Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Helping Our Loved Ones After They Return Home

This is essentially a re-post of an entry I did back in September of 2013 entitled, 'Dealing with PTSD, Depression, and Suicide as a friend or family member.'  I was brought back to this upon it being shared by a friend of mine who's begun a group called, General Order Zero who's goal is, "designed to raise awareness of the impact the veteran/service member suicide epidemic is having on our country through various channels, and to remind our ranks that we are only as strong as the combined efforts of our forces."  Their plan is to do this by using real stories, from real veterans, in a future documentary regarding the subject.  Upon reading what I wrote back then, I decided that it was time to revisit the subject and update both the writing as well as some of the subject matter in the hopes of making the message stronger and therefore increasing the likelihood that it will be beneficial to those who read it.

This post is going to deviate slightly from the basic premise of this blog.  If you've read any of the previous posts you're aware that this blog was started to discuss my day to day life as the now husband and caretaker of a disabled veteran.  While some of the subjects I'll discuss today are relevant to that, the overall theme is more about what we can do as friends and family to help returning veterans as they make the tough transition to civilian life.  Being that I'm also writing this on the 12th anniversary of 9/11, I'd also like to point out that many of those who work in public service; law enforcement, paramedics, EMT's, emergency room attendants,  also face various amounts of hell on a daily basis as well and should be included here.

Before I begin, for anyone new to this blog, I myself am not a veteran.  I'm also not a firefighter, EMT, or LEO.  I'm married to a vet and friends with other's who've served as well as those involved with law enforcement and other public services.  I'm also not one of those people who hangs on in an attempt to distract attention away from their accomplishments and service or garner something for myself.  I met Shawna on-line knowing nothing of her past, my cop friends are people I've been hanging out with since high school or earlier, and the two vets (who also stood with me at my wedding) ironically became friends through an ex-girlfriend (one is her brother-in-law.)  In actuality, I try to distance myself from all of them if the topic of service, be it military or public, comes up because the idea of stealing someones valor, intentionally or unintentionally makes me sick to my stomach.  I'm just a regular guy who's met some great people along the way in life and like everyone, they have a back story. 

So where am I going with today's post?  Being friends with people who've seen and been through so much has given me a unique perspective into dealing with PTSD and depression as both a friend and a family member. This does not, by any means, imply that I know everything.  It doesn't even mean I know a little about the subject to be quite honest.  But one thing I do know is that it's real.  I've seen the breakdowns. I've seen the tears. I've heard the stories. I've seen the stares off into space. And I've witnessed the quick subject changes that come when a topic hits a little too close to home.  Today's post is just a mix of what's worked for me and what may help you as a loved one.  Some are perhaps things you've heard before but I've also included some you may not have thought of.  I also leave this open to comments from people with far more knowledge than I; including those who are or have dealt PTSD, Depression, and thoughts of Suicide.

1.)  If you weren't there, don't attempt to correlate what they went through to an experience you had:
      Your high school sports team is not the same as being in a military unit.  I know this and many others know this.  However, from what I've heard and read from those who've been in the military, apparently many people do not.  You're comparing apples to donuts.  Simply being on a team at some point in your life does not equate to serving in a unit where not having each other's back or making a mistake can cost sever injury or even death to another. Similarly, dealing with death is also different.  While your grandma's passing was a tough time I'm sure, having your friend die in battle right in front of you is going to play much more traumatically in your mind. Take a second, close your eyes and imagine someone you really love:  a best friend, child, spouse.  Now think about them dying in some gruesome way.  Does it still feel the same as getting a phone call that your great aunt died?  If it does, there's something seriously fucking wrong with you.  If someone feels close enough to open up to you about something terrible, keep your ears open and your mouth shut and let them get it out.  Perhaps ask a few questions if you feel comfortable enough doing so.  But remember, it's their time.  Don't steal those needed moments from them.

2.)  Don't ask stupid questions:
      I think the famous one that idiots ask is, "Did you kill anyone other there?"  This can be followed with, "How many people did you kill?" and "what's it like to kill someone?".  I mean, really?  Is our culture really that fucking dense that we still think it's OK to ask these questions?  If you're an adult, there is no reason to think that such behavior is acceptable.  The only group that has some understanding when asking such things is children because they're most likely associating war, shootings, death, ect with things they've seen on TV.  And I think that's OK to a point.  It's an opportunity to teach them something and most vets I've talked to, while uncomfortable about it obviously, have understanding when it comes to being asked by those who have no reason to understand.  However, if you're an adult and being that insensitive and ignorant you deserve the fist you may receive in the mouth.  Sorry, but you're supposed to be a grown up.  There are more than enough reference materials floating around now that you should be well aware of what's acceptable. 

