Posted in life lessons

That Look You Give Your Child When You Know His Fish Died and He Doesn’t Know Yet

We’ve been going through it over here as of late. I’ve been going through it, my son has been going through it, hell even both cats and the damn fish have been going through it. And, based on me catching our dog scootching her ass across the living room carpet earlier today, she’s going through it as well.

Apparently it all started the day I was born, but we’ll start at the end of this summer just to make things a little easier. At the end of summer I scouted out some delicious used furniture from the rich side of town and moved into the era of being a real person that has real people furniture. You know, furniture that is somewhat modern, fairly stainless, and actually improves the look of your entire room. Furniture that looks like you put thought into it. Furniture that matches and coordinates with your room. Furniture that you actually don’t want the dog on…or the kids on….or your guests on….

And as I sat in my glorious new (used) living room, a sense of peace and harmony washed over me and then drained right out of my feet as my hand came down and rested in a wet spot caused by a leak that had sprung from our elder cat. Then I instantly became a basket case.

It was all so easy when I had a hand-me-down couch that was beautiful (but not toddler friendly) and a big patterned couch that *was* toddler friendly and beautiful in my eyes but, based on the $35 price tag at the local Goodwill that has been known to try to sell chipped paint scrapings for more, apparently no one else agreed. I was mildly happy with my acquisition, very happy with the price, and therefore not worried one bit about rips, spills, pee, puke (ok, yes I was worried about puke because omg it’s PUKE), markers, boogers, mud, feet, pets, farts, or anything else my child, nieces and nephew, pets, guests, and even self could throw at it. It just didn’t matter. It only cost $35 and the pattern hid everything. And I mean *everything*.

(My friends are all now wondering what they have sat in over the years. You’ll never know, guys. You’ll never know…)

But now I had real furniture. Light beige furniture. Why did I buy light beige furniture? Was I crazy? Yes. While I may not have been when I bought it, I most certainly was now that I had it I. And so I learned a valuable lesson that I would like to share with you all:

Don’t buy nice shit. All you do is worry about your nice shit getting ruined, and then your entire life is ruined because it’s all you think about. Live in squalor and be happy. Please. I beg you.

So our cat had a leak (big problem) and I was covering all three pieces of new (used) furniture with aluminum foil every single evening (possibly a bigger problem on the crazy person scale) because cats don’t like aluminum foil. Dogs, however, don’t give a shit fyi.

I’ve gone through 5 bottles of Urine-B-Gone and upholstery cleaner and three rolls of aluminum foil since then, spent about $300 on a leaky cat and still have a leaky cat, spayed the other cat so she would stop spraying but she’s still spraying and, somehow, still got her monthly visitor, and the dog is scooting across the damn living room carpet.

So we thought we’d alleviate some of the insanity by upgrading my son’s fish tank. He loves his fish – he’s had them for 4 years. Had. He had them.

First Hammer died. Yes, Hammer. My son went through a stage where he wanted to name his fish Hammer, his baby cousin Hammer, and even himself Hammer. Only the fish got lucky enough to keep the name. Hammer was also lucky enough to have me notice he had passed just in time for my son to look at my face and know something was wrong but I just couldn’t bring myself to tell him his fish was dead so I tried to use telepathy and it kind of worked but mostly it was just the “your fish died” look on my face that probably told him… but regardless, he was a lucky fish. Lucky to have a headstone made for him by my niece, an entire funeral in our front yard, and the undying affection of my son for forever and always.

So we replaced Hammer with Bubbles and my son focused on his original fish, Emo. Yes, Emo. He was 4 when he won him from a fair, and I initially thought he was trying to name it Nemo….but, as always, I was wrong because I’m a mom. Emo. His name is Emo.

So I transferred Bubbles the newbie and Emo the oldie to the new tank and pretty much killed my son’s favorite fish. He’s currently in our freezer as the trauma still hasn’t ended and my son can’t bring himself to bury him.

Oh, and then just two days ago one of the other newbie fish we added to make up for Emo dying, died.

