Sunday, June 18, 2017

Father's Day Reflections




I have said it before and I will say it again.  I am so, so very blessed to have the parents that I do.  I am very aware of it and I give thanks for them often.  Being a military family is somewhat unusual.  Most will never know what it's like to pick up and move every other year, to spend year(s) away from your family on "Temporary" duty or remote assignment while supporting your family on very little money and a whole lot of ingenuity.  This, of course, was in the days before the internet, before email, before skype or cell phones.  It was the days of keeping up with the family through crackly phone calls during an allotted time because it cost so very much and snail mail.  But here's the thing:  Mom and Dad never made it seem stressful.  They always sold it as an adventure.  We never knew how much they struggled financially- the made it work.  We never knew how much strain all of the politics (and if you think the military is bad- you should see the Wive's Club!) caused.  We never knew how crazy we made them.  They handled military life and raising children with so much grace that we could all only hope to be as good of people as they are.  They have supported us girls in all of our decisions- good and bad, and after 55 years together they are still crazy about one another.  They set the bar high on how to conduct yourself in all areas of life.

So today, on this Father's day- I share them with you.  I love you Mama and Daddy.  Thank you for my sisters, thank you for being role models and thank you for teaching us to be open, loving people.


Monday, May 8, 2017

We Are Our Own Worst Enemies


I was going to title this "If it's not one thing, it's another" but that sounds more complain-y (yes, I made that up-lol) and I don't want it to sound like that. Yes, I am tired. Yes, I am sore, but there is nothing unusual about those things.  I was just looking over my calendar for the week and realized how much I burn the candle at both ends (voluntarily) and how little I take time to take care of my self.  That was made very apparent these past few months.

When Jim asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I told him -among several ideas-that I wanted a gift certificate for a massage.  He trekked up to the local Therapeutic Massage clinic that I like and bought me an hour.  When I opened my lock-box to put the gift certificate away, I found another gift certificate that I had received years ago that was long expired.  I contacted the clinic and they offered me half credit for it as long as I booked the appointment right away.  I went for that massage and while it was divine and I had a significant increase in range of motion,  it kicked off the "bruised" feeling of a Fibro flare due to how hard she had to work to get the knots out of my neck and shoulders.  That pain has subsided over the last two more visits but I know that it's my own fault.    I have always carried my stress in my neck and shoulders and it showed that I haven't been in for a massage in far too long.  As I lay there on the table, in the quiet, as she worked the knots on my knots on my knots out, all I could think was "You REALLY need to take better care of yourself!" When I went for the second and third appointments- we slowly got most of the heavy knots out but each visit is a reminder that I need more than just down time at home to recuperate.

Currently I work, I go home, I cook, I snuggle with the pups, do housework, repeat.  I try to cook good meals but when I am overly tired I fall back on less healthy options.  I don't make it a point to take care of myself the way I need to.  In the Fall, I will be adding even more to my plate.  In addition to an even earlier Haunt season (we start prep in August!) I have also registered to go back to school and finish my degree.  I am easing back in- taking one class I am dreading- Speech- and one I am really looking forward to-Stage Makeup- but it means that I will be in class from 4:15-5:30 and 6-7:15 on Mondays and Wednesdays on top of my regular schedule.  Then, we add back-to-school Rush at work and then haunt season and that means that from August to November I will be crazy busy.

As I sit here, at the beginning of May, Commencement is tomorrow, we start the first Summer Session Tuesday and after this week, things will settle down.  That means that it is the prime time to start making positive changes.  Step by step, if I get in some new good habits, I have time for them to become ingrained before things get crazy again.  First things first- I always, always get up at 4:30am.  The husband goes to work at 6.  I am hoping I can get him to get up a bit earlier so he can stay home with Fenway and I can take Auggie for a walk in the morning.  She tends to freak out a bit when he goes anywhere without her and she HATES the leash so I want Jim to hang out with her so she's fine while we are gone and Auggie and I can get a good walk in.  If not, I guess we will ease into our walks-start small and go a little further each time so she gets used to it.  Auggie will be thrilled- this I do know.  He loves his walks and won't mind the break from his over-enthusiastic little sister.  Next goal- dinner!

It's time that I stop getting so caught up in the day to day that I neglect myself in the process.  It's time that I start treating myself like I would someone that I care about.  it's time that I be good to myself.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Questions, questions...


