Family, Fidelia Hall, Life, Titusville, PA

The Summer of 2017

Summer 2017 has been full of ups and downs. The ups always outweigh the downs but it seems like this summer there have been quite a bit more downs than usual. While my journey of getting off of Prozac has probably contributed a bit to the greater frequency of downs, I’m not here to blame it all on that. I knew that with a radical change in my life there was bound to be things I needed to process and understand. I also recognize that it is ok to have these downs and to allow them to exist in my life as part of the entire picture.

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I went to relax and this chair broke as I was sitting in it. I think it is a good metaphor for how life is going these days. Photo by Haley Hoenke because she is good at capturing the best moments.

I have been heard saying “holy shit, we are getting older and our boys are really growing up and becoming independent individuals” multiple times this summer. If I’m having one of my down days, I hibernate away from the world and eventually after I snap out of it. Then when I see Finn and Aero I get a bit down because I’ve missed a very special moment in time with them as I hid my head. The moments that we have in front of us are all that we have and if we miss out on them they’re gone forever. I feel like I’ve missed out on way too many moments with Finn, Aero, and Haley this summer. If I’m already in a down mood this just helps exaggerate that mood. I have to find a way to achieve a balance.

Finn and Aero are growing up into wonderful, unique human beings. Finn has a bit of inventor and engineer in him. We are doing all that we can to encourage and foster his curiosity. This summer he was in a number of camps that did just that and he actually asked us after they were done if he could continue doing them! That’s different than last year, when we could tell that he was itching to get to the end of camp season. Aero still wasn’t into going to summer camps and only ended up being part of the YWCA sports camp (which he really enjoyed). I have to remind myself that Aero is still just 5 years old and that he’s still really excited to have some special extra time with his Mom and Dad. He really enjoyed those moments with us this summer. Here’s some LEGO animations Finn made this summer. Enjoy.

We did a lot of gardening once again but nowhere near as much as we did in 2016. I think that has to do with the fact that Haley’s sister got married in May and that took up a lot of our focus. Nonetheless the gardens of Fidelia Hall were beautiful and bountiful and a lot of the stuff that was established this year will thrive for years to come (bamboo, blueberries, kiwi, and more!). We also finally got to reap in the rewards of our Fall 2016 garlic planting and boy oh boy do we have more than enough garlic to last us for the year.

And work on Fidelia Hall continued. The start of the summer led to a flurry of activity, mostly the beginnings of installing a heating system, an entrance, and painting the tin ceiling. After that flurry of activity things just kind of stopped. I don’t know exactly why. Lack of extra money coming was a factor, as was the reality that some people charge way too much when it comes to helping out with things like repair and renovation. I’m not built for physical labor, so after a lot of it I kind of shut down. It also didn’t help that our paint sprayer decided to stop cooperating with us. Anywho there is still work that needs to be done and eventually we will get there.

 

 

Family, Fidelia Hall, Life, Titusville, PA

Let It Grow

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The idea of home being the most important thing has always been a big focus of my life. My life has always been focused around my family and where we live. A lot of who I am came from my upbringing in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, PA and a lot of who I am now as an adult comes from the home that I’ve built together with Haley over the past 12 years.

For the last two years we’ve made Fidelia Hall in Titusville, PA our home. At almost an acre with a house and an old church on the property, we’ve got a lot of space to grow and learn about the world around us right in the middle of our little town of 5,500 residents. One of the things we’ve been learning about are gardens and what most people call weeds. We want to understand why these things grow around us and how we can make a garden that incorporates things that we love to look at AND things that are helpful to the environment. We’re getting there. In our two years at Fidelia Hall we’ve planted things that we love (sunflowers, black-eyed susan, mint, chamomile, borage, and much more) and let a lot of what comes naturally grow without interruption. Things such as purslane and dandelions may not be desired by most people in the world, but they’re welcome in our gardens at home.

Our days in the spring and summer are spent preparing and maintaining the gardens as well as sitting back and enjoying them. Sitting in a hammock or chair and doing nothing but looking at how the bees are enjoying the borage become one of my favorite activities. When your home all around you thrives and grows your life becomes just a little bit more magical.

