Sunday, January 1, 2017

Hello 2017. It's Time to Simplify.

A new year has arrived and I'm very thankful. 2016 was rough to say the least. There were times I didn't think I would survive it.

Mom's Alzheimer's got considerably worse. Lee was home with her all the time and it was really wearing him down. She was just mean to him. He had no one to vent to besides me, but I hated hearing about it every day. It started taking a toll on our relationship. We were at each other's throats.

Enter financial difficulties. That alone can strain a marriage. He couldn't work because Mom couldn't be left alone for long. I couldn't keep up with our bills plus Mom's. Something had to change.

My anxiety and depression got out of control. I didn't want to talk to anyone or do anything. When I got home from work I just wanted to hide in my room. I prayed for relief. I prayed for help. I begged God to make things better. When the struggles continued, I felt abandoned. I remember laying in bed in the spare bedroom, crying, wishing I would just die, just not wake up in the morning. I couldn't keep going on.

Enter an angel. My Aunt Nancy. Now Aunt Nancy has always had a special place in my life, from as far back as I can remember. When Dad got sick, she was always there.  She was always there for me with Mom's illness, too. I knew I could count on her if I needed anything.

When her daughter, my cousin Rhonda, passed away over the summer, I felt like I had been betrayed by God once again. She and I had developed a special relationship and I was crushed. She was my champion and now she was gone. Not only that, but Aunt Nancy had lost her daughter and I couldn't imagine her pain. It wasn't fair for God to do that to someone I loved so much.

You know what? It didn't stop Aunt Nancy from being there for me.

I knew I couldn't keep Mom with me any more. It was going to destroy my marriage and I would lose my sanity. The passive suicidal ideations scared me. I was afraid I was a blink away from becoming suicidal or having a complete breakdown and ending up in the hospital. I tried to come up with a plan for Mom. Assisted living, senior apartment complex, even living with my cousin in Oklahoma (God bless her, she was willing to let her) were all options, none of them good. That's when Aunt Nancy offered to let Mom live with her.

I was torn. I was afraid of what the rest of the family would think. Would they feel like I was shirking my duty as a daughter? Would they resent me for putting this on my aunt's shoulders? It was more stress.

By this point, I was back in therapy, trying to save myself. I put our house on the market and time was short. I took Aunt Nancy up on her offer. It was a rough move for Mom, but it was the right thing to do. Lee and I were then able to pack ourselves up. It was a rush job because our house sold the second day on the market. I was beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel, although I wasn't completely convinced that it wasn't a freight train.

After a stressful move, we are now settled into our apartment. Frankly, I don't know if I ever want to own a home again. I'm so glad we downsized. Things feel so much more managable.

I know things won't be perfectly smooth, but they are certainly looking up. I'm planning to keep things going in this direction by reminding myself of my word for 2017: Simplify.

We've simplified our living situation. It's time to simplify our stuff, too. We ended up with 2 storage units to hold all of our stuff and that's just more than we need. I'm looking forward to paring all of that down as well.

Simplifying our life will hopefully leave me with time to properly thank all of the people who were behind me. It will give me the ability to answer the door when opportunity knocks. And it will help me focus on my mental health.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Oriental Broccoli Slaw

I love making this slaw and taking to family gatherings. It's easy to make a large amount and you really can't screw it up. Quite often, somebody asks me for the recipe, but I'm bad about getting it to them. With it here, all I have to say is "Check out my blog!"

Oriental Broccoli Slaw
  • 1 bag broccoli slaw mix
  • green onions (for garnish)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (white will work)
  • 3/4 cup oil (vegetable or canola)
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1 pack Ramen noodles, oriental flavor

Melt about 1/2 stick of butter in a large skillet.

Open the noodles and place them in a plastic zip top bag. Reserve the seasoning packet for the dressing. Crush the noodles with a rolling pin.

Place crushed noodles and pine nuts in the skillet with melted butter. Saute over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until toasted. Don't let the pine nuts burn!

Meanwhile, whisk together the brown sugar, oil, vinegar, and seasoning packet for the dressing.

Place the broccoli slaw in a large bowl and toss with the sunflower seeds and the sauteed noodles and pine nuts. Pour the dressing over the slaw and mix well until coated.

Garnish with chopped green onions. Cover and refrigerate until dinner. The flavor gets even better the next day, but it loses its crunch.

Some variations:
  • I see many recipes that use sliced or slivered almonds instead of the pine nuts I use. Almonds are much less expensive than pine nuts, so they can be a good alternative.
  • If you want to make more, use 2 bags of slaw and 2 bags of noodles. Don't change the recipe for the dressing though, it makes enough as it is to coat double the amount of slaw.
  • If you are taking this on the road, you can make the two parts the day before, then assemble them the next day at your destination. This way the slaw is still good and crunchy. Like I said above though, the flavor is great the next day if you don't mind less crunch.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Something to Get Off My Chest

As long as this is stewing in my mind, I might as well put it out there.

Earlier this week I had my annual review. Nothing surprising until my supervisor got to the part about my "attitude." The box was marked "NI". Needs improvement. I was a bit shocked.

I'm not one to bitch and moan in agency meetings. In fact, for the most part, I just sit back and listen. I get along with everyone I work with and treat everybody respectfully. My mind was spinning and I couldn't figure out what I had done.

Then he told me. It was because of a Facebook post around election time where I made clear I wasn't pleased about the re-election of our governor. He said there was "scuttlebutt" about the post and that even though it was my private page (where I don't have listed where I work) I should be careful about what I say. I was taken aback enough that I didn't say much more than "Oh, okay." But then I started to think.

