Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Today I am thankful. I have so many wonderful things going for me right now I can't help but feel blessed.

It is not the easiest thing to be thankful in my present situation. There is a lot that could stand in the way of being happy. My feelings of contentment don't mean that I am ignoring the negative. (Ignorance may be bliss, but it can also be a big step towards self delusion.) I can't completely control my environment, but I can control how I react to it. I can choose focus on pain, fatigue, financial issues, health and all the other things that plague my daily existence, or I can choose to acknowledge all of that as well as the millions of little happy things in my life and let the positive thoughts shine through.

Thankfulness is like a wave of warmth that washes over you. You can wrap it around you like blanket and let it be your shield and your protection against the negative things in life. It is the light at the end of the tunnel that everyone strives for and the beacon on the shore guiding you through the dark fog to the safety of the shore.

Feeling good is not always easy and it isn't something that comes naturally to everyone. When life is filled with the chaos of news, fights, pollution, appointments, stress, work, etc. there seems to be little room or time to look on the bright side, let alone say "Thank You" for it. For those of us who deal with Depression every day, just breathing in and out can be a chore. Happiness feels like a precious jewel that is just out of reach beyond a gray fog of misery. But how do we reach that sort of a goal in the midst of everything that pulls us down further and further each minute.

When I was young, one of my favorite movies was a Disney film starring Haley Mills called Pollyanna. It was about a child who had lived a life a poverty as her parents were missionaries in small countries. When her entire family died, she went to her only relative, a very rich aunt who was in charge of almost everything in the  small town  they lived in. Everyone there seemed content to be grouchy and negative all the time, until Pollyanna showed them the virtue of being "Glad." She proved she could find something to be Glad about in any situation. She even turned the "Hellfire and Damnation" preacher around by pointing out that there are 417 joyful passages in the bible. (That might not be the right number, but you get the picture.) By the end of the movie, , the scary old man in the "haunted house" decided to adopt one of the orphans from the town, the old woman who was "bedridden" was making quilts for the orphanage, and her aunt stopped being a frigid spinster and allowed her old beau to woo her. Very fairytale, indeed, but I still loved to watch it again and again.

Perhaps it seems silly to go around looking for things to get excited about. It can be downright annoying to other people, actually. When people walk around grinning and saying, "I feel blessed!" all the time, I know it drives me up the wall. I have to wonder what they are smoking in all their "bible studies." On the other hand, it is just as annoying to see someone trudging down the hall with a look of torture on their face. The trend in teens to appear "Emo" and distraught all the time is something that I hope disappears as fast as Grunge did. I think there may a middle ground there, though. (Of course, I always think there is a middle ground, but that's what makes me, ME.) I am sure there is a way to be happy and content without ignoring the trials of your life and a way to handle the tragedies that come and go without becoming lost in them.

I have to practice feeling happy and thankful every day. To me, feeling content seems as difficult as running a marathon or writing a symphony. Just like an aspiring athlete or a musician who wants to improve their craft, a depressive person must flex the positive "muscles" so that they can get stronger. Going through the same motions again and again to embrace thankfulness makes bringing up those feelings of positivity easier and easier each time. Making a routine or a habit out of looking for things to be happy about is both difficult and rewarding.

I started a long time ago when I had trouble sleeping. I had morbidity fears at a young age and it would keep me awake for hours at night. Then, I heard an old song about "Falling asleep counting blessings." I was pretty desperate, so I tried it. Dear God,. thank you for my house that keeps me safe. Thank you for my parents who take care of me. Thank you for my sisters and brother who keep me company and my school friends (the ones who don't beat me up.) Thank you for the Principal who makes sure I don't get beat up at school anymore. Thank you for the dollar of toothfairy money I have saved in my secret drawer, even though I don't know what I will spend it on.... and so it went until I fell asleep. Strangely enough, it eventually cured my night time fears of falling asleep.

Now that I am older, I have many other ways that I express my thankfullness now that I know what a useful tool it can be. Sometimes, I write my blessings down in a jourmal so I can go back and read them when I feel really down. Other times, I feel too bad to lift a pencil and I am in the middle of a Pity Party (I hate everything to day and life sucks and I wish it was better because it really does suck....) I had one vrey wise person tell mne that it was ok to feel grouchy about life, but not to let it get you down for too long. If you are going to feel sorry for yourself, go ahead and be purposeful about it. Sit down and have a real Pity Party for yourself. Set a timer and let yourself feel down in the dumps until the timer goes off. Once you get it out of your system, you are free to go about your life without it dragging you down. Very often, I start my Pity Party and before the timer goes off, I feel tired of being sad and I just go do something else. I guess it is a little like facing your fears. When you come at them head on, they don't have nearly as much power as they do when you try ignore or avoid them.

Tonight, in spite of the pain, and fatigue, and bank balance, and nearly empty pantry, I have a family in my livingroom eating spaghetti prepared by the girls (mostly) by themselves and a husband who is giving me time to write because he knows it is important to me. I have a job to go to tomorrow and car that will get me there. DH has a job to go to, as well as a second vehicle to get him there. I have three daughters instead of two and I have one very lazy but very sweet dog to cuddle with.

