Thursday, August 27, 2015

Shame and Trust

I want to thank all of you for your feedback, support, and encouragement from the other day when I shared my decision to drop out of college for next semester. In addition to all the comments here on the blog, I also got a long list of comments on Facebook, which I appreciated also.

I was in charge of setting up this month's Bros Night Out with Nick and Tony, and we're getting together later tonight so I can tell them about my decision. I'm happy to say I don't have the anxiety and shame I had when I told them I was going to take "Incompletes" on my courses last semester. They were totally supportive of my decision then, and I have no doubt they'll be supportive this time, too.

One thing I'm learning is that I'm very capable of making good decisions. The thing that always screws with me is listening to that voice in my head that whispers, "There's something wrong with you." That's my shame talking, trying to convince me I'm "defective."

I can see a lot quicker and clearer now how that's a lie. It's an old toxic belief that pops up automatically, masquerading as the truth. I'm on to the lie now and it feels so liberating to call it out for what it is.

I also have to say how healing it was for me when I conclusively made the decision and said to Brad, "Okay. I've decided. This is what I'm going to do. I'm dropping out this semester." 

And he said, "How do you feel?" and I said, "Good. I feel good." 

And he smiled and said, "I'm proud of you."

At first that confused me. "Proud of me for dropping out?"

"No. Proud of you for making the right decision. The decision you figured out is right for you."

Oh... The validation and acknowledgment that I'm capable of making good decisions in my best interest.

I'm actually looking forward tonight to telling my brothers. I've always been close to them but things like this seem to draw us even closer.

I don't know how well I could have worked through this without Brad being there to listen and help me clarify my thoughts and feelings. He gave me some good things to think about, both pro and con, on all sides of the issue, without once telling me what he would do, or what I should do. That, to me, is the very picture of Respect and Trust.

Shame keeps me back. Trust moves me forward.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Soothing Summer Sounds

When I was maybe 15 or 16, I remember sitting outside on the back deck with my sister in the wee late hours on summer nights, talking about anything and everything. 

Sometimes I'd confide how worried I'd feel about my grades. Sometimes she'd share some of her hopes for her future. 

Sometimes I'd tell her how angry and confused I felt about our dad. Sometimes she'd tell me how frustrated she felt when our mother wouldn't let her date a particular boy.

Sometimes we'd tell each other jokes. Sometimes we'd play this game where we'd plan how we'd spend one million dollars if we won the lottery.

And sometimes we'd be quiet, close our eyes, relax, and just enjoy the magical and mesmerizing sounds of the cicadas.

Sometimes we'd still be on the back deck talking until 2 a.m. Those memories are still so important to me. I could be "Just Brad" and she could be "Just Sharon." We never judged each other about anything. It was so nice not to censor what we said to each other.

The other night Matty was having trouble sleeping. For some reason his cough from that head cold we thought had run its course returned. 

He was so upset about the cough returning, and I could tell he felt awful about waking me up. I remembered Matt's dad telling us once that consciously relaxing yourself helps with respiratory problems. Almost on a whim, I told him, "Let's go sit outside on the deck. Maybe that'll help."

So around 3:30 a.m., we got out of bed and went outside to our back deck. So there we were, in our underwear, sitting on our lounge chairs, just listening to the soothing summer sounds of the cicadas performing their summer concert.

After about 10 minutes, Matty's cough gradually subsided. We just sat there, in silence, enjoying the peace and quiet. Those cicadas have the most peaceful, rhythmic sounds.

After about 45 minutes, I was so relaxed I drifted to sleep. I could tell Matty was holding my hand, and that made me go into a deeper and peaceful sleep.

Matty was so relaxed his coughing stopped. I eventually woke up and he knew I wanted to go back to bed, so he walked me back inside. But he wanted to stay out on the deck, and that's where he spent the remainder of the night.

There's something magical about those soothing summer sounds. Even to this day I'm still fascinated by the rhythmic and soothing cadence of the cicadas on a late summer night.

And I'm so lucky to have someone special to share that magical time with. I love sharing those sweet soothing summer sounds with My Matty.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

I failed but am NOT a failure

Instead of beating around the bush and writing a buildup that sets the stage for what I'm going to say (which is my usual style), I'm just going to get to the point.

I've decided to drop out of school for the upcoming semester. I'm not ready to make a decision about dropping out of school permanently. But that's on the table. As is the option of putting school on hold for a while. But I'm definitely dropping out for the upcoming semester.

