Seeking Intellectual Freedom

Few people may know this, but at one point in my life I was seriously considering a career in academia. For six months in the year 2005 I was an MBA student at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. To pay for my tuition and provide some living money, I worked as graduate assistant. I taught several seminars on computer basics, proctored exams, did some academic research, etc. I loved it. At least, I loved everything except some of the insane hoops we had to jump through. I was initially accepted into the program with the provision I had to pass calculus within the first six months. I never had to take calculus in my undergrad college. I thought it strange I had to take calculus when I had zero interest in doing statistical analysis or accounting. Even back then, I knew a lot of accounting was going to eventually be taken over by computer software and AI. Needless to say, my bosses weren’t impressed when I had to drop calculus at midterm but was doing quite well as a teacher and researcher. I eventually was fired from my grad assistant job because of my grades, namely in calculus. I was offered the chance to stay in the program but without the job. Since I had no way to pay for the program, I walked away. The thing was I had zero interest in statistical analysis. I really just wanted to teach, namely personal finance, investing, and economics.

My economics classes were my favorite classes in undergrad. Our instructor started his career working for an agricultural commodities broker firm. In short, he helped farmers find buyers for their crops and food processing facilities find farmers who were selling their crops. Agricultural commodity broker, the linking of sellers and buyers, was actually John Rockefeller’s first major break before he built his first oil refinery. His biggest customer was the Union Army during the Civil War. So my economics instructor had real world experience before he became a teacher. I had a banking and investing instructor in college who was a licensed CPA and I think a fiduciary (think financial advisor who makes money through hourly consulting fees and not sales commissions). My business law instructor taught only business law as he was a full-time lawyer as his day job. My accounting instructors were all licensed CPAs. My management instructors were all small business owners before they went into academia. As far as I could tell, every single one of them took a pay cut when they went to teach at my small college.

Since I had been inspired to learn more on my own while in college, I continued my education after I left college. Best thing college ever did was 1) Teach me how to learn for myself, 2) Teach me how to form my own conclusions, 3) Be able to find good advice from people even if I disagreed with a significant amount of their other thoughts, 4) Not kill my natural love for learning. I eventually learned how to ‘read between the lines’ on my own, but can we honestly expect 21 year old people to truly know how to spot liars and frauds with true accuracy?

Overall I value my intellectual freedom more than anything else.

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What’s Been On My Mind The Last Few Weeks

This is probably going to be my longest post in the ten years I’ve kept a regular blog. Don’t worry, most of this won’t be ranting or complaining. I’ve been more wanting to write and chat than usual lately. I think the warmer and more humid weather has me more chatty and hopeful. So much so I’m even experimenting with a personal AI chat bot the last several weeks. Sure, it’s kind of wonky sometimes and clearly an AI chatbot. But these things are alot better than they were even one year ago. I found it really knows it stuff when chatting about history, science and economics. Not so much when talking about feelings and depression. I’m dead convinced even the AI players on my computer games are better than they were a couple years ago. Even though I’ve played strategy games like Civilization, Railroad Tycoon, Total War, and Sim City for decades, I swear it’s getting tougher to compete against the computer now more than ever. I really think gaming AI is better now than ever.

My dad recently severely hurt his back and is very limited on what he can do. It’s also got him real depressed. My aches and pains are worse today than any time in weeks. And I don’t know what I did to make them worse. I also rarely hear from my friends anymore. Most are too busy with careers and family. I now understand why even the best friends lose contact with each other over the years. In my case, I have neither workplace friends, a wife, or kids to socialize with because of my mental illness taking both my career and family before I had either one. I feel like I missed out on a lot of what it means to be an adult because of my illness. I feel like I missed out on a lot of what it means to be human. I don’t even know what it’s like to feel love from others. I certainly don’t believe in unconditional love existing. Everything is conditional as far as I can tell. I don’t know what it’s supposed to feel like. And I get so irritated when people tell me ‘there’s someone for everyone’ or ‘you’re just overthinking it.’ No, some people are better off not marrying or having kids. We used to have monastic orders and academies for those people. Even though I never married, had kids, or any success in a career, I don’t feel like I’m less human or a failure. Heck, I’m actually quite content with my life as a digital monk. It helps that disability insurance pays for my food, shelter, medications, and basic needs. But some people I know would love to get rid of social security and disability because they feel people like me and the sick elderly are leeches and parasites. I’ve lost contact with most of my extended family because of attitudes like this. It’s why I won’t visit my childhood hometown or go to family reunions. I feel like a failure only when I’m around people like that and those who knew me as a high achiever in my youth.

