Archive for the ‘General thoughts’ Category

I haven’t posted in forever and I can’t imagine that anyone is still reading this…but I’m going to start writing again for me, which is the original reason I started the blog to begin with.  I’ve got to get back on track, and this blog has always been a major tool in staying accountable and focused.

The big move is over with.  We’re still settling in and probably will be for months, but we’re here and most of the critical things are unpacked.  The house is starting to look like a home; we’ve got all the kids’ pictures up and that’s a benchmark for homeyness, I think.  The major stresses of the four-month separation and the cross-country move are over with, and now reality begins to set in.  This is our new life, this is our new home, and we have to make it what we want it to be.

I’ve always believed that you should begin as you mean to go on, so that’s what I’m trying to do.  I’m dealing with some emotional stuff that I won’t go into because that’s not what this is for, but in a nutshell it boils down to missing people and being homesick.  Nothing that anyone else in my position wouldn’t be dealing with; nothing that the rest of my family aren’t dealing with.  I’ll deal with it.  But at this point, I’ve been given a golden ticket to a chance to change myself and my life, so I need to grasp that.  If I don’t, then I’ve done myself and my family a grave disservice and really cheated myself badly. 

We’re living in a bona-fide subdivision this time around, something we haven’t done in about 15 years.  It’s quiet, it’s well-laid-out, and above all, it’s flat.  A more perfect opportunity for outdoor exercise could not exist in any form that would have meaning to me.  So I’ve been taking it – we have taken after-dinner walks a couple of times, and I’ve been biking in the mornings.  I haven’t yet this morning, and probably won’t because we’ve got some critical errands that need to be run early – so as soon as this post is done, I’m going to wake up the woman-child and the teenling (I like those terms better than ED and YD, and I think I’ll stick with them) and go do those things.  But I am committing firmly to some significant form of exercise every single day…well, I will probably allow myself rest days when I feel that I need them, because I know how important that is, particularly when you have an autoimmune condition.  But nearly every day, and every single day that I’m physically capable.  Feeling a little tired or not being in the mood will not be acceptable excuses.  Neither will being too busy – I really can’t claim that one any more.  I’m not working right now, so if I could make time for exercise when I was working full-time and taking care of a home and family, I can damn sure do it now.  I also have the WiiFit for indoor exercise, and I am planning to do yoga at least three times a week, and hopefully more.

I’m shaping up the nutrition aspect of our lives again, too.  Things had gotten so crazy that I had let us lapse back into old, bad habits almost entirely.  I’m eradicating that now, as I am again able to plan and shop and prepare with some sort of order and routine.  I did make the mistake of bringing ice cream into the house, and I’ll have to watch that, as my very favorite ice cream/burger chain is in this area and that will be a temptation.  [It’s funny, because I’m not normally an ice-cream junkie…but this place is off-the-charts amazing.  It’s a local chain that produces and brings in all their products – meats, produce, dairy, everything – from their farms to their stores daily.  As a result, they have the best cheeseburgers, fries and ice cream in the free world…]  I am going to have to figure out a system of planned treats, so that I can enjoy that without being indulgent.  I don’t plan to spend the rest of my life being strictly regimented, but I also don’t plan to spend it unhealthy and overweight. 

So I have the exercise and food aspects…well, not quite in hand, maybe, but I’m getting there.  That just leaves the mental aspect, and that’s the function of this blog.  I don’t have a support network locally yet – that part has always been the hard part for me, bringing people into my life – and I know how much I need that reinforcement, so for the time being this will be my mental reinforcement.  Whether anyone reads or not, it will be my way of keeping my head in the game, and reminding myself daily (I hope) how important this is to me.  I have used the arthritis as an excuse to go easy on myself for a while now, and before that there were other excuses.  Excuses don’t get the job done; they just make you old, tired and unhealthy, and that’s how I’ve been feeling.  I think it’s past time to take my life, my body and my health back.


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Well, I haven’t blogged in forever…I’m having a hard time sticking with “new” habits (actually old habits revisited) lately.  There’s just so much going on and I’m struggling with my “deer in the headlights” method of stress-coping.  You know, just freeze and wait for the half-ton of metal to smash you into a smear of ook on the pavement.  And it would almost be okay except that the actual impact never comes.

