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Thursday, May 12, 2016

Reflection on Lessons Learned ...

Third times the charm, right?
Yes, it is my third time today composing this. My inner poltergeist is very active today; while doing my computer work this morning, I have had frozen screens, disappearing cursers, software that has opened or closed on apparent self-whimsy.  I have needed to reboot several times.

"Message From the Wanderer" one of my CC Willow pieces. Seems appropriate for today.
Nonetheless, it is just after 10 am and my day has been somewhat productive. 
I credit the patience and resilience that this poverty and depression have taught me. My “poltergeist’ has not been my only challenge today. It seems the pixies had a few pranks waiting for me this morning; needed things that have been relocated to strange and unlikely places. My job search files from yesterday were found, finally, to be behind Sunday’s art supplies. My phone, unplugged sometime during the night, is now plugged in again and (hopefully) charging the dead battery. I am dressed and have my morning skin care on my face. I have my action plan written for today, with three tasks already checked “completed”. My documents and eResume is sent off to a job developer for review and feedback. An application, due tonight, is ready to be finalized after I get his response.  Breakfast and caffeine consumed. And I am psyched to get more inventory listed for eSelling.
That’s not to say that the rest of the day will go well.  But I will handle it.  And whatever comes up. Which got me reflecting on “Lessons Learned”.

There are many “Lessons Learned” articles on the web. And in filling up my “toolbox”, I have accessed a number of them when I needed encouragement. While I have not found Daniel CJ Grant’s "9 Lessons I’ve Learned Overcoming Depression That Can Help Anybody Succeed In Anything" truthful (my past three years have been the opposite experience than the author’s), I have found Hannah Sentenac’s "16 Things I’ve Learned From 16 Years of Dealing With Depression" and, especially, Eric Ravencraft’s "Five Lessons I Learned From Dealing with Depression" to be a voice of reason.
I KNOW my self-perception right now is difficult. I KNOW depression whispers lies to sufferers. And although I have dealt with it in the past, and gotten past it, every dip back in has gotten harder. I thought I already learned many of these lessons well enough. It has been frustrating, feeling like I keep getting sucked into this spiral – but another empath once told me “Life is a spiral, we keep coming back to the same issues – but it is a spiral that goes UPWARDS. Once you understand one level, Life takes you to the next to deepen the understanding”.

So one of my personal Lessons Learned is HAVE PATIENCE.

There are many times it feels that no matter what I do, I am hitting a brick wall (sometimes literally) – that may be true. But I realize it is my choice if it will stop me, or if I will bounce off and try another way. I’m becoming an expert at finding alternative approaches!
Take this morning’s “Easter Egg” hunt for example: I was at the point where I was ready to email documents to TS this morning. He is a recent acquaintance/resource & is helping me apply for a position that closes TONIGHT. He just gave me his email yesterday morning, and I placed it in my file with the action items for this particular opportunity. I am fairly conscientious about this file folder: it is my main tool for job hunting and gets accessed everyday. As such, it has it has specific “spots” on each room.  I recalled bringing it in from my appointment with TS  yesterday, could recall the weight of it in my hand. I KNEW it was here. But … could not find it at the dining table, near my “office” couch nor in its home in the computer corner. Yes – I was panicked  - nothing new there, I  have been in almost constant panic of varying degrees for months now – it is my new “normal”. But if it wasn’t where it should be – I then realized I needed to search where it shouldn’t be. So starting from the car door, I searched methodically, entering the house, going room by room.
I finally found it effectively hidden behind my Plein Air paint supplies in the den. Physics and rationale said it shouldn’t be there - it was hidden completely by an item smaller than it, it is a room and location it does not belong in - an area I did not go to yesterday. (I blamed the house pixies!) Yet – when the POSSIBLE proved itself impossible this morning, I then knew the IMPOSSIBLE must be now possible – ipso facto – “Not where it should be? Look where it shouldn’t be!”
People say “Expect the unexpected”; now you and I know this is not possible.  Expecting a thing makes it “Expected”. And this then sets you up unreasonably to predict what is unpredictable. My parents were good at this unrealistic belief and therefore expected me to be responsible for knowing anything and everything about anything and everything. It was okay for others to be “ignorant”, but not me. Not knowing a single piece of information that might be used to predict an outcome of … well, anything … was “irresponsible” and “derelict” of me. (Even today, still, I hoard random facts and stats I come across) Life has enough demands on us as it is, I needed to stop expecting myself to be omniscient. I cannot control others - I am human; while I can and do act on situations, situations can and DO act on me.
Instead I suggest acknowledging that something unexpected and unwanted may come up (If you are like me – an Evans – this is your modus operandi)… and I tell myself “I will deal with it if and when it comes”.  And when it comes … I take a deep breath and walk myself through it, step by baby step. If one approach does not work, I then try another.
I have done the traditional “job search” now since mid-December. It has netted me a total of THREE interviews in five months and no job offers for this highly qualified go-getter. Highly discouraging – all that daily push and it does not result in any income coming in to pay monthly bills. So – I have had to get creative to bring in what little money we have. I already had previously sold my jewelry and stocks just to survive two previous demotions. We now have recycled anything that can be redeemed for money – which meant going through what was stored in the attic and the garage. I purchased “inventory” of used jeans and am selling it on eBay. Previously unfamiliar with the concept of down-sizing books – I am now selling used books on Amazon. An acquaintance gave me boxes of Avon collectibles to sell. And I have set up an Etsy shop to sell my own art. I am constantly trying to brainstorm new ways to re-market it. I accepted an infrequent job as an art model. I even opened my home up to a tenant. I lobby local charities for assistance. No – all these efforts do not bring in a livable income – but it is enough to deal with the frequent crisises that come up. And today I have water and electricity and internet. For today … it is enough so I may get done what I need to get done.
And if I do lose my patience – easy for someone already overwhelmed to do – I clamp down on that outburst wanting to burst out. I don’t break anything. I don’t spew those profanities. I don’t plash out. All these will make the current situation even worse. I pause instead. Take a deep breath. Acknowledge to yourself – or aloud to another person your frustration. Ask for help. And figure out just one baby-step you CAN take to rectify the situation. Then the next. Then the next.
 It may or may not get better. It may even get worse – but at least I know the situation itself is responsible, that I personally was not responsible for making it worse. I have the assurance, that every day, successfully or not, I am attempting to be a positive force in my own life.

Listen – I know this is not the best written article. I acknowledge that it is not my best writing. But depression and desperation is scientifically proven to decrease a human’s abilities and reasoning pathways and I am just human.  But my hope is that, just in writing & reflection, I will work past that paralysis that depression has had on my thoughts, recover my writing and processing skills. This is one of those baby-steps to get me around one of those brick walls.  And while it did take me  - what, Two hours! – to write 15 minutes worth of thoughts, I think this piece today is done … finally. A fourth item to check off on today’s list.

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