Wrapping Revelry

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I love wrapping presents. Most of the people in my life don’t understand, and consider this task a rather fruitless or joyless task. My mom only does enough wrapping to disguise the gift and she even finds this tedious. My friends sourly say things like, “Oh, I’ve got to wrap presents tonight.” You can hear the trumpet blowing in the background sadly Wahhhh wahhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

I can’t wait to wrap my little parcels. As soon as I get the first purchase home, I clean off the table, turn on the Christmas music and arrange all my wrapping supplies. It is one of my favorite things to do all year. I used to have a plastic tub filled with wrapping paper, bows, tape, and scissors. I had to get rid of it in my new apartment and I miss it. However, I still buy enough for the current year and take my time making each package look pretty.

I love wrapping for many reasons. Some are selfish. I love looking at the shiny wrapped packages hanging around our house, like tiny promises of momentary joy. The colors reflected in tiny lights or flickering candlelight. It’s kind of like marketing for a movie. Those packages are a small preview of the shiny faces to come.

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I love wrapping because I feel a release in the process. For moments of time I am thinking of the person who I bought the gift. Do they like this color? Does this paper remind me of them? Santa Claus paper is always reserved for Mom. Blues are reserved for my sister. I try to have funny little cute images on my nephew paper. I even have slightly staid manly-ish paper for the men in my life. While wrapping I think about the person, memories and likes and dislikes and try to imagine how they will feel about the gift or the wrapping. For whole moments, I am outside of my mind and anything that stresses me. I am joyful with anticipation. It’s like a meditation. I picture the joy on their faces for just a little bit, hoping it takes them out of their worries for just a minute.

That’s the other thing I love. It is a beauty that will last only a little while. So much of artifice and art is meant to last a long time. Wrapping is meant to be torn apart. ­­­­­I love the idea of someone thinking Look how pretty that is and then ripping it to shreds. I love watching people tearing apart wrapping paper. That is so fun! I feel like small pleasures here and there are all we can really guarantee in life. To be lost in a little bit of time here or there. To be lost in something beautiful for a minute like the look on my sister’s face when she opens something surprising or lovely.

No one can count on the big stuff. Big moments don’t last very long and then you’re only reaching for the next one after that. We live in the small moments: Brad kissing me unexpectedly or tearing up when I am happy, my Grandma gushing when she is proud of me, my sister texting me to call her out of the blue, Mom confiding in me, or Caleb telling Grandma how he took lead on his school project.

I soak up all this happiness and marinate in it. If I don’t collect them. If I don’t pay honor to them, if I don’t hold these moments almost sacred, then they fly by without notice. I only remember the pain. Because sadly, pain is memorable on its own without me adding my notice. Like my little offerings to my family, I think God or life offers us small presents in moments of love or beauty and the key to true happiness is to hold them in your mind dearly and most precious.

Are there any small rituals surrounding this holiday time that you adore as much as I do wrapping?

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The next morning the candlelight flickers off the wrapping paper to illuminate my yoga mat!

If I Can Have Less Stress Please

Before last year I worked in the customer service and sales industry my entire life. There always seemed to be not much to distinguish which came first: my foul mood or my cranky customers. Did they give me a foul mood or are they cranky because I am in a horrible mood? I feel like that is representative of life in general. I want to believe that if I put out goodness I’ll get back goodness, you know, the whole Karma concept. However, I have been thinking even further that when I put out gratitude and good vibes I feel them more in my soul. Maybe, fake it til’ you make it?

With fibromyalgia and the tense pelvic issues, I am supposed to be stress free. That can be one of the most important things when dealing with chronic illness, which to me feels very ridiculous to me. Most people can’t be without stress. Life can be filled with extraneous stress that I can’t control. Also, what a luxury is it to have a disease that requires me to cut out all that is stressful in my life? I come from a long line of working people: fire fighters, truck drivers, oil field workers, and stay at home moms. These are people who had no time to complain or feel over stressed. It is a tradition of self-sacrifice mindset I am working against. Physical and spiritual toughness is something valued not just in the culture I came from but all over. It is hard not to feel shame when I need down time or to take care of myself in seemingly extravagant ways. If I didn’t have these health issues I am sure I would be just like all the other strong Oklahoma women, who soldier on through all sorts of stress and against all odds no time outs to speak of, but I do.

