All posts by jEN

I'm jEN and I was born poor in the midwest of America more than three decades ago. I'm a vegetarian. I'm am artist. I'm a Macintosh geek and make my living with them. I believe that the Golden Rule is the only religion that the world needs. I love a freakishly broad range of music. I love movies. I volunteer. I love animals. I have many meaningful tattoos. I need to see the world and it's ancient treasures- just haven't gotten to it yet. I kicked cancer's ass. I have a passion and a lust for life. I'm holding a smooch just for you. Welcome and enjoy your stay. jEN

Kindness costs nothing and makes all the difference


I had a positively delightful interaction with the fella who delivered our fuel oil today. He’s probably in his twenties, slim, regional accent, and nice as pie. I make a point to greet every person who provides our home with a service and typically they get a cup of tea or coffee if they’ll have one. This is how I was raised, but also, I know what it’s like to do manual “blue collar” jobs, to sometimes feel invisible, but be providing a vital service for others. I’ve worked food service, window washing, plastic parts picker on a factory floor, and more.

When we moved into this house about six months ago, nearly everyone who helped us move brought a package of biscuits (cookies). We don’t eat biscuits much, so I decided to give them away when I could. The first time I met our bin collection crew I rushed out to catch them and asked if they’d have some. The look of joy and surprise on their faces told me that they don’t often get offers of biscuits and I’d guess they don’t get a lot of people rushing out just to say hello either. To this day, as they barrel down the drive on a Tuesday morning, if I’m not outside simply to say “Alright? Gorgeous day, isn’t it?” then they look into the big kitchen window and we wave or give thumbs-up to one another. There are always smiles. Even if I’d never given them biscuits, the friendliness counts and makes us all feel good.

So today’s fuel oil delivery involved me making him a cup of tea, having a nice chat and he taught me about a fuel additive that may save us money and help the efficiency of the AGA (and he may have popped a bottle of that stuff in without charging but it’s our secret…). I joked that I wished I’d had biscuits to go with his tea (but if only he’d known his timing was off by about five or six months I would’ve given him a whole package of them!). He was so nice and all it took was ten minutes out of my day to connect with someone doing a largely unnoticed but vital job and we made each other smile. I’m still smiling.

I know we live in a busy world, but these little kindness moments keep us human, connect us, make us smile, and make all the difference in our days. They matter.

So long, Stephen Hawking

We found out this morning that genius Stephen Hawking has died. I mentioned to Pete that all the cool birthday buddies I have are now dead. Elvis, David Bowie, Stephen Hawking- we all share being January 8 babies.

Determined to raise my spirits to give me a new, living birthday buddy list, Pete started an internet search…

P: Kim Jong-un?
J: Uh, no.
P: R Kelly?
(He’s clearly winding me up.)
J: Also, no.
P: Betsy DeVos?
J: I’m not listening.

So, I just looked up “famous” January 8 babies. I have no idea who most of these “famous” people are, but the list includes soccer players, Twitter and Instagram “stars”. Yeah… No more geniuses left. Just me. It’s lonely at the top. 😉

The lost art of writing a blog post

I often think about writing. I used to enjoy the exercise, the stringing together of words into paragraphs that get my thoughts out there, mostly for myself. Plenty of people seem to “get” what I’m saying in my posts, and that’s great, but I think I miss writing for me the most. It’s indulgent, therapeutic, and keeps my communication skills a little bit sharper.

I’ve opened this blog several times with the idea of writing, but once in, a creeping anxiety over “what do I have to say” causes me to shut the browser tab without so much as deciding a post title. It’s the writing equivalent to approaching the empty swimming pool on a slightly out of season holiday, dipping a few toes, then turning back to the sun lounger where at least the sun is warm. Approach and retreat. Rinse and repeat.

I haven’t felt well lately, and your guess is as good as mine as to what length of time that is. But, lately I’ve felt even more symptoms that usual when dealing with my mental health. I am tired. I have headaches, nausea, insomnia, dread, and an crippling inability to do things. I’m not in despair with tears as I get with my brand of clinical depression, but rather I have a “quiet on the outside, screaming on the inside” anxiety that I’ve now pinpointed as Generalised Anxiety Disorder. This part of my brain behaviour is getting worse as I get older, and I’m not sure why. If my mental health issues were in a race, I’d say my ADHD is still leading, with GAD having now lapped my bipolar depression. Interestingly, as I get older, the bipolar part of my depression (which was spotted in therapy years and years ago during ADHD treatment) seems to be subsiding into a less pendulum-swinging type of depression and more gentle waves alternating between “ok” and “despair”. While that is welcome, and frankly easier to deal with, this anxiety bastard has more than stepped up to fill the drama void. I am in a quiet hell and it now comes with physical symptoms. Lucky me.

So, I’ve admitted to you – and myself – how serious this actually is. That’s not easy. I am also looking to relieve and change this shit ticket to GADville. I don’t want therapy, I don’t want drugs. I will be trying very hard to recognise and shift behaviours when I spot them. I have a headache and nausea right now and know that sleep isn’t going to help- in fact, the idea of going to bed fills me with more dread because I know how much work I have to do. I do what I can to make progress every day, but I’m really only about 30% productive (maybe less, so that feels crap too). I have so much I want to do in life that sleeping when I feel anxious creates more anxiety. The solution is to do something. I am going down to the beach to look for sea glass, and the idea of taking time for me in that way is as bad as taking a nap; nausea flares, my temples pound, and I can’t imagine how I can leave the house like this. But at least it’s not sleeping, and I am positive that fresh air and simple exercise will help me, so I’ll force myself to go. I need to be alone, focus on the pebbles, let the sea air medicate me. Then I need to get to work…

It felt good to write this. I’ll write more again (no promises on when) and I am hoping the topics branch out beyond my mental health struggles soon. The only thing I write these days are the scripts for my video classes, so I need some balance. Balance. That’s what I want. I don’t want a “healthy” brain, I want my brain, but with more balance and no one but myself can make that happen. Time to hold my breath, exhale, and walk out the front door. Beach therapy is waiting.