I’ve found myself actually having chats with the the tank, telling the occupants that no one else is allowed to die because I can’t handle another bedtime fish investigation trauma extravaganza. I. Just. Can’t. My son has a heart so big that he cares so deeply for even the small animals and eyes so quick that I wasn’t able to sneak out and replace any one of the three fish before he knew it was dead. Or maybe I’m just slow.

And I could be slow. I’ve lived on my couch for the past month and a half in a woozy haze thanks to new meds. I might technically *be* a couch now. And while my pain levels are down and my depression is lifting, I am so tired that I fall asleep in the middle of being asleep. I also break all the things and dumb all the things and, well, am basically a hot mess….yet…it’s a million times better than the hell I was sitting in before, so I guess I’ll take limbo. An upgrade is an upgrade, right?

Oh, and everything tastes like crap. When I actually have an appetite I swear all the food is spoiled, and that coupled with the extreme nausea caused me to drop 20lbs in a month – something that my fluffy frame can certainly stand to lose, but it’s just not the most fun way. Like, I can’t brag about my lack of appetite or post pictures of an empty plate on facebook to get healthy life points like all my friends who are on raw food vegan triple venti diets that will make them live for forever. They get points, right? That’s why they photograph and post it, right? And you get to cash the points in for stuff, right? Right????????

Point being (see what I did there), no one feels bad for the fluffy person who is too nauseous to eat and is losing weight quickly. No one.

On top of all of this I caught a nasty virus and just couldn’t even parent, so I didn’t hang out on the playground before school with my child that day and then I also didn’t come in to read with his class that day either because I was either burning up or freezing at the moment…and I temporarily broke my child. All the fish deaths, and then his mother disappoints him twice in one day…..I broke him. Which broke me. So now we are all broken but only one of us is leaking and only one of us is scooting our ass across the living room (it’s not me), but we are all still broken.

But the furniture looks fucking fantastsic.

(:

Posted in Fibromyalgia, life lessons

Bottoms Up

Continuing on this journey of self care, I’ve hit a pretty big bump – since school let out I’ve been severly short on time and energy. And rightly so!  I love spending time with my child and my nieces and nephews!  Summer vacation is time for pools and parks and little trips or even just bumming around the house together. But summer vacation also means way less “me” time, and I quickly started to feel all that I had previously invested in myself slipping away as my old habits of ignoring ME came creeping back. Since I had such limited energy and time, I wondered what was the *minimum* I could do that would greatly benefit me right now…

And that was when I remembered this exercise tape (yes a vhs) I used to do years ago. I found it at the thrift store but then lost it. I remember a woman who used to be a ballerina, bad 80’s leotards, and hip swivels and gyrations. That’s it. But I knew it was really helpful and probably exaclty what I needed since the focus was on small movements. I started searching for it… Calisthenics? No. That’s definitely not it. Um… Oh yeah! Callanetics! Callan Pinckney!

So that’s where the little energy I have has been invested lately. For one hour every other or every third day ib gently pulse muscles I didn’t even know I had and stretch everything to point where I am yelling “oh my good this is fantastic!”. Weird. I know. What can I say.

I’ve done it three times now and can most certainly see benefits already (Callan promises 10 years younger in 10 hours and no one has said she’s wrong), and I plan to continue until my core is stable, my back is stronger, and my feet… Oh dear lord my feet.

It’s ironic that I started this program while having that horrendous foot pain I was telling you all about; it’s as if something inside of me just knew.

After some serious research into why the hell my feet were *radiating* with pain, I came upon this blog that completely explained exactly what was happening with my feet and how to fix it:

https://walkwellstaywell.wordpress.com

Yes. I have plantar fasciatis and a pretty serious pronation problem. And it hurts like HELL. For a while I thought I had a fracture or neuropathy or SOMETING life threatening, because the level of pain eminating from the bottom of my feet was just unreal. I was holding onto walls to walk! Plantar fasciitis??? Pronation??? No way. That can’t be it.

However, some of the exercises in the Callanetics video (I bought the DVD on amazon) were helping my foot pain and mirrored the advice on the site. So I *knew* this was both my diagnosis and treatable. I started in with the rest of the advice on the website plus advice from a running article I read and was absolutely shocked at the results.

