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Whatever rings Mel's bells

Posts Tagged ‘changes’

Happy birthday, apprentice!

I got the most wickedly awesome birthday present today – a new career!

Last fall I got into the electrical trade, applying for an apprenticeship as an Inside Wireman and getting a  job as a low-voltage Sound & Communications Installer.  The installer job wasn’t meant to last forever, just till I got into my apprenticeship.  However, that can take a really long time – six months or even several years if you don’t get in the first time.  So I was just happy to be working at all, let alone in my chosen field.

Guess what?  I got into the program on my first try!  And today I went to my employer’s office and got dispatched out to my FIRST SITE AS AN APPRENTICE.  And it’s my birthday.  How about them apples?!?  Kiss it, retail, I told you I’m never coming back!

Gotta say, things got pretty hairy last fall, and I was worried I’d have to go back to the hateful retail world.  But I got the install job, and now I’m taking the first step on the five-year path to my Journeyman ticket.

I am SO. EXCITED.

Healing, perhaps

I guess it’s more than perhaps, it’s more like “apparently.”

Five years, seven months, three days, one hour, and forty-nine minutes ago, the first man I truly adored was killed.  He’d come into my lonely, desperate, incomplete life, and he filled all the empty spaces that bothered me.

Then suddenly he was gone.

Being the type of person I am, I of course pulled myself up by the bootstraps and went on with life.  *sigh*  I’ll be honest with you, I don’t really know how to grieve.  I don’t know how to lose.  I don’t know how to be hurt.  I just have no idea how to do any of that.  My default reaction is to take a deep breath, consider all the good things that still exist in my life, and move the hell on.

End of story.

After all, no matter what happens in my life, no matter how awful things seem, at least I’m still breathing, right?  At least I still have my health, and my sanity (or as much of it as I ever had!), and my ability to support myself, and my loving and wonderful family and friends.  So why should I dwell on what I’ve lost?  Why should I live in the past?  Why should I cling to something or someone that’s gone?

Unfortunately, my analytic mental processes don’t actually control everything that goes on inside.  So of course, recovering from The Loss Of My Entire Life was not (shall we say) a quick or easy process.  In fact, it’s still not finished.  Not even close.

But a few weeks ago I turned a corner, and tonight I turned another one.  (Does that mean I’m headed back the way I came?  *shudder*)

I spent 28 years wishing for someone who would make me feel wanted, and loved, and worthy, and wonderful.   I didn’t have him for very long, but he was instrumental in building me up to the (apparently) confident person I am today.

I’ve spent the past 5 years knowing that I’ll never find another person like him, and I’ve been not only grieving his loss, but the loss of that love and the loss of the way the love made me feel and the hope that I’d ever feel that loved again.

Oooh, there it is.  There’s the first epiphany.  I finally came to see that what I miss most about Mike Lucas is the way I felt when we were together.  Maya Angelou said it best, you know.  I will always remember the way he made me feel.  And I know I’m not the only one – anytime he walked into a room, the whole place would light up.  Everybody knew him, everybody loved him, everybody wanted to be around him.  He was just that kind of person.  Can you blame me for wanting to feel that again?

So a few weeks ago I realized that, and I realized that – wait for it – there might be someone, somewhere out there, who someday might make me feel that good again.  Who might make me feel that wanted again.  Who might make me feel like I belong again.

It could happen.  I believe it could.

So voila, there’s some hope.  And for me, hope is like air, in that I cannot live without it.  (I almost didn’t, in fact, but that’s another story.)  I now have hope that the thirteen months and thirteen days I spent with my First Mate don’t have to be the sum total of my belonging.

Huge.

Tonight I came to another confusion, as we like to say in my family.  You see, this Saturday would have been Mike’s 44th birthday, and we were talking about how to celebrate it.  I’m thinking a family dinner and maybe a toast…  Mom suggested releasing paper lanterns with messages written on them, which I really like.

But that got me thinking about how to remember him.  And how I can keep him in my life, even though he isn’t exactly in my life any more.  I acted the ass so thoroughly when I lost him (grief makes us do stupid things) that none of his friends or family talk to me any more.  His murderer is also his widow, so she gets to keep his name till she dies, she even got a frikkin’ television show.  Yeah, what do I get?  I get to feel like I’m nothing and nobody.  Which I am not, not by a long shot!  But it does feel that way.

Tonight I realized that I can, and should, find a constructive way to remember Mike.  Maybe find a cause to help in his name, maybe create something, maybe make a new tradition.  I don’t know what, I’m still working that out.  But I realized tonight that I’ve been looking for a place to put him in my life.  And because I haven’t had a place for him, he’s been floating all over and getting in the way, so to speak.

