Sunday, January 31, 2010

Provoking Introspection through Snowflakes and Spiderwebs

My son has a very big decision in front of him at the moment. His decision will affect a number of people close to him and it has the ability to affect his future in a very, very large way. He is 22 years old and is at what could be a pivotal time in his life. As his mother- who adores him-I don't feel it fair that I influence his decision in any way so I have given him his options without going in to the pros and cons of each. Those reasons for and against each option are what he must decide for himself and what will make the decision his and his alone.

I don't know if he realizes how very fortunate he is to have so many solid options, but I do. The decisions that we make, big and small help define us. One thing that I am going to suggest to him when I speak to him again is that he use the "Snowflake method" to review his different options.

If you are unfamiliar with the Snowflake Method, it is actually a way of plotting out a novel. If you google it- there are literally thousands of webpages devoted to how to use it and to the pros and cons of doing so. The thing that I like about the snowflake method is that once you become comfortable with it you can apply it to anything from its original purpose of crafting a story to figuring out how you will pay down debt, to making important life decisions.

The way that I would do this is to take a blank piece of paper and draw a triangle large enough to write inside, flip the paper over, and draw an equal triangle upside down on top of the first. This will give you something that looks like a six pointed star. At the center, write your option. In each of the six points, write different things that will happen if you chose that option- for example- what your job will be, where you will live,anything that needs to be considered. Now, on the outside of each point, draw a triangle for as many things for each point as you need to consider until you exhaust all of the possibilities. These can be the pros or cons or anything neutral. As you build upon each of these points- you will find that you have a lovely snowflake- and you have laid out all the things to think about- including the ones you may have missed had you not put it to paper.

The opposite of the snowflake method is something that I call the "Spiderweb". Spiderwebs are a way of looking back at decisions you have already made and seeing how your decision changed your life. Though you cannot unring a bell, there are two different ways of using the spiderweb to learn more about yourself and about the life choices you have made. This exercise can be both fun and enlightening. Both will be done using the same structure, it is all in how you look at your choices. The first way is to take a real decision that you have made and evaluate it, the second is to look at the opposite of a decision that you made and do the "what if" scenario. Either way you choose to approach it- you begin with a circle in the center of your paper. Inside the circle, write the decision. From there, bring out as many lines as you need to write how that decision affected your life. From each of those lines, bring over lines to show how each of these ties connect to one another and those should somehow create and outer circle. From those connections, bring out a line to show the effects of the outer circle and so on and so on until you have exhausted all of the possibilities and consequences.

I have done this exercise with many of the large decisions I have made in my life. What the majority of these spiderwebs have shown me is that many of the things that I thought that I wished I had done, would have changed my life in ways that would have made me an entirely different person, and many of the decisions that I thought I regretted- gave me more blessings than I realized.

We make decisions, large and small, each and every day. Taking the time to think them through before you make them, or looking back on their effects afterward can teach you to live your life without regrets. It can show you that even your "mistakes" are lessons that will allow you to grow. They can remind you of blessings that you have been given and may have lost sight of along your path. Those are gifts that cannot be taken away.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Perking up!

As I sit here this morning typing this, I have a 15 pound ball of love on my lap which, while it makes typing difficult, is a very sweet start to my morning. Auggie has spent most of the last three days either snuggled up on or next to me while Harley has not let me nap once without her. It is as if they knew that I was under the weather and wanted to give me comfort.

I am going back to work today. The fever finally broke last night. I woke up around 10:30pm with all of the covers off of me- which is a huge change from not being able to get warm enough. I got up, changed into lighter pj's and crawled back in bed with both pups at my feet. My ears are still clogged (throwing off my equilibrium) and I am still tired and achy but I am feeling well enough that I will take my Zicam with me and go in and try and catch up today.

I was reminded yesterday how very fortunate I am to have a job in which I am allowed an ample amount of sick time. The caveat here is that I doubt that I will be dipping into it for this week as I have quite a bit of comp time built up. There are many people who- if they had been as sick as I have been for the last few days- would have either had to dip into their hard earned vacations, have just not been paid at all or have risked losing their jobs altogether. I also was blessed with a revelation. I never-ever- thought I could be a stay at home wife. I thought I would be bored senseless. I have discovered that should our often hoped for lottery win happen any time soon, I could walk away from the working world with very little guilt and find contentment right in my home.

That means that this bout with a virus has given me two things to be grateful for. And now, it's time to get back to the "real world."

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Something to make you smile

Okay- well- it makes me smile. I am under the weather and going back to bed. My laptop is set to these little guys. Who doesn't love puppies?