3.)  Don't be in a hurry:
      Chances are if someone is comfortable enough to begin talking to you about their experience or experiences it's not all going to come out at once.  As a matter or fact, most people don't reveal everything about too many topics in a single sitting.  It will come out over time and you have to realize that.  It may take months or years to learn everything.  You may never get all the information.  But you need to exercise patience.  Let them talk at their own pace.  What they may not trust revealing now they may over time once they work it out in their own mind.  Perhaps you haven't built up enough trust with them for them to get into too much detail.  That's OK, it really is.  There's no need to poke and prod to try and satisfy your own curiosity and there's no guarantee that the faster they talk about something the faster they'll begin to move past, or at least come to terms with it.  Respect and work with the process.  It'll go much better for the both of you.    

4.)  You're going to be uncomfortable:
      It's a reality that if you've never experienced war and someone is attempting to open up to you about it, you're going to be somewhat uncomfortable about what they're telling you.  I know the first few times I was a trusted ear, I sure as hell was.  I think sometimes it's where issue where number one arises.  You're uncomfortable and rather than feel that way you attempt to fill in the blank space.  Do yourself and your loved one a favor:  Don't.  Again, it's their time so let them have it.  There will be times later to discuss other things but now is not it. 

5.)  Reach out...and don't stop:
    I believe it's important for these people to know that A.)  You care, B.)  You're available, and C.) You have their back.  If you've called your buddy and invited him over or out for a beer 5 times and he's declined, make the call a 6th, 7th, 100th time.  Remember, it's not about you and your pride.  Perhaps they'll stop answering your calls for awhile but there's a lot to be said for looking at your missed call list and seeing a friend or families number on there repeatedly when you're going through a tough time.  Stop by and see how they're doing. Make them dinner and drop it off from time to time.  Offer to take them on a hiking trip or to a ball game or something that interests or interested them previously.  Just make sure they know you're there if and/or when they need you.

6.)  Do your own research:
      By doing your own research I'm not talking about clinical research; I'm talking about research that may help you gain an understanding of what it is they went and are going through.  I have pages on facebook that I follow for this simple reasons.  It's from one of them that I actually had the idea for this article.  It's a veteran owned and operated site and this week they've been publishing blog posts about PTSD and suicide among returning vets.  You can learn a lot from people who've been there and are now willing to discuss it.  You can gain insight as to what's going on in their mind and by having that it may help you react if the time ever comes when someone close to you is going through it.  Another valuable resource for me has been the works of Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, author of 'On Killing' and 'On Combat'.  These two books are great in my opinion not only for Leo's and soldiers, but also for those who see the indirect results of combat on a consistent basis. 

7.)  Talk to them in a way that allows them to talk back:
     If they're someone you care about talk to them.  And don't talk at them, talk to them.  And yes, there's a difference.  Don't attempt to tell someone how they should feel or try to put a time line on when they may begin feeling better or moving past what's bothering them.  It doesn't work like that no matter how much you want it too.  It all goes back to number 2.  Just because it makes you uncomfortable doesn't give you the right to be a selfish asshole.  You don't and can't know what's going on in their mind.  Again, what you can do is be there for them.  I've heard a lot of stories that I won't repeat here or anywhere else because it would violate a trust I hold dear but needless to say I've heard some pretty horrible accounts of things.  However, here's where it gets tricky for most people.  I listened rather than talked through most of it.  Let me say that again...I L.I.S.T.E.N.E.D!  I was shown an unimaginable amount of trust and in that moment you have to realize that it's not about you; it's about them.  I tend to ask some questions but that all comes down to the relationship you have with that person and your own insight into who they are.  It also comes down to your own general intelligence and whether or not you think you can ask questions that are appropriate.  Not everyone has that insight into themselves and if you don't think your questions will be helpful, just listen and let them talk.

