Rediscovering Ramen Noodles and Macaroni and Cheese

Being unemployed is very humbling, but it’s teaching me a lot about budgeting, and keeping my expenses in check.  I’ve had to cut way back in a lot of areas.  No vacation to Africa this year.  No more delivery pizza or Chinese food.  No more steak dinners at Outback.  Regular gas for me, even though my car performs better on premium.  I can survive turning the thermostat up a couple of degrees, even though I might sweat a little bit more.  Maybe I don’t need the water to be so hot in the shower, and the shower doesn’t need to be so long.  Generic prescriptions at Walmart are cheaper than the Giant Food or Rite Aid which are far more convenient.  Water out of the tap is just fine.  Bottled water is a luxury I just can’t afford right now.  Do I really need to rent a movie on Vudu for $5.99 or should I just watch one on Netflix which only costs me $8.00 per month.  Oh, and I certainly can’t forget about the Ramen Noodles and Macaroni and Cheese.

88 cents for 6 packs of Ramen noodles.  Can’t beat that price.  I can mix that with some pre-sliced chicken breast, and some spinach and mushrooms, and maybe some canned pees of black beans.  I don’t use the nasty flavor packets.  Just the plain noodles mixed with just about anything.  Macaroni and cheese mixed with some of these things are good too.  It’s amazing what you can discover, or in this case rediscover in the grocery store that is so inexpensive, and yet still very tasty.

What hurts me though is having to cut back on pet food as well.  No more Blue Buffalo.  There are other good foods that are not as expensive.  I asked the vet for advice on that one and other ways I could save.  The vet is being very nice and allowing me to email her when there is a problem to see if the problem can be resolved with free advice.  She is also giving me free supplements which my dog needs in her old age when she has them available.

I have a job interview on Monday.  I’m not going to try to predict how that will turn out, but even if I get the job and I wind up keeping it for a while, I’m still actually going to be grateful for this time in my life.  I’m learning once again how to be thrifty.  After all, there once was a time when I was making far less than I was making when I got laid off and I figured out how to survive.  In fact, I was living on less when my mortgage was higher, and I had a car payment which I don’t have right now.  I must have just forgotten about this time in my life at some point, but somehow I figured out a way to pay all of my bills, and eat and take care of pets on much less that I was making.  To find my way back to that time, I had to ask for help and wound up speaking with a financial counselor.  She helped me get my priorities straight, and figure out how to pay all of my bills, and still keep some money aside for an emergency.  My Dad helped me find this free service.  It’s amazing what happens when you ask for help.

Yeah, I think I’m going to be eating Ramen noodles and Macaroni and Cheese even after I get a job.  I’m learning some valuable lessons here about the importance of saving as much as you can for a rainy day or week or month or year.  I was saving money, but I could have been saving more just by making a few simple changes.  Maybe that’s why this happened.  Maybe this happened to teach me some humility and gratitude.  Maybe this happened so that I don’t take a job for granted.  Maybe this happened to help me to realize just how much I can tolerate and still have a positive attitude.  Everything happens for a reason.  I’ll never forget this time in my life, that’s for sure.  I can only control so much of what happens in my life.  Eating Ramen noodes and Macaroni and Cheese is certainly something that is under my control.

The Road To Gratitude

So it’s almost 10:00 on a Tuesday evening, and I’m not tired yet.  I don’t want to watch TV.  I don’t really have anything to do, hmmm…  Oh!  I haven’t written in my blog in a while.

I haven’t really been doing much of anything lately to be honest with you.  When some stuff happened in my life, I crawled into a shell, and ultimately wound up extremely depressed.

Now first, I want to warn you, because I’m about to talk about God.  Not the traditional God that many people think of.  I’m not a Christian, and even though I’m Jewish I still don’t believe that Jewish parts of the Bible are meant to be taken literally.  I’m not even talking about an all powerful, omnicient being, that guides our every day lives.  In fact, I’m not talking about anything predefined.  The word God is what we use to describe something that means different things to different people.  I’m going to use that word for brevity sake, but really what I mean is, higher power, and by that I mean anything that is more powerful than me.  Myself and a friend.  Together we are more powerful than me alone.  Myself and a group of friends.  Even better.  Myself and a group of friends and loving family members.  Or maybe it’s not people for you.  Maybe it is the God of the Bible.  The point is it doesn’t matter.  What I’m talking about is anything that you feel can help you when you need help, better than you can help yourself, or, anything that can help you help someone else better than you can help them yourself.  For the rest of this reading, God = hire power.

