Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Le Sewing Cabinet

I've mentioned a few times that the fiance and I were refinishing my grandmother's sewing cabinet-well I have pics to share!

Here is the before:

The piece had at least three layers of paint/stain/varnish etc and had been sitting in my parents' garage for over a decade. Lucky for us I asked about the cabinet just as Mom was preparing to junk it! We whisked it away and after weeks of stripping and sanding and staining and polyurethane-coating the piece now looks like this:

The stain was more of a chestnut, but with the cherry tones of the actual wood the finished product is a very deep, rich mahogany-cherry. We were able to sand and scrub the original hardware so it regained some of its gleam and original color.

All in all-SUCCESS!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Today is my dad's birthday!

Today was my dad's birthday, although we celebrated on Sunday with me, the fiance, Mom, Dad, the sis, cuz, and the sis's boyfriend. We pulled a great surprise over on Dad-he had no idea it was a sneak-party OR that we had lunch prepared (meatloaf-one of his favs) OR that we had cake OR presents AND we were still going to the established baseball game that afternoon!

It went over really well and Dad seemed really pleased. He loved the shadow box display for his medals that I mentioned earlier, here's a pic:

It wasn't a milestone birthday age-wise, but it was considering this time last year he had a major heart attack. Not only did he survive (against odds) he recovered and surpassed expectations to go ahead and win national championships in tennis. 

Today was also good for other reasons. 

I had a wonderful time at yoga. I have being going to the center for classes long enough to start coming out of my shell and really enjoy seeing familiar faces. After class today I went ahead and became a "member" of the center which means I get discounts on classes, massages, and such. I immediately took advantage of my membership to get a discounted rate for tai chi class!

My mom and her friends have recommended tai chi to me since I like yoga but also because it's supposed to be the best exercise for those with major depression. The class runs from next week until October 26th and is a beginner's course. I'm a little anxious since tai chi involves mastering movements not stationary poses like yoga and I have a history of clumsiness :o/

I am excited to be a member at the center and get discounts, I think it will help me get to classes more often instead of holding back to save dough. 

Yoga has been a wonderful tool and refuge while working through my depression. I cannot sing enough praises for yoga! In fact, my practice has branched out into further curiosity and I picked up this book, "Yoga and the Quest for True Self" by Stephen Cope.

I haven't made it too far in the book but I've very much enjoyed the third that I have read so far. Not only am I learning more about yogic philosophy, Cope pulls readers in with his personal story of self discovery through yoga as well as providing insight as a "westernized" psychologist.

Lately I've been struggled with waves of hard thinking and disappointment with the world around me. Not in Nature, I always love Nature and the endless wonders I find in Her, but in man's convoluted society and sense of humanity. 

Even with my newly prescribed, upped dose of generic Paxil, I cannot calm my mind or stop myself from contemplating that which lies around me. And let's face it, a lot of what lies around us can be purty durn depressing if not downright sickening.

Sometimes I find myself chastising and criticizing myself for those thoughts, repeating the words of my teenage friend's, "Hannah, you think too much!" More often I find myself swamped by pain, disappointment, and angst-unable to find hope for the world or a way to make a different. 

After a talk with the fiance last night I'm finding myself at the conclusion that A) I don't think too much, B) I cannot and will not ever fix everything, and C) Because I do think enough to recognize and realize the suffering around me I cannot sit idly by and do nothing. 

What I plan to do exactly is yet to be determined. 

For now, I plan to continue on my path toward volunteer work at PAWS with my kitty skills class this Thursday and also sign up to volunteer at local libraries. We'll take things from there! 

Purring kitties and clean bookshelves might do the world at least a little bit of good after all, right?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Rounding Third

After weeks of working off-and-on refinishing the sewing desk we are into the final stages of refinishing.

Yesterday was staining and today we're applying a protective polyurethane coat and cleaning the hardware. Even after multiple chemical stripping sessions, the fiance and I ended up dismantling the desk for a sanding session at his parents'.

The weekend actually began at my parents' house for a farewell get together for my brother. The fiance and I drove down Friday evening and picked up a DQ cake with "Ram it up!" piped on the top in purple. His new school colors are gold and purple and his mascot is a golden ram.

