Monday, July 31, 2017

Reclaiming Things I Surrendered To RA

     Over the years I can think of many, many things that I have given up to RA.  Exercise, good wine, being able to plan.... But this weekend I reclaimed something.  It was small but it felt like a victory.

 Growing up on Air Force bases, the Bowling Alley is often the hub of social activities.  We kids hung out there as teens, my MIL worked at one- you get the idea.  For many years my husband's family was a family of bowlers.  Marrying in, it was natural that I join the teams.  Though I enjoy bowling, I was never as hyper competitive as the in-laws so after years of bowling with them, I took a break for a few years then joined some friends for a "fun" league where I did exponentially better than with the pressure of serious competition.
Just about the time I was at my peak- I was diagnosed with RA.  My onset began in my hands and feet.  Feet that felt like I had run a marathon upon waking and hands that were in claws when I woke and ached all day meant that one of the first things that fell by the wayside was my fun league.

I haven't given a thought to even picking up a ball in a dozen years. That's not true.  I've thought about it- and immediately dismissed it because of my hands.  We even got rid of my Micky Mouse decorated ball and matching shoes when we moved out to So. IN 10 years ago.

Well- last week hubby came home from his bowling night and said to me "So- after haunt season you're going  to bowl with me on Friday nights."  I looked at him as if he had lost his mind and said "Oh AM I?  I haven't picked up a ball in years!"  He then sweetened the pot the next day.  "If you do, I will buy you this Patriot's bowling ball and gear"  I laughed because he knows my sweet spot and agreed to talk about it.  After considering it, I told him we would have to give it a shot because between the RA and the acrylics I pay good money for (Vanity- thy name is woman!) I didn't know if I could do it.  We contacted my dad because he enjoys a good game and agreed to go this past weekend.

And so we did.  I wasn't great.  The old back doesn't allow me to move the way I did when I was bowling regularly and I was very hesitant- but I broke 100 so I was pleased.  Hubby looked at Dad after my first strike and said "Guess I am buying a ball!"  We only bowled one game because a group of people with ZERO etiquette was put on the lane next to us and essentially crowded us out so we will have to go again and bowl three games as if a normal league play so I can see if I can do it, but I enjoyed it and am considering his request.

So take THAT RA!  You don't necessarily get to keep the things you took from me! 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

50 for my 50th.

Today is my 50th birthday.  Today I am reflecting on my life, my goals, my bucket-list.  As part of my reflection, I have made 5 lists of 10 things that are on my mind.

Ten things I am grateful for in the big picture:

1-  I am grateful that I have a wonderful, loving family.  Parents, sisters, husband, my loving child, nieces, nephews and friends.  Family of my blood and heart- all of whom are terrific people.

2-  I am grateful that I have a good job that affords me health insurance and a decent living, good benefits and that, for the most part, I enjoy.

3-  I am grateful that I have two sweet, smart pups who love me unconditionally as much as I love them.  They are truly emotional support.

4-  I am grateful that I have a home to live in, with heat, air conditioning, clean water, a good bed, and  comfortable furniture that I can afford to pay for and that is safe and sound.

5-  I am grateful that my health has held out longer than initially expected.  The first Rheumatologist that I saw was sure that if we were not very aggressive in my treatment I would be in a wheelchair by 45.  Despite failing all of my treatments so far- I am still holding out and holding on.

6-  I am grateful that I have a love of books.  Books can not only educate you but take you to new worlds, open you up to new interests and shift your world view.

7-  I am grateful that I can afford food.  Not just to nourish my body but also to indulge my joy of cooking.  Experimenting in the kitchen, finding new flavor combinations or ways to manipulate those flavors into something that is delicious is incredibly satisfying.  Especially when someone you love enjoys what you produce.

8-  I am grateful that I have my quiet mornings.  While I could not get up and immediately get ready to go to work like a normal person, it's lead to my quiet mornings.  As part of my "new normal" I get up, have some coffee, see the sun come up, watch the news or something on the DVR and ease into the day.  Even on vacation I was normally the first up and managed a cup of coffee or two either alone or with my sister before things got hectic.  It just helps me start my day in a good head-space.

9-  I am grateful that I began this journey.  Even when I fall off for a while, I can go back and read what I have written and be right back on the road to living from gratitude.

10- I am grateful that we made the move to the mid-south 10 years ago.  I cannot imagine my life had we stayed in New England.  It would be so very different.

Ten things I know for sure:

1-  I know that living with chronic illness may not be something I would choose but not suffering from it IS my choice.