I think I’m finally getting started with this “moving on” and “healing” stuff that people have been talking about.  Sure has taken a while…  But I guess I’m a pretty tough nut to crack on some things.

Five years, seven months, three days, two hours, and twenty-one minutes.  And counting.

Wow, has it really been a month?

Apparently it has.  So here we go with the updates:

I have yet to hear back form the Navy Band about whether I’m accepted or not.  My recruiter hasn’t heard anything either, and he may or may not be getting tired of me calling him.  😉

Albert has moved back in with family in anticipation of me leaving.  It’s really weird to be broken up, but I am enjoying the peace and quiet.  Not to mention the lack of TV in my home!

I’m trying to get out more, especially spending more time with musical people and friends who I’ve neglected.  I’ve said “Sorry, I can’t” to so many invitations over the past few years, it feels great to say “I’ll be there” instead!  It’s running me a little ragged, but mostly because I’m not managing my time well enough.

My workouts have been inconsistent at best, though I’m seeing a little bit of improvement in the holding-of-breath-when-swimming department.  The brain is still NOT PLEASED with the fact that I’m doing hard physical work and am unable to breathe whenever I want.  Kinda turns me into a gasping mess at times…  So I go play mermaid and wear flippers and swim around underwater so I can’t cheat and take a breath when I’m not supposed to.  It’s hard, but still kinda fun.  And I try to go with daMama and Rosi instead of alone.

I’m back into too-busy-to-bother-with-food mode, so if I turn into a skeleton just buy me a sandwich k?  Make it a club with cheddar and light mayo please.  I’m not starving myself on purpose, it just kinda happens…  I’ve been watching the Food Network while on the treadmill tho, which makes me hungry for two reasons and then I’ll eat something.  Plus, it gives me all these great ideas which makes me WANT to cook later.  Not that it helps all the time!

Spending more time with musical people has made me want to write better.  In fact, I spent some time with Mike Pratt last week, and I’m basically feeling shamed into improving!  LOL  Not that he’s less than gracious about his own abilities, but he’s a very talented and skilled songwriter and I’m feeling motivated by exposure.  In fact, tomorrow I’m going to a songwriters’ show and (if I can get the cojones up) I’m going to play a few of my songs – to a room full of other songwriters.  This, my friends, is a very frightening prospect for me.  All y’all people who don’t want to sing in front of me?  I’m in your shoes now.  I have to take my inadequate, half-written pieces that need more help than I’m presently able to give them, and present them not only publicly, but to a group of people which will include at least a few folks who have done this for much longer than me and are consequently much better at it.  I am not looking forward to it.

I’m going to leave things there, since I have to jet to Silverdale and teach a class now.  I know I say this all the time, but I’ll try to update more often going forward!

Depression

K, so if admitting you have a problem is the first step toward recovery, then I shall do so.

I’m dealing with some depression right now.  I’m at a crossroads in my life, and I’m feeling ready for a change.  But the change is taking so long in coming, it’s getting frustrating.  I was just saying last night, I’ve gone through the part where I let go of my plans and embrace the new paradigm.  So I’ve turned the mental corner and I’m ready for the new thing now.  But it isn’t coming!  So I’m still stuck here in my old life, the one that won’t work and isn’t working and that I’ve already given up.  But I can’t go on to my new life yet.

So I’m feeling really out of sorts and it’s really messing with my head.  I guess the only thing to do is soldier through and deal with it, huh?  At least I have friends who I can turn to and get it off my chest, which I really need to employ more often because it’s a much better coping mechanism than my usual ones.

Know what?  I think I’ll go clean the affirmations off my mirror and write a new one.  Something along the lines of, “You will succeed if you apply yourself.”  With the IF really big.

And then tonight I’m going to go see my wonderful family and celebrate my nephew’s birthday and bask in the love and appreciation and togetherness and understanding and BELONGING that makes me so happy to have been born into this bunch of people.

Take that, depression.

Announcement

Big changes are a-coming…  There’s no way to work up to this, so I’m just gonna pull the bandage right off in one yank.

I’m auditioning for the Navy Band.

Yep, I’m going to enlist in the US Navy and join the band and be a Navy rock star for the next few years.  Didn’t know the Navy had rock bands?  They do.  In fact, they have 11 fleet bands around the world, each of which has 2-3 vocalists.  One of those fleet bands is stationed at NBK-Bangor, right here in my backyard.  If they station me there, I’ll only be gone for about 7 months (8 weeks of basic, 21 of A school) and then I’ll be back home again for most of my tour.  If they don’t, I could end up in California or Europe or Hawaii or on the East Coast.  Who knows?

