Monday, September 2, 2013

"I am Here to Live Out Loud" *

Well, I go and quote that, and yet I have been silent in here since October of last year. What have I been doing in all that time? A quick wrap up in no particular order:

I finished school in June and received my diploma in mid-July. I graduated summa cum laude with a degree in Creative Writing and English, and a minor in English Language and Literature. The plan was to start writing for a newspaper or magazine, but as is often the case in life things change. Because,

In February, I started volunteering at the local mental health authority and I was hired for part time work there in March. My position is Peer Provider (now with training and testing, it is Peer Specialist). This means I work with other people with psychiatric challenges and diagnoses to help them achieve a life beyond their illness, help them on their paths to recovery, and to be an example of what we can all achieve even with the problems that beset. Not all of them will go back to school, but some will. Some will get jobs, get their own apartments and houses, learn to drive, learn to shop on their own again and keep a budget: all the things I thought I might never do when I was first diagnosed with bipolar almost 9 years ago.

I met my coworker, Rhonda, when I got this job. We share an office and she, too, is a Peer Specialist. Her diagnosis is different than mine, but the challenges remain similar and our jobs are the same. We hit it off from the beginning and have become good friends. We were both hired for full-time positions which we start this week, still share an office, and now we hang out after work and on weekends, too. For the past four or five years, my New Year's Resolutions have included: "Make one new friend." This year, it finally took, with little effort on my part.

In March or April, I went for a week long training in Austin to become a Peer Specialist. My boss was along for the ride down there because he was helping teach the course. Great for me, because I'm a chicken about driving. However, he had another meeting to attend after ours was over, and I had to drop him off and drive home by myself. I did it with some trepidation and a bit of a turn around when I took the wrong exit, but I ended up enjoying the ride home. Rental cars are always so nice to drive, it even turned out to be fun.

In May/June, Rhonda and I went to Houston for a three day "Focus for Life" training. We stayed in a hotel next to the one that burned down and in which several firefighters were killed. We were the only ones in our hotel for the remainder of the weekend, so that was kind of surreal. The training was fantastic and life-changing.

In June, we went to a couple of seminars, one here in Wichita Falls and one in Dallas, then we traveled to Dallas for the Advanced Course for Peer Specialists for three days. I traveled alone to Austin for a two-day course in July, and that put an end to travels and trainings for a while. Now, Rhonda and I, along with our boss, are looking forward to a convention in December, also to be held in Austin, in which people working in the mental health field come together from all over the state to learn about all kinds of things. I don't know all the particulars yet, but I'm hoping we get to go.

I quit working at Cracker Barrel back in March. I had received my five year pin in August and had made a promise to myself that I wouldn't be there for a ten year pin. Now that I am away from all the noise and visual stimulation, I find that I can work much better. I knew that an office environment would be good for me, and this new job is wonderful for that. I made friends at Cracker Barrel among my coworkers and I miss them, but I don't miss all the sensory overload that I had while I was there.

Now I am starting a new chapter. Tomorrow is my first day of full-time work and it is the first time in eight years I have worked full-time, even including the nine months I worked three different part-time jobs at the same time. I have started attending church again, including a women's Bible Study that starts tomorrow evening. Rhonda and I have also joined a 21-day challenge (below) that also includes an exercise plan and walking a mile a day. I'll get my mile in on my lunch hour at the 50+ Zone where I am now a member. I've met a gentlemen there that I talk with and go to the Zone's movies with from time to time. It's not a relationship, but a friendship, and that's fine by me.

So that's what is new with me since October. I'm sure there have been other things, but none earth-shattering that I can think of...not in my life anyway. I have been challenged to blog about my 21-Day Challenge and how things are going with that, so I will.

For now, I'm getting ready to go out with Rhonda for one last brownie before the big event. I plan to keep living life out loud, if without soda and yummies!

* Emile Zola


  1. I enjoyed your post. You have been busy over the past year. It's always good to hear good things happening to other people; or at least it is in my eyes. Best wishes on the 21-Day Challenge/soon to be a lifestyle.

    1. Thank you, Donald. I wish you all the best in your own endeavors!