What’s worth doing even if I fail?

Look! Another post inspired by Brene Brown, this time from Daring Greatly. “What’s worth doing even if I fail?” She whispered this phrase to herself as she was walking out on stage at her 2012 TED talk. I think I have to step back further from where she’s at though and just start with “what’s worth doing?” What is something that needs to be done, what is something that I feel I need to do? I want to do some sort of deep introspection and thinking here but honestly I am too internally blocked to go that far. That will eventually be my answer to “what’s worth doing even if I fail?” but I’m not quite there yet.

That leads to the question of what is worth doing in a more general sense. Superficially I want to create whether it is to create a difference, create an object, or create a thought.

Creating a difference is important to me because I have always desperately wanted to be needed. So much of my self-worth and identity is tied into being a helper, being available for people when they have little else. It’s probably the primary reason why I’ve been entrenched in mental health nursing since I became a nurse nearly a decade ago. (Side note-holy shit that was 10 years ago!) If there’s one group of people that don’t have much it’s the people described as severe and persistently mentally ill. All of the agencies I have worked at served a population of people that were homeless or only one flat tire away from it. I could be something for them: a smile, a greeting, a “how are you?” with the actual desire to know, a quiet presence to cry with, or a guide when the voices, self-contempt, or anxiety got to be too much. (This is where my tendency towards over functioning comes in but that’s a blog for another day)

You see, in working at places where my need to be needed was satisfied with little effort on my part I was able to continue to do without having to stretch out and be uncomfortable. Sure there are always the discomforts of learning new systems, new people, and figuring out my place in the system but I could always figure out a way to create a difference because there was always at least one person around that needed something.

Creating things has become a large focus for me in my knitting and crochet projects. I can make things that are useful and have an art to them. They aren’t perfect but often I’m the only one that knows how imperfect they are. Other people see the things I’ve made and appreciate them and all is good in the world. I’ve even slowly been pushing past my fears of different techniques and projects because this is a challenge I can do. If it doesn’t work out I can just rip back the yarn and watch my work shrink away until the mistakes disappear. (Note that more often than not this is an accidental thing and results in cursing at the tiny loops until I get everything back to where it’s supposed to be.) I can take chances and risks with little waste except my time and patience. This is a safe place to challenge myself and do something daring.

Lastly, creating a thought is actually the other two forms of creating mixed into one. A thought is an unformed object budding from someone who has been bit by the inspiration bug. I’m still working on how to do that with any consistency. There’s an unhealthy level of criticism and fear around creating a thought… oh. Right. I think that is probably what I need to focus more on. A something that is so important and worth doing despite the risk of failure would be an act of creation so long standing as to inspire thought, discussion, debate. Writing is one of those things for me.

Perhaps that is enough honesty and being vulnerable for the night. I know that my something worth doing despite the risk of failure is doing something that can inspire thoughtful discussion, ideas, and perhaps action. It’s still a rather broad concept at this point in my journey but I now have a direction to wander while I let this percolate a bit more. Hopefully the process of finding out what’s worth doing even if you fail isn’t so vague or hidden from yourself as what I’ve found my something to be.

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Rising Strong means writing

Earlier today, well yesterday by the time this is posted, I started a new audio book Rising Strong by Brene Brown. I’ve had it on my phone for several months now but only just recently felt like I was maybe ready to hear her words. I’ve got several of her other books and have read some, but not all, of them. Honestly they have been too much for me to process all at once. They inspire deep introspection and assessment of yourself in a most painful way. The primary focus is on shame, guilt, blame, fear, vulnerability, trauma, self-doubt, and avoidance. Heavy, heavy topics, especially for those who have, ahem, avoided such intense personal awareness.

Despite the heavy topics I felt that this book was easier to listen to than to read as the slower pace enabled me to process the implications more. Also, hearing Brene speak directly about her own experiences and stories that others have trusted her with makes it feel more intimate. There’s power in a person speaking their own story, their own struggles and triumphs. It’s also relieving to hear that someone with such a strong background in social work has to battle through understanding these hard concepts and that it’s not an automatic thing for her. She has been able to learn and gain greater awareness and understanding so that she can recognize when she’s falling into the trap of blaming, getting even, or avoiding what she is experiencing.

There are people who figured out how to be vulnerable and aware of their self-worth but there is at least one other person who hasn’t figured that out for every one who has. The ones that have already do something that is both obvious and hard; they write out their story each day. It doesn’t have to be for a particular amount of time or have a true focus or method of narration. Some people write short stories, some draw it out, some use blogs or diaries, some write letters that will never be sent. All of these are things I’ve encouraged patients to do in the past. “Write out what you’re feeling, give yourself permission to be honest with yourself.” It’s so easy to give the advice, not so easy to follow it yourself.

