OH Sabbatical!

Oh life change!  I successfully moved away from the beautiful, picturesque, seaport, artist community of Port Townsend, Washington to the well landscaped, hilly, rocky, suburban neighborhood of Las Vegas called Henderson.  I bought my first home, enrolled my 10 year old into fifth grade, spent a great deal of time furnishing my new home and find myself in the throws of my sabbatical.

I am going into the sixth month since shutting down my jewelry design business, maybe forever.  You see I had moved in with my father three and a half years ago to care for him as he had dementia.  September before last he fell in front of our house and just over 2 months later he passed.  I am coming up on the one year mark of his passing and the sadness and loneliness are undeniable.  I thought how freeing it would be to not have to work for a minute.  I did not anticipate the boredom, the lack of energy, the lack of motivation, and the sense of feeling unimportant.  My career was who I was, who I identified with, now I’m feeling like I don’t have an identity.  Like my life has no value.  I think if I could travel I wouldn’t feel so worthless.  My dads house hasn’t sold yet in Washington and this has left me a bit cash poor, so I am housebound.  I have dreams about jewelry, collaborations, being creative.  I know I have more in me but I know I can’t do anything about it right now.  Financially, I am stuck, creatively, I am blocked.

I googled “sabbatical”.  I’m not sure why.  Maybe to remind myself that there is value in the artistic break.  I knew I wasn’t putting my best foot forward in my career anymore.  It was a means to survival, not an outlet for my suppressed brain.  I was stifled.  I was working in a less than conducive environment for creative thought.  My studio was filled with spiderwebs, rats, cold wind, dirt, mold.  You see it was my dads lower garage basement filled with old boxes, a water heater that burst, and large rats trying to get into the house.  I had a gorgeous view of the Puget sound outside the garage door, but that led to more melancholy than productivity.  So how do I convince myself that this sabbatical is worthwhile, necessary?  I should note that just after my move I took myself off of every medication the doctors ever gave me in the last 7 years.  Dangerous?  Maybe.  Necessary, for sure.  However, here I sit, unmedicated, bored, restless, lethargic, sad and lonely.  Also, not conducive to a creative brain.  They say a six month or longer sabbatical is an opportunity to recharge and renew.  This I believe.  I have ideas for new creative outlets including a clothing store where I can curate other artists and designers, and a non-profit which would teach young women how to make jewelry, start businesses and mentor them in ways in which they have never been privy to.  All of this, however, will have to wait until the sale of my dads house so I’m sort of being forced into this sabbatical.  I think if I learn how to make it more productive, understand the emotions behind this time off, and do some due diligence with regards to research, I can obtain the large benefits to this rest period and come back to the workforce full blast, recharged and whole.

So here is to the sabbatical.  Artists, teachers, corporate heads alike can benefit from the transformation qualities an extended break can achieve.  Learn to work through the guilt, the useless emotions and figure out how best to make this time work for you and allow your brain to work its wonders.

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The Problem with Fear

lightening  I spent the last eight years shrouded in fear.  I’ve always struggled financially, but it never concerned me because there was so much I could do to make money in a lurch and pay the bills.  That changed when I had a child and didn’t have the freedom I had before,  not to mention, the older we get, the harder it gets to get a bartending job and the like on a whim.  My business was doing really well when my daughter was born, however, and I was very confident in our future.  When her father died from a heroin overdose my world was shaken to the core.  My confidence was shaken, what I thought would always be was shaken.  I had never experienced anything like that before.  This was the only other person in the world who was half responsible for my child along with me.  He was my best friend, my confidant, even when he was using, he was useful, sort of.  When he died, fear became very, very real.

You know the famous phrase, “The only thing you have to fear, is fear itself”.  I came to find out, this just wasn’t true.  Because for all the times I tried to tell myself that, the truth was, that philosophy was not going to put food on the table and pay my rent.  I was responsible for a two year old little girl, and there was no life line.  I found myself not able to sleep at night because my heart would beat so fast it would make my head pound.  Even if I had managed to fall asleep, my heart would wake me up because somehow, it never calmed down.  Even while my conscious slept, my subconscious told my heart, “we’re screwed”.  I had never known this feeling.  I knew there was a possibility of bi-polar tendencies because it ran in my family and I had some of the classic underlying symptoms, but suddenly, it reared it’s head and let itself be known.  Suddenly I became acutely aware that I was not well.  I found it much harder than I ever imagined to seek help.  Mental health is not a priority in this country.  I was in this fight alone and didn’t realize just how severe it was about to become.

