Sometimes, I Have To Laugh

It’s so funny sometimes when I really think about it. The brain fog and the memory loss and the confusion. I guess I get so wrapped up in the seriousness of it all that I forget that, sometimes, it’s worth a good laugh!

For instance, I just returned home from the grocery store, and, as I checked out this afternoon, I could tell the unplanned, unorganized trip to the busy store was taking a toll on my foggy front quadrant, but didn’t realize how bad until I couldn’t remember my phone number when the cashier asked for it. MY PHONE NUMBER. No one else’s-mine.  And, I wasn’t leaving until I remembered it… because it was the key to my getting over 15.00 in rewards at the pump! Ha!

Many of you have been there-staring at the floor or the wall, or even the lady at the checkout saying, ‘Hold on….it’s on the tip of my tongue….’  Thank goodness the people behind me were patient and had a sense of humor because once I did finally remember it, and celebrated as if I’d won the lottery, the cashier read me my new total and I so proudly smiled, graciously accepting the big discount that rewards number had gotten me. Then she just stared at me and I continued to smile back as it began to get a little awkward. I even looked at the couple behind me who were smiling, too, and I felt bad because the machine was holding them up even more…. until I realized it wasn’t the machine at all-they were all staring at me afraid to tell me I hadn’t paid yet!? Omg..are you serious? I just laugh, and insert my card as the guy behind me kindly asks if I am driving and if I need a ride home!? ‘Nope, I’ll be fine,’ as I laughed all the way to my car.

Another recent experience that deserved a good chuckle was my trip to Long John Silvers-don’t ask why; I guess I was craving 2lbs of grease with my fried crunchies and a side of fish(I can’t lie, I do like LJS once in awhile!:). Anyhow, I just pulled on up to the window and waited…and waited!  And when the friendly lady finally appeared and asked if she could help me…I realized, I didn’t even stop to order-nope! I just drove on past the sign and intercom & right up to the window to wait for whatever it is I thought I had ordered! Ha. What a mess.

So often I find myself writing stories that we can all relate to about pain or suffering or struggle, and I am always so comforted when I read comments and stories from readers that make me feel as if I’m not alone. But, my trip to the grocery store today reminded me that among all the ugly stuff that comes with chronic illness, if we pay close attention, there are some pretty hilarious moments that we should be sharing, too! Because we could all deserve a good laugh once in awhile. I could go on and on, but I think it’d be more fun to hear from you all-what’s something you’ve been able to laugh at that we can all relate to?  Please, share away!:)

Advertisements

Raincheck?

It’s 7:30 PM on a Friday night, and I’m in bed. With my husband and dogs right beside me. Nothing new here, and, honestly, most of our friends are probably doing the same thing, but I really wouldn’t know.

It wasn’t the diagnosis, or even the pain really, that caused me to start avoiding party invites and happy hour texts from my girlfriends. I don’t really remember when I started drifting so far away, but I have recently realized that I miss my friends. And my sisters and brothers. And my old colleagues (and the young ones, too, of course). I miss talking to people. I truly miss laughing out loud with my girlfriends. I even miss seeing how handsome & stunning my husband is when he’s in a crowd-he loves a few beers and good laughs with friends as much as I did. Lucky for me, he finds opportunities to hang with his coworkers and friends without me, otherwise I am sure he would probably resent this illness even more than he already does.

But, as for my friends and our families that we rarely see anymore, I do wonder what they think. I assume they think my husband and I-married just 3 years in December-are still in the honeymoon phase, or that our kids keep us so very busy, or for all I know, they may not think twice about it.

But, I bet they haven’t thought for a second that I have avoided pretty much every opportunity to see them that there has been the last couple of years. I’ve cancelled or just not showed up, I’ve postponed or used my typical, ‘maybe,’ or, ‘probably,’ responses, which they’ve all figured out is the same as a ‘no.’ And, when I have made it to dinner or lunch, I have probably been a nervous wreck and even considered cancelling the day before.

The truth is that I’m not a good faker anymore. I hurt. More often than not lately, I hurt. Something always hurts. And, because I’m not great at pretending like I feel great these days, I’ve made the choice to let everyone I love  think that I’m just really busy and head over heels in love, and that they are the ones that don’t fit into my schedule anymore.