God has helped me a lot lately.  When I found myself in my depression, just wanting to stay in my hole and not deal with the situation I was going through, some very loving, caring people in my life gave me some help that I needed.  First, it was my family, and I didn’t really need to ask too hard for that help.  All I needed to do was pick up the phone and say, this is what is happening, and the help was offered.  My father and step-mother love me so unconditionally.  Sometimes I can be the biggest baby about things, and sometimes there are things I’m going through which they can’t possibly understand from my perspective, but they don’t care.  They just love, and they show it by doing as much as they possibly can, whenever they are able.

The problem is, they aren’t as able right now.  My step-mother just had knee replacement surgery, and my father is going to have a heart valve transplant sometime very soon.  But they were still there for me when I needed them, as much as they could be.  However, this time, during a crisis I was going through and I’m still going through they couldn’t offer as much as they’d like to be able to, and that meant I needed to grow up just a little bit.

That was very difficult for me at first.  I wanted more care than they were able to give, and I finally had to face that fact after a week of hell, and a trip to the emergency room because I thought something was horribly wrong with my stomach or abdomen, or I had some other major medical issue going on, only to be diagnosed with constipation.  That’s ok.  You can laugh. That shit really hurt man!

Then, quite frankly, I started to pray to my higher power.  Now, again, if I’m sitting in my living room saying, “God, please, I need your strength here!”, is anyone listening, or am I just affirming in my head, that I need help from something more than myself, and trying to work through how to get that help in my head.  The weirdness is not in the asking.  The weirdness is in the answers you get, and recognizing them.

At this point it was another family member who came through for me.  My aunt, who just lost her husband and my Uncle from cancer sent me an email one morning, asking me if I could help her with some computer problems.  I told her about my situation, and how debilitating it was for me, and that all I could offer was to keep in touch because I thought it would be good for the both of us.  I then asked her a question.  How is she coping?  Because she’s pretty depressed right now too.  She told me about how our grandmother used to make her make up her bed as soon as she got out of it, so she would at least have that to say she accomplished that day.  So for some reason, I got out of bed, I not only made my bed, but I finally changed the sheets, putting clean ones on, and then I put the dirty ones in the washing machine along with some other laundry I needed to do.  Then we chatted back and forth in email, and eventually she asked me a specific computer question, and it gave my mind something to do.

At first I just explained what it could be, and pushed it back on her.  But we kept chatting.  Then I decided to do some searching online, and I was able to at least partially find the answer to her problem and help her get it more under control.  I was still in a bad place, but my mindset had changed a bit.  Frankly, having something to do made me feel less depressed.  So we continued to chat, and I continued to pray.  I also had to make some very tough decisions about some things in my life which I will talk about in another post some time.

I started doing a few more, manageable tasks around the house.  More laundry, wash the dishes,  vacuum a little bit.  And then I allowed myself to take a break because I had accomplished some things that I needed to accomplish.

Another pretty much sleepless night went by, but I got up and took care of some things I needed do.  I went to a doctor’s appointment.  I had to take a cab there because of some other real (more than constipation) issues I’m dealing with right now, but I went.  I asked the doctor for help with some things and she went over and above to help me.  Certainly a higher power there.

Another sleepless night, still chatting with my aunt, still getting small, manageable tasks done, still praying.  By the way, my prayers were pretty simple.  “God, please help me to know what to do next.”

This time the answer came to make some phone calls, and I did.  I called very good friends.  That was today.  I had several phone conversations.  Then I got a ride to another doctor’s appointment from one of those friends.  Then I met my parents for lunch, and took care of some business that needed to be taken care of to make it easier for them to help me in ways that they could help me.  Then I met another person and took care of some more business that needed to get taken care of.  Then another friend picked me up, and we went to meet with some other friends.  I got home at about 8:30 after a very full day.  I made a few more phone calls.  And now I’m writing this.