I'm going to go watch Pollyanna now, because I can.

Debbie "I'm Blessed" Lollar

Saturday, April 17, 2010

My Awesome Assignment

As a Permanent Temporary, I get used to switching assignments all the time. I have gone through several Agencies that helped me find a Full-Time job - some I have even stayed at for years. Over the last five or six, though, it has been mostly one temp assignment after another. There were several periods in between where I was too sick or depressed to work, or there just wasn't any work to be had, but I when I HAVE been healthy enough to work, I have almost always found a job through some sort of a temp agency.

There are some places I have worked where I knew going in that it would be a short assignment. Usually it is because there is a small, brainless, but very important job that must be done (sometimes every single month) and they don't have the manpower or desire to keep someone around all month for one week of work. Sometimes you get to answer phones for a receptionist who is on vacation or something exciting like that, but mot of the time is is filing, faxing, stuffing envelopes, and typically anything that no one else would want to do.  You and your boss both know that you are only there for a day or a week and so neither of you bother getting to know each other very much. You don't bring any family photos and you bring your own coffee mug and take it home with you every day.

There are a lot of assignments I have been to that were Temp-To-Perm. They needed someone Full-Time and long term, but they wanted to try a candidate out before spending money on HR and Benefits. That can be good because when it sucks, you can just call your agent and they take care of telling your boss that you quit. That can also be very stressful because every day is like a job interview. You feel like you are under a microscope all the time and any work you do is scrutinized for any little mistake. At any moment, the bosses could come to you and say "Today is your last day" and you get to box up your family photo and your coffee mug and be on your way.

Every now and then there is a Direct Hire situation, where a company uses an agency to find a candidate that they decide to hire immediately. That happened only once to me. After two rounds of interviews, I was hired on as the admin support for two different bosses. It was cool - until the bosses walked in one day and said, "Today is your last day" and you had to box up my family photo and my coffee mug and be on my way.

What I have found out working literally dozens of jobs over the past few years is that in the end, every job is the same. Texas is considered an At Will Employment state. You can be hired or fired for any reason at all. You can also accept or quit a job for any reason at all. For the sake of Unemployment, you really DO need a good reason to quit, and if they don't want a lawsuit, THEY had better have a reason OTHER than racial, sex, religious, lifestyle, or otherwise to fire you. But still, if they are mad that you occasionally leave little sticky notes (that THEY put there in the first place, and that they threw away after you pulled them off, and were only there so that you knew where to file them) on the documents in the filing cabinet (even though everything was filed correctly) they can fire you for that. (As you probably guessed, this happened to me. It was a relief to be fired.) On the other hand, if you decide you want to walk off the job at any time when you are fed up with the place, you can. (Don't ever try to work for that company again, though, and you really should have a better reason to give TWC other than "I didn't feel like working anymore.")

I have already said in earlier postings that I was more than a little nervous about even looking for a new job when I got the call to show up for this position. I had almost given up completely working a full time job because every time I start somewhere, I end up getting sicker within a few months and things go downhill from there. After being fired over the last few years a whole lot more than I would like to mention, I have no desire to go through that again. The hassle that the whole family has to go through every time I attempt to go back to work (and then fail) is a lot for everyone to deal with.Besides all that, I had time to handle doctors appointments and errands, and if the kids were sick, they were free to be at home to get better. If I were sick, my part time evening gig let me sleep all day if I had to and (even though it really doesn't pay enough) I was prepared to do that for as long as I needed to (the working, not the sleeping.)

When the agency called me to show up at this place (no extra interview, just show up and start working) I decided to accept this assignment first, because I was told it was short term and second, it paid a LOT more than I have made anywhere else. Short term meant that I would only have to deal with working all day for a little while and then I would be able to go back home and rest when the assignment was over. The extra money meant that two weeks of pay would cover the down payment for the second car we really needed. So I made the decision to get on my feet and attempt to start living life instead of watching it happen from my bedroom or the living room couch.

When I found out the details of why I was there and what I would be doing, nothing could have been designed better for me. Another person in the department had been out on sick leave and they didn't know when he would be back. I would work until he was healthy and back and then the assignment would be over. They thought I might be needed for two weeks (just long enough.) I was prepared for filing and maybe some light data entry (the stuff a trained monkey could do) but the job duties I was given from the beginning were a dream come true. They needed someone who was good with Excel, could pick up web based programs, and could learn to use one of those proprietary company programs (that always use the function keys and don't normally allow you to use the mouse.) They also needed someone who could file and not take all week to do it and could take simple instructions and extrapolate correctly. Finally, they needed someone who was capable of doing small things over and over again without falling asleep, making huge mistakes, or pulling out their own hair. I am uncommonly good at all of those things (the job part, not the pulling out the hair part.) I have so much experience with filing that I can do it in my sleep without misplacing anything (just PLEASE don't ask me to remove every, single, solitary Post-It note after you insist on placing them every where you can think of.) I have an uncanny knack for tedious and boring jobs, data entry, remembering function keys, using web based programs, and especially anything having to do with Excel.(I'm not bragging here, I just know what I can do. Now, ask me to program in code or repair a transmission, and I'm good for nothing there.)

