It is hard out there #Mentalhealth #Politics


One of the funny things about who I am is that I am just chock full of empathy. I’ve got it oozing out of my pores. Combine that with anxiety issues and Obsessive Compulsive and you get moments like I had this morning. I did not sleep well last night, had a real hard time getting to sleep and then kept waking up. I had time this morning for one thing: make myself breakfast or finish cleaning the kitchen.

Here is where the empathy comes in. All week I have had this feeling that I have not been doing my part around the house. No specific reason for it just felt that way. It is not like Kim was complaining about it, or leaving nasty notes. But this morning I was feeling especially down. So when I was faced with that choice I found myself scrubbing dishes by hand just so she does not come home to a sink full of dirty dishes. Now, of course, I could have pawned this off on the kids. But I could not be sure they would do it right, and so I just went to town. It didn’t help my feelings, but it was done.

How this has to do with politics is that I am finding that I have a real hard time with anyone who preaches things that will hurt people. Which has made me more and more liberal as the years have gone by. But it has also made it hard to just ignore politics because I know what an impact it has. I cannot just turn away, and live my life.

That makes weeks like the last two hard on me. Because politics is the biggest news. And the politics are also rampantly partisan. I cannot just ignore it, pretend it is not happening or just not care. I care about the issues. But that also means I am spending time worrying about it all. And it is all beyond my control. It really is a perfect storm of anguish and anxiety for me. I just have to somehow find a way to hang on and weather the storm until November.

Figuring it out, and embracing the silly #Mentalhealth #Pokemongo #Exercise


I have been in a funk the past week. Up and down most days, with trouble sleeping. The lows were not terrifying and did not last for long periods of time. But it was there, and occasionally I would get those surges of anxiety that would last a couple of hours then recede. Like a tide of awful.

Well, this morning I think I kind of figured out where this has been coming from. Obviously, it is a condition that my brain has. But beyond that, I think that a lot of this is a form grief. A friend of mine was killed last week in a traffic accident. She was not a close or real long term friend (I had known her for about 10 years.) We met because our kids were in the same school for a number of years.

When we saw each other there would be a quick hug and hello, but not any deep long conversations. But she was just one of those people who made friends literally everywhere she went. And lived her life out loud and mostly unafraid. She was a social media person who was always posting pictures of her various adventures. And this very visible life really touched a lot of us. And her willingness to share her own difficulties with Depression and anxiety were an inspiration.

I think that this week it is really hitting home that she is gone. It was a tragic senseless death of someone who had everything to live for. It was not a suicide like my friend Justin, it was not intentional. And she leaves behind her 2 kids that I have watched grow up alongside my own kids for many years. So I am sure that is what is causing this background anxiety to crop up this week especially.

On a happier note, yesterday I decided to embrace something that many would call silly. I decided to begin playing Pokemon Go on my phone. And yes it is kind of silly. To go out wandering around, stopping at seemingly random intervals to do something on your phone.

What is not silly about it is that it got me up and moving. Yesterday I almost hit 10,000 steps. And this morning I got up and went for a good 45 minute walk playing the game. As silly as it may seem to some people, I think it is a useful incentive. I even put it in my Health folder on my phone because that is how I look at it, it is a health app. Just like the Zombie run app for running or various other types of health related games.

This morning I am feeling much better. Between the early morning exercise and the mental breakthrough. I think I can move on and forward now. Get healthy and maybe even a little healthier.

Can’t help this feeling #Mentalhealth


Life is good overall right now. For the most part, my feelings and approach have been in control. But the price I pay for this is a constant vigilance. Because I still get those moments when my brain decides to screw with me. That is just something I cannot help. I just have to keep aware that those times are temporary.

For example, Sunday night I was having a hard time getting to sleep. And found myself slipping into ideation. Which I knew was just my brain screwing with me. But that didn’t change how awful I felt at that moment.

Then yesterday, during my lunch break, that terrible feeling just came over me. It took a little while for it all to pass. I was smart, did some things that I knew would help improve my mood. And made sure not to obsess over one of the things that upset me.

It can be frustrating. There are times when I feel like I just have too much empathy. I get concerned over the smallest stuff. Then there are times when things completely beyond my control can really get to me. The election season is not easy for me. I have very strong opinions and views. I find a lot of the issue to be very interesting. I enjoy a good discussion of the facts. But this particular election has generated so many strong opinions that it is nigh impossible to have a civil discourse of the facts. When things lose that civility, get personal, I cannot take it, so I have to turn it off. It is a terrible thing.

Like I said above, and to turn back to politics in a fashion. My price of sanity is eternal vigilance. Knowing when I have dived too deep into an issue, become tied up in a discussion. Recognizing that a bad feeling will pass, but it is likely a sign that I need to do something for myself.