But first let me just tell you that the most helpful thing was the most painful thing ever. I cried. I actually cried as I rolled my foot over a golf ball. A GOLF BALL. It was PURE HELL. It BURNED. My shoulers climbed up to my ears and I flinched with every roll. I kept at it for as long as I could tolerate that first night telling myself that it was worth TRYING just to see if it helps. It’s only one night of pain. It’s just one night.

I woke up the next morning and walked into my kitchen to start the coffee maker. I walked down the hall and went to the bathroom. I walked back to the coffee maker and began filling my cup, and that was when I noticed…

I wasn’t flinching, holding onto walls, or avoiding using certain parts of my foot as I walked.

It worked!!

I went back to the website and read up on all the exercises for pronation and plantar fasciitis and started them immediately. Every night now for the past week I have been stretching my calves, rolling golf balls beneath my feet, and strengthening my weak inner calf muslces. All of this on top of doing Callanetics for an hour every other or every third day.

The result? Today I walked barefoot with no pain *at all* today, and my knees feel SO STRONG. I can feel the muscle definition where before there was nothing. Also, my hip muscles feel both stronger and smoother – I don’t know how to explain it, really. My core is getting tight and strong, which is really helping my back. And I can walk like a normal person.

I have been telling my doctors for the past three years that I don’t know how to walk anymore. I kept saying that it just felt wrong and I needed help (physical therapy) to teach me how to walk correctly. Well, they didn’t really listen. But that’s ok because now I know why I felt like I was walking wrong – my calves were so tight that they were pulling my heel up causing me to not be able to strike my heel down as I walked, and also making the plantar fasciatis worse!  Doh!

After all these stretches and strengthening between the Callanetics and the advice from the website, my heels finally touched the ground when I sat on the edge of my bed for the first time in FOREVER.  All this time I thought I just had short legs!!!!  LOL. Nope!! Tight calves! Who knew?

It has certainly not been easy, though. The first night with the golf balls was hell, as I had stated before, but it got exponentially better each night. Eventually, though, I was left with this pain in this one small spot on my right foot that I was SURE was a stress fracture. I KNEW IT. It still hurt after all the golf ball rolling and stretching. It had to be a stress fracture.

But then I took a second look at the picure of the tendons on the bottom of our foot that is on the website. My pain was right where the tendon branched off…so…it could still be plantar fasciitis. So I went ahead and got the golf ball ready for one more painful experiment…

It felt like I was pinching nerves, hitting bone, burning, aching… I almost gave up but then I felt it – a little release! Holy crap!! But then I though wait… did I do something bad???? I picked my foot up and massaged the area and prayed to jeebus that I didn’t make anything worse.

The next morning I woke up and the pain in that area was SIGNIFICANTLY less.

So I did the same thing the following night, and it was a bit easier but still painful.

I just finished night three of focusing on that tiny spot, and things are improving. I no longer think I have a stress fracture – I think my tendons are just really, really, really pissed off.

So there you have it. It’s like I’m working on myself from the bottom up. Solving my foot problem is helping my knees which is helping my hips which is helping my back. It’s all connected.

I do still get mentally exhausted just thinking about how far I still have to go, but I have to remind myself that it’s not a race and every little improvement I’m making right now is a worthy investment that will help make my life better. It’s worth taking my time and doing it right – there are no quick fixes here.

I’m hoping by the end of summer to have significant improvement in my flexibility, strength, and all of my body mechanics. I am also really enjoying reading about Callan Pinckney’s journey of curing her own severe pain. I don’t think I’m going to cure all of my pain, but I do think I can reduce some of it.

Fibromyalgia is such an asshole. Anyone can have tight muscles, but fibro takes it to the next level and makes it significantly harder to deal with. You have to be super vigilant to keep your muscles from getting tight, yet you have to constantly work under your ability so as not to throw yourself into a flare. It’s a messy, tricky balancing act that sometimes send to have no middle to balance it all on; it often feels impossible.

Bit by bit. It’s the only way. I will just keep going and hope for change.

I guess we’ll see!!

Posted in Art & Photography, life lessons

Where I’ve Been

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Hi everyone! I haven’t been around much lately, and I thought I’d tell you why.

