The Underbelly of Change

It hit me last night that every issue in my life is about change. Too fast, too slow, my degree of control within a given situation, and the corporate concept of “change management” (which may simply be delusional). Perhaps one can manage one’s response to change, but manage change itself? I am not convinced.

What I am obsessed with right now is the superficial versus deeper levels of reality. Depth, intuition, inner knowing, stillness, etc., are all right brain endeavors. Quantum entanglement, the spiritual world, and nature all operate in this realm.

But people are so overwhelmed that all they typically see is the topmost layer. And then the surface changes and almost everyone is shocked. The people not shocked are the ones paying attention to the quiet details that most overlook. I’ve seen it with Michigan’s economy. The jobs stopped paying a living wage, thereby driving away educated career-minded job-seekers. Now that there are more jobs, there are almost no qualified people to fill them. When there were no jobs, nobody noticed exodus of educated young people. I saw what was happening with every U-Haul. I knew those people weren’t moving to Lansing.

Another realm is with Barry’s health. I’ve seen this with other people’s health. Someone’s immune system goes downhill very, very slowly. There is no disruption to the routine. Everything goes on like it always has. Then, the person gets a cold (or some other normally inconsequential malady) and dies. The family is shocked. But they were doing so well! What happened? The changes were going on beneath the surface. I believe Barry could go on like this for a few years, catch a cold, and perish. Michigan winters are brutal. On everyone. I do not know the timing because I am not in his body. I know his cough is getting worse, but that’s been true for a while. I just don’t know.

My emphasis right now is improving myself. I am meditating a lot, trying to spark my intuition. I am studying Word, Excel, and Access. Part of that is because I know that when I start working, I will have zero energy to essentially do homework while taking care of Barry. When I do find volunteer work or paying work, everything could change quickly.

On the surface, absolutely nothing is changing. The lack of change has made me wonder if I was a serial killer in a previous life. To feel this stuck for so long is not even real sometimes. The lack of change is what makes me wonder if I am cursed or if there is some bizarre lesson I need to learn. I never thought it would this hard to find volunteer work.

What I know is that when change seems sudden, it only generally seems so to the people not paying attention. The surface has collapsed, but often those “in the know” have been watching the process for years. I’m not saying there are never surprises, but most shocking things happen after long years of something consistently not being addressed. That’s my opinion. Remember Columbine? Klebold and Harris had been picked on for years. You never know what state of mind someone is in when when you speak to them.

I truly feel that part of my purpose in life is to help midwife (or hospice) people and organizations through change. I see hospice workers as midwives to the other side. I feel like I have been preparing for this my whole life. Every ending is a beginning. Imagine if everyone ever alive was still alive and no one had ever died. No cemeteries. Talk about the family reunions from hell! Eight-hundred-year-old relatives telling you about when they helped build that Gothic cathedral in France.

I want to understand more about “manifestation” because I have never been able to get things from my mind to successfully give me what I need. I feel like I make all the right effort…to no avail.  I have not mastered getting things from the invisible realm to real life.

Change is reality. I’m trying to take responsibility for the things I can. Impermanence is one of the Buddhist three marks of reality, along with no-self and suffering. It is the bedrock I am building my life upon.

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Right Brain Turn

Just lately, I have realized that I have gone as far as I can with my left brain. The left brain is logical and good at preparation. But it can’t give a sense of meaning or purpose. The left brain is all about the how.

The how without the why, however, is, literally, meaningless. Part of my issue for the past few years is that I have not had a sufficient why. I can do this, that, or the other thing, but so-freaking-what? I feel like I have spent my whole life preparing to live. And never actually living. It’s pretty bad when you envy your drug-addled siblings because at least they had fun!

I’ve always been too logical for that. I did not want to experience some of the more negative consequences of their behavior. In other words, keep your drugs and alcohol away from me, my car, and my residence. Life is hard enough without being paranoid the cops will pull you over and find pot seeds in the ashtray. Also, I always knew that Barry was, is, and always will be 16 years older than I am. So, I made sure I got an education so I could support myself someday. Then he got cancer and I made preparations for him to die. We have plots, a grave marker, and much of those final expenses already paid for. And then he did not die.

Meanwhile, I have spent years praying for my own demise. It’s just the burden of doing everything for two without a light at the end of the tunnel. For years. Putting my life on hold waiting for him to die while the employment gap on my resume grows by the day.

