Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Time To Kick Out Of This Rut

     Between work and flares and still dwelling on this whole state of the way people treat one another (see the previous post if needed) I have been in a bit of a funk.  Thursday and Friday I will be traveling for work so I need to pull myself out of it before I am thrust into a room with 50 or so other people for two days.  I don't want to be that cranky wench in the corner of the room.  I like these folks and I want to enjoy as much of those two days as I can.  So- I need to focus on good things.  Put the rest out of my mind for a bit.

How about a list of things that make me smile?  Maybe we have some things in common!  Here we go, in no particular order:

1- My puppies.  They really do light up my whole world.

2- My other half.  We have been together so long I cannot imagine being without him. He makes me smile- most of the time ;-)

3- My 'man-child"-  He really is a good guy.  I am very fortunate that he turned out so well.

4- My family.  I have terrific sisters and parents.  Again- I know how fortunate that I am to have them.
Now that we have hit the "Usual Suspects" we can get to the more general things:
5-  Curling up with a good book.  I love to lose myself in a story.  I admire anyone who can write so well that, if only for a moment to two, they pull me into another world.

6-  Pajamas.  Really, could there be any better way to get comfy?  Especially when you are not feeling yourself.

7-  A long walk on a cool day.  Not cold- but between 55 and 75 is pretty perfect.  That usually means Spring- when everything starts new again or Fall- when the leaves are changing and falling and the earth is getting ready to go to sleep for a few months.

8-  Looking for four leafed clovers.  Have you ever spent time searching for that elusive shamrock?  It can be pretty soothing.  We have a LOT of clover around here.  Sometimes I just sit down next to a patch and run my hands over each little plant.  It's not easy to find one- I have only found one in the last four years- but it does relax me to just sit there and concentrate on the plants.

9-  Having a fabulous meal.  I love trying new foods.  It can be something that my husband or I cook at home or something created by a professional chef in a restaurant but when you can sit down and enjoy something that wakes up your senses or just melts in your mouth- it can be such a terrific sensation.  I don't know about you, but it gets my serotonin and oxytocin going and I feel terrific!

10- In the same vein- CHOCOLATE. Need I say more?  Belgian Ice Chocolate, Godiva Milk Chocolate, Lindt truffles, even Hershey's drops.  Milk chocolate is just it for me.  

11- Cooking.  I really enjoy cooking.  It's a creative outlet.  I am a little stifled because Hubby is not overly adventurous but when I am alone or with my son (who is always willing to experiment) I can go to town.

12-  Traveling.  I am so lucky that Hubby and I are really good together on road trips.  I know people who can't drive across town together without fighting.  We are pretty much the opposite of that.  We get in the car and head out and everything melts away.  Even if it's just exploring our area, we really enjoy traveling together.

13- Searching for inspiration.  I have favorite websites, books, magazines and such that I rely on to inspire me.  It could be to do crafts, to examine my spirituality, to find recipes, to find DIY projects, to find a quote that starts my day in a positive way- anything that makes me think or want to try something new.  The hunt is as much fun as the treasure is satisfying.

That's thirteen- it's a good start and I am smiling.  Now I am off to hit one of the aforementioned websites to find my quote of the day.  Have a terrific Tuesday!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

What is happening to us?

May I gripe for a moment?  Not really a rant; I am not angry, I am just sad.

     Let me first say- I love technology.  I love the internet.  I embraced it when it first became widely available.  I love that it lets me talk to, and get to know, people from all over the country and all over the world.  I started out in Usenet.  Are any of you old enough to remember that?  I then "graduated" to groups on MSN, Yahoo and AOL and on and on.  I met some of the best people I have ever known (Ames, Amy, Julie et al) through these groups and still keep in touch with them even after our groups became defunct.  I can never adequately explain how much the gift of their friendship, that would never have happened with out ye olde internet, means to me.  

     One of the things I have always enjoyed is a good discussion/ debate.  From discussions as tame as "What kind of laundry detergent do you use and why?" and "What book should I read next" to really heated debates on topics such as "Pro-Choice vs. Anti-Choice" and Gay Marriage most have been really interesting as you see what other people think and where they come from.  Unfortunately, as the internet has evolved, debates and discussion have devolved.  

