Monday, December 29, 2008

A transition into 2009- some highlights amongst the pain

It's almost the New Year.  The end of 2008 is a hopeful time for me.  It's been about the most challenging year of my life, the HARDEST thing that I've ever had to experience.  I thought at the end of 2007 I had experienced everything that I could handle.  But that was only 3 months of being ill.  Now after having an entire year of this hardship, I know that 2007 was a pretty successful year.  

In 2008 there were some highlights: 
  • I went to India, and had some life changing experiences observing the lives of those who live differently than I do, but also do so in a wonderful way that I enjoyed so much.
  • I learned to bake and decorate special cakes, even though they are something that I can't eat, they brought joy to others. 
  • I was able to put a name to some of the terrible things that were going on with my body.  Although I don't have all the answer, having some answers brings a bit of comfort in knowing it's "not all in my head."
  • I found some great blogs and websites dedicated to those with chronic illnesses.
  • I learned that eliminating gluten and dairy from my diet made me feel a whole lot better.
  • I got to spend 6 weeks with my sister and her family.  My nephew and I had wonderful conversations, did some great imagining, and played some games that I was able to stay on the couch and have just as much fun as if I was able to run around and or hike.
  • I read a countless number of books with topics ranging from chronic illness, mountaineering, Janis Joplin and other amazing 60 and 70s musicians, and some spiritual encouragement along the way.
  • I developed some of my photography, crocheted some beautiful projects, and decided that I really enjoyed creating.
  • I started massage therapy, which I learned is not just a luxury for some people, but a necessity for many with chronic pain conditions, including me.
  • I got a cat named Popeye who is the sunshine of my life on my darkest days.  And Scarlet our snake continues to grow and provide entertainment and a glimpse of God's intricacies in creation.
  • Barack Obama was elected president.
  • I learned about a wonderful girl named Aimee Dickey who was battling an inoperable brainstem glioma.  Aimee died on December 12th, but her life's wish was to educate people about childhood cancer and put an end to the suffering of cancer.  I hope to carry Aimee's legacy into 2009.  
  • I never met Aimee or her mother Annette, but I feel very close to them, and I feel that I became a friend of Annette's during 2008.  I hope that this friendship will continue, and that we will meet face to face sometime in 2009.
I hope that these things will carry me into the New Year, and enhance my life.  I already have a few things lined up for 2009 including a yoga class that I am very excited about.  I feel so blessed to have found a yoga studio within walking distance (even for me) from our apartment.  I'm not sure if I will ever set foot into a gym again.  

I will also be seeking disability from the Social Security Administration this year.  My initial application was denied, but I am working on contacting a lawyer to help with the process.

I have been attending counseling for several weeks now, and will begin group therapy most likely on January 12th.  This will hopefully be where I learn the skills to live a life that worth something more than what I feel it is now.

I am excited to celebrate the New Year here in Pennsylvania with family friends who have known me for a very long time.  They love me unconditionally, and it will be a great time.

I hope that you find grace and blessings in this time of transition.  Happy New Year, and God Bless.



Friday, December 26, 2008

Toxic Coal Ash Spill

I hope by now you have heard about the toxic spill that occured in Harriman, Tennesse spilling 500 billion gallons of toxic coal ash sludge over 400 acres. The link below will point you to a round up of news stories related to the incident. I will write more when I learn what we can do to help with the clean up.

http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2008/dec/23/link-roundup-tva-disaster-roane-county-getting-wid/

Home Scenes

From Christmas 08

The Christmas Tree from the couch, it didn't look that big in the forest!!

The chimney in the addition.

View from the Bell's dining room on Christmas morning.

View from my parents' dining room. When I was little I thought the farthest hill was Paris. It's actually near Scranton.

Why?

Why do I care so much about what other people thing?  Why do we as human care so much about what other people think?

If you see a book that looks interesting read it, don't read the reviews.  Maybe it's not the best book, but most likely you learned something.

If there is a movie out that you think might be entertaining, go see it.  Don't rely on the critics, perhaps it's not great cinematography, but you might have been entertained.

There are many examples of this, but it's just something that is on my mind at the moment.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I wanted to get a post in tonight on Christmas Eve, because the next few days will be a whirlwind of spending time with family.  I am looking forward to this because I do not get to see my family as much as I would like.  But I am also anxious because I have not been feeling the greatest, and know that it will probably continue.  But I will do what I can, and rest when I can, and try to be in the moment.

I hope you find grace this Christmas, and I that the New Year brings wonderful things.
See you on the other side.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Fourth Sunday of Advent

So I kind of slacked last week, the third Sunday of advent.  I wasn't feeling the greatest and by Wednesday I figured it would just be the best use of my energy to wait until this week to post another Advent post.  This is better than last year, where I didn't post at all, even though I had intended to.

This is what I woke up to this morning and I thought it was beautiful, for some reason it tells of expectancy, of the coming day, of the coming week.


I think a scripture of rejoicing is an appropriate thought for today.

Luke 1:47-55 (New International Version)


    47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 
 48for he has been mindful 
      of the humble state of his servant. 
   From now on all generations will call me blessed, 
    49for the Mighty One has done great things for me— 
      holy is his name. 
 50His mercy extends to those who fear him, 
      from generation to generation. 
 51He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; 
      he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. 
 52He has brought down rulers from their thrones 
      but has lifted up the humble. 
 53He has filled the hungry with good things 
      but has sent the rich away empty. 
 54He has helped his servant Israel, 
      remembering to be merciful 
 55to Abraham and his descendants forever, 
      even as he said to our fathers."

