A new Day

July 29, 2013

A day of disappointment, yet a day of gratitude.  Another loss in this chapter called life.  My new job seemed to have been going well.  I enjoyed the work, and felt like it was an area I could excel in.  I found my energy level could maintain itself as long as there wasn’t too much stress.  Unfortunately, my coworker who was training me, wasn’t happy with my performance, and when she isn’t happy, then she prevails.  As a result I was let go.

I have found that I have one major gauge when it comes to conflict – is the person willing to communicate and work through the conflict?  Through the years I have met many people, some who were highly moral and some who appeared to be more self protective.  Regardless of their moral outlook, the biggest area where conflict could be resolved was a willingness to be humble and talk through the issues.  Unfortunately this wasn’t the case with my coworker.  As much as I wish to rant and rave, in the end it doesn’t really matter.  I will strive to communicate, and be open-minded.  However I can’t control other people and don’t tolerate regular insults well.

The upswing – I enjoyed my little time reentering the working world.  I love learning new things, love learning about the law, and enjoyed being an advocate for those who are going down the wrong path.  I took pleasure in giving grace to people even when they had made serious mistakes or were caught in the system.  I could be kind and hopefully make their day a little easier by treating them with dignity.  I learned more about my strengths and weaknesses, in spite of literally no positive feedback.  I created my own systems, made changes with my mistakes, worked well with clients, gave it my best effort and tried to be positive.  I didn’t do as well without structure, in some of the details, and with unclear roles and situations.

It is hard not to feel like a failure when things don’t work out.  To some degree I have a clear understanding of my own role, and can protect my own hurt with feelings of anger.  I asked enough questions to seek better clarity, but the more that was spoken, the less that made sense.  I am grateful that I didn’t disclose about my fibromyalgia, as this would have made it even more complicated.  I don’t have to question whether they were using it against me, though she could have known through her LinkedIn search.  The reality is part of it was my doing, part of it is who I am, part of it was the environment, and a great part of it was the people.  I can gain comfort in knowing I tried my best, and sometimes things just don’t work.  May grace be given to me.

The beauty of the struggle is that this is when I like to write.  I have much less to say in the good times – which there has been many.  Somehow I feel more in touch with my soul in the pain than the mundane.  So as much as I prefer to have the glory, perhaps it was all meant to be…..

I


Book Review: Manifest Injustice by Barry Siegel

July 4, 2013

Manifest Injustice is a true story regarding a convicted murderer and the people who tried to bring him freedom.  It is a compelling and disturbing read and a perfect one to write about on the 4th of July.  The story is captivating in that it illustrates the complexities of our legal system and how certain evidence can change the overall picture.  How this man was able to get convicted still amazes me, as the amount of doubt in the story was incredible.  I was deeply disturbed throughout the book at the number of obstacles and people not interested in at least hearing all the facts of a case (another person’s confession to the same murders).  Though it is truly difficult to evaluate he said, she said situations, especially when those in charge of the investigation were so sloppy in gathering evidence and recording “confessions”.  His ex-wife was able to both testify against him and had access to evidence.

The beauty of this story was the number of people who were fighting for his case.   The people at the Arizona Justice Project fought for his story to be heard, and spend years trying to investigate his case and bring justice.  Perkins Coie also joined the fight (I used to work here – too funny).  Eventually one of his sons reunited with him, and became one of his advocates.  The accused, Mr. Bill Macumber was portrayed as a strong inspiring man, trying to make the most of a bad situation.

Barry Siegel is an incredible writer, bringing to light difficult issues to process.  He brings you into the lives of the people, pulls you into the story emotionally and intellectually.  You can’t finish reading this book, without a greater understanding of the complexities and fallacies of the legal system.


Memoir Review: Runaway Girl by Carissa Phelps

June 7, 2013

I haven’t written a review for a while.  I have read through some powerful books, but can’t always recall the details when I am in writing mode.  The book Runaway Girl is not one to forget.  An incredible woman, beating the odds, and taking her experience and making an impact.

Carissa Phelps did not have an easy life.  Family problems led her to run away at 12 where she was led into prostitution by a pimp.  Many years on the streets, in people’s homes, institutions, and with family members was problematic.  It is a highly emotional book, especially having two daughters ages 12 and 14.  The heartache and struggles of Carissa puts you into her story.  throughout her book you see patterns of moving forward (away from destruction) and backwards as she continues to work through her trauma and current challenges.  Though it can seem like she is encountering some of the same situations again, you can also see the growth in her as she develops some coping strategies, understanding, strength and support from people who care about her.  It is a great portrayal of the slow path that leads to healing.  As she continues to develop confidence and find herself she pursues a path as an attorney and advocate.  A courageous woman who chose to humbly enter her own story to help others.