I am subscribed to a newsletter for a planner that I bought last year.  At the end of the year, they sent me a questionnaire to help me reflect on 2016 and what changes I want to make for 2017.  The blog post can be found here if you want to take a peek.

Rather than doing all of them at once, I have been spending time thinking about each one as it applies to me. Today's question is:  What goals do I have regarding family, love and friends in 2017?

I have said it before and I will say it again- I am so, so very blessed to have the family that I do.  I have wonderful parents who model every day what a successful marriage is supposed to look like.  I have two lovely, successful biological sisters that I truly enjoy and a third who is a sister of our heart.  Each of them has provided me with smart, sweet nieces and nephews that, despite some not-so-great choices, are really good kids.  The same could be said of my son.  Smart, sweet and loving.  I am so proud of the man he's become and I love the family he's chosen to make his own.  By falling in love with Christina (who is a lovely, smart, strong woman in her own right) he is giving me two beautiful grandchildren.  Do you detect a theme about my family?  We are all very, very different women but we genuinely like one another and our family.  The glitch is that we are so spread out.  Indiana, California, North Carolina, New Hampshire and Oklahoma.  We are all over the country and that makes it hard.

My friends are much the same.  I have some terrific people in my life all over the country.  The problem is- connecting with them as they are everywhere and those that are here are all on different schedules.  It was much easier when you are in school and are together every day.  Now we are grown ups, with our own lives and our own things going on.  It makes staying close more difficult.

So my goal is to reach out.  There are some people who I really NEED to reach out and reconnect with because I miss them.  They aren't active on social media, so it will take a phone call or a card- but I am good at cards!  I am NOT good at birthdays and anniversaries so I send my grand-kids, nieces and nephews and some friends random cards throughout the year just to let them know I am thinking of them.  My goal is to add friends and other family members to the list and really make an effort to let them know when I am thinking about them.  I mean- who doesn't like to get mail that is not a bill?  Hopefully it will be a nice surprise.  I think it will be a positive for all of us and will remind me when I do the deed how grateful I am to have them in my life.


Sunday, January 1, 2017

Out With The Old/In With The New


OUT WITH THE OLD-

I discovered this year, my 49th in this world, that I just don't understand people at all.  Here are a few of the things I don't understand:

I don't understand berating strangers, in person or online.
I don't understand destroying property- not your own but especially that which belongs to others
I don't understand physically harming another person.
I don't understand when life became disposable.
I don't understand the inability to look beyond political parties to see what makes the whole of a person.
I don't understand name-calling.
I don't understand hate.  Period.

This year-2016- has been the most hate-filled of my memory.  I was born at the tail-end of the Civil Rights Era and I honestly feel we have regressed.  This year we have seen very vocal and very violent hate based on religion, gender, race, who you love, who you vote for, whether or not you believe in gun regulation, - pretty much anything you can imagine and I just don't get it.  Maybe that makes me naive, but I feel that it makes me happier than living with hate in my heart.  It's certainly more peaceful than being angry all of the time.

IN WITH THE NEW-

This year I have not made resolutions.  I have instead decided to adopt two keywords for 2017:

Kindness

And

Gratitude

If I can live with those two little words first and foremost in my heart for 2017.  It will be a stellar year.  

Happy New Year Friends... 



Monday, December 5, 2016

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year?



I don't know about you but I find the holiday season very stressful.  There are gifts to buy, wrap, ship, parties to plan and others to attend, cards to write and send, and in my world- finals, buyback and prep for Spring term.  It really is a recipe for the perfect storm of guilt or flares.

The problem, I think, is that one one hand in order to preserve my strength and not beg for a flare, I have to prioritize.  On the other side, I hate to disappoint anyone that I care about whether it's by not attending their function or by being late getting my cards/gifts out.  Work is ramping up and that has to be a priority because that's what pays the mortgage and supplies the health insurance.  That means that shopping, going to events and the rest all depend on how I feel after work.

