Distraction

Can I just be honest right now? Because of course, everything else I’ve written on this blog is completely made up.  Just kidding. But seriously. I want to be lazy. I want to abandon my responsibilities and sit, curled up on the couch all day crocheting or reading or playing Farmville. But there’s this nagging voice, and my hunch is that it is the Holy Spirit and I don’t want to admit it, that says I was made for more, and that being lazy is not God’s purpose for me. I know that God places value in rest, that He commands it even, but how do I know when I’m taking it too far? I wish I had a cut and dried prescription that says you need ‘x’ amount of rest on these days, and ‘x’ amount of time you ought to be working. It’s probably true that I need more rest than the average 40 year old woman, since I have MS, but that doesn’t really make this dilemma any easier to solve. I’m in better health than your average woman with MS, so there’s no template for me to go by. Not that I think there should be one. I’m just thinking out loud here.

Journaling is very helpful. It helps me focus, and especially helps because I treat it like a prayer. All of my journaling is really just a conversation between me and God, and He often speaks to me through my journaling. He probably speaks to me a lot more often than that, of course, I just don’t hear it because I’m distracted by everything around me. But when I’m typing, there’s no distraction. I’m entirely focused on the conversation.

So what I feel like God has been whispering to me over the past several months (yes, I’m a slow learner) is that I am too distracted. So I asked for His help and guidance with life and time management and finding a balance between work and rest and all the other stuff I want to do, like writing my book, running, baking cookies and crocheting.

This is so silly, but the biggest distraction I’ve allowed into my life is a little game called Farmville 2. Heard of it? It’s super addictive because there are always things to do, missions to complete, challenges to meet. And it’s fun, but it sucks the life out of you. Or at least it does for me. I’m sure there are people who are able to balance games like this with real life, but I’m not one of them. I am the demographic they built this game for. I know they devote lots of money into research to know how to keep people addicted to their games in the hopes they will spend money, but I never spend money in the game. I am firm about that rule. So the joke’s on them, right? Wrong. Because I have still let it steal hours and hours, days even, of my life. I’ve decided I’m done with it. For good, I hope. Please.

Romans 7:15 ESV “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”

Hebrews 12:1 NIV “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

I feel better, I think. Last time I uninstalled the game I think I made it a full three days. We’ll see if I can make it longer than that this time. The last time, I hope. Gee whiz.

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I’ve been crocheting

I’ve been busy, but not really busy. What I’ve been busy NOT really doing, is all the things I want to do, like taking care of our home and writing my book. What I’ve been doing instead is playing Farmville. And crocheting. But at least the crocheting serves a good purpose. See, I’m making hats with all the leftover yarn in my possession, and I plan to give them to the cancer center where I get my monthly infusions. I noticed this last infusion that they had a bunch laid out for people to take and when I asked about them they said they were from volunteers, and they can always use more so they would be happy to have me donate. Hats are fun because you can play around with different patterns and if you don’t like it, you know quick enough and you can just undo and start again with a different pattern. And I’m so thrilled I found a place to make them for. I love crocheting, it’s like therapy for me, and even better if it’s going toward a good cause.

I went for a run yesterday after a sort of long hiatus and it felt really good. I need to get better at running on a regular basis. A friend and I are planning to run a half marathon together next fall so I have something to work towards. I think she’s been a lot more disciplined than I am at the training, and she has five kids! So I have literally zero valid excuses. Unless you count the MS, but I don’t ever like to give it that much credit. There may be some day down the road MS decides to take away my ability to run, but until then, I need to do it. Because I can. And because it’s good for my physical and mental health.

As for the book, I am still writing it and I suppose you could say I’ve made good progress, but I kind of got stuck. I don’t know where to go next. So I’m giving it time and praying that I get some more inspiration to write more. There’s no question I have a lot to say, and the story I’m ultimately trying to tell has lots of details. It’s just that my mind doesn’t work as well as it used to and it’s hard to make connections. Disjointed, I suppose is the best description of my cache of memories. I’ll get there though. I’m persistent and stubborn and I refuse to give up.

