Friday, May 29, 2015

Smack- right in the face!

So some days I feel like the words on the page are smacking me awake.  I've read two different pieces this morning and both just struck me with such "Aha!" that I had to share/write it down.
The first came when I was reading a magazine article about a confirmation experience of the author.  Yep- church confirmation. It fell into my lap at a perfect time, especially since my thoughts from yesterday's Bible Study were still a buzz in my head. 
  Yep- I'm in a Bible study group that meets once a week- I'm trying to educate myself on this great book. I joined this past fall and it has brought me nothing but sheer joy, happiness, and unending love of those I'm surrounded by.  These women and men know their Bible.  However, they don't judge, they don't lecture, they don't read it word for word literally.  They have introduced me to a beautiful book that for the longest time I was put off from, scared of and felt wasn't needed. I have learned just because there are people out there who like to read the Bible literally and tell anyone who will listen that they are the end all be all expert on understanding what the Bible means doesn't mean I have to agree with them.) OK so I digressed...
The article "Confirming our Youth" by Elyse Nelson Winger talked about the author's experience into becoming an adult within the church through confirmation via flashback to her own confirmation and realization of her daughter's current confirmation.  The reason the article spoke to me was because of the following lines the author writes about her daughter Catherine and also the lines of Rainer Maria Rilke the author quoted at the beginning of the piece...
"... be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue.  Do not now seek answers, which cannot be given to you because you would not be able to live them.   And the point is, to live everything.  Live the questions now.  Perhaps you will then gradually, without even noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer." -  Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke.
"Catherine brings to this milestone quite different concerns and convictions than the 13-year-old me.  And her questions and doubts are inviting (okay forcing) me to look anew at the meaning of confirmation.  Among every confirmation class across every church there are young people at different stages of belief and faith, and all of them deserve the opportunity to affirm their baptism with authenticity and integrity.  What does this mean?"..."Catherine is very interested in what's really 'true' and she doesn't know how she can say yes, in her own terms, to the promises her father and I made at baptism when she's not sure she's all in."
The "Letters to a Young Poet" lines couldn't have hit me in the face any harder- basically just live life- the answers will come.  "Love the questions themselves" was a big "aha!" for me.  Also, the experience of Catherine's questions/doubts coincide with those I seek to have answered by attending Bible Study and trying to get my hard questions answered.  What is "true"?  What is "right"?  I think reading this article made me realize I have to live the questions, ask them and then continue living, not waiting to hear the "right" answer.   Through living life some of my tough "life" questions may just be answered. 
Then I was cleaning out my inbox and found this email from Liz Lamoreux.  She is one of my favorite people, I've never even met.   Liz Lamoreux is one of those people I'd tell my favorite Peeps- "Hey this person would be one of our peeps".   Her blog is excellent.  She is also a great one to follow on Pinterest.  So here is what she sent me and the "aha!" I had. 
The image was sent with her post- EXCELLENT!
This morning found my daughter and me running late for school. My husband usually takes her because he's a teacher at the school she goes to, so it just makes sense that they go together. But some mornings I need to take her. She was so excited after celebrating Jon's birthday yesterday that she had a lot of trouble getting to sleep last night, so I let her sleep in. But as I'm known to do, I didn't really think about how I needed to get myself ready along with the usual routine of getting her breakfast, making her lunch, helping her get dressed, etc.

I so often think I have more time than I really though each minute is really 90 seconds long. Can you relate?

And I'm trying so hard not to do the "come on, hurry up, keep moving, we're going to be late, can you stop telling me that story and just focus on your shoes" thing. I've been focusing on empathy and reinforcing the positive with her lately, and I'm seeing huge shifts in the way she interacts with us and those around her, even in the way she sees her world.

This doesn't mean that I didn't say, "Honey, if we don't get your teeth brushed right now, we're going to be late" or that I didn't say, "Stop your story for a moment and eat another bite of breakfast." But I tried to just let it be softer and breathe through my own "We are SO GOING TO BE LATE!" inner dialogue.

We finally got into the car and if traffic was non-existent and we made the lights, we would be there just on time.

And I had a choice. I could tense up my shoulders, hunch over the wheel a bit, tell her to be quiet, and get laser-focused on driving so that we wouldn't be two minutes late. Or I could enjoy the drive with my daughter and turn up the radio and we could sing together like we love to do.