The other people in my department are just the coolest. There is one Country Boy (CB), who is one of the most intelligent people I have ever worked with, but also has a deep Texas accent and a strong love of turnip greens (he brings them as a snack every single day. I swear!) Then there is the Blond Soccer Mom (BS doesn't work, nor do SM, or BSM, so I'll go with Blondie) who is incredibly sweet. She has two kids around the ages of two of mine, so we get along remarkably well. Our boss, Cat Lady (because she loves cats, not because she looks like one or dresses up like one at night to go and fight crime) is just a hoot and I really enjoy working for her.

The gentleman who was out sick, (Sick Boy) is still out sick, sort of. I don't like to dish on people who aren't around to defend themselves and I strongly dislike spreading rumor so there isn't much I can say about him. Most of it is hearsay and not a lot of it is extremely positive. He has just been out sick for so long and then comes in for a day and then is out sick for another long stretch, and I think it just has worn out the patience of his co-workers. He seemed like a nice enough guy, but when you aren't there to do your work, other people have to do it for you. That can lead to a bit of resentment. In his defense, he does have a valid reason to be out. He had a small accident several months ago and now he is having trouble with the resulting injury and recovering from the surgeries. You can SEE that he hurts and you can tell that he is not healed, so we all know he's not faking it. There seems to be a bit of tension about the whole issue, though.

The thing is, the longer he is out, the more job security I have. My two week assignment has turned in to six so far, and I am supposed to go back next week. I wouldn't wish ill on anyone, especially for my own gain, so I don't wish that he stays sick. I do love my job though, and I hate to see him come back to work, only to be in pain and have to leave again. I feel guilty wanting to stay and being excited that I keep getting my assignment extended because that means he is still out and probably feeling bad. There has never been a situation more designed to help me succeed, though. It feels like I was meant to be here. Let me explain.

First, of course, is the job which capitalizes on all my strengths (data entry, filing, Excel, comparing lists of numbers, rechecking work for accuracy, etc.) but doesn't require me to work on my weaknesses (accuracy without an ability to correct mistakes, sitting still for long hours without a break, absolute adherence to an exact schedule, combing through filing cabinets for sticky notes...) My co-workers are pleasant, supportive, communicative, and they don't beat me up for every little mistake. (They even admit their own mistakes when they happen. Gasp!) Commuting is easy without feeling like I'm cheating. I have a 30 minute drive, which is average, half on the highway and half through town. I work in Addison which is familiar to me (so I don't get lost - trust me that is a big deal) and is also very cool to office in (more restaurants per capita than anywhere else in the world.) I even get to park in a parking garage that doesn't charge.  In Texas, that is worth more than you might think because of the heat and sun and bi-polar weather (imagine the inside of your car getting hot enough to boil water so that your A/C doesn't cool down until you pull in your driveway at home, or walking through torrential rain to get to you car, only to have it stop as soon as you start the engine.)

The time for starting back to work feels right, too. We have two working vehicles for the first time ever, so there isn't an issue of carpooling and juggling schedules. In fact, our schedules have helped things run more smoothly. DH works a later shift than I do (or anyone else should have to, really) but that means he has more time in the morning so he mostly feeds the kids breakfast, while I get up and get ready and then I help him make sure they are dressed and don't look like they just rolled out of bed. I leave for work when he leaves to take them to school and everyone gets where they need to be on time. If there are small errands to run, he can do that first thing. I don't have to worry about getting that call 30 minutes after I get to work because someone left their lunch or forgot field trip money. (It is the little things like those that ruin your day -and your job performance - faster than you can sneeze.) Since I am home earlier in the evening, I take care of the evening appointments (like PTA meetings) and dinner (which I am generally in charge of anyway.) Now that all three girls are old enough they can walk home from school on their own. Even LH is able to. The walk is not far for any of them and it happens to be the best time of year for it. (We have a back-up ride home in case of rain, but the heat isn't an issue like it is in the first part of the year.)

The outside forces have come together to smooth my path for me. Even my body decided it would give me a break and let me work. I still have pain and I still get dog tired, but I can handle it better than I ever could before. I have only called in sick once in 6 weeks (that is actually a record for me since I got started to get sick) Once, I even dealt with a full-on migraine (without any medication) for the entire afternoon without leaving early. That is not something I would have been able to handle, say, six months ago. For the time being, I have found someone to cover my shifts at the part time gig so I don't have to try and work two jobs at once. (Thank you #3 Sister!) That would not have been nearly as easy to do at any time before this.

