Saturday, January 9, 2016


From my layperson's perspective, there doesn't appear to be a lot of medical research into addiction. I suppose it is a little bit like malaria.  It's not news because it happens all the time.  News is reporting what's new or different, or what's changed.

I am heartened to hear of new medication options that might help people struggling with addiction.  (This is link to the radiolab episode "The Fix").

I remember when SSRIs were becoming more mainstream in the early 90s.  It's amazing how much difference medication can make.

Many friends (including me) were anti-medication.

And there are good reasons for the skepticism.  The psychiatric community historically has discriminated against women (if not people of color).  And that's completely ignoring the treatment of the LGBT community until quite recently.

But I also know many people who have benefited from the medications (including me).  For me, I think it's pretty obvious.  Just like my body not making enough thyroid hormone, my brain doesn't appear to handle serotonin appropriately.  For me, it's been an simple equation - I take thyroid medication, and my symptoms decrease.

So I agree with the notes in the podcast that medication radically changed how people viewed mental illness and talk therapy.

With that said, I still see a tremendous amount of value in talk therapy (i.e. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy).  Medication can work wonders, but there are still thought patterns that may need to be examined.  There are relationship skills that need to be learned (or strengthened).  CBT can help a person develop boundary setting and healing from trauma that cannot happen just through taking a pill. And it doesn't have to be a life sentence.  Medication may be needed for a short amount of time for getting through something (like death or a divorce), but can also be decreased over time.

So medication for addiction may be incredibly helpful for those struggling with addiction.  But in the end, there may also be a great deal of value in examining the underlying issues of addiction.  How does a person deal with the uncomfortable feelings that led to the addiction in the first place?  How does one interact socially when all social interactions involved a substance?

It's incredibly complex, and I'm not even scratching the surface of the issue's complexity.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

New Tricks

I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms. - Henry David Thoreau, Walden or Life in the Woods

The past years of transition have been ones with many firsts for me.  I am also consciously embarking on many new experiences.  I'm finding a mix between the comfort of routine and branching out.

I went golfing.  I am not a golfer, have never been a golfer.  I've played lots of mini-golf, but true golf is a bit different.  I've also played video game golf, but again, there's a big difference between clicking some buttons and determining one's stance.  It can be tricky not to hit the golf ball like a baseball.

I went golfing with my work team.  Mostly I drove the golf cart.  I knew ahead of time I would not be very good, and I wasn't.  But it was certainly a new experience.  I prefer to do things (particularly at work) that I know and understand.  There is already a great deal of programmer culture to appear that one knows different technologies or programs (whether or not one does).

There's a tendency to want to rest on my laurels, but that's not how I want to live.  I want to be doing and trying new things throughout my life, no matter what age.

Then this past week, I stayed in a hotel by myself.

It was one of those things I was struck by.  It must sound so odd.

Here I am, a professional woman in her late thirties, and I've never stayed in a hotel by myself before. It's not that I haven't traveled before (I have) or that I haven't stayed in a hotel before (I certainly have).  It's just that usually when I travel, I would go with someone else;  my kids, my former partner, friends or family.  Or, I would travel to a friend or relative's home (by myself) and stay with them.  I haven't traveled for work before and needed to stay in a hotel.

I suppose that's why it felt disjointed, I wasn't aware that this would be a new experience, and yet it was.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

What I miss

I don't miss a great deal about being married.  Is that heresy?

It seems like there is a lot of societal pressure to get married, to stay married, to be part of a couple (particularly for women).

These are some of the things I miss.

-Seeing my kids every day
It's not really part of marriage, but because their dad and I lived in the same home, I saw my kids every day.  Now that's not the reality.

-Changing light bulbs
As someone who is relatively short, it was nice to have someone taller around to be able to reach the light fixtures.

-Being able to easily drop my car off for service
It's a lot less complicated when you have two adult drivers.  I can drop my car off now, it's simply takes more effort and coordination.

-Comparing notes about my day
When you live with someone, it's nice to compare days and to support one another (daily).  I have lots of friends but it's not the same as having someone physically there.

-Having someone who could attend work events, etc. with me
It's a bit awkward at typical couples' events to be there by myself.  On the other hand, it's nice to only have to entertain myself, and not other people.

-Taking the babysitter home
It's a longer process to return home, pick up the kids and babysitter, take the babysitter home and then return home myself.

My former partner and I get along, so we're flexible when one of us is sick, needs to watch the kids, etc.

I know many divorced parents don't have that option.

Perhaps what's more strange is there isn't more that I miss.  Like anything, marriage has its advantages and disadvantages.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Flowers in British Columbia

mystery yellow flower 2015
Recently I had the privilege of travelling to Vancouver.  It is breathtakingly beautiful there.    
Blue hydrangea 2015
Stanley Park rose

Stanley Park Rose (Orange)
Tree growing out of granite

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Free range parenting fail?

The best part of childhood is exploring, getting dirty - experiencing the outdoors in all its splendor.  Not everyone agrees with me.

I live on a small lake.  I love going down to the water with my kids.  We skip stones.  We throw rocks in the water.  It's part of the reason I chose to live here.

There is a dead tree that fell into the lake. My two have been systematically taking it apart.  Tearing off the bark, breaking off the branches.

dead tree 2015
I would have done the same thing when I was ten.  And while growing up in my family was not always easy, my best memories are of exploring the outdoors.  Creating potions with leaves.  Building clubhouses underneath bushes.

