Category Archives: Family

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.”

Advertisements

Hack hack, ahem ahem, cough cough

You guys. I’ve been sick for all of two and a half days and I’m trying sooo hard not to be a baby about it, but geesh. I don’t get sick very often, but when I do, I just want to snuggle up in a cozy blanket and let people wait on me. The first part works alright but the second one, not so much. Because folks, I’m the mom. And mom doesn’t take sick days. Which is only kind of true. My family is really great about helping out and giving me my space. No one’s even complained that the laundry is piling up while I’m downstairs nursing myself back to health.  It’ll get done, eventually.

Anyhoo. Since I’ve been out of commission all I can do is sit around thinking about how little I’ve blogged lately. Not cuz my life is boring (though it is a little) but because I just haven’t been in the mood for blogging. It happens every now and then. Whatevs.

What’s going on lately, you ask? Well, the son has been busy wrestling, both for the local club and the middle school. This is exciting stuff folks. Now that he’s on the middle school team he practices every day right after school. He does not seem to be tired out by this, thankfully, and it’s been a huge load off for our resident chauffeur, my hubby. Now he doesn’t have to drop him off, then go back and pick him up. Just one trip per day, and he’s home by dinnertime. Which means we all get to eat as a family again. Every day!

The daughter is not in sports. Has no interest really, at least for now. That could change down the road but I don’t think that’s likely. Her two loves right now are art and animals. Since it’s -38 degrees outside these days, she did not want to go for more horseback riding lessons, so we found her an outlet for her art. A gentleman from our church is willing to give her weekly lessons and teach her whatever she wants to know. Right now she’s on a big Bob Ross nature scene kick, and it’s friggin’ amazing what she is able to create just after watching a few YouTube videos. I know I’m a tad biased because I’m her mother, but there’s no denying that she has some serious talent that will only get better with more training and practice.

It’s kind of weird but I’ve had zero motivation to write that book I had been talking about. I still want to tell my stories, just maybe not in that format. Maybe we’ll just keep them here on the blog for now. I could do some kind of kooky flashback series where I tell short stories about what happened to me five years ago. Or maybe I’ll get the hankering again to write the book. Who knows?

I’m just really happy doing the things I’m doing now that I don’t really feel like going back to that time. It feels too heavy. Right now good things are happening. My kids are growing and changing, and I’m able to be a part of that. I’m slowing down and trying to be more focused on the most important things. Spending time with God, family, friends. It’s been a good change.

And speaking of slow, I set myself a new goal: to run a half marathon in the fall (it’s speaking of slow cuz I’m a slow runner, get it?). I have a race picked out and a friend to run it with me. I have a training plan picked out on my Runkeeper app, and it doesn’t start until March 5th. So I have time to warm up to running regularly again. I’ve not been running since before the holidays so my legs are a little rusty.

I even spoke to my neurologist about how to train safely, and was reassured that this was not too big a goal for someone with MS. If I take it slow and am careful, it’s totally possible. In fact, she said regular exercise is just as crucial to my health as is my disease-modifying therapy. So as far as priorities, I need to bump it way back up to the top. She said that running will not cause me to relapse, but will only help to keep me from relapsing. When I run, certain symptoms flare up, like foot drop and difficulty seeing, but she said that’s because those are nerves that are already damaged. As long as I’m being safe about it, I should be fine. Which is why I always run these races with friends who can be a good set of eyes and ears for me and keep me safe. So that’s on the docket. 13.1 miles. In a row!

And that folks, is all I have for an update right now. I had a funny thought earlier and I was going to post it, but now I can’t remember it. So I apologize for my foggy memory keeping me from leaving you on a humorous note. Oh wait! I can leave you with a pun… this one I choose because we bought new winter gloves for my son today…

“I got a new pair of gloves today, but they’re both ‘lefts’ which, on the one hand, is great, but on the other, it’s just not right.”