     Back in the day, trolls were fairly obvious.  You could "play" with them or ignore them but they were fairly harmless.   The biggest problem is that the trolls had the anonymity of their screen name to hide behind and it made them bold.  With that anonymity came the "ability" to be rude, to poke at topics to stir things up, to be obnoxious.  Every once in a while admins would have to play "Whack a Troll" and boot them out if they got really bad but for the most part groups were a fairly safe place to talk and discuss.

     I don't know if it's the outgrowth of the original trolls or if the fact that the world is so comfortable with  the internet but the bile that I see online these days truly nauseates me.  This being an election year means there are literally thousands of examples of this.  Pick any post about the candidates or about the individual issues and read through the comments.  No matter which "side" you are on, almost every discussion begins with a back and forth exchange and within moments devolves into name calling, cursing, CAPS FRENZY as people "yell" their point.  It gets very, very nasty almost every time.  I have also seen a huge uptick in posts essentially shoving religious points of view down everyone's throat.  Maybe they were already there and I just didn't notice but it is not a sharing, caring kind of post.  It's not "God loves you".  It's more like "If you believe in XYZ you are not a Christian."  or "How dare you call yourself a Christian if you vote for so and so." or "If you don't believe ABC you are a heathen and going straight to hell"   It's rude, it's judgmental and quite frankly it's offensive.  I find that it's doing more to divide any and all faiths (and those who don't believe) than anything else.  Like the political posts, it starts to get nasty when someone replies "Just because YOUR church believes this, doesn't make it right" or "If you believe that fairy tale, you are an idiot" and just goes from there.  

     The straw that broke the camel's back for me and is making me consider if it's time to step away from social media for a while is the viral video by a young lady named Amanda Todd.  If you haven't seen it, it's incredibly sad.  This young lady made a video about the bullying she had been enduring for years.  She made some mistakes- and admits them in the video- and was mercilessly bullied for them.  Moving to a new town, more than once, didn't stop it.  Changing cell numbers didn't stop it.  Disabling her facebook page (and then creating a new one) so that those people were not on there didn't stop it.  She talks about the pain, she talks about how it lead to her cutting herself to release that pain, she talks about everything she did to disassociate herself from her bullies and how they essentially stalked her and made her life a living hell.  Posting her video was not only a cry for help but was also a strong statement about bullying.  Watching it made me angry.  Watching it made me want to fight for this little girl.  Knowing that a few weeks later this little girl was so despondant that she committed suicide is just heartbreaking.   But it doesn't end there.  This video touched a lot of people- and it also brought out the animals.  If you read the walls on the Facebook pages that were made in her memory, if you read comments under the articles, you will see that for every 5 or so "good" comments, there are so many vile comments that it will turn your stomach.  Even in death this child is still being bullied; but now it's gone global so how much worse is that?  Her parents can see this.  Her friends can see this.  I cannot imagine the extra heaping of pain this causes them. The other night I was reading a follow up article and the comments made me so sick that I literally turned off my computer.  That makes me sad.  I love social media.  I love Pinterest and Facebook, Linked In and Instagram.  I don't want to give them up but I don't know how much longer I can wade through this mud to find the true discussions.  

     What has happened to us?  When did this become "okay"?  Do these people not realize that, specifically on Facebook, their true names are out there for the world to see what kind of people they really are and that if they are posting anonymously they can be found out?  Do they think they are "protected" by the first amendment?  They are not.  There's an article on the Huffington Post today that the well known "Biggest Troll on Reddit" was outed by Gawker and subsequently lost his job because his company did not want to be associated with his online persona.  I have to say- I can completely understand his employers points.   Personally,  I have found this very enlightening.  I have discovered that people that I thought I knew were the kind of people who will condemn you in a minute if you do not believe what they believe.  I have discovered that some people are not who I thought they were.  This too makes me sad because I cannot look at them with the same respect that I had before all of this.  I am just sitting here shaking my head because I just don't understand how anyone can feel that this vitriol is acceptable.    That's it.  That's all I've got.  I would love to hear if you have noticed this as well, or if it's just me.  

