Survival strategy: 5 minutes at a time

So many thoughts whisking in and out of focus tonight, it’s hard to settle on just one. Phrases and images streaking through my head like comets, darting from the shadows into the centre of my awareness and away again. They’re reminders of things I haven’t gotten done yet and need to do, snippets of conversation, fragments of plans for upcoming projects now on my list, shards of dialogue and story concepts, a bombardment of words in restless movement. Overwhelming. 

I started my scarf again tonight, using needle markers to keep my counts accurate. I probably did a little too much, because my fingertips on the right hand are a little numb. But knitting made me content for a few hours, being a relatively simple task that I could problem-solve with a small degree of hassle. I can see it taking shape again, the time and effort paying off in each row of yarn. Wanted to do some reading and editing, but that kind of focus isn’t possible when one child is needing help with homework while the other has to be guided into bed. And once that’s over, the energy is gone. All that’s left is the bombardment, beating down inside my skull.

I think I’m struggling again. Tough time of year. Hell, it always seems like it’s a tough time of year for me. So many triggers, and so little relief. So tired, all of the time, it feels like. I do better when I have deadlines and creative projects, solid goals to achieve to make other peoples’ lives better, outside of my house. It’s within these four walls, staring at the mess that we can never seem to get the better of for more than a day, that I falter. Sometimes I daydream about living in my classroom, where there’s a microwave and couches and books and a washroom down the hall, because in a way, it’s simpler there. The responsibilities are different, more clear. At home, my worlds are colliding now that my son is in high school, because now his homework is of the type that I assign. The separation between professional and parent has thinned to nearly non-existent. I’m using my teacher-voice after-hours. 

My battle with mental illness began when I was around 10 or 11. I remember thinking about throwing myself out the window so I wouldn’t have to be alive anymore, dealing with the mean kids at school and the emotions that just seemed too much to handle. I was curious about death, as well. But I knew it was a fantasy, and I feared getting reincarnated in a place that was unhealthy or dangerous; I didn’t want to have to live through all the tough parts of being a little kid again, and I recognized how lucky I was to have a stable family. But the fantasizing never quite went away. 

Right now, I’m not in a deep pit. Been taking my medication and trying to do the things that make me happy, focusing on the positives, trying to get enough rest and eat healthy foods, identifying my triggers head-on so they don’t drag me down. But I’m starting to get that feeling lately that I’m moving through thicker air, as though there are weights on my arms and legs and shoulders. Urges to cry. Despair that I’ll ever accomplish the myriad little things that a parent and homemaker need to do to keep a family healthy, as well as keeping up with my professional responsibilities. My son wants to help, but I see him beginning to struggle with his own anxieties and feeling overwhelmed, and I don’t want him to spiral, either. I tell him, just focus on doing one little thing at a time, for five minutes at a time. That’s all we need to do. And when we watched Meet the Robinsons together today, which we hadn’t seen in years, we both got teary at the end, between Lewis finding his resolution and the song, “Little Wonders”, reminding us both to try to let go of the big stuff weighing us down. If only it were as easy to do in reality as it is in fiction.

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Confession…

I’ve been working on this post for five days. That’s not really my confession, it’s just that wording it has been difficult.

One of my resolutions this coming year is to exercise — get active, get out of the house, do more physical activity, and especially build up my upper body strength. So here’s the thing: When money was tighter, I used to avoid exercise because I worried that working out would make me more hungry, and I’d have to spend more on food. There. I’ve said it. I actually used to be afraid that getting healthy would be more expensive than…well, not. For the same reason, I used to drink pop all the time to save the juice for the kids, eat peanut butter and jam twice a day so the kids would have all the cereals, soups, mini ravioli, etc.

But things have been getting better. I cut out most of my pop drinking last year, or at least the non-diet. I know that the diet pops are just as bad for me in different ways, so I’m trying to focus back on the herbal teas. It’s the fizz that’s the hardest to let go of — I like fizz. Bubbles on my tongue just make me happy.

