A Bird in Hand is Worth Two in the Bush. Sometimes.

When I first read this prompt I couldn’t help but think, “man, I hate trying to remember this sort of stuff.” As it turns out, it took only a few extra moments of thought for me to realize that I was highly focused on those “two birds” more so than the “one bird” for months.

There was a time, not so long ago, a year ago actually, where I was desperately looking for something else. That something else was a job that could pay me enough that I wouldn’t feel that I needed to work two jobs in order to be more or less financial stable and not have to rely on my husband so much. I was stressed at my main job and really not all that interested or happy in my second job. I had little time to spend with family or friends and was pretty much just constantly tired. It got to the point that before I found that mystical different job I quit my second job. I still needed the change in employment. I really needed the higher pay.

So I continued to pretend that I was doing alright in my only job while daydreaming about something different, something inpatient or in a hospital or even in a completely different sort of outpatient clinic. I was thinking of all the things I could do with my magical new income. I was despairing that after 6 months of searching and turning in applications nothing was happening. No call-backs. No emails. No letters saying “sorry, too much inexperience, come back in a few years.” I was getting desperate. Work was harder to focus on, I was missing important things and my boss was unhappy with me.

The story actually has a happy ending. When I finally stopped constantly thinking about a change and jut tried to go with the flow, I got a call-back. I got an interview. A month later (a very long month later mind you) I got an offer. Huzzah! Sometimes, looking at those two in the bush can be very motivating and give you the extra drive needed to do change circumstances so you can let go of the one in your hand and “catch” the two in the bush. It’s not impossible. Yeah, it’s risky, but there are many things that are worth a risk and a leap of faith.

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Honestly, I build a tree house hiding up away from everything. It would have a big slide, a pole slide, and a rope ladder. There would be a library and a nice hammock and a lot of open space and open walls/windows. That’s and that’s all.

Daily Prompt: Nightmares – Creepy crawly things

The last nightmare I remember having was a recurring theme sort of nightmare, though it was a new twist on the theme. I have a nightmare about once every year or so that I am being attacked, or at least covered by thousands and thousands of small insects. The usual culprits are bees or spiders. The most recent dream actually had these *huge* ants that I can only assume are from Africa or the Amazon.

The dreams always start the same. I am laying in my old bedroom in my old daybed and am just about to fall asleep. I feel a tiny tickle on my leg or torso and look down to see a single bee/ant/spider crawling there. In the dream I always freeze at this moment. I can see three more crawling across the or feel them somewhere else on my body if I am covered by a sheet or blanket. Within seconds there are hundreds more crawling up the bedposts and the walls. At this point in the dream I am usually seeing everything from my own eyes and also from a third person POV above and away from the walls. If bees are the culprits they are flying in through the window and the drone of their wings is nearly as terrifying as feeling them crawling all over me.

Within minutes of the dream starting I am covered by thousands of insects/arachnids and they are tickling me with their legs and it is the most terrifying thing because I’m waiting for the first one to bite or sting. I lay absolutely still, hardly breathing. I can’t close my eyes because that would be movement on my face and I’m afraid the ones there will sting me. The ants actually crawled across my eyes. It is usually at that point that I wake up, but sometimes I only wake up after I have been bit or stung, sometimes dozens or hundreds of times. It’s always the same way that I wake up; a gasp and reflex of sitting up, sometimes even jumping off the bed, and scraping my hands across every part of my body to get rid of non-existent creatures.

After dreams like that I cannot fall back asleep for an hour or more. I will wake up again at every twitch of the blanket whether it’s because of a cat or the heater/AC turning on or my husband turning or twitching. I will sometimes even feel phantom creepy-crawlies as I’m falling asleep and wake up all over again.

I think the ants creeped me out the worst because I was pretty sure they were the kind that could actually latch on and control bugs and in my dream way of thinking I knew that if enough bit me they could do the same thing to me. Did I mention the absolute most terrifying dreams I’ve had in years and years? Oh, and everything is in normal colors so I can see the reds and blacks or yellows and blacks of everything creeping across me and obscuring my skin and bedclothes? *shivers*

Yeah, I hate those dreams. Thanks WordPress for bringing them up again.

Daily Prompt: Far From Normal – Things about me

Daily Prompt: Far From Normal.

Six things about me that make my life a little different from the average Joes’. Huh. At risk of sounding conceited or self-important I’ll give it a go.

