My Aunt Patti passed away this morning. I just talked to her yesterday. Not really sure what to say. I’m still processing this, it’s not like I didn’t know this was going to happen, she was in hospice and it was only a matter of time. However, you can prepare all you want but, when this sort of thing happens it will still catch you by surprise.
I think it’s because there’s always that silent wish for a miracle, that sort of belief we cling to that our loved one will get past this and be better. That wish is strong, no matter how many facts are staring you in the face that say otherwise. When the inevitable finally happens you are mourning not only the loss of someone you love but, the absence of that miracle which could have saved them…
I love you Patti. I will miss you.
I’ve mentioned before I’m taking a permaculture design course and right now I’m working on the class project.
We have been asked to create an idea for a permaculture business, or organization (the details and what that looks like are up to us to decide). The project has to reflect all these different aspects of permaculture, such as community, ethics and social impact, along with the physical stuff like site design, zones and sector mapping.
While the class project itself is based on design and not implementation the instructors do stress that it’s something that would serve as a really good starting point for doing your own real-life permaculture project in the future, which is great because that was my plan anyway!
I plan on starting an organic farm/greenhouse business. The business will be modeled after permaculture ideas, and will help to show people in my area what permaculture looks like. I plan on donating a percentage of all the produce and crops I raise to shelters, food pantries or just people and families in need. My hope is that I can inspire other people in the community to do the same while at the same time helping people to start their own organic gardens and pursue their own permaculture ideas.
Before all that can happen, there’s a lot of work to be done. I’ll need to have a good design in place first. To make a good design, I need to know what I’m working with, what things will be a benefit and what potential challenges might I face along the way?
To help me answer some of those questions, I’ve created a few maps. I’ve put them together in one image, much like a transparency. I’m using Adobe Photoshop to create the maps so this allows me to play around with different layers, having a different “map” on each layer.
There’s a map of the property, it includes all the buildings, fences, trees, and permanent or semi-permanent structures. Some of these structures I plan on moving around when I get to that stage, but first I need to know the rest of the details.
There’s a flow map(the gray lines) that shows the way the landscape flows, the high points and valleys. It will help me to see where water might flow, what areas might get flooded, what might dry out, etc.
There’s a zone map (the curved red lines)which marks out the boundaries for stuff we might want close to the house, or further away. Elements that require more attention will be closer to the house. Elements that require less attention will be further from the house.
Finally there’s a sector map that lists different variables to consider when designing; like traffic, winter and summer sun, wildlife, wind, flood zones, neighboring farms and more. I’ll use these maps when I start working on the future design and it will help me decide where I want to place different elements within the system. While I don’t consider these maps to be complete just yet, they’re a good start, however there is still much work to be done. You can be sure I’ll continue to share this project on here as it develops. :)
I stayed over at my Aunt Patti’s last night. I’m outside smoking a cigarette, wondering just why it is I’m continuing this awful habit when I’m watching her inside, slowly dying from lung cancer.
Her life isn’t easy. She’s on a host of medications to help fight the symptoms. She no longer takes anything to fight the cancer. Whenever they would put her on chemo drugs or radiation that would make her sicker than the cancer itself. She had to discontinue them because those drugs would kill her quicker than the cancer.
She’s now in home hospice care, the cancer has spread to her brain, her adrenals, her bones, it’s all throughout her body. She has difficulty moving around because she had no strength in her legs. She needs a water pill to keep her lungs from filling with fluid.
She can’t be without her oxygen because one lung is full of cancer and the other isn’t much better. Sometimes she coughs up blood, sometimes she pees blood. She’s in constant pain.
Yet I see all of this and I still have to go outside and smoke that stupid fucking cigarette. I’ve been trying to quit smoking now for years, and I think I need to sit down and figure out why this addiction had such a hold on me. I have a feeling is a mental thing.
