Sunday, July 24, 2016

Happy Sunday Random Roundup Friends!

I don't know about where you live but it's HOT here in Kentuckiana.  We've had days upon days of 90's and humidity with no end in sight.  For the most part- I just love it.  The only disadvantages are that my extremities swell and my hair just doesn't behave due to the humidity.  On the other hand, the heat is marvelous for my joints.  I don't know for sure if it's the Actmra or the heat but my stiffness in the morning is down to about an hour before I am "normal".  In winter it can be up to 3 hours.

 Outside does make a difference, even though we keep it at a steady 72 inside year round.  When it's hot out I love to spend time out in the sun.  If you are my age, I am sure you remember spending time in the summer, laying out on a towel in the yard with baby oil slathered all over you and Sun-In in your hair.  We all wanted our hair light and our skin dark.  It makes me smile just to think about it.  Now I get as much sun as I can in May, June, July and August.  September I start letting the tan fade in preparation for haunt season.  After all- the darker I am, the more makeup I need to look "dead".

Speaking of haunt season, I am ready early this year.  My costumes have been cleaned, my basket full of makeup and accessories has been restocked and packed and I am already working on my intro for the season.  I have also been working with some of the other actors on things that worked and didn't from last season that we can share with new cast members this coming season.  Last season was drama-free for the most part and we had really good kids.  I hope beyond all hope that this season will be the same or better.  One weight is off my shoulders.  There was a review group that has come through every season and many of us actors were really concerned with how we would rank.  Well, over the off-season their "head guys" showed their colors after the Orlando tragedy by posting some horribly homophobic statements and then getting really nasty when called on it.  I don't tolerate that in my life and I don't respect anyone who can't respect others so, though I doubt they will be allowed in ANY of the haunts in our area this season, if they do make it in I really don't care what they think of our haunt or my performance.

On a happier note, we went out running yesterday and saw a puppy that was just adorable.  She's a boxer/bulldog mix. We have been thinking long and hard of getting Auggie a companion.  His personality has become very toned down since we lost Harley last November and it's been long enough that I am ready to bring another dog into our world.  Jim was all for it immediately but I needed time to mourn that sweet little girl first.  Of course I have my fears.  Can we really get lucky enough to get another dog as sweet as those two?  What happens if my health goes downhill?  Fortunately we have a decent sized yard for them to run in and Jim swears he can handle two of them so there's that.  OTOH- Mom and Dad don't think we need another dog.  I get it because Auggie travels with us and they have already made his reservation (just his, not any of the other Grand-dogs) for our next family reunion but we know that if we do get another dog we will either have to board both or hire someone to stay at the house with them because, like with Harley and Auggie, we wouldn't split them up.  And NEED is a strong word.  But I fully believe in rescuing dogs.  Given the time, ability and unlimited funds I would rescue as many as possible. I can see myself as the "Crazy Dog Lady" in another life.  Given my physical limitations *When* we win the lottery we will donate to as many rescues as we can.  The mission is so important.   Dogs really are better than people.  They love unconditionally and if you treat them well they are loyal to the end of the earth.  Their hearts are pure.  I truly believe that there are very few bad dogs- but many more bad owners.  I have to commend people who can foster- I couldn't because I would want to keep them all.  I know my limitations and letting them go, even to a great home, is one of mine.  It would break my heart and I just couldn't do it.

Now to bring things down a bit.  I am SO over all of the political posts and divisive social commentary on social media.  I will say over and over until I die that I don't care WHO you vote for as long as you get out there and vote.  That said,  these elections have become so contentious that it's making me physically ill.  If I could get a message to everyone who comments on every thread or news article or meme or posts on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit, it would be this:  if  you cannot get your message across without calling names, you message is not that important.  As soon as I see rudeness or name calling, I shut down.  I don't care if you are talking to one another or talking about the candidate or about the parties or about ideologies, if you can't be respectful, if you can't make your point without being hateful, your point is moot.  I don't even discuss who I am voting for.  It's between me and the polls.  That said, I look at every issue.  I also look at how the campaign is run, who they surround themselves with and where they stand on healthcare, government oversight, military matters, and jobs leaving the country.  I worry about racial tension, I worry about the separation of church and state, and I worry about foreign relations.  The great thing about being a registered Independent is that there is no "straight party" voting and that I can choose who I think will be best for our country, our state, our city without feeling I need to stay within party lines.  I hope, hope, hope that when you look at the candidates, you can feel free to make your decision with as much openness in your heart and mind as well.  Additionally I have watched the different "Lives Matter" (Black, Blue, All) movements with a heavy heart.  I truly believe that they are doing nothing to advance their causes but just causing further divide.  I understand the concept and why people feel their need.  What I don't understand is why, in 2016, ANYONE is still looking at people as a skin color, a religion, a job, a sexual orientation or a gender identity.  We are more than each of those things.  We are people.  We have hearts and souls.

