Lessons Learned

I have been unemployed/self-employed for seven months now. It seems like just yesterday that I was laid off. But time has gone by, and I have learned a few things.

I had originally decided to focus on editing and virtual assisting, things I can do from home. And I have applied literally everywhere. And, for the most part, I haven’t had much luck.

Have I given up?

Hell no.

Here are some things I have learned from this experience so far:

1. Anything that is worth it is worth fighting for. I have a number of health issues, and I knew once I was laid off that the type of work I was doing wasn’t going to work for me anymore. I took a risk in not pursuing that type of work in favor of work from home jobs. It’s not that I don’t want to work. I realized I was in a unique position to try to change careers. It hasn’t been easy, and it hasn’t been fun, but I still believe this is the best thing for me at this stage of my life. And so I keep keeping on.

2. Sometimes you simply need a break. My former job was very stressful, especially toward the end. I had been living in a constant state of stress so severe I had lost 2/3 of my hair. I just realized about a month ago that gee, my hair came back. Because the stress was mostly gone. I had been working through severe …

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Trigeminal Neuralgia: 5-Year Update

Technically, February 3rd is the actual five-year anniversary, but close enough.

When I first began talking about my mysterious eye pain, I couldn’t handle the idea of having it for a month, let alone years. But apparently, fate had a different idea.

It’s been five very long years.

So…after a year pain free, I was plunged right back into my nightmare again. My neurologist and I are still trying to get a handle on the pain. It’s not constant anymore, which is a good thing, but I still have horrible pain attacks. I’ve had to spend less time on the computer, doing things I love, because the screen does make it worse sometimes. But one good thing has come of this. I have been able to tackle my extensive paperback/hardcover To Be Read pile.

Unfortunately, other things, like Guild Wars, have gone by the wayside. I am still hoping to get back into it at some point.

Writing-wise, I’m doing well. I can’t not write, pain or no pain. Been trying to get up the energy to dictate/transcribe so I don’t have to look at a screen all the time.

There may be a visit to a neurosurgeon in my future. I am scared, and worried, and not wanting to have surgery. There’s Gamma Knife, which isn’t invasive and uses radiation, but I’ve read that some people have worse pain afterward. Some are helped, but not forever. The pain always returns as the nerve regenerates. So…I just don’t know.

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Tis the Season to Be Jolly

…Or something like that.

This year for my family, it’s a bit different. My mom is recovering from surgery, so we decided to make this a very low-key holiday. None of us felt up to the task of hauling our huge tree up from the basement, decorating it, and then taking it down at the end of the year. So we have a very small tree that my husband bought. We decorated it and put it in the kitchen, where the cat can’t get at it (that’s one thing I won’t miss this year — keeping the cat away from the tree). And while I will sort of miss Mom’s  beautiful tree, I will not miss the stress in getting it up and decorated.

Because technically, Christmas is not about the tree. The tree is important, yes, but it’s not everything. The most important thing to me is family. That’s right. We have traditions — Christmas Eve at my in-laws, unwrapping gifts on Christmas morning, etc. — and those are the things that comfort me and make me feel good. I may not be employed full time yet, but that doesn’t even hit my radar (well, we did scale back on gifts a bit to compensate) because Christmas is not about grandiose gift giving gestures or fancy things. It’s about being with the people you love most in the world, the people that are, in essence, your world.

 

My mother-in-law (and now, mother) has a thing on her wall from …

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Starting a New Chapter in My Life

So, as you may or may not know, I was recently laid off from the job I’ve held for sixteen years. I was the Sales Secretary at a food brokerage, working with food distributors and vendors. It was a good job, and I was pretty damn good at it.

I’d had some inkling that it was coming, so I wasn’t completely blindsided. However, I didn’t know when and that added a whole new level of stress and complication to the mix. And, as time ticked down, the stress got worse and worse. So, as sad as I am to not be working there anymore, I am happy to be free of the stress, which wasn’t good for the fibro or trigeminal neuralgia.

I do want to say one thing, though. That place was like family to me. We had our rough patches, and disagreements, but at the end of the day, I was treated very well. And we were like a little family, the six of us. They had my back and I had theirs. Two of my former co-workers passed away, and both were good, decent people. One former co-worker retired. So at the very end, it was just me and my bosses.

I will miss them. It hasn’t been that long, and I already miss going there every day. Taking the bus. The vendor reps and buyers I worked with on a day-to-day basis. Sometimes, I can’t believe that it’s over. But…things always change. My bosses were of retirement …

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Trigeminal Neuralgia: 26 years

So if you’re been reading this blog for awhile, you know that I have been battling trigeminal neuralgia (an excruciatingly painful inflammation of the trigeminal nerve, which supplies sensation to the face) for about four years. It went undiagnosed for almost three. The medication I take to control it stopped working around May, and my dose was increased. It did not help at all. So I’m pretty much back to constant pain again which frankly sucks.

Four years.

Very recently, I made a startling discovery.  I have been battling it for longer.

Twenty-six years.

Let me explain.

I had major jaw surgery to correct severe TMJ when I was fifteen—a nine-hour surgery where my oral/maxillofacial surgeon broke my jaws apart and realigned them, rearranged my face the way it’s supposed to be, and wired my jaws together for two months. As I’ve learned, surgeries like this—as well as routine dental work—can cause TN.

I had 28 pieces of hardware after the surgery. They took a “if it doesn’t hurt, don’t do anything” policy because taking them out would be another big surgery. They didn’t bother me, for the most part, for eleven years. Then, I started getting infections and rejections. So out they came. Oddly enough, most of the right side is still intact while the left is almost completely gone.

Throughout this entire ordeal, I keep asking myself (and anyone else who would listen) why it stayed dormant for over twenty years and then popped up. Now I know …

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Coming Home

This week, I am home.