I haven't really talked to anyone about this except Brad, who helped me think it through. I'm telling my family and select friends later this week.

Before getting to why this is the right decision for me, let me go back over what I explained in an earlier post this past Spring. The hellish process I went through then explains a lot of this. 

If you remember, I took "Incompletes" on my courses last semester. I have never been so overwhelmed in my life. 

We suffered roof damage from the back-to-back-to-back snow blizzards. The transmission in Brad's relatively new car died. My nightmares about being ambushed and attacked in high school became more frequent and horrific. 

In spite of having a tutor to help me work around my learning disabilities, I would crash and burn when I tried to complete school assignments. I had a panic attack in public when some firecrackers exploded, and then again when some unexpectedly loud noises shattered my personal space, which in turn triggered some horrific flashbacks. 

I initiated a very difficult conversation with Brad's father when I apologized for threatening him very early after Brad and I declared our love for each other... about how he better never, ever hurt Brad again. I finally agreed to begin therapy for what got diagnosed as PTSD. I overextended myself this winter in helping people shovel the 4 to 5 feet of snow off their roofs.

My plan was to complete the coursework for those "Incompletes" from last semester before this Fall semester, and begin this upcoming semester with a fresh start. I tried. I swear I tried. But life happened and so many things got in the way. 

So looking at that chart up there, I failed. I don't have any trouble admitting that. That's not a negative reflection on my character. I don't think I could have tried harder. I don't think there's anything else I could have done better or differently.

Maybe I could have taken those fast-acting ADHD meds at night (which my doctor said I could on an occasional basis) so I could have stayed awake and studied harder. Maybe I could have been more disciplined. But I'm always very tired at the end of the day after working my job. My meds are metabolizing out of my system at night and I've always relied on my grounding meditations to keep me level. Plus, those fast-acting meds keep me awake all night.

When I come home at night, all I want to do (and need to do) is relax, unwind, joke around with friends, go for a run, woodcarve, go for a swim at the gym, relax on the back deck, get out my telescope at night and look at the constellations.

I know if I don't take care of my mental health, my physical health is at risk. And right now there's no amount of scrambling I can do to get those "Incompletes" taken care of. 

My faculty advisor and Department Head have approved some exceptions to the policy on "Incomplete" grades. They've extended the time beyond what is generally allowed, for which I am very grateful.

I took the year off between high school and college so I could work full-time and save tons of money. Obviously college has been important to me. But now I'm questioning whether I even want (or need) to finish. I don't need a college degree to do what I'm going to do professionally. It's really more of a safety net than anything else. I do value how it's helped my critical thinking skills, but it's more of a luxury than a necessity in terms of employment.

Back to the list up there of "failing" versus "being a failure." I have failed to meet some of my goals. I'm dropping out of this upcoming semester, but this is NOT the end of my journey. 

I finally feel good about my decision. I've worked through my shame and I'll keep moving forward. Slow progress still counts, right?

In the meantime, I can concentrate on my mental and physical health. I need both in order to be in good shape to be the success I know I'm capable of.

I don't mind failing. But I will not be a failure.

Monday, August 24, 2015

My carvings

Thank goodness my awful head cold is almost completely gone. I still have a little cough, but I'm headed back to work today. 

Over the weekend I had wanted to do some wood carvings, but with my sneezing, coughing, and just plain yucky feeling, I didn't dare trust the steadiness of my hands. I wound up in the emergency room a few years back when I was a little unsteady and one of the very sharp carving knives slipped and I gouged my hand. So, lesson learned.

Thought I'd periodically show off some of my wood carvings. I have an estimated total of about three dozen objects. I'm pretty proud of what I've accomplished.

The first two pics are the same carving I did of a Wood Spirit. I have a really cheap camera that makes awful pictures. The two I'm showing today were made from the camera I have on my Kindle Fire. I tried to manipulate the color on the second one and think I made it look worse. Then I tried to take away the adjustments and almost deleted the pic. So this will just have to do:

Here's a little article on Wood Spirits in case you're interested.

The wood is something I found while Brad and I were out on a bike ride recently. The whole carving (including painting it) took about a week to make.

This past November I started working on Christmas carvings. This one is white pine and is my favorite:
And in case you missed my past posts, here once again is a pic of the 7-inch two-headed cock I carved:
And some penguins I carved:

 Anyway, hope you enjoy.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sundays with Sam: Remember to smile

Hi every one! It's Sunday again so it must be time for Sam-I-Am! Hope every one is having a good day.