I was moved throughout this book.  A difficult read, that drew me in for more.  I am always encouraged when someone chooses to keep working through their trauma, and admitting its impact upon their life.  Sexual trauma has a significant impact, especially as a young child/teen.  I was struck by her ability to claim what happened for what it was:  A story of surviving sex trafficking vs her choosing to prostitute herself.  Many women and young girls are not really choosing this path.  Most of them have come from traumatic backgrounds (sexual and non-sexual) that make them vulnerable.  I have heard the term “I might as well get paid for it” before, and can understand this thinking.  Unfortunately this often involves way more than sex, and the road out isn’t always so simple.

I have had my share of traumas and situations where I have acted out of the trauma.  It isn’t easy to erase what can feel automatic at times, or to move in a direction that I believe is right, when I don’t always have guilt that should draw me away from destructive choices.  I see where much progress, understanding, and better choices have created much growth and healing in my life.  Learning from others’ stories is helpful.  Having a support network and people who love you with grace is huge.  When grace is given we can dig deeper to the darker places and find the light.

Thank you Carissa for sharing your story with us.  May we all find hope that there is a way out of any situation – no matter how bad it may seem.

 


Health updates and daily life with chronic pain

May 3, 2013

I have been doing a lot of writing today.  It is feeling therapeutic as I take some time to reflect and surrender.  I have been battling several colds and injuries that have kept me less mobile, so writing is a better use of my time then all the computer games I have been playing.

I have written over the past 6 months in my blog about various changes I have made to my life to improve my health.  I have been more careful about my food about 70% of the time.  This means that I aim to eat really healthy most of the time, but still have my treats.  I have been eating various foods from the Medifast program, as well as taking the Raw Meal Powder to make shakes for my morning meals.  I find that a Raw Meal Shake is a great way to start the day (adding fruit and yogurt), and the Medifast desserts are a great way to end my day.  In the morning, I have about 5 cups by my computer – 2 shakes (can’t ever make it small enough), water, coffee, and sometimes airborne and/or tea.  Let’s say, I clear the system early with all the trips to the bathroom. In the afternoon/evening I tend to go for some protein (fish, veggie burgers, occasional red meat/chicken).  I use cottage cheese and salsa on a lot of things.  Those veggies are still hard to get in – need to add some to my shakes.  I feel better with a lower fat diet and with a moderate amount of carbs.  I would probably do even better if I could avoid the chips I had today.  I am brainstorming on how to pack my weird foods to work next week.  Maybe if I bring the salad, I will be forced to eat my veggies.

Exercise has slowed recently because of illness and injury.  I joined a soccer team to work on my personal soccer skills, but have missed a few weeks.  I also play racquetball, but this may not work anymore with my work schedule and other issues that have come up.  I love this type of activity because I feel more like playing than working out.  I enjoy the P90X weight routines, because they start out simple and progress.  When I am sick, I can go to an easier plan.  When I am able to keep a regular routine I can add time and intensity.

My pain has felt much better lately.  I had some work done on my back that has helped tremendously in working through the knots and tension.  Though I still ache, much of the time it is mild.  Once or twice a week the pain will affect my sleep.  The other times my sleep is effected is usually my own stress, or the cats sleeping at my feet.

I have been struggling more with the emotional and mental challenges.  I can’t always cope well with the stress around me, and can find myself discouraged and slightly depressed when I am sick for days on end.  I am doing more reading and have rejoined a support type of group which will be helpful.  I will however lose some of my other support when I return to work.  In many ways, I believe work will give me some time not to over focus on things, at the same time it could wear me down.  Keeping myself spiritually and value focused will be important so I don’t self defeat.

I am enjoying the warmer weather and more time outdoors.  Oregon is beautiful this time of year, and energizes me.  We have a few weeks of down time before my commitments pick up, so hopefully grace will follow me into the busy time of the year.

Blessings.  ET


Unwelcomed Memories

May 3, 2013

I lay here awake, feeling trapped in my memories.  Being triggered into flashbacks, and reminders of days gone by.  I try to escape the pain through activities or modes of tuning out yet they remain to block me from fully engaging in the moment or connecting with people intimately.  Sometimes life feels too complicated and too difficult to let people in.

