I Got Plastered & More

Hallelujah! My bathroom got some walls! I told the tile guy I’m not as excited as I was three months ago when demo happened. He assured me that’s the way it is, a pain in the ass. So, there’s that. As work begins in there, I realize the new bathroom is going to be smaller than it looks in the picture – in my mind. I’m certain it is going to be beautiful, though.

In talking with my counselor, I described how my week has been and we concluded I’ve had a good week. I’ve been in a lot of pain but I had a good text conversation with my sister. I’d been tearing myself up about her being mad at me for not helping with my mom’s sale of her home and move. She never said she was upset but I anxietied (new word) that conflict into a reality in my mind. She’s not angry at all and I am sooo relieved. From now on I won’t decide she’s mad unless she tells me so.

Another highlight of my week as a Seattle #12 was the Monday Night Football game, played in Seattle. First game of the season. Russell Wilson appearing before the hawks as a Bronco. Seahawks won!!! It was beautiful. Geno Smith showed up for sure after months of derision from media and a lot of 12’s. That’s a pebble on the scales, helping to tip me more towards a good mood.

Most importantly, my mother-in-law moved in and things are going well, better than expected. She went to Costco and purchased a cute small refrigerator/freezer, bigger than office or dorm fridges that fit under a counter. Because we cut the cord with TV cable, she called and was able to activate the cable downstairs. Now, she can watch her shows. She really uses that downstairs family room and spends most of her time there. If my husband makes dinner, she comes up but mostly she’s in the daylight basement.

One snag that she’s quite concerned about is my dog asserting her ownership of this house. It hasn’t been a big issue to me. Bloo and Shilo have had a couple kerfuffles, no biting involved, but have gotten along for the most part. Wolf, my husband, told her we wouldn’t be restricting Bloo from going downstairs. She doesn’t descend to the basement often, staying by my side almost always. One day when Bloo was down there, I heard my German mother-in-law firmly saying, “Nein, nein, nein.” Perhaps I should’ve gone down to see what was up but didn’t hear trouble. I just laughed, out loud, up here in my room. I’m not going to follow my dog downstairs. Maybe I should tell her my dog doesn’t speak German, hahahaha. One evening, she asked my husband to come down. Bloo had peed on Shilo’s blanket, peed a lot, soaking a big blanket. Wolf cleaned it up and told our dog to knock it off. Hope it works.

My songbirds have vacated our backyard. The cabin-like feeder did go empty for a day or so, but the new bird buffet had food. Only a few birds have ever visited. They may have all just flown to greener pastures. I’m pretty sure, as fall sets in, some birds will find food here again.

Despite fibro, I have had a good week relatively speaking. I am breathing it in and trying to relax into it, which is difficult with sharp pain in one side of my neck and into my shoulder. I’ve been feeling physically unable to write on my computer since my last post but today I wanted to, most especially, share with you that my bathroom received some attention. Next, tile will be installed. I’ll post pics as it goes. Thanks for reading!

Autumn Coming & More

Photo by Mitch Kesler on Pexels.com

Daily highs in the 90’s and 100’s give way today to a max temperature of 79 degrees, and I love it! The school year has already begun but it doesn’t feel like the end of summer, regardless of the calendar, until we feel a chill in the air. Autumn is my favorite time of year.

In addition to a bite of cold, there is change in the air. My mother-in-law moved in Tuesday night. I’ve been quite sick with fibro. Last night I was awake every hour and today I’m in worse shape. My mood has improved but my physical situation is quite awful. It hurts to breathe. It’s not lost on me that terrible symptoms are troubling me during this transition.

The most exciting change is introducing a new dog into our home. I was concerned my dog, a blue heeler named Bloo, would be upset at an intrusion into her domain. She is definitely asserting her dominance. The first evening, Bloo sniffed Shiloh’s butt excessively. When Shiloh gave a little rumble to say, “Quit that!” Bloo made it clear this is her house and she doesn’t take kindly to a guest telling her what to do. It was a dog kerfuffle with no biting, just a disagreement. Then, Wednesday afternoon, Karin, my mother-in-law, was petting Bloo, and Shiloh once more gave her a rumble. Again, Bloo told her not to go there. Karin thinks Shiloh was concerned that Bloo was doing something to Karin, but I think it was just Shiloh telling Bloo to back off her person.

The relationship between the dogs is very concerning to Karin. She’s trying to keep them apart, requiring Shiloh to stay at her side. I’m not troubled by it in the least. I think having them outside together is the key. Whatever.

Voices of my husband and Karin carry, so I’ve heard her saying things like, “Why don’t you guys…” and “What’s that?” I’m happy to report I’m not making an effort to hear what’s said. I really don’t care. This comes easier for me than I thought it would.

One exchange was very interesting, as reported to me by Wolf, my husband. Quite some time ago, I ordered pulls for the drawers and doors in the downstairs bathroom. I love them and there are enough that I may put them on my new vanity if it ever gets situated in my new bathroom. Showing Karin the newly redone lavatory, Wolf opened the box of not-yet-installed pulls. He mentioned they had short screws, so he’d probably switch those out for longer. His mom said, “Or you could just get simple pulls.” My husband said he’d definitely be working with the pulls we’d already purchased but if they couldn’t be applied, he’d let me know. He says, “I’ll tell Sara if we need different ones. She’s picked out everything.” His mom, “For my bathroom?” Wolf said, “No, for the basement bathroom,” explaining that anyone who needs to can use that bathroom. Her response, “Well, who would need to?”

Not wanting to use our Keurig, because she’s not familiar, she asked my husband in which box she could find her coffeemaker. My immediate thought was, “Where’s that going to sit? I don’t want it on my counter.” She hasn’t come upstairs with it so I’m thinking she may be using water from the bathroom tap or the laundry room to use it downstairs.

The only kind of pizza she will eat is pepperoni without any other toppings. Wolf picked up Papa Murphy’s on his way home from dropping off the rental moving truck and bought two pizzas. Hers had to cook first because she needed to eat, having “not eaten anything all day,” except, that is, the eggs and bacon breakfast Wolf cooked for her mid morning. I’m certainly not going to make sure she’s offered something for breakfast or lunch. She lives here; she’s an adult who can figure out what and when to have food.

A neighbor in California they met, Jose, visited garage sales held by Karin with my husband’s assistance as they sorted through her belongings of a lifetime. Jose is a great guy and he helped Wolf pack up the moving truck. He asked them to let him know when they got here. So, Wednesday afternoon, while he was unloading her belongings from the truck, she says to her son, “Jose said for you to quit being mean to me.”

“When was I mean to you?”

“At the convenience store.”

She’d asked Wolf before they embarked on the trek how to pay for gas with the cash she’d saved from the garage sales, because she’d only ever used her card. When he told her she’d pay inside, she needed more info. How would she do that? He told her, detail by detail, how one completes a fuel transaction with cash. Later, when they stopped at a convenience store for just such a purchase, my husband said he was going to get a soda. She wanted one, too, but said she didn’t know how to use the soda fountain. (Hasn’t she eaten at fast food restaurants where one gets their own drink? Me thinks so.) After she filled her drink, she asked my husband, “How do I pay for it?” It was at this point Wolf lost his patience and told her to pay at the cash register.

This is the incident to which Karin referred when reporting that Wolf had been “mean.” Reporting is the appropriate word because she literally reported to Jose that Wolf had been mean. While she probably didn’t go into detail about this incident with Jose, it is the situation where she felt her son had been “mean.” Give me a fucking break. She calls her friendly, helpful neighbor to tell him they’ve arrived safely and she somehow interjects that she was mistreated or slighted. I imagine this exchange:

Jose: Good you made it. How was the trip?

Mother-in-law: Yeah, it was fine. Except when Wolf was mean to me.

