Fill in the Blank?

I really have every reason in the world to be happy. I am married to my soul mate. I have 4 wonderful children. I am saved by grace. I am alive. I am employed. I have food on the table and a roof over my head. The list goes on and on. However, I have fallen back into a funk and I am trying to remind myself of all the wonderful things in my life in an attempt to break free from it.

I used to see the above picture at a therapist’s office. There are more feelings on it than the ones seen above: enraged, ashamed, cautious, smug, depressed, overwhelmed, hopeful, lonely, lovestruck, jealous, bored, surprised, anxious, shocked, and shy. I’m sure there are many others that I am forgetting. I remember looking at the poster and wondering just where I fit in on that particular day – even though it was not my appointment!

I wish I could sort it out. I HATE being in this place! I HATE not being able to figure out just what is going on in my head. Just what the heck am I feeling?! I wish I could figure it out. When I get this way, I feel like everything everyone says to be puts me on the offensive. I feel attacked. I feel pushed. I feel like I have no control over what is going on in my life. I feel that way, but that probably really isn’t the case.

When I feel like I have lost control, I kinda go off on a tangent. I go from “0 to 100” as my wife has told me on occasion. I react. I don’t think before I open my mouth. Is it stress? Maybe. Is it lack of sleep? Maybe. Am I overwhelmed? Maybe? I just can’t seem to figure out what the deal is.

Am I happy? Yes! Am I happy with myself? Not always. Sometimes I feel like I let the people in my life who need me down. There are so many things that I need to be doing as a husband and a father, but I am just exhausted and feel like my brain isn’t able to really understand what I need to do.

Perhaps it is the fact that we’ve been living as hermits? In two years, we have pretty much lived a life of isolation. No big birthday parties for my kids. Limited exposure to everyone and everything. Life consists of work and home. Anything “fun” seems to have been put on hold. I just don’t feel comfortable yet. When will I feel that way again? Will I EVER feel that way again?

Perhaps it is the thought of change? I don’t like change. That is no secret. I have blogged about that many times. Fear of the unknown has been a fear of mine since I was a kid. This is so unwarranted. Many times I have taken a leap of faith and it turned out ok. It is bad enough when you have a fork in the road with two options, anything more than that can really take the stress and fear of the unknown up a few notches!

This is one of those situations where I wish my mom was around. I could always count on her to listen and offer her thoughts. Don’t get me wrong, I have people I can talk to about things, and I appreciate their opinions, but they are not mom. Really, if I am being honest with myself, we are all going through some tough stuff right now. Are my friends really going to want to hear about my silly BS when they are dealing with their own? Probably not.

So here I am. Trying to sort through every possible emotion and feeling known to man to try and figure out what is going on. What do I do with those things in front of me? Do I just shut down and shut up? Do I just keep on keeping on? How much more can I look at all of this and scratch my head? What EXACTLY is the BEST outcome/scenario/choice?

This is going to sound silly, but sometimes I wish there was a fast forward button for life, so you could see what would happen based on decisions. Don’t like the outcome, rewind and try another option. Just rereading that I realize what a stupid thought that is. There is no such thing. There are no do overs. You make a choice and you live with the choice. If the outcome wasn’t good, you make a change.

I’ve made thousands of changes in my life. Those changes have brought me to the point where I am now. The point where I need to reassure myself of all the things in my life that make me happy.

If I have done something recently to annoy you, upset you, make you angry, or anything along those lines – I am sorry. I wish I could sit down and say, “I am feeling _______ and I’ll get through it!” I just need to fill in the blank. I’m just not sure how long it’s going to take to figure it out …

Bad Coffee?

I’ve been drinking coffee for a long time. I have gotten to the point where I know which brands I like and which ones I don’t. I very rarely stray from them when I am home.

While I tend to prefer certain flavored coffees, when it comes to just plain coffee, I get Tim Hortons. At our Sam’s Club I can get a big bag for what it costs for a small bag in the store.

Last time we went, I bought two bags. I have a container I store it in that seals up tight, so it stays fresh. I poured them both in the container one bag on top of the other.

Yesterday, we reached the half way point of the container. So, I’m guessing we are hitting the first of the two bags. Something suddenly tasted different.

I’m not sure what it is, but it is almost like the coffee is extra weak. I made a second pot with more scoops wondering if that would help, but it didn’t. It still tastes weak.

We bought new coffee filters, and I thought it might be those. So I brewed a pot with the old filters. It still tasted the same. The only thing I can think of is that it was a bum bag of coffee.

Is that a thing? I mean, I’ve been buying it for years and this is the first time it has tasted funny. Bad beans? I don’t know.