The past week was the tip of the iceberg.  By the time Saturday came around I was sore and tired.  So, I went to work, did about 6 hours of counting and moving books (with my awesome Assistant Manager) and then came home and crashed.  I was sore enough that I didn't go back on Sunday as planned.  I also didn't go to a housewarming that I had very much been looking forward to or to a play that I wanted to see to support one of "my" haunt kids.  Yesterday I got up at the normal time but then allowed myself to chill out until almost 1pm.  Then I watched the football game, grocery shopped, roasted a chicken and veggies and planned and journaled my meals for today.  After dinner I helped Jim mount the TV in the living room on a bracket he had purchased and then relaxed while he stripped the chicken and dealt with leftovers and I watched my Sunday shows (Fairy tales and zombies!) while I worked on some wands to replace the ones I have given as gifts before trying to get some sleep.

The keyword in the previous sentence was *trying*,  My shoulder and elbow were hurting and I couldn't get comfortable.  I would find a position, doze until it started to throb, shift a little and repeat.  Not being able to fall off completely set my mind going on what all I have to do this week and that took care of that. I was in bed at 11:45 and out of bed  at 2:15. I've gotten a lot done so far.  My work email is caught up, my home email is almost caught up, laundry is dried, dishes are washed, lunch is packed and I am going to head into work early.

Coming up this week at work I have finals starting today which means buyback and rental returns and working open to close Monday through Thursday, a conference call I may opt out of on Tuesday, interviews for temps each day, a late lunch to take Mom and Dad to the airport (it's silly to park in Long Term Parking when I am less than 20 minutes away) and on Friday a retreat for the directors of the departments in my division of the school.  Saturday I will be open for four hours as a courtesy for those last minute rental returns, then I have a Christmas party in the evening.  Sunday may bring more work but if not- hopefully I can get my Christmas cards written and ready for mail and at least some of my gifts wrapped and prepped to ship.  It's tiring and stressing me out just thinking about it all.   Sadly- the first thing to drop off would be my party, the second shopping and Christmas cards.

The weekend following I have a trip to TN solo so I will be able to catch up a bit then but I would rather use it to just recharge.  We shall see.  





Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Perfectionism, Long Journeys and Chronic Illness



     I admit it.  I am a bit of a perfectionist.  I come by it naturally and I don't fight it.  I say a bit because it applies to some areas ( work, for example) but not so much in some (ugh- housework) and I am okay with that.  Here's the problem.  This gratitude journey is a never-ending journey.  Much like any big change it takes time.  Much like quitting smoking or weight loss, living a grateful life has included slip-ups and backsliding.

     The current political climate in our country has created a LOT of backsliding for me.  I struggle so much with trying to find a bright side when we are bombarded from every angle with vitriol.  From the candidates to regular, everyday people that you thought you knew the name-calling, the disdain, the disrespect just grows every single day.  I am astonished at the number of people I have "hidden" on social media over their rants and hateful posts.  I haven't yet blocked all of them (though I have blocked quite a few) because I *hope* that after the election things will settle down a bit and they will go back to the normal people that I associated with before the primaries.  I have already cast my ballot because I will be traveling that day so I can divorce myself from the whole thing a bit but I will be so grateful when November comes so we can stop the attacks but I do fear that no matter the outcome of the election, the political coverage won't stop because the candidates will contest.    At this rate, I truly fear for my country.  I am afraid that we won't be able to come back from the hate and division.  I just hope that I am wrong.  

     I am also working with my PT to try to shed some of this very excessive weight.  Even if I work the program perfectly it too will be a very, very long journey.  In addition to the large amount of weight I have to get rid of, chronic illness doesn't make it any easier.  Working out feels near impossible.  No matter how motivated I am in my brain- my body says "exhaustion".  Between the normal job, haunting three nights a week and the puppies, finding time to even read a book where I am not ready to fall asleep is difficult.  I only have 7 "performances" left at the haunted house so that will end soon but then we ramp up at the store again.  It's a never-ending cycle.  That said- I love my little two-month acting job and can't-at the moment- imagine giving it up.  The creative outlet is refreshing, the improv is fun, and the cast and crew are amazingly talented. The customers can be taxing, but when they are really into it- it works like magic.

    Unfortunately, the failures, the slipping back into old habits, just kills the perfectionist in me.   I beat myself up on a regular basis about it.  Beating myself up just makes the attitude of gratitude harder to achieve.  So I struggle.  But I keep going- because when you live with pain, exhaustion, being ill all of the time- that's all you can do.  Keep going, keep trying, keep on doing your best- even if it's not perfection.