8.)  Don't make fun of, bully, or patronize, ect. 
      My wife actually led me to this one from a story that happened to us (she's given me permission to share).  We hadn't been together for only a few months when one night while lying on the couch we heard this very loud "bang" that I actually thought was a shotgun going off.  Living as close as we did to my family, it was not unheard of to hear something like that for me as rodents have been dispatched from time to time throughout my childhood.  However, Shawna was shaking and flush colored from being startled so suddenly.  I went outside to search out the source but could find no sign of anyone and was left shaking wondering what the hell the sound was.  Awhile later I went to the fridge and found that a can of biscuits had built up enough pressure to explode open.  It was funny then but what she appreciated was that I laughed (along with her) about it later.  I didn't judge her or make fun; I had enough understanding from talking to her previously to know that loud, unexpected noises were troublesome.  Fireworks are another trigger for her and many, many other veterans as are heavily populated areas.  Not every trigger can be avoided, but using someone else's emotional breaks for your own amusement can be.  Do what you can to bring them back to their comfort zone and perhaps later on, when the time is right you can both have a laugh at it.     

9.)  Seek your own help:
      I have no experience in the mental health field.  I have an interest in psychology and human behavior so I read and study it somewhat as a hobby but a professional I am not.  That being said, it can be helpful to have someone to talk to yourself.  Not only can you discuss your own thoughts and feelings in a place that won't judge you or your friend/loved one, but they can potentially give you helpful tools and advice.  I know there can be a stigma for getting mental health help but the reality is that there's nothing wrong with it.  Seeking advice from someone who's made it their life's work to study, analyze, and understand the human mind is no different than going to a mechanic to have work done on your car.  It's what they do and they have a much better understanding than anyone else on the subject. Use the tools and information available to you.  It'll help you and your loved one.   

10.)  Don't simply pay lip service:
     If you say you're there for them, follow it up with actions and not just words.  If they reach out, pick up the phone.  Sure, there are times in life where you can't just drop everything to show up in person but there are other ways to help. Put them into contact with another trusted ally, find numbers and resources that may help and then check in on them when you can so they know you're not filling them full of shit.  I'm in no way saying that you give devote your whole life to them (though I'm not judging if you choose to do so.  That's a personal choice) but if you say you're there to help, be there to help.  If you can't, be upfront with them about it.  Most of the time people are simply looking for honesty.  Be honest about what you can and can't do.

I'm not going to lie, it's not always easy.  Our vets and public servants are not only dealing with the trauma; they also get to deal with the current stigma associated with PTSD as well as the knowledge that they're not the same person and the strain it can put on those around them.  What we can do as friends and family is let them know that we can handle it.  That it's ok for them to let it out and that we love them and are there for them when and if they need it.  That we're not going to run from them in their time of need like they didn't run when we needed them.  Do things change overnight?  Nope.  It's a long haul thing and there's no guarantee things will go back to the way they were previously.  However, it's rewarding.  It's rewarding like nothing else that can be imagined.  To let someone know that you're going to have their back through thick and thin, through good times and bad; that you're not going to leave them just because things are hard...that's not a little thing.  That's one of the big ones. 

Friday, July 31, 2015

Not Stopping

It was a rough July in our household that culminated in a very rough weekend.  I'm very much looking forward to the end of July 2015 and the beginning of August.  While I'm not going to get into everything, the main points were: me being down for much of the month injured therefore having much of the summer work fall way, way behind, having the car act up repeatedly which has left me questioning the reliability, and losing yet another house, this time due to a failed home inspection.  As I'm sitting here writing this I feel as though I'm finally at a point where I can take a deep breath and reflect on everything so we can sit and formulate a game plan without the added disruption of emotion coming into play.  It was a rough month and a rough week and now it's time to move forward.

So here's what we have going for us.  Caden is back home after his summer visit with his dad and school will be beginning for him soon  (actually sooner than most in Maine as they go back early and then have a two week break next month for the potato outdated practice that really makes no sense now-a-days..but I digress).  Shawna's health for the most part has been pretty decent.  She had a seizure a couple weeks ago but it was the first in a couple months so that's definitely a win.  Her pain levels also haven't been as high recently which I'm going to attribute currently to a fairly mild summer with only a few hot days thrown in.  My health has also improved.  I've been back to the gym a couple times in the past week which was nice.  Though I'm not 100% I'm also not laid up on the couch and have been able to resume tackling some of my summer projects, though at times I am required to stop and take a break though I may not want to.