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I have no choice. See if I have too much stress or over exert my body I end up in debilitating pain. I have fibromyalgia which knots up my muscles so much my doctor called them waves, because they feel like waves to the touch. When they are knotted like that it is hard to move my limbs. Also with more stress this pelvic problem gets worse so I am doubled over in pain. So I am far more productive if I don’t take in stress. I am more productive over all if I take breaks. To that end, I have to embrace this new Oprah- Zen – hippy-fied- mindful – self-care mindset, and I don’t have the luxury of feeling guilty about it anymore. I must embrace it as if it were how I was raised. So I thought I would share some of the things I am doing to embrace my new more stress free lifestyle.

  1. I don’t talk politics with people who yell. Actually, I don’t talk to anyone who yells. I just can’t deal with that anymore. Passion can be portrayed other ways. I’m just done allowing that in my life. I’ve learned it’s not productive to talk back when people are that upset.
  2. I don’t watch the news. I know that is a horrible thing to say but I have the internet. I can read. If anything big is happening in the world I see it there. The news is always bad. I don’t want to constantly be upset about things I cannot change. So many times I take the news into my heart and it stresses me out. I know enough trust me. I get the news from places where people write thoughtful discourse. I research candidates for elections and when I have a chance to vote I know how to get informed.
  3. I cultivate my social media feeds to be stress free. If someone is spouting hateful stuff I can’t listen to it anymore. I have added a lot of people who inspire me; people who are general trying to recognize what is good in our life. Facebook is less good for this. On Facebook I am friends with everyone, but I have chosen not to have certain people’s posts go to my Facebook if they are usually political and usually mean.If you would go through my Instagram feed however, you would think I am an extremely cultured and calm relaxing person. I follow many yogi’s, body positivity advocates, and nature lovers. I also follow National Geographic, NASA, Bookriot and DailyOverview which are amazingly insightful and beautiful. I love being able to view the gorgeous pictures and read about people all over the earth trying to live better lives. Everything is beautiful on Instagram. Isn’t that the point? I don’t really get Twitter. I just try and fill my feed with funny people there.

 

  1. I’m also trying to recognize what is good. I am trying to everyday be more grateful for the life I do have. It starts with the little things. Instagram is a great place for this. I take a picture of something and write why I am grateful. It makes me feel good to look back on my feed when I am having a bad day. To remember what had me so tickled the day before.
  2. I am embracing this mindful thing everyone keeps talking about. When I am with my husband my mind is fully with him. When I am walking down the Philadelphia streets I am embracing and now fully becoming part of the crazy. I am enjoying my walks, looking at all the people and dancing at stop lights…yeah I am doing that. When I am doing yoga, I am listening to my body more deeply every time. I am also making a show of most things. I have dinner by candlelight. I sometimes even have breakfast by candlelight because it makes me feel special. Actually, I really like candles so these days I am using them a lot. I am in a dark room right now, typing by candle light and laptop screen! I am trying to make life as pretty as I can. It might sound superficial but it makes the minutes better. Why not?
  3. I’ve added meditation to my prayers, sometimes guided sometimes not. It’s helped me slow down and really feel blessed, even when I am in pain. Something I am learning with yoga, meditation, and prayer is that my body, my mind, and my breath are all interconnected. If I slow and deepen my breath then my body loosens and my mind is more clear.

Is there something in your life that you have changed in order to take the stress off yourself? These are just a few of the things I am doing. Is there something you do that makes you feel better about yourself and the world? Please share. I need all the help I can get. I am guessing we all do.

Crash Toone

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This was one of my very high pain days! 

About three weeks ago, I had an appointment with a genetic counselor. I didn’t want to go, but I saw it as a stepping stone to getting my hysterectomy. With my fibroids and supposed Endometriosis, I thought this might remove my pain. My doctor said that she wouldn’t take out my ovaries unless I was at great risk of cancer. I can’t tell you how much that ticked me off. I was under the impression my ovaries were causing me pain. So what? I am supposed to go to this appointment to find out that I am at great risk for cancer? Really?

Well, it didn’t turn out that way. I refused to take the blood test. I don’t want to know if I am at great risk of ovarian or breast cancer. I really don’t. I also don’t want my DNA on file with some lab for them to test. The counselor told me I shouldn’t do it if I felt uncomfortable. So I didn’t.

So I went back to the gynecologist, who is also a pain specialist, who told me that there was no reason to get my ovaries taken out because my ovaries are not causing the problem. She is now telling me that I may not have endometriosis, but too tight pelvic muscles, IBS, and too much stress. Since I have heard for years that this pain is part of my reproductive organs, and this doctor’s office agreed a couple weeks before, I had a hard time believing this new information. It took her the better part of an hour and an intense examination to, sort of, prove it to me. Rather, I should say to get me to shut up and go away dismayed and disillusioned.

