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Nicole
There are few moments in life where I feel like I have purpose. Normally, I bumble through the day and do the best I can...at least on the good days. And on the bad days...well that doesn't really matter, does it? But those purpose driven moments, they're rare...like a diamond in the rough. Today, one of those moments filled me and as always, it erased all the negatives inside me. At work, one of my supervisors started a Boy Scout troop for our clients (the first for mentally disabled adults that we know of) and today was their first meeting. They were all so excited and happy throughout the whole meeting. Everybody seemed to light up for that hour we were there and their behaviors took a backseat to their joy. Because they get to feel like they belong to something they're usually excluded from. It was humbling and beautiful to sit among them as they let joy escape them in a hundred different ways. I feel lucky to be involved in this, to be able to witness their happiness and growth. I think it's going to be a great experience for them. I felt like I was moving with purpose today and like...I feel like God is calling me again. Maybe He's trying to show me something that I've been missing or simply something I've forgotten. Either way, it's good to be moving again instead of dancing around in limbo. Which in itself is another topic entirely. But I'm going to rest that feeling for now, I rather focus on the positive since it's what has primarily been on my mind today.

On an unrelated note, my family and I are going to be moving out of our current trailer Saturday (it's at least 35 years old and has a lot of issues). They're going to bring a new trailer onto the lot and hopefully we'll be in the new place in a week. It'll be nice to have my own room/space again. I've almost forgotten what it's like to have that kind of solitude and peace. It's something I need...to feel at ease with myself and to figure out things/think/be myself.
 
 
feeling: optimisticoptimistic
 
 
Nicole
18 August 2012 @ 11:40 pm
The older I get, the less I come here. I don't know if it's part of the aging process or if my thoughts/feelings have lost their importance with age. Or maybe it's simply the fact that I'm an introvert and it's difficult for me to write about "real things" instead of the "idea of things". Any time I describe real life events here, it feels awkward and I don't know how to talk about it. It's like trying to make small talk in real life, I'm terrible at it because it's foreign to me. But then there are times where I feel compelled to talk about real life...when my silence becomes too much for me to bear. This is one of those times.

Six weeks ago Maria had a mini-stroke and she has been at home recuperating ever since. I've worked with her longer than I've worked with anybody else and we always meshed well. She was there for the same reasons as I was...for the clients and because God had called her to that place. We'd talk about our frustrations with co-workers as well as supervisors, about the clients, about God, about our lives. We've shared many laughs and many tears. She hasn't just been a co-worker, she has been a friend. The first true friend I've had in years (aside from my online friends of course). I've missed her and work hasn't been the same without her. I've worried about her (she's only 47 and her husband is away) since her recovery has been so slow. I admire many things about her, she's a true woman of faith. She's honest about her struggles with it but she hasn't wavered in her beliefs. Despite her newfound anxieties she still remains true in her relationship with God. People like that are rare and I admire her her strength through this difficult time.

Yesterday, she came to visit the clients for the first time since she left. So many of them swarmed to the door as she walked in, even the clients that weren't in our class. They all wanted to hug her and say hello. When Leslie (a girl in my class) saw her, she said "Maria's here" and her face lit up. She's schizophrenic and is in her head a lot (she talks to herself 80% of the day) so it was touching to see her whole demeanor change when she saw Maria through the doors. As all the clients hugged Maria, I began to cry and so was she. As you all have probably noticed, I'm a very sensitive/sentimental person. I'm often overcome with emotion and yesterday was no exception. It was a touching moment...and it probably did her spirit a lot of good to see them again. I think if I had to be away from them for that long, my heart would begin to ache. They become your family and they bring a lot of light to your life if you let them all the way in. She brought everyone in my class a plastic school-box and a box of crayons. She gives so much of herself...even though she's been sick, she still thinks about other people. Seeing her with the clients again made my heart ache. I've missed her and the goodness she brought to their lives. There are a lot of people where I work that don't think of the clients in the same way so it's easy to miss the people who truly care. I wish I had a camera for her visit...but the best I can do is to write it up here so when I look back on this day years from now, I can refer to this post. This journal is like my memory keeper.
 