Jose: Tell him I said not to be mean.

Mother-in-law to Wolf: Jose says don’t be mean to me.

So, at this point, we have hypervigilance over the dogs adjusting, thinly veiled dislike of my decor style, and tattling on Wolf for hurting her feelings. Yep, we’re off to a start very much in line with what I’d imagined. Staying on the sideline, paying no mind to any queries about why we do things our way or discomfort expressed because of how we live, I’m doing fine. Today is the first day with my husband going to work, just the two of us home. She’s downstairs with her animals and I’m upstairs with mine. So far, so good.

p.s. I get bathroom walls tomorrow! I’ve never been so excited for wall board.

The Last Ramble

Today’s the day. My mother-in-law moves into our daylight basement this evening, at least her bed. When they get here, my husband has to get the bed set up because we don’t have anywhere else for her to sleep. Tomorrow, an entire U-haul will be emptied into the limited space downstairs.

In the face of this, I’m actually doing okay. My counselor has checked in as have my two closest friends. My lifelong friend has wanted so badly for me to return to a higher level of functioning, able to go sit on a beach, eat out at a restaurant, or travel for a girls’ weekend, all things that are out of reach now. The result has been her heartfelt suggestions for me. Currently, I think she’d settle for me having a better frame of mind and mood. My other close friend listens and shares the stress she’s undergoing.

How has my outlook lightened since last Wednesday, when I cried from the deepest part of myself, sobbing, and overwhelmed by feeling alone in this and with no control? I’ve spoken with my husband about how engrossed he’s been and clearly not hearing me, not even pretending. He said he has deep regrets regarding that lack of communication. He explained that he’s had a whirwind in his head, so desperately tired of working on sprucing up the basement. If he’d said that a week ago, opened up and told me, it would’ve eased my worry that he loves his mom more and that it was more important to please her upon arrival than paying attention to us in the present.

Perhaps, I need to step back as we move through the next week. Pulling on my husband, insisting he stop what he’s in the midst of doing and thinking, puts me in a power struggle with him for proof of loving me more than his mom. As I type it, I see that’s a lose-lose for my marriage. Not that I shouldn’t speak up when I’m having serious depression issues, but I don’t need to add things to his to-do list. I also do not want to put my husband in the position of having to defend his mom.

Moving forward, I’m retiring the signal ‘rambling’ to denote updates. Now, I’ll let you know how things are playing out and the new clue will be ‘and more.’ I’m not going to sugarcoat the experience; I’m committed to transparency. When I spoke to my counselor yesterday, I told her I’m more resigned now than a burning rage of, “I DON’T WANT HER IN MY HOME BUT I HAVE NO CONTROL! GRR!” the way I had been feeling.

New birdfeeders have arrived and I was able to set up my new bird center. The birds haven’t figured out there’s a new restaurant in town, and it’s a buffet with three different kinds of food. I’ve also redone the guest bathroom (since my bathroom remains untouched). These things have helped to lift my mood.

My plan for today and the coming days is to sit back and watch it happen – and to tell you all about it.

Rambling Along Alone

Fibromyalgia

WARNING: discussion of suicidal thinking in this post.

Well, this past week has been very difficult as my husband prepared for the arrival of his mom coming to live with us. Today, he arrives at her home in California. They’ll rent the truck and pack it up this weekend. Monday morning they take off and arrive here on Tuesday. She’s moving in Tuesday.

I just started writing a fullsome description of the problems encountered during this process, but I can’t. I am too tired. The combination of fibromyalgia and being emotionally distraught over what felt like my husband’s complete absence from the discussion has torn me up At my counseling appointment on Wednesday, I cried from the deepest part of myself. Haven’t done that for a little while. When she asked if I had thoughts of wanting to go to sleep and not wake up, I told her, “No. I have thoughts of suicide.” She confirmed I had a plan and the means but I didn’t want to tell her what the means was. I could see her evaluating whether involuntary admission to a psych ward was appropriate, so I quickly inserted that I wouldn’t carry it out because I couldn’t do that to my mom or sons. She’s checking in with me every other day for now.

I haven’t mentioned my suicidal thinking to anyone else until now. I didn’t want to tell my husband before he left because then he’d be tortured about going but would go anyway. Not telling my mom because she’s already concerned about what this change is doing to me and will do. When I told her my husband keeps saying maybe it won’t be as bad as I think it will be, she said, “No, it’s probably going to be worse.” I know who my mother-in-law is, how she operates and how she treats people, and so does my mom. She’s nearly 84 and I won’t saddle her with concerns about suicide. She’s been through that with me before.

Thought about reaching out to my sisters but haven’t felt they’re responsive to my group emails sharing what’s going on in my life. I invited them to share with me what’s happening with them, but they don’t. In my mind, they’re so disappointed in me for not seeing my mom more that they’ve kind of dismissed me. Not looking for support there now. It would be unfair to concern my young adult sons of the possibility, as they enjoy friends and build their own lives. My oldest got his own apartment and is moving out Saturday, just three days before mother-in-law moves in. Timing is everything.

It’s happening. I’m in the midst of the transition to having my mother-in-law as an occupant here, and there’s nothing to do about it. I definitely share specific concerns regarding the new living arrangement with my mother but not my suicidal ideation. I did share with my lifelong friend, though. She committed to supporting me through this but I haven’t heard from her since; she’s a teacher and it’s the start of the school year here. My blog won’t be read by most friends and family. I do have one very faithful friend who reads all posts, but she is also a teacher. For her, school has started and she’s dealing with COVID exposure. I know I could call a suicide hotline, but I don’t have the energy to explain.

My safety plan is to think of my family anytime thoughts of checking out enter my mind. It’s carried me across hours, days, and weeks in the past. Just have to accept it’s a solitary endeavor.

fibromyalgia

Side Effects of Rambling

In this period immediately preceding the move-in of my mother-in-law, I’ve occasionally recorded, here in my blog, the thoughts I’m having and the implications of this new living arrangement as they’ve come up for me. I share my feelings with my husband, whose most common response recently is, “I don’t think it’s going to be as bad as you think it will,” and “Don’t get worked up about something you don’t even know yet.”

Jump to yesterday when my husband took a call about a problem at work and then seriously fretted about having to explain the issue to his client. He repeated how bad this was going to be, how he dreaded making this phone call to get an “ass chewing.” Finally, he bit the bullet. Minutes later, he said, “Well, that wasn’t bad at all!” I reminded him of his advice to not blow things up in one’s mind before one even knows what will actually occur. He answered, “Well, I knew how he reacted in the past when I told him a tile was on back order. He was so pissed off and yelling. This time he took it in stride.”

If I was so inclined, I would explain to my husband that this is the exact same circumstance at play here with his mother. Having been married to him for 30 years, I have plenty of experience watching how his mom operates and treats people. I’m not purely imagining how this living arrangement may be; I have watched everyone in her circle of influence be disappointed, hurt, and angry because she only sees how things affect her and her circumstances. She has no empathy. I’m not a pessimist, but a realist.

For the past 29 years, we’ve lived 1,000 miles from her. When I mention I have a German mother-in-law, people invariably ask how we get along. I tell people we get along much better now than we did while living in the same town. Now, it’s not just the same town; she’s going to be in my house. When she came for a week-long visit, I could roll my eyes and let things slide. What will I do when she pisses me off now? How will I set the understanding that this is my house?

The intensity and frequency of my ramblings have increased over the summer. I really appreciate having the opportunity to express fears and doubts here in order to process them and, hopefully, get them out of my head, which has become more difficult the closer we get. Here are the side effects I’ve experienced as a result of predictions and foreknowledge jumbling inside my head: nausea, headaches, anxiety attacks in my chest, tightening of my jaw, and more. I’m physically manifesting the great mental and emotion impact of her coming to live with us.

