Thursday, July 28, 2011

A touch of writer's block

I am having a touch of writer's block.  On August 15th I am supposed to speak to my Dad's congregations on the topic of "Where There is Hope."   First- public speaking terrifies me.  Knowing that whatever I write will have to translate well as I speak makes me shake in my boots.  I think the biggest problem is that the very last thing I want to do is let my Dad down. 

I have been looking at that page for days.  I have my intro complete.  I think it's important for the people to know how I came to working on living from a place of positivity and gratitude.  That was the easy part.  I also have two quotes to pop in there.  Another easy part.  Now comes the tough stuff, leading those who have had setbacks back to hope.  I write and then erase, write some more, backspace.  I have written the last three nights and the following morning when I read through it again- out it goes.  I think this weekend I will really hunker down to write, but before I do I have to make a vow to stop overthinking and just write from my heart.  Then I will send it to Dad and let him suggest edits. I know that I need to just write from the heart and not lead to far into "instructional" mode.  Too many years of designing training programs makes me head that way at times and I know it. I just want it to be perfect and I know that I will struggle to let go of that. 

I think it's time to set aside the fact that I have to speak and get back to just focusing on the actually writing.  ....

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Processing Grief

I have a very weird thing about Facebook and some parts of my life.  A terrific example is what occurred this weekend. 

As you may or may not know- Amy Winehouse was found dead in her London flat Saturday.  I didn't know the woman.  I feel she was an incredible talent who was haunted and consumed by her addictions.  When I heard that she passed I was sad.  Sad for a life wasted. Sad for the family she left behind when she died so very young.  Sad that we will never hear the music that could have come from her heart and soul.  If you don't know who the young lady is-my favorite of her songs, Back to Black, can be found on youtube if you click the link.  I feel that she could have been a true modern day torch singer- a genre that is missing from today's world.  I openly discussed this on my facebook page with my friends.  I hope that hers will be a cautionary tale for her fans and for those who may not have "known" her music but have watched the media feed on her addiction. 

Early on Sunday morning, I started seeing posts pop up on Facebook and had a really bad feeling.  You know that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach?  I had it until I got to the newspaper in my former hometown and saw that a young man that I had known had passed away this weekend.  I was so shocked that I almost stumbled into my livingroom when I went to tell my husband what had happened.  This young man, a former marine and current police officer, had worked for me for a slice of time while he was in college in between the Marine Corp and getting on with the police department.  Sweet, funny, honest, caring and responsible; those words only touch the surface.  Both my husband and I genuinely liked this young man and he was the kind of man my son could admire.   After I contacted my son, and sat for a bit taking it in, I went back online.  Much of my facebook news feed was filled with RIP messages to this young man.  I just couldn't do it.    I was able to share in some memories with a few mutual friends but I just could not make my status a message "to" him.  A big part of it is that it hurt too much and felt too personal. 

 The second part of me - and maybe this is the weird thing-just doesn't understand public declarations to people who will never see them.  I don't just mean the "rest in peace" messages, but also memorial messages directed to the ones who are gone, birthday messages to small children- anything like that.  This has always been a "thing" with me.  It started with the whole birthday messages thing.  As a member of online groups  for many years- I have never understood leaving messages for little children.  Things like "My little angel is 3 today, Happy birthday X!" and then others chiming in- "Happy Birthday X" blah, blah, blah.  I mean- are they going to hold little "X" up to the screen and say "Look at all the people who wished you a Happy Birthday!"  More- does little "X" even care? 

Does that make me weird or bitter or intolerant?  Could be a little of all three.  I just don't know.  I think that inside me, when it comes to some family things, or to people that are not a part of that online life, or to my grief- there is a disconnect.  I am always happy to wish someone well, to send my condolences or to wish someone a happy birthday or whatever- when the recipient will read it personally.   The other types of messages are like a burr in my saddle.  I don't know why, I just know it is. I do know that there is a piece of me who, while pretty open about so many things  in my life, just holds my grief separate.  It's something I need to process and go through and make sense of, especially when there seems to be little sense to be made, at home with my loved ones.  I can write about it here as I work through it, even knowing that this is public because I can write and write and write, but I can not throw it out there for 300 plus people to see in small written "sound bites".  Here I can delve into things further and work my way through them as I write; there, it's as if my feelings are only allowed to be 420 (or 140) characters or less and that diminshes the whole thing.   I realize and respect that it may be a part of others grief process, but for me, when it is someone that affected my life personally, it just doesn't work and I have to literally walk away and ignore that part of my online life until my stream is overtaken by other things. 

