Monday, October 31, 2011

Bye Bye, October!

So long, October-just a few short weeks til Thanksgiving and then winter will kick in. I actually don't mind the last few months of the year, it's just the few first months that usually prove the hardest to work through. Luckily I have some vitamins and one of those handy dandy "happy lights" courtesy of the parentals. 

In addition the fiance and I have started jogging together after he gets home from work. I'm more of a trudger, but we have been improving slowly! 

This weekend our engagement shoot got rained out, but we did visit my folks and played some rummy and Wii. I have to battle against acne for another couple of weeks and we'll try to get down to Portland on a semi-sunny day (knock wood). 

While visiting my parents I mentioned our interest in getting a pair of African dwarf frogs like they had and Mom said, "Take 'em away!" So we brought home a couple of little frogs, bought them a new pad, and ceremoniously welcomed them to their new perch on our counter. 

Yes. My counters are dirty. *le sigh*

Tonight is Halloween but we won't be treating the trick or treaters. Instead we'll be making some fudge for my brother and playing cards in front of our off-brand fire log. I'm also pluggin' away at the fiance's cross stitch stocking and making headway, slowly but surely!

A couple weeks and I'll need to be halfway done to finish the stocking before Christmas. It's hard to tell right now, but the finished product will depict a Christmas sled with a sunset and some birds and a little church. The fiance had trouble picking a design but I pushed until he found one that he really loved. The sled is sentimental for him, since his dad built him a sled once many Christmases ago :o)

As for the cats: We bought Millie a light-up toy that absolutely terrifies her and Iroh is being particularly needy lately requesting audiences for his kibble-munching and inviting himself to lap-sit more often than usual!

In other news I watched Heartbreak Ridge today and thoroughly enjoyed it, as usual. If you haven't seen it and you like Clint Eastwood-you're in for a treat!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Halloween Weekend

The fiance and I aren't really into Halloween.

Neither of us like scary movies. Neither of us are very motivated to craft costumes and neither of us are socially motivated enough to seek out Halloween festivities and carving pumpkins is kinda messy.

We'd rather be caving.

In fact, if we hadn't had a stroke of bad car luck we'd be down near Mt. St Helen's to climb around Ape Caves just like we were last year.

Entrance to Ape Caves
Forget handing out candy to costumed kids or watching scary movies that will give us nightmares-let's hit the caves and climb around til our hair gets soaked with sweat and our hands are scraped and muddy!

The caves stay a constant cool 42 degrees Fahrenheit all year round and (for the most part) are underground so you don't have to worry about the rain unless you're hiking to the mouth or back down to the parking lot! Last year we ran into a clod of high schoolers, but for the most part had a great time hiking through the cave together with our handy dandy headlamps.

While we won't be enjoying Halloween-y activities we do have our engagement pictures scheduled for this weekend and we consider that our festivities.

I've been fighting back pimples all week preparing for the shoot and late one night this past week we got up and picked out outfits. Hopefully the pictures turn out well :o) Nothing more terrifying than a pimply portrait (comic snare-cymbal beat).

If all goes well we'll have a relaxing Halloween weekend with a fire, coffee, gingersnaps, and a fun photo shoot!

No whammies, no whammies, no whammies!

Saturday, October 29, 2011


I mentioned a few posts back that by brother moved to Pennsylvania this past fall to play tennis for a college over there. My sister is living at home and going to school and working. I'm living a couple hours away from our hometown with the fiance and not working (but watching A LOT of The Golden Girls).

Anywho, as much as I have been watching my favorite TV show I have been thinkin' about my sibs and how glad I am that even though everyone is getting older and starting to move toward our individual adult lives we're still pretty close and keep in touch.

I think part of the reason for my contemplating our sibling relationships is my getting married next year. It makes me feel old. Or at least mature, and it makes me think about all three of us becoming adults *yikes!*.

While I don't have my siblings in the bridal party (which is restricted to a MOH and BM only), thinking forward to my wedding makes me think about years down the road when I'll look back on my wedding day and remember who was there. It makes me think of all the times I've shared with my sibs and all the adventures yet to be shared together-probably more serious stuff than salting slugs together like when we were younger.

I'm glad that we're friends. I'm glad that we can talk to each other and ask each other for help and depend on each other. Yeah, we have our fights and we sure do know how to piss each other off, but for the most part we're good siblings to each other.

What makes me sad is that every time I think about myself and my siblings, I think about my parents and their siblings and how they aren't that close anymore.

Part of their distance probably has to do with growing up in different times but part of it is probably plain ole mileage. They all live in the same state at least, but over the years family get togethers have become less and less frequent, especially since Grandma died on my dad's side and my aunt and uncle on my mom's side have stopped talking to each other.