I have had some good results.  I got the insurance fiasco straightened out, finally.  I’m still tempted to sue the mail-order people out of general principle; I know that anyone who wasn’t willing (or didn’t know how) to fight as long and rabidly as I did would have been completely screwed out of the coverage they should have had, and that makes me angry.  Yes, it’s fixed for me – and I’m deliriously happy over that – but how many people have had to go without medication they need because of this tactic?  It’s really not okay, and someone needs to do something about it.  Unfortunately, the way our system works, a lawsuit is about the only thing you can do, and even that never really fixes anything.  However, you can’t sue on general principle – you need to have some form of damages, and (fortunately for me) I don’t have anything quantifiable.  So probably no lawsuit, much as they deserve one.

Regardless.  That’s a soap box for which I simply don’t have the energy tonight.  I am tired and depressed…I should be asleep, I could be asleep, but I can’t go to bed until the acid-reflux medication kicks in.  Yet another health issue from days gone by that is rearing its ugly head lately.  I have simply got to start really taking care of myself…I just can’t seem to find the energy or the enthusiasm for anything right now.

DH leaves in a week and a half.   That makes me very sad.  I think about how many people have to say goodbye to their spouses on a regular basis – military spouses are the obvious example, but there are plenty of people whose spouses work in other states regularly, and I’m just not sure how they manage it.  It might not be so bad if we weren’t also trying to sell both the house and the cabin, which is going to require a lot of attention and upkeep from me.  It would be a chore even with him here.  Without him…I keep reminding myself that I can do it, and I will do it.  I do know this.  I just have a hard time believing it sometimes.

Here’s the thing.  He’s my anchor.  He’s my safety net.  He’s my foundation and my GPS.  He doesn’t solve my problems – he expects me to, and I do.  But I know he’s there, if I come across one I just can’t solve.  He would do it, or at the very least he would help me find a way.  He doesn’t take care of me – he expects me to take care of myself, and I do.  But if I honestly couldn’t, I know he would.   He doesn’t coddle me or pamper me or hold my hand or treat me like a princess.  He loves me and trusts me and believes in me enough to expect me to be a strong, independent partner – and I try to do exactly that.  Most of the time I do okay.  So do I need him here to take care of me?  No.  But I just feel so much safer and stronger and more confident knowing that he is here, and I could fall back on him if I absolutely needed to.   In the end, it will be good for me to be self-sufficient for a few months, because I will admit I have begun to look to him for answers sometimes when I already know, or should know, the answer.  Maybe this will remind me how to think for myself and expect more from myself than the bare minimum.

But all that’s really secondary and isn’t even really the issue.  I am just going to miss him so much.  I hate the thought of him being alone.  I hate the thought of being here, in this house where we have shared so much and grown so much and made so many memories, without him.  I hate the thought of opening the closet every morning and seeing how my clothes now have the space to completely take over – because his are gone.  I hate the fact that when we sit down to dinner at night, I won’t hear “so, what were the big happenings at the (censored) Law Firm today?”  That’s his litany, his invitation for me to share my daily life with him, and I’m going to miss it.  Even when my answer is just “not much,” the simple ritual of it is just…priceless.  Irreplaceable.  The endless “good night” ritual that we have (engineered by our daughters over the years, it has grown from a simple “good night” to “good night; sweet dreams; I love you; see you in the morning; be safe” and each line has to be echoed by the receiving party, so it takes forEVER) – it somehow helps me fall asleep knowing that it’ll be okay, we’ll all still be here in the morning and life will go on.  That sounds simplistic but let’s face it; I have anxiety disorder, OCD and am a constant victim of magical thinking, so little things like that can mean a lot.

It all comes down to the fact that I’ll miss him.  I’m not angry, I’m not resentful, I’m not feeling sorry for myself or wishing it were different.  This is a decision we made together, and I don’t regret it for a minute.  It will be difficult and I am dreading it, but it is unquestionably the right decision for our family and the best thing we can do at this juncture in our lives.  But I am scared, and I am unsure, and I am sad.   I’m okay with that, because those are all appropriate emotions for me to be feeling right now – and one of the biggest aspects of the personal journey I’ve been making over the past few years is allowing myself to feel the appropriate emotions, rather than bottling them up, suppressing them, or trying to turn them into other emotions (like anger, for example).  So I’m okay with feeling these things – and I know that he’s feeling them too, to some extent, whether he expresses them or not.  And that makes me sad for him, because I so do not want him to feel that way.  So…you know, I’m just a little sad, and apprehensive.

I’m terribly stressed about the whole real estate issue, because I cannot abide the unknown.  I do not like not having control, not being able to plan, not knowing what to expect.  I can’t stand endless variables…and my life right now is nothing but a series of endless variables.  I can’t plan.  Well, I can make several contingency plans – “if this happens, then we do that”, but I can’t rest easy in the certain knowledge of a timeline and an agenda.  When things happen, I will have to react quickly, and knowing that always makes me panicky.  I’ve coped with anxiety disorder by making sure my life is planned out as much as possible, so there are very few situations where I have the opportunity to panic.  Right now…well, the Xanax prescription is getting a workout, is all I can say.

