Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Book: This Heart of Mine by Brenda Novak

This Heart of Mine by Brenda Novak

I truly enjoyed this one. The people of Whiskey Creek are interesting, and each couple has unique problems.

In this case, Phoenix comes back to Whiskey Creek from prison, and is determined to get to know the son she couldn't raise. She's got serious self-esteem issues, and bends over backward to keep from offending anyone, least of all her son, Jake, or her co-parent, Riley, to earn a place in her son's life. Jake seems equally determined to have her in his life whether she "deserves" it or not.

I have been where she is - not the seventeen years in prison part, but the part where it's safer to keep people away because how can they honestly like me, so I go out of my way to make myself unlikable part. The portrayal of Phoenix's inner workings might seem overdramatic or unbelievable to someone who's never suffered from self-esteem issues, but it's pretty accurate. It takes work and effort to overcome a bad beginning. That's one small part of the story which didn't quite ring true for me: the lack of mention of any kind of mental health work while Phoenix was incarcerated, or after she was released.

Getting glimpses of couples whose stories I've previously read was lovely, and in this case, the "gang" took a very secondary place to Phoenix and Riley and Jake.

The focus of the story was very much on the person with the most to lose - Phoenix. Her relationship with her son develops nicely, with realistic growth of trust and affection on each of their parts. Jake is very definitely a unique kid - a good one - and I'd love to someday read the story of him falling in love himself.

I like that she's determined to stay in her mother's life, that she understands what's driving her mother's behavior (some of it), and that she hopes to address her mother's problems in a slow and realistic way.

I would have liked to learn a bit more about Phoenix's prison friendship with Coop, and I'm very curious about who's buying all of her work, because that seemed to be important, then wasn't ever developed further, but for the most part, the pace and plotting of this one were good. I *really* appreciated that this book ended with a resolution which was very true to this particular couple.

The author gave me a PDF copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Depression as a way of life.

Apologies for the extremely long period of radio silence. Dad's death was hard and I just haven't wanted to deal with writing a post, not that I'm usually a post-every-day girl anyway.

Link to article with more information.


I'm sharing this as more of a PSA or even a glimpse into my soul rather than any grab for pity or whatever. My depression is something I live with, always have. I cannot remember ever having a period of happiness that lasted more than a few weeks, though from pictures, I was brilliantly happy for the first four or five years. My baseline is below normal, and it's both the way my brain is wired, and long-term effects of a childhood gone way wrong. But my ultimate takeaway is this: I'm still alive. I survived my childhood and if I can survive that, I can survive anything life throws at me. It's gotten harder the last few years, I'll admit that, and suicidal ideation comes up more frequently, but it's not gonna get me. I may not be kicking depression's ass, but it's not kicking mine, either.

I've had to make adjustments to how I live my life. Things that are easy for other people aren't for me. I will gladly spend hours walking through IKEA with someone I love, but I'll pay for it later, and that's a choice I make. These are things I deal with on a daily basis, exacerbated by chronic pain from a body that started to break down in my twenties.

Some of these have been worse than usual since my dad died. The grief hit me much harder than I expected it to, and is compounded by the fact that we'd reconciled some old hurts and were getting to know each other again after half a lifetime of semi-estrangement. Seven months with my dad wasn't nearly enough, but I'm so very glad I had them.

The two glaring exceptions for me are guilt and sensitivity.

I carried around guilt for something big for a long time, but during counseling about eight years ago, the therapist worded his response to my confession in such a way that I was finally able to see, clearly, that what happened to me was NOT my fault. It was like magic! It made an enormous difference in my life. I mean sure, I sometimes wonder if I could have handled any number of things differently, but letting go of the guilt for that thing helped me let go of the guilt for so much more. I'm not ashamed of who I am anymore. I still hold people off, and I'm hard to get to know, but I'm me and I'm cool with that.

I'm not as thin-skinned as I used to be, either. Maybe it's age, maybe it's becoming comfortable in my own skin. Who knows? But I don't care what people think about me anymore. It's none of my business. So when people are intentionally or accidentally hurtful, I no longer take it personally. There are exceptions, of course. Nobody's perfect, for frak's sake, but I tend to respond now, if I respond at all, with a simple, "Thank you." It freaks people the frak out, and is such a state-interruptor they have to think about what they just said, and sometimes, it makes a difference for that person. Do I value people's opinions? Yes. I can use even hurtful words to examine myself and make changes if necessary. But I don't live my life in fear that someone doesn't like me.