 What has made me truly sad is that I have found out a lot that is not pretty about people that I thought I knew.  I am thankful that, there's an UNFOLLOW button on Faceobook, but I am sad that I need to use it.  I have unfollowed a lot of people because though I care about them, I just don't want the ugliness cluttering my news feed.  I won't cut them out of my life because they do mean something to me and I believe that deep inside there is more to them than that, but I don't want to see that part of them.   Please know, if you are posting hateful or rude thing, you are still there, I just don't see you on my regular news feed any longer.

Part of trying to live from a place of gratitude is to cut the negativity out of your life.  For me, that means losing the toxicity of this political season.  It means ignoring the rhetoric of the movements and accepting people for their merits.  I have gotten very far off track in my search for gratitude and I think it's because the negativity from many directions is all consuming.   I think it's time for a self-imposed social media and news drought in my life.  It's time to take a break for the good of my own soul.  I will keep my messenger up to keep up with my family and I can be reached there or here but I need a break from the rest for a while.  I hope you have a beautiful Sunday, free of strife and negativity.  I am thankful that you are reading my musings and for all of your support.


Monday, July 18, 2016

I Am NOT My Illnesses

There's an ad out right now, I think for a Psoriasis drug, that says "See ME".  I see many people who allow themselves to be defined by one aspect of their lives be it illness or one thing (marriage, parenthood, work?) that they don't see beyond.  I cannot, WILL not, allow that to happen to me.

I am a wife.
I am a mother.
I am a daughter.
I am a sister.
I am a friend.
I am a writer.
I am an employer.
I am an employee.
I am right-handed.
I am brown-eyed.
I am of undefined hair color.
I am a tom-boy.
I am a diva.
I am an actress.
I am a reader.
I am Spiritual.
I am loyal.
I am hardworking.
I am dependable.
I am adventurous.
I am open minded.
I am complicated.
I am an observer.
I am easily irritated by bad grammar, bad spelling, bad driving.
I am a political Independent.
I am a Moderate.
I am quick-tempered about the little things but get over it equally quickly.
I am slow to really hurt/anger but when you push me too far, you are out of my life forever.
I am a geek.
I am a Pop-Culture addict.
I am not happy with my weight.
I am happy with who I am.

I believe that people are who they show you they are rather than who they say they are.
I believe that animals are better "people" than people at times.
I believe that common sense and common decency have become not-so-common.
I believe that being respectful does not hurt.
I believe that being kind also does not hurt.
I believe that not my job to "convert" you, nor your job to "convert" me.
I believe that getting to know one another as people is the way to finding peace.
I believe that hate is an all-consuming a waste of energy.

I believe that the words "Politically Correct" should be stricken from the lexicon.  Respect for our differences is not a bad thing.

I believe that people say things behind a keyboard that they wouldn't dare say face-to-face, and that often shows true colors.

I believe that if you are living your life your way and not hurting anyone, you should just live your life without repercussions.  Best put:  "Do what you will, so long as you harm none."

I believe that if it's not yours, don't take it; if you didn't earn it, don't take it; if it doesn't belong to you, don't break it.  If you do, you are a criminal and should be punished.

I believe that guns are for hunting for food, not people.  If you kill it, you eat it.  If you hunt for sport or if you kill another person, you have earned swift punishment.

I believe that personal responsibility and accountability are of the utmost importance for ALL.

I believe that our country has, in my lifetime, lost its way and I fear that, in my lifetime, it won't find it again.