We have to do some shopping this week. I may have to buy a flavored coffee and brew a pot just to be sure it isn’t the pot itself.

In the meantime, I need coffee and it is the only stuff in the house. So I suppose I will be stuck with it for another day or so ..

Sleepless Snuggles

Remember that children’s song where they sing, “There we’re 10 in the bed and the little one said, ‘Roll over! Roll over!”? I wanted to sing that so bad last night. Except that there were 4 in the bed (5 if you count the cat.)!

Sleepy Ella quite a while ago…

Andrew is teething, so he is extra fussy. Sam and I were both already exhausted because I worked the night before and she was up with the kids.

Andrew was crying and upset, so Sam laid him next to her and snuggled him. I fell asleep and Sam was up with him off and on. I guess I woke up about 2am, which is par for the course on my nights off.

Sam finally got AJ to settle and I was up reading on my tablet. I was shutting it off when I heard Ella from the baby monitor. She is crying. I waited a second, because many times, she just can’t find her pacifier. That was the issue, but she had all over her blankets in such a way that she wouldn’t be able to find them.

I walked into the room forgetting that I left the baby monitor in our room on. So Sam and the baby hear me trying to calm Ella, who is now really crying. I wound up bringing her into our bed, and everyone was up!

So now we have me, Sam, AJ, and Ella (and the dumb cat) in our bed. Sam and AJ finally go back to sleep, but Ella isn’t about to. So snuggled next to her and her blanket. I can feel myself fighting to stay awake, and every time I look at her, she was wide awake.

Needless to say, I was up all night and almost all day. I was looking forward to their nap time. Well when Ella finally went down for her nap, I fought AJ to take his. Eventually, he fell asleep …just before Ella woke up.

How I am even awake right now….I’m not even sure. I am hopeful to get some rest…


Sorting Out My G.E.R.D.

Throughout my life, I have seen therapists off and on for various reasons: my weight, depression, grief counseling, anger issues, my divorce, etc … Years ago, I was told by someone close to me that I was not making any progress and I was wasting money and time with therapy, so I stopped going. This led to many personal issues and my coming to the conclusion that before I could really “fix” the things I was having problems with, I had to “fix” me.

This led to me finding a therapist and sorting out many things. This blog’s creation stems from some of those therapy sessions. I had mentioned how therapeutic writing used to be and it was suggested to do it again. I have found it to be extremely helpful as I continue to sort out things.

Now, let me say that I know many people who are in therapy. Some of those people have these “breakthrough” sessions where they have an epiphany of some sort. Some of them have found that “one thing” that ties everything together. I have not had anything even close to that, although over the past couple sessions I feel like I’m getting close to something.

One topic that comes up often during the sessions is the death of my mom. I am very aware that she is not here. The anniversaries of her passing and her birthday weigh heavily on my mind when they happen. There are so many events that have happened since she passed away that find me wishing she was here for them. To sum it up briefly – I am dealing with many emotions when it comes to her.

There have been other developments in my life that have often taken up the precious 45 minute sessions that have delayed me really being able to dive in to the subject lately. But with some discussion and some pretty tough questions, I am sorting through my own G.E.R.D.

When you hear GERD, you think Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease because that is what it is often referred as. While I do suffer from GERD, the GERD I am sorting through consists of four specific things that surround many of the issues I am dealing with: Grief, Expectations, Regret, and Disappointment (and/or Depression).

These four things will become the subject of talks in the upcoming sessions. I have these four words written down in a notebook. Each has a page and I hope to be able to connect certain things to certain words and feelings. As of yet, I don’t have much of anything written. I stare at those four words and know that they are important. What about them will bring a resolution and allow me to put some of the baggage behind me and move forward?

I’m working on it …..

“Someday we’ll find it …”

“Someday we’ll find it – the rainbow connection – the lovers, the dreamers and me” – Kermit the Frog

When I woke up this afternoon, I went out and sat with the kids. Ella has this otter which has buttons on it with the letters of the alphabet.

It sings the alphabet song and quizzes her with “Find the letter ____.”

Anyway, she was sitting next to me while I held AJ and hit the letter R. If you look at the photo above, you will see the R has a rainbow on it. Earlier in the day, I woke up from a dream where I was walking with someone and there in front of me was a beautiful, vibrant rainbow. I forgot about it until the otter said “rainbow.”

I’ve said it before, I don’t really put much into dreams or what they are supposed to mean, but it is sometimes interesting to do a search just to see what the “experts” seem to think they mean. Today’s search led to a few different sites offering up very similar meanings.