Will I sleep tonight.  Who knows?  If my body needs sleep, I will sleep.  It will eventually come, but it sure will come a lot faster if I’m up and moving, and doing things and staying active.  By the way, I meantioned more phone calls.  Tomorrow is a very full day.  Thursday will have some activity in the evening, and I can always think about how to do more between now and then, and then make some more phone calls.  Oh, and I need to go grocery shopping.  Luckily the grocery store is in the same shopping center where my condo is.  I think I can manage a 3 block drive.  I was told so by one of my advocating friends..

So now it’s midnight.  I’m not really sleepy, but I’m tired, and that’s a good thing.  I have to deal with chronic pain, and managing that is tough because it adds to the depression causing the sleep issues which adds to the depression and yes I did mean to say depression three times.  But today was a good day.  I was up, and active, and tomorrow and the next day will be the same.

I’m certainly not out of the woods here.  I’ve got a lot more to do to get back into life.  Find a job for one, but I need to take care of myself first, and this one was a bit of a nose dive so I’ve still got some climbing to do, but I’m grateful, because I have help, from my higher power.  As long as I ask for it, and am able to recognize it when it is presented, it will always be there.  People, activity, things to think about.  They are keeping me sane, at least for now.

The Road to Gratitude

Not sure why this isn’t showing up on my computer and only my tablet, so I’m re blogging to see if it fixes the problem.

Creative thoughts and thoughtful opinions

So it’s almost 10:00 on a Tuesday evening, and I’m not tired yet.  I don’t want to watch TV.  I don’t really have anything to do, hmmm…  Oh!  I haven’t written in my blog in a while.

I haven’t really been doing much of anything lately to be honest with you.  When some stuff happened in my life, I crawled into a shell, and ultimately wound up extremely depressed.

Now first, I want to warn you, because I’m about to talk about God.  Not the traditional God that many people think of.  I’m not a Christian, and even though I’m Jewish I still don’t believe that Jewish parts of the Bible are meant to be taken literally.  I’m not even talking about an all powerful, omnicient being, that guides our every day lives.  In fact, I’m not talking about anything predefined.  The word God is what we use to describe…

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The Road to Gratitude

So it’s almost 10:00 on a Tuesday evening, and I’m not tired yet.  I don’t want to watch TV.  I don’t really have anything to do, hmmm…  Oh!  I haven’t written in my blog in a while.

I haven’t really been doing much of anything lately to be honest with you.  When some stuff happened in my life, I crawled into a shell, and ultimately wound up extremely depressed.

Now first, I want to warn you, because I’m about to talk about God.  Not the traditional God that many people think of.  I’m not a Christian, and even though I’m Jewish I still don’t believe that Jewish parts of the Bible are meant to be taken literally.  I’m not even talking about an all powerful, omnicient being, that guides our every day lives.  In fact, I’m not talking about anything predefined.  The word God is what we use to describe something that means different things to different people.  I’m going to use that word for brevity sake, but really what I mean is, higher power, and by that I mean anything that is more powerful than me.  Myself and a friend.  Together we are more powerful than me alone.  Myself and a group of friends.  Even better.  Myself and a group of friends and loving family members.  Or maybe it’s not people for you.  Maybe it is the God of the Bible.  The point is it doesn’t matter.  What I’m talking about is anything that you feel can help you when you need help, better than you can help yourself, or, anything that can help you help someone else better than you can help them yourself.  For the rest of this reading, God = hire power.

God has helped me a lot lately.  When I found myself in my depression, just wanting to stay in my hole and not deal with the situation I was going through, some very loving, caring people in my life gave me some help that I needed.  First, it was my family, and I didn’t really need to ask too hard for that help.  All I needed to do was pick up the phone and say, this is what is happening, and the help was offered.  My father and step-mother love me so unconditionally.  Sometimes I can be the biggest baby about things, and sometimes there are things I’m going through which they can’t possibly understand from my perspective, but they don’t care.  They just love, and they show it by doing as much as they possibly can, whenever they are able.

The problem is, they aren’t as able right now.  My step-mother just had knee replacement surgery, and my father is going to have a heart valve transplant sometime very soon.  But they were still there for me when I needed them, as much as they could be.  However, this time, during a crisis I was going through and I’m still going through they couldn’t offer as much as they’d like to be able to, and that meant I needed to grow up just a little bit.

