Seeking enrichment

Life can get pretty routine sometimes. Work or school, homework or housework, eat, sleep, repeat. It’s so important to find things to enrich our days. That can be a significant other/spouse, pets, volunteering, a hobby, or a project.

I love playing with my two crazy cats and having them snuggle while I’m watching TV or checking my social media on the laptop. One of them seems to always want to climb on top of me just when I’m ready to settle down to write.  Hey, that’s another enrichment: writing or other creative endeavors. More  importantly, working on long term goals or projects.

Of course, that’s more “work” oriented. You still need something more leisurely or enjoyable in your life. Personally, I find myself doing less of that lately. A friend asked me today if I had done any origami lately. I haven’t. I made a couple birds when I visited with her and my other good friend, her hubby, about a month ago. He’s an artist and did a drawing while we folded. That was the first time I did any paper folding for quite a few years.

I also haven’t taken my camera out too much in recent years. I love photography. I don’t know if it’s just getting older and having less energy, or if it’s depression, or a little of both.  There’s also the lack of time.

The good thing is that I still have interest in these things, so I guess I’m not too depressed. (I have bipolar depression, but take medication for it.) If you don’t know, loss of interest in things you normally enjoy is a sign of serious depression.  I just wanted to throw that in there, since mental health problems often go undiagnosed or untreated.

So, in the spirit of renewal anytime, as I discussed in my last post, I’m going to make more of an effort on all my interests.

Let’s see…. where can I go photoggin’ this weekend?

I’ll let you know.

Carpe diem.

No comparison, singles edition

I mentioned in yesterday’s post about there being two things that reminded me of the old saying, “All unhappiness comes from comparison.” I wrote about one of them. That being the success of others making me feel a sense of loss, or at least longing, for things still not achieved.

I touched on the other. A fellow picnic attendee mistook my friend and I for a couple. I wasn’t surprised, since I was kind of sticking close to my friend since I didn’t know anyone else very well, and wasn’t feeling real energetic that evening.

It really didn’t bother me at that moment, but I do think about it. The unhealthy comparison here is when I look at couples, gay or straight, who have been together a long time, and seem to complete each other. They also have someone to grow old with, to share special moments, perhaps kids and then grandchildren, carrying on the family name and all that.

It’s sometimes a little scary to think about getting old and living by yourself. But hey, I’m only 47. I have time yet. Someone out there is wishing they could be 47 again, while I might wish I was 27. It’s all relative. And it’s all irrelevant. Those damn comparisons!

Honestly, I’m okay being single right now. (When I’m not comparing myself to one happy pair or another who seem to have it all.) I have a harder time with the accomplishment and success comparisons, than I do with relationship jealousy.

Yet, if you’ve been single around the holidays, you know it’s better when you have someone to share it with.  I know a lot of single people don’t do any decorating for Christmas. I always have, regardless.  So, I guess I’m not unhappy being on my own, but I’d like to find “the one” eventually.

In the meantime, I will make no comparisons to others, but only examine my own life just as I do with goals or degrees of success. I’ve grown a lot as a person through the years, and have become much more comfortable in my own skin. They say confidence is the most attractive quality. I still need some work, but not comparing will help with that.

Things will come together in their own time.

No comparison

Two things recently reminded me of the old adage, “All unhappiness comes from comparison.” One was a picnic I attended at the home of an organizer of a gay friends social group. I went with a friend who was also in the group, who is older than me and also single. He seems content with that, as am I. Still, it would be nice to be in a committed relationship for the support and companionship. But that’s not what I really want to talk about now.

The thing that kept occupying my thoughts was how much better off most of the group members were as far as careers (current or retired) and their socioeconomic status. One couple lived in NYC during the week where one of the men was an attorney for the city.  They had a home in the Lehigh Valley area where they stayed on the weekends.

The home where the picnic was held was quite nice.  Another man was involved with running a radio station. There was another who also lived in New York, but spent a lot of time in the Lehigh Valley, though I didn’t catch what he did.

There was a couple who go to my church, that I haven’t talked with much before. They had just been to Paris. I’d love to do that, but I don’t know if I’ll ever get that chance. One of those men also thought my friend and I were a couple. Maybe I should talk more about that aspect in my next post.

There were others who either had great careers or talked about their travels. Then as I was about to leave, I ran into a guy I had met at an earlier event. My friend and I talked tiohim some. It turned out he was working for Amazon as a picker in the warehouse. Not a fun job, or well paying.