I walked to meet a friend who was there for me because we both knew this appointment wouldn’t have definitive answers. She and I talked and she amazingly enough comforted me as much as you can a person who is overwhelmed with emotions, and hasn’t really processed something. On the way home after leaving her I fell in a rather dramatic fashion on thirteenth in the middle of two restaurants outdoor seating. I did a slight somersault and knocked over some chairs. It earned me the nickname Crash, which I have to say I am taking a liking to. Husband says it’s shocking someone hasn’t said that before. Not only because I am unbelievably clumsy at times, but because I like to attack problems and even social situations with all the subtlety of a hammer. I think it makes me sound like a superhero Crash Toone.

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Part of the damage from my fight with the pavement

That was about two weeks ago. Since then I have been processing all this information and I have started physical therapy for pelvic pain. I have also had two of the worst weeks of this pain I have ever experienced. I don’t know if that means it is working or not. I have been on my pain pills most of the time but when I wasn’t I was crying from a deep engulfing depression. It’s been overwhelming. It has been isolating so I haven’t just stopped blogging until now but also haven’t talked to a lot of family and friends. I just had to work this out of my system.

See this new diagnosis I am holding as tentative. It requires me to go to three different doctors several times and change my diet, my exercise program, and my schedule. It is also very expensive. I could go through all of it and still be in pain.

My homework from my first physical therapist appointment is that I have to do ten upward dogs every two hours, and for three days write down my food intake and my waste outtake. That’s uncomfortable. I still have to make some other appointments. I know I should have more done but I promise you that I have been going through the worst pain in my life so far, and hopefully forever.

Last night I finally put on my big girl panties and decided to do attack this with more vigor. I am not going to be grudgingly going to my doctor’s appointments. I am going to be CRASH TOONE, attacking the pain. I am going to plan and write down everything I eat, cut out everything I need to, and do all my physical therapy. I am researching everything I can about all of these diagnoses, and going above and beyond. If this doesn’t fix me I might just have to camp out at my Doctors office until I get an answer. Crash Toone is done playing around.

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Crash Toone: Because superheroes should always have a red lip. 

What to do about Sneaky Negativity

I turned this...
I turned this…

I am going through a renaissance of sorts, a life change, and it is exciting. The passion of my life is writing. I have written poems and stories ever since I could. I am so happy that I get this opportunity to write with abandon but have had so many stumbling blocks it has been a little disheartening.  Before this I could only write before or after work, between any personal engagements and while other people have done written a successful novel on the side I have not. Now I have a chance to go full on into my writing. I have the freedom to write most of the day, it is the exhilarating idea I have been dreaming about for years. When I first start things there is so much doubt, and sometimes it can come from external sources which doesn’t help. Quitting smoking, losing weight, and changing careers are all difficult endeavors and I have or am embarking on all of them.

I have uncertainty that I can accomplish my goals. I am sure I am not the only one. I ask myself is this a case that I am just scared or am I really not cut out for “working from home.” I guess this comes down to the fact that I really don’t know exactly what I want to do with my life and at almost forty it seems like a desperate and horrible position to be in. The uncertainty is damaging, but what is worse is the pressure. I want to write and be healthy now that I have the time to do anything I want. What if I fail? All this time I have been humbugging the fact that I didn’t have the opportunity to write full time. What if now that I have the opportunity and the time to do what I have dreamed of, I don’t succeed, which would be shameful, right?

Could fear hold me back? Certainly.

It doesn’t help that many of my friends and family don’t believe this move is right for me. People that know my heart and soul don’t think leaving a full time job is for me. When I think about change as a concept I believe it makes everyone uncomfortable. The concept of security is definitely safer. As a woman the idea of being financially reliant on my husband of eleven years even makes me uncomfortable and my husband is amazing, reliable, and the most trustworthy person I know. Everything in my being and how I was raised tells me I am supposed to be self reliant. Not only that, but I have never been good at the domestic stuff either. I sucked at quitting smoking, until I quit smoking. The thing is, when you try to quit thirty times, your family and friends both know you are going to fail on the thirty first and are kind of sick of you talking about it. They don’t understand that this new resolve is going to be the ticket. I remember once I told someone I loved I was going to quit smoking and they rolled their eyes. I don’t blame them. I mean it is hard to believe after the umpteenth time.