That was very difficult for me at first.  I wanted more care than they were able to give, and I finally had to face that fact after a week of hell, and a trip to the emergency room because I thought something was horribly wrong with my stomach or abdomen, or I had some other major medical issue going on, only to be diagnosed with constipation.  That’s ok.  You can laugh. That shit really hurt man!

Then, quite frankly, I started to pray to my higher power.  Now, again, if I’m sitting in my living room saying, “God, please, I need your strength here!”, is anyone listening, or am I just affirming in my head, that I need help from something more than myself, and trying to work through how to get that help in my head.  The weirdness is not in the asking.  The weirdness is in the answers you get, and recognizing them.

At this point it was another family member who came through for me.  My aunt, who just lost her husband and my Uncle from cancer sent me an email one morning, asking me if I could help her with some computer problems.  I told her about my situation, and how debilitating it was for me, and that all I could offer was to keep in touch because I thought it would be good for the both of us.  I then asked her a question.  How is she coping?  Because she’s pretty depressed right now too.  She told me about how our grandmother used to make her make up her bed as soon as she got out of it, so she would at least have that to say she accomplished that day.  So for some reason, I got out of bed, I not only made my bed, but I finally changed the sheets, putting clean ones on, and then I put the dirty ones in the washing machine along with some other laundry I needed to do.  Then we chatted back and forth in email, and eventually she asked me a specific computer question, and it gave my mind something to do.

At first I just explained what it could be, and pushed it back on her.  But we kept chatting.  Then I decided to do some searching online, and I was able to at least partially find the answer to her problem and help her get it more under control.  I was still in a bad place, but my mindset had changed a bit.  Frankly, having something to do made me feel less depressed.  So we continued to chat, and I continued to pray.  I also had to make some very tough decisions about some things in my life which I will talk about in another post some time.

I started doing a few more, manageable tasks around the house.  More laundry, wash the dishes,  vacuum a little bit.  And then I allowed myself to take a break because I had accomplished some things that I needed to accomplish.

Another pretty much sleepless night went by, but I got up and took care of some things I needed do.  I went to a doctor’s appointment.  I had to take a cab there because of some other real (more than constipation) issues I’m dealing with right now, but I went.  I asked the doctor for help with some things and she went over and above to help me.  Certainly a higher power there.

Another sleepless night, still chatting with my aunt, still getting small, manageable tasks done, still praying.  By the way, my prayers were pretty simple.  “God, please help me to know what to do next.”

This time the answer came to make some phone calls, and I did.  I called very good friends.  That was today.  I had several phone conversations.  Then I got a ride to another doctor’s appointment from one of those friends.  Then I met my parents for lunch, and took care of some business that needed to be taken care of to make it easier for them to help me in ways that they could help me.  Then I met another person and took care of some more business that needed to get taken care of.  Then another friend picked me up, and we went to meet with some other friends.  I got home at about 8:30 after a very full day.  I made a few more phone calls.  And now I’m writing this.

Will I sleep tonight.  Who knows?  If my body needs sleep, I will sleep.  It will eventually come, but it sure will come a lot faster if I’m up and moving, and doing things and staying active.  By the way, I meantioned more phone calls.  Tomorrow is a very full day.  Thursday will have some activity in the evening, and I can always think about how to do more between now and then, and then make some more phone calls.  Oh, and I need to go grocery shopping.  Luckily the grocery store is in the same shopping center where my condo is.  I think I can manage a 3 block drive.  I was told so by one of my advocating friends..

So now it’s midnight.  I’m not really sleepy, but I’m tired, and that’s a good thing.  I have to deal with chronic pain, and managing that is tough because it adds to the depression causing the sleep issues which adds to the depression and yes I did mean to say depression three times.  But today was a good day.  I was up, and active, and tomorrow and the next day will be the same.

I’m certainly not out of the woods here.  I’ve got a lot more to do to get back into life.  Find a job for one, but I need to take care of myself first, and this one was a bit of a nose dive so I’ve still got some climbing to do, but I’m grateful, because I have help, from my higher power.  As long as I ask for it, and am able to recognize it when it is presented, it will always be there.  People, activity, things to think about.  They are keeping me sane, at least for now.