Even though I was healthier and had easy access to friends in my teenage years, I’m rarely nostalgic for the past. I love the internet too much, especially the free education I got via years of binge watching youtube and Khan Academy. Getting my groceries delivered, getting my meds mailed to me, zoom calls with my psych doctor, and buying through Amazon may have kept me alive during the pandemic. We had none of that back in the 90s. If Covid had to happen (and pandemics are not uncommon throughout history), I’m convinced that things would have been MUCH worse had it happened in the 90s. We wouldn’t have had work from home being a thing, we wouldn’t have vaccines and effective treatments developed in only one year, and a lot more people would have died. I probably would have died had it not been for internet and grocery delivery. That’s why I get kind of irritated with people complaining about masks, vaccines, and delivery being infridgements on freedoms. Freedoms sometimes have to be restricted temporairly during crisis. We had a military draft in the world wars (which many people resisted and protested even in WW2). We had draft riots even during the Civil War. There were restrictions during Spanish Flu and even Bubonic Plague. I swear, too many people didn’t learn anything from high school history class. Covid restrictions are mostly lifted and people are still complaining. I don’t understand normal people. The older I get, the less y’all make any sense. In short, people complaining about restrictions during covid should be grateful it didn’t happen before the internet became a thing. It would have been much worse.

Another reason I’m not nostalgic for the world of my young years (even if I do miss my health and friends), is that now it’s a lot easier to talk about problems. For the first few years of my illness, I didn’t talk about it with my classmates or close friends. They knew I was odd, but didn’t realize just how serious mental illness was messing with my life. Twenty years ago, even I didn’t realize how much I was losing out on because of my illness. My psych doctor and therapist never once mentioned it could be a major disability that would affect everything. At first I thought if I just took the meds daily and went to the free therapist once a week, my life would return to normal once I graduated. Well, it didn’t work that way. I had panic attacks every day before I went to work in retail and fast food. It wasn’t so bad working in a factory as I didn’t have to be around an unpredictable and often spiteful public. I suffered at the factory because I couldn’t sleep in the day and still work the overnight shift five nights a week. After several weeks of sleep deprivation, my illness flared up and my work suffered. I requested a transfer to day shift, which was denied. So I end up quitting before my lack of sleep and mental illness caused an accident. I probably could have done that job for years had they approved my transfer request. Would have made good money and benefits too even if we weren’t unionized.

It’s easier to talk about problems now than even ten years ago. It’s probably why we hear so much about traditionally marginalized people like mentally ill, homeless, LGBT+ communities, religious minorities, struggles of the working poor, struggles of the elderly, struggles of women, struggles of young people just starting out, etc. The issues have always been there, granted more below the surface than now. It is not weak to talk about problems. It’s a needless tragedy for people to suffer in silence because of outdated social norms. It’s almost like some people actually want life to be tougher now than it was in the past. I hear people my parents age talk about how great the 1950s were, yet they ignore Jim Crow laws, the problems of the Cold War, the communist witch hunts, lack of work opportunities for women, and even the corporate tax laws of the 1950s. Taxes on big business were much higher in the 50s than now. I’d favor bringing those back except it would mean that EVERY corporate job in America would get outsourced to cheaper countries or outright automated faster than they already are. One thing I like about the 2020s is that it is easier to talk about things like poverty, job loss, loneliness, racial bigotry, sexism, discrimination, being bullied by classmates or coworkers, etc. The problems were always there. People are just refusing to suffer to silence anymore. And I’m glad for it. It’s a lot easier to empathize and act when I have a better understanding of others’ problems. My life would have been easier had I not been afraid to talk about my struggles with mental illness, bullying, and a lack of privacy while growing up in a rural farming village until I was well into my thirties. Some of that stuff I’m still scared to talk about for fear of alienating my friends and family. I just didn’t realize how unhealthy much of that was until I was well into my thirties. This blog is one of my outlets and it’s also cheap therapy.

