Monday, February 6, 2017

From Depression to Identity

If there is anyone that still gets notifications about this blog, I'm sure you thought it was dead. And for all intents and purposes, it is. But I like closure, so I thought I would at least do that.

If you have been following this blog, or if you know me, you would know that the last 3 years have been really rough. And 2016 even more so (though not for the same reasons the rest of the US hates it...). My homecoming to Portland was great, but was filled with new dynamics and balancing acts of friend life and alone time. I was also blessed to be able to reconnect with people I did not keep in close contact with during my absence. My job on the other hand, was not fulfilling and lead to an excessive amount of anxiety. The morning in July where I sat in my car having a panic attack was my breaking point. I reached out to my employee assistance and learned that I have both depression and anxiety. For me, this put the past 3 years into a much clearer picture. I held off on medication, but eventually took the plunge - and I have to say, it's been a good ride. I don't feel myself spinning as much, and I have not had any horrible side effects.

Being miserable at work also had the plus side of driving me to seek counseling in my career and what would fit best for me - spoiler alert it is not in Compliance. Things were so-so through year end, I focused on decorating my apartment (creative me getting to play!), planning a party, the holidays and with time off before the New Year. After which, it became crystal clear how sick and tired work was making me. 2017 was to be the year for action.

And then the snows came :) but it provided an opportunity for a deep conversation with my friend Matt and an introduction to finding my name and identity from God (this amazing speaker, Jamie Winship put everything I knew about God, into a way that made more sense than any way I'd ever been taught before). And from that point, my life has truly been transformed. I tried so hard to seek any way possible to figure life out and to be relieved from my anxiety. But it was God all along, I just had to come to a point of complete surrender and to be in a place to hear what He had to say to me.

Nothing is perfect now, and I still have moments of anxiety about work. But I KNOW that anxiety and depression are not what define me. In knowing my identity, I have peace and joy. I am relinquishing control and seeking to step out in faith with my next step in life. Heck, I've actually joined a women's Bible study - something I haven't done since maybe 2007?

So in faith, I am seeking to take that next step in life. I'll probably always find something to do with accounting, but I want to have the opportunity to use the creative talents I've been given and to pour out the joy I have to others. And with that, I need to take on a new identity in my blog, because, it's not 'just me' anymore. I have a deep relationship with my Creator and have been blessed with the best fur baby I could ask for. I would not trade any of the pain I went through to finally get to this point. I will plan to write more, but the blog has yet to be created. I am excited to explore life and to MOVE from this place out into the world and into my life as it was meant to be lived.

Thanks for reading ~ Natalie

Tuesday, August 30, 2016


Damien Rice once said during a live session, that the thing he noticed is the more damned that he is, the better he is at what it is that he does, and that he's sorta bored of being damned. (Live at Fingerprints, Intro to Grey Room) I can relate to that with where I am in life right now. I'm so tired of being tired and broken, but in what I'm learning about myself is that when I experience that brokenness, I find it easier to create and be creative.

I had my heart broken today. And I'm sure you're thinking, Natalie, you wear your heart on your sleeve, you get your heart broken a lot, what's the big deal? Well, I can say, I know, you're right. But I want to cry UNCLE! Enough with the rejection already. I have had more than my fill of being rejected and rejecting others (because trust me, that takes it's own kind of toll on a person).

Let me start back a few months ago. My homecoming has been a mixed bag. I could have wept with joy every time I got to see a friend or realized how easy it was to hang out with the network of "gal pals" I still have here in Portland - and no doubt, I still feel incredibly blessed to have their support and to be able to support them through life. But the job I came into is not for me, or well it's making me realize that the angst I was feeling in my last job was more than just burn out or situational. So after lots of frustration and anger about being at work in something that didn't fit - I finally came to my knees with God. Begging for an answer. For a change. For something. I think that came in two ways. One in finding a career counselor who instantly recognized I was in the wrong spot and is helping me identify the whys and the whats would be better by starting from scratch and digging into how I want to feel and what causes those feelings - then pulling from her experience to point out careers based on them. And the second was probably an anxiety attack before work that triggered me reaching out to a psychologist for help.