I do find it interesting that it bothers me less when the person is a public figure and someone whose talent I may have enjoyed but never met.  Not that it doesn't niggle in the back of my head but it was far easier for me to see my twitter stream blown up with messages to Amy Winehouse than it was to see facebook covered with messages to my friend.  All a part of that disconnect I guess. 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Riding the Roller Coaster

Our own RA Guy made a video a while back of what living through a flare would be if it were a roller coaster.  You can see it here.  While you are there, take time to read through his other posts.  They are incredibly insightful.  I was thinking about that video this morning because I was thinking that every day living with RA is a series of ups and downs.  Sometimes you can have weeks of "good" days- but even our good days have their low points. 

For example; I have accepted that insomnia is just a part of my life.  That's become a flat part of this ride.  I get up in the morning (aka the middle of the night) and I have to use the hand rail to get down the stairs to start the coffee.  It only takes an hour or so before I can go slowly back up- that's an up!  On the flip side, the puppies like to go out first thing.  I put them out but I try, as hard as I can, not to have to go outside.  You see, we have a little cement/rock patio and my feet are so tender in the morning that just stepping on that patio feels like walking on shards of glass. Stepping out there is like zooming back down to the bottom.  The whole day is rather like this.  While I can celebrate the things I *can* do, there's always that little (and not so little) moment where the pain gives me a nudge or the exhaustion sets in that is that reality check.  Up and down all day long.  It's tiring just thinking about it.  I think what tires me out most is knowing that this is a life long pattern.  Oh- I might get more sleep, I might have a REALLY good day here or there but in the back of my mind is always the knowledge that it could change on a dime.  I think that, for me, that is the hardest part, the never knowing when the other shoe will drop and a flare will hit me full force. 

I am not dwelling about this, truly.  I was just thinking this morning after walking back in with the pups and getting cranky about how tender my stupid feet are about that roller coaster video and what a great metaphor it is for life with RA, Fibro, Lupus, really ANY of the chronic illnesses.  So here's what I say.  Let's defy gravity and stay up all day long- to heck with the down part of this ride.  Besides- from the top, we can see out over the world.   

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Power of Words

I love you!
I hate you!
She's so fat.
He's a beanpole!
She's HOT!
What a dog!
What a sweetheart!
What a bitch!
Don't be so stupid.
You are such a geek!


They are all just words, right? Sticks and stones and all that.

Let me let you in on a secret; the old saying "Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me is a crock of crap. Worse than a fist coming at you full force, words have the power to do life-long damage. Here's the kicker-it doesn't matter who says them. It doesn't matter if it is your best friend, your sister, your Mom, your life-mate or a stranger- nasty words or complementary words have the power to make or break our whole day.

I can't, I don't, I am not strong enough, I am not __________ enough.

More than anything anyone says to us, it's the messages we give to ourselves that affect every aspect of our lives. Ask yourself honestly; who's words do you hear more than anyone else's? That little voice in your head would be my bet. I can't speak for anyone else, but I can talk myself out of something faster than a New York minute. It doesn't matter what anyone else says, if I don't believe in myself, no matter what it is i think i want to do is just not going to happen. I could give dozens of examples of this, but I am betting that you can come up with examples in your own life.


We have heard so much about bullying in the last few years, often with tragic results.
What I find interesting is the number of adults my age who have come forward to say that they too were bullied when they were in high school. High school wasn't my favorite time of my life, that's for sure. Looking back, I had no idea who I was, which made me feel somewhat isolated. What I have learned in retrospect is that even the people who I thought had it all together, who seemed so very sure of themselves, were going through the same thing. I have also discovered that it's absolutely true that those who were bullies in high school were actually insecure as to their own place in the grand scheme of things. My mother once told me that your 15th high school reunion is the great equalizer. She was right. By the 15th we have all had setbacks, we have all suffered losses. We have all grown up enough to realize that it's not all about us. We have all put the drama behind us because we have realized that all of those things that we thought were so life and death important- just don't matter. Best of all, we have all had time to create a life that we can be proud of. If I were famous, I would be compelled to make a video for the Trevor Project because it truly does get better in terms of having a good, productive and happy life as an adult.

Here's the kicker though- you have to choose it. You have to choose happiness. You have to choose positivity. You can be incredibly successful, but if you don't appreciate your success, it really can be very empty. Now here's the great part- if you make that choice, it affects every part of your life. Choosing happiness makes you stronger. If you are happy with who you are, if you have a positive outlook on life, you can handle anything. You can handle loss, you can handle a tough diagnosis, and best of all, you can quiet that voice in your head that disparages you. You can kick your inner bully to the curb and make yourself more aware of when he or she tries to creep back in.

