Friday, December 23, 2011

It's Like A Resurrection or Something!

I am brought back to life! I kid you not. After almost seven weeks absence I am back. Don't get too excited though. Not exactly ready to start pestering you on a daily basis. But there are signs of life.

We moved. Did I mention that? It was a killer. I don't want to ever do that again. Not like that anyway. I hurt myself physically. I drained myself mentally and emotionally. I wanted to go live in a cave. Except that that would require yet more moving! And my poor computer died. Not just got exhausted like me. DIED. So this is my inaugural post here on my brand new computer.

So like it's the holidays and all. I should have all sorts of Christmasy things to say. But I don't. You're lucky to be getting anything from me this year! We didn't send out a single card. We did not put up a tree. In fact we sold our tree. We have some pretty lights up outside. Does that redeem us?

We are getting ready to fly to Florida to spend the holidays with Karin's family. I'm pretty stoked. It's actually been way too cold here in Arizona. My bits are close to being frozen. I NEED WARMTH! Hoping by the time we get back here AZ is behaving itself.

I miss writing here. I still keep up with my daily writing for myself though. That's a good thing. But I promise once we get back I will do the right thing and breathe life back into this withering little blog.

Love, peace & joy to each and every one of you. Take time to treasure your loved ones. LOVE is more important than being right. Remember that.   :)

Monday, November 7, 2011


I am a bad, bad, bad blogger. Not a single post in October. But I swear I have a good excuse! Life has just been coming at me very fast. I can hardly keep up. We're in the middle of our move. Been selling & buying on craigslist like crazy. That alone is way too time consuming. But it's also been very profitable! We have been lugging our belongings (what's left of them) over to the new place in car loads. Hoping to have movers get the big stuff early next week. So ready to be over there for good.

In the midst of this we had to put a dog down. She was an old girl and going downhill fast. And there have been other things we've had to attend to, like getting my car fixed. And I decided to try NaNoWriMo this year. Not sure what I was thinking there! Write a novel all while moving? Let's just call it a "warm up" for next year, cause I don't see it getting done this month.

And tomorrow is my oldest's 30th birthday. She's living in Costa Rica so I can't be with her for her day. I decided to put together an online slideshow of her life up to now. That was a huge undertaking right now too. But I wanted to do something special for her 30th even though we're so far apart. It turned out really well so it was worth taking the time to do!

I am really looking forward to getting settled into the new place and having some time for writing again. I'm falling asleep as I write this.    :)      Goodnight all.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Here We Go!

No...not on the road....not yet! But we are going on an adventure of sorts. Karin & I both read A Complaint Free World and have begun the 21 day challenge (which usually takes much longer to complete I must add). We did great for the first day. Of course we started midday so we'll have to see how a full day goes. But still....a good start! It will be no small challenge. Even though I'm a pretty upbeat person, I didn't have to think too hard to realize the enormity of the task. And complaining isn't the only component of the challenge. Not gossiping is part of the deal too. And while I'm not one to go crazy with that, gossiping in this content means not saying anything about a person that you wouldn't say to their face. Okay....that's a toughie. But I think we're in the right frame of mind for this. We can laugh at ourselves when we open our mouths to speak and then shut them to keep the badness from coming out. It will be comical if nothing else.   :)

Wish us luck!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

God I Love Being a Woman! ;-)'s been over three weeks since I've shown my face here! I read other blogs, even comment from time to time...but just can't seem to get myself to sit down and write. Actually, that's not true. I write my morning pages most every day. But that's just for me. And it is really good for me.

I'm having some trouble though concentrating enough to write anything meant for anyone else's eyes. I'm in an interesting place these days. A place called "menopause" or officially "perimenopause" I guess. Either way it's a sucky place to be. I've actually been here for a couple of years already, but it's just now getting to the really fun part. The part where all kinds of scary physical symptoms pop up out of nowhere. And the symptoms I'm talking about they don't even bother to warn you about! We all know about hot flashes and mood swings and forgetfulness. But do they clue you into the fact that you might feel like you're having heart attacks, strokes, brain tumors and more??? Nope. More fun to watch you freak out I guess.

If not for an online friend sending a link to the mind numbing list of 35 possible symptoms, I might not have figured out what was wrong with me. I'd be just another "hysterical" woman in the ER thinking she's dying. Now that I know, I clearly see the patterns. Knowledge is power....and peace of mind! That said, knowledge is not exactly encouraging. From all the personal stories I have been reading, this is going to be a very long and very bumpy ride. Best fasten my seat belt.

I now know that the hot flash isn't the worst of it. It's what comes right before that is truly terrifying. All of the following have precluded hot flashes for me thus far (and we're talking about just in the past couple of weeks that I've even been having them): dizzy spells, pressure in the head, weird buzzy electric-like shock sensations in the head, and the grand daddy of them all - heart palpitations so bad I thought my heart was going to explode.

Today at work, I was massaging an older client who has terminal renal cancer. With this type of client we only do very light massage for circulation and relaxation. So I was not working hard. I was actually getting sleepy from the light work I was doing. All of a sudden my heart started to beat VERY fast and VERY hard! It scared the crap out of me. I began to panic. I had an intense feeling of doom and also of claustrophobia which is very unlike me. Then, as suddenly as it had come on, it stopped. It probably lasted no more than ten seconds, but felt much longer. The instant that it stopped, a wave of heat smacked me upside the head. And immediately I realized what the heart stuff was all about. The hot flash was a short one, only lasting a minute or so. I survived. Today was not my day to die.    :)

I know as time progresses I will get used to it all. But right now I am just not a happy camper! I've been researching like crazy. Researching stuff always makes me feel better. I came across something that reminded me of a conversation I had with a client a couple of years ago but had forgotten about. She told me how she had learned that taking magnesium was helpful for hot flashes and that it worked very well for her. What I found out is that it is not only helpful for hot flashes but also for all other symptoms. It is the most important dietary super star in regards to proper hormone function. It is actually recommended that women begin supplementing with magnesium long before the time for menopause. The list of things it is helpful with is very long. And evidently, about 67% of Americans are deficient in magnesium. Interestingly, Japanese women have a very low incidence of menopausal symptoms. And guess what? Their diets are very high in magnesium due to eating a lot of sea vegetables which are exceptionally high in the mineral.

Not only am I going through this, but my partner Karin has been living with it for several years herself. She has killer hot flashes which we have tried various natural treatments for with varying degrees of success. None have been effective in the long term. She might do better for awhile but it always comes back. And now there are two of us in the same house going bonkers!!! You had better believe we're going to be trying out the magnesium approach. Got my fingers crossed.   :)

We have too much going on to be laid low by all of this. I am determined to not let it overtake me. But do be patient with me. Sometimes my energy levels are just not there. Not enough to make myself write. I will do my best though. And I'll leave you with a couple of useful links for you or someone you know who might be struggling through menopause. The first is easy reading and information all women should have easy access to. The second is considerably more technical but worth digesting. One of the things I found from reading about other womens experiences is that the majority of doctors know diddly squat about menopause. It's up to us ladies!     :)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

In Praise of Books

Just read about this - It's nothing new of course. We're all aware of censorship in schools. I'm so glad I never encountered that while growing up. Even with my strict, evangelical Christian upbringing I got very lucky on a couple of counts. 