I have since learned that I not only have anxiety (probably not the shock of the century) and depression. Both of those I realize are loaded words and probably thrown around too often in our society. But hearing the doctor say them was like a weight was lifted. The puzzle pieces started to fit together. Ah, could this be why I can sleep 8 hours or more every night and still feel exhausted every morning? Or is this why I could live in Europe and feel so utterly alone and sad in a space I always wanted to be? I think yes. The doctor made me feel good, in that she said I'd been coping fairly well, and that this trigger at work just brought it up. But that I should start to pay attention to myself more - notice when I'm anxious or depressed, what was happening, and to take steps to work through it (deep breathes, meditation, prayer for the anxiety and turning the depressed periods into something creative - as a lot of artists are most creative and focused when they are in their blue moods).

If you're as smart as I think you are, then yes, I can feel the depression lurking at the edges of my psyche. Of course, as I stated above I know the trigger. And I had an outpouring of love and encouragement today. As I'm trying to process this all in my head, I would say I'm doing better than normal (hear me out!).

1) I do not think my being rejected has anything to do with the way I look. I have come to appreciate who I am and what I look like. I do think I'm pretty and while I know I could lose some weight for a person of my height, I think all those art museums worked - I truly see the beauty in the curves of the woman's body and I can see those reflected in myself. And I am happy.
2) I do not think I was rejected because I was not smart. A lot of what I'm learning about myself, about how I process and my behaviors are, that I am smart and creative and I like the big picture. I know a wide variety of things and am by no means dumb.
3) I know that I 'dodged a bullet'. I logically get that, and I think even parts of my heart do as well, as I felt a weight release, I am finally able to 100% move on - though that doesn't mean I won't be processing the 'whats' and the 'whys' of what happened.

What is different about this rejection is trying to understand what I missed. Where did I go wrong. Why did I trust and open myself to this person. Is my ability to read people that off??? And why didn't I heed the advice of countless dating books or my past therapist. If a guy doesn't make an effort, he's just not that into you. I know that society has changed and the rules could arguably be thrown out the door. But I know that I am guilty of overthinking everything, when I think generally it's either F yes or F no for guys.

What I will do next about all this - I don't really know. I've been told if you want a relationship, you should treat it like looking for a job. And then I look back and go, haven't I already tried that? I've also been told, to let it go and it will come when you aren't looking. I have yet to have been able to fool my overactive brain into not looking or worrying about it. Even when I think I am not, BAM! I actually was.

All this to say, that tonight, after a rough day, I am putting my energy into something productive. I am piecing together IKEA furniture and pulling out my craft skills as I'm painting some of those pieces! Ack! At least I can look back on today, and feel my house is a little more put together, right?
DIY | Marble and Gold Bar Cart (for under $10!) Ikea Hack!                                                                                                                                                      More: Gold console table under the double windows:

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Tindering Around

This dating thing is always interesting. When I first arrived back in Portland, I thought I'd let the universe guide things. And I ended up with a couple dates in the first month. Not too bad, but no love connection either. But as inevitably happens when I have friends doing online dating, I think "oh, I can do that too" and somehow summons up the energy to start swiping (maybe if I wore a cleaner on my finger, I could clean my phone at the same time. At least then something productive would be happening...).

I had one date early on (he was living in his van, I feel like that should be a requirement to state that early on...), and then work kinda messed things up. And those early conversations never materialized beyond pen pal status. So I'd been on an off maybe once a week, finding one or two new likes here. Going back and forth between saying something first and just waiting. I've also hilariously ran into people I know. :S

I'd been talking with this one guy for a bit now (a month!). The chat was interesting enough, talking about signs and moon phases. I couldn't quite figure out his 'look', but he seemed attractive and at least interesting to chat with. Of course, you're thinking uh... moon phases and you're interested? Or maybe you are more in the 'why did you not meet early on?'. I know, I know. I mean, I'm trying to be more open, and I like to see whether they have balls to ask me out. And finally he said he'd like to meet! After a couple failed non-plan attempts, I agreed to meet for a drink last night - maybe against my better judgement. I mean, he likes to make mead and go mushrooming?!

