Monday, January 21, 2013

My New Mantra, In Haiku Form (Or, A Short Post for a Change)

Yes, I am single.
You'll have to be mind-blowing
to change that status.

My Adopted Teenage Girl, Writing

Stephen King says in his book, On Writing, that a true writer manages to do the toughest thing every day: keep their ass in that chair and just write. Write about everything or nothing at all, but for god's sake, write. This seems easy, but staring at a blank screen with a blinking cursor is tough, even for those who love to be alone for hours, playing with words in completely new and thoughtful ways. I knew I wanted to write today, but wasn't sure what about, so I decided I might as well get existential and write about Writing herself.

Since I started again this weekend, I find myself wanting to keep Writing. I guess I didn't realize how much I missed her. Her grey eyes sparkle as they contrast deeply with her porcelain skin. Now that I've visited, Writing is clinging to my arms, whining about "please let me do my own thing tonight" and "why don't you want to spend more time with me? I'll run away if you don't start paying attention to me more!" She is the envy of all, but will only speak to a select few--typical teenager. At times, she is broody and elusive and won't express herself, no matter how much I beg. Other times, she cuddles up to me like she's a child again, and whispers for me to tell her a story. I can't shake her, and I can't say I want to, either. Plus, who can resist the urge to fill that pristine paper with splotches of your mind in Writing? Not I.

For the first time in awhile, I feel creative for me, and  me alone. That may not seem like much, but when most of what I do in the imaginative vein relates to something I'm planning, preparing or demonstrating for the students in my class to share their creativity, not mine, it becomes special when it is just for me. I can be creative in the projects and lessons I create, but for the most part, my job isn't based on that. It's making sure the students learn the hows and whys of art so that they can do what I'm doing--express their own ideas and feelings in any imaginative medium. I have done all of the preparation, but have somehow avoided the constant application follow-through. Sure, I've dabbled with Writing off and on since I was young enough to write, but I haven't made a true commitment to be her sole provider. I guess I haven't felt ready for such a huge responsibility, but I think it is about time. So, welcome home, my nearly grown child, sent away and brought back on a whim. I promise you can stay for awhile this time, and I'll indulge your fancies as often as possible to try and make up for lost time.

Writing is a fickle muse and can disappear as suddenly as she summons herself, but for the most part, she is easy to trust and I can always be myself around her. However, she is an bluntly honest little girl; she holds no punches back. She'll wallop you upside the head with a truth so powerful you're not sure where it came from, but it is never a red herring. Writing knows what is truly right, and a good guardian knows a truth bomb when she sees one. Writing is also very clever at hiding things within your own thoughts, that aren't seen  until many reads or discussions later.  She knows when truths should emerge slowly, or when they need to strike quickly and retreat, leaving you to pick up pieces, piecing new meaning together. Writing can drive you crazy, obsessing over one word you said, which left her feeling odd and out of sorts all day, or she can make you so satiated, you could sleep for days with a huge grin on your face the entire time.  

Immediately, the theme song from The Facts of Life from 80's TV pops into my head: "You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have: the facts of life." That's how I feel about Writing. I'll take them both, because at the root of the good and the bad does lie a life of facts. Authors are the reporters about human nature, to poorly paraphrase my mentor, Kurt Vonnegut, and it is their report that acts as the canary in the mine in terms of fulfilling our commitments to ourselves, each other, and society. When Writing finds a good owner, anything becomes possible again, and I'm excited to begin this journey with my new girl. I just need to remember to get plenty of chocolate, coke, and piddle pads. Writing is a diva when it comes to her snacks, drinks, and her privacy. She still isn't as house-broken as I'd hoped yet.

