Where I’ve Been – Where I’m Going

For years and years now, I’ve suffered from S.A.D. (seasonal affective disorder). Since discovering it had both a name and a diagnosis, I’m keenly aware of its possibility beginning in late September. By preparing for that possibility, I’ve been able to train my mind that it may cause some low swings in mood but is combatable with extra sun, a mild depressant and just kindness and tolerance towards myself when (if) it happens.

I’ve also struggled with depression over the years, which has a large effect on my mood and can send me into a very “F it all” place if it gets bad enough. Again, having suffered from those attacks, I’m usually aware of their onset and quickly reach out to loved ones to let them know I’m headed there, more to forewarn them that I may disappear from my activity in their lives than for any other reason,

Well, this year – yesterday, to be exact – I’ve learned that depression can manifest itself in physical symptoms. For several months now, I’ve been suffering from serious fatigue and exhaustion, sleep patterns that are worse than what is “normal” for me ( which aren’t good patterns) and a loss of appetite. I’ve been tired mentally as well. I’ve been chalking it up to this crappy aging process and just accepting of it being what it is without much thought. When you’re overweight and diabetic, you tend to look at loss of appetite as a positive, right???!!! Less sugar plus less calories equals lower blood sugar levels and burning fat for energy, right???!!!

Well, apparently, all of these symptoms are also classified as being physically depressed. I didn’t even know there WAS such a thing! I am always keenly aware of my mental and emotional changes, and honestly, was actually pleased that, with the crappy year we’ve all been going through, I’ve remained in positive spirits except for the frustration of being always fatigued and yet, not able to sleep well enough to erase the fatigue. Now, according to my doctor and some additional research on the Internet (what did we do before we had access to information on anything available at our fingertips?), these physical symptoms all point to depression.

On one hand, that finding eases my concerns a bit – knowing that I’m suffering through something and it’s not just aging that’s causing it. On the other hand, I am uncomfortable with the thought that I’m apparently depressed nonetheless. It is apparently more common in people in my age bracket, and women more than men, so it helps to know I’m not alone in the experience. Exacerbators to the onset are both less sunlight and the fact that, due to wearing masks, our bodies take in less oxygen whenever we are forced to don one.

But while I’m accepting of all of these facts, I’m still working through physical therapy for my shoulder, the last little bit of the problem with it seems impossible to conquer, and I have exercises to help that I just don’t have the energy to do. I’m finding myself having to really push myself to accomplish basic chores, and some of them get pushed down the priority list more than they should. When you start choosing what to wear based on what’s in the clean clothes basket because you haven’t found the energy to hang up or put the clothing away properly, when the stench of your trash finally forces you to tie up the bag and put it outside to be taken to the bin, when you let dirty dishes pile up in your sink for more than three days, when you can’t even read more than a few pages of a book because your eyelids are tired, well, that’s a problem!

So, where I’ve been is struggling – – and where I’m going is apparently going to be the same place I’ve been. I’ve done some ‘nesting’, not as much as usual, but some. I’m now forcing myself to eat twice a day, no matter how little, simply because some of my medications need food in my stomach in order to work properly. I’m deriving a plan of setting a small amount of chores on my to-do list every day and accomplishing them, no matter how tired I am. I’m pretty much trying to train my body and mind into adapting a survival code and giving myself permission to accept that I’m not going to do all of the things I want to do but adamantly going to damned well do all of the things I need to do. And the biggest one for me is that I’m going to learn to be okay with the fact that what I do may not be enough in other people’s eyes and they can think poorly about me all they like!

My focus is going to be taking care of myself as best as I am able, and being there for others as I can. Putting myself #1 in my life is going to be a challenge, and I know I’ll stumble along the way, but I’m beyond the ability right now to have the energy to worry about anyone who thinks I’m being greedy.

So, readers, forgive me if my blog posts continue to be sporadic.

It is what it is!

When a song fails me….

