Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Scaling Back for the holidays

Sometimes, you really have to reach deep, deep inside to find that positive place.  I put my "baby" (yes, he's 24 but will always be my baby) on a plane Monday and it sent me into a pretty big funk.  I came home and essentially hibernated for the entire evening.  The cold rain on Monday and even colder misty rain yesterday  didn't help.  Instead it made me want to just curl up in my shell and wallow.  Unfortunately (or fortunately), there just wasn't time as I had to get back to work yesterday whether I wanted to or not.

While I am not *completely* out of the blues- the residual effect will last through the holidays as I would love to have him with us for Christmas but the better part of it is gone.  I thought it might be a good idea to share my strategy in case you are feeling the holiday blues along with me.

1-  If you don't feel up to doing something- don't.  I don't know about you, but if I don't feel like socializing and I try to force myself to, it only serves to make me cranky.  It's kind of like when I am dealing with insomnia and someone wants me to do something that will take a lot of energy.  Not a good combination.  We know our own limits- we can't let anyone try to set them for us.

2-  All of the pressure that goes with the holiday?  Who needs it?  Fortunately we are not required by law to do it all.  Take a good look and see what you can let go of then then just do it!  For example, we spend the important part of the Christmas holiday with my parents.  Since we won't be here anyway- why decorate?  We haven't put up a tree in 2 years!  Though I love my tree (it's a New England Patriots tree!), the hassle of pulling out the decorations, putting it up, blah, blah- is aggravation that I didn't need- so, no big decorated tree.  The only thing that I missed was sitting in the dark and just looking at the lights.  That "problem" is solved because my folks gave us one of the thin, pre-lit, corner trees.  We can literally pull it out of the box , plug it in and go.  I don't feel the desire to put any additional anything on it, it will serve it's purpose as it is.

3-  Are you entertaining?  If so, can you cut back?  We, for many years, through a blow out Open House on Christmas eve.  I loved everything about it- I loved the planning, the preparation, the cooking, the company, everything but guess what!  I don't miss it at all.  In NOT doing it for the last few years I have realized that even though I loved it,  I really just added another layer to the stress.  If I have learned anything at all- I have learned that I don't have to go crazy over it.  If and when I go back to doing a holiday gathering- I will probably do something like an intimate cocktail party or maybe even a cookie exchange.  Scaling back won't  hurt a bit and it certainly helps when you already have a million things on your plate.

4-  It can be very easy during this time of the year to let ourselves get overwhelmed with all of the To-do's and must get's and lose sight of our blessings.  I look at all of the Black Friday madness and I see people who have forgotten to be thankful for what they have in the insanity of the moment.  One thing that I like to do (and the reason I missed my tree lights) is to turn off all of the lights and sit alone by the glow of the tree with a cup of coffee, hot chocolate or cider and think about all of the great things that I have in my life.  It  can really, really change your whole mindset when you take those stolen moments to give thanks for the people and the other blessings that we have been given.  It can take the stress away and give you a sense of peace that is essential to get through this crazy time of year.

5- Finally- whenever possible delegate or double up.  If you find a good store that you like or a particular theme for the holiday, you can get most of your gifts in one fell swoop.  If that's not possible, find out if a friend or family member is going to the places that you need to pick things up and ask them to get them for you (and offer to do the same in return).  It will save both of you time and energy.  Ask your partner or older child to create labels for your holiday cards and then write the notes in them while you are watching television or just relaxing.  There is no need to do a marathon card session when you can do a few at a time and toss them in the mail each day.  Gift bags are your friends rather than wrapping each gift.  If you have children, you can buy plain gift bags at the Dollar Store and have the kids decorate the bags- that will let you save money on gift wrap, include the kids in the process and provides a more personal looking gift for your recipient.

That's my list!  I will be employing most of these items to help me scale back and lessen the stress of trying to put together the "perfect" holiday!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Black Friday/Cyber Monday

Well, it's that time of year.  I noted on my Thanksgiving post that I would write about Black Friday-and fully intended to but I was SO VERY aggravated and then as the day went on and news reports started rolling in  that my aggravation turned to anger and I thought it best that I wait.

First- I must admit (again, for those who don't know) that I am not a "shopper".  I have told my hubby for years that he is pretty darned lucky because I don't like to shop for anything other than groceries (LOVE grocery shopping) and that my hands are so small that despite my love of diamonds, especially rings, that even the most beautiful ring over a half carat looks like a fake on my hands.