First, from the age of 10 to 13 I lived two houses over from the library. I practically lived there. It was like heaven to me. I took it all in. I read every sort of book. I explored all the sections from childrens to teen to adult.I got my sex education there. Which is a good thing considering my parents weren't about to go there except to say it's a sin unless you're married. And our schools at that time had no sex ed either.

I read classics, modern fiction, romance (never really did care for the Harlequin types though), mystery, farce, self help, etc. It seemed back then the teen section had a lot of books that revolved around drugs (in an after school TV special kind of way) as well as the occult. I ate that stuff up. Seems I was drawn to kids playing with their darker sides but always getting out before they were consumed by it. My parents should be happy. I swear that stuff scared me away from drugs.

But then again if they had had any real idea what all I was reading they would have taken my library card away from me. Pretty sure about that! I read some super hot sexy stuff, some pretty gruesome stuff and violent stuff on top of the previously mentioned no-no topics. As it was, at one point they had to limit the amount of my reading because I was not getting my school work done because of  my book addiction. That cracks me up thinking about it.

Second, even though I went to public schools I got an awesome education. Because I was of above average intelligence I was put into their accelerated program. While the regular students suffered through bland reading books, we read REAL books. Lots of them. Challenging ones. And we delved deep into them. Even though I didn't always love the book assignments, I always felt grateful to not be reading the crap the other kids were stuck with. It pains me to see how the system has let kids down by not offering them the riches of literature; instead feeding them what amounts to junk food. I just see no reason why average kids couldn't have been reading real books too.

And frankly, I don't think our schools would now be banning great literature if the adults running things had been exposed to it themselves from the beginning. As one quote says (paraphrased) "once your mind has been stretched by new ideas it cannot shrink back to it's original form". We hold back mankind with censorship. While raising my three kids I was always thrilled to see them reading real books. And picking out whatever they wanted. I knew their horizons would be broadened and their lives would be enriched.

I feel sorry for the people who are so afraid of fantasy, of other types of living, of other ways of thinking that they need to hide it from everyone. Seems like it would be like living in a prison.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Busted Dreams, New Dreams

The other day a client asked me what I'd done with my days off lately. I answered that we'd been cleaning out some closets and getting rid of a bunch of stuff. It's an ongoing process as we attempt to seriously reduce our belongings to a very minimal amount.

He said "oh yeah, I call that cleaning out my busted dreams". I got what he was saying. However I think for me it represents more of a change of dreams rather than busted dreams. I have held on to a lot of things that at one time were very important to me and that I could not imagine wanting to let go of. But so much as changed. I care about other things now.

So while it's a lot of work to sort through it all and lug half of it to a donation center, I'm pretty excited to be doing it. It feels good.     :)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tucson to Zion to Park City to Spokane.....

It's been three and a half weeks since we got back from our road trip and I'm just now getting around to blogging about it. This is evidence of my strong procrastination abilities. But, since Karin just got her new Droid phone today (this is the very first smart phone to come home with us), now would probably be a good time for me to sit down and write my little heart out. She's going to be knee deep in that phone for a loooong time figuring it all out! It will be like I don't even exist.

I love me a good road trip. Yes I do! I like to SEE all that there is to see, not just fly over it. Flying is great when time is of the essence. But I much prefer to wander slowly. This was a great road trip. We covered a whole lot of ground (3,300 miles - Tucson to Washington, on to Montana and then back in just under two weeks!), saw a huge variety of landscapes, met new people and made new connections, had lots of great times with family and most importantly we confirmed our very strong desire to make traveling the country a lifestyle, not just a vacation. The only reason we felt compelled to come home was to get back to our stuff (especially our mattress) and to be with our pets. When you take your home with you on the road, you never have to be away from them.

I won't spend much time discussing details of the trip. There was just too much going on in a short period of time! I will let the pictures speak for themselves. I took about 1,000 shots which I then kept a little under 500 of. So what I'm posting here is a teeny tiny sampling only. Sorting through and editing pictures was a major chore for me when we got home. Lucky for me I enjoy that sort of thing, huh?    :)

I decided to split this into two posts due to being so very picture heavy. The following is the first week more or less.






Not posting much from Spokane. That was all family/wedding/baby shower stuff. It was GREAT; just not of interest to most of you!   :)    We were surprised by how pretty it was there. Loved the river running through downtown, and the setting for the wedding was just gorgeous. 


I'll cover the second week of the trip next post. Stay tuned!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Go Poop On Someone Else's Party! :)

Yesterday a friend on facebook posted a link to this blog post - I read it because I am a big believer in positive thinking and I wanted to hear what they had to say against it. I need to mention that the link now seems to take you to an abbreviated version of what I read yesterday.  Much is left out in this version, which takes away from the initial effect it had on me.

While I would have to agree with what they say when taken literally, that positive thinking alone, will not get you closer to your goals, I take great issue with the overall tone of the post. Positive thinking (or visualizing success or whatever you choose to call it) is a tool, and a great one.  Can we please not throw the baby out with the bathwater? In all the reading I've done on the subject I don't think I've ever heard anyone claim that merely wishing for things will magically make them happen. If there are people out there doing that, then they may very well be missing the point.

And I believe that the author of that blog post has missed the point as well if that's what they think of positive thinking and it's place in reaching goals. They state that "Negative" thinking, on the other hand, has gotten a bad rap. This is mostly because the people who advocate "positive" thinking lump all the "negative" thoughts together in one big unpleasant pile, not realizing that some kinds of negative thoughts are actually necessary and motivating. There is a big difference between "I am a loser and can't do this" (a bad, self-defeating negative thought), and "This won't be easy, and I'm going to have to work hard" (a very good negative thought that actually predicts greater success)."

My thoughts are , since when is acknowledging that something will be a challenge the same as a negative thought? That makes zero sense to me. That's in effect saying that challenges are negative things. NO No no......challenges are the very things that provide us with the most personal growth. They are good and necessary, not negative! So to my way of thinking (screwy as it may be), the author just contradicted himself. Am I that far off base in not viewing a challenge as a BAD thing to be dealt with? That's like saying that life is basically a negative thing cause let's face it folks, life is one challenge after another! If I went around looking at life like that (and for way too long I did) I would feel no hope in ever living the life I want. 

Reading that post (the full one) had the immediate effect of causing me to feel despair. That may not have been the intent and I acknowledge that I am fully responsible for feeling that way (I was tired?). The good news is that after a few minutes of self pity I got over it. Once upon a time I would not have been able to pull myself out of that feeling so easily. The doubts would have taken me over to the point that I would have been immobilized. That was before I found out what a useful tool positive thinking is. Now I know that getting stuck in negative feelings is a sure way to keep me from doing what needs to be done. I am waaaaay more productive when I am feeling positive about life and my place in the world. 

I am a regular reader of the Tiny Buddha blog. From today- The quote this post is based on is "Believe nothing no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and common sense.” ~Buddha. Boy do I ever love this quote! And down in the comments someone writes "When experience contradicts what's written, follow experience. To me this is authentic living". That does it for me even more. 

