Tag Archive | midlife crisis

A very good place to start

“So…you mentioned ‘epic’ in your last post. Care to elaborate?”

Oh, yeah.

I should probably explain that.

And why I know this time is different.

(I know…how many times have I said that. I have journals and diaries going back decades that attest to my high failure rate at making any lasting changes in any aspect of my life. So why is it different now?)

After my last Maci-related posts here, I drifted in apathy and sadness and nothingness. Slept a lot. Ate more. Wallowed endlessly. Got further out of control in pretty much every aspect of my life.

Cut to November 9.

That was the day that I decided I needed a new start — an extreme new start.

[I grew up in a household full of wonderful clutter. The difference between that home and mine is that my mother was neat and tidy by nature (where I’m messy and lazy) and so our houses were always charming and homey in their clutter. And my mother was a serial collector — giving away the contents of one collection when another was started — rather than a hoarder.

When my mother died, my attitude towards “stuff” began to change. You can’t take it with you, and if I were to die, there was nothing I owned that anyone would struggle to (or want to) keep — at best, things to be sold off to get rid of them; at worst, they would just be tossed out. If it wasn’t making me happy to have it around me, then why keep it? My attachment to my “stuff” was weakening, but the situation I was in was overwhelming.]

Trying to fix things while staying put where I was wasn’t working for me. It was long past time for a change.

“Portable” became my new mantra.

I put in my notice on my apartment and found a room to rent in someone else’s house. Rented a small storage unit and a mail box.

I threw away most of my belongings, and I do mean “most”, including almost all of the books that I’d been desperately holding onto for decades, every piece of furniture I owned, my television, and most of my computer equipment. (I know — it seems a waste to have thrown out so many functional and usable items, but ultimately that excuse has been keeping me from decluttering properly for years and if I held onto things now long enough to sell or give them away, I’d never be free. It had to be a quick and clean break and that meant throwing things away while I could.)

I couldn’t manage to do it all myself — not because I was holding onto things, but because I wasn’t in the best shape or health and trying to do this huge a job on my own while working 12-hour shifts was hard. So I hired the 1-800-Got-Junk guys. Unfortunately, one completely-packed-to-the-rafters truckload and many personal trips to the dumpsters later and my apartment still looked like a squat. That’s when I realized that I’d never finish it if I stayed, so I cut and ran before the new year. One of these days I’ll get a bill from the landlord for the final clean up. And that’s a small price for the sense of relief that doing a runner brought.

So now I live in a rented room in a house with dogs and a small yard. My phone and my Internet are mobile and contract-free. My electronics are all portable. The only furniture I own is a new twin mattress set. Everything else that is here with me is in a half dozen plastic storage containers. My small storage unit is severely underutilized and contains pretty much only those items that I wanted to keep but didn’t need with me: my mother’s paintings, my technical writing and other reference books, photos, my guitar, some tarot/oracle card decks, and some papers I didn’t have time to sort through. If I were to lose it all tomorrow, I’d be disappointed but not heartbroken, and that’s very liberating.

I live closer to where I work so I’ve virtually eliminated my taxi addiction and I’m walking more. I’m working on cleaning up my finances and my health. I’m coming out of my hermitage and beginning to actually interact with the Real World in ways I’ve avoided for over a decade. I’ve returned to the spiritual quest I paused years ago. And I’m working out what phase II is going to look like.

I am still very much a work-in-progress. I don’t know where this is going, but I’m no longer afraid and no longer hiding. And that’s a very good place to start an epic journey.

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Adrenaline junkie

Roots run deep

There was a five-year stretch of time during the early 70s when we moved every summer. That’s not as often or for as long a period of time as many other military families, but it was more than many people experience in their lifetimes. It was actually kind of exciting (for us kids at least, though I don’t imagine it was nearly as much fun for my mother who had to arrange most of the mundane moving details while also trying to corral four rambunctious children). New homes, new neighbourhoods, new schools, every year the potential for a new life. Fear mixed with excitement. Our arrival in Shearwater in 1976 marked the end of the moves and the start of my nesting. (With the exception of two transitional, less-than-one-year periods during which I roomed with friends or family, I haven’t lived in the same home for less than eight years at a time since 1976.) Entrenched, rootbound, moving only when my roots are ripped out. For the most part, it’s been a reaction to the endless chaos in my work life, an attempt to enforce some kind of stability in a life that was otherwise out of my control.