My aggravation began with the fact that some of the retailers (specifically ToyRUs, Walmart and Target) decided to open on Thanksgiving.  I have never really cared that they open at 6am on Black Friday.  If people want to stand in line for a 6am opening- that is their business- but opening on one of the only two holidays that even retail observed- just sent me over the edge.

My son's girlfriend has two small children.  She is a single mother and, as we know, he has been here visiting our family.  She also happens to work for one of the retailers that decided to open early.  She found out when their schedule came out that she had to be at work at 1am Black Friday morning.  That meant that she had to find childcare in the middle of the night. Despite what some people think- there was no choice.  She was not given the option of working or not, she was told she would- period. We were all thankful that she has her mother to watch the kids- and that her mother was willing.  It made me think- how many other single parents were compelled to leave their children in the middle of the night to be in these stores across the country so that people could come in and act like animals over some stupid television or other "limited quantity" item?  How many of them, courtesy of the retailers decision to open early, had to leave their families early on Thanksgiving to *try* to get some sleep so they could be there?

Now- another caveat- I work in retail.  I absolutely understand the need to capture sales whenever possible- but you don't see me extending my hours beyond reasonable times during our version of "Black Friday".   You also don't see me allowing the same bad behavior over and over.  This year, in addition to the usual injuries from people being knocked down and trampled as the crowds ran toward the "door buster deals" we saw two people shot and two separate incidences on opposite sides of the country where pepper spray was used in large crowds.  How is this okay?  In what kind of society do we see this crap every single year and not only do "we" do it over and over but we invite it earlier and throw in more of these "special deals" through out the night to incite a frenzy!?!  This is not to mention the idiots who slept out in front of these stores (some WITH CHILDREN) to secure their place in line as early as Wednesday.

I hit my tipping point by the attitude of consumers leading up to all of this.  An employee from Target put gathered signatures and delivered petitions (over 190,000) to Target's corporate offices to no avail.  A "page" was created on Facebook and the story picked up on media sites all over the country.  While many sympathized with these employees and felt that there was no need to interrupt the holiday for a few extra hours of madness, even more flooded the message boards and comment sections on the stories online telling those who agreed that they "should be ashamed of themselves" and that "these employees should just shut up and be grateful to even have a job."  They actually had the nerve to compare these employees, the majority of whom are working at minimum wage and are just trying to make ends meet, with police officers, fire personnel, nurses, and our military!  Really?  Is someone going to DIE because they didn't get a 42" flat screen for $200.  I somehow doubt it- but they might just die in the crowd trying to get to it!  **Side note** did you notice that it is always the SAME stores where this occurs?  And it is the same stores that keep opening earlier and earlier?  I see a direct correlation.**

Obviously, I am disgusted with all of this.  The thought that we have become so consumer driven that all of this behavior is "okay" literally makes my stomach turn.  I normally opt out of the Black Friday madness but hit the rest of the weekend and  Cyber Monday pretty hard to get my shopping done in one big swoop.  This year, because of all of this and because stories are still emerging, I made a decision.  I am not giving my money to any of the retailers that opened before 6 am.  I am just saying NO.  No Target, No Walmart, No Best Buy, No ToyRUs.  There are a lot of stores out there that don't encourage this.  There are a lot of stores out there that still value Thanksgiving, that still value their employees, enough that they did not give in to the "peer pressure" and extend their hours this way.  My budget will more than likely not stretch as far- but I am okay with that.  I can get creative and find ways to get all of my gifts for the people that I want without supporting these stores.  As I see the ads come in, I will do a bit of research and see what time the stores opened (in case I missed any) and make my decision based on that criteria.

SO that's my rant.  I normally enjoy the whole process of choosing gifts for my friends and family but here we are, the Monday after Thanksgiving, and I am just not feeling it at all.  I am hoping that as I begin searching and finding gifts, the spirit of the season overcome the disappointment that I am feeling at the moment.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving Thanks

It is once again the American Thanksgiving. Our friends to the North celebrated last month so today is all ours. I have to say, I am a little sad today. I have been keeping a close watch on the Black Friday controversy (for more on that, see my post tomorrow) and I have seen far too many folks who are of the opinion that Thanksgiving is no more than "an eating holiday". Have we really gotten so far away from the meaning of the day? The mere thought saddens me. Even though Thanksgiving officially kicks off the " holiday season" as it were, I have always loved this day because there is no need for division of ideals on Thanksgiving. There are no religious overtones to Thanksgiving, it is just a day to come together and spend time with family, friends and even acquaintances and reflect on the very many blessings we have received. That for some it is nothing more than a day to eat just makes me a little blue, after all- even if they are away from family and have no friends and only see this as a day to eat; they could be thankful that they HAVE the food to fill their bellies.

