I am aware that I am less than some people prefer me to be,
but most people are unaware that I am so much more than what they see.
— Douglas Pagels

Sunday, December 31, 2017

New Year's Eve, 2017 Resolutions Review, and Other Thoughts

My 2017 Goals:

1. Learn to play the tin whistle

This is the one thing I failed miserably at. I've already explained why in another post.

2. Read all books and comics in my possession

ALMOST! I read all comics and most of my books. What I have left:

In progress:
Anam Cara by John O'Donohue
Fed, White, and Blue by Simon Majumdar

On the shelf:
Song of the White Swan by Aleta Boudreaux
Triorion: Awakening by L.J. Hachmeister

I read a ton in 2017. I'm proud of that, because although I'm an advanced reader, there are several factors (poor eyesight, migraine disorder with auras, and brain fog/ADD) that prevent me from enjoying it much. I'll talk about books (and audiobooks!) in further detail later.

3. Continue to declutter

While I admit anxiety and depression drove me to dive into some of these tasks, I feel that I've turned my art supply/storage room around. It wasn't awful, but I had stuff that needed dealing with, and I'm glad I finally tackled it. I gave a lot of things to the local homeless shelter thrift store, a little to relatives, and organized the rest.

4. Renovate Mac, backup files, and prepare for new system

Done! My fantastic friend Joanna gave me her old laptop and tablet because she wasn't using them. I love both and use them daily. What a gift! Bessie the MacBook, now the ripe old age of 8, has been downgraded to a storage facility. The Mac was an awesome system and well worth the discounted price I paid for it back when I was a teacher and student.

5. Organize and knock out art charity projects in progress 

Once again, I completed a piece for Twitter Art Exhibit and sent it to England. This coming month, I'll complete a new project for TAE and send it to Canberra, Australia. I always love being a part of this.

I had two other pieces and attempted to raise funds for a cancer charity in a more private manner, but no one was interested.

6. Tighten social media and continue to reduce public presence

This is the first thing I addressed on the list. I experimented with a name change, locked down some accounts, deleted others, and renovated one or two. I wiped out friend lists and started over. I installed an app called FB Purity, and shut down my news feed. Most of the process went better than I thought it would, although I eventually returned to my real name on Facebook. I'm still public in a couple of places (like here, obviously), but I am now in friends-only mode elsewhere. Even those folks can't see everything, but it's not an issue. I'm content overall with my decisions.

7. Take a watercolor painting class

I researched this for a long time, and finally chose Art Tutor, an art instruction company based in Liverpool, U.K. They have free tutorials, as well as very (I mean VERY!) affordable courses that cost little more than a lunch date. The content is thorough, and once you own it, it is download-able for offline use and yours forever. And let's face it - their fabulous "across the pond" accents make me smile. :-)

8. Figure out MawMaw’s seafood gumbo

I am so happy that I finally accomplished this. Gumbo is important in my Creole-Cajun family, and I miss my MawMaw and her awesome food. (Side note: I also nailed her roast beef and gravy.)


While I completed most of my goals, this year was pretty rocky. I lost three loved ones, battled systemic disease to little avail, and existed in a constant state of anxiety, pain, and exhaustion. The sadness has been overwhelming at times. 2017 was supposed to be a year of "allowance", a word I chose and wanted to embrace. However, it was more a time of analysis, devastation, and aggravation. As always, I hope the upcoming year will be better. In spite of the cesspool of current events. In spite of my pain and many ailments. In spite of myself.

If it wasn't obvious, I'm a list fiend. I'm forever seeking something to look forward to, as well as something to keep me productive.

Thus, my 2018 goals are as follows:

1. Stick to the diet most ideal for my systemic disease.
2. Read more and write more, with frequent updates.
3. Study minimalism and document my ongoing effort.
4. Sort all paperwork for storing or shredding.
5. Spend less idle time on the cray-cray interwebs.
6. Either utilize art supplies, or get rid of them (yikes).

7. Find effective methods for managing stress episodes.

As always, I'll spend some time explaining each goal in detail at a later date. May 2018 be a safer, healthier, happier year for us all.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

3:30 A.M. Brain Dump

I must have been dreaming, because I awoke just now thinking that I needed to talk to my mom about a charity run by a friend. I knew they would get along very well because they held the same views, and I hoped Mom would support the charity (an orphanage for special needs children).

When I was fully aware, I remembered Mom is gone and I "unfriended" the friend on social media earlier this year. I still receive email updates from the charity regularly, so I guess that triggered the dream or whatever this confusion would be called.