The exercising, though — I need to do that. I’m not sure whether it’s going to make me more hungry, but I have to dive in, anyway. There will always be bills to pay, but I won’t always have my health.

I’m afraid of making this resolution and not keeping it, but I asked my husband for a membership to a local gym, and the wonderful man obliged. Now the hard part is breaking my pattern and actually getting there…but last night I found my workout clothes (old-ish leggings and some workout tops donated by a friend who lost some weight), and on the weekend I retrieved my running (lol) shoes from work. The only thing stopping me now is *me*… well, that and making sure my kids are good. The gym doesn’t have babysitting, but my son is just about old enough to babysit his little sister. It’s making sure they’re fed and happy before I go, but it’s probably better for my peace of mind if I wait until my hubby gets home from work. I’m very, very good at making excuses to NOT go to the gym, but I’ve also been making an effort to get out of the house on walks, so going to exercise is something I am GOING to do.

Now, here’s a question: two years ago, I got back into yoga for a bit (which I want to do again, if I can make space in this small house to do it) and I tried running. I lasted until a big heat wave. I found, though, that on the days I exercised, I wasn’t able to do very much writing. In fact, barely any. On the days when I sat around on my bum, I did a ton of writing. So how do I find the balance between the two? Also, those were things I did in the summertime, when I wasn’t teaching. Can I find a balance between these during the regular school year? Teaching all day…parenting when I get home and in the early morning…going to the gym at least three times a week, after school (or evenings, maybe)…writing when? At bed time? On the days I’m not at the gym — maybe while waiting for the kids during their activities (karate & dance)? There’s reading for my own pleasure, too. And cleaning. Let’s not forget the cleaning.

Sometimes I think I should be like Sheldon on TBBT, scheduling time for everything. I’m not sure how well it would work, though. Something always comes up, when I’ve tried that in the past. And not accomplishing something in the time I have allocated is simply bruising to my self-esteem.

But I need to have time to write — the third book in my trilogy has been percolating and it feels like it wants to take shape. And promoting, I have to make time for contacting reviewers and bloggers. Book One of the Talbot Trilogy will be coming at me any day now for edits, and Book Two needs revisions and editing. At the same time, I need to get out and be active (in some way that doesn’t hurt my stupid ankle), spend time with my kids and help them with their homework, spend time with my hubby, keep up the house with their help (and spend time training them to do so)… Is it any wonder that hiding in my bed seems like a much easier alternative?

I am not a Type A personality, or whatever — so if you’re like me, how do you keep it all together? What do you do when you have to let something go in order to get other things done? How do you prioritize?

Feelings, Logic, and Christmas

I did not attend my staff Christmas party last night. I think I should have gone, but I can’t change the fact that I stayed home.

I told myself that I was staying home to save a bit of money. We’ve had some unforeseen expenses this month, so it seemed like a good decision at the time.

I told myself that I am a socially awkward penguin and it would be better if I avoided my peers again. (I’ve been eating most of my lunches alone, quite content to not engage in conversations with anyone.)

I didn’t want to risk hearing about our current job action, and knowing that my husband is sometimes uncomfortable around my colleagues, I didn’t want to have to worry about that.

When he told me I could have gone alone, that just felt…weird.

I think what is bothering me the most — in my attempt to look at my feelings logically — is that the staff Christmas party is an annual gathering, a ritual that is part of the season, and by not participating in it, I have skewed some of the balance in my life. (Well — what balance there is.)

Some of my best memories of Christmas as a child have to do with going to see people. I love certain Christmas songs because I remember sitting in the back of my parents’ car, snuggled warmly in coats and blankets, travelling the highway either to relatives or on the way back home. That security of knowing I was loved, protected, and at peace with the world — it seems to come more rarely these days.

We won’t be seeing much of our family this year. Maybe that’s also what is bothering me.

