The old normal, part 6

Before COVID, I spent a lot of time at the gym. I don’t even have a gym membership anymore. How things have changed.

Back in the day, I used to go to the gym three times a week for at least an hour. In the summer, I would run the streets. I did countless marathons, a half Iron, and a 50k. When I first started blogging I wrote about training for my first marathon after reading a marathon training book written by a blogger. At the time I thought I could run a marathon and I could write on a blog, and I did. I even have running in the title of my blog. Over time this blog has morphed into something more than that.

I always thought I would be a runner. I didn’t often see a lot of older runners competing in races, but when I did I thought to myself that will be me someday. Running helped me burn off a lot of my anxiety and stress. I worried a lot about becoming injured because I didn’t think I would be sane without running. I know I have posted before if I couldn’t run someone would need to check on me because I would not be okay.

Then the world changed. When COVID hit my gym closed and all the races I was planning on running got cancelled. Not long after that, I had a 10 day bout of colitis that knocked me off my feet. A month later it was hard for me just to put the laundry from the washer into the dryer. I thought I would never be able to run again. I was able to but I lost most of what was left of my endurance. Then I started to experience joint pain which made it all but impossible to run without being in pain.

I’m not sure what is wrong. It could be a number of things or it could be nothing at all. I have an appointment scheduled with a specialist in May. My doctor thought the joint pain could be related to colitis. I recently read stress and trauma can cause inflammation like I have. Or maybe I overused my joints by all my long distance running. I also saw it could be a symptom of perimenopause. Or maybe I’m getting arthritis like some of my other relatives did. I started noticing bumps on the knuckles of my fingers. But until I see the doctor I’m just guessing.

I started doing low impact workouts but I find them to be frustrating because it doesn’t feel as if I am doing anything. I had to take a step back because I just couldn’t do it anymore. I miss running, I really do but I don’t feel like I will not be okay without it anymore. I don’t need to beat the hell out of my body anymore. But I don’t want to do nothing either. I’ve gained some weight. But is it realistic to think I’ll always be able to keep a youthful figure as I age?

Sometimes now I run into people from my running days. I’ve been asked what race I am training for. It’s hard to admit I am much more of a walker now. For 15 years I identified as a runner. Now it’s just another area of my life I don’t know who I am anymore. But one thing I can say for sure, I can live without running. I am okay. I never thought I would be saying that. Now it’s time for something new. I’m just not sure what that is yet.

The old normal, part 5

Right before COVID we pretty much cut my dad out of our lives. I have very limited contact. Sadly, or maybe thankfully, it wasn’t a big change for us. My dad is the oldest living relative in his family line. I was very close to his parents and aunts and uncles. They were all wonderful people. I’m not really sure why my dad turned out the way he did.

My mom is also the oldest living relative in her family line. Unlike my dad, she comes from a large family. We would typically see the extended family at Christmas and the yearly family reunion.

This year I was not welcome to attend the family festivities because of my vaccination status. This was mainly spearheaded by my Aunt Jan. I felt angry and hurt. It was hard to understand. It wasn’t like I was going to be killing grandpa and grandma because they’ve been dead a long time. I do not consider my aunts and uncles to be elderly. My youngest aunt is the same age as my husband all the way up to my mom’s age of 73. Most of my aunts and uncles are in their 60’s.

Pretty much all of them do high risk activities (including my Aunt Jan) such as going out to eat at restaurants, travelling by airplane, and going to church. But I was not okay sitting across the room wearing a mask after getting tested?

It also didn’t matter that I was going through hell and probably could use the support of family. Aunt Jan knew about my dad’s crime. She was the one who told me I needed to take care of my mother. She always told me I needed to take care of my mom even when I was a child and needed someone to take care of me. Then she went on with her own life which did not include ever once taking any of us four children so my mom could get a break. She knew I spent the last couple of years dealing with my daughter’s serious mental illness.