I understood that I was going through a grieving process, but that it would pass, eventually.  What I didn’t know was that my personality was changing and I was quickly angered, responsive, reactive.  Scared.  I quickly alienated those closest to me.  I was very, very alone, sad, depressed, scared, overwhelmed and that combination is dangerous.  I tried to hide it, but it manifested itself in other ways.  I look back now and wonder how I got out of it, and thank God, I’m not in it now.  I couldn’t see right and the doctors put me on multiple medications.  This must have helped, but it didn’t come without it’s own set of issues.  Long term, my creativity waned, my lackluster dulled and my motivation sank.  It was about that time my mother was diagnosed with stage 3b lung cancer and I spent my time helping her, working in my daughters pre-school and paying the bills without support by running my quickly deteriorating business.

See, when you don’t have your “person” anymore, and you go to bed alone at night scared with the weight of the world upon you, you’re not the best person to be around.  I soon found out, no one wanted to be around me at all.  My fault, you see, I was not behaving myself.  So the fear and loneliness compounded.  I had to move many times due to not being able to pay rent anymore in my current home.   I struggled with the business which is artistically based.  I was a sinking ship with no life line.

I could tell myself over and over that everything was going to be ok, but when the first of the month came around and I was severwly short on rent, the truth is, it wasn’t ok.  When you face that kind of fear, it’s real.  It’s your security.  I researched many times housing in shelters for me and my daughter.  Many, many times I truly thought we were going to be homeless, and I knew, no one was going to save me.  I did this for YEARS.  When it was decided that I was going to have to move to Washington to care for my father, I knew it was going to be hard, but secretly, there was relief…I wasn’t going to have to pay rent anymore.  I mean, THANK GOD.  My time with my dad was a whole new set of fears and anxiety as he had dementia and it was a very difficult time.  My dad passed last December and a new grief washed over me.

I found myself facing familiar fears and lost even more family members as a result of my behavior.  Once again, I was unsure of my future.  Once again, I was hit with an intense loss of someone I was living with and very close to.  Once again, the doom crept in hard.  The sadness of losing so many people due to my lashing out was more than I could bear.  Once again, I was alone, without my dad who had become my confidant, even though he couldn’t remember our conversation five minutes later, still, I found comfort in him.  When he was gone, I was struck with the loneliness,  fear,  sadness all over again.  I couldn’t work, but I had to.  Customers were yelling at me because I got behind in orders, I had to try to keep things normal for my daughter and all the while I was being told I had to leave my dads home.  Crap.  Fear.

I found myself in the hustle once again and decided on a plan of action.  Six months later I packed up his home of 20 years, spread his ashes, and moved once again.  For the first time, I have had some relief the past few months.  Unlike my daughters father who never put into social security, so my daughter and I never received a dime, my father, was a planner.  My daughter and I were relieved of financial stresses, for the moment.  I realize now, as I write this, and I needed to write this, money chases away fear.  My fear anyway.  I feel secure, safe, renewed and inspired.  See, I’ve been able to get off of all six medications they put me on.  It hasn’t been easy, it was physically painful, and the unknown was scary.  I’ve had to take care, do yoga, meditate, shop, all the things that made me feel good!  But, you know, I feel good.  I’ve come to terms with the deaths of my father and my daughters father, I’m starting fresh with three new businesses (aw, yes, the bi=polar person in me rising to the surface, well, rise crazy, rise!)  Because for all the years that I wasn’t medicated I had family and friends.  Maybe now, I can get that back.  Maybe now, finally, the old Christie will come back in full.  I welcome her.

I wish I had some wise words to give to anyone else suffering from fear.  I don’t.  Except, make money, and lots of it, because when you have money, you have no fear, not the kind you really have to fear anyway!

Hermititus

I’ve been diagnosed with “post traumatic stress disorder”.  I’ve always thought that there  were too many diagnosis for too many issues.  Hyperactivity became “ADHD”, Depressive Manic became “Bipolar Disorder”, and everything comes with a shiny little pill.  Currently my nightstand has so many amber colored bottles with white childproof lids that it looks like the bedside table of someone suffering from cancer.  I linked PTSD with brave men and women who came back from the war and saw things that no one should ever have to see in their lifetime.  What bravery have I exemplified that deserves such a diagnosis.  Someone died, I’ve been a single mom, struggling.  So have millions of other women, many have been through worse.