I have personally experienced the benefits of positive thinking in my life. I'm sticking with experience! And for the record, I use more than just one tool in my approach to reaching life goals. I'm really into using thankfulness as a way to open myself to all the good that is available. I'm also using the daily morning pages concept as taught in "The Artists Way" by Julia Cameron. And then there's this little thing called being flexible. That may very well be the single best thing in my arsenal. When I lose the tunnel vision and allow for possibilities that had not even occurred to me before, the most amazing things happen.  :)

I am overall a picker and a chooser. I am a cafeteria style spiritualist. I do not believe there is any ONE right way. I do not follow any one faith or program. Through trial and error I figure out what works for me. And I in no way assume that it will work for anyone else. While I am happy to share my thoughts, I understand completely that the listener may either not be in a place to hear what I'm saying or may simply not be interested because they have something else that works better for them. And that is a beautiful thing. That we can all be free to express ourselves as different facets of the universe. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Inspired by a friends's facebook posting........

There has been much said about the recent death of the singer Amy Winehouse. One of the things going around is why we are mourning the loss of a drug addled celebrity when there are the deaths of all those innocents in Norway that truly deserve our grief. And also what about the deaths of servicemen? Why don't we pay as much attention to them?

I will always mourn the loss of a talented artist. I truly believe that artists contribute at least as much if not more to the world than the military. There. I said it. I have nothing against those servicemen for sure. But I don't get why the military gets this free pass to our respect because of the JOB that they signed up for. I am not saying servicemen never do great things deserving of our respect and appreciation. And I feel deeply for the ones who signed up because of promises made to them by recruiters that failed to materialize. And the ones who felt they had no other options in life but to join up.

But this is the thing. I think it's been a very very long time since this country's freedom was actually  at jeopardy. So this business of "freedom isn't free" doesn't gel with reality. Once upon a time, sure! In recent history though our military is more about doing the governments dirty work than "protecting" us from any real threat to our freedom.

Back to the Norway massacre victims. Of course they deserve our attention. But the fact that Amy Winehouse's demise coincided with the massacre is not a good reason to just dismiss her death. Oh sorry Amy! If only you had picked a different week to die, then it would be okay for us to mourn your passing! Really? How compassionate is that? We lose our own humanity when we pick and choose whose life is worth more.

The fact that she likely did herself in with drugs/alcohol doesn't lessen the loss I feel either. In fact it probably intensifies it a bit. It's such a pointed example of how human even a "celebrity" still is. You can have vast talent, resources, acclaim and still fall into a bottomless pit of pain. It makes me appreciate my own life so very much.

So here's to you Amy! A great talent with a lot of style, grit and honesty. You left behind a very small body of work but it was GREAT work! Thanks for being yourself and sharing that with the world.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

We Might Never Go Home.......

We are at the halfway point of our trip, so while laundry is washing/drying thought I would take a few minutes and touch base here in blog land. We have traveled from Tucson, AZ all the way to Spokane, WA. We have seen so much on the way that I almost felt like I was experiencing sensory overload! It's just been fantastic. We are like two little kids in a candy store. We scream and giggle and gasp around every bend almost. Is there anything better than a winding, twisting road that has something new to amaze you every time you turn your head? Nope. That's just GOOD STUFF!

For the first four days it was just the two of us. Now that we are in Spokane we are with a lot of Karins' family for several days. We are here for the wedding of one of her cousins, which is tonight. We checked out the location which is a city golf club. The clubhouse sits on a bluff overlooking a canyon, where the golf course is. It's sooooo pretty. Karin's cousin works there. The wedding is going to be very casual, much to my relief. The older I get the less I enjoy fussiness. It's like I just don't have the patience for it anymore. I used to LOVE getting all dressed up and doing all the hair and makeup and accessories and just all of it. Now....not so much.  I like to look as good as I can, but with minimal effort and minimal discomfort and minimal expense. So yay for casual weddings!

We will be heading into northern Montana tomorrow afternoon. Us and Karins' immediate family are going to Glacier National Park. I've been there before with my ex and the kids. It's a gorgeous high mountain alpine setting. The main road across the park is still not completely free of snow. We've been watching updates on the progress of that. It is very unusual for the road to not be open all the way this late in the summer. We've got our fingers crossed that they will have it open by the time we arrive, or at least before we leave. We'll be camping in a cabin outside of the park at a lower elevation. It will be much warmer but still quite cold at night, especially for us desert dwellers.

We are taking a different route on the trip back home. Actually going to go through Vegas since Karins' brother hooked us up with a cool suite there. He has taken great care of us on this trip. Three of our nights lodging is being covered by him, and all at amazing places. The kind of places we would never have gone to on our own. He did the same thing for Karins' other brother as well. We are loving it!

Going to leave blog land now and get back to all the fun here. Adios amigos!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Soul Food

Something that has come out in my morning pages writing is that I really need to take a careful look at who I am allowing to be a regular part of my life. There are too many instances where I will hang with someone, read someones writings or make frequent contact with who really adds nothing positive to my life. And all too often they bring a lot of drama or negativity into it. My contact with those people needs to be either eliminated or seriously curtailed.  I can see where that might sound elitist or cold. But it's not a matter of being mean or being judgmental. I can be kind to these people, show them goodwill, wish them well and then move along. The point is that I don't need to feel compelled to bring them into my inner circle, to give them a front row seat to my life. I need to reserve those spaces for those whose values are more closely aligned with mine. This does not mean I only want to be around people just like me; I adore being with people who are different enough to show me new things and new ideas. But there needs to be an underlying vibe there that supports my growth as a person rather than detracts from it. And vice versa.

I'm planning to go through my facebook friends lists and see where there are those who I am hearing too much crap from and either remove them or at least hide them from view in my news feed. Even though I try to just ignore it, if it's there in your face all the time you can't help but be adversely affected by it. Even just the act of scrolling through the junk gets old. This includes some pages I have liked because I support their causes. I like to hear news on these issues but if it is overwhelmingly lashing out at adversaries then that begins to feel like a gigantic suckage of good energy into bad energy. Yes, I just made up my own word. Suckage. I like that! And I'm tired of being drawn into heated exchanges between different sides. I just don't need that. It distracts me from doing what I want and need to do.

I follow a lot of blogs too. And while most of them are not negative and they each relate in some way to stuff going on in my life, some just aren't bringing anything enriching to the table either. Those need to go. When I'm getting into something new I have a tendency to want to read EVERYONE to try to soak up as much info as I can. But once I have a better feel  for things I need to cull out the ones that don't completely captivate me. There is no reason why I can't learn for people who also share my values! And I'd rather throw the support their way. I've come across a few blogs recently that really do it for me. I want to hear more, more, more from them. It's like comparing Adele and Pitbull. I am drowning in a sea of Pitbull when what I want is Adele. So out with the cheap imitation and in with what feeds my soul!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

You're Okay. No REALLY. You Are!