I think you guys remember me talking about some one by the name of Rick, right? What? That doesn't ring a bell? Hmmm. Maybe I could give you some back ground or a few hints to refresh your memory because I know I have mentioned him before. Let's see.....

Oh wait. I think I know what might help you remember. Ready? Okay, here goes.

Rick is also known as "RICK, my BOYFRIEND." HA HA! Now do you remember? I know, I know. My sense of humor is a little corny, but I hope I put a little smile on your face today.

I have spent a big part of my life with out smiling and now that things are turning around, I like to think I can help others smile. I know you can not smile all the time because life is just not like that. But I try to remember to find things to be grateful for, and then it is easier to find a smile.

For example, RICK (my BOYFRIEND) has been gone for a week now on a two-week vacation with his family. And even though I miss him very much, it makes me smile to know his family means so much to him.

I have been spending some fun time with my house mates, and even cooked a big spaghetti dinner for us one night. Spaghetti seems to have become my specialty now and they all say I do a very good job with it.

They even gave me a nick name which makes me smile. When it is my turn to cook, they write my name on the Chore Assignment List like this: "Thursday dinner: Spaghetti Boy." Ha Ha!! You can see why that makes me smile. I love this kind of kidding around.

And remember Beth, Matty's sister-in-law? I've been over there a couple of different times helping her with some gardening and landscaping, which was so much fun. And it made me so happy to see her happy. I love helping people out like that, especially when you can teach them some new things about how to make their property look really nice.

She's so sweet, too, because when I explain and teach her something she didn't know, she gets a Surprise Face and then she smiles from ear to ear. So naturally that makes me smile, too.

I still miss RICK very much, even though I find things that help me smile during the week. I talk to him a few times each day and especially before I go to bed at night. Oh man, that makes me smile! And he said he would read my post today (Hey, baby!), and that makes me smile very BIG!

And I hope all of you know it makes me smile that you read my post each Sunday. I hope that some times I can help you smile, too. Sure, I know life is not always fun and games and we can't smile all the time. Some times we (me included) go through difficult times and it is hard to have a smile.

But just remember that bad things (hopefully) run their course and friends are there for you. And some times we have to search hard for things to bring a smile to our face.

So I will leave you today with the hope that you can find one or two (or even more) things that can help you find a smile. Those things are out there and some times we have to look hard. I know that from personal experience.

So until next Sunday, I hope you have a good week. And remember to smile, okay? That's an order! LOL

Love and HUGS from Sam-I-Am!

Friday, August 21, 2015

I hab a code

I hab a code. 

'Scuse me, I need to blow my nobe.



Hopefully I am on the tail end of a very annoying head cold. I've had it for the past couple of days, and just as it seemed to be running it's course, it refused to loosen its grip on me. My sniffles returned. And the nasal congestion? Threw my voice into a deep range that qualifies me to audition for the baritone or bass in a gospel quartet! Oh, and I'm dragging my butt through the day. No fever, though.

Oh man, you have no idea how much I hate being sick. Talk about grumpy. Talk about irritable. Talk about moody. Not a pretty picture.

I was scheduled to volunteer in the Children's Room at the public library tomorrow, and I've been looking forward to that all week. Now that's off.

I'm talking to my dad about how to get some relief from this. Brad will verify that I'm a Big Baby when I'm sick. But I've learned over the years that being aware I get whiney helps me keep it to a minimum.

I took off work on Wednesday... returned yesterday (big mistake)... and I'm taking off again today. Grrrr, but I hate being sick!! Can you tell? :)

The humidity here has been in the oppressive range, and that's not helped with my congestion and breathing.

Anyway, hope everyone has a nice weekend!

Lub n hubs, Gwumpy Matty.

Oops. 'scuse me  'gen.


Love and hugs, Grumpy Matty

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Pacing myself

I've had a few really good things happen to me in a condensed period of time. I'm absolutely not complaining about the good things, mind you. But I'm totally not use to keeping everything straight and slowing myself down. 

I'm still on a high from the weekend away, which is such a good feeling. I don't know if this makes any sense, but to me it felt like some kind of rite of passage.

I have to confess I'm having a hard time writing up everything I want to share here. So many things happened and I wish I could give a minute by minute account, almost like wanting you to be there with me. I know I'll have to spread things out over the next few weeks. But first let me describe my accommodations.

They gave me my own room in the Pool House out back, which was really cool. It had a full bar and a kitchenette with tons of snacks. And there was a change area and full shower. And a really nice wide-screen TV. And there was an area in the corner with a sleeper sofa, which was where I slept.