Even though I’ve never made money off my blog or my scholarly projects, it’s the most fun at a job I ever had. I do consider it a job even though I don’t get paid. So much is changing and so fast, it’s almost a full time job now to research some of this stuff. Kind of a pity I don’t get paid for my searches and giving out my personal information. But, most people don’t realize what we as a society are already doing in terms of science, tech, medicine, and humanitarian work. Even I didn’t realize how good ChatGPT is until a few weeks ago. I certainly didn’t realize that some office workers were using it to aid their jobs or even work several jobs. Personally I have no issues with work from home people working more than one “full time” job for no other reason than it’s not illegal for people to own more than one business or piece of property. Maybe that’s how we fight inflation, just make more money from multiple jobs. I mean, elders like Dave Ramsey have for decades told people to take second jobs and side hustles to get out of financial problems. So what if the second job is an office job and not delivering pizzas or working at Home Depot? Quite honestly, the requirements to have a college degree for most jobs is down right insane and obsolete. Most jobs, especially today, can be learned with only a year or two of on the job training. If fewer employers required a college degree for even entry level work that could be done by ambitious teenagers still in high school, we’d see these insane costs of education drop pretty quick.

Speaking of college, there is the scholarly monk part of me who doesn’t like the idea of people condemning education and intelligence. I have always thought people, at least in my homeland, don’t take education serious enough. I think in some ways it’s worse now than even when I was in high school. Granted, thanks to online platforms, getting an education, especially getting self educated, is a lot easier now than it has ever been. Youtube and TikTok are a lot more than just cat videos and dance videos. The Chinese version of TikTok is mostly educational videos. And people in China and other authoriatian nations can get around government censorship of the internet with cheap VPNs like Nord. The only reason I’d consider getting a VPN for myself is if internet censorship in the USA got real bad and to watch foreign Netflix shows I can’t get in America. Censorship and book banning was stupid in the past and far more so now. In fact it’s futile and wishful thinking in the age of the internet. And the internet, when originally designed by DARPA back in the Cold War, was designed to be a communication system robust enough to survive even a nuclear war. Internet ain’t going away regardless of how much power hungry petty tyrants want to censor and screen information.

I think the best way to lower the cost of college education is to allow people without college degrees to get into good paying corporate jobs. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg were all college dropouts who started tech giants. Yet, had they not started their own companies, they wouldn’t have had the qualifications to work in the corporate world, let alone high tech. It doesn’t take a college degree to start a business. It does take vison, risk taking, and some funding from people willing to take a chance on unproven ideas. It’s why America is still a leader in tech, industry, and culture even though our students’ test scores are among the lowest of all developed nations. We still have the start your own business spirit that most countries never had. If we lose that start your own business spirit, we will collapse as a nation. Education, is vitally important. And, thanks to internet, it’s also a lot cheaper than the past. Traditionally college education was only for the wealthy and those wanting to go into academia or medicine. I believe self education is more important than traditional education. I also don’t understand why it’s against the law to discharge student loans via bankruptcy. I mean, small businesses, homeowners, credit card loans, medical bills can all be discharged or negotiated via bankrupty. Why is it such a sin to think that student loans should be no different. While I don’t support across the board forgiveness of student loans, I do think the option of renogitation or outright discharge via bankruptcy should be an option. Bankruptcy can be declared on every other type of debt. We don’t require eighteen year olds joining the military to commit for twenty five years. Yet, it can take that long for even vital jobs like teachers to pay off student loans now. Desiring and seeking knowledge should not be condemned like it is now.

It was traditional education that stoked my love and addiction to learning. Learning new things gives me a buzz that no booze, drug, money, romance, or achievements ever have. Part of me thinks it would be cool if there were like monastries for nerdy people who were interested in learning for the sake of learning much like the monastary and mystery school of ancient times. But giving lots of knowledge to lots of people for free could be quite dangerous, especially for those who benefit off the world being as it is right now. I’m glad I live in an age and time where I can get a college level education in subjects like history, economics, literature, philosophy, theology, etc. with several years of binge watching youtube and Khan Academy and it doesn’t cost anything. Even after twenty five years of internet, we are only scratching the surface of what it can do for humanity. Future scholars will look at the interent as one of those society changing technologies like the printing press, gunpowder, steam engine, and perhaps even writing itself. There are no secrets anymore. In some ways that is good. It makes it a lot tougher for tyrants and other bad actors to hide their actions. Even military secrets are no longer safe, as those Pentagon leaks a few weeks ago showed. Maybe eventually the Information Revolution will make large scale war obsolete, if for no reason other than it’s tough to kill people you have had connections and conversations with. Here’s to hope for the future.