I think about the fact that my parents are dead and wonder when I got so old, but the reality is that they'd still be here if they hadn't been such difficult people. Even my stepfather acknowledges that, and he worshiped my mother. I'll never get them, and I strive to be nothing like them, but I will always miss what could have been.

Just a 3:30AM brain dump for the sake of sanity. Nothing to see here.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Today Is The Day For... #1 (Carpe Diem Journal)

Today is the day for preparing for Christmas.

It doesn't feel like Christmas. Two loved ones have died within seven days of each other. I missed my student/friend Mark's funeral because my car isn't running well. It hurts, because I know he would have been at my funeral had it been me to die first. He was too young, and I'm sorry for his family.
Zollie, my brother's father in law, was the sweetest man you'd ever meet. He told me only a few weeks ago that he had "adopted" me as one of his girls. I told him I was honored. Now he's gone. The funeral is the 27th. I don't think Christmas will ever be the same. It certainly won't for his real daughters.
My stepfather has the flu, but is thankfully recovering. I panic when I think about losing him someday. Sometimes my anxiety and depression barge in when I think about it. I'm trying to tell myself to stop grieving over people who are still alive. I'm grateful he's here. I don't see him much anymore, but I'm glad he's doing ok and living his life as he wishes.
It's 3 A.M. so I guess I will try to nap before cooking for tomorrow's Christmas dinner. I don't feel like celebrating, but those who have gone from this Earth would want me to.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

My Name Is Perseverance

This is what my Facebook looks like now.

Because of this app: FB Purity

No home page. No news feed. No left or right sidebars. No friend request tab, although I will still receive friend request notifications by email. No public photos except my cover photo. No game invites. No questions or suggestions. NO ADS!

I will visit my reduced friends list individually on their own pages. They are, of course, still welcome on mine. My rules are simple: no inappropriateness, no religious debates, no chain letters (for the LOVE of GOD, PEOPLE!), and no politics please.

I'm going to the doctor in a few days to follow up on my systemic disease. I will also be asking for advice or a referral for pain management and stress relief. I am not coping well, and I think that has been pretty obvious. I believe I have low-functioning anxiety. It hasn't been labeled low-functioning by a doctor, but it will be discussed because that is what I'm displaying. Whereas I have loved ones who have high-functioning anxiety and manage to get through each day looking like they have their life together, I have gotten to the point where I go from "zero" to "the room is on fire" over statements on social media. A couple of weeks ago, a man told me my illness was invalid, that I had no argument in regards to my own healthcare or anyone else's, and demanded I shut-up and go to bed. I cursed him, and I spent the rest of the night and next morning in the bathroom sick and wishing for death. One cruel, abusive asshole threw me right back into married life circa 2002 (except I didn't curse at all back then). "I want out" cycled through my head for hours.

What this middle-aged military man said was disgusting, misogynist, and borderline fascist. It was unacceptable. Make no mistake of that. It was not ok. But obviously, neither was my reaction. I have a right to defend my own life or someone else's, and by God I will. Venting is normal, stress is normal, maybe even yelling or wanting to punch somebody in the face over the internet is normal to some extent. I know many of my readers have done or felt the same way. This, however, was a meltdown that hurt me physically, and it's not the first one. So, I will bring up my anxiety attacks to my doctor until either he or another professional acknowledges it.

Muscular Dystrophy, as always, complicates things like this. Stress is a paralytic trigger, which fully explains my low function when episodes like this occur. To add insult to injury, medications designed for people with anxiety and/or depression, and even pain meds, greatly affect my condition. I don't mean annoying side effects, I mean a swift decline in muscle function to the point of detriment. It's serious. I've been there and done that already. So, in summary: pain is bad, stress is bad, yet medication for pain and stress are bad. This is not an easy fix. Nothing I have ever is.

I told you all of that to explain the changes I've made. I take frequent breaks from Twitter (deactivating the account often), and I've reduced my Facebook dramatically. The last time I talked to a social worker, I told them I couldn't cope with the news. Not surprisingly, I was instructed to stop reading the news (thank you, Captain Obvious). The same is about to be said to me concerning social media, without a doubt. I've simply taken the initiative to beat them to the punch.

I cannot disconnect from the world completely, because even an introvert knows it's not wise to be without human contact 100% of the time, nor would I want to be. I care about my friends. I also can't completely avoid the news if I intend to continue voting, which I do. I refuse to be someone who ignorantly worships a political party, so I'll remain aware enough to be an informed voter. My Instagram is up and running again, and I have connected it to the Facebook account. I will also still post on my timeline regularly. You're not going to notice a difference on my page, but perhaps on yours. I'd suggest friends and family not take it personally, but some already have. Do what you like with the friend button, but I would appreciate your respect in this regardless.