It’s hard on the kids, too.  Not just knowing their Dad will be half the country away – though that is difficult – but also just the daily, chronic, low-level stress of the whole situation.  Everyone’s tense, everyone’s uncertain, and we’re all acting out because of it.  It’s going to be critical for me to really get my own emotions under control so I can be calm and give the girls something of an anchor in their own shifting currents.  ED has a ton of stuff going on with senior year stuff, graduation and college prep, on top of it all.  YD is a massive Daddy’s girl, so when DH leaves it will be a huge strain on her.  She’s also understandably very anxious about being the “new kid” and starting over in a whole new place, when she has lived in this house all her life.  Add in the beginnings of puberty, and she’s having a hard time.  So I need to be there for them, and to do that I really have got to get a grip on myself first.

I miss spending time with my friends, too.  For a lot of very, very good reasons there hasn’t been much friend time lately, and I miss it.  I need it.  There was a time when I didn’t, when I had taught myself not to, but I’ve let myself become dependent upon that over the past year or so, and now I’m sort of lost without it.  It’s just so hard to make time for anything when there are always more things to do than hours in the day, and my energy levels are frankly nonexistent.

Staying up half the night writing isn’t going to help, either, except in terms of venting a little of the weepiness.  But I’ve done that now, so I think it’s bedtime.  Hopefully in the morning, I’ll have a little brighter outlook.  I’m such a wet blanket at the moment…

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Someone I admire and respect immensely recently commented to me that the hormone calm that follows a good cry is worth the effort.  I think she was right.  Unfortunately it was about a four-day “good cry”…but I’m riding the calm at the eye of the storm at the moment, and it feels rather blissfully numb.

It’s been a rough few days.  I am not, as a rule, someone who cries a lot.  I do not normally cry in front of anyone – no matter how much I love or trust them – and when I cry by myself, it’s about a thirty- second to two-minute sobfest and then it’s over…leaving behind a stuffy nose, headache, and all the other crap.  But over the past few days, I’ve been a soppy, sloppy, whimpering mess.  I cry at the drop of a hat, for any reason at all, and for no reason at all, and it lasts forever – I can’t seem to stop.  I’m a little sick of crying, to be honest.

Today, though, I seem to be functioning at a near-normal level, which is nice.  I guess I just ran out of angry/sad/scared/frustrated and ended up with numb.  Which is good.  I need a little numb.

I’m embroiled in a heated, senseless, circular war with my insurance company and pharmacy benefit (non)provider.  Due to a convenient (and, I am convinced, fraudulent) loophole that said (non)provider has created for itself, the medication that was helping me function almost normally despite my autoimmune issues is not being paid for, and quite frankly I don’t have an extra thousand dollars or so a month to pay for it myself.   So I am unmedicated and engaging in a daily round of non-productive phone calls with all three participants (moronic insurance company, intransigent nonprovider, and bewildered nonprovider’s scapegoat)…and I am exhausted.  I’m sure most people would just throw up their hands and give up – which, I am sure, is what they count on.  Unfortunately (for them) I am at heart a viciously stubborn, contrary, bloody-minded bitch…so the war will continue and it’s going to get progressively less pleasant for those unlucky enough to be receiving my endless telephone calls. [Note:  I do not normally advocate, or even tolerate, rudeness to people who are honestly just trying to do their jobs.  I recognize that I am not speaking to the decision-makers, but rather the unfortunate flunkies who get to take my irate calls and deliver the message they’ve been tasked with delivering.  However, I have reached a  point at which my careful Southern upbringing has ceased to restrain my inner snarling bitch, and I’m becoming less gracious and ladylike every day.  If this doesn’t get resolved soon, I’m going to end up as Ann Coulter…or possibly Rosie O’Donnell…)  Oh, and the icing on the cake?  In two weeks, when DH makes the jump, I’ll be uninsured for thirty days.  So there’s a good chance the insurance issue will be resolved just in time for the coverage to no longer be in effect.  So I’m probably looking at being unmedicated for at least another sixty days, assuming the new insurance lacks the general f**kwittage of my current insurance…and I’m not entirely willing to make that assumption.