Yes, I’d love to shake it off and enjoy my last six days in peace, but I know who she is and how she treats people. I know she’ll disapprove of the state of our home (because my husband has spent the last six months preparing for her move and remodeling the basement as her living space.) and how we do things. These will be things I’ve done without thought for the last 10-20 years. Perhaps there will be adaptations we’ve made to my chronic illness and chronic pain that she won’t understand. Additionally, she told my husband, “Of course I plan to pay! I don’t expect to live off you guys,” as though insulted when he brought up the subject. Nothing has been said since. “Let her get in and settled. Then we’ll see what’s up,” he says. My experience is she willingly has others support her without a second thought. If I have something she likes, she comments and then takes delivery from me/my Amazon account, without any mention of paying for it. One of her great excuses has been, “Oh, I don’t shop online!”

With her arrival imminent, my mom said I’m fit to be tied. I told her I’m already tied. We’re doing this because family is important to us and, besides her young adult grandchildren, my husband is her only living relative in the US. She’s the youngest of four siblings with three still living in Germany. From the start of planning, my friend of 41 years has expressed concern regarding my mental health, and she’s not wrong.

I stayed home with our kids because we committed to keeping our sons out of childcare. I know it works for some, but I’d been a trainer/educator of childcare providers so I was clear-eyed about what was out there and chose not to go that route. It did impact my mental health, but I’m glad I did it. Now, I’m certain the constant presence of this woman, whose voice is like nails on a chalkboard to me, will cost some of the fragile, hard earned, limited, “okay” space I’ve gained since November of 2019 when the bottom dropped out for me.

My husband says he’ll have difficult talks with her when necessary, but I know that goes against his nature. He says he chooses me over her, but she’ll come between us without him even realizing it. He says maybe she’ll move into a place of her own, but she thinks her $690 mortgage payment is too high for her to handle. but, but, but….

At this point, I’m becoming numb to the whole thing because I’m overwhelmed. Once she’s here, I won’t be rambling anymore; I’ll be debriefing. Debriefing sounds difficult to innocuously insert in titles of my posts, so I think the new phrase will be “and more.” I’ll head the posts about living with my MIL (mother-in-law) with a topical title, adding “and more” to communicate that it’s a MIL post. She doesn’t read and she doesn’t know my blog exists. I hope to keep my blog completely out of her awareness, but should she happen upon it she won’t see any posts obviously about her. If she does accidentally stumble across a post written by me, she’ll pay it no mind because she doesn’t care, as long as she doesn’t think it’s referring to her.

I may need to ramble a time or two more before her arrival. I have no idea. I’m a jumble of negative memories. I’d interject a happy, positive memory but I don’t think I have any of her showing care for another beyond her needs or comfort zone, I know she is the most narcisstic person with whom I’ve had an ongoing personal relationship. She expects things to be done her way, takes others for granted, and only sees the world through and back into her lens. I’m completely disgusted by the way she interacted with her daughter as she lie dying from ALS. I was surprised and disappointed by her complaints about her husband’s pain when the tough old bird actually voiced discomfort. Yes, there are times we’ve laughed. No, I don’t think she’s difficult 100% of the time. It’s that the emotional through-line of her existence is negative.

My husband leaves for California tonight. They’ll be driving the moving truck and her car up here Monday and Tuesday next week. I will have “and more” to tell you after that, for sure.

Got the Pic! & Need to Ramble

Four birds eating breakfast

In an earlier post, “This Joint is Jumpin’,” I told readers I would try to get a picture of the birdfeeder in my backyard when it’s busy. This is quite the challenge because if I’m outside, the birds hide. As soon as I come back into the house, feeding resumes. So, I managed to get a picture of four birds. There may be a couple on the other side but not showing. We also have a few hummingbirds flitting around calendula in the deck flower pots as well as the two nectar-filled, handblown feeders. My husband and I each have a hummingbird feeder. His is visible out the kitchen window and mine is placed where I have a great view out my slider. The hummingbirds don’t seem bothered by my presence. Birds! Promise I won’t be posting incredibly similar photos of birds going forward! Do you watch birds? Do you have a birdfeeder? What kinds of birds visit your space?

I have a feeling I’ve never had before. I’ve been apprehensive about my German mother-in-law moving into our home, but this morning I’m in serious tumult. (Not to insult all Germans, but she is very German.) My husband and I discussed my bird center. I’d love to sit outside to watch and listen, but as soon as I go outside, the birds scatter. Upon my return indoors, it gets busy again. My husband made the comment, “Think my mom’s going to be outside all the time.”

FREEZE, hyperventilation, and tears.

I know from history, she would like to be outside as much as possible. I was picturing her kind of floating over our yard, not wanting to grasp the solid vision of her on my deck, not far outside my slider. Now, with my husband’s offhand comment, I’m roiling. I LOVE my birds! I’m tickled at the popular response we’ve had. They bring me joy and not many things do. If I lose mu sweet guests, I will feel like MIL is collapsing my world. This is bigger than her voice reminding me of nails on a chalkboard. I have pressure in my throat, chest, and abdomen. Writing this has tears springing forth.

Here I am, opening my home and it could cost me my mental health, worse than typical. I don’t know what to do. She will be here one week from tomorrow. It’s real. My husband’s hopeful refrain is, “I don’t think it’s going to be as bad as you’re thinking.” That was before we realized she may kill my bird joy. Now, he’s saying we’ll work it out. Not sure how this tornado inside me will effect my writing. I’ll keep you posted. Going to have to come up with a new code word and leave “rambling” for the pre-move in months. Any ideas?

My head is muddled, so please forgive typos.

Parent is Also a Verb 8/28/22

One of the most important gifts a parent can bestow upon their child is resilience.

Over the decades since the 1970’s, the message regarding the significance of self-esteem has certainly been taken to heart by many parents, and it is important, but some of the ways people go about strengthening a child’s self-esteem result in weakening.

A couple of days ago, I read a letter submitted to a parenting advice column where a mother was torn up about whether or not she and her husband should move the family to Florida from California. The husband actually had no preference regarding moving or staying, so he agreed to fully support whatever the wife decided. All of their extended family was in California but the mom was interested in a lower cost of living while continuing to reside in a warm, oceanic environment. The issue she struggled with was whether or not their six-year-old son would be able to handle it. She explained he would miss his grandparents and cousins, not to mention the surroundings would be completely unknown. She wanted to know if it her six-year-old would be okay or if she should stay put for his benefit.

Initially, my internal response was, “Give me a break.” Many people move. A lot of parents have to travel regularly or invite family to visit in order for kids to maintain connections with extended family, and implementing FaceTime, writing, or talking on the phone also keep ties strong with grandparents and other relatives.

Here’s the thing, if you treat your child or children as though they are fragile, they will be. Protecting them from sadness and disappointment doesn’t protect your child’s self-esteem; it actually makes the young one feel like everything will always go their way in life. We all know that is not the case. Life isn’t fair or free of hardships.

When a child has the opportunity to experience and deal with the unexpected or undesired with the support of loving family, they learn that they won’t always know what’s ahead or like it, but they are strong enough to adapt and discover new ways to thrive in the face of difficulties.

Years ago, a study was done of young people who grew up in abusive homes or foster care to see why some went on to be successful, whatever that meant to the individual, and those who were caught in a whirlpool of negative life circumstances. The most important variable was determined to be the presence of one adult who believed in them somewhere along the way. This was true if the adult was a teacher they had for one year in elementary school, a neighbor, an early employer, etc. It just took ONE. A single trusted adult who saw the child as capable of rising above their circumstances taught the subject to be sure of themselves and develop resilience. Belief in one’s self to overcome and adapt is resilience.