A skill I have recently fostered is to listen. Not that I don't listen to others- because I try to always listen to other people. What I have learned to do is to listen to myself. I am trying to make a point of really listening to and considering the words I use. Don't, can't, won't, hate; Ugly, fat, stupid- all words that have power over me in one way or another. Most of all, they allow me to limit myself. As I catch myself thinking or saying them, I am learning to stop cold and reframe my thinking to something positive. When I do so, I can turn my day around in an instant. Give it a try. The next time you find yourself thinking that you can't do something, that you aren't good enough, smart enough, strong enough- stop. Turn it around and think of something that you are good at, that you do well, or even just say an affirmation or two. Then take a deep breath and give whatever it is that you were talking yourself out of a shot. You CAN do it-whatever it is that you want to do- as long as you believe in yourself. I know you can- I believe in you!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Everything Changes, Nothing Changes

“There are three constants in life... change, choice and principles.” 

 Steven R. Covey

I have been thinking about journaling a lot lately.  I have journaled quite a bit over the years and I know it helps quite a bit to get your thoughts out on paper.  I have done straight journaling (beginning with the little diary with the cheesy "lock" of my childhood) as well as taking the tack of writing my blessings out each night before going to bed.   

Last night, I was going through some things.  I knew I had unused journals in a drawer somewhere and when I pulled them out- I found mixed in with the empties one that I had written back from 1991 through 1992. What struck me most was that some of my dreams of those days have come true.  There was a passage there where I had written that I would like to see us get back on our feet financially and then move out of New England and head either to the South or Midwest to a slower pace of life.  The passage went on to describe the house, the lifestyle etc.  I had put that journal in a box and forgotten all about it as time, and life, got in the way.  As I was reading it I couldn't help but smile as I compared what I had written those 20 years ago to where we are now.  I really do not remember writing that down but it must have ruminated in the back of my mind for the next 15 or so years because here we are. 

Sadly- as I was reading, I found that some of the things I had poured my heart out about had not changed at all; but on the other hand so much had changed both for the better and the worse.  I wrote a lot about my Grandmother and she has been gone for almost 10 years now.  I wrote about friends who seemed so important at the time but I can't really even remember now.  I wrote about dear friends that we are still incontact with but who are now divorced.  I wrote about my love for my husband and son, my dreams for Josh's life to come and that Jim and I were determined to keep our marriage together.  Much that didn't change was all in the details.  I still struggle with my weight.  I still struggle to quit smoking.  I still have a daily love/hate relationship with my mirror. 

I think it's time to get back to journaling again.  The problem always comes (as with much of my life) when I am knocked out of my routine.   It was interesting to see that that too has not changed.  Evidently I am even more regimented than I knew and as crazy as I thought my life was- there was still a routine to it.  It is said that we must take time, and if we feel we can't take time we must MAKE time for us.  I think that I have an idea how I can do that, I just must impletment it- and make it part of a new routine.  I have to make the choice to do this, and a few other things I have up my sleeve, for myself.  I think I will rest easier and be more at peace if I do. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Baby it's HOT Outside!

Whew!  I live in one of those states that is in the midst of the heatwave of all heatwaves.  Author M.R. Sellars refers to it as #Heatpocolypse which seems somewhat appropriate.    Today when I got in my car as I was leaving work the thermometer registered 123 degrees.  I waited till the AC kicked on but it still said it was 116.  I cannot tell you how many people I heard today grumping around and grumbling about how "miserable" it was out there.  Well, you won't hear me say that!  First- I love the heat.  If I am "griping" about anything during this kind of weather it's that I can't be out relaxing and enjoying it as much as I would like.  Second- I am not a fan of cold weather.  Winter is when I am not as easily positive.  Heck- I don't even mind rain because if it's raining- it's not snowing.

Under my feet right now, there is one worn-out puppy.  The other one is hiding in her "cave".  We took them for their walk and because of the heat, my honey brought a bottle of water and a little bowl for them.  We were about 3/4 of the way around the walk and after stopping several times, they had finished the whole bottle.  Both of them got back inside and dropped on the linoleum to cool off and then enjoyed a "Frosty Paws"  puppy ice cream while I indulged in a small sea-salt caramel truffle on a sugar cone.  All of us really enjoyed it.  I was able to do that because of my minimalist dinner.