I believe that we citizens at heart are the way to heal, we just have to take action to make it happen.

I don't see skin color.
I don't see religion.
I don't see sexuality.
I don't see gender identity.
I don't see disabilities.

I do see how you treat people.
I do see how you speak to people.
I do see how you conduct yourself when you think no one is looking.


This is a lot about me- but did you notice that none of it is even remotely about the illnesses I live with?  I am NOT Rheumatoid Arthritis.  I am NOT Fibromyalgia, I am NOT DDD, I am not RLD.  They may shape what I can do from day to day but they are not my life.  There's so much more to me that has nothing to do with any of those illnesses.  Pain, exhaustion and the associated symptoms may slow me down but they are not who I am.  It's my hope that you too make a list and see yourself, warts and all, beyond what plagues you.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Time For Another Business Trip


   I am off to Cleveland again this morning.  Though I am dreading the 6 hour drive I am very much looking forward to spending time with "my girls".  We are very fortunate that we have some good people in our group and specifically, that the girls at IU East and IU Northwest and I (IU Southeast) really like one another and enjoy spending our limited time together.  I can't imagine how tough it would be if we didn't get along.  We all have to drive in a day early due to the length of the drive.   I will leave here in about an hour, get there around 3 (which is check-in time) and have time to take a nap before the girls get in around 6.   Two of us room together and  so I will know when they get in and we will meet up, go to dinner and catch up before we start the meeting in the morning with the rest of the region.  We will do meetings all day and evening tomorrow and all day Thursday and then make the long drive home.  I am grateful that I get to see the girls and we do this together since we are too far apart to spend regular time together.

By the time I get home my back (and possibly hips) will HATE me- but I will have the weekend to lay on the couch and recover.  My DDD and RA aren't crazy about turn-around trips but when I go to Tennessee I can rest in-between,  When we have our meetings it's essentially "Forced Family Fun" from 7am to 10 or 11pm every day.  We are in chairs all day, then spend dinner and the evening together.  This time it's a team-building exercise.   Fortunately, when  I make it home I will have a puppy waiting for me who will snuggle up and love on me as long as I need.  Unfortunately, I won't see the husband until Friday because he will be at work by the time I get home.  It's a trade off I will take because he is really liking working for Lowes.  I am grateful for King Pup.  He makes me look forward to coming home and makes my recovery a bit more palpable.
   
In terms of my work- my second Summer session started yesterday.  That means that in a week or so we will rope off that section and offer counter service only while we prepare for Fall.  This summer is FLYING by in terms of prep-time,  I need to look at my calendar and figure out when I will devote a weekend to walking, shifting and re-setting my shelves.  I have done very well (if I do say so myself) in letting go of much of my textbook duties and giving them to my Assistant, even though they are my wheel-house, my comfort zone, my "baby" so to speak.  As it's my first big season without having control- I have to do a walk-through and adjustment.  I can't just assume all is well because I am the one who will have to be the one who answers for any issues in the end.  Such is the fun of being "the boss."  I am grateful that I am free to rearrange my schedule so that I can do big tasks like this when we are closed and at my own pace.

Well, I must finish subtly packing.  Auggie loses it when he realizes I am leaving and so I have to pack bit-by bit.  The suitcase is closed, I am just finishing my backpack.  I just have to let my work iPad charge as much as I can before heading out.  Then, I will convince the dog he needs to go outside (Bunny chasing perhaps?) and take the luggage out the front door. At the moment he is snoozing at my feet under my desk, so this may be tough.

Have a lovely, lovely week!


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Peppermint Tea, Ginger and Flexibility


     As good as I thought Monday started out, it quickly devolved.  Shortly after I hit "Publish" on my post, I started to feel ill.  When I say ill, I mean ILL.  Over the last two days I have dealt with the effects of what we think was less than stellar seafood on Sunday night.  It was ugly.  We have narrowed it down to that because hubby was affected too- but he only ate a little of it and he was less affected.

    Monday at work I was....out of the office (I am sure you get my meaning) as much as I was in.  I think most of the 8800 steps on my Fitbit were earned running back and forth to the ladies room.  This continued all night to the point that I barely slept.  Yesterday morning I sent a text to my Assistant Manager asking her to cover my close as the issue was ongoing.  She graciously said yes and I crawled into my recliner and didn't move unless necessary for the day.

