Emotional Vomit (or Purge on a Page)

Gosh, I could talk for months about emotions. In fact, Rob and I have been doing just that. I usually have a pretty well-thought-out idea of what I want to say when I start writing, but when it comes to this subject my mind goes all over the place and I can’t nail down what it is that I actually want to say. So this time I’m rambling.

One thing I’ve been working on recently might seem small and petty, but that has helped me tremendously. It’s this:

I’ve riddled myself …my entire life…with substantially overusing the phrases I SHOULD do this. I SHOULD be like this. WE SHOULD. THEY SHOULD. IT SHOULD be this way. Also, I NEED to do this. I NEED to be like this. WE NEED. THEY NEED. IT NEEDS to be this way.

You get the picture.

I’ve come to realize how damaging this has been to my psyche/spirit, because when I say those things I’m not giving myself (or others) any wiggle room, any acceptance, any consideration, any way to ever be anything but an impossible, optimized version of what I deem to be “perfect”. 
I used to tell myself I was just an optimizer and if I wasn’t doing my best ALL the time then I wasn’t good enough. The problem is…not only is no one perfect (which I did already knew), but it’s not even possible to try my hardest to be as perfect as possible all the time (which I didn’t already know). In other words, I knew I wasn’t perfect, but I thought I had to try SO HARD to be as perfect as I could be all of the time.

Trying so hard…because I SHOULD be and I NEED to…is exhausting. And painful.

One day I just woke up to what I was saying and realized how unnecessary, how untrue, and how damaging saying those seemingly little phrases over and over again have been to myself and others. I started changing those two tiny little awful words to I COULD do this. They COULD. It COULD be this way. Also, I WANT to do this. I WOULD LIKE it to be this way. It WOULD be nice if.

Doing that slight little shift has opened my eyes and heart to other possible answers and solutions. It has taken so much pressure off of me to always do the perfect thing or to be the perfect way. 

What am I getting at? I don’t know, honestly. There are a thousand other things I could type about.

Honestly, this last year of emotional growth has been an amazingly eye-opening experience for me and Rob, one that has brought so many answers to so many questions regarding:

  • Who we have been
  • Why we have been who we have been
  • Who we really are
  • How to be who we really are 

After all the emotional turmoil Rob and I have both been working through together we’ve learned so much more about ourselves than we ever thought possible. I mean, it was freakishly crazy when one moment we thought we really, deeply knew ourselves and each other…and then suddenly realize that we have to start all over from scratch. We abruptly came to find out that a lot of who we thought we as individuals were, is not really who we are, but a “part” or a “character” we’ve been playing to help us get through life.

We used to think to ourselves, “This is my just my personality.” Or, “This is just who I am.” As it turns out, there are reasons we have certain personality traits and they have more to do with coping mechanisms rather than the true person we actually are at the core.

Sure, maybe we’ve gone our whole lives thinking we are “like this” but what if we don’t want to be “like this” anymore? Guess what? We can figure out why we are the way we are and be honest to ourselves about how our life circumstances have affected us. Once we clear out those closets, we can hit reset. And breathe.

It’s been a miracle to finally realize that just because “I’ve always been…” doesn’t mean “I always have to be…” There’s a surprising amount of freedom we have found in finding out about, and learning how to let go of, the parts of ourselves that don’t accurately reflect who we are and who we want to be. 

Admittedly, it’s been an awkward and even a downright hard transition at times. Fortunately, we’ve both been entirely committed to working through it together. Two or our true personality traits are commitment and hard work. Thankfully we’ve both still got those pieces firmly in place. 
I’m fairly certain that every single marriage goes through a period of tear down and regrowth. If not, then there are probably some serious issues that haven’t been admitted or allowed to surface. Because…when you marry (especially when you’re both so young when it happens) how can you possibly expect either one of you to remain the same person throughout decades of life? If you do expect that, then there is obviously some emotional maturation that needs to take place. 
Emotional maturity. Gosh. I thought I had it. Rob thought he had it. Turns out, neither of us had a clue. But…now we do have a few clues along with a few tools that we are learning how to use. And you know what? It feels right. It feels real. It feels like we are finally learning how to really care about ourselves and each other in healthy, genuine ways. 
Yes, these last 9 months have been growing months for sure. Uncomfortable. Scary. Selfish. Maddening. Sorrowful. 
These last 9 months have also been incredible. Tender. Honest. Loving. Selfless. Healing. Forgiving.
Over my lifetime I’ve heard, thousands of times, people saying they’re grateful for and stronger from their trials and that they’d never trade them for anything. When I’d hear that, I’d always want to raise my hand high and shout, “I don’t believe you! I’m JUST fine just the way I am. I’ll grow on my own without needing any prodding from trials. I can make that growth happen all by myself and save myself from hard things, so I’d rather not test out that theory, thank-you-very-much!”
Well. Now I finally understand what everyone is talking about. My eyes have been opened to how God uses our own failures and shortcomings as opportunities to bestow bounteous blessings upon us. The stuff people say about being grateful for the lessons learned from trials is all true. At least, it can be if you’re committed, hard working, and humble. (I can also see how easily it would all go awry, depending on specific situations.) 
I’m not trying to get at anything here. I’m not necessarily trying to make a point and wrap this up all pretty. I don’t have any final words of advice or motivational quotes or helpful tidbits. Just rambling…for my own sake. Just getting these chaotic thoughts out so I can think and feel more clearly.
This is my emotional vomit, my purge on a page…because sometimes we’ve just got to let it out.

