Sunday, September 30, 2012

Snapshot 093012

That mirror? It's from my car. Notice, it's not actually on my car in this first picture. A kid in the program next door went on a rampage all across campus and my poor little car somehow ended up in the wake of destruction. Right before leaving, one of my own boys decided it was unsafe for me to drive home without it, so he taped it back on for me. 

This made me smile. But the smile quickly faded as I drove home.

S. o. o. o. o. o. . .
S. l. e. e. p. y . . .

Somehow through the drudge of sleepiness, my brain runs (as though in mud) through the scenarios of the day. Processing...

A new(ish) boy, who we'll refer to as Mississippi, well... he's just very sick. He's lucked out and basically been handed nearly every bad card there is in the deck: abuse history galore, abandoned and unwanted, low-functioning, funny looking, traumatized by Hurricane Katrina... the whole gambit.

At this very moment, he's sitting in the back of a big van between a therapist and a large Samoan man, being driven to a mental hospital. And he has no clue where they're going. He thinks they're just out for a nice Sunday drive...

But it's better that way. Or, at least, I think it is.
No sense in giving him a reason to freak out.
He's not really able to 'prepare himself' like many of us...

Seventeen hour shift. Behaviors. Property damage. AWOL's. Fights. Restraints. Protective Seclusion. Creative weaponry. Crisis de-escalation. Hospitalization.

And all those thoughts waft away as I devote my mind to one important question...

Who do I miss more?
My wife or my pillow?

At this point, it's hard to say...
Sorry, Sweet Pea...

I Heard it Through the Grapevine

I heard it through the grapevine...
I'm too nice. 

I'm never quite sure what to think when I hear that, but it's reasonable to interpret it as a micro-insult.

There are a lot of different camps of thinking in this field of group-home childcare. Although I'm not exactly the militant type, I know the world's problems cannot be hugged away.

Grape A told Grape B that a coworker and I are just too nice to the kids. And apparently that's a problem.

Grape B told me she explained to Grape A that we are good men and are Christian.

She then went on to say we all have strengths and weaknesses. She agreed we might need to grow in the area of firmness, but that our close rapport with the kids prove to be effective tools in behavior management.

Grape B basically said the same thing as Grape A, but with a couple major exceptions: 1) she actually said it to ME and 2) she didn't just tear me down. She was constructive, encouraging, and helpful.

My methods and motivation to work with the kids vary greatly. On one hand, I want to beat them into submission, quickly and sufficiently snuffing out all their nasty behaviors so I can look like a bad-ass life changer.

On the other hand, I know I need to just stand back and allow The Vine, the numero uno Bad-Ass Life Changer, to... well, change lives. And if I'm lucky, He'll do it through me.

Granted, that's not to say I couldn't toughen up a bit.
Although I already feel a little like rawhide sometimes...
Yep, that's a little self-defensiveness seeping through :-)

So now that we're all thinking about grapes (and you all know you got that awesome Marvin Gaye song stuck in you head), let's talk about fruit real quick.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." Galations 5:22

This is not me. But this is what I aspire to be. And with that in mind, I do actually need to toughen up. A lot. Toughen up enough to pay no mind to Grapes like A, thank God and surround myself with more Grapes like B, and always look to The Vine for guidance.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

well worth the 4min it takes to read

*by Jay K. Payleitner

sunday school and sweat shops

"A Sunday school is an institution designed to teach people, usually children, about Christianity, named such because most Christian churches meet on Sunday.

Sunday schools were first set up in the 1780s to provide education to working children on their one day off from the factory. It was proposed by Robert Raikes, editor of the Gloucester Journal in an article in his Journal and supported by many clergymen. It aimed to teach the youngsters reading, writing and cyphering and a knowledge of the Bible.[2] It was a full 90 years in 1870 before children could attend schools during the week." -Per the eternally dependable Wikipedia.

Who knew!? What an origin...
Thank you for prompting this interesting research!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Snapshot 092823 1700 PST

Mmm... Starbucks...

Pumpkin spice latte.
With an extra shot of espresso.

Please and thank you!

I know, I know... so rugged and manly I should probably be drinking it from the skull of a bear I killed with my very own hands...