Dear, sweet Writing is helping me vent feelings that just need to be removed from my head, surgically, with a ten-finger keyboard stance and a blank MS Word document. I can't see a therapist right now due to financial constraints, but Writing is acting as a soft couch for me to lay on and purge the harmful downward spirals of thought I've conjured in my brain.  And truthfully, when I immerse myself in Writing, I have an audience listening, even if no one reads it other than me. I am driven by the need to find precisely the words I need to express my thoughts, emotions, and experiences, as Writing urges me to find focus and clarity. I can pose questions to the page and sometimes find the answers written by my own hand a few paragraphs down. Though I can tell my sour mood takes a toll on Writing, she obeys patiently, wise enough to know that my soul will recover and allow my Writing to sing of happier tomes. Today, she is quite content with my play; I think I've won her over for another day (She loves end rhyme, but I try not to spoil her!).

Sifting for the Source of Senseless Violence: Lack of Sense, Perhaps?

Ever since the shooting at Columbine High School, I have been wanting to write about this subject. People who choose brutal actions against fellow human beings have always fascinated me. Not in the "I want to be like them way," in any stretch of the imagination, but more in the "what makes these people decide that is their best and/or only choice?" I never understood the witch hunt and senseless killings without proof in Salem, at the start of our nation's history. I never understood the kamikazes and their willingness to fly their plane straight into a ship or building during World War II. I never understood Hitler's drive to annihilate the Jews, or the common people of Germany to participate, willingly or silently, in allowing it to continue. I didn't really understand the Saudis who boarded planes, knowing they were going to die just to kill many other Americans at the same time in 2001.

However, the more I've studied these events from history from all different angles and first hand accounts, I have come to realize that there were reasons and motives behind every one of these seemingly senseless acts of violence. Humans are pretty basic, as we have at the core of our brains an animalistic nature: the need to breed, eat, sleep, drink, and survive (fight or flight). But since we have "evolved" our ability to reason beyond animals, you'd think that we would not still feel this need to survive by dominating others; however, it is still there, driving our daily choices, and logic and reason have been forced to sit shotgun. When we feel oppressed or ignored or alienated, it is a small hop to think of revenge or "revolution" against those we see as our oppressors. Instead of looking at ourselves and fixing what we can, we choose to take it out on others who have "caused" our problems. It is easy to do, and all of us do it on a daily basis, but on a much smaller and less violent scale. This is where we have to start shifting our mindsets.

The shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary and the four or five "copycat" shootings that have occurred at schools all across the United States in the past few weeks have really hit home for me. As a teacher, I know I'd take a bullet to defend the lives of my students, but I keep coming back to the fact that we shouldn't have to ever be put in a situation where we would make that choice (in an ideal world, yes, but we make our world, so why not shoot for something better than this?). It is time for us to look at the motives and causes behind these shootings and senseless acts of violence against others that takes shape in many forms: genocide, racism, gangs, "fair" war (where innocent civilians are sought out and targeted because of "suspicion"), etc. And in my opinion, we need to stop blaming things and start looking for the many experiences that shaped these kinds of selfish killers and start mending the problems that are blatant in certain areas that are within our power to effect immediate and positive change.

First, I think that all parents, guardians, grandparents, aunts/uncles, coaches, and adult mentors need to start being more persistent in talking with children on a daily basis. Ask them specific questions about friends and kids in their class. Ask about who they hang out with and what kind of person they are. Ask about bullying and if they have experienced it, seen it, or even done it. By Kindergarten, kids know what a bully is, and will be honest about accidentally being one if you can talk them through it. They need to know this is NOT okay. Ask them how they feel about themselves and why. Ask them what makes them special? Ask them what they don't like about themselves and why and how they want to fix it.

Self esteem should come from doing things well that make you happy or bring success, not put others down in the process. There is no harm that can come from helping a child realize that self esteem comes from within only, and nothing you can do or say from without can really form your own strong self esteem. I only see benefits: they'll choose a partner who treats them with respect and will do the same because they won't tolerate meanness in others, they'll do better in school and a career as they will be seen as honest, trustworthy, and sincere coworkers, and they'll achieve greater heights and success as they won't be worried about what others think.

