Category Archives: Housekeeping

Reading and Running

Lately, I haven’t had anything very inspirational I’ve felt like writing. So I just haven’t been writing. For fear of boring you with all the details of my day to day. But the alternative to writing the mundane hodgepodge is to not write at all, and that’s maybe not great either. Because as I learned in a recent audio book I just finished “reading” (The Shallows, by Nicholas Carr, if you love science!), your brain is like a muscle. If you don’t use parts of it, they shrink and it becomes harder to access them down the road. So I’m exercising my writing muscle by writing even when I don’t have anything to write about. And as I’m writing, I’m sure something will come to mind. That’s always how it seems to work, anyway.

I’ve really been craving dark chocolate. I don’t know why I never keep any around the house.

I have not been running these past couple of weeks. I think after the bout of fatigue following Thanksgiving, I sort of fell out of the habit. I’m hoping to get back into it this weekend though. If the weather cooperates, of course. Treadmill running still sucks.

BUT! I do want to tell you how the Turkey Trot 5k went, but I want to be careful not to toot my own horn too loudly. So you know I was training, sort of, trying to increase my speed, and was hoping to beat my previous PR of 38:24. But even if I didn’t beat my PR, this was a memorable race. I ran it with my son, who is much faster than I am. I wished him luck and left him at the head of the pack with all the seriously fast runners, and scooted back as far as I could because I knew otherwise I would get trampled when the race started. This race was huge. I think the final count was around 5000 people. Maybe not large by other people’s standards, but it was by far the biggest 5k I had ever run. So with that many people the energy was pretty awesome.

The gun went off and I started running, and people immediately started zooming past me. I would have moved to the side to get out of the way, but I was so worried about tripping I stayed in the middle of the road where I knew there would be fewer potholes and cracks. Did I mention this was the first race I have ever run solo? No guide runners, no sign on my back to alert people that I was a deaf/blind runner. I had this sort of overwhelming sense – throughout the race – that I belonged there. That I was a real runner just like the rest of them. Note that I had not realized until this moment that I ever felt like I wasn’t one of them. So this was a brand new revelation, and I believe it is what propelled me forward, as fast as my feet would let me.

I was getting periodic updates from Runkeeper to tell me of my current speed, but I wasn’t paying attention enough to calculate what my average was looking like. I was just trying to enjoy the moment. So when I reached the finish and saw that my time was just coming up on 34 minutes, I was flabbergasted. My finish time was 34:03 – a full four minutes and 21 seconds faster than my last PR in May. I still don’t even understand how that is humanly possible. Not for me, at least, a woman with M.S. And certainly not in that short of a time period.

I’m still in a mild state of disbelief over the whole thing, but I’m now finally able to process it a bit more. I think the difference for that race, and my speed training on the treadmill leading up to it, is that I dared to run a pace that was just a bit past my comfort zone. Then when that felt comfortable, I pushed a little harder. So if I can just remember to push myself a little bit each time I’m out there, push the envelope so to speak, I know I can complete a full marathon next year, which is my next big running goal. I just have to be careful to be wise about it, and not push myself too hard or too fast. Know my limits, listen to my body and rest when it needs rest. I’ve learned so much this year about my capabilities, both mentally and physically, that I feel ready for this next step.

So I guess this post ended up being mostly about running. Sorry, not sorry. What else? Christmas is coming! I’m not ready, but who ever is? I’ll be ready when I need to be. I’ve been keeping busy with Bible Study Fellowship, bookkeeping for the church, and taking care of the home. Sadly the home sometimes takes a backseat to the other stuff but I’m working on fixing that. In my down time, my relaxing time, I’m doing a lot of crocheting and reading. I have a growing list of books I’ve started reading but couldn’t finish before the library’s digital copy expired, so I’m one by one working through knocking those off the Goodreads list. Not to say that like it’s a chore or anything. I still love my books.

That’s all for now folks! Tell me, what’s your favorite book to read over the holiday season?

Busy day, busy week

I told a friend the other day, “I don’t know how you people do it!” And by “you people”, I mean those who do lots of things, all in succession, repeatedly over time. Because dang. I am managing, it’s fine, but I lived in my warm cocoon of permanent disability for so long I almost forgot what it was like to have a full schedule. Like normal people.