And getting the new luggage from my dad proved to be more of a major thing than I realized at first. I mean, it was huge that he did that, but for some reason it didn't hit me full-force until I arrived at the Retreat and started unpacking. 

So when I was unpacking my luggage, it really hit me. I got teary thinking about how my dad took the time to get the luggage as a gift for me. When I wrote about this a while back, a few of you mentioned how for some parents this is sometimes a tradition and maybe a symbol of "sending their child into the world." Believe me, that was on my mind.

While unpacking, I didn't collapse into a pool of tears, but I did get a little teary-eyed. It was kind of like having a connection with my dad at the Retreat, and it felt really nice.

When everyone was ready to call it a night, it was so nice to retreat to my own space. I couldn't wait to talk to Matty and hear his voice and find out what he was up to, and try to summarize my day for him.

I think I'm just rambling now. But I want to document how I'm processing all this so I can preserve these memories for myself, and also to include all of you in this journey I'm on. Your support and encouragement has helped me more than you might know. And I guess this is my way of saying Thank You.

I need a little more time to select what I'd like to highlight and share with you. But in the meantime, thanks for being here for me.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Life lessons from unlikely sources

Gender-neutral toys
and positive parenting

Some large mainstream retailers recently decided to stop classifying toys based on what "traditional culture" has determined to be "girl toys" and "boy toys."

I don't know if this issue is still raging like it was last week, or maybe it was a couple weeks ago, but for some reason I didn't go ballistic like I do when people (especially on social media) start saying things like "Kids with ADHD should stop taking medication." Instead, their "cure" would be hitting them repeatedly with a leather belt until they behave.

Maybe because I saw so many people in the mainstream saying what the hell difference does it make which toys kids play with when they're doing what comes naturally to kids... which is playing in the realm of imagination.

Of course there was the usual chorus of some religious and political conservatives who always get the vapors when there's any deviation from their moral universe. Their anxiety spikes and panic sets in when they see "their" world changing. 

But the controversy appeared to run its course and these retailers are eliminating aisles for "boy toys" and "girl toys." And once again we woke up the next day and the earth was still orbiting the sun, and there were no reports of fire raining down on the planet. Imagine that!

I got to thinking about how this issue relates to parenting. When it comes to gender-neutral toys for children, I related this to the advice Brad got this past weekend from the chefs: 

"Rely on the basics, mix in your imagination, trust your instinct, and don't be afraid of anything new."

He's right about how it can be applied to many things in life. Just like Brad put this advice in his Chef Journal, I'm adding this to my Parenting Journal

Who knew a group of professional chefs would not only be influencing Brad's culinary career, but would also indirectly influence one aspect of how we plan to raise our children?

I LOVE learning life lessons from unlikely sources. Don't you?

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A new recipe for life

I'm just stopping in very briefly to say I can't wait to tell you guys about my chef weekend! I need a little time to organize my thoughts and then to write out the highlights. But I will say this now:

From a professional and career standpoint, this weekend will go down as a MAJOR step forward! I learned SO much, not only about food preparation and cooking, but about myself, too.

I have SO much more confidence in myself and see SO much hope for my future career!

I'll go ahead and share this, and promise to elaborate shortly. The biggest and most helpful feedback I got from these very accomplished chefs was I need to trust my "natural instincts" more. 

Every one of them said I already think like a chef (WOW! HOW ABOUT THAT?!!). They explained that I was right on track in mastering the basics. One chef said he was surprised I hadn't had any formal culinary training, at which point I looked over at my Chef and smiled and he nodded, as if he was thinking, "I told you so."

They said I shouldn't have any trouble mastering the basics, which would then allow me the freedom to discover and create my own personal style. And they kept reminding me to trust my instincts. "Rely on the basics, mix in your imagination, trust your instinct, and don't be afraid of anything new."

I had to memorize that so I could write it down in my Journal later. But isn't that incredible advice? AND... isn't that incredible advice for life?!!!

I'm still on such a high right now! Can you tell? I swear I haven't had a chance to organize and process everything yet. Every time I remember something, I have to immediately write it down so I won't forget it.

I know I kept both Matty and myself awake waaaay past our bedtime on Sunday night after I got home. But I was SO excited! And it made me SO happy he was so excited for me, I just couldn't stop talking.