Most of you know that I inherited a love for music from my mother and have lately, during the pandemic, relied heavily on it as a way to center myself and be “of the moment”. I have had the blessing of hearing songs outside of my preferred genre of which I’ve become fond. Many of them are from video games I’ve never (and will never) played. Some of them are from movies I’ve never seen. My appreciation for the lyrics, the score and the people who have introduced me to them is unending.

In the past week or so, I’ve heard a previously unheard song that has, however, had a very negative effect on me. As an empath and someone who has a greater insight into human psychology than many others, the lyrics left a very bad “taste in my mouth”. Learning that the song is owned by, and was recorded by, the late Johnny Cash has made me uncomfortable as well, since country is my preferred genre and has been for the past 20+ years. On principle, I believe that the beginning lyrics to the song are very persuasive and leading to anyone who is suffering from depression and considering options to escape the pain. They go like this:

I hurt myself today
To see if I still feel
I focus on the pain
The only thing that’s real

The needle tears a hole
The old familiar sting
Try to kill it all away
But I remember everything

What have I become
My sweetest friend?
Everyone I know
Goes away in the end

In my interpretation, those lyrics seem to almost validate that self-mutilation is okay. Maybe I’m over-reaching, but if they impact me that way, I can only imagine how they might impact someone who isn’t yet prepared to deal with healthier ways to handle depression, and who believe that hurting themselves is a way to make sure they can feel.

People who don’t possess those kinds of thoughts are not really able to understand why someone does. They cannot comprehend feeling so numbed by pain that causing themselves pain is a way to release some of the numbness. They don’t understand for some, it’s the only thing in life that someone can feel like they can be in control of. They don’t understand that for some, they hurt themselves because they need to feel punished for something they’ve said, done or simply for who they are. For others, it’s a silent but visual cry out of the fact that they ARE hurting.

My friend’s 11-year old son recently made some very vague comments about suicide and then cut himself (not deeply) with a pair of scissors. The family is deeply embroiled in a custody battle that’s been ongoing, and because this child is quiet by nature, he has trouble using words to express himself. I’m sure he also feels some need not to choose sides, though he is one of them who has a melt-down each time they go to the other parents’ home for visitation. (From what I understand, none of them want to go, but he is the one who can’t deal with it.) I would not want this child to hear the lyrics to this song!

I’ve stated, both times I heard it, in two different music themes, that I am against the song on principle. I mute it, which is all I can do. Believe it or not, I have considered bribing them with cash to remove it from their song lists for requests. Trust me, I haven’t fully let that thought go yet.

But for now, I have to console myself that it is their right to play and sing the song. But when I compare these lyrics to the lyrics from “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”, which started a big ruckus, I feel like this is a song I’d fight to have removed from the airwaves.

Am I wrong????

A Soapbox Rant – Again!

Yesterday, I stopped off at a convenience store to treat myself to an English Toffee cappuccino. As a diabetic, this is a rare treat for me, but I wanted to treat myself for having an especially good week with my physical therapy appointments. As I was parking, I watched a man get out of his vehicle, dressed in what seemed to be construction-worker attire and enter the building without a mask. I sat and waited, wanting to see him return empty-handed for not following the state mandate. Instead, I watched him return with a soda fountain drink in hand. He reentered his car, got situated and immediately lit up a cigarette before pulling away.

I donned my mask and walked in. I’m at this convenience store often enough that many of the employees recognize my face as a “regular”. I stepped up to the cashier and mentioned how disappointed I was that the man was not refused service because he wasn’t following the mandate, and I was told that they are no longer supposed to ask or question because some people have medical reasons that exclude them from the mandate. I went to the coffee station, and as I was filling my cup, I tangled with this information. I mean, I get it that some people’s health is made worse by wearing a mask. But certainly, if a doctor has deemed a person to be exempt, why can’t the state issue some kind of exemption card to doctors to hand out when appropriate, allowing those people to flash the card when questioned. I mean, we all have to remember to carry our masks with us, so asking them to carry an exemption card doesn’t seem like asking too much. Those who have one can remember to place a handicapped parking placard in a visible space when they park in one of the designated spots. Somehow, I can’t see that it would be a bother! And, it would keep people who think that rules don’t apply to them from slipping under the radar and break them because there is no way to prove their case that they don’t have a medical reason to be exempted.

