What was I thinking? /facepalm

Lately, I’ve been feeling the “hey, you haven’t been earning any money” pressure. Bills happen and I need to be contributing financially to the family, in addition to what I do around the house (which isn’t a lot when I’ve been feeling crappy and migrainey and sick). So, I think, what can I be doing to earn some cash?

Well, I have lots of ways to do that. This blog for example. The glass art I (used) to do. Writing. Problem is, I haven’t really done them lately. Now, we can get all up into “why haven’t you done that? what is holding you back? why do you pull away from success?” and I can spend a lot of time analyzing it and trying to figure things out. And I still won’t be actually *doing* anything about it.

To be fair, I have applied at a couple of places around town. The local small-town theatre facility (came very close to landing that one but failed for lack of recent experience in theatre) and the local independent bookstore (a store! full of books! yeah, I could spend my time in there). In the meantime, my brain is saying “you’re not earning any money. you’re not earning any money. you need to earn money.” (Yes, my brain speaks in lower-case. Deal with it.)

So I see the ad for the local fast-food coffee place job fair and something says this is what I should do. I’ve spoken informally to folks who work there and even stopped by last night to pick up an application. Yes, sometimes I am slow for a smart person.

Poking about on the interwebs this morning, I came across http://www.nojobformom.com/ and had my facepalm moment. Why the hell am I thinking about working 20 hours a week for minimum wage slinging coffee with a bunch of disaffected teenagers when I could write about things that interest me and make a lot more dough? Can I not spell r-e-s-i-d-u-a-l-s? What is wrong with me?

Okay, before I go chasing that particular red herring, let me stop and breathe. Now that I’ve had my epiphany, it’s time to lay off the self-flagellation and ask our DBT question:

What is the most effective thing I can do to move forward?

This post is, itself, the answer. I can start writing! Ms. No Job for Mom has a free ebook on how to get started, so that sounds like a good place to get started! Already downloaded and begun. And, instead of scheduling myself for 16 hours a week of minimum-wage mayhem, I can schedule myself for 16 hours a week of income-generating writing. And I don’t even have to apply, or interview myself, or anything!

Whew, that was close. I almost fell victim to “I’m a loser who doesn’t deserve anything but a crap job” and “You’ll never succeed anyway” thinking. Disaster averted. Yay!

Ch…ch…ch…changes

My apologies for my lengthy absence/silence. The last year has been a time of deep work and profound changes. I find it hard to write—words just don’t seem adequate somehow. Yet, here I am.

The work that was started on the cushion and continued in DBT continues to deepen. Each morning, I sit outside and rediscover myself in the nesting robins feeding their young or the fantastically loud “blatt” of the trumpeter swans. I watch the working of my mind and am usually aware when my emotions spin out of control. Funny thing, that awareness. First, it acts like a clutch, enabling me to disengage when my emotional engine goes nuts. This is a good thing. The engine may be racing, but I’m not laying down rubber, yay! But it doesn’t slow the emotions down. It does help me to keep from piling on *old* emotions.

What do I mean by that? This is new for me too, so please bear with. Previously, for example, Bri would say or do something that would trigger me. Suddenly, I would be flooded with emotions:

  • reactionary anger: a learned emotion. This is how my mother reacted when I did the same thing, so it’s my hard-wired reaction. My most embarrassing anger, cuz it just tends to come out and it tends to be very harsh and unflexible.
  • remembered anger & pain. This is how I felt as a child being abused at my mother’s hands.
  • shame and frustration. See the first bullet. Unfortunately, shame tends to generate more anger to cover it up and make it go away. It’s a vicious circle.

Somewhere around the beginning of June, there was a profound shift. Bri’s actions still triggered me, but it was just the reactionary anger, which I was able to clearly see. Since then, I’ve been able to handle those reactions without adding in emotional memories of my own shit or judgements of the situation. It’s like I can simply see the situation for what it is, without piling on the emotional baggage.

This has been such a profound change in my life that I have spent the last month “checking” it. Asking B if I seem different (yes), asking if I still seem different (yes). Checking in with myself. Yep—something has changed.

As if that weren’t enough, I applied for and was accepted to be one of the artists in a group project that Workman Arts is producing for Nuit Blanche. So my first art show ever is gonna be a big one. {grin} I don’t like to start small. This is also no small matter. I’m creating a sculpture representing a woman who lived at the Toronto Hospital for the Insane for many years. She insisted that everyone call her Angel Queen XIII, and they did. My kind of broad ;^). Anyway, I’m learning about sculpture and planning this life-sized work of art. For someone who is trying to transition careers and become an artist, this is about as big as it gets.