    Because of all of the meds I am on I prefer not to treat with medication when possible.  With previous damage to my liver (thanks MTX!) I am so afraid to take anything that affects that area. Thankfully I had a box of Twining's Peppermint Tea K-cups for my Keurig on hand.  Peppermint is a great soother for your stomach and it helped a lot.  I also keep Gin-Gins on hand all of the time because I just love them but Ginger also helps settle your stomach.  So these two became my saviors. I discovered the hard way that caffeine was a huge trigger.  I thought I was getting low on the Peppermint tea so I made a cup of green tea (less caffeine than coffee but still has it in it) and added mint from my garden and nearly undid the progress.   But, I found another box (YAY) that I had stashed away and in the meantime I switch to water in an infuser filled with fresh mint.  

     This morning I am feeling human again but I am taking all of those things with me *just in case* eating solid food sets me off again and I am stopping for flowers for my Assistant Manager who covered me yesterday and my Full-time bookseller.  They are both so good about covering the store when I am not doing well- be it illness or a flare- and I just want to show them that I appreciate it.  It's a small token but it's something I can do.  It's a total blessing that I have people at work who are flexible about changing their hours so that I can tend to my "stuff" and not worry about my job.  I am also grateful that I have sick time every year and that I have not had to max it out in any year as of yet.  I am often told "USE IT! You only get to carry over so much!" but I am always so afraid that the big flare will come and I will need it that I only use it sparingly.  I would rather lose the hours that I can't carry over than need it.

I hope you have a LOVELY Wednesday.  Give thanks today for any small thing that you can find- it makes even a rough situation a little better! 

Monday, June 20, 2016

Happy Monday Friends!

It's a beautiful morning in my little world.  At daybreak it looked like it was going to storm but after I took Auggie for quick walk the skies started to part and the sun is now peeking through.  The excitement is that even though it's fairly humid this morning the extra Naproxyn I have been taking is kicking in and I can fit most of my rings and my regular shoes on!!!  I have to laugh that I got so excited about it.  I can't imagine my sisters getting so excited about such a little thing.  I think we just take such small things for granted until they are gone.

Speaking of getting excited, Auggie was super excited to go for a walk this morning.  I have to say, since we moved in last October I had gotten away from walking them/him.  We wanted a fenced yard so they could go out and run and play whenever they wanted and we got it.  For a few weeks after we lost Miss Harley in November, Auggie and I would take long walks just so we could "talk".  I would talk to him about how she was feeling better now that she was gone and how he would be okay.  I *think* it helped both of us with the grief.  Eventually I went into flare and that was the end of that. This weekend I realized that there's no reason not to take him at least for a quick walk in the morning and perhaps in the evenings.  He loves it and it would get me moving.  So I got up a half hour early and had some coffee then took him for a quick walk.  As soon as I picked up the leash he nearly lost it.  It was all I could do to keep him quiet and not wake up the husband.  He waited for me to put his harness on and then was dancing around like it was his job.  He was a little wild at first- which just shows I need to do it more often because he's forgotten his leash manners- but once he settled down we had a nice little walk.  We only went a few blocks but we will work back up to our milers.

That's all I have for you today.  I hope your Monday is a beautiful start to a good week.  

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Not Letting The Swelling Win.



     If you are anything like me, this time of year is a Catch-22.  I love the heat.  Let me say it again, I LOVE the heat- most of the time.  I love when it's hot out during the day.  I love to spend time out in the sun.  I am happy to eat out on my patio, to sit outside and read in shorts and a tank top, to feel the sun warming my joints.  The rub is that I can't sleep in it so even if we didn't have the pup to keep the house cool for, we would have to keep it cool at night for me and during the day for my opposite-shift-working husband.  Unfortunately, in Kentuckiana, along with the heat comes humidity that can be oppressive.  Now- most of me doesn't even mind the humidity, but my joints do.