What the fuck was wrong with what I said? I didn't vote for the guy and really hoped nobody else would either. When it was clear he won the race, I was disappointed and saw bad things coming (they have started already, by the way). I said it was time to leave government work and go into the private sector. And I meant it, still do. It wasn't anything that I wouldn't say out loud, either.

Screenshot of actual post. Click to biggify.

Now, here's the thing. I'm friends with a handful of people from work on Facebook. This incident pissed me off enough that I added all but one of those people to my "restricted" list. They can only see posts that I mark as "Public." If they don't like what I have to say, fuck 'em. They don't need to see it. But now I'm rethinking that move. Frankly, I'd rather not be FB friends at all with someone who would piss and moan-behind my back-about what I've posted. Since I'm not sure who it was (or how many of them for that matter) this seemed to be the easiest way to handle the situation.

I don't post a lot of things about politics or religion because I know that people can get hurt feelings, but what I do post, I mean. My page isn't all kitty cats, all the time. I've got to take a stand on things once in a while. If someone takes issue with that, too bad.

I don't think this should have come back on me during my official review. Just because I don't like our governor nor the outlook for our state doesn't mean I have a bad attitude or low morale about my job. It doesn't help mind you, but the agency is about more than just the governor. In fact, he has very little to do with my job.

Maybe they should look at the fact that I don't get as much support as I would like from my superiors, but I find others to help me when I need it, or the fact that I roll with the changes in the agency as well as, or maybe even better than, anyone else. I could have a very pissy attitude and this made me want to put it on display so they could see what Amy-With-A-Bad-Attitude would really be like.

But I won't. I'll just keep my head down and do my job while I hope the Next Great Thing comes along.

Welcome to 2015

Like many others, I hope 2015 is better than 2014. I believe things are already headed that direction. My mental health is much better than it was at the beginning of 2014. That being said, I wish for inner peace this year. I wish for many things, actually, but they all lead to peace.

My word for 2015 is breathe. I tossed several around and with some help from my dear friend Connie, I settled on this one. When things get to be too much or I feel overwhelmed, I will remind myself to breathe.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Countdown to Halloween 2014

Not that I'm counting. It's hard not to notice since the stores are beginning to put out Halloween decorations, though. So far I've seen spooky stuff in Gordman's, Holiday Magic at Crown Center, Nebraska Furniture Mart, and Cracker Barrel. That's right. The home cooking restaurant with the rocking chairs out front has Halloween decor.

There was a lot of cool stuff that I'd love to add to my collection. These pillows at NFM were fun.

Of course my love of words drew me to all of these at Gordman's.

I actually got my Halloween mask at Cracker Barrel. I can't give it away, but they had a lot of other great stuff I can share with you.

I could probably max out my NFM card just on Halloween goodies.

I didn't, of course, but I did come home with a few new items. The skull and the two pictures light up!

I would have bought this, but the sentiment didn't seem very sincere, coming from me. I actually hate candy corn, so it wouldn't be a stretch to love anybody more than that sickeningly sweet, chewy material.

I can't wait to see what else I find in the coming weeks!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

My Daddy

It's been three weeks today since Dad died. I must say, it's been easier than I thought it would be to work through my grief. I miss him, of course, but his essence was already gone the last few months of his life. I started missing him while he was still alive.

I was shown so much kindness during Dad's illness and passing that I could never express my gratitude fully. The best I can do is share my daddy with you, the way he was before he got sick. I was thinking of speaking at his funeral, but decided against it. Here are the words I wrote about him. I hope it shows you what a wonderful person he was and how much he meant to me.

First, I’d like to thank all of you for being here. Your support, love, and sympathy have meant so much to us; not just since Dad’s passing, but in the months preceding his death as well.

My Dad was the smartest person I know. He taught me a lot of different things: He taught me how to read, he taught me how to train a dog, and he taught me how to drive a car. But the most important thing he taught me was to appreciate knowledge.

Dad dropped out of high school in the 10th grade and went on to get his GED, but that had nothing to do with how smart he was. What made him smart was his love of learning. He asked questions. If he knew a person had a job or a hobby that he didn’t know much about, he would pick their brain. The restaurant and the barber shop afforded him the luxury of meeting many people from different walks of life and he truly wanted to know what they knew.

A few years ago I was feeling badly because I wasn’t using my degree. He told me that I shouldn’t feel bad because education was never wasted. He also told me once that I should try to learn something new every day. Now, there have been some days when I learned something new early in the day and thought “Okay, I’m done. I can go back to bed.”

The most important thing he told me was that I should try to leave the world in better shape than when I came into it. I have taken that to heart. Dad certainly accomplished that and I hope that since he passed on his love of learning to me, that I will be able to do the same.

Friday, April 4, 2014

I'm Ready to Get Off This Ride

Today has been such a roller coaster of emotions. Depression, anger, sadness, guilt.

Taking care of Dad has been harder than I thought it would be. It has triggered some anxiety (which had been under control) and has made me doubt myself as a caretaker.

My depression has eased up for the most part since after Christmas, but today it came roaring back. I feel like I can't do this, can't care for Dad day after day and keep up with all that is needed. I even felt like I didn't want to do it anymore. Why did this have to happen? The unfairness of it all had me wanting to run away. I was already feeling guilty about stuff I didn't get done for work; how could I do it all?

Then the sadness started. It washed over me. I want to pursue my dreams, but I can't. There isn't time or resources. Why couldn't I go back in time to when it was just me and Sebastian living alone? The tears fell.

Then Dad called out, "Can anybody hear me? I have to go to the bathroom." My heart sank. How could I consider not doing this job? My Daddy needs me. It breaks my heart knowing he is living like this. He doesn't deserve it. That's the part that is really unfair. I felt guilty for my earlier selfishness.

I hate the way life is going right now. I know it will get better some day, but I wish it was better now.