I asked for earplugs- I got an ear infection.

I’ve felt this unnerving shift and a direction of change. I’ve felt this before and I listened to God’s direction so I thought it best I listen again.

I am still and I know that you are with me.

I couldn’t hear the message, because there was so much noise. So much I’ve been an overstimulated baby that’s taken to just being unpleasant and unhappy. I tried so hard to be still, but I could not. I could not be still. My mind would not be still.

My son is headed off to middle school next year. How did this happen so fast? I miss my old dog Luke. My daughter didn’t make the gifted program. Will she be okay? Will she be challenged enough? Should we consider a new private school? ::Puppy:: My dream job was dissolved because of budget cuts- now what? What do we do for summer vacation? Do I want to go to graduate school? When will I have enough time? ::Puppy:: When will my husband and I find time to just be still together? Who is willing to listen to all my thoughts and feelings? ::Puppy:: Should we just move? When am I going to feel better from my illnesses? The kids have to get all their checkups- have they been done? ::Puppy:: The animals need their check ups too! My teaching partner is leaving – will I be okay without her? ::Puppy:: Oh and the house – When are we going to pack up all the things from Christmas… Easter… last summer too? Will I be able to exercise again soon? ::Puppy:: When will I get to meet Chipmunk’s baby? When can I do all of these things? When? How? Why? Why not? ::Puppy::

Puppy – Fine God, I hear you! Mission puppy accomplished. The loudest noise of all was gone. If it felt sudden to get this puppy the noise is why…

All of the noises are gone. I haven’t settled them all, but I’ve found a solution to nearly everything.

Be still.

We named our puppy Jenny. After Jenny and the Summer Day by the Avett Brothers. The lyrics say, “The sun is hot, the wind is cool and we are finally out of school. I’m in love with Jenny and the summer day…”
Jenny and Benny

I am in love with Jenny and the summer day. What else can I say?

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For the New Year

I have consistently written about my plans for a new year. This year it’s just a couple of days late.
I really didn’t like 2016, but not all of it was bad. I will have to focus on positive things. 

I went from 2012 not walking far to 2014 running half-marathons. Four in seven months actually. In 2015, I had plantar fasciitis and headed to the end of 2016 I was winded at a flight of stairs. I’ve made it back before and so I do believe I can do it again. To give you comparison in 2013- I would logged about 30 miles, in 2014 -I logged 440 miles, in 2015- I logged 275 miles and in 2016 – I logged 47 miles. It will take work, effort and time to get back where I was.

My health has been on a downhill slope. So my hope is I go up from here. I’d say I was at rock bottom, but I wasn’t. I was just in the depths of a great valley. 

My resolution of 2016 was to be kinder to myself in my inner dialogue. I put on 15 pounds with this illness and it’s okay. I will get back to where I need to be. It will take work, effort, and time.

My husband has been incredibly patient, hardworking, and kind. I’ve been so sick for so long. He’s been helpful and resourceful. He’s respected my privacy. 

Every year we get an ornament to symbolize our year. I got him a man on a kayak. All he wanted was to buy a kayak. He thought it would help us grow as a family and be adventurous. So we went all in and got the kayak. 

We went out on the kayak just the two of us one day. We went out onto the cove with a misty rain. It was supposed to be this amazing date where we got to just be alone out on the water. We nearly cancelled for the rain, but we grabbed our ponchos and went out anyways. We talked and relaxed our way around the inlets of the cove. That day- that date- might have been the highlight of my entire year.

My poor friends. I’ve been trying so hard as a wife, mother and teacher – my friend status has been hard to keep up with. I wanted to be with people when I couldn’t. I wanted to support – when I needed to be supported. As my dear friend says… I simply just couldn’t do “All the things”. 

It’s not that all 2016 was a wash in friendships. One of my best friends met me over the summer and I got to meet her husband. We went camping and to the beach with our good friends too. My twin from work and I sat by the pool watching our children play. Many porch sittings and shenanigans with another set of friends too. My bestie and I attempted dinner dates and play dates with our kids. I’m sure I missed several things, but sometimes a cup of tea and some long conversations can go a long way.

I love my job and as sick as I’ve been it’s been a challenge teaching. It takes a lot of energy. I’ve missed a few days and went a few days I should probably have rested. Some days I got up and went to work and upon returning from work I went straight to bed. It wasn’t all like that though. I ended last school year with great marks. This year I’ve given almost every planning period to go out of my way for someone else. There were a few days I shut the door and turned off the lights and just listened to music while I sat alone. Teaching is loud.. it’s noisy and overstimulating so it’s nice to just sit in the quiet for a while.