I’m still permanently disabled, of course, but my new energy levels allow me to do considerably more, and I’m just now feeling like I’m getting the hang of it. Although I have been feeling lately that my fatigue is trying to creep back in and I am almost certain it’s because I haven’t been running. I plan to rectify that situation soon.

Today is an especially busy day because I had a dentist appointment this morning to get a crown set up, and this afternoon I have my regular infusion for my MS medication. It’s noon and my face is still half numb from the dental procedure this morning so it was very strange eating my lunch. I’m tempted to get a second cup of coffee but if I do I’ll have to do drink it through a straw. I’m kind of looking forward to the infusion because it will be a forced opportunity to take a nap. Not that I ever need forcing, of course. Naps are the bomb diggity.

My daughter turned 10 on Tuesday (yay for double digits!) and she is having a few friends over Friday night for a sleepover so I’ll be spending the day tomorrow doing some catch up cleaning and preparing the food for dinner. She chose tacos even after my multiple suggestions for ordering pizza, so I guess I’m cooking. Anything for my birthday girl. We all love tacos, so it’s cool. Before dinner though, we’re taking the girls to Playing Picasso so they can do some pottery painting. Then we’ll go back home and eat tacos, then send the girls in the basement so they can watch Harry Potter and be their silly selves without judgment from big brother. Birthdays are fun, don’t you think?

I’m hoping to catch up more on writing in the next few days, to tell you about what I heard God speaking to me at the abbey last weekend, and maybe some other random musings about that habits I’m hoping to hone (like writing). Growth and change, but all good stuff going on here.

Finding Contentment

I’ve been fartin’ around on Facebook all morning, and then I did some filing, put away clean dishes from the dishwasher, and now I’m letting my phone charge back up so I can go for a run this afternoon. I could really go for a nap but I pretty much always feel better after a run so I’m opting for that instead.

I’ve allowed myself to get really busy with all the commitments I took on, and I think I’m finally getting a handle on managing it without moving around like a headless chicken. I’m finding the key is to allow myself to relax from time to time, and when I say that I mean REAL relaxing, not the fake kind. I’m giving myself permission to sit with my feet up, read a book or crochet, sip some coffee, and NOT feel guilty. It’s really nice, but it’s strange how difficult it is for me sometimes. It does take some self-talking to be totally okay with it. Otherwise I’m just pretending to relax. I may be sitting, but I’m secretly mulling over all the things I “should” be doing at that moment. So the Real Relaxing is nice. Very therapeutic.

I had an interesting thought yesterday while listening to the lecture at Bible Study Fellowship. We were studying the story of the lame beggar at the temple gates in the book of Acts, and the lecturer said that when the man was healed, his life became better because his disability was removed. Something about the way she worded it struck me, and a voice in my heart was asking,

“Mindy, would your life be better if your disability was removed?”

I honestly believe the answer to that question is no. As much as I grieve what I’ve lost, I am even more grateful for what it has added to my life. It has made me a more patient and compassionate person. It has strengthened bonds between my family members and my friends. It has introduced me to new people and new ideas. It has stretched me in so many ways to move outside of my comfort zone. But the most important thing? It’s that God is glorified through all He is doing through me. Because it’s certainly not me. I’m just following His directions. That is the most valuable outcome of all this, and what I have been praying for from the beginning.

As I’ve struggled over these past 6 years with my disability I’ve been trying to find a new normal or a base comfort level. What I realized yesterday is that I am finally at a place of contentment. I am finally at home again in this body and I am content to be where I am. Fully and completely. Hallelujah. Amen?

John 9:3 ESV “but that the works of God might be displayed in Him.”

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

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!

Another random, lame update

It’s Wednesday. I had a great visit with my neurologist this morning. It was nice to be able to tell her about all of the positive changes I’ve been making and my lack of MS symptoms. However, I did bring up my concerns with brain fog. A friend shared a really great article the other day about this, and it very eloquently listed what people with chronic illness experience. Sadly, it’s not just limited to people with MS. I am walking great, I have no fatigue, no pain (unless you count the occasional headache), and I’m overall feeling really fantastic. However, every day, throughout the days, I have issues with short term memory loss and cognitive function. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked up the stairs and forgotten why I was there. I will often use a wrong word or name when talking with people, and not realize it. Sometimes even, I’ll forget what I’m talking about mid-sentence. And friends and family will encourage me that this is just a normal part of aging and that they experience it too. Which is nice, and appreciated for sure, but I really don’t believe that they experience this phenomenon with the frequency I do. So I told my neurologist about this and she said it may or not be MS, but there are ways to check, starting with testing my blood to see if some of my levels are out of whack. If that’s the case, I suppose it’s a simple fix with supplements. If not, there is always the option of memory testing and exercises. I had no idea that sort of thing existed, so it gave me some hope that this is a problem that has been addressed by the medical community, and I’m not coming in with some sort of weird cognitive mystery.

