News.

origin_3892962709I suppose it’s been a while since I really posted. I’ve been super busy with school, taking care of the not-so-wee-one, and health issues. I have decided, though, to renew my commitment to this blog, and to make a concentrated effort to continue blogging regularly. This brings me to my post of the day, and the scary picture to the left.

Have you ever had one of those ISSUES? You know the ones. People tell you not to dwell on it, but it becomes all-consuming. Right. School has been that recently, and it will continue to be a big thing for a while to come yet, but right now, I am ALSO facing another major THING.

I am 38 days away from a total hysterectomy. Friends, I have to tell you, I am relieved and I am terrified. I will explore all of this further in upcoming posts. There is quite a lot to do to get ready, and frankly, the underlying issues are tiring me out pretty quickly of late.

Anyway, that’s the basic information right now. If you’re following my blog, you will be seeing periodic (no pun intended) updates about the preparation for this – physically, mentally, and spiritually, and AROUND THE HOUSE! Who knew there was so much to do? Did you KNOW that I won’t be ALLOWED to VACUUM for SIX WEEKS?! Holy cow!

That’s all I’ve got right now. If you’d like to contribute to helping me with the recovery, a dear friend begged me to set up a gofundme page to allow my friends and readers to do just that. That page is here.


 

Hysterectomy Support by HysterSisters.com 

photo credit: bitzcelt via photopin cc

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On My Mandy Mae, whom I loved best

I Loved You Best
Jim Willis

The ever-faithful Mandy, who is entirely devoted to us.

The ever-faithful Mandy, who was entirely devoted to us.

 

 So this is where we part, My Friend, 
   and you’ll run on, around the bend,
   gone from sight, but not from mind, 
   new pleasures there you’ll surely find.

   I will go on, I’ll find the strength, 
   life measures quality, not its length.
   One long embrace before you leave, 
   share one last look, before I grieve.

   There are others, that much is true,
   but they be they, and they aren’t you. 
   And I, fair, impartial, or so I thought, 
   will remember well all you’ve taught.

   Your place I’ll hold, you will be missed,
   the fur I stroked, the nose I kissed. 
   And as you journey to your final rest, 
   take with you this…I loved you best.

I hate to publish another dog obituary on my blog so soon after last year’s loss of Kearney, but it’s been a long time coming. We lost our Mandy at the end of February, a mere three days before she would have been with me five years. I have struggled and fought, unsure what to write and how to share this experience with you all, but then I know that you, my friends, would want to share in my grieving again and join me in celebrating the life of my very best friend.

You wouldn’t, I fear, want to know the depth of my pain when I held her in my arms, laid as she was across my lap, on the cold floor of the vet’s office, and I understood for the first time what is meant when people say they felt the life drain out of someone. The mere retrospective thought of this still leaves knots in my belly, and makes it hard for me to breathe. Her life was my life. She saved my life. We shared this life. And now it was gone from her. Now I must go on without her.

I am afraid to tell you how, night after night, I dream of her, and I awake in the morning without her, saddened all over again. I am afraid to mention how this freight train of emotion and longing hit me with the same force of the death of some human family members, and, indeed, more force than others. But I have promised you that I would be open and honest, and this is my truth. You see, my Mandy, I have said, was not a dog.

Mandy was more like my partner. From the day I moved into my first real home as a single mother, away from my friends “back home” in the bayous, Mandy was by my side. I pulled her, broken, bleeding and sick, out of her old home and brought her with me to heal. Our vet says that we helped each other to heal. We had both been neglected and mistreated, but now, we had each other. She was the one reason I held onto that home as long as I did after it became untenable, and one of the biggest reasons I moved into the home I still live in.

She slept in my bed every night. She pined away for my son when he was at his father’s. She loved my parents and my friends. She let me cry into her silky soft neck when I was sad. She laid that same neck over my eyes when I got migraines. She wiggled when I laughed. She pouted when I was frustrated. She was ALWAYS THERE. She was our constant. She was our stability. She was our best friend. She was my partner. Without her, I think our hard times would have been much harder, and without her, I am not sure our good times would have been as good.

I woke up one morning in February to get ready to take our puppy, Christopher Marlowe, to get neutered, but instead, I found my Mandy in great distress. Her kidneys had officially failed her, and there was blood everywhere. She was confused and in pain. It was time. I made the appointment, and the next morning, my beloved died as she lived best: snuggled in my arms, my face in the silky smoothness of her neck.

I love you, sweet, sweet girl. We will never, ever forget you. We loved you best.

