Thursday, January 29, 2015

How to be a writer

Yes!  It feels like this all the time!

On the top of a distant mountain there grows a tree with silver leaves. Once every year, at dawn on April 30th, this tree blossoms, with five flowers, and over the next hour each blossom becomes a berry, first a green berry, then black, then golden.
At the moment the five berries become golden, five white crows, who have been waiting on the mountain, and which you will have mistaken for snow, will swoop down on the tree, greedily stripping it of all its berries, and will fly off, laughing.
You must catch, with your bare hands, the smallest of the crows, and you must force it to give up the berry (the crows do not swallow the berries. They carry them far across the ocean, to an enchanter’s garden, to drop, one by one, into the mouth of his daughter, who will wake from her enchanted sleep only when a thousand such berries have been fed to her). When you have obtained the golden berry, you must place it under your tongue, and return directly to your home.
For the next week, you must speak to no-one, not even your loved ones or a highway patrol officer stopping you for speeding. Say nothing. Do not sleep. Let the berry sit beneath your tongue.
At midnight on the seventh day you must go to the highest place in your town (it is common to climb on roofs for this step) and, with the berry safely beneath your tongue, recite the whole of Fox in Socks. Do not let the berry slip from your tongue. Do not miss out any of the poem, or skip any of the bits of the Muddle Puddle Tweetle Poodle Beetle Noodle Bottle Paddle Battle.
Then, and only then, can you swallow the berry. You must return home as quickly as you can, for you have only half an hour at most before you fall into a deep sleep.
When you wake in the morning, you will be able to get your thoughts and ideas down onto the paper, and you will be a writer."
-Neil Gaiman, from tumblr.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Happy Humpday

We are over the hump!  I had a very eventful day.  I met a child on my caseload for the first time.  He is a 14 year old boy.  The experience of meeting him reminded me of when Seinfeld and George Costanza met the Bublle Boy.  Luckily, I have a lot more patience than George Costanza.

Tax Time!

How many people are glad it's tax time?  I know I am!  I always get a big refund! Preparing for filing reminds me of the horrible year I had in 2014, because I will be filing with 5 W2 forms.  I got laid off on January 17th.  Then I worked only a few weeks in a group home for teen girls- it was not for me.  Then I worked for two different companies taking care of the elderly and disabled.  I was caring for my favorite client when I was offered a job as a CPS caseworker. It had been a few months since I'd interviewed, so I assumed I didn't get the job.  I also have a statement from my student loan company and a statement of expenses from my daughter's daycare.  I know my tax guy is going to ask me "You had five jobs?"  Yes I did.  Don't judge me, because I was always working and my bills were always paid!  A lot of people who are laid off stay home for several months, weeping in misery.  One of the companies that I worked for, Visiting Angels, asked me if I would consider coming back on just the weekends.  I said no, because being a caseworker is not just 9-5.  Here's to tax money and paying down/paying off debts.  (And perhaps a huge shopping trip)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

My trip to the grocery store

I went on a small grocery trip.  While what I really need is a large grocery store trip I settled on buying only a few staples to start out.  Here's what I got:
Milk- because there are a couple boxes of cereal in the pantry. 
Orange Juice- because the other ingredients for the adrenal cocktail are in the pantry. 
10 cups of yogurt because they were on sale. I brought two in the car today with a cold pack inside of a lunch bag. 
Butter and eggs to make cookies. 
A loaf of bread to make sandwiches!
Weight watcher's ice cream novelties. 
pasta- because there is sauce in the pantry
canned veggies- because there is broth in the pantry. 

I think I did pretty good at buying what I need to use what I have and make more room for a large trip later on. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

A video tour of my home

It's been trendy lately to post video tours of your home, so I decided to do the same.
Click Here to come and visit.

My favorite youtube videos.

I have terrible insomnia tonight, but I found some great videos on youtube.
Here's one on how to write a book in 24 hours.  I think anyone who is a blogger can write a book and publish it.  I want to write a book called The Child Advocate based on me and my career decision to help kids.  I believe it would be a best-seller and inspire and educate many people.  If only I could get it out of my head!