Coming Out of the Hodophobic Closet

4 hours to go.

We are packed (mostly). The house is clean (almost). We are waiting impatiently for departure time.

But allow me to back up a little…

September:
I realized that if I was ever going fulfill my dream of family world travel then I would need a little help. That’s when Rob and I started collecting reward points from credit cards.

November:
Some incredible airfare sales to Europe opened up on the day after Thanksgiving. After a few hours of deliberation, Rob convincing me that he felt really good about it, sleeping on the idea, and waking up to more deliberation, we pulled the trigger.

October – April:
I saved up my pennies by writing 140 articles.

January – April:
I planned my hiney off in order to have the most memorable, convenient, and wonderful family trip yet (NYC, Paris, Luxembourg, part of Germany, Netherlands, and Belgium).

———————

Now, back to present day…

PANIC. ANXIETY. WORRY. STRESS. NERVOUSNESS.
Let’s see, what other synonyms can I use?
TREPIDATION. APPREHENSION. CONSTERNATION.

Hodophobia: The irrational and intense fear of travel. Hodophobia.

———————

The thing is, I LOVE to travel! I feel an energy to it that I don’t have toward anything else. But ever since I can remember I’ve always felt all of these scary things leading up to leaving. Every time.

Why??

  • Acts of terrorism
  • Acts of God
  • Fear of coming home without one of my kids
  • Fear of not coming home myself or in the very least, not all in one piece
  • Fear of a crashing plane, train, car, boat, or bike
  • Fear of coming home to a dead cat and devastated children
  • Sadness over leaving my other family behind
  • Guilt over the fact that not everyone can do this
  • Guilt over spending so much money on this rather than it going toward many other much more important and worthy things

  • Nervousness over leaving my comfortable bed and being in pain after waking up
  • Nervousness for not everything to go perfectly after I’ve spent so much time, effort, and energy bringing it to pass
  • Nervousness because my dream’s reality may not live up to the dream I’ve had in my head for more than a decade
Did I cover everything? Likely not. But you get the idea.
These fears and thoughts swim (more like, tread water) through my head for weeks and months before impending doom travel. I wish it wasn’t so. I wish I could be one of those people (ahem, Rob) who feel nothing but joy and excitement for leaving everything comfortable and routine behind…but I’m not. I work hard in my head to keep myself from backing out at any moment.
BUT THE THING IS… I DON’T!
I don’t let the anxiety overtake me. I don’t let the thoughts dictate my actions. I want to explore the world and, by golly, I decide that I will!
And then a magical thing happens. Every time.
I arrive at my destination and all the scariness sinks away, the dread dissipates, and I’m left feeling…well…DELIGHTFUL and terrific memories to last a lifetime.
When I’m out being curious and seeing new surroundings I feel more calm and more happy then I do at any other time. I feel like ME. 
And all the work, time, money, and worry that precedes is 100% unabashedly WORTH all of it!
Phew.
———————————
Now since I haven’t actually landed anywhere yet, I’m still feeling all the bad feelings. However, I’m banking on my past experiences to get me through this unpleasant phase…because all I can think about right now is the fact that we will be in Paris during their election and I hope we don’t get caught in the middle of any infighting. Or that my c-diff will be triggered. Or that we will all catch a nasty cold. Or that I will have overwhelming fatigue from 4 overnight flights and jet lag. 
Or, or, or, or, or…

Honesty with Self

A few weeks ago I was asked to talk in Sacrament Meeting about the topic Honesty with Self.

I was so nervous of crying in front of everyone that I forced myself to keep my focus on the page in front of me rather than on the congregation and I put forth a lot of effort maintaining a steady voice. Therefore, I’m afraid that I wasn’t the best orator…but I didn’t care. I was just so happy to have gotten through it without a major breakdown!

Studying for this talk (as always, it seems) was a blessing.

This is not a full transcript of my talk but it’s mostly intact. I’m not going to take the time to rewrite it for reading, but you’ll get the idea.

Honesty with Self


There were a few times the last two weeks where I was this close to backing out but decided that being asked to talk on this subject wasn’t mere coincidence and that I needed to go through with it.


I have to admit that not many of the following words are not mine. I ended up using about 8 different conference talks and gospel doctrine lessons.

The Issue is Truth

How can we be honest with others if we aren’t honest with ourselves?? Is it even possible?


Satan is the father of all lies. ALL lies. Not just the big lies. Not just the lies we tell others. But Satan is even the father of the lies that we tell ourselves.


