Odd Bird Out
I'm Still Standing
It's been a while since I've written. I won't apologize - life just has a way of doing that. 2022 has been a majorly challenging and transformational year. Since so much has happened since I checked in last, I thought that best way to move forward would be to recap. That way we can all be on the same page and I can break down some more specific topics in the future. This will be long, and for that I apologize - You can skip to the end if you just want the highlights.
With the new year, came a new restlessness in my spirit. I was now in the last year of my 30's, and in my very vivid imagination, I could feel 40 peering around the corner mischievously at me - like a Spirit Halloween store waiting for a business to go under. I had been in my career for over 10 years, and I was at a place where I no longer had passion for the work I was currently doing. I needed a change, I wanted to do something that mattered, I just wasn't sure what it was yet.
I listen to Alan Watts a lot and there is a lecture in which he states, "it's absolutely stupid to spend your time doing things you don't like in order to go on spending money on things you don't like, doing things you don't like and to teach our children to follow the same track. See, what we are doing is we are bringing up children and educating them to live the same sort of lives we are living. In order they may justify themselves and find satisfaction in life by bringing up their children to bring up their children to do the same thing. So it's all retch and no vomit - it never gets there! And so therefore it's so important to consider this question: What do I desire?"
I let that sink in deep - why was I still doing things that didn't make me happy and fulfilled? I'll admit that I am first and foremost pragmatic above all else, but did that have to mean I'd be perpetually unhappy? I'm not so sure one has to equal the other anymore.
I had some big life decisions to make and craved a change of scenery to offer some perspective. So I booked a solo trip to Oregon. I'd never been before, only daydreamed of it's tall trees, non-humid crisp air, and serene otherworldly landscape. At that point, I hadn't been on a solo trip in over 20 years and was quite anxious about the idea - but I knew I needed to - I had some things I needed to sort out and prove to myself. So in April I took my first vacation in years and set out for the other end of the country, looking for clarity and adventure.
To say that this trip was life changing would be an understatement. Have you ever been somewhere that you just felt immediately at peace? That just felt right? That was Oregon for me. Maybe it was just what I needed at that moment, but it felt damn good. I spent nearly a week hiking, trekking across coastal beaches, climbing cliffs and sand dunes, exploring ruins, listening to music and lectures, reading, soul searching, crying, and sitting in silence.
I recall a specific moment so strongly - probably the most important moment of my entire trip. I had just hiked a fairly difficult (for someone afraid of heights) gulch-side, steep path into Columbia River Gorge and I sat at the mouth of Wahclella Falls. The water rushing over the cliff was so loud, you couldn't hear anything else - it drowned out the whole world, including all the little voices and doubt in my head. The air was thin, yet heavy with the smell of petrichor and pine. The sun was setting directly between the split of the gorge walls from which the falls erupted. The ground vibrated with such power beneath me, as I sat with my feet dangling from the side, watching the undertow churn and roll enormous fallen trees like they were twigs...and I was undone. I cried, and couldn't stop. I just let it happen. I was aware that something in me was breaking open, but also healing at the same time. That this moment, no matter how painful and confusing, was necessary for growth. So I sat there, and let my heart do its work.
I flew home the next day, and two days later I put in my resignation. I was terrified, but knew it was the right decision. If I didn't do it now, I may never do it. Since April I have applied for jobs, taken some interviews, and took a part time job as a pharmacy technician. It was a stark learning curve, as I've never done anything like that before, but it has also been rewarding and a bit cathartic. Something about counting medication, batching paperwork, chatting with the regulars, and most importantly not having to take the worries of work home with me at the end of every night, has been quite refreshing. Plus, I get to work with some really brilliant women, so win win.
I'm still not sure what my next move is. I'm trying to be open to anything that may come my way.
I'll do a deeper dive into my Oregon adventure in the near future.
A Promise Kept
Rewinding a bit to the end of 2021, I decided to make good on a promise to myself and finish my associates degree. I had stepped back from my education when I had my children in my early 20's, because having 2 kids 20 months apart is no joke! I knew I wanted to go back at some point and the timing was finally right. So, I busted my butt, taking classes every semester, including condensed courses over the Summer and Winter, with the intention of graduating in time to walk. All while working full time and homeschooling two high school students. I used the last of my needed credits to try my hand at classes I thought would interest me for a possible future career change - including astronomy and genetics. It was a valuable experience, and I'm glad I stuck with it, because it helped me to sort out some of my dreams and desires.
At the end of May 2022, I walked across the stage in front of my family and nearly grown kids - pushing 40, yes, but also very proud of myself. To be able to show my kids that no matter the hand that life deals you, that you are the writer of your story, and there are no rules. I hope they hold onto that as they go out into the world. It was also a big point of pride for me to be a first generation college grad.
This was important to share with my parents as well, as neither of them got the same opportunity in life. Even though my father had passed a few years ago, I know he'd have been one of my biggest cheerleaders, shouting from the stands like no one was watching, saying "That's my baby girl!". I can see it so clearly in my mind, and that's what I hold onto.
My mother was unfortunately sick with Covid when I walked and was not able to attend in person, so I surprised her and showed up at her house in my regalia, and from the driveway I was able to see her smile, cry and tell her that I loved her - a moment I'll never forget. I didn't just do this for myself, I did this for the amazingly strong woman that raised me, that wasn't given the same opportunities, that showed me how to work hard for the things you want in life, and to not give up. I know as a parent how important it is to see your children succeed - there is not greater feeling. I'm glad I've been able to give her that, even on such a small scale. I made sure that she, of course, was able to watch the live stream of the graduation from home, so she did not miss out completely.