Here's one on coaching and what coaching means.  I want to start a business career coaching young adults from about ages 16-25.  I won't let my first negative nelly client get me down!  I'm currently reading a book on career coaching, but it's based on middle aged adults changing careers.  Young adults are a different clientele.

Here is an inspirational journal topic from my favorite youtube therapist, Kati Morton.  She is right.  Nothing you go through will be wasted.  Everything you go through teaches you something that you need to learn.  Sometimes I need to remind myself that, especially after the bad year I had.


I need so much help


One thing that I totally lost my way with is saving money on food.  My daughter and I go out to eat way too much.  I have anxiety about going to the grocery store, and there is never food in the house.  When there is food, it's frozen meals and leftovers from restaurants.  We eat too much McDonald's and Taco Bell.  I've gained 12-15 pounds.  It's just a mess.  I used to be so good with cutting coupons and cooking from scratch.  
A week ago, I bought healthy snacks for the car.  That was good, but they were dried vegetables from Whole Foods, and were also expensive.  Plus, they taste like Styrofoam.  Not that I've ever eaten styrofoam.  I just imagine it must taste like vegetable chips from Whole Foods.  
Frozen PB&J sandwiches was a good idea to make from scratch.  I just have to beat my anxiety to go to the store for bread.  I have the peanut butter and two kinds of jelly in the fridge.  Who knows why i have anxiety about the store.  Yesterday, I started to shop, and I was doing well.  Then I froze and left my cart in the aisle and walked out.  I drove back to my parents' house where my daughter was.  My daughter asked why I didn't have groceries.  I felt defeated.  If I can go through the drive up for a Big Mac, I can go to Walmart for a loaf of bread.    
What I really need is a good list of staples and a good chill pill to take before shopping.  I'm searching online for some general staple grocery lists and recipes.  Another good thing I used to love doing is to read my only cookbook, "Joy of Cooking" and pick 5-6 recipes to try.  The things I buy come from the ingredient lists.  
Otherwise, I just don't know anymore.  I think I also need a maid.  

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Garden ready

I cut down this mess this morning! It's my grapevine at my parents' house. It was a jungle. I got on a ladder and found out that it climbed all the way across the neighbor's back fence and the neighbor got all the good grapes! I was too depressed in 2014 to garden, but my 2015 garden will be the best yet! 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Wire pendants

I used up a roll of thick wire I had in the bathroom closet to make these beginnings of pendants. Thinner wire and beadwork designs go in the middle. I'm glad to not be depressed anymore. I can once again do the things I have always loved. Annalise made jewelry with me. It was a family affair. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The confused judge

Yesterday afternoon was a training given by a judge.  It was mandatory for all conservatorship workers in the region.  It was held in a large courtroom.  Everyone was grumbling, because nobody had time for this.
At first, the judge thought he was talking to investigators.  He kept talking about things specific only to investigations.  No one wanted to correct him, because he's such a person of power compared to us.  The head of court liasons stood up, took his microphone and said, "I think what the judge means is..." and proceed to at least try to make what he was saying relevant to our job.  Finally, one woman had the balls and raised her hand.  "That's investigation's job!" She said with no shame.  The judge admitted that he thought we were investigators, and we corrected him.  He apologized, and it was funny.  For the rest of the afternoon, we learned interesting and relevant things including the Holley Factors.  Another thing we learned is that this judge does not like for single parents to foster or adopt!  When I adopt or foster, I hope I don't end up in his court.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Was God really there?

