A Gentle Reminder

We are, all of us, going through a traumatic event. This is the sort of thing that makes history books and history books are full to the brim of traumatic events.

Science shows that when someone is going through trauma, their brain is producing an overabundance of hormones that trigger rapidly cycling fight/flight/freeze responses. Every single time new data (and it can be literally anything) is input the brain spins the wheel looking for a new response. At this point hundreds of times every day.

It’s exhausting. It leads to a multitude of emotional responses, anger and depression being big among them.

So maybe be kind to yourself. Go extra easy on yourself. And while we all need to be kind, we also all need to practice forgiveness. No one. NO ONE. Is operating at their best.

So many of us are stuck in fight mode. And while we need to be mindful, mindfulness is next to impossible when going through trauma without a long history of constant practice. Even then it’s still challenging.

So forgive your fellow man. Especially those you are stuck in a house with. Hold them accountable sure. We all should be held accountable for or actions. And this does not excuse abuse outright. But please keep in mind the science behind it. And practice forgiveness to the best of your abilities.

And this includes forgiveness of self. Especially if it’s over something as simple as not being as productive as you want to be. We can’t be productive in flight or freeze mode. Fight mode is 50/50.

Quarantine Chronicles Part 1

I can not stress enough the importance of ordinary, everyday people keeping a written record of things like this. This pandemic will be taught in schools in the future. Don’t let what the rich and powerful are doing be the only narrative.

Day 1 of isolation

I’m binge-watching The Witcher (finally) and eating an entire loaf of French bread.

Day 2 of isolation

I’m taking turns between hanging out with various family members. I might settle in and watch my weekly Netflix movie later. (I have a DVD plan.) But if I do I’ll invite at least Sammy and Iris to watch with me.

Day 3 of isolation

Pokestops, raids, and gyms from the car. Determined to finish the 3rd and final installment of a series I’ve been working on slowly but surely.

Day 4 of isolation

Quit pokemon go.

Contemplate divorce.

Day 5 of isolation

Lay groundwork and terms for solving the marriage issues

Get handed an old 3DS (thank you Iris) and a copy of AC New Leaf

Day 6 of isolation

Turns out the family is the perfect size for a family DnD game even if the 16yo won’t play with us.

Day 7 of isolation

Learned how to fish in Animal Crossing New Leaf. Accomplished nothing else today. Nothing else needed accomplishing.

Day 8 of isolation

My nails needed work and I had a Netflix DVD that needed watched and returned. I usually pair these tasks up.

More DnD tonight with the family.

Also when time is meaningless it’s easy to completely miss Sunday roast so we made up for that tonight.

Day 9 of isolation

20% done with The Magnus Archives. Reading it, not listening to it. Cuz ADHD is a bitch.

The amount of time I’m spending in quarantine has been extended. I was originally planning to be back the 7th but things are getting worse, not better. My work is still open as we are essential, but I’m high risk so I am on leave with their support and understanding.

Day 10 of isolation

The main goal of the day was catching a Tuna in New Leaf for a quest. It took almost 4 hours and 5 pockets full of fish, but I accomplished my goal and made a killing in fish sales.

DnD tonight I think. The 16yo is finally joining us. He decided there was literally nothing better to do and we need a healer.

Day 11 of isolation

Listen. I love my children very much, but it’s been 11 days and there is no end in sight.

Shipment of fidget toys was brought into the house today. More to come. Should help with both homeschooling and family DnD.

Day 12 of isolation

Much the same only with added regrets of saying the H-word on tumblr. Can’t even blame the usual culprits.

I started a new novel. This one is a period romance. Fast and easy read. I’ll draw it out over a few evenings. Or I won’t.

Quarantine and Pandamic

Everything I’m about to say is useful for everyone currently in quarantine. Don’t dismiss it just because it’s aimed at those who are neurodivergent.

Look, I don’t really wanna talk about Covid 19. But as I sit in isolation (work is keeping me home due to being in the high-risk category, my job is safe.) it dawns on me that after 36 years of living with ADHD, I know how to survive not leaving my house/car, but baby neurodivergent might not. So consider this a tip on how to survive being home 24/7 for lord knows how long.

First of all, download Pokemon Go on your phone. I don’t care that you gave it up after that Pokemon Go summer where everything was golden. Bring it back. There are so many pokestops and gyms you can reach without ever leaving your car. Take over gyms, battle in raids, collect all the pokemon around you. This gets you out of the house, but still away from people. Fuck. Meet up with a few of your local friends in the parking lot of a gym that has a raid going and takedown that 5-star battle. None of you have to leave your car to accomplish this and you’re still hanging out. Also, right now you can buy 30 incenses for a single coin, so even if you can’t drive somewhere, you can still catch pokemon.

That said, not everyone has a car and therefore they really are stuck at home. So here are the cheat codes I offered my Tumblr friends.