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Tree Gettin'

I went out with Ryan and Glenn this afternoon to get the Bell Family tree.  This consists of taking Glenn's rebuilt Land Rover into the woods with a chain saw and cutting something down.  It snowed quite a lot yesterday so the scenery was wonderful.  I don't know if much beats a Pennsylvania winter.  

I didn't venture far away from the truck, but was able to get plenty of great shots just standing in the woods.  I spent one of those moments you can't really explain in words, but I put together a slide show of some of todays photos.


Friday, December 19, 2008

Snow

It's been great being at home since Tuesday, or at Ryan's family's farm anyways.  It's snowing and it's beautiful.  I will try to take some pictures soon, but I'm not feeling really well today.  Recovering from the excitement of my birthday.  

I'm sitting here talking with Ryan's brother Glenn about future plans and what we see ourselves doing.  He's a sophomore at Shippensburgh University majoring in geo-environmental sciences, which I think is awesome.  He's also a javelins star and we are hoping he will be attending the NCAA National Championships again this year.

Our future plans have a lot of intertwining desires.  He's very interesting in promoting good environmental practices and the like.  

Anyways, things are good here.  Trying to stay healthy and enjoy the farm.

The shitty thing about being home in PA (and really this isn't shitty at all) but every time I come home, I never want to go back to OH.  

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Holiday Health Plan

So I've made it to Pennsylvania.  I am at the farm in Wyalusing with the in-laws.  it's a great place to be, and I love the snow.

I know that colds and viruses are everywhere, plus the stomach illness that come from eating too much.  So I have made a plan to stay healthy.  Besides my normal everyday prescriptions and vitamins(multi-vitamin, calcium), I'll be taking a super packed Vitamin C beverage mix.. you know those commercials, where it fizzes and all.  Well mine doesn't fiz.  It's generic store brand, but it's good enough.  It has Vit C, and a B complex for energy, and there's one more thing, but I can' think of it at the moment.

Also, for my tummy, I'll be taking plenty of fiber supplements, and regular doses of pro-biotics.  These keep the healthy bacteria in the intestines more prevalent than the bad bacteria that makes you bloated, constipated, or a little loose.

Yoga in the morning and perhaps some stretching, meditating in the evening.  Also lots, and lots, and lots, of water.  So that's my plan.  I hope it works.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Grand Rounds Debut

So I haven't been involved in any kind of blog carnival, but I decided to submit a post this week for the Grand Rounds hosted at A Chronic Dose, you can check it out here.

I'm mentioned towards the end under the debut section.  

I'll hope you'll check out some of the other posts as well.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Silly Chrissy

I am home again from church this Sunday pinned down by a cat.  Life with Fibromyalgia isn't easy, but it doesn't get any easier when you do stupid things that cause you to fall on your face.  My head hurts, and this is what my nose looks like. 
You should see the other guy. It actually looks a lot worse in person. So I shall entertain you with news from the treehugging Christians.  More on Advent later today.

I found this website thanks to a great pastor friend.

The Network Alliance of Congregations Caring for the Earth (NACCE) is an ecumenical, volunteer-run, non-profit organization established in 1986 to encourage the many strands of Christian tradition in the work of healing the damaged earth.

Earthkeeping News is a weblog of news, articles, quotes, calls-to-action, creative writing and other resources related to ecology, spirituality and Christianity.

The Headline Story is of specific interest to me as I have been watching Richard Cizik for awhile and will be interested in what his next move will be.  Here is a short snippet of the post.

Richard Cizik, the Vice President for Governmental Affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals, resigned this week upon the request of the Board.  It seems his interview with Terry Gross of National Public Radio, was the straw that broke the camel’s back.  Rich has been the subject of controversy ever since he began in recent years to push the NAE’s political focus beyond the traditional issues of abortion and gay marriage to something more vaguely relevent to progressives, especially global warming.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Video Editing

I edited my first real video last night.  This is for Ryan's masters seminar.  I wanted him to narrate but he said he was just going to do it during the presentation.  So there is no sound.  In some of the actual sound of the video, Ryan said some not nice words, so hence, no sound at all.  

It's a spider drinking:



I would love to have a really nice video camera some day, it's why I got my awesome computer to begin with.  For it's ability to edit photos and video.  However, I need more RAM and the photo program I want to do anything with photos.  If anyone out there wants to increase my artistic ability.  I'm accepting donations.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Colors of the World

After having my attention drawn to this story: Around the World in 30 Colors from the website Environmental Graffiti, I was inspired to post one of my favorite colorful pictures from my trip to India.  


These colorful jugs were all over, used as a way to bring water into the home from the closest source.

Advice

I got quite a lot of advice from my post about direction.  I guess I should ask more often.  You were all more than helpful.  So I plan on staying here right where I'm at and include everything I have to offer the world.  

Right now (today) that's not a lot, but I know that will change.  Keep reading dear friends.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Second Sunday of Advent

Mark 1:1-8 (The Message)

Mark 1

John the Baptizer
   
 1-3The good news of Jesus Christ—the Message!—begins here, following to the letter the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. 

   Watch closely: I'm sending my preacher ahead of you; 
   He'll make the road smooth for you. 
   Thunder in the desert! 
   Prepare for God's arrival! 
   Make the road smooth and straight!

 4-6John the Baptizer appeared in the wild, preaching a baptism of life-change that leads to forgiveness of sins. People thronged to him from Judea and Jerusalem and, as they confessed their sins, were baptized by him in the Jordan River into a changed life. John wore a camel-hair habit, tied at the waist with a leather belt. He ate locusts and wild field honey.

 7-8As he preached he said, "The real action comes next: The star in this drama, to whom I'm a mere stagehand, will change your life. I'm baptizing you here in the river, turning your old life in for a kingdom life. His baptism—a holy baptism by the Holy Spirit—will change you from the inside out."