I ❤ hotels

But I suspect I’m a repressed drifter at heart. I don’t like the physical act of travelling from point A to point B — in fact, for the most part, I hate it and it tends to make me physically ill — but I enjoy being in both point A and point B. (IF there isn’t someone or something that I’m pining for back in point A, that is. I hated being away from my ex and I do very poorly away from the companionship of my cat now. But during the times when I had neither in my life, I wasn’t emotionally tied to a physical place because home  travelled with me or was just some place I lived.) I’ve had a love affair with hotels since I was young. When I was nine years old, we drove from our old home on Vancouver Island to our new home in small town Nova Scotia, staying in a variety of hotels and motels along the way. It was glorious. Once we settled into Shearwater and one school year turned into nearly a decade, I began to forget what travelling was like, what moving continually was like, and I began to grow roots. Or rather, roots started growing around me, anchoring me.

Adrenaline Junkie

The last two years has seen an escalation in the frequency of my job changes as a result of the economical times we live in and my becoming more of a contractor than an employee. The faster and the more frequently the jobs change, the more quickly I become bored. While I don’t like not working (or rather I don’t like not having money or being able to pay my bills, which necessitates the evils of working), I’m beginning to like the constant adrenaline rush of the continual job/project turnover.

I was reminded the other day of a career counsellor I spoke with after one of my many layoffs. All of the other people who’d been laid off had taken part in a group session with him, but I’d had a vacation planned (to Ottawa, strangely enough) at the time of the layoff and so I had my two-day session upon returning to Halifax a couple of weeks later. (As an aside: if you ever want to feel good about yourself, I highly recommend a little one-on-one time with a good career counsellor. If they’re at all worth what they’re paid, you’ll come out of the session feeling like you can conquer the world.) One of the last things he’d suggested was that perhaps I take some time to just travel around, take a working holiday through Europe or something similar. I didn’t take his advice — fear and lack of starter funds made it a remote possibility too out of reach to even contemplate. I’ve hunkered down into my little nest, securely wrapped in my anchoring roots ever since.

Casting off anchors

Anchors are good when they keep you from floating off into the air like a hot air balloon, but not so good around your ankles as you jump from a sinking boat. Maybe it’s about time that changed. I’m not saying that I plan to dump my life and start bumming around the country. But there’s something to be said for living like you might, like you could at any moment just drop everything and go where the mood or the universe takes you. Minimal clutter, minimal commitments, minimal anchoring. Open to possibilities.

I seem to have misplaced April somewhere

Still free-floating in a weird place.

I’ve been here so long I should call it home, though I hate it here. Except when I don’t care.

My days have become a tangled mess of sleeping, introspection, procrastinating, avoidance, talking to my father on the phone, and taking care of Internet tasks that alternately make me sad and really very angry. My insides are being wound up to breaking point.

National Blog Posting Month - May 2010Last month was a blog washout because of where I was.

This month might be a blog washout because of where I need to go.

My May Jonathan Cainer horoscope says it all: “You can fix the one source of trouble that’s more daunting than all the rest. Focus on it. Don’t be distracted. Once that is sorted out (as it WILL be!) all else will fall into place.” It’s like he read my mind. I know what I have to do, and it’s time I actually did it.

Stick with me, though. I *will* be back, but it might be June. (Then again, it might turn out that I get really chatty during May. 😉 Look up, look waaaaay up.)

Pulling up stakes

When I was a child, we lived on Vancouver Island for three years, mostly in and around the town of Sidney. I loved British Columbia in general and Vancouver Island in particular, and it’s always been one of the few places in Canada I could picture myself living. I miss the ocean a great deal and, while the North Atlantic is the ocean that is in my blood, the Pacific would be a fair second choice. Still, I’ve never really seriously considered moving to BC an option.

Moving to the West coast has been an ongoing joke between one of my friends and I for years. We’ve known each other since the early 80s. I moved here to Ottawa because she was here and had offered me a place to stay while I got settled. Within a year of me moving here, she moved to Vancouver with her then-husband. I’ve been telling her ever since that I am categorically not following her to BC. We laugh about it. It’s funny mostly because I think we both know subconsciously that it is probably going to happen anyway (and that she’ll probably then move somewhere else, where I will also categorically NOT follow her). My Universe is funny that way.

During a very recent conversation with someone (I can’t remember who) about “doing what you love”, I mentioned in passing that I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grow up, but that I wished someone would pay to move me out to Vancouver Island for a well-paying job doing something at least moderately enjoyable. It’s the first time that I’d ever put that thought out there, in front of someone else. And it’s the first time in a long time that I’d actually considered the possibility of moving somewhere else.

Tonight, I got an e-mail from a recruiting company here in Ontario that was recruiting for a long-term contract in Vancouver. Not sure what about my Workopolis profile gave the impression that I was open to relocation (in fact, it clearly states that I am NOT open to it). I replied to the query indicating that I wasn’t a good fit unless they were looking for a telecommuter or wanted to pay to relocate someone. I don’t expect to get a response — I’m fairly certain the initial query was a mistake on their part — but it did get me thinking about the prospect of picking up and moving. If it’s something I would really like to one day do, then I should start preparing now. I don’t want another situation like the one that brought me to Ottawa.