It was a nice gathering with a few of my brother's friends but I think the dinner out earlier this month with just our family was more memorable. It's been years since the family have all been out to eat together with just the sibs and parents. As usual our meal included some hearty laughs and tears.

From what I remember, our family doesn't tend to gather at the dining table for dinner very often. When we do have dinner at the table it usually involves crude jokes, silly stories, and a dropped fork or two. While it may not compute for some people, I love our messy, crude family dinners.

Formal dinners at my childhood home usually began quietly with a disjointed, hesitant passing of dishes around the table and an awkward conversation prompted by canned questions from the parents. A smart remark from one of the younger siblings, some jokes and ribbing, maybe a little argument and the dinner really gets underway.

By the end of the meal we're a tear-stained, red-faced family with stomach aches from laughing too hard and eating too much. My brother usually plays with the last bits of food on his plate while Dad soldiers on to munch "just one more taste."

We clean up the dishes and either gather for a family game or disperse. Occasionally family members mill around the kitchen and dining table, either waiting for dessert or unsure if the phenomena has ended or not.

So often my family ate dinner hours apart from each other, especially during our high school years or when Dad was out late working or at a tennis match. I'm sure we're not the only family with this story! While it is a little sad and we've missed out on many family dinners together, I cherish the family dinners that I've come to know.

After all, I'd rather have memorable, meaningful dinners together every once in awhile than day after day of stuffy meals with no character.

The rest of the weekend was fun with a lot of driving. The fiance and I listened to a book on tape that my dad passed on to us.

Book on tape, "Fire Sale." Not exceptionally well written, but
we enjoyed the mystery and listening to all the fun voices on CD!

The drive over the mountains was gorgeous even though we hit a construction stop where we were stopped for about 15 minutes. It was a pretty enjoyable 15 minutes with a great view of Mt. Rainier in the rear view and lovely mountain breezes.

The visit with the future in-laws involved some delicious meals, sanding the sewing desk, playing with my future mother-in-law's Cricut machine, and watching TV together. We especially enjoyed watching a channel that featured crime-related reality shows and other entertainment. We watched an episode of "Dallas SWAT" which featured a semi-truck carjacking/hostage situation that got us into a tizzy!

It was a good weekend. The fiance and I had a rough start but by the end of the weekend we were back in happily-ever-after-land :o)

This week has had a slow start but I'm getting work done on the sewing desk and made it to yoga today for an especially challenging session. I recommended doing "backbendy things" and by the end of the class we had all sweaty brows and one lady had even popped several farts throughout class *heehee*

As for the cats: Millie and Iroh were happy to have the parents back from a weekend away. I just discovered that Iroh enjoys sharing Bold Chex Mix while Millie is still busy being cute.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Purty Good Week

Funny how productive days are usually flanked by nowhere-near-productive days!

Wednesday was probably one of the most "up" days I've had in a long time. I cleaned the apartment to the point where it felt strangely unfamiliar, ironed a tablecloth and set the table, prepared dinner before the fiance came home, called my doctor to request a dose uppage, and enjoyed an online card game session. After eating dinner the fiance and I hit up a Hallmark, went to the mall for our monthly chocolate date and stopped by REI, and then got coffee on the way home.

Okay. Some might read that and think "what the hell are you so happy about? whaddya do otherwise? ain't that just normal?" For a depressed-Hannah this is a good sign and a hell of an improvement!

If you've suffered a major depressive episode you'll know that getting out of bed and showering and feeding yourself can be a major task. Lately the fiance has been doing most of the cooking and the apartment's cleanliness has been less than spectacular due to my lack of energy and motivation.

For me to clean and cook is a big deal in the context of my recent activity level. Then to have the energy and motivation to get out of the house after a day of cleaning and cooking dinner-we have a pretty good day on our hands!

Thursday was another good day. Yoga was challenging and fun and I was more social than I've ever been before. After yoga the fiance and I met up for lunch, which was delightful :o) Then I stopped by Michael's to get some accessories for a shadow box project I was doing for my dad's birthday. I finished the shadow box and it turned out AMAZING!