I’m going to try this idea. Writing for just a little bit of time, sometimes just for me but other times it will be to share. It may not always be on this blog but one of the others I’ve got, depending upon what’s more appropriate. Some of my stories for the day would be what Brene called “shitty first drafts” SFD for short and they won’t be shared. Some may be fiction narratives for me to explore what’s going on in my head. Others may be rants or complaints or pleas for understanding. Regardless I feel that bringing this whole blogging idea back to life is probably healthy. Plus, I’m starting a new chapter in my work life and since I can’t do something funky with my hair I can at least make some other visible change in my life. Blogging is visible, if less so than my hair, and is probably far more likely to result in moments of revelation. Those are pretty cool when they happen even if they are infrequent.

Anywho, writing, it’s a thing and a thing I hope to do more often.

Trying to Understand.

There are things that happen in this world that really do not make any sense. There are acts of violence that occur that confuse me. Why do people do things that have no purpose beyond inciting chaos, death and injuries?

I don’t think we will truly ever have the answer to that question. Most people are not capable of so wanton disregard for the well being of others, whether they know their would-be victims personally or not. Vandalism, burglary, theft, street and bar fights are crimes, but more often than not, they are isolated incidents. They are not designed to injure or kill a dozen, two dozen or more people.

Looking exclusively at events that have occurred in the US like the tragedy in Boston yesterday (Monday, 4/15/13) or the 9/11 twin towers destruction or the Oklahoma City bombing on 4/19/95 were all planned by individuals to harm the greatest number of people. That’s without looking at the hundreds of terrorist attacks that have occurred around the world. They were carried out by people who had some sort of motive whether it is understood or not. Mass shootings are typically also planned but there is a different component involved. The individuals that fired those weapons were able to see who they were injuring. In most cases they could have spoken or yelled at their victims. They had to seek them out. The terrorist attacks that used bombs or other means to harm and kill were more impersonal. In a way, those are easier to understand.

Is there something wrong with the people in the world now that wasn’t here a few decades ago? I don’t think so. I think we are more aware, it’s easier to carry out those impersonal attacks, there’s more notoriety in the personal attacks. Things still happened decades ago, but they impacted individual, small communities more than nations or the world. There is the Troubles in Ireland. The nations in the middle-east have been involved in some sort of conflict for decades. There were two World Wars that started out with smaller acts against individuals or towns which then grew into much, much larger conflicts.

Conflict and terror and war have been a part of the collective human culture as far as we can look back. It’s no surprise that these things are still happening. Only now they have a greater impact on more people, the national and global community. What is important to remember is that these are not acts committed by a majority. These all are acts of a small minority of people. There are always going to be far more brave people committing small and large acts of compassion, mercy and extraordinary courage to help in times of need.

Mr. Rogers, a man with compassion and understanding on par with Mother Teresa, shared some of the best advice I have ever heard.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”

This is what needs to be remembered, what needs to be passed on, what needs to be spoken about. Yes, we need to be aware that tragedies, terrorism, acts of violence all happen. What needs to be spoken about more is what people have done to come together, to help, to reassure, to comfort and heal the physical and emotional wounds of all those who were involved. There is kindness in humanity, let’s share and celebrate it more than we share and despair of the hatred and violence of individuals or small groups.

Daily Prompt: Ghostwriter

John Ringo. He’s funny, he writes science-fiction set in this world and urban fantasy that seems just as plausible. I believe he could totally write a biography about a normal person and make their life something most could read.

If he wasn’t available I’d go for Brandon Sanderson or Neil Gaiman. Sanderson because he has come into his own as a writer in the “epic” side of fantasy and I believe could weave a tale of suspense of even the most mundane of things. Gaiman because his perception of this world and all those in his head are something like 217 degrees left of “normal” which is awesome.

A random nighttime observation

Last night as I was attempting to fall asleep I had an epiphany of sorts. I figured out what it is that makes it difficult to fall asleep and why quiet rooms are really annoying to me. It’s really rather silly that it took me so long to have this epiphany. I guess it goes to show how much the mind can dismiss even the most annoying of things as normal.