Each day we have these simple little choices we get to make.
  • We can choose to snap at someone or take a breath before we speak.
  • We can choose to drink the glass of water our body needs or drink our third cup of coffee.
  • We can choose to wear clothes that make us feel good, the necklace that reminds us to just show up as ourselves, the shoes that just feel good on our feet or we can put on the clothes we've never really liked because we hate going shopping and refuse to change that story.
  • We can choose to reach out with gratitude or think about how we should write a thank you note and then never do it.
  • We can choose to pause and notice what we need or we can push through without even taking a deep breath and wonder why we're stuck in the story of not having enough time, being enough, doing enough.
  • We can choose to rest or we can just keep spinning.

So what did Ellie and I do? You probably already guessed the answer. As we pulled into the parking lot of her school, we were singing American Authors "The Best Day of My Life" at the top of our lungs and she was saying, "Mama! Mama! Look at my new dance move." And as I parked and turned around to see her dancing in her car seat, my heart grew another size.

I don't always choose the path with more magic, more ease, more light. But when I do, I can feel myself settle into my life with more love within and around me. Every. Single. Time. And I want to remember that I get to choose because I really do want to feel like I'm living my life. I don't want to feel like life is happening to me. I want to live it. Yes. Yes. Yes.
I don't think I have to add too much more to the above- I think the "simple little choices we get to make" should be printed and put on my mirror in my bathroom, on the dashboard of my car when I go to pick the kids up from school, and as a book mark to glance at when ending my day exhausted, frustrated, annoyed, irritated, or just plain confused on my purpose in life.  "AhA!" we all have choices- we just have to step up and choose what is best for us- easier said than done, but this email couldn't have come at a better time than this morning! 
Again, where would I be without reading in my life!  It gives me so much! 

Friday, May 15, 2015

Hot Mess

Trying something different with this post- the text in normal print was written on 5/7/2015, the text written in italics was written today.  Think of it as a flash back/flash forward kind of story.
I didn't think I was a hot mess, but clearly I was because I couldn't stop from tearing up, snot dripping from my nose and Kleenex being used to dry the tears and wipe the drips from my nose- then of course wadded into wet balls in my hands. 

I was talking to the Health Coach, this was my third session. I was suppose to be making progress, but instead I was more resentful, frustrated and more lost than I had been when I started the coaching sessions.

The first time I met "Julie" was 6 eeks ago for my initial intake/interview.  I shared with her my story of injury last fall, surgery, rehab and now 6+ months after surgery feeling nowhere closer to where I'd have hoped to be after all this time.

Anytime I took a step towards a more active lifestyle my knee would "blow up".  After the second time of this occurring I happened to have 6 month follow-up with my surgeon.  He diagnosed me with quad tendenopathy.  He wanted me to undergo ultra sound evaluation and likely steroid injection.

Yesterday I had that appointment and confirmed I had something causing my swelling- it is a foreign body (likely bone fragment) in the synovial joint of my right knee.  The very nice orthopod and his sport's fellow drew off 12 cc of turbid (a mix of blood/clear) fluid from my knee and then I got the injection.  I HATE needles, so this wasn't a fun time, but I was proud of myself no tears and even prouder of my awesome hubby (aka coach) who was with me the whole time. Today I met with my surgeon and he feels that the foreign body is likely the cause of my inflammation/swelling in my knee.  I will undergo arthroscopic surgery on May 26th.  I'm not betting the farm that this will be the end all be all to my issues, but I think it needs to be taken out or I won't be able to move forward with getting on with activities of daily living, and PT.  My surgeon of course has to give me the "now I can't promise that you won't continue to have problems because of the degeneration already done in your knee, but I'm hoping this will let you get back to being more active".

So why was I resentful?  I told "Julie" that it was hard to come to the gym and walk by the treadmills and see all the lively, vibrant people running along without a care in the world.  Meanwhile I got to walk on the track while people ran past me.  It is hard to be around others who can do more than I can.  I know pity party, but "Julie" said it was all relative to my current situation so as usual she made me feel better and let me know that I could feel this way.

I also had done the horrible thing of weighing myself the week before this session and my weight keeps on increasing.  I'm trying to do better with monitoring my food intake and adult beverage intake OK so yesterday I ate a king size Snicker's Bar at work.  I know I shouldn't have, but it was our "thanks for being a nurse" gift.  I have no control sometimes.  So the number on the scale has me very frustrated.

I've never been a numbers girl.  What I mean I've never been like a daily or even weekly scale stepper because I don't really care what the number says, but my clothes not fitting right, well I'm not OK with that.  The number on the scale confirmed what my clothes were already trying to tell me. 