Pressure #3 – Do you have a tendency to procrastinate, or do you like checking things off your to-do list?

medium_2645956083I am supposed to be writing something, aren’t I? Right, yeah. I was going to answer a question about whether or not I procrastinate. I was going to answer the questions seriously, but I can’t stop laughing? Do I have a tendency to procrastinate? Do primates have opposable thumbs? Is rain wet? Am I wasting times coming up with rhetorical questions instead of just admitting that I am a confirmed procrastinator? If a tree falls in the forest……… no. Wait. That’s a different sort of question.

I like to joke that “one of these days, I will stop procrastinating.”  Sometimes, I think I am THE WORST procrastinator, and then I look at some of the people in my life. What I’ve noticed? The most creative people, and the very highly intelligent people I know (the two are not mutually exclusive, by the way) are some of the WORST procrastinators ever. Perhaps the outlook is good for me after all?

Interestingly, if you do a google search, and you type in “procrastination linked to” google automatically suggests the following: “procrastination linked to perfectionism” (check), “procrastination linked to anxiety” (check), and “procrastination linked to intelligence” (so maybe there IS hope for me yet!) Google ALSO gives you a ton of great memes about procrastination, as you can see.

So, WHY do I procrastinate? According to Eric Jaffe, “True procrastination is a complicated failure of self-regulation: experts define it as the voluntary delay of some important task that we intend to do, despite knowing that we’ll suffer as a result. A poor concept of time may exacerbate the problem, but an inability to manage emotions seems to be its very foundation.” And I thought I just really hated folding the laundry!

In my defense, I DO really hate folding the laundry.

Well, no, that’s not actually true. I really LIKE folding the laundry, once I get going. I just tend to put it off. Every SINGLE time.

In the same article I quoted above, the author quotes Joseph Ferrari (great name, by the way), who is, apparently a “pioneer” in procrastination research (unlike me. I am a pioneer in procrastinating research.). Ferrari says that “to tell the chronic procrastinator to just do it would be like saying to a clinically depressed person, cheer up.”

Now, one one hand, that makes sense to me. On the other hand, it really is almost that simple (for me, the chronic procrastinator, not for someone who is clinically depressed.). I haven’t read the whole article. Ironically enough, I have bookmarked it to read later.

But it isn’t quite that simple either. Because my brain says “just do it,” and when I DO just do it, I realize how simple and fast “it” was, and how easy it will be to do it again in a day or two. But I never “just do it” in a day or two either. Whatever IT is.

Why do I do this? Well, it COULD be OCD related. The link between OCD and procrastination is PRETTY evident in a cursory google search, but I went into some of the results.

brainphysics.com says: “OCD manifests itself in a large variety of ways, and individuals usually suffer from a combination of symptoms. Most people with OCD also share common difficulty with daily activities, such as tardiness, perfectionism, procrastination, indecision, discouragement and family difficulties.”

In an interview with NPRabout his book Triggered, Fletcher Worman confesses, “It’s funny — procrastination can be a symptom of OCD in the sense that because you know a project will require so much of your effort, and you’re so frightened of screwing up, it’s easy to just keep putting it off and putting it off and putting it off.”

There’s definitely a link. The link is there with ADHD too. In this article at Psych Central, Roberto Olivardia, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist and clinical instructor in the department of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, is quoted saying, “I don’t know anyone with ADHD where procrastination is not an issue.”  He also says, very cleverly I think, “For people with ADHD, there are two time zones: Now and Not Now. If it is not happening now, the ADD-er will tend to procrastinate until it gets closer to the ‘Now’ zone.”

So, is it an OCD thing? An ADD/ADHD thing? A time management thing? Laziness? I don’t know.

All of this was not the official answer to the BlogHer question, though. The question was, specifically, ” Do you have a tendency to procrastinate, or do you like checking things off your to-do list?” The answer? MY answer? BOTH! As much as I really do have a very chronic procrastination issue, I LOVE getting that to-do list checked off.

And now, I have a million things to do. So I am going to go read a book. Cheers!

NaBloPoMo January 2014


photo credit: monsieurlam via photopin cc

Pressure #2 What are you currently feeling pressure to do that you don’t particularly enjoy?

medium_5418734Can I confess something? I am thirty-three years old, and I have absolutely no idea what I want to be when I grow up.

No, that’s not true.

I want to be a LOT of things when I grow up. The problem is that I do NOT want to be an office manager (anymore) or a teacher (of elementary or secondary students), and sometimes it feels like those are the only things I am physically able to do that I can study for.