Oh yeah, there is one more thing. My ex-husband, the one who had a sex-change operation before our divorce was even completed, apologized in his her own way: she made me the beneficiary of her life insurance policy. Her common-law spouse at the time of her death wasn’t too happy about this, precipitating a court challenge. Toronto courts are overloaded and slow, so it’s taken over a year to get the case heard. But I’ve had my day in court and the judge ruled in my favour and I can’t believe we’re gonna be out of debt finally and able to buy a house. So, yet another huge thing. And not just because we can buy a house, but because this allows me to be an artist and a homemaker and not worry about going back to work at a job that would likely crush my soul again. So I can let go of another thing that I’ve been worrying about ever since I left work on disability two years ago.

Needless to say, such major changes are dangerous territory to navigate when one has an emotional disorder. In spite of my new awareness, or possibly because of it, I have been doing a lot of pulling back over the past while. My emotions are all over the place: the court stuff brings back memories of my ex and his transition to womanhood, an extremely painful and difficult period in my life. As those arise, I am doing my best to deal with them and not let the past poison the present. The money stuff, while good, is also change and creates emotional waves to be dealt with.

Most days, I feel good if I get a decent dinner made and some time spent in the studio on one of the various projects on the go. Things need to get finished. Plus planning to buy a house, relocate Brianna, figure out how to switch schools, when would it work best for her, how will this all work. I’ve been verging on overwhelmed much of the time, though I’ve been coping with it. Actually, I’ve been coping rather well, and part of that coping has been my pulling back to just the essentials. So I apologize if I’ve neglected my friends in favour of my family—just now, that’s what I need to take care of myself.

And that’s where I’m at. Though it is difficult sometimes, it is a good place. May you find peace where ever you find yourself.

Digging Out

I’m discovering that one of the most obvious outer clues to an impending depressive implosion is how I deal with mail. When my brain is functioning well, the mail gets processed properly: opened, reconciled or entered in Quicken or Quickbooks (depending on whether it is home or business related), and then filed. When things aren’t going so well for me, this process is one of the first affected.

Why? Probably because the decrease in cognitive ability that comes with depression makes it almost impossible to follow through with my usual mail procedure. How do I know? Because I am currently trying to work my way through a large cardboard box of unfiled papers and unopened mail: investment statements, credit card bills, old tax returns, unsubmitted medical expenses, and some just plain junk.

The process of cleaning this mess up itself is creating feelings of being overwhelmed. I’m taking lots of breaks and trying to give myself lots of credit for making it to this point, the point where the pile is going down rather than going up. My emotional response to the situation is a tendency to beat myself up for letting things get to this point. This response is actively countered by my focusing on the facts of the situation—yay for dialectical thinking.

Probably the only thing that has saved our credit rating is electronic banking. Direct deposit combined with regular pre-authorized payments keeps the creditors happy whether or not I actually look at any of the accounts.

Conclusions?

  • If you are struggling with depression, try to automate as much of your banking and bill-paying as possible. It’s one less thing to worry about, and nothing makes you feel miserable about yourself faster than collectors calling constantly. Okay, maybe some things make you feel more miserable faster, but collection calls suck.
  • Note to me and those who love me: if you notice the mail piling up, it’s time for an intervention—depression is looming and action needs to be taken.

See, all of this mail in the box is from the two–three months prior to my breakdown, that point in time when I called a time-out on life. It’s good that my brain is functioning well enough to tackle my box in little chunks of time, but I don’t want to push it too much and declare myself well. I’m not—I’m better than I was but I’ve got a way to go yet.

Interestingly enough, we’re at the halfway point of our winter. We’ve endured a lot of snowfall so far, but it’s way too early to declare the season over.

Buying at the Bottom

Okay, so I’m on a mission to erase our debt and increase our net worth, in order to secure our family’s future (as much as I am able to anyway). I’ve been buying *very* small lots of dividend stocks when I save up a few hundred dollars to do so.

The markets have been the big news in the past week, with the TSX losing all the ground it gained in 2007. While everyone else was panicking, I thought it would be a good time to buy. I put in a purchase order over the weekend to buy 3 shares (yes, count ’em 3 whole shares!). Okay, if I’m buying for capital gains, three shares and a $29.00 commission would not be wise. But, since I am investing for dividend income, I’m more concerned about holding the stock for a long time. Buying low is a bonus.

Here’s how the numbers played out:

Close                High            Low

Yesterday           $44.42            $45.50         $42.51

Today, the stock is currently trading at $45.08. $42.51 is the 52-week low for CNR. I paid $42.83 per share.

Yeah baby! Buy low is good! Now, I just wait for the dividends to arrive.

N.B. — Why buy Canadian National Railway? 1. It’s a dividend producer. Dividends are taxed at a much lower rate than any other kind of income. 2. With oil doing what it’s doing, non-trucking transport, that is railroads, will become more important in the economy. Therefor, it’s likely that the dividends will go up.

YMMV