There are definitely times when I wish that I was not this way. That is a rabbit hole I choose not to follow, though. This is something I just cannot change, like having to wear glasses in order to see. So I will just remain vigilant, try to keep things restricted to offering my $.02 on a topic, and then leave the discussion. Do my best to avoid overreaching. And accept what I cannot control.

 

Took me a while but I did most of what I wanted #Weekend #Life #Mentalhealth


It was an interesting weekend. Kids returned, while others went all over town. I had plenty of down time to enjoy my various shows. But I did fight through my mental blocks to do my part. And I had a good time at my game.

Jimmy’s wrestling camp was really good. He got in lots of drills and plenty of hard work. Which I know will hold him in good stead once the season hits. But he was real sore Saturday morning and especially Sunday morning. I did have to demonstrate some restraint on Saturday as I showed up towards the end of the camp and had to sit through the final god talk as it was an FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) camp. I was okay with most of it until the final speaker began talking about truth and going to hell. But I bit my tongue and walked outside for a few minutes; resisting my inclination to walk across the mat and grab Jimmy and leave. He took it with better grace than I did.

I was overjoyed to see Danny back on Saturday. He had a really good time at his camp and wants to go back next summer. But he was definitely exhausted on Saturday, went straight to the Kindle and laid down. Did not really play with anyone until Sunday.

Kim & Emily braved the heat and unrelenting sun for their Girl Scout camp on Saturday and part of Sunday. It was a good camp, and Emily enjoyed it. Despite the fact that it was held in an open field with no shade on a clear day with high heat. But it was worth it to hear them tell it.

It took me a while on Saturday, but I did at least do what I needed to do. I got the kitchen cleaned up. Fixed my car bumper. And folded the large pile of laundry on our bed. It has been one of those periods when I have to really force myself to do my part around the house. I get these feelings about once a month when an attitude comes over me. A little voice that says that I am not pulling my weight, that I am not doing my share of taking care of the kids or household chores. Life can be very difficult to handle when that happens. I did manage to work my way through it and get things done.

Sunday I went to Denver for my Pathfinder game. Which went very well, I was a little worried about that. It had been a while since we last played. And I was able to enjoy some new podcasts in style as I used a new device I got for my car which allowed me to connect my phone to the car stereo using Bluetooth. That really helped the drive go smoother, and gave my ears a break from headphones.

All told it was a good weekend. Everyone did some fun stuff. Spent time with friends. And we got some necessary things done around the house as well.

First weekend is here #Life #Kids #Mentalhealth


When I returned from my vacation on Monday I looked at my calendar and realized that I had no scheduled time off on the schedule at all, except for a 3 day weekend late in September. In fact, except for 3 day weekends here and there, I am working steadily for the rest of the year. Which is fine, but that means that weekends will mean a little more to me.

One of my colleagues asked me what I am doing this weekend; if I had any big plans. The answer is yes and no. I personally do have a plan for the weekend. I will be going to Denver on Sunday for my monthly Pathfinder game. As a family, we do not have big plans. But the kids all have something going on.

Jimmy has a wrestling camp this weekend. It is a 2 day affair. With his starting once a week training with the high school wrestlers; and now this camp, he is beginning to get that edge back in his eye for wrestling. Which I like, because I think that is something that can take him far if he just can discipline himself to work hard at it.

Danny returns on Saturday from his first full week Scout camp. This was the longest he has been away from the family. And we were not entirely sure he would make it. But he did, and tomorrow he gets back. I am sure he will be tired, and glad to get back. I will be glad to have him back. But I am proud that he made the trip.

Emily (and Kim) will be doing a 2 day Girl Scout camp this weekend. It is just a daytime camp, not overnight. But it will keep them occupied for Saturday and Sunday. It sounds like a lot of fun for them.

And I will be going to Denver Sunday. I am excited for that as I have not been up there for 6 weeks, and I am actually in a bit of a dry spell for gaming in general. So this will be good for me to get back to.

The upshot of all this is that I will be able to take good care of myself this weekend. Despite the fact that everyone has something on their docket. Which is a good thing. Without any vacations planned for a while I will have to vigilant when it comes to my time. Not let the weekends vanish in a puff of smoke without some time for myself. Especially with the school year coming up fast.

We are the solution, not one man #Politics


154442_10151218105642772_259555940_n

So I read Trump’s acceptance speech yesterday. And watched some of it, just to get an idea of the delivery. I have to say it made me sick to my stomach. There were so many things wrong with it. Not just the pile of incorrect facts, the fact checker websites had a good night. But that wasn’t all. There was the piling on of fear and anger. Worst of all was the idea that one man would have the solution to all of this fear and anger. And the body language reminded me of something from history. It was terrible and frightening.

