And that’s why I don’t come here often!

I finally broke down and went to the doctor. My aversion to seeking medical advice is surprising to some – I AM a nurse…so it would seem that going to the doctor would be a regular occurrence.  The whole “practice what you preach” phenomenon…but…I rarely get ill.  When I do get ill, I just want a dark room and solitude – neither of which are available in a medical office. When I finally go, it usually means that my quality of life has been impacted in some way (i.e. I can’t lift the ice tea pitcher as in my earlier post!).

My back has made sleeping impossible for the past three weeks.  I have tried a variety of sleep aides, a heating pad, pillows and at one point, massive amounts of wine – which only produced a headache to accompany my back pain.  After four nights of sleeping in two hour stints…I’d had it.  It was time.  Give me drugs.personalized-physical-therapy-brings-relief-for-lower-back-pain

I have seen the doctor exactly two times over the past two years.  The first time was due to my increasing work load and my ability to self-monitor my depression.  I was diagnosed with major depression about ten years ago and have been on and off anti-depressants for the same length of time.  I could feel that my emotions were getting the best of me so I called the MD office to request a consult to increase my anti-depressants for a bit.  I am unsure what was actually construed to the doctor but by her response, it must have been something like..”She’s about to jump….get her in quick!!!”  I was given an appointment the same day which should have given me a clue that they may have had the wrong picture.  When I walked into the office, I was quickly ushered into a patient room after about…three seconds.  Apparently, they didn’t want a depressed woman waiting very long.  The doctor rushed in, apologizing for making me wait…again…for the three seconds.  She seemed a bit flustered when she couldn’t find the number for therapy and literally yelled down the hallway – “I need the therapist number…quickly”.  I tried explaining that I was feeling a bit overwhelmed…not suicidal…which seemed to give her some relief – although the remaining time of the visit was a bit awkward.  She continued to assess me while I tried my best to look mentally healthy enough to leave but depressed enough to get my medication.  I left thinking…I really need to move this over to a Psychiatrist.

My last visit was due to my back.  I actually forgot that this was the main reason for my visit since I came out with a Pelvic, Colonoscopy, Mammogram and labs…and a lecture about coming in more often if I don’t want to be accosted in every way possible all at once.  I longed for my depressive period – she had mentioned the colonoscopy but had followed with “but let’s not think about that now…” as if knowing that having a camera inserted into my rear would definitely make my depression worse.  I did follow through with all of my delinquent tests…and can certify..I’m overwhelmingly healthy.  Except for my back.  And my occasional need for a mood stabilizer.

So on to this visit.  She reminded me that this was my second visit for my back and asked how I injured it.  She didn’t bat an eye when I told her “By blowing my nose”.  “Yep..that happens…”  REALLY?  I don’t know whether to feel better or worse!  I guess I’ll up my Vitamin C and try to keep my nasal passages clear.  This was followed with a formidable lecture on how this was “Just a tickle compared to what it could be” and if I don’t start talking it seriously, I would one day “be begging her to cut into my back to stop the pain…”  Wow!  I’m glad the depression is off the table and she’s not afraid to mince words anymore!  So…no more boot camp for a while and a script for 6 weeks of physical therapy.  This was followed with another lecture regarding coming in when the pain starts and not avoiding the doctors office.  After thinking through the past year, however, I just want to say….This is why I don’t come here often!  In the end, I do have to say, however, that I do love my doc.  She’s actually been one of my favorites – which if she knew me well enough, she would be able to tell.  My last doctors only saw me when I was pregnant…or truly depressed…or unable to lift my tea pitcher.  Again…it’s all about quality of life.

One Piece at a Time

So I’m starting to think that my bucket list will include replacing at least one body part – which one is going to give out first is not entirely clear.  I pulled my back recently.  It was not while moving furniture or from something even more impressive – like saving a child from a burning car.  No…it was from…blowing my nose.  I have replayed this in my mind several times and still can’t figure out how it happened.  It was not some heavy weight 50-pound tissue I was using.  This was regular Kleenex…knowing me…most likely the bargain brand.  I did not blow out a 20 pound tumor. While I can’t really remember any “typical” nose blowing routine that I have, this particular instance did not seem unusual.  I sniffled…I blew…and I grabbed a chair to stay upright.