     When the humidity rises it's an invitation for my entire body to swell.  It's like my body wants to draw that moisture in and keep it all for itself.  I mentioned when I took my day off that my shoe size ranges from a 6-9 (or more) due to swelling but my hands and wrists swell like balloons too.  So I end up with Flintstone feet and fingers like sausages.  It's not cute at all.  I mentioned that the feet burn when I use them.  The hands don't hurt much- they are just harder to use due to the swelling so typing is harder, gripping is harder- you get the idea.

     Now, I am a "ring girl".  I love, love, love rings.  As a rule I wear 8-10 rings at all times.  I wear my wedding ring and anniversary band on my left ring finger, a knuckle ring on that middle finger, thumb rings on both sides, and three rings that are important to me on my right ring finger.  When my hands swell- they hurt, a lot.  So- I have been removing them when they start to cut in so much that I need soap to get them off but that leaves me feeling...naked.  While I have accumulated most of the rings over the years, I have been wearing a wedding band for 30 years and though I have had to go up a size from the original- not having it on feels like I am missing a part of myself.

     Recently I gave myself permission to buy myself a "spare".  Just like I have shoes that are much larger than normal, I bought an inexpensive silver and glass wedding set to wear when I can't wear my real set.  It's pretty-ish ( I prefer 10k gold) and I know it's not the same but it's the symbol and I am not missing my rings as much.  When I bought my bigger shoes it was a decisive action because I was tired of only being able to fit into flip-flops with swollen feet.  These rings are just another work around so that I don't dwell when I swell.  Kind of a way to move past this side effect and keep going if you know what I mean.   I may not be able to beat the swelling, but I  don't have to let it win either.

    This is my question for you- what do you do to accommodate so you can keep feeling "normal" while your body is in a mini rebellion? Whether you swell like I do or if there is another reoccurring thing that happens due to your illnesses, what small things do you do to rise above it and keep living your life?

Thursday, June 16, 2016

When Did my Life Become a Scout Song?


Head, shoulders, knees and toes,
Knees and toes.

Head, shoulders, knees and toes,
Knees and toes.

And eyes, and ears, and mouth,
And nose.

Head, shoulders, knees and toes,
Knees and toes.


Do you remember this song?  If you aren't sure- they sing it at the link.  It brings back memories from long, long ago but, ironically, it's apt today as well.  The way our pain travels when we are living with RA and Fibro, we can sing that song every day and apply it to a hurting body part.

I took yesterday off as a sick day.  My shoulder has been hurting for months now and my feet were so swollen on Tuesday morning that I couldn't get shoes all the way on. I ended up going to work with them stuffed in my shoes.   When they are swollen it burns to walk on them and stuffing them into shoes made it burn constantly.  Here's the thing though.  When all is normal- a size 6-6.5 shoe has more than enough room in it to accommodate a long day on my feet.  Lately the top of my foot has been swelling so much that when they are really bad I have to put on a 9 to be able to get them on.  Tuesday, even they were tight.  I just can't go bigger because I already feel like I am  a little kid wearing my parent's shoes when I have the 9s on.  Any bigger and I can pretty much guarantee I will trip.  So, because we are at a good place at work, I took the day to keep the feet up and try to get rid of the swelling a bit.  The plan was to stay home, in my jammies, in my recliner all day.  For the most part I stuck to plan.  I did have to get up and get dressed though because the collision center called and Wally ( my car) was fixed and ready to pick up.  Back in April I was side-swiped by an 18-wheeler and my insurance (Thanks USAA!) has been chasing the other driver's insurance for quite a while.  They finally just waived my deductible so I could get him fixed and he looks awesome.  More importantly, I have a passenger side mirror back.  I never realized how much I use it until it was gone. So I had to throw on clothes and a baseball cap, run the rental car back to Enterprise and then have them drive me to the collision center.  All told it took *maybe* a half hour once I was dressed and out the door.  I came home, made dinner and then soaked in the tub before bed.  Today, my feet are some better,  I don't have to put on the biggest shoes.  I am not quite back to my normal shoes but I will take it.

So today I am giving thanks that I could take a day off to rest, that I have my car back and that I have a job to go back to this morning.  I am also thankful that my little tomato, strawberry and mint plants are growing beautifully despite my black thumb.  Soon I will have a bounty from my own yard.  That just makes me smile.  Hope you have a lovely day friends!