So today finds me with at least a cold, which means church as a no go.  So I have to draw on my own creative juices to reflect on the Second Sunday of Advent.  Last week we saw hope in the coming of Christ, this week I see something more of expectancy.  In the various sources that are available on Advent they almost all agree on the first candle representing Hope, the remaining three candles can me any number of things, including Biblical characters, or events.  For today's reflection I chose John the Baptist, who prepares the way, which is where I see today as a Sunday of expectancy.

I tried to find a good image of John the Baptist but the pickings, at least to my standards, were slim.  Most of the art is either the Baptism of Jesus, or the beheading of John the Baptist.  Or just a saintly image.  Any photographs that may be described as living art remind me too much of Monty Python.  So I suppose you will have to create your own picture here.  

Let me help... Imagine Ryan, coming out of the woods at you, wearing a camel hair dress, with a leather belt.  He carries with him his lunch, in a sachel, consisting of locusts and wild honey.  Come to think about it, it's not that hard of an image to imagine.  But I digress.

John the Baptist came to prepare the way of Jesus, speaking of forgiveness of sins, and apparently this was good news because thousands flocked to him to confess their sins and be baptized.  I doubt it was his handsome appearance, but more of the message that he was bringing.  The message of the coming of Christ.

This week, imagine yourself as a sort of John the Baptist.  I'm not asking you to eat locust, but I sure do love honey.  Spread the news of the coming of Christ, the forgiveness of sins, and life in the New Kingdom.  

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Directions

Several weeks ago, I experienced my first real life crisis, the thought of wanting to take my own life, and the inability to rationalize any reason not to.  Since then, as I've been going through treatment, I've been thinking about my life.  What directions do I want to go in, or what directions do I have the ability to go in.  Right now, I feel like I'm going in circles.  A few weeks ago I wrote about being on a roller coaster that wasn't fun anymore, I didn't really leave any explanation to the post, but my emotions are going up and down and sideways all the time, without any real rhyme or reason. 

I have so many passions, so many deep feelings for the people of this world and for the environment.  At the same time, I have so much going on in my own life.  I have to get myself on a more straight road, before I can help others.  I can't be much help to people when I don't know if I will be able to get out of bed from one day to another.  And this frustrates me.

Right now this blog seems to be the only connection I have with the world.  The only way to get the word out about what I see as important, what I see as needing to be done.  Yet sometimes I don't think that people are listening.  I began this blog because I felt I had something to say.  This is how my first blog post reads: 
Here I am, starting yet another blog. It's not because I'm trying to be cool or popular, but because I really have things to say. I do some writing over on Myspace, but it's really not cutting it for me. I spend too much time learning about people's private lives and not saying what I have to say, which is sometimes important. Also I wasn't spending enough time outside...I wasn't enjoy nature, God's creation. Now I am trying to spend much less time on the computer and much more time among the trees.
I am here to post my opinions and tell the world what I have to say. Please comment if you have something to add to the discussion, even if it's disagree with what I have to say. Nothing will never get resolved if there is no dialogue.

Now as I'm stuck with the directions of my life, I am also stuck with the directions of this blog.  I didn't think it was possible but over the last two years, I have found more things that I need to tell people about.  I began with the church, with spirituality, religion, and the environment.  I added bits in pieces of my daily life, hoping to show my beliefs in how I live.  Then came the GREAT PNEUMONIA INCIDENT, this kept me from blogging for several months, due to the fact that I could barely breath, or get out of bed.

Then with the diagnosis of many chronic illnesses, I turned the attention to this blog to advocating for awareness and understanding.  I saw this as an important aspect of my life,  but it did not have much of a place in a blog about Christianity and the Environment.  Also, with my recent crisis, I've become more involved in mental health awareness, and have been interested in keeping everyone I care about informed of my daily struggles.  Which this blog has also been ideal in serving in that purpose.

So here I am, expanding my horizons in the blogging world.  But I'm stuck, feeling like Dorothy on the Yellow Brick Road, and the Scarecrow is telling me which way to go.  Do I keep just one blog, and hope that the range of things I write about keep people interested enough to come back.  Or do I begin again with another blog separating the original Living in the MidWest about my life, Christianity, and the Environment, starting a new blog about chronic physical and mental illness, and my struggle with those.  Would I be able to keep up, would people read both, or would I just be stuck with two blogs, and no readers?

I've been going over this for some time now.  In reality I am fulfilling what my initial intention of this blog was, writing because I felt I had something important to say.  The scope of those important things have just been broadened since September of 2006.  

Please advise on this subject, because I've come to a cross roads and the scarecrow is not cutting it.

Friday, December 05, 2008

OK

If yesterday was bad, today is OK.  The weather isn't great, which makes whatever hurt I'm experiencing worse.  

But, I love my cat.  I love that he likes to be near me.  He licks my ankles or toes, or even my nose if I let him.  He prefers when both Ryan and I are together.  Hopefully this makes the 8 hour ride home an OK experience.  We are getting ready to go home in just a little over a week.  There seems that there is a lot to be done, but I'm not going to let it get to me.  Ryan is the one who needs to present his research and succumb to a 2 hour oral exam.  But, I'm sure he'll do great, he's working hard.

Scarlet has been out and about a lot lately.  I think she likes our new apartment, there certainly is more light than the last one.  She just started eating mice that have hair on them, which is significantly bigger than the pinkies she's eaten since we got her.  I love watching her climb around in her tank.  And so does Popeye.  I think maybe he feels he needs to protect her.  He sits in front of her tank, or on top.  It doesn't seem to bother her.  I'm positive she feels safe, and I think sometimes, they even look at each other... kind of to say, "who are these crazy humans who have brought us home?"

