WTF Wednesday

I know typically on blogs Wednesday is designated at the “Wordless” day where just a picture is posted, but today at least in my life is more of a WTF Wednesday!

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Started the day a tad later than I expected, but sleep is sleep & I will take it when I can get it. Lately I have skipped the ambien doses and proven to myself that I can get sleep, not early & not nonstop, but I can sleep. My problem seems to still be night terrors but I think they are calmer physically at least. If not the guy has been polite enough not to call me out on them. Sometimes you just have to dream and deal. Yes the dreams of recent nights are of the odd WTF variety. A few though have my Mom in them even among the other not as pleasant aspects. Strange how just the memory can be comforting. Even if it is of her in a hospital bed. Missing her a lot lately.

The rest of the morning, afternoon, evening was spent trying to understand legal homework. Or rather the process I am supposed to be learning for doing the legal research. In a day where it seems every answer you could imagine is just a few keystrokes away, going through volumes of minuscule dusty text seems bizarre. Basically the archaic process is to look at the situation given. Then brainstorm key words in cases that might apply. Search through one set of books that use the key words to direct you to another set of books (each about 3 inches thick) that will possibly direct you to another set of books  may contain the cases that may or may not be what you are looking for. Seems like a lot of extra steps to me. ONE topic took over an hour last night. Issue is that after you read the case that you are directed to, it may or may not fit. Then you start the process all over. Perhaps back in the day it was the way to do things, but I am too used to being able to find things in seconds with a click of a button. Thankfully there are now databases that assist in finding the cases with lightening fast speed. Some reading and decision making is still needed, but it seems a lot quicker for me. BUT the assignment is to learn how to research without the online tools.

My weakness appears to be attitude. I lose interest and get hung up on the insanity of all the extra. I find myself asking WTF am I doing? Then I get distracted thinking about other things. Not smart Ali not smart.

So instead of enjoying the beach on the first day in a LONG time where the weather made the thought of lounging on the sand possible and inviting, I wasted the day trying to force myself to learn the process and find a more logical and streamlined way of doing the work without all the extra steps. (Didn’t happen. Databases are still best bet!)

Frustrating? absolutely.

On the verge of tears at the end of the day I found myself wondering why I thought this was going to be the career for me? Law is certainly not quite what I expected it to be. In a lot of ways that is a great thing. In others, not so much.

Processes that I know for a fact are less effective and efficient are simply not something that I strive to do. Unless I am able to do my best and not feel like I am just going thru steps, it isn’t for me. Hoping this class is just the speed bump and sort of like the theoretics that all must learn to appreciate the way we do things now in the modern age. Time will tell.

Mr Man decided that we should enjoy the warmer temperatures even if our schedules didn’t let us make it to the beach. So tonight we grilled and sipped chilled drinks while talking outside watching the stars come out for their nightly appearance. The stress of the day melted away reminded me that life is pretty amazing if you stop to just savor the moments.

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Tomorrow I will be back to the grind with more assignments and hopefully finishing up the beast of this research, but tonight, I say WTF I am enjoying this moment.

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Run, Run Fast As You Can

Note to self:  You are super & you are a woman, but you are not Super Woman!

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Nope. I can not do it all all the time.

Even with best intentions no one can achieve it all.  This week was my lesson in learning to take time to care for me.

Last week found me caring for mom, dad, three parrots, four dogs & anything else I could.  Setting up my “new” space at their house and trying to adjust to living with other humans again (things like bath robes and earphones come into play when you share space with family, nurses, etc. at all hours).  Then I dashed off to drive 3 hours to my house to rush in to start this semester of classes.  In my haste I left behind one of the medications I take, but what is a couple of days? PLENTY.  Spent time being outside of class making up for lost time running around trying to be 6 places at once.  Lack of ambien (darn needing to pick up refills), the sudden influx of helicopter traffic in my neighborhood & dealing with night terrors every 2 hours had me zombie eyed & wishing for time to sleep.

I crashed.  Hard.