2-  I know that the idea of forgiveness is much easier than actually letting go of hurts.

3-  I know that taking weight of is exponentially harder than putting it on.

4-  I know that finding something that you love to do, no matter what it is and how many people roll their eyes at you about doing it, can bring you vast amounts of joy.

5-  I know that Random Acts of Kindness not only make you and the recipient feel good in the moment, but can also make you want to do more and more. They can be a love drug if you let them.

6-  I know that there are people who, no matter how much you do for them, always expect you to give and give without so much as a sincere thanks- and that's not your fault.

8-  I know that it's not only okay but healthy for your overall well-being to remove those toxic people from your life.

9-  I know that we can learn about love and compassion from our animals.

10- I know that we need to take care of ourselves mentally and emotionally if we wish to live happy lives.  

Ten things I just don't understand:

1-  I don't understand "isms"- Racism, Ageism, Sexism, Classism,  Lookism, Sizeism, Ableism, Nativism.  It makes no sense to me to judge people just by how they look or where they are from.

2-  I don't understand labeling.  I am a Gen X'er.  I am a Mom. I am Straight.  I am a Wife. I am Caucasian.  I am Female.  I am a Moderate Independent.  I am somewhat Disabled.  I am so many different labels- yet not one of them defines me.  I am more than each and every one of these labels and an amalgamation of them all.  Aren't you more than each of your many labels?

3-  I don't understand how people can harm those who are defenseless- children, animals, the infirm.  What has to be going on in their heads?

4-  I don't understand being hateful to perfect strangers online.  If you wouldn't say it face to face, how is it okay to say it online?

5-  I don't understand dividing our wonderful country by party lines.  Democrat and Republican are not epithets.  Neither are Liberal or Conservative.  Why are we not working for the good of ALL of the country- not just the party that we identify with?  What is best for our country is a sound economy, safe infrastructure, ecologically sound utilities, equal access to quality healthcare for all, and leading the world in research and technology.  It is to follow our founders when they said " We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness"  The rest of the stuff- who you worship, your race, your sexuality, your gender, your family makeup- not the business of the country.  

6-  I don't understand people who believe that rules and policies don't apply to them and will throw a fit if they don't get their way.

7-  I don't understand people who think that it's okay to make a "career" of stealing from others rather than working for what they want. Do they not get that the person they are stealing from did just that?

8-  I don't understand how an argument, a territory dispute, road rage can be worth taking a life.  Every day the news is filled with murder, shootings, stabbings and more.  Life is worth so much more- when did we become disposable?

9-  I don't understand higher Math and the Sciences.  STEM is not the way my brain works-and when it comes down to it, it makes me kind of dumb in those areas.   I am more creative but that being said- smarter minds thank mine are tasked with math and science, and I trust them in their fields.

10- I don't understand a lack of work ethic.  If someone is paying me to do a job- be it sweeping a floor, cleaning a toilet or running a multinational company, I am going to do my best.  I am going to take pride in the job I am doing and be the best floor sweeper/toilet cleaner/CEO that I can be.  I don't understand how people can take a paycheck and just show up.

Ten things I still want to do in my next decade:

1-  I will complete my education.  I am starting back with my first class next week.

2-  I will shed the weight that I need to lose.  It's a work in progress.

3-  I will still fight my body against my disabilities.  Even if it means just a walk around the block, as long as I am able to move, my illnesses don't win.

4-  I will write for publication.  Fiction, non, magazine articles, news- nothing can stop me from writing.

5-  I will journal to leave a legacy for my child and grandchildren.

6-  I will expand my horizons.  I will continue to try new hobbies and test my interests to see what sticks.

7-  I will go horseback riding when I am NOT on vacation.

8-  I will create multiple new haunt characters.

9-  I will continue to be an advocate and ally for those who need my voice.

10- I will learn to say no when I need to take time to be good to myself.

Ten things on my Bucket List:  

1-  I dream of spending 4-6 weeks in Europe

2-  I dream of chartering a yacht in the Mediterranean for a week or so.

3-  I dream of seeing the rest of the US.

4-  I dream of Winters where it's warm, Summers where it's less warm.

5-  I dream of writing a book that touches someone the way so many books that I love have touched me.

6-  I dream of walking another marathon.

7-  I dream of contributing to animal rescue in a significant way.

8-  I dream of  going on a photographic safari.

9-  I dream of swimming with dolphins.

10- I dream of contributing to my world in a way that will be remembered.  Not me- but the contribution.

Today, though just another day for most, I begin a new journey.