 
feeling: touchedtouched
 
 
Nicole
09 June 2012 @ 09:14 pm
You ever have a moment where you feel like there are a thousand words fluttering around inside you but just as you close your hands around one, it disappears? But they're still there, hovering near the surface, afraid to come out into the light. I've been having a lot of those moments lately. There are times where I feel like I have to write down everything that occurs to me...every thought, every feeling, every moment. It's as if I'm afraid that everything inside me will be lost in time but then it all freezes up inside me and the words aren't expelled. They just remain in the mad swirl of my blood, beating somewhere near my heart, far from my brain. I think that urgency and fear comes from watching my grandfather's mind deteriorate. Death doesn't scare me, I believe I'll be with God then and at peace, but the idea of losing my memories scares me.

So where to begin? I think I'll begin with things that have been going on with the clients at work since a lot of my life/heart has gone into my time with them. Sometimes they're the only thing that makes getting up in the morning worth it. But there are those other times where I feel like I'm stuck inside a snowglobe. Nothing ever changes. Things get shaken up but they settle back into the ground until the next time someone shakes the world up again. That doesn't reflect on the clients, just some of the politics in the background, but I won't get into that now. I've been putting all of that behind me so I can focus on what really matters. But I digress. I feel like I've beaten this idea to death already, but it still remains true and present in my thoughts.

Last Friday, two of my co-workers and I took three clients to Dairy Queen for dinner. Rufus watched the machines make the ice cream and was convinced that one of the machines was broken because it wasn't moving (he's so adorable I swear). He watched CNN because they were talking about hurricane season and he wrote on the back of his menu the entire time. It was an ordinary thing but it felt good to spend time with him outside work. I feel like I don't get to connect/be with him as much as I did when there were only four clients in my classroom. Walter (a 75 year old casanova) ate French Fries and genuinely enjoyed his time out. Suzanne (a lady who says very little but responds to gestures more than words) was very animated. She kept saying "shopping" while we were driving to DQ and would look at us accusingly when we didn't stop at a store. It always warms my heart to go out with these guys...they are appreciative of the smallest things and they constantly remind me that I need to mimic them. On Thursday we took our entire class to my co-workers house for a picnic. I had to climb through the window to open the door because she forgot her key in her daughter's car. I laughed so hard and so did a few of the clients. They all wanted to eat the food they saw at her house instead of the lunch that was packed for them. Rufus was adamant about having Lucky Charms and they all wanted to eat chips. It stormed while they were there, but they still had a good time. They all asked if they could go back to her house for a picnic again. It was cool to see them in someone's house like that. It was a really special day and I'm glad I was there with them. It just strengthens my desire to be a guardian to someone like that someday.

In other news, my grandparents have adopted my cat, Tigerlilly. My grandpa often calls her his cat and will defend anything naughty that she does. I think she's brought a lot of joy to his life these last few weeks. Sometimes she'll lay on the couch and he'll pet her as she purrs. They've become quite attached to one another. My grandma has also taken to buying the cat loads of treats despite my protests. She has become the family cat and she's quite content with her lot in life. I'm considering making her a therapy cat, but I'll have to do more research on it before I make a final decision about that. For now she can just shower my grandparents with love and affection.

There's more I want to say but I'll leave that for another post. There are only so many blanks I can fill before the words sink back down into the darkness. At least, it has been that way here lately. I didn't express everything the way I wanted to but at least the words are finally out of me. And hopefully I'll remember the details that didn't make their way into my stories. Maybe it's good to focus on what I'm grateful for and let some of the other things slide on by. Because it's the joy that matters.
 