      

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Oh Quit Your Griping Already! aka- Get Out of Your Own Head



     Have you ever had those moments when you get tired of thinking "My back hurts. My hips hurt. My hands hurt. My (insert your body part here) hurts.  I am tired. I am so tired, I am SO tired, I am SO TIRED!"  This has been what's been rolling around in my brain for the last few months.  The other thought that keeps bouncing around while I was working more hours than I should and lifting, pulling, standing, walking more than I should was "I just don't know how much longer I can keep going like this."  Now that I have reached the end of the tunnel, I can see clearly that I was so very deep inside my own head and it wasn't a good place to be.  It was bringing me down to where I was letting myself be consumed by my

      I try very hard not to be "that person."  You know the one.  That person in your life who is ALWAYS miserable.  The one who is never happy, never feels good, is always complaining about something.   I also know that when I get where I have been for the last month or so with several mini-flares and the usual back to school killer schedule that even if I try to keep my complaints out of the light, I slip more than I would like and the people around me have to hear me.  Who wants to spend time with that person?  I know I don't so I tend to avoid them but when it's yourself- there is no hiding from it.

     Here's the thing.  You know, I know, everyone knows that I am never going to feel "well" so complaining about it won't do any good.  I don't want pity.  I really kind of despise the thought. A little sympathy can go a long way but there's a very, very fine line because I don't want to be felt sorry for and I don't want to be held up as the example of how "it could always be worse".  Being that example is horrible!   Understanding would be nice, but unless you are living with it you can't really get it.  Even another RA/Fibro/DDD/RLD patient can't truly understand because each case is unique.  No two cases present the same way and no two people handle their pain, malaise and fatigue the same way.  We don't fight our illness the same way and we don't cope with the effects the same way so we can't truly understand what's inside one another's experience.  So all of that being said, complaining only puts the spotlight on my illnesses.  These are the things I think to kick my butt out of my funk in it's beginning stages but this time I was on the go that I didn't give myself that kick and it spiraled.

     What keeps me going through the downward vortex is this:  I know I am capable of more than I should be. My consistently sky high RF levels and ESR should have me fairly incapacitated but I keep going.  I know that the flares are fleeting.  I know that while today I may not feel like walking to the bathroom, tomorrow I may feel up to conquering the world.  The only thing holding me back is me.  It's not my body, it's my brain.  Even when my body is rebelling, if I don't let it get to me, if I don't verbalize my complaints- I can fight my way through.  I also know that when I let the complaints flow, the worse I feel.  It's as if acknowledging the pain and fatigue magnifies them.  It's not good and I need to put a stop to it RIGHT NOW.  So how to do that?

Well- this weekend I get to take time to relax. Before I go back to work on Monday I need to use the time to get out of my own head and back to a good place.  I got to spend yesterday with my middle sister Heather and her daughter Lauren which was a treat.  Tomorrow we get to go to see Lauren race for the first time since she began her MX career as a little, tiny, 4 year old.   Now she's all grown up and a professional racer and she's racing up by Indy for the first time so we get to see her in her element.  That will be a joy. We have followed her through photos, video and live stream for so long but live will be so special for us.  Today is all about giving myself a recuperation day.  Today I have absolutely nothing on my plate other than running a quick errand.  I already rode my exercise bike for a just over a mile this morning and enjoyed a pot of coffee.   I am going to go run my errand when I finish this and then come home and nap with the puppies.  Oh yes- the puppies.  Now that they are getting used to one another, they are pretty sweet most of the time.  And they are great napping companions.  After my nap I am going to curl up with some tea or Matcha and FINALLY read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.  I might even throw in a facial and a tub.  Tomorrow Jim has to be at a meeting early so I will fold laundry in the guest room and then pack up to go see Lauren race.  One of "my kids" from work is going to puppy sit so we don't have to worry about crating the little one while we are gone for the day and we don't have to worry about coming home to a mess.  Then tomorrow night I will get my lunches and snacks planned for the week and clothes laid out so I can head to the PT on Monday morning bright and shiny then back to work.  I am hoping that by getting back on schedule, by getting back to my routine I can get out of my head and back to "normal".  Hopefully, by the time the weekend is over I will be mentally out of complaint mode and back to being more productive.  That's the plan at least.

In closing- I leave you with puppies!  Auggie, of course, is on the left and Fenway, the new addition, is on the right.


This is what I come home to at night.  They bring me joy even during their growing pains and  my craziness.  

Enjoy your weekend my friends~ I plan to do the same.