So, keeping your kid wrapped in cottonballs, hovering above to fend off any challenges or difficulties, does the opposite of building self-identity, self-worth, goal-setting and achievement. This results, instead, in a clingy child, unsure of how to handle age-appropriate life situations without calling for reinforcements.

Someday, your offspring will encounter a bully at recess, a sharp reprimand from the lunch lady, a bad score on a test, a teacher they deem unfair, rejections upon application for jobs, highschool sweetheart break-up, a car accident, deaths of loved ones, and more that can’t be predicted. If you would like your son or daughter to possess self-assurance, the ability to bounce back, tools to adapt to the unexpected, and confidence, they must have developed these aspects of themselves.

As a parent of two sons very close in age, I understand the desire to protect them from injustice, bullies, and adults who may not appreciate them the way you do. I tried to let neighborhood kids work things out but did step in when a bully was regularly coming after my sons. As a former teacher, I definitely had differences with how my children were treated by some of their classroom teachers. Instead of taking the teacher to task, I coached my kids how to get along with an authority they don’t like.

When your child comes across a disappointment or sad event, sit with them as they cry or otherwise express their feelings of anger or bewilderment. Tools for you include rubbing backs, holding hands, listening more than talking, and asking questions. Instead of telling them how it is and what they should do, ask them what happened and what options they can consider. Of course, if they are unable to process this, you consequently guide them with clarity and suggestions, butnot taking it from them to handle on your own.

Another approach I took was to make sure negative consequences were carried out following misbehavior, even if the child’s doe eyes beseech you to lift the sentence. I followed through with the what I said would be the result. When my youngest wrote an inappropriate word on another kid’s end-of-the-year signing t-shirt on a Friday and the WHOLE school had to stop the tradition, I called on Monday morning to remind the staff my son’s punishment was to spend all recesses in detention that day. The office worker who took my call asked, “You’re calling to say your son needs to go to detention today?” “Yes,” I answered. I’m sure they’re more familiar with parents calling up to complain. I wanted my children to know the school and I were copacetic, communicating, and sharing common expectations. Going after your child’s teacher or school staff models to your child that one needn’t follow directions from authorities, but just appeal to their mom or dad to get their way.

Folks lament the “entitled” attitude of today’s youth, which they’ve most likely engendered themselves. Want to avoid your children developing a feeling of entitlement? Do not buy them everything they want. Do not help them get away with misbehavior. Assist them in navigating life’s difficulties instead of erasing them. Lead them to exercise and develop their resilience muscles; they’ll come in handy when your son or daughter doesn’t make the team, get the job, or are pulled over by police. Instead of rocking their world and reducing them to rubble, they’ll be able to take deep breaths, pull themselves together, and walk through those difficulties knowing they’ll be okay.

“Not to spoil the ending, but things are going to be okay,” from a bumpersticker.

Sara’s education and experience: B.A. Ed; M.S. Counseling; teacher grades K & 2/3, educator for childcare providers, training in Positive Discipline and Growing, parent educator, program director of crisis nursery, including parent support, staff management & training, stay home mom 16 years with two sons born 19 months apart, medical transcription for 10 years in order to stay home, substitute teacher grades K through 12. Blogs about a wide variety of topics on survivingsara.net.

Word on the Street

Photo by Anete Lusina on Pexels.com

Understanding a culture’s vernacular adopts new terms and drops outdated, I am nevertheless struck by today’s common change of meaning regarding well-settled entries in Webster’s. I’ve accepted I don’t know what others are thinking (tho that took me longer than it should’ve) and your perceptions of the words and phrases noted here might be very different than mine. I’m listing here words whose meanings seem to have changed substantially in these past years, after being associated with the same meaning for previous decades.

  • Hoax – I remember this having a playful or temporary connotation. I didn’t understand why it was being used every day by the past president, but it feels like it was depicting a much more sinister, web-like threat. If I thought there would be a new world order and I was opposed, hoax wouldn’t be my choice of descriptor.
  • Witchhunt – Most recent cultural experience with a “witchhunt,” in my mind, was the movie Shrek. Torch-carrying villagers drove him away. The 1980’s satanic panic was literally a witchhunt. Holding our highest public official to a high standard with transparency and accountability is not befitting the label ‘witchhunt.’ Again, this is my personal take.
  • Fake news – It used to be I’d look at the cover of the National Enquirer and the like, while waiting in the line at the grocery store, to see what crazy notions they were pushing. That was fake news. The proliferation of misinformation in today’s culture is such that it would be very helpful to know which items are fake, false, phony. Unfortunately, the phrase ‘fake news’ now means only that ‘I don’t like what’s being said.’ Fortunately, the word ‘misinformation’ wasn’t appropriated in such a way as to make it meaningless.
  • Patriot – Many words have more than one meaning, but in the past decade this one has been turned on its head for a significant portion of Americans. In my consideration, a mob breaking into the Capitol building, threatening fairly-elected government officials, debasing the center of the legislative branch, and beating police officers sounds like the opposite of patriot. If someone presents themself as a patriot these days, it’s meaningless without exploring the person’s usage of the word. Sad.
  • Strongly, bigly, greatest, like you’ve never seen before – These words meant just what they said in the past. Now, seriously, when I hear someone on TV use ‘strongly,’ it sounds awkward. Overuse of braggadocio, again, renders it empty.
  • Expectations of presidents – As President Obama’s second term was halfway complete, I wouldn’t have believed our next president, whoever it may be, wouldn’t listen to the cabinet or read intel, watching TV newstainment (speaking of new words) for information, hiring and firing on a whim, and reacting to EVERYTHING as to how he would be personally affected. Oh, almost forgot, I don’t think any of us thought it probable that a POTUS would lie to us every day of his term.
  • Sharpie – Possible to use for signing documents and predicting weather. Who knew?

p.s. Ha! Went from here to Twitter and witch hunt is trending. FBI search based on court-approved warrant now equals a witch hunt. Buh-lieve me.

A New Porpoise & a Bit of Rambling

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of others” – Charles Dickens

Puzzling recently about my purpose in life, established in the mid two oughts.

[I still don’t know how to address the first decade of our century. The 80’s, 90’s, and 00’s in writing but what about when one is speaking? Find myself writing like I’m talking to you so 00’s sounds to me, “zero zero’s” which doesn’t sounds right at all. I like two oughts but it may be less desirable in verbal communication. Speaking of verbal, I heard a witness in a trial on TV say, “What did you just say? I’m more orbital, so I don’t always catch stuff from listening. I had to giggle.]

Okay, back to my life purpose. For about 15 years, weaving love and compassion into the fabric of life, wherever I was, whoever I was with, and whatever I was doing was the daily, literal purpose of my life. When I felt “squiggly” (my personal word for uncomfortably struggling), I’d remind myself that all I needed to do was weave love and compassion. Whether I was subbing high school gym or scanning and bagging a cart of groceries, the highest purpose of the day was weaving.

For a while now, I’ve felt at sea without opportunities to load the loom with love and compassion or to weave into the lives of others. How to weave love and compassion into the lives of others when I so rarely interact with folks? Communication on twitter and some texting makeup my regular exchanges with people. I’ve flailed a bit, knowing I have a purpose but not how to serve it at this time in my life.

Last week, seeing the Charles Dickens quote above, I realized I can have a new purpose. Whatever I can do to lighten the loads of others makes me useful. How can I assist people in this way? I suppose keeping my symptoms and difficulties to myself may lighten the burden of my mom, husband and kids. Unfortunately, I’ve learned that holding details of my condition completely to myself increases my stress and pain.