~Youth has no age.~ Pablo Picasso

I hear a lot in my line of work. And something I hear way too much of is self-loathing. "What have I done to myself now?" "Getting old is terrible." "I am so fat. I apologize for my condition." "Please don't look at my awful varicose veins.""I'm sorry I haven't shaved my legs. I just haven't had time. I feel so bad." And the list goes on.

When you come in for a massage, you are not going on a date. You don't need to look perfect. Clean is always appreciated of course! But beyond that I really don't care. It doesn't have much of anything to do with anything. By bringing up these things you are just announcing to me that you are not comfortable in your own skin. I wish I could help my clients deal with their negative self-perceptions. But honestly it's not in my scope of practice to do that. I'm a massage therapist, not a psychotherapist! But it still kills me to see the degree of self hatred some people have.

I have one client who I have seen periodically over the years who is a woman probably about ten years older than me. When she first came in she could barely walk. After being in an accident, she had to have spinal surgery. It left her in a lot of pain. What with being unable to withstand much physical activity she gained a LOT of weight. That in turn put a lot of stress on her knees which made activity even harder. This is a common scenario that brings clients into us. A cycle of pain that seems impossible to stop. Naturally this takes an emotional toll on the person. The biggest thing about this client that stands out to me is the way she drones on and on during a session about getting "old". She says to me "never get old Brenda", "it's a terrible thing to get old", "they should warn people about getting old". It's a never ending loop of negativity about aging. I have the feeling with this client, that even if she wasn't in this cycle of pain she would still be negative. I think this because in the last year there has been considerable improvement in her condition. Weight is coming off, she is getting around a lot more and I can tell from our sessions that she is able to handle so much more bodywork. But nothing has changed at all in the attitude! She harps on herself incessantly.

~Soul is form and doth that body make.~ Ernest Holmes

There is another client I recently saw for the first time. She is my age or maybe slightly younger. She is my size overall, weight distributed differently but overall close (so we're talking considerably overweight....yeah I can say that about myself and not be negative!). She spent the entire session chastising herself for being so fat. She told me how she used to be fit and play tennis and that there used to be muscle under the fat. Now apparently the fat has just gobbled up those muscles (it's a wonder she can stand up on her own two feet....okay, that's me being sarcastic). As I would move on to a new area of her body she would mention the fatness of that specific area. "Oh my fat wings, maybe you can rub all that fat away", "oh my cottage cheese thighs", "have you ever seen such a fat ass?", etc.

Wow. What does one even say in response to all that? I'm sure as hell not going to join in. I might like to say something like "well if you hate your body so much why don't you do something about it?". But that would likely get me fired. And even trying to word it more "nicely" still crosses the line of what my job is. Maybe she assumed because I am fat too that she would have a kindred soul to share her angst with. Not happening here! I got over that years ago. My body may not be in ideal shape but it's still my body and it is the vessel that carries the heart of me. I will not treat it with hatred.

~Begin to see yourself as a soul with a body rather than a body with a soul. Look at those indicators of aging as merit badges and try to look past them into the part of yourself that has never aged and never will. ~ Dr. Wayne Dyer

What I have noticed is that this form of self-abuse comes almost entirely from women. In this day and age of anti-bullying campaigns, I think we could use a little more focus on not bullying ourselves. But the message out there has not changed. Women are for looking at. They must stay young looking and thin. Anything else is just not acceptable. And women soak up that message and take it to heart from a very early age; even before they are women, still just girls. It's craziness. And we allow it.

I have other kinds of clients of course. They are a joy to see. They come in all shapes and sizes and ages. They are a joy because they love themselves. They might occasionally make little jokes about their age or their shape. But you can tell those jokes come from a place of self-acceptance and love. There is a twinkle in their eyes when they say it. More like they are letting you in on a private joke that only the lucky imperfect ones would get anyway. Oh those poor flawless beings! They have no idea of the character that imperfection builds! Giggles.......     We are happy to just be normal and unique and at peace.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

My Secret Phobia

I don't have a lot of phobias. There are things I fear of course, but for the most part they are healthy fears or what I would rather term "common sense caution". But I will confess right now to an extremely ridiculous phobia that I have. Ridiculous as it may be, it is very real and makes certain aspects of my life....well, stupid frankly!

We are a society addicted to phones. Not content to have access to them only at home, we now are tethered to them 24/7. And we use them for a bazillion things other than merely having a conversation. And I'm pretty cool with those other bazillion things for the most part. Especially texting. I love texting sooooooo freaking much! Why? Because it means I don't actually have to speak into the danged contraption. Sigh......there, I've said it. I will go to great lengths to avoid actually having to talk to someone on the phone. The thought of it makes me feel a little woozy. There are a small number of people I am completely comfortable talking to on the phone; they are my partner, my kids and those friends I have known the longest. Outside of that I would really prefer to just text.  If my phone rings and it shows up as a number not in my contacts, I will not answer it. Period. They can leave a voice mail and then we'll see. This is a tactic lots of us use but for me it's not only about avoiding those we don't want to communicate with at all. It also has to do with my general dread of a phone conversation.

The absolute worst for me is needing to call someone that I don't know at all. Such as when I need to schedule an appointment. Or call to get information I need. Or deal with a customer service person. Where this gets to be a big problem, is that the fear is so strong that I will put off making really important calls for things that really should not be taken lightly. For instance, putting off calling to schedule medical appointments. Or not calling about something that has the potential to affect me financially.

Typically, I will make the call when I absolutely must. Many years ago I had a close friend that was going through a very rough patch. I talked to him on the phone frequently. We had a conversation in which I became very concerned that he was suicidal. He lived over an hours drive from me so I couldn't get to him myself quickly. Not knowing what else to do I hung up from him and immediately called a suicide prevention hotline. I didn't even hesitate then. I just did it. They were great and gave me the information I needed and reassured me that he was most likely not going to hurt himself, but that it would be best for me to go ahead and drive out to him if I could. I was so glad I made that phone call. And so glad that in what felt like a life or death situation, my phobia did not stop me from doing what I needed to do.

This is the very first time I have told anyone other than my partner about this fear. It's a pretty embarrassing thing to admit to. I feel like most people would think it is incredibly foolish to be afraid of such a silly thing. And I have never really thought that anyone else had this problem. But recently I encountered someone else who admitted the very same thing. I was so surprised because she is a successful business owner and someone I respect a great deal. I decided to do some investigating and learned that this is a very real anxiety disorder. It sometimes goes hand in hand with general social anxiety disorder but not always. It comes in varying degrees. I am not alone!

I learned that it is common in those who were extremely shy as children, which includes myself. While I got over much of my shyness and do fine interacting with people face to face most of the time, the phone phobia has lingered on. What amazes me is that once I actually make the call I almost never have any fears during the conversation. I am fine. And relieved. So with a lifetime of experiencing nothing bad happening, why do I continue to feel so anxious about making a call? Just the unknown I guess. And maybe THIS time I will sound like an idiot. Who knows? I found websites that actually address how to cure yourself of this problem. Most of the tips are things I already do to some degree at least. Like having a script of what I want to say so that I won't have to think on my feet as much. Also psyching yourself up by recalling previous phone experiences that went well. Sometimes the only thing that does it for me is that I have to just WANT whatever it is bad enough to put myself through it. I usually will eventually make the call. It's just a long drawn out thing where I avoid, avoid, avoid, and avoid some more until my back is up against the wall. It would be nice to not go through that in the first place. Every now and then I surprise myself by calling right away. But not often enough!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The End

My creepy admirer will not be harassing me any more. I am relieved. And annoyed that he became such an issue. The owners wanted my bosses to have a chat with me yesterday. This is what I found out:

~ The owners would have preferred that I had stopped the session. Even though I did NOT feel that was what they had led me to believe I should have done in this case. I felt they had been clear that I was only to stop the session if I felt a line had been crossed, not if I was only getting weird signals from the client and that limits were being tested. Sigh....