MOG 092812

More drugs. More and more drugs. Do they alleviate or exacerbate this mess? I'm sitting in the pharmacy waiting for a prescription of mood stabilizers and anti-depressants to be filled.

Same drugs.
Higher dose.

I met with my psychiatrist today. He's taken good care of me so far, so I'm just going to go with it and pray harder.

I've slept less than four hours within the past two days. I feel fragile, like the slightest impact could shatter me. I'm sure some of that is simply a result of the vulnerability of this whole process of appointments, etc., but it's unpleasant. I just want to skip school and call off work so I can crawl into bed, regardless of whether or not I will actually sleep.

But alas, forward ho! Grabbing some coffee then off to class.

from the mouth of babes

"Hey, Natey Pooh! Will you fold my socks?"
"No. You're thirteen. You can do it."
"Well, $#@% you then! Lazy son of a %$&!#!"
"You're such a sweetheart."

Feedjit's Return

Four months and six days ago I deleted the Feedjit widget from my blog. In case you're not familiar with what I'm referring to, it's this nifty little thing near the bottom of my sidebar that accounts for every visitor I get on this site.

Yep, you. 

I learn what city and country you're from, what internet browser you're using such as Safari or Firefox, and it even tells me how you stumbled across my blog such as a direct link, Google search, a referring website such as Facebook, etc.

Basically, it offers me somewhat of a limited demographic of my audience. It's not always dead-on, but it's usually pretty accurate.

So why did I delete it? Well, remember that word 'audience' I used two sentences back?
I don't like it.

Don't get me wrong here.
Read me. Please read me.

But accruing readers was not my original interest when beginning this blog. I wanted to create a space of catharsis. A place for authenticity. A way to express creativity. To vent. To rejoice. To praise.

A place to accurately and honestly document the journey of a Christian, stripped of the stereotypes of continual cheer and optimism. A snippet of my song. With hopes to encourage other believers who just can't seem to wear a smile 24/7. With hopes to bring honor and glory to God.

But tracking the numbers of visits became a little too much distraction from this mission and clouded my mind while writing.

"That was an awesome post! MORE people should read it C'mon folks!" or "Ugh! I can't believe I actually wrote that in a public forum. TMI. And ALL those people read it :-/"

So I took some space to realign myself. And just out of pure curiosity, I'm giving it another shot. Welcome back, Feedjit!

even ink under my skin: whorehouses to holiness

Him: Your last name is Harris? Like the big whorehouse?
Me: Um?
Him: You don't know? Yeah, man. It was nice! Hundred bucks a girl, but they were clean, you know? They were clean! That makes it worth a hundred bucks, you know, dude?
Me: Hm...
Him: They shut it down though, dude. It was nice, man. Real nice.
Me: Oh.

Several minutes later he asked me what my tattoo's mean. I explained that one is the Greek word originally used in the Book of Ephesians to describe man as God's masterpiece, created for a purpose in Him. My other tattoo is Hebrew for hosanna, or "I worship you, God! I need You to save me!"

Him: Oh, you go to church, man? That's good, dude. Real good.

All within a ten minute time span, our conversation ranged from whorehouses to holiness.
Prostitutes to the Prince of Peace. Sexual favors to One True Savior.

Sorry. I get a little carried away with alliterations sometimes...

Anyway, whether you think tattoo's are sinful and senseless or beautiful body art, it's undeniable that, today, God used mine to draw focus to Himself.

From the darkness of the world and flesh to the eternal light of Him and His Kingdom...

God uses everything. Even me.
And even ink under my skin.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

MOG 092712

Feeling just a little disappointed. I had a difficult time falling asleep after work today. When I woke up after finally dozing off, I just felt kinda crummy. Last night I thought that maybe I was on the mend, and perhaps I still am. I may be feeling crummy because of lack of sleep today. Either way, I do have a psychiatry appointment tomorrow and just knowing that offers some comfort. God is good and He continues to amaze me with His timing.

Prompt: Special Request

We all do it. Well... a lot of us do it. You scan the menu until you find it, and there it is; the perfect dish. Perfect except... Maybe you'd rather hold off on the ketchup. Maybe you wanna supplement beef for chicken, for an upcharge, of course. Maybe you'd... whatev. You get it. So what's your special request?