The first site said: “Dreaming of rainbows typically signifies a positive perspective on life. They are seen as a favorable light and a symbol of hope. No matter the type of rainbow you dream about, it depicts a turning point in your life or a new beginning.

The next one said: “Since rainbows are unpredictable in nature, they can mean something unexpected is about to happen, possibly something that evokes a sense of magic or spirituality. In short, things are about to shift course, so be prepared for some changes! The rainbow possibly symbolizes a turning point in your life or a new beginning.”

Another stated: “To dream of a rainbow in the sky is a symbol that a wonderful event will happen soon, after which life will change radically for the better. The difficult period is over, and fate has prepared a long and extremely successful life path for you.” (i.e – turning point/something new)

I looked at one more before deciding to write this down before work. It was a little more specific in WHO dreamt the dream: “For a man a dream about rainbow is a prediction of wealth, exceptional luck in business, excellent business prospects, and authoritative support.

So just what in the world does that mean?? Just what kind of “turning point” awaits me? What “new beginning” does the dream suggest? What sort of business could I possibly have “exceptional luck” with? I am stumped.

In truth, the dream probably means nothing in regards to my future. The rainbow, however, will always mean something to God and man:

From Genesis 9:

8 And God spake unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying,

9 And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you;

10 And with every living creature that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you; from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth.

11 And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.

12 And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:

13 I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.

14 And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud:

15 And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.

16 And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.

17 And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth.

Looking Ahead …

A radio friend discovered my blog on accident. He was doing a search on Honey Radio and my blog came up. He messaged me and asked “Is this yours?” After messaging back and forth, I told him to let me know if there was any specific topics he’d like to see on the blog.

It’s been some time since I have done a “Question and Answer” blog, so I may do that again. I also am considering hosting a guest blogger. If you are interested, let me know.

There are a couple things on the way that I am excited for. First of all, next month I will be taking part in the Ultimate Decades Blogathon. It’s a cool idea where you can write on movies released in years that end in “2.” 1932, 1942, 1952, etc… You can imagine my excitement when I remembered that The Godfather was released in 1972.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the film. While I have eluded to it in many other blogs, I am excited to dedicate an entire blog to the movie. I plan on finishing a book that recently came out about the movie …

Watch for this blog in February. #UltimateDecadesBlogathon

I am also looking forward to the TV Show draft, which is currently on hold for a bit, but should be starting up soon. My first pick is a show that only lasted 6 shows and spawned a successful movie series. More on that soon.

Very Few Understand ….

I had something happen today that I am sure will be turned around to make me look like a real jerk. What it really boils down to, however, is that no one really understands people like me. “People like me” = midnight shift workers. For some people “Nightshift” is a song (albeit a GREAT song) by the Commodores…..

… or a silly 80’s comedy starring Henry Winkler, Michael Keaton, and Shelley Long…

To me, it is my life. It is my “norm.” Then on the days I do not work, I shift back to the way the majority of the world lives, only to switch back to midnights on my work nights. It is not an easy thing to do. I still do not know how some people work 1st shift for 2 weeks, 2nd shift the next two weeks, 3rd shift after that and midnights after that. Oh yeah, and then switch back to 1st shift to do it all over again!!

The easiest way for me to explain “midnight shift” to someone is to tell them to think ahead 12 hours. 10pm to you is like 10am to me. You start work at 7am – I start work at 7pm. Even this simple explanation doesn’t really explain it. People who live normal lives (during the day) just cannot grasp what it is like for me as a midnight shift worker.

So, What Happened?

I was in bed by 9am this morning. I woke up around 4pm to get up and get ready for work. There was a text message asking if I could take someone to an appointment the following afternoon. This person (name and how I know them withheld) knows that I work midnights. To text with this request with just over 24 hours notice makes the request next to impossible to do (even if I could).

Think about this. Let’s say the appointment is at 2pm. That would mean that if I got home and in bed by 9, I’d have to be up by 12:30 to be showered at out the door by 1:00 to get the patient who lives about 30 minutes away (3.5 hours sleep). Go to the appointment (20 minutes away) which may last 30 minutes, and take them back home (20 minutes) and then back to my house (30 minutes away). Based on this, I’d be back home around 3:30p-4:00p which is about when I normally get up for work. I work 10 hour shifts (with a drive that is over an hour to work – and back home again), which is more like 13 hours. You see what I am saying? Maybe if I was still in my 20’s I could do a 10 hour shift on under 4 hours sleep, but not anymore!