So we are in December, folks! Did you know? Which means Christmas and time with family, and snow. We’ve purchased all our gifts for the kids via mail order (hello Amazon Prime!), and I believe most of them have arrived, so I think I might wrap them up early so I don’t feel like I have to rush to do it at the last minute. Plus I love the look of wrapped presents. We tried not to go overboard with the kids this year, but I’m still excited for Christmas morning. We all understand and recognize that Christmas is all about celebrating Jesus, but we are still human and enjoy seeing our kids light up when they open their presents. I kind of feel like God has a similar sense of joy when He gives us good gifts. Maybe. I’ll have to ask Him some day.

What else? I’ve still been baking cookies. It’s been a lot of fun to get that love back, and I have a lot of people around who love cookies and can appreciate them. I’m a one trick pony with the chocolate chip though. I tried to make something else and it totally flopped. Tasted fine, but didn’t set up like they were supposed to. So, kind of a literal flop. But I suppose cookies don’t really have to look good as long as they taste amazing, right? It’s all about the flavor. I’ve got that awesome vanilla from Mexico and dark chocolate chips so I’m due for another batch or three in the next few days. Come on over! I’ll make cookies and coffee!

Lately. Oh, and cookies.

My son woke me up an hour early today, as payback for waking him up Monday when it was a snow day. Not cool, bro. Not cool.

So lately I have been doing okay, I guess. I feel a bit like I’m hanging on by just a thread, but at least it’s a strong thread. My faith, my redeemer Jesus Christ, sustains me and keeps me from going all the way crazy. So I’m extremely thankful for that.

Things have just been busy, moving from one event to the next, and I have a hard time keeping up with the activity. Because it’s not enough to just be there. I also have work I’m responsible for, between housework and volunteering for the church. So I sort of worry that my body will fail on me and leave it all hanging. And I know I need to rest and pace myself, blah blah blah, but it’s a never-ending life lesson, I suppose. I’ll get there. Maybe.

I’m not complaining, by any means, because I still remember when I was sick and couldn’t do most things on my own, and I’m thankful for my recovered abilities. It’s just the adjustment that takes time and lots of patience. Recovery is tricky. Disability is a whole new world.

I absolutely love paying bills and balancing a checkbook, and I am only able to do these things thanks to technology. My computer and apps on my phone allow me to view things in high contrast, which works well because white backgrounds seem to make the print disappear for me. Which is why I don’t read paper books anymore. All my reading is done with the Kindle app, with a black background and white font. It’s wonderful. I am very thankful that I’ve not lost my ability to read, because it’s one thing I’ve always loved. I have lost a lot with vision loss and becoming deaf, yes, but I’ve been able to hold on to so much too. And for that I am grateful.

I’m still working on writing that book, and it’s exciting and scary all at the same time. This is going to be a slow process but I’ll get it done. I’ve been able to find time for it here and there, so… eventually, right?

Now I just need to find time to bake some cookies because it’s that time of year and I have a giant bottle of Mexican vanilla calling my name!

Stories to tell

I have been wanting for some time to write a book, a memoir of sorts, that tells all about how I lost my hearing and vision and how I made it through (spoiler alert: it was Jesus). That desire to write has waxed and waned over the months, but it’s back strong again. So. I made some progress on writing the book this past week. Okay, not in the actual writing, but I’m getting closer to that. Progress is progress.

The planning phase is important to me. I’ve been reading through my old journals from when I got sick in 2013 until now – I wrote a lot so I’m not even close to finished – and as I’m reading I’m jotting down the stories I want to tell. And I’m thinking that these stories might be good chapters. I don’t know if this is how the professionals do it, but it’s working for me so far. At least it FEELS like it’s working. It’s keeping me motivated and inspired to write and that’s probably the key element in actually completing this goal. This is what I have so far, in no particular order:

The time I got lost in my house
The time I got a pupil massage
The time a bulldozer drove over my head
The time I drove with one eye closed
The time I wanted to die
The time I cut an apple
The time I walked through Office Max, sort of
The time I got shots. In my EARS
The time the preacher pushed me

 

My line of thinking here was that though I have never written a book, I love to tell stories. And a book is essentially just a collection of stories, right? So that’s my starting point. This is so scary to me, but it’s still something I really want to do and so I can’t let fear stop me. I’ll just keep moving forward, one absurdly slow step at a time.