This has been a pattern of behavior for my Aunt Jan for a long time. I just didn’t realize it until now. She acts like she cares, but is controlling and rejecting. When she was hosting showers, she invited one of my daughters but not the other. She also didn’t invite a cousin who was between the ages of my daughters. My other aunt and I were upset about this because our daughters felt hurt and left out.

My Aunt Jan also wanted my daughter Angel to sing in her son’s wedding. She said if Angel was singing then she was invited but our other children would not be. The wedding was out of town and we needed to get a hotel room. She told me my mother-in-law could watch my other children. At the time my MIL was at the end stages of lung cancer. Before that she didn’t really help with the kids that much anyway.

I can think of several other examples, but I think you get the point. Now my Aunt Jan is reaching out to me and I have been ignoring her. I really want to tell her off but now I heard she is having some health problems. To make things even more complicated, now there is a family feud and some of my aunts and uncles have vowed to never speak to each other again. With my daughter getting married, this has been one big mess.

At this time, I’ve decided to really limit contact with my extended family. One good thing that happened because I wasn’t able to go to the Christmas party was that I was able to reestablish my friendship with Lisa again. She came over the weekend I should’ve been with the extended family.

I’ve decided to let go of some relationships with friends and family because they are unhealthy for me. COVID has been a time of great reflection. I’m finally starting to realize what’s important in my life and when it’s time to let go. I’m starting to be a lot more selective about who I spend my time with. I just don’t know why I didn’t realize it sooner.

The old normal, part 4

One of the things I missed most during COVID was visiting the elderly. Something I looked at with fondness before started to fill me with fear. What if I’m sick and I don’t know it and I end up killing someone?? It’s still hard to erase that fear from my mind.

Last weekend, Paul and I were invited out to our friends new apartment followed by a show at a local community theatre we haven’t been to before. We had a wonderful time. After the show, we went back to their place and visited some more. By the time we got home, it was after midnight. We were exhausted but our friends assured us they were not and didn’t want us to leave. Our friends Harv and Kate are in their upper 80’s.

It’s unusual for sure, but Paul and I have several friends we hang out with that are almost 90. When COVID came around, we pretty much stopped hanging out with them which is sad because they are not getting any younger. I really missed our time with them and didn’t like the new feelings of fear I had towards our friendship with them.

My daughter Angel was helping out a family by caring for a woman in her 90’s over COVID. She also had fear being around her. But nothing either one of us were afraid of happened. What did end up happening was totally unexpected. Angel was going for a walk with this woman when the lady tripped and fell breaking her leg. She has recently recovered.

One thing I did notice though, although there is still some fear involved with maintaining relationships with the elderly, the elderly are so unbelievably lonely. They need contact with other people to be healthy. I’m really looking forward to visiting with them again.

Gratitude week 112

  1. This was totally unexpected…my daughter asked me to stand up in her wedding. I’m grateful that Angel and I get along so well. I am excited. It’s such an honor.
  2. I am back into planning mode…I put that on hold with COVID. I am planning a murder mystery party this spring and already found my costume at the thrift store.
  3. It has been so cold and we are expecting a snow storm tomorrow…so I thought I would make plans with my friend Lisa to cross-county ski next weekend. One of those life giving you lemons moments. I might as well embrace winter since it doesn’t seem to be ending anytime soon.
  4. Arabella and Will came over this past week and we played the Mexican Train game.
  5. I was able to see all my kids within the past week and I am happy they are doing well at the moment. I am just going to enjoy that for a while.
  6. The other morning I saw a dozen deer resting under the pine trees in my yard. It’s great to live in a place where I can enjoy nature.
  7. I’m grateful that Kwik Trip has a machine where all you have to do is set the air pressure number and it fills up the tires to that exact setting for free.
  8. I’m grateful Paul and Dan were able to spend some time together fishing and had enough fish for a fish fry.

The old normal, part 3

There was another new friendship I put on hold once COVID started. Again, we had a lot of similar beliefs and shared interests. Now she wants to get together again and I’m not sure I want to.

