Sunday, April 24, 2016

The blue cup

This blue cup might not look like much but it means a lot to me.

My brother and I were on our way to Rhode Island for a memorial service for our dad. I had come right from church and met my brother, and he wanted to leave his vehicle somewhere convenient, so we made a pit stop at one of his friends' houses on the way. He introduced me to several people and their dogs and it was like I had known them forever. (I actually had met one of them at our mom's memorial service a few years before).

They sent us on our way refreshed, and since I had declined a soda, and they didn't have bottled water and I didn't have a go-cup, they let me take this blue cup. I kept telling my brother, "I love your friends!" "Your friends are so nice!"

It's really nothing fancy but it's a bright spot in my plastic cup collection, which is mostly clear plastic cups from Walmart or giveaway souvenir cups from sporting events. We actually do have real glasses in another cabinet but we hardly EVER use them.

My brother's friends were so warm and welcoming. At that time in my life, it didn't seem that I met a lot of friendly new people; that anyone I did meet was through my kids' activities, and that they were already tightly knit with each other and not welcoming outsiders. We were new-ish in our neighborhood and since I didn't go to the bus stop, I was closed off from that group, too. My work world was shrinking after having been laid off and becoming a contractor.

It was particularly nice to meet my brother's friends and then to go to Rhode Island where we reminisced with friends and acquaintances from way back -- our childhoods -- about stuff we didn't really remember, but the remember-y, familiar feeling of belonging was there.

I went on feeling dark about my circumstances for several more months, until I decided to make some changes in my lifestyle, which basically entailed overhauling my diet and exercise habits and just getting out more.

Today I am creating community again. I remember how I did this with Pasta Night (inviting single moms and their kids for spaghetti or similar dinner every Wednesday), which eventually expanded to include some dads and neighbors and special celebrations like egg coloring, gingerbread house construction, or Valentine card making. That era ended a while back due to my boys' intense sports schedules.

In order not to live in my own little bubble, which would be so easy to do since I work at home, I decided to participate more in things outside my comfort zone. I joined a barre class and invited others to join with me (two did!). I am going to run/walk a road race (with a friend, today, in about one hour -- I'm kind of nervous!). I started an online business and have begun meeting wonderful, uplifting people from all over who share success with me.

The blue cup reminds me to try new opportunities, and that there are a lot of really nice people out there in the world. I just need to open myself up to meeting them. They may or may not be in my backyard. I wave to everyone in my neighborhood, but at the same time, we like our long driveway and the woods around our house and have put up a fence along one border that abuts a heavily trafficked path. (Being open doesn't necessarily mean you don't have boundaries.)

The blue cup is also not like the rest, and that's okay!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Taking time out for self care

I went to the doctor last week because I had a tick bite and wanted to have it checked out, since Lyme Disease is so scary and I know several people who suffer terribly from it. (But at the same time, the tick I pulled off of myself was one of those small brown ones that I grew up with in Rhode Island so I wasn't super worried about it.) I hadn't been to the doctor in so long that they made me have a "new patient" getting-to-know-you visit.wp-1461239339920.jpg

That meant I didn't actually see the doctor for 10 days after the tick bite, but whatever. I figured it's about time I have an "official" check in on my health.

The doctor spent a good deal of time talking with me. She commented that I had lost weight (which is something she suggested I do the last time I was in there, four years before.) I told her I had lost more than she realized; that the reason I hadn't seen her in four years is that I hadn't wanted to face the fact that I had gained so much weight. I then told her, "It isn't so much about eating less and exercising more," (which is what she had told me years before that frustrated me)..."It matters what you eat!" And I showed her my before and after pictures.

She told me I should not have been embarrassed enough to neglect my health. I told her technically I wasn't neglecting it -- I was still seeing all my specialists and asked her if she could see my records, because I'd had them all sent to her electronically. She confirmed I could and we both agreed it was silly that I was being classified as a "new patient," but apparently the person that answered the phone the day I called was adhering very strictly to the rules.

I left there feeling pretty good and not at all worried about the tick bite. The real reason I wanted to write about this is that yesterday, less than a week after I had my doctor's appointment, I actually made it to the lab to get my blood tests done.

In the past, I would have stalled because you're supposed to fast for the tests (and I think the last time I took them I point blank told the receptionist "no" when she asked if I was fasting. I didn't even bother lying. I told her I can't fast because I can't function if I'm hangry. I can't drive. I may or may not have had coffee before I arrived at that last appointment, too, because seriously, what coffee drinker can leave the house having at least one coffee, even if your first stop is Dunks?

This time I was in the lab parking lot before 7 a.m. because I had just dropped my oldest off at his bus stop at the Catholic church in the next town over and my other kids are on vacation this week. I did not feel guilty about having water with my greens supplement because I was told you are allowed to have medications. Greens are not technically a medication, but seriously, I do not even need medications of any sort whatsover, except the occasional ibuprofen, and I am certain that this is because I supplement with greens.