It is hard to teach kids self esteem, but it has to be clear that it is not gained through putting others down or blaming someone else. I see so many adults who still haven't learned this lesson and it is sad. We have to be firm with ourselves first as parents and adults of the community, and look at how we treat others, making any positive changes as necessary, and then lead by example and word. We need to teach and demonstrate grace and acceptance of others who are different, rather than fear and judgment. What happened to treating others as you want to be treated, adults? What happened to the chain of command that was so revered when I was growing up: talk to the person you have an issue with first, give them time to adjust, and if you're still not satisfied, THEN go up the ladder? All I see lately are parents, other teachers, other adults who bully others with words or actions to get their way and no one seems to want to confront issues head-on--always from the side, which never accomplishes anything and just shows our kids that making a big fuss, being manipulative, and loud will help you get your way.
Second, I think this nation has got to recognize that mental illness is real and it takes on many forms. I personally have been diagnosed as Bipolar II, with clinical depression, and I understand how alienated you can feel sometimes and how hard it can be to afford treatment with counselors and medications, even with insurance.  Mental illness seems to scare people, as I still think that we cling to the permeating vision of the "loony bin", such as the one from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey, where people scream and try to jump out of windows, cry all night, or rock violently in a corner. It is not like that at all, except in extreme cases. Some feel like mental illnesses were invented because people need an excuse to be lazy or feel sad or act weird, but if you do any kind of serious research from reputable sources, it will become clear that there are chemical and physical differences in people's brains that can cause depression, anxiety, bipolar, schizophrenia, ADHD, Aspergers, Autism, emotional disorders, and behavioral disorders, just to mention a few. I urge you to realize that it isn't "all in our heads" or "just a label the doctor gives so he can prescribe medication". It is real and it is scarier for us if we think that the people who love us think we're crazy or don't believe us when we tell them the truth about our condition, the damage it can do to our bodies, relationships, health, and sometimes careers.

I can understand why people can feel that way, though. Look at the money the pharmaceutical companies make: most Americans, whether they admit it or not, are using some sort of prescription drug to help adjust something in their body that isn't working right (diabetes, kidney issues, blood pressure issues, post-partum depression, as well as those listed above). Yes, I do think people rely too much on a pill to fix everything; I was one of those people once. I refused medication for awhile, then tried it, and kind of used it as a crutch. When things got bad, I asked my doctor to up my meds, but I didn't do much work in terms of finding solutions to my issues or stress or ways to calm down before having anxiety attacks or bouts of depression. My psychiatrist also kept recommending drugs and never gave me natural or other suggestions to try. Even later, after I was on medication that worked, I lost my job and couldn't afford my medications for 3 months. I ended up having two major panic attacks, one in the middle of the reception after my sister's wedding. I ended up in the hospital with a horrible tension headache and hyperventilation, not to mention a serious mood crash. That's when I realized that medication does play a significant role in helping me feel better and more like me.

It was also around that time that I realized that mental health requires a multi-prong approach. Medication can help tremendously in situations, but so does regular therapy, a healthy diet with special foods added or deleted to naturally aid in relieving mental issues, and a regular exercise routine to build stamina and endorphins. But this takes money and time, and if you have a full time teaching career like me, my only time is weekends (a lot of businesses are closed) and summers, and my money is scarce (we still aren't paid what we're worth--but that is a whole other rant!). If someone has diabetes, it is fully covered under their health care plan, they can get the time off work paid, and they pay minimum co-pays. However, like in my case, my insurance plan only allows 6 free visits for mental health issues per year and it can only be with one of their doctors. After that, it is full pay, so close to $60-90 a session. I cannot afford this, but need it desperately at times. And intermittent sessions don't work when you are really having issues; it only leaves you unsupervised in your head for too long, causing reality not to be checked and deep, dark rabbit holes to be explored. My medication alone costs $175 a month, even with insurance, because they are all on the "highest tier" for prescriptions.  I am a single teacher with two degrees and insurance; if I can't find affordable help for my mental condition, what are people to do who make even less than me, who have families, and don't have insurance? Why do we make it so hard for people to get the help they are actively seeking? This needs to be changed!