Start as you mean to go on

Though I’ve been overweight for much of my adult life, I was never debilitated by it. Up until about 1999 or so, I could and did walk long distances, did Tai Chi and yoga, could walk up and down stairs without trouble, despite weighing at times the equivalent of two regular-sized women. I had some back problems, but that was intermittent and more related to my tendency to be accident prone (and to having an ample bosom) than to my weight or state of health, since it started long before I ever became significantly overweight.

Sometime during the year or so leading up to my pulmonary embolism at the beginning of 2000, and worsening significantly in the years following, my body started to break down. There isn’t a moment that I am awake or asleep that at least one part of my body doesn’t ache, a constant miasma of unwellness. From the top of my head, where the remnants of past fractures make my hair follicles hurt, to the constant ache in lymph nodes under my arm and jaw, to the aches and pains in every joint — arthritic fingers and toes; elbows and knees that bore the brunt of too many clumsy falls and broken bones; the almost permanently torn rotator cuffs from bra straps that struggle and fail to win against gravity.

That’s not even considering the other physical complaints and breathing that feels as though someone is sitting on your chest all the time. I feel permanently oxygen-starved. I can’t concentrate. I have the attention span of a squirrel. I feel like I’m constantly recovering from the achy, feverish, tired, slightly-drugged effects of the flu. I’ve put up with it all for so long, barely able to muster the interest to note the issues, let alone actually do something about them. A few half-hearted past efforts failed, unsurprisingly, because I just couldn’t sustain the attention long enough to break old habits and build up new ones, resulting a Catch-22 situation as neglect results in more and more damage to a body already under extreme duress, which in turn exacerbates the mental and emotional issues leading to more self-abuse and neglect, and the cycle continues. 

It really needs to stop.

I turn 45 in a couple of months, and I have the body of a 90-year-old. A sick, frail 90-year-old. If I want to see 46, I need to smarten the hell up.

Now.

Not tomorrow. Not in a month. Now.

Little steps can lead to big results, but only if you actually take those first steps. I know what I need to do, I just need to figure out how best to sustain my wandering attention span until better habits are in place and can sustain themselves. Weird as it may sound, I may end up having to temporarily rely on 5-Hour Energy as a daily supplement instead of an occasional pick-me-up, since it is one of the few things that actually helps me to concentrate when my mind is all over the place. (It’s certainly the only reason that I was even capable of writing and publishing this post, which would otherwise have remained a half-formed thought in my Drafts folder for months.)

I’m going slightly mad…

I’m in some kind of messed up head space.

Things are going reasonably well for me right now. I’m working in a new (short term) contract, my EI finally came through, things are generally OK. But I have a permanent low-grade headache and general unwellness that I just can’t shake. I feel frazzled, despite not really being overextended. And I seem to alternating between insomnia and narcolepsy.

More importantly, I am constantly near — or actually in — tears. Over nothing. Over anything. Happy things, sad things, mundane things. It’s an overwhelming and sudden sadness that has no actual form or substance. It might be subconsciously related to my mother’s illness, but it’s certainly not consciously about that. It might be hormonal or chemical, but it’s been going on for a couple of weeks now and that would be odd for the usual imbalances.

All I know is that I recognize this place. I’ve been here before, and I don’t like it. (Or, rather, I don’t like not having control over it. It’s a subtle difference.)

It’s not depression, not really. It feels more like being steeped in someone else’s sorrow, if that makes sense. (Have you ever been around someone who leaks sadness or anger to such a degree that you begin to feel the same thing, despite not being sad or angry yourself? That’s kind of what it’s like.)

Re-evaluating priorities

I’ve been expending a great of energy lately on wasting time, procrastinating to avoid doing the things I want and need to do. Yesterday was lost to endlessly wandering on the Internet, aimless, pointless, useless wandering. I don’t know what I was looking for, but I didn’t find it. I stayed awake long past the point of headache, doing absolutely nothing productive, tethered to Firefox like it was a Book of Wisdom. It’s not. I’m not going to find whatever it is I’m looking for in cyberspace. I need a real life, not a virtual one.

I’ve given over many years of my life to various hobby pursuits that are fast becoming anchors, weighing me down and more often than not making me feel worse about myself rather than better. At what point do the negatives outweigh the positives to the point that I move on? Some days it feels close. Today, it feels so close that I can almost touch the exit door. Surely I should be expecting to feel more than just “meh” when it comes to how I pass my time? But I’m a packrat and it’s hard to throw out the time investment without long, hard thought — unfortunately, long, hard thought usually turns into inaction and more of the same old, same old. Am I willing to let this continue? That’s what I need to consider. Continue reading

Winds of change

are swirling around me. So much like last year, coming back around for another pass.  I can only hope to accomplish more with them than I did last year. I have put things in motion but am afraid to write about them here, for fear of robbing them of their power. But I see physical, spiritual, and mental change — changes for the better — on those winds.