The only other person in the room was my friends daughter.  We were at their house for the Superbowl.  Don’t think the irony of this is lost on me.  There were 300 pound men pummeling each other and walking away while I am apparently so delicate, that one good forceful breath will knock me off my feet.  Although…delicate and I have never been used back-painin a sentence together before.  I’m typically more the “sturdy” type….which is code for “big boned”.  Back to my point, however.  My friends daughter asked “Are you OK?” with a look on her face like “please don’t ever let me get this old!”  Mind you, she is an absolutely gorgeous size ‘0’ blond who couldn’t gain weight if she ate her way through a Baskin-Robbins.  I had a brief moment of reminiscing of when I was in my early 20’s and all of my body parts were actually in the right place.  I was cute then.  And in less pain.  And probably looked at older women the same way.  This is obviously my punishment.

I made my way back to my seat and spent the rest of the day trying to find a comfortable position that didn’t make things worse.  There was none.  Apparently, your back is connected to almost every movement you make.  I am acutely aware of this now!  I went through a week of lower back irritation which somehow has now settled into my right hip.  Same type of problem – hard to find a good position.  Not causing me to scream in pain but enough to make me wince when I turn the wrong way…which is about every five minutes.  My short term memory is shot so each time my hip yells up to my brain “I TOLD YOU NOT TO DO THAT”, my brain retains that information for about four minutes…and then tries the exact same thing again.  Maybe I need to start with a brain transplant.

I have been reminding myself that this is not as bad as the pinched nerve that I had in my shoulder a few years ago.  There is nothing like nerve pain..hot, painful, burning and nothing truly seems to relieve it.  This I can do…dull pain is better.  Although, I would truly just like to give up the whole pain thing in general.  I also had Tennis Elbow four years ago.  I don’t play tennis.  Evidently, that is not a requirement…which does not seem fair.  I shouldn’t be able to get something that is named after something that I don’t do.  It should be called “Iced Tea Pitcher Elbow” since that was what finally drove me to seeing a MD.  It was effecting my quality of life when I couldn’t lift the Iced Tea pitcher out of the refrigerator.  We all have our limits.

At this point, my knees and ankles take turns acting up.  I’m staring to think that my whole body actually has a personality disorder and is just attention seeking.  I’m wondering if I just buy myself a nice lotion if everything would just calm down.  I am setting up an appointment for a massage this week.  My cranky body does like that immensely.  I’ll also probably break down and go see the MD if my hip doesn’t get back to normal soon.  You would think as a nurse that I would be at the doctors anytime I have a problem.  We are the worst patients.  The last time I went, she nailed me down for a Mammogram, Colonoscopy, Pelvic and labs with a lecture on coming more often.  This did not make me want to visit more frequently.

So, I’m falling apart…one piece at a time.  In spite of that, I’m reminded that just this morning, I was able to chase eight three-year-old’s around the room at Children’s Church.  I have a pretty amazing immune system that enables me to count on one hand the number of times I’ve stayed home sick over the past five years.  At my age now, my father was beginning to have heart issues and my mother was hypertensive with Type II Diabetes.  She would later pass away due to having multiple strokes.  The last one took her when all signs were saying that she was getting better and that her life was about to return to some normalcy.

So maybe the bone and muscle aches are not so bad.  Maybe they just remind me to stay on top of my health and actually go to that MD appointment.  Maybe it’s just another reminder of my human-hood…and a reminder to get started on that Bucket List – while I still have the capability of moving around.  I wonder sometimes what my mother didn’t get to do.  I feel oddly at peace that my life has been pretty great and if I died tonight, I wouldn’t have any regrets. (I feel the need to add – God…I’m also good with sticking around for another 40 years if you find me useful, so please don’t take that last comment as an invitation.)  I do think, however, that there is more to do…so time to start planning.  What should I do first?

Borrowing a Bucket List

I am turning 54 this year.  Not for another 9 months but I am officially in my mid-50’s.  Weird.  I graduated from high school in 1981 – 36 years ago.  I have students who were born after I graduated from college.  I will never sing in a rock band…or compete in the Olympics…or act in a sitcom…or any number of things that we dream of as children.  I have to admit…this is not news to me.

I auditioned for a rock band when I was 17 – my boyfriend  played keyboards.  I sang “Call Me” by Blondie.  I was not…horrible…but I do believe someone told me that maybe the church choir would be a better choice.  I also knew that gold medals were out of reach as my exercise asthma spurs people to pace me with inhalers when I try running.  Acting was also never going to happen…other than annually when we play on joke on the campus president.  Apparently, I am quite believable when relaying some horrible act that supposedly happened between two faculty members.  Enough so, that I have had to run into another room yelling “Go tell him the truth before he calls HR!”