***My dad won some macho medals at the National Senior Games and Mom asked me to frame them up in a shadow box with ticket stubs and other memorabilia from their trip to Houston. I'd post pics but I don't wanna risk him actually reading my blog and ruining the surprise completely!***

That evening the fiance and I went south to meet his best friend for dinner. I was a little nervous since it was my first time meeting him but it turned out to be a wonderful evening and we all had a really good time. He recently graduated from law school so we took him out to a congratulatory dinner at The Keg-which was delicious. I had never been to this restaurant and while our waitress was a little vacant the food was awesome and we had a great dinner with good chats, drinks, and dessert!

The fiance and I got home around eleven o' clock and decided to clean out the van a little bit. We signed my brother's card (he's moving to PA) and then decided to get some cigarillos and smoke on the balcony. Kind of random but it was nice and relaxing to sit and chat with nowhere else to be or anything else to do. We're not big smokers but we enjoy a random cigar a few times a year.

All in all it was a very good couple of days for me. That said, this morning I slept in til past noon haha Although I don't feel ashamed considering how well the past two days went and the fact that the fiance and I are driving all over the state this weekend visiting his folks and my family and seeing my brother off-I think my body just needed to rest up!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Update and Weird Dream

This weekend went over pretty well although yesterday I was purty exhausted.

Got to yoga today and put down a wad of cash for an 8-class punch card which afterwards I reckoned would've been cheaper if I'd just become a member of the club. I always get anxiety over "memberships." This club is non-profit and the membership gets you discounts for classes and in the end pans out to just be cheaper than non-member prices-but the Hannah-fear struck and I just handed over the extra cash to avoid any "strings."

Anywho-as for my status...

I think I'm going to up my dosage. I haven't been suicidal and I've been more stable, but I'm still depressed and unable to get out of the house very easily. I get more tired in the evening and get to sleep easier but have a tough time getting going in the morning and want to see if a higher dose can give me more of a kick in the pants.

In other health-related news, my IUD experiment is going pretty well. I had  light period last week but overall less bleeding and I went further between periods. So we'll see what develops, some women lose their periods entirely while on Mirena (wouldn't that be nice!).

I had a very weird dream last night that involved looking for a new apartment and then a strange walk alongside a lake with my dad. Sometimes we were walking, sometimes we were floating and there were tons of porcupines and skunks along the path.

At one point I picked up some skunk "poop" which was something like a jalapeno pepper filled with poo. I squeezed out the poo and rubbed it on a rock or tree and then took off a rubber glove to save the outer-poo-shell to give to my fiance.

I have no idea what that is about.

On the way back we saw lots of birds.Some were little but there were two large birds, one white crane with red feathers on its crown and then a larger predatory bird with grey and black streaks. That bird was a mixture of heron and hawk and had a large yellow eye that was behind a yellow false-eye, like those butterflies with eyes on their wings.

It was in the water and small bluebird-Stellar's Jay type birds were eating crusties from the side of the real eye. I remember saying that it reminded me of a raptor and it was a very intimidating bird-like it was a man eater bird!

Anyways, we made it past the scary bird and I had some garbage I had picked up in one hand and the skunk "poop" in the other when it started throbbing and pulsating and I dropped it partway in the water. I plucked it out of the water and threw it onto the path and the "poop" was bulging and stretching the rubber glove.

Soon there were a couple of long jack rabbit's legs stretching out of the wad of glove and poo and the poop casing transformed in to a grey, leggy rabbit!

Then I woke up. But it was a very detailed, awkward dream and I have no idea what my mind was getting at.  Any guesses???

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Weekend Cometh Early

Yesterday evening I had orientation at PAWS in Lynnwood. I still have to train before I can actively volunteer but I learned a lot about PAWS and it got me out of the house on my own for something other than yoga!

The orientation was three hours and was pretty fun. It got me excited to volunteer but it was also a little intimidating. I feel silly for being intimidated, since the commitment is only for three hours once a week for three months and I am not working. Yet the anxiety gnat is whirring around my head.