And, that’s not true at all…so far from true.

I feel stuck, and I’ve never been comfortable admitting it until now. I don’t want to pretend that I am just fine anymore. But, I don’t want to moan and groan, or for people to worry or feel sorry for me. I don’t want to overpower the conversation when someone asks how I’ve been feeling, because I could honestly talk all night. And, geez, I really do want to talk sometimes.

In all honestly, I have always been the person in my many circles that organized the get-togethers, ensured the girls free drinks from the bars that we would close down, and throw brothers and sisters and my nieces and nephews the best Holiday parties.

And, it sucks not being able to be that person anymore. It sucks to not even have the energy to go to dinner let alone host one. Fibro sucks.  So, if I’m being honest, I don’t feel like my old self at all. And, I guess I’m a little afraid that my friends and family may not enjoy my company anymore, that I may not be as funny as they expect me to be, or as good at conversation as I once was.  (Hell, I can barely put a sentence together some days!) And, I definitely won’t close the bar down if I ever even make it. But,  I guess I should tell them that. Because, as I write this, I’ve realized that if I was them, I’d want to know.

So, here it goes. I miss you; all of you. And, I’m sorry for the excuses. Instead of reaching out to you when I’ve needed you most, I’ve hidden from you, and even lied to you, and I’m sorry. And, if I am ever going to find myself again, I need you. So, from now on, I’ll be honest and tell you when I just don’t feel like putting a bra on to leave the house. And, maybe instead of cancelling or postponing, you can just stop by.  I’d love to see you. I would really love that.

A Pain in the Ankles

I’m guessing we could substitute ‘ankles’ with a ton of different body parts, but I decided I’d post about my recent ‘pain in the ankles,’ discussion I had with my kids.  It wasn’t really a discussion; I tried to make it a discussion, but they are 13 & 17, so it’s more like me telling them a story and them impatiently waiting to go back to whatever they were arguing about.  Although I must give them both credit; I think they are more than patient and understanding considering their mom is nowhere close to who she used to be. And, I think that’s, in part, because I make sure to talk to them.

As many of you probably experience, stress is probably the most obvious source of pain for me. You know what I’m talking about-a deadline is approaching, you’re running late for a meeting, your kids are yelling at each other, and you can feel pain begin to play it’s ugly game. For me, it’s my elbows, wrists, knees, and ankles. It’s as if my body knows I’m stressed before my brain does, and once my brain realizes that the piercing & throbbing is tip-toeing towards my extremities, it’s too late. I’ve let it go to far, I’ve procrastinated too long, I left too late, and I let the kids argue behind me for just a little too long, and now I’m going to pay for it.

Obviously, the first two examples I gave are on me-I’ve got to do better at prioritizing the things I need ( and want) to do, so that I am not stressing out at the last minute. Same goes for pushing my time…I’ve got to start giving myself extra time when going to meetings & appointments. But, the last example? That’s on them, BUT it’s my job to tell them how they can help.

So, the other day after having a tough day already, I was heading to my bedroom around 8:00 like usual( I can’t remember staying up past 9:00 on a weeknight anymore), and I could hear my kids arguing about something pointless…probably one of them looked at the other one or something like that.  It wasn’t even a big fight, but they were using ugly tones and words that they know I don’t like, and simply competing for who could say the meanest thing to the other. It was over in two minutes or less, and concluded with their doors being shut for the rest of the night.

I had already been feeling the results of long day, so I began running a hot bath as my elbows and knees began to throb, all while thinking about how my kids know better than to act the way they were. And, also reminding myself that most siblings argue; most of them over dumb things, and they get over it and move on. But, our house isn’t just any house anymore-not since fibro moved in with us- and even though it’s no fault of theirs, I decided to remind them the next day.

It was no Dr. Phil consultation, but I will say that it felt good to talk to them, and i know they heard me.  It went a little something like this:

‘So do you remember a couple of years ago when we all sat down and talked about fibromyalgia & the way that my nerves are extra sensitive?’