~ The big reason I think why they wished I had stopped things is that he has absolutely refused to see another therapist, even at a different location. Because of this they decided to refund him his membership fees which had been paid in full for the year. Had he just quietly agreed to see someone else, they would not have had to have "the" conversation with him about why I would not be available to see him and things would not have escalated to this point. Well how was I to know? I still think I did the right thing.

~ I was told that from here on out if I feel uncomfortable with a client at all, just end it. Okie dokie! I kind of wish I had that in writing. I can just hear them changing their tune.

~  One of the owners had a conversation with him in which he was furious at what was going on. At first he was telling them they needed to fire me! And then he changed his mind and told them that I had such a gift and needed to be able to continue my work. Then he got sad and said he was heartbroken because he thought we had such a spiritual connection. Oh my. It is bad enough that he had told me that. And then he shared that with one of the owners? And she felt sorry for him!

~ I could have lost my job if I had agreed to put the self-tanning lotion on him! I knew it was a bad idea but did not know it was something they would have taken to that extreme. I'm thinking maybe they should have a clear cut policy on that type of thing if that's how it would have gone down. Good grief.

So that concludes (hopefully) my most recent work related drama. I try so hard to keep fly under the radar there and mind my own business and just generally do my job without getting entangled in the politics of the place. So here's hoping I can just get back to that!

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Saga Continues

Last fall I had a difficult client at work. To refresh you memory check here: the first visit . Almost seven months went by without a visit from him. I think I assumed he had realized he wasn't getting what he came for and went elsewhere. Then last weekend I went up front to get a client. And. There. He. Was. Oh crap, oh crap, oh crap. I hadn't recognized his name but as soon as I saw him it all came back. So back we go to the room. I am in  no mood to even try to be nice this time around. I see on his chart that only one other therapist is listed as having worked on him. And nothing from his visit with me is there. So I know that this is not the original chart (most likely misplaced by front desk, an all too common problem which leaves us with no record of prior care to go on). This means I have absolutely no idea how many therapists have dealt with him and no way of knowing if any of them had any problems with him.

So he is carrying with him a bottle of lotion. Not too unusual. Some clients bring their own and request that you use it instead of what we have. Not a big fan of that because so often whatever it is does not work well for massage. But whatever. When he hands it to me I realize it is sunless tanning lotion! He gives me this sob story about how he can't be in the sun because of medication he takes and that he is ridiculed for being pale (please remember, this is an older man....not some kid). He lives alone and has no one to rub this stuff on him so that he can look tan and healthy. I am not exaggerating when I say he was practically crying about this horrible problem. I calmly explain to him the reasons why me using this lotion is a bad idea.

1. Absorbs in very quickly which means it will make a lousy massage lotion
2. Will stain my own hands and arms
3. Will stain our sheets

And number 4 I did not tell him but wanted to scream.......I am not paid to be your tan applicator! There are places you can go where that is what they do...spray nasty chemicals all over your body to give you a fake tan! Go there for crying out loud!!! Sigh.........   Then he starts begging me and actually arguing about it. Oh and then, he tells me that the last therapist he saw shorted him 20 minutes. So he takes out a stop watch and starts timing me! Never mind the fact that *I* wasn't the one who shorted him, I have been officially informed that he will be keeping tabs on me. Yeah, I am just done with him at this point and we hadn't even started.

Finally I get to work on him. He is lying face down to start. He has the blanket off again, no big deal. I just have to be more careful. The sheet is just sitting below his butt crack. Our protocol is no butt crack visible. As you're working on a client it is extremely common for covers to shift around somewhat, exposing some butt crack at times. It's usually no big deal,  no cause for alarm certainly. Just cover them back up, no harm done. With this guy I know I will have to be VERY diligent in keeping the upper hand and in not letting him think for a split second that I am cool with ANY slips. So right from the start I am yanking that sheet up over him further. And as I work he keeps in almost constant motion, first raising up one hip and then the other, till that sheet sure enough slides down. I keep yanking it up. After a few times he says to me "Brenda you don't have to worry about the sheet. I'm not embarrassed.". I replied, very professionally, "That may be but I have to keep you covered." So it happens again. I pull it up again. And he says "I'm really not bothered by it. You can leave it down". I tell him very emphatically "No, I cannot work on you uncovered". I'm about ready to pull the plug on the session but he finally settles down and leaves things alone.

There is occasional conversation in which he asks me if I'm married (of course I lie and say yes cause I'm not stupid!), and do I give my husband massages. Now it should be noted that many clients ask similar questions. But they are not clients with a history of creepy behavior. Makes all the difference in the world! He also asked me if it's different working on men than on women. Okay that question seriously creeped me out. My response was "no, there is no reason why it would be". To which he replied "hmmm....interesting". Interesting? Really??? Why? It's not like I'm having sex with my clients you cretin!!! And truly what I would like to have said is that yes it IS different, because I have never had to deal with this crap from a female client.

When I had finished up working on his back/neck/shoulder area while face down, he all of a sudden says to me that he is going to be getting an MRI. I ask him why and he says it's because he was in an accident a couple of days ago. Oh hello! You tell me this AFTER I work on all those nice areas which quite possible are injured??? If that's even true though, because he couldn't seem to remember which day it happened on. And he hadn't been looked over but in a phone conversation with his doctor he was told he should have an MRI. All sounds really weird to me. But the point is I can't trust this client to tell me important things.

Then when I had him face up a whole new problem arose (no, not He fell asleep. Which normally with a client like this would be a blessing. But in his case it made things more difficult. I soon realized he had pretty severe sleep apnea. He would stop breathing. And I would have to watch him carefully to see that breathing resumed. Many times he would go so long that I could see his whole body begin to struggle for oxygen. Then I would have to go and reposition his head to get his airway opened up again. One of the times he came around and complained about the sleep apnea. Of course he had not bothered to inform me before the session that he had this problem! So then I knew that he was aware of the issue. That really pissed me off. I give clients every opportunity to let me know about things like that before we start.

When I had to wake him up to let him know we were done, he yelled out "what! 90 minutes already???" I said "nope. 80  minutes of hands on time is what you get here". I didn't even begin to apologize or be nice about it either. I was so fed up by then. But when he was leaving he practically bowed down to me while telling me how awesome I was, that I was the "master", a "goddess", that I had taken him to five levels of dreaming (no....I don't make this stuff up, I swear!). I was thinking "more like five levels of oxygen deprivation"! He said he never wanted to see another therapist ever. That he would follow me always. GULP. Things is, I know this time that it wasn't because I did a good job. I did nothing but go through the motions this time. I was seething silently through this whole session. So when he stood there saying all those things it felt more like being told "I own you bitch". I got news for him. If he ever comes near me again he will be sorry.