1 – I am a nurse on a psychiatric acute treatment unit. Most people don’t quite know what that means, but it basically means that I work on a locked sub-acute unit with people who are suicidal, homicidal, actively psychotic or so gravely disabled that they are not safe in society. It’s basically a half-step below a hospital psychiatric unit. Most everyone I meet and tell them about my job pretty much tell me that they could never do that and good for me.

2 – I was in the Army Reserves. And found the training to be rather easier than I had expected. Honestly, I’m of the opinion that if I could make it through, then pretty much anyone of decent physical health and moderate mental health should be able to. Sure, some people will require an attitude adjustment or more motivation than others, but most of those who didn’t make it through were the ones who I overheard telling others and themselves that even when they were signing up they thought it was going to be too hard for them.

3 – All my experience, especially in psych, has been on the job training. I got my LPN license through the Army and therefore never had any college education and the hospital where my course took place didn’t have a psych floor. We had 1 week to learn about psych and then test and honestly, I couldn’t have told you the difference between a personality disorder and a psychotic disorder. I couldn’t have told you what medications were for what or what the best treatments were. Essentially, I’m amongst the most un-educated clinical staff at the entire agency that I work at.

4 – Despite having been in the Army reserves, or perhaps because of it, I find it hard to be patriotic. I find blind patriotism one of the worst traits in people, right about level with blind religiosity, and annoying. I know that I am privileged to have been born and raised in the US. That doesn’t mean that I think it’s the best country in the world and that everyone should want to live here. It’s got its good traits and its bad traits. I rarely say much about my opinions because the scorn I receive for this way of thinking is really annoying and not worth it.

5 – I speak and understand “Geek.” Apparently this is a rather special and unique thing, at least when I talk to most people. They are fascinated by how I can discuss things like Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, World of Warcraft, Ender’s Game, Doctor Who, D&D, Magic, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, basic computer things, and can even fiddle around and figure out my way through typical programs people use at work or home. The fact that I’m female and can discuss and participate in these sort of discussions makes me fascinating to others. This attitude just confuses me, especially when some of the things are such pop-culture things like Harry Potter.

That about covers the random things that make me/my life/my attitude a little more unique or different.

Human connection

The yoga class I enjoy going to on Sundays is a “gentle yoga” class. We do very little in the way of vinyasa – continuous movements – which means we pretty much spend the majority of the class stretching. Yesterday was even more relaxing than usual in that we spent most of the time on our mats on our backs or sides doing much more conscious breathing and meditation than usual. It is a great way to end the week or start the week depending upon how you view the calendar. There’s one other thing that makes it one of my favorite classes; Aliza, the instructor, is also a massage therapist and most classes will come through and do some brief, but pleasant shoulder or neck massage, at least for those who are okay with it.

I bring this up because for me, I experience very little skin to skin contact in a day. It’s one of the reasons why I cherish snuggling and cuddling with Nathan in bed. It satisfies a need that I am rarely conscious of. The only other times I get that skin on skin contact is through handshakes, which most days I avoid, or through massage the once a month or so that I pay for it.

The contact through massage, or truly a more conscious, gentle, and traveling touch, is special to me in a way that I have found difficult to describe. It is not just a pleasant feeling, but nearly spiritual. I feel an opening up within myself and a mutual exchange between myself, the person who is in contact with me and the world. I don’t feel drained after this exchange but neither do I feel “too full”. I feel balanced, buoyant, relaxed, and at peace.ven

I believe that the reason that this does not happen with all contact like handshakes is that I have learned to avoid opening up because there are too many draining people out and about. This is especially true at work. The people I see there are not just mentally or physically ill and injured, but there are deep gashes on their emotional and spiritual selves. They pull on everyone around them to try to fill and heal those gaps whether they are brand new or years and years old.

I probably don’t feel the same complete opening when snuggling because it is a different sort of intimacy, one of grounding and rooting and safety. I have noticed that when there is more massage or traveling fingers/very gentle tickles from Nathan that I experience the more spiritual opening rather than the grounding/rooting feeling I get from our normal contact. It’s incredibly lovely when I am experiencing both. The extent of my relaxation is something I rarely feel except at those moments when I have found a “zen” moment in meditation.

It does make me wonder if others are aware if they have the same experience. Do they realize that there is this different sort of connection with people? How does the lack of connection within most western cultures influence how closed off and isolated we feel?

Yoga and other various exercise things

Over the last few months I have increased the amount of physical activity I take part in. Going to the gym, doing the whole martial arts thing, and most recently I added yoga.