The Savior constantly rebuked those who professed one thing publicly but lived differently in their hearts.


Wars in the inner self that are fought subconsciously, leading to defeats or overreactions, which also hurt us subconsciously.

Subconscious DEFEATS are reflected in our conscious life as a lack of self-confidence, lack of happiness, lack of faith.


Subconscious OVERREACTIONS lead to pride, arrogance, indecency, or cruelty. Our minds can play tricks of reason to impress others, to get gain, to intimidate, or to manipulate. These are the vain results of deceit.


In contrast…


Christ often spoke of blessing us with answers, gifts, faith, and other spiritual gifts if we but have an honest heart.


The only way to find truth is through uncompromising self-education…to see the “real me,” the child of God, in its innocence and potential.


Howard W. Hunter said that when we promote an honest, earnest integrity within ourselves, it will be one of the greatest accomplishments of our lives.

5 Categories of Self-Honesty

So how do we find our true nature? How do we self-educate ourselves to find the level of our self-awareness?


I thought of five categories of self-honesty that we can contemplate on and answer in order to truly know ourselves and thus find the “Real Me,” The Child of God.


1- We Must Be Honest with Ourselves About Our Own Feelings


Repressing and controlling our feelings is a form of self-manipulation that we all, at times, perform in an effort to control others people’s responses to us. We could be seeking responses of approval…or…we could be trying to protect ourselves from their hurt, anger, or displeasure with us.


When we choose to deny our feelings, inevitably our life and relationships with others begin to feel unfulfilling and superficial. This is the price that we pay when we are more committed to avoiding upsets than we are to living and interacting with authenticity and integrity.


To combat this damaging cycle, we must recognize and identify our feelings as they arise. We must let ourselves experience them. By doing so, we will be better able to honor ourselves and others through honest and productive communication and actions.



2- We Must Be honest with Ourselves About Our Own Desires


“For I, the Lord, will judge all men according to their works, according to the desire of their hearts”


Notice that the Lord combines the two…works and desires. They inevitably go together, no matter how often we try to convince ourselves otherwise.


Neal A. Maxwell said, “Our desires profoundly affect the use of our moral agency…even when we do not really want the consequences of our desires.”


For good or for bad, “What we insistently desire is what we will eventually become because “God granteth unto men according to their desires.”
(Alma 29:4)


We must acknowledge our responsibility for our desires. Lukewarm desires cause apathy, melancholy. Righteous desires need to be relentless. We must know them and love them and allow them to move us forward, closer to Christ.


3- We Must Be Honest with Ourselves About Our Own Weaknesses


Larry R. Lawrence says we have to ask ourselves some difficult questions, like “What weakness needs strengthening?” “What is keeping me from progressing?”


The perfect time to ask ourselves these questions is when we take the sacrament and our hearts are turned toward heaven. This allows the Holy Ghost to gently and reverently tell us what we can do. “The Holy Ghost doesn’t tell us to improve everything at once. If He did, we would become discouraged and give up. The Spirit works with us at our own speed, one step at a time.”


President Uchtdorf reminds us, “There is a difference between the sorrow for sin that leads to repentance and the sorrow that leads to despair.”


We should be persistent but never discouraged at our inability to reach perfection. In our mortal life, we are just meant to lay the foundation for the perfection we will obtain in the next life.


4- We Must Be Honest with Ourselves About Our Own Strengths


Just as the spirit can show us our weaknesses, he can also show us our strengths.


“For there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God. To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited.”
D&C 46:11-12


When we begin to examine our strengths and capabilities, we can’t get caught up in comparisons and recognitions. Those aren’t true measures of our gifts.

President Uchtdorf said, “We too easily and too often get caught up in seeking the honors of men rather than serving the Lord with all our might, mind, and strength. Individual recognition is rarely an indication of the value of our service.”  


He also said, “God knows that some of the greatest souls who have ever lived…are the blessed, humble souls who emulate the Savior’s example and spend the days of their lives doing good.”


5- We Must Be Honest with Ourselves About Our Own Testimony


Our testimony is a knowledge of the truth, a knowledge that is felt in our heart even when our mind doesn’t know. Each of us will be tested, tempted, and tried on our testimonies…to find out if we will remain true.


Robert D. Hales said, “Doubts can be resolved when an honest desire to know the truth leads you to exercising moral, spiritual, and mental effort. Only after that can we gain a testimony of the TRUTHFULNESS of the Gospel through the Holy Ghost.”


“Having dropped all pride of your mental stature, having acknowledged before God your confusion, having subjected your egotism, and having surrendered yourself to the teaching of the Holy Spirit, you are ready to begin to learn.”


“Mere passive acceptance of the doctrines will not give the testimony.” You have to fight for a testimony and you have to keep fighting.


We must live and share our testimony. It will assist others who are searching for the truth and wanting to embrace the truth.


Spencer W. Kimball said, “The truth you seek is tied to the person you are. Light, spiritual answers, and heavenly direction are unalterably linked to your own honesty and truth.”

