Resolutions vs Joy Multiplied

Resolutions vs Joy Multiplied

New Year, New You!

Do you make New Year’s Resolutions? It’s a topic of conversation the week before and after January 1 every year, whether it be around the office water cooler or a friend’s social media feed. Headline: Resolutions, Yes …or No?  I have never really put much stock into make a resolution.  One year I resolved to not. Make a resolution that is.

Last year was pretty tough for me; I know I’m not alone.  The year wasn’t a knock-down-drag-out kidney punch and body slam kind of year.  While it had those moments it was more akin to a blister on your heel, and you can’t change your shoes — ever. If you moved slowly, gingerly everything was okay. And when you couldn’t, it hurt like hell. To garner your sympathy I could write a litany of all the things that went cock-eyed, topsy turvy and full-on upside down in 2017.  But I won’t.  That’s not the point.

These past couple of months I was wont to find some kind of peace with myself, my depression, my health, my year.  And the Spirit of the season began to wrest a little with my heart.  There were these little nudges, these reminders that others were sharing on social media, which individually seemed innocuous, but together made something glaringly clear.  I had no JOY. None.

Joy is not like happiness. Happiness is relative.  It is dependant on outside factors and stimuli.  You can fake happiness. You can’t fake joy.  Joy comes from deep inside. It can not be manufactured, only multiplied.  It was then the Spirit lit an ember.

A few days ago a friend messaged me about trying an Episcopal church after a painful season of anger after being hurt by the church.  I reminded my friend (again) that it wasn’t God who caused this pain, it was the flawed people in the church who did.  Then, then, I had a realization.

I realized I had not been practicing what I was preaching. For the first time in years the notion of letting go of past church hurts went from my head to my heart.  I’ve known all along the hurt I felt was caused by the people I went to church with.  They knew I stopped attending.  What they didn’t know was that it was they who drove me away.  I knew forgiving was what I needed to do.  A lifetime of attending church told me that’s what needed to be done.  I knew there was that plank in my eye.  And I was quite content to smack people around with it rather than get rid of it.  Except the only one hurt by my plank-stuffed eye was me.   I wanted to keep shaking my fist, saying ‘See what you’ve done! And you don’t even know it! HA!  I’ll show you’ and I stayed away.

But …I am tired of staying away.  I’m tired of empty and hollow, of clinging.

Resolutions are our way of saying “I’m going to do better.”  The problem is most of us don’t know how.  I certainly don’t.  Rather than make resolutions I know I will fail at,  I have chosen three Focus Words for 2018. My hope is that by living these words throughout the year many aspects and areas of my life will improve.


(be) Present


I don’t want a new me.  I want a renewed me.

The ember is starting to grow.


Las Vegas : It is so Extra

There is something about this city. It draws millions every year. There is more to it than neon, gambling and (legal) prostitution. Those are usually the first things people think about when you mention you are planning a trip here.

For the introvert looking for a quiet relaxing vacation Las Vegas is prob’ly not going to be a first choice. There aren’t many places to “get away from it all” if you stay on The Strip. And yet I love coming here. Granted, it is always only a long weekend, and also every few years. The last time I was in Vegas was just over 2.5 years ago.

I was thinking about this current visit today while walking, well, everywhere. This contemplation began during a walk to a drug store this yesterday morning before breakfast. It included climbing and descending no fewer than 120 stair steps, one elevated pedestrian bridge, dodging hundreds of people walking, stopping, standing, panhandling or busking, taking pictures, taking selfies. There was a line of 30+ waiting to get a table at Denny’s, a dozen or so bodegas hawking everything: discount show tickets, alcohol, tobacco, cheap souvenirs, electronics accessories, hats, shoes, clothes. There were people trying to make their wages by handing out coupons for Uber or Lyft first ride bonuses, and several dressed in knock-off character costumes who will pose with you for pictures for a few bucks; Hari Krishna, or some other Eastern religious order wearing amber colored robes, passing out cards to help find your inner peace. The “Slappers” pushing cards for hookers and brothels don’t start coming out until late afternoon. There was one street evangelist encouraging us all to repent. I saw 3 ambulances, one fire rescue truck, 4 motorcycle cops, 2 patrol cars/SUVs. There were showgirls wearing next to nothing, and the destitute with next to nothing.