It's sad to think that my parents don't have their siblings there for them as much anymore but it's also sad to think about how distant me and my siblings have become from our aunts and uncles as well. All that family tension and distance makes seeing our relatives stressful and awkward. I don't want my children and nieces and nephews to have that stress and not have the resources that extended family provides.

Okay, I can't say that I've experienced a large, really tight-knit extended family for myself but I've gotten a taste.

Back in the day me and my siblings would go for routine visits to aunts and uncles and have big Thanksgivings and Christmas dinners and that meant cultivating meaningful relationships. Nowadays it isn't a natural part of our family life to see extended family and when we do there is lots of baggage and things unspoken that cause tension. Most people don't like to hash out the awkward stuff-hell, I don't have it in me most of the time!

I know I'm not the only one with this story and I know that hiccups and tension are a natural part of family relations-you can't have that many people in a room and expect everyone to get along! I just hope my children and their cousins will experience a happier family dynamic. Luckily, I know that it's important to my siblings just as it is for me.

Only the years will tell what the family will look like with this next generation. I know my sibs will make a good aunt and a good uncle, we just have to prioritize the time for them to have that chance!

Friday, October 28, 2011

What a Kicker

This week started off a little bumpy. A little bumpy and a little jerky and grindy-as in CAR TROUBLE.

The fiance jaunted out the door Monday morning only to jaunt right back in a few minutes later with the news that the van would not back up.

Put 'er in reverse and give it a little gas and next thing you know there is a jerking halt and she won't move no more. He was able to nose the van forward back into the parking spot (not that he got that far out of it to begin with) and took my car instead.

After some research we figured out that the van probably has a transmission problem. In fact, the fiance has had a gnawing gut feeling the past few months that the van was going to have this type of problem. He had just had the coolant flushed and replenished to try and head off heating problems with the vehicle as well-guess we couldn't out run trouble.

Transmission. Broken tranny. Bad news. Expensive news and we're not in a place to deal with it right now and the other problems with the van might just mean laying ole Bessie to rest instead of beating her senseless with more and more repairs til her final death throes kick in (which could be within a couple of years anywho!).

So, we're one car down and figure we will be until we can replace Bessie with a new car. We go to bed a little discouraged but figure we're doing a good thing by driving less and employing more environmentally sound commuting/traveling practices.

Tuesday dawns and the fiance takes off for work in my car. Shortly after his departure I get a call.

"Forget something?"

"Uhhh.... No."

"What's wrong?"

"I'm stuck on the side of I-5."


Yep. The car gave out Tuesday morning. The fiance found himself on I-5 with a floppy gas pedal and no oompf. He got towed home for no less than $120 and spent the rest of the day working from home and joining me in car frets and self-pity.

That night, he signed us up for AAA and announced that he officially felt OLD.

After some calls and research we discovered that the car problem was probably a broken throttle cable and a reasonably priced fix compared to the van's tranny problem. Wednesday morning we had Mable hauled to a local mechanic and the fiance hitched a bus ride to work.

That afternoon I hoofed it three miles to the mechanic's to pick up Mable and experienced such gratitude for the bubble butted Sable I must've looked a fool to passerby as I grinned at my ole car like a love struck kindergartner.

And yes, we have names for our cars. His was Bessie and mine is Mable the Sable. Looks like we'll be adding a new buddy to the bunch as soon as we can afford it (as soon as I sell a kidney).

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Coping With Yourself

I've been dealing with anxiety and depression for years-it almost seems like my entire life. When you've been a certain way for so long it can be really hard to unlearn what you've come to accept as fact, including what you think you are.

For me, a big part of the problem is/was that growing up I was pegged as the "grumpy pants" child in the family. My siblings had their moments, but they were like firecrackers-a flashy episode and then they were finished. I made grumpy into a lifestyle at times and happy-go-lucky days were my rare episodes.

The neighbor across the street called me "Happy Hannah" just because of my grumpy factor.

So growing up I felt an image of grumpery (yes I just made that word up) pasted over me and I actually learned NOT to laugh so I could avoid being teased even more about my depressed/crotchety mood.

Then I am diagnosed with clinical depression when I'm sixteen. You might think, "Hey! Great news, you're not just a grouchy person-something is really wrong with you." And part of me was glad to have a reason for my extreme-low moods, but at the same time-something is wrong with me.

When you're diagnosed with something like depression or anxiety it's not like high-cholesterol or even diabetes. You can't follow your new prescription regimen and make a few lifestyle changes and everything is fixed. Living with a mental disease is a lot more complicated.