Chips. Those damn chips.
Crunchy, salty goodness.

Kimberly and I love Mexican food. Nine out of ten times, if we're eating out, it's Mexican. But those chips...

They don't even let you get seated before they throw a basket of chips on the table with a side of salsa. And sometimes... oh, those glorious moments, sometimes the chips are fresh out of the frier, all hot and greasy.


But, as delightful as they are, at 600 calories in a 4oz serving, they're not exactly helpful on the battlefield against the bulge. So, as painful as it is for me to say... take these chips away from me.

Take them now. Quickly.
No, really. Now. Fast.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

MOG 092612

I've written. Lots. Some posted, some not. All cathartic. Sunday service at the Branches was great. Fellowship with my church family. Date night with my lovely wife. A great not-so-epic but still sweat-inducing-hike with my best friend. A lovely text message from my momma. 

I've slept. I've ate. I've laughed. I talked. I've sweat. I've prayed. I've read the bible.

I feel good this morning. I've felt good since yesterday. Almost normal. Maybe I'm coming to the end of a mood cycle, or maybe this is just some of those random throw-back days. 

Either way, I'm grateful.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Just because...

I came home to a gift bag on the dining room table with my name on it. A beautiful card. The CD I've been wanting. An awesome hoodie I've been eyeballing for a few weeks now. All just because. She is amazing. I am blessed.

Rewind. Repeat. Re-post.

Sometimes I like to take a look back at posts I've written from the past. This blog is definitely an accurate representation of how chaotic my brain is, so I'm never quite sure what sort of mess I'll stumble across.

Today I decided I was going to find out what was going through my mind four years ago, as this is the furthest my blog goes back. So I used my handy-dandy timeline widget and found myself stepping back to September 23, 2008

God works in mysterious ways.

Amidst this dark spiritual valley modernly known as a depressive episode, I'm reading these words God inspired me to write exactly four years ago..

The light is dimming as I wander from Your path / I don’t know where I’m going but I know right where I’m at / I’ve been down this road before, traveling in the dark / But then you lit the way for me that led right where You are / And I lived in Your light / I shared in Your life / The blood of Jesus Christ Made me clean / Do it again. Here I am. /  Bowing down. I lift up my hands. / Do it again. I repent. / Father God. Hosanna! Amen. / Do it again. / The truth is with me when I live my life for You / Lovingly You guide me when I allow You to / God I’ve been unfaithful, my eyes have turned from Your face / Now here I am all lost again, Lord, I need Your grace / To live in Your light / To share in Your life / By the blood of Jesus Christ make me clean / Do it again. Here I am. / Bowing down. I lift up my hands. / Do it again. I repent. / Father God. Hosanna! Amen. / Do it again. / I will live in Your light / I will share in Your life / The blood of Jesus Christ makes me clean / I will live in Your light / I will share in Your life / The blood of Jesus Christ makes me clean / Do it again. Here I am. / Bowing down. I lift up my hands. / Do it again. I repent. / Father God. Hosanna! Amen. / Do it again. Here I am. / Bowing down. I lift up my hands. / Do it again. I repent. / Father God. Hosanna! Amen. / Do it again. 
"... In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world."

-John 16:33b

intelligent people and stupid ones

Pysch 101: Major Depressive Episode

Experiencing at least five of the nine symptoms listed below for two or more consecutive weeks may be indicative of a Major Depressive Episode if the symptoms cause distress or impairment to social, occupational, and other areas of function. These symptoms must not be the direct effect of any general medical condition or of any form of substance, and cannot be better accounted for by Bereavement (up to two months following a significant loss), otherwise a diagnosis of a Major Depressive Episode cannot be made.

 - Loss of interest and pleasure in nearly all activities. 

- Described mood as depressed, sad, hopeless, discouraged, or "down in the dumps." May feel "blah," anxious, numb, etc.

- Overall decreased appetite accompanied by increased cravings for specific foods (i.e., sweets or other carbohydrates) resulting in weight gain or unintentional weight-loss.

- Sleep issues ranging from hypersomnia (oversleeping), middle insomnia (difficulty staying asleep, waking up frequently), terminal insomnia (waking up and not able to fall back to sleep at all), and initial insomnia (difficulty or inability to fall asleep altogether).