You guys were so right about how I shouldn't be intimidated but see this as an opportunity. And that's exactly how it turned out. I'm almost afraid to say there's no stopping me now. The validation and support I got feels a little surreal. But I'm trying to totally absorb their basic advice:

"Rely on the basics, mix in your imagination, trust your instinct, and don't be afraid of anything new."

Monday, August 17, 2015

Rex is a Babe Magnet

OMG! Rex has grown up! But I have to say I initially wondered about his maturity level. After all the years my mom had him in storage, he's not had that many opportunities to develop into a Fine Young Man! I had to keep my eyes on him until I knew how he was going to act in public.

I discovered on Saturday he's ------ A Babe Magnet!
But first a little update and background.

I'm writing this post on Sunday morning, so Chef Bradley hasn't returned from his Weekend Retreat yet.

So you remember, Brad left for his Chef Retreat shortly after lunch on last Friday afternoon. My parents invited me to dinner on Friday night so I guess they could see I was getting a square meal since I had told them I stocked up on plenty of Fruit Loop cereal! HAHA! I was just kidding, but even after all these years, my mom said she still can't tell if I'm joking sometimes.

I was over there also to be reunited with Rex, my childhood stuffed dinosaur. He was going to be my Weekend Snuggle Buddy while Brad was away. Dinner was so wonderful! Both my parents, Nick, and Tony and Beth were there!! 
My very own Weekend Support Team! 
I am SO happy to report... 

AND she also located Nick and Tony's childhood stuffed Teddy Bears! It was SO much fun talking about the many memories we all had about these Comfort Creatures.

When I got home later that evening, I took Rex around the house and showed him where I lived now. I got a little sad at one point because Rex has never met Brad. So I showed him some pictures and told him where Brad was for the weekend. I also told him how much I loved Brad, and when I told him Brad and I are getting married, I could tell by the look in his eyes, and the expression on his face, that he was overjoyed!

Rex was so delighted to cuddle up next to me in bed. After a few moments, I told him, "Hey buddy. How about this. We're back together again!" I swear he actually leaned in so he could snuggle a little closer. Before we went to sleep, we reminisced about old times!

I woke up several times during the night and was a little disoriented. Without Brad there, I worried I might feel lost. And I did in one way, but I'm happy to report I didn't have any nightmares.

On Saturday I decided to take Rex for a little ride in my truck. I knew he would enjoy that. So for lunch on Saturday we rolled down the windows and headed to this cool bakery/deli/bodega for lunch. I know the owners there and they always cut up with me when I stop by.

So I carried Rex inside and introduced him to the owners, Stan and Hazel. Oh my God! They made such a welcome fuss over him! So they motioned for Rex and I to sit at my favorite table by the window. Rex wanted to sit on the table so he could see what was going on. 

Everybody who came in immediately saw Rex and I, and we got some fun conversation going. The little kids ADORED him so much. And get this! First, two teenage girls stopped by the table to meet Rex! Then these two college-age girls stopped by, and then another two high school girls came over! And Rex LOVED the attention. 

OMG! If I was a single straight guy I'd call Rex my Babe Magnet! HA HA!! Not that I'd intentionally use him like that, but Rex LOVED the attention!

I know this may sound a little off-beat or something, but I swear having him around helped me not feel so lonely. Rex and I were pretty inseparable when I was a little kid so I think having those associations, and that connection, to my past explains things.

Brad is returning later this evening (Sunday), and I'm so excited about introducing them to each other. I really, really missed Brad so much. When we talked on the phone throughout the weekend, it was so wonderful to hear his voice and especially his excitement about how everything was going.

Even though I was so happy to be reunited with Rex this weekend, I hope his feelings aren't hurt when he realizes we won't be Snuggle Buddies after Brad returns. I figure that since he got use to bring a Babe Magnet, I'll probably have to use Babe Magnet Language to explain that Brad is my Main Squeeze!

And after meeting Brad, I'm sure he'll understand why!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Sundays with Sam: From me to you

Hi every one! It's me, Sam-I-Am!

First, I know Brad is away on his cooking weekend (HOPE YOU'RE HAVING FUN, BRAD!), so I talked to him earlier in the week because I always send him my post so he can get it on here and scheduled for Sunday.

I did not want my post to be one more thing he had to take care of because I knew he was getting ready and packing all his clothes (OMG, Brad! TEN pairs of underwear? LOL!!), so I asked him if maybe I should send the post to Matty instead. And he told me, "No, that's okay. Just send it to me. I have plenty of time. Matty is a little stressed about running out of food while I'm gone." HA HA HA!! Oh man! Well, Matty, I hope you make it with out Brad. You can do it! But just give me a call if I can rush some emergency food over to you! HA HA HA!