 My two favorite parts of my job are not required. I have been teaching two students how to sew and crochet in my free time. It’s been good to watch the boys learn how to relax. The second part I love about my job is that I get to mentor student teachers. I find it so fulfilling to help others find their groove with this profession. It’s become a running joke with the faculty about my obsession with student teachers. I love it though. I love the role as a mentor.

John and I set out to make 2016 great for us. We tried to get the kids out more. We took them sledding, hiking, kayaking, running, biking etc. We took them to Gatlinburg, camping, to a Lego event with my in-laws, my in-laws took them to Williamsburg too, and finally we took them for a full week at the beach. We signed them up for summer camps. Our son took archery and loved it – he doesn’t love much in athletics. He’s lazy or as his pulmonologist says his asthma keeps him from moving at a fast rate. So archery is perfect for him. Our daughter took soccer and gymnastics and loves them both. Our son joined Cub Scouts and also plays clarinet now. We got them both new bikes. We sent them to music camp. We kept our summer pool membership. We were really making an effort.

While I’ve been sick, I was afraid. When you’re that sick you begin to be very afraid of the unknown. You try very hard to be rational, but it’s not always easy. I prayed hard before my last procedure. I didn’t want to go under general anesthesia. I was very afraid. I was afraid they would find nothing wrong. I have no other response to that fear but to pray. I am thankful for this journey of my health. It makes you question all of your faults and weaknesses. It makes you try to explain your own shortcomings. Although, I banished shame talking in 2016- it doesn’t mean it’s an inability to be honest with yourself and others either.
I cannot say enough about Dave Ramsey and Financial Peace! I spent $3000 in the last three months of the year just on medical bills alone. We still have some work to do on the cars – which both decided to have trouble while I was sick. We had been looking for months for someone to rebuild our porch. We finally got to it and underneath the decking was a disaster so it took longer and cost us more than we had anticipated. We are not in a panic situation – we’ll be okay. We’re behind on a little savings, but it’s not digging us a grave of debt.

 That’s what financial peace feels like. 

Go get the book- take the class – and try it.

My mind is clouded. I’ve not been writing or running. It’s an onion. I will pull back one layer at a time. I’ve been slapping on a layer on top of a layer for a while. I lost myself in work, in trying  to help my kids see the world, in being selfish too, or in being sick mostly. Now it’s coming off. I’m shedding the layers- probably tearfully- The kind of honesty that happens here isn’t easy. Instead of processing things when they happen – processing them later makes them a “thing” maybe a thing bigger than they should be.

In 2017 – I’m going to have to write and run. I’ve got to go see the world myself and just breath for a while. I’ve got to peel the layers back to raw emotion. I’ve got to get to mile 7 again where my clarity begins.

Up Before the Sun

It’s a snow day. A glorious snow day for teachers. This day is envied by others who think they would spend it better… asleep. Some might say it’s a day wasted not sleeping in. My stomach was far too unhappy to sleep… I simply had no choice.

While I was sitting enjoying my coffee- surrounded by two cats and a dog, I rummaged through my draft box of blogs I never quite finished. Some of them were perfect. Some of them completely unfinished. Some of them too emotional. Some of them too honest. None of them were posted. I have been writing, but just not finishing.

For six months- I’ve felt different. For three months- I’ve been sick. It takes a toll on you and wears you down in so many ways. It hits your house. It hits your relationships. It hits your emotions. It’s all you have to talk about and it’s all anyone can talk to you about. In a sense, you lose all the other parts of who you are. You just become the illness.

For me, it’s taken a toll on the things that make me right in the head too. I’ve been too tired to write or have felt guilty if I did begin to write. If I had that much energy why wasn’t I doing something to help my husband? There was a lot of guilt there to begin to write again. There were days where just going up a flight of stairs would put me into a fit of belching and pain- “days” like 90 in a row. So I have not been running. I’ve hardly been walking. To get my mental clarity I need to write or run… one of the two if not both and I have been doing neither.

To get up before the sun is a quiet I don’t hear at any other time in the day. The children aren’t running around flipping, squealing, fighting, or tickling. My husband isn’t turning the football game up on the highest volume possible. I hear the snorts of my dog and the heat cranking out to beat this cold weather. This might be the darkest and yet clearest time of my entire day.