This isn't just an issue for people with mental health conditions; it is an issue for everyone on this planet. We all know someone who is affected by mental health concerns and it is time that we support them and demand more affordable access to these types of services. Plus, we need to start looking at our policy of "Well, they have to do something to harm their own life or the life of someone else before we can admit them to a mental health facility" policy. Even typing it out, it seems to defy logic. Why wait for a tragedy, if every sign is there that this person will makes choices ending in a tragedy? If the system is broken, fix it. Don't just let it remain because "that's how it's always been." The drug and insurance companies want us to stay quiet and complacent, because they make money regardless of whether or not people get better. They are a tough opponent, but our populace still outnumbers them, and as consumers, we do ultimately have the final say!  Fight for others who have trouble fighting for themselves and what we need to just feel like a person on a regular basis, not an alienated crazy person. Support us. Ask us what you can do to help; don't just sit back and judge us. We sow enough self-criticism on our own, trust me!

Third,  there has been a lot of talk about "glorifying the killer" on TV, which causes others to feel that the same thing would be good for them to get the few minutes of fame, infamous or not, before they end their own life. I agree wholeheartedly, but am disappointed at the media, who talks about this in a seemingly serious fashion, but then continue to talk on and on about the killer and what music he listened to, what video games he played, what he drew in class, what movies he watched, etc. Take your own advice, media: stop glorifying them. Instead, glorify the victims. I was filled with an overwhelming sense of awe, honor, and compassion when I heard that Victoria Soto got all of her children in her cupboards in her classroom and met the gunman at the door to her room to tell him that her kids were in the gym and weren't there, only to take a bullet in the chest. What an amazing woman, and every parent, child, sibling, relative, and friend of those children in her classroom have her to honor, remember and live for the rest of their lives. Or the two high school teachers who talked the student into putting the gun down, after he had shot two other kids, but granted, they prevented a far more violent ending. What guts to stand up to a high school student with a gun (whose normal brain is compared to that of an adult on heroine, in terms of the lack of development of the frontal lobe, which is in charge of impulse control and fully understanding long term consequences of their actions.), and talk him down without further incident!!

These teachers and the students who died, helping others, or just scared and in the wrong place at the wrong time are amazing and should have led the coverage on all of these shootings. What happened to true journalism, where the righteous and uplifting story is the one that is told, over "the one that bleeds, is the one that leads" mentality? Where is our integrity? Where is our compassion and empathy? Where is our common sense? We have to make it clear that this is NOT okay, and should celebrate the lives of those innocent people who died for no real reason, rather than describing in detail the killer's actions. Yes, it is natural to seek answers, as I stated above, but that is for experts and dedicated, open-minded people, who realize it has to be many things contributing to this outcome and are willing to put in months of research before making claims. Instead, we allow poorly trained news anchors, who will grasp at anything that might attract ratings or viewers and prepare their shows in less than 24 hours (not a lot of time for research and/or fact-checking), feed our quest for understanding.

Finally, talk about gun control always ramps up like a puppy spotting its owner as soon as another public shooting occurs. Automatic guns, which allow rapid fire and cause more casualties, are an easy target for blame. It is natural to want to talk about guns, as they are the tools that did the damage.  But this is exactly why gun control is my last topic--it isn't really about the guns themselves, but the person controlling it. Plus, you can put laws on any type of gun you want, but if someone is desperate enough to want one, they will find it somewhere on the black market or will resort to more detrimental weapons, like homemade bombs. A person seeking to hurt many others before hurting him or herself doesn't really care what other laws they violate, as long as they fulfill their "mission" or "fate" or "revenge".

Many solutions have been proposed: have teachers trained and carrying guns, ban all automatic weapons, require more training and and test to license before being able to own a gun, and even some that cry for the abolition of the 2nd Amendment altogether. In my humble opinion, none of these solutions will work, for many reasons. One, as a teacher, I will quit before I train and carry a gun. I am there to teach, not to intimidate or protect them from a gunman in a split 5-10 seconds. Plus, I am so damn clumsy, I know I'd end up shooting my own foot. I think that is NOT the answer. Banning weapons just leads to black markets and more creative solutions, which I mentioned before, and more training and testing before getting a license sounds great, but only the good, law-abiding citizens will do that, and they would never use the gun to kill others. The people who would use guns for killing people will skip that bureaucratic bullshit and get their gun without training or testing or registering, if they need to. Plus, even if they took the class and test, we'd be training them how to be better shots when they took out innocent people later. Not good in any scenario.