At the first of the year I rededicated my life in church.  I started going back to church in the two following weeks and got baptized.  I then started being reminded of the tithe when I heard them asking for it in church.  I'm older and more reasonable now than I was when I went to church before.  Some of my new found faith is weakened.  How much of church is a business?  Did I really "find God" or was I being manipulated?  Did I fall on a weakness because 2014 was the worst year of my life?  To make matters worse I read statements from my church and others' from people who faithfully tithed over the years and then fell on hard times- the church was not there to help them out.  Something else that bothers me is that here in the south there seems to be churches on every corner.  They are only used a couple of times a week on average.  However we have so many homeless people.  What if homeless people could stay in churches?  Maybe I'm just trippin.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Ed Young sermon- tithe or don't go to church

I came across this video on youtube.  Normally I only like to share positive and uplifting things.  This video is not positive or uplifting at all!  But it does give a perspective about church that I think most of us have and don't want to admit.  At the end of the day is it all about showing the money?  I have opinions on both ends of that debate.  What does this do to people's faith if they don't have much money? 

Wire wrapping

Yesterday I wire wrapped some stones I had laying around. I used a hobby lobby gift card I won at Christmas to get cord to make necklaces. 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

More on church

I was a little baffled at the experience at church this morning with security.  (See post below.)  So I did some googling and found this article.  The bald dude in the pictures is the same guy that stood over me this morning and gave me the death stare while trying to get crowds out of the area.  I think he may be a necessary evil.  I have been at Lakewood before when there were street preachers accosting church members about hell and when someone stood up in the service and started shouting obscenities.  I heard of a time when someone was escorted out because he was trashing the bookstore and quoting the verses in the Bible where Jesus overthrew the tables in the temple.  There needs to be security.  I just got a little side tracked when I saw the security guard first hand and was at the forefront of a huge crowd being harshly moved out of the way.  I have to say it shook my new found faith a little.  But God never promised it would be easy- just that He'd always be with us. 
I went to New Beginnings class at church for a little while after this happened.  I left before the class even started.  I'm not sure if I'll continue my plans to attend all the classes at Lakewood.  A part of me is scared.  The rest of me knows that the fear is unfounded and exaggerated. 
Today just needs to be over!

Something happened at church

This morning Annalise begged me not to go to church.  I convinced her to go.  By the end of the service she was the one trying to convince me to come back next week.  She had a blast and I did not. 
During the service I was only half into it.  I was more in and out during praise and worship.  Afterwards I walked out into the lobby where there were crowds of people. I decided to wait in an area with stations for a communion service to start.  All of a sudden I got this overwhelming feeling come over me.  I just knew deep down that the next few moments would tell me whether it was the right thing to do or not to be at church. 
Just like I thought in the next few minutes some very important looking ushers came by and were very mean to me and everyone standing around there.  Apparently Joel Osteen was going to pass by and they didn't want a crowd.  The way they told everyone to move was heart wrenching. 
Then one man stood completely over me.  He looked at me for a few seconds solid.  His name tag said "personal security".  He didn't say anything.  I looked at him wide eyed and said "I'm leaving". 
As I scurried away I could hear him laughing loudly.  It was like a childhood nightmare.  Kind of like being kicked off the playground by the cool kids. 
Joel Osteen is a celebrity pastor.  He is on TV and is a best selling author.  He has his fair share of haters so I can definitely understand the security.  But I am most definitely not one of those haters.  On my way out I went up to another usher and described what happened and asked why it had happened in the way it did.  The usher asked me if the personal security asked me to leave.  No they didn't- but it was still very odd.  They were telling everyone to leave and just gave me personally a very odd look. 
I picked up Annalise from children's church and all the way home she was bragging about how much fun she had.  I was numb and trying to be attentive.  I'm still numb.  I wish my mom was home.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The eyeball lady

There is a cashier at the grocery store on my corner that has one eyelid completely taped back so that that one eye is totally bulging out.  I went through her line once before and had to force myself not to look.  It was creeping me out, and I felt guilty about being creeped out.  I figured she must have some kind of medical problem.  I vowed not to go through her line again and forgot about it.  Well today, she got back from break right as it was my turn in another line and the manager told me to go to her line.  I was happy to have the chance to skip ahead until I realized it was her.  I tried not to look while trying to make it seem like I wasn't trying not to look.  I don't want to judge people, but it was really scary looking!  I got the vibe that she could tell I was trying not to look, so I forced myself to look at her as she gave me change.  For the rest of the day, a panic attack escalated.  Jesus forgive me, I am so horrible!
I googled for possible medical reasons why someone might tape their whole eyelid back like that but there were none.  I started to get aggravated and paranoid and wondered if it was some kind of experiment or if I was on candid camera.  My panic attack got worse.  I have to force myself to forget about it.  God help me.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Nightmares