We met at a local beer garden (local to me), but while I got there early to take Jasper out and relax a bit, he didn't give me a specific time, and ended up getting there after 8 I think. Sounds awful, right?
Well unbeknownst to him, I was happily chatting away with another beer drinker - whom will call Kermit. Learning about everything from why there are little blue lights on top of the light poles in the area (it was a design choice), oh and the buildings are short near the street then go sky-high (to make it feel less daunting), that the OHSU building was the first one there and is set up to reclaim the shower water as toilet water. That Kermit was one of those on the panel against the $85M tram (which was supposed to cost $3.3M...), but he got his way that the buildings were set back 100 instead of 50 yards from the water. I know that at one point there was a proposal (by Kermit and friends) to turn PGE into a co-op, that sounds like it would have been pretty beneficial to us all....oh and I know where all the power for downtown comes from, in case you want to perform an Ocean's Eleven style heist.

Oh and you can buy a life insurance policy from someone, continue to pay their premiums, and then receive their death benefits. Sounds like something I read in Devil in the White City, but apparently it's legal. Kermit has a company that uses that money as capital to help new startups - specifically to find the next 'unicorn' (because sometimes your friends and family can't get you past the $30M fund raising mark) - a company like Brilliant Light Power, some new company that is developing a better power source based on dark matter and hydrogen ( I only understood any of the terms because of Big Bang Theory. :P

Anyway, Kermit and I were chatting when my date arrived... but no worries, the Kermit joined us and talked for awhile. So I wasn't left with Mead-boy for much longer. As I realized it was 9, and well, time for food and bed! Btw... he brought said homemade mead... it was made from honey, shallots, mushrooms, onion, and garlic... aphro-no-siac! Ick!Again, Kermit saved me by tasting it no drugs.

I walked away being grateful to the universe for the randomness, and for strangers who rescue you from bad frogs (see what I did there?).

Monday, May 2, 2016

Five months in, and I have resolved not to give up!

After my "rough month" of a no-alcohol January, February's no coffee was a breeze. I chose this partially to ensure I was not so used to coffee that I was going to get any caffeine headaches and partially to save a little cash. While I did go to coffee shops a couple times, I generally stuck to chai (though I ordered a hazelnut latte once, but quickly remembered my resolution and changed it in time). It was a little odd not to just go have coffee with a coworker as a break from work, but it didn't seem to matter all that much in the grand scheme.

And going into March, while I have gotten a few coffees, I don't actually pass any coffee shops on the way to work. I've fallen into a routine to get to work, and walk to the main building for drip coffee. It's a nice start to my mornings. It's also much cheaper. 

Actually my life has fallen into much more of a routine in Portland. I am feeling like more of a homebody. But my social life has blown up. (I know you're thinking that makes no sense) I always have a friend to see. Someone to meet for drinks. Have over to chat or watch a movie. It's wonderful. I never realized how isolated I had become in Seattle. How much I did alone. It's also more challenging keeping up and going deeper with my friends. Before we barely had time. Now we have all the time in the world. My support network, while always there, has turned into a thick net. Woven with strong cords. It's been wonderful. It also made March's resolution to not play mindlessly with my tablet easier. Though I did use it while I cooked a couple times! And it's also been the reason I've been writing less. I think there is something to creativity coming from pain or a low place, kind of like an outlet. And while I don't feel low now, I think the past 2 months have been a bit of a reprieve from the mental battle. I've been distracted from my singleness and replaced a man with a plethora of friends and settling into a new life. 

It's not time to start stressing. It's time to get back to work on me. To get back to my resolutions to improve me. To break bad habits and comfort routines (uhh can you say falling asleep to tv every night a bit of a crutch?!). To take better care of myself mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

I did nothing for my April resolution.  And just looked at what it was and it wasn't what I thought. Dork! I thought it was no extra driving. It was no meat. Oops!! Well, let's pretend April and May are flip flopped. The no driving was based on a life that no longer exists. While I don't like to drive more than I have to, my options to drive less are different and I haven't figured them all out yet. There is no vanpool to ride. My commute is at least 10 miles less a day. So I'll move on to May. 