‘Ya.’  (they are full of feedback these days.)

‘Well, I think you could help me out some, and I want to ask you a favor. And, that favor is, to try to stop and think before you argue or yell or slam doors. And, don’t just think about how what a waste of time it is for you to say ugly things to each other and call each other names.  Also, consider why you are wasting your energy on such a silly process that ends in no winner. And, then, think of me once in awhile.’

‘Ok…?’  (crazy how fluent they are in two-letter phrases, isn’t it?)

So, to try to relate a little better, I asked a question, ‘Would either of you ever slam my arm in a car door on purpose? Or run over my knees with a motorcycle? Or hit me in the ankles with a hammer over and over?’ Of course, I am looking like a crazy person at this point, but it gets better.

When they looked at me in confusion, I said, ‘When you guys argue or yell or slam doors, when you guys behave in a way that hurts one another, and when I see either of you hurt, or see either of you intentionally hurt anyone else-let alone each other-I literally feel like my ankles are being beaten with a hammer. Sometimes, I feel as if my knees have been run over and my arms crushed by a car door. And, unlike your feelings that probably aren’t even dented for more than a minute or two after your confrontation, sometimes I can’t sleep because I am left in so much pain. And sometimes that little argument you’ve already forgotten is still affecting me the next day. When you all treat each other badly, it’s as if you are running me over. Your behavior is, quite literally, a pain in my ankles.’

Now, to say that since that day I’ve been living in a fairy tale would be a lie. Just last night, I heard my daughter shout to my son and him yell back at her to, ‘Get out!’ I was a high school teacher for over 10 years-I realize that their hormones will overpower their common sense for quite some time. But, I will tell you this.

Immediately following my analogy, I saw them look at each other and at me with very sorrowful eyes, of course apologizing, and telling me they will do better at considering the impact their behavior has on my illness, on their mom. They didn’t even have to tell me that they would never hurt me on purpose-I could tell by the tears they held in their eyes how bad they felt about what they’d been doing for so long without even knowing. But, even better than that, they spent a few more minutes with me, asked a few questions and we talked a little more about fibromyalgia, my pain, and how it’s impacted our family. It gave me a chance to also apologize to them and acknowledge how amazing they are for doing their best to adjust to a different lifestyle, a different mom.

Long story, short-I recommend you talk to your family, especially your kids, about how they can help you. And, do it the next morning or the next week-not in the heat of the moment. Give them specific examples, and be frank with them if they are old enough to go there. And, of course, thank them for loving you just the way you are.

Let’s face it, most kids really do try their best to make us proud, to see us smile at them, to be appreciated, and if they know what a positive impact simple changes in their behavior can have on your life, I think they will all try a little harder. I think we all do.

keep calm, you're a good mom

Enjoy your journey.  ~Angie

Farewell Focus, Goodbye Me.

I seriously have a problem. Ask my husband; it’s a thing. I can’t stop coming up with ideas. Like, my brain officially doesn’t shut off…ever. Even when my body is completely worn out and I can’t concentrate on what to do next, I am coming up with an idea on how someone could help someone that is having the problem I am having.

I used to think of my creativity & ingenuity as two of my strengths; two traits I was very proud of. Traits that I knew made me different from most people that I know.  Being the Idea Person made it easier for me to teach, to entrepreneur, to mom, but now….honestly, it’s kind of depressing. To give those of you that are curious just a little bit of insight (and myself a little therapy:), I’ll try to explain.somedaysimisstheoldme

Among whatever else is going on in this body full of questions, I live with Fibromyalgia & Hashimoto’s-both culprits of what we Spoonies call, ‘Brain Fog.’ The Mayo Clinic defines brain fog as, ‘the inability to focus, pay attention and concentrate on mental tasks.’  With that said, it’s not all the time. I mean, I can focus sometimes. Some days are better than others, but if I am completely honest with myself, I rarely have a day where I feel like I can remain completely focused.

So, how does brain fog affect my creativity & ingenuity? Well, I just (I really don’t like this word, and I may even change it before I publish this post, but it’s true) can’t follow through like I used to.