Where we left our friendship off, my friend confided in me that her husband got really drunk one night and beat her. I don’t think it was an isolated event. She said she would take him back if he stopped drinking. He said he would stop drinking. Fast forward two years later. My friend posted some pictures from a New Year’s party. It looked like she was drinking but I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt.

A couple weeks after that, she posted pictures of them BOTH drinking at a winery and brewery tour. He is drinking again. I JUST CAN’T. I can’t go out with them and have a few drinks knowing it might lead to violence towards her. He didn’t keep his word, and frankly neither did she. I want to be her friend but I don’t feel comfortable about their relationship knowing what I know.

My daughter has a similar friendship and it’s been very difficult for her. Last year her friend’s fiancée got drunk and beat her resulting in a broken ankle. He said he would quit drinking. But the violence still continues. Last week he choked her totally sober. Angel told her she needed to leave but she won’t. Her friend said maybe she provoked it. Plus they are getting married in a couple months. They already reserved the hall and she has her dress. Now is her chance to leave, but she won’t. It’s a lot more complicated once you are married and have children. Why doesn’t she understand that?

Ages ago, I was in an abusive relationship with someone I was engaged to. My fiancée Mac grabbed me by the neck and held me against the wall and shoved me around causing bruises. I got out of the relationship but I was tempted to go back. You see, he said he was going to change. One night we were sitting outside grilling with the neighbors at his apartment complex. When Mac left to go to the bathroom, his next door neighbor pulled me aside. He told me he heard me crying. He said I deserved much better. He told me to leave and not look back. I did and I would tell others to do the same. But what if they don’t? How can you be a friend, hear about how they are being abused, and watch them do nothing about it?

Several years before I was born, my mom left my dad. He shoved her around and bruised her ribs. She left and stayed with a friend. My dad showed up at her work with flowers. He said it would never happen again. He wore her down. Some fifty years later, she is still thinking of leaving. If only she left then, her life could’ve been a different story. It’s painful to see someone you care about in an abusive relationship that they do nothing about. Doing nothing is still a choice.

There were times I remember as a kid when my mom said she was going to leave. My brother Mark pleaded with her to not leave our dad. We jumped in the car with her as she drove around crying questioning herself out loud about what she was going to do. It was stressful and scary as a child because I didn’t have the security that my parents loved each other or were in a loving relationship. It could all unravel at any time. We were afraid of our dad and didn’t want to be alone with him because we were never sure what he was going to do to us. Mainly it was emotional abuse, but he would enjoy terrifying us. He didn’t change. The flowers were a cheap substitute for a beautiful life she could’ve had without him.

That being said, I find this friendship to be triggering and I’m not sure how good I would be pretending everything is fine. I would be open to talking to her but I can’t support her staying in an abusive relationship. I JUST CAN’T.

I believe that change is possible, but not likely. It takes a tremendous amount of work to change especially if you are dealing with other issues such as addiction. There is nothing I can do to change or fix things except directing them to clergy or professional help. Even then, they still might decide to do nothing. That makes me feel helpless, and I don’t like to feel that way towards the people I care about.

The old normal, part 2

Before COVID, I started to develop a few new promising friendships.

Cara was one of those newer friends. She was beautiful, bubbly, and friendly. She was a month older than me. We shared a lot of similar beliefs as far as religion and politics go. We had several mutual interests such as writing, running, and sailing. We seemed to have a lot in common, so it seemed like a good match.

Once COVID hit, Cara became very outspoken regarding her belief in various conspiracy theories. Microchips in vaccines, the works. Now I’m not the most trusting of the government and like to ask a lot of difficult questions. But in my opinion, I think she took things too far. Everything became very extreme. The end of the world is coming. I felt sorry for her because I saw her living in great fear.

This week she posted how we shouldn’t celebrate Valentine’s Day because it is pagan and evil. This really rubbed me the wrong way. A lot of traditions are rooted in non-Christian practices. Is it wrong for kids to have an Easter egg hunt? Sing songs about Santa? Exchange candy and Valentine’s Day cards? I can understand Halloween, but I just feel like my friend went off the deep end. I can’t live that way.