A few weeks ago my friend Janessa shared this article, http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/7469526, and it really got me thinking. High vagal tone = less pain for people with chronic conditions (arthritis, in this study). They used an implant to stimulate the vagas nerve, but they found that people who did a loving kindness meditation every day increased their vagal tone just as well as the implants.

So it got me thinking…

And that thinking led me to two apps that have been helping me take better care of myself, meditate, and basically get my life.

The first Android app I found is called The Fabulous: Motivate Me!

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=co.thefabulous.app&hl=en&referrer=utm_source%3Dgoogle%26utm_medium%3Dorganic%26utm_term%3Dthe+fabulous+app&pcampaignid=APPU_1_NaWBVZKgJ5HHsQTQroOQDw

It helps me make small positive changes in my life, and I absolutely love it.

The next Android app I found is Lifesum

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.sillens.shapeupclub&hl=en&referrer=utm_source%3Dgoogle%26utm_medium%3Dorganic%26utm_term%3Dlifesum+app&pcampaignid=APPU_1_GqaBVa27AviQsQToubioDQ

It’s a calorie tracking app that is so positive and caring that I can’t help but succeed! My problem is not eating enough. I know. I’m fluffy. I must eat too much. But that is not the case. I tracked my calories a while ago and I was only eating between 500 and 800 calories a day! What the hell???!

Well, when I am tired and in pain, feeding myself just isn’t a priority.

But now it is.

And that is where all of my energy has been going to lately – feeding myself. And drinking enough water. And meditating. And taking time to do something special for myself every day. And removing a box of clutter from my house every day. Basically, lots of little tiny goals spread throughout the day aimed at making me feel better inside and out.

So for the first time in forever (you sang that, didn’t you lol) I am properly caring for myself… And it’s exhausting! It’s like a full time job! What the hell??! But, it is rewarding as FUCK.

So this is where I’ve been and where all my energy has gone. I’m thinking that pretty soon this full time job will start feeling like a part time job and I will have the energy to keep the page going again. But until then, I’m spent and my presence will continue to be pretty sporadic.

I’ve gotten such wonderful messages from some of you saying how much you look forward to my ridiculousness, and I am truly humbled. Thank you, and I can’t tell you how much I feel like I’m letting you down while I take this time for myself. But I know you get it.

I hope you read the article. I hope you try the meditation and the apps. And I hope to be back in your newsfeed very soon.

Until then, keep smihlen! (:

Posted in Art & Photography, life lessons, oh momma!

Tender

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He’s so tender and I’m so tired
Childhood only lasts so long
He’s so little and I’m so big
But soon he’ll be big, too

I’ll regret these days
Every single moment that I didn’t hold him
He’s so tender
He cries if we don’t get to watch Full House together
One day he won’t want to be with me
What will I do then?

Am I good enough, did I do enough
Did I not screw it up enough?
Does he know, really know, that he’s loved?
Could I have done more, said less, held longer, tried harder?
Will he look back and say he had a good childhood? A good mother?

He’s so tender and I’m so tired…

Posted in dreams, life lessons

Car Games

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Driving in Dreamscapes

It was evening. My hands rested on the cold stainless steel sink as I peered through my kitchen window out towards the street just to see that my car was still parked there. It was just barely visible through the dense fog that had settled all around, but it was there. Right where I had left it. And it wasn’t going anywhere.

This was significant, and I noted it while I was still dreaming. For the past few years my car has ended up missing or stolen in nearly every single dream, so this was a welcome surprise. And I knew it meant something.

For as long as I can remember, cars have represented my life in my dreams. Who’s driving, what the car looks like, and where it goes all reflected what was going on in my life at the time. It is truly uncanny and absolutely fascinating to me.

When I was young, my father was always driving. This made sense because he was the boss. Then he started getting out and leaving me alone in the car. The vehicle would shift out of park and start rolling away every time, and reluctantly I would jump into the front seat and grab a hold of the wheel, attempting to steer or apply the brakes. It was scary yet invigorating.

As I got older, my first boyfriend was always driving. This was the time I realized the life/dream/car connection and I started to make a conscious effort to make more of my own decisions in real life. My very next dream after that was me driving my own car confidently.