For a small example, over ten years ago, I had an idea in September that the high school marketing class that I was teaching should create some sort of Halloween activity for our community that could somehow benefit our DECA chapter, maybe a non-profit, and even kids and families. Guess what? We not only held our first Trunk-or-Treat a month and a half later, within 7 years, we were raising a few thousand dollars, helping out a variety of small businesses and non-profits, and offering a safe place to trick or treat to thousands of area kids.  Done.  Today, I’d still be thinking about it in December if I remembered I’d thought of it at all.

On a bigger scale, I used to work for an amazing Nationwide School Photography Company that was looking for a way to get more involved with the schools and parents that they serve. Among a variety of very cool programs that we implemented, I specifically remember being able to come up with the idea of a variety of low-cost contests that involved thousands of schools and parents and also gave back to hundreds of students and teachers. I believe those contests are not only still active, but have gotten better each year. Done again.  Today, I’d have a list of 29 different ideas and that’s about it.

Let me first make it clear that neither of the above examples happened without really awesome students and colleagues, but I can proudly say that I not only loved being able to come up with a cool idea, share it with people, create a vision, come up with a plan, and assign all the tasks that I didn’t take on myself, I was damn good at managing all aspects of several projects at a time, and celebrating success after success both privately and publicly.  Man, I miss those days so much.

And, when I attended a Mayo Clinic class on Fibromyalgia a couple of years ago, I learned that a large percentage of us that live with the disease are over-achievers that were once at the top of our game. Which means, I know I’m not alone in this struggle; there are a lot of us that have said ‘Farewell to Focus,’ let alone completely lost our identity, our ability to be successful the only way we knew how.

Ideas popping into my head at all hours of the day and night used to be exciting to me because I knew I could pick just about any one of them and make them work if I set out to. I was one hell of a project manager. It’s crazy how I still know every piece of the puzzle, every step it takes to put an idea into action, but since my first symptoms a few years ago, I haven’t been able to follow-through with much of anything.  So that I wouldn’t let anyone down, let alone embarrass myself, I left a job that I loved, and was pretty darn good at when I was first hired. To help soothe my crushed ego, my oh-so-patient-and-loving husband supported me in following an entrepreneurial dream of mine to purchase a sports marketing franchise that does awesome work, but I couldn’t do it either. Admittedly, it may not have been a cake walk without my friend, Fibro, but I just couldn’t get organized; every single day, I sat spinning my wheels…coming up with brilliant ideas that I couldn’t seem to figure out how to implement. So, I gave up on that, too.

I guess I felt compelled to write on this topic for a couple of reasons. 1) I know that there are others out there that are feeling the same way I do, and I’d love to hear your story, or if nothing else, let you know that you aren’t alone.  2) I have just recently accepted that this loss of identity is one of the biggest causes of my sadness and withdrawal, and I am hoping that by writing about it, I can move forward and come up with new ways to define success for myself.  There I go again.

I’m definitely not hear to give advice, because I am always in search of it, but I figure that here’s my chance to try to spread some positive amidst the negative. If you can relate to these disappointments, then know this – He/She is still in there. You’re still in that pain-forsaken body! You are! And, I’m still in here! We’re not exactly who we used to be, but our soul remains, even if it’s hanging on by a thread.  And, I hope you will join me in trying to figure out how to make the best of the cards we’ve been dealt.

Honestly, except for a handful of shitty diseases and my mama dying way too young, I couldn’t ask for a better life. I’ve been blessed with an awesome family, a beautiful home, wonderful friends, and so many experiences and gifts that I could’ve never dreamt of, and for all of those, I am so grateful.

As of today, I’ve accepted that I may never again be able to do everything as well as I once could.  More than likely, I’ll not ever capitalize on the ideas that cross my mind, and, for now, I have postponed the idea of writing realistic fiction novels, creating a motorcycle weather app, and becoming a world-renowned female entrepreneur marketing consultant.  For now, I’ll probably just keep coming up with ideas, write some of them down, share some of them with whomever will listen, start researching some of them, even begin implementing one once in awhile, but more often than not, I’ll forget most of them….I wish there was a switch to turn off. An idea generator switch.
Better yet, a fibromyalgia switch. Now, that’s an idea.

cropped-sunflower-dictionary-page.jpg

Good luck on your journey.    ~ Angie

Defining Angie.