The pain I feel, however, is very real and sometimes it feels like I might explode.  I didn’t seek much help after the death of my daughters father, but I am trying after my fathers death.  I am alone in this town and no family left that talks to me except my mother and even she only speaks to me begrudgingly! I have no choice but to remain strong for my daughter, suicide is not an option, not even suicide by alcohol.  Somehow I have to find the strength to not just be here for her, but be present for her.  Happy, energetic, patient, loving, kind, compassionate and a teacher.  That’s one of the toughest things to muster up when you are so sad and lethargic that you can’t get out of bed, can’t leave the house.   I keep hearing, “you’re strong”, “you’re a good mom”, but if people knew the truth they wouldn’t say such kind things.  I can’t tell anyone my truth because no one wants to deal with someone who can’t handle their shit.  And right now, I’m not handling my shit.

I’ve always thought the opposite of myself, that I wasn’t strong, that I was too sensitive for this world.  I even tattooed the word “strength” on my wrist to conjure up the very thing I knew I was lacking.  I don’t even want to do my work anymore.  I do, but I can’t.  I need a change.  I need to get out of this retired town and retire in Henderson.  A place I felt at home.  Maybe it’s just close enough to Vegas to be invigorating, and far enough away to feel normal.  The sun shines.  I need more sun.  I’ve tried to find my tribe here and they are nowhere to be found.  God get me out of here before I go totally insane.  I’m not as strong as people seem to think.  I am a survivor, and it takes strength to survive, but no one can be very strong for very long being very alone.  Everyone needs their tribe.  Everyone needs their friends.

I’ve been using Tarot cards to connect with my guardian angels.  To get answers to pressing questions of the moment.  So I don’t feel so alone.  I swear, though, you can read anything into those things and I always seem to get the answers I need.  Or, who knows, maybe I really am connecting to my dad, my nana, to my great grandmother, maybe they are the only people I can talk to right now.  Whatever gets you through it, right?

So until I find my own strength again, I will find strength in the queen of wands, the hangman, the eight of swords, or whatever card I pull for any given day that makes me feel hope, that keeps me from the driving force I am feeling to hole myself up in my room and never leave my bed.300811f10e0c3c8c4b42a20c607a2fab

 

 

For My Dad

My daughter and I took a short trip to Hawaii just after New Years.  She has never been and I haven’t been in over 20 years.  I haven’t been on a vacation at all in at least 14 years!  Not a real one anyway.  You know, the kind where you actually put your clothes in the drawers and hang them up because you will be there long enough to need to see your clothing, not just grab them out of an overnight bag!  The weather was gorgeous, to be expected, but the emotions were unexpected.  Both my daughter and I have fathers, who have now passed away, that lived in Hawaii.

Her daddy was a surfer who would surf the big waves on the North Shore.  He lived there with Jay Adams back in the 80’s, 90’s and told me all sorts of stories about living there.  Including the one where he got air lifted to the hospital after a wave almost ended his life.  My father went to High School there (the same as President Obama) and also was stationed at Barbers Point as a radio man in the Blue Sharks PC2 plane in the late 50’s, early 60’s.  Both were emotional visiting the two places, but my dad, having passed away just a month prior, took the cake.  I just wasn’t expecting the water works, and such obvious, what seemed like signs,  everywhere,  that he was there.

I knew I wanted to visit Barbers Point, but I wasn’t sure what to expect since my dad told me in prior conversations (which in his dementia disease all seemed to lead back to) was that Barbers Point was no longer there.  My dad couldn’t remember if he had breakfast that morning, but he still remembered the Morse code alphabet to the Tee.  He remembered those days so well that it was important to him during conversations to be able to hold one and for him that meant going way back.  He felt important again.  Dementia as I learned by observation is a terrible thing that steals not just your memories, but your dignity.  My dad led a very dignified life.  First in the Navy, then as a HazMat Fire Captain.  Not to mention father and grandfather.  When I came to Port Townsend a year and a half ago, it wasn’t to save my dads life.  It was to do my best to keep him healthy and happy.  That meant, meals cooked, someone to talk to, bedding changed, laundry done, lunches together, movies, conversation and the three of us bonding as grandfather, daughter and granddaughter.  It wasn’t easy at first, in fact, it was extremely challenging.  Our love for each other overcame any obstacles and we learned how to cohabitate together, respect each other and learned so much from each other.  I learned it was very important to him that people understood what he had done in his life because he had lost so much of it.  I think he knew, but would never admit, that he was losing his memory.  He quickly learned how to manipulate conversations that would lead people away from suspicions, but years went by and even that was becoming increasingly impossible for him.  Bless his heart, he always had a smile and the same story to tell.  The kinder people he ran across daily came to understand and were always willing to entertain his stories.  It’s those people who have my heart.  I’ve had many a battle with people in this town, but that’s a different story and this isn’t about me.