So, I am not a fan of needles and explained to the phlebotomist, "I'm not intentionally being rude, I just can't look at you when you're standing there with a needle." She understood and remarked that it was brave of me to be there (somehow this did not seem as patronizing to me at the time as it does when I write it). I told her, "Yeah, it look me less than a week to get here!" She said, "It's important to take care of your health."

Well, now, if that doesn't just underscore the whole conclusion of my a ha moment last June!

It is important to take care of your health.

There, I said it again.

There are so many people in this world who have afflictions that are out of their control. Thankfully, I am not one of them. My health problems are manageable and avoidable by improving my diet, nutrition, and lifestyle.

I am interested to find out what my cholesterol and blood sugar levels are. I am not worried about nor do I even know what all of the other tests were...I doubt there is anything going on with my thyroid, though I would have liked to think there was a year or two ago when my weight was spiraling out of control...nope, it couldn't possibly be my fault! ...but I know there were others because I do believe Madame Phlebotomist took five vials of blood.

Heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes: those were the things that concerned me when I decided to take charge of my health last year. I'll report back.

People, take care of your body -- it's the only place you have to live!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Teens and miscommunication


My son was moping around all morning before my husband drove him to catch the bus (in the next town over -- it's not like driving him to the end of the driveway or anything). He would not tell me what was wrong and I was afraid it might be girl trouble, which he likely would no longer discuss with me (as he did in 8th grade), so I asked my husband to see what he could figure out.

After they left I breathed a sigh of relief. I realized I had been scurrying around the kitchen on eggshells while fixing breakfast and lunch for everyone. A teen boy's moodiness can be like an oppressive dark cloud for all.

I picked up my phone and that is when I saw his messages.

His answer was, "I thought you were ignoring me."

I told him I would never just ignore him. That is so Jr. High! (Though some people apparently don't move on from that level of coping skills because I can think of three grown women off the top of my head who have or would ignore me if I ever ran across them again!) (It doesnt bother me all that much because as one of my Facebook friends says, "the greatest thing about being over 40 is the realization that you don't -- and don't have to -- give a s*** about most other people's opinions and it mostly doesn't matter if someone likes you or not.")

The thing I found interesting is that my son never said anything to me. With words. That would come out of his mouth.

I hate to do that "when I was a kid" thing but I will anyway. We used to actually have to speak on the telephone. We might have to call our friends on a house phone that everyone in their family shared. There were very few kids who had their own line...and I can't even remember any of my own friends who did. We had to learn phone manners, like how to ask to speak to someone, how to leave a message with a person and on voicemail, and how to not call after a certain hour.

Now, most high-school kids have their own personal devices. It's convenient for parents to be able to communicate with them when they're on the go -- to coordinate pick-up logistics. (I know some parents who track their kids by their phones, but I have never done that...maybe when they start driving I'll consider it!) My kids use their devices in school to look up things and as calculators. Kids don't use voicemail and very rarely use the phone at all. Mine were all talking about how snapchat has a calling feature now...uhm, yeah, so does your (unlimited calls) phone, so don't be using data to make snapchat calls! I think some kids text each other at all hours of the day and night, which no doubt contributes to the nocturnal lifestyle of teens. (Vampire sleeping habits are likely why my son didn't feel good though he assures me he wasn't tired.) So much can be misconstrued by texting, though. You can't hear the tone and inflection in a conversation, regardless of how many emojis, ellipses, or other punctuation are used (or not -- on a side note, my kids think it's  hilarious when I'm using speech to text and I say "period" or "comma" or "exclamation point," because I usually do use punctuation in my text messages).

Furthermore, communication is also hindered when you don't ensure the other person has actually received your message.

And lastly, has the world really come to texting people who are in the same household and even the same room with you about pressing concerns?

Okay, that's not "lastly." Because in the past two days since I started writing this little story (getting as far as this part during the half hour wait over the scheduled  baseball practice time on Friday), I have experienced the following:

  • My son neglecting to mention to his instructor that he won't be at Driver's Ed next Saturday, even though he had acknowledged my reminder to do so less than 30 minutes before during our exchange to confirm when I was supposed to pick him up. I said, "Are you planning to call your instructor to let him know?" (I am certain he is not.)

  • My son not RSVPing or forwarding a message to me about his basketball banquet, which is tomorrow night.

  • My son not knowing when his baseball practice ended today and not having the wherewithal to mention his need to leave ON TIME the tomorrow for the basketball banquet to his coach before he left practice today. (He receives his schedule via group chat so there is no way I can see it and must rely on him communicating this information to me.)


But no one will see it

I set up the nativity in the back yard again this year. In the past it has been out front near the fire hydrant that is on our property, and...