- Psychomotor agitation (restlessness, jittery) or retardation (sensation of moving in slow-motion). 

- Loss of energy. Fatigued. 

- Feelings of worthlessness and/or inappropriate, excessive guilt.

- Increased irritability, demonstrating an exaggerated sense of frustration over minor matters. Obsessive rumination. May experience panic attacks. 
- Memory and concentration difficulties. Indecisiveness.

- Reoccurring thoughts of death, suicidal ideations and possible attempts. Belief that others would be better off without them, etc. 

Treatment and management of a Major Depressive Episode vary greatly based on resources, care providers, and clients' preference. Research online and speak to your general medical practitioner, therapist, and/or insurance company to explore options. If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts and are in immediate threat of injury or death, call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at1-800-273-8255.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

MOG 092212

It called my name, like a beacon to my butt. I couldn't help but sit and do absolutely nothing but just that: sit.

I didn't even think.

I just breathed.
Felt the cool air.

Breathed some more.

Ten minutes of blissful nothingness.

I haven't denied myself of mini-breaks here and there.  I'll minimize the Word docs, close the DSM-IV-TR, and pull up something fun and pointless on Netflix for a little while.

But the whole time I'm 'relaxing,' I'm thinking. Strategizing.
Mentally going through the to-do-list with a fine tooth comb.

The hours at work only build. The assignments for school continue to skyrocket. The readings are towering.

It's been days since I showered. Yes, I'm openly putting that out there. No, that's not typically me. But when calculating sleep in minutes instead of hours amidst an insane schedule, I'd prefer a twenty minute nap. Real talk.

My mouth is full of canker sores; an unpleasant sign my body is not dealing well with stress. One word text messages turn into hours worth of worry about relationships and rapports; over analyzing, which interrupts those aforementioned naps sprinkling my day here and there. My appetite is waning, unless sugar is involved, in which case utensils become optional.

Patience is down. Emotions are up.
And I'm all over the place.

Friday, September 21, 2012

I just washed down a mood stabilizer and an anti-anxiety medication with a swig of energy drink. Counter productive? Probably...

Friday, September 14, 2012

bubblegum belly laughs

It was very unkind of me, but I couldn't hold the laughter in... One of our boys at work is extremely particular about everything. Everything. Including his toothpaste. It MUST be bubblegum flavored. 

Apparently, the last time he went toothpaste shopping, they only had the bubblegum flavored kind in a lovely princess motif.

This doesn't settle well with a thirteen-year-old boy who is an Angry Birds, Pokeman, Nintendo's Mario, etc. fanatic. Needless to say, he didn't appreciate my sense of humor over the matter.

Snapshot: 091412 0444 PST

DSM-IV-TR fun!

Diagnosing myself... and everyone I know, with all sorts of disorders :-)

It's all so fascinating! I've sat and flipped through this thing for hours tonight.

So far, I'm particularly interested in Cluster C of Personality Disorders, which includes Avoidant, Dependent, and Obsessive Compulsive Personality disorders, all characterized by fearfulness and anxiety.

Mood Disorders are pretty interesting, too! Soooooo much to learn!

calaveras 091312

* so. very. peaceful. My alone-time with God. Love it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

They say you can only give so much. But then what? They also say you should never do something kind and expect a "thank you" in return. But those occasional "thank you's" and acts of appreciation sure do mean a lot. Ugh! God, change my heart! I hate feeling this way!

Unexpected. And awesome.

I love how God works in our lives through other people. This is a snippet of an email I received a week or so ago.

And awesome.

The timing was incredible. I didn't quite need it yet. Notice the word 'yet'.

I had that feeling, that foreboding feeling that it was coming.

It. The... the... well, It. It. Those narcissistic nights of sleeplessness, where all my thought revolve around me and my terrible horrible worthlessness and all those other dramatics.  

Me. Me. Me. Blah. Blah. Blah. So on and so forth.

This. All this. It. I felt it coming. It's like the flu: when you're not feeling too bad, but you know at some point soon your best friend is going to be the toilet and a jug of 7Up. 

And when I felt this feeling, I prayed. And God heard me. And sent me this.
Unexpected. And Awesome.