We have a form at work that we fill out if we need to request to not see a certain client again. This is for cases like mine where the client didn't actually DO anything like grab me or ask for sexual favors or touch himself. In those cases we end the session, leave the room and management handles it from there. But in my case I fill out this form documenting my reasons for not wanting to work on them again. And I guess then if they get enough complaints they get rid of the client (theoretically). We just had a meeting a few short weeks ago where this was the main topic of the meeting. The owners tried to assure us that they would always see to it that we never had to feel uncomfortable or worry about being assigned to these people again. So coming off of that meeting I was cautiously optimistic that things would be handled quickly and professionally. Oh I really should have know better! I filled out the form before leaving work that day. The assistant manager who took it said she would give it to the manager. When I checked my upcoming schedule I saw that this guy was already back on my schedule for just a week later. I kept calm because I knew no one had had a chance to take care of it yet. A couple of days ago I gave my manager a call to see what was going on. She hadn't even heard about it! There is a book that all incidents are supposed to be put in so she can look through and know what's going on. It hadn't been put in there. So she told me she was going to get it dealt with right away and didn't have to worry. I would most assuredly not have to work on him again. Today (the day before he was on my books again) I got a call from one of the assistant managers. He said he had called the guy to get him to reschedule with someone else (they waited until the day before???). The man was adamant that he did not want to see anyone other than me. I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that this guy has been a problem for other therapists and they were much ruder to him which is why he insists on seeing me. That's what I get for trying to be professional and calm. So this assistant manager asked me if I would be okay with working on him one last time. WTF???????????  No...I would  NOT be willing to do that. I told him under no uncertain terms I had been promised that I would NOT be asked to do that. I held my ground. He said he would hand it over to the manager. Yeah. You do that buddy.

If I walk into work tomorrow and that man is still on my schedule I will turn around and walk back out. End of story. Stay tuned.     :)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Always An Apple

I'm a massage therapist. It's a great profession for me. I'm extremely comfortable touching human bodies (the living breathing ones anyway). There are all kinds of interesting things about what I do. One of those things is the exposure to such a wide variety of body types. This is a huge drawback to a lot of people. But I like it. So many people are icked out by anything "unusual". Although I would argue that it's probably not that unusual. It's just not what we are exposed to in the images we are bombarded with in the media. As someone with previous experience in the nudist lifestyle, I had a jump start on what to expect. Trust me, it's not just the "beautiful" people who enjoy being free. The media absolutely sucks at being realistic. And that is a dirty rotten shame. They could be using their power for good, like helping people to be more comfortable in their own skin. But instead they just amp up the self loathing for people who honestly are FINE just the way they are.

To take this to a more personal level I'll tell a little story. My home massage studio is a guest bedroom that has great big mirrored closet doors. So while I'm working I can watch myself. It's a little strange. I use an exercise ball as my stool when I am sitting down. So I look into the mirror and see this big ol' ball. And sitting on that ball is my roly poly body. My mid section is just like another big round ball on top of a big round ball. It kind of cracks me up. I could just get all depressed about that. But the thing is, I also see that same body doing some great work. I have some pretty sweet body mechanics going on. I am pleased to see that. I move well and give a nicely flowing massage. My body, the same one that doesn't meet with approval from the general population, is more than capable of doing a great many wonderful things. And then there's this. Even when I weighed a lot less, my shape was the exact same. Proportionally large mid section with stick arms and legs. That's just my shape. Apple. Sometimes I'm a large apple and sometimes I'm a smaller apple. But I'm still an apple. So my apple-ness is a part of me. I may as well embrace it.

I'm going to be brutally honest. Bodies that all look basically the same.....are BORING! Do you only want grapes in your fruit salad? Come know you want some pears and apples and strawberries and pineapples and melons in there too! Please....keep (and love) some of what makes you different. It makes you memorable and interesting. It gives the person seeing you something to notice, something to become fascinated with. Yes.... get healthy. But realize that part of being healthy is being accepting of yourself and that which makes you YOU. And don't hide yourself away from the world. Don't be afraid to have people take pictures of you. The more you hide; the less realistic of a picture we have of humanity. Be proud. Be visible. Be real. Show the world the truth.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Cool & Calm

Yesterday the air conditioning went out on my car. On the 1st over 100 degree day here in Tucson. Of course. But the good news is that I am not freaking out over this. Don't yet know what the problem is and frankly am just not even going to deal with it until we get back from our trip next month. Right now our funds are tied up in that trip. Our neighbor says she has a very good AC repair place that is very reasonably priced. Will take my baby there next month and find out what the damages are and deal with it then. Right now I only HAVE to drive my car twice a week for my short five minute commute to work. So I can survive that I am pretty sure. The rest of the time Karins' car will take us where ever we need to go in air conditioned style. I'm pretty darned proud of myself for not going all postal over this. It's just another blip on the radar, ya know what I mean?     :)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

New Tricks

Thought I'd do something new. Came across a list of writing prompts online and thought I'd try that out. I'm also adding pictures for the first time. Cool beans! This the prompt I decided to go with.

Have you ever done something just to feel the danger, or to feel alive?

Danger is not something I've really ever sought out. I was a very cautious kid. At the same time though I was most certainly a thrill seeking kid. Roller coasters were my idea of heaven. I liked to swing so high that the swing set started to come up out of the ground. But those things didn't feel dangerous to me. They were just fun and felt like what I imagined flying to feel like. 

Fast forward to adult life. Still not really into danger. But......I have become rather fond of facing fears and doing things I never would have thought I had in me to do. And doing those things did very much make me feel alive. And that is a very good thing in my opinion. 

One summer my ex and I took the kids to the New River Gorge in West Virgina which is home to some of the best white water rapids as well as being a big place for mountain biking, rock climbing and rappelling. I wasn't planning on anything other than the raft trip for myself. That was going to be pushing my limits as it was. So we did the raft trip. Oh boy did I ever feel alive! Kind of like they told us at our orientation, this isn't a ride at Disney World. No sooner were we in the first scary section than I was tossed overboard. Hoo boy....the adrenaline was flowing! I wasn't exactly alone. A lot of rafters got tossed there. And we all survived. Thought they'd never get my butt dragged back up into the raft though. It was good for a lot of laughs later. Especially since I have video footage of it. They had some guy running ahead on the bank of the river and video taping at all the hot spots. 

Here I am before boarding the short bus to take me to my doom. Click on pictures to enlarge.

And here I am on the raft, most probably before being unceremoniously dumped.

And finally after surviving the trip (yes, that's one of my offspring doing to her best to look like she belongs on a short bus).