I am taken back to my youth, when I was in high school.  A time of great confusion and a time of tremendous growth.  I was taken in by an incredible spiritual mentor who nourished me in my faith, and took the time to learn about who I was.  I trusted him, I needed him.  He taught me much about relationships, spirituality and life.  But some how through it all, it started to feel more complicated.  In many ways it felt similar to dating.  Too much time alone in places not meant to be – his house, with his family, many car trips and the adventure to the camping area where he baptised me.

One event changed everything, yet it changed nothing.  The beauty of denial and the inability to grasp the reality of that which you hope to not understand.  I am not sure how the trip to the camp site came to be, but I remember him driving us to Clark Creek, which was at least a 30 minute drive from where we lived.  When we arrived we walked around the campground where we had youth camp where I recommitted my life to Christ, then to the creek where I was baptised.  He persuaded me to take a swim with our clothes on in the creek.  It was really cold, and I remember feeling uncomfortable yet enjoyed the time together.  When we went to the car, my clothes were clinging to my body from the dampness.  He wrapped something around me (a sweatshirt I believe) and ended up touching me on my breast.  I felt fear and vulnerability of what was to come, especially since we were alone by the creek miles from home.  He was my youth pastor, this wasn’t making sense. He proceeded to act like nothing happened and we drove home.  I thought it must have been an accident, yet the situation created a sense of wonder.  What will happen next?  Can I trust him anymore?  What really happened?  Everything changed, yet it seemed the same.  I continued to see him for many more years, both alone and with his family or other youth.

It has been over 20 years ago that this situation took place, yet I can see that it created spiritual blocks that are difficult to break.  Though I can’t blame him for all of my spiritual conflicts, I realize it contributed to my personal trauma when it comes to the church and spiritual leaders.  It didn’t help that my family life also had inconsistencies of spirituality and dysfunction which probably drew him to me in the first place.   I have spent years in therapy, spiritual work and doing personal recovery, yet I feel at a loss of how to completely heal the wombs.  A few years back I attempted to reach out to some of the church leaders in this church, and to my former youth pastor, but resistance and denial indicated that more loss was likely than personal gain from any connection to these people about our relationship.  I am not sure why I expected more, I just assumed that someone (besides my therapist) would be interested in what I had to say.  Regardless, his complete denial and defensiveness of any outings taking place, made it pretty clear that he wasn’t willing or able to look honestly at what happened.

So where do I go from here?  There is no answer really, as not everything has a clear pathway.  I can continue to seek healing, and remember that brokenness in all of us, including myself.  I have done many things in which I regret, and am grateful for the forgiveness, love and grace I have received.  My heart somehow has to find the balance between openness and being aware, allowing the Spirit in, while being discerning of what isn’t God but the humanness of people.  I pray that God will bring healing to each of us on this path of finding freedom and peace through the brokenness of our past, and our current reality.  There is always hope – hope for a brighter day!


The Dark Hour poem

May 3, 2013

My soul aches, My heart cries;

When will, this pain die?

I watch and wait, for the morning sun;

When everything glows, and the children run.

Conflicts and confusion, trials and scares;

Broken dreams and promises, mistakes and failures.

Each day a struggle, for some air;

More cancer and death, that doesn’t seem fair/

Where is the wisdom? Where is my God?

It doesn’t make sense, in the gloomy fog.

I feel alone, though many are near;

Get me out, ignore the tears.

Just a little hope, or a little light;

help me see, a new sight.

Show me the praise, of a new day;

How to mend, what was frayed.

Show me the love, that I hear about;

Help me receive, the kindness of heart.

Help me hear, the wisdom up high;

To bring discernment, from the lies.

Bring me comfort, to ease the pain;

An inner peace, that forever reins.

I will open my eyes, and clear my ears;

Ready to see, ready to hear.

I will prepare my heart, and my mind;

to be ready, for a new time.

May the grace come, and fill me up;

forever hope, forever love.

Elissa 5/1/13


The Next Adventure – I got the job!

April 29, 2013

I can’t believe it – I am almost officially employed.  I received a call a few days ago that I was selected for a part-time job as a legal assistant.  I am looking forward to returning to work, challenging my mind, and meeting new people.  Everything seems like a good fit for me during this time in my life.

Having chronic pain does bring some unique concerns that I would prefer not to have.  I have to consider the office environment, my ability to focus, and whether I should disclose about potential limitations, and ways I may need to adapt.  Unfortunately every job is different, so what worked and didn’t work in my last job may not apply.  Fortunately I am healthier than I have been for years, and am no longer on any medication.  This should make a difference in my stamina.  Hopefully eating right, taking breaks, and drinking some good coffee will help me in the initial intense learning days.