I thought I might elaborate a little bit on yesterday’s blog post. So, as I mentioned my life is a shit storm right now, and I haven’t exactly been feeling the whole “love and light” thing.
Yesterday I had a therapy appointment and Lesley (my awesome therapist) told me I should get back into writing. I told her I’ve been avoiding it lately because I wonder, “How the hell am I supposed to write happy shit when I feel like it might just be good idea to eat rat poison?”
Her reply was simple, “Don’t write about happy stuff, just be honest about how you feel and what’s going on with your life.” Fair enough. So I got home and wrote a long blog about some of the crap that’s been eating away at me…and let me tell you that’s only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Becky’s Baggage but, I digress.
I left my appointment yesterday with a 3 point plan of action and I want to share the process with you. Notice the word action… I want to be clear that my plan involves action instead of medication. I’m not into taking meds; it freaks me out and I really don’t like the idea of lining the pockets of the corrupt pharmaceutical industry. Also, anal leakage ain’t really my idea of health and wellness. Just saying.
So, the first thing my therapist suggested is that I quit beating myself over the head for feeling this way (bad). People feel shitty sometimes, it’s natural and perfectly normal. What isn’t natural is expecting yourself to be happy 100 percent of the time, even when your life is falling apart around you. She said to accept the fact that there will be pain sometimes and quit trying to stuff it away or run from it. It’s all a matter of perspective and the more you run from it the greater it will become. Ok, fair enough.
She said that something I can do is practice mindfulness, which is a concept I’m familiar with. Practicing mindfulness helps to sort of break the negative thinking circuit. You focus on the present and the here and now, and you focus on the facts. It’s a way of recognizing and separating what you know to be true (facts) vs. what you think is true (assumptions). Many times our assumptions are self-sabotoging, and not necessarily based in reality. For example, there’s that assumption that we have to be happy. That’s not necessarily true.
The second thing she suggested is that I start doing the things I would normally do if I wasn’t feeling so damn shitty and depressed. She said that depression is tricky because the symptoms tend to make the disease worse. Makes sense. You feel down in the dumps, apathetic and physically and mentally exhausted, so you don’t pursue those interests you would take on if you were feeling…peppy. Of course the depression gets worse because the inactivity makes you feel like shit about yourself and the downward spiral continues.
The trick she said, is to do those things anyway. It might not feel good at first, you might feel uninspired, but you will start to spin that spiral in an upward direction and over time, you’ll feel better. Some of the things I’m going to be forcing myself to do include getting regular exercise and a healthy diet, because I know it makes me feel better when I stick to it. I’m pretty active right now. I walk an average of 3-5 miles a day, but I haven’t been doing much besides that, and I have failed pretty bad at the vegetarian thing since I moved back in with my parents.
(WHY DOES MY MOM HAVE TO COOK SUCH DELICIOUS FOOD???? ARRRGH!!!)
I’ll be writing, because it helps me organize my thoughts and clear out some of the chaos. Plus, it’s something I really enjoy. Also, I’ll start painting again, because the act of creating is very therapeutic and the process has a way of shutting my brain off. These are just a couple of things I could do, there’s a long list of stuff that interests me. I just have to do them.
Lesley also suggested that I stop being a hermit and get out there and talk to people. I deleted my facebook a while back (Mark Zuckerberg can suck it.) In the process I’ve lost that sense of “pseudo connection”, and I’ve been isolating pretty bad and going into hermit mode.
So in order to get some socialization and a sense of community without selling my soul to Zuckerberg, I’ve decided to join a permaculture guild in my area where I can start to network and get to know people who have positive common interests. Permaculture has been a very uplifting thing and it does give me a sense of hope and purpose knowing there are people out there who give a shit about the world. I want to surround myself with positive people doing positive things.
The final point in my 3 point plan is to create a schedule and a record. Creating a schedule will help me organize my time and remember to do some of those things I talked about earlier when I’m feeling more like I’d rather just drink some draino. Keeping a record of sorts will give me some data to look at which will help me figure out where I’m at, and where I want to be.