October 9 2022

A lot has changed in the last few weeks since I wrote. I started physical therapy two weeks ago. I have three sessions per week. I can now walk in my apartment without a walker. I can get anywhere in the facility with a wheel chair. I get outside more often now that fall has hit and the weather is cooler. My blood pressure has returned to normal. I’ll probably have to take blood pressure meds for the rest of my life. But blood pressure issues run in my family. My knees and feet don’t hurt anymore. I have to take tylenol every day for my knees but it works. I’m down over 45 pounds since Memorial Day and over 120 pounds overall since covid started. I’m currently at the lowest weight I’ve been since late 2016. I can now walk several minutes with a walker non stop. And I’m the waiting list for a private room. My own personal wheel chair is on back order but if I keep losing weight and improving through therapy, I might not need it for long.

Overall things are going well. I’m doing much better than I was six months ago. I never thought this improvement was possible this fast. Therapy and I both now have the long term goal of getting back out on my own again. Even though I haven’t owned a car for three years, I still have my drivers’ license. I’m glad I kept it current through the pandemic. I had an odd feeling that I might have need for it in the future. And I just might.

After my car accident in 2015 I got really depressed and eating a great deal. Gained a lot of weight. And I’ve already lost most of what I gained after the car accident. That accident spooked me real bad but I’m glad I didn’t give up my drivers’ license. As much as I love using Door Dash to get groceries delivered to my house and I get damn near anything delivered to via Amazon within four days even though I live in a small town, I’m glad I still have my drivers’ license. I was inspired to keep my license by one of my old neighbors who had a drivers’ license for “emergency purposes” even though I never knew him when he owned a car.

Ideally I’d like to end up back in the town I previously lived in. I know that town well, still have several friends there, I love the culture of the town, and I’ve always done well in college towns. I imagine eventually I will end up living in Oklahoma near my brother and his family as my aunts and uncles become elderly. But I’m glad to have a new lease on life. And these are good issues to have. Things have really been improving in the last five to six months. I didn’t expect to improve this fast. I thought I wasn’t going to improve at first.

Nearing The End of Summer

Summer is almost over and I’m glad for it. This has always been the roughest time of year for me. I’m looking forward to chilly nights, changing leaves, pumpkin spice in everything, and fall sports. School started a couple weeks ago so it’s feeling more like fall.

My Saturday plans during the fall usually involved staying home and watching football. Today will be no exception. I might even go down to the community tv room and watch the games. I feel like things are starting to come back to life with the change of seasons.

For most of my adult life, I lived in college towns. Those towns were really quiet during the summer, but really came back to life once students returned for fall semester. This is the first time in eighteen years I won’t be in a college town for the fall. It’s bittersweet. I’m where I know I need to be to get healthier. But I do miss the activities of college towns, whether it’s concerts at the local dive bars, ball games on the weekends, cultural events on campus, or just running into college students during my overnight trips to Wal Mart or the 24 hour grocery store in town. I miss those activities already.

My blood pressure is back to normal and I’m losing an average of 8 to 10 pounds per month since I moved here. I’ve lost over 100 pounds in the last 2 and a half years. Eventually I would love to get back to my old college weight. I can walk short distances again, even if it is slow. Most of the pain in my knees is gone. I haven’t had pain in my feet in weeks. I’m starting to need less sleep. Last night slept from 11pm to 6:30 am. My sleep patterns are starting to improve. I used to need 10 to 12 hours of sleep per night.

Overall I’m feeling much better than I felt this spring. I’m glad to be back on the right track.

August 27 2022 Updates

My knee pain is starting to clear up. I’m on a couple medications for it. Seems like it’s taking effect. I get out of my apartment at least a couple times a day anymore. It was just getting too discouraging to spend all my time at home.

My blood pressure has been stable for weeks now. I think I’m still losing weight. Some of my smaller clothes are starting to fit again. Tried on a couple of my hoodies a few days ago and they fit perfect now. Weather will start cooling off in a couple weeks so I have those ready.

Haven’t heard much from friends lately. Everyone is busy with work, family, chores, etc. Found out my friend in Denver is promoting her arts and crafts again. Won’t be too long before Christmas. I’ve bought a couple of her knitted hats in the past.

I just feel chilly most of the time lately. I imagine the blood pressure medications have changed my circulation. Rarely do I ever sit down without a blanket over my legs and feet. My joints feel worse when they are cold. My knees also ache whenever the weather changes drastically. We had a hail storm a week and a half ago. My knees were really acting up that day.