At any rate, I’m offering what I feel is my greatest talent and skill in service of my country.  It’s a decision I have not made lightly, and in fact one I was on the verge of making two years ago.  In 2010 I decided to stay here, but I guess it was just a matter of time!  I keep telling people that if I’d known at 18 that I could do this, I’d only be a few years out from retirement right now.  But no, I had to talk to the Army recruiter…  And the Army doesn’t have a dedicated vocalist position.  You know, it never occurred to me to walk out the door and into one of the other branches.  But hey, life is funny that way and playing the “what if” game is stupid and unproductive.

So this is the plan:  I serve for 5 years, and if I like it then I stay in until I want out.  If I don’t like it, then I’m back here in 5 years buying a house and picking up where I left off.

Either way, I’m excited and ready for a change.  Both Etsy stores will remain open for sales in my absence (big thanks to Albert who will be shipping packages out for me until I’m able to take back over) tho there obviously won’t be any new items available until I get to my duty station.  Keep an eye out for future communications as to when I go – it’ll be business as usual for the next couple months, or however long it takes for me to get on the road.

Refinement

There’s a bit of religious imagery that has stuck with me since childhood.  In I Corinthians 3 Paul talks about all of our works being tried by fire, and the unworthy things are burned away and the worthy things are refined.  He says if we build with lasting materials our works will survive the fire and we’ll be rewarded, but if we build with “straw and wood” it will be burned away and we’ll be left with no reward.

I’m not religious any more, and I don’t believe that this will ever literally happen.  But I can tell you for sure that it happens to me all the time right now.  Troubles come along, and they set my life on fire.  And let me tell you, having your life set on fire is not fun!  It burns, it hurts, and it’s really scary to see everything you’ve built start to melt down around you.  But I’ve found that when I face my fears, and come to terms with reality, and accept what is really happening, I can use the situation to become a better person.  But it’s not automatic, in fact it takes quite a bit of effort.

First, you have to ask yourself how you got into this situation.  Think of what you could have done differently.  Imagine a similar situation happening again, and see yourself doing it differently next time.  Recognize the flaw, the mistake, the error, the blindness, whatever it was in yourself that either caused or allowed the bad thing to happen.  If nothing you did contributed to or exacerbated the problem, then think of what you can learn from what you’re going through.

The important part is to look.  Look at what you’ve done.  Look at who you are.  See yourself, see the great parts and the icky ones both.  See the things you love about yourself.  (If you can’t see them, ask a loved one to tell you one thing that they like about you.  Then remind yourself of that wonderful characteristic EVERY DAY.  Tell your mirror three times a day how awesome you are because of ________.  Repeat till you believe it.  Then repeat some more.)  See the things you don’t like about yourself, and then figure out what you can do about them.  (If you can’t figure out what to do about it, ask a loved one for advice.  If you don’t have any loved ones that you can trust with either of these tasks, that’s what professional counselors are for.)  Look at yourself honestly, seeing both good and bad.  Know thyself, as it has been wisely said for millenia.

When the trouble-dragon comes around and starts burning your whole world down, it’s natural to fight it.  It’s natural to want to stay wherever we are, and to look at the destruction as a bad thing.  But pay attention.  The things in your life that are worth saving – genuine relationships, healthy behaviors, a positive attitude, a strong moral code – will survive the fire.  They may be melted a little, they may need to be polished and get a little TLC after all that stress.  But they’ll survive.  And the things that aren’t worth saving – fair-weather friends, unhealthy habits, negative attitudes, loose personal ethics – will be fueling the fire, and they’ll be consumed by it.  After the fire dies down, you’ll find yourself with more room to breathe and to rebuild.

So I’m not afraid of the fire.  I don’t particularly enjoy going through it, I’ll tell ya that much!  But I know that whatever it takes away, even if it’s something I desperately wanted and depended on, I can survive on what’s left from it.  And I know that whatever is broken down in the fire can be rebuilt afterward.

No more sales

Just concluded my 20% off sale for Easter, and have also concluded that sales don’t really work for me.  I got a little bit more traffic while the sale was going, but no actual increase in sales themselves.  In fact, the only thing I’ve done recently that’s successfully boosted sales is posting on Facebook!