I’ve been told over and over again to “learn a trade,” and I agree in THEORY. But I have two major problems here. First, I am a nerdy nerd, an academic, a great big giant dork. I love to study. I do research for fun, and I can do it without even really thinking about it. I love the challenge, and I get bored without it. When I am bored or unhappy with something, I don’t really tend to stick it out. It’s not for lack of trying. It’s not that I don’t think I SHOULD stick it out. It’s that, well, I can recognize a pattern, and I know what I’ve always done.

And then there are the physical limitations. Most of the “trades” that interest me require long hours standing, bending, lifting, walking, and generally being in fluorescent lighting all day. That’s not going to work. I’ve dropped out of beauty school, music school, and nursing school over health issues.

But I want to run a business. I’ve got this dream of this great little tea room………. And a whole lot of naysayers. Myself included.

But I am going back to school for business, and we’ll see where we go from there.

 
NaBloPoMo January 2014
 


 

***update, I am a journalism major. Oops. (7/10/14) Also, I have decided that, when I grow up, I want to be Batman. I know, I know. Superman and Spiderman were the journalists, but Batman was BATMAN. He was a billionaire, so that was pretty awesome. Also, like me, he had no actual superpowers. Therefore, becoming Batman is a much more attainable goal.

photo credit: Gideon Tsang via photopin cc

NaBloPoMo Pressure #1 – Do You Work Well Under Pressure?

CUPlogoIn answer to this question, I wrote a stunningly brilliant post. It was cool and witty, and was a lot of fun to write. I hope it would have been a lot of fun to read, too, but we’ll never find out. Alas, in the middle of trying to edit the NaBloPoMo badge at the bottom of the post, it was somehow utterly lost, converted entirely to the content of another scheduled post, never to be seen again. I am rather frustrated by this, because, really, it was cool. THERE WERE POP CULTURE REFERENCES, PEOPLE! POP CULTURE!

But, since I can’t get it back, I guess now we test how well I work under pressure, right? Or at least how well I work while extremely frustrated and on the verge of cussing out the ENTIRE internet.

In a half-baked attempt to recreate what I had arduously written, having worked out what I wanted to say whilst soaking my sore muscles in a glorious mineral salt and tea-tree bath (good for the muscles, stress, and that pesky lupus rash that continues to plague me. Maybe I need another?), I will note that I made reference to different types of pressure that come to mind.

When I think of “pressure,” the first thing that comes to mind, other than the awesome synthesizer action of Billy Joel and the Queen/Bowie combo, is the pressure canner I’ve been dreaming of owning for over a year now. Then there’s the pressure of hands on muscles in a nice massage. You know the pressure? First it almost hurts, then EVERYTHING FEELS WONDERFUL. And last but not least, is the big warning! Contents under pressure! This is your captain speaking. We may experience some slight turbulence and explode.

So, my well-formed and thought-out answer to the question “do you work well under pressure?” is a firm, solid, and resounding “uhhhhhhhhh………… that depends…………..”

In the past, I would have said that I THRIVED under pressure, that I worked best under pressure. In the past, that was probably true. But I am older now, and mostly, I want to be able to do things on MY terms. I am not sure that’s really my desire, but you follow, right? My life has more demands, more stress, more issues, more concerns, and a lot more pressure now than it did when I “thrived under pressure.” Right now, pressure is a state of being. Sometimes I think that I had better come out of all of this a diamond instead of just a lump of coal.

Understand that what I mean here is that, when I was younger, I had only myself to worry about, and I barely did THAT. I LOVED deadlines and heavy workloads. I lived for a good challenge. Now? I am older, I am sicker, and I have a lot of responsibilities that are more “pressure” than you can imagine til it’s too late. I wouldn’t trade it though, except for maybe the “sicker” part. That I would trade. But I can’t, and so….

But really, it does depend on the type of pressure and how I am feeling that day.

Like a pressure canner, with the right amount of the right kind of pressure, I am sure I can be preserved to last for a long time (and be pretty darned tasty, too, if my amish jarred beef recipe is to be believed). But with the wrong kind of pressure, it’s not pretty. I just sort of break. I can’t function. I can’t cope. I just want to hide.

Deadlines scare me a little bit now. Not a lot, and not always, but they do give me more anxiety than they used to for sure. And the wrong KIND of pressure to do something, even something I actually want to do, will just about guarantee that it will NOT get done. I don’t know why that is, either, but I may have to delve into that part of myself later.