How far did I walk? About 0.8 mi (1.3km), making it 1.6 mi (2.6km) round trip. This city is stimulation overload. It gets busier, and worse, on the weekends.

I tried listening to my favorite Third Day worship album. I made it as far as the mezzanine above the casino floor before having to turn up the volume to the point my phone practically shouted DANGER! at me. I should clarify, that was out the room, down the elevator and a span of a few hundred yards through hotel ‘filler space’ (past open lobby areas to ball rooms, restrooms, coffee and souvenir kiosks, some public seating and two restaurants I can’t afford). My Vivofit tracker counted almost 1,600 steps from the room to the front doors. Huge is an understatement. And yet, this particular hotel is one of the smaller ones on The Strip.

This makes me sound like such a rube. I’ve been to Washington DC, Chicago, San Francisco. I would go back to any of those, but I jump at the chance to come back here. The kicker is I don’t come to gamble. I mean, I’ll lose a few dollars on the slots. I could gamble at the tribal-run casino that’s about 40 miles from my house if I wanted. I’ve never been. And I won’t go. Addictive personalities and casinos don’t generally mix well, ya know?

But this city! The little bit of extrovert in me adores talking to all the people, engaging in conversation with absolute random strangers at the most random of places and times. Sweat Pea is here with me and more than once she’s said, “Calm down. You don’t have to talk everyone.” I wouldn’t say she’s mortified; it’s a side of me she rarely, if ever, has seen. After all, I did warn her she would see a side of me that doesn’t come out to play very often. Hmm, maybe that’s why I like coming back.

The day before yesterday I realized how empty and disconnected the atmosphere is here, and how much I’ve allowed to get pulled, sucked really, from me. With 100,000 people wandering, shopping, commuting up, down and across Las Vegas Blvd I felt a pervasive spiritual emptiness. There are churches growing and thriving here, I’m sure. I doubt any of them are planning to build the next Crystal Cathedral or Willow Creek on the vacant 22 acre parcel at the south end of The Strip though. This emptiness is what had me walking to the drug store with Third Day cranked up. I needed my heart fed; it got a little nibble. I needed a moment to recharge.

The drug store jaunt wasn’t enough to refill my introvert self, and that was the reason for the middle of the night soak. Headphones were at the ready. They became dampers to the white noise of a hotel: hvac fan, three others sleeping twenty feet away, the bathroom vent rattling the steam away, room doors closing loudly as all hotel room doors do. I got very little sleep, and don’t entirely care.

The sun is up and a new day of crowds and sounds has begun. In 37+/- hours I’ll be home again. My usual introverted self will relish a good long sleep. Until then I have one last day to let the Extra that is Las Vegas take me in.


It’s opening the front door on a gorgeous day, knowing that being outside will do so much good and then not going because putting proper clothes on, like a bra and clean socks, let alone finding shoes, is just too much work.

It’s being hungry, knowing you should eat something mostly good for you, and grabbing the bag of chips or package of cookies because it’s just easier. Then feeling awful because you know you’re going to gain weight, which depresses you more.

It’s looking at the work at hand and being so overwhelmed with the size of the job that you become mentally paralyzed and don’t know where to start.

It’s not showering or brushing your teeth for a few days, because you just don’t have the energy.

It’s insomnia, full body fatigue, and apathy so deep it’s hard to explain.

It’s forcing yourself to smile because genuine ones have disappeared. It’s hiding in plain sight, hoping you’ll be noticed but not seen, and yet not forgotten.

It’s cancelling plans. Or you’re just a no-show because A) explaining why you don’t feel up to going out would take too much energy B) your friends may not understand C) you don’t want to lie, and you hate being lied to D) all of the above.

It’s having some really good days, even a few that string together, and you come out of your cocoon of Darkness and Wallow, and you go outside to enjoy the gorgeous day.

It’s feeling the warmth of life from the sun on your face, and you relish the moment, sitting quietly in your car observing the world, being in it and yet, not fully participating.

