The Ear Debacle

You'll understand this picture after reading this blog
You’ll understand this picture after reading this blog

I have been very sick. I tried to get rid of my ear infection by myself. That was a bad move. I tried the vinegar water thing and ibuprofen for about a week before it swelled shut. Brad finally put his foot down and told me to go to the doctor.

Monday morning I woke up early to go to the urgent care facility here. I forgot to take my ice packet and my ibuprofen because I wanted to get there and get help. I rushed out of the house at eight Monday morning, took a quick cab, and then sat there for three hours. I asked the front desk if they had an ice pack and they said no. By the time the nurse came for me I was crying involuntarily. It was very weird, like my eyes were watering by the bucket.

The doctor who finally saw me, said that I had to go to the emergency room or an ENT by the end of the day. She prescribed an antibiotic, and two different kinds of pain pills but said I needed to go to the ER because she couldn’t see the inside of my ear. She tried four times to shove the ear magnifying thing in my ear. I was openly crying by the end. The only small good is that the doctor somehow magically conjured up with an ice pack for me.

I called a cab, and then I called my husband and bawled. I am sure the cabbie thought I was crazy. I didn’t know what to do. I was asking Brad what I should do and he said he was going to come home. He decided that he wanted to be there for the next step. So I went to Walgreens to get the medication and then walked home to meet him.

I took the medicine and the promptly feel asleep on the love seat. Brad asked if I wanted to nap before going to the ER but I wanted to get it over with. We walked to the ER, and then waited for almost two hours in the heat. I was sweating so much I took off my shrug and wrapped it around my head, and I don’t like to show my upper arms in public. I then was shuttled into a very large closet to sweat privately with my husband who maintains that my anxiety caused me to start talking like a crazy person (I still don’t know what all I said) and then I fell asleep in a sweaty lump on a plastic wrapped mattress bench.

I woke up to them stuffing a cigarette butt into my swollen ear. They called it a wick and they said it was the only way that the new drops they were prescribing would get into my ear.

After that I don’t remember much, I know I cried a lot. I won’t even talk about when I had to go to the ENT later that week for a follow up and had a panic attack due to some traumatic nose cauterization in my youth. Grandma says I need to suck it up.

I was in a lot of pain that day and I was thinking about all the distress I have put on my body. I was feeling particularly abused and used when I went to bed that night. Brad started to slowly take his fingers and softly circle my face.

I was so in awe by the contrast after the poking and jabbing the whole day. Literally they shoved hard plastic sticks in my ear several times. I started bawling again so grateful for this gesture. Then my husband responded by teasing me profusely saying, “I know, it’s horrible. I should stop touching you.”

I think what I have taken from this situation is that I need to be nicer, more gentle to myself. I should have gone to the doctor earlier, and I will never, ever go to that urgent care again.  More than anything I need to hold onto my husband and show him every moment of every day how he is wonderful. In a world where everything, even healthcare, is jarring and painful, it is really comforting to have someone who treats you as a special fragile human being.

Do we have a responsibility to be happy?

My Momma! Isn't she pretty.
My Momma! Isn’t she pretty.

Today is Mother’s day and I have been thinking about Momma’s influence on my life. If you look at all of my siblings you would agree with me, that Mom and Dad did a good job. They are brilliant, giving, loving successful people. I am extremely lucky because they are there for me no matter situation. That is what my Mom’s doing. She fostered an elaborate, “us against the world” mentality. I don’t know if it is unusual to my family, but we like to talk about survival issues. For instance, I know that you can drink your urine if you have to, but your snot has no nutritional value. I know that if I had to, I could count on my siblings to help me if I needed for survival. Even if it is just a floor and a hot meal, my siblings would rise to the occasion. My mom told us, that we could only count on ourselves first, and our siblings second. We would come to a time when they would be the only people we could count on.

We rely on each other for encouragement and to share in each other’s joy. My brother Patrick encourages me to read more and to succeed mentally, Katie and I encourage each other to eat healthier and take care of ourselves, and Matthew encourages me to live more honestly and happily. When my brother’s wife was pregnant, Patrick, Katie and I shared in his joy so much you would have thought that boy was in our bellies.

When my sister was going through a hard time in high school I tried to remind her of that bond. I told her that she was a beautiful, smart person and deserved happiness. I told her she would one day have happiness and that the rest of us would be very sad if she didn’t get to see that day.