There is a point in time that we switch slogans – from “you can be anything you want to be!” to “Fifty things to do before Fifty” and on to “The Bucket List!”  So here I am…at the Bucket List point. I’d turn that into “One hundred things before One Hundred” but as we all know, we are not guaranteed even tomorrow…much less an additional 50 years.  I don’t want the pressure of getting to number 89 and then having a heart attack, ending my life 11 amazing experiences short!  So I will begin with no number in mind…just what do I want to see…accomplish…experience…before I pass.

If I already had a list, I would be able to cross off a few thing already.  I visited Ireland and the-bucket-listfell in love with the countryside and amazing hearts of the people there.  I have zip-lined in San Diego and in Kauai.  I performed at a major sporting event.  Mind you – I performed with 300 other high school students in a half time dance when I was 15 and actually ran into the person in front of me, but as far as I know, Bucket Lists don’t have stipulations.  I did it…therefore…it counts.  I sang in front of a crowd of people for a women’s convention and didn’t pass out.  I also sang the National Anthem at a military retirement ceremony.  It was my husbands – and I believe the comments afterward were “boy…I’ve never heard that sung quite that fast!”

There are things that I know will make the list.  I want to visit so many places in the world…Australia, Jerusalem, Scotland and so many more.  I want to sky dive – although would prefer to weigh about fifty pounds less since I know I’ll be strapped to some poor sap and I don’t want him thinking “Dear Lord…why do I always get the big ones?  I hope I can stop us from falling like a rock!”  I want to publish a book…or story…or poem that makes people feel like we are not truly that different and helps us unify in some way.

Now..what is stopping me from doing any of these things?  Nothing but me, really. Since I threw out my back last week, I’ve been faced with how quickly our capabilities can change.  Maybe it’s time to not only write the bucket list…but to start making plans on checking off the boxes.

So…this is where I need your help.  Give me some ideas…what is on you bucket list and do you mind me borrowing a few ideas?   I would love to hear what other people have listed as a ‘must do’ before reaching a point when that dream is inaccessible.    What do you want to get done while you still can?  And then of course, that beg’s the question…what’s stopping you?

 

 

Open the Floodgates

I was lying on the couch yesterday and had the strangest sensation – a true déjà vu.  A very old memory surfaced and almost brought tears to my eyes.  It was a memory of the day Matthew was born.  I was lying on a bed in the recovery room after my C-section.  I couldn’t move due to the spinal block I’d received.  I only wanted to hold my baby, but he was off limits in the nursery until I could move.  I was focused and determined – and feeling frustrated.  I had carried this kid for nine months only to be denied holding him after he came into the world.  And he was all I wanted at that moment.

This was my only pregnancy that resulted in a spinal as opposed to an epidural.  All three had resulted in C-sections.  I am apparently blessed with breeder’s hips that refuse to actually allow anything through them.  I went through 12 hours of labor on Pitocin with Christopher.  After 12 hours, and me clinging to the side rails due to my back labor, I was dilated to a whopping 2 1/2 cm.  For those that are unfamiliar with the goals of labor and delivery – you are shooting for a 10 cm 1903_100_29-dilated-cervixbefore you try to push a baby’s head out.  At 2 1/2cm, I might have been able to deliver an arm – definitely not a good starting point!  At that point, the MD told me that the floor was having shift change and maybe we should consider going in to get him.  Not wanting to inconvenience anyone, I agreed.  With Tommy and Matt, it was recommended that I just follow suit and go with the surgery.  It was OK – no surprises.  I’ll have the baby on Tuesday at 7:30am.

The down side of C-sections is that medications are not optional. There is no natural childbirth, no Lamaze breathing, no “women have been doing this for centuries and I don’t need medication” moments.  They are cutting into your abdomen. It is recommended that you don’t feel it.  I felt strongly on this.

The other down side is that 25 years ago, there was no “skin to skin” or documented benefit of giving Mom her baby right away.  We were both being given great care – just not in the same room.  I remember just wanting him so badly.  I kept focusing on my feet – and telling them to move.  And slowly…they began to respond.  I yelled to the nurse and she did move me a bit later (apparently moving your toes does not guarantee that you won’t drop your newborn on his head – I was focused on the wrong limbs apparently!)

Being reunited with Matt took away all my anxiety.  I can remember feeling so excited.  This I can remember with each of the boys – that moment when you look down and realize that…this tiny little person actually was a part of you.  And that they will continue to be a part of you forever.