Jonathan Cainer forecast for Thursday, 20th December 2007

Kathryn Cassidy writes: Celestial lines-ups like the one we face today won’t happen again for 248 years! Decisions you take today could change your life in coming months. So finalise a transfer of power; pledge to let go of an old way of life. Discard any self-defeating patterns. Opportunities abound to discover new vistas, freedoms and philosophies in 2008. You’ll only be able to capitalise on these if you eradicate anything that holds you back. That includes your propensity to cling far too tightly to the past.

Jonathan Cainer forecast for Friday, 21st December 2007

Kathryn Cassidy writes: What’s the best chess move of all time? There is no answer. Every game is different. Each requires clever tactics and careful analysis in order to make a path to the King. Somewhere in your world, you have had to make the occasional strategic sacrifice in order to stay in a game. You’ve also had to exhibit incredible patience and tenacity along the way. Today you get to make a final, well-considered decisive move. What’s more it may go down in history as your best one yet.

Another year worn down to a nub

So, here I am. Back here again, in much the same place I was this time last year. Not precisely the same place, but near enough that I can feel it nipping at my butt. Still, as close as I am to where I was this time last year, the view is different. Better in some ways, just different in others. Exactly the same in others still.

Still feeling that sense of vibration. It ebbs, it flows, but it persists.

Haven’t looked after myself at all. Volunteered for more than I can mentally handle and so am failing at things I shouldn’t have started. Maybe I’ll learn not to bite off more than I can chew. Strange that my food-bingeing nature extends to other areas of my life. Haven’t ate well, haven’t tried to get healthier. Really need to. I’m so tired I can’t even explain it. It isn’t a normal fatigue, an honest I’ve-done-a-hard-day’s-work kind of tired. It isn’t even an I-haven’t-slept-in-days kind of tired, though I’ve been riddled with insomnia recently. It’s a malnourished, out-of-shape, mentally exhausted, and emotionally spent kind of tired. Totally self-induced, in all likelihood, but that doesn’t help me to overcome it. I don’t even have the energy to feel sad or sorry for myself. Chaos seems to have taken root in my head, my body, and my environment. I need to regain a little control. I know — it seems weird to me, too, that I, control freak that I am, have slipped out of control like this.  

Bought a guitar last year but haven’t touched it since the first couple of weeks. That’s kind of sad. It deserves to be played. My iTunes has cycled back around and McFly is back on top again after disappearing for much of the year. Maybe they’re my introspective, internal growth soundtrack. They’re not alone there this year but they’re headliners.

I’m forever broke — I have taxi-cab and take-out addictions that I need to kick that together are driving me to the poor house.

Still, in all the things I didn’t do, I did manage to do one thing. I did enrol in university part time and have completed one course (of 40) towards my BA. It’s a small step — I have 8+ years ahead of me if I stay at it part-time — but it’s a step forward, a rarity for me these days. And work seems to be going well. Had a few hiccups along the way but feel more positive about it than I have for awhile and it seems to be returning the sentiment.

So, I suppose the year has been a net positive, small though the difference might be. Something to be thankful for, something to be celebrated.

If only I wasn’t so damned tired.

Ketchup

Or is that catch up?

I know it seems like I’ve been quiet here — I’ve made some private posts but even those have been thin on the ground.

Another year down, dead, vanished. Today, I’m steeped in Brian Melo’s “All I Ever Wanted” on auto repeat, Smirnoff Ice, and a lovely cloak of depression. No, not depression. Sadness. Fatigue. And a little of that old inner vibration. Anxiety? The cooler is pleasant, the song is rousing, the sadness is compelling me somewhere but I don’t know where.

Knowing why you are the way you are doesn’t make it easier to change who you are. And who I am is not who I want to be. Problem is that I don’t know who I want to be. Sometimes it seems as though I’m afraid of everything but in all honesty it nevers gains enough power to become anything that fully-formed. Instead, it lurks as a general malaise, pulling me to my bed, to sleep. Away from doing anything about the source of Sadness. Which, of course, is me.

I’m feeling small, insignificant, and superfluous. and I don’t want to be one of the millions whose lives become an unending stream of little nothings until they die. Do I have the courage, the discipline to do what I need to do? I’m afraid. Of failure. Of success. Of knowing neither. Those fears I’ve known intimately as long as I can remember. They are fully formed. And powerful. They pin me down, muzzle me, blind me.