Sort of.

I grew up in a largish but sleepy city on the Canadian prairies. Suburbs, car culture, indoor shopping malls, long cold winters with plenty of snow and sunshine, lots of festivals and a tight-knit arts scene, large university.
But for the last 12 years I’ve lived in Toronto – one of the three biggest cities in Canada (Vancouver and Montreal are the others).

I remember being amazed by the number of pedestrians when I first moved there. You don’t nod and smile as you pass, you avert your eyes, because there are just too many people for it to make sense to nod and smile at everyone. The sheer number of restaurants, of full subway cars and buses, that Toronto can support still astounds me. And the diversity — half of all Torontonians were born outside Canada. It’s hectic and vibrant and wonderful.

When I come back to the place where I grew up, it feels like home and not home. Familiar and strange – and stranger every time. The infrastructure is always changing – big box stores and suburbs continue to sprout up, and other businesses I remember have closed. There’s now an LRT (surface-level rapid transit) running down the nearest major artery to the house where I grew up. The streets look wider than I remember, even though they mostly aren’t. The downtown core doesn’t shut down at 6 PM anymore — people actually live there now, and the whole …

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Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die

Okay, get ready. I will be talking about Adam Lambert again.

Well, sorta. Today has been a rough day for me emotionally. Won’t get into it…most of it is just life crap, and the fact that I have a migraine, and I’ve been exhausted. Anyway…I’ve been listening to Adam’s “The Original High” and my favorite song, “The Light” came on. I think I’ve mentioned that it’s my favorite before, but if I haven’t, there you go (I actually love almost every single song on that album, so picking a favorite is really, really hard). So anyway, the line “I’m too weird to live, too rare to die” struck me for a second (and I do know it’s from Panic! At the Disco). Actually, literally took my breath away. I’ve heard it before and have actually thought about it (hell, maybe having it tattooed on myself somewhere!) but in the context of today…I dunno, it grabbed me.

Let me explain.

I’ve never, ever been the sort of person to blindly follow people, or things,, or trends. People are pinch-rolling their jeans because that’s the latest cool thing to do (’80s kids, remember that)? No, no. I rebelled that one so badly, my mom thought I was nuts. Long hair is no longer in? Pffft. I grew it past my waist for most of my life. Get married, pop out kids? Nope. Not me. I am not a kid person, and my health sucks. So no kids for me (and I am …

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Fourteen Years, In Memoriam

The other night I dreamed that my dad was taking one of my siblings and me for a drive on the West Coast (British Columbia, for you non-Canadians). The timing was contemporary, for we had modern cell phones and we felt like our current adult selves, in that way you know things in dreams.

I didn’t remember until an instant after I woke up that my dad has been dead since 2003.

I don’t think about him often anymore, except right around this time of year. He died in March, late in a bitterly cold prairie winter. The day he was buried, there was a thaw and, finally, everything began to melt. Ever since then, I’ve found late winter difficult to bear. Some years are harder than others; this one has been easier so far, probably because it’s been so unseasonably warm here. Bittersweet for sure.

He feels now like part of another life, one I don’t remember as well as I would wish to. He did get to meet the man who would later become my husband. For that I will always be grateful. But since his death, the two of us have moved across the country, joined or made new communities, established our careers, bought a house, assumed adult responsibilities within our families, traveled to seven countries (eight as you’re reading this!). He didn’t live to see Turtleduck Press or all the writing I’ve done here, or to hold my first novel in his hands. And my two …

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Mountain Memories

Two weeks ago, I blogged about my magical fantasy dream castle retreat, where I wished I was instead of plowing through a difficult month at work.

Last week, I got to spend some time in a place that happened to resemble it more than a little.

I spent the week in the Canadian Rockies, reconnecting with my siblings while hiking. (But not camping. Beds, showers, and easy meals are too much of a draw when you’ve spent the day walking.) I didn’t grow up there, but I did spend at least a week in the Rockies every summer, and they’re still one of my favourite places on the planet.

Here, then, are just some of the things I want to remember, like talismans against the sometimes-grind of daily life…

The way my siblings and I can still communicate with a look or half a sentence, or all acquire identical facial expressions at the same time, even though we are very different people and haven’t lived in the same house or even the same city for years now.

The Technicolor wildflowers all over the mountainsides. Kananaskis Country, where we were, is famous for them. Some of the meadows are sloped 30 degrees or more, making for a very unpleasant climb, but the flowers don’t mind at all. They’re busy making the most of the short mountain summer. So are the butterflies. I’m no lepidopterist, but we kept seeing orange ones with wings that looked like lace, and I even spotted …

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See the Positives

Two weeks ago, I spent $560 on my car. The intake manifold was leaking, among other issues, and I had to get through emissions to register her–so I had a  a deadline.

I barely got her back, and the AC went out. In case you haven’t heard, it’s a really bad time to be without AC in my neck of the woods. That cost me $322—and they’re not confident they fixed the problem, as they’re not sure how they got it working.

Last week Erin talked about what it’s like, living mostly without pain. Putting nearly a thousand dollars into my car over the course of a month has made me think about what it’s like, having a life without lack.

People like to complain about their jobs, and their bills, and how their paychecks are gone before they even hit the bank account, and I think it’s important to get that frustration out. I also think it’s important to remember that jobs are good to have. Lots of people out there would love to have a job. Though most of us would love not to need a job, until that awesome circumstance comes about, it’s good to have a job.

Bills are good to have. Bills mean (probably…?) you’ve received something you wanted.

I whine a lot every summer about my electric bill. When summer hits and we start running the AC all the time, my electric bill quadruples. See above link to the weather.

But you know …

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