That's all for now.  Popeye is bathing, and I must too if I want to get anything done today.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Pain

Pain Pain Pain Pain Pain.  Perhaps this is what they call a flare, because although I've hurt pretty much for the past year, this is fairly unbearable.  I'm not exaggerating.  

I officially hate fibromyalgia... it is no longer something I can deal with.

Pickering Knob, West Virginia

This is what it looks like.

Obama and Mountain Top Removal

Notice my little widget thing to the left.  Please click on that and learn more about mountain top removal and what President-Elect Obama can do to stop it.  I previously posted here about my feelings on mountain top removal, and although the widget is a little humorous, that topic is not. It will only take a few moments to educate yourself on the issues.  Thanks. 

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Advent


It's here.  I'm excited, are you?  Get excited...... 

For what you might ask?  For presents, for the opportunity to take off work and travel?  No, I'm not talking about Christmas, I'm talking about Advent.  About the anticipation of the coming of Christ.  

What could be more exciting?!

It's already Wednesday, I kind of dropped the ball getting a post about the first Sunday of Advent.  So I will start there, and hope to post again on Sunday.

On the first Sunday of Advent we light the candle of Hope.  I've been celebrating Advent my whole life, particularly in the United Methodist Church.  My mother has been in charge of buying the candles and setting up the wreath for as long as I can remember. I also remember as an acolyte lighting the first purple candle after the Scripture had been read.  I was always nervous about lighting it at the right time.  If I lit it too soon, then I would have to stand there, all silly like, while the pastor finished the reading.  If I waited too long and the reading was over, the congregation would stare as I attempted to light a fresh candle, which is never an easy task.  But I guess that's what Advent is about, waiting, for the right time.

I'm pondering the Old Testament scripture that is designated for the first Sunday of Advent this particular year. 

Isaiah 64:1-9

64:1 O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence--

64:2 as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil-- to make your name known to your adversaries, so that the nations might tremble at your presence!

64:3 When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.

64:4 From ages past no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who works for those who wait for him.

64:5 You meet those who gladly do right, those who remember you in your ways. But you were angry, and we sinned; because you hid yourself we transgressed.

64:6 We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.

64:7 There is no one who calls on your name, or attempts to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have delivered us into the hand of our iniquity.

64:8 Yet, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.

64:9 Do not be exceedingly angry, O LORD, and do not remember iniquity forever. Now consider, we are all your people.

Isaiah sounds so desperate, so longing for change, longing for change by God.  

In verse 6 it says "we all fade like a leaf," right now in Ohio the leaves have faded, it is now December and the city has started cleaning up the piles of leaves in the street.  

I always have a hard time reading about an angry God, I like to think of the saving acts of Jesus, without remembering the creative acts of God in the Hebrew people.  Isaiah acknowledges the anger of God, but also is reminded that God is the potter and we are the clay.

This week, or the second half of this week, lets be like clay and let God mold us into what God wants us to be as we wait for the coming of Christ this Advent season.


  

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Runners Up

If your name or face does not appear below, do not feel hurt or slighted.  These people especially come to mind when I think of the last year.  Jason Allison has been omitted from the slide show as I do not have any acceptable pictures of him, but he has been a great pastor.

One exception is my mom, who I did not have a great picture of, and I believe she deserves a post all of her own.  Perhaps some day soon.  Love you all.


Man of the Year: Ryan Bell

It seems almost a weird time to be announcing a man of the year award.  It is near the end of 2008, but don't those things usually happen at the beginning of the next year?  Either way it doesn't matter.  Because time and again this man has stood up and been a great human being over the past 12 plus months.  

When I got sick last year around Halloween, we were both pretty engrossed in our own lives and busy as heck.  But he put things on hold to take care of me.  He brought me drinks, made me my meals over and over again, even when all I wanted was eggs or grilled cheese.  He cleaned out my cups full of tissues and mucus when I was coughing so much it didn't make sense to get out of bed to spit anything out.

Everyday he came to the hospital while I was there to share my dinner with me.  While the hospital food wasn't the stereotypical horribleness it could have been, I'm sure he could have eaten better somewhere else.  He brought me anything I requested, and when it was time to go home he continued to do all the things that made me feel comfortable and better.

Flash forward a year later and I am still struggling with my health and with my life.  He is extremely busy trying to finish his masters degree that almost got put at a stand still last October, but he never fails to amaze me.  He does the laundry because it hurts too much for me to do the repetitive motions of bending over to deposit clothes in the machine and take them out again.  He does the dishes most of the time unless I've mustered up some strength for a small stretch.  And even though cleaning the litter box is MY job, he does that when it hasn't been done in awhile either.  

He has been to countless appointments with me, either just as a driver or as a second person in the room to listen and ask questions, and he continues to be involved in my care both physically and mentally.  He warms up my heating pads to keep my sore muscles and joints comfy, and he still cooks the meals I want, even when they are the same thing over and over again.

Twice this month I have given him the Man of the Day award, for doing two very different things.  The first was when he effortlessly broke a frozen slab of bacon in half over the kitchen counter, in my amazement who else was I going to award the man of the day award to.  And at 2am this morning when I rolled over to ask him if he was awake after I was tossing and turning and had even been up to go to the bathroom, he replied yes.  My stomach was upset from my meds, and I wanted a glass of ginger ale.  Bleary eyed he got up and got it for me, when I probably could have easily gotten it myself.  I awarded the man of the day award again, but he thought it was awful early in the day to be giving out awards.  

That's when I decided really that this post needed to be done.  People needed to what he has done for me through all that I've been going through.  So world (or my handful of readers)  Ryan Bell is my man of the year.

Stay tuned for runners up, they might even include a few females.