Enduring Truth

Once we reflect and ponder and pray about these truths of ourselves, then what? Do we compare our truths to someone else’s truths? Do we wallow in our shortcomings? Do we give up on our never-ending, unreachable path to perfection? Do we convince ourselves that it’s impossible to be 100% truthful in all things?


Enlightened by the Spirit of truth, we will then be able to pray for the increased ability to endure truth. In the depth of such a prayer, we may finally be led to that lonesome place where we suddenly see ourselves naked in all soberness. Gone are all the little lies of self-defense. We are shocked to see our many deficiencies.


But that’s good.


This is that place where true repentance is born. This is that place where conversion happens.

As the hymn goes,


More holiness give me,…
More patience in suff’ring
More sorrow for sin,
More faith in my Savior
More tears for his sorrows
More pain at his grief
More meekness in trial
More praise for relief


When we allow ourselves to feel the truth in our feelings, our desires, our weaknesses, our strengths, and our testimony…this is the place where we suddenly see the heavens open… as we feel the full impact of the love of our Heavenly Father, which fills us with indescribable joy.


Truth is knowledge of ourselves as we were, as we are, and as we are to comeThe knowledge that we are each a Child of God.

14 Years Down…

Here is one picture of Rob and I for each year we’ve been together.

2002
Mt. Timpanogos temple in December. I was freezing but could hardly feel it because I was so happy!

 

2003
For our first vacation together (other than our honeymoon) we went to San Diego but first stopped in Tehachapi to visit my grandparents.

 
2004
I had some work training and testing in D.C. for a week so Rob tagged along. 
 

2005
Ahh, Paris. It was much more fun for me this time around because I wasn’t alone and I had my own personal translator with me!

 

2006
This is right after the blessing of our new son. My how our life changed that year!

 

2007
I was a couple of months along with Madeleine when I graduated with my business degree. Phew! I was so glad to be finished!

 

2008
We enjoyed a “babymoon” in San Francisco. And no, I’m not full term here. I still had 6 weeks to go!

 


2009
Portrait time.

2010
We took a weekend getaway to explore Capitol Reef, Boulder, Devil’s Garden, Kodachrome Basin, and Bryce Canyon.

2011
Another portrait.

 

2012
We took these serious-faced self portraits in our living room.

2013
This was our digital Christmas card.

 

2014
We get silly every now and then.

2015
Here we are just hanging out while the kids feed ducks.



2016
We loved exploring the Mexican ruins together!

Onward and upward to another great year together (and decades more) as best friends! 

The Arduous Story of My Sight (and Rob’s Miraculously Healing Eyes)

Warning: This is a very long and boring story. Proceed at your own risk.

-1989-

I failed an eye exam and got my first pair of glasses. Mind you, geeks weren’t cool back then like they are now. Nope, I was just a lowly, uncool geek. Still am, though.

(Ummm. Can we just focus on the silkiness of my hair and not on my
ridiculous glasses, lone fang, and double-decker bangs? Please?)

-1993-

I switched to contact lenses since I was entering junior high and had to Cool Up, for my own sake. Although, I don’t think it worked. Actually, I do know…it didn’t.


-1999-

I started wearing small glasses because they suddenly became cool. Soon after this I went back to contacts almost exclusively because my eyes get tired when wearing glasses.

(Ummm. Could this picture be any more pink? This was during my gothic-leaning days. 
Please excuse the weird hair. Strike that…the very weird hair.)

-Spring of 2016-

I started seeing double or “ghosting” when watching tv or reading. My night vision was suddenly reduced and I couldn’t read any road signs until they were right next to me. Even then, they were blurry.

(This is my thinking face while, or instead of, working.)

-June of 2016-

I went to the eye doctor with my complaints. He told me that what I was experiencing is normal as I age. Along with a slight prescription change in my right eye only, he diagnosed me with astigmatism in both eyes.

After fitting me with new contacts, I told him I still couldn’t see that well. He told me to take a week or two for adjustment and then he’d change the brand or strength, if needed.

-July-

I still couldn’t see very well so I went back to the dr. and tried different contacts and waited for adjustment.

-August-

I still couldn’t see well so I went back to the dr. and had him check my eyes again. He confirmed my astigmatism but gave me a slightly different prescription and I waited for adjustment.

-September-

I still couldn’t see well so I went back to the dr. and again, tried different contacts, and waited for adjustment.

-October-

I STILL couldn’t see!

I finally took the time (and expense) to get a second opinion from a different doctor. He and his optometrist both checked my eyes and not only gave me a different prescription than what I’d been given, but (here’s the kicker) told me that I do NOT have an astigmatism in either eye. At all!

I was given new contacts and I CAN SEE!!

This was after I had ordered a bunch of contacts from the old doctor (at the time, thinking my prescription was correct). When I tried to return them, the doc never took the time to see me or apologize for giving me bad vision for almost 5 months! I also didn’t get a refund for my appointment cost but he DID give me a year’s worth of lenses in the corrected prescription for free…most assuredly as a bribe to keep me from blasting a bad review all over online.