Second, I want to send a BIG THANK YOU to every one who wished me a Happy Birthday last week! It meant a LOT to me. When I was growing up, my Grandma always celebrated my birthday. And now there are so many people sending me Happy Birthday wishes and it means so much to me!

I had a GREAT birthday last Saturday! RICK my BOYFRIEND) spend Friday night with me and early Saturday morning I got a delivery of TWO dozen red roses! What a way to start the day!

And then all through out the day, RICK would give me what he said were "small" gifts. Well, believe me, I did not think they were "small" gifts because any gift from RICK (or from any body) is BIG to me because it means he was thinking about my Birthday and planning to make it very nice for me.

One gift was a small box of chocolate covered cherries! OMG I LOVE chocolate covered cherries!

And then he got me a small (hand-held) mirror that has this printed at the bottom of the mirror:
"This is to see how beautiful you are every day."☺
And then he gave me a selection of scented candles!

And he put a really nice picture of the two of us in this BEAUTIFUL silver frame and I have it on the night table next to my bed so it is the first thing I see each morning!

I also got a gift card for Dunkin' Donuts (my favorite place for coffee!).

Oh, and he gave me a really, really nice Journal that is similar to this:
And then he gave me his big surprise gift, and it was the most beautiful Sterling Silver Necklace link chain! It is SO beautiful! And I wear it every single day! It looks very similar to this:
And then he took me out to eat at this really nice Italian restaurant. Italian is my favorite kind of food and we had a really nice time!

I know I am emphasizing all the beautiful gifts I got from RICK, but the best gift of all was how much planning he put into making my Birthday special. I guess what I am trying to say is this:

If you could see the look on RICK's face when he would hand me each gift, you would know he was enjoying this Day just as much as me!

My Birthday also made me realize some thing I have been trying to accept. Well, that is not the best way to put it. Maybe it is some thing I am slowly accepting. And it is how much I have grown over the past few years. I know I am a year older, but inside I go back and forth between feeling like a Happy Child and a Happy Adult, and then some times I am somewhere in between.

And I need to keep accepting that I am not worthless like I use to believe. Like I said in my post last week (which I took from my Birthday post one year ago), when I was little, I never believed I would live very long. But I am NOT that person now. I have grown a LOT and I keep growing and I think I will have a GOOD life now.

Well, that last sentence should be changed to "I AM HAVING A GOOD LIFE NOW!

I sincerely appreciate all of you being part of my Family. I know it is an Online Family but I swear during the week I think about things you guys tell me. And I am very good at telling the difference between compliments that are just "just words" and compliments that come from some one's Heart.
And so this❤is from me to You.
Love and Hugs,


Friday, August 14, 2015

My weekend buddy

That's right. While my beautiful Brad is away this weekend, I invited an old buddy to spend the weekend with me.

Meet Rex. What you see above is an image I found of my childhood buddy. I was so totally fascinated with dinosaurs when I was a little kid. But I liked the Tyrannosaurus best. Not exactly sure why. I just gravitated to that genus and wanted to know everything I could find out about them.

So My Brad leaves early this afternoon for his Chef Retreat. My parents invited me over for dinner tonight, and I'm really looking forward to that. I'm pretty sure my brother Nick will be there, too.

They know this will be the first time since we moved in together that we've been separated. I actually asked my mom if she knew where Rex was. I hadn't planned to even ask her that, and it sorta surprised me. Maybe because she was asking what my plans were for the weekend. 

After explaining some of my plans, I told her I suspected one of the toughest parts was going to be sleeping by myself. This sorta led into her asking me if I remembered how I could never settle down and go to sleep as a kid unless Rex was snuggled up to me.

Naturally that brought back all kinds of memories. My mom could tell my voice was getting quieter as I remembered all this. That's when I asked if she knew where Rex was. And that's when she said, "Honey, why don't you come over for dinner Friday night. I think I know where Rex might be." Well, that's all I needed to hear. 

Rex was very important to me as a little kid. He knew all my secrets and never once judged me. He even helped me out a lot when I had a problem and didn't want to confide in anyone. I would explain what was bothering me and then would listen carefully inside my head for what I imagined he would say.

As weird as it might sound, many times I would find my thoughts about the problem starting to shift. He also really helped me figure out what to do with any angry feelings I might be having. He never judged me. I would explain things and wait to see if he had any ideas about what I should do.