I’m not sure where that memory came from or why it hit me so hard.  What is amazing about it is that just today, a friend asked me “hey…what song did we sing right before this one?”  Before this one?  Who knows?  I wouldn’t keep this one straight if the words weren’t up there!   Maybe this was just to remind me that those long term memories stick with us even when the short term seems to be waning.  If I have to choose between keeping a hymnal straight and remembering holding my baby the first time…baby holding wins hands down!

I hope those memories continue to flood in.  They remind me of how much has happened in my life and how many people I’ve been blessed to share it with.  This empty nest that I’m living in is full of stories…and you know what that means…full of writing material!  I hope you enjoy reading!

 

I am a Mother-in-Law

I am a mother-in-law.  I’m still in a bit of shock about this…a very happy shock…but shock just the same.  I have a beautiful and sweet daughter-in-law that is preparing to leave her family and friends to be with her husband, my eldest son Christopher, on an Army base in North Carolina.  The moving van came to pick up her belongings yesterday and she gets on a plane tomorrow.  All this five months after the actual wedding.  A wedding that was pulled together in…four…days.  No..that is not a mistype – I did not mean four months.  I meant…four..days.

Now the four days are a bit of a blur but let me share with you what I remember.  We knew that Chris was thinking of proposing while on leave.  We knew this was a strong possibility – more like a probability…what we didn’t know was when.  We assumed that we would get  a heads up…something akin to “Hey parents…I will be proposing to my girlfriend this evening.  Please set aside time to congratulate us and possible pay for dinner.”  This is not the way this situation played out.  What happened instead was “Hey parents…we got engaged tonight and are planning the wedding for Sunday.”  Mind you…this was on Friday.

I, being of sound mind, and tend to run on the optimistic side, innocently asked “What Sunday?” to which the reply of course was…”two days from now.”  I  jumped from “Oh my gosh…what the heck…how are we going to do this?” to “Hey…I might actually be a grandmother sometime this decade” in a matter of seconds which gave me all the motivation I needed to get moving.  Let me answer the question that I know is in your mind.  I was not going to be a grandmother THAT quickly.  The timeline was based on Christopher’s lack of any available leave time for another year rather than the need for a shot gun wedding.  I don’t judge you…I went there too.

After Amanda, my soon-to-be daughter in law, started coordinating the guest list, she realized that they would need more time if they wanted everyone to show up.  Good…yeah! More time!  So they decided on….Tuesday…and while the time had effectively doubled, two days to four days is still…hmmm… a bit shy of the normal time it takes to plan a wedding.  Unless, apparently, you love your son and his future wife more than life itself, and you are surrounded by other people that love them and love you just as much.  Four days…and it was amazing!

In four days, we were able to do the following:

  1. Secure a wedding venue – the wedding was held at Mission Beach at sunset.  If you have under 50 people, you don’t need a permit.  We figured if over 50 people showed up, the extras would occasionally walk towards the water to show that they were random people that just happened upon a wedding…of someone they knew…and had bought a present for.
  2.  Put together a ton of flowers – O.K., it does help that one of our sons works in hospitality and plans weddings.  He and his boss provided both the corsage and flowers for the ceremony and…
  3.  Provided a wedding cake – and a bunch of cupcakes.  After they were set up, it looked like this was just the way they had ordered it two months ago..or six months ago.. as opposed to two days earlier.wedding-cake
  4. Found a venue for the reception – All I can say, thank God for good friends.  My best friend has offered her home for graduation parties, my husbands 50th birthday party, my mothers memorial, and now…my son’s wedding.  We have this great game we play.  I say…I’m going to have _____at my house.  Then I wait….until the silence gets uncomfortable and she says “Do you want to use my house?” to which I say…”Of course I do! – Your house is way cooler than mine!  And cleaner!”
  5. Supplied food for the reception.  Don’t ever underestimate what you can do with four days and a Costco card.

Amanda looked gorgeous in her white lace dress and red converse!  The wedding was truly beautiful and I don’t think could have been better had we had months to prepare.  I was a bit worse for wear…but did I mention that I might have grandchildren this decade?  Yep…so worth it!  14102430_10209984361675485_6807209878684363795_n

Amanda had to be back at school on Friday so we sprung for a very quick honeymoon at a Bed and Breakfast in La Jolla.  I had fortunately had the forethought to call and tell the front desk that the kids would be in later than the normal check in time.  This was good since the directions that followed were – go to the front gate  – use this combination to open the padlock – remove the key to open the front door – put the key back – go to the back office and find an envelope with your name on it – your room key and directions will be in the envelope.  It was good – I felt like I was giving them a honeymoon and scavenger hunt combined.  If you can find your room, you get to consummate the marriage.  Good luck and may the odds be ever in your favor.