The added stress of everything kicks up symptoms anyway.  Being in public shopping recently has been harder.  I’m in no way back to being where I was at my worst, but I recognize the pattern.  Go somewhere, breathing starts getting harder, head feels spacey, everything seems extra loud including the blood pulsing rapidly through every inch of my body.  After about 15 to 20 minutes I start to feel like my insides are going from concrete to slush & back again.  I fidget nervously.  Usually if I can move about I can release some of the adrenaline & try to calm down a little.  Feeling trapped makes it worse.  It can be something as simple as being “trapped” by having to wait on someone else or a check out line.  I recognize there is no real threat, but my body doesn’t listen to my rational mind in these moments.

Fight or flight is pure animal instinct.  You can discuss as much as you want, it will be as it will be.  Once an attack starts, it is very hard to stop.

With a regular schedule, sleep & my medicine, I keep in control of it all.

This past week I had not a single one of those three.

My first class went great.  It was less than an hour & even the professor was a familiar face.  Second class was slated for 3 hours, but didn’t last that long.  The professor is great.  Intense, but great.  Going around the room introducing ourselves has never been a favorite game for me but I survived.  Panic? yup but I kept it under control.  3rd class I was less successful.  It was only 2 hours and was same group as the 1st class but I lost it.  Klonapin, internal dialogue  stepping out to group in the bathroom & move around didn’t help.  I ended up in full-blown panic mode.  After leaving the class for a 2nd time (this time with books in hand), I barely made it home – my safe zone.  Once there it still took a while to calm down.  Then my body was so exhausted I ended up falling asleep for a few hours.  I really didn’t think I would be able to make it to my fourth class (the 1st session of the 3rd course).  I did.  It was a major struggle to stay through but I did it.

Once someone has a panic attack somewhere, for some reason it is more common for them to have another one there.  Being in the same exact classroom for all my classes doesn’t exactly help.

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Still I refuse to give up.  I have fought hard for far too long to let myself slip backwards.  At the same time, I recognize that everything going on in my world right now is very tough.  Can’t be too hard on myself.

I’m extremely grateful that the professor I have in the class where I had to leave part way through is understanding.  Hindsight I probably should have explained what was going on prior, but it is tough.  I want to be respected for the work I do same as any other student in that class.  Still at this point I am glad she is aware of my situation with my mom & living in two places at the moment.  There is some comfort knowing that she is willing to work with me if need be.

So first week almost down.  Lessons noted.  I have GOT to be sure my oxygen mask goes & stays on first before assisting my fellow passengers. ha ha.

Which is why this afternoon I am relaxing.  Back on ALL my medications and ready to get a 2nd full night of sleep.

I have full faith I will find the balance in all this.

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Out of Thin Air

As much as a 3 day week sounds blissful, I’m starting to see the downsides.  Four days off are nothing to complain about, but reality is the 3 days I am in school and trying to get everything done are intense.  Add in trying to date and have a life and its the perfect storm for needing those 4 recovery days.  At least when they are weeks like this one.

Working? um… why would I? to pay bills? Ha!  That implies there are actually jobs available that will be flexible enough to work with school schedules! Right. Not in this area lately.

Sure I could go for the Do You Want Fries With That option I guess, but I am trying to avoid the Freshman Fifteen this go around (does a 2 year associates even have a Freshman year?) and in all reality the minimum wage for busting my ass route is just going to leave me with no energy to study anything.  So what’s the point? I’d flunk out anyway.

Thought that Grants & Scholarships would be extremely helpful this go around since the first time I did college I didn’t go for any at all.  I was extremely lucky in that my grandparents & parents did some serious sacrificing and planning to put me through starting the day I was born.  So since I haven’t even used assistance before, why not now right? WRONG.  No longer eligible.

here have some cash… just kidding!

The grant I got – turns out someone in Financial Aid is a moron.  They gave me money yet some how are now saying I didn’t qualify for it.  So they took it back.  Why don’t I qualify? bad grades? shady past? criminal records? blue eye shadow?  Nope.  Simply because I have a degree.  A degree I was honest about from the get go in applying to school.