Thoughts and prayers are very kind, and I sincerely thank you. But remember that this is my reality, so don't be too surprised if you don't get what you pray for or think about. Above all, don't blame me. I've been as honest and straightforward as I can be, and I am a chronic trier. My name is Perseverance. But the truth is if you have expectations of me at all, fueled by spirituality or not, the chances are high that you will, at some point, be disappointed. That's life. And all any of us can do in life is the best we can with what we're given, until our body or mind give out, and we simply can't anymore. 

Friday, December 22, 2017

Family Loss

My sister-in-law's dad, the sweetest man you'd ever meet, told me on Thanksgiving that he had adopted me as one of his girls.

Last night, he collapsed and died.

Zollie will be missed terribly, and I was honored to be his "adopted" daughter.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Another Friend Lost

From a class in 2010

At my art show (I don't remember the year)

I am heartbroken to learn that a student and friend has unexpectedly passed away. He was the first person on the doorstep of my classroom on day one, and was loyal to my last day and beyond. He was the most friendly and content man, and it was because of him that I was able to instantly put aside my social anxiety to teach the joy of painting. His presence and his smile were a comfort to me and undoubtedly everyone who knew him. He loved his family and his church, served his country, and was a volunteer in storm relief and Heaven knows how many other charitable efforts. He has left an impact on this world, make no mistake of that. I will be forever grateful for his warmth and support through the last decade of his life on this Earth, and he is already missed.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Well, that resolved quickly.

I have been informed that the family plan my phone is on now includes unlimited data. That means I'm able to remain online. So...yay, I think! Definitely thankful, regardless of how I feel right now.

I will talk about what I'm struggling with soon. Twitter is pretty much already aware, as they see the ugliness in real time, usually. I ripped into one FB account and deactivated. The other has no clue yet.

What I will say is that I was able to donate a few dollars to a friend's fundraiser to the Humane Society because I didn't have a Wi-Fi bill this month. It's a relief to get rid of it, and if something ever happens concerning the phone plan, I will be ok with limited data again if it means I will occasionally be able to do something worthy in a world that immensely sucks.

I will relaunch my own charity efforts in 2018, if anybody cares. Until then, I'm making my shopping list for upcoming festivities, which mostly involves baking breads that will be shared. I will probably make a dish or two and exchange a gift at the #1 bro's house, and I will go see Star Wars with a friend. Oh, and I will get up at the crack of dawn, stand in line, and fervently vote against a disgusting scumbag on Tuesday. That's all I have planned, other than stay alive. That's enough.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Diet Complications

Low Oxalate http://www.upmc.com/patients-visitors/education/nutrition/Pages/low-oxalate-diet.aspx

Low Fiber https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000200.htm

High Protein http://www.todaysdietitian.com/pdf/webinars/ProteinContentofFoods.pdf

Fat https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-super-healthy-high-fat-foods#section2

Low Carb https://ketosizeme.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Printable-List-of-the-Carbs-In-Foods.pdf

Low Sodium https://healthfinder.gov/HealthTopics/Category/health-conditions-and-diseases/heart-health/low-sodium-foods-shopping-list

In studying the different diets I'm supposed to be on to control my systemic diseases, several of which are contradictory, it looks like I'm going to be limited to lean low-sodium meat, lemons, avocados, and the very few low-oxalate, low-fiber vegetables in existence. I may have to compromise concerning a few things. For example, cauliflower is low oxalate, but has fiber (fiber is wrecking my digestive tract...I'll post a medical blog later), so I will have to reduce my portion to a cup or less per day. I can't even eat spinach or fruit because they are foods high in oxalate, and fruit has the added issue of fructose. Back when I made those sports drinks with red/green powder (I even posted a recipe), I started having kidney stones again, and had to cease the red/green powder and juice immediately. It is something I've confirmed...the stones are definitely made of oxalate. That has thrown a huge wrench in my already-challenging meal plans. The one thing I've found that is approved in every diet I listed is avocados. It would be in my best interest to adopt them as my new BFF.

I don't want to eat the same few things every day, so I'll have to see how creative I can get with the list I'm compiling. Food shouldn't be this complicated, but I'm going to do the best I can.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Magic Christmas In Lights (Backdated)

I am utterly inadequate, my friends, and must admit that I forgot to upload these photos of Indy500 the rolling walker and my visit to Bellingrath Gardens from...sigh...a YEAR ago. Yep. Better late than never, I suppose. So, in their proper place on the blog...finally...here they are.



A Terrible Blogger

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Taking care of business

^ I've probably already used that title in one or more of my blogs, to be honest.