So now, here we are.  Five months later.  Amanda finished school in January and is now 14372112_10207694033134479_6241863886280850142_oready to join Christopher in North Carolina.  Christopher has spent the last month moving from the barracks to an apartment and buying furniture.  We are so excited for both of them as they start their life together.  They have made mention that they plan of spending a few years as a couple before they become a group.  I’m OK with this…We still have three years of this decade.  I could still be a grandmother.  And even if I’m not, I’m good.  I’m happy.  I now have a very loving husband, three amazing boys and a now – a daughter.  I’m a mother-in-law.  Lord help me to be a good one.

 

 

 

 

…and the benefits begin…

I wrote earlier in the week about surveying my empty nest.  This morning, I began thinking…What has changed?  Is anything truly different?  I’ve spent so many years with a house full of people, what benefits are reaped when the house is filled…with two?

There are the obvious changes.  Our food bill has cut in half.  I was once advised to begin buying meat in bulk when the boys were preteens.  When they hit the teens, my friend expressed…”just buy the cow!”  We noticed that when the first boy moved out, our food bill did not change dramatically.  Then the second one moved, and still no dramatic change.  We are now able to pinpoint the eater.

We no longer have to get up and close the door if anything happens in the middle of the night.  By anything happens…I mean…anything outside of the norm of loud nasal breathing and lots of menopausal insomnia.  My husband Eric was always more of the mindset of just faking loud noises to scare the boys away but I’m the typical Mom.  I assume that the boys know that I’ve had sex since none of them are adopted, but also know that in their mind that equates to me having sex exactly three times.  Well…four…there was one uncomfortable morning when my middle son Tommy exclaimed, “for God’s sake, Mom…leave a tie on the door and I’ll sleep somewhere else!”

I would love to say that the house stays cleaner.  We have established now that Matthew was not the only messy one.  We still have scomet_breadtacks of mail on the table and my white tile floor is even dirtier than before.  This, however, is due to Matt’s replacement – our five year old greyhound/shepherd shelter dog.  We were concerned that our five year old Pit/Husky mix, Dexter, would be incredibly lonely with Matt moving out so we adopted a brother for him.  He has since been giving us looks as if to say, “Exactly when did I say I was lonely?  Who is this guy and when is he going home?”  While Dexter’s white hair blended nicely with the white tile, I now have a grey carpet if I don’t vacuum every day.

The front bathroom, however, is a different story.  This was Matt’s bathroom.  It was a mess.  Not just a mess.  An…”OMG…how does anyone’s feet get that dirty and you need to clean the tub”…mess.  A…”how are you even seeing your reflection through that mirror?” mess.  And…a “how many towels are you planning on storing on the floor?” mess.  The bathroom now sits prim and proper waiting for company to arrive. It proudly displays its very own set of guest towels and the tub is actually white.  (I had questioned that previously and wondered if we had actually purchased one with a tan inside.)  This is truly a benefit since we do have company over almost weekly.

The last “benefit” that I’ve discovered is still up for grabs on whether it is a true benefit.  Prior to the empty nest, I always had to leave the bedroom dressed…or in a robe..or in whatever was handy if I had to grab something outside of the bedroom.  Now…I can run in underwear to the next room and no one cares.  (I did realize yesterday that running to the garage this way may not be prudent since I forgot the large window in our side garage door has no covering.  Good morning neighbor!)  Strolling into the workout room to weigh myself however is fair game.  Except for one little thing.  There is a full length mirror.  A mirror that I have successfully avoided in anything other than full clothes for the last 16 years.  I’ve made peace with my body over the years and would like to keep it that way.  I think I’ll park the mirror next to the garage door window.  There are things I just don’t need to see!

I’ll continue to document the changes I feel.  I’m excited for this next stage in life.  Even more so since I can see retirement looming within the next ten(?) years.   I’ve become a true believer in ‘the best place to be?’  Where you are.  The best time of your life?  Right now.  I have the best of all worlds right now.  I can spend time with my boys and have alone time with my husband.  I can be at work or take time off.  Once again…I am blessed.  The secret is…not to forget that…regardless of what life brings.