The car is going in next week for some extended warranty work, which will hopefully allieviate the problem.  However, I'm also waiting to hear back form a salesman about a potential trade-in for something that would fit the needs of our family a bit better.  I also have somewhere between 10 and 15 more houses to look at sometime in the next week once the car issue is resolved.  We've had to create a new plan to get more houses available to us but sometimes revision of the current plan is the only way to reach the goals of the future  It's come to the point where our current location simply doesn't grant us the ability to meet our future goals.  A change is needed and some things will need to be sacrificed to meet those goals.  It's not perfect and we're not happy about some of the decisions we're having to make but that's what being an adult is all about I guess; making decisions that aren't perfect but rather are necessary.  Thankfully, they haven't stopped making beer so those decisions have a chaser when needed.

The truth of the matter sometimes life just sucks.  Things don't go according to plan or just the way you want. Bad things happen to everyone and while sometimes they're of our own making, just as often it's totally out of our control.  We can't predict the future we can only hope to manipulate it as much as possible by our own actions and in-actions.  There is no secret to life and if there were most of us wouldn't listen to it anyways because humans want the ability to decide for themselves and we can't do that without the benefit of our experiences.  Sure, some shit in our life isn't turning our like we'd like but that doesn't mean we're void of opportunities.  The fact that I'm writing this post currently is proof of that.  It's something I enjoy, find beneficial, and allows me a mechanism for interacting with others.  When we get the car fixed or traded in we'll have hopefully changed the circumstances of our ability to safely travel.  Once we move we'll have better Dr.'s for Shawna to visit.  Choices, decisions, actions; we all have a certain amount of control over each of these.  What we chose to do with that control is up to us.    

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Man Down!

We've had a couple weeks of wacky in our household.  One interesting thing about our life is that when you have one person already limited with their physical abilities, if the other one goes down it throws things into flux.  That's where we're at right now.  Shawna's health is a constant in that it's never 100%.  Her medical issues are something that's always there. Of course some day's are better than others but unless something gets figured out in the future, we know that she's unlikely to wake up one day and her legs are magically better and she's able to stand and move around for more than 20 minutes to a time.  It's an unfortunate fact of life for us.  That means that in order for us to live day to day, my health on the other hand, must be good consistently.  I'm not talking about coming down with a cold or flu, but rather my long term physical health. Since getting together and then moving to our current location we've had a couple of times when I was down for a day or two here and there with an injury but these past couple of weeks have been the first time I've been down for an extended period of time and well, it sucks.

A couple of weeks ago we were preparing to head south so that we could drop off Caden for the summer with his dad and then Shawna and I were going to spend the rest of the weekend looking at homes for sale. Before we left I wanted to hit the gym and get in my last workout for the week.  Everything was going fine until I attempted my second set of dead lifts and felt something pull in my lower back/hip area.  This was nothing new and a feeling I've actually grown accustomed to it's happened so many times.  Hell, it was one of the reasons I started back at the gym in the first place.  Regardless, I skipped the rest of the pulls and one other movement but finished the rest that didn't place a lot of stress on the affected area, came home, showered, and then we were off for the weekend.  It was an uncomfortable but manageable ride as where the next couple of days and I figured once we were home I'd be able to rest it and be back on my feet by the end of the week.  I was wrong.

The injury occurred two weeks ago tomorrow and in that time I've watched more shitty tv and spent more time on the couch and in bed than I'd care to do again for a long, long time.  I've been to the chiropractor 3 times and it appears as though not only did I pull a muscle, I also managed to pinch a nerve.  I'm essentially useless for doing anything.  Hell, my wife is even having to help me put underwear and pants on because I can't really bend over without pain and weakness threatening to lunge me headfirst into the floor.  Because of this, everything around the house is suffering.  The laundry is not adding up too quickly thankfully because I'm wearing mostly t-shirts and shorts during the day.  I managed to do the bigger dishes that Shawna has trouble managing so that's been ok but cooking has been tough so my diet is taking a hit.  Grocery shopping the other day was much more miserable experience than usual.  The dog is losing his mind because I can't take him out to play like he needs.  The regular cleaning has been non-existent.  A couple projects in the garage are on hold as is the work that needs done on my truck and all the outside work and preparation for winter. Sure it'll be waiting for me there when I'm healed but that's not the point.  Some things are more times sensitive than others plus who wants to live in a completely unorganized house in need of cleaning?  By far my biggest fear about living here has been what would happen if I also got hurt.  These past couple of weeks I'm getting the opportunity to find out.