Monday, December 01, 2008

$20 Challenge

A few weeks ago Pastor Jason at Terra Nova challenged our congregation to change the world with $20.  What he meant by this, was instead of taking a large Christmas collection from the church and donating it to one organization or another, we would each take $20 and see how we could make a difference.  He encouraged us to join forces with our life groups, or our neighbors, and perhaps do something larger than just one person could do with $20.  

At first Ryan and I had some grand ideas of raisi
ng money for one of my favorite organizations, Heifer International.  But as reality sank in, Ryan didn't really have the time, and I'm not sure if I have the energy to devote to the large scale project we were planning.  Ryan is working hard at finishing up his masters degree in entomology, which takes up a very large portion of time.  I am very proud of him for this, so we decided to go our separate ways in the challenge.  

I am not sure what Ryan will be deciding on doing with his $20.  But I mentioned my latest project last week about Warm Up America.  I will continue to work on that project and hope to have at least one afghan done by December 14th which is when our challenge is to be completed.  $20 can buy a lot of yarn, so I hope to make some baby afghans as well as hats with some left over yarn from my afghan.  But that might have to wait till after the holidays.  The biggest focus now is getting 49 7"x9" squares done in 2 weeks.  I will be posting pictures of my progress, and pictures of the completed project.  I foresee the most difficult part of the project will be joining all the squares together to from the afghan.
 
Here is a photo from my first week of working on the project.  I already have a few more squares I made after taking this picture last night. 


And they are not actually squares, they are rectangles, but don't tell anyone.  

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Thanksgiving Post

I was unsure what to expect this Thanksgiving. This time last year I was still seriously recovering from Pneumonia and wasn't leaving the house or the couch for that matter.
As I said previously I have begun eating gluten free, so all the stuffing and pie and cake that I ate last year was out of the question.
We were invited to my sister in law Melissa's apartment in Cincinnati, and she took my food sensitivities seriously, investigating all she could on gluten free Thanksgiving foods. I've also been cutting back on dairy, but I handled that more by not eating things with dairy in it.
Mel made stuffing from gluten free corn bread, which had been my biggest concern, it was DELICIOUS. The turkey was moist and not only was their green bean casserole (on the no list) but steamed green beans that were very tasty. She left potatoes out of the masher for me to eat without milk, and made sure that everything was safe for me to eat. It was a great meal, I filled my plate, only once, as my stomach has been super sensitive lately.
This year I am Thankful for family who is so supportive of my lifestyle changes to a healthier me (this includes all my family and friends), I am thankful for being as healthy as I am, I am thankful for the nurses and doctors who have taken care of me over the past year both at Grady Hospital in Delaware, OH, and Harding OSU in Columbus. I am thankful for my church family both in PA and OH who have continued to support me in prayer and any other ways possible. I am thankful for God who has answered those prayers time and again.
A thanksgiving post would also not be complete without a thanks to my Hubby who has been there every step of the way. On my good days when I laugh, and on my really really horrible days when I can't do anything. He's always there and I am EXTREMELY grateful for that.
Here is a slide show from this fall, things I am grateful for.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Me and Gluten Free

I figure it's been about 3 or so weeks since I've been eating completely gluten free.  I started "trying" over the summer eating small amounts here and there, sticking to a mainly free diet, hoping that it would make my many digestion problems go away.  

After getting out of the hospital I made the commitment to go completely free and see how it made me feel.  When eating small amounts of gluten, I wasn't very sick, but perhaps I could feel better.  

My verdict so far is that I am feeling better than I was.  I think my skin is happier for it, by this time most years I would be itchy, scaly, and dry.  My face has also far less blemishes, and I'm starting to look like a grown up.

There are many other personal benefits here that I don't necessarily want to put out on to the world wide web for all to hear, but if you are interested drop me a note, and we can have a convo via e-mail.  Lets just say there are parts of my body that are much happier than at the beginning of the summer.

With Thanksgiving and Christmas coming, some things will be a challenge, but my whole family, including the in-laws are committed to making sure there are things for me to eat.  Fortunately I'm a meat eater, I'm very much looking forward to turkey, and sausage that my hubby made just this week.  Mel, the sis-in-law might try some wild rice stuffing or something similar instead of traditional bread stuffing, and I am making some cookies for my dessert.  I'm not much of a pie eater, so that's not such a huge issue.  Perhaps next year I will look into gluten free pumpkin pie.

One other challenge is that I have mostly given up dairy on my way to digestive health.  This is something I can cheat a little more at, weighing my consequences, but most days it's not worth it.  I'd rather just skip the dairy all together.  Which means no milk in my mashed potatoes.   I'll just be stealing some boiled ones and mashing them with my fork.  I refuse to give up butter, but so far this has not presented a problem.

I've been grateful to Gluten Free Girl and A Chronic Dose to help me ease into this new part of my life.  They've been a wealth of information and comfort, reading their words about their original struggles into the life of eating gluten free.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I Don't Even Know

I don't even know how to handle myself anymore.  I've been going to bed at a regular time and getting up at a regular time (earlier than Ryan would like).  Which means I'm getting real sleep, this is the first time I have gotten restorative sleep in about 8 years.  I've been busy walking, doing yoga, and household chores.  

But just because I can do these things does not mean things are much better.  Today for instance, I need desperately to do laundry, wash dishes, go to the pharmacy, the library, and the grocery.  But I'm laying in bed, exhausted.  My walk this morning was easy, just a quick jaunt around the block with a friend.

So why do I feel this why.  Why am I laying here, under the covers light turned off, barely able to keep my eyes open.  I want to cry, scream, throw a temper tantrum.  I don't ever remember if I threw temper tantrums when I was little, I'm sure I did, but this is how I feel the majority of the time now.  I want to roll on the floor, throw things, kick, scream, and yell..... I don't even have to yell real words.  I just want to yell.