You see, I have tinnitus, meaning a ringing in my ear(s). Most people have experienced this a few times in their lifetime, usually after exposure to really loud sounds or music. Some lucky few like myself experience it much more frequently or even continuously. I notice it when it’s quiet, but it’s pretty much always there. Noise that varies in pitch and tone, music or talking, gives me something else to focus on and it recedes to such a low volume that I don’t realize it’s there. More often than not something like reading, writing, or some other endeavor that requires my attention will also distract me from the sound though it isn’t guaranteed. It’s loudest at night when there’s little noise beyond the humming of the fan and maybe the heater or a/c if one is on. Even though I’m used to the sound, it’s still really annoying and does keep me from falling asleep easily. It also may be an explanation for why I have trouble focusing or hearing things in an environment where lots of people are talking. My brain is so used to disregarding noises that are constant, which the hum of talking easily turns into, and the ringing will get really loud in such an environment.

Have I mentioned that I feel really silly for not experiencing this “epiphany” earlier?

Most people who experience it will hear it in one ear or the other, though for people like me who hear it constantly it is more common to be stuck with it in stereo. The chronic version tends to be caused by a head injury, medication side effects or significant damage to the ear drums from frequent exposure to loud and pounding sounds for an extended time. I don’t recall when I started to hear it, so it’s possible to could have been caused either by medication, a frequent culprit being antibiotics, or in high-school from winter drumline, or my time in the army when we were firing weapons, frequently without hearing protection. I’ve had a concussion once or twice, but nothing truly serious (if you can consider a blow to the head “not serious”.)

I’m really not sure what I can do with any of this information. There aren’t many things that can be done for tinnitus. Ear plugs make it worse. White noise is almost as bad as ear plugs. If I fall asleep to music I have a more difficult time waking up to any typical alarm. That’s without considering the fact that it would drive my husband crazy. Ah well. At least I like music for its own sake rather than the added benefit of making this silly ringing a little less annoying.

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.

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.

Social Anxiety

The last few months I have noticed that my social anxiety has increased. I am overwhelmed in public even more easily than I would have been a few years ago. I am even more intimidated by new situations, new people than I remember. I have started to get more of the physical symptoms including racing heart and occasionally even tightness in my chest.

All in all, it’s sucky, frustrating and scary.

I became acutely aware of this in the last week when I nearly started to cry while waiting to meet a new instructor for martial arts. I was making up a lesson from a few weeks ago and my normal instructor, hell any of the instructors that I knew, were not available so I agreed to work with someone I didn’t know. I got there a bit early and so had something like 7 minutes to work myself up nearly to tears, I couldn’t take a normal breath, I could feel my heart racing and I was uncertain if my stomach could tolerate much more acid build up before I would need to run to the bathroom and throw up. This was mostly because there was the one on one instruction with someone new in a place that I still am not familiar with and surrounded by others I didn’t know. It was compounded by the fact that I was stuck in a fairly confined space with over two dozen people coming and going. I haven’t felt that bad in a very, very long time. Once the lesson started and I began going through the new kata I’m learning I was able to calm down and I think even learn something. If there was too much time between different exercises the anxiety started to creep back up, but it was tolerable, especially since it was only half an hour and I was kept pretty active.

The other incident that comes to mind was Saturday night when I went out to dinner with Nathan. It was a Saturday night at just about 7, so of course it was busy and the restaurant was full of people. It was a pretty crowded space and it was so filled with people noise that I couldn’t hear the music. I couldn’t hear Nathan even when he spoke pretty loud, though I don’t know how much of that was because I had already hit my max for sensory stimulation and so my brain was shutting down the information overload to keep me from having a full on panic attack. There was again compounding in that I hadn’t slept well the night before and had been up since about 530am and it was the last day of my 3 twelves. It wasn’t until it had started to quiet down enough to where I could hear music (which is actually quite soothing to me) that I could even really start to think and was capable of responding to questions and carry on a conversation.

I am truly lucky that Nathan is as patient as what he is because I know he was getting frustrated and confused with me in both incidents above. He doesn’t like people much and can also get overwhelmed, but he is better at tuning out things and going into his own world. I can do that if I’m prepared, sometimes, but if I’m caught off guard then I just end up shutting down. That’s if I’m lucky and I don’t start to go the other way and begin to have building anxiety. Not so awesome. Not awesome at all.

I guess I just find it weird that my anxiety, which could be controlled, or at least ignored, a few years ago, has increased again. I can understand why it initially increased with starting a new job, but I’ve more or less settled into it. Yes, I have started back to school in the last two weeks, but I noticed the trend of increased anxiety before that, probably sometime in November. It was one of the reasons why I started doing yoga and working out again. I haven’t noticed any changes for the better despite better habits that have a lot of evidence behind them saying that they should have a positive impact on my symptoms. Actually, if there have been changes they have been in the wrong direction. It’s weird and I wish I knew what was going on.