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This morning as we watered the gardens our children Finn and Aero ran around and begged us to spray them with the hose (which we did). The birds all around us chirped, our dog Sonic ran around like a crazy person, and the bees enjoyed the borage. As we watered the gardens, Haley and I talked about what was growing and made plans for years to come. I collected some of those “weeds” to feed to our chickens and rabbits. Those “weeds” were their food for the day, and boy oh boy did they ever enjoy it.

When we have a connection to the world around us, our lives can be significantly better. Everyone deserves a home where they can explore the amazing world we live in. When it comes to life, I say let it grow: let the “weeds” and other plants around you grow and from their growth you will have your own personal growth.

Family, Fidelia Hall, Life, Titusville, PA

A Series of Surprises

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In May of 1967 Derek Taylor spoke of the fate of Smile in his press release. Smile “has been SCRAPPED. Not destroyed, but scrapped”. Could this mean that there was still some merit seen in the songs, but they would be ‘converted’ into other songs? This was effectively the fate of the Smile songs. They were reshaped, in constant chase of improvement. Brian himself stated, “1967 should bring a series of surprises for everyone from the Beach Boys.” (from EarCandy Mag: http://earcandy_mag.tripod.com/rrcase-2.htm)


Life is a long series of surprises and my life is no different. One of the biggest surprises to me was that so much of what I grew up learning from the people in my life was either not true at all or was twisted to fit their specific idea about life. I chose a photo of dandelions for this post because I think it visually sums up what I’m thinking here. Here in America we’re told that a nice lawn is full of green grass, well kept and groomed, and free of what we’ve dubbed “weeds”. Dandelions have been unfortunately placed in the weed category. Because of this there’s been an almost all out genocide on dandelions. Despite their wealth of benefits for humans and bees, they’ve become undesirable.

I grew up in one of those neighborhoods where lawns had to be perfect. Ours was cut, edged, and manicured weekly. If a neighbor did something with their lawn you better believe we had 24-48 hours to respond. About once a month some guy (it was always a guy) brought his truck around and sprayed the yard down with what looked like pellets you’d put on your ice cream. I was always told that this helped the lawn look how it did and that the lawn was better for looking that way.

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Cut to the last two years of my life where the ideas of the home, gardens, and Fidelia Hall have become very important to my happiness. As I settled into this chapter of my life I learned a lot of things: your yard doesn’t have to be green and well manicured, what we call “weeds” are actually really good for the Earth and by attempting to wipe them out we’re destroying the world, and that those “pellets you’d put on your ice cream” that my parents were spraying their lawn with were horrible poison. Life is a series of surprises.

Now the point of this post isn’t to go all Captain Planet and talk about the importance of being kind to the Earth. Of course I think you should but if you’re already doing it I’m not going to change your mind and part of me thinks we’re fucked anyways. The point is to recognize that life is a series of surprises. The Brian Wilson/The Beach Boys album SMiLE and the quote which starts this post have been on my mind recently when I think about my life right now. Has everything turned out as they were originally planned? No. But nothing really ever turns out as we think they are going to turn out. SMiLE was going to be THE album of its time, but it didn’t become that. Sgt. Pepper by The Beatles took that honor. What came out instead of SMiLE was a series of songs and albums that were “reshaped, in constant chase of improvement.” My life recently had a SMiLE moment. Instead of it being a defeat or the start of some kind of long spiraling descent into depression, I’ve decided to see that this moment was another part in the series of surprises that makes up life and that and that what I’m doing is reshaped things around me, always tuned into the constant chase of improvement which follows my life.

That change? Via https://fideliahall.com

Fidelia Hall is first and foremost the homestead of the Hoenke family. It is our hope that through our passion for family, community, creativity, sustainability, flowers, bees, art, fun, and food, that our contributions to the world will chip a tiny crack in the massive wall of negativity, fear, and greed that drives our culture.

We are not a business. We are not a non-profit. We are not a church. We are not a social club. We have explored every avenue and consulted every consultant and nothing fits. So we’ve decided to just be us.

I don’t expect you to “get it” nor do I care. The only thing I’ve gotta get is a hold of my life and my happiness. And I’m always doing that.