To ban guns altogether is crazy. Thomas Jefferson made it clear that the 2nd Amendment was not only to give men the right to have arms to hunt, fight wars, and protect their property, but it was also to protect themselves from their government if it ever became a tyranny, with only a few in power, impeding the true workings of a democracy from the people's point of view, so that they could stage a revolution to keep democracy in tact. In this day and age, not too many would disagree that a very few in America hold all of the power and wealth and by allowing them to take our guns, we could be giving ourselves freely over to tyranny. No, banning guns won't work, either. We have to understand that if the person is balanced within himself, even if he encounters difficult situations, he'll have a network of support and strategies to use to get him through, rather than having to resort to picking up a gun at all.

I appreciate anyone who stuck it out through my entire rant on this subject. I feel very passionately and want to do something to help. If you have any suggestions or ideas, please let me know. I'm very interested in hearing how others feel about these subjects and their own opinions. Thanks for listening to mine. ;)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Lot of Shock, Not Much Awe

So many of my married friends always say things like "Oh, I'm so glad I don't have to be out there, doing that anymore" in response to my comments about my dating experiences. They are right to think that, but I don't think they really realize how shallow and polluted by chlorine the dating pool has become since they were "out there."

I cannot believe the cohones some men have, in terms of how quickly they bring up sex. Some men, apparently think in this day and age, that they deserve it for taking you out or just being nice to you. Standards across the board seem to have been lowered: "I'll put up a picture of me from college and it won't be a big deal when she finds out I'm closer to her dad's age than hers." Or, "I'll demand she take her shoe off and feel my woody under the table at a nice restaurant on the first date because SHE made me get it in the first place" (keep in mind we were just talking; little to NO flirting yet). Or, my favorite, on the second date, "I'll invite her home to meet my dog and then just come out naked. Women can't resist naked men." And there are 10 more stories, just like that for each that I listed.

Really, boys? This is what you've "evolved" into? And the men who claim they're chivalrous, they may open doors and pay checks, but still don't know what really makes a woman happy. I'm tired of keeping such high expectations, refusing to settle, when very few even make the cut for me and then they always seem to disappoint. They are dating someone else they are just as serious with or they decided their gut is telling them that they don't have romantic feelings for you.

To be fair, I have heard from a ton of single men that women seem to be the same in the current dating pool. I've heard stories of women crying on first dates for no reason, getting upset because "the waitress is flirting with you", or assuming that after a first date, it must mean they are getting married and having kids. I feel sorry for anyone who has to date now, and that pity party definitely finds its way into my house at times. However, I'm not one of those crazy girls. I am a bit forward, and not afraid to show who I really am right away--I send myself on the first date, not my "representative" as Chris Rock says--but I guess that is a turn off for most men. They want the demure, coy woman who makes them give chase. Not me. Don't want to be that. Does that mean I am doomed to become the "crazy cat lady"? There are two strays lingering around my door, serenading me nightly. I feel more pursued sincerely by them than I have by men. 

A few married friends have bluntly told me that my expectations are too high. I have a hard time believing that as I've waited for almost 15 years now for "the one" and I really don't want to settle at this point. What would be the point in that? Plus, I see so many women who HAVE found what they want and need, so why shouldn't that be the same for me? And why is it so bad to demand what you need? Men seem to do it freely in terms of what they "need" sexually, so why can't women do the same, just with what they need emotionally or mentally?