I felt better after that. But should it have taken that one comparison to get me to see that all the other comparisons were just making me unhappy, and they were irrelevant?

I was embarrassed to tell classmates at a reunion a few years ago that I was an assistant manager at Family Dollar. But I shouldn’t have been. That’s where I was at, and that’s that. It was good experience.

Now, I’m microfilming newspapers for preservation. I started in the digital department at the company and have learned a lot of different skills in a few years, so I guess I’m content with that for now. Of course, I still want to be a writer. It’s good to have goals and dreams.

You just have to be patient and work toward your long term goals while you muddle through.  Most importantly, don’t make comparisons, except maybe to yourself, to gauge progress.

Small world

I sometimes feel bad that my indoor cats don’t get to go beyond the deck.  They’re world is so small.

Then I think how relatively small my own world is. I’ve been to a number of states in the US, but I’ve never been abroad. I’m not a socialite who has a hundred friends or so. I don’t go to a lot of different area eateries or places of note. There’s a lot of things I haven’t done, places I haven’t been, people I don’t know.

But it’s okay.  I’m branching out more as I go. I’m making more friends, trying new places and things. Unlike the cats, I have the internet, so I can at least virtually explore the world and its varying people and nature.  I can always explore the world around me through the people I see everyday. They all have stories to share. That’s pretty exciting.

I will not stop believing that I’ll get to do the things I want to do, as long as I stay determined and motivated.  And as for the cats, well, they have me and my brother, and each other, and the deck and windows. They seem content.

Am I content? Hmmm. Have to say not entirely. I’m trying to be happy with where I’m at, while staying hopeful about the future. I do pretty well at that. That’s good enough for now.

T(a)inted sands

When I was around 7 or 8 years old, I attended bible school at the church of some friends of the family.  One day, the craft activity was making those landscapes with colored sands in a jar.

Everyone said mine was the nicest one. As I was making my way out the stairwell of a side exit afterward, an older boy and his friend stopped me and commented on my sandscape.  One of them said he could show me something really cool. He said to shake the jar, which I did gently at first, instinctively cautious. Unfortunately, I was naive and gullible and shook harder at his urging.

The beautiful layers of colors were a uniform, ugly green. I remember being surprised at how thoroughly ruined it was. The other boys saw that on my face and laughed.

I’m sorry to tell such a sad story, but don’t feel bad. It was an important lesson that stuck with me. I was less naive after that. Maybe it kept me from something worse.

I used to feel like I was that jar of sand. Actually, anyone could be. We all start out pristine and beautiful. Then life shakes us up.

All the teasing and bullying and exclusion left psychological issues to work through, which I have. There were physical things as well that mixed up the colors.  I have less than half volume hearing in my right ear due to having a growth remove. It wasn’t a tumor. It had to do with chronic infections damaging the ear drum. I let the growth go for about two years after I knew about it, thinking my boss at the time was going to get health benefits for me, as he had talked about. I was also paralyzed into inaction and indecision by depression, so the time slipped by, though I did get it done with the help of medical assistance and private grant program.

Another thing was the surgery I had for a bowel obstruction and appendicitis.  My Crohn’s disease was never diagnosed before that. It should have been. Now I have to mix and drink a powder medication that keeps me from having severe diarrhea 24/7. I basically can’t live without it.

There’s also the loss of self image with the nasty scars from the incision and the colostomy.  Everyone said the incision scar would be a thin white line, but there’s an inch wide swath. I was only 28, then, and still in good shape.

All the undiagnosed, unrecognized problems and issues that I spoke of in yesterday’s post, took their toll as well. I remember feeling totally burned out after two years of community college and working maybe twenty hours a week, when I was in my early twenties. I didn’t know yet about the sleep apnea or Crohn’s disease, or even the bipolar depression. That’s a long story, but suffice it to say that I went through a period of personal growth and discovery after I graduated.

The important thing to take away here, is that, I’m still standing! With a God-given resilience and strength, I kept going and learning.

The colored grains of sand are still in there. And, unlike the literal ones, they can be made beautiful again. No one can take your inner beauty, your soul. So, I hope you can feel uplifted from all this. The last thing I want is to depress anyone.

Go live life to the fullest. Don’t worry about what was or what might have been. Discover what life has in store for you.