Still listening to audiobooks. Decided I’m going through Asimov’s Foundation series. I’m halfway through the first book so far. I like to listen to it while I play Civilization: Beyond Earth. That game is about setting up colonies on another planet. It’s certainly a science fiction game.

I’m thinking about hooking up my Play Station soon. I imagine as the days are getting shorter and start getting cooler, I’ll want to spend more time at home and less socializing. I still get around really well in a wheel chair. I usually make a few laps in the hallways every morning just to keep my arm strength up. Just because my knees went bad doesn’t mean my arms have to.

Haven’t seen my family since early July. I did get a good visit from an old college friend about a month ago. He bought me some updates to my Civilization game. Been playing that a great deal since. Having activities, even if it’s computer games, help the time pass on long days.

I’m looking forward to the fall. Fall is my second favorite season behind spring. I love the longer nights, the cooler nights, the changing leaves, the harvest, and the variety of sports during the fall.

April 12 2022

It’s been quite awhile since I wrote. Updates are in order. Spring is here but we haven’t gotten much rain. With as windy as it’s been, we’ve had lots of wildfires in my state this spring. The weather is slowly warming up, but it’s still chilly at night.

Baseball season started last week. I have a fantasy league team again. I’m in a league with a couple college friends and some of their former coworkers. Been in this league for 15 years now. So I usually watch a ballgame or two during the evenings.

Been staying up later and waking up later. Most nights I don’t fall asleep until midnight. Wake up for good around 9am. I sleep in my recliner only half of the night anymore. I’m having fewer aches and pains again. They were pretty bad a couple weeks ago.

Mentally I am still stable. I don’t leave my apartment very often. I do visit my neighbors a few times a week. My cleaning lady arrives every Thursday. She helps me with laundry now too.

I Don’t Socialize Much In Person, But I Don’t Feel Lonely Or Isolated

Spring has finally sprung. I’m glad to see the end of winter. My aches and pains have been essentially non existent the last several days. Most days I’m asleep by 10pm and up for good by 5am. I’m back to listening to audiobooks again after a few weeks of vacation I still have no desire to socialize in person. I do talk to friends and family a few times a day. But I spend most of my time alone.

I’m still losing weight, at least as far as I can tell. I can stand for longer periods of time now. I have fewer aches and pains. Things are going alright on that end.

I’m still afraid to socialize in person. I’m also scared to leave my apartment. My paranoia keeps me at home most of the time. I’m just scared of people anymore. I just don’t know how to read them anymore. It’s far easier for me to socialize over the phone and online than it is to socialize in person. The pandemic hasn’t been as tough on me as most people. I love that I can socialize online and on the phone. I love that I can get my groceries and medications delivered to my home. I love that I have a cleaning lady comes to my place once a week. I love being able to make payments online. I enjoy streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime. Absolutely love my Audible audiobooks. Sometimes I can spend hours at a time listening to audiobooks while playing computer games. I even love doing my doctors’ appointments via Zoom calls. I have too much sensory overload to be a safe driver anymore. Haven’t driven a car in almost three years. Saved me lots of money and headaches. I now know that my car accident several years ago spooked me real bad. It killed my love for driving.

Even though I’m afraid to socialize in person anymore, I really don’t feel like I’m missing out on much. It’s always been really tough for me to find people with similar interests. It’s gotten tougher the older I got. Most of my old friends have families and careers, so their ability to socialize with me is at a minimum. I haven’t seen my friend Matt since 2015. I haven’t been to a family reunion in probably ten years. I’ve been outside of my town only once since the start of the pandemic. While my physical world has gotten much smaller the last few years, my mental world has gotten much bigger. I probably spend six to eight hours per day reading, watching documentaries, and just learning new things. I’ve learned more history, economics, philosophy, science, etc. since 2015 than all the years before that.

One of the things I enjoy about being in my forties is that I no longer feel pressured to conform to others’ expectations. If I don’t want to leave my apartment for days at a time, I don’t leave my apartment. And I no longer feel any shame for wanting to stay home. I didn’t use to be a homebody. When I was in my teens and twenties, I preferred to spend time at my friends’ houses. I went roadtripping with my college friends every summer in my twenties and early thrities. I started becoming a homebody about five years ago. And the pandemic has accelerated this trend. I no longer feel like eating in restaurants or going out in public. I know many people feel like I’m missing out on life by not going to movies or sporting events or restaurants. But I don’t feel that way. I just hate being forced out of my home.