So now I owe several hundred dollars which they let me use at the bookstore for this now imaginary grant.  Which has to be repaid before I can register for classes next week.  Not sure how many people who aren’t working actually have that money just laying around without any purpose, but its not this girl.

Everything I have goes to getting by.  Sure I’m not eating ramen every night, but I have cut back on a lot of expenses since starting school.  So much so that I’m frustrated in a lot of ways.  But that is adulthood.  Not very many people do have tons of extra money to just toss.  Its a trade off I am willing to make.  Every purchase matters more now.  If I decide to go get a cup of coffee out, that means I have to cut corners elsewhere.  Its life.

Still I’m at the point where, its starting not to work.

Added unexpected expenses, like the grant I now have to repay along with the tuition for next year, are just not working out.

So stressed? You betcha.

What’s a girl to do?  There are several places hiring for full time.  One side of me says to take a step back and start working again.  School will be there when I can get to it.  Maybe take one night class for the next decade.   Still going full time would mean I am done and working in a job I am going to want to be in, in roughly another year and a half.  IF I can get there.

Student loans? As much as my parents really don’t want me to take on more debt… they are starting to seem like a very real option.  Scary as it may be, the money has to come from somewhere.

Between trying to figure all this out and finalizing a will & end of life paperwork (for class, but still hit me hard emotionally), study for exams, stay up on readings, prepare for a speech (um… got an A even with um… saying um… way more than um… I wanted to!) and doing photowalks, honoring soldiers and staying connected with friends, I AM BEAT.  My brain feels fried.  Deep fried.

Still no stopping now.  It may be my “weekend” but there is laundry to do, bags to pack, roads to travel with family waiting at the end to see.  Oh yeah… & homework. Lots and lots of homework.  With another exam waiting for me at 11 am on Monday.

this is my favorite mug. tends to always be dirty.

Thank goddess for the Keurig & pug snuggles.

To Tell Or Not To Tell?

So today I feel accomplished and truly grateful for being alive.

Also I’m struggling.

While the emotions of the day are certainly a factor, how can anyone not feel at least a few moments of grief in remembrance and gratitude for all those heroes and the connections that have occurred since that day?  Absolutely have had tears and flashback moments to the fear and confusion, even from watching from several states away.  Truly there is no way we ever could forget.

My dilemma is this….  to tell or not to tell?

Public Speaking is most likely the MOST dreaded class I have in this program.  As hard as talking about wills, estate & probate laws are right now, it is easier to handle than public speaking.  I got a great professor, who truly does seem to care & is honest about how he will be grading and what is expected.  From the get go he has said that he will judge us on how we personally improve rather than comparing us to each other or to professional speakers.  Still part of me wonders.

While I am very open about having PTSD and hope that it breaks some of the stigma in hiding away in shame or fear or what others would think, I don’t right off the bat tell someone.  Usually I don’t mention it at all.  In deeper relationships with friends and family, we discuss it when it becomes an issue in some way or if they ask.  Same with work experiences prior.  To date I have yet to mention it on campus or to anyone at the college.  Not intentionally hiding it, but haven’t seen a need to do so.  I’m not asking for any disability services or special treatment.  Sure I have noticed other students stare at my finger and am sure they have their ideas on what has happened to me in the past, but my past is my past.  Its not discussion material.

Today was it was unnerving to be giving a solo 2-6 minute speech to a class of around 30 people.  We are talking front of the room, all eyes on me, speak loudly and keep their attention without looking like a dork SPEECH.

Not something I have on my list of things I want to do in life, but necessary and it is a skill I need help with.  A LOT of help.

The scared speaker

To the class I’m pretty sure that I looked nervous and my hands shook, noticeably even to me as I showed props.  My voice wavered at times and I said the dreaded “Um” several times.  Lost my place and had to think silently for a couple of seconds to regain the train of thought.  I didn’t make eye contact with enough people.  I couldn’t make eye contact. But I did make it through the time frame I was aiming to stay within and I did it.