We’ll be able to see my parents on Christmas Day, since they’re only an hour and a half from here, but to go another five hours and visit our in-laws and my brother — it’s just not going to happen. We managed it, very last minute, last year, after telling ourselves we weren’t going to go anywhere. But this year we are definitely staying home.

It hurts that no-one has offered to come up and see us. I know that some members of our family are just as cash-strapped, but the ones who could probably afford it haven’t offered or said they wished they could come.

To me, Christmas is a time for gathering with your loved ones, enjoying their company, catching up and just being together. I hate the pressure to buy things, so I often make gifts if I give myself enough time. (I haven’t made any this year, as yet.) But I love watching someone open a gift I have chosen or made for them. I love feeling welcomed into someone’s home, or having someone here. We don’t often have guests in our little house, but I like it when we do.

So maybe my bad feelings today are linked to that knowledge that we won’t be seeing our extended family at Christmas. It’s too expensive and the distances are too far this time. The big family gatherings I remember from my childhood are happening less and less. I know this hurts my dad and my mom, too — this is one of the reasons why they’ve given me a hard time over missing my cousins’ weddings in the last few years.

I also tend to feel the weight of the world at this time of year. I am acutely conscious of the suffering that happens in so many places. I get torn over what charity to donate to, and the barrage of pleas to help suffering children tears at my heart. I feel most vulnerable at this time of year, as fragile as one of the ornaments on my tree. I also tend to get physically sick when I get my break from work, and I’m already feeling the most recent virus getting its party on in my body.

Christmas feels like such a lonely time to me. I can feel myself beginning to spiral down into depression, and though I’m taking steps to try to stop it — walks with my dog, attempting to keep my house clean, sending cards and wrapping my children’s gifts every night — it feels like a black hole has opened beneath me and is slowly pulling me in. I am unhappy. Over the last few days, I’ve just wanted to cry all the time. I wonder whether knowing we were going to have visitors would help… Certainly, it would add to my stress, but it would also give me incentive.

Last night, I watched a holiday episode of “Community” in which Abed was having difficulty accepting that his mother wasn’t going to visit him for Christmas. I understand that very much. The feeling of wanting to just shut down, shut everything out, because numbness is easier than pain…

That was another reason why I didn’t go to the party last night. I long for numbness, and I think I would have had way too much to drink. My husband went to work at 4:30 this morning. I didn’t relish the thought of being alone with my kids with a wicked hangover. And I know that drinking is not the answer to my mental illness.

Christmas, Yule — the celebration of togetherness, of working our way through the darkest nights of the year, blowing off steam, glorying in the purity and beauty of winter — is both pleasure and pain to me. I love it and I hate it. I want to indulge, and I want to withdraw. I want to make my loved ones happy, and I want to be surprised by someone I love, to spend time with them and yes, maybe even be given a token of their affection. Knowing that the latter is not going to happen — that I won’t see my big brother (with whom I have only recently begun communicating with, on a regular basis) and his family, my sister-in-law and her family, etc. — it hurts a lot.

And I know, in the grand scheme of things, that I have a lot to be grateful for in my life. I also feel what I feel. And right now, I feel…miserable. Christmas songs make me feel sad. Seeing trees lit up through the windows of my neighbours make me feel sad. I want to take to my bed and sleep through the holiday. It’s not the first time I’ve felt this way. Won’t be the last.

So if there is anyone out there who feels like this at Christmas, or whatever holiday you celebrate — or if you know anyone who suffers with depression at this time of year — please, leave a comment below. Sometimes knowing I’m not alone in this is incredibly helpful. Sharing coping strategies would be good, too. I’m told frequently that I put too much pressure on myself, and this time of year it’s particularly strong. Leave a comment, and I’ll consider it a hug of support.

Love,
Tori

Post-NaNo, Pre-Christmas/Yule, with Injury to Boot

So. I feel great that I met my writing goal for November, and now have a second completed book — to which I must now devote time in editing and revisions. Meanwhile, I have three weeks of marking to catch up on (that’s actually kind of normal for this time of year, for me).