That got me to thinking about other laws and mandates that have been implemented but have no consequence for not following. The state of PA made it vehicular law that vehicles must have their headlights on when it is raining. Much like the masks, this is a safety measure meant to protect themselves as well as others. Yet, I suspect that there have been ZERO cases in which that law has ever been invoked. I mean, again, I get it – what police officer wants to get out of the vehicle in the rain, walk to a pulled over vehicle in the rain, ask for identification and write a ticket while standing in the rain, then walk back to their vehicle in the rain and get inside the vehicle with clothing stuck to the skin?

Some years ago, the state of PA instituted another vehicular law that said that vehicles which were left running unattended were against the law. As I recall, instituting this law was a step to hopefully prevent the ease with which vehicle theft might occur. And once again, I get it – when it’s cold and you’ve finally gotten your car warm, or hot and you’ve finally gotten your car’s interior cool, who wants to stop and restart a vehicle simply to run into a place for, say, a pack of cigarettes? And yet, it’s another example of a law that has no consequences for breaking it, and it’s often ignored.

We have a law that seat belts are required to be worn. However, you’ll only get fined for it if you are stopped for any reason besides just not wearing your seat belt. I suspect that the drivers of vehicles are not fined for being injured or thrown from their cars during an accident.

And once again, I come back to questioning why we bother spending time and energy to write, debate and governmentally enact laws and mandates that people choose not to follow and which have no consequences for breaking! I remember when motorcyclists had to fight for the right to choose whether or not to wear a helmet when traveling on their bikes. I respect the rights of bikers who choose to go riding without a helmet, not because I don’t think it’s a safe practice, but because theirs in the only body that will be damaged in an accident. I believe that drivers should have the right not to wear a seatbelt, but believe that they should insist that any passengers in their vehicle must wear one. Again, if you choose to risk your health or life by not wearing one, that’s a personal choice for only YOU, but I don’t think you should be allowed to put passengers at risk by not insisting on wearing a seat belt.

Wearing masks and driving with lights on in the rain, however, are both mandates that also think about the safety of others, and that should supersede any individual rights.

Listen, wearing a mask is not on my list of “fun things to do”. I wear it primarily for my own health reasons, but I also believe in protecting others. Because I suffer from chronic sinusitis, I never really know if symptoms are, for example, from a cold or other respiratory bug that can be spread. And there have been times, when wearing my mask indoors someplace, I’ve had to find a corner or place away from anyone else so I can pull down my mask and blow my almost always runny nose. I’m still pretty cognizant of being socially distant from others when in places like the grocery store.

And, I’m also a bit disgruntled about why there are no consequences for people who don’t follow mandates or laws? Then, what’s the purpose of them????

I don’t necessarily feel any less angry about this than I did before writing this post, but sometimes, I just have to let the negative energy out about and express it. Thanks for hearing me out!

Homesickness

I finally got in a long overdue and much needed visit with my (favorite) brother. This distance each way is almost a 2-hour drive, but I know where he goes to hang out for coffee every Saturday morning, and that location cuts about 15 minutes out of that drive, so that was my plan. I’ve been complaining that my freezer was tightly packed because I had so many homemade meals and soups, etc. awaiting to be handed over. However, with the ongoing fatigue issues I’ve been experiencing, I wasn’t comfortable actually scheduling a day to visit because I don’t know how well I’ll sleep at night anymore, nor how much energy – and for how long – I’m going to have the next day. I texted him to let him know this morning that everything was in my car and I was on my way.