Blogging is a great way for me to express my thoughts, ideas, difficulties, and symptoms, which helps lighten my load, so you guys are useful! Thank you for following, reading, commenting, etc. Perhaps I can focus on my writing here as an outlet instead of unloading on my loved ones.

One area where I know I’m contributing to someone’s burden is with my husband’s redo project of our basement in preparation for my mother-in-law moving in with us. We began with the remodel of my en suite and the downstairs bathrooms. The intention was that my bathroom would be completed first. Instead, the downstairs bathroom is completely tiled, painted, etc., just needs fixtures installed. The bedroom in which she’ll stay has been painted and carpeted by my husband. Tiling has been completed in the mud room section of the family room, it’s painted, and carpet goes in on the other side of the rec room tonight. My bathroom is still stripped down to the studs.

I know it’s immature and unreasonable but, although the basement projects have long been discussed, I find myself unable to appreciate his progress. When he shows me a new completion downstairs, it makes me angry. The tile guy who has finished all of the other work has decided he won’t be able to do my bathroom. My husband is “working on” scheduling another tile setter. As per an earlier post, I could spit nails. The anger and disappointment feel like a solid chunk iniside me. It seems to me that accomodating his mother is much more important to him than addressing my project. That is exactly what I did not want to happen.

Obviously, I could lighten the burden for my husband but why am I always the one who has to compromise? I already feel some things about MIL coming to live with us. Those emotions drive the frustration that seethes inside me regarding no plan for my bathroom and completed updating of the family room, bathroom, and bedroom in the basement. Everyone says to just wait and see, maybe she’ll be pleasant, even appreciative and maybe helpful. In the past, this house guest has fully expected to be treated as a guest. I’m very skeptical.

It wasn’t until I pondered the Charles Dickens’ quote at the start of this post that I considered my identified purpose did not have to be lifelong. I can decide to have a new one. I’m reluctant to choose ‘lightening the burden of others’ for my new purpose at this exact time in my life because it’s almost impossible for me to withhold my snarkiness when my husband and I discuss the basement projects, my bathroom, or the imminent arrival of my MIL I have no self-control over my bitchiness. This is not my typical m.o. I’ve spent decades holding things inside or dismissing them in order to relieve troubles.

In less than two weeks, my MIL will be moved in and my bathroom will still be completely unfinished. My birthday is mid October; that’s become my mental deadline; my bathroom better be finished by then or I’m going to be beyond angry. There’s no telling what will come out of my mouth if that’s the case.

Being without a satisfactory purpose and the ability to implement causes me to feel like my moorings are loose. Despite that, I don’t feel competent to develop or identify a life purpose currently. And so, I’m relying on the following quote for the present:

Do you have a definitive life purpose for yourself? Do you have a different sense of duty to various roles in your life? Have you changed your purpose?

No Can Do

Photo by samer daboul on Pexels.com

Even the tooth fairy must get tired. I’m in fibro flare. It’s been the worst painI’ve experienced since I broke my leg. Typing isn’t conducive to relaxing neck and shoulders. I know this sounds weird, but I think of you every day. I’m excited when I see repeat visitors and I recognize your names. Got to first chiropractor appointment since November of 2021. Supposed to let myself relax as much as possible as we “work on the serious trauma my body experienced when the leg broke and then surgery. Gotta figure out how to get to his office regularly after a couple weeks resting. Typing longer than I should; I can feel it. Hope you have a peaceful weekend. Just used that pic because I’ve had it for a long time and it always makes me smile.

I need a bubble.
Feelin’ it.
Photo by Nandhu Kumar on Pexels.com

And I will relax. Been trying to all my life feels like.

This Joint is Jumpin’

Just one bird now but there were six or seven.

Bird centralwas hopping this morning! I took a great video of the birds coming and going from the birdfeeder, but wasn’t able to load it on this page. (I know, I’m showing my inexperience with media.) I sat and watched as many finches, sparrows, warblers, and nuthatches flew in and out with some waiting their turn and others fighting for a seat at the buffet. Our hummingbird feeders that have been ignored all season also attracted several of those this morning.

So sweet

Not sure if it’s a sign of how old I am, how limited I am in my activities, or just appreciation of a new hobby, but I found myself feeling joy. I called my husband to see all the traffic. The four-sided birdfeeder had as many as six or seven birds eating at the same time with another couple waiting in the bar. I silently clapped my hands and hugged my husband. Unfortunately, when I go out on the deck, the feeder is abandoned immediately, thus pictures through deck rail. I thoroughly enjoy watching and listening to the busy birds.

Cooling off in the bar

Lots of birds perch beside the feeder watching out for threats and/or judging the best moment to go for the feast.

Standing guard or just waiting for a seat.

Squirrels get in on the action to and the birds don’t know quite what to make of them.

Squirrels like seeds too.

Sharing some of my thoughts about my neighborhood: This beautiful driveway was installed with heating pipes underneath to melt the snow away in the winter. One day I drove past and the guy who lives there was shoveling. Later, I mentioned to my husband that the neighbor was shoveling instead of using the heated water pipes. I wondered, “Why would he do that?” My husband laughed and said, “I’m sure if the pipes worked, he wouldn’t be shoveling.” Aaaah.

Neighbor’s driveway

The tree below has been leaning ever further across the street but no one seems concerned. The people who own that lot park cars and boats on the street below the tall pine. My husband swears it’s been like this since we moved in but I am certain its tilt increased during storms in which other trees have fallen. Wait until the next soaker with high winds, particularly if the wind comes from the north rather than the west as usual, and I can’t imagine this tree will be left standing. Crazy.

Timber!

p.s. I figured out why the birdfeeder has been so popular. When the birdseed was low, I bought a new bag and this one is “clean.” There are no shells the birds have to work on. It’s just wonderful seeds. It’l like ordering crab and having the plate come with no shells to work through, just the sweet meat. It’s so much busier than before. I will be trying to get a good picture of birds perched on every side but they move in and out so fast it’s hard to get a good catch. If I do, I’ll put it out, maybe its own post.

Four birds sharing breakfast.

Parent is Also a Verb 8/13/22

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Oh, but it goes so fast! Enjoy time with your little kids now. Before you know it, they’ll be grown and gone. You’ll miss these days later. And on & on & on.

At a big box store about 20 years ago, my two boys, ages two and three, sat side-by-side laughing together as they did not follow my directions. I was obviously frustrated, trying to get them under control as I emptied my cart onto the conveyer belt. An older gentleman called out to me from the next line, “Enjoy it while it lasts. It goes so fast!” My immediate response was, “Well, it feels like the longest three years of my life!” We laughed.

Those little boys are 24 and 23 today. They are wonderful young men, self-reliant and gainfully employed. I’m pleased to announce they are not still fussing with each other when in the same room. It has gone so fast. Do I miss those days past? Yes, in my rearview mirror those toddlers and preschoolers are so dang cute.

Last night, I dreamt that I was a volunteer in my youngest son’s classroom. Apparently, he allowed me to put product in his hair that day. (In real life, this son loved having me in his classroom, older son not so much.) In this mind movie, a video had been taken of the kids during a lesson. On the video, my son walked from the front of the room to the back, tapping each desk as he passed and singing a little song.

It was sweetness itself, bringing tears to my eyes – in the scene as well as now, recalling and writing. Two boys in diapers eating not-adult meals yet, ganging up on me for fun, jumping off furniture, and teasing the dog brought me to tears in real life then. I do reminisce now about how cute they were and I miss those little terrors.

As toddlers and preschoolers rule your life, driving you to distraction or aggravation, it is perfectly normal to react with impatience or frustration. There is no way to truly appreciate, when you’re in the midst of the whirlwind, that those ages and stages are passing more quickly than it feels. Crises in the teenage years may provoke a yearning for “simpler” days, but only with the perspective of time can you look back with truly rose-colored glasses. I think we earn them when our children are independent.