I’m still annoyed.

…………………………………………………………………………

Now, this isn’t the end of this dull story, oh no. This next part took place at the same time that I was having my contact lens issues, making for even MORE frustration:


-August of 2016-

Since my prescription changed slightly in June, I finally decided it was time to upgrade my glasses.

Buying lenses for me is really expensive due to the high prescription (-7.0 and -7.25). I hate buying glasses because I have a hard time finding frames that:

a) work with very thick high-index prescription lenses

b) fit my tween-sized face without boasting tween-themed colors such as hot pink and adornments such as kitty cats and peace signs

c) are stylish but not too stylish since I don’t want to go through the whole rigamarole all over again as soon as a trend passes on by

So, even though I like wearing glasses, it took a long time to find any that actually fit the criteria.

I finally found a pair in Murray. I paid the almost $400 it cost to get mediocre frames with expensive lenses. Then I waited two weeks for them to come in.

When I went to pick them up, I made the mistake of not taking out my contacts when trying them on. I just trusted that they would be great. Wrong move.

That night, I tried them on properly and noticed immediately that there was something wrong with the lenses. I could only see through a dime-sized hole! If I moved my head or eyes up or down or even just looked off center, I became very dizzy.

Back to the store they went to be fixed. On top of them being made wrong, they decided it was probably best for my prescription if we went to the second thinnest lens rather than the most high-index one.


-September-

I picked up my fixed glasses and tried them on in the store without my contacts in. The lenses were fine. I did a quick glance in the mirror and left the store.

When I got in the car I did a selfie to send to Rob but when I looked at the picture of myself I thought the glasses looked horrible! I couldn’t put my finger on what was wrong but I knew I didn’t like them (after spending the $400 and waiting over a month for them).

When I got home I continued to study myself in the mirror, trying to figure out why I hated them so much after I loved them in the store. Finally, I noticed two things:

1- The frames weren’t the same color I tried on. The variation in the tortoise pattern was so different that they ended up being much darker than the sample pair.

2- Due to the thick lenses (even though they were the thinnest I could get) in the bigger frame, they really morphed the sides of my face. So when looking through my lenses at my eyes, the sides of my face looked way narrower, making the frames look way too big for my face.

This is where my breakdown happened. After looking, waiting, and forking up hundreds of dollars, I still hated them! Time to start ALL over again. Sigh.


-October-

I didn’t want to go back to Murray for the 3rd time to return my glasses so I found a closer location, told them my issues, and hunted for a new, smaller, and narrower frame that wouldn’t cause such extreme face morphing.  I didn’t really find any that worked so they ordered in a couple of pairs from a different store for me to try on. This meant more waiting.

When the frames came in I went and tried them on but one of them was too big and the other one was ugly. After more looking, I finally found a pair of child-sized glasses that actually fit, would work pretty well with my thick lenses, and weren’t too ugly. I ordered them and waited.

FINALLY it was time to pick them up. I took out my contacts, put on the glasses, and left the store. It wasn’t until I started driving in the daylight that I noticed a very large streak running top to bottom on the right lens. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!

BACK to the store. It was determined that the coating wasn’t applied correctly at the lab, requiring me to send back the lenses to be redone. AGAIN.

{REMEMBER, all this was happening at the same time that my contact prescription was corrected so my glasses were ordered with the slightly wrong prescription. I couldn’t stomach calling and getting them corrected AGAIN so I just went with it. Luckily, they work just fine. Phew.}


-November 2016-

My new glasses arrive. They fit. The frames aren’t exactly what I wanted but they’re as good as I can get. The lenses are quite thick and cause some morphing. But again, it is as good as I can get.

That’s THE END end of my sight story. Super long. Frustrating. Maddening. Annoying. Expensive.

Worth it in the end? Eh. Not really. Whatever. I’m just glad it’s over. I’m hoping to wait a good long while before having to go through all this again.

And in case you’re wondering, yes I’ve thought about getting corrective eye surgery but no, it’s probably not for me.

MEANWHILE…

Rob required glasses before his mission and through the first 10 years of our marriage. Then, suddenly, his extraordinary eyes magically healed themselves to perfect 20/20 vision.

Yet, he isn’t satisfied with being perfect so he takes it a step further and wears glasses to get him up to 20/15 vision. To get said glasses, he just makes a request to an online store, they send him five pairs to try on, he chooses one, and he is out the door for a hundred bucks and no hassle (and, really, not even a need).

This doesn’t bother me at all
Nate now needs glasses to see the board at school. 
Caroline has needed a slight prescription since she was three but still doesn’t wear them often. Madeleine, so far, has vision perfection just like her dad and will probably never need glasses. 

The Worst Things

Before I continue with my post I want to take note that today our family blog hit 62,500 views. Wow! Granted, that’s over a 10 year period and with 942 posts we are only averaging 67 views each. Not very much at all but but when it’s all added up is sure sounds significant for just a ho-hum family blog. Moving on…

Lately I’ve been working on (and not being very good at it) having a more positive outlook and attitude. However, it’s been a while since I’ve done a “rant” post so here goes a quick list of my worst things lately.

