Can Fibro be funny?

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It is really cold here. I have to bundle up to go to the Physical Therapists office.

This morning I was heading out to the physical therapist’s office for my noon appointment when I got a phone call. I had already done the necessary checklist: appliances turned off, clothes in their proper places, face made up, hair done, keys, vapes, phone etc. I double checked all of those things because my brain was feeling asleep. You know that feeling where you haven’t gotten enough sleep or you haven’t eaten? When you have fibromyalgia, they call it fibro fog and it can happen even after eight hours and a full protein filled breakfast. So, it’s sort of random.

Then I got the phone call. While talking to this person I closed up the apartment and walked to the elevator. When we got off the phone I ran back to the door and checked. I hadn’t locked the apartment door. I locked it and then walked two blocks to the bus stop. As I was walking up, I panicked. I thought Did I bring the bus tokens? I walked quickly to the bus and took off my backpack and put it on the bench to search. As I removed it, I noticed my shoulder felt weird. I reached up and there was a zip lock baggie underneath my bra strap.

Okay I know that sounds weird, like I was rolling on a bed of zippies and one just got stuck, but no. I have an icepack that started leaking so we put it in two ziplock bags. I stick it under my bra strap because my shoulder swells up for no reason. So I have to put on an icepack every morning. I asked my doc about it, they have no idea. So I took off the ziplock and found the tokens in my book bag. I have no clue how they got in there. I mean I must of put them there but I don’t remember. I sighed in relief and slumped down to wait for the bus, but I couldn’t remember which one so I asked the next two buses, “Do you go to thirty seventh?” Finally one guys said, “No you want the twenty one.” After I was on the bus I remembered I could have just looked it up on my phone and I was going to thirty eighth.

Just as I was coming to this revelation, husband texted me, “Did you eat?” I said, “Ummmm….no…I forgot.” Then I was thinking, dang it, I wasn’t hungry until he said something, but my appointment was at noon so I had no time to get anything.

I reached my appointment desk and said, “I have an appointment with Melody. My name is Danielle Toone.”

She replied, “Her name is Melinda, right?”

I said, “Yeah, what did I say?”

“Melody.”

“Oh, sorry.”

“Also, your appointment is at 1:00.”

Once I was down in the restaurant sitting at the table free from any more decisions I thought about the fact that before fibro I would have beaten myself up for days about all of these mistakes. I just thought I was ditsy. Nope, I just have episodes of dits, do to that fickle bitch fibro. Don’t get me wrong Melinda has been the most amazing medical professional to me so I feel bad about messing up her name, but I know why it happened and it’s a relief. I’m not mean spirited or an idiot. That is a relief. Sometimes I can make people laugh with my stories and that is fun too (comic relief.)

I am just now getting into fibromyalgia social media to notice the influx of other people who suffer from this phenomenon. I am an intelligent women who is struck with momentary loss of brain. That’s all. It is horribly inconvenient, and mildly embarrassing, but at least I know what to call it and it’s only temporary. I think we should call it #fibrofunny instead of #fibrofog. I much more prefer to think of it as something that doesn’t change me. Fibro fog sounds like something that is debilitating and blinding. I want to be able to say Well this just happens and laugh it off. So, I have fibro funnies. That’s it. Then the next day, or even later that day I am back to be the smart, sexy friend you know and love.

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If I knew anything about street artists, I would tell you who did this, but I love it.

 

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!

Out of Mourning, a New Resolve

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I am sorry that this smile is gone.

My beautiful, young, full of life cousin just passed away in her sleep. Ashley was nine years younger than I am. She passed away at thirty-three due to complications with her ongoing lung disease. She will be missed by so many. I really admired her spirit and determination. See Ashley has had lung problems all her life. She spent so many days and nights in the hospital being watched over by her poor Mom and Dad who worried constantly. She was a slight little thing as a kid and grew into a rebellious youngster. All of us are rebellious at one point but when you have bad lungs smoking and drinking are even worse. Luckily this time was short. She pulled it out quickly and then focused on her health. Ashley died being a wife, a devoted step-mom who undeniably adored her charge, a spitfire (crazy smart opinionated women run in my family) and amazingly a weight lifter.

It would have been so easy for Ashley to ruminate on the fact that she was born with a set of defective lungs. She could have sulked and stayed in bed, but she rallied and built a full life for herself. Not only that but she built her body up. She worked out steadily and ate well. She built up a business. To see her do all that with the body she was given, makes me feel inspired to do the same.