So there’s that.  Also, my husband is going to be moving to Oklahoma in three weeks, while the girls and I stay behind until June.  I miss him already.  So that’s making me emotional.  Then there’s the stress of trying to sell the house and our lake cabin, as well as trying to find a new home (which is difficult because it’s hard to know if anything that’s on the market now will still be on the market whenever our place finally sells).  Also, ED is turning eighteen, getting ready to graduate, and preparing for college…and YD is clearly beginning the long, soul-shredding segue into puberty.  So I know that the next five months or so are going to be among the most trying of my entire life.

I’m up for it.  I really am.  I just seem to have moments when I forget that fact.  My BFF is going through a similarly difficult time and unfortunately both our difficult times are of a type that conspire to keep us from spending any time together or even being able to talk regularly, so we can’t even offer the kind of support for each other that we’d like to.  2010 is not starting off quite the way I’d like for it to have done.

I am eating much better, and that’s something of a victory in the face of the emotional excesses in which I’ve been indulging.  I haven’t been tempted much to drown my sorrows in crappy food, though I have had a glass or two of wine.  So I’ve been eating awesomely clean, I’ve lost four pounds since Day One, and over the past week have mostly just maintained, which I’m very happy with.  Maintenance, in the face of stress, is a huge victory for me.  It’s not how I normally roll, frankly.

Workouts have not been so successful.  I can honestly plead lack of time and too many other things I have to get done, though that doesn’t make me feel better.  The real problem is that I just don’t want to work out.  I want to sleep, and that’s all I want to do – which is a huge red flag right there.  I am depressed and I recognize that; I know the signs and I’m familiar with the process.  I’m irritated with everybody and I just don’t care about much of anything…I don’t want to do anything or go anywhere, I just want to crawl into bed and sleep till everything’s better.  I know that’s not going to happen, but there it is – that’s how I feel.  I know I can’t give into it – who has time? – and I do know all the things I need to do to drag my sorry ass out of the hole I’m in.  I just have to decide it’s worth doing.  I’ll get there.  It may take a few days, but I’ll get there.

So on the whole, life is somewhat tense at the moment…but evidently I’m getting better at taking care of myself during the stressful times.  Everything else aside, I’m pretty pleased about that.  I’ll never make it to perfect, but if I’m making progress, then I guess that’s what counts.

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I find myself unaccountably unable to write the “end-of-the-year summation post” I was planning.  It bores me to tears.  Yes, lots has happened this year.  A lot of it was huge.  But if it was that huge, I probably already wrote about it and I just don’t feel like doing it again.

I haven’t written about paying off my debts.  I made the final payment this past weekend and am now officially debt-free.  It’s been a long, grueling process and honestly, I don’t think I could be happier or more relieved.  It’s a huge thing for me, but strangely, it’s not even something I feel like exploring.  I’m just sort of…blase.

I got a call on Christmas Eve from the specialty pharmacy which is handling my Enbrel prescription.  The insurance company isn’t paying for it.  It’s an interesting way they do it – they don’t actually deny it, because that might leave open the possibility of appeal.  No, they just tell you what your part of the bill is – and it’s the whole thing.  So it’s covered, but the copay is 100%.  Does that seem like utter bullshit to anyone but me?  Just curious.

But while my insurance company is completely putrid, I am impressed with the pharmacy.  I don’t normally like mail-order pharmacies or the necessity of using them – and that’s putting it mildly; the truth is I want to chew someone’s face off at the notion that I can be barred from using my local pharmacy by an insurance company mandate – but the case manager has called me twice to update me on the status of the order, even though nothing has actually changed because the insurance rep won’t call her back.  She’s been solicitous and has given me information on copay-assistance programs that might be able to help me, and is exploring some different alternative-dosage options that might manage to get coverage.  She’s been friendly and has not hesitated to at least try to answer my questions and at no time during my low-key rant about the insurance company’s abuse of power did she become defensive or upset.  In short, she was very professional and nice and I liked her.  Even if we never manage to get the medication covered, I feel that she’s done a great job, and that surprises me.  It’s not something I’ve encountered a lot of in my dealing with insurance issues.

I did experience a minor meltdown after that call.  Although I knew there was a good chance it wouldn’t be covered, I did think that the reason would be that they wanted me to try methotrexate first.  But they didn’t even give a reason, which leaves little hope that after a trial of methotrexate they might go ahead and cover the Enbrel.  The thing is, I’ve had life-changing results from the Enbrel, and going back to what I was experiencing without it is harder than I expected.  The doctor was right.  There might not be any physical harm from using it briefly and then stopping, but the psychological effects were profound.