There was a time when I tried to commit suicide. I cut my wrist. When I was laying on the bathroom floor and the shockingly bright blood hit the tile, the first thing I thought about was my siblings. That is what stopped me. In that moment, I didn’t have enough self-esteem to live for myself. I lived for them. I couldn’t do that to them.

We have since widened the circle of stability and now count on our spouses and a few friends as closely. This may sound like codependence but it isn’t. I only get to talk to my sister once a week at most, and the boys even less, but it doesn’t mean I don’t think about them every day and with each big decision. They are like my north star, guiding me to happiness because if I don’t continue to be happy, what is the point of living so far away from them. If I get myself into some kind of trouble, I would have to rely on them, and I care too much about their happiness to do that to them. In doing this, I have realized my worth and my value because if they care so much-shouldn’t I?

I think that my mother gave us this bond and encouraged it, maybe one might think too much, but in the meantime it has saved my life and also enriched it more than I can explain. I think feeling responsible to hearts outside my own has made my life more enjoyable and enriched.

This is just one of the good things Mom has done for me. Thank you Momma, you are one of the strongest humans I know. I am so lucky to have you.

In The Grand Tradition

I have worn these sneakers out already!
I have worn these sneakers out already!

My earliest memory of exercise, I was in the gym at school as early as second or third grade, I was crying. My ankles hurt too much. I was hoping around and crying and no one cared. I have always resented exercise.

My mode of release and relaxation has always been reading.  I counted myself very blessed because I had all the resources to become well read. I had teachers, parents who loved education, and a natural talent for it. Everything I read shored up this belief. Benjamin Franklin taught himself to read, can you believe that? I read Frederick Douglas and thought, Hell ya, reading is power! He learned to read despite being enslaved and refused any resources. Women in some areas of the world are still denied an education. Did I not have the responsibility as a human, a woman, and an American to learn all I could? I am in a privileged class of people with all the resources and education I can pay for.

Feeling privileged, I have always read voraciously. I exercise only sporadically if that. I always considered exercise a chore. Exercise is something I have to do, not want to do. I have never thought about exercise as something that I should feel blessed to be able to accomplish. Last night I was reading Health magazine and they were asking readers What Tricks Do You Use To Boost Your Willpower? One of the readers responded, “I always tell myself that today I’m privileged to be able to work out. You may not always have your health or be physically able to exercise. Do it while you can!” –Kerry A. via facebook”

I had never really thought about being able to do exercise as a privilege. After reading this comment, I feel incredibly idiotic to not have seen or felt this before.  Yesterday, I woke up feeling horrible. Because of my undiagnosed sleep apnea I have arthritis in my neck. I would wake up gasping in the middle of the night and repeatedly jerk my neck. Still sometimes I wake up with amazingly painful headaches. Yesterday was one of those days. I was unable to think for most of the day. I went back to bed for most of the day. I woke up later and realized I had slept the day away and felt saddened and regretful. I was guilty. I then felt that guilt for not getting in any exercise. If I felt about it differently, the way I do about reading and education, I wouldn’t feel guilty when I don’t do it. I would feel empowered when I do.

There are many ways to excel at physical fitness, but the first thing I need to do is change the way I think about it. This change is so hard. It is part of my being to resent exercise for many reasons. First of all, I have never been good at it. I suck at walking in general. I am one of the least graceful people in the world (no exaggeration.) I sweat and stink which brought me shame in my youth. My ankles are still bad but I am working on it.

A quote was posted to my Facebook group, #LiveAlittle Project, “Great people do things before they’re ready. They do things before they know they can do it. Doing what you’re afraid of, getting out of your comfort zone, taking risks like that – that is what life is. You might be really good. You might find out something about yourself that’s really special and if you’re not good, who cares? You tried something. Now you know something about yourself. –Amy Poehler. This is so true, but what is really hard is keeping up doing what I am not good at. I am horrible at most exercise but I must keep going. I have no other choice because I am able. It is my responsibility not only to myself because I need to be capable, and in that way I can empower myself to be better and more capable.

So I am gonna keep exercising, and from now on I am going to feel empowered just for trying.  I can fail, and continue to fail but just because I will feel honored, just in the practice.

Hello Philly,

I am getting into your grooves man. I was under the weather for some reason or another for about a month, stuck in my apartment and cranky. After that, skipping down street to my hair appointment was unavoidable. I was something like twenty minutes early I was so excited. I have been here for three months and have searched for a reasonably price good salon for that entire time. True story, I actually researched it before we even moved here.