Monday, October 15, 2012

Back to Reality

 Well, this vacation is over and I am a little sad.  My best friend is back in MA.  It was so nice to just sit and visit with someone who not only gets me, but is stepped out far enough to be able to be objective.  She understands me well enough to give me a big butt-kicking when I need it.  Even though we spent a LOT of time relaxing- I could still use a vacation from my vacation- isn't that typical?  

       Now it's back to work.  I need to get back and get some things done.  I already went through my email this morning and made myself a To-Do list for when I go in.  One thing that I am going to do that is not on my list though- is to decide when I am taking the rest of my time.  I always block off Thanksgiving week- but we only have to use 3 days for that as we are closed both Thursday and Friday and they count as holiday days.  Between that and the couple of days I am taking around Christmas, I still have a week left to take and I need to find the time and use it since it's Use or Lose.  Even though we did quite a few things,  I really enjoyed just being home.  More and more I find myself able to be home with nothing on my agenda more than to spend some time reading and napping.  In years past I would never have been able to just do nothing for more than a day.  I guess that I am finally able to step away from all of my responsibilities and from feeling like I always need to do something (ANYTHING!)and find peace in doing nothing.  So- I have added "Schedule vacation time" to my mental list for today.  It will be a reward for getting everything else on my list crossed off.

     When I get home tonight I need to sit down with my planner and start planning out some posts to get back into regular writing.  I also need to set some clear goals for the next three months and look at my budget because- as much as I hate this- it's already time to start planning for Christmas.  Josh is fairly easy this year.  He asked for a new coffee maker.  I know what I am getting for Jim as well.  He is pretty difficult but this year I have the idea.  I can't write it down because he is infamous for always guessing or finding out what he's getting and with my luck, this would be the one post he would read.  :-)  The older nieces and nephews are going to be easy this year too.  They are getting cash- but not just a check or bills in a card.  I am going to buy small bills and slip them inside balloons.  Then blow the balloons up and fill a box with them.  So they will each get a box of blown up balloons stuffed with cash.  I may stick a few notes in there inside balloons in as well.  They are terrific kids and I wish I could be nearer to them.  That leaves my parents, my younger nieces and nephews and friends.

     I also want to hand write some notes to friends this week.  Just before Karyn flew in last week, I lost a  friend.  He had a heart attack and went very quickly.  Fortunately- just a week or so prior we were chatting back and forth on Facebook and I told him that I loved him so he knew.  I want to take the time to send some notes to different friends and family members to make sure that I tell them that I love and am proud of them too.  It's so important.  Losing Donnie was a stark reminder that life is too short and we need to make sure that everyone we love knows how we feel about them.

   As much as I have enjoyed sitting here and just writing about what's in my brain today, it's time to get moving!  Thanks for joining me on this attempt to focus my thoughts and get out of vacation mode.  I hope you have a terrific day! 

Friday, October 12, 2012

The End of Vacation-or-One Bucket List Item Down- Many To Go!

Sadly, today is Friday and my vacation is coming to a close.  We managed to relax and yet get everything that we wanted done and more this week.  Of course we relaxed and visited a lot- that is a given during Karyn's annual week-long visit.

Last Saturday night we went to Culbertson's Haunted House- which was a good beginning to our trifecta of haunted houses this season. The walk-through and theme for this year gave me good ideas for my own costume since I was already of a mind to change it up this year.  Tuesday was the big zip-line day.  Mom and Dad joined us for the trip to the Mega Cavern and we had a wonderful lunch at Little Cheezers in Louisville after- but more on the Zip Line later.

Wednesday, we literally recovered from the adventure all day.  Neither Jim nor Karyn or I got out of our pajamas all day long.  We relaxed, we napped, we watched TV and movies and let our aching muscles settle back down.  I knew I would be sore.  I fully expected it.  I was pleasantly surprised that it was not worse.  If I learned nothing else, I learned that I seriously need to work on my triceps!  My shoulders (and triceps) ached from holding on to the bars and my back/hips were achy from where the  equipment sat both while we walked and zipped but I would say the pain factor was only a step or two up from "normal".