Treating depression and anxiety (for me and most people) isn't just about popping a pill; it's about changing you lifestyle, changing your thought processes, and along they way accepting a major change in how you perceive yourself. Unlike other chemical/physical imbalances and diseases depression and anxiety are intertwined with your personality, the emotional and mental cocktail that creates your unique self.

Yes, you can take meds and change your lifestyle and your mood will improve, but if you're like me the transition to a healthy balance can be a lot more perplexing. Your mood changes, you outlook changes and as the chemicals realign suddenly you perception is adjusted and thinking patterns become corrected and you realize how deeply ingrained your depression was and what an influence the disease has had on your life.

Even if you turn things around and live a healthy, happy life through successful treatment there are years and years of living with depression that will never leave you. People who have known you throughout your life will remember you as you were in those years and making these positive changes can make a big impact on your social life.

And for many people depression is never cured. It's chronic and there is no surgery or quick fix and sometimes pills don't always work the way they should or your meds lose efficacy. Everyday you remember that you're a depressed or anxious person and everyday you remind yourself to watch out for signs of your depression-signs of a remission (or an episode as I call 'em).

That is a tough pill to swallow. It's scary and ominous and sometimes it feels really hopeless. Depression is dangerous.

Sometimes I wonder if just being "grouchy" would've been preferable to being clinically depressed-but now that I'm healthy I know that I would never want to go back to being Grumpy Pants.

Yes, I am healthy now, but I will always have depression and everyday involves active treatment and management of my disease. It took me a long time to accept this as part of what I am. It took me a long time to accept that medication was necessary and wasn't a cop-out. Depression isn't a personality trait or something that can be rerouted through willpower or some mental-crash diet. Depression is a mental disease and needs to be treated.

It's part of what I am, but it is not WHO I am. I really am "Happy Hannah," it just took me a diagnosis and treatment for me to become who I really am and not be overshadowed by a disease that I did not choose for myself.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Good Nights 'n Good Movies

It's been a pretty laid back week (even though the fiance and I managed to get ourselves out for a couple of joggin' sessions) and the fiance and I have spent quite a few pleasant nights watching movies and cuddling with hot drinks!

One of the movies we checked out from the library was "Field of Dreams" with Kevin Costner. I know it's something of a classic but I had never seen it and the fiance had never watched it all the way through.

We really enjoyed it and I cried like a baby at the end! I'm a "Daddy's little girl" and that night we had selected the daddy/daughter dance for our wedding reception so I was primed for a cryin' session ;o) Not to mention my attachment to baseball :o)

Another movie we got to enjoy this week was "The Grapes of Wrath" with Henry Fonda.

The fiance and I both enjoy Steinbeck novels but neither of us have read The Grapes of Wrath yet-but after seeing the movie we've put the book on our to-do list! The book/movie follows a family of dust bowl sharecroppers in their move to California in search of work. While a bit of a tragedy their is humor and a dose of American pride.

The fiance and I are Henry Fonda fans-although the movie we know him best from is decidedly different from "The Grapes of Wrath" - "Yours, Mine, and Ours" with Lucille Ball!

My mom introduced me to "Yours, Mine, and Ours" when I was young and I can accept no substitutes or remakes. Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball make a hilarious team and you can't beat a flock of adolescents spikin' Lucy's drink with a smorgasbord of alcohols!

 Check 'em out and enjoy ;o)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Feeling Absent

It feels like I haven't posted in forever, and I think it's because I've been stuck in my own head a lot lately.

Thankfully my pondering isn't brooding or marinating in negative juices and related to my depression-I'm just thoughtful. Next week will mark a year until the fiance and I get hitched and while I anticipated musing on wedding plans, I've found that my thoughts are focused on my relationship with the fiance and future prospects of marriage and family as well as pursuing a career. Not really bad or good, just thoughtful!

The fiance and I are going to compose letters to one another to be sealed on the date of our wedding-to-be and reopened the day of our ceremony a year later. I haven't begun to write my letter but I suppose the "assignment" has got me thinking and thankfully (and not unexpectedly) I have found myself happy and delighted with my fiance and thoughts of marrying him and our life together.

This past weekend we spent time relaxing at home and the concept of living with this man for the rest of my life sunk in a little more and more. We spent time playing cards and listening to a book on CD, sometimes the fiance would spend time on the computer while I plugged away at a jigsaw puzzle at the table. It was all very pleasant and so comfortable-I began to imagine ourselves spending weekends at home together with children and these memories becoming my concept of "home" instead of my childhood memories of summer vacation and family game nights.