Victories over anxiety

I’ve struggled with extreme anxiety for the last several years but I had a breakthrough and I thought I would share it here. Yesterday was Halloween, so we had a couple families from church joining us for trick-or-treating. They live out in the country just a few miles west of us, and we are in your typical neighborhood with lots of kids and plenty of free candy to be grabbed. So around 5:30, a half hour before go-time, I was putting out snacks for our guests and grilling cheese sandwiches for the family. Our friends and their kids started showing up while I was cooking, and here’s where I noticed the difference. In hindsight, of course. After it was all over, I realized that through all that noise and chaos I remained calm, without even having to tell myself to. And not just calm, but actually enjoying having everyone there! The kids had a fantastic time, the weather was perfect, and the night felt like a true success all around.

Those who know me best know this is a huge thing for me. I’ve had some pretty big struggles with chaotic situations, leading to crying fits and panic attacks. But for the past year I’ve been on a low dose of medication and I’ve been practicing breathing techniques and really evaluating my thought processes every time anxiety rears its ugly head. And last night showed me that all of this has been working!

So that has me a little bit on cloud nine. The downside – cuz sometimes there has to be a downside – is that I must have overdone it yesterday, because I’m in a lot of pain today. It started last night with my left calf and foot, and today it has spread all the way up my leg and jumped up to my left arm. It’s a dull throbbing deep in the muscle tissue that I can only assume is nerve pain, so I’m praying a good night’s rest will make it go away. If not, I’m hoping a quick morning run will help get all those muscles stretched out and warmed up.

I can’t believe it’s only Thursday. All day I kept thinking it was Friday. Because I’m done with this week. Done, I tell ya. Stick a fork in me, I’m done!

Cookie Magic

Long ago, before I got sick and lost my hearing and vision, and perhaps even before that when I was swamped with college and work, I used to bake a lot of cookies. I was good at it, and people loved my cookies. Not any special or fancy kind of cookies, but plain old chocolate chip. I have my secret tricks for making them the perfect, delectable texture (crispy on the outside, soft and gooey in the middle). Of course when I lost so much function of two primary senses, hearing and sight, I lost my touch. I’ve since tried to make the perfect batch of cookies but every time they just don’t seem to come out the way I remember them. Until yesterday.

I was commissioned to contribute a snack for my daughter’s Halloween party at school so I offered to send cookies and carrot sticks. My son thought I was nuts to send carrot sticks and doesn’t think anyone will eat them, but I sent them anyway. You never know. If nothing else, the kids with allergies can eat them. Anyway, I baked these cookies just the same way I used to but this time… this time they turned out amazing and perfect and EXACTLY the way I remembered them! The problem was, I couldn’t EAT them! Because there were just enough for the kids in the class, with that one to spare for me to taste test.

It made me a little sad, but also kind of excited to think that maybe I got my cookie magic back. So now I am trying to think of all the people who will want to eat these cookies so I have a good reason to keep baking them. I will probably start by baking them for all the friends who drive me around on a regular basis, to offer my thanks. Now I just need to stock up on the supplies. I’m looking at you, Amazon Prime 😉

Sweet dreams

I went back to bed at 8:30 this morning for a nap. I woke up about an hour after and still felt like I didn’t want to move. Mostly my legs didn’t want to move, but really all of me. The bed is so warm and cozy. So I went back to sleep for another hour and a half. I was having a really vivid dream where I was sitting in a living room, talking to my friend Heather about how I had been feeling. That a friend from church’s mom died recently and I was thinking about how I would die someday. That I was afraid I would die young and my kids would be left without me. And as I was saying this last part I started sobbing, and she reached over and hugged me tight. Then I woke up, with tears in my eyes and it still felt like her arms were around me. And I stood up, wiped the tears from my eyes, shook off the sadness, and got dressed.

I think I need to keep going to therapy.