Define; to explain or identify the nature or essential qualities of, or describe.

Over the past several years, I have been told by a variety of caring friends and family members to not let certain things define who I am.

“Don’t let your mistakes define you.”  

“Don’t let your loss define you.”Profile Pic

“Don’t let divorce define you.”

“Don’t let your illness define you.”  

 “Don’t let the scale define you.”

“Don’t let others define you.”

Alrighty, then. Easy enough-I’ll just define myselfYa, right.

Sure, we I could put a few words together to describe myself, as I might do for a job interview, but once I started to think about my qualities and how they have changed, or even disappeared, over the years, I realized that there are so many things that go into truly defining a person-specifically myself.

So, I decided to write; to just start writing about all of the jumbled up experiences, wildly strange memories of so many of my loved ones I have lost, and many that are still on earth today. I decided that I wanted to share my stories with you, so that you, too, may begin the journey of defining yourself; and finding moments of glory, mercy, love, and forgiveness along the way.

As Oprah always said, “Here, we go.”

 

cropped-sunflower-dictionary-page.jpg Good luck on your journey.  ~ Angie

OverEverything.

I’ve been 39 years old for 2 days now.

I’ve been dreaming of writing a book for many years now, and even started designing (TWO) blogs that I am still not satisfied with, so I’ve decided my husband is completely correct-I often spend so much of my time and worry making sure everything is, ‘just perfect,’ before I get to the , ‘the fun stuff,’ which is often times the most, ‘important stuff,’ too.

So, now that I am 39, I am going to try my best to have fun. Believe it or not, THIS is exciting to me. Clicking on that PUBLISH button is exciting.  So, here we go…

It’s true.  I overthink.  It’s always been true with my work. In my most recent entrepreneurial adventure where I work from home, I spent the first month of my new, ‘job,’ Pinteresting our home office.  (You should see it though; it’s adorable.)  Most of my colleagues at my previous workplace were a lot like me, thankfully, in that they, too, enjoyed a creative work space.  Yet, I still got some laughs when I would come in on a Sat to update my office walls with family pictures or, or when they’d find me making sure my pencils and sticky notes were in just the right place when they would stop in.  

overthinking

When I was a high school teacher, my second favorite part was organizing my classroom. (It makes me get almost excited as seeing a Hobby Lobby sign in the distance when I think of it!) I mean, as a teacher, not only did I have my desk to organize, I got to organize a space for 30 other people to reside. Rather than go in during office hours for grading or lesson planning, I’d find myself labeling drawers, organizing student supplies, trying to cover the blemishes on the wall with posters or custom bulletin boards. I loved the beginning of the year when I thought I had thought of everything to make everyone comfortable when they came to my classroom; fun quotes around the room that were familiar with teens, calming colors, and absurd products strategically placed to stimulate interest (I was a marketing teacher, of course). I wasn’t always sure what slide show I was going to present or what assignments I was going to give, but I was damn sure my students would feel comfortable when they came to my class. And safe; I wanted them all to feel safe. And, happy. I truly wanted all of my students to be happy when they came to my classroom. Or, at the very least, when they left my classroom.

Which gets me back to the bigger picture, I guess (and, I didn’t even pre-write or plan that easy transition:).  My husband is right; I do spend a lot of time in the preparation phase of just about everything, before I get to the, ‘fun stuff.’ I’ve had over a year with many hours of quiet time for self-reflection which, in my case, is more like an internal combustion of sorts; I overthink everything I do and everything I’ve done and every situation in which I’ve been, and every person that’s been a part of those situations.  

I overthink. At least that’s what I think:)  I overthink. I overplan. I overdream. I overworry. I overexpect. I overdo.  I overforgive. I overcare. I overlove. And, I often do miss out on the fun stuff.

But, [I think] I can tell you why:)  Hell, everyone that knows me well can probably tell you why without even thinking about it. I want everyone to be happy-whatever the fuck that means. I try to make decisions that can make EVERYONE involved….happy. Sounds so pleasant, so innocently naive, so ignorant, so ridiculous when I see it in print.