I’m pretty familiar with the route, although I always use the GPS as a back-up. The place I was meeting him was a new place for me to find, though I was somewhat familiar with the area, having grown up not far from it. The sky was blue but with low-level clouds, so there was no sun. The trees along the highway are just beginning to prepare to shower the eyes with that autumnal splendor of reds and golds and oranges. Nonetheless, there was an occasional clump of trees that seemed to be ahead of schedule from the majority, so there was some color to appreciate.

Once I was on the last leg of the drive, about 15-20 minutes from arriving at the destination, I found myself getting a little sad. I had the passing thought that I really missed this area, but thought that maybe it was more that I was looking forward to a big, also overdue, hug and I was feeling sad about how long it had been. Brad always comes here for Christmas, but I usually make at least 3 trips to visit him during the course of the year. Obviously, the pandemic changed all of that.

Our visit was lovely. Not the kind we usually have when we’re one-on-one in his home or mine, but just a nice visit. We were joined, as anticipated, by his frienemy, Jim, so I got to see him as well. We sipped coffee with free refills for about two hours, and then both Jim and Brad had other places they needed to get to, so we went outside, talked a little bit more, exchanged another hug and loaded the bags full of food into Brad’s hands to put in his car and take home.

Once I was back in my car and headed towards home, I didn’t get very far until I was on a road I’d traveled countless times over my years. Again, it was that sense of missing this area that was part of much of my life.

As a tween and teen, I spent an entire summer with an aunt and uncle and three cousins in South Carolina. I never felt homesick. I never felt homesick when I spent a month another summer with a different aunt and uncle and cousin as a “helper” to my aunt as she was in her 7th or 8th month of pregnancy with her second child. I lived on campus while I was away at college without any sense of being homesick. Even when I moved to Lancaster County and lived there for 14 years before making this last move, I never felt homesick.

But as I made the drive back to Pennsburg today, I couldn’t let go of the sense that I missed “home”. Not the actual brick and mortar of the building that housed me all of those years, but a sense that, in my heart and soul, this area in which I’d spent the majority of my life was “home”. It was familiar in an engrained way, and it stored within it a lot of memories of my life. Its familiarity felt safe and comfortable, despite the many changes that have happened over the years.

Don’t get me wrong… I live in a cute but old borough that is rural, not the suburbia I grew up in, and it has its charms. But I can honestly say that I’ve never felt as though I belonged here. To be honest, I never felt like I belonged in Lancaster County despite being there for those 14 years, but where I lived had more of the suburbia feeling that I was used to, so there was some comfort and familiarity in that.

The idea of packing up, moving and then unpacking fills me with dread. That will probably be the biggest hurdle that will keep me where I am. But having experienced being homesick for the first time in my life, I suspect that is a feeling that will reoccur during each and every trip back again.

I do need to remind myself that some of this might come from starting to enter into my ‘advanced years’ and perhaps subconsciously seeking to grasp onto things from a younger time in my life. On the other hand, all that I have left of my immediate family is my brother, Brad, and I do wish we were closer so that we could spend more time together.

All I know for sure is that, deep in my heart, I want to go home.

She Was Beautiful

SHE WAS BEAUTIFUL…….. but she didn’t know what that meant. When she was a little girl they told her she was beautiful but it had no meaning in her world of bicycles and pigtails and adventures in make-believe.

Later, she hoped she was beautiful as boys started taking notice of her friends and phones rang for Saturday night dates.

She felt beautiful on her wedding day, hopeful with her new life partner by her side but, later, when her children called her beautiful, she was often exhausted, her hair messily tied back, no make up, wide in the waist where it used to be narrow; she just couldn’t take it in.

Over the years, as she tried, in fits and starts, to look beautiful, she found other things to take priority, like bills and meals, as she and her life partner worked hard to make a family, to make ends meet, to make children into adults, to make a life.

Now, she sat. Alone. Her children grown, her partner flown, and she couldn’t remember the last time she was called beautiful.

But she was.

It was in every line on her face, in the strength of her arthritic hands, the ampleness that had a million hugs imprinted on its very skin, and in the jiggly thighs and thickened ankles that had run her race for her.