Be patient with yourself in difficult situations. Breathe. Set clear expectations and consequences. Be consistent as much as possible. Let the easier moments become short films in your memory, not with pictures on your phone but by being fully present. Let the love shine through. Someday, those recollections will be what you carry with you when the kids are gone.

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Sara’s education and experience: B.A. Ed; M.S. Counseling; teacher grades K & 2/3, educator for childcare providers, training in Positive Discipline and Growing, parent educator, program director of crisis nursery, including parent support, staff management & training, stay home mom 16 years with two sons born 19 months apart, medical transcription for 10 years in order to stay home, substitute teacher grades K through 12. Blogs about a wide variety of topics on survivingsara.net.

Spitting Nails

*Cursing ahead.

When our bathroom remodels were merely a plan, I was assured my bathroom would be done first. Both the basement and en suite bathrooms were taken down to the studs at the same time. My tiles hadn’t come in for the shower and backsplash, so the tile guys began downstairs. The installation of that tile is nearly complete. Mine? Still down to the studs.

Now, the tile guy has let my husband know he doesn’t know when he’ll get to my bathroom. Let me repeat, “HE DOESN’T KNOW WHEN HE CAN GET TO MY BATHROOM.” My face looks just like the little guy above. I am so pissed. My husband said he has other tile installers. My response, “Well, then call them. Don’t wait for two weeks for the current guy to tell us he still doesn’t know when he can get to my part of the project.”

I am sooooooo pissed off, I’m overheating. FUUUUUUUUCK!!! I can’t express in words how angry I am. This whole remodel was supposed to complete my bathroom first!

I already have some feelings about my mother-in-law moving in with us. She even said my bathroom should be done before the one she’ll use. There is a whirlwind of nails inside me ready for spitting. AAAAAAAAARRRGGGHHH.

Torpid

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lethargic
 · sluggish · inert · inactive · slow · slowmoving · lifeless · dull · listless · languid 

This here is a short tutorial on what it feels like to be engulfed in fog brain for whatever reason, fatigue, illness, fibromyalgia, depression, etc. Imagine it’s a clear day until your plane is suddenly surrounded by clouds, any view obstructed. Duration unknown, thickness of whiteness varying, and someone else at the controls.

Not all sloth-like people are lazy, choosing to avoid movement and activities. Some are unable to pick up the pace. Here am I today, slow of thought and motion. Even walking is made difficult, punctuated by interjections of “Whoa!” as I pinball from one piece of furniture or a wall to another, balance off kilter. Perhaps if my brain was working at full-speed as I now know it, or even three-quarters, I’d be able to react and compensate for such physical challenges; but with all of me shifted into low-gear, nothing will do but to let time pass until function improves.

Besides nausea, vertigo, and all kinds of pain, fibromyalgia visits upon me this slowness, random in both onset and cessation. Tongue-tied communication makes it incredibly difficult to explain to others how thought and activity are compromised, beyond my control. Feeling bad about this frozenness does nothing to improve the situation, but frustration can’t be avoided, both mine and my husband’s. Expressing myself in writing is a mite easier than verbal, but it also helps that I’m able to pause, think and then continue. When talking, more than a few seconds of searching in my mind for the elusive word or turn of phrase seems to urge my husband to fill in the blank. Trying to undo his idea, meanwhile still attempting to grab words from the tip of my tongue creates chaos in my head. Typically, he offers one thought after another, until I can land on an approximation. Considering in silence leads to a quicker resolution and less brain noise but requires patience on everyone’s part. All I need is quiet and some time.

Best option this day is to release myself from a to-do list. Nothin’ to do about it.

p.s. can’t vouch for proofreading

Rambling Club

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While Americans may join a hiking club, in England and Canada, rambling clubs are taking to the trails! How perfect is that for my series of rambling posts with tidbits and doodads that don’t deserve their own posts. I welcome you to join my rambling club. They’re typically named after the nearest city, but we’re not constrained by geographic limitations. One title I saw in my research (I googled the word rambling to see what came up. I was running out of plays on the word rambling.) was Reading Rambling Club, associated with Reading, England. So there it is. C’mon, join my club. Membership goes to anyone who reads my blog, particularly my piecemeal posts, such as this.

Woot Woot! I had a great doctor visit. For a very long time, maybe 20 years? every fasting blood sugar and A1C tests have been prediabetic. I’d also had gestational diabetes with one pregnancy, which is known to be a risk for diabetes. My dad was diabetic, too. Thus, every time I have a blood test it’s fraut with apprehension, although I don’t take active steps to avoid it, either. Just waiting to deal with it when I end up diabetic. (so stupid) Yesterday, I had my annual exam and they checked my A1C immediately upon my entry to the exam room. I wasn’t forewarned in order to work myself into a dither. When the doctor entered, she smiled and announced, “Your A1C is great! Not even prediabetic!” to which I raised both fists and cheered. We certainly didn’t expect that! I’m back to not eating chocolate or candy, which I used to gobble with little restraint. It wasn’t a strategy to stave off high blood sugar; it was a matter of exercising my self-control muscle. Lowering the sugar is a great bonus.

Countdown to my mother-in-law moving in has begun. ETA is September 7, 2022. My husband is in the thick of painting, rearranging rooms, and putting new carpet in the family room and her bedroom. Round about Labor Day Weekend, he’ll head down to Kern River Valley area in California, an hour up a gnarly canyon east of Bakersfield. Deadline has been established for when my mother-in-law has to be out of the home she just sold. I’m grooving on through it at this point. If my feathers get ruffled, I share that with my husband but I’m pretty sure he’s getting tired of fussing with my eider down. Breathing. Change is hard for everyone.

Physical therapy is moving to a home program, and counseling changing to bi=weekly, due to her situation, not mine. For this open future, I’m constructing scaffolding on which I plan to encourage a more positive slant on my circumstances as well as continuing to unfold, which began at the conclusion of the disability hearing. Do I want a routine? Should I go with the flow? A mix? Invariably, when I fix myself to an expectation of this activity or that, a fibro symptom recurs and responding to it dictates how I’ll spend my time. So, instead of deciding how I’ll spend my time, I’ll need to approach this differently. You know I’ll write about that journey.

Last night, I slept for 12 hours, 8:00 pm to 8:00 am. It really does feel like I’m recovering from stressing out about the disability hearing for months ahead of time, seriously heightened in the immediate approach, and excruciating for the actual hearing and the aftermath. I want to shed all of that, particularly because my claim was denied. Gonna let that shit go!

All of you are invited to join this Reading Rambling Club! Writing and posting more frequently are part of my scaffolding, for sure. Getting out on my blog trails energizes me and posting the result provokes a sense of contentment. Thanks for being a member of the Reading Rambling Club.

WARNING: Loud Ahead

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I was watching a video on YouTube of a symposium on decreasing stress and increasing peace in life. There were a couple of professors whose presentations I paid minimal attention while concurrently writing, tweeting, or playing games. Then an expert was introduced who surprised me. Here in the heart of academia was a Hindu guru (or a yogi?).

Staying seated at the round table, instead of taking the podium as the previous two professors had done, his first comment was, “When people come to me, they want to tell me all about what they’re thinking. I say to them, ‘I don’t care what you think. That’s just electrical currents at work.'” He went on to discuss the body and mind as related to stress and peace. “I don’t care what you think.” This was like a foreign language to my empath self.

In the current world, as I experience it in my limited way, it sometimes seems like everyone is shouting, well, nearly. Quietude is good for the soul. We need times of solitude and peace. I know a thing or two about aloneness, since it’s my usual M.O. It would be a paradigm shift for me to consider my solo time in a positive light, as compared to the current negative filter of being on my own as a sorry-ass way to spend my time, as though my life is only validated by going and doing as well as associating with people regularly.