I'm anxious about fitting in, I'm anxious about being a good volunteer, I'm anxious about being enough of an "animal person," I'm anxious about the fact that I gave the impression I wanted to work with wildlife and now I want to start with helping cats. I'm anxious. It doesn't all make sense or seem logical, but I'm anxious. 

Part of my mind tells me, "Yo. You're volunteering, they will appreciate any help you can give-they will appreciate your showing up-PERIOD! Not to mention you have a good work ethic and history of being a reliable and responsible person." 

And then the anxiety gnat buzzes in and cuts muddles up my logic when fear and imagined shortcomings. 

Ain't that just lovely?

I know that everybody gets anxiety and everybody has naggy voices in their heads, but I feel like A) my depressive tendencies and/or B) the perfectionism in my personality makes for sheer madness! I really don't think I should have to amp myself up to get out the door and to a grocery store or an orientation or to volunteer for three hours once a week or to a yoga class. But here I am.

I know I can't be the only one with these feelings. Not only the anxiety and difficulty getting out of the house but also the self-criticism and resentment of those hang-ups. Yet I find myself swamped with shame and isolating feelings-like I'm somehow defective.

So here's what I'm going to try. I'm going to try ignoring should for a while. Who really determines the shoulds in my mind anyway? Everyday I'm harping on myself with internal dialogue full of shoulds, and the shoulds aren't even all my ideas! 

Some shoulds are from magazines or commercials-I should look like I only eat leafy greens and drink Vitamin Water, I should wear short-shorts and have a scrumptiously apple-shaped bum-some other shoulds are from my family-I should never throw ANYTHING lest I break something because I am inherently and irrevocably klutzy and there's nothing I can do about it-and so on, and so on.

It breaks me down. It hurts me and kills my spirit and the worse part is-my mind is the problem. It's an inside job! It's not just "depression" or "perfectionism," it's the way my mind is programmed. And let me tell you, it's a bitch to reprogram your mind!

I've read some helpful books, but in the end the solution is hard work and mindfulness. There is no magic pill or shrink to fix me, I simply have to recognize the bad programming, decode the error message, and replace a bad mental habit with a good one. 

Talk about a big project!

So, I'm anxious. But I'm going to try to expunge the shoulds and take it day-by-day. *ohm* Hannah should not be anything-she simply is!

And now-my weekend begins early. My mom and brother are here to whisk me away south. The fiance and I had a farewell brekkie together this morning as we'll be doing our own things til Sunday. Sounds like I've got some painting to help with and he's got Mt. Adams to climb. 

To each his/her own! I just hope the cats get along all right while we're out of the house!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

North Cascades Camping

This past weekend, the fiance and I camped in the North Cascades National Park. While we had been in the park before, we had never ventured further up HWY 20 than the Goodell Creek campground. This weekend we drove through the mountains all the way to Twisp on HWY 20 and scoped out the sights-namely, the three dams on the skagit, the most rugged mountains we've ever seen, jaw-droppingly cold and gorgeous glacier run off, and some local wildlife.

Even though I grew up a couple of hours from the park, I wasn't aware of the dams, wildlife, or awesomely gargantuan mountains in the northwest corner of our state. Driving east on I-90 does not give you the same sights as HWY 20, and not all of the "Cascades" are created equal!

People were climbing Mt. Everest before they had
traversed the Picketts-how's that for rugged?

While we only saw deer, chipmunks, and birds on our visit the North Cascades are obviously an idyllic refuge for many other animals. While on a hike, the fiance and I spotted some bear scat (very large, intimidating bear scat at that) and we saw signs suggesting we keep an eye out for pika and elk.

I also recognized (for the first time) that mountain goats are endemic to our state. I know, a slight "durrr" moment on the Hannah front, but for every time I see them at zoos, I never realize they are roaming around a few hours away! Driving through the North Cascades, I finally put two-and-two together. You can't drive by the massive, rugged mountains along HWY 20 and not imagine mountain goats roaming around the jagged peaks.

