Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas

     I did something very out of character for me last weekend.  I went "power shopping".  My normal approach to Christmas shopping is to begin very early (like....July?) and buy a little as I see things that call out to me as being right for a specific person- or to build myself a theme and craft gifts around that theme.  This year I bought my older nieces and middle nephew something just after my birthday in July, decided on a craft project and searched for materials for months until I was able to complete that and then sort of crapped out.

      My son asked for cash - he had a fairly large expense and wanted help with it so that was easy, but for everyone else I waited until I had my budget in one lump sum.  Last Saturday I intentionally slept in-well, woke up at the normal time then went back for a nap by 7:30-but I got some extra rest.  Then I woke up, downed more coffee and left the house by myself before 10am with the intention of not going home until I was done.  To complicate matters- (if you remember) I resolved not to shop at Target, Walmart, Best Buy, ToysRUs- any of the retailers who opened for Black Friday either on Thanksgiving night or before 6am on Friday.  That made it a little more challenging but I was committed.  Well, by 4pm, all I had left was to stop at the dollar store to pick up holiday "tupperware" type containers for a portion of my craft project that needs to be separate.  I made that last stop and when it was done it was as if a weight had lifted.  I was tired, my muscles and joints were rebelling but I was satisfied with the work I had done.  I took my time, I stopped for coffee on my way out and then for a protein smoothie half way through and really paced myself so I could get through it all in one fell swoop.

     Another difference this year is wrapping.  Gift bags have been my strategy in all of the years I have had RA and can be such a boon for us.  The other thing I have done is to order online and have it shipped directly but my sister-in-law protested to wrapping all the gifts as they came in.  So I decided that I would wrap- rather than using gift bags at least for the things I had to ship.  I bought some cute paper for the kids and elegant paper for the grown ups and set to wrapping on Sunday morning.  One thing I picked up was a little "cutter" for the wrapping paper.  I cannot cut a straight line with scissors-and I am the first to admit it- and with my lack of hand control it ends up choppy anyway. Plus- you KNOW it hurts to use scissors after a while.  Of course, after using this nifty little tool I realized that a coupon cutter would be just as effective.  I put my television on and started clearing out the DVR and got into a groove.  I would wrap a couple of things, stop for a break to rest my wrists and hands and then go back to it.  Just before 3pm I had everything that needed to be shipped wrapped up and in paper grocery bags so I hopped in my car, went to work, boxed them all up and prepped them for shipping on Monday morning.  I managed to get back just in time to watch the Patriot's game (yay football!).  While I was putting together dinner I evaluated my hands and feet.  I had been standing the whole time to wrap because I learned from my Rottie (who would instantly lay on the wrapping paper as soon as I opened it to cut) years ago that sitting on the floor wouldn't work with two curious dogs.  I also knew that sitting on the floor would cause me to lean over more which would stress my already painful back so I was using my dining room table.  Once dinner was going (home made beef/veggie/noodle soup) I decided to leave the gift bags upstairs in storage and keep on wrapping.

       Well, I didn't finish until Monday night but when I was done I felt like the chick in this year's Target "Done" commercial.  I danced around my table doing the "Done, Done---Done-Done-DONE" dance. :-D.  All I have left to do now is to pack my clothes tonight, pack for the puppies tomorrow night and then load two boxes full of gifts (and 5 copper pipes- a part of my craft gift- thanks to @Riotkat for the idea) and all of our bags into the truck on Friday afternoon and head to my folks for the holiday weekend.  I love this.  I don't feel at all rushed, I managed to actually wrap all but the gifts for 2 "people" (one was a full gift bag for the pups- who just won't care and the other was my best friend for whom I used decorated gift boxes).  I even wrapped Mom's gift for Dad (can't tell you what it is in case Dad reads this but I am pretty excited!) even though, ironically enough,  I talked to Dad on one of my breaks and he said "you are worn out from work- don't wrap anything- just throw it in grocery bags, none of us will mind!"  I even took my hubby's gifts to work and did a stealth job on his since he always figures out what I got him.  It makes me so crazy that I was this|close to covering the whole wrapped gift in shipping tape so he couldn't peek.