The bartender, Sun, at the Ilikai Hotel heard my story and was gracious and kind and gave me a bag full of beautiful flowers to toss at Barbers Point.  My daughter and I set out one day after renting a car and plugged in “Barbers Point” to the GPS.  Google led us to some school.  Although, the sign did say “Barber Point”, there was no sign of a military base, old or new.  So I made a U-turn and my daughter, who is an I-phone girl, asked Siri which led us to an even more remote space near some shipyards.  Distressed, sad and frustrated we parked and threw our flowers into the water, marveled at the beautiful tropical fish that emerged from the rocks when the flowers landed and said a few words.  Crying, I got back into the car, but not willing to give up, I stopped by where Siri ended our trip at an Energy Plant and went inside.  As most Hawaiians are the gentleman at the front desk (wish I got his name) was very helpful in explaining to us where Barbers Point was.  So, once again, we set off.  As we are making our drive and I started to get confused again, suddenly two fighter jets roared over our heads as if to say, “you’re going the right way”.  I kept going and found the traintracks he spoke of and turned.  We saw before us some very old buildings easily 60 – 70 years old.  I pulled in and, as usual the alohas were flowing and the information was well thought out and useful.  They told us to go to the museum but that we might not have any luck because “Brad” who runs it is not there all the time.  I almost turned away, but again, something kept me going.  I kept driving down this road which had closed roads jetting out from the sides and you could really get a sense of days gone by with the terrain, the small roads, the skeletal buildings, etc.  I suddenly stopped at this fence where I could see old planes through.  I debated, but reversed and parked.  I got out of the car and banged on he chain link fence yelling, “excuse me”, to the three men standing off in the slight distance in uniform.  One came towards us and asked if they could help us.

I quickly explained, through my tear stained face, that my dad had been stationed here in 1958 and that he had passed away and talked about these times here daily.  To my surprise, they were so warm and inviting and yanked open the locked gate and brought us into some sort of pilot training room with plane seats and a large screen.  I started talking and they finished my sentences for me and before I knew it they had pictures up on the big screen of the plane my dad flew in and then proceeded to walk me around talking about this is where my dad would have been.  They had long torn down the buildings, but he would have slept there, the planes were there, and I cannot describe the feeling to you of knowing I was walking on the same asphalt my dad did back when he was 18-22.  The guys talked for what seemed like hours and as I thanked them profusely, they thanked me humbly for caring so much.  What a great three men, Brad, who ran the museum, Lt. Col. Mooch, and the historian who also worked for Paradise Helicopters,.  I’ll never forget what they did for me that day.

I’ll never forget that.  And I know my dad was there, so proud that I cared enough.  The bond we shared, he now fully understands, even if he couldn’t at the end.  I love you so much dad.  You are my ohana.  Mahalo for everything you are.

Daily Prompt: Renewal

via Daily Prompt: Renewal

REnewal.  ReNEWal.  RenewAL.  Interesting to me why we westerners choose January First as a day that we believe our lives will be renewed.  I get that it’s the beginning of a new year and we say goodbye to the old one.  That gives us a chance to reflect on the past and hope for a better future for ourselves.  I look on facebook and every post I see is how much people hated 2016 (15 before that, 14 before that, 1999 before that!) and are looking forward to a better 2017.  I think though, it would behoove most, to look at the opportunities that were presented to us, decide if we dealt with them accordingly, did we learn from them, did we find joy in them.  Sometimes the hardest part of our lives are the ones we should relish the most because we had a great opportunity to grow from it.  Sometimes we forget the good that came with all the bad and to find gratitude for those moments.

No, I think it best that we say “thank you” to 2016 for all it provided, the good, the bad and the ugly.  We must always look forward to the future and renewal isn’t something we should strive for but more for more growth in 2017.  With growth, comes strife.  I promised myself after my fathers passing earlier this month that I was going to approach every situation with grace and a non reactive state.  I’ve spent way too many years being angry and reactive.  In a sense, I suppose I will have a bit of renewal.  I wasn’t always so reactive and angry, so I intend to renew that part of me, Christie Martin, that relished every bit of life.  Laughed all the time, appreciated everyone around me, and woke up happy every day.  I want her back.  Yesterday as I drove to an appointment a couple of hours away I had time by myself to reflect and think about my dad which is very painful.  I talked aloud to my dad and I promised him no more sadness in his death.  He has been restored to his former glory without dementia and I, too, will restore myself in his honor. I promised to make him proud and raise a daughter that would make him proud.  I promised him that his girls would make him proud.