She had lived her life with a loving and generous heart, had wrapped her arms around so many to to give them comfort and peace. Her ears had heard both terrible news and lovely songs, and her eyes had brimmed with, oh, so many tears, they were now bright even as they dimmed.

She had lived and she was. And because she was, she was made beautiful.

~ Suzanne Reynolds, © 2019

And When October Goes

I’ve ‘borrowed’ the title for this post from a song sung by Barry Manilow. The music and lyrics are both haunting in their own way. It goes like this:

And when October goes
The snow begins to fly
Above the smoky roofs
I watch the planes go by

The children running home beneath
A twilight sky
Oh, for the fun of them
When I was one of them

And when October goes
The same old dream appears
And you are in my arms
To share the happy years
I turn my head away to hide
The helpless tears
Oh, how I hate to see October go

And when October goes
The same old dream appears
And you are in my arms
To share the happy years
I turn my head away to hide
The helpless tears
Oh, how I hate to see October go

I should be over it now, I know
It doesn’t matter much how old I grow
I hate to see October go

I remember clearly the first time that, in hindsight, I experienced the onset of S.A.D. (seasonal affective disorder). It was not a diagnosis that many years ago when I first experienced it. I was in my first semester at college, and my dorm room’s windows faced out to a beautiful tree-lined scape just off of campus. My desk was in front of those windows, and I can still visualize looking out the windows towards that scape. The first sightings of the leaves changing color was a magnificent kaleidoscope of golds and oranges and reds, but all too soon, those colors disappeared and the trees became tall, gangly big sticks with bare limbs that seemed almost garish compared to the splendor that had just been there. It set me into a state of melancholy that I couldn’t seem to shake. In my eyes, the view was so ugly that, with my roommate’s permission, we moved things around so that my back was to the window instead of facing it. That way, I could still benefit from the natural light without being able to see the scenery.

Finally speaking to my physician, nearly 20 years later, I mentioned how I was beginning to feel at our October appointment, and the diagnosis was made. I was given a mild anti-depressant to see if it would help, and it did seem to. I stayed on that medication until the following March. I also followed her suggestion and would make myself go outside, facing the sun, no matter how cold it got, as long as there was bright sunshine. The next fall, the same prescription was offered, but it didn’t seem to have much benefit. The dosage was doubled, and I learned that this particular medication doesn’t always offer relief being taken ‘seasonally’ like we had done. It’s now part of my daily regimen 365 days a year.

A few years ago, I was working in what was a pretty dark space without fluorescent lighting or much in the way of natural light. I ended up taking quick breaks, whenever I could, to go stand out in the sun with my eyes closed and my face upwards.

Now, I’m pretty able to handle what happens when the change of seasons is in full swing and winter sets in far too early. Older now, I’m not as keen on going outside when it’s cold, but I do have west-facing windows in my home which get full afternoon sun, so I might stand at them for some minutes and capture the brightness of the sun. Last winter, although it was mild in terms of snow/ice, it also seemed more gloomy with many less sunny days. Ironically, I now spend my time worrying about how bad this year’s onset of S.A.D. will be. I’ve been blessed to not have had a serious depression for almost two years – the last one I had was just after the holidays and it was intense and long-lasting. As is my habit, I simply shut myself away and pretended, when necessary, that I was okay. It will always be difficult to talk about that darkness with anyone who has not experienced it, who cannot fathom what it feels like. I’ve only begun opening up about it with people I truly trust, and letting them know that there is nothing they can do to help fix it – that I only need them to not be afraid of the darkness and be willing just to sit with me in it. I’ve said it many times, but perhaps never in this blog, that so many people want to stand above the dark hole and shine light down or reach down with a hand to pull me up. Those things don’t help – in fact, they often make it worse, as I see them as a way of indicating that I should just pull myself up. Don’t you think I would if I could??? The only thing you can do to help me is to sit in the dark with me, as a silent reminder, almost, that the demons inside me aren’t as scary (to you) as I think they are (to me). That’s the kind of reassurance I need.