I have found them all to be rewarding, all in their own ways. At the gym I get to just completely zone out and do my thing and not have any interaction with anyone else. Some would argue that’s not the greatest thing to do since I don’t push myself as hard as what I need to, which is true, but at this point I’m just happy I’m making it there again and getting satisfaction from what I do.

In martial arts I’m learning so many new things and discovering a whole different kind of satisfaction from slowly becoming more proficient in what I am learning. I enjoy learning things that make me feel a little safer in that if something were to happen to me physically, I most likely would be able to react in a way that will help me as compared to freezing. I am learning *how* to punch and kick and whatever other strikes or defenses you can think of. I am learning how to fit things together and all these other awesome things.

Lastly, with yoga I am learning more about focusing on my body and releasing my thoughts and just experiencing that moment, that breathe, that movement. I am able to feel the difference between how I am doing each day and also to not judge myself or my body. Some days I can easily hold a pose, warrior 1 or dancer, or I can easily move through sun salutations or other vinyasas without shaking limbs. Other days I require more patience with myself. And some days I need to recognize that I need to modify the pose or the vinyasa and make them easier on myself.

I feel that in working on all these different things I am slowly starting to round out how I experience life in my body and mind. I am becoming healthier, making better choices for myself and working on learning some sort of balance. It is hard in some ways in that I am often doing these alone when I would like to share what I’m learning with my husband, but I am also grateful in some ways that I’ve got my own things. I write a wee bit, in my blog and occasionally journaling, and exercise and do yoga, work on various craft things and am interested in different studies. Nathan does martial arts, (sadly on days that I work) plays video games, builds things whether legos or tech toys and programs things and studies those sort of things.

It’s good to have that balance and different interests. But… I look at all sedentary activities that both of us participate in and can’t help but think that we both need to be more active. It not only is good physically but also mentally to participate in different activities. Our minds and bodies like variety, need it even, in order to grow and change and become more capable. I also can’t help but look at it from the perspective of a nurse – a variety of physical activities helps the body maintain itself better, encourages better sleep, maintain hormone balance, cleans out toxins and requires “new” blood and oxygen be sent to parts of the body that don’t get much use in day to day activities and therefore are sort of forgotten or stagnant. I think that’s actually why I enjoy the variety of physical activity that I currently partake in. They each get me moving in different ways and activate different parts of my mind and body.

Best of all, there are restive and restorative forms of all of these. There’s finding “the zone” when running. Katas in martial arts where the body acts while the mind quiets. And in yoga there are options for what kind of rest/restoration I need – gentle yoga that’s still movement, hot yoga where I am only focusing on finding balance within the poses and nothing more, or the quiet meditation of restorative yoga where I slowly stretch and relax my body until I find a stillness in each position. Any of the practices are good and serve a purpose. I’m a bit more partial to the restorative yoga, but that’s probably because I just got home from participating in it.

Now on to homework I’ve been putting off. And maybe the gym later. I’ve got some new work outs to try that a friend gave me and I’m interested to see if I can do them and get the full number of reps she suggested.

Who needs sleep?

“Who needs sleep? Well you’re never gonna get it! Who needs sleep? Tell me what’s that for? Be happy with what you’re getting! There’s a guy who’s been awake since the Second World War.”

These are the lyrics that come to mind tonight. I haven’t been falling asleep before 2am for the last… four days? Prior to that I was falling asleep earlier in the night or morning, mainly because there was someone else encouraging me to do so. Even then it was taking me longer to fall asleep and I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night several times over.

Not awesome. Though it does bring to mind a highly amusing and awesome song. That’s always good and makes for good times. Very tired, sort of confused and slow good times, but good times none-the-less.

The song is “Who Needs Sleep” (surprising, I know) by the Barenaked Ladies, just in case you were wondering. It’s a very typical BNL song – bouncy and light and a little odd/weird when you listen to the words. I’m pretty sure they look through the DSM and try to figure out how to make a song about a particular disorder or symptom. Isnomnia (duh), depression, suicide, psychosis, schizophrenia, OCD, addiction, alcohol addiction, fetishes, and probably many others that I am unable to think of at the moment. The funny thing is that most people don’t actually realize how many songs are about such things. Some are obvious, Alcohol is about, well alcohol. Falling for the First Time is OCD, also pretty obvious. Pinch Me and When I Fall are all about depression and suicide which may not be quite as obvious until you actually think about the lyrics.