Regardless of my concerns, I can’t help but be excited.  I will hold on to the energy I feel from being with the people I will be working with, and my own interest in the law.  I love learning about the law, and doing research on topics that interest me.  I will keep my support group strong, let go of some of my commitments and forge ahead to this new path.  May the spirit guide me in each step, and help me deal with whatever comes my way.

 


job interview today

April 22, 2013

I had a job interview today for a legal assistant position.  In many ways it was a spur of the moment application, looking through jobs and finding one that seemed interesting.  I have always wanted to be a legal assistant, and this looked like a great fit for me: close by, few areas, and my areas of interest and strengths.  I really enjoyed meeting the attorney and other legal assistant – wow, great people.

When I came home, I wanted the job more.  I love the idea of a new challenge and being able to make some extra money.  Did I mention the people were great?  Very kind and easy to be with.  The job sounds challenging and stimulating.  The interview went well – it lasted a few hours.  I really believe I can do the job (well most of the time).

Then the fear creeps in – should I have disclosed about my chronic pain?  Last time disclosure was a disaster, and ended up being more problematic.  I think it is something better to manage on my own.  Lots of coffee in the early days to help with the fatigue, and move around as needed.  I may have to limit my evening activities.  I felt confident in my decision not to share.

As the evening approaches, I decide to see if they looked me up on Facebook or LinkedIn.  Not sure about facebook, but linkedin shows that someone from a law firm looked at my profile today – oh no, what is on there?  Overall professional, with lots of connection to disability groups and pain groups.  Then I saw the part about fibromyalgia – did they read this?  Oh shit, not what I wanted.  I didn’t want the interview process to be mixed up with the fibromyalgia.  Looks like they may have known before they interviewed me.  The good part is, we still talked for hours.  The challenge is whether they were hoping I would disclose or not.  Since no-one read my chronicpain journals today, I am confident they didn’t read about my disclosure series :).

Well I should know in a few days whether I got the job.  I am feeling sad and fearful.  Sad that I have to worry about this thing called fibromyalgia and fearful that it will be a shadow that follows me every time I step into the light.  I am one of 5 people who were interviewed, and clearly we connected.  I pray that regardless of what they learned, they can be open to seeing my strengths and find who is the best one for the job, whether that is me, or another person they interviewed.  I also pray that I can accept whatever comes my way.  I don’t feel compelled to take the fibromyalgia off of my linked at this point, but might be something I do in the future if I continue to look for work.


Memoir Review: Promise Me by Nancy G. Brinker

March 19, 2013

Promise Me was an amazing book on so many levels.  Nancy G. Brinker is the founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, an organization launched in honor of her sister who died of breast cancer.  Nancy shares of the struggle of losing her sister to breast cancer, her own battle with breast cancer, her research about breast cancer and the relationships that hold her along the way.  It is a must read for anyone who has or knows someone battling with cancer or someone wanting to make an impact for a cause.

Nancy writes in a way that most captures my attention, she writes from her heart.  Whether she is giving medical information, or walking you through her story, her passion and love is evident.  She draws me into her family, into her relationships, and the promise she made to her sister about making a difference for breast cancer.  Her mother, instills the necessity of making a difference and finding joy in serving others which is integrated in the heart and soul of Nancy’s life.

Throughout the book, Nancy gives some incredible information on breast cancer and research.  She shares stories from other survivors and various treatment options as well as the importance of advocating for yourself in the medical system.  The end of the book includes 11 pages of resources regarding financial, treatment, trials, diagnosis, and prevention.

 


Memoir Review: Grace, Gold and Glory by Gabrielle Douglas

March 19, 2013

I really enjoyed reading olympic gymnast, Gabrielle Douglas’ book.  My family and I loved watching her spirit and skill in the olympics.  My youngest daughter’s name is Gabrielle, so it added an extra dimension to our interest in following her.

What I loved most about reading her book is the positive outlook she has at such a young age.  Though she has had many challenges, she was honest about her struggles, and grateful to those who helped her along the way.  It is amazing to see how many people supported her on her journey, and aided in her being the success she is today.  At the same time, she was able to persevere with her faith, and inner strength, holding on to her dream.

This is a great book for both adults and tweens/teens.  It is an inspiring book for an athlete and people who have high aspirations.  Gabrielle is an example of someone who continues to be true to her values, whether she is struggling with daily life or a woman of great success.  Thanks Gabrielle for sharing with us.


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