My daughter’s birthday is this week, and her party approaches on the coming weekend. I haven’t done any present shopping as yet.

Nor have I decorated for Christmas/Yule. The house is still in its disorganized, jumbled, frightening state that it was in October.

I have held off my seasonal affective disorder for 30-odd days, but since I sprained my ankle badly over a week ago, it’s looming in the background like a great shadowy cloud. Not being able to move is definitely contributing. I recognize that there are many people who sustain worse injuries and anticipate being off their feet for much longer. What concerns me is how mine might potentially impact my mental health.

It’s not for lack of trying. I obediently took to crutches for four days after the incident, and then attempted to move without them for a day. It was a mistake. I had a number of colleagues tell me with great delight (haven’t heard so many “I Told You So’s” in a long time) that it was too soon to try walking solo. Returned to crutches. Took a day off work. And then had someone tell me, “You’re still on crutches?”

Yes. Yes, I am. Although I have much more mobility and much less pain, I’ve been told and have read all about how sprains — especially bad ones — take a long time to heal, and if you’re not patient, are never really the way they were. So instead of cleaning the mess of my home, shopping for Christmas cards and Christmas lights, going with my children and our dog for some lovely walks in the fresh snow, I’ve been sitting. And sitting.

And sitting.

I’ve attempted some writing. After 30 days of daily writing, I’ve taken about a week’s break, and now I think I am ready to get back.

But what I really want is a clean house, decorated for Yule, with room for yoga and wrapping presents.

Santa, can you hear me?

Also, some help on how to make my children pick up the slack — that would be nice.

I do have to say, though, that my adoring husband has been doing what he’s able, on top of his 12-hour work days driving taxi, to stay ahead of the dishes and laundry.

What this experience has brought home to me (um, yet again) is that I need to turn a deaf ear to whines of not wanting to do things and engage my children in helping with the upkeep of our home. That will require training, patience, and consequences.

And motivation on my part. Motivation is something I lack in the darkest part of the year.

Santa, I repeat — can you hear me?

Childfree vs Parenting: the endless debate

What do you do when someone makes you feel vulnerable, judged, and that you have made the wrong choices in life?

If you’re like me and are prone to anxiety and depression, you take it pretty damn personally.

It’s all you can think about for days.

I am working on this, learning to stand up for myself in a more articulate way and consider other people’s comments from a logical standpoint rather than purely emotionally.

As my dear friend Tara has told me, “You made your decisions in life, and you bear the consequences, good and bad…Don’t feel bad or make apologies or even feel you have to. You have nothing to apologize for. Everyone has days the burden gets heavy, and they need to vent. That doesn’t mean they want the burden to disappear, or that they are sorry they assumed it in the first place. It just means they have stress and need to release some.”

What has brought all of this on?

I had an interesting conversation — more a friendly debate, in a way — on the merits of having children earlier in life or later. One of my colleagues is enjoying her childfree life, unattached and able to travel as she pleases. I had my children during my 20s, and I am quite glad that I did, for various reasons.

I have my moments, though, where I need to vent — when the burden gets heavy.

It was a struggle to have our children when we were broke students, instead of waiting.
It wasn’t just the lack of money; I also had terrible postpartum, though I didn’t know it at the time.

I totally understand and support women like her who are choosing to put off having children, or not have any at all. In another lifetime, maybe I would not have children either, for various reasons. But I would not choose this life without my children, not at all. They are my heart. I admire my colleague and various friends for having the guts to go against conventional expectations, to live their own lives as they wish, and sure, I’m a little jealous of the freedom to travel and go by a schedule unencumbered by the needs of small people.

But what I do not understand is how someone who is child-free looks at me and judges me because I chose a more traditional life path. Not completely conventional, mind you — I have done things in reverse order to most professional women today — but I deliberately (and with some innocence and ignorance combined) picked the harder road to travel. It has brought me both gifts and challenges.

My early marriage and decision to have babies in my twenties has made me a stronger person.