I just want to be a responsible adult who can take care of the things that need taking care of.  I don't want to be tired, I don't want my body to hurt in places that there is no reason for.  I love the feeling I'm getting from Yoga, and it is stretching me out and causing some comfortable pain.  But then there are the jabbing ice pick pains, and the sore muscles, and bruises that have nothing to do with a physical activity.  I am just so tired of it.

And I'm so tired of being emotional about it.  I'm almost afraid that I want to emotionally hurt those around me so they can have at least an idea of what is going on.

I want to tear out my insides.  

I want how I feel inside to be visible to everyone on the outside.

I'm turning off the comments for this post... I  know what people will say and I just don't even really need to hear it, because I've heard it already.  No offense to my readers.  I just want this to be a post on the internet, with no discussion.  Period.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Second Look

I already posted this picture, but I knew when I took it I wanted it to say something special.  When I first took the picture I noticed the nut shells amongst the fallen leaves.  Then I noticed the snow from one of the first flakes of the year.  The squirrels had already gathered their nuts for the year, and the snow wasn't yet heavy enough to weigh down the leaves.  And now I know the nuts are hickory.

I hope you like it.




Warm Up America

Warm Up America is my most recent project.  I'm working on crocheting 7"x9" squares to put together into afghans.  These afghans then get distributed to victims of domestic violence who have fled their homes, victims of natural disasters, homeless, and other low income people.  

My afghan(s) most likely will go to the Common Grounds Free Store in Delaware OH.  Although Ryan and I are living in Columbus, our church home is in Delaware, and is really committed to making a difference in the lives of people in Delaware.  So that's where I hope these will be going.  I will post pictures as the afghan comes a long, we will see if I can get it done in any kind of timely manner.

Meanwhile check out the websites for these places, it is good stuff.

Butterflies and Rainbows

I know I haven't portrayed life as butterflies and rainbows lately.  Things have been rough, and I'm not going to lie about that.  But there are some positive things going on too.  

I'm learning to take better charge of my health, to make the calls to the doctors when things don't seem quite right, and make sure that my thoughts are heard.  Recently this week I was confronted with the decision of continuing to take a medication that had side effects of suicidal thoughts and depression, or try something different.  While the medication had been working fairly well at abating my migraines, I wanted to go a different route.  I didn't come to this decision while in the doctor's appointment however, because things always seem like a whirl wind.  But when I called back to the office later, I actually got to speak with my neurologist on the phone and came up with a better plan.  I was pretty happy about that.

I've also been receiving cards and e-mails from friends with messages of support.  I greatly appreciate it, because I really need people behind me through all of this.

I meet my new counselor tomorrow, I hope things go well.  It would be an understatement to say that I am very very nervous.  I never now how to figure out if  I need a referral, or how to get one if I do.  I know for sure I need a referral after my 4th visit, but not sure how to go about doing that.

I'm really beginning to like yoga.  I do yoga on the Wii Fit as well as from a DVD my mom bought me for people with Fibromyalgia.  I want to take a couple classes, so I can start doing my own routine, depending on how I feel a certain day.  I need a yoga mat, looking for donations.

I suppose that is all that fits into this category.  


Saturday, November 22, 2008

It's getting that time.

I didn't want to post this too late for you to enjoy on Thanksgiving.  So here it is folks.  If you aren't familiar, please look for longer versions on You Tube.  Or ask your mom and dad.


Friday, November 21, 2008

SSA

I sat on hold for well over an hour with the Social Security Administration trying to update my information since my hospital stay and treatment.  I never got through.  I had to eat lunch and get a shower and get on with my day.  I just don't know how to handle this....

At least the sun is shining.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

low spirits

I'm in pretty low spirits today.  No real reason, just not feeling it.  The weekend is coming, which means football.  I don't really care all that much about the game, or being around those who will be drinking during the game.  

I feel like I need a vacation of sorts.

I had a good visit with my GP today, don't have to go back until I need something.  That is the first time something like that has happened in a really really long time.  She thought all my med changes were good and the like, and thought I was being realistic about my recovery time.

I'm giving myself 3-4 years to be back to whatever "normal" is.  That may seem like a lot, but pardon my french there is a lot of shit going on with me.  I'm finally getting restorative sleep for the first time in 8 years, so I'm not sure if I've ever felt normal.  But I'm also still waking up in pain. 

I got a therapist and am optimistic about my treatment, but progress with this kind of stuff isn't linear.  Anyways, that's what's on my mind, and that's why I'm a little down.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Exercise

Part of my prescribed treatment from my rheumetologist as well as my psychologist is daily exercise.  I'm usually an active girl, so there could be worse things

Yesterday I went on about a 2 mile hike, it was great and I took some pictures.  Yesterday did not get above freezing, but it was enjoyable in all my awesome winter clothes and my new long underwear (thanks mom!)

Here are some pictures for you to enjoy.

Memories from back in the day with the Reid girls.  Don't worry Penny and Phil, I didn't go inside.  I hung over the edge to take the picture.











Some nuts in the snow.... Don't quiz me because I don't know what they are.












A semi-snowy trail.  It was a nice day.

Wii Fit

So my fit wants me to "Gain" weight to meet my goal.  Something doesn't seem right with that picture.  Either I didn't enter in right, or the Wii is screwed up.  Anyways, losing weight everyday.  And it even tells me that my Fit age is the same as my real age most days, that's a big accomplishment.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Adjustment

Life outside IOP will require some adjustment to my day.  I was awake at my normal time and took the longest hottest shower I've taken in a long long time.  

My body has been rebelling, it knows there is a change coming up.  My muscles hurt bad, and I feel a pretty bad headache coming on.  It's funny how just a few changes can cause our bodies to go into a tail spin.  I'm not saying that these changes have not come with some stress.