YET… I’m so very proud.

When I sat down in my chair, I wanted to vomit and pass out.  My body shivered and it wasn’t from cold.

YET… I wanted to pop open a bottle of champagne.  Not to kill the fear but in celebration.

Thought to myself you just spoke to a room of strangers and clearly got across the points I was trying to make. Kicker is, I was completely me.  In my “Oh Gawd its almost my turn” panic I discovered in my rush to get presentable and get coffee, I left my klonapin at home.  I’m over having to take one just to be in class, but today I had pretty much planned on probably needing one and was ok with that.  Not having them was not happening.  What was I to do?  Too nervous to tell the professor that I couldn’t go since I forgot my meds.  Had to wing it.

This NEVER would have happened a few years ago.

It wouldn’t have been an option.  My body would not have made it.  Somehow today, I could.  To me this is huge.

I have pushed myself a lot lately.  Heck the large crowd at the Revolution premiere was slightly jarring, but I wasn’t speaking in front of that group & klonapin made it easy to relax and just focus on having fun instead of fighting the urge to run or make sure there was a clear exit route and no one around me looked malicious or suspicious.  Even that event wouldn’t have worked for old me.

The agoraphobia was crippling. WAS.  Now I’m in charge again.  Which I am proud of and fully recognize the work it takes.  There will be slips backwards and I know everyday isn’t a good day, but I have good days.  Lots more than bad ones lately.

Sure my speech wasn’t professional quality or even as good as some of the other students, but for me – it was exactly what I needed to achieve.  I got through it.

No one knows how much it means to have done it.  My sister called to check on me to see how it went today & she flat out asked “Have you spoken with him about your anxiety issues?”  Nope.

Part of me wants to push it and do it same as everyone else in that room.  In a lot of ways I have an advantage.  I have experience in smaller groups training and typically I have my klonapin if the nerves get too out of control.  Some nervousness is completely normal & I know it adds fuel to propel us on to do things, but I also know that I can let it get out of control, so I at those times try to balance it back out.  Today, I didn’t have to.  Maybe I would have done better if I had, but would I be as proud of myself?  Maybe not.  Maybe I still would be.  Never know.

I do not want special treatment or accommodations.  Those options would be available easily by speaking with the department at school.  Would like to play by the same rules as everyone else.  Still I know, to me, it means more.  I know that if I feel like I didn’t earn the grade I get at the end of the semester, it isn’t going to be good.  He doesn’t strike me as someone who just would give me a good grade from sympathy or apathy, but you never know.  If the grades really are based on how much we improve over the semester, things should go well.  If its going to be a bell curve where the ace student makes the rest of us look badly…. I’m may be in trouble.  Could be helpful for him having insight into my situation and knowing that I am doing truly my best, which I am going to do.

Then again… I have no idea what the others in that room are going through.  Chances are someone else has anxiety issues.  Public speaking is a fear most people view worse than death in a lot of polls (according to the professor death only beat public speaking as feared most one year – 2002, the year following the 9/11 attacks).

So which is it?  Share that I have PTSD which brings on the agoraphobia at times and the panic attacks with the professor privately so he is aware that I really am trying even if it doesn’t appear to be like I am any good? or just keep it hush hush & hope that I can soar high enough to where no one will even know.

Walking 5 feet may seem like nothing to the average adult, but to a baby just learning it is epic.

Going to take some thought.  It is all a matter of pride.  Wondering which path to choose…. or rather, which one I will most regret not having taken later.

OH & FOR THE RECORD….. & slightly off topic.  I had to laugh when a couple students started talking about the “online” portion of the hybrid class.  There isn’t one yet.  The professor stated he didn’t feel public speaking had any need to have anything to do with being online.  There would be some assignment since it was a hybrid class and he would comply with the rules, but he would prefer less book work & more in class time.  I nearly laughed out loud (or LOL if you prefer).  See as you can probably tell, I’m perfectly comfortable with expressing myself publicly in an online format.  Its the face to face that gives me issues.