They stream live most of the time- when not streaming- there is a slideshow available.

Free TV Show from Ustream

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Thank goodness for Sunday

It has been a rough night for me.  I don't know if it is because we spent a couple of hours walking around the Kentucky Expo Center, climbing in and out of boats and RV's and just wandering through the exhibits or if it because I had a big old soda this afternoon in addition to my pot of coffee and the caffeine is starting to turn on me- or a combination of the two- but sleep has been elusive tonight. 

I came home from the Expo Center and we took a lovely nap.  Made dinner, took the dogs for a walk,  watched a movie and two episodes of Accidentally On Purpose (LOVE That show- so hope they don't cancel it), took my evening Tramadol and Flexeril and went to bed around 10:30.  Somewhere between 8 and 10:30 everything started tightening up.  When I went to bed I found it very, very difficult to get comfortable.  Back, neck, shoulders, everything was hurting.  It didn't help that someone in the complex was having a party tonight and just as soon as I would settle down and start to get to sleep- someone would come or go and the cars were making little Auggie nuts so he was barking.  After tossing and turning, turning and tossing- and actually feeling my fingers stiffen up inch by inch and waking up over and over- I finally gave up around 2.  I knew that if I stayed in bed flopping around- Jim wouldn't get an sleep either.

Soon after I got up- the party ended and Auggie was able to settle down for the night but a gorgeous storm blew in.  With the first crack of thunder and rumble of lightening I was so startled that I went to open the slider to check out what was going on- which of course brought the dogs running (because really?  Who's going out or coming in at 2:30am?) but they quickly went back to the living room to snuggle back down while I watched the storm.  When the storm was over- I started emptying out my DVR.  What better time than in the middle of the night? 

This is one of the trials of living with both Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia.  Here's the thing though- years ago, when I was first diagnosed-I would have been in a huge self pity mode here three hours in, now- not so much.  I would have thought that my whole life was going to be this cycle of pain and lack of sleep, but now I know better.  I know that- while this is not a total aberration- I will at least have an equal number of good nights as I do bad.  I would  have panicked that this was the beginning of a big flare but now I know that if I take the right steps, a flare is not a guarantee.  I also know that being that today is Sunday- I can crawl back in bed at some point and sleep or even just rest as long as I need.  In fact it is my intention to wait another half hour or so and take the puppies out for their walk, come back and take my Sunday meds (Tramadol and Folic Acid, then an hour later my shot of MTX) then wait until Jim gets up so we can work together to start the roast in the crock pot.  Then I will  draw a hot, hot bath, sit in there to relax my muscles a bit, throw on some really warm clothes (read:sweats) and take a small stack of magazines in to my bed and stay there as long as I can stand it.  I am not really good at complete inactivity but if it means that I am feeling better tomorrow- I can do it. 

My lesson this morning is that I really have grown and gotten a handle on living with these two chronic illnesses.  I am facing this hurdle with a plan of action and a positive attitude rather than letting the pain make me miserable both physically and emotionally.  I have realized that though I just had to use a whole fist to hold a spoon to eat my yogurt and am typing super slow this morning, it's not the end of the world- I got the job done. I am also so grateful for this lesson that the lack of sleep is worth it!  Could it be a blessing in disguise?  I am thinking so.  Then again- I could just be delirious.  ;-)

Saturday, January 23, 2010


What do you do about your dreams?  I don't mean the dreams that you have at night when you are asleep, I mean those things that you long to do with all of your heart?  Our dreams, to me, are those things that you hold close to your heart that you just want to do or goals you just really want to achieve.   It could be something like going skydiving, or climbing a mountain.  It could be running for office or winning the lottery.  It could be touring Europe, traveling cross country on a motorcycle or to a third world country to bring clean water.  It could be to move to New York City or to have the big corner office or to write the Great American Novel. 

You don't ever have to tell another living soul in order to nurture your dreams.  You can keep it inside and cherish it or you can share it with someone you trust.  I have a dream book. It's a green binder that has page protectors in it that I slip in photos and articles and things I find that remind me of my dream. You don't have to do anything as concrete as my dream book.  You could read books on the subject, do searches online, talk to people who have done this thing.  Anything that keeps that dream alive and prepares you for the reality of reaching it. 

The thing is- my dreams are something that keeps me going when times seem tough.  When I am sick or exhausted or feeling down or a little lost, I can pull out my dream book.  I flip through the pages and let my imagination take flight.  As my imagination soars higher and higher, my mood follows suit.  It is a quick, easy and inexpensive way to feel better.  It is also fun to, as I am paging through magazines or as I come across a random postcard in a gift shop somewhere, cut out or buy that image and know that it belongs right there in my book.  That means that at any given moment I can be connected with that dream. 