Things do not always go exactly as I would like them to. I sometimes get calls from the girls after they get home because they need to tattle on each other or a stray dog followed them home. We eat out more than we eat in because I forget to plan for the night's meal and nothing is thawed or can be prepared before the kids have to go to bed. The house typically looks like a tornado hit it most of the time. My weekends are also spent resting from the last week and storing up energy for the next week, so I not really able to do much around or outside of the house. I think it is getting better, though. I still canceled all my appointments for this weekend (again) but I am able to do much more than just sit around and do nothing. (Okay, I am supervising it getting done, and the house only looks like a strong wind hit it, not a direct hit by a Force 5 hurricane, but it is progress.) I can't really make future plans because I only know if I am going to work there one week at a time. That is a little bit irritating, but it affects the girls more than it does me. They are the ones who were used to getting a ride home from school and having dinner cooked at home every night.

All of that seems a small price to pay. I feel as if the job has helped me become stronger as I push myself to get back to some type of normal. I am praying that somehow, my boss finds a place for me at this company. There is a precedence of temps starting there and staying on - in their original department or even somewhere else in the company. There is also a very visible history of people staying with the company for years and years because they really love it there. I can see that there could very well be a spot for me in this department, whether Sick Boy comes back or not. Most of the work I have been doing is not the work that he hasn't done, but the work that the other two are unable to take care of in their own realm of responsibilities. I can see it very well, but it isn't up to me if I stay. The budget makes the final choices on everything.

Of course, I am being optimistic in my heart, but I am trying to be realistic in my mind. If they come to my desk Friday and tell me that the assignment is over, I will try so hard not to be crushed, but I know I will probably cry! For the first time, in a very long time, I will be perfectly confident that I was not let go because of my own incompetency and I will miss working with the people there, very much. I have performed by duties beyond their expectations, and they have told me so. My boss is one of those wonderful people who likes to manage adults. The rest of the department is salaried, so they are able to be flexible in their hours. She allows me this flexibility, too. As long as I am there when I say I will be and I take care of my work, I can take lunch and breaks when I need to or eat lunch while I work if I want to. I also can arrange an hour or two off for an appointment and make up the time earlier or later in the week. She trusts me and I am honest and everything works out splendidly that way. (Something that has cost me jobs in the past is coming in at 8:10 one day and 7:50 the next, or taking 30 minutes of lunch one day so I can have 1 1/2 hours another.)

The money is really nice, but honestly, it is the smallest benefit of this job. I can make money anywhere. (Maybe not as much...) I haven't found a place that I love to come in to every day like this in several years. So, for those of you who pray, I am humbly asking for you to keep praying for me that this job turns out to be what I need. (I know better than to pray for what I want...that will backfire every time.) For everyone else, positive thoughts my way will be appreciated (but, feel free to skin a tree or burn a rabbit, or whatever it is that you do.)

Debbie "Working Girl" Lollar

Wierd-ish week indeed

I've had a week that's been even crazier than most. First if all, the yorkie from across the street was almost abandoned by his owner until the owner found out he (the yorkie) has been getting out of the house and yard and parking on our front porch every day. That set off three different visits to plead with us to please take him because she couldn't keep him. So, either we take him in or risk him getting hit by a car while running all over the neighborhood looking for food and shelter. So, for the sake of Animal Control (who would have to clean up the mess) we took him in. The stipulation is that we will keep him until we find a Yorkie rescue that can take him.

The girls call him Benji. I call him Benjamin (because I really can't stand the name Benji and he really doesn't come when you call him, anyway.) We have all decided his official name will be Benjamin Yorkshire Pudding III (the third, because it turns out we are at least his third home) or Pudding Paws when we are feeling affectionate. I'll refer to him as PP (because he also does that...a lot... on the floor.)

I have never really liked little dogs because 1) they tend to bark at anything and everything and they just don't stop, 2) they tend to be a bit neurotic (biting, being territorial, chewing, hoarding toys,) and 3) they tend to pee on the floor wherever they feel like it no matter the training they have. I will say that PP doesn't bark a lot... but the other two, yeah, he does those a lot. The neurotic part is more a training issue and the fact that he is not neutered. It also has to do with him being a Yorkie with the Little Dog Syndrome. He tries to compensate for being small by being especially fierce. He's not really aggressive, just pushy.

BBD (our Big Black Dog) is not too pleased with the little guy at all. We actually came home the other evening to find BBD cowering and yelping and shaking every time we reached for him. We assumed there had been a tussle while we were gone so we got BBD to the vet first thing in the morning. The problem? BBD is a wimp. There was nothing physically wrong with him. He was apparently just freaked out too much by PP jumping up on him to play (or maybe to "dominate", we're not really sure.) For a dog that is between the size of a Labrador and a Golden Retriever, he is reduced to a cowering wimp by a dog that he could eat as a snack and still have room left over.