DH was a rock star through it all, though.  Over our seventeen years together, I know that I’ve changed and grown a lot, but somehow it always still surprises me and takes my breath away when I realize how much he has grown and deepened as a person.  His love and support and encouragement – and through it all, his solid faith that I am a stronger, wiser, better person than I used to be and can get through this – are proving to be a huge anchor and life preserver for me.  Most of all, it soothes and strengthens me that he never diminishes the difficulty of the situation – but firmly believes and expresses that it’s not something that can beat me, if I choose not to let it.

It’s not in the good times – the easy, fun times when everything is beautiful and going well – that you learn the power and strength and value of a person, or of a love.  It’s when everything goes south and the whole world seems to be drowning in despair that things really have a chance to shine.  I’m a very lucky woman and times like this serve as a reminder of that fact.

So I’m still a little depressed and angry about it, but I’m reminded that I’m not that person anymore – the person who would have wallowed in that and used it as an excuse to be listless and hopeless and self-destructive.  Instead, I’m renewing my resolve to be as healthy as possible and start the new year off the right way.  I’ve gone back to my strict meal-planning – planning all five daily meals in advance for the entire month, with the balance of foods that I know keep me at optimum health and will help me take off some weight.  I’m restarting my workouts (which I have, I am sad to admit, entirely abandoned) slowly, with the WiiFit Plus that I got for Christmas.  It’s fun, it’s simple, and I can start slowly and work my way up to harder things until I can determine what my new limits are.  I’m being accountable.  I’m steeling myself and re-focusing my energy into being the strong, healthy person I know I can be, no matter what my diagnosis is.  It does not have to define me, and I will not let it.

I’m also making a promise to myself to ration my energy and time wisely.  I’m not being terribly structured with that, because I know that once the house is on the market things will get unpredictable very quickly, but let’s just say there will be a significant decrease in the number of Facebook games I’ll be playing, and a sharp decline in the time spent doing so.  Down time is for working out, for writing, and for spending time with my children who are growing up too quickly.  The farm and the mafia can wait; they’re not going anywhere.  🙂  In fact, I suspect that game-playing time will come to be one of my self-rewards for goals met and routines adhered to.

In short, this year I need to get my shit together, if you’ll pardon the crudity of the expression.  2009 was a year of lost focus, drifting and letting things slide.  2010 needs to be a year of focus, productivity and self-care, just so we can all survive it intact.  It’s going to be a year of huge change and only careful navigation will make it easier for me and for all of us.

I’m also going to put a lot of time and energy into making sure the people I’ll be leaving behind know just how much they mean to me and how much I will miss them.  More on that later.  Time to go spend an hour with a couple of them.  🙂

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Another Chapter Closes…

I’m feeling a little sad tonight…part fatigue, part hurt feelings, and a large part anticipatory grief over impending separations. Oh, and part pain, but that part is something I’m sort of getting used to, at least physically.  Mentally is a different matter, of course, but I’m working on that.  On a happy note, I started the Enbrel tonight, so at least I know there’s hope that the pain may improve, and probably take some of the fatigue with it.

The sadness, though, is something I’m just going to have to work through.  We are definitely moving back to Oklahoma; DH got a job offer this past week that meets all our needs and is even a little better than we were hoping for.  He will be moving probably in mid-February, and the girls and I will follow in June, when school is out.  This is a great thing for us, for a lot of reasons.  My mother and most of my family are in Oklahoma, so I will be close to them for the first time in about 13 years.  ED is planning to attend Oklahoma State – pending acceptance, which we should know about this coming week – so we will be close to her, which is huge.  It’s a great job offer with a great company, and DH will be about a million and one times happier at work than he is right now.  It will be a financial improvement, which speaks for itself.  I will be able to explore different employment options myself – which is great, as I am terminally burned out in my current field, which I’ve been in for about 18 years now, and a change will be just what the doctor ordered.

So it’s a great thing, and I am actually very happy about it.  I’m relieved to have the waiting at an end, to know what’s going to happen, and to be able to plan and organize and feel a little more in control of my own destiny.  I’m excited about what the future holds.  I’m more thrilled than I can possibly express for my husband, because he’s been so unhappy and has been so stoic and strong about it, and it’s hard to watch someone you love so much feeling that way.  And there’s also the fact that, in a time when so many are struggling and having trouble even finding a job, we are blessed with an improvement in circumstances.  That’s rare and precious, and I fully recognize and cherish that.

But I’d be lying if I didn’t say it’s mixed with sorrow and loss.  Because, of course, we’ll all be leaving things behind.  YD, when we told her, burst into tears at the dinner table (at a restaurant, no less – great planning, Mom!) because she would be leaving all her friends and her school and everything she’s ever known.  Of course we comforted her and told her about all the positive aspects – but honestly, at times I share her pain and would love to be able to just break down and cry myself.