So, it’s October already, and in the shittiest year in which I’ve ever lived, and as each day passes on the calendar, I can’t help but ponder if and when good ole’ S.A.D. will make its appearance. I’m already mentally preparing for it and using my old stand-by of “expect the worst, that way you’re never disappointed”.

If any of my readers suffer from S.A.D. – diagnosed or not – know that I am the best person to reach out to! Really! I’m too busy fighting my own demons to be afraid of yours!

Hacks from my Happy Place-XVIII

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about my happy place. I guess that’s because it’s been a while since I’ve given into spending a chunk of time in my happy place! I’m blaming it on my shoulder, my struggle with fatigue and the fact that my kitchen doesn’t get anything from my window ACs so it’s always hot in the summer! It didn’t help the cause when my brother took in a temporary roommate and I didn’t know that person’s likes and dislikes so I didn’t cook for him during that time. Then, I also had a week or so where I just didn’t have an appetite – my taste buds were completely shut down and nothing sounded appealing. Fortunately, that was also temporary!

But now, the weather has quickly changed and I’m fine with my kitchen being warm. (I haven’t officially turned on my heat.) Also, my physical therapy is working well enough that I’ve been able to regain much of the use of my right hand, arm and shoulder without a problem. It seemed like I had to retrain the right side to take back all of the tasks I’d turned into habit with my left side!

Anyhow, this past weekend I made a batch of baked pork and sauerkraut. I’d been hungry for it, and I knew I’d be feeding others as well. I even made real mashed potatoes because I was going to share! For the record, let me state that I’d rather clean the toilet than peel 5 pounds of potatoes!!! Got it? Living alone, I tend to use instant for myself because of the convenience, but I decided to splurge. Besides, it was a good repetitive motion to work my arm and shoulder muscles!

I enjoyed the process enough that I also decided to make a meatloaf and some baked mac ‘n cheese (I use shells though). The meatloaf was better than the last one I made but still not as good as others I’ve made. The baked mac ‘n cheese was cheesy good, though!

The reasons I bake my pork and sauerkraut instead of using a crockpot are several. I like to brown the pork I’m using a little bit at first, so that it stays moist inside. I can brown it in my Dutch oven (5 quart pan) and then that same pan can go right into the oven. My mom always added some dill weed to her sauerkraut, insisting it took some of the ‘gasiness’ away, so I do as well. The secret I use that my mom didn’t however, is adding apple sauce. Sweetened or unsweetened is fine, just not the stuff with cinnamon. The applesauce sweetens and takes over a good part of the bitterness of the sauerkraut without changing its flavor. And, I admit, I also like when it’s done and the sauerkraut turns just a light brown color, which only happens when baking it.

This turned out to be one of my better batches. I have given, or will be giving, 4 meals of it away, which left me with enough for two good-sized meals. That’s just enough to enjoy without growing tired of it!

A little trick I’d heard about, in the meanwhile, has to do with reheating leftover pizza. If you’ve done that, you know that using the oven to reheat will make the crust extra hard, and using the microwave will make the crust extra chewy. The trick said to use the oven, but to sprinkle some water on and around the slices, then cover the pan with foil to reheat. The claim is that the steam, as the moisture evaporates, goes into the crust (because it’s the only porous thing available) and makes it like it was when it came out of the oven the first time. I tried it! It worked! I mean, it wasn’t just like fresh-from-the-oven, but it was so much more palatable than not using the trick!

I found, at the recommendation of my chiropractor, a website called http://Half Baked Harvest which has a lot of recipes. The bad news is that, like most cooking shows, the creator of the recipes uses items most of us don’t have, like sesame oil, ginger juice, fresh herbs, but as I looked at the recipes, my mind was turning with the possibilities of substitutions. I plan to take a closer look and see what I can adapt to things I have or am willing to buy (I mean, seriously, what am I going to do with a bottle of ginger juice after I’ve added 3 tbsp. to a recipe??). If you like new recipes, please take a look at that website and see what inspires you!