The next day was rappelling day. My ex and two of the kids were already experienced at that and had brought their gear. Since the middle child could not be convinced to give it a try her role was that of the belayer (person who controls the ropes from the bottom of the drop). She was used to doing that and I was going to help her. My ex had asked me at some point prior to that day if I was sure I didn't want to try. I assured him there was no way on earth. And then that morning.....I don't even know what possessed me, but all of a sudden I told him I would try it if he could find a not very high drop. His eyes lit up and I knew it would be his mission to find a suitable drop. And he did. And it was right next to a much higher drop so everyone could have "fun". If I remember correctly it was only about a 30 ft. drop. Looking up from the bottom it looked like a piece of cake. However, once up at the top, looking down was another story. Now would be a good time to mention that I have no great fear of heights; provided there is something to keep me from falling, such as a simple rail. I adore the view from way up high. What I do have an extreme fear of is falling. I've taken a lot of spills in my life and been hurt quite a few times. None of those falls were from high up. I hate ladders and even step stools are scary to me. I don't like any unsteady footing. So there I am at the top of the cliff. In order to start things off you have to go out to the very edge, turn around (so now you are blind to the drop), drop your heals off the edge while leaning backwards and then push off. So basically, I had to make myself fall....on purpose! Yeah, that realization hadn't quite dawned on me until I was up there. Teresa was down at the bottom with the ropes. And we had brought along some neighboring campers since they wanted to check it out. So great, I even had an audience. It took the most ridiculous amount of coaxing to get me to push off of that ledge. My legs were shaking like crazy and my heart was in my throat. I was so petrified that I really couldn't control my movements at all. So I was just sort of swaying around for what seemed like an eternity. At some point, with Teresa's help I'm sure, I got it under control and completed the drop. Did I feel alive? You had better believe it. And damn happy to be on the ground. 

Here I am at the top.

Here I am just pushing off. Note the terror on my face now!

And now on my way down. And I'm not crazily swinging around. Maybe I just imagined that?

And a close-up. Wow. I don't LOOK stressed out of my mind. Trust me. I was!

After all was said and done, I didn't regret any of it. Why would I? I may not have found a new hobby but I did push myself past some fears. I got that wonderful alive feeling and learned that you can do things that terrify you and yet survive. And I made my kids' day. They were cheering!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Getting It Off My Chest Because That's What Blogs Are For, Right?

Below is what I wanted to post on facebook. But I refrained from doing so because I knew it would piss off too many people. I can't believe how many people do this constantly. Drives me batty!

"You do realize that when you "like" that big corporate product such as Febreeze for example, you're doing nothing but giving that company free advertising, right? Are they so strapped for cash that they need charity from you, the consumer? Not likely! Don't be such sheep. Use that "like" feature with discretion, for things that that you really believe in and want to spread the word and they could use a helping hand to get off the ground. my non-branded soapbox. "

Aren't I considerate for not antagonizing my facebook friends?    :)

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

It's Not Midnight Yet.....So That Must Mean I Met My Deadline

Today is one week from my last post here. So I barely squeaked by in my effort to post at least weekly. But I did it! I have been a busy little bee doing other things. I do still write every morning just for myself. I have grown to love that ritual. And I'm generally not big on ritual. But this one suits me.

My mind has been a swirl of ideas/realizations/plans. I'm going to start keeping a small notepad with me at all times. I have a difficult time remembering my great ideas because almost as soon as I think of one, another pops into my head. That's frustrating.

Talked via Skype with my oldest daughter who lives in Costa Rica the other day. As different as we may be, we are one hell of a lot alike in other ways. She described to me almost feeling like she gets a high from the surge that comes with a new idea. And how invariably before she can make any headway on that idea yet another  equally high-inducing idea comes along. Oh God.....I have passed this madness onto her. The main difference is that she is much more likely to get SOMETHING in motion than I am. But she is spinning plates down there in Costa Rica. She is still operating her downtown walking tours which is generating some decent income. She has her yoga studio up and running and is always dreaming up innovative classes for that. She's struggling to find enough students to really have it make money though. Since her whole goal was to make it affordable to more people it really is going to take a lot of people coming in to keep it running.

On top of that she is still doing freelance marketing and is heavily involved in the professional womens networking group there. She has been doing a lot of schmoozing with government people with that. If there's one thing Stacey is good at, it's making contacts and networking. She is working on getting the past president of Planned Parenthood to come speak to her womens group. That would be a major feat for her and it's looking like it may happen.

She is now seeking to start a couple more ventures that she hopes to involve venture capitalists with. She has decided that if she wants to actually get anywhere she needs to find a way to get other people to fund her ideas and others to run them. She is best at being the idea person. She really is quite genius if you ask me. I am constantly astounded at what she comes up with. She aspires to really BIG ideas, like those of the social networking startup kind. I have to give her credit. She has already done more on her own than I could have even dreamed about when I was her age. I am inspired by her determination to do what she dreams.

So for myself, even though I may not have the track record of chasing down my dreams or of even figuring out what they really are, I do have things in the works. Things that I am actively working towards, not just daydreaming about. And that's a big deal right there for me. I tend to dwell in the land of daydreams. I have begun the work of putting together a website for my own massage business. I'm looking to have a home based business; not because I can't dream bigger than that, but because that is what makes me happiest. I have had some conversations with a 20 year massage veteran who runs a very successful business in another state. She has a whole wellness center she runs with other therapists, herbalists and acupuncturists working for her. She is in very high demand. She discouraged me from trying to run a business out of my home. But the thing is, I don't want what she has. I don't want to be responsible for the livelihoods of others. I don't want to have overhead cost concerns. I don't want to have to hire an accountant. I don't want all that STUFF weighing me down. I don't need the prestige. But there are lots of other things I do need. I need to feel comfortable and at home. I need simplicity. I need freedom. I need to have clients that are so comfortable with me that coming to my home for treatments feels natural. I'm looking for a clientele that is not interested in a spa setting. I specifically want those people that don't want that! I want them to not see themselves as someone who is to be waited on hand and foot while ordering me around. I want instead for them to view this as a joint effort in healing and restoration, one where we work together to find whatever it is that brings them into balance. By making the setting less about luxury and more about comfort and warmth I will likely keep the high maintenance prima donnas away. I'm also looking at a very different business model than hers. She charges much higher rates than average, because she believes she's worth it, and absolutely never discounts. I get that she most likely is very very good from what I've seen, and let's face it, some people take great pride in shelling out big bucks for services. So she commands those prices and she has no shortage of clients willing to fork it over. But.......I see this whole other category of client who thinks their only option is a massage factory like the chain I currently work at. And they don't have a lot of other options to be honest. I want to give them another option. I know I'm as good or sometimes even better than therapists at some of the more prestigious resorts. I know this because I've been told as much by those who have been around the massage block a time or two. So it's not that I think I'm not worth higher rates. It's that the clientele I most want to reach simply cannot afford it. And they are as deserving  of therapeutic massage as anyone. And I don't give a rat's hiney what other therapists think about someone like me undercutting the average going rates. I don't plan to undercut by that much, just enough to keep the clients total cost competitive with what they pay at the corporate chains. You have to be realistic about who your competition is. So I'm feeling very good about marketing myself as the personal touch alternative to the low cost chains.

I'm also having a great deal of FUN working on the website. It's a great creative outlet both in design and writing. I've spent some time googling other massage websites. There are some very good ones but the majority leave me cold. They come across very clinical and dry. Not what would draw me in for sure! I'm trying to give mine a very warm, serene & beautiful feel. I'm taking my time to insure it's exactly what I want.

