All posts by Still Mindy

Forty-something, married with two kids and a dog. Living every day to the fullest with multiple sclerosis, impaired vision, and deafness. Couldn't make it without my Savior, Jesus Christ!

Coffee talk

I was at the neighborhood coffee shop today and had a pleasant conversation with the barista. She remembered me (and my drink, a mocha with hazelnut and almond milk!) from the last time I was in there with a friend of mine. She had wanted to ask me about my cochlear implants, and hoped I didn’t mind. Her son has partial hearing loss in one ear, and she’s been encouraging him to get a hearing aid, but he doesn’t feel he needs one. That and he’s a high school student and probably fears the ridicule he might receive from other students. This is a shame, because there is absolutely nothing to be embarrassed about.

I wear my cochlear implants proudly, and have never felt self conscious wearing them. The barista, Dana, was nervous to ask me about them, but I told her I love it when people ask. In fact, I wish more people would. I know people must be curious. I know I would be. They are fascinating in the way they work, and not a lot of people really know much about them.

Dana was under the assumption that my hearing with implants would be much better than normal hearing, but I informed her that was not the case. Not to minimize the miracle of the invention, but scientists just cannot outshine God’s invention of the human ear. What I hear is clear, yes, but it has a different quality to it. No, it will never be the same as normal hearing, but having the gift of conversation back after losing it so quickly more than makes up for that disparity.

Dana also found it especially fascinating that what I hear now does not come at all from my ears, but from the microphones built within the earpieces. It’s true, my ears are now just placeholders for my glasses and my cochlear processors. You know when you clean your ears out with a Qtip and it makes that funny noise? Yeah, I don’t hear that anymore. Kinda funny, I suppose.

Anyway, it was good to chat with a friendly stranger about how well the cochlear implants are working for me, and to have someone share in the excitement. I will never take my hearing for granted, ever. I am super grateful for what I have. ‘Nuff said.

“A man was bragging about his new hearing aid and how great it was and how well he could hear with it. His friend asked what kind it was and the man responded, 12:30.”

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You are enough

People like myself, who have been sort of thrust into permanent disability, use a phrase – “finding my new normal”. It refers to the process of acceptance of this new life, this new way of living, and embracing our new challenges and setbacks. For me, it refers to finding a space, figuratively speaking, that feels like home. I’m searching for comfort, for peace of mind, for a mental and emotional state where I can put up my feet and relax and be okay with just being who I am, HOW I am, as is.

This past weekend I was praying during my morning quiet time with Jesus, and I felt God speaking to me a very clear message. “You are enough. You are complete. As you are.” This blew my mind. I didn’t even know how much I needed to hear that, but boy was it a game changer. Up until now I think I’ve sort of been trying to be who I was – despite my limitations – and that’s very frustrating. Futile, in fact. What I believe God is saying to me is that I can be who I am now. That’s it. Warts and all! Just be who I am now. I am enough.

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” Psalms 139:13-14

I’m sharing this snippet from my personal journal because I want you to know this message is for you too. Wherever you are, however you are, you are enough. Right where you stand. You are enough. Your Creator knows where you are, how you got here, and He’s got you covered. He’s molding you like a potter molds the clay. It might be uncomfortable, painful even, this molding process, but the end result is a beautiful piece of work. You are enough.

“But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.” Isaiah 64:8

This may end up to just be be a brain dump, what’s on my mind in no particular order. Just a warning.

I’m doing okay with half marathon training. However, on one of my runs last week, Tuesday, I managed to trip on the seam of the sidewalk and went tumbling hands first to the concrete. Luckily I’m short, 5’1″, so it wasn’t much of a fall. I was certain in the excruciatingly painful moment that I had broken my right index and middle fingers. I lay on the ground, whispered a few f bombs, breathed my way out of a crying fit, and stood up slowly. I walked slowly toward home, assessing the damage as I went. I was scraped and bleeding in several spots, but thankfully nothing was broken. My cochlear implants were even in place through it all, thanks to the headband I wear over them when I run. Turns out I just jammed the fingers pretty good and a nurse friend told me it could take up to six weeks to fully heal. She said I can speed up the process by icing it daily, taking Motrin for the swelling and pain, and wrapping it to keep myself from bending the fingers. I’m doing all of these things and the swelling already seems to be better.

I finished a crochet Afghan recently for one of my nephews and I bought yarn for my next project. I’m anxious to start it but I don’t think I’ll be able to until these fingers heal. Such a bummer. Can I use that excuse to get out of folding laundry or washing dishes? No? Fine. You’re no help.

Oh! I’ve discovered a new thing. Well, new to me. Sort of. Podcasts. I know this is not new because I used to listen to several when my children were just babies. Somehow I had time for that then. Well now I hadn’t considered them because I figured they would be too difficult to understand with cochlear implants but I started listening to my weekly Bible study lessons online, while I read along with the pdf version. It turns out I can understand quite well! I need something to listen to as my training runs get longer, and music just wasn’t cutting it because the tempo always screws up my pace. Plus I’ve run out of music I enjoy, and I can’t just keep replaying the same playlist, that’s so boring! So I tried running while listening to the Bible study lesson and it worked great! The time seemed to go by much faster and I was able to keep a steady pace and still focus on my form as well.

So I’ve downloaded a podcast app and subscribed to a few stations, including the Dave Ramsey show, which has always been a favorite. I have to stay sharp for the Financial Peace class I’m leading so that’s more for business than for pleasure (though I’ll admit I do find it entertaining, cuz I’m a nerd).