The girls really liked PP at first, but that was quickly extinguished when they found out that he might have hurt BBD. Now, they are kind to him and tolerate him, but I no longer have fears of a huge melt down when we DO find a new home for him. LH seemed to become very attached to him at first, but even she is getting tired of cleaning up after him. Plus, he apparently has chosen her shins as his new mate because she has to stop him from humping her legs every time she sits down anywhere. (Kind of gross, kind of funny, but not acceptable.) TD and EG were not too sure of him to begin with because they both have issues with small dogs (because they jump and bark and appear that they will bite.) Once PP learned not to jump up, they felt a lot more comfortable, but I don't think they will be extremely sorry to see him go.

DH made it very clear that this is a temporary situation. He prefers to have a choice in the animals we bring into our family and and he would not have chosen PP for himself. Besides the reasons mentioned above (messes, jumping) PP has a limp. At first it looked to be Hip Dysplasia from the way he held it and that set of all sorts of warning bells for DH. After talking with the owner, we found out that PP got into a fight (or fights) with the other dogs he lived with BEFORE she adopted him and he has had the limp ever since.  That made me feel better (because it wasn't a genetic deformity that might have other defects along with it) and worse (because it shows a pattern of misbehavior or at least fighting with other dogs.) If he was chomped by another dog severely enough to cause a permanent limp he was either a runt and not healthy or too aggressive and a bigger dog tried to put him in his place. Considering the way he acts around BBD, I am guessing the latter.

So, this week, we have been trying to referee the battle for the pecking order between the dogs, help the girls understand how to act around him (to prevent him from becoming spoiled), and try and get used to a little dog who apparently doesn't ask to be let out when he needs to be and is too small (or stubborn) to use the doggie door that BBD uses. The girls are trying to learn how to show both dogs equal affection so one doesn't get depressed and the other get territorial. The treat bag is getting used more and more to try and make things equal. DH is trying to come to term with agreeing to the whole thing because he was totally against it and was more than happy to run the dog off every evening with a water gun.(Maybe it was just an excuse to use the Super Soaker, who knows?)

Truthfully, if he was a puppy that had never been trained (or especially sweet), I might be more willing to handle all of this without frustration. Unfortunately there are a whole host of other issues that this brings. To keep him healthy, we would need to add him to the pet care place that BBD is on, and that will be an extra $30 a month (that's not a lot, but we are almost finished paying off the ear surgery the BBD had last year so I was looking forward to our payment going down from $80 per month.) Because he appears to be over a year old, it means that neutering is not covered under a pet care plan so we would have to pay $250 out of pocket just for that (that is on top of the EXTRA $30 per month for the pet care plan.)

The money really isn't the big issue, though. I have a hurt back right now. I can't bend over to tie my shoes, let alone pick up the mess that PP makes so I have to holler at the girls all day an night to "bring the spray and the paper towels. My Awesome Assignment has been extended for another week (more on that in a bit) so we all have to leave the dogs at home alone during the day, at least from the time DH leaves for work until the girls get home from school. We might have to deal with our landlord about the second animal and I really don't want to have to pay for another pet deposit and pay for the to be carpet changed when we leave because of the damage PP is causing  with accidents. (Ok, so maybe money IS a big issue.)

Besides that I really, really, hate dogs that pee everywhere. It makes me mad, it grosses me out, and I have a really hard time feeling affection for any dog that does it. If BBD has an accident, it means he is really, really, sick. When little dogs pee on the floor, it is rarely an accident. It is either a training issue, or a vindication for some slight against them (that you usually have no idea about.) There is a reason we didn't get a puppy 8 years ago when we found BBD, and why we weren't looking for a puppy to begin with. I don't want to have to house train a dog and I don't want to have to clean up the mess while we are trying to train him.

If we can get PP to the point where we don't have to clean up messes every afternoon and morning, then I might start to like him more. If we can get BBD and PP to get along so we aren't worried about them tussling when we are gone, I might consider keeping him around. If we could get him neutered without paying a week's worth of groceries for it, I might not resent his very presence. Otherwise, I am looking for somewhere to send him where he will be happier and so will we (at least me and DH.)

Debbie "One Dog" Lollar

Monday, April 12, 2010

A New Hope

I have been doing research about this whole FM thing, because frankly, the pharmacutical companies sound a bit shady. They tell me that FM is chronic. It can't be cured. Medication will help the sypmtoms but they won't make them completely go away. The disease is slightly progressive, but not actually damaging to any part of the body. So, just take our meds and be happy that you get 50% of your life back.

That really isn't enough for me.

I have been doing research on this ever since I was told that FM might be my problem. On one side, the information is extremely comforting. The long list of medical issues I have been plagued with - some of them since High School - are almost all symptoms of this syndrome. I am not crazy, these issues really do exist. That also means that if I can find a way to treat this thing, many of my symptoms will go away, too.

On the other side, the research from the Pharmecutical companies is not very encouraging. The meds will help some, but you will still be dealing with all the symptoms, just not as much. Oh, and the level of medication you take, will most likely increase over the years as the body becomes resistant to it.

I am NOT going to be stuck on meds the rest of my life. I WILL find a way to beat this.