It's official.  Work is giving me nightmares.  Last night I dreamed that I was in jail and I got a letter from Annalise.  In Annalise's letter she told me all about her favorite Pokemons.  When I read the letter I started missing Annalise profusely and realized I would not see her until she was an adult because I was incarcerated. 
I had this dream because I work with several kids whose parents are in jail or prison.  One of them told me that she writes to her mom every day.  She was sad when she told me. 
Incarceration is not the only reason why parents and children are separated.  I also work with children whose parents are homeless and/or battling addictions.  So many dark sided things tearing families apart. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Late bonus

I got a late Christmas bonus! Here's what I used it for:
New glasses
New tires
Repairs on the car
A new car stereo. 
The car feels (and sounds) great now. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Career Coaching fail

One of my facebook friends has been posting that she can't figure out what to do with her life.  I have been wanting to start a business as a career coach so I took out some of my techniques and tried them on her in the comments.  I was not the only one.  Many people gave her suggestions.  The unfortunate thing is that she shot every one of them down.  She gave many reasons why she can't do any of the suggestions I or anyone else gave her.  It was disappointing.  I want to help people!  The truth is that you can't help someone unless they want to help themselves.  This is hard to accept though.  Especially after the bombshell I got today at work- the mom of one of the kids on my caseload called me and said she has decided she is not going to do her service plan because it would be too stressful.  She does not want her kid back anyway she said.  I was floored.  She was so non-chalant.  How does one just give up on their kids?  It's one thing to give up on yourself like my facebook friend.  It's another to give up on your children.  What is wrong with people?

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Baptism

Water baptisms are held some Saturday evenings at Lakewood.  I am so serious with my walk with God now that I took part in it.  They were right when they said that you feel like a new creature.  Out with the old and in with the new for sure.  Click here for a video of my baptism. 

food on the go (help)

With my job bringing a lunch does not work unless it's my "office day"  My office day is only one day a week.  Other than that I am a "mobile caseworker" and I do a lot of driving.  I go on visits and testify in court.  I also go to meetings in other locations.  I am driving a lot.  What I am in dire need of are ideas as to what kinds of foods I can keep in the car  I've discovered that frozen peanut butter and jelly sandwich rolls called "uncrustables" work well because I take them out of the freezer in the morning and they are perfectly thawed by lunch time.  But one cannot live by PB&J alone.  When I don't plan ahead and prepare for my meal times I end up at drive thrus which is unhealthy and expensive.  I am planning a shopping trip soon and I need ideas that will work for a car food stash.  Any advice appreciated. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Proof is in the Pudding

Tuesday night almost immediately after I got home from my counseling appointment where the therapist told me I was doing well enough to start coming less I got a phone call about one of the kids on my caseload.  This child had run away an hour before the phone call.  Suddenly I had to prove that anxiety and depression no longer ruled.  I cannot blog about this child because of confidentiality- this post is about me and how I handled it.  I ended up having to work from home a little bit until about 10:00 calling in an intake and documenting.  The next day in the office my boss reminded me of protocol for when a child runs away.  She listed off items to do and wrapped up her conversation with "And don't worry about it". 
I did them like a champ without once worrying.  I kept (and am still keeping) the faith that she will turn up. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Counseling good news

I had counseling this evening.  I brought Annalise with me and she played with the multitude of squishy balls.  I talked to my therapist about many examples in my life recently when I consciously stopped negative thoughts and mounding anxiety and got more realistic with situations. 
Because of the many examples I gave her she told me that she thinks I'm doing well enough to only go to counseling with her once a month.  Up until now I was going twice a month.  This is good news for me.  It gives me a boost to keep doing well. 