Not having a goal to work towards is hard for me: no training logs to look at, no workout schedule to plan due to no races on the calendar.  Looking back I realize now I do have goals, they are just different goals: they are doing ab exercises every day whether I like it or not, doing push ups or weight lifting for my arms, even if I can't do lower body exercises.  I have this writing class to focus on and the goal of getting my "BIG" story written down, if it is only for me.  I just have different goals and I'm resisting this mindset change in a big way.

I'm frustrated with not knowing what I can do that won't "piss-off" my knee.  I'm frustrated because I doubt the discomfort I feel- am I feeling discomfort because my knee is just so deconditioned or am I feeling discomfort because something really isn't right with my knee.  Yesterday and today's confirmation that I have something in my knee that shouldn't be there was a help in this area of frustration.  Part of me was doubting my symptoms and wondering was this a figment of my imagination- was I not doing enough rehab, not enough ice, not enough NSAIDS.

I told "Julie" feeling lost was probably the scariest thing.  I feel there are so many unknowns.  What if the doc next week says sorry can't help you out or I get the steroid injection (which side not I HATE needles so that should be a good time) and it doesn't work and I have to have something more invasive done.  So I obviously survived the injection- no tears- Fist Pump Me! My surgeon was awesome and got me in today so I didn't have to wait to see if the steroids would work, because that foreign body isn't going to be going anywhere- can't dissolve miraculously.

"Who I am" is a never ending quest or theme in my life.  I ask almost daily "who are you", "who are you going to be when you grow up", "what kind of parent are you", "what kind of wife are you", and luckily I feel blessed with such awesome Peeps, that I just don't go there with the "what kind of friend you are".  The unknown is so hard for me.  I am a planner I like to have it figured out or at least a goal, time line, or list of how to accomplish my overall goal of figuring out "Who I am" 

These feelings of frustration, resentment equal chattynatty pretty unhappy.  When I'm not happy I cry.  I used to cry more that I do now, I know hard to believe, but over these last 6+ months my emotional state hasn't been stellar and the tears have been flowing more frequently.

The tough thing with all of this is happiness/being happy or not being happy melds into every facet of my life.  So when talking to "Julie" today I was a scatter brained hot mess.  I cried about not being able to run on the treadmill, realizing my internal crankiness wasn't making me "mom of the year" candidate, nor giving me empathy for others: my patients I care for, my family, my friends, and strangers on the street.  All this hot mess was intertwined and affected by my health and happiness.

I was seeing my unhappiness turn me into the hot mess I was in front of "Julie". We covered everything from my physical, mental, spiritual and mommy well being during this session.  I offered up examples of unhappiness in all these areas.  I also offered up my extreme guilt and realization that my pity party was lasting way to long.  I know there are many people out in life living much harder, harsher, horrific lives than I am.  This made me feel even worse and cry more.  Why couldn't I just "suck it up buttercup" and move on and be happy with the wonderful life I do have: friends, family, children, love of reading, writing, etc, etc. 

When I see my oldest's negative coping skills and crankiness it is a further reminder to me that my own actions haven't been the best to help model better coping and less crankiness when things just don't go his or my way.  This crushes me to think my lack of coping, my frustration, resentment, impatience and bad mood was/had been transferred to my beautiful oldest child.  It is always hardest to see those attributes you like least in yourself in those of your kids. 

So "Julie" said, " what is the one thing that can make you smile or laugh today?"  She reminded me my overall goal with the Health Coach Sessions wasn't a number on a scale or toeing a start line of a race, it was "Happiness" that is what I had written.  I just wanted to be "Happy".  So I answered her that my children, particularly my youngest child could brighten me up because of her never ending resilience, love for life, beautiful smile and great laugh.  That was going to be my "make me smile/laugh today" answer.  So I left and went out and you know "Julie" is a great Health Coach, that master's degree has done her well.  She knows her stuff and my daughter's beautiful smile, laughter and never ending determination to get that soccer ball at soccer practice tonight was just what I needed- a little "happy".

So moving forward- another surgery, minor this time, but still involves those dreaded NEEDLES!  As two of my beautiful favorite peeps said in almost the same words- "you will get through this" - hope to look back in 6 months and see how right they were.  I'm giving myself another 6 months to return to possible running life, but for right now my goal is to be able to ride a bike with my kids, do yardwork, walk up and down stairs and not feel the age of my right knee (I've been told by several docs I have the knee of a 60 year old).  Onward march!

Monday, May 11, 2015

April Reads

I am embarrassed.  I haven't posted anything since mid April and that post was the March reads.  Now here we are 11 days into May and I'm finally posting something and sure enough I'm posting April reads.