Currently, there are some very encouraging studies being done relating to diet, lifestyle, and medications that can help without side effects. Yes, there are, in fact, medications that don't have nasty side effects (I know! I was surprised as you are!) One of the meds that has been used successfully FOR YEARS, when combined with a specific diet, is Guaifenesin.

This medication is the active ingredient in cold medicine. It is a decongestant. It apparently works that way for your muscles too. The kicker is that there are certain foods and medications (and even topical creams and lip balms!) that have some ingredients that block the Guai from working, so you have to adjust your diet and you lifestyle to get all the benefit from it.

There are other studies that link FM to Hypoglycemia in certain cases and that one will make the other worse when they flare up. I can certainly believe that. My eating and appetite has changed drastically over the past six years. Many of these changes and cravings are directly linked to Hypoglycemia, which doesn't alway mean you have low blood sugar all the time. Usually it means that your sugar levels will crash due to the wrong food, high levels of stress, and some other illnesses.

In any case, these studies are exremely interesting to me. I will be doing more research before I make any drastic actions. I also have a Rheumatologist to see who will hopefully be able to guide me through all this. My main goal is to wean off the meds so I can replace their actions with less damaging things. If he won't help me do that, I will look for another doctor that will.

Debbie "Standing Firm" Lollar

Friday, April 9, 2010


Yeah, if you're sick of hearing me whine about being broke and fat, just stop here.I'm just warning you.

Actually, things are moving very well in other parts of my life. The two parts that depress me most, however, aren't. The needle on the scale, and the balance on the bank account.

I feel guilty being so upset about these two things. There are so many wonderful things in my life to be thankful about. I have the best husband in the entire world. I have three healthy and beautiful daughters. I have a home, and two cars (that both work!) and I even have an awesome job for the time being. So why do I let certain numbers screw with my head so much?

Let me think a bit about this here. First, I have always been broke. Even when I was in high school and working two jobs and I had no bills to pay. I have always been short on cash and I have never, ever, in my entire life, had a real balance in a savings account. It makes me feel panicky and scared.

I walk through the halls of my office and I see well-dressed women carrying designer purses and wearing fabulous shoes, and I want to BE that woman. I want to know what it feels like to plop down triple digits for a pair of shoes or an amazing handbag. I don't want to go to whoever is available at the cheap hair cutting place. I want to have a stylist that I go to every six weeks that knows everything about my hair and gives me a style and color that makes me feel glamorous every day.

Telling my daughters "no" to things hurts when it is because we can't afford it, and not because I have the freedom to choose. No safety net means that emergencies cause catastrophic chain reactions in my financial world, so I live in constant fear of an appliance or vehicle breaking. Paying bills means "stealing from Peter to pay Paul", as it is said, which means there really isn't enough to go around, but you put one thing off to pay another and go back and forth like that. My kids don't panic when the water or lights get cut off. They are used to it and they just make do. Thankfully, that hasn't happened in a long time, but kids don't forget stuff like that. Living with that fear and shame is enough to make anyone a little sad or grouchy.

My bank balance seems to creep into my mind all day long, no matter what. More importantly, it seems to hang in front of my on a scale that weighs my worthiness in compared to all those I see around me. I usually fall very short. I have older things, shabbier things, borrowed things. Socializing is sheer torture, because I am always the one who isn't able to pay for her part so I just don't go or I go and don't have fun because I am being nagged by my conscience about how my fun will affect the finances of the whole family.How can you have fun and enjoy yourself, totally, knowing that someone is paying for your tickets, your drinks, your food?

Looking at the bank balance causes tension, nausea, and physical pain. Not looking at the balance makes the problem much worse so I am constantly caught between the fear of knowing and the fear of not knowing. Simply contemplating that number causes me to break into cold sweat.

Second, being this heavy is draining. Walking hurts, I feel like crap. Even my undergarments don't fit well anymore. That is just plain embarrassing. Actually, I think that is what it boils down to. I am embarrassed to be fat, or at least fatter than the rest of my family. My whole family is filled with skinny, or at least physically fit, people. I feel as if all the focus is turned on me because I look bigger by comparison. Cameras and photographs are not friendly, they are fearful. I see a picture of myself and I am disgusted and embarrassed. I just feel so sick inside and out.

I would rather order dinner in from my favorite restaurant than go out to dinner, because being in public for that long is uncomfortable. I imagine the waiter and the other patrons judging my order and watching me eat and thinking, "No wonder she is so fat. Look at what she's eating."

I know this is still getting worse in spite of all the ways I am working to fix these problems. I don't want to use my bank card anymore because it will show proof of what I spend. I am ashamed of my trips through the drive-through, so I don't want to tell anyone that I did it. It doesn't stop me though, I just use cash instead. I'm still spending money, but I am the only one who knows where it is going. There is no evidence of it to be seen in my car, either. I throw bags and cups away at work or at a gas station so no one at home sees what I have been eating. I didn't realize I had started to do that until I came home the other night and brought my take-out bag inside with me (so as not to clutter up my car) but when I threw it away, I pushed it down to the bottom of the trash can and covered it up with other stuff.