The past two weeks I have been requiring myself to do yoga absolutely every day. You know that hashtag #yogaeverydamnday? I haven’t really understood that because I feel like it has a negative connotation and yoga has always been enjoyable to me. This past two weeks I have been understanding it. There are days when I have had to crawl to my yoga mat and start by laying on the floor to stretch lightly. I slowly loosen my creaky muscles until I can move without pain. Then I move on to stretches that require all my muscles. It has become a requirement for all of my days. If I don’t do it then I will be in pain all day.

I think that it would be easier sometimes to just stay in bed. I have spent many days this year in bed with the pain and I am sick of it. I hope the ritual I have adopted will keep my out of bed for the foreseeable future. I haven’t tested this theory during my dark days when Aunt Irma visits, but I guess we will see. My physical therapy is working and I am so happy about it.

I think this new resolve is coming from a place of remorse for how much I have let my body sort of fend for itself against my vices.

Perhaps I can take up her mantle of good health. Maybe someday I can be someone people look at and say Hey, she had all that pain but she still put her health first. I hope so. I just have to keep making that uncomfortable walk/crawl to the mat every morning. If I can build on that. I might be able to follow her example.

Plagued with Self Doubt

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My Momma praying for me

Self doubt is my worst enemy. I seem like a very confident strong woman. For the most part I am but there are days and those days sometimes turn into weeks in which I don’t believe in myself. Keep in mind that I am an Oklahoman. I am one of the proud people of the plains who believe that with enough elbow grease you can get anything done. If you don’t get it done, you must not have wanted it bad enough. I do to a point believe that. I do believe that the fact I am not at my goal weight is because I didn’t want it early enough or have enough gumption to get the ball rolling. I also believe I haven’t had enough passion to keep it rolling. I know that seems simplistic. There are so many factors in achieving a goal: environment, personal health, and support etc. However, isn’t desire the most important part?

I would say desire, confidence, and hope. I mean these are the only things that I can bring to the situation, no matter the goal. Want and confidence I guess factor into hope. I feel like hope makes the time go faster when you are working on something. Hope makes the minutes on the elliptical machine speed by, and hope for a better future makes toiling away listening to a customer screaming at me now more pleasant or I at least more tolerable.

When I doubt myself, it is the coldest place in my heart. It’s like I have no confidence, and therefore no hope, except for prayer. My momma says, “Give it to God.” Now she says that, but she used to say, “Got helps those who help themselves.” I mean I can pray all the day long while eating pizza and my goal of losing weight will still go out the window. I do pray for strength, but I think my mother’s first thought was the correct one. I have to also help myself.

I have to believe that God gave me the strength and the fortitude to accomplish my goals. So where does that come from. I know that some days I feel it, but sometimes I just don’t. Inner strength seems to come and go, but I don’t know what causes it to go. More importantly, it seems so hard to dig myself out. Not only that but it seems like I store self doubt in my closet and when I pull out one box, all the other boxes come out and clobber me. When I am knocked out under the boxes and boxes of doubt, I think, I can’t do anything right. What’s the point? Why apply myself with anything if I always fail? How do I stop this thinking? How do I slowly pick box after box off the floor and clean them out and return them to the closet. Because by the time I recognize it is happening it is always to the point where I am down there on the floor.

Well, there is prayer. I ask God for strength and to help me get back my gumption. The second thing that I usually do is try to do something small I know I am good at. My go to move is to make a dinner I know I cook well. I personally believe I make the best chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes and gravy in the upper northwest. The practice of making this meal makes me feel capable and smart. I know that too seems simple a task but sometimes I have to go back to step one. Okay I can do this. Not only is this meal special in that I make it very delicious. It is the meal that most reminds me of and makes me proud of my home. Don’t get me wrong, if I could make a decent pie that is what I would do. Pies are also what make me proud of the Midwest. I can’t do that, but I make a mean gravy. It is not good for my waist line but boy is making that meal good for my soul. I feel competent, I get compliments, and I am transported home. Then I can move onto bigger things like getting onto that elliptical again, not eating after a certain time of night, or editing that book I have been working on. I have to go back to walking before I can run.