I just needed to get another round of frustration out about dating. I feel like I've almost purged most of the lingering ooginess, so I'll repeat again: I am done. Put a fork in me, I'm done. Sianara to seduction. Goodbye to googly-eyes. Au revoir to advancing relationships. Fuck off to flirtation. I'm done. For now.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

A Past Due Celebration

I have been cigarette free since August 11, 2012, and it feels amazing. I never thought I'd have the willpower to survive the cravings and was afraid I'd eat my cravings away and gain a ton of weight. I have gained a few pounds, but luckily, my cravings have slowed and stopped for most of the time and I can't be more proud about how I've stuck it out and accomplished something that I delayed doing for fear of failure for almost 10 years. Life without cigarettes is fun. I don't have to sneak away and come back feeling bad for smelling like stale smoke. Or, feel bad that my current boyfriend had to taste an ashtray when we kissed, and brushing my teeth a million times never used to take it all away.

 I know that I was only successful because for the first time in the five times I "tried" to quit, I really wanted to quit this time. My lungs hurt on a daily basis, I had no stamina or lung capacity and would easily get winded, and I realized that I needed to start taking care of me. Especially since I seem to be a late bloomer and still haven't met a wonderful life partner yet, I really started to think about how shitty it would be to finally find the right man and then die shortly after from lung cancer. Plus, I want kids, and I was having trouble keeping up with my nephews without being extremely winded, so I just knew it was time for a change.

Now, having accomplished that and getting my debt almost paid off and sticking to a tight budge, I need to take on exercising more and learning to eat right. These are hard ones for me, as I've done it for awhile, so the habits are fully ingrained. However, quitting the devil cigarette sticks seemed just as daunting, but I was able to do that, so why not the other? I'm going to take pole dance aerobics, to make it fun and not feel as much like just working out. Plus, I'm determined to walk more. As for my diet, I'm working in more nutritious things, and working out some of the not so healthy things I eat one at a time. Baby steps.

Ironically, I started this entry to celebrate accomplishments and then quickly went into things that still need to be changed by me. One of my friends told me that I am too hard on myself and don't ever celebrate what good I've done or had in my life, and they are so right. I don't mean to, but I guess I am just very critical of myself and find it hard to celebrate one accomplishment when I still see so many left to go. So I'm forcing myself to go back to a celebration of the hard work I've put into growing as a person and feeling more comfortable in my own skin.

I'm thankful that I've gotten to spend more time with my nephews and have been able to watch and share in their growing up. I'm thankful that I have a good job teaching elementary art and truthfully enjoy the students who love to learn as well as the ones who are so self-conscious about their artistic abilities that I've been challenged to council and cheer-lead for them to get them past their own frustrations with their capabilities. I'm thankful for so many good friends. I don't get to see them very often, as most have spouses and/or children or live so very far away, but they are always there for me when I need them, no matter what is going on in their lives. I couldn't ask for more. ;) I am proud of my two degrees, especially living under poverty while getting my masters. I'm proud of the guts it took for me to take so many long road trips alone. I'm proud of how I am more able to say what is on my mind and confront difficult situations in a timely and appropriate fashion. I'm proud of my intelligence, humor, honesty, playfulness, maternal instinct, natural looks, open mind, love of learning and discovering new cultures and perspectives, as well as discovering the beauty and complexity of of nature.

I am a good person and deserve happiness and should stop dwelling on things that are out of my control and start focusing on the areas I can control. I also need to give myself more grace. I put myself out there and can fall hard, but I don't think I'd have it any other way. That is me, and even when it can blow up in my face, I still think it is a unique and good quality and am proud I don't have to hide or deny my feelings or thoughts any more.

Disenchanted and Done

Disney, Victorian novels, and Hollywood have instilled in me the desire for a "happily ever after" kind of romance, where you meet a partner who is completely suited to you and loves you for who you are, faults and all. I'm not a mermaid, or a poor lass who loves a Barron, but I do have my flaws, which I am aware of and working to change. Yet, I haven't had any luck finding a man who loves me for me and is looking for the same things I am: a best friend partner who loves me unconditionally and wants to grow old with me and also wants to create a family, either through adoption or having children.