I had to respond and say that I couldn’t help. It’s bad enough that I will be losing sleep because I have to be up early for a staff meeting tomorrow. There was just no way I could make it happen, unless I called in to work, and I certainly cannot afford to do that! I received no response after I texted, so I can only imagine what transpired. No matter how much I WANT to help, I just couldn’t. That being said, if the appointment was on a day that I was off work – no problem at all. I’d do it in an instant.

Only Midnight Shifters Understand

Do a Google search on “midnight shift memes” and you will find plenty of them. I relate to them a bit more than “normal” people. There was a thing that I saw when I first started on midnight shift that said:

  1. You never know what day of the week it is. Even when someone tells you, you will forget about 15 minutes later.
  2. Your friends think your life is “sweet” because you can do whatever you want during the day. Ha! All you want to do is SLEEP!
  3. Whenever you are awake, it is dark. Of course, in the summer, you may catch a glimpse of sunshine once in a while.
  4. Your blood is primarily coffee (or energy drinks). What is water again?
  5. You roll your eyes at people who say they are “tired” because you know they have no idea what “tired” really is!
  6. Sleeping in a series of “naps” is basically normal for you.
  7. You miss primarily every major event because you are working.
  8. People get mad at you because you miss the above mentioned events.
  9. Your body never really has an eating schedule. It seems like you are always eating.
  10. Door to door salesmen, delivery drivers or any other person who beats on your door in the middle of the day seem to look at you funny as you open the door in your pajamas and can’t understand why you are so cranky!
  11. You have a great appreciation for ear plugs and black out curtains.
  12. You often wonder what your neighbor would think if you started cutting your grass at 3am and wake THEM up!
  13. Naps are your lifeblood, and without them you would have died from exhaustion and lack of sleep years ago.
  14. Even people that know you work night shifts still sound appalled when they call you at 1pm and you’re still sleeping. You always have to explain that you got off work four hours ago, and finally went to bed two hours ago, so they should really call back in six hours if they don’t want you to sound like a bitter zombie.
  15. When you need to take a day off for something, you actually have to take two off.
  16. Midnights is basically sucking the life out of you. Your health suffers just because of the hours you work.

The list could go on and on.

After sending the “I’m sorry, I can’t” response, I couldn’t help but keep thinking about what was being said. I had to write this, just so I would stop thinking about it. It is what it is, as they say. I can’t help what people think or say. I hope that by writing this, it clears my mind and maybe – just maybe – gives you (and those who don’t understand it) something to think about when you deal with a midnight shift worker.

Playing Doctor

When I was a kid, I remember having one of those Fisher Price Doctor kits. As a matter of fact, I think it remains a staple in every kid’s toy box!

I remember how cool it was that you could hear your heartbeat with the Stethoscope. Of course, you always had to give every one in your family a “shot!”

Today, my friend Margaret stopped by to drop off the kid’s Christmas presents. Naturally, Ella was excited to see her. She loves Aunt Margaret! She knew that she probably wasn’t going to get to see Ella before her birthday next month, so she also brought her birthday present.

I put the gift bag aside and figured I’d give it to her closer to her birthday. I was standing in the kitchen and Ella found the bag. She looked in it and started yelling “CoCo Mel!” “CoCo Mel!” which is Ella talk for Cocomelon. Aunt Margaret got her a Cocomelon doctor kit.

When you push the bandaid on the “bag” it sings and stuff. She was so excited to play with it, so she got her present early.

Of course, she had to give mommy, daddy, and baby brother a shot. Sam told me she was playing doctor all night. She takes liquid vitamin D in a dropper every day and AJ takes GERD meds in a syringe. So was walking up to him and giving him “medicine” (the shot) like his syringe.

When Sam told me this, I was reminded of an event that happened when I was probably a couple years older than Ella (maybe 5 or 6). I was playing doctor as well…and it put me in the hospital! Remember how Grey’s Anatomy had Dr. McDreamy and Dr. McSteamy? As a kid, I was Dr. McDummy!!

Growing up, when we had a fever, mom used to give us baby aspirin. It was orange flavored and I remember thinking it tasted like candy.

I want to say that the bottle did NOT have a child proof cap on it. I know that because of what happened.

My brother and I had gotten up and we were watching TV. My mom was still in bed sleeping. I grabbed the old Fisher Price doctor kit and we were playing. I told him he was sick and needed medicine. Mom kept the medicine up in a cupboard in the kitchen. It was a high cupboard and I had to work to get to it.

I pulled over a kitchen chair and climbed up on it. I don’t remember much, but I do remember grabbing the baby aspirin and taking my brother’s temperature with the fake thermometer. I said he needed medicine, but I was always the one who ate a baby aspirin. I don’t know how many I wound up taking. I do know that mom found me in the kitchen and I was off to the hospital to have my stomach pumped.