The Dandelion Celebration: A Guide to Unexpected Cuisine is a great book to borrow from your local library by the way

Family, Fidelia Hall, Life, Titusville, PA

Goodbye Muted World: Seven Years Ago

About seven years ago I was told the truth about how someone close to me had made their money in the world. Before that, I was under the impression that it was through years of hard work and dedication to their craft. It made sense to me for such a long time. Since I was a child I was told that hard work and dedication would pay off. I believed this because that's what you do as a child: you tend to believe what the adults in your life tell you.

Once I learned the truth about how someone close to me earned their way ahead in life, everything changed. I had long wondered why my hard work and dedication to my job hadn't paid off yet. I was still struggling to get groceries. I couldn't afford to buy a proper home for my growing family. I was at the point where things should have been changing, but everything remained the same. My outlook on modern life changed. Gone was the hope that all of this work in libraries would "pay off". Now listen, I always knew I wasn't gonna get rich being a librarian. I never really wanted to get rich. I just wanted to be able to exist. But after this it donned on me that the ability to exist wasn't gonna happen.

In the world we've created, there's always this extra step that people gotta take to make it. You've gotta give up part of your soul, lose your innocence, align yourself with someone who has money, or dabble in things that get you ahead. I decided I wasn't gonna do any of that and here I am now.

I wouldn't change a thing about the life I surround myself with. As a family we're top notch. We've got a connection, we've got a unique life, and we've got love. None of that is worth losing just to get ahead in the world.

At the same time, I'm recognizing in a post anti depressant world that there are hurdles and bumps along the way. Tonight was a big one that can't get out of my head. After visiting a friend this evening we walked home and I had to explain to Finn (age 8) why we couldn't stop along the way to have a drink in a local restaurant. "We don't have any money right now" is something that's really hard to say to your kid. To Finn, it's not just a quick 20 minute stop at a restaurant to have a soda. For him it's an experience and a moment in his childhood. And I couldn't give that to him. I was, and still am at this moment, almost completely devastated over the fact that I couldn't have a $2 soda with my family.

After talking a bit more Finn said, "I wish we were so rich we could get a mansion and not live in this old house". I explained to him that it wasn't that simple, but I couldn't elaborate much more because I was completely spent mentally. I spent the rest of the night partially mute because anything I said came out grumpy and frustrated, further fueling my present state of sadness.

Learning how that someone close to me had made their money in the world did two things for me:

  1. It showed me the path I did not want to take because I did not want to lose all that was good and pure in the world.
  2. It showed me how fake the world that we've constructed around us really is. If you wanna be a part of this world, you've gotta lie and cheat the system.

I know I chose the right path, but goddamnit sometimes I just wish I could get that soda with my family.

Family, Life, Titusville, PA

Goodbye Muted World (Hello Once Again, World Full of Feelings and Things)

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I haven’t put any fluoxetine (prozac) in my body in about a month. After the 7-10 days where my body was really feeling the side effects of withdrawl, I thought long and hard about putting any more in my body every 5-7 days and continue this tapered off approach. Did I want to go through those side effects again just so I can fully taper off? Absolutely not. My research told me that “fluoxetine elimination half-life changes from 1 to 3 days, after a single dose, to 4 to 6 days, after long-term use”, so my thought was to halt the need for a second withdrawal after reintroducing fluoxetine to my body once again.

So, I’m here to say that after 8 and a half years of putting this medication into my body that I am done. I am moving onto the next chapter of my life.

What do I think about all of this? There’s a huge part of me that is thankful and understanding of what antidepressants can do for a person. When things are completely overwhelming, antidepressants can help a person stay alive. Staying alive is the thing we should all be doing, as all (or maybe most) of us are here to give something good to the world and others.

On the other hand, there’s a huge part of me that is beginning to see just how antidepressants can mute a person and leave them feeling comfortable with just about anything in life. I’m not saying comfortable isn’t good…we all want to be (and should be) living a comfortable life. But antidepressants are not the same as a comfortable life. They are a medicated and muted life that doesn’t allow the user to see the full picture. There’s a reason why I called the last album of music I made “EITHER WAY I’M FINE”. It is because of this medicine and how no matter what the situation was that was presented to me I could swing either way. When I was on fluoxetine, my head could have been on fire and someone may have told me and I probably wouldn’t have minded it either way.

