Sunday, August 18, 2013

My Best Friend's Baby Shower

Yesterday I had to face my people fears again as it was my best friend's baby shower.  I'd had mixed feelings about it all week - nervous yet excited.  Nervous to be around all those people but excited to see my best friend of 26 years.  As days got closer and closer, I got more and more nervous but excited, too.  My mom was also coming so I wouldn't be totally alone.  And when I got there I immediately saw Corrie and gave her a hug, touched her belly.  It was so good to see her and I calmed down a little bit.  I said hi to a couple other old friends of mine from back in the day when I lived in Baker and then mom and I found a seat at a table.  We had a little bit of food and I did my best to chat confidently with the others at our table.  The most awkward question that was asked of me twice was, "And where do you work, Sarah?"  To which I have an awkward reply of, "I'm a burn survivor and am disabled so I don't work at the moment."  Ugh...

Then Corrie began the long process of  opening presents as it was a relatively big shower and thus lots of gifts to open.  My mother and I made a little baby blanket for her and she seemed to like it very much.  I have another gift to give her but it will be given later after they have picked out a name for their baby boy.  My shoulder began to hurt towards the middle but I washed down some tylenol and made it through to the end without having to leave early.  I wanted to be there for the whole thing for my best friend.  I didn't get to see her much.  Some in the beginning and then after she had opened all the presents I got to talk to her privately for a little bit before we left.  It was so good to see her and she looked stunning with her cute baby bump.  It felt good to be able to have conquered my fears of being at that party so I could support my best friend.  She's so important to me.  I love you, Cor.

Thursday, August 15, 2013


My therapist suggested a wonderful idea to me.  She was surprised at herself that she didn't think of it sooner.  See, I'm in a sticky situation with having to stay where I'm at for insurance purposes and being in the middle of surgeries and recovery still and wanting to go back to school to get my doctorate because no accredited schools offer online courses.  So I'm stuck in this situation.  Many have suggested to me to just take some online courses to have something to do but that's an expensive side project.  Well, there's a solution:  edX

EdX is absolutely 100% free online schooling from some of the best schools in the nation: Harvard, Berkeley, MIT, etc.  You can take a class with thousands of students from all over the world and interact with them.  Classes are fun but they are also very rigorous.  This is no cake walk.  But you get higher education and you learn from the best.  You also make friends from all over the world.  Registration takes seconds and as soon as you've registered, you just go through all the different courses and pick.  Some courses take 12 weeks, some 16, some 17, etc. and there may be prerequisites for some courses.  But for the most part, there are none.  It is all self-paced learning.  It's on your time and accessible 24/7.  At the end of the course, if you pass, you receive a certificate of mastery in the subject you took and in some jobs, that certificate from an edX program is better than a Masters degree.  Yes, seriously.  You may say, there's no such thing as a free lunch.  Well, let me assure you, this is a free lunch. This is all about the students and learning.  I'm not being naive about this.  I have looked through the website and have a first hand account of someone who has gone through an edX course.  There are no smoke screens.  It's the real deal.  The president of edX was even featured on the Colbert Report.  You can see that interview HERE.  Also you can learn more about edX from their website by going HERE.

So, I think I'm going to get involved in this for three reasons: 1) to give me something to do, 2) Work my brain because if you don't use it, you lose it and 3) It could help me with scholarships and getting admitted into a doctorate program later.  I've already picked out my first course: Fundamentals of Neuroscience Part 1 from Harvardx.  It's a three part course but you don't have to take all three.  You take what you want.  But unfortunately it doesn't start until October so I have to wait.  There are so many other classes I want to take but the courses are going to be challenging so I don't think it's wise to take more than one at a time right now until I know more of what to expect.  I'm really looking forward to this.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Focus, Peripheral and Apartheids

I had quite an amazing therapy session this last week.  It was chalk full of insights that I have been thinking about still.  And I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to tell the session right, remember it right.  It was that kind of a session.

She talked about when she had her children.  She had both her kids in Florence, Italy, and there, at that time at least, there was no option for an epidural.  The primary concern was not helping ease her pain but the birth of a baby.  Her pain became peripheral, something that she would have to experience and go through but easing it was not the focus.  The baby was the focus.  She likened this to my depression.  Everyone always wants to cure my depression but what if it's not curable?  What if it's something I'm going to have to live with for the rest of my life?  Depression and anxiety isn't always something that can be fixed and cured.  Sometimes it's a lifelong battle that you have to learn to deal with.  If that's the case, it's more of making the depression and the anxiety my peripheral and living life my focus.  The depression and anxiety may always be passengers of my airplane of life but they do not have to internally hijack my mind all the time.  Learn to experience the pain of it all but not let it be the primary focus of my life.  Make them peripheral, not the focus.  If you make it out to be something to overcome and you don't overcome it, you just spiral deeper falling down the rabbit hole into a world of darker nothingness.  Maybe, if you don't make it something to overcome and make it the peripheral, making living life the focus, something magical might happen instead.

Ever since the beginning of college, I've been battling mental health.  Been on almost every medicine under the sun trying to be "cured" of it, trying to "overcome" it and so far I haven't.  Which is perhaps why I've never really gotten better.  Some times were better than others and when I look back on those times it was when I made my mental health situation the peripheral and made living my life the focus.  Like when I first moved to Portland, I was happy because I was living my life.  And you may say, well, change of scenery helped and new situation.  But, no, at the time I moved to Portland, I was in the middle of a very bad relationship that had me very upset and depressed.  And when I made the decision to move to NYC, I began living my life again, made living my life the focus despite having just ended a long standing relationship that really left me despaired.  But in those times, the depression didn't get me down, I learned to live with it and through it because I made it the peripheral and not the focus.  And being completely in despair over an ended relationship did not become my primary focus, living my life did which is why I made the decision to finally move to NYC like I had planned to do a long time ago.  And that was a magical happening for me.

We got on the subject of Nelson Mandela and you're probably wondering what the hell that has to do with anything.  Nelson Mandela relates to me in this way: the apartheid.  Nelson Mandela not only literally broke down apartheid in his country, but while he was in prison, he broke down an apartheid in his mind; an apartheid of right and wrong, good and bad, justice and injustice.  My therapist looked at my life in much the same way.  That maybe I need to find a way to break down the apartheid in my life; the life before I had my burn and the life I have now, who I was before I had the burn and who I am now.  Maybe I need to break all that down and see it all as simply my life.  No before and after the burn, just my life as it has turned out.  The burn, the accident, is a part of my life.  And who I was and who I am now is simply growth of myself and who I'm meant to be.  Maybe breaking down this apartheid of my accident is the secret to finding peace;  the peace I have longed for so desperately.  It won't be easy, but maybe this is the key.  I must break down my own apartheid and by doing so I will find my peace.  Life doesn't always turn out as you planned, but sometimes, what happens instead is the good stuff.