Truly, I love being home alone. I don’t need to feel ashamed or less of a person because I live a solitary life. Yes, my husband comes home each evening. I text with friends and family regularly, which is my way of communicating with them. In fact, I’m transitioning to even more time alone because physical therapy will be ceasing, implementing a home program with occasional check-ins. My weekly counseling appointments are going to be bi-weekly, mostly because she started another job with good benefits. She expressed that I would be fine with spaced visits since I seem not to be struggling with suicidal thinking. I didn’t mention that I feel a sense of calm because I’ve identified an acceptable manner of passing and I already have the supplies. It was as we were ending our talk. I’ll break it to her next time if I’m still drawn to those thoughts.

My counselor noted that I’ve been thinking a lot and suggested I take a vacation from that. Admittedly, I spend waaay too much time in my head, but it’s aiding me in my unwinding, sometimes helping me see perspectives that hadn’t yet come to mind. There’ve been a couple ah ha! moments. I’ll try to remember those and get back to you.

I’m back. The first thing was an understanding that my chronic illess need not be coupled to my mood. For most days of the last couple years, my daily mood has been as bad or as good as the pain, vertigo, nausea, and muscle cramping I’m experiencing. Sometimes I’m able to curb symptoms with my medications but they rarely offer complete coverage of any one concern or relief all the symptoms at the same time. I have no idea what the second new view was.

I’m back. I remembered but it may take it’s own post. (If I can remember.) Now I remember this second thought was the topic for this post! So, I’ve gone off message. Do I edit? Do I include my rambling? I’m going to keep it all in, but this will be longer than most of my writings. Moving on…

I’m not sharing anything I haven’t told my husband already, so I think it’s okay to put it out here. My husband and one of my sons tend to respond to difference of opinion, surprise news, or any presumed slight with LOUD vocals. As the wife and mother, I did my level best to turn down the volume, but I wasn’t very successful. You can imagine how they interacted when they were opposed. When I tried to intervene, I ended up yelling so they could hear me tell them to stop yelling.

Several months ago, I exploded all of my repressed responses, irritation, and downright anger in the direction of my husband. I brought up long past situations, pointing out what I’d been thinking about at the time. My dear husband sat and listened for a very long time. Since then, I’ve begun voicing my opinions or feelings as we go. When I make a remark, and I can tell my husband has his hackles up, I actually say out loud, “I’m letting it out now so I don’t keep it inside.” To which my husband replies, “Let it out.”

Current bathroom makeovers have provided many opportunities to exercise this new communication. The worst episodes have involved decisions about the remodel of my en suite bathroom, because at some point I was told that I could do anything I wanted. There are parts of of my vision that my beloved project-manager of commercial flooring and tile was skeptical of things I described that he’s never seen in any of the thousands condos, apartment, lodges, etc. that he’s seen over the years. I very much love the look of my bathroom in my head, so I stood my ground, unless he explained why it was not possible. Then, I’d reluctantly accept that my desire could not be installed or used.

The walk-in shower will compete with the new vanity for jewel of room. One of the amenities I want is an elevated small triangle of tile as a place to put my foot for shaving my legs. This is one of those things he’s never seen and has tried moving me away from it. I do not want one of the commercial foot shelves available. A couple days ago, we revisited the details of my shower. As I explained again the short tile corner triangle, my husband did his loud confrontation response. Quietly, I asked him why he was getting so upset. He immediately acceded his volume was out of line and he committed to working on it.

Then came my epiphany. Looking back over the years, I’ve often wondered how I transformed from an assertive young lady to a woman refraining from expressing herself in her family. Here was the answer. In an effort to avoid the loud anger to which my husband and son reverted when challenged or upset, I had been the quiet. My other son was quiet with me. We’d roll our eyes at their out-of-control exchanges. It was part of my coping or strategy to avoid creating opportunities for the volume to increase, which invariably lead to a breakdown in meaningful conversation.

As a wife and mother, I stuffed comments or questions down, down, down in an effort to avoid the noise. The LOUDNESS we find all around ourselves in our society and politics can be ignored avoided, muted, or engaged. I, however, will not accept the spewing of aggression in my home, unless it’s shouts of happiness or surprise and just my son’s loud speaking voice! He doesn’t have an inside voice.

Along with the unfolding of myself with stress about disability hearing no longer in my head, I feel positive about expressing myself. There is hope ahead.

Dream a Little Dream

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Detailed, emotional dreams play in my night theater. Frequently, the plays have a theme, one to another night to night for a few days. No matter the characters or plot involved, I don’t quite belong. Sometimes I’m keeping a secret that would result in loss of esteem were it exposed. Other times. I skirt the edges of a gathering, not able to see what’s happening that drew the crowd. Don’t need Freud to figure out what that represents.

Watching as the clock nears 8:00 p.m., the earliest time I feel comfortable taking my night time meds, I imagine how sweet the sleep visited upon me with a low dose non-benzo anxiolytic, non-narcotic pain medication, and prescription sleeping aid I require to get even blocks of two to three hours’ slumber. It’s a wonder I dream at all, but I do. All my life I’ve had engaging dreams, the details of which I many times remember vividly. In rare, extreme cases, I have to tell my husband about the story I’d seen and starred in my head to unpack the intensity.

On terrible fibromyalgia days, the escape into dreams floats in front of me, a nebulous space waiting just for me. When I get to that dreaming place, I will be unencumbered by pain, nausea, fibro fog, or fatigue. Maybe I’ll feel as though I don’t quite fit, but that’s definitely preferable to real life fibro.

The dream adventures in which I find myself involve sun, ocean, and sand quite often, or dark , suspenseful scenes, dangerous at times. Although I’m active, my role is mostly wingman to the central character – until the going gets fiery, life-threatening and I’m all that’s left to take down the bad guys.

Many, many nights, I spend lengths of time harking back to my first profession as a teacher. Unfortunately, sometimes panic laces into the school-centered story. How sad is that? Most of the news references to schools, besides sports, seem to be school shootings. Columbine was shocking. The evil that took those little kids in the Sandy Hook massacre hit us like a brick wall, and we were certain something would be done to institute commonsense firearm laws, supported for years by a majority of Americans. Currently, mass shootings are commonplace, but then we watch the devastating scene of law enforcement officers of all kinds waiting outside Robb Elementary in Uvalde. I am so outraged on behalf of that community.

Given the pain and other fibro symptoms I have, and the combination of medications that allow me to sleep, with so many mass murders, no wonder my dreams spiral into panicky, deadly threats battle. In 2022, our country has suffered, on average, more than one a day. This is craziness! This is also not at all what I was thinking when I undertook to read and edit a draft about dreaming I’d saved. Glad I didn’t publish the original but “Oh my!” quoting myself reacting to the unexpected turn this conversation took. In the name of transparency, I’m publishing it all anyway.

Yes, I know I should watch less news but I am a curious woman.

Parent is Also a Verb 7/29/22

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Do you want your children to always be honest with you? Do you, or will you, tell them that they can discuss anything with you, that your home is a safe place to share difficult situations? Be careful what you ask for.

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At bedtime, when our kids were young, I’d sing a ditty of my own creation, every night for years, “There’s nothing you could say or do, that would make me stop loving you,” This was and is true and it laid a foundation for open communication. It’s pretty easy when they’re in elementary school and, hopefully, even when they’re tweens. Fortunately, I had one kid who would always tell me the truth, occasionally to the chagin of his brother. I capitalized on this to the utmost. I wanted my kids to see trouble could arise and we could work it out as a family.