Also, before my ADHD was diagnosed and I went on medication, my parents and I had appointments with a counselor who helped me learn how to control and manage various behaviors. And also to help my parents find ways to respond to me when I got overloaded with too much stimulation.

I still remember the counselor and I discussing Rex and how he would help me. She even figured out a way my parents could change Time Out so I could work through my "sentence" a lot quicker. Originally when I was sentenced to Time Out, I wasn't allowed to have access to a toy. But when the counselor saw that Rex helped me solve my problems, she suggested they let me bring Rex to "Time Out Prison."

So I would sit there and tell Rex how angry I was, and how unfair and mean my parents were, and he'd listen and I would feel calmer. And then he and I would come up with a solution to what got me sent to Time Out Prison. Once I was calm, I could see how I didn't handle the situation the best way. 

When Rex and I were ready to talk to whoever sent me to Time Out, he would be right there in my arms encouraging me to tell them my feelings in an appropriate way and explain how I could have handled things better. 

And Rex was also my Protection Dinosaur when I went to bed. He sacrificed a lot for me by staying awake all night to make sure no monsters bothered me while I slept.

I haven't seen Rex in years. So I'm looking forward to dinner with my family tonight and catching up with Rex. And you know what? I'm not even going to be embarrassed when I kiss my parents good night and leave with Rex.

And while I'm waiting for Brad to call, I'll be showing Rex around the house. And then when it's bedtime, Rex will be right there with me as I try to fall asleep. I hope he gets a little shut-eye, too, because I no longer need protection from monsters. I just need him by my side to keep me company during the night.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Following my dream

Hey! Anybody remember me?
This will be my first post this week and I just wanted to check in briefly to say hello and give you a brief update on preparations for my Chef Retreat Weekend!

In summary, I AM SO EXCITED!

I can tell Chef is also excited because he's been more talkative this week. He's basically a man of few words and can be hard to read because he's SO focused on what he does. 

He's also not someone who enjoys small talk which is fine with me because I can be like that, too. But he's actually been making small talk with me this week! He mentioned the weekend a few times because he wanted to make sure I had good directions there. It's about an hour and a half one-way.

He chuckled when I told him Matt had gone to different map services and printed out different routes I could take. I could tell he was about to point out that the route is basically Point A to Point B with a few left turns and a few right turns, so I preempted him by explaining that Matt enjoys doing this sort of thing. 

I've really been enjoying picking out the clothes to take. It's just for Friday night, all day Saturday, and half-day Sunday, but I was so excited about the luggage my dad gave me, I sorta wanted to pack it full! 

Matt was getting a kick out of the stack of underwear I laid out on the bed (10 pair), along with 5 slacks, 2 pair jeans, 8 shirts, 5 pair of short pants, 7 pair of socks, 3 belts, 6 tee shirts, 3 pair of shoes (one pair tennis shoe, one pair dress shoe, one pair canvas shoe), 1 pair sandals, two sweaters (in case the home is cold to counter the heat from the kitchen), along with 2 bedtime slippers, 4 pair of pajamas, 2 bath robes (one velour and one seersucker), 4 swim suits (board shorts) in case we take a dip in the pool, 1 light-weight jacket (wind-breaker), 1 hoodie, 1 rain poncho, 1 umbrella, 2 pair sunglasses.
What?! I'm excited!
But I am nothing if not practical so I winnowed things down to the basics.

But seriously, I've worked through almost all my basic insecurities about being with these accomplished chefs. You guys keep reminding me that I don't need to go in there as a peer. And that none of them are going to see me as a peer. It's actually comforting to know that as a student, I'm free to ask all kinds of questions -- even questions with answers that might be totally obvious to them. 

Chef also said everyone there will know my "knowledge base" is limited compared to theirs. In addition, he also said my "skill set" is also limited compared to theirs. And in a conspiratorial whisper, he smiled and said, "These guys have huge egos. They're going to be dying for you to ask questions so they can show off." We both laughed at that, so that relaxed me even more.

And if I have an idea that might have merit, I plan to work it into the conversation as a question. Like, "For the marinade, would cutting back on the vinegar and adding some lemon juice work?"

Well, there you have it. This will be the last you'll hear from me until sometime next week. I really am SO psyched about this opportunity! Can you tell I'm excited?

And I LOVE the image I used up there. It feels so good to know I'm heading in the direction of one of my life dreams.
Talk to you next week!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

My weekend adventure

My post on Monday was fully intended as a bit of fun and humor. The one yesterday was a little more serious as I was talking about using the weekend as a time to get caught up on some reading, which I don't have a whole lot of time for in the evenings or the weekends.