Then I reached a point where it just doesn’t matter anymore. I have to find something to do to put on my resume. I can’t let the gap keep growing, regardless of Barry’s health or lack thereof. I would never, ever have dropped out of the workforce if I seriously believed for one second that it would be 2017 and he would still be alive.

You get the point. Everything I have done has been ridiculously logical and reasonable. And meaningless. I have taken preparation to its extreme logical conclusion. And this left-brained philosophy has reached its ultimate culmination in my praying for my own death, just to have this phase of my life over.

When do I get to stop preparing to live and start actually living?

I have been doing many logical things lately, following up on other people’s ideas, that kind of thing. I have been practicing Word, Excel, and Access. I bought an SAT study guide because I might try tutoring high school students for the SAT. Why not? I kind of think of these things as giving my left brain a bone to chew on, something productive to do, as opposed to waiting for death to take me.

The real effort for the next phase of my life, however, is going to be delving into my right brain. I have realized that all of my spiritual desires can only be met by my right brain: silence, stillness, intuition, etc., are all right brain tasks. Meditation? Right brain. Chanting? Maybe both, but mostly right brain.

I need a why because how just doesn’t cut it anymore and hasn’t for a very long time.

A Slightly Different Direction

I have been updating my MS Office skills. Microsoft loves to move things around. So I am doing some relearning as to where stuff is now.

Also, I found Access tutorials at gcflearnfree.org. I started one and actually felt, uh, excited. This is the nerd in me coming out. Access is kind of like Excel on steroids. I’m watching the tutorial, thinking, “Oh, this is so cool.” So I have ponied up the hundred and so bucks for the application. It is almost sad that nothing in my life is complex enough to make a database handy. I have been too successful at simplifying my life. I simply will never have a use for Access myself.

But I can make myself more valuable on the job market.

I feel the need to hurry up and get these skills ready because I want to be all set when Barry passes or whatever.

I feel like things are changing very, very slowly on the surface of my lake. This past week, for example, the secretary at the place I volunteer at either quit or got fired. All I know is that she was there one week and not the next. I offered to volunteer more in the meantime, if that’s what they need. The head lady gave me a real look of gratitude. This does not directly affect me, but puts my name out there as a potential resource.

However, in the depths of my lake, I am scurrying around in obscurity. No one can see the changes. I see the changes. And I am excited. Excited about learning Access? Wow. I am such a geek.

Digging Deeper for Transformation

I have been working hard at meditation and Microsoft Office. I have been chanting and working at letting go of thoughts. And I have been doing practice modules. Whenever I screw those up, I learn a ton when I fix them.

I am not in charge of anything. But the plan is keeping up my skills and finding a different place to volunteer. I will keep investing in myself. I am the only one I have any control over.

One good thing has happened. There is this woman my age that also goes to the blessing on Thursdays. A couple weeks ago, she kept interrupting and invalidating what another person was saying. In the past she had repeatedly invalidated things I had said after the blessing and no one had confronted her about anything, ever. Well, this time they did. The leader actually spoke to her about how important it is to not interrupt people and to not invalidate people. So she decided not to come back! I am so happy! She told the leader she could not guarantee that she would not do the same thing again.

I am so relieved. I feel like a problem in my life has been solved without me having to take absolute, full, 100% responsibility for it myself. Even if she does come back, it is with the understanding that her behavior was unacceptable. I stayed out of it and am reaping a great reward for doing so.

Perhaps it is pure cowardice on my part, but survival for me has always involved keeping my head down and not making various situations all about me. That’s what the interrupter doesn’t understand: She’s not “correcting” people’s wrong ideas and fixing them. She is only drawing attention to her own disrespectful behavior. If people say stupid things, let the stupidity stand. What others say reflects only on them. But the minute you interrupt someone, you draw the attention to your own poor behavior.

With the political chaos and people losing their health care everywhere, it is hard to maintain equilibrium. The conclusion I have reached is that the best thing I can do for the world is to not go crazy myself and to encourage sanity in others by trying to be a good example.

 

So Much Can Happen in a Week

Last week was the Social Security drama. I dealt with it instantly and am so glad I did.

This past week I got a phone call from an employment agency. I went in instantly. (No point in wasting time.) They lady wanted me to take some tests, including Excel and Word. I did so and did really badly (17 out of 30 on both tests). Wait a minute. I was proficient  when I went to school. What’s up with that?