This afternoon, I am going to spend some time updating my dream book.  The perfection of a dream is that it can change as you change- it can be anything you wish. I hope that each of you has a dream that you cherish and nurture and adds something positive to your life. 

Friday, January 22, 2010

An exercise in gratitude.

Sometimes we are just not feeling grateful.  It's easy when you are having a tough time to lose sight of your blessings.  I have been having just one of those times the last week or so. It becomes apparent when I find myself aggravated and agitated throughout the day.  My mood swings up and down, back and forth like a pendulum. I would think about this blog and think "I have nothing to say." and that would just add fuel to my fire.  I felt like I was failing myself with this challenge.  Two things happened to switch my thoughts about this.

 First is my Simple Abundance Gratitude Journal.  the way I approach that little green book is that every evening, when I go up to bed, there are four things sitting on my bed waiting for me.  My Gratitude Journal, the Simple Abundance book, whatever book I am currently reading and a little bowl of gummy bears.  I climb into my bed and I open that journal and I see those 5 little lines staring in my face.  Before I move on to anything else- I make myself fill those lines with 5 things that I am grateful for today.  By doing this- I flat our force myself to think of the blessings- no matter how small- in my life.  Once that is done, I read my passage in the book and then allow myself to sit back and dive into my other reading and pick at my gummies until I am ready to sleep.  It is a relaxing way to end my day but before I can get to the relaxing part- I have to find those things that I can be thankful for.  I am determined to complete that journal this year and finding the blessings when you are not feeling them is a big part of that.

The second thing was as simple as going back and reading here.  I clicked my "edit" button and chose posts at random to read over.  What this did was remind me that I am not supposed to have all the answers.  It reminded me that this is a journey.  The purpose behind writing this blog was to open my heart and mind to all of the wonderful things in my life.  I realized that if I have to force it- my heart and mind are not open.  In this realization, I was able to let go of the guilt and appreciate that I had found so many things to write about up to this point. 

And so here I sit.  Ready to renew my dedication to finding the joys and blessings in my life.  I am ready to be grateful for each and every one of them.  I prepare for work today knowing that it will probably be a difficult day but that if I really take a deep breath and look closely- I can find those little nuggets of gold hidden through my day. 

The quote in my book last night said: 

Gratitude is our most direct line to God and the angels.  If we take time, no matter how crazy and troubled we feel, we can find something to be thankful for.  The more we seek gratitude, the more reason the angels will give us for gratitude and joy to exist in our lives.    -Terry Lynn Taylor
Rather appropriate that this quote comes at this time for me.  I need to see that gratitude- and then this too shall pass. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The lost art of the written word

It's ironic to be blogging about this- because what am I doing if not writing down my thoughts?  Actually- I am talking about actual written words.  Journaling, cards for no special occasion and letters.  What was the norm in my childhood- my child (who is coming up on 23) thinks of as an aberation. 

Over the Christmas holiday my mom offered me a bunch of her craft supplies that she has forgone if I would go through the boxes with her.  As we were going through them, I found a couple of letters that Dad had written to mom when he was on an unaccompanied remote in Italy back in the 90's.  Finding them really got me thinking. 

I know that my grandmother saved all of our letters and tapes (remember cassette tapes?) that we sent her when I was young and traveling all over.  I know that for many years my mom kept a journal and both of them kept letters that they sent back and forth- it was just another thing I took for granted.  All of those things tell a story- the story of their lives and the story of mine.  That is something that I never thought of until I saw those letters and remembered that time of our lives.  So I asked Mom for the letters and things.  She promised to censor them 0_o and then put them together for me.  I want to be able to read them and remember, I want to pass them on to my child.  As I mentioned before- I have been not very good about journaling.  This, however, has given me a reason to do so.  A reason to write things down and stick with it. 

I have found my old journals- not just my Simple Abundance Gratitude Journal- but also a regular journal that I started- and stopped- years ago. Looking back at first I thought "how silly was I?" but now I see that no matter how mundane- it tells a story and hopefully one day my son can look back and learn something about us that he never knew.  It is my intention to start journaling again.  Maybe not every day- but often enough that he can have a record of our lives.  He can know us as people rather than just parents.  It is my hope that I can start journaling again now that he is not living with us so that he can see what we are doing and what we are thinking and what we are feeling.  He can have my journals and letters, and those of his grandparents and the ones that I wrote and recorded as a child and in that have a record of his heritage. 