I think this is one of the biggest differences in our life to others.  It's not better or worse, just different.  Every family deals with something.  Some only have a single, working parent to try and manage everything (my hats off to you folks!  What you do is absolutely commendable!).  Others are like us where one spouse is sick or injured.  It definitely changes the dynamic of the household when something happens.  On the plus sides I've been able to finish a book and have had to open up to receiving help from my wife.  This allows us to work on our communication and teamwork skills which I think are huge in any marriage.  There is definitely a silver lining to all this and now that I've learned these lessons...I need to hurry up and heal because I don't have time for this shit.


Sunday, June 28, 2015

Father's Day

Before I begin, what I'm about to say is not meant as derogatory or to pass judgement on anyone else.  This is simply my view point and my feelings on Fathers Day.  I'm not asking anyone to agree or disagree but simply want to explain my thoughts on the subject.  Feel free to celebrate, or not celebrate, the day as you feel appropriate.

Prior to Fathers Day 2015 I put on a post that stated, "

"I'd like to ask a favor.  Tomorrow is Fathers Day and I hope all the dads out there enjoy it.  However, I would ask that when you're going your facebook posts about the day, please refrain from including me.  I have reasons that are my own and after discussions with Shawna, she understands.  Thank you in advance and I hope you all enjoy the day."
After a little while and a couple of private messages I got the feeling that my intent was being misunderstood.  Rather than begin some long post on my page, I decided to use this median to clear up any confusion.  Firstly, the post was not meant to imply that I, in anyway, feel less like a parent because I'm a step parent.  Second, it wasn't directed at nor written to imply that I don't believe step-parents, in this case fathers, play a very important role in the life of a child.  My father is not my biological father and I also spent a great deal of my childhood with my grandfather.  I greatly understand the massive impact that non-biological parents, mentors, and role models can have of the life of children.  I would never attempt to disparage that in anyway, shape, or form.  Whether you were involved in the physical process of bringing that child into the world or not does not matter once you're involved in their lives.  I've seen (personally) biological fathers who don't bother to stick around and I've seen men who step into that role to help raise children to the best of their ability.  To detract from that would be silly and pretty God damn dumb honestly.  I feel both lucky and privileged after what I've seen in the world that Mr. C's dad and I get along pretty well for the most part and are both working toward the same goal; that is to raise him into a strong, caring, self sufficient man that will one day become a great dad of his own.

At this point you're probably curious as to what the meaning of my post actually was. Again, I want to reiterate that this is simply my personal view and is not meant as a condemnation of anyone else.  I actually appreciate very much that the day exists because it allows me to thank a few people myself.  However, that doesn't change the fact that I don't wish to be a part of it where being celebrated is concerned  As I mentioned in the above, I do not feel like my role is any less because I'm a step-parent as opposed to a biological one.  My goals for him are the same and I treat Mr. C like he's my own flesh and blood because that's how I think of him.

In all honestly, I simply do not desire attention for doing things I feel like I'm supposed to do.  This is not the first time a topic has arisen where I've addressed this.  I posted HERE regarding my feelings on people telling me what a great person I am for sticking by Shawna with all her medical issues.  For me, this falls into the same category.  As a father figure I'm supposed to try and teach Caden about things in life.  I'm supposed to praise him when he does something great and come down on him with he messes up.  I'm supposed to teach him right from wrong, morality, ethics, hard work, determination, perseverance, and a whole host of other things. And here's some truth, I'm not always great at it.  I fail at this at times just like I fail at other things. Sometimes I make a wrong choice or act incorrectly.  I try to be a good example all the time but I'm aware that at times I'm not.  I know this comes with child raising.  But if I'm not going to fall apart because of my failures why would I want to be propped up when I succeed?  Perhaps someday, when he's grown and has a great job and a family of his own I'll feel like I've been apart of a successful process but that day is a long ways off and right now I simply do not desire to be celebrated for an incomplete task.

I don't know if that will make sense to anyone else or not.  I suspect there are a few people out there who will understand but I don't know for sure.  I guess, simply put, in the end being part of the day simply doesn't fit my personality.             