Radiance Identified

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February’s Prevention magazine had an article called, “Is this the Life You’re Meant to Live.” In it they ask ten questions of their readers, but the one that caught me off guard was “When have I felt the most radiant?” This question was so odd to me because I didn’t quite know what it meant. Radiant’s definition is sending out light, shining, or glowing brightly. I believe that is when you are so happy you are just sending out sunshine for people to love up.

Have you had a lot of moments like this? I mean that seems pretty exceptional, or is that just me? The idea of this exercise is to find out how to get there again, and maybe do whatever it is for a living.  So here is my list of radiant moments:

  1. My wedding day
  2. The day Brad took me to see Shoshone Falls
  3. My honeymoon
  4. Both my high school graduation and then college
  5. A particularly saucy date with Bradley. We went to a Greek restaurant, and comedy club and I looked super hot.
  6. When Brad and I first met, we would spend hours in the car holding hands and talking. Those days were some of the most magical of my life.
  7. Also, at night, in the cuddles, I feel radiant
  8. My poetry reading at the log cabin is the only one that doesn’t involve spending thousands of dollars to recreate (college) or romantic times or vacations.

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What does it say about me: I like new experiences, romance, education, and to be the center of attention.  I think these were the happiest moments of my life. I made the mistake of asking my husband when he felt I was the most radiant. His responses where, “When we had sex in Newport, Oregon,” and “When you wear your glasses.”

I suppose radiance is subjective? According to him, I am only radiant when I were my glasses or have sex….hmmm. Do you think maybe he misunderstood? Well, I guess it doesn’t matter. Only that I feel radiant, right?

So while this tells me what I already know, that I enjoy accomplishing things in the field of writing, it also tells me what I need to do to be happier. I need to experience new things and keep snuggling up to my hubby.  More things to fit into my schedule! I need to do all these things more. None of these moments are particularly special. What I do know is either I accomplished something I was working on for a long time, or I was feeling particularly special and loved.

What makes you feel radiant?

Everything is Beautiful, in it’s own way

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At home with friends, where I feel the most confident.

This weekend I was complimented on my confidence. I have told you before I was sort of born with it. My mom jokes I came out and said, “TADA!” In other words, I have been blissfully unaware of my place in the social order. I just assumed my place was high and went with that. I get that from my father. He was a free spirit, bless his soul, and never met a person that didn’t bend to his will or laugh at his jokes. It is sort of in my blood to relish spot lights; to sweep into a room and strategically take it over. Overbearing sometimes, I have to turn off my power (obnoxiousness) so that people get a word in edgewise. I am the proverbial puppy. I saddle up to you, jump on your lap and start licking your face from minute one. Not only that, but I have the audacity to dance like no one’s watching because most of the time I assume they aren’t. At this wedding, they apparently were, hence the compliment.

This is again just to remind you that I am sort of a confidence expert. There are two tips I would like to give anyone who wants to have more confidence in life. One, be oblivious and two, have more joy in life.  By be oblivious, I mean forget all the stuff that people think about social structure and how you should behave.  Do things that give you joy without any thought to the way people will think about you. Raise the roof in a mosh pit. Wear shorts to a formal party. Give a ridiculous speech at a function. Do what gives you joy.

If you have any doubt that this will give you confidence, think about how sexy joy is. Have you ever been to the park and seen a man in his forties who is not your type at all, but you see him playing with his child. He is making silly faces and dancing goofily and you think Wow, that is so sexy. The joy and unabashed love he has for his child is so attractive.

Here is another example: you’re at work looking at pictures from a coworker’s vacation. The normally buttoned up, starched person is wearing a swim suit, hair is wet and messy, fresh faced and slightly burnt but with the biggest most remarkable grin on their face, and for the first time you think Wow, he/she is beautiful.

Joy makes you beautiful, especially when it is unabashed and full. Shameless joy can wash away any flaws. Still not buying it? Go out onto the dance floor of any club and watch the dancers. Just watch. The people who are having the most fun- they are the ones you’ll be attracted to. The reserved person in the corner, the one who is worried about how they will look to others, or the one in the middle of the dance floor making very specific moves in order to impress- they aren’t the really sexy ones. It is the one who is dancing with abandon, arms and legs flailing, grinning to the sky, that is the one you want to hang with. That is the person who has it figured out! If you remember joy is sexy, then you can have confidence. Just concentrate on your joy.