  • Sushi. Ew! I tried it for the first time in forever and I ended up repeatedly dry-heaving over the nice restaurant’s table while trying to swallow a big bite of it. The texture, uck! The taste, eek! What’s even worse? I was completely out of water which I NEEDED immediately in order force the chunk of goo down my gullet. I had to quickly steal my friend’s glass before I completely lost it. Embarrassingly, my pretended sophisticated-and-cool countenance quickly disintegrated in front of a group of actual sophisticated and cool friends.
  • Still wearing sweaters at the end of May. My arms need to see the daylight!  
  • Our stupid cat’s addiction to meowing frantically to go outside and then immediately turning around and meowing frantically to come back inside and then immediately turning around and meowing frantically to go back outside and then…well, you get the point. When the weather is nice I can just leave the door open and hope the flies don’t come in but usually it needs to stay shut. We are all going batty over this never-ending game!
  • Chronic shoulder pain. I need to do something to remedy this but I’m not sure what the optimal treatment is and I’m too lazy to go about figuring it out.
  • Lowering my own hourly pay by loosing focus, procrastinating, and spending too much time writing articles about animal feed processing, employee onboarding (which isn’t actually a real word but I had to write about it anyway), RV insurance, how to use a walker, and a hundred other things I know nothing about and have to B.S. my way through anyway. I should be doing that now but instead I’m writing this silly post. 
  • Making any decision. About anything. Ever.
  • Having to try on 30 pairs of leggings before finding a pair that isn’t too small in the waist AND too big in the legs, aren’t a thousand dollars, or see-though when my butt is up in the air. 
  • Never being able to complete dinner within the recipe’s estimated time frame. I feel like a loser every time.
  • Crayons in the dryer.
  • Thinking about wearing a swimsuit to our new community pool surrounded by everyone I know and hold in high regard. AWKWARD.
  • My beautiful, lush Ivy houseplant turning into a sad, dying, stringy mess.
  • Is cooking really worth the dishes it produces? My sink is never empty of dirty pots and pans.
  • Paying for a library cd that is stuck in my car’s cd player. Also, broken car cd player.
  • So many end-of-year school activities crammed into the last few weeks of May. Let’s spread it out a little, eh? Also, multiple backpacks full of garbage. I have seen PILES and PILES of used paper enter my home. I mean, can’t it just be put in the school’s recycle bin?
  • The dust seriously accumulating in unreachable places.
  • Always having ground flax stuck in my teeth.
  • The vision I have in my head for my yard vs. reality.
  • Birth control decisions.
  • Loud music playing continuously. It’s like I’m in torture training for the Navy Seals. Okay! I break! I’ll tell you anything you want to know! Just make the noise stop!
  • Finding Cara used half my bottle of expensive shampoo for bath bubbles.
  • I love going to my backyard for quiet, alone time. It’s peaceful, I hear birds chirping, none of the kids are bugging me. BUT for the last 6 weeks when I go to the backyard, breaking the silence, is some negligent neighbor’s dying smoke alarm. Every 30 seconds, FOR 6 WEEKS is that faint DAGNABIT chirp interrupting my zen. *^##$@!!!
    • Opening the finished dishwasher after one of the kids loaded it.
    • My fatigue and soreness flare ups can be a real downer. The other day Madeleine asked why I take so much medicine and why I’m in bed so much. (I’m not really but in her little eyes I am and that makes me sad.)
    • My exploding linen closet because I’m the only one in this household who knows how to fold a blanket and put it on a shelf and I’ve refused to do it this week.
    • All three of my kids inheriting my un-fittable feet.
    • Because of my stomach pooch, Caroline asking me, repeatedly mind you, when I’m going to have a baby and saying, “but your stomach is sticking out!”
    • Stinky washcloths.
    • Nate’s bad attitude when he has to wear clean pants rather than dirty shorts.
    • The tupperware cupboard. ‘Nuff said.

    Wow. That’s a long, sad list of Worsts and I could probably think of about a hundred more if I let myself. But really, if those are my “worsts” than life is still pretty darn amazing. Lucky, blessed me. 
    (See that positivity blip I put in at the bottom? That makes me a better, not so negative person…)

    Diagnoses: When Symptoms Collide Part II

    I’m finally sitting down to write the sequel to Diagnoses: When Symptoms Collide, which was a continuation of The Worst Rubes Goldberg Ever.

    I left off in early December after having my iud removed and feeling much improved, but not cured yet of my inexplicable acid reflux. A week after that appointment I had an orthopedic follow up. I almost cancelled because I had been feeling pretty good but decided to go in anyway just to have a few questions answered. AM I GLAD I DID!