Last Tuesday after dinner, we were out breaking branches.  All of a sudden, I hear "Are you going to clean that up?"  I didn't know where the voice was shouting from.  A neighbor was standing on his second floor porch and proceeded to curse us out (literally).  I started gathering the wood chips together.

He shouted things like "we all have to live here.  Now that tree looks like sh*t without its branches." "I've seen you here with your kids.  How can you let your kids do this? You're a (insert expletive here) mother".

We went inside.  I was shaken and upset.  My kids were shaken and upset.

I checked with the leasing office to find out the rules and to report this guy.  Sometimes people are jerks, which is what I told my kids.  If he has an issue with me, then he could have come down to the lake and discussed it with me as an adult.

Part of the injustice of it is that I know I'm a good mom.  Allowing my kids to explore the outdoors (while I'm right there) is part of what makes me a good parent.  Some jerk saying that I'm not a good mom, because he doesn't like what I'm doing is just his opinion, and doesn't make it true.

But part of the reason it upset me is that I work really, really hard to be the best mom, the best person I can be.  One guy's opinion doesn't change that.  And isn't it odd that we can hear twenty positive opinions but the negative one is the one we remember?

What kind of world will we live in when kids are indoors all the time in front of screens?  We already spend too much time in front of screens, consuming.  I haven't read the Nurtureshock or free range parenting books, but I'm familiar with the concept.  We spend so much time protecting our kids, so much time in sanitized situations, children are unprepared to deal with the world as adults.

I will continue to go down to the lake with my kids. We will continue to explore the outdoors.  Maybe we won't take apart the dead tree, but I'm not changing the way that I parent.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Not Intimated by Weather

Perhaps it was that my Mom grew up in mid-northern Canada (where it rarely got above 65 F in the summer).  Perhaps it's that her Mom was born and raised in mid-northern Canada.

Perhaps it's the other side of the family who has told multiple stories of driving through blizzards in the Utah/Idaho/Montana/North Dakota area where the interstates are closed (but they still keep driving).

I'm just not intimidated by the frigid temperatures and/or forecasts of snow.

Don't get me wrong, seven feet of snow is a big deal, and I would definitely be intimidated into cancelling events/plans for a six/seven feet of snow blizzard.

But given all this above history, a forecast of 1- 5 inches of snow and/or frigid temperatures is not going to keep me at home.  Just sayin'.

Everyone is different of course, and some people like staying inside and warm (curling up with a good book, movie, etc.)  I suppose this is where my extrovert side shines through.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Goals - 2015

February is here (the time for resolutions long past), but I heard this podcast the other day about goals.  I always heard about goals and goal-setting growing up, so to actually sit down and set goals seems anathema to me.

But I have set goals in the past (even sneaky goals) and I have met them.  The cast talks about sharing goal setting and successes with other people as encouragement.  So this is my encouragement to the few cranberry blog readers I have left; along with some of my current goals.

*I stopped drinking a particular diet caffeinated beverage daily.
This was not an easy thing.  One day I woke up and I had been drinking a particular diet beverage daily for years (probably over ten years). I had a routine.

I have no qualms with caffeine, but I had also read the numerous studies that showed this beverage's negative effects.  And my dentist wasn't happy with it either.  So I switched to unsweet tea and lemonade.  My dad (famously) said it wasn't possible but I've kicked the habit.  Frankly, I think the additives were more addicting than anything else.

*I stopped using as many paper plates.
At one point, paper plates were de rigeur at my house.  But with all the changes in my life in the past year, this is one thing that that has changed.  Perhaps it helps that my kids can help load the dishwasher.

But I've moved almost completely away from paper plates.  This gives me a strange satisfaction.  It's not as if my use of paper plates (or non use) will save the environment.  But it is one small thing I can do.  And I'm also washing some dishes by hand!  That would have been unthinkable some years ago.

* I try to read a classic book each year
So this goal I haven't been so good about following.  I did read The Mill on the Floss in 2013, but I haven't been as consistent as I'd like.  Fortunately, this is an easy goal to remedy, and the only person I'm accountable to is me.

This year the goals and resolutions are similar to last year, particularly this one:
*Try new foods
Trying new foods isn't terribly difficult for me, but it is a stretch for my kids.

*Spend an hour without screens each day
This one is also difficult for my kids. We've been reading books together (which counts), and also doing experiments from this book (Totally Irresponsible Science).  In the end, it's a good practice.

*Continue to work out
My apartment complex has a workout room that my kids can use with me.  It's a great benefit (though I think we probably annoy my neighbors).  I work out regularly and am planning on walking a half marathon in May.

*Continue to volunteer
Since I now have a lot more free time, I have time to volunteer.  While I have mixed feelings about my increase in free time, it's nice to be able to volunteer for various causes.  I'm honest about how much time I can spend, and can set my own hours.

*Pass a certification test for my work
I took this test last year, and unfortunately didn't pass (although I use the software daily).  Basically the test is written multiple choice with some trick questions (depending on the version of software).  I missed passing by two or three questions.  So I'm confident that if I study this year, I will be able to pass.

Best of luck to my readers (I haven't been writing as much, of late) in setting and working towards goals.