I do find it somewhat ironic that I'm doing all this work finally towards getting away from my employer, when in the next year and a half or so we plan to hit the road full time. But I will see how it plays out in the meantime and who knows, I may try to take my business on the road with me. This therapist I spoke of earlier has multiple state licenses so that she can do occasional work when she travels. Tattoo artists do this. Why not massage therapists? We will need some occasional additional income to supplement Karins' pension. That would be one possible source. I could do it on an out call basis.

So this has been my main focus recently, amongst all the other things that catch my fancy here and there. And my headaches have gotten much better. I've been a good girl and been wearing my mouth guard at night. Seems to have done the trick!  :)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Even Keel?

I picked up a bad habit back in my "going through my divorce" days. Which was seven and half years ago or so. I began to grind my teeth and clench my jaw. I didn't even realize I was doing it. Had a regular visit to the dentist in which he saw some damage from grinding and told me I needed to get a handle on it before it got serious. I was clueless as to how to stop it though, especially since I wasn't even aware it was going on. Time passed and I started getting the worst headaches I've ever experienced. I'm not a migraine sufferer so I haven't a clue as to how they compare. But what I was experiencing I could find no relief for. Pain killers did nothing. Sleep did nothing.

Finally went to the doctor and he discovered I had high blood pressure and thought that was probably the cause of the headaches (another new thing I acquired during my divorce).  The meds for that did wonders for my blood pressure but again did nothing for the headaches. Next visit to the dentist and he knew right away I needed help. He fitted me for a mouth guard and I finally got relief. For quite awhile I depended on that to stay pain free. Eventually though I was able to quit using it and for the most part not have any problems. I began to see though that as soon as I got stressed by something I would almost instantaneously get the same headache. I've never seen such a quick reaction. It amazes me. Stress situation appears and BAM! instant pain. And yet I do not feel the physical action of clamping down. The worst part is that once the pain sets in it is extremely difficult to make go away. It usually just takes time, a lot of time. Sometimes days worth of time. And I damn well better watch out what I chew during that time because I just add to the pain by chewing anything not soft.

The biggest help I've found is simply learning to NOT get stressed out by things in the first place. That has been a long time coming to figure out how to do. And I've had to go through a hell of a lot of stress to be able to learn to put it into practice. It has kind of been a "do or die" thing where I have been forced to face this part of me that wants to freak out at what life throws my way. For awhile it was so bad that just hearing Karin get mad at oh say, her computer, would set me off. Stupid stuff like that. A learned physical reaction to the smallest of stressors. So when I am able to truly not feel that stress in the first place I avoid a lot of needless agony. And life is just better all around. I am much happier!

But....last week I experienced something entirely new. I was going through a process of self-discovery that left me feeling elated. Like being on a natural high. VERY high I should add. Think the guy in the "what does it mean?/double rainbow videos. Enjoy that vision for awhile and laugh if you must.  :)   Anyway, guess what happened? Yup. I got a TMJ headache! Been dealing with it ever since. I've been left to conclude that not only do bad stressors do this to me but also really freaking good stuff.  Basically anything that takes me away from an even keel state of being. So now I am perplexed. How do I handle that? Is it not a good thing to be overjoyed? Back to the drawing board I guess. The best possible solution would be to find a way to unlearn the jaw clenching habit. But I just don't know how.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Desk of Horrors

I have a story to tell. But it meanders around a fair amount before it gets to the main point. But the other points ARE worthwhile, so I'm telling it from the beginning. Please try to follow along.

Some time ago I stumbled upon a blog called The Thankful Project It's subject matter is mostly about how life improves when you regularly express gratitude. I was drawn to the idea (as I am to oh so many ideas!). In one of the blogs the writer shared a link to a website that is basically an online journal in which you daily write whatever you are thankful for. This has become regular practice now for both Karin and myself. Anyway, several days ago the blogger wrote about a situation she had found herself in that she didn't completely understand and wondered how it should best have been handled. She asked her readers for their thoughts on the matter. I wrote back and briefly commented. 

Yesterday I got an e-mail notifying me that I had a comment on my own most recent blog post. It turned out to be from the aforementioned blogger. Please note that prior to me commenting the other day on her post, I had never had any contact with this woman before. And I never thought I would ever have any reason to quite frankly. I read many many blogs that I never comment on or make my presence known. I just read. So I guess after reading my comment she was curious about me and visited my blog. I had just written about how I scattered I feel in wanting to do so many things and not being able to focus on any of them enough to accomplish much of anything. 

In addition to thanking me for my input on her blog, she told me that after reading mine she was reminded of herself at a year or so ago. She didn't want to push anything on me but she wanted to share with me a book that she had read and that had helped her. Well I am not one to turn down book recommendations! I've happened upon some of the best stuff that way. So I quickly checked the online library catalog and to my dismay they don't have even one copy of it. I looked it up on Amazon. It looked so amazing! All kinds of glowing reviews. The book is The Renaissance Soul: Life Design for People With Too many Passions To Pick Just One. On the Amazon page for that book there were other books listed that were similar and recommended. So I looked one of them up at the library and not only did they carry it but it was on the shelf at my branch! So of course I rushed out and borrowed that copy pronto! I am not one to sit around when I get excited about something. I have to get to it....NOW. 

This particular book is Refuse To Choose!  I brought it home and got right into it. Within just a few pages I was overcome with relief. For the first time in my life I felt like I was seeing myself clearly and seeing that it's not just me and that it's okay to be this way. After being told I was a worthless lazy good-for-nothing (by my ex) and just generally not knowing anyone else like me who I could look up to, I took that attitude to heart. Thankfully I eventually met Karin. She has never treated me like that although I'm sure I have frustrated her at  times with my constant need for something "new" & "different". She has nonetheless indulged me on my whims. She supports my crazy passions and lets them run their course. She is my version of Utopia. 

We are finally coming around to the main point of this post. Something mentioned early on in the book is that people like me (she calls us scanners....always seeking out something else to learn about, create, tackle) are almost always messy & cluttered. It makes sense to us but frustrates those around us. It is a necessary part of who we are.I laughed out loud as I looked across the room to my desk, which is my "mission control center" for my life. It's a cluttered mess all right. But in my mind I have everything under control there. What's funny is that at work I can't stand for my area to be cluttered. I swipe all the "junk" off of my counter and put it inside the cabinet. Nothing but what must be there remains out. But that's not my "mission control center". That's just my professional workspace. Two completely different things. And the rest of our house is more or less orderly and uncluttered. I decided to document my desk as it is most of the time. Occasionally it is worse. Less often it is better. It is always the last thing I get to when I clean house. Here then is my little "desk of horrors".

Somehow the photo doesn't quite capture the full extent of the clutter. Trust's not pretty! It's amazing how much I can get done here though. I rarely feel compelled to tidy it up. It suits me pretty well. Bad thing is that it is in our living room, not hidden away somewhere. Having it somewhere else is not practical. So kudos to Karin for not killing me for this! I cook her really good food in return for the favor.   :)