The nice thing is that feeling this well prepared is that I can focus more on all of the work things I need to get done before we close on Friday for the long weekend.  I am also not second guessing myself- which I do when I buy all year long-wondering if I forgot someone on my list, if I bought enough, if I am taking the easy way out by using gift bags- all of those things that stress me out about the holiday season.  That is the key word right there- STRESS- and for the first time in a long time I just don't feel it in terms of the holiday.

I hope you all have a wonderful Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Yule or whatever holiday that you choose to celebrate this season.  Next up- deciding what I want to do with my new year!  See you next week!  

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Taking on a little TOO much.

The other morning, while I was getting ready for work, my Auggie went a little bat-shit crazy to get out the door.  I mean pawing at my slider (which he never does- he leaves that for Harley)and barking up a storm.  I popped back into the room and let him out on his runner.  I wasn't half way back to the bathroom to finish my makeup when he started going a little nuts outside.  That brought Harley running and she wanted out too.  I let her out to join him and again the barking started so I went out to see what in the world was up.  Now- we have had an opossum hanging around the house for a while and I figured they were going nuts about it again.  S/he "hides" under the neighbor's lawn chair in plain site but just out of reach and it makes my pups crazy.  Little did I know.

I walked outside and what do I see?  Five beautiful, majestic does wandering through the back yard.  These were not baby deer, these were fully grown, almost as tall as me, deer.  My little 22lb dog was barking furiously at small herd of deer that had to have weighed 200lbs each.  He was very lucky.  The "lead" doe just looked at him with some amusement and led her group down through our 20 yard "wooded" area that separates us from the neighbors behind us, into their yard and on their way.  They weren't remotely frightened of my brave little guy who was defending his territory (or his sister who was half-heartedly joining in his noise or of me for that matter), in fact they sauntered along as if there was not a care in their world.  For this I am thankful because he really could have been hurt.  As they walked out of sight, the three of us came back inside- Auggie and Harley for a treat and me to finish my makeup.

While I was applying my eyeliner and mascara I was ruminating on how brave my little fur-babies were when it comes to keeping critters out of their territory.  They routinely chase off rabbits and squirrels and that stinking possum but this incident gave me pause.  It made me wonder how often we let our courage take it a little too far.  I know that when I am looking at pallets of books that need to be opened, received and shelved I have a tendancy to face that mountain and tell myself that failure is not an option and dive right in without thought of the consequences.  This time of year, when our kids are selling back their books and returning their rentals and they all seem to get there at once; I will stand at window working with those books  for hours at a time until my hands start to swell and cramp, my elbow starts to holler at me and I over work my wrist so much that I lose the strength and it hurts to try to open a bottle of water.  I don't look at that line and think "it's too much, I can't do this all day".  I look at it and think "I can bang out this line, no problem".  It tends to get me into trouble physically and that in turn makes me a little bummed about the changes in my body and also makes me feel far older than I am.  I also think that this is what makes me a Tigger.

I believe I have mentioned this before, perhaps when discussing my tattoos but I love reading "The Tao of Pooh" by Benjamin Hoff.  It is an easy to read and easy to process introduction to Taoism.  In reading this, the part about Tigger really spoke to me.  The book says:

"A fish can't whistle and neither can I." There's nothing wrong with not being able to whistle, especially if you're a fish. But there can be lots of things wrong with blindly trying to do what you aren't designed for. Unfortunately, some people aren't so wise, and end up causing big trouble for themselves and others. The wise know their limitations; the foolish do not. To demonstrate what we mean, we can think of no one better than Tigger, who doesn't know his limitations ('Tiggers' can do everything'), which brings him in lots of trouble.