Anyway, enough whinging. I need to find sleep and yoga and class. Thanks for reading and I hope you have a lovely day!

Equality

There are a lot of people arguing over equality. Marriage equality. Wage equality. Equal citizenship. Equal rights to work. Equal access to health care. A whole schlew of things, many of which I don’t recall because they all fit under one big flag – every person has a few basic rights that should not be put under question.

Everyone should have access to health care. Done. This is the minimum, at least in my opinion. Does that mean that if you can pay more or have more resources that you are not able to get better health care? No. That just means that there is a certain very basic level of health care that everyone should have access to and that if you want more you can pay for it. It’s pretty much the same as what we have now, only it would elevate the people at the very bottom to have *something*.

Everyone should have the opportunity to work. That doesn’t mean that I think every company needs to have so many of each different “minority” or “special interest” group represented. What it means is that if you are qualified for a job, then you should be considered for it regardless of your gender, your religion, your race, your sexuality, or disability. If you have the brains and capabilities to do the job then that means you should be able to do it. This doesn’t only apply to minority groups. I have made arguments for why men are just as capable as women to be nurses and my arguments were enough to make it so that two nurses I currently work with were kept in for consideration and eventually hired. Job discrimination needs to end.

Everyone should get paid similar wages for doing similar work. There are still studies that are showing that women and other “minority” groups – side note, how is it that 50% of the population is considered a minority group? Let’s think about the origin of this please. – earn less income than their male counterparts. Some of it can be attributed to men overwhelmingly ending up in higher manager or specialist positions. However, women that are in similar or the same positions earn less income, usually by thousands of dollars a year. Why is that?

I don’t care who you are or who you love, but if you’re both consenting adults, no one should be able to deny you access to receiving a marriage certificate. Churches don’t get the final say in whether someone is married. My husband and I got married outside of a church and with no church backing. It is a civil/legal thing, not a religious thing. There are civil/legal changes that happen with marriage, not religious. The fact that I can get married but that many of my good friends cannot is frustrating. Nothing my husband or I do is anything special or different that means we should get treated differently. Why is it okay for anyone to deny them access to something that is pretty much assumed that everyone will do? I don’t get it.

Which brings us to everyone being treated as a citizen of their country. I am a white woman within the United States. I have access to rights that women 100 years ago were just starting up the fight for. I am not old enough to have been witness to the civil rights movement 50 years ago, but it was the next great step in slowly defeating bigotry and intolerance. Another side note, I hate that people use “I support tolerance” and other such things. I am against intolerance and am for inclusion. I don’t “tolerate” people for their differences, though I do sometimes tolerate individual people’s actions or words because the *facepalm* worthy moments are nothing compared to the person overall. I don’t even “accept” people for their differences. I love people for themselves, I enjoy spending time with them, I enjoy their company, I choose to be around them. I don’t have to “tolerate” or “accept” them, because both those words imply that there was another possibility, that I could have been intolerant or denied them.

I know it’s asking a lot, but I would love to see the rest of the nation (or world even) get to this point. We lay down certain rights and privileges and then laws and codes that lay down the consequences for people who go against those rights or abuse their privileges. The privileges of some should never overrule the rights of even a single person and the rights and privileges of individuals should be held above those of corporations, organizations, institutions, states or nations.

That should be the end of the story there. I doubt it actually will ever make it to that point, but I’ll do my part to make it happen, even if it is a far shot.

Extra, Extra: Chikining Out

I didn’t write this, but a good friend of mine did. She’s an amazing woman who is married to another amazing woman and has the sweetest wee little baby girl. It’s disturbing and disheartening to know that not only is she and her family having to deal with the 40-something percent of the nation that believe she and her family are second class citizens, but that her own family is part of that 40-something percent, not part of the 2-5 percent that are uncertain as I had been under the impression of.

I know her mother, her father and at least one of her sisters. I knew her mother and father were… uncertain of exactly what to do with their daughter and her girl-friend, now wife. However, I had not realized that the uncertainty was still covering a foundation of intolerance. I have no idea how they are able to honestly go about their interactions with their daughter’s family and not be confronted every single time with having to make a choice between loving their daughter and her family and still harboring a deep belief that how they live is not right. It may no longer be wrong, but it’s not right either.

I go on too much, let her speak for herself.

Extra, Extra: Chikining Out.