Frustration

I’m frustrated today. Frustrated and grumpy. It’s not anything specific, really. Just more of a general feeling. I was trying to crochet but it’s a challenging basket weave pattern and I just didn’t feel like messing with it anymore. This frustration makes me very unpleasant to be around because I’m a major grump. So I’m upstairs with a beer and a laptop, and I’m hashing it out on the keyboard. I was working on my book for awhile, with my cochlear implant volumes turned way down, and my son came into the room and scared the living daylights out of me. I didn’t hear him come in!! It’s a good thing I wasn’t holding my beer at the time. I was at a stuck point with the book anyway so the distraction was nice. He read some parts of the book and then we got to talking about what he remembered from when I first lost my hearing. It’s always interesting to hear it from my kids’ perspectives.

I think what I’ve learned today, or was reminded of, is that writing calms me. That frustrated feeling has almost completely left me, and I don’t feel like such a grump anymore. And I appreciate that you are willing to read all the silly things I write. So thank you, reader. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

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!

My first 10k and my 40th winter

I logged on here to share my struggles with the coming of winter and cold weather and then remembered I hadn’t blogged about my 10k race last weekend. So we’ll take care of both here, if you don’t mind.

Yes. The cold weather. I don’t hate it. I love winter. I grew up in Michigan and I love all the seasons, but winter is a favorite. However, my body does not love it. It really resists the change. So as we are crossing over into colder temperatures, my body is screaming at me in protest. My joints ache, my muscles spasm, I have random throbbing nerve pain, and I’m just plain ol’ tired. All I want to do is curl up in a couple warm blankets and hibernate the days away. Which I could totally do, if it weren’t for all the things that need to be done. I’m behind on the laundry, dishes are constantly needing to be washed, children and the hubby like to eat once in awhile. Oh and I have doctor appointments to set and bills to pay. So now that I’ve pushed all of those tasks to Friday, it’s a pile threatening to overwhelm me. Argh. One day at a time, Mindy. One day at a time.

And then there’s the race! I actually ran the 10k I had set out to do, and I ran it in just under 90 minutes. An hour and 26 minutes, to be exact. I keep saying to people though, it was so much harder than I had expected it to be. But I don’t give up. My dad took a video of me finishing and I look incredibly hit up and worn down, as if I might possibly be actually dying, but then a minute after the finish I was smiling and laughing. Because I had finished. On my own two feet.

What was really extra special about this race is that I had my dear friend, Staci, running right by my side the whole way. She was my eyes and ears, to make sure I stayed on the course. It was wonderful to have her there next to me. Also, my brother Brett and sister Kari ran it as well, though they are faster so they ran ahead and met me at the finish line. My dad and younger brother, Josh, were there to spectate, so it was really a sort of family affair, and they were all celebrating with me. I think they all understand how far I’ve come and can truly appreciate what a victory it is for me. I could not have done any of this without their support and encouragement along the way. It was an extremely memorable day.

In the aftermath of that difficult race I was saying I would probably not be running a half marathon any time soon, as I had previously hoped. It just seemed too daunting. But then I was chatting with a friend on Wednesday and somehow we both decided we would train together to run a half marathon in the spring. So we will see how this goes! Training through the winter will be more of a challenge, but having a friend doing the training with me to hold me accountable should help.

I saw my neuro-ophthalmologist this week and shared with him my running victories and plans, and he cautioned me about training too hard. He suggested I talk to my primary neurologist for advice because she’s a runner and could give me some sound advice for training with multiple sclerosis. It’s a tricky thing, to find a balance so that I’m training enough to be prepared, but not so hard that I throw myself into a relapse.

I can’t think how to properly wrap up today’s post so I will just wish you all a Happy Friday! Have a great weekend!

Souper hobbies

I have recently discovered that I love making soup. Something about the slow pace of the process, and the room for creativity (i.e. mistakes) really appeals to me. And then the satisfaction after all that work and waiting, when you have a delicious meal to enjoy! And at my house, since no one will eat my icky vegetable soups, I get to enjoy the leftovers for days!

Last weekend my dad and stepmom were in town for my son’s football game and I invited them over afterwards for beef stew. I had most of the ingredients but still needed to prepare everything. They both love to cook so they helped me put together an amazing stew. It was so much fun to work together as a team. Not rushed, just chatting in between tasting and smelling. Soup-er fun.

So, it’s been ridiculously warm for October lately. Seriously, 80 degree temps is nuts, even for Michigan. However, it looks like the cold weather is finally moving in as of this morning. It is currently 39 degrees, right where it should be. I turned on the heat, of course. Earlier this week I had the a/c on. This makes me chuckle, a little. I made vegetable soup yesterday and so of course I’ll be eating the leftovers today. Cold days are perfect days for eating hot soup.