If don't know if there is a better description of me anywhere.  I know better but tend to blindly jump in and try to do it all and then kick myself later when my body rebels.  When I am going at some big, demanding project with no thought of how I will pay later it is just like my little guy trying to scare off those big and beautiful deer that were 10 times his size.  It's foolish and can have dire consequences.  More importantly, I know better and yet it still doesn't stop me from trying.  As I sit here this morning with my fingers taking longer than usual to "unkink", my shoulder throbbing,  my wrists aching and knowing I still have a lot of work to do both at my job and in preparation for Christmas which is coming at us at light speed, I can tell that I need to slow down a bit if I am to get it all done.  I just don't know if I can slow down at this time of year.  My stress level is already bumping at the ceiling and I have a feeling that if I try to back off a even a little bit the stress may bust through the roof and send me into a tail-spin. I think that after the holidays (ending with MLK Day in mid-January) I will have to step back and evaluate how I could have done things differently and still reach the goal of getting it all done on time.  At the moment I am just too far into the eye of the hurricane to be able to be objective and so I will have to finish along this path and hope that I don't send myself into a major flare by the New Year.  There are only 11 days till Christmas and 5 weeks until we are through our "rush".  The countdown has begun.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Going to make it a great week!

Phew!  I didn't feel like last week would end.  I spent 2 days in catch up mode, then 2.5 working in my "warehouse" receiving in boxes of books.  By Friday afternoon (after my dumb fall on Friday morning) I was hurting all over and left a little early.  Not that I hadn't put in my hours- I worked open to close on Tuesday and late on Wednesday and Thursday so I hit my hours but still felt guilty leaving with so much to do.  So- I woke up Saturday morning (okay- after 2.5 hours of sleep) and made a list of things I needed to get done at work and went in for a solid 6 hours.  I did my system backup, sent my list of books that are left to buy to my wholesaler to see if they had any used, then unpacked and checked in 3 pallets of books.  By the time I left work I was so sore that walking hurt and so exhausted that I came home, was in bed for a "nap" by 4pm, didn't wake until 9pm, was back in bed before 11pm and didn't wake until almost 7.  I am thinking that between the insomnia and the physical work everything caught up to me and I was done for.  Thankfully, Jim recognized that and let me sleep while he took the puppies out for their walk and fended for himself for dinner.  I could have gone in again yesterday- but it was time to say "no mas" and re-charge before this week.

I have been wanting to go to The Christmas Tree Shop.  We don't have them around my area and I used to LOVE going in there to see kind of neat stuff they have on sale.  If you have one near you and haven't been, I highly recommend it.  We decided yesterday, since we were both off and had nothing planned, to take a little trip up north to go there.  The closest one for us is about 3 miles outside Cincinnati so it took about an hour and 20 minutes to get there.  We shopped and wandered around and I was able to get 9 gifts out of the way.  Between yesterday's trip up north and the items I have already bought , that leaves only 2 to finish ( I am making blankets for my nephews) and 5 people to buy for.  That's a big relief.  We considered, briefly, going to the Cincinnati Zoo but it was raining out and we considered heading to the Newport Aquarium but with Christmas coming TOO fast, it was a little on the spendy side so instead we went out to lunch and then started back.  The bonus- for me- of the whole trip was that they have REAL Dunkin Donuts up there so we stopped and I bought a half a dozen bagels.  Their onion bagels are the best I have ever had and I just love them.  When we were on our way back, I was playing with Facebook on my iPhone and saw a post from the shelter that we got Harley and Auggie from that said they were in desperate need of certain supplies.  So we pulled off an exit, found a Dollar General (not to be confused with Dollar Tree or the Dollar Store where everything is a dollar- this place is just rounded to full dollars-confusing, no?)  and picked up 20lbs of cat litter,  and 8 pack of paper towels and 2 gallons of bleach and dropped it off on our way home.  Jim, as always, wanted to see the puppies and there was the sweetest little guy there who is the same mix (pekingese/cocker spaniel) as our Auggie.  Fortunately, someone has already applied to give him a forever home or I would have had a hard time getting Jim out of there without him.  We got home, Jim took a nap, I loved up on my babies and then made some dinner.  Needless to say it was a productive and relaxing day for us.