When I moved out of the city away from my family for the first time, I stole a car and transformed it into a motorcycle.

When my fibro started flaring more, I would get lost. I’d drive around and around an ever-changing dreamscape of streets that seemed familiar only to turn back on themselves and lead me to where I started – or to someplace I wasn’t trying to go.

When I finally had to quit working and file for disability, my car would get stolen.

And that’s how it has been for several years now. I wake up and try to go to school or work only to find that my car is gone. Sometimes I find it, sometimes I don’t. If I find it and park it, it’s missing as soon as I turn my back. Fitting. Completely fitting considering my current circumstance.

Last night was the first time my car has stayed put, right where I had left it, in years. I could see it, even through the thick fog, and I knew it wasn’t going anywhere. All that was left to do was go out there and get it and move it into the driveway.

I think I can do that.

Posted in life lessons

Coffee Thoughts

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Pretty sure this is the face an addict makes.

Last year I discovered Toasted Coconut coffee in the Aldi’s seasonal section and it quickly became “My Precious.” I ran out in a few months and simply bided my time until this winter came around when I knew My Precious would be back on the shelves. Only it wasn’t. I looked all over and just couldn’t find it anywhere and, quite honestly, I was pretty devastated. I told anyone who would listen to look for it, but I was sure no one really cared about My Precious but me.

So when I opened my Christmas present from my father to find an entire box full of the stuff, my joy was REAL. And when my father told me he had even grabbed the last bag right under my nose when we both showed up at the same Aldi at the same time just before Christmas and how he had to keep moving his cart ahead of me so that I wouldn’t see what he had done, I had such a good laugh and felt even more joy. These are my favorite kinds of gifts; the ones with good stories about how far someone would go for the other (and it has nothing at all to do with price as Aldi’s coffee is about $3.49 a bag).

So now I have My Precious in my hands once again, but here’s the thing about this coffee – it’s best with a sweetened creamer. Regular coffee I will drink black, but this coffee needs a little extra something to take full advantage of that coconut taste otherwise it almost feels as if I’ve wasted the flavor. I have just a little bit of caramel flavored creamer left and I’ve used it all in my very first cup of coffee this morning. It’s freaking delicious. I’m almost sad that my next cup will be black. I mean, I will still love it…but it just won’t be the same.

It makes me think that this is what it’s like when you find someone special. You love your life, but they make it just a bit sweeter. You could savor your life without them, but it’s almost a disappointment. And, somehow, you can even drink your coffee black and it tastes exactly as good as your preferred sweetened version just because they are around. Even the search for them is completely fruitless before you’ve met them, because before you met them you really didn’t know exactly what it was that you wanted. But once you know, nothing else will do. They are your all-time favorite for always.

I told you this coffee was good.

(:

Posted in life lessons, oh momma!

My Seven Year Old Is In Love

My seven year old is in love. He thinks she’s pretty and she says she wants to marry him.  They held hands all the way to the library yesterday, so it’s pretty much the real deal.  And he said he almost cried on the bus ride home because he missed her so much.

My first grader is in love, and I found myself explaining all the ups and downs of love last night – the person you think is special might not always think you are special, make sure they aren’t playing a game with you where they like you one day and not the next but do like you again the day after, if you don’t think they are special anymore please tell them nicely…

And then I wondered if I was doing something wrong.

Am I cynical?  It sounds like I’m cynical.  In my mind I’m just trying to prepare him – and that’s where I have to stop myself.  I’m basically trying to prepare him for heartbreak.

I do remember the last time I thought love was wonderful and fun and was a good thing to go find and express and announce, even if you were the one to say it first.  It was eight years ago.  After that I was beaten down so badly in the name of love that I didn’t dare believe in it again for seven years.  And then I fought it and wrestled with it and kept it contained because I just knew I would get burned again – which I did.  But “being prepared” didn’t make it hurt any less. So why even bother preparing?

If I could, I’d go back to the way my son is now – carefree, willing to love, no worries. An open heart. Great expectations. Blind?

Maybe there’s a happy medium here somewhere. Maybe we each have something to learn. Or maybe one way is the right way.

I guess we’ll find out…