Monday, January 5, 2015

Jumping to Conclusions

In the middle of the morning I got an email from my boss saying "Call me".  That was it.  And that was weird!  She never does that.  She usually just emails what she wants to say or calls or texts.  Immediately I called her but she didn't pick up.  I waited about 8 minutes and she didn't pick up the second time.  I was panicking.  Was I fired?  Was I in trouble?  I texted her.  She texted me back that she'd call me in a few.  But 4 hours went by and she didn't call me.  Finally I called her again.  She said "Oh.  I was just wondering if you could transport a child but I got an aide to do it." 

OMG!  The conclusions that were going through my head!  Any idea of a "thought record" or stopping myself from jumping to conclusions were out the window.  If I was her boss I would have told her never to do that again. 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Self-publishing

One of my writing groups on facebook introduced me to the idea of self-publishing.  I have always seen publishing as an art containing constant rejecting and hiring an agent.  Very few do that any more.  A lot of people get discovered by agents by self-publishing.  The website recommended by my writing group got bad reviews in the comments but I did discover that a more legit way to self-publish is to do it through Amazon.  Amazon is  the first place people go to look for a book.  It seems most practical to do it through their self publishing program. 
Finding out about this and researching it takes one huge mountain out of the way when it comes to the dream of writing my book.  There are other mountains to overcome.  I'm hoping for answers to them that are just as easy as this one. 

I finally made it to church


After several months of being ambivalent at best and too depressed at worst I have finally made it to church on a Sunday morning.  I went to church at Lakewood.  I feel as though a lot of great things have happened because I went.  For one thing I've been struggling with stiffness in my arms and legs due to a medication I take.  This morning I surprisingly didn't experience it.  I felt like I should start going to church every Sunday.  I need to shake off the ambivalence and dive right into it.  Never mind that I have a couple of qualms with a couple things at Lakewood.  Never mind that so many other Christians think it's "not really Christian" (they'd probably say I'm not really Christian either so oh well).  I just feel like I should start afresh and anew and start over with church. 
Every Sunday an alter call is given.  You can take part in the alter call if you want to either become a Christian for the first time or if you want to rededicate your life.  I chose rededication since I became a Christian when I was 13.  I stood with many others who felt called to do the same thing.  An usher gave all of us a book called "New Beginnings".  After the service I went to the new beginnings class.  A very pretty Indian woman talked with me and prayed with me.  She was wonderful.  I am going to start going to new beginnings every week for the 8 week duration.  It's back to basics for me.  I'm letting go of all old bad feelings and receiving blessings like I used to when I used to go to church regularly. 
I'm also working on my vision board but am almost out of ink.  I need to go to Walmart not just for ink but for the actual poster board for the vision board.  I have cleared a space on the wall for it.  May God bless me and my family for real. 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Blogging to Book Writing

I really should get started on that book that's been in my head for the last 15 years.  I've "started" it a couple of times but what I got down on paper wasn't really "it".  The entire book is in my head.  It just can't come out.  I need to do something about it because it really is a good story.  I need to write parts of it on this blog for practice or do little creative exercises to get things flowing. 
The book is based on me but not entirely a memoir.  It's about dedicating your career life to helping kids-which I'm still living as a CPS caseworker.  I have blogged before about little memories here and there but doing that didn't really help. 
When I took my daughter to the children's museum for New Year's Eve (where I worked for 6 years) so many memories of working there came rushing in.  I wanted to go home and write them all down but I was too tired when I got home. 
I love facebook and I discovered the Writing Workshop Group where you can talk to others about writing.  I'm already in facebook groups for many other things so why not?  Hopefully someone or something in that group can help me snap out of a 15 year long writer's block. 
The other day I was stuck in traffic downtown during the evening rush hour.  I was right in front of the prettiest part of the skyline going south and the sun was setting to my right.  My absolute favorite song was playing on the radio- Hope in Front of Me.  It made me think about my book.  I thought to myself it must be time to start thinking of writing it and getting real about it.  Then I looked over at the sun.  The sunset was magnificent.  It was behind a cloud and there was an enormous semi-circle of very distinct rays.  I'd never seen anything like it.  This moment lasted until my song was over and right then traffic picked up.  I thought if anything is a sign that I should really get started on it then that was it. 