Today, I want to just share a few thoughts on something I mentioned a short while back as I was talking about how excited I was feeling that Brad was invited to the Chef Weekend.

I wrote THIS POST entitled "Being alone and making it count." 

Two paragraphs I wrote stand out to me:
But this opportunity Brad has now, got me to thinking about what it's going to be like without him. Sure, it's just a weekend, but this will be the first time we've been apart in our 5 ¹/2 years together. Like I said the other day, I'm so use to all our routines and how we've settled into the "flow" of our relationship.
I don't want to just fill my time with mindless busy work to keep from missing him. I want this time to mean something for me also. To see it as an opportunity. Just as Brad is seeing this as an opportunity for him.
In spite of the humor I've been using, I seriously am looking forward to this weekend because of the opportunity it gives me. Sure, I'll miss Brad like crazy. But, like I said, I want to use this first separation as an opportunity.

One of the "gifts" of ADHD (for me) is that I'm rarely bored. Sure, sometimes I get restless and irritable if I have all this energy and can't find a way to channel it. But my brain hates to be bored. So if I start feeling I'm headed that way, my brain starts generating a constant flow of ideas to fill that vacuum. 

So here are a few thoughts I'm having now about seeing this weekend as some kind of "adventure."

1. I don't see my entire life organized around my relationship with Brad. He is the most important person in my life. I seriously cannot imagine him not being in my life. But my entire life is not organized around him, in the same way his entire life is not organized around me.

2. A big portion of my life is organized around my work. A big portion is organized around family and friends. A big portion is organized around planning to become a parent. A big portion is organized around clarifying and organizing plans to make a major contribution of certain children's issues. (More to follow soon on plans my brothers and I have been working on for years.)

3. This upcoming weekend (the very first time we've ever been separated) feels huge... and a bit unsettling. I have absolutely no prior experience I can look back on to give me a clue as to what this will feel like. 

4. What will it be like to be "single" this weekend? Will I "go with the flow" and experience the weekend on a moment-by-moment basis? Will I feel the need to have chunks of time organized around planned activities? Or some balance of the two?

5. Will I see this weekend as an opportunity to enjoy an experience I've never had before? To loosen up and just relax and enjoy myself? To see it as a mini-adventure?

Even though I'm going to miss Brad like crazy, I'm actually curious (like in an adventure) to see what I'll do to enjoy myself. And to see what I learn about myself.

It's so cool I don't see this as me "over thinking" everything. Or as being obsessive. I don't think this deserves a negative label. Because you know what? This is me working through my process. And I'm at a point in my life where I really like my process. It totally works for me.

Yep. I'm looking forward to seeing this weekend as an adventure. One I've not had before. And it's going to be my adventure. 

Brad is planning to check in with you guys tomorrow. And I'll back on Friday. Have a GREAT day today.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The countdown - Day 2

It's Day Two now in preparing myself for Brad being away on his Chef Weekend Retreat. 

I rarely have much time to read, and thought maybe I can use the weekend to make some headway in my reading. 

Even though I automatically wake up around 4:30 a.m. each morning, there is no way I can use that time to read. Seriously. My energy level at that time of morning borders on the hyperkinetic! After I take my med, I start slowing down and can organize my thoughts in a productive way, but then I'm ready to walk out the door and drive to work.

But maybe this weekend I can plan some serious reading time! Here's what I'm in the middle of right now:
This is such an incredibly good book! I'm a slow reader even under the best of circumstances, and I'm only in chapter 5 right now. The learning disability slows me down, and I have to make sure my ADHD brain can concentrate and focus. But this book has captured my interest. Not only is it entertaining in the best sense of that word, I think it's probably in line for that category I call "Important Books."

I recently finished Cronin's Key by N.R. Walker. It's one of the best vampire stories I've read in a long time. It's smart, intelligently written, and takes its place alongside some of the classics in the vampire canon.

Also high on my TBR list is A Forbidden Rumspringa by Keira Andrews. Heard so many good things about this one.

But for this upcoming weekend, I'm totally concentrating on AJ's book. The suspense, the romance, the adventure... it's got it all. And I LOVE books that involve the unknown and the possibility of survival itself. And I have a feeling this one will test the limits on a very basic level of what it means to be human.

So assuming I'm not on a sugar high this weekend (see yesterday's post), I'm really looking forward to some serious reading!