I’m not good with confrontation, preferring to avoid conflict whenever possible. When I felt like I was being told that my choices (to get married young and have babies before I became a professional) were the wrong ones, I couldn’t let it go. It bothers me too much.

My first blog on this, yesterday, showed just how vulnerable I feel about this topic. I get incredibly defensive, when I’m trying to be logical. So I’ve edited my earlier post, hoping to find my way through the murk of this debate.

The risks of waiting to have children later in adult life are equal to but different from the risks of having children early.

Having a baby in your twenties or early thirties, before you have proper job security (or what passes for job security today), means for many parents a constant concern about money. So more and more couples are choosing to put off having children until they have that security (which, in all honesty, may never happen).

Having a baby in your late thirties, forties, or even into your fifties means a greater risk to your body, higher risk of problems for the infant, and perhaps less concern about money if the family has a decent income / job security.

Attempting to conceive when you’re younger means there’s more time to get help if you have trouble with fertility. But a woman’s body tends to bounce back from the demands of pregnancy and labour much more quickly when she is younger and/or highly fit.

We all know the metaphor of the biological clock ticking for older mothers. New medical procedures added to the freezing of ovum, like uterine transplants and surrogacy, help to extend that fertile period — wonderful!

Finally, there’s that question of when to enjoy the child-free years the most: while you’re young and energetic, so you can have your own toys and enjoy them, or while you’re matured and wrinkly, after your children have grown and started their own lives.

Let’s face it: our society puts a premium on people enjoying their own lives while they are young, hot, single, independent, and able to travel. We know that the older population gets less respect because aging makes the skin sag (among other body parts), so many of the toys and experiences our consumer society wants us to enjoy are marketed to the 20- and 30-something set.

Thus, my husband and I might have chosen to put off having our kids until after we had gone on adventures, bought the material possessions we wanted, and found the perfect home. I might have been able to wear that hot Princess Leia bikini while on vacation in Vegas, or backpacked around Europe with him, with just our backpacks.

We made a trade, choosing the less popular / more traditional option of waiting until our mature years to enjoy the travel and the toys.

I probably won’t get into the bikini unless I have a tummy-tuck (which my husband reassures me is not necessary), and he has no desire to backpack around Europe anyway.

What I would like to do is take our children with us on a tour of the world. Spend a year on a working vacation, watching the expressions on our son and daughter’s faces as they view Stonehenge, the Sistine Chapel, the Louvre, the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China… We’ve been waiting until they were both school-aged, though I know of some fantastic parents who have been able to do such an awakening journey with babies in tow.

I wanted to wait so that they would be able to remember.

Whether we’ll have the money (and the passports) in the next few years is the question. It’s been a while since I picked up this particular dream and dusted it off. It requires my husband to have a secure job, like mine, to be able to save at the same time as doing all of the other things we need in life (like fix our ailing home). It would also be nice if he could qualify to do some work on an international level, like teaching or cooking. (Again, working on it.) And our specific plan probably needs to be more specific, like helping to build a school in Kenya or going on a research tour in Asia.

But whatever I do in the next few years, I could not dream of doing without my children and my husband beside me. They are my cheering squad, and I am theirs. We enjoyed five child-free years before the first came along, and occasionally we miss the easy intimacy of that time. It’s coming back, though, slowly. We look forward to our older years as being a time to return to ourselves as a couple, particularly considering my husband’s health is not going to last much longer than 10 years from now.

Also, I am happier having the baby-making stage of my life over with. I no longer have to worry from month to month about whether I’m sharing my body with another being. My body is my own, to share with my spouse as I want to. Nourishing a human both within the womb and through nursing, let alone daily mothering of an infant, is exhausting no matter what. ) Not having to worry about getting pregnant is, in itself, incredibly liberating. Even on the pill, there is always that slim chance that it won’t work, but I don’t have that stress anymore. I don’t have to dread it or look forward to it — it’s done. We have our children, and we are done.