 
feeling: gratefulgrateful
 
 
Nicole
Over the weekend, my mom and I took a road-trip up to Atlanta for a couple of days. Saturday we went to the zoo and saw the usual lot of animals (elephants, lions, birds, etc). Although there weren't any rare animals there, I really loved the layout of the zoo. The exhibits were roomy and the animals looked healthy and happy. The weather was beautiful, about ten degrees cooler than it is here. Going to the zoo always makes me feel like a child...I still love to see the animals hop around and lounge in the grass. I still ooh and ahh over the giraffes and lions/tigers. At some exhibits, I could just stand there all day and watch the animals. But at the same time, when I watch the little kids run their parents ragged and hear them shriek with laugher, I feel out of place. Like I don't belong there because I don't have any kids of my own. But is anybody ever too old to enjoy things like that? Maybe we're just less likely to admit the childlike wonder that some of us still possess as we get older. There are bits and pieces of that wonder inside me, but not as much as there once was. So I try to hold onto the things that make me feel that way.

On Sunday, we went to the aquarium and watched a Dolphin show. It was amazing to see them swim and jump. I haven't seen a Dolphin show since I was in elementary school. The performance was so moving that I almost cried several times. They're such elegant, majestic creatures and they have such a deep, special bond with their trainers. It's humbling and moving. I also got to see the penguins up close while I was there which was exciting for me (they're one of my favorite animals). Aside from that, the aquarium didn't really excite me, I'm just not a fish lover, but it was still worth going. After that we went to the Coca-Cola museum and sampled different sodas from across the world. That was also a pretty cool experience. Then we drove across town and went to the high museum of art. Aside from the neo-classic sculptures scattered throughout the museum, there wasn't much there that appealed to me. But it was still nice to go to a quiet place to look at some beautiful artwork. The last time I got to do that was when I was still a student at Ball State (they had an awesome, but small art museum).

Sunday night we went to the amphitheater</i> to see Ted Nugent, Reo Speedwagon, and Styx in concert (the Midwest Express tour). It was raining when we got there but the place was still packed. Luckily our seats were under a roof so we still got the outdoor experience without getting wet. Ted's performance did not impress me. The music was loud and I had a throbbing headache before his set was over with. I've never really been a fan of his music and this concert did not change my mind. His set didn't last long and when Reo took the stage, I knew the tone of the concert was about to change. These guys, like Styx, still know how to get the audience pumped. I didn't know all of the songs they sang, but I was still dancing to them like I had heard them a hundred times before. My throat was a little raw by the time their set was over, but I was euphoric.

While we were waiting for Styx to take the stage, I was a bundle of nervous but excited energy. It may seem a little silly but it was like reuniting with an old friend. After seeing them on stage in March, I felt like I was already familiar with them in a way I hadn't been before so I was eager to see them again. As soon as Tommy and Lawrence took stage, I was on my feet, screaming and clapping along with a thousand other people. I was on my feet, dancing, singing, and swaying to the music the whole time they played. My throat was raw by the time they got to Come Sail Away. Before Lawrence started to sing that, he made this joke that after the world ends in seven months (JY referenced that earlier in the show), classic rock would rise again. The aliens would come and dig through the rubble, brush the iPads aside, and pick up a Styx album, lol. I love that guy, he's such a ham but he's a great showman. The audience got so involved in that song, it was awesome. I love the edge that Lawrence has brought to the song (I appreciate both versions of the song). Everybody was singing and I was dancing, it was so much fun. And then there was confetti when they sang Rocking the Paradise and everybody on stage was rocking along with the rest of us. That's what I love about Styx, you can see how much fun they're having and how well they all get along. It was exactly the way I remembered it being, but better. Tommy only sang a few songs this time and the other guys sang the majority of the songs they played. He looked a little sick/tired so maybe he needed a break from it but he was still as active on stage as he was the last time I saw them. He did sing
Man in the Wilderness</i> and it was hauntingly beautiful. It was my favorite of the entire concert. It was an amazing night and I can't wait to see them in concert again (yes I'm addicted).