I had a good friend who cut my hair for over ten years. I miss her more than anyone could possibly understand, for practical and impractical reasons. I just knew I would never find anyone to replace her skills and would feel ugly and downtrodden.

Center City prices for a simple hair cut are ridiculous. I don’t understand why anyone, in their right mind, could possibly even remotely believe paying ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY DOLLARS for a haircut was not crazy pants. Those people are straight up wasting their money. I guess my Midwestern upbringing makes me cheaper or more frugal than the average citizen of city center, but seriously just for the hair cut. I was so hesitant to go get my hair done because of the exorbitant pricing, it took my husband buying me a groupon to finally get me out the door. I was so excited and luckily I wasn’t let down.

The ladies at the Nail Hair Spa are wonderful and it is truly the best priced salon I found. I got my hair cut, glossed, colored and even massaged for around one hundred dollars and they gave me a coupon to come back. They did a great job on my cut. It looks good even when I only finger brush it, which happens when I just hang out around the house and clean. I have not made a friend there like my old salon but no one can replace Shannon in that regard.

See, haven't even run a brush through it!!!
See, haven’t even run a brush through it!!!

Afterwards I was feeling generous to myself so the next day I went to Rittenhouse square to do some more bargain shopping. No seriously…Ulta was having a sale on their brand of nail polish. They were selling them two dollars apiece, normally six or eight dollars! I was in heaven.

After that I went to some other stores I was curious about L’Occitane and Swarovsky. Those are some beautiful stores. Everything in Swarovsky glistens and I ended up taking several pictures for my Aunt back in Boise. I felt like I had sort of stepped into the emerald city.

L’Occitane made me feel like I was one of the richest people in the world. I am glad that they don’t look at clothing clues to see who really has money. I usually have a problem with spending twelve dollars on a one ounce tube of lotion. I was engulfed in so much beauty it was as if I had been beauty bombed. They really assault all your senses with buy me, don’t they? It is a pleasant temperature, the displays and packaging are classically beautiful, the representatives are friendly and encourage you to try everything and the smells are…wow. The Lavande flavor is so complex and fresh even my husband loves to put some on his hands before bed. Not to forget, who feels fancier than when they put on something French? Everything on the label is in French!

The Twelve Dollar  Lotion!
The Twelve Dollar Lotion!

Basically I describe this to you so that you will see how beautiful I feel Rittenhouse square stores are. I didn’t even get farther than two blocks into it and this was my experience. Retail beauty is the standard in Rittenhouse with all the designer everything – I am sure. I don’t think I can afford to spend much time there. The wallet seduction is strong in those parts. I felt as if I was in a trance with all this beauty, and this isn’t just a story I am telling my husband to get away with buying twelve dollar lotion.

What felt weird was, in between these three stores, I got asked for money more than in the three months I have been in Philadelphia. The dichotomy between these two things were stark to me. Maybe I only notice this because I am coming from smaller cities and usually do my pamper me shopping in a Mall of some sort.

Living in a one salary home, I have always felt guilty spending money for non-incidentals. So I was feeling guilty for my twelve dollar lotion and then I came out and was reminded that there are people who have no money at all. My friend pointed out that the thing about me is I probably felt guilty enough anyways.

She also told me to stop thinking about it in terms of myself and the man asking for money and more about the systems that brought both of us to that moment. She had hoped that would help me to wrap my head around it, a seeing the forest for the trees kind of thing.

My aunt said that I put myself through school and worked really hard to get where I am, and deserved a twelve dollar lotion. While all those things are true, I can’t help but wonder more and more what I can do to help all those that ask for money in this city. I keep researching volunteer opportunities for women’s groups and resources for the homeless of this city.

I know from personal experience that anyone can be two or three decisions away from being homeless and alone. I guess for me it just tempered my shopping high a little. That is not a commentary on why people are homeless, how it happens, or how I feel about it. It is only a comment of the polarity of Rittenhouse Square.

Thanks for listening.


My Momma Always Said…

Look at me with the clean kitchen!!!!
Look at me with the clean kitchen!!!!

Okay so I am about to tell you something and you are not allowed to tell my mother I said it. She was right. It is not like me to admit it, I promise, but lately I have been thinking of all the ways she is right. Not just her but the other women who have entered life before me.