I'm still in the process of trying to find a therapist.  Over the last week my caseworker had been trying to get a hold of people from different counseling centers that provide a certain service, but things seem to be booked up.  I have some phone calls to make, but I will wait till this afternoon.

Other than that I have a neurology appointment this afternoon, then a massage tomorrow.  Hopefully things will be good. 

Monday, November 17, 2008

A little nervous

Today is my last day of IOP.  I still do not have a permanent therapist or psychiatrist, so I'm a little nervous about how things are going to turn out.  I still need some serious therapy.

There are days that I wake up feeling that I was created for something really great, and I need to get out and do it.  And other days I wake up and wish that I hadn't woken up at all.  It's horrible, but I know we all feel that way.  It's just a little more intense in me than in most people, just like everything else. 

I have a busy week though.  Neurology appointment tomorrow, hopefully I can get some more answers about my headaches that I have been bothering me more severely recently.  Then on Wednesday I have a massage with Zach, SO EXCITED.  Then coffee on Friday with someone I haven't seen in awhile.  Looking forward to it all.

Of course I also have to exercise everyday.

Here's to hoping for a good week!  

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Look

I think an important aspect to blogging is the look of the blog.  I've been playing around with my look for a long time.  You've noticed I've changed the format, added a picture banner (yes I know it's stretched, I wanted it that way), and I've been adding some Ads to try and generate some revenue (without much success.)  

But I'm never quite sure if it's the look I'm looking for.  I've given others feedback when I've noticed them playing with their layouts, so I'm asking the same for you.  What do you think?

I could add purple as the dominant color as it is my favorite, but I think I like the orange.  The problem is, two of my favorite sites already have pink, orange, or purple as their dominate colors.  Too bad there wasn't a tie-dye feature.  If there are any geniuses out there, can you work on that for me.  Thanks.
Anways, let me know what you think.

Friday, November 14, 2008

One day to go

On Monday at noon I will be discharged from my IOP (Intensive Outpatient Program).  I'm not sure if I feel ready, but curses to the insurance company.  Curses to the insurance company also because I have not been able to get a therapist or psychiatrist who is available and can take my insurance... Grrrr....

Today though is an over all great day, and I'm going to keep it that way.  Who knows, by Monday the problem may have resolved itself.

Middle of the night thought:

How does Brian McLaren find so much time to write books??

Are they just saying the same thing over and over again?  Anyone got a thought on this?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Hello Loneliness

Loneliness, what does it actually look like?  Is it one person in a room by themselves?  Does it have a length of time that it lasts?  Is it always negative?  Can loneliness mean anything good?  Does it mean you are alone?

What can we do with this loneliness?
  • Read a book
  • Call a friend
  • Make plans for vacations (real or imaginary)
  • Plant a garden
 Everyone finds, at one time or another, that they are alone (lonely), maybe even in a room full of people.  But, I say, break those walls down and do not become a slave to loneliness.  With a smile at a stranger the loneliness may disappear.

Whatever you do, do not let the loneliness you feel now effect the next moment of your life.  

Our lives are defined by what we allow in or push out!  So put up those shields, gather your defenses, do not let loneliness infiltrate any part of you!!

When we break the bonds of loneliness we can change the world.  It may be
 by one flower garden at a time.  But that flower garden provides beauty to all who see it.  Beauty becomes an agent of change.  Beauty inspires action and action is one of the farthest things from and most contradictory to loneliness.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Not a good day?

Is it ok for me to say that.  Sometimes I don't feel like it is.  I'm going to this program, and it is suppose to help, right?  But instead I just feel like I'm being torn down and no one is helping build me back up.  

I'm not talking about the staff at the hospital, they are wonderful.  But as I self reflect, I tear down everything I've done, and everything that I've felt, and I don't know how to rebuild.  

When I was in New Orleans touring the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina, the woman who was giving us the tour had just had the plumbing finishing in her rebuilt house.  She referred to the rebuilding as bringing up.  And it was a community effort to bring up a house.  It wasn't done a lone.

I KNOW I have a community out there, but I don't know how to use my actions and words to bring them together to bring me up.  I'm so far down, and I feel like the hurricane is still raging. Those are just thoughts today though.  Maybe tomorrow will be different.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Intensity

This is something I wrote this summer, before a lot of the current things have happened.  I use the word crazy in here, but I use it not to be offensive, but if you've ever met me... Well, I'm crazy.  You'll get the idea after read what I have to say.  It just kind of says some things I've been feeling lately and this was 2 months ago. 

I am a little crazy, I realize that.  I've lost friendships and relationships due to my craziness.  Sometimes I worry about slipping back into my old crazy patterns and driving even more people away.  I get a special kind of anxiety about this character flaw when I am reminded of relationships that I have in one way or another ruined.  This could occur by coming across an old photograph, or hearing the persons named mentioned by another friend.  This puts me on the defense, I check to see if my current actions are anything close to as crazy as the actions that may have ended the referenced friendship.

Maybe crazy isn't the word for it, I can be described more as intense.  One of the definitions Merriam-Webster gives for the word intense is: marked by or expressive of great zeal, energy, determination, or concentration.  That's about how I see it, I'm intense, and my intensity can express itself in many different ways.

When I first started reflecting on the word intense and subsequently intensity, I thought about a time when I was a kid and I burned myself very badly.  My sisters had a set of desk lamps that were accurately called high intensity desk lamps.  It used a bulb that was brighter than normal incandescent light bulb, and as one would expect much hotter than anything I had ever touched before.  I learned this a little too late.