In this age of people tethered to computers and cellphones… maybe there SHOULD be class time devoted to online public speaking.  Be it blogs, twitter, facebook, skype, webinars (I seriously hate that term) or any other online format, there can be a lot of controversy made by ineffectively expressing oneself.

Get Ready to Swim

For some reason I keep being told how its raining today.

It has been raining all week it seems.  Everyday.  Rain, rain, rain.  Yet people feel the need to point that out. An email, a chat, facebook & twitter post…. so much buzz about the rain.  Even the dating site I am on sent out an email sharing the fact that it’s raining now & that increases the likelihood of people logging in.  So?

Usually I love rainy days, but this is starting to get old.  Baxter looks up at me every time I try to let him out with a pitiful look as if I have the power to make the rain stop but just am not.  Like I am mean.  Some sad pug torture.

The rain is go for my own torture – homework.

Nose to the books.  So much to do.  I made the mistake of making a list as soon as I woke up of all the upcoming homework assignments and when they would be do.  Hoped that it would help me prioritize and schedule it all to be done.  Instead it just added to the feeling of drowning.

But I know I can tread water.

It will get done.

I’m just grateful to have a nice raft to float in while I get through this.  Support and encouragement keep me afloat.  Even when I start to doubt myself, I’m lucky enough to have great people around me cheering me on.  In life and now in this endeavour.

So while I may be going a bit stir crazy and wondering what on earth I have gotten myself into, I know in the end this whole experience is going to lead me to exactly where I am meant to be.

In 3 out of the 5 classes we have had to go around the room in some fashion and introduce ourselves and why we are taking the course.  I have been shocked at some of the things people say.  One was so brazen to actually say they were only taking the class to appease their parents.  They themselves had no idea what they wanted to do but they didn’t want to be stuck behind a desk pushing papers.  All I could think was, then get out of the room and stop wasting their money and our time.  Guess there was a time when I too waded through courses just because they were needed to graduate, but I always found something of value in it and was never so rude as to start the semester off like that.  Not under their breath quietly said it, but when he was called on directly to the teacher said it.  Feel very lucky to be in course that have value and meaning to me.

So let it rain down.  Wash away the dirt and grime from the world and let it be what it is meant to be.  Sparkle on.

As for me…. back to the books!

Here We Begin… again

First day!

Of this semester of classes and I am beat.  Thrill of it all and being slightly overwhelmed by all that will be needed of me this fall.

Taking five classes is no joke.  Can’t believe I debated taking six!  Thankfully I didn’t go that route this time.  So far I’ve been to 3 classes and feel like I need to read from now to November to get it all down.  Part is a lot of the legal terminology is still new to me.  Will come in time and I have made flash cards to try to get some of the shorthand memorized, but its slowing me down.

That and I am still questioning the system.

One of the classes brought up ethics and how in this profession as much as you want to be the one who saves the world, sometimes work requires you to put aside your personal beliefs in order to do the tasks asked.  Completely get that, but I know as dedicated as I can be to opinions, it is going to get tough.  Hoping that I can find a way to remember that there are moral ethics and then there are legal ethics.  Have to trust that the right thing will be and do whatever I can to assist the process.  What is it going to be like to have to play Devil’s Advocate?

So many times I do see the black and white in the world in what I think should be but even when I feel black, I’m going to need to be able to see and fight for the white as well.  Should be interesting.

On thing is for sure, this is where I should be.

That and there is going to be a lot of book cracking and page turning at my place from now to winter break.

Certainly not going to be a breeze or something I can just stumble through.  Studying just got serious again.  To which I say – “BRING IT BITCH.  I got this!”

Day one down & looking forward to everything to come.

Well except tomorrow’s class.  Public Speaking is already making me nervous and I haven’t even been to the class yet.  I swear if it wasn’t required there is no way I would be getting up early for that, but just another speed bump.

Nothing I can’t handle.

Tides Rolling In

Life is so funny.