I'm at a little library where the only places to sit are right in the middle of everything, so everybody behind me is able to see all of my business *virtually waves at everybody seeing this right now*.

Still, it's better than nothing. I was able to look at my bank transactions, pay my car insurance, suspend Home Chef till I can afford to order, look up a couple of addresses, check email, Facebook, NaNoWriMo, blah blah etc. I've zipped through it so quickly, I'll probably go ahead and login to Pokemon to play a game or two.

I've already written my annual NYE goal review blog, and have a new list of goals ready to launch out into cyberspace at the usual time I post these things, which is in the neighborhood of midnight December 31st.

I'm compiling a list of books I've read and audiobooks I've listened to over the last few weeks. I'll share those soon, as well as a few thoughts on some of them. I plan to do this frequently, and I hope by the end of NEXT year, I will have read dozens and dozens of books. I plan to start Harry Potter for the first time on Christmas.

Over the past week, I suffered through traffic and crowds and general stupidness of the frantic public and found my nieces and nephew their Christmas gifts, which I will ship tomorrow.

Otherwise, nothing significant is going on for the rest of the week. I'll take my car to a shop next week for an estimate, so I will know exactly how much money I'll have to save up to repair it (assuming it survives long enough to be repaired).

Feel free to follow on Instagram if you're looking for something more interesting. It's not more interesting by much, but hey, peektures!

Talk soon, homies.

Friday, December 1, 2017

More (and probably repeated) thoughts about Wi-Fi and other stuff

I no longer have internet other than the phone, which has limited data. This entry was written a few days ago and post-dated to publish today.

It turns out my phone doesn't support listening to audiobooks offline, so I'll have to use the tablet (it was free...a fantastic hand-me-down) instead to get online to download them from Overdrive via public Wi-Fi when able. I'll still check email daily using 4G, and do some banking and bill paying when necessary. Who knew Progressive Insurance offices don't accept payments? No joke. Phone or online is the only way to get that done around here.

My local little library (by "little", I mean "printer paper membership card with only four numbers on it casually cut into an uneven rectangle with craft scissors" little) has no Wi-Fi. Big surprise there, heh. The nearest one is about 22 minutes away, but I'll make the drive sometimes, car permitting.

There's always McDonald's Wi-Fi a mile away, but that requires buying something out of courtesy, and I loathe McD's food. Even their fries are disgusting. The coffee/donut shop on my road doesn't allow customers to use the internet, which is disappointing.

I'm only thinking out loud, and losing Wi-Fi isn't a crisis. I've got plenty of valid reasons to feel broken. This certainly isn't one of them. I know and appreciate its importance for many things, but I really don't see the point in sitting here refreshing the same pages over and over throughout the day. I've lost my tolerance for social media and wish I had a different way to follow the lives of my friends and nieces/nephew, but no matter what that is, it's going to qualify as social media because they live all over the country and the world. I'm grateful to be able to connect with them, but it also comes with a lot of frustration. A significant part of the issue is being bombarded with news, politics, and non-friends that I didn't ask to see. It's overwhelming, aggravating, and sometimes depressing. Occasionally, someone sends me chain letters or adds me to groups or wants to "fix" me, and at that moment I'd rather disappear. Things annoy me. I'm human. Sue me.

The main reason, of course, is financial. I appreciate those who tried to help me resolve this, or at least temporarily assist with the bill, but I'm to the point where I feel it's not ideal for my situation. It would merely be a delay. I can't afford extra bills during the winter due to my power bill, but as I've said, I'm no longer making it any other time either. So I can lose the bill now or lose it in a few months. I'd rather people save their money for something more important, which is exactly what I'm doing myself. I need glasses. I need car repairs. I need to pay medical bills. I haven't been to the dentist in years. There are too many needs at the moment to pay $64 a month to rant and rave on the internet. If someone gave me $64 right now, I'd put fuel in my car, order my acid reflux meds, and buy groceries. That's where I'm at, and have been for quite a long time.

I've been reducing the "stuff" in my life this year...both literal and figurative. I have boxes of stuff to go to the local shelter thrift store, and stuff to give to relatives, and stuff that I've organized (finally), and more stuff to deal with going into 2018. As I've mentioned in past blogs, some of the stuff isn't even important (receipts and other worthless crap), but the important stuff in storage has needed to be addressed as well. I'm happy that I've made tremendous progress on this, and I trust that I will continue to until I have a home that is minimalist, yet comfortable and fully-functional. A tiny home, perhaps.

"Operation Tiny Living" sounds like an interesting goal for the new year. We'll see what happens.