It is also my intention to begin to write letters again.  It is always a lovely surprise to have a real letter in the mailbox and I would like to give that surprise to my friends and my son.  Yesterday I stopped at the dollar store and picked up some lovely stationary-like computer paper and a cute rubber stamp to personalize the  envelopes and made a list of people that I want to establish correspondance with.  I also intend to ask my cousin for Gran's letters and tapes.  I am sure he won't mind parting with them (if he still has them) since they are from us.  I also talked to my son about all of this and it truely piqued his interest.  I think that I will  also print this blog and put it in a notebook for him as well. 

I am so grateful that I found those letters.  It is like finding a part of yourself that you didn't know that you lost.  It has also given me a new perpective on my parents, and reminded me that there are more than just pictures to tell our story.  It has given me a new appreciation for "snail mail" and makes me want to go back to those days rather than dashing off a quick e-mail to keep in touch.  It also lets me anticipate that I will have the blessing of the old correspondance to remember my family members by in the future. 

Words have power- and our thoughts and memories are the ultimate gift.  I want to start compiling that gift for my son and any children he may have in the (distant- fingers virtually crossed-lol) future.

Monday, January 18, 2010


When I log on in the morning I generally head to either or first (then switch) to see what interesting stories they are running on their scrolling "top stories" bar.  It's a quick way to get the news before I go to the traditional cnn and wsj sites. 

This morning I came across a link to a guest blog on Lemondrop by Liz Funk regarding Glamour Magazine's use of "plus-size" models.  The blog, found here very eloquently discusses the fact that while Glamour is making an effort to show "real" women- their "plus-size" model is a size 12, when- in fact- the average woman in this country is a size 14.  Obviously this struck a chord because since it was published on the 15th there are 146 comments (not including the stupid spam comments) from people on this issue.  Let me just say that if you walk into most any mainstream store- from WalMart to Sax, from Penny's to Bloomingdales, you will find from 2 to 16 ranged in the "regular sizes" and the plus sized section begins at either 16W or 18.  What that means is that while Glamour is *trying* to show more normal women- they fail miserably when catagorizing them as "Plus Size"-especially considering that the difference between Glamour's depicition of Plus and the national market is a matter of about 50lbs depending on body size.  While Glamour did a good job with their now famous "woman on page 194"  (note the 1100 comments that follow) that showed a real woman who had a bit of a belly but feels comfortable in her skin and is still beautiful, they really stalled their progress with the current campaign. 

 When I was a teenager, I lived and breathed Glamour, Cosmo and the other fashion-based women's magazines.  I can't think of anything I and many girls like me wouldn't have done to look like those girls in the magazines back then.  The problem is that the fashion industry, with their size 0 samples and their pencil thin models, skew the perception of what is beautiful and normal.  That is why I am thankful for Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty.   The campaign, which began in 2004 and went viral in 2006 spotlights beauty in different ages, shapes and colors.  They spotlight real women- not the airbrushed perfection found on billboards and magazines.  A terrific example is in this video:

I cannot tell you how I wish this video and this campaign had been launched 25 years prior when I was a young girl.  It would have saved me years of anguish over how I looked, it might have saved several of my friends from developing eating disorders or from abusing Dexatrim and other caffeine laced "get thin quick" OTC drugs of the early 80's.

I am a real woman. I am 42 years old.  I am 5' tall and a size 14-16 depending on the designer.  While I am not model-beautiful (though I am sure that photoshop could fix that-lol) my size and shape are far more common than your typical model. If you don't believe me- go to any clearance rack and look for my size, it's far more rare to find that than a 2-4-6 or even 8.  There is a photo out there on the net of me in high school.  I look at that picture now and I am so very sad for that little girl.  At the time- I was about a 6-8 and I thought I was "so fat" that my history of dieting started during those years.  Now I look at it and think "if only you knew".  What Dove is doing is showing young girls that beauty is more than what you see in magazines, on TV and in the movies.   For this I can support them; I can help spread their message online, I can share their tools with my sisters and friends who have young daughters and I can purchase their products.  I only hope that as the message grows the magazines and other media sources follow suit and that the fashion industry finally realizes that what looks good on their size 0 woman- is not the "ideal" or the norm and they come into this century of real beauty. 

Sunday, January 17, 2010

It's funny how things change.

I wasn't sure how long ago I first read the book "Simple Abundance" until the other night.  If you haven't read it- it is broken down into small daily sessions.  One of the things that is highlighted in the second week is having a gratitude journal.  Years ago when I bought the book- I also bought the accompanying gratitude journal where in you jot down 5 things each day that you are grateful for. 