Having our children younger has also been a blessing for my parents. My mother has been able to enjoy being a grandmother through her fifties, whereas some of her friends and in-laws have not had the pleasure until they hit their early or mid-sixties, with a corresponding shift in energy for different activities. My parents were concerned, of course, with our timing, but at the same time, we had our youth going for us. They had their children under similar circumstances. The apple probably doesn’t fall that far from the tree. And since I had my children at approximately the same ages that my mother had myself and my brother, I now understand her even more than I did before. I remember times when my mother was grumpy, or short, or not really listening, and being that age myself now, I understand the reasons behind it.

I’m not a perfect parent, and I put way too much pressure on myself to live up to an impossible vision. Maybe that’s why I take my colleague’s comments so personally, when really I don’t need to.

Shadows in the darkness…

It seems rather unnecessary, doesn’t it? The title of this blog. How can shadows — which are themselves, dark — exist where there is no light?

They simply do.

My life is filled with them. They haunt me when I am trying to fall asleep. I see them on these grey and dreary days of fall, as the yearly cycle comes to a close. I feel them in my heart, as the dwindling light begins to sap the energy reserves I built all summer.

This is a dangerous time of year for me. I love Hallowe’en and Samhain, but as an adult, I haven’t expressed that feeling as I did when I was younger. My husband is also an eager devotee to Hallowe’en, and given a free rein, would turn our home into the creepiest on the block. So what stops me from fulfilling my every spooky desire at this time of year?

The shadows, in the form of depression. I feel them gathering in the corners and moving slowly toward me, as inexorable as the winter dark. I’m better armed against them this year, and I’m not spiralling as I have done in the past. But nevertheless, I feel them. It is the lack of motivation to get off the couch…the increasing desire to sleep…the lack of motivation to do anything, really, but those low-energy activities that help me feel less lonely. Like going on Facebook, looking at lolsnaps, fails, etc. The more I indulge in these time-suckers, the more connected I do feel but the less I get done in the things that matter in a physical sense. The shadows are gaining ground.

I attended a series of workshops in the spring, learning methods for dealing with my anxiety and chronic depression. To some extent, those techniques are working. I’ve been treated for anemia since May, also, which is helping. The techniques are going to become even more vital, now.

Part of that is learning to accept my own limitations and not comparing myself to others. I need to stop saying “I should” and be satisfied with what I do accomplish. For example, this weekend I aimed to finish my Hallowe’en decorating. Didn’t even start. I constantly visualize one of the best moms I know and berate myself for not being more like her, but at the same time, the logical part of my brain is fighting back to tell me what I am doing well and why I should not be ashamed or feel inferior. That particular mom doesn’t have a mental illness. That particular mom hasn’t gone through the money troubles we have experienced. That particular mom has gone through her own battles, faced her own demons, and for her own personal reasons, has gained victory. Maybe I’m just jealous of that and I want my own battles to be over. Could be a form of battle fatigue — maybe I could call it “life fatigue”.

I remember my mother giving me full control over decorating for Hallowe’en, and not understanding why she didn’t want to do it. Now I know…it’s just not on my to-do list of things that must be done. What I am supposed to be doing — housework, marking, shopping — those things aren’t be done either. And the whole avoidance makes me feel ashamed all over again, so I shrink further into my shell and keep avoiding until every dish is dirty, the clean laundry threatens to topple over in its mountain, and/or people are coming to the house so clean is a must.

I miss decorating for Hallowe’en.

I miss setting up for Samhain.

I miss my enthusiasm. It’s there, just dampened.

I once had a conversation with two of my colleagues and friends (one of whom was the above super-mom), about the point of Hallowe’en. The points of view were a) it’s all about spending money on candy and costumes, which is a waste, and b) it’s the Devil’s holiday, so if anything, the candy and costumes are the main focal point to take power away from the skulls and gore. My perspective is Pagan, Wiccan, witchy, and anthropological: we need a day in the fall to blow off some steam. It was once the Devil’s night, yes — after months of hard work, harvesting, preparing for winter, young people would perform acts of mischief like tipping outhouses and soaping windows. Kids needed that release, and some adults did as well. It still happens in places, when eggs are thrown or trees toilet papered.