Renewal to me, is actually quite important to me this year in particular.  I don’t look back on the last year as horrible though, like I see so many others do.  It was difficult, lonely and very sad the last few months of it watching my father slowly slip away.  I know, however, that 2017 will bring love, joy, happiness, strength, and yes, renewal.

So, happy New Year everyone, and cheers to a renewed state.lotus-flower-8

 

 

My Dad is Gone.

13502046_10154116986916138_6809629631255170763_nThat was my only sentence on my facebook post the day my dad died.  I had no words.  I had nothing to say.It’s been over three weeks now and Christmas has passed and New Years is this weekend and I’ve gone from numb, to sad, to scared, to sick.  I know everyone goes through this, but I haven’t yet and it feels like I’m the only one who has.  I just can’t believe he’ll never come home again.  It’s been a rough few months because he fell two months before he died.  We thought he was going to get better, but he would be ok, then bad, then a surgery, then ok, then bad.  The roller coaster has had me exhausted and currently I’m finding it difficult to get out of bed.

He was truly an original.  We had a difficult time in he beginning of my move here, but we came into our new situation and appreciated our relationship.  We laughed a lot.  He was so funny, and for the first time in my life I knew that my dad saw me for the funny, confident, talented person that I always hoped he would get to know.  I have many many flaws, but, in the end, he saw only the good in me.  He appreciated me and I loved our little family unit.

He’s gone now.  I’m still in his home and it’s truly unbearable.  This entire house is him.  When my daughters father died, I left a month later and it still took me 7 years to even come close to healing.  I feel in limbo, and like I just can’t begin to heal until I leave here.  Port Townsend is beautiful, but lonely.  I have yet to find my tribe and can’t wait to get back to Henderson, Nevada.  I know it was my dads wish that I stay here in his home, but I just can’t.  This was his home, his dream.  I was here for the last year and a half of his life, but it’s time for me to start my life again.

Wish me luck.  Another new beginning.  My mini gypsy and me go off again, maybe finally, to find the happiness I so deserve.

RIP James Hurley Martin.  Until we meet again, I know you’ll be here with me and I want to thank you for everything you have been for me.  I love you so much and I’ll miss you until the end of my days.

 

 

SUICIDE

I’m just writing off the cuff here, not even sure If I will edit or even proofread, but a friend just committed suicide last night.  I haven’t seen him in over a decade, but he’s a part of a time in my life that is very memorable, and, he was still there doing the same thing, with many of the same friends.  I have so many questions.  I mean there has been enough distance, time and space that the pain wasn’t sharp and stabbing, but it was the kind of hurt that doesn’t leave you all day.  I keep picturing his face, his hair, even his stylish clothing.  Then my mind goes to his gentleness, and his kindness.  I keep asking myself, why?

Sebastien was a career club promoter.  The kind that established financial success and popularity success.  He became a San Francisco legend in his own right. For over 20 years he has promoted and produced some of the biggest nightclub nights and parties known to the city for over two decades.  He operated the most coveted nights in the city.

I think back to our times together , not just in the clubs , but outside of them as well.  Sebastien had a tendency back in the day to party a little too hard. He got to the point where he would seriously stumble over his words, and where I would have sent myself home, he just kept on going.  He got sober, however, and he witnessed the death of his sister in 2011.  I have to wonder if her death played a part in the pain he felt to make his final decision, or was it something deeper?

I think you can be surrounded by tons of friends, old and new, adoring “fans”, and a whole lot of people who want to be close to you.  I think that can be a burden in the end.  The desire to want to talk to everyone, need to be liked, but then experience the emptiness of it all at the end of the night, the next morning, or come Monday.    The truth is, we were out of touch except for facebook, I just don’t know what led to his demise.  So many people don’t believe he took his own life, they are searching for something more sinister.  SF gangs, mobs, the who-done-it is now running rampant within our circle of friends and the vast thousands who knew and loved Sebastien.  I think the truth is harder to accept then someone offed him.  The truth is, he called a friend with threats of his desire to commit suicide and that friend called the police.  Too late.  He hung himself in his SF apartment amongst a “thrashed apartment”.

RIP Sebasien.  I’m in shock and very dismayed.  I’ll never forget our talks, your humor, and how beautiful you were.