Today it's back to work for another long week.  We have to get the rest of the books out and on the shelf and then reconcile them to our orders.  Once that is complete- I will be able to stop and breathe.  I have decided that no matter what happens- this will be a good week.  I read a terrific quote yesterday that will do my best to apply to the whole week and it goes like this:

“Having more joy does not necessarily require a life overhaul—you may just need to create more space in your life for moments of joy.”—  Debrena Jackson Gandy

I have decided that for this week I will stop focusing on the "big picture" and look for those moments of joy. When I find them,  I will capture them, give thanks for them and keep them.  If I do that- there is no way the week can be bad.  

Saturday, December 3, 2011

It's going to be a long weekend

There's nothing like, when you are already in chronic pain, injuring yourself on top of it.  I don't mean the tendency that I fight to not overdo it, I mean the accidents that happen that just add insult to injury.

Insomnia and marriage don't always mix well.  If I were single or if Hubby worked 3rd shift, I would wake up and turn on the TV in my bedroom or flip on the light and read a book, but that isn't possible when the person sleeping next to you has to be up bright and early to work.  Instead I get up and make my way downstairs so as to not wake the man and usually our Auggie hops off the bed and follows me while Harley-girl stays upstairs as long as she can snoozing.  Yesterday morning I got up and went to leave the room, turned around to get my glasses and tripped over Harley.  She had evidently decided to join Auggie and I for a change.  She yelped and I jumped then quickly picked her up and gave her some loving.  We often carry her downstairs because she is a little timid since she fell down the stairs a few years ago on her own.  So we started down the stairs and when I was about 3 from the bottom, I missed a step and down we went.  I held onto her until I hit the floor and she panicked and twisted away which means she dropped to the floor from about a foot up.  As I let go of her I flailed out my arm and smashed it on the corner of the wall separating the stairs from the living room.  I was sitting on the floor, holding my hand with my other hand, trying to check on her without moving too much because my hip and butt were screaming from hitting three stairs and the floor.  Hubby holler down to check on  me (nothing like waking him up when the intention was not to) and I wasn't too sure if I would be getting up from that spot and Auggie was jumping all over me as if he was checking me out to see if I was okay.  In the meantime, Harley had shuffled off to her crate to hibernate.  My biggest fear was not for me, but that I had caused her to hurt her back again.  I got up on all fours and crawled over and half into her crate and did a full body check before pulling myself up and making my way to the kitchen to start my coffee.  When the hubby came downstairs he checked on Miss Harley and got her to come out so she could go outside and do her business and at that time she was walking a little hunched over- as was I.  We looked like two little old ladies. After she made her sojourn outdoors, she came back in and went directly to her crate and pillow, not even waiting for a treat.  By the time I left for work she was back to sleep and snoring.

I worked until about 1pm.  By that time, my everything was stiffening up and I couldn't sling boxes any longer, plus I wanted to check on Harley.  I came home and she was up in her daddy's recliner, happy as a clam.  I, on the other hand, debated whether or not to make my way back upstairs or try to nap on the couch.  Fortunately, I chose up because apparently my phone started blowing up within 20 minutes of going to sleep.  I slept for a couple of hours and by the time I woke up bruises were evident on my hand, my rear end, my toes (I have a feeling 1 or two are sprained or broken) and a bit on my back and beyond that, my hip was hurting.  I wasn't allowed to wallow though because we had to be at Whole Foods before 7 to get a particular Christmas gift so I took a Tramadol and off we went.

By the time I tried to go to bed the first time, I was feeling pretty beat up.  It took until midnight for my regular meds to kick in so I could relax but eventually they.  I tried to get comfortable enough to sleep but that only lasted 2 hours before I was up again, stiff and sore.  I have to go into work today and I almost wish that it had not been unreasonable to go in when I woke up at 2:30 because I would have gotten a lot more done then than I will later.  I am already fading so I think a nap will be in order as soon as I get home.  Sunday we are driving up to Florence, KY (just outside of Cinci) to get some more Christmas gifts and then-hopefully it will be nap time again.

The lesson from this?  No more carrying dogs down the stairs.