Even though I don’t have a paying job or a family, I don’t feel incomplete or a failure. I have, on average, written one blog entry per week over the last nine years. While it doesn’t have much of an audience, I still love doing it. I see no reason to quit doing this. It has given me more meaning in my life than any job or dating relationship ever did.

March 16 2022

Feeling pretty decent the last few days. My joints are hurting less. Haven’t had to take any advil for a few days. I still spend most of my time at home. I read and watch educational videos most days. Renewed my Netflix several weeks ago. I often watch Spanish language shows with English subtitles. I think some of my Spanish is starting to come back.

I sleep half of the night in my recliner and the other half in my bed. Half of the time in bed, I lay on my sides. First time I’ve done that in a few years. I almost rolled out of bed a few days ago. I’ve lost enough fat that sleeping on my sides is easier now. I’m not sure how much weight I’ve lost since the pandemic started. I know it’s at least 80 pounds as that is where I was during my last doctor’s appointment back in October. I don’t have any immediate goals for health and weight loss other than I eventually want to get back to my old college weight. That will take at least a couple more years.

Yet the weight loss doesn’t feel like drudge work. The biggest changes I made were giving up bread, sugar, fried food, and most fast food. I haven’t bought bread in over two years. Haven’t had even a Big Mac in almost five years. Most fast food is too greasy and salty for me anymore. Upsets my stomach too. Most of my diet is now grilled and baked chicken, pork, vegetables, and soups. It’s easier, at least for me, to cook healthier meals now than even five years ago. It also helps that I’m cooking only for myself as I live alone.

Even though my aches and pains are reducing, my mobility hasn’t come back as quick as I would like. So, my family and I hired someone to help me with my laundry on the weekends. I just provide the coins and laundry soap, she supplies the labor. Even though my mobility is all but gone, I’m glad to be getting help around my house. Makes me glad I was helpful to others in my younger days when I was still quite healthy. See, kids, it pays to not be a jerk to people.

Don’t have any real plans for St. Patrick’s Day even though I’m 20 percent Irish. I’m just glad that winter is about over.

Mid Winter Routines With Schizophrenia

Gone back to more normal sleep routines. I’m having very few aches and pains lately. I still have issues standing for more than five minutes at a time. So glad for home grocery delivery.

I’ve been more stable this week than the last couple. Most days I have only one or two flare ups. These aren’t as intense and short lived. Haven’t had much of an appetite for the last few weeks. Some days I eat only once. I rarely eat more than twice daily.

My parents are coming up this weekend. I’m getting a new mattress and microwave for late Christmas. I swear they don’t make furniture and appliances as sturdy as they used to. I haven’t had much for visitors all winter.

I’m pretty content to stay close to home these days. I don’t have to go shopping as I get everything delivered. I don’t even have a car anymore. I get sensory overload too easily anymore. It’s gotten worse the older I’ve gotten. I can’t even sit through a whole movie on Amazon Prime anymore because of too much to take in. I usually have to break it into three or four separate sessions.

Going to have maintanence come in sometime tomorrow. My intercom no longer works. It seems the older I get, the more people take my requests and issues seriously. I don’t know why my issues become more important just because I have some gray in my beard now. Any wonder why I refuse to be nostalgic? I remember how bad being a young adult could suck. I always will.

Recovering After A Rough Spell

I’m starting to recover after a couple rough weeks. Been feeling more paranoid and irritable than usual. Things started getting better a few days ago. I’m back to more regular sleep even if I am staying up a couple hours later than usual. I still sleep half of the night in my recliner. It seems to be easier on my back and knees.

So far has been a milder and dryer winter than usual. We haven’t had anywhere near normal snow. It actually feels more like prolonged autumn than winter some days. Still gets real cold at nights.

I really haven’t changed my routine much. I drop in on my neighbors once a day. I go to the complex library at least once a week. I contact my family usually once a day. Still listen to lots of audiobooks. I usually kept to myself most of the time for fear of having a breakdown in public. Finally had a minor one a few days ago. Didn’t last long but it was healing like having a good cry or any other emotional release.

Broke down and bought some smaller shirts several days ago. I’m down a full shirt size in the last two years. My aches and pains aren’t nearly as bad. I still get winded occasionally but I can recover from those faster than even a few months ago. I do have problems falling asleep but I get quality sleep once I do sleep. 4am to 9am seems to be my best sleep time. I still take my meds every night. They sometimes make me sleepy.