I don’t want to brag, but I am getting the hang of this life thing. My house is clean, I am checking off all my to dos daily, my hubby is happy with me, and I am even keeping up with eating well and doing yoga! I have never been able to juggle my responsibilities efficiently until recently. I am usually only good at one section of my life at a time. I eat healthy one week, write well another and keep my house clean another. This week it is like I have found the key and all those locks are clicking together at the same time. I have opened harmony!!! Woohoo! I rock!!!! Right now I am secretly doing the “I Rock” dance over the keyboard and smiling.

My exciting foray into Pork Lomein. Husband is jealous it turned out so good!
My exciting foray into Pork Lomein. Husband is jealous it turned out so good!

Part of that is finally cashing in on all that good advice people like my mom and Aunt Nicole have told me. These jewels of wisdom are as follows:

  1. It is best to go to bed with a clean kitchen. Waking up to dirty dishes, when it is my job to keep the house clean, leaves a deficit in my “to do” list already. I already start out with something in the negative column when I leave them. This week I have tried to do them before I go to bed and it has helped. – Thanks Mom
  2. Dishes are easier if you do them as soon as you make them dirty. Doing breakfast, lunch and dinner dishes at the same time is overly tedious. However, throwing them in as you go only takes a couple minutes at a time, which means you I have to keep the dishwasher empty. –Thanks Nicole
  3. Set a minimum time for something and I will more than likely spend more time on it than I originally planned. Two hours of writing is the minimum I set this week, I have gone over many times. I have gotten so much done! It is amazing what just “starting” can do for me.
  4. Be clear about what I want and need. When hubby was making banana bread I told him, “Ya know, the dishwasher is empty-hint, hint.” -A tip from me. Also, when you are hinting to your husband you have to say, hint, hint. My husband doesn’t get the hint without it. (He is the smartest man in the universe but isn’t too clear on subterfuge.)

I have ignored these things my entire life. I usually just clean heavy on the weekends, choosing to just watch TV after work. This may have worked when I was only home for five hours every day and on the weekends but saving all my cleaning for just one day is really is depressing. I have tried to get creative in a space that also holds my dirty dishes and moldy laundry. What happens is that I sit in front of my computer but really I am thinking about all I have to do. It is hard not to be distracted by dirty dishes in a one bedroom apartment.

Spicy, healthy food is easy when the kitchen is clean.
Spicy, healthy food is easy when the kitchen is clean.

Now I get things done as I go and as a result I am loving being able to have head space clear to do other things I enjoy. I am writing more, and it is allowing me to put those little finishing touches on my apartment I have been putting off, like hanging up my husband’s light saber that’s been sitting in the package for years. I am having an easier time cooking healthy meals because of these tips. I am really just feeling like I am working with all my moxie right now. Thank you Mom, and Aunt Nicole. Thank you for giving me all the advice I have ignored for so long.  I am finally having what I have always wanted, and that is harmony in my home and the confidence to accomplish my goals.

To Legit to Quit!

Out walking after getting my hair successfully cut.
Out walking after getting my hair successfully cut.

Thank you to all the people who have supported me the past month. I have been so depressed because I have been unable to leave the house very much. First, I messed up my ankle which had me putting my feet up for two weeks. Then I got a sinus infection which also had me holed up in the apartment. I am finally feeling better and yesterday I had a cathartic day of shopping and getting a haircut.

I am finally realizing that weight loss isn’t something that is going to be continuous or easily stopped either. It isn’t a goal that I can attain. I will have to keep trying and reinvigorating my struggle.

In the midst of my depression I was telling my husband that I feel like I am on a hamster wheel. I get traction going and then something slips out from under me. I was laying on the couch for what seemed like forever. I was at that point of sickness where even my swollen stuffed up nose could smell how bad I smelled. I couldn’t think because my head was filled with junk and I was feeling sorry for myself. I was feeling lonely and crying. I had a deep desperate feeling in my gut. It all felt fruitless and I was miserable.

This isn’t the first time I have felt that my efforts were for no reason. I have had so many setbacks. I have been really invigorated and done well with my eating and exercising only to be blindsided by an injury or a mistake like eating a package of Oreos. I have always looked at these landslides into unhealthy as if I was sliding off the mountain of my goals. I get ten feet up and then boom knocked back down.

The point is as long as I continue to climb — isn’t that the point. Metaphor aside, yesterday I reached my step goal, and my ankle hurt less than usual, and today I cooked a healthy breakfast for my hubby. These things seem small and that can be disheartening to me. However, isn’t that like saving ten dollars a paycheck as opposed to one hundred dollars a paycheck? I can only lose momentum if I totally quit, right?