Confession:  I am not very good at journaling every day.  That year- it was a New Year's resolution.  I managed 9 days.  I know this because I pulled out the journal the other night when I got to that part.  I read it, I laughed at my old self, I read it aloud to my husband, he rolled his eyes and told me that obviously I hold on to things for too long.  You see- his birthday is in the first week of January and I journaled that we spent a lovely evening at home for his 33rd birthday.  He is now 44.  I think he's right. 

What that means is I got two lessons in one.  First that I have most assuredly changed a LOT in the last eleven years.  My priorities have changed, my career has changed, my lifestyle has changed.  Second I learned that indeed- I do hold on to things for way too long.  I knew I was a little bit of a pack rat- I didn't realize how much.  Both of these lessons are a blessing.  I am grateful to know that I have evolved even more than I thought I had.  That makes me feel so much better about the journey that brought me to this point.  The reason that I am grateful to realize that I hold on to things too long is that I finally feel free to get rid of some of the "stuff" and pare down on the things I surround myself with.  I have been reading about that as part of simplifying my life but I have been afraid to make that start.  I don't know how much throwing away I will do- but I do think I can at least pack some things away and get them out of our day to day space.  I am off today, tomorrow and Tuesday- that seems like a good time to get started.

There was also a small victory involved.  On that year- I lasted nine days.  Yesterday was the 16th and I have read that book each and every night before I settle in with whatever other book I am currently reading.  That shows me I have grown there too.  Another blessing to be thankful for. 

Friday, January 15, 2010

Retail hell

This morning I am just thankful that this week is almost over.  If you know retail- imagine Black Friday and the day after Christmas all rolled into one- and then make it last a week.  It's hard.  It's very hard.  Long lines, customers who are cranky because they have to pay so much for the tools for their education, customers who are cranky because they don't like return policies that don't favor them or because they placed an order on our website and it's not ready an hour later.  We put up with a lot of rudeness and abuse this week- and it gets to the point that I am just burned out. 

It is as if they forget that we are people just like them.  They don't know that we have worked our butts off to get their product on the shelves.  They don't know that two of us have put in over a hundred extra hours in the last four weeks to make sure that everything was ready for the first day of school.  I think they think things just magically happen.  The sense of entitlement is getting to me as well- one example:  I jumped through hoops for someone this week to make something happen for them and not only was it taken as if it were due- but two days later when they changed their mind about what they wanted- they were insufferably rude.  It happens often and it can make you never want to extend yourself for anyone again.  I hate feeling like that. 

42 weeks a year, I enjoy my job.  The other 10- make me rethink those 42.  :-/  It leaves me wondering if it is worth it.  It shakes my faith in people.  It makes me lose sleep and snap at my husband, raises my blood pressure and makes my whole body ache.  So Thank Goodness it's Friday.  I am so grateful that it is almost over for this round.  Next will be time to catch up and get ready for the next part of the cycle.

Edited to add:  I also want to note that though we all know I am CRAZY about my dogs- these past few weeks have made me appreciate them and my honey even more.  I got home last night to find Jim had fed and walked the dogs before I got home (we usually walk them together) because he knew I would be tired and had dinner started for me.  I also had both of the pups do their "Mommy's home" thing.  After a rough day there is nothing, nothing better than the pure, unconditional love of a dog.  They don't care that you are cranky, tired, or whatever- they just give you their love without expectation of anything more than love back.  Within 5 minutes of getting home, with Auggie on my lap and Harley at my knee- my day might never have happened because I was just enjoying them. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Showing Appreciation

Last Tuesday I wrote about taking things for granted.  The flip side of that- is feeling taken for granted versus feeling appreciated. 

I am in a unique situation at work.  My direct boss has been out on medical leave for a couple of months which means that my co-assistant and I have been trying to keep the store running in the face of personnel cuts and other issues.  We also have tried to meet all of our deadlines- we are not always successful but we have been working hard to do our boss proud.  Now- our regional manager is hours away- she has a LOT of stores to cover and as long as you aren't a "problem" store- you don't have a lot of visits.  So basically we have been just working, working, working (to the point that between last month up till last Saturday- we have each accumulated about 96 hours of "comp time" which is so much we will probably never see it) and working- but not really sure how we are doing.  Most of the things we do aren't really measurable.   

Well- yesterday our regional gave us a call.  She wanted to tell us that we are doing a great job- our sales are up, we passed a surprise audit, we scored a 96% on a customer service shop and we are exceeding her expectations.  She wanted to thank us- and tell us that she is coming next month and wants to take us to dinner.  I cannot tell you how wonderful it was to feel that our hard work has been both noticed and appreciated. 