It was a truly amazing weekend and it was something I've needed for a long time. To just get away and forget about life for a while. It's what I needed to get my energy and focus back. Hopefully, it will help me deal with some of the daily stressors I go through. I hope you all had a good weekend as well.
 
 
feeling: rejuvenatedrejuvenated
 
 
Nicole
29 April 2012 @ 08:43 pm
"Live in the present, and make it so beautiful that it will be worth remembering.” -Ida Scott Taylor

There are times, which are more frequent than I'd like, where I'm frustrated with my work life. Being a caretaker is not as glamorous as some people claim nor is it as much of a hardship as others would like to believe it is. It is, however, exactly the way it's portrayed in sociology/psychology books. There are struggles and there are moments where being a caretaker makes you feel undervalued. There's a lot of conflict between the different groups in the same company (the day program, the units, the office workers) and social theory comes to life in the mundane day-to-day activities. Why is this worth mentioning? Because if affects my ability to care for the clients the way I used to. Some of my co-workers cause a lot of tension and drama just for the sake of it. And sometimes I want to walk away, but I can't abandon them, not for that reason.

Last week, just as I felt there was no light at the end of the tunnel, three special clients turned that all around for me. First there's Trinh, a young girl I've worked with from the beginning. She rarely speaks and has the mentality of an eighteen month old. She's also a one-on-one because she's very unsteady on her feet (she goes days without sleeping sometimes) and has seizures. She loves to hold hands and her laugher is rare but magical. Friday, she came in with a smile on her face and when I said "hey" she began to repeat the word. Every time I said it back, she'd smile and then stop me so she could look into my eyes. Sometimes, it's overwhelming to look into her eyes because I feel like she can see something in me that other people can't. Her gaze is searching and intense. I felt my heart lighten as I looked at her and I was reminded again, of why I am where I am. I wonder if she knows how companionable her silence is and how much I love her.

After work on Friday, a co-worker and I took Kim (a girl in another class) and Deanna (a girl in our class) out to dinner. It was a lovely time and it reminded me of how special my time with these guys is. Kim is very verbal and she kept thanking us for taking her out to dinner. She's a very sweet girl and it was good to spend time with her outside of work. Deanna is unable to communicate verbally but she is able to sign a little. I had to cut her food into little bites and praise her continuously for her good behavior. She signed "I love you" and smiled one of those genuine smiles that are so rare. It was good to spend time with both of them, to get to know them outside the stress of work. It helps bond us more than we had been before. I'm grateful for these little moments because there are so many bad moments around the good ones. But the good makes the bad worth it in the end. I'm confident that I am where I should be and when it's time, God will direct me on the right path. I had lost that for a while, but Im going to try to hold onto it and learn to read the signs as they come. Or at least decipher the ones I've already received.
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feeling: thankfulthankful
 
 
 
Nicole
15 April 2012 @ 10:26 pm
I saw Titanic on the big screen for the first time in fourteen years. It was as awe-inspiring and riveting as it was the first time I saw it. Of course, as I've gotten older, the movie has taken on a whole new meaning. Back then, I didn't know what it was like to love someone and lose them or what romantic love even felt like. How beautiful and painful it can be. I've always loved Rose, but I understand her on a completely different level now than I did when I was twelve. She was a girl trapped by the expectations of her family and the society she lived in. There's so much symbolism in the film that I couldn't see when I was younger. It's a truly fantastic film that depicts not only the loss of that night, but the loss we all experience at some point in our lives.

Today I cried for the loss the real people of the Titanic experienced a hundred years ago. They were people just like us, people with hopes and dreams, joys and fears. Human error and arrogance ended the lives of over 1500 people. Unfortunately, tragedies like this still happen because people believe they are gods of the world. They believe they are invincible because of their earthly power. Their hubris becomes not only their demise, but the demise of innocent people. Maybe that's why people are still fascinated with this tragedy. For me, it's about the human beings involved. Their flaws, emotions, and loss. I hope the victims of the sinking are resting in peace now.