I could not have done any of it without the constant encouragement and support of my family - all the late night pep talks from my husband when all I wanted to do was sleep, cry, or give up. All the leftover meals that my family gladly ate because I didn't have time to cook and all the patience they showed when I had to miss out on family time. If it wasn't for them, I don't think I would have cared or pushed so hard. I am indebted to them, in more ways than they will ever know.
Shortly thereafter, I was accepted to Arizona State University's Forensic Science program, with the intention of eventually becoming a Forensic Genetic Genealogist. I'll dig more into that at a later date, but I am very excited for the future and all the new chapters that will bring.
I've struggled with some unexplained health issues for quite a few years now; been to numerous doctors and specialists, had countless blood tests, MRIs, CAT scans, sonograms, X-rays, colonoscopies, endoscopies, mammograms, and procedures all for the most part only to give me little-to-no answers. It's exhausting after a while to know something is wrong but to also feel like you're crazy because doctors can't find any specific reason. After a while you just kinda resolve yourself to the pain and discomfort. It's a very helpless place to be.
With all the life changes that came with 2022, I decided to take control of my health again - to fight for answers. Enough was enough. I'm soon to be 40 and tired of feeling like I'm 70. I insisted on some more testing and found out that I have a torn anterior labrum of my hip, and torn rotator cuff and bicep. So I started physical therapy and it has been helping quite a bit. Not sure if I'll need surgery on my shoulder yet, that will be determined over the next few months. While I can't really run at the capacity that I used to, I am walking and hiking on a more regular basis and hope to be back where I was with stamina eventually.
One of my biggest health issues for most of my life has been stomach due to IBS and being severely anemic due to very bad periods. Because of my menstrual cycle and the anemia I have to take iron supplements which only flares up my IBS and for the most part just leaves me miserable nearly all the time, it's just an endless vicious cycle. The anemia and iron also cause me to have migraines. I tried to make the most of all the poking and prodding and claustrophobic tests by highlighting the various hospital gown options I got to showcase. Healthcare, but make it #fashion. The capes are still my favorite, and I really wanted to steal that blue scrub set!
After doing a lot of thinking and soul-searching, and after talking with my doctors, my therapist and my husband, I've decided that the best course of action is to have a partial hysterectomy. This of course, also meant coming to terms with the fact that I would not have anymore children - that was not an easy one to work through. At the end of the day, I knew we tried our hardest when we were trying to conceive for nearly 3 years. We did every test, tried every old wives tale, took every pill we were told to, had genetic testing, I had a DNC...you name it. I had to get to the place where I was willing to accept that maybe that just wasn't supposed to be a part of my story. I am, however, extremely stubborn, so it has taken me quite a while to get there.
This procedure however would alleviate my need for constant iron and over time will fix my anemia, which in turn should help my stomach issues, fatigue and migraines as well as increased risk of eventual heart disease. All of my doctors agree that this is probably the best course of action for a healthy future. Surgery has not been scheduled yet, but as that process gets underway I will write a separate post about that experience, for those that are considering a similar path.
In addition to my physical health I also advocated for my mental health this year in a big way. I started going back to therapy on almost a weekly basis, which has been very beneficial. I was also tested for ADHD and found out that I was in the severe category. I never considered that I had ADHD until someone joking said that it's not normal to fall asleep after having a cup of coffee. I did this all the time! When I started doing some research as to why, it made a lot of sense. My entire life, I just thought I was a really great multitasker with a lot of anxiety! So long story short, I am now medicated and feeling much less overwhelmed by daily activities and routines.
In September we welcomed two new fur babies into our family. They are litter sisters and rescues, and we named them Jasper and Opal. We got them from Frogtown Fosters, and they were wonderful to work with! They even helped me setup the surprise for our daughter who had been begging for years for a cat. It has been quite the adjustment for everyone - Yuca is trying her best to share the spotlight with them (begrudgingly), she does enjoy sneaking their cat food however. Opal is definitely more cuddly of the two, while Jasper is more of the protector. They do help to round out the chaos quite nicely around here.
I started a business last month - registered, business proposal, pitch deck, floor plans, the whole 9. I'm still mums the word on all of it, as I do tend to be a little-stitious. I also prefer to hustle in silence. When the time comes I will share those details with you. But know, that I am excited for this new venture and chapter of my life.
I will turn 40 at the beginning of 2023. This has been messing with me a bit emotionally and mentally as well. In all honesty, I didn't think I would make it till 30, and now that I'm on the cusp of 40, with soon-to-be adult children, I'm unsure how to feel. I'm trying to be present and thankful instead of feeling like I'm living on borrowed time. It's a strange place to be. My therapist thinks I struggle a bit with survivors guilt, but that's a much longer story for another day. I don't completely disagree with her. I just never made later-in-life plans because I couldn't picture it. It wasn't a point of sadness or longing - it was just blank. Trying to reframe that in mid-life is quite a project, but optimistically I can write any future I want, and that is exciting.
I did some soul searching, went on a solo trip to Oregon, which was unforgettable.
Resigned from my job. Currently a part-time pharmacy technician - open and optimistic to whatever the future has for me career-wise.
I finally graduated college, which was a promise I made to myself many years ago.
I was accepted to ASU's Forensic Science program.
Tore my rotator cuff, bicep and hip. Going to PT.
Found a new therapist and went back to therapy.
Found out I have severe ADHD, and now some of things I do make a lot more sense.
Started chiropractic care as well as acupuncture.
Decided that I'll be having a partial hysterectomy.
Adopted two kittens - Opal & Jasper
Started a business
Decided to dig back into writing and photography again.