No meat, eh? Well I guess today was an inadvertent cheat, I had chicken and biscuits for breakfast and like the best duck confit poutine for lunch. As I'm writing this. I think I may have to shift. Not sure how easy Seoul will be with no Korean BBQ. And now that you've wandered down Natalie's crazy path with me. I'm switching to what June is. No tv. Gah! My crutch. F it. Can't push it off forever! Goodbye Netflix. Goodbye BBT. Goodbye Family Guy!  I hope my electric bill goes down at least...😐 

Sorry for the lapse in writing. Also, sorry for never saying goodbye Seattle. You were a great time and I wouldn't trade being with you for the world. I am now who I am because of my time there. I would never trade the close friends I made. The great work experiences I had (both good and bad) or all the growing up I did. I left a young silly girl and came back hopefully a more reasonable silly woman. ;-) I told you long ago, I was on #TeamEdward. Jacob was a fun time. It was time to go home. (If you have no clue what I'm talking about, and you may think that most of the time you don't. I wrote a post long ago comparing PDX and SEA to Edward and Jacob (yes I am a big nerd). I decided to stay and play then. I've come back to me now. ). I have so many thoughts and feelings about the move, though the predominate one at this point is happiness! After SEVEN and a HALF YEARS, I am home. I survived having Oregon license plates for that time, and only a Washington ID for the past year or so. While it hasn't all been Roses in the Emerald City, it was been a good ride and I have no regrets. I know I am, I'm sure I am... a fan of my friends 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

How Dry Am I?

How dry I am, how dry I am
It's plain to see just why I am
No alcohol in my highball
And that is why so dry I am

It has been 2 weeks into the new year, and I am having dreams about telling people I am not drinking and feeling pretty lame in my dreams. I am so dry, I wish I was a dry martini.

When I told a friend about my current year resolutions, he suggested I blog about how they went. It is t-minus 17 days until this month is over and I can drink again. Now you may be thinking, "Come on alchy, how hard is it not drink for 31 days!? AND you cheated 2 days, so really, you should be fine!"

I mean, the first few days were fine, but I was coming off of New Years Eve celebrations, went to movies which aren't necessarily drinking arenas. Generally last week was easy to say the least, I hunkered down and stayed home more. I am focusing on losing weight before my best friend's wedding, so I was at least doing a bit of a workout.

I'm in week 2 (and used up a cheat day last Saturday to taste wine - wait...if I only tasted it, did I drink??). I weighed myself last Saturday morning, no weight loss. I have felt no overall change in my energy, no decrease in any beer gut (I am not a huge beer drinker lately), nor have I saved money, I have seen no noticeable anything compared with all those other blogs claiming lots of health and mental benefits. Instead, I think my liver is bored. It has basically NOTHING to do now! I am worried it is withering away from lack of activity.

Though even if my liver isn't bored, I am. I feel very hermit-y, and while that is good for my pocketbook, I still have had other expenses (car, condo, health) that seem to be negating any savings I may be getting from alcohol, and I can't even drink my existing stash to comfort myself. It feels sinful to eat pasta without wine, to watch sports without a coldy, or to be out with friends and not imbibe. Plus, I'm having to push off or turn down invites until next month, I'm not seeing friends. And I keep having inklings to go try some new place for happy hour or sit with a mimosa on a relaxing morning.

I believe I will survive though, and maybe I'll finally feel some 'benefits'. I think I can, I think I can...

Update: Mid-way through the month, I did use my second cheat day... and after that bottle of wine and the resulting pain the day after, I was all gung-ho to make it through to the end. I can't say that I didn't think about cheating more through the end, particularly when my cousin was up. But I stuck to the mocktails and the seltzer water...and again, no weight was lost, but I DID IT :)