I’ll be leaving a job that I don’t love anymore, but that I know I’m good at and in which I have a great deal of respect and assurance, with a company that I’ve been with for almost 11 years.  A few people at that firm are my very dear, close friends, and we’ve been through more shit together than I can even explain.   The idea of not seeing them every day – possibly not ever seeing them again – is a shock and a wrench and…just hard.  And ugly.

I’ll be leaving a home I adore, where I feel comfortable and happy and as though I belong.  We have worked so hard for the past eight years or so to make this exactly the home we want, and I’m going to miss it.  I guess it’s a minor aspect of the loss, but it’s there.  I do love my home – not because it’s fancy or impressive or anything except mine, in every sense.  I walk into it in the evening and cannot help but smile, because it makes me happy.  I will miss that, and I am anxious that whomever buys it won’t love it the way I do or may even – gasp – change it.   In Facebook parlance, major dislike.

I will be leaving a particular friend who has become more of a sister to me than my own sisters have been, who has brought out things in me that I didn’t even know how to unlock, who gets me in ways I’ve never been gotten.  She is the first friend I have ever had who lived close by and whom I could see on a daily basis at times.  If that sounds strange, please be aware that I have generally lived, by choice, in more rural areas and didn’t really have any close neighbors, let alone ones I liked.  Also, I’m a hermit by nature.  It’s incredibly difficult for me to reach out to people.  I try to force myself – more now than in the past – but it doesn’t come naturally or easily.  I cherish this friend more than I ever thought possible, and leaving her is going to be like leaving one of my children, in intensity of pain if not in similarity of sentiment.

I have really grown up here, to be truthful.  Most of my adult life has been spent here in Charleston, and while there are a lot of things about the area that frustrate me – the air quality or lack thereof, the generally economically depressed status of the area, and a host of other things – the fact is that it is my home, and I love it.  Love it, deeply and truly and intensely.  I have become a real person here, gone from a fledgling and largely unformed young woman who thought she knew it all but actually had less than half a clue about anything, to something of a seeker after truth who still doesn’t know all that much but at least knows enough to know she doesn’t know anything.  (And a passionate lover of the random incoherent run-on sentence, apparently!)  Here, I have learned to breathe, to meditate, to open myself to the beauties and wonders and joys of life.  Here, I have faced my deepest fears and my most intense pain, and have come out the other side stronger, wiser and filled with self-love and a passion for life and truth that still amaze and humble me.  Here, I have gone from a girl to a woman, and every winding road, every tree-covered mountain, every rambling stream hold memories so powerful and affecting that they are almost painful to carry away.

I will miss the people who have become a part of me, who have been with me through the fire, who have walked beside me and held my hand when it got really hard, who have laughed with me and behaved like silly, senseless idiots when the circumstances called for it.  I have learned and grown so much through being blessed with these people’s presence in my life, and walking away from them will tear out a little piece of my heart that has put down roots so strong they simply will not let go.

I will miss the land – the mountains, the forests, the streams, the sudden and unexpected waterfalls that appear around every bend, the blazing glory of the trees in autumn, the lush verdancy of those same trees in the sultry summer.  I will miss the rare blanketing snowfalls that outline every tree and hillside and leave the whole world looking like nothing so much as a Currier & Ives postcard.  I will miss the occasional perfect spring days when the breeze clears away the ever-present miasma of humidity to leave the whole world sparkling and so perfectly beautiful it is painful to see.

I will miss this time of my life, when I have learned and grown and survived and triumphed…the days when I have been happier than ever before, happier than I ever thought I could be, or deserved to be…the days when I finally realized that I did deserve that happiness, and learned to reach out and grasp it and draw it to myself.  It has been a beautiful time, no matter how painful some of it has been – but we all know that there is no growth without pain, and if we don’t experience that pain, then we can’t experience the joy that follows in equal intensity.