Thank you.

randomocity 091212

- The Dinosaurs TV show from the early 90's is now on Netflix? Um... Awesome! Yep, watching it one episode after another. Good times!

- Break between semesters is over. Time to get my butt back into gear! I'm taking four classes this semester: Maladaptive Psychopathology, Trauma Throughout the Life Cycle, Social and Cultural Diversity, and The Law and Ethics of Psychology. The Ethics class doesn't start for a few weeks, but I began the first three classes just last week. So far? Very interesting... but it's going to be a challenging semester! Good thing I moved to night shift!

- Speaking of night shifts, I'm pleased with them and I'm glad I made the switch. It's been going well. Granted, I've been exhausted, but it's been going well...

- The man who strangled our dear friend to death only six years ago has been released from prison as of yesterday. I knew this would come eventually, but I didn't expect it to happen so soon. It affected me more than what I had anticipated. I can't quite name the emotion...

- And speaking of emotions, overall, I've felt pretty stable lately. Of course, there's always the usual anxiety over relationships, the validity of them and my value to others, my purpose and  contribution to those I share life with, etc., but it's controllable. I've adopted an odd coping mechanism recently. I've been sending myself text messages of what I'd like to say or what I'd like to ask the particular people I'm having anxiety about. It seems to help a lot. And sleep? It's hit or miss, but it's more of an issue with schedule and busyness than actual insomnia.

- Lots of hiking, swimming in the ocean, etc. Feels great! I've also been doing a lot of songwriting lately. Quite fulfilling! Using every single last second of my time.

- I'm reading a great book right now about seeking out God's glory amidst the hubbub of everyday life. It's really been helping me to redirect my focus on Him in even the most seemingly trivial situations.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Snapshot: 090812 1200 PST

Today I traded the hiking trails for sand and surf.

I jogged a little...
Did some swimming...
But I mostly I played in the waves like I was nine years old...

Every muscle in my body is exhausted and I feel like one giant noodle. Its a great feeling! Can't wait to do it again one day soon!

Friday, September 7, 2012

David Bowie, Bread Crumbs, and the Appropriate Time to Panic

One would think I'd have the sense to pay special attention to the many different turns I had to choose from. After all, the trail was lined with head-high brush, so there was absolutely no hope of just looking above the horizon to see my destination. 

All that was missing was a stinking swamp, gruesome goblins, and David Bowie in those awesomely awkward pants.

Don't lie. If you've seen the movie Labyrinth from the 1980's, you know exactly what I'm talking about. Ew.

I had decided I wanted to hike for about an hour, so when the first half hour had passed, I turned around. Simple math, right? Thirty minutes there + thirty minutes back = one hour long hike. But somehow amongst the twisty turning trails, I found myself completely lost. And when I say completely... well, I mean completely.

The second I realized I had fallen astray, the panic set in. The absolute beauty and wonder of the scenery around me suddenly became my solitude; my cell. I felt imprisoned and desperately wanted to find my feet back on the right path... I'm not sure what set off that alarm inside me. Maybe it was a survival sense, or maybe it was just me being a big baby. But the alarm... the alarm did sound. I didn't have to miss a meal or be attacked by a mountain lion. I didn't need to be caught in a terrible storm or even just wander around in the wilderness for a few hours. All it took was a wrong turn or two for the alarm to go off. That's all in took.

Needless to say, my one hour hike lasted about two hours. As trivial as that might be, it got me thinking about becoming lost. How do we lose our way and stray so far from the Path? Not the path, but the Path? How is it that the first wrong turn we take on a hike or while driving to a new restaurant the alarm instantly goes off, yet we can wander so far from God without really even realizing it until we're at rock bottom?

So the thoughts continue. I'm reflecting, introspecting, and all those other fun verbs that bridge together the worlds of spirituality and psychology. Maybe my internal (eternal) alarm does sound the second I step out from God's will; maybe I've just gotten really good at ignoring it, or maybe I've even deactivated it somewhere along the line. 

Either way, I'm dropping bread crumbs; I don't want to lose my way. I'm watching close and setting my alarm to heightened sensitivity. The very moment I step off the Right Path, I want that alarm to sound. 