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In their early teens, our sons continued to tell us about friends and events. About this time, though, my older son told me not to ever ask him about girls. He explained that his friends’ moms were always asking if anyone had a girlfriend. I respected his boundary and I didn’t ask him about peers of the female variety. A couple years later he asked, “Why don’t you ever ask about girlfriends? My friends’ moms are always asking.” I reminded him he’d requested I not inquire, so I hadn’t. I wanted my guys to know they could set boundaries.

The true teen years, for us probably 15-20, require more careful navigation through a minefield of spoken and unspoken concerns. Just because communication has been safe doesn’t mean teenagers want to participate fully. Indeed, healthy development through adolescence includes them pulling away and developing their own sense of self. This can result in parents being included only when a mine has detonated and you’ve been informed or your son or daughter brings it to you.

Out of respect to your kids, their issues should be confidential as far as you are concerned, with the exception of reaching out for professional help. So, pretend you’re on a social media site, playing a game, or preparing yourself for the next day’s work, and your teenager comes into the room, leaning against the entryway, swaying back and forth. I might be dense, but it always took me a few minutes to realize they wanted to discuss something. Because a teen doesn’t lurk near you for more than a couple of minutes to engage in small talk. Once the ice was broken, my teenagers were relieved; I could see it in their posture, body language, and in their sharing.

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Personally, there was more than one time I reacted calmly on the outside but on the inside I was thinking, “Oh, shit.” Don’t forget to breathe when your offspring share things which shock your consciousness or a circumstance you’d really hoped your children would avoid. As a high school partier myself, I worried about drugs and alcohol, but my kids kept out of it until my older son was a junior and the younger was a sophomore. We knew this when we caught the whole friend group smoking pot in the field behind our house. There were later involvements with drugs, mental health, school counselors, etc., which shall remain confidential.

Suffice to say, there were times I was in my room, screaming or sobbing into my pillow, but showing a resolute, reliable, and predictable mom to my sons. Yes, the parents are, or should be, more prepared to deal with the rammifications of a serious problem. It was okay with me if my kids saw me cry or be angry, but when the child is in a crisis, I wanted them to know backup had arrived in order to lessen anxiety or fear, helping them to regain their footing sooner rather than later. It’s important not to lash out at them with your own anxiety or fear. Heaping more responsibility, blame, or guilt on their shoulders while they’re already in a fragile state is cruel. There were always be time to discuss and lay out consequences.

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In spite of thinking, “No, no, no, no!” or “I don’t want to do this,” or “What the fuck am I supposed to do about this?” it’s crucial that your son or daughter receives the message that you still love them and will love them through whatever comes next. This provides stability, solid ground, for them as they work through their first major issues. It’s also okay to take breaks for yourself to breathe, vent to one very good friend or your spouse, and take care of daily life. One foot in front of the other, whatever that takes.

Remember, this, too, shall pass.

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Sara’s education and experience: B.A. Ed; M.S. Counseling; teacher grades K & 2/3, educator for childcare providers, training in Positive Discipline and Growing, parent educator, program director of crisis nursery, including parent support, staff management & training, stay home mom 16 years with two sons born 19 months apart, medical transcription for 10 years in order to stay home, substitute teacher grades K through 12. Blogs about a wide variety of topics on survivingsara.net.

I Feel the Earth Move Under My Feet

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In 2021, our younger son, let’s call him Bob, was living with us while he went to school and worked. Late in the year, I’m not sure which came first, the older son, let’s call him Joe, asking to move back in after a couple years piy on his own or Bob announcing he was moving into an apartment with two friends.

And so it came to be that the 23rd and 24th of December of 2021 involved Bob boxing up his belongings and some furniture into my husband’s truck, making a couple trips the 10 miles to his new digs. We had a casual brunch on Christmas Day and dinner. With just the four of us, we can go with the flow. On the 26th, Joe began moving his stuff into the basement. He had a lot of furnishings, including our old over-sized living room furniture and a desk set-up for his work as a computer programmer. This required moving his things into the family room, which was already filled with a two-piece couch set, entertainment center, and desk with computer. Everything fit in like playing Tetris. (Does anybody still play that?)

A couple of weeks after our sons switched occupation of the basement, my mother-in-law lost her husband. My husband and I immediately recognized she would need support getting through all the hoops required when one’s spouse passes. As soon as my husband made reservations for travel to be with her, I broke my ankle. Over the next few months, I focused on my post-surgical rehab and he focused on a plan for his mom not to be alone in the middle-of-nowhere desert in central California. Given my husband is my MIL’s only relative in US, besides grandkids, the decision was made that she should move up to be near us. She’s moving in with us.

Seven months after his relocation, Bob is doing great in his new place and new job. Joe just got a new job, too, using his B.S. in Computer Science; it’s a well-paying job. Escrow will close on mother-in-law’s property the first week of September.

She’s bringing her living room chairs, tv, and other things, I’m sure, of which I am unaware. She did make it very clear she’s bringing her old, dried-out, plastic seven dwarves gnomes to put in the yard, make that six. My husband broke one while moving her things around for garage sales, donations, or discarding. She was sooo mad.

I heard Joe talking to his boss yesterday. I was at the kitchen sink, rinsing dishes. Due to headphones, I only caught one side of the conversation. Joe said, “Yeah, with my parents. I’ll be moving into my own place in a month, after I get paid.” I wondered what he was thinking about as far as timing, so there it is.

The last week of August, Joe will be moving into a place of his own. I’m sure he’ll use our truck and he’s got friends who will help transport the big furniture. I have no idea what my husband plans to do with the two piece couch set in the family room if his mom is bringing two recliners. I’m thrilled to get rid of our old entertainment center so she can have hers downstairs. Perhaps all of these items of ours will be donated. I keep reminding myself I’m staying out of this entirely. My husband will travel to California, probably the last time for a long time, to drive the rented moving truck as my mother-in-law follows in her vehicle, accompanied by her dog and cat. The first week of September, she will be moving her belongings into our home. Lots of changes goin’ on.

I feel the sky come tumblin’ down, a tumblin’ down.

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Stirred Up & Inside Out

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I’m standing at the kitchen counter cutting up an old credit card. My 24-year-old son is at the dining room table, working from home. He asks, “Do you need help?” I reply, “Me?” He says, “Yeah, it looks like you’re struggling.” To which I say, “I’m always struggling.” Good chuckle.

Brain isn’t working, hasn’t been for a few days. I start the Keurig with nothing to catch the coffee. I put it on too many ounces and have an overflow. My fingernails are a mess. I don’t chew them but they’re picked apart at the cuticles. There’s that pain when you tear off a sliver of fingernail or skin. I don’t usually mess with them. Stress is making itself known on the outside. Apologies for any typos.

Judge denied my disability claim. At least the decision came fast, very fast. She said six to eight weeks, but here it is only 11 days since. I think she made her mind up before the hearing even started. My attorney said we should definitely appeal because he sees errors the judge made. The council of appeals will look through the case and the judge’s statement. If they agree there are errors, I’ll have a new hearing with the SAME judge, so she has a chance to remedy them. Whatever. We won’t know for about a year whether or not I get another chance. I’m just going to pretend it’s over.

A constant ache reminds me stress is in my head, while nausea, vertigo, and brain fog are intense these past few weeks, reminding me the stress is throughout. I remind myself there is no current threat, no need for flight, fight, or freeze. Breathe.

Bathroom remodels continue. I’m getting more and more excited about how wonderful will be my new loo. The basement bathroom project is going much faster because it took a while for my tile to get to town. Pictures of the finished rooms will be posted, for sure. They’ll probably get their own entry.

My mother-in-law sold her house and will be moving in our home during the early days of September. I don’t feel stressed about it, so much as resigned. I have no capacity left to fret over more issues I can’t control.

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