What she did with that one phone call was give me a lesson that it is not enough to not take things and people for granted- we have to express our appreciation as well.  It made me mindful of how much a  simple "thank you" can do for someone's day.  

My challenge for myself- starting today- is to really notice when someone is doing something "good" and to say Thank You in that moment.  If they feel half as much as I did yesterday- I think we will all have a better day. 

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Sunday Morning List

Yesterday I spent half the day administering the Praxis test.  I love doing that.  I call it my "Fun Occasional Job" because it only happens every other month or so.  It earns me a little extra money- It makes me feel like I am doing something important and while the students are testing, as long as I keep an eye on them- I can get caught up on my reading.  Yesterday's stack of magazine articles ran the gamut from paring down to giving back and I got some very good tips.  I also came across a great quote last night while watching What Not To Wear:  Rather than focus on the negatives- how can you alter a situation to make it a positive?  That's a quote that, if you remember it often can really make you think and change your outlook.  Thanks Stacy and Clinton for that one. 

I have many things to be thankful for this Sunday Morning.  I have discovered some terrific sites this week that I would like to share as well as some just plain old "normal" things that have made me smile.

1- The pups let me "sleep in" this morning.  I woke up naturally this morning at 6:15 and both of the dogs were still sleeping at our feet.  Auggie popped up as soon as I got up and Harley cocked her head but didn't want to go out- so I took my handsome boy out solo.  As we normally wake up at around 4:40am to my alarm and head right out for a walk- it was a very relaxing way for us to start our Sunday.  After he ate- Auggie went back up and hopped on the bed with "Dad" and Harley and the three of them are still snoozing while I prepare for work. 

2-  I found a great website/spokesperson for those of us who have body issues.  Jess Weiner is a self described "Actionist" who is spotlighted in the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty which I have spoken of before.  She's a lovely young lady who answers very frank- and sometimes sad- questions from women of all ages about dealing with life as a "real beauty".   If you have a young girl or a woman of any age who is not fond of her body- send them to Jess's site.  She was even chosen recently as one of Forbes 14 Women to Follow on Twitter.  She's really doing great work. 

3- I want to mention again Let's Say Thanks, Xerox's site to send postcards of thanks to our troops.  I have several dear friends who are serving overseas and I know from them how hard it can be to be so far away from their families.  These postcards can lift their spirits.   It only takes a minute- so if you do nothing more today than this- pop over and say Thank You with a few clicks. 

4-  I got to talk to my baby sister this morning- we were passing back and forth tips on the whole weight loss journey.  She is preparing to have a "gastric sleeve" surgery.  I don't know how to explain it properly- but it is much safer than gastric bypass and has less side effects (and you don't have to keep going back in) like the lap band.  This will change her entire life.  What I am very pleased about is all of the pre-prep the bariatric center make them do before the surgery.  Psych evals, lots of testing to see if they are healthy enough for the surgery, appointments with a nutritionist- a whole battery of preparation.  One thing about this that affects me is that as we discuss all of this (and she is so very excited) I realize that I have no place to whine about how difficult it is for me to lose weight and- I can be thankful that I don't have to go through all of this.  Yes- I am overweight- yes, I need to get off my duff and do something about it- but not to that extreme.  It is within my power- I just need to do it. 

5- I found two "new" books to read this week that have been sitting in my home library just waiting to be found.  The first is from the Arthritis Foundation and is called Tips for Good Living with Arthritis  I must have either purchased this book or gotten it from one of the drug companies but I remember it coming in the mail and I haven't really given it a lot of thought.  For anyone with any of the arthritis's or for their loved ones- this is a terrific little book that has a lot of info packed in it's pages.  The tips are thoughtful and easy to use- and it's a good reference for all of us to have on hand.  It also has basic info about many of the different types of Arthritis that we live with that make it easy for our loved ones to learn more.  The second is a Weight Watcher's publication entitled Start Living, Start Losing.  Written in the style of the Chicken Soup series- it is filled with motivational and inspirational stories of people on the journey.  It is now sitting on my bedside table to be added to my nightly reading.

That's a short list for today.  I am off to take care of some last minute web orders before the semester's classes start tomorrow.  It may be just too crazy for me to devote proper attention to my blog at least for the first few days of school so I hope you all have a pain free and positive week filled with blessings! 

Friday, January 8, 2010

My Wish- Rascal Flatts

I am sitting here blasting a little music this morning thanks to a "weather delay" at work. I just wanted to share this song with you because it is one of my favorites. I love it- and I listen to it often.  Rascal Flatts always strikes a chord with me.  This particular song is "My Wish" for all of my loved ones. 