    During the conversation with my orthopedist, I mentioned the possibility of my hyper mobility being a factor in my acid reflux. He didn’t think that sounded too likely but as I explained the symptoms of my gut he said it sounded strange. He went to school with a guy who he thought could help me out. Right then and there he called his friend (who is a GI nurse practitioner of 20 years) and told him my situation. Of course, lots of people experience acid reflux but once he was told how old I am and all the things I’ve done to fix it with no progress, the GI guy wanted to see me right away. He cleared his schedule and I got right in for a visit.

    What a blessing that phone call has been! If I hadn’t decided to follow up with my orthopedist and if he hadn’t “known a guy” and if “that guy” just blew me off like all the other GI doctors I had seen, I’d still be a miserable sack of acid. INSTEAD, I’m almost completely cured. Finally!

    But let’s go back a step or two…

    So this GI guy is a bit of a character but that’s what’s made him an answer to my prayers. He listens. REALLY listens. He asks questions and digs until he has a clear picture of what I’ve been suffering with and what needs to be done about it. The answers are relatively simple but require a lot of patience.

    • He said it was likely that I had the clostridium difficile bacteria in my intestines for years. It’s very common to have it and not have symptoms. But when I got sick with the flu going on two years ago, it kicked off the delicate balance started the acid reflux, which was a symptom of gut that was already just hanging on to normalcy.
    • When the other GI doctors prescribed me strong antibiotic after strong antibiotic, it kicked my gut into fledged clostridium difficile colitis
    • After getting that under control (it’s never really cured and can come back with another bug or use of an antibiotic) my acid reflux was still bothering me. Getting the iud out helped because the nerve endings in the uterus are somehow connected to the nerves in the intestines and the whole area was under such stress.
    • I still had acid reflux though, so he had me continue my prescription-strength acid reducer and strong probiotics. But the kicker? He prescribed me ground flax seed to eat at the same time as the probiotic. See, probiotics will go straight through, not doing any good if they don’t have something to bind on to and sit in the intestines working their magic. Enter the flaxseed. I have to eat a tablespoon of it at the same time every day (I usually put it in nutella or cream cheese or orange juice) because gastrointestinal systems very much likes a schedule.
    • This has to be done for quite some time so it can build up in your body.
    After 6 weeks of this I had become 85% better of all my acid issues. And then I went to Mexico… dum, dum, duuuuuuuummmmm!
    Mexico was great. Mexico was grand. Until I got sick. Probably from some pico de gallo or the hands that prepared it. Many people get sick in foreign countries but it usually lasts a couple of days at most. Mine held on for a week, then two weeks, then over three weeks! I finally made it back to my trusty GI guy and he said, YEP! That’s a lingering symptom of ever having c. diff colitis. My system will forever be oversensitive to food poisoning. 
    Getting sick in Mexico kicked in my acid reflux once again. It was so bad. I had to sleep sitting almost straight up for three weeks and was miserable all day long. 
    Once again, I had to give my body time to heal itself with the flax and probiotic and acid reducer. After two more months, I’m practically healed. I still feel it when I lay flat on my back or have a really empty stomach but that’s it. I can now actually sit and I don’t have to leave my pants unbuttoned all day like a redneck (but I still do because I’m paranoid that the acid will come back). 
    A few follow up notes:
    • I’ve been catching every sickness going around because many of the germs that make us sick get absorbed through our intestines. Since I’ve had weak intestines, my immune system itself has been weak.
    • I shouldn’t visit countries that have a high risk for making travelers sick. Well, Mexico, it was nice knowing you! I wasn’t happy hearing that about 1/3 of the world is now un-travel-able to me. 
    • I can’t take any antibiotics, EVER, without cultures being done first to see exactly what bacteria to treat and exactly how low and short of a dose can be taken. AND it has to go through my GI’s approval first. 
    • I will eventually be healed completely of my acid reflux and other symptoms to the point where I won’t need to take any more medicine for it. It’ll still take another 12-18 months, though. BLEH.

    My body will always run the risk of getting c. diff colitis again. If I do catch it again, the likelihood of catching it again and again goes up exponentially. Then the only likely cure for it is (hold on to your seat, folks…) a fecal transplant. Say, wha??!!!! Yes I’m totally serious and yes, Rob has graciously volunteered his excellent poop. Oh. My. Goodness!!!! You, guys!!! Cringe, cringe, cringe!!  

    So that’s it. 
    Easy as pie, I hang my head and sigh.
    Posted in UncategorizedTagged

    Princess Julianna & Her Test of Bravery

    Once upon a time there was a princess named Julianna. Her life in the Land of Snow was pleasant, until one fateful day when she was forced to take the Princess Test of Bravery.

    One night the Test of Bravery unexpectedly began. It came in the form of terrifying sounds echoing from inside the castle walls. The princess had no doubt what was the source of these terrifying sounds. A Dragon. She just knew there was a dragon living inside the castle wall.

    The princess decided that the bravest thing to do would be to summon the prince to come and slay the dragon for her, which he so nobly did, cutting off the head in one fair swoop. The princess swooned for the prince and thought she had passed her Test of Bravery.