I have other thoughts and things but it’s way too late for me to be up so that’s all for now. Until next time…

Make it stop

I’ve had a song stuck in my head for at least the last hour, and for the life of me I don’t know how it got there.

So the earworm of the day is: “If you’re happy and you know it”.

Clap your hands! If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands!

You are welcome.

Half Marathon training has officially begun!

Me, wearing a balaclava on my head, standing in an open field covered in snow.

My current running goal is to complete a half marathon. I have one picked out for September 22, and based on my fitness level my Runkeeper app tells me my training should start… two days ago. But better late than never, right? Today I jogged a sluggish 3 miles. Three laps around the neighborhood. The sun was out, the wind was friendly enough, and I was feeling pretty solid.

Until I tripped on a crack in the sidewalk on that third lap. Peed my pants a little, but I caught myself! And the near fall seemed to boost my adrenaline, giving me the oomph I needed to finish that last mile. So it was a great run, overall. And Piper, as you can see, was really happy to have me back!

Piper is licking my face. She loves me.

February is almost over?

I know, I know. It’s been soooo long since I last posted. Almost a full month, can you believe that? It’s not that I have nothing going on that I could be writing about, or thoughts to share. It’s more of a quiet rebellion, the not sharing. I guess. But then I’m reading Anne Lamott recently and she inspires me to write. So I’m back again. For now.

At the end of last year I was feeling like I had this disability thing down, and then of course I realized I didn’t. Because I never will, entirely. I think what I was hoping for, striving for, was perfection in living. And I seem to remember learning that perfectionism is a curse. But how quickly we forget the most important lessons.

So how has it been? I have been tired. Continually tired and fatigued. I have my good days, or my good portions of days, but mostly they are clouded by the ever-present need for sleep and rest. This is tough for a reforming overachiever to accept, because there is so much to DO, and I can’t do it all the way I want, or when I want. I’m pretty sure I’m the only soul who really cares about that, so I could probably let that go, right?

I’m trying to learn how to relax, which as I type this I see that’s paradoxical. Trying to relax is absurd. Futile. There has to be a better way. So then I stop trying so hard, and I wait to see if it just happens, and it does! I start to relax! And then I remember there is so much left to DO, and the guilt creeps in. Back to square one. It’s a vicious and annoying cycle.

But! I have coping mechanisms for exiting the cycle. I crochet, I read, I make soup, I pray. Soup is nice, but prayer works best.

Do you know what I think it is? What’s so hard for me? I worked for so long, so many years at jobs where you got up every morning and went to work, that it’s a complete paradigm shift to be home. No one expects me to be anywhere at a certain time. I went from a full schedule to no schedule, and five years later I still haven’t got the hang of it. But I will, eventually.

All this time I’ve been quiet on the blog I’ve been busy in real life spending time with family and friends. Good, quality time, and it’s been really nice. We had some awful winter weather here in Michigan and the kids missed a lot of school, so it was fun to have them home with me even if it messed up my daily routines a little.

So that’s all I have for now, folks. Just a partially muddled brain dump. I hope you’re all having a great day today. It’s Friday! For most of you working people that means the weekend is almost here! Hurray!

“My first job was working in an orange juice factory, but I got canned…couldn’t concentrate.”

Retraining my brain

I am starting to learn, or re-learn perhaps, that I can make up my own mind and I can choose what and how I think about things. Take laundry, for example (You have my permission to leave now, if you wish. I will understand.)

I abhor folding laundry. I don’t know why. It’s not even the stinkiest of the household chores on my plate. Really. Dishes have dried food, toilets have you-know-what, showers have scum. But folding clothes is a cinch because the clothes are clean. We’re just folding and putting away. What’s the big deal? Yet, I love folding towels. This is an odd phenomenon. There’s not much difference between towels and clothing.

So, I tried to figure out what it is about folding towels that I enjoy, to see if I could apply that same logic to folding my clothes, and thus make it more enjoyable. Or at least not something to dread. I like that for each type and size of towel I have a particular way I fold them, so that they will fit in their place. So once I’m done I have all these neat piles/groups of towels. And I still don’t know why that seems to appeal to me, but the fact that it does means I could probably be looking at my clothing in the same manner. I have different types of clothing but I can group them together and fold each type a similar way so that they all end up in nice neat matching piles and they fit into their homes properly. (If you think this is sounding very Marie Kondo-like I’ll take that as a compliment, thank you very much.) So if I remember that I have a special system for folding the clothes and make it feel more like a game, it feels much less like a chore. And therefore not something I dread and put off doing.

The other thing is that I always only ever have one basket of towels to fold at a time. With clothing this is almost never the case. However, I could trick my brain by just setting out one basket at a time, and only think of that one until it’s done and put away. Then bring out the next. I could hide any extra baskets of clothes that need folding until it’s their turn to be folded. Thus tricking my brain and not feeling so overwhelmed. Because procrastination is often borne out of the frustration of being overwhelmed, right?

I know that’s just about laundry and that’s silly and not so important, but I find it very interesting that we can train our brains to see things certain ways. I believe that’s a crucial piece of information. I have found it extremely helpful during moments of anxiety, to stop and think about how my thoughts arrived at the place they did. If you know the path they took, you can choose to reroute them. And that makes all the difference. Telling yourself something isn’t the end of the world, whether you believe it or not at the time, is the first step to convincing yourself that it’s not the end of the world.

Hey! Don’t sweat the small stuff, kid. And remember, it’s all small stuff.

Q: How much fun is doing your laundry?
A: Loads