So I’m not going to do any more sales.  At least not for a while.  Instead, I’m going to do some product giveaways!  In fact, I have the first one planned already…  Keep your eyes peeled, I think you’ll like it.  Will post it in a few days once I work the kinks out of it.  😀

Bad news

Let me be brief: I’m not opening a store any time soon.

Yup, after spending the last year writing a business plan, doing market research, and building interest, I’m going to have to set aside the plans to open The Bead and Bean (and Broads and Bullets and Brews and I forget what the other thing was), at least for now.

Apparently I should have taken a few steps earlier that I waited to take till I had my stuff together better.  One of those things was sitting down with somebody from the bank and talking turkey.  ‘Cause it turns out, the turkey is me.

The short version is that after a brief presentation of my business plan to a panel of four mentors, they’re very impressed with the work I’ve done and the passion I have for my dreams and ideas, but – here’s the kicker – money talks.  And I’d have to have an awful lot of it to get a lease.  In my case, around $50,000.

Once the hysterical laughter subsided and I picked myself back up off the floor, I realized they weren’t kidding and there’s no way I can do this.  I mean, really?  Fifty grand?  Ain’t gonna happen unless I win the lottery, and you can’t win if you don’t play.  So I’m out.

Now, the good news is that by waiting, I’ll be able to open the store at a better time, when the economy is stronger and I’m in a better position to make it all work.  I mean, there really isn’t any advantage to opening a store now.  Let’s be realistic.  Consumer spending is starting to come back up, but it’s still pretty darned low.  And the commercial real estate market isn’t like the residential market; all those empty buildings are not causing lessors to lower their rates.  So there wouldn’t be an upside to opening now anyways.

Still, it’s pretty disappointing for me to have to do a 180 on this, especially since I could have spent the past year improving and refining my presentation for market.  But you know, I’m still teaching, and I’m still offering classes and parties, and I’m still selling online.  And I’m not giving up, not by far.  Just going to focus on those aspects of the biz for now, and leave the store for later.

So it’s bad news.  But it’s better than opening the store in ignorance and failing miserably!

No bueno

My cat Gumby (my little boy, my only child, my closest-thing-to-a-son-I-will-ever-have) has been sick lately.  As in, he’s been vomiting a lot in the past week.  At first I thought he’d found some plastic bags to chew on (which he had) so I didn’t think much of it.  But he kept doing it, which worried me.  Then yesterday he did it, and there was nothing but bile.  That’s not healthy.

So I put him in the kitty carrier (no mean feat) and took his whiny little butt down to the vet.

Bad news.  Very bad news.

It turns out that my little guy has heart disease.

His heart is so big that it’s compressing his lungs, pushing his esophagus out of place, causing irritation in his brochial tubes, and otherwise messing up all his innards.

Of course, this explains the two episodes when I thought he had seizures; they both occurred after he’d been very active.  And I gotta tell you, Dr. Choi at All Creatures Animal Hospital is great.  She suggested before that it might be a cardiopulmonary issue, but b/c Gumby wasn’t showing any other symptoms we decided to just monitor him.

Well, at any rate, she prescribed me meds that he’ll have to take for the rest of his life.  However much of it there is.  I asked about a prognosis for the future and she said sometimes they live a few years, sometimes they don’t last very long at all.  Hopefully we’ll have a better idea after we do a follow-up in a week or so.

I’m really torn up about it tho.  He’s my little boy.  He’s literally the only thing I asked for when Eric and I divorced.  I always knew I’d have to see him die.  I mean, cats just don’t live nearly as long as people do.  But I didn’t expect it to be anytime soon.

I’m really sad right now.

Putting it off again…

Today I got some pretty lousy news.  I’m not going to be able to open my store this fall.  (Insert weeping and gnashing of teeth.)

Before I can open, obviously I have to have the store ready – in particular I need to have the cafe area prepped, which will likely include plumbing work.  This, of course, requires a permit from the county, and these are running at least 3 weeks behind.  But before I can even start that, I need the lease, for which I need the funding.  And the funding is taking a couple months.

So…  On to the next plan.  Unfortunately, I’m going to have to bite the bullet and do house parties, classes at community centers, events at churches, etc.

This is all very disappointing, but it will put me in a better position to get funding in the spring; I’ll have a longer history, some funds set aside already, and a proven, not just prospective, customer base.  With all that, I’ll be a much more attractive lending prospect and should be able to get the financing I need faster and with better terms.

That is, if the economic system hasn’t been completely toasted by then.  Fingers crossed!

The bottom line is, look for the Bead and Bean to open spring of 2012.