I remember when we were young and Dad (and Mom?) would go and serve the meal in the dining hall to the young troops who were away from home for the holiday. I remember Mom making batch upon batch upon batch of cookies to share with those young men and women to give them a little bit of home. That's what military families did. We always knew how lucky we were to all be together and when Daddy was away on a remote assignment, we traveled back to Indiana to my Gran's for the holidays. when we were in Massachusetts, I carried in the tradition by inviting some of my staff who were unable to go home to their family to span the holiday with ours. Of course, it's different now that we are out here. This is my fifth Thanksgiving since we have moved out here and if I have one regret it is that my Gran was not alive to see us move here and spend the holidays with us.

This year I am extra thankful that we have Josh with us. He is at a crossroads in his life and it is good for him to be able to step back and get a little different perspective on his options. Of course, I miss him terribly anyway and holidays are hard without him so this visit will make it easier for me to get through Christmas without him, without becoming too "grinchy" .

I hope that you and yours have a wonderful holiday and that you have many, many blessings to count today as you gather round the table.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Oh Sleep...

Last night as I turned off my light, as I moved around trying to get comfortable with joints and muscles aching and surrounded by puppies on both sides, I could hear the sounds coming from downstairs of my husband and my son together.  Talking, laughing, just spending time together- and it was a beautiful sound.  It was as if all was right in my world and I could sleep peacefully.

Of course- that didn't stop the insomnia monster.  Less than 3 hours later I was up- at which point my Auggie jumped off the bed and followed me downstairs.  That was at 1:30 this morning.  Three hours ago.  I have been  catching up on my DVR since.  I have had a pot of half-caf coffee, prepped a second one for when Josh wakes up, and at some point today- I will so very nap.  Until then I sit here smiling, giving thanks for having all of my little family under one roof, if only for a few days.  And knowing that though Josh and I are going down to surprise my folks on Saturday (with the pups) by Wednesday when Jim joins us- the only thing missing will be my sisters and their families.  Sleep will get better- and maybe Wednesday night I will get the best night's sleep I have had in some time.  

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Can you keep a secret?

I have SO much going on that it's craziness and most of it I am keeping on the down-low.  Makes me feel like I could burst! I can't even mention it on my Facebook page because ALL of my family (Mom, Dad, Sisters, Hubby, Son) are on facebook.  Since I can't share it with certain members of my family- I will share here with you so I don't explode.

First- and most importantly- my baby is coming to visit tomorrow!  He flies in from Boston tomorrow afternoon and will be here until the 28th.  Now- you can't tell my parents- or mention it on Facebook if you are among my Facebook friends because it's going to be a HUGE surprise to them on Saturday when we drive down.  Just thinking about it makes me want to cry because I am so happy.  It's SO hard to have him there and us here so when I get to see him (the last time was in February) it makes me happy.

Second- I am crafting my way to Christmas.  I am making a couple of blankets for the younger kids and another crafted item (that I learned from @riotkat on twitter) for my Mama and my grandmother.  Some of these items are taking me a LONG time because of the hands not cooperating, but I WILL get it done.

Third-  I am also *trying* to teach myself to play Amazing Grace on the piano as a "gift" for my Dad.  Thank goodness for iPad apps!  I got a piano app and bought a book on playing the piano.  I know- that sounds like a weird gift but I have to tell you that my dad is a terrific musician- and it skipped a generation because the grandkids who have shown an interest are all very talented but we girls- not so much.  So it will mean something to him.

Fourth- I am working on a new book.  The theme of this one is blessings in disguise.  I have been thinking a lot about how many times we are faced with adversity and overcome it only to find out that what we thought was so bad at the time, ended up being good for us.  I am trying to decide if I want to do this one with contributors (ala the Chicken Soup series- one of my faves) or if I have enough to work through it myself.  So far, I am pounding away at it solo but I am leaning toward collecting stories to flesh it out a bit.  What do you think?

Well that's it for now.  As of 5pm today I am on VACATION!!!!  Oh wait- that's another part of the secret because the parents think my vacation begins on Friday (part of the keeping the son a secret because I spend my Thanksgiving vacation week with them) so I have to be careful about keeping that quiet too!  EEK!