So thanks to my efforts, plus a meal to try gifted to me by my bestie, I’ve got lots of options to get me through Sunday before I have to scramble again! And Tuesday, my bestie and I are going to bite the bullet and go to our favorite place for a late lunch indoors. I feel safer there than any place around, and if we feel it’s too crowded, we just won’t stay. I already know I’m going to have either chicken tenders and fries or fish and chips!

Also, please always feel free to tell me about recipes you like – – or ask me questions about something you’d like to try making and I’ll try to give you good advice!

And remember, it indeed is time to start putting on your winter weight (your body will do this naturally, so why not enjoy the process!!!

“I want my Mommy!!!”

Okay, I’m 64 years old. Okay, my mom passed away over 21 years ago. And okay, my mom was not the nurturing type. But nonetheless, I still have these moments now and again.

I started physical therapy for my shoulder, after 4 months of still having harboring pain from dislocating it in May. My chiropractor has been working the shoulder bones every two weeks when I see him, but this pain was not in my shoulder but down my arm. I’d thought briefly about PT and when I asked Dr. Craig, that was his suggestion as well. Luckily, I found a place just 3 doors up from my doctor’s office, very convenient for traveling to and from. And my insurance covers the cost with no copay there, so that’s a bonus.

I went into this expecting it to be painful. It is at times, but not critically so. My problem lies in the fact that all of the exercises I need to do except one require use of my arms, and I have zero arm strength! I mean, sometimes I have to use both hands/arms to carry a heavy garbage bag out zero. I bag my own groceries heavily because I don’t want to make a bunch of trips to the car for retrieval, but I’m almost stopping twice on the steps (a total of 6) to put the bags down and shake my arms.

The first week – the second appointment of the week – had some major repercussions. I got put on a rowing machine (to me, it’s more like bicycling with your hands) for 4 minutes forwards and then 4 minutes backwards. It didn’t take long for my arms to tire. With just over 2 minutes left, I was ready to give up. I was drenched in sweat and breathing heavily and hurting far more than I wanted to. But I just reminded myself of “The Biggest Loser” on TV when I watched it and how the trainers demanded people keep going when they were sure they couldn’t do it anymore. So I pushed through the pain and finished. I immediately dropped my arms and they were like Jell-O and shaking, but I’d made it through!

That was my last exercise. I had one errand to run on the way home, picking up a prescription at the drive-thru of my pharmacy, and I was exhausted and plopped into my recliner. I wasn’t sitting there long until I started to ache from one shoulder to the other and up my neck. It was intense enough that I quickly grabbed the freeze cream and applied it liberally, washed my hands and then popped three ibuprofen. Back to the recliner.

Of course, the ibuprofen needed time to kick in. But the freeze cream did nothing! I hurt so badly that I could have cried, only I didn’t want to waste the energy to do it. And one thought traveled through my mind: I want my mommy! My logical brain knew that, not only was that impossible, but if it were possible, it wouldn’t do any good. But I still wanted her!

As I thought about it, trying to take my mind off the pain, I realized I wanted a June Cleaver or Carol Brady mom, one who would coddle me and promise me it would get better.

My curiosity peaked further… As children, we somehow instinctively know that our moms’ job is to take care of us, just like our dads’ job is to protect us. This is not a lesson we’re taught; it’s somehow innate in our minds. That fascinates me! We talk about how much our environment shapes us, including our mindset, and I agree that’s true – but only to an extent. I use the example of my mom’s siblings to explain – one was a (recovered) alcoholic and another was a preacher, yet they both lived in the same household and grew up with the same parents. They were also the oldest and the second oldest, so there wasn’t a big span of time in which their environments would have changed drastically, one to the next.

Anyhow, back to the subject… It fascinates me that we have these mental intuitions and that we are, perhaps, born with them? Anyone have any insight on that?

And, am I the only one who still has “I want my Mommy!!” moments?