My total lack of domestic abilities my entire life is why some of my best friends and close family don’t think this is going to work, but seriously what is a little laundry when I have the chance to write the rest of the day. I know I will never be Martha Stewart. Although I do love making my house look beautiful, and what my friends and family don’t know is I daydreamed about having time to cook delicious elegant meals.

Sometimes I think I need a fresh perspective, with friends who don’t know that I have been domestically incompetent, less than graceful, and physically fitness challenged. (The last one you could probably tell by looking at me, but that doesn’t matter.) New friendships are usually pretty hopeful and there is a bonus if self improvement is the focus of the friendship.

My other friends and family, the ones who know me really well, and know I am not very good at the domestic duties; I will be gently reminding them that I can change and grow. Sometimes they don’t realize they are being discouraging, and sometimes I don’t know they are doing it. It could be a joke or a suggestion for a job I don’t want. When I realize the words have affected me later, it’s usually when my own doubts are plaguing my mind. So I have to remind myself and my loved ones: I may have been clumsy in the past but I get better sleep now and haven’t fallen in years. I may have smoked in the past but I haven’t had a cigarette in a year. I am fat now but I will lose the weight. I stink at laundry but some day I may come to love taking care of my home, and I have the tenacity. I have not always accomplished things quickly, but I roll the large stones uphill. I can do it; it will just take time and energy.

...into this.
…into this. I can do plenty!!!!

How do you pace yourself?

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This is what I look like relaxed.

Do you schedule rest time? Also, do you feel like there isn’t enough time in the day to do what you need to get done? Do you feel like you don’t do enough to accomplish your goals? I am struggling with goal setting, and when to work on those goals and how to overcome the limitations of my body. If I can’t overcome those limitations, how do I feel good about taking the appropriate breaks?

Last night my husband and I were talking about how I didn’t do anything that day which put me in a very foul mood. It wasn’t anything I could point to and say was wrong.  As Brad put it “You’re grouchy.” I didn’t know why except that I didn’t do anything.  I took the day off because my leg was hurting from my walking the day before.  Brad gave me this really funny look and said “Oh, okay, that’s because you’re all go, go, go all the time.”

He was teasing me but at the same time he was being honest. He said you need to give yourself permission to just rest. I replied accusingly, “I did! I sat there all day and did nothing but Netflix!”  It isn’t my fault that guilt just keeps creeping back in. I just sat there all day ignoring other responsibilities that I needed to take care of. I sat there in bed thinking I should have been writing or cleaning the kitchen. It doesn’t matter that I wouldn’t have been good at any of those things because I was in a lot of pain. I felt I should have been doing something other than watching Medium.

I have friends who are athletes and I’ve read a lot of magazines where athletes state that they schedule rest time. I guess I haven’t figured out how to do that guilt free. Is this another “talk to myself” moment?  Do I need therapy to give myself a day of rest by myself? I have no problem resting when my husband is there as if I have permission to slack off when he is. I don’t know why.

I really hate it when people say I don’t know why I feel this way, I just do. It is as if my feelings control me. They shouldn’t and I am struggling with how to make my rational mind take over in all my efforts.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to schedule rest time? Do you know any way to unwind guilt free?

Have you heard of the phenomenon where people set a goal so high that they burn out because they are doing too much?  It is a January trend where chubby people everywhere get into the gym and push themselves.  As if all the physical fitness can be done in the first month of the year, we all lace up our sneakers and sweat more in that first week than we have the entire year before and then wonder why we hate exercise.  My husband feels I do that with everything.

Usually I have unpacked everything, hung pictures, and organized the entire home by the third day in my new house. I push myself to get things done as soon as possible when I really want them done. Goal setting is good but if I burn myself out, that’s not good for anyone. I have to think of my body, my mind, and my marriage. I am open to any suggestions. I could truly use any possible help you could give me.

My Mornings

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I have been having a hard time in the morning. I am foggy, nauseous, and mostly just in a bad mood.  I have read a lot about other diabetics having problems waking up as well. I get nausea as soon as I am conscious.  I have tried eating something right away and that helps.

The true problem is that I am just not a morning person. That fact has been what I scheduled my life around since I left my parents home. I have maneuvered my way onto the second shift at every job I have worked. Seven am has always been an abhorrent idea to me. That is until my husband got this job here in Philadelphia.  He has to be there at eight thirty which means we have to get up at seven. Ugh!

Well, Ugh has been my disposition for about a month. That’s how long we have been here, waking up begrudgingly every day.  Like a spoiled teenager, I hit the snooze button over and over until my husband coaxes me out of bed. Then I slowly grope my way over to the kitchen to silently make breakfast. It isn’t until husband and I sit down to eat that my normally sunny personality even cracks through the smog of my bad attitude and the deadening of my brain.