Whether I am talking about physical health, emotional health or intellectual goals, I think I am always going to have to work on things. I am never going to be able to put down my pedometer and go, welp that’s it, I am done. Break out the Haagen Dazs. It is going to be a fact of my life. This last set back has really cemented that fact for me.

It sounds depressing but it isn’t. It is so easy to quit. In the moment, all I want to do is watch TV and eat cheese fries. I know. I get discouraged, and depressed. I am addicted to the food and the way it seems to fill something for me. I know I am going to lose gumption, but I will not lose every day. Once I know these backslides are built into the program, then I will be less likely to beat myself up about them. I can just slide right past the guilty sad phase and get back to my program.

It gives me hope, because as long as I keep trying and climbing then I haven’t quit.

Quitting smoking on average takes seven tries. About my eighth try I got pretty discouraged, but I have been cigarette free for over a year now. I have a feeling that I will be as old as I can get and still backsliding and still trying to get right back on and climb the mountain of healthy.

When I get back on the program and eat healthy I am winning. Just by not quitting, I am winning.

Reminding Myself, Don’t Be Jealous!

They aren't talking to each other, after one alluded to the others thigh gap.
They aren’t talking to each other, after one alluded to the others thigh gap.

I am part of a Facebook group called the #LiveALittle project. It is filled with people that are trying to experience life more fully and really grab happiness. It starts with being healthy and good to yourself. It is a really positive place that I have gotten a lot of support from. One of the members said something that really opened my mind this week: “No one knows the price you paid to get here.” That sentence is so layered. It really does sort of absolve a lot of things for me.

That comment was on a larger discussion about a typical jealousy. It is about seeing one of those beautiful fit women at the gym making it all look easy, the kind of woman who most likely hasn’t licked the chicken grease off her fingers purely because she liked the taste.  You might find it understandable to say or think thoughts of jealousy; I do. I have wanted to kick said woman in the shins so that she also gimps around like me. I may have called this woman names and secretly hoped cellulite dotted her derriere. These are horrible thoughts that come up very quickly and dismissed out of shame just as quick, but I can’t deny the feeling sometimes that it is easier for some than others. So I envy. I have the feeling that I will never get to that point where someone is jealous of my fitness. So I get disappointed or hopeless.

Jealousy is deep and dark and doesn’t really ever show a full picture. Mom used to say, walk a mile in their moccasins. If I don’t at least try to empathize with the woman I am jealous of, it discounts not only what the beautiful lady at the gym did to get there and also what I did to even get to the gym at all. There are countless reasons why that woman works out harder than me, and some of them aren’t always what I think. I know women who use working out to get over things: miscarriages, divorces, and even abuse. So yes, maybe she is one of those people who just love working out and has done it every day of her life and has been skinny all her life and she is looking at me and saying, Suck it fat lady as she sidles up to the treadmill next to me.  It is much more likely she doesn’t even notice I’m there because she is there fighting her own battles. If anything she probably looks over and thinks Hey if she can be this brave and determined so can I.

This is how I feel next to her on the treadmill.
This is how I feel next to her on the treadmill.

We women really need to get to the point where we pick each other up instead of wanting all of us to be the same or on the same level. No one knows the pain i.e. the price I paid to get here. Sometimes I don’t even realize the pain that is influencing my decision. It was only a few years ago, I realized why I hate sweat so much. I am almost forty. The Oklahoma humidity and the inability to find the right deodorant led to teasing in my youth. Even though I have found the perfect deodorant and haven’t stunk in quite a while that stayed with me. I really avoid sweat like the plague. I am working against that, but it affects me. Seeing me at the gym, you would not know what a triumph just sweating in public is for me. No one would. How could they?

No one knows the price I paid to get to where I am right now. If I thought that every time I was super hard on myself, I think I would feel better about my life. If I really went through all my actions to get to this place I might even be proud. Sometimes when I talk to my Grandma, she does that for me. Whenever I say things like “I will never” be or do certain things she will list my accomplishments in the adoring way she does. She gushes my milestones back to me in record time in a proud powerful tone. Words like caring, intelligent, and giving she uses to describe me. These things aren’t things I say to myself, which is a shame. Also, not everyone has someone like Grandma to talk to and remind them of their successes.

We need to be able to remind ourselves. We need to be able to pull up that confident voice in our minds that says you are able, because look what you have done so far.

We aren't animals, so I should be more enlightened. If I were though, I would be this cute!!!
I am not an animal, so I should be more enlightened. If I were though, I would be this cute!!!