It is going to be so hard, and while I want to acknowledge and celebrate the wonderfulness that I know is coming, I also know from personal experience that I have got to acknowledge the sadness and the loss.  That’s difficult, because part of me will always believe that stoicism is simply the only option.  I can’t bear the thought of DH thinking that I don’t want this, that I’m not happy about it, and I’m not sure he would understand that the sadness doesn’t cancel out or in any way invalidate the happiness.  Because I am happy, deliriously so.  I miss my family and I have been longing to be able to be close to them and to rediscover the place where I was a child.  I want to be close to my mother, to help take care of her.  I want to be close enough for my daughter to come home from college for weekends when she wants to.  I want this.  I have pushed for this.  But it’s possible to be deliriously happy about it and still be overwhelmingly sad about leaving.  I’m just not sure if I could explain that to him in a way that wouldn’t hurt him or make him feel guilty or cause him stress and unhappiness.  The whole thing is going to be stressful enough without me making it harder for him.  The girls also need to see me happy about the move, because their own loss and uncertainty demands that; I need to reassure them and help them to focus on the positive, and I can hardly do that if I’m exuding negative emotion.  So I sort of have to keep this to myself…but I know that if I don’t express it and acknowledge it and deal with it, it will eat me alive.  I just have to do it quietly, when no one’s looking.

ED will be giving a senior voice recital in April, at the end of her last year with her voice coach, who I would pack and take with me if I thought her family would allow it.   While I cannot wait for this, for the opportunity for friends and – well, friends, because we don’t have any family here anymore – to hear her sing, I know that I’ll have to pack the tissues.  One of the songs she will be singing will be “Time to Say Goodbye” and on so many levels, that is exactly the time it will be.  Time to say goodbye to her childhood, to her high-school years, to her friends here and so much that she has known.  And it will be that time for me, as well – time to say goodbye to our home here, to the friends I love, to a wonderful time and place…and time to say goodbye to the years when my oldest child was still a child and nestled under my wing.

In many ways, this is the end of a chapter of our lives.  It’s been a good one, and I will miss it.

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Unsung Heroes

We hear the phrase “unsung hero” a lot, but I don’t know that we spend a lot of time thinking about what that means, exactly.  It doesn’t always mean someone who carried a child out of aburning building or rescued a stranger from rising floodwaters, though it certainly could.  But then again, those kinds of heroes generally are “sung”, and quite rightly so.  We all recognize this sort of heroics, and we assign the appropriate value to it, most of the time.

So what kind of hero would be unsung?   What sort of heroism goes unnoticed or, at least, unacknowledged?  I think we all see this on a daily basis, whether we realize it or not.   The key is in your definition of “hero”.

To me, a hero is someone who makes your decaf coffee for you every morning after you start working on their floor, even though you are the only one who drinks it and they really don’t know you all that well, and there’s absolutely no reward in it for them.  It’s someone who you’ve never met and don’t know, but who still leaves you a Facebook message calling you “my sweet friend” and hoping that whatever sorrow you’re experiencing will be less tomorrow.  It’s someone you haven’t seen in twenty years and haven’t spoken with much in that time, but who still cares about you and your life and lets you know that.

It’s someone who makes dinner for you without being asked, just because.  It’s someone who washes the dishes and cleans up the kitchen and bathroom without being told.  It’s someone who lets you go first at a four-way stop, though it’s clearly their turn.  It’s someone who reaches for the last gallon of milk at the grocery store at the same time you do, then laughs and says “no, you take it, it’s fine.”

Someone who always listens to your problems, though they have their own that may be more serious and they know there’s nothing they can do to help – but they know you have to talk.  Someone who doesn’t feel well and is having a really bad day, but who brings you a candy bar for absolutely no reason and without expecting anything in return, just because they know you like that particular candy bar.  Someone who remembers that dishes can mysteriously disappear sometimes after being washed in the office dishwasher, and always brings yours to you so that doesn’t happen.

Someone who does an evaluation and report for your firm and doesn’t bill, yet still has it to you before you actually needed it, making your life infinitely easier.  Someone who is assigned a project and always does it immediately, and to the best of their ability.  Someone who sees that you have tabs in a document you gave them to copy, and duplicates those tabs in the copy without being asked to do so.  Someone who goes above and beyond, not because they will be rewarded, but because that’s who they are.

Someone who slips their hand into yours and says, “I love you, Mommy,” not fifteen minutes after you grounded them for not cleaning their room.  Someone who defends you no matter what, because they love you, though they may well turn to you when everyone else is gone and say, “Wow, I can’t believe you said/did that, that’s nuts.”

Someone who writes a blog entry that reaches inside you and grabs your heart and twists it, turns it inside out, shakes out all the repressed emotion, then puts it back and pats it gently – even though that person doesn’t know you, or that you’ll be reading.

Someone who spends decades of his life writing novels that change your life, and in the last years, when he knows he’s dying, pours enormous amounts of his flagging energy into making sure that someone, at some point, will be able to finish the series.

Someone who walks down the hall singing at the top of her voice, maybe even does a little dance, making you smile and even laugh when you thought all you had in you that day were frowns and growls.