Friday, January 2, 2015

Creating a Vision Board

A Vision Board is not just any collage.  Each picture or phrase posted on an individual's vision board represents something they are aspiring to achieve or gain.  An old method of making one that I heard of a long time ago consisted of sifting through many old magazines and cutting out pictures that "spoke" to you.  The idea was that you would find pictures to represent all of your dreams and desires. 
The problem with this method is that not many people have enough stashes of magazines around to satisfy the odds of finding that many ideal pictures to represent your true goals.  Even then the pictures you find might not capture the idea you are shooting for 100%.  If you find an ideal picture to represent something you want then by all means clip it and put it away for a vision board.  But a better and more precise method to finding the perfect pictures is to do google image searches for the ideas you are trying to convey in your vision board. 
This week I am going to get to work on mine.  I have a few ideas that I know I want to search for images to represent.  They are: 1. children pursuing their own interests and passions (to support my 7 year old daughter).  2.  success as a child welfare social worker.  3.  Becoming debt free.  4.  Cash.  5.  Business ideas.  6.  Creativity.  7. having a dog.  8. writing.  9. advocacy.  10.  organization. 

Anything you can think of that you want for the present and future can be incorporated into a vision board.  It's a good idea to decoupage the pictures onto a posterboard.  Having it hanging up in a prominent place in your home where you will see it often will trigger your mind to do the things necessary to achieve those things.  Even if your goals are a long way off it's refreshing to be reminded of them to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel. 


An Orderly Home

I know I can't possibly be the only one who feels like my home only stays clean for about five minutes before becoming a disaster zone again.  It's a constant for me on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings to feel pumped enough to do all the housework.  I'll do a great job but then by Sunday evening it's a mess again.  I tried to remedy this by switching cleaning days to Thursday and Sunday.  Similar mishaps occurred.  My home is in its most extreme disarray on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. 
I feel like it's important to have the place neat and clean and organized on a regular basis so that it's easier for Annalise and me to focus.  I know that I am more focused when I am in orderly surroundings; I just can't seem to get myself there.  I know it has to do with the fact that we have two cats but sometimes it also seems like the place gets messy even when we aren't home all day. 
If this is your life then share why you think that is.  If you've discovered a way to overcome it then please share!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

My Resolutions 2015

  
It's finally 2015!  I'm really excited about this year.  2014 was horrible, but good and better came out of all the bad.  15 is a nice rounded number, too.  I think it's going to be a fantastic year.  I have some goals for this year.  They are:  Continue to work as a caseworker for CPS.  It's been a rewarding job.  Challenging but rewarding indeed.  I want my daughter Annalise to dive into everything that interests her so she can learn all she needs to learn in unique ways.  She absolutely loves school, but I want her to be a self-learner as well.  She is already much more of a go-getter at age 7 than I ever was. I would like to start a business I've had in my head for most of 2014- career coaching for young adults.  I'd like to cook more, get crafty again, and maybe get a dog.  I want to pursue a sideline writing career to see what comes of it.  I'd also like to have a really neat garden at my parents' house.  I almost always garden there, but it's never as prolific as I want it to be this year.  I would like to build up my cash stash and not be in such a hurry to pay off student loans.  As long as I pay the interest and then some, I am fine.  2015 means that I have been blogging now for ten years! Every now and then, I print out all my posts, delete, and start over.  This is the first post of probably my fifth blog, and it's the first year that I am going to have the balls to post my posts on facebook.  I'm also hoping to discover recipes and post them.