One moment you are in your life & see it as all that it is.  You believe you know the path you are on & where you will go.  Then you get a spark. The choice to take the risk or stay where you are defines the rest of the way.

I am proud to say, I took the leap of faith and am LOVING IT!

Classes started yesterday – Family Law followed by Administrative Law today.

Spent a few days in with the family & the jokes were made about going back to school.  I was given spiral notebooks (which may have been  leftover from high school!), new pens, index cards & even taken to get a couple of new clothes.  We had fun teasing about my “FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL”.  Felt great being supported & feeling like I was making my parents proud.

When it came down to the time to go to class last night, my nerves were on edge.  Would I be able to keep up?  Was I thinking it was going to be one thing and really would be totally different & then I would hate it?  Would I be the oldest one there?  Would I be able to stay in a room with no windows and not really able to leave for a few hours without having a panic attack?  So many ideas raced through my head.  Thankfully with support of friends I was distracted & made it to the room.  Klonapin also may have gotten me there.  Took my seat.  Watched others enter…. including the attorney who looked around my age teaching the course!  Then it began.

Within minutes I was swept up in discussions and ideas raced through my head that were what ifs, but less self-centered and more hypothetical consequences and circumstances.  Before I knew it, it was over.  I wanted more… but we got out 45 minutes earlier than expected instead of staying all 3 hours.  Still with assignments to do, I was charged up.  LOVE IT!

On the way home I texted friends, family & called the parents overjoyed with it all.  Giddy might be a good word for this bliss.  …until I ran slap into a BAT!  Head on.  I saw it just before & as it rammed into the glass directly in front of my face.  Talk about buzz kill.  I felt (still do feel) awful.  But what could I have done?  Not sure how an animal with radar even hits a very slow moving car!  But it did and it shook me up.

Between the emotional highs & low, sleep was not going to come easy.

Thankfully I didn’t force myself.  A fellow insomniac & I explored a beach that I am ashamed to say I hadn’t ever gone over to even thought I think I had been to most everywhere around it.  So we set out in the dark, armed with a flashlight & loads of stories to tell.  HAD to talk to someone about how excited & was & all the new crazy laws & potential implications I had learned.

Kure Beach / Fort Fisher

Even in the pitch dark, under a sky so cloudy the moon looked like it took the night off, it was breath-taking!

Listening to the waves crash.  Watching the lightning just off shore.  Seeing all the nightlife in the sand and rocks.  Just so peaceful.  Such a step away from the chaos of the mall, highway & rush I had been in just hours before.

Even taking cover for a while in a lifeguard stand as the storm came on shore seemed surreal.  No stress just wait it out and watch.  Got a bit wet but saved the phones and didn’t get soaked.  Afterwards being damp already made the waves more inviting to play around in.  I didn’t go swimming but it was tempting.

Well mostly peaceful.  Discovered a new creature that isn’t exactly on my wish I saw more of list….. the sand flea  AKA sea cicada AKA mole crab AKA reason I popped my shoes back on….

Not really clear why they grossed me out, but they did.  It was dark & they seemed to be EVERYWHERE!  I just imagined accidentally stepping on one & it trying to burrow away confused by my skin not giving way like the sand.  yuck.  To me they seem like the cockroaches of the beach.  Still as a guest in their house, I had to deal.

Besides there was so much else it was hard to focus too much on the nasty things just under foot.  Mixed all into the chunks of shells were dainty tiny pastel clams who were exposed and just like a lady quickly hid herself away.  There were small crabs guarding there pools between the rocks from unknown light beams (from the flashlight) & so much history in the rocks from the pieces of shells from life long gone to the blackened sharks teeth no longer a threat to the flesh.  I was lucky enough to be with an experienced tooth locater who showed me the ropes.  Even found a great white one on my own!

Maybe this isn’t where I thought I would be.  Perhaps I am not getting rich or finding myself on magazine covers for success, but life should be about achieving bliss as individual as we are.  This for now works for me.  So for the time being I will savor it as if it were my last breath.

Oh what will tomorrow bring?