One day I was playing on my older sisters bed, living in some make believe world with alligators under the bed, and dragons in the closet.  I discovered by putting the lamp that was on the side of my sisters bed under her bedspread, it made a bright pink glowing color.  Who knows as a four or five year old what I might have imagined it to be.  I enjoyed looking at it, and continued to play with the bedspread tented over the lamp glowing

Soon I began to smell something burning.  I looked and there was a brown spot forming on my sisters pink bedspread. Panicked I reached to grab the lamp by the metal part that covered the bulb, this is what caused my burn.  This was not the worst part for me however.  My mom had also smelled the burning, and by this time I was hiding in another room.  She first came to find me, and saw that I was burnt, then she wanted to know what had caused the smell.  I left her to figure it out, sobbing because I thought I was in more trouble than I ever had been.

I don't remember getting yelled at, however I'm sure I did get some kind of small lesson out of it.  What I do remember is my mom giving me a hug, telling me that she was just glad that I wasn't hurt worse than I could have been.  And she put something on the burn to make it feel better.  That was it, and I almost burned down the house!  If I can be forgiven for something like that, I'm sure I can be forgiven for much less.

This has not been the case for many friendships that I have lost over the years because of my intensity.  These relationships can fall into two categories.  The first is when the person never really got to know me well enough to begin with and was turned off by my general personality.  It is fairly harmless, it is hard for me to do wrong on my own.  If I have wronged a particular person, they most likely played a part as well, whether they realize it or not.

The second category are those people who might know me fairly well and let a small slip of judgement on my part affect their whole view on who I am.  If this is the case, did I really want to be friends with this person to begin with?

I'm not saying it's not my fault.  I have totally made poor judgement calls, or have had a lack of judgement all together.  I won't deny that sometimes I am just too intense, but who hasn't had these moments?

When people stop associating with me, do not return calls, e-mails, or letters, I take this to heart.  I am deeply wounded by it. Especially because most of the time, I am not the only person at fault.  I'm willing to forgive most people for most things, and some people are so shallow that they can not see me for who I really am.

I am a lover and I care deeply about other people, no matter what their role in my life has been.  It hurts to not have those gestures returned.  I constantly struggle to have good judgement, to not be too intense.  I suppose the truth is people just can't handle me.  I think this is someone else's problem, not mine.  But again, I can not stress enough how much it hurts to not be accepted including and in spite of my judgement and intensity.  Perhaps this is why God invented Moms.


Not so good days

So I hear a lot that things "seem to be going great" for me and my recovery.  Well that may not be such the truth.  I've been struggling more than just a little, but I try not to complain.  My wonderful mother tells me that it's not complaining, but explaining about why things aren't going so great.  So here things go.  At the moment I'm taking a day off from day program because the University is closed.  I miss the structure, but since Mom is here I got up at a semi normal time, and we are going to try to stay busy.  Here is a list of things that seem to not being going so well in my recovery :
  • Every time I try to sleep, or wake up my mind races about everyday normal things or worries and I am not able to get back to sleep.  Lack of sleep equals lack of productivity and overall good mood.
  • The thought of work or school sends me into a near panic attack.  As much as I want to go back, I worry that things won't go like I want them to.  I'm a smart person, but because of all of this, I can't articulate my intelligence most of the time.
  • I feel that things will never be normal, if there is such a thing.  I've been feeling like this for so long, I have no idea how I'm suppose to feel.
  • I miss friends.  I know they are out there, and they support me.  But getting out to actually see and socialize with them is almost next to impossible.
  • Everyone else's lives seem to be moving on, while I am back paddling just trying to stay afloat.
  • I am having killer headaches/migraines, and the psych doctor has taken me off one of my pain killer for headaches.  So I'm "dealing" which means wearing sunglasses indoors and hiding under the covers.
  • I've been crying a lot.  Which if you've spent much time with me, I don't really cry all that often.  Anything makes me cry right now, mostly because I'm reminded of something that was, or could be.
  • I'm in pain, all the time.  In theory everything that I'm doing is the right thing, but it will take a long time to start feeling better, I'm trying to be patient.
These are just a sample of the things, but I hope you can read these things, and know you are not alone on a bad day.  

Monday, November 10, 2008

tired and really, really tired

i teeter between tired 
and really, really tired 
i'm wiped and i'm wired 
but i guess that's just as well 
'cuz i've built my own empire 
out of car tires and chicken wire 
and now i'm queen of my own compost heap 
and i'm getting used to the smell 

- ani d.
Swan Dive 1999 Righteous Babe Records

Friday, November 07, 2008

Just so I don't Forget

An exercise we did in program today was called just so I don't forget and it gave us a list of fill in the blank type things.  I thought it would be a great exercise to share here, and I included my answers.  Feel free to do this on your own, it is very helpful when things seem bleak or you are struggling with a particular situation.

JUST SO I DON'T FORGET:

I AM ABLE TO: 
take care of my cat
write this blog to make a difference
maintain relationships
LOVE

I HAVE LEARNED:
all humans have emotions and they are normal

I AM PROUD:
that i have the strength to keep attending my program
that I am able to talk about my life with others
that I can change's people's lives through my interactions

I AM CONFIDANT THAT:
it is helping
that there will be better days
I will have a successful career, social life, family

I KNOW:
there will be setbacks, but that is ok
there are people on my side

I NOW UNDERSTAND:
what my brain is doing to my body
that I have been experiencing these feelings for a long time
it's no body's fault

I CAN:
change my behavior to live a healthier life
continue to make progress

I BELIEVE:
I am learning from this
I will climb mountains (figuratively and literally)

I TRUST:
God is leading me through

I ADEQUATELY:
communicate my feeling to others
make it through the day

I ACCEPT:
that there are some things I can not change
my life will be different, but possibly better