Someone who understands that you’re hurting and things are hard, but who nevertheless gently and lovingly expects you to get up and do what you have to, because they have faith in you and expect nothing less than greatness from you – and by having that faith in you, inspires and encourages you to be more than you thought you could be.

Someone who will tell you the things that are hard to hear, in a way that takes the hurt and makes it a demonstration of their love – love you never earned and don’t deserve, but they give it to you anyway.  Someone who trusts you to tell them the truth and respects and values your advice, because they respect and value you.

Someone who spends months planning ways in which they can use the month of December to give time and energy to their community, because they want this season to be about giving to other people in ways that count.

I could probably go on all day, because there are thousands if not millions of ways in which people touch our lives every day.  Small ways, ways that are so quick and fleeting that we could easily miss them if we weren’t paying attention – and we all too often do.  Most of these things don’t really get acknowledged – we might say thanks, but we don’t say, “Thanks, you have truly enriched my life and made my world a better place.”  We might think it, or we might not, because these things seem so small.

But small things add up.  Small things matter.  On an especially bad day, it can often be that small thing that takes the wind out of depression’s sails and helps you get your feet back on the path to sanity.  So today, I think I’ll take the time and trouble to notice these things, and to sing about them.  Every hero deserves a song.


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A Bad Day

I think I’m officially having a “bad day” where the arthritis is concerned.  It has caught me a bit by surprise, as I have been doing so well lately.  I didn’t sleep well, though, and I do remember shifting position a lot because I would start to ache and get uncomfortable.  Still, I felt okay when I first got up.  It’s gotten progressively worse, though, and I am deeply regretting the decision to go ahead and wear heels today.  Definitely should have gone with the flats, because my back, hips and knees feel like they’re made of broken glass.  I started having problems with my shoulder last night too, which made me very cranky.  I despise random pain – I want to be able to point to some good, productive exercise that I did that resulted in soreness, or at least be able to say, “Oh, I overdid it, I may have pulled something,” or something of that nature.  But the shoulder, at least, is just random pain without benefit, which I find very irksome.

I did 30 minutes on the treadmill last night during the Biggest Loser, and I think I can put some of the pain down to that.  I increased the speed in increments, and didn’t notice any pain until I hit 3.5, but that was well into the workout so I’m not sure if it was the speed or just how long I’d been doing it.  I’m inclined to say it was the speed, because I was feeling really good at 3.2 and then at 3.5 there was a sudden and marked change.  This is really frustrating me, because frankly even 3.5 is pathetic for someone who was regularly running at 6.0 not too long ago.  I know that I’m going to have to accept some limitations, but I’m really not willing to accept this much, this soon.  I can’t really wrap my head around the concept that I could have declined so much so quickly.

A big part of what I’m having trouble with today is realizing that while I will have good days and bad days, I will probably never again have perfect days.  I probably cannot expect to ever have another day that is completely pain-free.  I’ve been doing great lately, I really have, and have been quite pleased with my condition – but I haven’t been pain-free.  I think those days are behind me, and that’s sort of a stark realization, that every single day of my life from now on I will be in pain to some degree.  It might not be too bad, but it will always be there.  That’s depressing as hell when you first really own up to it.  I know I’ll be okay once I process through that, but right now it’s upsetting.

Another problem I have is that there’s really not much I can do about the pain.  The medication helps, but it doesn’t completely eliminate it…and God, how I hate to take medication.  Lying down isn’t really helpful because immobility stiffens the joints and makes the pain worse, but moving hurts too, so at some point you just have to find the best combination and realize that it’s only going to improve things, not actually get rid of the pain.  That’s frustrating.  I’m a control freak.  I’ve never been great at accepting problems that I can’t at least try to solve.  So that’s causing me some angst today as well.

It’s just annoying to be hampered in my efforts to take control of my health and do the right things.  I know, intellectually, that this is going to be a serious learning process and there will be a lot of trial-and-error before I find the mix that works for me.  The problem, I think, is that while I understand what my condition is, I still haven’t quite gotten to acceptance.  Acceptance still feels like giving in, and I hate – hate – the idea of giving in.

I have an autoimmune condition that comes with arthritis.  I know that.  I understand that, and I get that nothing is going to change it.  No matter how well I eat, how active I am, how intelligently I manage my condition, it’s still going to be there.  I do understand that.  But the fact remains that I am 37 years old and I refuse to spend the rest of my life just waiting to die.  I intend to live it, and I intend to do so with as much health and energy and strength and determination and joy as I can.  I just have to figure out how best to do that, and right now that’s giving me some difficulty.

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