It’s the comfort of a genuine hug that pulls the stress out of your shoulders, and being able to relax.

It’s standing at the open front door, staring outside for a minute and closing it again.

Anxious, me? I didn’t think so

Start a sentence, reread, backspace to delete it. Start a thought, pause, backspace to delete it.  Start again, and again …and again.  The idea that getting the perfect first words to land the perfect first impression are tortuous for a perfectionist. (Reread and realize a word is missing and self-edit as you write.)

Does that sound familiar? If so, have you been hiding in my head?

To look at my house and my skills as a Donna Reed impersonator you would not think I was a perfectionist at all. Oh, but I am.  I so totally, completely am. Too bad it isn’t always about the things that matter, like personal appearance, laundry, decluttering and housekeeping.

I just finished reading a short list called 12 Signs You May Have an Anxiety Disorder.  I didn’t go looking for me.  I was actually looking up natural anti-anxiety remedies with SugarBug in mind.  She’s flying to Seattle in a couple weeks to visit a friend she hasn’t seen in over 6 years. SugarBug deals with some anxiety, and she is on the tail end of recovery from a broken ankle and surgery, and after nearly 12 weeks is finally able to start walking again. She has been on a plane for only one other trip. This time she’s going alone,  and flying out of and into airports I’ve never been to so I have no experience to share on them. Anyhoo, I found a list; it was published by the same website. The “12 Signs …” article came up as the next one in the queue.  Clickbait.  I took it.

For several years I’ve known I am not a good full time employee.  After a while I start thinking my bosses are looking reasons (or excuses) to fire me. “What if they realize i have ____ and ____ flaws? What if I can’t keep this level of performance up?” Self doubt – check. 

The last job I did have I ended up quitting because I could not physically force myself to open my door to go inside one day.  I sat, frozen, on the verge of a nervous breakdown, in the parking lot for over 2 hours before I sheepishly restarted the motor and drove home. Panic – check.

I count the basement stairs every time I walk down them, and usually going back up. Strangely not the ones going upstairs though.  I find myself “air typing” the words of my thoughts as they run through my head. I don’t feel the need to wash my hands multiple times in a row, but I do several times a day because I hate the feeling of dirty hands. Compulsive behavior – check.

Then there are the bathroom/toilet needs: food in, not solid out.  Suffice to say IBS has not been officially diagnosed, but … Chronic-indigestion – check.

I’ve dealt with TMJ for years because of the way my upper jaw structure is.  But lately I’ve noticed my cheeks are sore. What’s up with that?  It seems I’ve been clenching my jaw and carrying all this tension in my face for no apparent reason.  Muscle tension – check.

Sleep problems – check. Perfectionism – check. Flashbacks ( focussing on past negative things, even minor ones) – check. Self-consciousness – oh man, check!  The other things on the list that I don’t really pertain to me: excessive worry, irrational fears, stage fright.

Geez, I do have an anxiety problem.


Our previous health insurance was a self-funded HMO.  It employed its own doctors, nurses, PACs, and had its own radiology, MSWs, dieticians.  Every six months I had to be reevaluated for a “med check” being on an anti-depressant. I would get a brief two-sided questionnaire.  One side was for the depression, suicidal thoughts and such.  The other side asked about anxiety.  It focused primarily on the level of worry one has, and on quality of sleep.  I never associated sleep quality with anxiety, and since I’m not a chronic worrier I ignored it. It seems their parameters and criteria were a bit lacking, and I should have paid more attention.

Now I need to find a mental health professional to help navigate my new self diagnosis (because self-diagnoses are always accurate, right?).   Except I don’t have a primary care doctor because I lost that when the hubs changed jobs what with him being exclusive to that HMO. And we don’t have new insurance coverage — yet. And SugarBug needs more insulin; without insurance it is hundreds of dollars — per refill.

But I’m not going to worry. I’m not. Really. God’s got this.  And that’s why I don’t worry.  But I might suffer from some mild insomnia whilst clenching my teeth tonight. Deep breath, 2, 3, 4. Hold, 2, 3, 4. Exhale, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 6, 7, 8. Repeat.