I don't like the excuse "I'm busy", because I strongly believe that if you make it a priority "I'm busy" just isn't in your vocabulary.  So I have no excuses, but will share- briefly-what I've been doing to keep me away from my blog: I'm taking a writing class on line.  It is 10 weeks with two "free weeks" throughout the 10 week course schedule.  It is called DIY MFA 101.  I am enjoying it, but "woo dogs" it is keeping me hopping.  I plan to share my DIY MFA experience after I'm done with the experience- kind of like a review.  I may not be writing much here, but I have been writing more and doing more writing exercises since starting the class.  Had to go out and buy another spiral notebook today.

I'm also in the midst of trying to keep up with two book club books- one I need to finish by this Sunday so I can help run the kid's book club at church.  One of the girls in the group chose "The Dragon Rider" by Cornelia Funke.  It is a great book, but boy it is a long one 500+ pages, and it is not big print.  I'm trying to finish it within the next two nights.  Then I need to start my book club book for May- "A Tree Grows In Brooklyn".  It is a long one too.  I am feeling the pressure of reading by a deadline- should be interesting to see if I pull this one out and keep up with my online writing course- oh and the laundry, cleaning, being a mom, and wife. 

O.K. now onto April reads:

"Compromise Cake: Lessons Learned from my Mother's Recipe Box" by Nancy Spiller
I found out about this book because it was talked about in another book I read about writing memoirs.  This is a memoir with the main theme centering around the relationship between the author and her mother.  Each chapter has a food dish/item and recipe as the basis for the discussion of their relationship and also the author's relationship with other family members in her lifetime.  The book painted a picture of a real life experience of a daughter whose mother is depressed and has mental illness issues.  I found it a somewhat sad story overall.  It is a true/real life story though and I did enjoy how she tied different recipes into her subject matter for each chapter. 

"Museum of Thieves" by Lian Tanner
This was another great pick for the kid's book club at church.  I loved the characters and found the story line interesting.  It reminded me, somewhat of the Hand Maid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, meets The Giver by Lois Lowry meets the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.  (Now there weren't girls being used as "baby making" machines like in the Hand Maid's Tale and yes I know many YA- Fantasy novels could fall into these three books descriptions).   The story begins with Goldie Roth waiting for "separation day".  She is ready for the chains to be broken among the children, their parents or The Blessed Guardians.  However, the story really takes off when this "separation day" is cancelled, and Goldie, being like any other strong women/girl protagonist: mischievous, strong willed/stubborn and emotional, will have nothing to do with her "day" being taken away from her and so does what any sound minded girl her age would do- runs away.  She meets a cast of characters throughout the story and they are all very well developed and written: Olga Civolga, Sinew, Morg, Broo, Toadspit, the Fugleman, The Protector, Hero Dan.  It lead for great discussion and fun activity of making book marks and book covers depicting our favorite scenes from the story and/or favorite characters from the book. Others have asked me what we do at the kid's book club and I say the same thing I do at adult book club, just don't drink wine, and have more emphasis on an activity tide with the book.  The kids are really amazing and well read ranging from kindergarten to 6th grade.  My favorite part of book club is discussing what our next book will be and voting on it. 

"Mountains Beyond Mountains (Adopted for Young People): The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Could Cure the World" by Tracy Kidder
I wrote on this one already.  It was a good story.  I'm amazed by this physician's ability to sleep so little, work so continuously and be so optimistic.  At times I found the story almost too hard to believe.  His never ending work ethic, networking ability and confidence + intelligence get him far in life and his goal to "cure the world".  Great book for anyone in healthcare.  The best part of this book was the fabulous Haitian meal we had at the host's house for book club.  This Bookie is a true master in her kitchen.  The food was incredible and the drinks and dessert just added to fabulous Bookie conversation.

"Life After Life" by Kate Atkinson
GREAT BOOK!  Really enjoyed this one.  It has a very intriguing story line.  The book starts with the birth of this child Ursula and the reader gets to experience Ursula's birth, life, death over and over again throughout the book.  It has many historical references (WWII being a major one).  I felt like it was a very well written and interesting twisty turny type of "Ground's Hog Day", but instead of Bill Murray reliving the day over and over again with the Sonny and Cher song playing in the background (I've Got You Babe) you hear instead the over and over again life beginnings of this interesting being- Ursula.  Amazing story and it really kept me entertained and wanting more despite me knowing where the story would go- over and over again- to her birth, her life and her death, but oh how a person's life can be born, lived and death occur differently over and  over again.  I'm ready to dive into her next new release "A God in Ruins". 

Onto May reading.  I'm being optimistic that I will have accomplished reading both book club books by the end of May.  Hope that optimism isn't too unrealistic.