All that aside, it's nice to remember things associated with this movie. Like the poster that hung above my bed. I had others but that's the one that I loved the most. I also remember going to the mall to reserve a copy of the movie in advance (the waiting lists were ridiculously long). Some of the first purchases I ever made were also associated with this movie (the movie itself, the first soundtrack, and a book of posters). I also recorded the Oscars the year Titanic came out and fangirled over them like crazy. I watched everything related to the ship that I could find (mini-series, documentaries, and tv spoofs included). I probably watched the video to My Heart Will Go On a million times. I also recorded the song off the radio onto cassette tapes at least five times just to catch the versions of the song with sound-bites. These are random, probably trivial and silly memories I have but they're feel-good memories. Just interesting the things we remember about ourselves at the most unusual times.
 
 
feeling: melancholymelancholy
 
 
Nicole
20 March 2012 @ 10:12 pm
On February 19th, I adopted Tucker (a five month old Tabby) from Fiesty Acres at a Petco about half an hour from where I live. I had been looking for a companion for Tigerlilly for a while and when I saw Tucker, I knew I had to bring him home. He spent his first week here hiding and fighting with Tigerlilly but he has quickly settled in. He's a very quiet, introspective sort of cat who loves to cuddle. Quite the opposite of the fiesty, outspoken Tigerlilly. It took me this long to post/share pictures of him because I couldn't find the cable to our digital camera until now.

Tucker the wonder catCollapse )

In other news, I'm going to see another Styx concert on May 20th. I'm stoked and have surrendered my fangirl status. It was official after I ordered the Grand Illusion/Pieces of Eight - Live DVD/CD set and the Grand Illusion album. Sometimes it feels good just to be swept away by the music. Music that makes you feel, makes you think about things you can't really express through your own words. Music about life, love, God, emotion. All those things are wrapped into one for me. I think that's why Styx has swept me away, they're a very philosophical band and their music touches my intellect. And I just need something good to look forward to. There's so much chaos in my real life right now and I'm weary of it. The music gives me a way to escape it without numbing my heart to everything that's happening.
 
 
feeling: dorkydorky
 
 
Nicole
10 March 2012 @ 09:00 pm
Today I went to my first official concert (yes, I'm old but it was still the first) and it was absolutely amazing. I've always loved Styx, they were a band I discovered in middle school while going through my parents extensive CD collection. Their song lyrics and overall sound appealed to me in a way I hadn't really experienced before that. I always enjoyed classic rock music because it's what I grew up with, but Styx was probably the first band I really grew to love without the influence of my parents or peers. Over the years my obsession has dwindled, but my affection for them has never diminished. But today ignited that love all over again. They sound amazing live, even better than they sound on a recording. They have a lot of life and they're great showmen. It was obvious to me that these guys still love what they do. The energy remained high from start to finish, my hands still hurt from all the clapping I did. We sat fairly close to the stage so I got to see all their antics while they played. Lawrence stood on top of his keyboard several times and Tommy hammed it up for the audience. Everybody ate it up though. I thought the crowd was going to blow up, lol. There was so much screaming and clapping, it was a great time. Usually I hate the noise but I got caught up in it, that's what great music does to me. They just don't make music like they used to.

At one point, Tommy talked about how most of the songs they were playing never reached the top fives or even the top twenty, they made albums. He said all the songs from their Grand Illusion album were on the radio and everybody heard all of them. My mom said all their albums were number one even though most of their songs weren't. I thought that was really cool. You don't really see that anymore. Most artists just have one or two songs that you hear on the radio and you have to buy/download the album to the hear the rest. Times and music really has changed. I'm just glad I was able to see one of the great, older bands. It's something I'll carry with me the rest of my life. If they come out with a DVD from this performance, I'll definitely buy it. Though, they did say they have a DVD out already so I might just have to buy that.
 
 
feeling: hyperhyper
 
 
Nicole
04 March 2012 @ 10:52 pm
Yesterday, I turned another year older, but still not any wiser. When does wisdom begin? Sometimes I still feel like that lost little girl blowing out her birthday candles. Or that teenager without hope for the future and a deep pain that it took me years to fully understand. For much of my "adult" life I've felt like those two people, I just ping-pong from one to the other. There's progression, regression, and change but there are still those times where I feel like a younger version of myself. Does everyone feel that way or am I just missing the gene that makes you feel like an adult? Do we ever really feel like a grown-up or is there always that sense of who we used to be hovering beneath the surface? I look in the mirror and see the same eyes, the same freckles, the same scars. The features are just sharper (due to the weight I've lost the past year) but I still see the same girl that was always there. There's just an intimacy that comes from knowing yourself, all the thoughts and the secrets and the changes that others don't see so at the end of the day, you feel almost the same as you always were. I used to be terrified that I'd wake up one day and not recognize myself. It's a thought I had when I was about 11 and it has stayed with me all these years.