Dress Rehearsals

I read the words that became the title of this post in another blog in a different context. But those two simple words gave me a sudden insight into how and where my mind wanders more often than not, and I feel the need to explore that.

Whenever I have my just ‘sit and rest’ breaks, which are happening with more frequency since I started physical therapy for my shoulder which makes me even more tired, I prop my feet up on the recliner and just close my eyes to rest. This is the time when I work to clear my mind of things that make me stressed and just let it wander. Often times, memories come into my mind, assorted ones with no rhyme or reason. Sometimes, however, I think about things that are more in real life in the near future, and find myself thinking about how I want to handle them.

I’ve never liked surprises. I have ZERO poker face, so any emotion I feel is going to be displayed for all to see. Because of that, I’ve developed this sort of strategy for how I want those things to play out so that I’m prepared for how I’m going to react emotionally. It can be what I plan to say or do, or how I plan to react to what might be said or done. After all, we’ve all heard time and time again the adage that this is our life, not a dress rehearsal for it.

I’ve had to work hard to overcome the me of the past who, having learned it from my mother, would fly off the handle without warning. That work has allowed me to keep automatic retorts and my impatience for idiots to, if not come immediately to mind, at least not come out of my mouth. To be honest, there are times I wish I could visit that ‘old me’ just for a moment – just have a moment now and then when I can immediately blow off the steam and ire that has bubbled up. And I have – on very rare occasions – and immediately felt bad and ended up apologizing. My bestie can probably recall the time I said something very nasty to her and apologized, while she thought it was just my streak of sarcasm and what I said didn’t even faze her. But I knew I’d said it in a moment of anger, so I needed to apologize.

So, it is really helpful to me to have these dress rehearsals in my head… to play out potential scenarios for something I’m pretty sure will be happening and how I want to deal with it. I don’t know – perhaps it is a form of wanting to control a situation, though I think it’s more about wanting to make sure my self-control will be activated. And sometimes, it’s planning something I want to say to a person in kindness, wanting to make sure that I hit the right chord of words that will lift someone up when they are feeling low.

Dress rehearsals are, I guess, a coping mechanism for me. However, once again, I wish I could just spontaneously combust when the spirit strikes me. Because I choose not to, I realize that the emotion I’m feeling just gets tucked away (not disposed of) and that I end up carrying it with me. Such is the case in my recent post about finding forgiveness. The anger I felt at the words that were said to me never got a chance to express itself, so these years later, it’s unresolved (thanks again to Just Being Me for words that have been helping me resolve it internally!).

I remember when I was still the ‘explode now’ kind of person, and a therapist I was working with who helped me by suggesting I visualized a container inside my chest where I would put those feelings, tighten the lid, and hold on to it until I was in her office, where I was free to let them out and deal with them in a place without judgement or fear. That actually worked like a charm! But now, I have no scheduled time or place where I can look forward to freeing them, so they tend to fester. Seldom are they things that don’t just dissolve with time, but when they are… Consciously or sub-consciously, I carry them around as a part of me – and then I wonder why I’m so tired!

I need to work on finding ways to free those emotions in a safe and non-judgmental way. I have been more open with my bestie and my brother in discussing them, and I have this blog as a place to at least pour them out.

But still, I choose to let my mind play out these dress rehearsals. Maybe it’s just my way of avoiding the possibility that something will happen that will add to my already full internal container…

Lost Sight

Once again, my brother has written a poem that moves me deeply inside.

commonsensiblyspeaking



~~~

Envying those who have more

We lose sight of how to give

And in the race to be like them

We lose sight of how to live

~~~

In the want to be pedestalled

We lose sight of the ledge we climb

Shiny bobbles to keep us fooled

We lose sight of how precious time

~~~

When wealth is all we idolize

We lose sight of just who we are

When looking down from up above

We lose sight of our guiding star

~~~

And here lies man’s great tragedy

For there is more in life to find

Having sight does not mean we see

When we choose to remain so blind

~~~



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