Goodbye 2016 – Onward to Good Health!

To update you medically –

My kidneys checked out fine. My right one just drains slower, but there is no damage done to the kidney itself. I have been told I am released from the urologist unless I have further problems. I had a big scan of my kidneys called a renal lasix scan. They inject you with a nuclear medicine and you lay perfectly still for over an hour. My kidneys worked find and then my doctor went back to worrying about the gallbladder. It was a nice long tangent.

I then went through a horrid test called the hida scan. Again you are injected with a nuclear medicine and you stay perfectly still for two hours this time. It made me terribly sick and still came back normal. Normal with an 82% ejection fraction (it spits out more than what is considered normal to some doctors). My doctor of course doesn’t believe this is the source so I went through an upper endoscopy. That’s where you are put under general anesthesia and they put a camera down your throat. They found some healing ulcers and a small hernia, but not the source of my pain. So more results come back in a few weeks. We shall see the outcome, but I’m in at least manageable pain. I just have to eat simple and I can’t exercise without burping for hours on end.

Next is just waiting for results to come in and see if the new medicines help me improve or get rid of my pain.

Before I go take a nap I should tell you…

For over a month…. I’ve been dealing with a mystery illness. I’ve gone through lots of testing and my doctor has decided that I’m just a puzzle that can’t be solved right away. In the meantime, I get to try to act like I’m functioning as normal when I’m really not myself. It’s been going on so long I have a new sense of normal.

I decided that I wouldn’t tell people until I had more answers, because I couldn’t explain what was going on necessarily and I have trouble keeping everyone in the loop. Now it’s gone on for so long that I’m not certain I can keep up with just being quiet. It’s hard enough keeping up with my job and being a wife and mother -much less being a good friend or communicator.

The truth of it is that at first they thought my gallbladder was quitting and while looking at that they found that my right kidney is not draining properly. They have not found any stones- in fact so far they have said my gallbladder and renal system all look great (other than the draining kidney part). There is no block or kink to be found. Nothing… thousands of dollars later and nothing. My blood work is completely normal other than low Vitamin D…. which is not a new diagnosis for me.

The problem is that my symptoms don’t match with the kidney problem. I’m mostly just sick to my stomach and survive on sprite and lots of medications. So there is something else wrong with me. They’ve decided it may still be my gallbladder. I’m still going through testing. I’m still not sure what is going on, but I figure it’s time I just say what’s going on so when I show up at your holiday party and fall asleep in your recliner you’ll understand. Or if I decline your offer for something you just know it’s not personal I’m not well.

I don’t want to leave my home for the most part and I am extremely tired. I could have an entire house full of wonderful friends I haven’t seen in ages and I’m in bed anyways.  I go to bed rather early so last night when I went to see my favorite band the Avett Brothers… I totally fell asleep sitting up during the second half of the show. My husband has been a trooper with the housework and caring for the kids and picking up my slack. My children know that I’m tired, but they don’t seem to really see me as sick… maybe this is their new normal too. My students have been caring and flexible and have shown me so much respect in that. My coworkers are helpful and understanding – constantly checking on me and praying for me. My inner circle that have known what is going on is a small group of people, but they have been amazingly supportive.

So in all my thankfulness I would sum it up with my husband and inner circle of support I’ve had the last month. My husband has washed nearly every dish, has done so much for the kids, pets, cars, and so on. He’s not a big fan of me being sick. We don’t get to spend a lot of time together. I’m not exactly a fun date or enjoyable company.

With the holidays here at my heels I declined any attempt to decorate for Halloween or Thanksgiving. I’m moving right on to Christmas. I can’t wait to deck the halls. I want my tree up and feel the joy of the season. I’m ready for cold weather, fluffy sweaters, and cozy boots. We’re not doing a normal Thanksgiving this year. We’re up in the air with little direction or decision as to what we want to do. So yeah I’m skipping right on to Christmas.

Also- I want a puppy, but I am in no shape to care for a puppy. I want a fluffy golden retriever puppy. I can have Christmas wishes that aren’t related to my health.

Wish me well and hand me a sprite.

 

A Phoenix Rising from Words

I often say when I’m ready to say something I will. In my professional life that is definitely the case and I will do it in my own way without being distasteful. In my social life however I missed something in the realm of chutzpah. I need think time to formulate a response. It’s hard to have chutzpah when you don’t formulate the words until you’ve had think time.