Thanks for sharing my secrets- and in case I don't get anything posted from my iPad this coming week, I hope you have a terrific Thanksgiving.  I know that I have a lot to be thankful for and I hope that you do as well.  

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Next Iron -Top- Food Network-Star-Chef

Yes, I know they are all different shows- I love The Next Iron Chef (watching it now), Top Chef, The Next Food Network Star, Food Network Challenge- basically all of the cooking competition.  Today's theme on TNIC is "Ingenuity".  I find that ironic because each and every challenge that they face and WE face requires ingenuity.  Let's look at this for a second.  As we live our lives with chronic illness, we are called on to use our ingenuity every single day.

We find ways to get through the pain. The pain is a major factor for us and there are as many different ways to combat it as there are degrees of severity to our illnesses.  Pain meds, heat, ice, dietary eliminations, supplements and more.  We all try (and share) a myriad of different pain remedies.

We find ways to combat the fatigue.  This is my personal demon.  Napping, exercise, energy drinks, energy supplements, sleep aids; you name it- we try it.  Even more than the pain (in my own experience) the fatigue can be crippling and when we over do it this can be the biggest setback for us.

 We find ways to be able to do every day tasks that are no longer just "easy" for us.  In my personal arsenal there are grippers to open bottles, extenders to grab things up above my reach level, a tall husband (he's got 16 inches on me) who can get what I need, canes, walkers, shoes that don't have to be tied, clothes that don't have to be buttoned, fat grippy pens, gel grip hair brushes, water bottles with wide mouths (love VOSS) that are easier to open; there are so many ways that we manage to get it done when there is that moment with the "GULP" when you realize that you can no longer do little tasks that we took for granted before illness.

We find ways to cope mentally and emotionally with the "chronic" part of our illness.  This can be the hardest part for so many.  First there is the HUGE blow of a diagnosis of chronic illness.  Coming to grips with the thought of forever being sick causes you to reach deep inside yourself  for more strength than you ever knew or be swallowed up by the illness.  Perhaps even more difficult are the never ending setbacks to that barrage you. All of the little things that you can no longer do, the hills and valleys of pain and fatigue, the stiffness or illness that come and go throughout the day and the financial strains that come with constant doctor's visits, tests, medications and procedures and the strain on our relationships all combine and add stress to an already difficult situation.

It takes an incredible amount of inventiveness for us to fight one of these situations; much less all of them at once.  As far as I am concerned- if we are living with, fighting and overcoming our illnesses- we are the TRUE STARS.

Happy Monday!  

Monday, November 7, 2011

Be Kind-to Yourself

When was the last time you did something for someone else? It could be for a friend, for a loved one, for a stranger or your partner? Not too long ago, right? I didn't think so because most of us are caring, loving, giving people.

Now, when was the last time you did something nice for yourself?

I don't know about you, but I tend to put myself last most of the time, especially since I was diagnosed. I tend to feel as if because the future is so uncertain, I should do everything that I can for anyone NOW(!) before it's too late and I can't any longer. I have always been the nurturer. Heck, half of my employees treated me like a second mom. I enjoy doing things for other people when I can and the thought that the day will come when I am no longer able makes me feel as if I am already useless. Silly, right? I know, but it's just one of those niggling voices that live in the back of my head.

Another diagnosis-related-put-myself-last feeling is guilt. As the one who has always been very independent, I find it SUPER hard to ask for help. When I do finally break down and ask, I almost feel as if I don't deserve to have a treat on top of having asked for help. It makes me feel as if I am being selfish.

I am sure I am not alone in this. Heck, when Josh was little the guilt was similar. Whenever I would spend money on me, I would think of a whole host of things I could give him with that same money. As he got older, I got much better about doing for myself and when I was at my best- I had an appointment every Thursday for either hair or nails.

Then my health started to slide. First it was the weeks of pain leading up to a week in the hospital with pancreatitis and the removal of my gallbladder. Everyone rallied around me to help me with my work at work and at home. They made sure I didn't have to move too much and tried to help me stay relatively comfortable while I went from doctor to doctor, test to test. When it came to the point that I ended up in the ER on Superbowl Sunday and had the surgery the following Thursday, then two weeks recovery before I was back on my feet; they covered my hours, they made sure I had company and wouldn't let me stress about any of it.