When I Fall is actually one of my absolute favorite BNL songs. It’s a toss up between The Flag, When I Fall, and Blame it on Me. Blame it on Me has some really great memories from high school when I frequented the choir room and got to watch and help my friends and boyfriend practice and perform an a’capella version of the song. Those were some of my favorite moments. The Flag is almost as pretty but is even darker and reminds me of my relationship with my ex. And When I Fall is another very pretty song but unlike the other two seems to hold a wee bit of hope in that the character is asking for someone to help him. All three mean a lot to me. Though, to be fair, trying to determine which BNL song is a favorite is sort of like asking me to say what my favorite episode of The Big Bang Theory or Doctor Who or Firefly. It’s really not fair.

Anywho, none of this is helping me with falling asleep. Well, beyond letting me vent and process things a bit. Even if I do get some sleep tonight I don’t think it’s going to be quite enough. I’m prepared for just that possibility. Two Starbucks drinks, a Dr. Pepper, chocolate and energy chews are all part of my plan for the morning. They’re already in my car so I can’t forget them. Yep, that desperate for caffeine and I haven’t even gone to bed so I can wake up for it. *sigh*

Anywho, for those of you who haven’t heard the song that inspired this entire post, here it is for your listening pleasure.

The saddest song in the world

Apparently tonight is my “I need to cry” night. It didn’t start out that way, but that is how it has become. I am not really sad. I’m not really happy either, but not sad. But neither of those things matter much when I have one of these days. I guess I just have to make sure that the tear ducts are still working, or something like that.

I don’t actually believe that it is such a simple thing. I know that I need to have an emotional release or venting every once in a while if I’m to keep myself functioning. Seeing as how it’s 130am on a work day and I’m passively resisting going to bed, I would say that I am probably in need of that emotional release whether I’m sad or not. Just needing to experience that venting is rarely enough to start the process. I pretty much always have to listen to music that has just the right sound, just the right chord progressions at just the right pace and in just the right pitches before I will actually be able to cry.

There are a few songs that I keep “ready” for just such a moment. Funny enough, they’re all from movie soundtracks, which does make some sense when you stop to think about it. The music in movies has to somehow manage to be larger than life AND still blend into the background enough that the music is a part of the movie experience, not the thing that you pay more attention to or failed to notice at all. It’s a tricky balance to strike, especially in moments that are so emotionally charged that the music HAS to stand out but still match the tone.

Anyway, the song (or bit of song really) that I turn to when I need to cry is from The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring. There is one scene in the movie that, in my mind, made the movie one of my favorite movies of all time, and that scene is the one where Gandalf dies. Not that you couldn’t have gathered that from the youtube video at the top of the post. I have cried and will continue to cry every single time I watch that scene. I also cry just about every time I hear the music from that scene. It is, in my opinion, the saddest song in the world. If the song comes up on Pandora, I have to prepare myself for the sorrow at the end or change songs just to keep from losing if I’m not at home. It’s the song that I play intentionally when I need to cry. It’s the most haunting and sorrowful piece that I have ever heard or played.

Just in case you weren’t sure what it sounded like or don’t believe me when I say that it is that haunting or sorrowful, please, listen and tell me what you feel.

Oh, and for those of you who may be curious to know. The primary chord progression that you will *always* hear that indicate “this is sad, be sad with me, be sad and maybe even tear up” is 6, 8, minor 6. It’s important to designate that it’s the 8 rather than 1 (as it should be written out) because part of what makes the progression so mournful is the smooth slide up then down the scale. You don’t want to be going up and down most of the scale just to get to the 1, though if you’ve multiple parts, the 4th and 2nd should be going for it.

And on another, but related note, I should probably do this more often. The last few times I’ve cried have actually really hurt my eyes. It feels like I’m crying salt water rather than the neutral solution that tears should be made of and it hurts! Ah well. It’s still needed and worth it.

An Interesting Study in Progress

I follow a few different religious pages on Facebook. It’s interesting to see what people will say, though I know what I am seeing is very biased as they are either very liberal Christian or a mix of multiple religions. One of them, a Buddhism page, posted a link to a study that one of his colleagues just got up and running. The study is a very long survey specifically targeted at agnostics/atheists. There’s so little research surrounding this growing population in the US, so I’m really excited to see that there are people out there recognizing us.

I include myself in that category because I’m something of a Buddhist(non-theist)-pantheist-agnostic-trending-to-atheist sort of person. Yeah, it’s a mouthful so I usually just say Buddhist or pantheist or if I really want to confuse people, non-theist. Much easier to say. If anyone is uncertain whether they fall into the agnostic/atheist category, here’s a really great piece on different kinds of “non-believers” or however you want to think about it.