I don’t remember much about the hospital stay or any of the aftermath. I hadn’t thought about this incident in many years. Maybe I’ll call my dad this weekend and see how much he remembers. I can’t even imagine how scary this had to be for either one of them. I wonder if Dr. McDummy’s antics led to the child proof caps?

Happy 50th Anniversary – Fred & Lamont!

50 years ago today, Sanford and Son premiered on TV. In honor of the anniversary, here are links to two “Sanford” related blogs I wrote some time ago. The first comes from a Blogathon where I was to write about one of my favorite episodes and the second is about the fantastic theme song. Don’t be a “Big Dummy,” enjoy revisiting these blogs.

The Omelette

Confession: I’m 51 and I love cartoons.

I have blogged about the cartoon Bluey before, and yes, I am blogging about it again. The third season of Bluey is still unavailable for viewing in the United States. There are some ways around that by changing your VPN or some other “tech” stuff I don’t understand.

I happen to belong to a Facebook group that will occasionally post some of the videos. As I held AJ this afternoon, I saw that they posted a cartoon from season 3, so I watched it. I literally laughed out loud throughout the episode, and at one point almost cried. That’s just one of the reasons I love this cartoon.

The episode is called “Omelette.” The cartoon starts with Dad (Bandit) opening his eyes to see his wife and two daughters looking at him. It’s his birthday, and they tell him they are going to make him breakfast in bed. He states he is hungry and mom suggests getting a move on, because when dad is hungry – he gets cranky. I can totally relate to this! Maybe it’s a guy thing?

Anyway, in the kitchen mom starts to make a “fast omelette” and tells Bluey to set up the table (the tray) and Bingo to make a birthday card for dad. As mom turns around, there is 4 year old Bingo. She tells mom that she made a card for dad at school and shows her. She then asks to help make the omelette.

First, she grabs the eggs, and as she walks to the counter, she drops about half of them on the floor. After cleaning it up, they attempt to crack eggs. She is not hitting the bowl hard enough, so mom tells her to try harder – which leads to another mess. After that mess is cleaned up, something happens where Bluey spills juice and that needs to be cleaned up.

Mom’s phone rings and it is dad asking how much longer breakfast will be – because, you know, he’s hungry! This totally cracked me up. I can see myself doing that. She tells him it won’t be long decides that Bingo should let mom just make the omelette. Cut to dad in bed ….. obviously getting more and more hungry (and cranky).

Mom whips up the omelette and is ready to take it to dad. She notices Bingo is pretending to play with two nutcracker salt and pepper shakers. Mom is watching as she basically tells the one salt shaker she’s “not good enough to help” with things. Mom now realizes that Bingo is playing out exactly how she felt when mom told her that she couldn’t help.

Dad now enters the kitchen and is begging for food. Mom tells Bluey to get dad back in bed and keep him there. He sees the omelette and begs to eat it. Mom tells him its not his and Bluey and dad are off to the bedroom. It’s pretty funny to hear Bluey tell dad to “Stay!” – they are dogs after all.

Mom then asks Bingo to help make the omelette, which makes her very happy. There is a montage of messes being made, borrowing more eggs from neighbors, phone calls from dad, more messes, more egg borrowing, and eventually – a pretty nasty looking omelette. They take the omelette to dad who wolfs it down in seconds!

He announces it was the best omelette he has ever had.

I’m not sure why I related so much to this particular episode, but I did. For some reason, I connect with this family and these characters. I also learn from them. Dad (Bandit) is the dad I want to be. He plays with his kids, often times more than any dad I know. I strive to be like him with my kids.

This episode was kind of a slap in the face to me (amidst the times I laughed at Bandit). Let me explain. My wife is all about letting the kids make messes. I’m not sure why, but when she does that, my anxiety levels go through the roof. One time, she gave Ella Jello or pudding and just let her play on her high chair. Jello and pudding was everywhere! What a mess that had to be cleaned up.

Last week, she bought one of those blow up pools. We don’t have a bath tub, so she filled this thing in the middle of our kitchen. There was water everywhere. Ella had a blast, but I could feel myself going crazy with anxiety! “The water is going to go through the floor to the basement!” I thought. “We’re going to ruin the floor!” My mind never stopped racing about those things.

When mom realized that all Bingo wants to do is help, she lets her – no matter how many messes had to be made. I need to step back and read the kids. I need to let them make messes. I need to let them help. The look on Bingo’s face and the excitement she shows when mom asks for her help – that is what it is all about.

Without it being an official New Year’s Resolution (because I don’t believe in them), I think this year, I’ll let the kids break a few eggs …..