It’s not a pleasant way to wake up for me or the ever patient husband I live with. I have for many days not even gotten out of bed until after he left. Some days I have actually gotten my husband to buy me breakfast and bring it back.

To give you some idea of how unfair that is I have to tell you Brad has been cooking breakfast for me for the past four or five years.  He just got this really good job and the deal was it was my turn to make meals while he supports me.

So I have been feeling really guilty, and I didn’t really know how to pick myself up out of this fog. I desperately wished to be a morning person. You know the one that gets up at seven with a cheer in their heart and a spring in their step.

I did some research on how to become a morning person.

I don’t often believe in self talk.  It always sounds so self help-y. Tell yourself mornings are good, they say. Put your alarm far away, they say. Now that just makes me even more ticked off that I have to fall off the bed and grunt across the room to turn it off, and it doesn’t deter me from getting back into bed.

I found a list of anti nausea food and am putting some crackers and nuts by my bed to eat early in the morning.  But the biggest thing that helped me was telling myself the night before that the next day was going to be awesome.  I planned out the breakfast I was going to cook and told myself I was going to impress my husband.  I got myself really excited at the idea of making a good breakfast and getting my husband to smile.

The next morning I only snoozed twice and then I hopped out of bed and made smoothies, poached eggs and turkey sausage. I actually coaxed my husband out of bed this morning.  I even sang. Can I tell myself I am a morning person and then become one by sheer force of will? I don’t know. I felt better.

I felt like I had single handedly conquered mornings.  Of course I haven’t.  Tonight I asked my husband to describe me this morning and he said, “Forcefully cheerful.” In other words he could tell I was really trying.  I hadn’t just conquered mornings but I think I got a little closer to enjoying them.

This development has made me realize that most of the time when I have a problem it may not be an outside force. It may just be the song in my heart and I just need to change the tune.  I am thirty nine years old and I am still adjustable.  I still need to tweak the playlist sometimes.

Dancing, dancing, dancing, I am a dancing machine!

 

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Husband impressed us all with his smooth moves during this dance.

Ability is one of the best reasons I can think of for losing weight. Being overweight I do get discouraged sometimes after a long shopping trip when my ankles are swollen, or after an energetic family outing where I caused everyone to take breaks because I couldn’t keep up. My Aunt points out I am the youngest in our family but I am the weakest and the one with the most health problems.

What is sad is I can’t dance for as long as I used to. I think “getting down” is what kept me from ballooning in my twenties. I danced almost every day. After work I would shake it for hours with my girlfriends. The booze that came on the side was why I never got skinny. I just maintained for about ten years. Then I met my beautiful husband.

Love helped me to slow down and savor things, but I dance a lot less. I can get husband to dance on my birthday. I usually make him take me to salsa dancing. I love it so much. The rhythms of salsa are so joyous, and the dancing is so inclusive. It is also so sexy and romantic, holding hands and shaking your booty. There is almost no choice but to shake your booty.

However, I can only strut about one dance before I have to rest, and usually rest for at least two or three songs. No longer can I boogie the night away with abandon. There is so much freedom in dancing until my hair is sticking to my face and my heels are in writhing in pain. Walking to the car with my shoes in my hands, the cool air refreshing my worn body is something I miss desperately.

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My friend Amanda and I cutting it up at her wedding.

I dance in my chair at work sometimes. I get caught up in the music. I don’t think of myself as someone who is deeply into music. I can’t quote a lot of songs or even names of singers. I own some records that I inherited, but only own like one CD because it hasn’t been a priority. I am a listen to the radio player person, and Pandora. I like my music spontaneous. My husband has CD after CD, and a playlist a mile long. He likes to program the songs to play in a certain order. When I go through station after station it annoys him. He likes to put in CDs on road trips which doesn’t bother me because I still don’t know what is coming. I feel the most spontaneous to music, dancing and laughing at myself. Silliness can be filling. When I dance at work I am sure people think I am so weird. That makes me giggle a little to myself.

I need to lose weight so I can feel this on a full scale. Everyone should be able to dance wildly in the night. My husband and I should be able to salsa to our hearts content without having to take “a breather.” We need to work out so we can have the endurance to learn all the steps of the salsa, and maybe more dances. My husband Brad is a very good dancer, light on his feet. I want to take him dancing and not to get tired until the club shuts down.