But, it’s true-I want my colleagues to enjoy coming to my office; my students to smile while they are in my classroom; my family to feel as blessed as I do when they come over for a visit, or home from work or school.  I LOVE that feeling-that feeling of making someone happy.

Let me clarify – I do not overthink about ways to make everyone like me – It’s hard to believe, I know, but, there are a few people out there that don’t like me. I’m pretty sure of at least one.

Like I said, I don’t lose sleep about people not liking me..no, not at all. I don’t put off pressing SEND or SUBMIT because I’m afraid of not being liked. It’s really not about ME at all-I just have a hard time moving forward with pretty much ANYTHING…if there is any doubt in my mind, that it can be done better. By better, I mean…could I accomplish the same SOMETHING in any other way that could be any more beneficial or less harmless on ANYONE..I know, it’s stressful just thinking about it, isn’t it? But, usually…it’s just so. damn. worth. it.

I LOVE the feeling of giving experiences, or providing opportunities, or creating environments where people can maintain, or better yet, discover joy or happiness-even if I’m not there-even if they have no idea I was ever there. I LOVE that. It’s fun to me…  I’ve discovered it is the only fun stuff I know. And, for me, it’s the important stuff, too.

(I wrote the first draft of this blog post at 5:40 on 11/4/16. Today is 11/6/16.  Point taken.)

Hello.

I’m Angie.

I’ve got a lot on my mind. I’ve got a lot of ideas and a lot of answers. I am fulljohn and i lighthouse of opinions and suggestions.  I enjoy learning.  I enjoy intelligent conversation almost as much as laughing out loud.  I have an hilariously funny & very intelligent husband; which is probably why we are such a great fit. He’s one of the many things I believe has not come to be by coincidence, rather than a higher power of some sort. I’m a ‘everything happens for a reason’ kind of girl, and there are countless reasons that I was introduced to him so many times throughout my life.

I love being a mom… most of the time.  I guess that’s because I think I am pretty good at it..most of the time. I have enjoyed being a step-mom for the last couple of years, too. There are 5 of them-2 are mine and 3 are his, so  5 are ours. All of our kids are pretty great…most of the time.howdi lighthouse picture

I miss my mom every single day. I miss other people, too, but I miss my mom every single day.  My mom was a step-mom, also.  She was probably the best step-mom I’ve ever known.  I’m sure there were times I was jealous of my step-brother and step-sister, but I can honestly say that most of the time, I was sincerely happy for them; happy that they got to have my mom as their step-mom, and I got to share their dad with them.

I’m 39. I have Fibromyalgia.  And, Hashimoto’s.   And, Raynaud’s. And, I enjoy walks on the beach. Seriously, I do.  I can’t walk far without shoes on, and if it’s too cold, I have to wear gloves, and if it’s too hot, I’d prefer a short walk. But I do, seriously, enjoy a walk on the beach.  I also enjoy climbing into bed at 8:30 on a Saturday night with my hubby and our three dogs, just in time for the latest episode of 20/20.

I’ve changed a lot in the last few years.  For the better, in many ways, but I’m sure it is confusing for people that I am not close to.  Confusing as to how this girl that was such an involved teacher at our local high school and so involved throughout the community, has sort of disappe277aared.

Divorce changed me.  Burying my dad changed me. Switching careers and, now, working for myself has changed me. Living alone with just my kids definitely changed me. Becoming a wife and a step-mom has changed everything. Being a caregiver for my grandma changed me. Chronic pain & fatigue have changed everything about me. Having teenagers has changed me. Yet, losing my mom has probably changed me more than anything.

I was once defined by my work; I was a damn good teacher, and I am proud of the things my students and I were able to accomplish in my ten years.  I was a successful marketing manager, although I had a lot left to learn. And, am grateful for my years with an amazing company and colleagues who gave me the opportunity to lead and be lead.

But, now, I’m not sure who I am or where I am supposed to be.  And, so I have decided to start writing; blogging, if you will.  Who knows? Maybe this is exactly who am and where I am supposed to be..