While I am endlessly fascinated by wildlife, a lot of sight seeing involved the man made dams along the Skagit river. The three dams are called Gorge Dam, Diablo Dam, and Ross Dam. Together they provide 20% of Seattle's electricity. What the fiance and I found most impressive was that the dams were constructed as early as the 1920s. Considering the mountains and limited access around the dams-it was quite a feat!

Ross Dam

Newhalem has a visitor center with history on the dam projects and it was quite an eye-opener. Not only did I have NO CLUE there were dams on the Skagit, I had no clue what a big project the Skagit River Hydroelectric Project had been and is today. 

As for our camping portion of the trip, the fiance and I spent a night at the Goodell Creek campground but relocated to the Colonial Creek campground for our last two nights. Both are nice grounds but we especially enjoyed Colonial Creek and the programs hosted at the grounds by the rangers-who wouldn't like Sasquatch and glacier talks?!

While we embarked on a hike Sunday, we did not complete the trek (it was a bit out of my league) but we certainly shared a growth opportunity as a couple-let's just say it was a rough morning for the two of us. All in all, by the end of the weekend we could say that we had a good time and it was well worth the trip. 

In other news: The fiance and I visited the Tulalip Casino last week to redeem a few free coupon offers from the Aquasox game and had ourselves a fun little casino experience-buffet dinner and some wins at the slots! We then proceeded to spend our winnings at the outlets buying some clearance shirts :o) They sure got things figured out up there!

The cats were happy to have us home and even happier to get some kibble and tuna from Pops. 

I am still stripping ye olde sewing cabinet. Joy! I just keep telling myself that it will be worth it in the end!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Where I am This Wednesday

It is Wednesday, August 3rd. Two weeks since my talk with Wanda and nearly two weeks since my first appointment with the ARNP in Seattle and getting back on antidepressants. And so far I'm doing a lot better.

No, I'm not stellar by any means, but I am trying to appreciate the changes I have made. I've been getting out to yoga, being creative again, and even had a few moments of bliss that I've been missing for a long time. Things are brightening up and I'm taking it all a day at a time.

The fiance and I were talking the other night and I told him how awesome he has been and how thankful I am that he has taken such good care of me even though I've been a bitch at times and distant and just a depressed mess. And while I know he was glad to hear this aloud, what sticks with me from that conversation was his follow up comment about how bad off I was--just how low things got.

That got me thinking.

Perspective is a tough thing. We struggle with it throughout our entire lives and it's a very powerful capacity. Thinking about where I am now and where I was a few weeks ago-that's something to put into perspective!

Last month, I was ready to die. Last month, I just wanted to lay on the floor and melt into a dark abyss. There were nights when I was literally incapacitated by anxiety and my depression. I was nearly dropping glasses, bumping into walls, unable to speak, crumpling to the floor, and my only solace came from the resolution that somehow, someday soon I would end the pain and take my life. My body would only relax once I accepted the "inevitability" that soon, it would all be over for good.

It was that bad. I was suicidal. There is no way around that fact-I was suicidal. Period.

No one wants to say that. No one wants to wear that badge or accept that as part of their identity. No one wants to be broken or dysfunctional (and suicidal is pretty dysfunctional!). But putting things in perspective, that is something I need to appreciate and acknowledge and KNOW deep down in my gut that I was suicidal, that that was a serious reality in my life and everyday I grow away from that pain and desperation is a good day and a successful day.

Last month, I was suicidal. This month, I am feeling better and definitely NOT suicidal. Yes, I have a ways to go, but I'm checked-in, I'm living and working toward something better.

In other news: MOTHS!

This was outside our apartment yesterday and it is AWESOME! Biggest moth I've seen up here (MO is another story...).  This picture doesn't quite do it justice, but I found another online that I think is similar or the same species?

Eyed Hawk Moth?
Isn't that torso part cool!? It reminds me of Insectosaurus from "Monsters vs. Aliens."

Anywho-another cool "moth" is the radio program on NPR-The Moth Radio Hour. They have people tell real life stories on stage for an audience and it is wonderful. Sometimes sad, sometimes funny, always genuine and a great listen! Check out The Moth!

Now I'm going to get back to stripping a piece of furniture so the fiance and I can repaint it! :o)