 

 

Just a bunch of twigs

So it has happened…we truly have an empty nest.  The last of our birds has flown away…albeit, still close enough to return and wash his laundry…or catch a new movie on Pay-per-view.  Neither of these things bother me – I actually look forward to seeing any signs that Matt or Tommy have stopped by to spend time with the dogs or just hang out on the couch.  Christopher is on his own, truly, in North Carolina on an Army Base, eagerly awaiting the arrival of his wife.  All three of my boys have launched.  For the first Christmas in 17 years, I had no boys at home on Christmas morning.

empty-nestI’m not sure what I thought I would feel right now.  Sadness?  Joy?  Dismay at not being needed?  I’ve taken a little time to think of what I am feeling..and finally have a name for it.  Content.  I feel  content.  I feel incredibly grateful to have had 28 years of up close and personal motherhood with three boys that have made me laugh, cry, scream and at one point, consider running outside in a sheet to avoid being burned in a house fire.  I have learned to detect a lie from two states away and have developed a sense of smell that can be turned off in a van full of eight boys leaving the gym.  I have been blessed to know that when I am at my worst, my boys will forgive me just as they know that there is nothing that they could do that I wouldn’t do the same.

Our house bears the scars of massive amounts of testosterone that my estrogen couldn’t overtake.  The one bedroom that housed each of the boys at some point, the room closest to the front door (and the last on the way out!),  is missing a screen and has a large burn mark in the wood.  The front bathroom is missing half a shower door.  The walls have changed colors so many times that we probably created our own insulation.  We conceded that the white tile, albeit the bane of my existence and impossible to keep clean, is impervious to damage.

Tommy came by recently and we poured through a huge box of pictures.  They were neatly organized in bags to be used for my brief bout of scrap booking.  I made it through one book.  (That may be a stretch.  I made it through five pages…so a very slim book!)  As we looked through the box, I was hit with how much fun I’ve had over these years.  How much I’ve learned.  How much I wouldn’t trade the worst day or in reality…even tell you what the worst day was?  The day I bent the van door in half pulling out of the driveway?  The impromptu house fire?  The day that we had to put our huge dog Happy to sleep?  Was it during one of Matt’s asthma attacks?  Or maybe when I was called to the school for some reason?  And if so…which time?  When Christopher was hanging upside down on the bathroom door?  or when Tommy was ticketed for jaywalking?  Or maybe when Matt pretended to be hit by a car and gave the vice-principal a pseudo heart-attack?

Maybe earlier…when we were homeless for a while and living with whoever would take us in?  During our first year of being remarried and having poor Eric have to adjust to our very tight family unit?  When was it bad?  I don’t know…I don’t remember.  I only remember being a part of this inside joke…this crazy existence…that was never boring and always ended in love.  Maybe that explains my emotion.  My contentment.  My knowledge that I did my best…and on the days that I didn’t…it was still OK.

When I walk around this beat-up empty nest, I realize that it’s truly just a bunch of twigs – that is bursting at the seams in memories.  I know that everything is OK.  My boys are out forging their own lives.  They will make their mistakes – just as I made mine.  They will start their families at some point – Chris is already on his way.  My prayer for them is that they have this moment, years from now, when they realize that in all the craziness that surrounded their upbringing, we were incredibly blessed.  I wish them their own incredible memories in their own houses.  And…I’ll pray that they are wearing pajamas to bed when their own house fire hits – in whatever form that takes!

To my boys….I love you more than words can say.  Thank you for letting me always be your mother!

 

Why I’m Not Wearing a Safety Pin

I don’t typically write political pieces. I’m a humor blogger. I write for my own peace of mind and hopefully to give people a momentary laugh during a stressful day. For some reason, I’m being drawn to write something different – in the midst of a sleepless night after watching so much hate on the news, social media and just in normal conversations.

I am surveying the wreckage after our presidential election and I am frightened. I am not frightened of President Elect Trump, just as I would not have been frightened of President Elect Clinton, if that were the case. I am frightened by those that feel that they have no boundaries set on them in the name of the candidate that they voted for – and that is unfortunately, on both sides.

I am a 53 year old female Christian Republican that votes independent. In my 20’s, I was a single mother on welfare and a Democrat. Life experience changes us. I was on welfare for 5 years while I attended nursing school. My life had not panned out as expected. When my husband and I split, I had a job lined up until I discovered that I was pregnant with my last son. During those years, I saw rampant abuse of the welfare system. I watched people purposely not get jobs in order to receive a check. It happens. It is real. Some people use state aid as a hand up rather than a hand out. Some people do not. That experience changed my views.