  A big perk of summer is that it's too hot for hot foods.  Really- who wants to cook when it's like this?  Actually, I don't mind cooking but definitely nothing too heavy.  Everyone I know, when it comes to summer, starts moving from winter staples like pot roast  or roast chicken to salads and sandwiches.  The bonus is the amazing summer produce.  Tonight's dinner?  Watermelon.  Yep, just fresh, cold watermelon.  It was such a beautiful, red, juicy piece of fruit and it was just what I needed for dinner.  My honey is not as easily appeased.  He made himself a couple of bologna (thank you Oscar Mayer for not letting me even type that without the 70's-80's jingle!) sandwiches on onion rolls and was quite content.  Tomorrow night I have a meeting at 5:30pm so my honey will probably just heat up some leftovers.  He has that option- or he can cook.  I am guessing it will be a fruit or popcorn kind of night for me because goodness knows that after being in a warehouse that is over 100 degrees all day, he is not going to feel like cooking.

 It looks like it will be this way most of the week and through the weekend but I plan on roasting a chicken this coming weekend anyway so that we can use it for salads and sandwiches (and for the puppies) next week.  Most likely Sunday since that's the only day I won't be working which means I won't have to leave the house.  My best tip for summer survival is to plan, plan, plan!  Plan for cool meals, plan for down time, plan to hydrate (hubby takes a small cooler with water and gatorade to work- I bring tea or coffee and stop at the convenience store for crushed ice to add to them) and most of all- plan to enjoy it.

There's just no use complaining about the weather be it summer heat or winter cold.  It won't change it, it won't make you feel any better and it sure as heck won't make you the person that people want to be around.      
Make the best of it because you are here to enjoy the day and the alternative pretty much sucks.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Well, another birthday has come and gone.  It was kind of just "one of those days".  I didn't do anything special- I had a very long day at work.  My assistant is on her vacation this week and we began another Used Computer sale yesterday at work; which makes for a little crazy.  Normally I like to take my birthday off and reflect on the previous year and on what I want out of the next but it looks like I will have to reschedule this for some time in the next few weeks.  I had planned on starting a new series yesterday- lessons learned and all- but with my routine being thrown out the window for the last four weeks (including this one) my brain is fried and my energy is just sapped.  It took a miracle for me to be able to concentrate yesterday long enough to get a kick start on catching up on my work from last week.  My hope is to finish getting caught up this morning at work and then get the rest of my week planned. 

I probably would have included my weekend in this planning-I tend to spend a lot of them working when it's this time of year, but I will be jetting down to drop off two laptops (our computer sale included laptops for the first time this year) to my folks and get them set up for them.  It's my job- being the techie in my family.  It's kind of where I fit in, I guess, in the overall picture.  Hubby has to work so I will just be taking my Barkingtons with me so they can run in the yard and chase squirrels.  It's one of their favorite things and when they get home on Sunday they will be worn flat out just like me. 

Thinking about this I find it funny that I am so set in my routine.  So much of my life was all up in the air with a new "adventure" every night in the restaurant/nightclub business and having to literally live and die by my datebook and now when my routine gets thrown off it completely messes up everything from my sleep cycle to my productivity.  I don't know if that's a sign of getting settled down or getting older but it makes me shake my head. 

Speaking of productivity- I gave myself a new way to NOT be productive.  I gave myself an Ipad2 for my birthday.  I just LOVE the darned thing so far.  Just looking at it makes me itch to play with it.  It's the best toy I have had in a long time.  That said- I did download the BLOGGER app, so I will be testing it out later this week.  If that works well, I will be able to write as the ideas strike me which will be great thing since I have my  best thoughts and ruminations while I am on the go but once they are gone- it can be hard to get back on track.  Last week- for example- I read an article about someone coming out to their family and friends and it struck me that we, those of us who live with these chronic invisible illnesses, have our own closets that we are in and coming out can be a struggle both mentally and emotionally.  That idea sat in my brain all day just expanding and going in a bunch of different directions as I drove to Indianapolis.  Then I got caught up in my week and  it flew out the window until I was working on this piece this morning.  Needless to say, now that I have gotten it back (yay me!)  I will be writing on that later this week.  I am also working on my list for the Lessons Learned series.  I can't belive that time got so far away from me on that list.  I have about a dozen items there but obviously I need a lot more if I want to make it a good series. 

So that's were I sit.  Forty-four; physically feeling about sixty-four, in the middle of an RA/CFS fog, and waiting somewhat desperately for my routine to get back to my own and the fog to lift.  I have literally a dozen of my friend's blogs to catch up on and then there is this one and the new book project.  It's hard to write when I would just like to crawl back in bed and sleep for a week.  It's hard to respond with more than a "thinking of you" when I have a lot to say and it won't come out.  I get so scattered that I can't seem to get my thoughts straight long enough to write a good, well-focused piece.  I am thinking that Friday, after my infusion and after I get to my folks, I will take a nice long nap while the puppies play in the yard.  The only thing that would make it better is if I had a hammock.