:

Duty is heavier than a mountain, death lighter than a feather

Just the idea that doing something purely out of a sense of duty can truly weigh you down. It can be a greater burden than you realize.

Anyway, life goes on. Heartened by the realization that I am part of a greater community. And accepting that duty is important, but a misplaced sense of duty can have a worse effect on your well-being than is immediately obvious.

A new and different view #Life #Mentalhealth


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This has been the view from my back porch fo many years. Crowded with a ragged tree and lilac bush. Sure it provided shade. It also resulted in a constant littering of the ground with leaves, limbs, and trash. It was cluttered, and a constant fight every year to hack out a reasonable path to our storage shed and upper lawn.

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Here is the view down the fence line with our neighbor’s house. You can see the dogs pen. This is a nice little patch of ground. But it has suffered from being overshaded. Filled up with trash and dog poop. It is probably the best patch of soil in our yard but you could never tell because of all the overgrowth.

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Here is that view now. Clean and uncluttered. One can see the shed. The landscaping we had done many years ago is no longer hidden. It is a new way of seeing the back yard.

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Now we can see the fence line. The yard is no longer overcome by shade trees. We can see the work our neighbor put into his own back yard landscaping. And the aesthetic benefits of that earlier mentioned landscaping is visible here as well.

Several years ago I wrote about how yard work and landscaping projects are a fluid thing. You can never actually say it is done because you are dealing with living things and the dynamics of weather, erosion, traffic etc. This makes any yard project like life. Change is everywhere. One must learn to accept and adapt to change.

For example, we are going through some changes at work this week. Bringing in a new hire class for my group. Changing where we park every morning. I could view these changes as a threat to how well I am feeling about my work. I could be upset about how my commute just got increased. I could fret that I will end up with a new manager. Yet I am not feeling any of these things.

I know it is strange for someone who suffers from OCD, anxiety, and depression to be so willing to accept change. It is not that those feelings have gone away. However, as I have learned to accept and deal with those feelings I have figured out how to live with such change.

Just like I am embracing a cleaner, less cluttered view of my yard and landscaping. I am glad to be a part of a growing company with a growing department that is bringing in large new classes. I have the opportunity to add some daily exercise by walking to and from the new parking lot on nice weather days. Just like there is now the chance that a part of the yard that is no longer hidden and overgrown can now flourish with greater sunlight and exposure.

Yes, life means change. Some change can be daunting and difficult. But choosing to focus on the positive and the not on the negatives is a choice we can all make. It is not always the easiest option, but it is an option that is available.

And we move on #kids #mentalhealth


Wrestling season is done. Cookie season picks up steam. Work becomes easier. A visit shows me what my life was. Celebrating the way forward.

We had our first weeks without wrestling season. It was kind of nice to be able to just go home after work and not have to arrange a pickup. It has also been nice to be able to get up on Saturdays when I choose instead of having to wake up and run someone to a meet. It was sad that the season ended with an injury. Number One son severely strained a muscle in his upper back at the last meet. We might still do one more meet, but that is up in the air. Overall, it was a good season, a successful introduction to High School level athletics.

Our weekends are not fully our own yet of course. We have a lot of cookies to sell if Number One daughter is to make her goal. Which means an average of 10 hours of cookie booths every weekend the next 3 weeks. Plus time spent after school. And an almost daily reconciliation of cookie counts and money collected. It really is like a small time business. Kim will probably wonder what to do with her time once this all finishes up.

My work is becoming much smoother and easier. I am continuing to build an extensive arsenal of conversation items. The weeks are really flying by. I do not have the feeling at midweek that cannot only be Wednesday, that is replaced by the feeling of ‘wow it is Wednesday already!’ I was even told this week by one caller that they cannot believe  I have only been there a couple of months.

Last week I took some bags of cookies by my former place of work. I was struck by how different the atmosphere between the two was. The old place is like a mausoleum, quiet, almost dark, and sparsely populated. Compared to my current workplace which is loud, bright, and packed. I can tell you that I am much happier in the new location.

These last 2 weeks have been nice as we have begun to transition to life at my new job, without wrestling and a gradual weather change. I am definitely happier now.

Finding a new puzzle #Life #Mentalhealth #Work


Good morning as we mark another milestone today. It was an interesting week, Plenty of challenges for everyone. I had yet another epiphany at work. All in all a good week.