Sunday, May 17, 2015

A New Direction and a House Hunt

I've had a hard time writing on this for awhile and I couldn't quite figure out why.  Finally, on a four hour ride home after a couple days spent house hunting (continue reading to get to that part) I was able to put my finger on what the problem was.  I need to open up my blog more.  I'm not talking about marketing and sharing it, I'm referring to what I discuss.  I originally began this project as a way to discuss the life of my family and the ups and downs that come with being the caretaker for a disabled veteran.  However, if that was all I talked about it would be damn boring.  Hell, if I don't even want to take the time to write about the hum drum of everyday life, then why would anyone want to read it?  So, that said, I'm talking this blog in a bit of a new direction.  I'm still planning to write about things that go on in our life, issues that come up on my care taking roll, ect but I don't feel as though I want to limit myself to just that anymore.  I already have two posts nearly finished that I was holding off on because I was trying to be fairly strict in my discussions.  They came from things that happened with us but they're not things that can't or don't happen to other families.  So, rather than be strictly about being a VA caretaker and husband of a disabled vet, I'll write about life as a husband, as a man, as a step-parent, as a youth coach, as an American (yes, that's my way of telling you I may get into politics from time to time)..I don't know exactly what I'll discuss but they'll be my thoughts and my views and perhaps from time to time will be a way to open up a discussion.  So, with that said, today's post is about us, is about some trials that come with being a VA family, and will hopefully make you laugh a bit from time to time.

We're actively trying to move.  Actually, we've been trying to move for a couple years to no avail.  And through all this I've learned something:  House. Hunting. Sucks!  Seriously, what an absolute pain in the ass.  A couple years ago I thought planning a wedding was no fun.  That was a free craft beer weekend compared to this.  A good friend who's bought and sold some houses in the past told me the other day that ours has been the hunt from hell.  And he's right.  It's been zero fun, a large amount of stress, and we're still no closer to being able to move than when we began this trip into the devil's maze.

This week I went and looked at 13 houses.  I think that puts the total number up around 30 thus far.  Last summer we found one we loved, starting working on getting the offer together and bam, someone came in behind us with a cash offer and just like that it was gone.  It was a good time around here having an upset wife and child.  Really, it was.

About a month ago we found one we liked, put in an offer, paid for the inspections, and then found out after we'd paid out over $500 that it was in a flood zone and we'd need flood insurance.  The previous owners had paid cash for the house and never considered it.  So, Shawna inquired about the extra insurance it made our monthly premium 3 1/2 times higher.  Awesome!  We ended up getting out of that house because in the end it would have pushed our monthly payment to the very top of our budget.  No joke, when I calculated it out, the cost of insurance and taxes was more than the mortgage payment.  Not a good deal obviously so we lost that one too.  Unfortunately, it also meant that we had to eat the cost of the inspections.  That's money we'd saved specifically for getting a house and it was gone in the blink of an eye.  One expensive lesson learned.

So now we've had one house we lost because we didn't get the offer in quick enough and one that cost us a few hundred dollars because we put in the offer too soon.  Hell.. absolute hell.  Anyways, back to this week.  I looked at 13 houses.  I've lowered my land requirement to 5 acres and up from the 15-20+ I was hoping for.  (I grew up on about 80, currently live on about 100, and want to be able to work in for anyone wondering why I'd want/need so much) and agreed to look at modular homes and trailers at this point.  I thought that doing these things would open up our options a bit but they really didn't.  13 included just about every house that would fit our wants.  Unfortunately none of them fit our needs.  One house was decent but would have required some major remodeling to enable Shawna to get around in her wheelchair on bad days.  That was a no.  Some had no bed rooms or bathrooms on the first floor.  Nope.  Some where beat to shit and would never get VA approval.  Those are out.  And then others were ok but in my opinion were over priced, and not by a little.  It came to the point where I was just excited to see a decent house even it was something that wouldn't work for us.

And then, before I came home yesterday I went to see a house and I actually really liked it.  It was a bit of drive to get to it but nothing unreasonable.  It had an open floor plan, an attached garage for Shawna's pottery studio, was off the road so we wouldn't have to worry about the dog, and was in an area that would allow Caden to go to a decent school system.  Unfortunately it's priced out of freakin site!  Personally, after looking at it and the work I'd need to do (drywalling, painting, ect) to move in, I was even more annoyed.  If they weren't asking so much I'd likely tell Shawna we should jump on it.  However, as is, there's no way we or I think anyone else, will pay for it.