Hopelessness comes and goes. Sometimes, things seem absolutely bleak and I can't see a way out, but I still hope, and I keep going, and eventually, things get better enough.

Am I Pollyanna? Not in a million years. Am I happy? Not very often. But I'm alive, and every day above ground is a good day.


Indifference: Things that used to matter or were once felt to be important fade into the background. You lose enthusiasm and interest.

Energy Loss: It's very common to feel you've done a full day of heavy labor when in fact the day hasn't even begun. Energy loss and fatigue are common symptoms of depression.

Enjoyment bypass: For some reason things don't smell or taste as good as they once used to. Your senses lose their edge and the pleasures once enjoyed diminish.

Guilt: The most human of errors are judged disproportionately. Minor mistakes or indiscretions, even distant memories, may be thought of with shame or guilt.

Tears or Torpor: Some people with depression feel great despondency and sadness and cry a great deal. Others go emotionally flat. They feel flat and hollow inside as though their emotions have been drained.

Aches and Pains: There is often an increase in physical symptoms when people become depressed. They may complain of back pain, headaches or stomach upsets or just a vague sense of feeling generally unwell.

Hopelessness: When people are depressed the world and their future in it seems an altogether bleak prospect. There's often a sense that no matter what you say or do nothing will ever change except perhaps for the worse.

Anxiety: When depression strikes it is invariably accompanied by worry and anxiety and, not uncommonly, one or more stressful experiences is the culprit. The way we respond and adapt to stressful situations can have an important bearing on our vulnerability to depression.

Moodiness: Irritability and general moodiness are common ingredients in the depression mix. You may find yourself becoming impatient, tetchy, argumentative and intolerant.

Sensitivity: People with depression are on high alert for anything that fuels their vulnerabilities. Implied or direct criticism or rejection aren't received well and reinforce a state of worthlessness and hopelessness.


If reading this resonates strongly for anybody, remember one thing. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

Monday, August 11, 2014

RIP Paul Ford 08/05/2014

BEDFORD -- Retired USAF Chief Master Sergeant Paul Douglas Ford died Tuesday, August 5, 2014, at the age of 72, with his wife and eldest daughter in attendance.

Memorial service: 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, August 28, at 917 Edgecliff Drive in Bedford.

Memorials: In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in memory of Paul Ford to the Children's Advocacy Centers Association of Texas; online at or by mail to Children's Advocacy Centers of Texas, 1501 W. Anderson Lane, Building B-1, Austin, Texas 78757.

Paul was born in Clovis, New Mexico in 1942, the son of Gilbert and Leola Ford, and raised in Tahoka. He attended Texas Tech University before enlisting in the United States Air Force in 1962 where he served with distinction until 1984. He retired from the HQ Air Training Command at the rank of Chief Master Sergeant, with service in Japan, Korea, Thailand, and various locations in the continental United States.

In 1985 he began his second career with the USAF Civil Service at Kelly AFB in San Antonio, and continued at Tinker AFB in Oklahoma, until his retirement in 2003. He served as chief of the Analysis and Administration Branch and of the Tactical/Trainer Engine Support Branch, and as Logistics Management Supervisor.

In 2003, Paul earned his Bachelor of Science in Management, graduating summa cum laude from Park University, and began his third career as director of Government Programs for Dallas Airmotive, where he worked until his death.

Paul was a voracious reader. He enjoyed fishing and basketball and maintained a bountiful vegetable garden for many, many years.

He will be remembered for his 52 years of extraordinary service to his country, for his willingness to share his wisdom, advice, and guidance, for his love of his family, and for his big laugh.

Survivors: His wife of 42 years, Camella "Candy" Ford; his children, Lana, Loralee, Victoria, Douglas, and Joe; as well as his granddaughter, Amelia, and great grandson, Ryan. In addition, he is survived by many other relatives, friends and colleagues.

My dad and Ryan just before the kids left for Italy. Ryan will turn four in October.

There is a gofundme to get my daughter and Ryan home for dad's memorial. Spread the word if you like.