Make a list of shows you’ve been meaning to watch, books you’ve been meaning to read, and games you’ve been meaning to play. Pepper in things like making bread from scratch and cleaning out that closet you’ve been meaning to get to. Assign each item a number. Use a random number generator. Do the thing with the coordinating number.

This helps with boredom and I find it allows me to get past executive dysfunction not allowing me to make a decision. This part is super important. It’s not boredom that is the problem. It’s executive function disabling you from making a decision on what to do and therefore you are stuck in the cycle of doing nothing. Roll once a day and try to hyper fixate on what you roll or roll every few hours as needed. As something gets accomplished in full, take it off the list.

There is a phone app called tasks that makes this list easy to build and maintain. Plus you can’t lose it since it’s on your phone. Googling random number generator will produce one you can customize to your exact needs. While you’re at it, download the appblock app and limit how much time you can endlessly scroll tumblr (Facebook, Twitter) in a day. You’re looking to limiting yourself to 2-3 hours to start and adjust so you find your balance. Pair this last tip with the ability to turn on notifications for those few blogs you don’t want to miss anything from.

If you’ve seriously got nothing to do, teach yourself a new skill. Anything you have the materials for and have been meaning to learn, but life keeps preventing. At the very least add this new hobby to your list.

Assign numbers and let the random number generator do its thing.

I tell you, I do this all the time when I have multiple things I could be doing but can’t decide between, so executive dysfunction keeps me scrolling tumblr and I get nothing accomplished. Once I had a list in place, and proved this worked, I started limiting my time on tumblr with the appblock app and suddenly I’m accomplishing things!

Also, for those of us who have ADHD insomnia and can’t seem to put our phones down at night, the appblock app allows me to turn my phone into a brick that does nothing but make phone calls between 9pm and 7am (currently midnight and 7am since I don’t have to be up early). Some nights I still can’t sleep, but this app keeps that at a minimum.

If you have any other specific problems hit me up and I’ll see what cheat codes I have to offer.

Another flower in these trying times

General Update March 2020

I don’t really have anything big and exciting to talk about.

I refuse to spend time discussing the mass hysteria that is Covid 19. Wash your hands. Stay home if sick. Don’t touch your face. Don’t shake hands with others. Minimize the touching of shared spaces. Consider voting blue no matter who since Trump fired the entire pandemic team in 2018. There, it’s discussed. Oh. I will say that so far my household is healthy. And the kids are out of school until at least April 6th. Now it’s discussed.

We’re slowly doing some spring cleaning around the house over the span of March. Hopefully more so now that the kids are home for three weeks.

This past weekend’s project was Sammy and Lucas trading rooms. Lucas had the biggest room in the house, outside of the master bedroom, and utilized about 50% of the provided space. Sammy, meanwhile, who still plays with toys desperately needed storage and thus most of her belongings were on the floor, and really she needed more room in general because even after I bought her storage, there was no place to put it in her room.

So they traded.

That was a lot of work. Two rooms were torn apart and reorganized. Plus, while we were at it, I had them both sort through all their clothes and donate shit that they were just never going to wear, or that didn’t fit. I’ve already hauled 1 load to goodwill and have another load to go since they are still sorting as I wash the 10 loads pulled out of the bottom of various closets. I also hauled a full load of garbage to the dumpsters behind the apartments in our neighborhood. There was just so much stuff beyond saving and it wouldn’t all fit in our bin.

There rooms are back in proper order now, so that has settled. I do have a storage closet in Sammy’s new room that I want to go through. But that can wait. It’s behind a shut door.

My lower back, however, is killing me. Thank goodness for CBD lotion and the tens unit my mom bought me. (School is on lockdown so Thomas and I don’t have access to the weight room. Which is a bummer, but understandable.)

Work is going well. I, unfortunately, missed a full day this past week due to an ear infection. I was put on the proper anti-biotics and by the time I returned to work, they had kicked in and I was feeling much better. Then I missed a few hours Friday because I went into anaphylactic shock. Apparently I’m allergic to seasoned fries from Popeye’s. I probably could have suffered through the rest of the workday, but things were very slow with barely any appointments, so I was encouraged to go home and double the Benadryl dose I’d already taken.

Honestly, I think that’s about it for now.

Have a flower in these troubling days

Pain Management

Pain pills don’t work. Muscle relaxers don’t work unless I’m given enough to keep them in my system at all times. My doctors will only agree to 15 a month to use once the (daily) headaches start. They do nothing once the headaches start but they do work to prevent them. The doctors are worried I’ll become dependent and won’t enable me to live pain-free.

We disagree on whether or not dependence is a bad thing.

These days the bulk of my pain is in my shoulders and neck which then leads to tension headaches. Loosening those muscles and keeping them loose makes the headaches nonexistent.

But alas.

One thing they were willing to do for me is to get me in Physical Therapy which is doing wonders. But only gets me through part of the week. I need to be doing those exercises twice a week, but the set up on the home front makes that hard as there really isn’t a place to tie a therapy band down.