I can see that both the negative reactions derive from the same initial action. Driving through fast food places. Maybe, I will get fast food for lunch because I was too late or too lazy to remember to pack a lunch and healthy snacks. I beat myself up for it, but I have to eat or I will get sick. At the very least, I have to eat with my afternoon dose of meds or I will be very, very sick. That is the first rationalization. Then, when I have the choice of places to eat, I choose fast and fatty, instead of slow and healthy. I feel that I deserve a treat, or I only want to spend X amount and the crappy food is cheaper. I feel awful after eating it - fat, bloated, sluggish. I beat myself up because every bite I put in my mouth should be working me towards my goal of a healthy body. If my body is a temple, it would look like a landfill inside.

Weighing myself in the morning has become a form of torture that I avoid. Instead of stepping on the scale and writing my number down every day, I step on it about once a week, shove it back behind the toilet, and try and forget I ever did it.

That number haunts me all day long. Every time I go to the bathroom, I have to pass by a mirror on the way in and out. I am still shocked to see my width and the way I move. I have developed the fat-girl-hip-waddle thing. You know what I'm talking about, don't you? Once a woman gets above a certain size, her hips and butt move differently  they sort of roll and sway and bounce back and forth, up and down. When I see this I remember my number, and I get grossed out, over and over again. I was watching television last night (I only watch 2-3 hours per week of my favorite shows) and an announcer called out the weight of one of the boxing competitors. Yeah, that was MY number. Do I really weigh the same as a tall, muscular, athletic, male?  Apparently, I do, in spite of being short, female, and not in the least athletic.

Is there any way to convert the number to something that doesn't hurt my brain and heart so much? How do I make the numbers feel like a milestone or a gauge ad not a punishment or embarrassment. Part of me thinks that if the numbers get better and go the direction I want them to than I will have to feel better about them. The other part of me is afraid that the numbers and how violently I feel about them are just a symptom of a bigger problem and progress will not improve me impression on them.

Or, I might be fat and broke and that is all there to it.  Sounds like I need to jog to the grocery store to get veggies for lunch. I wish it were that simple.

Deb "Numerous" Lollar

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Reality Bites

To loosely quote Sister #3 - I am going to build a town of my own and name it Theory. And everything will work there, because everything works, in Theory.

Yep, in a perfect world (or even in a world slightly better than the one I live in) when you make money it will be in the bank. And when you have to spend money, you will have enough. And when you check to make sure your balance is the way it should be,  you won't be surprised by a debit for hundreds of dollars more than you owe by a company that shouldn't be debiting you. Oh, and your bank won't run THAT debit first and then all the little ones after it so it can run up HUNDREDS more dollars in bank fees.

Yes, I have called my bank and yes, I will get the money back...eventually. It really bites because I have bills to pay, people, and I don't have the kind of financial cushion where I can just casually handle missing a thousand dollars or so. It bites because I have to deal with my landlord over the rent because of this and I am already embarrassed to speak to them because we have been late and had to make arrangements so many times over the past year. All this makes me feel inept and incapable and very much like a failure.

I know that I am not a total failure. However, there are some things I am not good at. Take money issues for instance. Supposedly, I am a grown-up and grown-ups are supposed to be able to do things like balance a bank account and pay bills and things like that. I guess my Financial Reality is a little different than the Real Reality because I can't. I don't know why I can't, I just can't.

Trust me, I have tried every trick, program, plan, and idea that has been passed my way. I still use them, even in the face of my continual failure. I currently use Quicken to track the bank's version of Financial Reality and Excel to track my own version. I even go over and over and over to make sure they match. They always do. Briefly, anyway. Then there is an apparent slip in the time/space/money continuum and I'm screwed again. That's ok. I'm getting used to it. It gives me a sense of accomplishment to wrestle my poor excuse for a budget back into focus and keep moving forward.

There's always a Real reason for the mishaps and slip-ups. Sometimes it's a lack of communication between the cardholders (DH and I share all accounts, but only one actually has more than one debit card attached to it.)  Occasionally, the financial institutions see fit to pull some screwy crap that ruins my weekend (like this week for instance.) Most of the time, though it really is just bad math. My Reality says one thing and The Banks of the Northern Hemisphere have a completely different Reality. So, I go grocery shopping and pay bills and then, well Reality Bites me in the butt.

Maybe I should get Reality a chew toy so it will leave my ass alone.

Debbie "Broke but Mending" Lollar

Monday, April 5, 2010


I used to really want to be a natural kind of girl. Okay, I still shave and wear deodorant and all that, but I would really prefer natural and minimally processed something to synthetic anything. I am a label reader as far as foods go and I try not fill my kids up with a lot of junk. It still happens, but I do my best to keep it to a minimum. For my family, I have to make different kinds of decisions than I can for myself. At least two of my girls are allergic to red food coloring - Red 40 - so I have to be extra careful what I bring home for them to eat. This is a great excuse to leave a lot of the junk food at the store and bring home a lot more fruits and veggies.