I will leave the fact checking out of this. Just suffice to say that there were an astounding amount of lies and exaggerations. Instead, I want to focus on some of the other elements of the speech.

First, the fear and anger. Make no mistake, this was an angry and fearful speech. Delivered in an incredibly bellicose manner. Look at these word counts:

trump-rnc-word-cloud-07212016

The most common words:

America – mentioned 23 times
American(s) – 22 times
violence – 11 times
Hillary – 10 times
citizens – 9 times
law – 9 times
world – 9 times
immigration – 8 times

Take away America, and American(s), because this was an acceptance speech for the election of the President of the United States, and you get violence, law, immigration. No mentions of hope or positive thoughts. Compassion was mentioned only once. And there were no mentions of cooperation or community.

Trump would have us think that the country was under siege and falling apart at the seams. That there were ravening hordes of criminal immigrant terrorists pouring across the borders, hell bent on taking our jobs, attacking our families and destroying our way of life.

Even worse, the only solution to this was to elect him. He would somehow make all of this right. He alone could fix this.

“I alone can fix it”

That is a direct quote. That is not what this country is about. Even Nixon, as corrupt and megalomaniacal a politician as we have ever had the misfortune of electing proclaimed:

“Without God’s help and your help, we will surely fail; but with God’s help and your help, we shall surely succeed.”

Our country is a democracy, our Constitution proclaims ‘We the People’. It is not a country where only one man can do anything. Never has been and never will be.

If that is not enough to condemn the man, look at those words again. And then look around you. Do you see the barbarian hordes at your doorstep? No, you can go out of the house, play Pokemon Go, shop, eat, and let your kids play all without fear in this country. Do not give in to fear and even give this man a chance at your vote.

I know that there are people out there who think that Hillary Clinton is bad. That she is corrupt. That she has been using her years of public service wholly for personal gain. And somehow blame her for the policies of her boss. I disagree with all of that, but I know that is the company line for some folks. But I am going to draw a lesson from history for the choice in this election.

In 1991 in Louisiana the people had a choice for Governor. They had a choice between a former Governor who had been accused on multiple occasions of corruption, even standing trial at one point and a former Grand Wizard of the KKK. On that occasion the people of Louisiana elected the corrupt one, repudiating the hatred and fear of the KKK leader. Because even George Bush recognized that was not a part of our culture and did not belong in public office.

I bring this up because after the speech last night that same KKK Grand Wizard offered this assessment of the speech:

Great Trump Speech, America First! Stop Wars! Defeat the Corrupt elites! Protect our Borders!, Fair Trade! Couldn’t have said it better!

I think that kind of enthusiastic endorsement speaks for itself, what kind of speech this was and what kind of candidate Donald Trump is. Our country can and will do better than this, we are better than this.

How I Spent my Summer Vacation, Pt. 3 #Family #Life


The last weekend of my vacation was devoted to 2 things. Continuing to binge through my television shows. And family events. They pretty much balanced each other perfectly, as I used one to balance out the time spent on the other. Which helped me be ready for my return to work this week with a clear head.

Friday was my nephews birthday. We celebrated that night by going over to his house, eating some cake. And spending nearly 3 hours playing football in the street. Once again I did pretty well, staying out there playing with the young kids. Not keeping up with them, even at my top conditioning I could not run as fast as some of these young kids. But staying out there running around and playing, having some impact. It was a good time.

Saturday we went over to my in-laws house for another family gathering as another of my nephews was here visiting.

IMG_9416

It was a warm afternoon. Which was all the excuse Jimmy and the birthday boy needed to remove their shirts. With the requisite moment of flexing of course.

IMG_3110

The nice weather led to a group hair cut afternoon. As virtually everyone who needed one got a family haircut. We totaled it up and decided that we collectively saved over a hundred dollars in haircuts. It was a fun way to spend some time. The one who needed it the most was Emily, who got a real short haircut.

IMG_9434

She looks really good now, and it is much easier for her to keep clean and control. Also, much cooler which is handy as we enter the really hot days of the summer.

We played some yard games, ate some good food, chatted and generally had a very nice afternoon. But between the two events on back to back days I was very much ready for a quiet day to myself.

Which I got on Sunday as Kim took Danny off to Scout camp, Emily had a friend over and Jimmy played computer games.

All told I had a good vacation. Some good times with family. Catching up with folks I only see once a year. I got some things done that needed doing. And I managed to also give myself a nice mental break. Now I can brace for a long time between vacations or even long weekends as my next break is Labor Day. But I am ready for that.