The Lake By My Home

It’s not like I forgot about the Lake.  I knew it was there.  I just hadn’t thought to visit it in a while.  I used to walk the dog by it several times a week.  I remember feeling better then.  Emotionally, physically, better.  It’s not a long walk.  In fact, if I walk to the path that is adjacent to the lake on two sides, and then walk this path, past the “Logan’s Road House”, past the Hampton Inn, it’s about a mile.  Not a really long walk by any stretch, unless you don’t have any legs, or they don’t function for you the way they used to.  Mine do.  I can walk.  There are a few people in my life who can’t say this.  Some of these people are rather close to me.  But I can walk, and so I did this morning.  Something to be grateful for today.

The dog was grateful too.  Although she was huffing and panting along the way, she turned to me, squinting in the sun, with her tongue hanging out and I could see that all too familiar smile on her face.  “Thanks Daddy!”, that smile was saying.  I smiled back and said, “You’re welcome!”  She’s an old dog, my Jamaica.  She’s in fairly good health for her age.  Sometimes she falls when we are walking, but she gets right back up and continues to walk like nothing happened.  I can learn a lesson from that.

When we get back to the house and walk inside, it’s nice to feel the cool, dry air hit my face.  It’s warm outside, and humid.  This is as it should be in late May in the Washington, DC area.  Not quite hot yet, but warm enough and moist enough to bring about a mild sweat, even with a mild  walk.  When we do these walks during the mid-summer months, I am dripping by the time we get back.  The dog walks over to the water fountain (Yes, I said fountain.  Just a little gift I gave to her and to the cats a while ago to keep the water fresh and clean for them).  She laps up 5 or 6 tongue fulls of water, as I reach into the refrigerator and pull out a can of sparkling, lemon-flavored water for myself.  Nice, and cold, with a little bit of a bite.  This would be a perfect start to a weekend day, except that it’s not the weekend.  It’s the Tuesday after Memorial Day, and at the moment I don’t have a job to go to. 

I should be grateful, and I am for the fact that for the time being I’m still receiving a pay check, and my company is searching for another position for me.  I am grateful, both for this, and for the ability just for now to appreciate the time I had this morning to take the dog for a walk near the lake.  We need to do this more often whether or not I’m working.  I need to make the time to do this with her, for both ours sakes.

We really only have today.  Who knows what tomorrow will bring.  I need to make the most of each moment that I have, and not waste the moments feeling sorry for myself, or wallowing in self-pity or fear.  But the only way to push the fear away is to fill my life with other things.  Good things, like a walk by the lake, and the gratitude that I’m able to take this walk with my old dog, and add some joy and contentment to her life if only for 1 mile at a time.  Maybe we’ll walk a little further tomorrow.  Or maybe tomorrow I will have a job to go to.  No matter what, I still need to make the time to take these walks with her, for both our sakes.

Clairvoyant Or Lazy? You Decide.

Preparing your home for sale is hard.  Especially when you are alone.  Still, I had done this once before, and my home this time was much smaller, with no land to worry about since I live in a condo.

So I decided to take the plunge, and I started looking for homes online.  Then I took it a step further and contacted a few realtors, finally settling on one of them to sell my home and help me find a new one.

There were things that needed to get done.  Stuff needed to get fixed, like the stains in the ceiling and along the wall in my bedroom and one of my bathrooms from some water that leaked in during a major storm.  Then there were the windows.  Almost all of them needed to be replaced because of leaking.  There’s still more of this “contract” work to be done, and I call it that because it was certainly not stuff that I was going to do on my own.

Then there was the decluttering.  Wow, what a huge job for a single guy who has a lot of junk sitting around.  I had no idea how much work this would be.  I had a few friends help, and I had a few others offer, but it seemed like the job was never going to end.  I kept noticing new things that needed to get done, and I was becoming more and more frustrated and depressed about it.

Then last weekend, with one of my neighbors in my garage ready to lend a hand, I just stopped.  I became incredibly depressed for no obvious reason, and I told my neighbor that I didn’t want to do any more.  During the week I still managed to pack up a couple of things and move them down into the garage, but for the most part I just came to a screeching halt.  I called the realtor and told him I was getting overwhelmed and I needed some help to first, figure out what needed to be done, and then do it for me, because I didn’t want to do any more work.