In other news, I slacked on laundry for one measly day and it magically piled up and threatened to take over my bedroom. I folded (and put away!) five loads of laundry today and now I would love to nap but I need to stay awake so I can answer questions for my grocery shopper, and then be up when she delivers my groceries. I LOVE grocery delivery, people. Love it.

So I think I’m going to make a glass of sweet tea and read a book or do some crocheting while I wait.

What’s Going On?!?!

So, sooo much you guys. It feels like it’s all going a little too fast for me and I can’t believe I’m keeping up. Am I keeping up? I guess I am. I mean, I’m still here, aren’t I? Let’s break this down for my right brain, okay?

  1. The son is in baseball. The hubby is coaching the baseball. Sometimes the girls go and watch. I love the game of baseball. I used to really love watching. I’m learning to enjoy it differently now. I can’t see the plays, but I can share in the cheering and I get to converse with the other parents when I ask what happened, or who did what on the field.
  2. The girl was in a dance. Ballet, to be more specific. She performed in a recital and she nailed it. She was stunning and graceful and she brought some people to tears. And when I picked her up afterwards she ran to me, beaming with pride. I had not seen that level of joy coming from her in quite awhile. It was truly magical.
  3. And then she got sick. She woke up the next day with a super high temperature, that just wouldn’t go away. We took her to the doctor, received a semi-firm diagnosis and a prescription for antibiotics, and now it’s just the waiting game. She has little energy which is fine because her body needs the rest in order to heal and fight, and I’m happy to be waiting on her hand and foot. Because after all, she will always be my baby girl.
  4. I’ve been running. A lot. And apparently I’m becoming one who loves to run. Seriously. I woke up this morning at 5:30, couldn’t fall back asleep. All I could think about was getting outside and running while the sun rose. So guess what? I did! And it was wonderful. A bit of a chill still left in the air, birds chirping to greet the day, and the sunrise. Oh how I love a good sunrise. It was a really great way to start the day.
  5. I’m still seeing a therapist. I tried to get out of going by pretending all was fine already, but she reminded me of a few comments I had made that made it pretty clear I could still use the help. The depression is gone, and I am grateful for that. The anxiety, however, is a bit more challenging. Challenging, but not impossible to overcome. The therapist is giving me tools and I’m using them, and it’s helping. I still think everyone should see a therapist at least once in their life. It’s just been extremely USEFUL.
  6. I’ve been working at developing daily habits. Intentionally. As in, deciding what I want to be sure to do every day, and then keeping track to be sure I’m doing it. There are so many awesome apps for my phone for stuff like this, it took a few days to decide on just one. My list of daily habits is currently: taking medicine, devotional, prayer, meditation, exercise, and laundry. Because laundry always needs to be done, but in taking a different approach to it, I find I dread it less. It’s just become something I do every day, so it doesn’t build up, and if I miss a day, I just pick up the next day where I left off. This seems so trivial to be blogging about laundry but it feels like a huge victory in my little world, so there. I’m trying to work this mindshift magic with vacuuming but it hasn’t quite worked yet.
  7. I’m doing a lot of crocheting. I finished an afghan for my oldest nephew and started one for my oldest niece. I’m going to make one for each of the nieces and nephews, oldest to youngest. There are twelve total, assuming my youngest sister is done having babies. So, one down, eleven to go. The blanket I make is a very relaxing pattern and works up really nice. I just hope the cousins appreciate having something warm and cozy and handmade with love by their Aunt Mindy.
  8. Food. I still eat it, I just don’t think about it constantly. I think this is a positive development for me. I’m finding so many other things to focus my time and energy on, and in between I eat yummy food. So there. Life is good.