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.

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Refreshing and refreshed


I had a good week. Made a habit of giving myself a number of tasks to do each day. Followed through on those. Hosted a good party. Survived the first real weekend of football. Had a great time at my game to boot. Now it is time to repeat and wait.

I made it a priority last week to write down my plans every day. Write up a To Do list, and stick to those every day. Doing that really helped offset the drag of being around the house all day. Gave me something to do and focus on. I think that is a habit I really need to stick to in general, but especially during this forced time off. Good for my mind to keep thinking.

With all of that list making, I was able to really get the house ready. We hosted a nice birthday party for my Mother in Law. Today is her actual Birthday so I will interject with a

BIG HAPPY BIRTHDAY CONNIE!

I got the house ready and in order. Prepared a nice meal. And from what I could tell, everyone had a good time, especially the Birthday girl. I was proud of all of that and the effort I took. I was also proud of the work the kids did when asked to help.

I watched some football on Saturday. My Alma Maters started off real well. Then I stopped watching when it began to come clear that it was only a matter of time before reality could kick in. Which is what it did. It was not as hard to turn the games off as I thought it might be, a sign of real progress. I then did not watch any of my NFL teams. I was too busy gaming to watch the games. I checked on scores from tie to time but did not let my head get into it.

I had a real good time at my game yesterday. It was cool to get out of the house, away from job thoughts, or worries about hosting anything. The game went well too.

Now, this week I have 4 days of repeating what I did last week. Making lists. coming up with projects. Giving myself things to  do. And then on Friday my High School Alumni event begins, which will keep me occupied for a couple of days. I am really looking forward to that. And it will be a continued diversion from being in a waiting pattern on a couple of job applications.

I am keeping my head up. Keeping busy. And giving myself things to do that will give me a sense of accomplishment. Life is pretty good right now.

Got stuff done, had some fun, relaxed


For the last weekend of the summer, that was a pretty relaxing, calm affair. Kim & I got some things done around the house. We had some fun, attending a party and taking kids to a movie. And we spent a good amount of time just relaxing around the house. It was a good time, preparing us for the craziness to come.

We put close to the finishing touches on the basement project. We got a board to cover the pool table in its new life as the Lego table. We moved books, cleared some books out. Sorted out the games and cleared some of those out. There are still some tubs to be sorted, and some more organization to be done, but for the most part the basement has been converted to full time game room.

This week we should get things to the point where the dining room/game room will now be a more permanent office/homework room. Which should, in theory, keep the upstairs cleaner and quieter especially with school starting this week.

We had some fun events. We took the kids to see the new Pete’s Dragon movie. Which turned out pretty well. It was funny as I remember going to see the original movie when it came out in the theaters with my sister.

Kim and I had some nice meals together and some other time together. Which I really appreciated. Just having some time together is a good thing, even if we are working on a project or grocery shopping.

We attended the annual gathering of friends at the Spam O Rama. It was definitely a more low key affair than in previous years. It was nice to get a little time to catch up with some good friends. Although I did not get as much as I might have liked as we had kids along who got bored really quickly. But my game with some of the same friends resumes tonight so I have that to look forward to.

It was a good way to spend the last weekend of the summer. The kids will spend a couple of nights in Denver with my brother. And then they return for the start of school on Thursday. It is a little hard to believe that the summer is ending. But I am definitely ready for the return to school, and I think the kids are as well.

A little catch up and dealing with excitement #Life #Projects #Mentalhealth


The company CEO was in town for a couple of days. Which meant the appearance of work behavior was important ergo limited internet browsing. Today I can finally get back to normal and catch up with what all happened over the weekend.

Kim and Emily were gone for 2 nights, Friday & Saturday, on a Scout camp out. My main focus was on the new basement project. I got some furniture moved, with Jimmy’s help, and some extra help from family and friends. I helped Danny clean up a lot of Lego and other toys and trash. By the time Kim got home on Sunday we were able to then turn our focus to getting the remainder of the toys and other junk sorted. I then also moved the TV and other entertainment items downstairs and got the new gaming area set up. It was a lot of work, but by the end of the weekend, the kid’s new recreation area was all set up.

Monday afternoon Kim got the rest of things cleaned up and organized and the house was pretty much restored to order. And now the new house order was in place. The kids will be banished downstairs when they are playing, making it easier for us to hear our TV or other things we might be doing. It was a lot of work, but well worth it.