For the most part one would describe me as being sanguine. Having faced many moments of adversity I still managed to become a phoenix. I rise from the rubble having learned something new about my strengths and weaknesses.  I manage faster to see how someone else has to work through something than I do myself.  That’s life I suppose.

I realize we are halfway through July, but I’m going to talk New Year’s resolutions. Every year I have put it upon myself to do something measurable like lose 15lbs by March or run two half marathons. But the problem is that if you fail by some numerical margin then you feel as though you have not met your resolution. It’s cyclical and unhealthy.

This year I set out to change but not in a numerical value. It was a habit I had to break. The habit of being harmful to myself in my thoughts, feelings, or words. So I have set out to…. Be kinder to myself. Deter self-shaming thoughts. Deter negative body talking. Not allowing myself to be cruel to myself. I now realize how often I do this to myself.

What I also didn’t realize was that I would face other people’s shaming words. Did I just not realize this before? Do I have a new heightened sense of awareness of these things? I am left dumbfounded by social comments and I walk away scathed. I allow this think time to settle in and I realize how hurt I have really become. For months I have been chewing on one conversation that festered and settled in creating a battle in my head. Where I constantly am questioning myself and how others see me.

From Brett Dennen’s Ain’t No Reason

People walk a tight rope on a razors edge
Carrying their hurt and hatred and weapons
It could be a bomb, or a bullet or a pen
Or thought, or a word or a sentence

This seems unhealthy because it is… until you put your mighty foot down and say – Wait a minute. Wait just a freaking minute. Stop. Stop. Stop that negative self-shaming inner dialogue, because those were their hurtful words not yours. Their words do not define you. You define you and your definition cannot come from their shaming like this. In fact their hurtful words are actually their character not yours.

Sometimes though like a phoenix we must rise from our self-shaming renewed. I have learned so much this year already. About myself, others, and that maybe it wasn’t only gumption but maybe a little chutzpah that I was looking for all along. I still don’t have it. I am still working on this resolution. I am learning that through some shame comes growth. If we do not feel or are unaware of the shame then we will never seek growth and change for improvement. This however is merely damage control and through that there is a positive change in me.

So after stewing the last few months over a hurtful conversation I wrote this last week allowing it to emerge like a phoenix into this blog.

God’s Image

Who are you to shame my body?

I do enough of that on my own. 

My eyes are an array of greens, blues, grays and orange. 

 I’m a square peg. 

My hair is turning white from years of toxic stress. 

Can I take it back? 

I’m really short. Newsflash….

Should I deny my genetic makeup? 

My feet are wrinkled and worn, but they have traveled many miles. 

Can I not see their aging as a sign of their wisdom? 

My freckles are aplenty making a roadmap of summer memories. 

Should I wish them away? 

I carry scars from surgeries that repaired me and gave birth to my children.

Should I regret that for your sake? 

My abdomen is round from sickened ovaries and stretched like a tiger, but both managed to give me two beautiful children. 

Shouldn’t I still be grateful for both? 

 

 

Calling it Good ~ Even When I Ebb

“Can you say your name to me, put mine after yours?
Can we build a house of glass without windows or doors?
Will you learn to love yourself the way I know you should?
Will we find the courage there to call our friendship good?
Call it good, call it good” ~ Avett Brothers Die Then Grow

image

My New Year’s resolution was to be nicer to myself. A resolution I must continuously work towards.

My behavior reminds me of the part of the Lorax that talks about biggering. The Lorax tells the Once-ler that pride is the thing that drives biggering. Bigger house, bigger review, bigger success, bigger run, bigger… bigger… bigger.  I want to spend more time celebrating and less time biggering.

When do I break my own glass ceiling?

When can I call it good?

I just biggered and biggered all of my running last year. I trained too hard. Ran too many races… asked too much of myself too soon.image

I haven’t been running to allow myself to rest. Finally, with my heel and ankle feeling stronger, I stepped on the treadmill. I looked at the race medals dangling on the wall and I recalled how amazing it was that I accomplished all that I did last year.  I had asked too much of myself… I had biggered on too long.

image

I should be proud but not too proud to admit defeat… especially with an injury. I am starting at the beginning again and training with the couch to 5k…again. I need to regain my strength in an orderly and gentle way. My goal is to take it slow and easy.

No goal to prove myself… no need to bigger on now.

image

I can call it good.