So, yeah. That’s the plan. :)
I have written a bit about emotions and staying positive in the past. If you’ve been following me you may have noticed lately that I haven’t talked much about this subject for a while. Since I do believe in honesty and transparency, I’ll level with you. I haven’t felt very up to it lately.
I’ve been having a hard time staying positive myself. I’ve been finding myself feeling pretty depressed and cynical lately. You can imagine that being depressed and shitty feeling, it’s hard to write happy, feel good, fluffy, happy stuff. I sort of feel like, “Well, if I can’t be positive and happy right now, what right do I have writing about how to achieve that?”
That’s not what this article is about.
So let’s get into it. I’ll tell you about my life, what I’ve been up to and yeah, I suppose it’s ok to feel crappy sometimes. (At least that’s what my therapist tells me) ;) Honestly, given the shit-storm that is my life right now, it’s probably a miracle I’m not hanging six feet off the ground from a tree.
I won’t lie, I think about that kinda thing a lot. It’s hard not to… I get downright morbid sometimes; this cynical voice inside says, “Fuck it, burn some charcoal in a sealed room, funnel the exhaust fumes into the car, walk into traffic, etc. etc. As much as I think about that stuff, I know it’s not an option.
I can’t bring that kind of pain to the people I love, we’ve already been through enough as it is. That said, I feel kind of trapped sometimes, suicide isn’t an option for me, but life isn’t feeling very good right now either and things are looking pretty bleak. If I’m being honest I feel kind of like my family is cursed, it seems like there’s always something happening, some kind of crisis. My hope is that this too shall pass.
We have experienced a lot of loss over the last 4 years or so. My aunt Cathy Died on my birthday in 2010, my Grandpa died on my wedding day that same year. A family friend, Rose also died that year. My other Aunt Patti was diagnosed with terminal cancer has about 1-3 months left. We found out about her cancer about a month after my husband and I moved to Iowa last year at this time.
During our time in Iowa, my husband and I started having pretty bad marital problems. We were dealing with a lot of unresolved trust issues. The location was a trigger for me because before we were married, when we were first dating he did a few things to betray my trust when he was staying in Iowa after he got out of the military.
Living there was a constant reminder of that betrayal, and I felt incredibly isolated because I had no friends or family in Iowa and I felt like there was no one there I could trust, no support system.
During all of this my husband was also suffering from PTSD, which made the situation worse. Communication was difficult, sometimes it seemed downright impossible. We both ended up isolating ourselves from everyone we knew back in Wisconsin and even each other, and things reached critical mass.
The result was that we separated a few months ago, we both moved back to Wisconsin; he’s at the VA getting treatment for his PTSD and has been there for the last 4 months and I’m staying with my parents. We still talk every day, and we intend to get back together in the future, but the distance is difficult to deal with and there are still trust issues we’re working through.
Along with all of that I’m being sued for a tattoo I did back in 2011. I can’t talk much about it since it’s an open case, but it’s very upsetting to me. I have always followed strong safety standards and precautions and aside from this person suing me, I’ve never had a complaint about infections. This kind of thing makes me wonder if I even want to continue tattooing.
I love the art of it, I love the stories I hear, I love it when I can create something that brightens another persons day. However, I’m not so into the loss of control you experience when a client walks out the door. When you paint a picture, you don’t have to worry about the painting not taking care of itself and trying to sue you, unfortunately it’s not the same with tattoos.
I could go on, there are plenty of other things stressing me out, but I think you get the idea. Life is kinda shitty right now. It’s taking everything I have to stay afloat in all of this. Oh yeah. And I have a concussion. Tried to have a nice relaxing weekend with my husband (he got a weekend pass) and I whack my head. It’s been pounding since Saturday. So yeah. I’m not feeling the happy thing right now and that’s OK. FTW. :)