All this is being done from 200 miles away.  So many trips back and forth and believe me I'm sick of it.  I just got home yesterday and we're going back next weekend to look at another one that came up right before I left.  I'm tired of it, Shawna is tired of it, Caden is tired of it, and I'm pretty sure the Realtors that we're working with are tired of it.  It's to the point I actually feel bad for the amount of work they're doing just to try and help us.  I can't say enough good things about the people Shawna has found for us to work with that's for sure.

The reality is that we can't just look at a house and say yes or no.  We have to take into account what the VA inspector will say.  From our own knowledge we know that certain things are necessary to make it livable for Shawna.  She needs an area to continue to grow her pottery business.  And these all come before we even consider the normal things like location and school system.  It's an absolute cluster and overly stressful because not only do we want to move, the reality is that we need too.  Shawna needs better medical care and it's simply not available here.  Caden wants to be able to see his family on a more regular basis.  I want to be close enough to family that I feel comfortable going back to work because I know if I'm away someone will be close by.  Moving is a necessity or believe me I'd likely have just said to hell with in we're staying by now.

Someday I'm sure we'll be looking back at all this and laughing.  Even now I find some of it comical.  It does makes me envious of people who've lived in the same house for 50 years though.  While subject to change in the future, as of now, I plan to die in whatever house we find just so I don't have to do this ever again.



Saturday, January 31, 2015

Entering a New Year

It's the end of January 2015 and I've had a month to begin working on achieving my goals for the year.  The reality is that January 1 is just another day but for many if not most people the changing of the calendar holds the potential for new beginnings.  Though we're entering the meat of our third winter here, it wasn't until recently that I had an epiphany.  It wasn't something that is going to change the world but it could perhaps change the lives of myself and that of my family.  Seeing as how that is my world, it's indeed important to me.  What was this epiphany you ask?  That a resolution/goal without a plan isn't worth a damn.  I can make all the goals I want but if I have not planned out how to achieve them, they're going to go down in flames just like many of last years did.

I did not quit chewing, we were not able to move (though there were some interesting circumstances as to why we didn't that may have been out of our control).  I'm not healthier and though I feel much better I could argue that I'm actually worse off than I was a year ago at this time. I didn't finish my book though I did make pretty good progress and am on the cusp.  I could chalk up all these as failures and I guess I do to a point. However, I learned a lot and I can see why I failed at the majority of my goals from the previous year so for me I'm considering the year a push at worst.  Now, before you get to thinking that I'm just making excuses for why I didn't meet my goals, please hear me out as I explain my reasons for such thinking.

To me, one of the greatest failures a person can achieve in life is to not learn from their mistakes and experiences.  This past year has taught me a great deal and this is why I cannot view 2014 as a complete failure.  My goals for this year have plans, basic as they are.  The plans are not perfect but they're certainly better than shooting from the hip like I attempted to do last year.  Last year I had nothing, not even a semblance of a plan.  I simply wrote my goals and assumed that I'd figure out how to meet them.  I'm hear to tell you a secret; if you don't know already, that shit doesn't work.  A goal without a plan is like a car with wheels and no tires.  You may reach your destination but you're stacking the odds against's yourself from the outset.

Planning helps to reduce excuses for why we can't do things.  Sure there are times when things come up and excuses are actually reasons but I don't believe that's the case the majority of the time.  As an example: Shawna had what we thought was an appendix issue a couple weeks ago.  While it's not solved yet, it wasn't an appendix and may be a gall bladder problem but the point is it threw my gym schedule completely out of whack.  However, because I'm planning it now, I was able to adjust rather than just drop my gym days that week.  It was a pain in the ass to fit the days in but because I had a plan I was able to accomplish my weekly goal.  And that's why plans are so important.  They allow us more flexibility.

This post isn't to pass judgement on whether or not someone meets their goals or "resolutions."  Instead, I felt compelled to write this because I think it could be a game changer for myself, family, and perhaps even you if you're looking for an answer as to why you're having trouble moving past the initial stage.  I could quote a whole bunch of people much smarter than I as to what you should be doing and go into a whole host of other reasons, however, I think planning or lack thereof as it may be, is one of the biggest impediments to progress and one of the easiest to correct.  If you're unsure of how to do it, contact someone who does.  I now have a trainer who writes my workout plans for me because he's a professional at what he does and I'm not.  It costs more obviously but we're building it into our financial plan.  (There's that 'P' word again).  Plan, plan, plan to reach your goals.