There was some fun time as well. Danny and I watched a movie on Friday night. I took the boys to go see Suicide Squad on Saturday (fun movie, I can see what some critics complained about, but still exciting.) I also got sucked into far more of the Olympics than I expected to watch. I was not excited to spend a lot of time watching the Olympics but found myself caught up in all the action. Sunday night especially I spent time watching it all with Emily because it was almost a requirement to watch the women’s gymnastics with my 8 year old daughter.

Then Monday and especially on Tuesday I got caught up in a lot of excitement about my upcoming high school alumni gathering. There are so many people coming that I want to spend time with. It is exciting, I am looking forward to seeing so many people and catching up in person. But it is almost overwhelming at this point because I get the feeling that I will not get time with everyone I want to see. I know, it’s a good problem to have but it still is a problem in my mind.

I am happy to have gotten so much done. I had some good times. Enjoyed various forms of entertainment. I have some great things to look forward to. I am just reminding myself of those things as the days go by.

Not as planned, exhausting, but worthwhile #Family #Kids


The weekend did not go as planned. Saturday was one of those days where my brain decided that it did not want to be around anyone. Then my Sunday game in Denver was canceled. However, at the end of it all , Danny has a new floor. I managed to have some fun on Saturday. And the house is not a total disaster for Kim.

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One of the things that happens with my particular brain chemistry issue is that sometimes I can wake up and be in a funk. There is no real way to predict that it will happen. Although it is most likely to happen when I am physically tired. But that was not the case on Saturday, it just happened. I did what I could. I got out for a walk. I got some cleaning done so the house was not a disaster. It was not the great day of work that I had hoped, but it was enough. And I read a book so I could center my head and mind.

We then went to a family birthday party. It was a pretty low-key party, much smaller than usual. The weather cooperated, so it was never too hot or uncomfortable. The kids all had a good time, they found things to do so they were not in my face asking me to entertain them. We still stayed much later than I would have liked. I was a little anti-social for part of it, just sitting off by myself. I just could not bring myself to be too involved in conversations. Despite all of that, it was a good time.

Sunday we got started a little later, taking our time to sleep in and eat breakfast. But, in the end, we got started on a big project. Since I was not going to Denver we decided it was a good day to lay the floor in Danny’s room. One of our dogs, ChiuLin, is a Shih Tzu that sleeps in Danny’s room. And is not completely house broken. Which means that the carpet in there had become stained and smelled. And no amount of shampooing was ever going to completely clean it up. We decided to get linoleum for the room and take up the carpet. Kim had already ripped up the carpet in stages.

Sunday we just had to finish clearing out the room and then lay the linoleum. The cleaning did not take too long. Then Kim sprayed a vinegar water solution on the real bad spots to help kill the smell. While we waited for that to dry Kim tackled Emily’s room for a thorough cleaning. I eventually helped out with that.

Last was the laying of the linoleum, which required some initial figuring out of roles. That was followed by my messing things up a little as far as what I was supposed to be doing. Then we figured out how to correct that, and got into a little better rhythm. And were able to get it all done. Finishing up around 8 at night after cleaning up and showering.

I was completely wiped out. I had not had a day like that in quite a while. It was not easy that is for sure. You could tell it had been a while because there was a little more than the usual amount of bickering between us before we found our usual teamwork. In the end, though, it got done.

This morning I could look at Emily’s clean room, the finished floor, and think that it was worth it. To be honest, I was actually kind of glad to skip the game in Denver. I think I needed a break from that game, it needs to be a monthly game. Now we have a mostly finished household project. A cleaner house. A lot of laundry done. And I can look forward to 2 short weeks of work followed by a weeks vacation.

 

Vacation, a review #Life #Family #Mentalhealth


Back to work today, that first day back is always tough. Danny’s leg hurts from growing pains and maybe a little more running around yesterday than normal. Emily is just fine. But Jimmy chose to stay and work from home. I am focusing on work, and then reviewing what I did and did not do last week.