My Wish:

I hope that the days come easy and the moments pass slow,

And each road leads you where you want to go,

And if you're faced with a choice, and you have to choose,

I hope you choose the one that means the most to you.

And if one door opens to another door closed,

I hope you keep on walkin' till you find the window,

If it's cold outside, show the world the warmth of your smile,

But more than anything, more than anything,

My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to,

Your dreams stay big, and your worries stay small,

You never need to carry more than you can hold,

And while you're out there getting where you're getting to,

I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too,

Yeah, this, is my wish.

I hope you never look back, but ya never forget,

All the ones who love you, in the place you left,

I hope you always forgive, and you never regret,

And you help somebody every chance you get,

Oh, you find God's grace, in every mistake,

And you always give more than you take.

But more than anything, yeah, and more than anything,

My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to,

Your dreams stay big, and your worries stay small,

You never need to carry more than you can hold,

And while you're out there getting where you're getting to,

I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too,

Yeah, this, is my wish.

My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to,

Your dreams stay big, and your worries stay small,

You never need to carry more than you can hold,

And while you're out there getting where you're getting to,

I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too,

Yeah, this, is my wish.

This is my wish

I hope you know somebody loves you

May all your dreams stay big

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


It is almost ridiculous how much I look forward to Wednesday.  Wednesday is the day I take my shot of Enbrel.  The shot itself doesn't make me "feel" any better but it does wipe me out and that means that I am in bed by about 6:30pm.  At the moment- I could probably crawl back in bed now and not get out for the day because I am dealing with a wave of fatigue that could take down an army. 

There was a time- at the beginning of my RA journey that I would have just given in to that and buried my head and everything else in my bed and let it spiral down to "is this what my life will be?"  That is no longer my approach.  Now I know that I can make it through the work day because tonight I get to go to bed early.  I will get home tonight and hop right in my pajamas to get me into the mode of relaxing.  I *might* have some spiced tea or cocoa to warm me up and then I will take to my bed to read until I literally drop off.  It is probable that I will have one if not both of the dogs in with me but they won't stay long because Jim will have to take them out about an hour and a half after I get to sleep.  Knowing that I have this to look forward to means that I can definitely make it through the day. 

I had an example of my "find the good and focus on it" (also known as the "redirect and ignore" method) this morning.  It was a rough morning for me and could have turned into a classic bad day had I let it. I very much did not want to get out of bed this morning but I got up and threw on my clothes very quickly this morning and then went to take the dogs out.  They are both getting into the "up and out" routine (which is a good thing) but they are just not used to the coupler leash yet so this morning I had trouble getting Harley on the leash (she kept backing up away and I kept chasing after her) until Auggie just couldn't wait any longer and peed on the floor.  Then I had to stop and correct him and clean up that mess before we could get out into the bitter 18 degree weather.  We walked and walked and finally got back to the house.  I fed the two of them and Auggie wolfed down his food and started in on Harley's so I had to try and keep him out of her food so she could eat,  Then the hubby came down and was getting ready to leave which means that I have to wait to lock the door behind him because he needs to warm his truck and because I was already irrititated it felt like it was taking forever - so I cut my mango to take for work and got the dogs food ready for the next few days while I waited for him- all before I had my first cup of coffee.   

By the time I sat down I was in a pretty foul frame of mind but I took a deep breath and realized that I had accomplished a lot already this morning.  I flipped on the news for the weather (no end to the cold in sight and a snow storm coming tonight) and realized that I will be home and snug in my bed before the snow really starts so that is something to be thankful for.  I realized that I have an "early" day today (even though it's rush I am going home at 4 because of my meds) so it will go quickly.  I started to peruse the web this morning and saw that RA Guy had featured *me* in his Real Profiles series- which is incredibly flattering.  And I got on facebook and saw a message from my dad about our skype conversation last night.  And just like that- my foul mood was gone.   

I hope you all have a wonderful day- I know I will.  :-)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Taking things for granted

G.K. Chesterton said:  “When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.”  I am so happy to have found this quote today.  I need this quote today. 

There are so many things that I take for granted.  All of the not so little things:  a roof over my head, food in the fridge, a warm bed at night, my puppies, my hubby; so many things that are here and I have at my disposal every day that I love with all of my heart but I know I don't give enough thanks for.  I don't know how to change that. 

When I take time to stop and count my blessings- those things are there, every single time.  On the other side of that coin, they are also there when I am complaining.  You know the complaints: "There's nothing to eat", "You are stealing all the covers", "It's SO cold out and the dogs are dawdling."  Stupid, petty complaints that are just food for being irritated and perpetuating a cranky mood.  The more I feed into that- the farther away from an attitude of gratitude that I get. 