That said, I understand that the world I live in does not allow me a completely earth-based lifestyle. In spite of my personal desire, I have to use common sense above all else. There are certain concessions I have to make to both convenience and cost. Organic foods just cost more than foods that don't have the label and when it comes down to it, there is not a HUGE difference. Most of the foods, that I have access to, that come from "organic" farms really aren't all that different from the regular stuff right next to it. Anything that comes in a box or jar and still says that it's "organic" usually contains some organic ingredients and some non-organic ingredients. I won't bore you with citing the percentages and regulations of the food industry. I'm not here to have an Organic Expose. I have done the research, though, and I feel that when it comes to that lifestyle, it is much more difficult than I am able to achieve. For my family, "organic" is not a requirement, even though "natural" might be. The ideal and the reality just don't mesh.

It's not just at the grocery store either. I admit that I make poor decisions -especially when I am only responsible for my self. I like to drive thru. I admit it. In spite of my desire for health food, I eat from a paper sack WAY more than I want to admit. There are times when I am running from one place to another and I need food and I don't need/want/can't afford to sit down somewhere that would provide a better choice than that. I also drink colas (that contain High Fructose Corn Syrup) and many of you know my extreme aversion to anything that says "diet." That artificial sweetener stuff will surely kill you quicker than anything derived from cane, corn, or beet. I also drink coffee with milk and sugar (and occasionally from a place that makes it for me and puts who-knows-what-else in there.) Caffeine and I have a long-standing love affair and I don't plan on giving it the boot any time soon. If that means I drink my calories instead of eating them, that's ok with me and my addiction.

If I have the forethought I will pack a lunch, and make sure I have snacks available so I can eat healthy and not have to pay someone else for the priveledge of making me fatter and jacking with my blood sugar. I admit to feeling better inside and out when I do this. Again, though, the perfect plan is far from the reality. I like to sleep and spend time with my kids. I don't want to slave away in the kitchen and stay up late preparing things for the next day. (I lay out my clothes and set my purse by the door, what more do you want?) I could beat myself up about it, but hasn't science proven that guilt is bad for your health? I wouldn't want to do anything to damage myslef further, would I? Maybe I should start to drink more red wine for a healthy heart. That would probably lead to more of that sleep thing and less of the "getting stuff done" so maby that's not such a good idea.

After a bit of examination, I guess I really don't eat all that well. I consume plenty of crap that I know isn't good for me. I certainly don't exercise (that isn't totally my fault, but that is a whole different topic there.)  So I really don't have a healthy lifestyle at all, do I. The desire surely is there. Maybe the ease and convenience outweighs the deisre?

In spite of all my intentions, I am rather dependent on modern technology, anyway. I have a medical train wreck I am trying to tame and that, right now, involves medications that probably would make a homeopathic scream in terror. One makes me gain weight, another makes me incessantly thirsty, another knocks me right out for about 6 hours at a time. (okay, that is what it is supposed to do, but still...) The upside to all of this is that for the first time in six years, I am awake, clean, dressed, working, paying bills, buying groceries, cooking dinner, (hey, I did cook this week....once) and generally being a happy and sociable person. That is a very, very big deal.

So, as far as going organic, meh. I'll wash my veggies and aim for frozen instead of canned. As far as eating healthier, I will make an extreme effort to plan ahead this week and pack a lunch and snacks instead of hitting the snack machine and the drive thru. As far as my caffiene addiction, well, there isn't a damn thing I am going to do about that. I will make an effort to reduce my colas back down, but I'm not giving up my coffee and I will drink it with sugar and milk (Sorry, Dr. M. no deal.)

As far as my over all health goes, I'm feeling better than I have in years (litterally) and that is nothing to ignore. I don't take anything that counteracts another, and I don't take more than I need to. I should start moving more, and for the first time in a long time, I think I will. The weather is getting to be the sweet spot of of Spring, and my girls would love to play frisbee or take the dog for a walk with me.

That's kind of the whole point of this, isn't it? Getting to spend time with my family is why I am doing any of this. I work, yes, but I want to have as many years in the future with my girls as I can.

Debbie "Not so Granola" Lollar

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Personally, I'm amazed

So, this is the third or fourth week in a row I have worked two jobs. I have this awesome day job assignment I have been working as a temp. I love it because I am good at it and the people are awesome and the commute is not awful and it pays really well. I also have this other, part-time gig that I agreed to work four nights a week at. That job is cool because I have been able to work it at night after the kids are in bed, mostly, and on the weekends, and I'm pretty good at it, and I do get paid. I've also been doing it forever and I know the people I work with really well, and that alone is a nice thing.

What amazes me is that I have actually been DOING it for four weeks. There have been a few days here and there that I have had to call in to one job or the other, but for the most part, I have been showing up at both jobs on my scheduled days. The reason this amazes me is that about two months ago, I was unable to show up to ONE job, part time, let alone two.

So, I guess the drugs are working.

Debbie "Chemically Altered" Lollar