An over reaction?  Maybe.  If the next thing that happened in my life hadn’t happened I would have said I was just being lazy, and/or letting my emotions get the better of me.  But something significant did happen, and I’m wondering now if somehow I sensed that things were going on behind the scenes in my life that would change the  course of my life for the immediate future.

The following Thursday evening after work I got a disturbing email from my manager.  It said to not go in to the site where I worked for the government contract I was on, and to call him at home.  When I called him, he told me that the government lost funding for my position.  In other words, I am out of a job unless my company can find me another position on another contract. 

I’ve never been laid off or fired or anything of the sort, so to put it bluntly, I’m scared.  I have money in a retirement account,  but I don’t want to have to deplete that if I don’t have to, not to mention having to take a 10% penalty on whatever I withdraw.  I don’t know what I’m going to do if my company doesn’t find me something.   Well, I guess I do know.  I’m going to  look for another job.  I have plenty of contacts and some good skills and experience, so I suppose I shouldn’t be so scared, but I am.  Fear of the unknown is really what it is.

Back to clairvoyance.  Did I know there were discussions going on about the lack of funding for my position that I wasn’t privy to?  Or am I just really sensitive,  and felt an indescribable insecurity that was causing my depression and lack of motivation to continue to work on my home?  Was this a self-fulfilling prophecy,  whereas I caused this to happen because I felt so insecure?  I thing Carl Jung described this as synchronicity.  Two seemingly unrelated events are connected not by cause and effect, but by meaning.  This is a fancy way to describe a coincidence that is just too coincidental.

So here I am, terrified about what the future will bring.  I’ve canceled the move for now until I’m sure that I have a steady, reliable job to go to, and this is actually somewhat of a relief.  I’m feeling almost paralyzed though, and I’ve been waking up in the morning in tears from horrible nightmares.  If anyone else has been here that can offer some advice as to how to deal with the emotions, especially the fear, I’d really appreciate it.

Mornings

Mornings are difficult.  It’s not easy to wake up alone.  I suppose it’s better than waking up next to the wrong person, but sometimes I wonder.  Which is worse, lonliness being with the wrong person?  I suppose you could be lonely and be with the wrong person at the same time.  Right now for me, I don’t have to worry about that.  I just have to worry about getting out of bed, and that’s difficult lately.

I’m not sure when it started.  The depression that is.  I mean, I’m always depressed to some extent, but these days I’m on the verge of tears much of the time.  Plus I just feel sick, run down, stomach ache, nauseous, almost all of the time.  Having a bad back and having to take chronic meds for that probably doesn’t help.  But where has all of my energy gone?  I just want to sleep.  Having a job is a good thing, but I don’t want to go to work.  I don’t like being there.  I feel even sicker when I’m there.  I’m almost never hungry, but I force food down because I know I have to.  Yeah, full blown depression I guess.

The mornings are the worst.  I know I’ll feel better in the evening.  I know I’ll feel better after work, when I can relax a little bit.  But right now my stomach is in a knot, and I feel like throwing up.  I suppose I could pray.  In fact I think I will as soon as I’m done writing this.  Writing is a form of meditation for me, so maybe that’s what I needed to do this morning.  I needed to write this down and share it, and the answer has come that I need to pray.  I’m not a religious person by any means, but I don’t have to be to have a relationship with God.  If God is perfect, why would he care what religion I practice if any?  Yeah, I think I’ll pray.  Just for a minute before I go to work.  Maybe that will help get me through the day, maybe not.  It certainly can’t hurt.

I used to read this book of motivational thoughts every morning.  I stopped reading it a while back, but a few days ago I picked it back up again.  The thought for today is one day at a time.  It’s about setting a small goal, and accomplishing that goal, and feeling good at the end of the day that I’ve accomplished it.  Today I’ve already accomplished a small goal.  I’ve written this down, and shared it, and believe it or not between the time I typed “Mornings” and now, I’ve somehow typed myself into a whole different attitude.  I feel better.  So maybe the prayer I’ll say is “Thanks!”  Obviously something gave me the motivation to write this, and to accomplish this small goal before I left for work this morning.  And I feel better.  So thanks!  Whether it was God or something else.  Thanks!

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