Pagans and Wiccans of all stripes recognize Samhain as the night when the veil between the worlds is the thinnest, and it’s important to remember those who have passed on. The traditions in this sense cross many cultural boundaries, and the food that is shared represents honouring the dead, feeding hungry spirits that come to the door, appeasing evil spirits wishing to do mischief, and I think, sharing the bounty of one’s harvest.

Today, the costumes and decorations and candy are mainly symbolic of cultures long dead. How many of us really believe that children in masks will frighten away spirits on the streets, or that the jack’o’lantern will protect the home? Why do we buy sugary junk to fill their sacks? I think it’s a remnant of the community spirit of making sure that all have enough before winter. We have our Thanksgivings, an official harvest festival of light and warmth and nourishing food — Hallowe’en / Samhain is another, celebrating the coming darkness with noise, colour, sweets, and candlelight. As the trees bare their skeletal arms to the sky, the rain and snow chill the air, the plants wither and die, those of us with depression (and even those who are not) are brought to thoughts of death, loss, and loneliness. Death is a solitary thing, after all. So at Hallowe’en, we push back our fears of death by poking fun at it, admonishing it by taking control of it with decorative skulls, gravestones, ghost stories, and gifts to those who represent the dead. If we laugh at what we fear, it has less control over us (or so we would like to believe). Hallowe’en is a powerful psychological device in helping us to deal with our fears. It’s a necessary device, I think.

Which brings me back to my shadows.

One of them is always money, because there is never enough. We live constantly in debt, which is a long story; my wish to indulge in Hallowe’en is necessarily curtailed by budget. I am perfectly capable of whipping up papier-mâché bats and spiders, sewing costumes from clothing remnants, etc., but I find it difficult as an adult with two children to raise. Much easier when I was single and a dependent. When I was a teenager and a young married wife, I envisioned my house changing with the seasons — throw pillows, blankets, tableware, towels, even the pictures on the walls changed to reflect each turn of the wheel of the year. We’re not even close to that goal. But I take out that dream, every October, and December with the approach of Yule, and I polish it. Maybe I should print it and post it on my fridge.

My dreams keep the shadows away.

Coming out of the depths of winter…

So we’re emerging from the frozen core of the season… which helps me to come out of the deep depression I’ve been in (again). I have neglected this blog, in part because I have chronic depression, as well as SAD, which make my work as a parent and a teacher even more challenging at this time of year. It helps to have my “prosthetic” – my anti-depressants which give me back my balance, restoring the chemical which is missing in my brain. I can trace my periods of moderate to severe depression back to the age of ten, but I wasn’t diagnosed or regulated by medication until seven years ago. I’ve tried yoga and meditation, on their own and with the medication, and I find that the combination does work the best for me. I also take comfort in knowing that there are other successful, intelligent people out there – past and present – who live and cope with depression. I do find that romance novels help in a lot of ways. They’re a temporary escape, especially when you can’t afford a real getaway to someplace hot and tropical…(Poolboy, I’m waiting for my mimosa… Poolboy?)

So, on positive notes… We’re getting more sunshine now, in my part of the world; we’re two weeks from March Break, and we’ve even had a few days of temperatures above zero celsius. My marking load has improved since we changed semesters, so I am optimistic that I can finish my full novel by June, if I work on it a little at a time. My original goal was to have it finished by New Years, but that’s okay. The birthdays are done, the holidays are done for a while (excepting Easter / Ostara, but that’s some time away) (and St. Patrick’s Day); the kids have their activities (karate, guitar, dance, and swimming)… what makes it tougher also, is my husband’s absence for school. He is studying to be a paramedic, and comes home on weekends. But my writing does make me happy, so I must do more of it.