I am up early for a dropoff for the last JV wrestling tournament of the season for Number One Son. It has been a good season for him. A season of growth and improvements. He had some tastes of Varsity. Some very good tournaments. He continues to get better and better. I am happy to see such growth. I foresee a bright future for him with the sport if he remains focused. But I for one will be glad to have my Saturdays back after today.

Number One Daughter had a very good but very busy first week of Cookie sales. She is nearly 25% of the way toward her goal! It has been exhausting to get there. Especially for Kim. But we have remained cheerful, and are getting the daily practice of reconciling inventory down to a science. In a way, it is just another project for us to do together, which we always enjoy. Something about the collaboration brings out the best in our relationship.

Number Two Son has hung in there in recent weeks. This can be a difficult time of year for him. With his sibling occupying the majority of our attention. We have recognized this and are doing what we can with him. Including his return to therapy.  And we also know that once wrestling and cookie season end we need to give him some special emphasis.

My work continues to get better. It is not without challenges. But the challenges are actually very interesting for me. I even had the revelation this week that at this time in my life I prefer to solve people over software. It is more appealing and interesting to me to try to find different ways of talking with my customers and making them happy than it was to solve software issues.

This marks the third week of having epiphanies at work. Ideas and solutions that came to me. It is really quite cool to be at a job that challenges me on so many levels. In retrospect, I think that losing my former job and having to come to this new job was one of the better things that could have happened for me. My health is better. My mental health has improved. And I actually look forward to the work.

There are challenges to be sure. Tuesday my brain decided it would be fun to start the day with a manic state. Which made the calls extra challenging. And exhausting. Some calls are definitely better than others. But I enjoy it overall.

So life proceeds. We mark transitions from wrestling to cookie season. We make do when mechanical issues challenge us. We work together to improve our lives and have some fun while we are at it.

 

Let the craziness begin #GirlScoutCookies


Today is the opening day of Girl Scout cookie sales! A crazy time of year for our family. With Number One Daughter being her troops top seller and Kim being the troop leader we all have work to do. 

This was the beginning. A longer of cars waiting to pick up their troops cookies. We had three cars, for 350+ cases. 

We are lucky to have Kim. Because she spends her days stacking and organizing groceries. She is an expert at packing stuff in spaces in an efficient manner. Every car was filled to the brim. 

Which made for an interesting drive home. Then we emptied all the cars into our house. Which gave me a good start on my daily exercise. 

Today we began our door to door sales. I got the ball rolling while Kim distributed to individual Scouts to sell. But there will be lots more walking in store. Then this week we all begin hustling at our work places. 

It can be challenging to go from weekends filled with wrestling to Cookie booths. However it does keep us busy. Life is never dull in the Freerange household. 

What’s going on? #life #mentalhealth


Where have I been? Well, work has been very good. There has been sickness. There has been car trouble. Yet we have adapted and overcome. I even handled a bit of real anxiety in the midst of all this.

Work has its challenges. But it has not been dull or tedious. I have really begun to dig into the meat of the work. Making a serious mental effort to improve. The key for me has been finding a way to make the information real so when I explain things I will be persuasive. It’s a very different kind of work than I was doing before. However, I find the work more interesting, While the difficult parts present a unique kind of work.

This week a plague descended upon our house. All three kids were home from school on Tuesday. Number One son was hit the hardest. He ended up missing 4 days of school, which meant 2 wrestling meets out the door. It made mornings hard for me as I would try to get him to get up and go. Which meant I had to start every morning with a battle.

That led to my fighting a case of anxiety. It was tough. I managed to make it through. I even managed to work through it all. I am really happy with how I handled that because there were so many stressors at work at once. Kids sick, car trouble, adapting to work. I took it all, figured it out and managed it without too much trouble.

Yeah, my car gave me some trouble this week. In fact, I have to take it back next week. Which was a big pain in the neck. But nearly as bad is it would be without the aid of parents who were willing to loan vehicles out.

So I made it through the last 2 weeks intact. And now I get to look forward to the craziness of Girl Scout cookie season. In fact, as I sit and type this my nostrils are filled with the scent of cardboard from the stacks of cookies filling up the room. I will regale you with more stories about that tomorrow as I plan for a double post weekend to make up for last weekend.

To recap, I made it through family illness, transportation problems, anxiety trouble to say that it was a good couple of weeks. I have the joy of continual challenge at work. Family health is recovering. I am moving more, feeling better physically. In short, life is good.