I currently have a son in the Army. When I voted, I could not get past Benghazi. If my son is in harms way, I do not want a politically correct president. I want one that will give him the tools he needs to be safe. I will not apologize for that.

I know people are frightened by many possible outcomes of this presidential race. My faith dictates that I bend to a higher power. Your belief may lead you elsewhere. I don’t have issue with that. I have friends of many faiths. I have friends of different sexual orientation. When I had a recent issue on Facebook, I asked a Christian friend and a Buddhist friend what I should do. I received excellent and almost identical counsel from both. I have friends of many colors – and they have an equal right to be in our nation as I do. I do not find myself to be a bigot, racist homophobe. I do believe that we need to have immigration laws that prevent people that will hurt our citizens from coming into our country. If you are here legally, you are just as much a citizen as I am.

That leads me to the pin. I believe in everything that it stands for except for one thing. It prevents me from wearing it. In almost every post that I have seen the pin mentioned, there is an underlying anger and an underlying message that frightens me. It seems to say “I will protect you if you are LGBT, if you are Muslim, if you are female, if you are person of color….and anything that I can label, but if you voted for Trump, then I have the right to call you a bigot, racist homophobe in the name of my pin.” or “I will protect you as long as you share my political beliefs because if you do not, you are not worthy of my protection”.

I had a friend that was verbally attacked in the middle of the street this week. She was with her young daughter and someone began yelling obscenities. I don’t believe that she was on the only street in the US that only Republicans drive on. No one stopped. She had no time to look for someone with a pin. I don’t know if anyone was wearing one. I also don’t know who she voted for. I don’t care. I care that no one stood up to protect her.

I want to be a light in a dark place right now. So that means, if you are being attacked, verbally or physically, and I am there, I will step in, regardless of your beliefs, because you are a fellow human being. We don’t have to believe the same things. I don’t want you hurt. I don’t care if you voted for Trump or for Clinton. I think many of us went to the booth hating the choice that we were given. I believe that both parties failed us miserably. I also believe that we can get past this because regardless of what I’ve seen this week, I inherently believe that we were made with good in us. And evil. But I’m like a five-year-old – Good wins.

I believe that both candidates should be stepping up to the plate right now to bring our nation together. Trump should be standing up to say that anyone who terrorizes someone due to their culture, orientation, etc., is guilty of a hate crime and will be swiftly dealt with. Do not do this in my name. Clinton should be stepping up to say that it is your right to protest peacefully, but anyone found destroying property or making threats of assassination will be swiftly dealt with. Do not do this in my name. There is harm being done in name of both candidates while they are both safely away from the damage. Meanwhile, we are left with the aftermath.

So…you will not see me with a pin unless it is giving me an extension on my pants. You will find me if you need me though. I promise. I will stand up for you. It will not be because you voted the same way I did. It will not be because we believe in the same God. It will not be because we live the same lifestyle. It will be because you are a human being. I hope you will do the same for me.

 

 

Week One – Blasting the Abs

I am heading into my fourth round of Boot Camp.  This 21 day boot camp is focused on Abs…if you have read any of my earlier posts, you know that my one big issue with my abs is…I don’t have any.  Muscle that is.  None.  I have a gelatinous mass residing under my abdominal skin that for the most part conforms to whatever I wear.  It’s compliant that way…but not in the way that it can actually lift anything…like my legs if I’m laying on my back.  So when Jake started talking about Ab Blast like it was going to be some three week party, I started recognizing his penchant for sarcasm.

Since I have returned to boot camp after my six year, 40 pound hiatus, this has been the biggest boot camp I’ve seen.  It’s packed with women that are either returning after their own break or starting with Jake for the first time.  The energy is palpable – You can’t put that many women together at 5:30am, all jumping, running and lifting, and not feel a certain sense of awe at how different yet similar we all are.  It doesn’t matter what size – everyone has their own vision of where they want to be and they are all huffing, puffing and sweating to get there.  I’m impressed with us as a gender…we are strong, when we put our heart into something.

Most of the week has been similar to the past with a few more ab rotations added in.  I think Jake wanted everyone to come back for week 2 so he didn’t hit us too hard with week one.  This was truly a blessing since I ended up with a small bladder issue early in the week.  Antibiotics knocked it out but I have now confirmed that running, jump squats and anything that vibrates the bladder is not conducive to working out without a restroom if you have a UTI.  Unless of course, you wear depends.   Which I don’t.   Yet.