 Yesterday we spent the early afternoon shopping.  Karyn for clothes (she mis-packed a couple of things) and me for Halloween Costume gear.  Next we went downtown and walked around our town's Harvest Homecoming before it got too busy and as the crowds began to grow we left and went to Texas Roadhouse for an early dinner.  Later in the evening we went to The Baxter Avenue Morgue, which was FANTASTIC!  We got there early enough that it too was not overly crowded and we were able to interact with the cast and volunteers before, during and after the walk through.  Before we went in we were chatting with security and mentioned how far Karyn had come for this haunted house trip.  He shared with the cast inside who really personalized our experience.  After, some of the cast and crew came out and talked to us for quite some time about working there, their experiences both in the haunted house and with the paranormal (see FACT OR FAKED PARANORMAL FILES on SYFY for an investigation of Baxter Ave) and they invited us back for a Saturday night (when they are really amped up) and to the Halloween Parade tonight.

Today I am going to leave early to go and exercise my right to VOTE.  I love that we can do this early and once I am done I am fully intending to hide each and every political story on my Facebook wall from now until November.  I am going to stop across the street at the library while I am downtown as well and then back home to relax for a bit.  Tonight's plan was to go to Waverly Hills to the Scare-a-torium but they have been posting on their Facebook page that crowds have been so deep that people are lining up at 5pm to get in the gates- and the gates don't open until 7:30.  As we have done this particular haunted house before and I am not up to sitting in a car for hours and then standing in line for hours- we are opting out and instead considering going to the parade first and then heading to the haunted hayride at the Field of Screams in Brandenburg, KY.  That's it for tonight as we put Karyn on the plane back to MA tomorrow.  :-/

Now- back to the Bucket List item of Zip-lining.    I am super excited about this for several reasons:

  1. I was very worried about how I would physically manage the bridges, walking/climbing on the uneven ground inside the Mega Cavern and actual "Zips" between my Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia and general "out-of-shapeness".  
  2. I really, REALLY, do not like suspension bridges.  Besides mild vertigo, the fact that they move (or more specifically BOUNCE and SWAY) as you walk makes me feel more than a bit nauseated.  
  3. Partially because of the aforementioned vertigo and partially because of a lack of control when you fall, I didn't know how I would find the confidence to literally step off into nothingness- especially in the dark of the cavern.  

I DID IT!!!!  I not only managed to complete the 5 Zip-line course, but made it across the "Challenge Bridges" with very little problem.  That said, our guides were terrific.  They took the time to explain everything we were doing from beginning to end and answered all of our questions throughout.  They checked and re-checked our safety equipment.  Most importantly, they tailored their approach individually to each member of the group based on our experience and fear level.  They ribbed us when necessary and cheered us on when that was needed as well.   When we finished, I felt exhilarated!   Feeding off the boost that this "Mission Accomplished" gave me; I think it's time to start tackling other items on my list.  It also gave me more ideas to add to that big old list.  The question is, where to start???

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Crossing off a bucket list item-no matter WHAT my body says

I am officially on my yearly vacation.  Not that I only get one- but once a year my best friend flies out to Louisville and we spend a week together.  We have a fun week planned:

  • We will be visiting 3 different fundraising haunted houses for well known truly haunted locations (Waverly Hills Sanatorium, Baxter Ave Morgue, Culbertson Mansion)

  • We are going to the movies (Pitch Perfect- hubby has no interest)

  • We are going to eat good food ( I have been scouring Pinterest for days)

  • We will visit a LOT.  

  • But the biggest thing we have planned is...we are going ZIP LINING!  

I am so excited to go.  It's been on my bucket list for quite some time.  My only fear is how the old body will react.  Not so much to soaring down the zip line, but to the "Challenge bridges" that we have to climb to get to the zips.  I have been battling my hips for quite some time, and my shoulders are pretty sore too. The last few weeks have been a bit of a rollercoaster about this upcoming trip.  I was so excited to go, I still am, BUT, as I lay in bed each night and my hips and shoulders ache, the fear comes over me.  I start with the "What if I don't make it?" then "What if it brings on a major flare?"  and so on and so forth.  Then I got mad. Mad that I was letting the fear of my RA and Fibro put a damper on something that I REALLY want to do.  Finally, I became resolved.  I don't care what my body says.  I am doing this.  It may be once in a lifetime event for me and I am going to go and enjoy every single minute of it.