When I got back into the swing of things, I felt like I needed to repay all of the extra work they had done. It took me a couple of months to get to where I felt I had "evened things out" and the flares started. It was back to square one as I started fighting what I later learned was my Rheumatoid Arthritis (and Fibromyalgia in retrospect). Again, through "injury" and fatigue and diagnosis and coming to terms with my illnesses, my friends and family stepped up and helped my through every step of the process. I can never repay them for all that they have meant to me through this.

Since that time over 6 years ago, I haven't really done much in the way of indulging myself. To be perfectly frank, I miss it. I miss having my hair done every other week in some unique 'do while I visited with on of my dearest friends (and the only person who I have trusted with my mop since she started Cosmo school) at the shop. I miss having my mani/pedi on the opposite weeks as I sat there and soaked in the foot spa in the massage chair. It was 2 hours a week that was not only "me" time but when I walked out of the appointment, I felt terrific!

I was looking in the mirror, cursing the lack of dexterity in my hands, when I realized how long it had been (9mos) since I had had my mop cut. I looked at my hands, at the swelling and the chipped nail polish and realized that I had a choice. I could either give in and cry, or I could get my head together, ignore that I looked like crap (seriously- wearing a bun almost every day at 44?) and start thinking of things I can do to get myself back to that terrific feeling again.

So this is my quest. I need to find some me time with me things to do. I am thinking I should start small and ease myself back in. To that end I think that on Wednesday afternoon I will stop at EarthFriends, get myself a coffee and a baked good and just read my book for a bit. Quiet time, book time, me time. Anyone else need some me time and want to join me virtually on this quest to be kinder to ourselves? If so, I challenge you to choose something small this week to do for yourself. It doesn't have to take a lot of time, it doesn't even need to cost a dime. It only needs to be something that you enjoy but haven't done in a while. Once you have completed the challenge, come back here and share it with us. I hope that everyone who follows this blog will join in and be good to you this week. You deserve it!

Are you part of the 99%?

     I am very fortunate.  I realize that each and every day.  I have a job to go to and so does my husband.  I don't have students loans to pay.  That is because I didn't complete college.  I would like to- but not if it means incurring tens of thousands of dollars in debt.  I don't own a credit card.  I know better.  We are not particularly good with managing our money in general- and we know that with credit cards in hand- it would be too easy to get further into debt.  That doesn't mean that we are debt free.  We have auto and personal loans in the amount of about....$18,000-$20,000. While we don't live above our means, we do live paycheck to paycheck. Medical bills for my RA make it difficult to save any amount of money even though we do have health insurance.  We also put off some appointments (routine physicals etc) because we don't want to add to our medical debt.  Yet we are fortunate and we know it.  I have kept an eye on the Occupy Wall Street movement and I can absolutely see where they are coming from as I have personal experience with their situations.

     I have a "child" who is an adult.  He has been out of work long enough that his unemployment benefits ran out at the end of October.  He is holding on by his fingertips but if he doesn't find a job soon, he will be forced to give up on living where he wants to live and moving out here with us.  He is smart, loyal and hardworking but because of his own past mistakes- when applying for a job he is more than likely shuffled to the bottom of the pile.  And what a pile there is.  It's easy to say "if they really wanted to work, they would work at McDonalds" but the reality is, there are so many good people out there looking for work and so few jobs that this is not an answer.  A good example is our local GE plant.  They announced that they would be hiring over 400 people.  They received 6000 applications in less than 2 hours.  That makes it very easy for employers to be very choosy.  That is reality.  The fact that is the reality makes it even more obvious that the "1%" are out of touch with reality when they dumped dozens of McDonalds applications on the Occupy Chicago group from the Chicago Board of Trade last week.  It also makes it obvious that the folks who did that just don't care about the folks who are out there, freezing their butts off to get their point across and the millions who are affected by this economy.

     I have always been a hard worker.  It's ingrained in my personality and it is how I was raised.  For many, many years I worked two and sometimes three jobs to make ends meet.  I cannot do that any longer.  It's not because of my health (though believe me, that is a factor of doing it long term) but because I cannot, in all good conscience take a regular part time job when there is someone out there struggling to keep a roof over their heads that could do the job as well if not better than I could.  I do have an "occasional" job.  It's maybe 5 hours a month, 6 mos out of the year thing where I administer tests.  That kind of thing falls into the same situations as my "temp" jobs that I hire for each semester.  What is interesting is that though we hire 10-12 people as temps- I interview many people CAN'T take our jobs because it would jeopardize their unemployment benefits.