I think people might forget just how massive an impact marriage has on our lives, at least when approaching the union as a young person. Lacking direct experience, I'm sure I can't expound completely on the subject but this week during my deep thinking spells I've contemplated the life changes marriage creates and how grateful I am to share these changes and the challenges of life with my fiance.

At least once a day I experience a moment of blissful gratitude for this man being in my life and joy at the concept of becoming his wife and having him by my side for the rest of my days. Sometimes I fall into these moments as I come across a glass he left outside the shower or when I see him play with our cats or dramatically announce dinner plans or an excursion plot. In those moments I see him so clearly and appreciate him for exactly what he is and smile a blaring smile as happiness sweeps over me.

Over a year to go still-I'm sure my impatience will only build as the days tick by!

Also on my mind is midwifery and my decision to pursue the vocation. While I was hoping to enroll in the midwifery program at Bastyr University in 2013, I've decided to relax my schedule and take some pressure off myself. I have quite a few prerequisites to complete before entering the program they may prove to be very challenging considering I have no chemistry experience and am more naturally skilled in the liberal arts-not sciences.

Slow and steady wins the race :o)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

My fifteen minutes....

Yesterday the fiance and I went up to Canada to be part of a studio audience for a series called "State of Mind."  A fellow blogger gave us the heads up and while we couldn't be there to support her on her big day, we were able to go on our own time as some show of support for her and mental health in general.

The series is produced by a father whose son was diagnosed with schizophrenia over ten years ago and has subsequently ended up with a concurrent addiction and is living on the streets. The series did have a substantial focus on the family's journey but also made strides in supporting awareness concerning other forms of mental disease like bipolar disorder, depression, addiction, and schizophrenia.

Check out the series on after it airs October 22 or on Joy TV 10 if you live in BC.

Throughout filming the family and audience and studio staff chatted about mental health, supported, and comforted each other. Nearly everyone had a personal connection to mental disease and it was an amazing environment.

Near the end of filming we began talking about mental disease awareness and support especially how there are no large awareness or support programs such as those for various forms of cancer. While cancer is a serious disease, mental disease affects even more people around the world and is still NOT being talked about.

Oddly enough the series is being filmed in October, "National Breast Cancer Awareness Month." Less recognized, October is also "National Domestic Violence Awareness Month," "National Pork Month," and bears other monikers.

While I value contributions to breast cancer and heart disease and have contributed myself to these causes and others-I believe our country-our WORLD needs a "Mental Disease Awareness Month" and fun run fundraisers and awareness.

We've all been touched by mental disease-either a friend, neighbor, relative, brother, sister, father, mother, or coworker. In some cases we know more people that suffer from mental disease than we're aware of-some are too afraid to share their stories because of the stigma and criticism mental disease carries with it.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

October Here Already

I can't believe a week is already gone.

October is my favorite month (a major reason I want to be married in October next year) but I haven't been savoring the month like I usually do. The fiance and I have had weekend plans and I've been going to yoga class, but I haven't been supremely busy by any means.

It's been months since the big depressive relapse, but I'm still not in full gear. Maybe for some people a major depressive episode comes and goes with little trace, but for me the residual damage can stretch out for months. The most important thing is trying not to rip myself apart for being less-than full power.

Unfortunately as important as this is it's also just as difficult for me. Just yesterday I was beating myself up for entertaining the thought of adopting a dog. I'm most definitely a cat person and hate visiting kennels because of the doggy smell but for some reason I was very intent on the idea of adding a dog to our crowded apartment.

Once the brain fog subsided and I dismissed the idea as impossible I began constantly berating myself for being irresponsible and foolish. With that self-hate comes negativity the emanates from the dark recesses in my mind and inevitably annoys and sometimes hurts others around me.

This weekend the fiance was in the danger zone. The closest people to us always take the most emotional flak and the frustration of hurting him without wanting to brings on the guilt and shame and makes the whole thing even worse!

Lucky for me my man and I can talk about anything and eventually we talked our way out of my mood roller coaster and proceeded to enjoy the weekend together.

This weekend my folks came up for pizza, beer, and card games. I had been anticipating their visit because I wanted to share some news but I never took the opportunity during their visit. Right after they left I shared my disappointment in not sharing my news with the fiance and as if on cue, Mom knocked on the door with some things I left in their trunk!

We set down the items and then followed her down to the car so I could tell my parents together.

What was the news? I'm going to get a job, go back to school to finish prerequisites in order to apply to a midwifery program. I want to be a baby catcher!

Dad was completely blindsided and Mom was a little shocked but ecstatic to hear my plans. Later that night I got a text saying that they were happy about my new goals.

Now all we can do is wait and see how it goes :o)