Some men are turned off by my open and honest feelings. I am a firm believer of living in the moment and expressing your thoughts and feelings, rather than oppressing them. Men can find this "clingy" or "desperate", when it is the opposite--I just feel deeply and enjoy getting to know a lot of aspects of a person who intrigues me and seems to feel the same. I am very open about who I am and what I want. I am tired of laying myself and my feelings on the line to try and openly get to know someone, only to have my heart trampled on. However, I also can't meet anyone unless I put myself out there. A wicked Catch 22.

At this point, I love myself, including my weaknesses, and I think I'm a damned good catch. I'm romantic, thoughtful, loyal to a fault, giving, trusting, spontaneous, funny, open-minded, willing to try almost anything, and ready to make someone's already happy life just a little bit richer. However, constant rejection is just confusing. Men seem to either want sex with no strings or say they want a long-term, serious relationship but pull back and disappear at the first sign of connections and commitment. Or they actually don't know what they want. But at 30+ years old, when the fuck will they know and be ready and willing for that when it comes their way?

I know women mature faster, but damn! Men have fallen far behind. And the things some boys (they aren't men yet in my opinion) think is acceptable on first or second dates makes me shudder! Randomly texted pictures of penises in the middle of conversations that have nothing to do with sex is NOT okay, at least in my book. Taking me to a restaurant and then saying, "oh, I forgot to tell you. I don't get paid until tomorrow so can you cover it and I'll pay you back if this works out and we see each other again?" Seriously? This is what is left in the dating pool? I was dealing with this kind of stuff when I was in my 20's.

So, I've decided I'm done. Done with online dating. Done with asking friends to set me up on blind dates. Done with putting myself out there for a bit. Instead, I am going to focus on me and making my life the best it can be. I'm going to pursue jobs outside of Missouri. I've known for a long time that Kansas City has not been the ideal place for me. Though I've met a few open-minded and laid back people in Kansas City, for the most part, they are closed-minded, judgmental, and cliquish people here and it is time for me to move to a different part of this country, where I can be around more people I can relate to. I deserve to be celebrated for being myself, rather than being judged and ostracized.

I'm also debating getting my masters in English so I can teach at a community college, but I am truthfully enjoying Elementary Art, so I might stay in that vein. It is just time for a new adventure. Plus, I agree with my friend Ali that the universe may be telling me that I'm not supposed to be in KC, and therefore not supposed to find the right man for me here, so I have to get to the location I want to settle down in before the right man will appear in my life. So, for now, dating is a bust. But getting out of KC is a must.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Day One: Fighting Time

Today, I only had to stop smoking while using the phone and only smoke one cigarette during work hours. Not too hard, right? Wrong. It was a battle from the get-go. I smoked like regular during the drive to work, thinking the whole time about what I would do once I reached the week I had to stop smoking in the car. Once I got to work, I was fine; my schedule is really cram-packed until mid-morning, and then I get about a 25 minute break. I have stuff to plan for the next round of kids, but that only takes 10-15 minutes, so I'm left with about 10-15 minutes to spare. This seems like a short amount of time to ignore the craving to have a cigarette. However, in the past, I've seized this moment and started the habit of catching a quick smoke, so it seems wrong not to go out to my car with the time I have left. I tried finding things to do, but my mind kept saying, "You still have time for a few puffs." I have to admit, I did cave and go for the cigarette.

I felt bad about it for the rest of the day, so after lunch, I told my colleague about my plan to quit and what I had to cut out this week. I asked her if she would help me find work to do or talk with me during those short breaks so I wouldn't have the spare time nagging at me to be used smoking. She loved the idea and has promised to help all she can. I have also decided to try to write 2 books a week, so that will also be something I can work on during down times to keep me from caving in to the craving.

However, I must give myself props. I did not have a cigarette in the afternoon at work like I usually do and I have not smoked at all while talking on the phone today. I guess that though it seems meager when I write it out like that, it is a start, nevertheless. Better yet, I know I can go all day at work with only one cigarette tomorrow and not smoke while talking on the phone. Resolve is good. Now I just need to steel up my inner bitch, so to speak, and order her to talk louder and with more logic than the lit stick that is my nemesis.