Today I rode the bike I got yesterday and it lightened that gnawing feeling I've had in my chest since Friday. I woke up yesterday and read all these articles at yahoo about the tornados that wreaked havoc across the midwest. I paused and my heart squeezed when I read about all the towns that suffered massive damage in southern Indiana, close to where I spent the majority of my growing years. It's like a panic came over me although I'm about 800 miles from there, mentally and physically. Like a hole got torn into my memory, like everything and everybody changed because of that reality. And there's the anxiety that comes with reading about tragedy. It's just different when it strikes places you were/are familiar with. It brings another shade to the picture. My cousins are okay, they're far from the areas where the tornados struck but there's a question mark over other members of my family. I pray they are, despite our estrangement, I wish them no ill.

But to digress back to the bike ride. It felt good to get my foot back into the pedals of a bike, it has been years since I've ridden a bike. It was a little awkward and crooked at first, but I quickly readjusted. Sometimes feeling the wind across my face makes me feel less alone, more in tune with my faith and the world. It grounds me. I just get this urge to run when my feelings are overwhelming, something that opened up inside me when I felt like Leslie was forgotten (see my last post). So the bike ride helped with that, it helped me reconnect with God. To see more clearly. Just the start of a long process.

My mind is such a jumble lately, it's hard for me to put two thoughts together and I doubt any of it is coherent. All I know is that the words don't express the feelings accurately. But all I can do is try, try to understand what's going on with me or to at least make peace with what I don't see. Some things are probably always going to be a mystery, maybe life is better that way.
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feeling: pensivewired
 
 
Nicole
29 February 2012 @ 10:29 pm
Since my curiosity is innate, I went back to the past: February 29th, 2008. Four years ago I was still in college, struggling through a mountain of paper work and impending stress. Midterms were upon me and I couldn't rest because of all the activity outside my dorm room. I have a dozen similar memories from my time at Ball State, sometimes when I close my eyes I can still picture myself there--my first home away from home. But those are memories that rush at me less and less. It's easy to forget the things that were familiar to us just a short time ago. It's like earlier when I opened a can of soft food for Tigerlilly, she stood up and meowed at me. One of the cats I grew up with, Roxie, used to stand up on her hind legs when we shook her treats. It's something I had forgotten until Tigerlilly did it.

Sometimes I worry about losing memories. Like if you don't think of things enough, they'll eventually vanish completely. But then there are reminders that help ease that worry. They're little spark starters. For example, sometimes I just look at the moon and I'm able to relive various moments of my life, sometimes I'm even able to capture the emotion I thought was gone.

Time is a funny thing. We can change so much and so little over the span of four years. I'm not the person I was then--no longer a student but I've also lost this edge I had then. My edges have softened with maturity and love. I've thought a lot lately about how memory works. How what we feel/think today will be forgotten at some point. So we're always changing, in that aspect at least. Sometimes I reread my posts from the past and they're even a mystery to me because the emotion that was there when I wrote them has disappeared. Sometimes I'm able to grasp the memory but other times it flies away from me. In four years, what will I think of this entry? Will I remember feeling this endlessness...this detachment from the things and people I love?



I'm just so confused by everything lately. I feel like I'm holding back from everyone because the stress at home is overwhelming. I still care about the clients I work with but it feels different lately. I cried my eyes out over it an hour ago. The tears were a release but I wonder if I'll feel that way again tomorrow. Like I'm further away from them than I used to be. Maybe it's all the changes lately, with work and home. I just keep praying that my heart will open again... I hate to feel so closed off. They don't deserve that from me. Maybe the fact that I care so much about it is a sign my heart isn't as closed off as I fear.
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feeling: apatheticapathetic