I need to readjust my attitude on a permanent basis.  I need to find a way to stop the crankies in their tracks- especially at this time of year.  I need to find a way to stop myself from getting caught up in the moment and letting myself take all that I love for granted.  I need to take a deep breath and and instead of counting to ten, count ten things that matter to me.  That is a step.  A first step.  The first of many. 

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Sunday, Sunday

Well, Jim had his surgery yesterday and all went well from a medical standpoint.  We had a few rough moments when we kept getting bumped back (surgery was supposed to be at 10:45, he was taken in just after 2) and after getting into his gown before 9 he was in such a nicotine and caffeine withdrawl that he was a nasty, nasty man.  I finally got tired of it around 1 and went out to the waiting room.  Though I completely understand having BTDT before-it was getting ridiculous and knowing how we are- if I had stayed one of us would have ended up wanting to strangle the other-lol.  I poked my head into the unit around 2:15 and they said he had gone in.  I chatted with the nurses a few minutes and then went and got my new book (I had finished the one I was reading in the waiting room) and settled into his room to wait for him.  When he came back- he apologized and all was well again. Though he had refused pain meds when he was in the ER Wednesday night and refused them again post op, he was glad they gave me a script because once the morphine started wearing off- he was in a lot of pain.  I dropped him at home and took care of the dogs and then went and got his meds then we settled in, I made dinner, we watched a movie and went to bed.  The good thing is that at 6 when I got up with Auggie, he was feeling okay and didn't want another pill.  He and Harley are still curled up together and snoozing now. 

Tomorrow begins another "Rush" for me.  That means 10+ hour days and 6 day work weeks for the next two to three weeks.  The winter rush is tough on us because it moves so quickly.  We basically have from October to December to return fall semester books, chase down and process all of the orders (we have over 1700 classes), buy back as many books as we can from the kids, order and shelve all of the books and then pull web orders to be ready when the kids come in to pick them up.  Between the spring and fall terms on the other hand- the process starts in March and ends in late August.  I am so thankful that most of it is completed and all we have left is late web orders and actual sales. 

Today I have to get my meals planned for the week, and also see what else I can get done to prepare myself for a very long week.  This is the best way for me to cope with the craziness and still manage to be useful when I get home rather than ready to drop when I get home at night.  I also need to nap because it's mtx day and I am already feeling tired.  The good thing about today's tasks is that during rush we have to wear a specific t-shirt so I only have to make sure my khaki's are ready to go- that's one headache I don't have! 

I want to give thanks today (again) for my family.  While Jim was in the hospital yesterday I got calls from my parents and each of my sisters to check on him.  I heard from quite a few folks on facebok and twitter but only my family and two of our friends actually called.  It makes me feel so grateful that they were thinking of us and so very loved.  There is nothing better than that.  <3

Friday, January 1, 2010

Welcome 2010!

It is a beautiful albiet bitterly cold morning here in Kentuckiana.  It is said that you should begin the year as you mean to continue it.  If that is the fact, I have already walked the pups, fed them both breakfast, relaxed with some wonderful coffee and am on my third cup and let my honey sleep in since he had a rough night.

 My plans for the rest of the day include:  taking down and reworking my vision board- to prepare my focus for the coming year, doing some housework-because it needs to be done, cracking open my new wii fit plus-to get some exercise, taking a nap- to rest my body,weeding through my magazines-to begin decluttering my life and walking the dogs this evening with my husband- to spend time with my family.  For my meals today, I am beginning the day with fresh mango (rather than the beautiful fresh donuts sitting on the table behind me) and greek yogurt, lunch will be black-eyed-peas, broccoli and rice (for luck- can't get the superstitions out of this girl!) and dinner we are making homemade pizzas together (to both save money and cook together).  Before I go to bed tonight I will reset our calendar for the month, read from Simple Abundance and give thanks for all of the blessings in my life. 

To begin the year I am thankful that the new year begins on a Friday.  That gives us three more days at home to spend together before the madness of my next Rush begins at work.  It looks as if I may need to take on a part time job to take care of our medical bills.  I am thankful that I have a myriad of skills to find a job that can let us do that and I am hopeful that we can get the medical bills we currently owe and will be incurring due to Jim's surgery tomorrow out of the way within 6 months.  I am also thankful that I have the time to take to find something that is suitable and to work with my life and not do further damage to my body in the process. 

So there we are- we are beginning a new year.  Welcome 2010- may you be as bright as you have begun.