     This economy is in the toilet.  Jobs going overseas, highly qualified people being under employed, people losing their homes and jobs and the lives that they have worked so hard for through no fault of their own and entry level jobs being taken by those overqualified folks leaving no jobs for the true entry-level employee.  Even those of us who are very fortunate are just one emergency (health, accident- what have you) away from financial ruin and we are also concerned about our futures.  My personal 401k has tanked so hard that it set me back years in terms of saving for retirement and who knows if the Social Security that I have paid into for 31 years will be there when I am of retirement age.  When you combine that kind of financial stress with a chronic illness- it's just inviting a flare.  It's a wonder that all of us who live with these kind of illnesses are not flat on our backs.  It's a vicious circle because if we end up flat on our backs- we will have to begin disability which will put further stress on our already bulging social security system.  Just thinking about it is depressing.

     Lucky, blessed, fortunate or whatever you want to call it- as I look at the core of the OWS movement, I know that I am of the 99%.  I feel that what these folks are doing, standing up to the constant corporate bailouts (that allow the CEO's to keep their huge salaries and bonuses) and not holding the banks and corporations responsible for their fiscal mismanagement while so many of our people suffer is worthy of applause.  I do wish they were a little more organized, but the message is valid in my eyes.

What do you think?  Do you agree with the protesters or do you feel they are (as the media has portrayed them) way off base and just a product of the "entitlement generation".  I would love to hear other perspectives on this movement that shows no signs of going away.

Have a great Monday!  


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I just wanted to share

Because I am pretty proud of this.  Our local (free) magazine has an arthritis supplement this month.  I was invited to participate.  Now- I will admit that I am not overly thrilled that I found it hard to look AT the camera, but I have to say- they did a terrific job on their video portion.  I think it sends a great message and it's nice to see some of my "RA friends" in there as well.  They did a terrific job too.  Much less camera shy than I.  Way to go Donna and Susie!

I am embedding the video here and will link you to the article in the magazine below; you can find it on page 36:

I hope this message- especially from my friends who were diagnosed with JRA- is helpful to anyone struggling with their diagnosis.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Traveling and Meetings Again

I am heading out in the morning to a business meeting. We do these 3 times a year- two short "drive to" meetings and one week long meeting.  I have to drive an hour north and pick up a colleague and then head another hour and a half up to Indy.  We will be meeting all day, then have dinner, "entertainment" and bed before getting up bright and early Thursday, meeting most of the day and driving home.  I will be home for one night, then I am packing up the pups and heading another hour and a half west and visiting my folks for the weekend.  Sounds like a fun week, eh?

Well, actually for the most part it will be.  I really enjoy meeting with my colleagues.  No matter what the topic, no matter what the news, my colleagues are bright, fun people and we learn from one another.  We share ideas and support.  I also love spending time with my parents and this will be our last visit before Thanksgiving.

The un-fun part will be the actual travel.  2.5 hours in the car Wednesday, 2.5 hours in the car on Thursday, 1.5 hours in the car on Friday and 1.5 hours in the car on Sunday.  Those 8 hours mean one big OUCH with my hips and back.  Usually the time between my Friday drive and my Sunday drive let's things settle down enough that I don't pay too much but the 5 hours in the two days before will not be nice.  That said, I am planning ahead.

I am packing my meds tonight as soon as I take this evening's dose.  I am also packing spare Neurontin and Flexeril as a precaution.  I am (of course) taking my cane.  I am packing my Tiger Balm Neck and Shoulder Rub- no, not because it will be my neck and shoulder but because several years ago Tiger Balm made an Arthritis Rub and I believe (because of how it works) that they just renamed it since that came off the market and this went on in its place.  It's great stuff and I recommend it to anyone.  I am also packing thermacare.  Heat in any form will help a LOT.  I am also only half packing.  Normally I would pack enough to for the meeting and for the trip but knowing what I know about me and about how I overdo- I am packing for the meeting and then when I am home Thursday night I will re-pack for the weekend.  That will make the bag much lighter on both trips.  Needless to say- I have learned from my earlier mistakes and am applying those lessons to this whirlwind.  As I think about it- this is just one good step toward taking better care of myself.

Once I get home on Sunday and get back to work on Monday- it will be heavy into prep for our next Semester.  It feels like (at least mentally) that the time between semesters gets shorter and shorter.  I guess it is what it is and it will be what it will be!

Happy November my friends!  I hope you are all safe and warm and are ready for winter!