Anywho, if anyone here is interested, here’s the link to the study, and if you’re more interested in seeing what/why/etc. here’s the answers from the people who are doing the research.

I’ll be posting more of my thoughts about the state of religion in America later, especially after the results are published.

Physical books vs ebooks

Physical books vs ebooks. The battle has started and there are strong advocates on both sides. Physical books have texture, weight, smell and don’t run out of battery! Ebook readers mean you can carry all the books you are reading everywhere without breaking your back or shoulder, they are easy to use even if you’re standing in line, many are back or front-lit so you can read anywhere, even in the dark and did I mention you can carry hundreds of books?

Both have their benefits and detriments. I personally resisted getting an ereader for years, scoffing at those who would choose to diminish their reading experience. Then I played with one of my friend’s while we were out and about and I couldn’t help but notice the convenience. When I got home and looked at the stacks of books on the floor in front of and next to my book shelves and bed I couldn’t help but think how nice it would be to not have to take into consideration whether I had space for the new books I would inevitably bring home. Thus I started to ponder whether I should look into buying one. I did all sorts of research and wasn’t really satisfied with the options nor with the pricing, but I wasn’t in a hurry either. I had dozens of unread physical books that were calling out to me and it would be silly to purchase them all over again as an ebook.

Nearly a year after I began contemplating switching over I received a Kindle as a birthday gift. Initially it didn’t see a whole lot of use. Even having my Kindle linked with my husband’s account I was more interested in many of my physical books. So I would switch between them and noticed the benefits of both.

The pricing for physical books was and is still better in most ways. I was paying for a physical commodity and that has more value in my opinion. I still buy the physical copy of a book if the ebook price is not at least 25% less. I get annoyed when the price is the same for both, or near enough to be a negligible difference. Unless the book I’m looking at is one that I already have in ebook form. Then I have a stronger tendency to purchase new books in the series in ebook form, though I will wait months for the price to drop. The same goes for series I already own in physical copies, I will purchase physical copies rather than ebook even if there is a price difference. Consistency apparently means much to me.

As time has moved on, I’m purchasing more and more ebooks. The convenience of being able to carry a much smaller or at least less clunky device is advantageous, especially if I’m planning on going multiple places. I’ve discovered that it’s much easier to use when I’m doing cardio at the gym since I don’t have to worry about losing my page and it fits on those little “book” ledges so much easier. A simple touch of a button (or screen for those with a touch screen device) is more convenient than turning pages when I’m trying to keep from falling over or, at least want to maintain my pace, on a treadmill or elliptical machine.

On the other hand, when I’m curled up on my couch and reading, I much prefer a physical copy. There’s more satisfaction in turning the pages, in the weight and even the smell of the book. I like the color contrast, it doesn’t strain my eyes as much as the back-lit screens do and I can easily read in sunlight or bright lighting. Some ereaders have addressed the contrast and screen lighting issues, but not the texture and weight and smell of real books.

The ideal solution in an ideal world, at least for me and my husband, would be to give readers the option of purchasing a physical copy and giving them a code to use to purchase the ebook either for free (yay!) or for a small fee, $1-5 depending upon the page count and original price of the book. This could be accomplished by one of three ways:
1-The honor system where a reader could go to the publisher’s website and enter the ISBN number of their book and then pay and download the ebook in the format of their choice.
2-Giving book sellers little cards like what Starbucks and Apple have going on for music/shows/apps that can be given to customers with their purchase from a brick and mortar store. The reader would then go to Amazon/Barnes&Noble/iTunes/publisher’s websites or an independent website set up by a joint effort of the publishers, enter the ISBN number and one time use code and pay the fee and download their ebook.
3-For people that purchase online they would be given the option to add the ebook to their purchase and make it all one simple process to download/send to their ereader after checking out.

I see this as the ideal solution as booksellers would still sell physical books, readers would be able to switch between or lend the physical book (as they already do!) and publishers would make even more money since they’d be selling the book in two formats, albeit one at a discounted price. My main argument for why that is not as much of a concern is that unlike physical books, an ebook only has to be produced one time and that file is then disseminated to the various online sellers. The publishers have less at stake if a book flops, they’ll still make more money than they otherwise would have. There will still be people who will only purchase in one format, but I think there would be enough purchasing both ways to make it worth the changes required.

Since it’s not an ideal world and I must make a choice between the physical book and ebook, I must side with the ebook. It is with a heavy heart and much reluctance, but ebooks have too many more advantages over physical books. As long as I remember to charge my ereader that is!