With all that said, this is what it was like for me. Everyone is different. Don’t read this and think I’m judging you or saying that this is the way. I’m not. I’m just sharing what I’ve felt and what I’m currently feeling.

Life feels a lot better now that I’m off of fluoxetine. Sure, there’s now a world full of feelings and things coming at me at high speed, but I’m ready to face it. I am ready to recognize those things flying at me, give them the proper time and attention to process them in my head and heart, and move forward. I am ready to put the muted life behind me. Fluoextine, you were there for me when I needed you but you stuck around much too long. I’m better off without you. I look up and I see bees hovering around the borage. I can appreciate the little moments a lot more, like the ones where my kids run around the yard barking rules and commands at each other about the imaginary game they’re playing. When I hug Haley, there’s that little swell in my heart that has always been there. I feel it even more so now than ever. I even see and feel the bad in the world: the inequality in our communities, the lies told by those in power to advance personal agendas, and the unnecessary goods and services that corporations sell you to make you feel great about yourself for just a brief moment. These are hard things to feel, but they are necessary to feel, process, and understand.

It took me 7 years into my thirties to get here, but I’m finally here and I like it.

PART ONE and PART TWO in this whole saga

 

Family, Life, Titusville, PA

Goodbye Muted World: UPDATE ONE

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The First Part: https://justinthelibrarian.com/2017/05/22/goodbye-muted-world/

The main impetus for getting off of antidepressants was my wife Haley. Like me, she too was on antidepressants for some time. While I was on Prozac she was on something that was even more evil and horrible called Effexor (long story short tell your doctor no if they offer this). She got off of her medication earlier this year and the change I saw in her was amazing. She was back to being Haley. Not that she wasn’t Haley when she was on Effexor….it was just a different version of Haley. I started looking inwards and I saw the same thing with myself. I am here…but I am not completely here. Prozac was muting me and I no longer wanted to be muted.

Now I know that antidepressants work differently for everyone and overall do help the individual, but these days all that I’m have been seeing for myself was that it was doing nothing but muting me. To quote the Stone Temple Pilots: I’m half the man I used to be“. I did not want to enter the 37th year of my life not being this way, so I decided to make a change. Here’s how that change has been going:

  • I’m using a tapered approach in removing Prozac from my body. After talking with my doctor, we came up with a plan that looked something like this: every other day for two weeks, every two days for one week, and so on.
  • According to Wikipedia: “fluoxetine elimination half-life changes from 1 to 3 days, after a single dose, to 4 to 6 days, after long-term use”. The worst days in this weaning were somewhere in the area of June 10-17. I was extremely irritable, I fluctuated between being wide awake or very tired, and I had an almost constant headache.
  • After the week of June 10-17, things leveled off quite a bit. I was feeling a good mix of being part Justin pre-2009 and part Justin present-2017 older and wiser. This is a good mix and was something I was going for, but it did take some getting used to. Instead of a muted feeling all the time, I was instead having full on feelings. When you haven’t had those in 8 years, it can be overwhelming at first!
  • Now I am trying to recognize the feelings I am having in the moment and am doing my best to process them. Am I sad? Am I happy? What am I? What can I do in this moment to best show and recognize these feelings?

By August 1 2017 I should be completely free from Prozac. I’ll update everyone shortly after that once I’ve adjusted to life in an unmuted world.

Family, Life, Misc., Titusville, PA

Goodbye Muted World

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Depression is something that’s been with me for all of my life. I’ve had ups and downs along the way. And this next step I am about to take is just another part of a very long journey.

On June 1, 2017 I will begin weaning myself off of Fluoxetine (Prozac). I have been using Fluoxetine 20mg/day since 2009. Overall it has helped me deal with extreme ups and downs but recently I am beginning to feel that I would like to live my life without its grasp over me. Life on Fluoxetine feels muted most times and I just don’t really want to feel muted anymore.

With all that said, I’m posting this to say that I’ll be completely away from everything starting June 1, 2017. I will go to work and then I will go home. And I will repeat that until I am ready to re-enter the world. This process is going to be tough so I need to focus on myself and nothing else.

Thanks for being in my life and I’ll see all of you sometime soon.