I thought about it and realized a few things. First, there were many functions I never used in school, such as mail merge. And second, Microsoft has changed since I wrote my gazillion papers. Things have moved around.

I emailed the lady and told her I would do some tutorials and she said I could always be retested.  So I found a great website with practice documents and everything. I am going to become queen of the mail merge. There is nothing I can’t learn.

And then there was Barry’s neurologist appointment. Goudreau said the thing I thought was a lymph node was just a part of his trachea, minus all the fat and tissue that most of us have to cover it up. It’s hard for the average person to know what is normal in such an abnormal situation. Everything on that side of his neck has deteriorated because of that nerve they cut when they removed the tumor and lymph nodes. And MSU is official Parking Hell. I drove past the correct entrance because the normal one was closed.

Eight days ago feels like three months ago. And today’s projected high temperature is 80 degrees. In October, in Michigan. Seriously? By the end of October, the average daily high is not even sixty.  The leaves are falling and it feels like summer. When so much happens in a short period of time, it is all quite disorienting.

Will I be a Freak?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about local culture and how normal we think something is when maybe…not so much.

It is now October. November 15 has always been the first day of firearm deer-hunting season in Michigan. It was always such an obsession that GM would use one of its “floating holidays” for that day because nobody would show up to work anyhow. Everyone either had a cabin up north or a friend with one that would let them hunt on it. And the deer hunters are very necessary. Otherwise, the population is over-the-top and they start invading neighborhoods, eating any foliage/produce they can find. God help the homeowner with a flower patch or garden. Nice nosh for the white tails.

For many up north, this is their meat for the winter. Unless they hit one automotively, which happens frequently. I have no problem with people shooting their food. Sometimes survival demands that you assert your position at the top of the food chain. The flip side is that I do not believe that every American has the right to own an AK-47 or any other automatic or semi-automatic weapon. I don’t buy the idea that the founding fathers would support some of the out-of-control gun culture I have seen. Common sense is the foundation of gun control.

The point is what one considers to be normal is often locally determined. For example, I never heard of people I know going to Six Flags in Chicago. We always went to Cedar Point, which is most of the way to Cleveland, much further away. Is there a preference for Lake Erie, as opposed to Lake Michigan? I wonder if Iowans or Nebraskans routinely take holidays for corn-husking. Just because something is normal for you growing up doesn’t imply that others understand or willingly participate. But nobody knows this in their teens and early twenties.

 

Yes, It Was a Mistake

Let me explain what I read from the Social Security office: “Thank you for your willingness to serve as a representative payee. We have decided that it would be best for BARRY to have his checks sent to another payee.”

My logic: Another payee?!! Whom?! Wouldn’t we at least receive a notice that someone had applied to be his payee? His checks are going to be sent to someone else’s bank account? Our income is going to go to someone else? WTF?!! Oh, hell no! Someone just messed with the wrong person. They will pay and wish they had never messed with me.

I dragged poor Barry to the Social Security office. He was not happy, to put it mildly. Being dragged to a government office drove him nuts, not that it’s anyone’s favorite place to be. The worker got to see just what Huntington’s does to a person’s personality.

Nobody had applied to be his payee. This other payee? Barry himself. I was just so relieved that the money would still go into our account and that I did not need to go directly to the lawyer’s office in preparation for a legal battle.

The problem? The SS people said they had not received the paperwork from the doctor’s office in time and so had to deny. Perhaps the doctor’s office did not fax them the info. I know these people and I had called to ensure that they had faxed the info. So, I am not really believing that. Especially since one of the other SS workers said, “Why does it say ‘completed’?”

I had the letter from the doctor’s office. I spent all morning at the SS office and even a little into the afternoon. It was exhausting. But I am his payee now. It really does not have much practical impact unless someone does try to take his money because it still goes into our account. The main difference is that I can now change his address and that kind of thing. Anyone that wants his money will have to go through me, as it should be. And, yes, we would be notified if someone had applied to be his payee. I specifically asked that.

Whom am I pissed at? The author of the extraordinarily poorly worded denial letter. Given the Equifax breach, I was rightfully concerned that someone, somewhere had found a way to access Barry’s SS account. To me, it seemed to be very carefully worded. In actuality, it was very care-less-ly worded. I, or probably just about anyone else, could have done a much better job.

The SS office could have saved me an entire morning and a whole lot of drama had the writer simply chosen his words more carefully. The office is always packed. Are they trying to drum up business for themselves? Your taxpayer dollars at work.