    Little did she know, there would be a second test calling for her to be even more brave than she ever had been before. For the very next day, another dragon escaped from out of the castle wall and scared the very brave princess almost to death. Getting up enough courage as she possibly could, she escaped the castle with her royal subjects to the area of recreation outside the castle grounds, loudly summoning her prince once again.

    Princess Julianna ever so bravely plead with her prince to summon the royal exterminator as quickly as possible in order to take care of the filthy, fire-breathing beast and any of its evil friends.

    Princess Julianna knew it would be a terrible idea to go back to the castle until all the dragons had been slain so she requested they flea to the Land of Marriott stay in the quaint and comfortable Fairfield Inn. Her request was granted so late in the night the royal family traveled in their carriage to wait out the terrible slaying that, so unfortunately, was taking place right inside their precious palace.

    All the next day she bravely stayed away, exploring the unfamiliar land and trying not to think about the predicament awaiting her.

    Finally, the dreadful time had arrived and the brave princess slowly, but surely, made her way back to her castle. Alas, 3 more dragons had perished through the night.

    Knowing there were a few more dragons waiting to strike, the princess bravely bypassed the cookery and headed straight for her bed, all the while requesting the prince bring her something to nibble on and sip after he’d taken care of the awful scene.

    Two more nights of the prince fighting off dragons occurred before the princess triumphantly entered the cookery once more.

    At long last, the dragons were no more living in the walls of the castle and were forever more banished from entering into the Land of Snow. And the brave princess (and her prince) lived happily ever after.

    The End

    These are scenes from our brave explorations after our night in the Land of Marriott.

    Making Our Way to Puerto Morelos

    Any direct flight to Cancun should be considered the Party Plane, right? Every passenger was anxiously waiting to begin their vacation and the guy sitting next to me was no exception…except that he decided not to wait until landing in Mexico to begin his partying.

    In order to keep himself occupied on the plane he decided to pull out his gallon ziploc bag full of mini bottles. Two hours later all but two of his bottles were gone. To be fair, he did offer Rob and I one of his last remaining, so that was thoughtful. 
    However, his consideration stopped there. He was LOUD and kept punching and kicking the seat in front of him where his friend sat. It made for an obnoxious start to our own relaxing vacation. Oh, well. 
    After landing we made it via shuttle (after dodging many sales pitches) to the car rental company. It took us FOREVER to get our car.

    The man helping us was VERY particular about his paperwork. After already waiting 15 minutes for him to verify and print everything, He handed us two receipts to sign. Rob signed one and, to expedite, I signed one. My doing so upset him very much. He said now he had to void everything and start all over again. Okay….sorry. After another 15 minutes of voiding and verifying and printing his second attempt at getting Rob’s signature failed. Rob didn’t sign it EXACTLY the way he signed his name on his driver’s license. Upset again, the man voided everything and start over. After a third 15 minutes of waiting, Rob tried very hard to match his license signature. After a full and deliberate inspection, the man finally decided we were ready and responsible enough to get the keys to the car.

    On our way out the door we got another hard sales pitch before we finally made it to the car. All we had to do was sign again and we were off…except for the tip the guy with the keys demanded. After some sketchy change was made and exchanged, we left in a huff, ready to finally let our vacation begin!
    But wait, oh, the gas tank is just about empty. Okay, let’s find a gas station. After some tense moments when we were trying to decide if we were supposed to pump our own gas or just hand over our money to the guy standing next to the pump, we decided to trust the young man who was asking us how much to put in the tank. We hadn’t even had a moment to think about the exchange rate or metric system or the lack of speaking the same language, we said, “Umm, 40?” Surprised, the man filled our tank with about a liter and a half of fuel (40 pesos worth)…enough to get about 5 minutes down the road. After we realized what we’d asked him to do, we turned around and asked him for 40 liters more. Just a tad embarrassing…
    A few more minutes of driving down the road and we finally made it to our first destination, Puerto Morelos!

    Granted, it wasn’t as wonderful as a beach town as I had perceived from my research…

    but it was still nice to finally get to the turquoise water!

    What a dreamy dusk view!!
    Annnnd queue the relaxation…

    http://api.smugmug.com/services/embed/4703355642_hrcCfn9?width=640&height=360&albumId=55092798&albumKey=Gprht9

    Mayan Yoga

    I’m hesitant to post these because who likes to post pics of themselves in a swimsuit? Well, I don’t. But…every time I told people I was going to Mexico they always told me to post pictures of me doing yoga on the beach. So here I am, as white as the white sand beach! The funny thing is that this is AFTER applying self-tanner all week!

    Forearm Stand / Pincha Mayurasana / Feathered Peacock Pose was a little tricky because my elbows would slowly sink into the sand, throwing off my balance.

    Here I’m just relaxing underneath a palm tree. I was going to have Rob photoshop out the three people in the background staring at me but the guy in the white speedo is just too awesome.

    Then it just felt natural to do a chest opener on a mayan temple because, well, you know…

    Anyway, there you have it. Mayan Yoga.