I want to panic. Panic like I just walked into David Bowie from The Labyrinth... Ew.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

nathan harris: tooth fairy

The tooth fairy is visiting our group-home tonight. I mean, sure, its for a twelve-year-old delinquent who will attack a person without being the least bit provoked... but his belief in the tooth fairy is the only innocent and naive thing left of him, so I'll entertain it! 

I wasn't sure what the going rate for a tooth was these days... so I went for the good 'ol dollar. Of course, it was a dollar made up of an obscene amount of change scrounged up from every nook and cranny of the office, but I decorated the med-envelope with stickers and threw some glitter in there, so maybe that will make up for it!

note to self...

Use the word "porn" in a blog post and get 600 hits within the first 24 hours...
Go figure.

pound it

Only eight pounds away from finally weighing within the "healthy" range for my height and frame, and about eighteen or so pounds away from my personal goal!

I'm currently at a fifty-six pound loss, and when I'm done, I will have lost seventy-four pounds altogether!

I am 100% confident I will reach my goal; I'm just nervous about how long I'll maintain it...

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

fast food + softcore porn = Carl's Jr.

Know why the Carl's Jr. star logo thingy is always smiling?
'Cuz he be thinkin' 'bout somethin' nasty-nast!!!

I live under a rock.
Netflix, people!
Who needs TV?

I saw a Carl's Jr. commercial for the first time the other day. Um... skanky! I'm no prude; I'm aware that sex sells and that's just part of our culture. Love it, hate it. It is what it is...

But fast food? I mean, they sell kids' meals with toys and star-shaped chicken nuggets, forgoodnesssakes! We're not talking about ads for liquor or cigarettes, or some preview for a blockbuster R-rated movie.

We're talking about a fast food joint. With a kiddie menu. And an interactive website for children. Toys. Coloring pages. Fun-shaped food. Cookies and ice-cream...

And softcore porn for ads. On daytime TV. Billboards. Magazines. Etc...

I've only eaten there a couple times because there is a drive-thru conveniently close by my home.
But never again, ever.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Writing Prompt: First Day

Write about a memorable first day of school you've experienced.

Oh, the tears. Torrents and torrents of tears...

Maybe it was separation anxiety; I was a momma's boy, after all. 
Or maybe it was social anxiety; I have always been an introvert...

Whatever it was, it was bad
Ick! I literally just shuddered as I recall... 

I don't remember exactly what I was thinking or what specific fears I had, but I do remember that awful feeling. That terrible, gut-wrenching, bad, bad feeling. 

I bawled my eyes out the first few days of school every year up until around the third or fourth grade. Yep, I was that kid. The crier.

I'd like to think that one day, when I'm a world renowned therapist, I will psychoanalyze myself and get it all figured out. 

But, until then (shudder), I just won't think about it all that much :-)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

this is about as political as I get...

Sleeping sound. Spirit bound. Slimming down.

This week, as my overnight shifts have ended, I've been driving over to a nearby nature preserve to hike.

It's a great way to wrap up my 'day' before heading home and hitting the hay, and it's been really helpful.

You see, it's been hot outside lately, super hot, which makes it difficult to sleep throughout the day.

It gets nice and cool most nights here in SoCal, but that does me no good when I'm trying to doze off around 1:00pm.

The bright early afternoon sunlight doesn't help much either.

So, after hiking for a couple hours directly following a twelve hour overnight shift, I have been successfully exhausting myself beyond the point of caring about the temperature and brightness of my bedroom.

I've been stopping about midpoint in the hikes to do some devotions, bible reading, and prayer. Plus, it can't hurt my weight-loss efforts, either!

Sleeping sound. Spirit bound. Slimming down. Love it!

no knows of no's nose

One of my kiddos at work drew a picture of me today. I'm not exactly sure what's going on with my nose here... but, hey, noses are hard to draw, so I'm okay with rocking out the 'ol jack-o-lantern look. Besides, it might be an upgrade...

I was interested in seeing if there were any psycho-mumbo-jumbo about drawings of faces with missing noses, so I did a little research online and found nada. There are a lot of theories about the meaning behind the drawing of eyes, mouths, and even ears... but no noses. So I'll just stick to my theory that noses are killer to draw.