In unrelated news that is going somewhere, Thomas is currently going through pre-season workouts with intent to join the football team in the coming fall. He work-outs with the team Monday-Thursday but goes back over the weekend to work out some more with a buddy.

Yesterday he needed to blow off some steam and asked if I could drive him to the school so he could work out. I threw on some clothes and grabbed my keys and a book, fully intending to read while he worked out.

Then I smelled the smell of a weight room. And I’m telling you, that smell turns me jock every time.

I hate sports and I hate working out, but for some reason, I love to weight lift. I’m not interested in finding the max I can lift. I like a reasonable weight with a few sets of 10. Long and slow. I honestly crave regular access to this type of workout.

So I entered the weight room and immediately forgot about my book. With Thomas’s approval that I lift with him and a promise that I’d ask for help if needed, I started working out alongside him.

Chronic pain means I need to respect my limits. I can lift higher, but I went to a happy medium so I didn’t hurt myself further. I was able to really work my muscles and help take control of my health.

Of course, I woke up Sunday morning regretting life, but it was still a good type of pain. I’d earned the right to hurt like that by actually using my body.

We went back to the gym a few hours after I woke up, and picked up a friend and teammate of Thomas’s. They worked together spotting each other and trying to increase their maximums in various lifts. I tied my therapy band to a solid post and worked out my sore shoulder muscles. It did wonders in relieving the pain in them.

So I think that’s the plan. Saturdays we’ll go and we’ll lift together. Sundays we’ll go and I’ll work on my therapy bands. His friends are invited along so long as there is no fighting and no one makes fun of me for how I exercise.

Thomas assured me he’d punch anyone who did.

And I informed him that broke the no fighting rule.

But I think we’ll be fine.

A Little Music

We got the tax return. As usual, it was a really nice return, but also, as usual, we had to spend the entire thing in like a week because we aren’t allowed to have more than 1k in assets or Pat loses disability. We always have a to-do list and a to-buy list a mile long. First on the list is getting caught up on bills and paying off debts. Then important stuff. But we always make sure we have some fun. We go 11.5 months with no fun money, so we make up for it with the tax return. I start with this explanation so we’re on the same page that this includes spoiling the kids.

I took the kids to Half Priced Books and promised the 4 of them 10$ each (which goes far at a used book store) but made it clear I was also willing to negotiate. This isn’t really about that trip except for the extra non-book Sammy found.

In the music section tucked in with used records and CDs was a ukelele that came with a book and CD that promised it could teach anyone to play. It was 25$ for the entire kit. The ukelele was cheaply made but would at least get someone started. Sammy fell instantly in love and promised to put her two books back if I bought it for her. I reflected back on my own threat to buy myself a cello and lessons with the tax return and knew I was not able to say no so I didn’t even try. (She still got the books.)

We brought it home and she immediately set to mastering it. But I clearly realized we needed more gear. We needed help tuning it. Sammy needed more books to help her learn and to provide sheet music. She needed a means of holding said books open while both hands were busy playing. She quickly learned via youtube videos that she could hold the instrument better (properly) if she had a strap. Clearly this was going to be an investment.

But she really loves playing it. I wouldn’t call her instantly good, but she has a passion. And a fire that burns in her eyes while she puzzles over how to play the thing.

So the first step was a strap so she could hold it. Only, this ukelele is cheap and there is no way to attach a strap. BUT Amazon has a kit with a better uke that comes with a strap, a case, a digital tuner, and extra strings for a decent enough price. Already she’s getting upgraded, it seems. At that point, I realized I might as well throw in a music stand that can hold the book open while she plays. Plus some picks special made (out of felt) for a uke. I added in a wall mount so she could hang her instrument. It’ll all be here in a couple of weeks.

I guess…

Being young is about picking up skills while your brain is still in it’s prime and you’re capable of picking up new knowledge. Yes, learning how to read and do math is important, but she’s already doing both those at a sixth-grade level despite being in 3rd grade. So why not enrich her life with a new skill that can actually be fun and a way to channel her creativity and love of life? All while she’s young enough that she has an advantage when it comes to learning things,

And I refuse to be one of those moms that forces her to practice 2 hours a day. If she practices, she practices. If she doesn’t, she doesn’t. So long as she’s having fun because that is what this is about. As soon as I put pressure on her, it’ll stop being fun. And if it stops being fun anyway? Then I’ll sell it all on craigslist to another 8yo who loves music and needs a good beginner instrument because that’s exactly what a ukelele is.

If she doesn’t stop having fun and gets really good?

Then her aunt has a guitar she bought for 50$ that isn’t getting played to hand over to my girl.

Either way, as long as she’s happy, that’s all the matters.

And in a couple of months, or sooner, if she’s good enough she wants to show off, maybe I’ll post a video of her playing for you all. She has a lot of basics she needs to learn first, but I can already tell she has potential. And, as I said, she has this fire in her eyes while she teaches herself how to play and that fire is something to behold!