Every once in a while you can turn a mental issue like anxiety and OCD to your advantage. And yesterday we got to see the results of that. Because I had been so focused on getting all those little things done around the house, and being ready to host the Easter family event it all went very well. The house was ready, we only had to do a few minor things on Sunday morning that it had not made much sense to do earlier. Like sweeping and mopping the main rooms because of the snow storm on Saturday. It was very gratifying to just let the cooking begin, and the hiding of the eggs, in their own time without worrying about getting a hundred little other things ready.

Which was good, because that good feeling helped me survive being completely overwhelmed by the crowd. We probably had over 20 adults, and assorted kids ranging in age from 3 to 17, in the house at one time. Which was just a bit much for me to handle. And when people began to trickle out I took the chance to just sit back and breathe. And process my feelings.

For the overall week, here is a checklist:

  • Have some fun extended family events: Birthday party for our nephew on Sunday, Easter party on the following Sunday.
  • Have some immediate family fun events: Shopping, Bowling on Monday, Denver Museum on Tuesday, egg dyeing on Easter morning.
  • Kids fun: Danny had 3 sleepovers, Jimmy hosted one sleepover and went over to a friends house once for a sleepover, Emily had multiple parties to attend and one sleepover, and there was a lot of time hosting friends at our house as well.
  • House projects: we cleaned, painted, and repaired the front bathroom, hung up some pictures that had been sitting since Xmas.
  • Personal fun: I ran D&D for the boys on the first Saturday, watched the entire season of Daredevil over the course of the week.
  • Personal Growth: I maintained my meal tracking over the course of the vacation week when it would have been easy to skip, began using the Pacifica app on iPad and iPhone, kept up blog posts for journaling purposes.

When I put it like that, it was very definitely a worthy vacation. I would have never offered to host the family Easter event if I didn’t have the week off, but it worked out for everyone. And now we can enjoy our nicely redone bathroom. And maybe, just maybe, the kids will be better about doing their part to keep the house under control (well I guy can dream.)

Most importantly, unlike the time off I took in October last year, I kept my head on straight. I kept my focus on what mattered. I didn’t let the chaos of all those different events and projects get to me. I was able to adapt my need for a focus in a way that made a big difference. It is very gratifying to look at it in review.

Bringing in the New Year with some changes


I spent a part of New Years Eve day engaged in a hearty cleaning and purge. We then took that to the next stage by continuing the same process in other parts of the house. New Years Day proper was about entertainment: D&D and football. By the end of the 4 days I was ready to resume paid work.

I felt really good about what I did on Thursday. I was ruthless about deciding what clothes went, and other stuff. If I couldn’t wear it now, or used it in the past 6 months, it went. I really cleaned out a lot of stuff. And Kim then did the same for a bunch of her stuff. And by Saturday morning we had a van full of bags and boxes to take and drop off at Goodwill. There is something mentally freeing in just getting rid of stuff.

I took the approach with the clothes that if I do get my head to the point where I can drop weight then I can reward myself with new clothes. And most of the other stuff was just crap that I didn’t use, or read, or was already trash.

Then yesterday James and I rearranged some furniture to make better use of it all. It sure is nice having a strong teenager in the house! And then Kim did a thorough cleaning of Emily’s room. So now we can all hit the new year and school year running.

We played host to a sleepover on New Years Eve. Danny & Emily had friends over for the night. And I stayed up to let them do the full count down thing. It was fun for them, if a little exhausting for me. Particularly when they were all up at the crack of dawn the next day. Which meant I was pretty wiped out for New Years Day, which brought back some memories (the tired part, I was not hungover.)

But it was okay for me to be tired because I had my D&D game all set, so I was able to handle it with no problem. We all had a good time. And then Jimmy went over to his buddies house for the night, so the little ones and I were all able to crash early to recover.

Saturday was spent running some errands, getting some necessary items, and other shopping. Which wiped me out again. So by Sunday, after moving the furniture, I was done. My head was no longer in the zone. I relaxed and watched the Broncos game. And then just focused on getting to bed at a decent hour. Because I was ready to return to the relative isolation of being at work. Work is definitely a refuge for me at times. Because I can sit here in my cubicle, headphones on, listening to music, waiting for a call, and not interact with anyone if I choose to. And sometimes I need to do just that.

It was a productive weekend. With some fun mixed in. And I took the time to protect myself and not let all the time around other folks wipe me out. And now I am ready to face the new year/semester/ what have you.