So onto my actual ab blast – I have had three C-sections so my abs have been sewn up three times horizontally and one additional time vertically when my abdominal muscles split.  My youngest had apparently watched “Alien” in vitro and was trying to rip throughdownload my abdominal wall rather than be delivered the traditional route.  What they thought was a tumor turned out to be his foot.  He hasn’t stopped surprising me yet.

That being said, I’m a total wimp when we do ab exercises.   I’ve gotten a bit better with the single leg crunches and this week, the leg lifts did not kill me on the first round.  The third round is another story.  I did two rounds this weekend just to try to get ahead.  We’ll see if it helps.  Now that everyone is an old pro after one week, I have a feeling that the kid gloves will come off…and I will most likely be unable to walk afterward.  This will all be worth it, however, if I go down a size or can actually see some kind of definition in my mid-section.  There has been no definition there since I was 24 – when I was pregnant with my first son.  This may be tied to the fact that I somehow thought I was delivering a litter.  I was eating for five.  And not five babies – five grown men that had been on a hunger strike.  I gained 75 pounds.  Try not to judge.  I was always an overachiever so when the MD said it was OK to gain a little weight to keep the baby healthy, I went to town.  He was healthy.  So in the end…I think I did my job!

So two more weeks of Ab Blast.  I’m staying hopeful.  As long as I work hard, I know I will have some results.  They may not be earth shattering but anything that gets my flabby abs to be even slightly less flabby, is worth the effort.  If you don’t hear from me again, I’m in the hospital with something ruptured..have a good week!

 

 

 

 

Round three – where are those abs, anyway?

It’s official – a day without exercise is a day that I wonder if my pants will still fit.  I can see how adding exercise to the daily routine can be stressful.  I seem to be more stressed when I don’t exercise so I need to either keep up the routine or get a prescription for Ativan.  I was out of town for two days last week and had promised myself that I would hit the gym in the hotel.  When I went to St. Louis a few months ago, I was religious about hitting the gym at 5am.  Two days in LA, and three full length mirrors in my hotel room (Three…seriously….THREE!!!!)..and I couldn’t bring myself to walk through the hotel in my workout clothes.  Argh!  Regression in my confidence!  No worries, however…I’ll be back to it Monday and back to feeling good about my progress.

Ahhh…but on to the fun part!  What I learned at boot camp over the past few weeks.  My favorite new Jakism?  “There’s no crying in exercise!”  Really?  You obviously weren’t standing next to me during the last ab rotation!  There was crying…moaning…and sounds that sounded like several women were in labor!   Or maybe that was just me…

We use the resistance bands daily.  They come in different colors to signify their resistance.  Yellow – Red – Blue – Purple with Purple being the most resistant.  I broke a yellow one doing arm raises recently – which means nothing.  Until you break a blue or purple – you have no street credit.  Last week I went from the blue bands to the purple bands for bicep curls- upping my game. Until of course…Jake upped his.  No longer 15 reps..lets go to 20.  I settled for doing some shade of teal with a combination of blue and purple.

This is similar to moving up from the five pound weights to the eight pounds.  I’d like to be at the tens after another boot camp – a decision I will most likely regret on the next Ab round.  After three C-sections, my abs are definitely my weakest area.  (On a side note, if you are going to have multiple C-sections, you may want to ask your OB to trace a straight line in front of you.  From seeing my scars, that skill must be harder than it looks.)  I know that they will not get stronger until I spend some serious focused time there.  I also know that as a peri-menopausal woman, my abdomen loves to hold on to adipose tissue.  I know all these things…and would still rather work out my arms!  Or butt…or thighs…or that little muscle in my foot….intellect doesn’t always meet common sense.  I’m proof.

There are soooo many ways to do wall sits- hold five pound sand bags and do arm circles. Heft a kettle bell over head.  Hold a medicine ball between the knees.  I’m waiting for all of those to be joined together in some type of juggling routine while holding one foot in the air.  And trust me…some of these women could do it!  

So, as you can see…I’m still hooked.  I’ve heard that after doing something for over 21 days, it becomes a habit.  Again…not working out scares the heck out of me.  I never…ever….ever…want to go back to that first week again.  However…if you are reading this and have not been exercising and want to start?  Let me just say…the first week is totally worth it!   If you need help getting off the couch, give me a call.  I know thirty women and one guy that will welcome you in!  Have a great week, all!