But the other pressure? The hands-of-massage pressure? I’ve got some friends that help me out with that. I’ve got a friend who “pressures” me lightheartedly to, for example, clean my carpets when I really want to do that, but am tempted to just watch old episodes of Supernanny instead. She’s not REALLY pressuring me. She certainly won’t judge me or give me a “bad grade” if I DON’T steam clean the carpets. But I want to do it, and I want to show HER that I can do it, because it’s fun to sort of work together on the project, even though we’re four hours away from each other. That pressure is a pressure under which I STILL thrive. And yes, it hurts at first, and then it feels wonderful. The task is complete (in record time!), and I’ve bonded with a friend. I have a sense of accomplishment AND of camaraderie.

NaBloPoMo January 2014

Halloween, food allergies, a rant, and a reply

medium_540926535I posted this as a reply on a post over at BlogHer, but I thought it warranted its own space here.


We also prefer give out stickers, halloween-themed pencils, and silly-band type treats. I take my boy trick or treating, but then I have to go through everything and make sure it’s safe. He’s been a trooper about it, but it does kind of bum me out to have to toss out 75% of his “candy haul.” On the upside, it’s fewer days of being relentlessly bugged every twenty seconds for a piece of candy even though the answer was “no, and don’t ask again til after lunch” about a minute ago, and it’s only 8:00 in the morning!

What has really driven me bats this year is the SCHOOL! It’s our first time in public school, and it’s ridiculous. When I went in to register him, I took his medical documentation to prove his allergy (gluten), and was told that we could fill out x-form and y-page and jump through a hoop or two and that the school would accommodate his needs. Well, they don’t. They do NOT make accommodations for gluten allergies here. They also do NOT have any sort of list of ingredients on school foods that they will make available to me. So, my son qualifies for free lunch, but it costs me four or five times as much as it would cost me to feed him at home. And he’s constantly being given “treats” for different things at school. Not ONCE has one of them been a safe food. Not ONE SINGLE TIME.

His birthday is this Friday. I was asked if I was sending cupcakes. I am not. I wish I could. But the school says they must be CUPCAKES (not cookies. That’s not okay for some reason. What the heck??), store-bought, in the original packaging with the ingredients listed and peanut-free. That’s doable in theory. Except there is not a single local store that carries any such thing WITHOUT GLUTEN. I’d have to drive an hour to spend something in the neighborhood of $50 to make that happen locally! So, not only does he not get to bring cupcakes in on HIS birthday, but if somebody ELSE brings in birthday cupcakes, he can’t eat them, AND the teacher can’t tell me in advance if there’s going to be a birthday so that I can send my own child something safe.

I don’t understand. If we can accommodate any allergies, shouldn’t we accommodate all of them and/or just ban food from classroom parties?

 


 

photo credit: Whatsername? via photopin cc

Christopher Marlowe

How’s your weekend been?

Me? Thanks for asking. I’ve been absolutely plagued by the CUTEST PUPPY EVER. He showed up at my house Friday night, and by Sunday afternoon, he had decided to worm his way into my heart, defer and be all submissive with my dogs, and beg my son for belly rubs. So, of course, now it’s just a few hours til it’s time to decide once and for all whether he stays here or goes to the shelter in the hopes that his people come and claim him. And I REALLY can’t decide. My heart is telling me to keep the little guy. My head is telling me not to. The boy is begging me to do it.

Seriously, I’ve worked with this pup TWICE, and he remembers “sit,” “down,” “wait,” “give hug,” “off,” “leave it,” “go to bed,” and “come to me.” That makes him about two commands shy of Mandy and about a billion more than Joey, who took six months to realize that he’s ACTUALLY supposed to sit on command. And he’s CUTE. And so sweet. And affectionate. Ugh. It’s really not helping my decision-making process that he’s so darned adorable. And obedient. At least, he is so far. He’s only been here two days, and it can take a couple of weeks for their temperament to really show up. But, he’s just tugging at my heart strings so hard!! It’s a nightmare, I tell you!! A NIGHTMARE!! A cute, fluffy, whimpering, adorable, happy little nightmare.

See? Do you see??  Do you see my dilemma here???? How can you say no to these faces????????

download**update: We kept him. We named him Christopher Marlowe.

It lies not in our power to love or hate,
For will in us is overruled by fate.
When two are stripped, long ere the course begin,
We wish that one should love, the other win;

And one especially do we affect
Of two gold ingots, like in each respect:
The reason no man knows; let it suffice
What we behold is censured by our eyes.
Where both deliberate, the love is slight:
Who ever loved, that loved not at first sight?