But! As excited I am to eat some hot soup and snuggle on the couch with my crocheting, I’m nervous about running a 10k race tomorrow. That’s right, the 10k is finally here! I decided on my 40th birthday in March that I wanted to run a 10k, and though for awhile I wasn’t sure if I could do it, I know now that I can. Training works! This cold weather has me a little nervous though. I had my race clothes all picked out but now I’m wondering if I need to wear something warmer. Will I need gloves? A hat? Will my headband keep my ears warm? See, I don’t have much experience running in cold weather because the cold weather hadn’t yet come. So maybe today I’ll go out for a trial run and see how it goes. Yes, that’s what I will do. Practice run, and then cuddle up on the couch with my hot soup.

 

Rainy days

It’s raining today. Storming, actually. It’s been awhile since we had a thunderstorm during the day like this. We’ve had a couple overnight, but those are no fun because I can’t hear the thunder. I don’t wear my cochlear implants overnight. Usually my daughter tells me all about the storms the next day because though she usually sleeps soundly, she is sensitive to the noise. That and she worries about lightning striking and all that. So it makes for rough nights for her, while I secretly envy that she can hear the thunder.

So. Today’s storm is nice. It’s dark and cloudy though, which makes me want to go back to bed (which I did) and stay in my pajamas all day (which I am). I’m also roasting a butternut squash to make soup, so the house smells like autumn. My sister and I have our annual retreat to the monastery this weekend, and this year we decided against planning an elaborate menu and instead are each bringing a homemade soup. We think between soup, salad, and snacks, we should be set for the weekend.

My plan for this year’s retreat is to get a big head start on my book. I want to read through the past five years of journals in order to get an outline or map of sorts of what I’m going to say. That’s a giant task and not something I feel like I can do sufficiently while I’m here at home. Distractions and all. I am very easily distracted.

I still feel like I have this nagging voice that tells me I can’t write a book, not one worth publishing anyhow. That voice I need to just keep telling to shut up. Lots of people less qualified than me have written books so I have no reason to believe that voice.

What else is going on? I started leading Financial Peace University this week for my church. We have a small group but it happens to be very diverse. People from every walk of life. Newlyweds, single, married with kids, empty nesters. It should make for some really interesting discussions as the weeks go on. I’m very excited to be doing this class. For one thing, I needed the refresher, for sure. But also it just feels good to be able to give back and serve God in an area I feel like He’s given me a passion for. I was a ball of nerves this first week, because my vision loss and difficulty hearing still give me great social anxiety, but everyone was extremely understanding and gracious. I’m confident it’s going to be a life-changing class for everyone.

Speaking of social anxiety, I’m also in a women’s weekly Bible study and yesterday was my first time going. I attended last year and loved it so much, I’m doing it again. However, I had a lot of trouble hearing people in the discussions as well as reading the materials they hand out every week. There’s not a whole lot I can do about the discussion because you can’t expect to completely retrain people to speak a different way just for that one hour a week, so I’m learning this is an area I have to accept not being able to hear everything. I just have to accept and be thankful for the words I CAN hear.

As for the lesson handouts, I had been scanning them into pdfs every week so that I could read them in high contrast on my computer or tablet. That was kind of a pain, but it worked well. It only occurred to me after the class had ended that I should have been scanning my answers to the questions as well, because every week I would get to class and struggle to read my answers during the class discussion. This year I am super excited because they offer the lessons and questions in pdf format, so I don’t have to do all the scanning! It may be hard for others to understand my level of joy here, because until you’re faced with the daily difficulty in seeing and hearing things, you just can’t imagine it. I know it’s something I took for granted, for sure. If you are reading this and you have fully functioning eyes and ears, will you please just take a moment to thank the Lord? Because not everybody has that luxury. It’s so hard, people. Not impossible, just hard.

Well, my squash is roasted so I need to go saute some shallots and garlic and get the soup assembled. After that perhaps I’ll do some crocheting. I’m on my third of thirteen afghans for each of the nieces and nephews. A perfect rainy day activity, wouldn’t you say?