In some ways it was triggering for me. My mom was very dependent on what her friends thought of her. Some years we were allowed to go trick-or-treating in scary costumes and other years we had to hide out in our house in fear of the devil worshippers. I received a lot of conflicting messages and everything was wishy washy. I wish it would’ve been either right or wrong not dependent on who my mom was friends with at the time.

The other thing I remember is one time my brothers and I were out running errands with my mom and she stopped to get us fast food at McDonald’s. This was something we didn’t make a habit of doing often. On the way home we were going to stop at her friend’s house. My mom told us we needed to hide our fast food bags so her friend didn’t see it.

I don’t want to be judged, nor do I ever want to be in a position where I have to pretend I’m someone I’m not to make friends happy. I don’t want to surround myself with fearful people. I am already anxious enough. I worry about my friend’s mental health, but I’m not sure I want to continue the friendship where we left off.

Does that make me a bad friend? Am I being too picky and judgmental? Are my expectations too high? Should I just focus on the things we have in common and let everything else go? Do we pick up where we left off? I feel like we are different people than we used to be. How do we navigate beyond a time that really didn’t bring out the best in people?

The old normal, part 1

I’ve experienced a lot a change in the last 5 years. It started with the death of my mother-in-law from cancer back in February of 2017. We went through a period of grief and loss.

Within the last 5 years we went from having three (up to four with the foreign exchange students) teenagers living in our house to being empty nesters last month.

Paul and I went from running a business to selling our business that I worked at for 10 years and he for 20. For a period of time, we were retired. Then Paul started a seasonal business. He also started a new career different from both businesses. So there were several career and job changes within the last 5 years.

With the selling of our business, we experienced a socioeconomic change. We moved into a different house in a different town. Our youngest daughter changed schools. We are attending the third church within five years. New house, new neighborhood, new school, new church.

I went from being a marathon runner to not running at all. I was diagnosed with colitis and started developing health issues. I started to notice aging more than I’ve ever experienced it before in my adult life going from my early 40’s to my late 40’s. My siblings started to develop health issues.

I found out about the crime my dad committed. It tore up my family. Then COVID came into play and tore up whatever family unity was left. My dad will be 75 in a couple weeks and it kills me that our relationship never amounted to anything. Most of my family went from tolerating him to despising him. My mom is teeter tottering back and forth between leaving my dad and staying. She moved in with us for awhile. She is experiencing a tremendous amount of anxiety.

It’s been two years today since my youngest daughter tried to kill herself for the first time. That has been a huge struggle and change in my life, having a daughter go from quirky to being so mentally ill she might die.

Then there are the other little changes, but changes nonetheless. Losing a family pet. Buying a new car after my old car got totaled. Not to mention a global pandemic that changed everyone’s life.

I am struggling with all the change. The new me doesn’t even recognize the old me anymore. What happens now?

What happens when the pandemic ends? Do we pick up the pieces where we left off and start a new old normal?

Fortune cookie wisdom #47

The will to do, the soul to dare is yours for the taking if you prepare.

I always thought I was really good at planning and preparing for the will to do and the soul to dare. But now I think it takes much more than that.

I was planning on touring Europe. I had prepared for the trip. I had a passport. I had my airline tickets. I was ready to check that continent off my bucket list. Then COVID hit and all the preparations were for naught.

I was planning on signing up for another 50k. I picked the race I wanted to do. I was really excited because part of the course included a water crossing. I was training. I was prepared. But then COVID hit. The race was cancelled. My gym that I visited three times a week over the winter for years closed. I got hit hard ten days with colitis and haven’t been the same since. I can’t run anymore without being in a lot of pain. I couldn’t even help my daughter paint her house without having joint pain. I wasn’t prepared for that.

There is a part of me that thought my kids would stay young forever. Through many sleepless nights, I thought that. I thought that through the temper tantrums, the busy school age running, and through the tumultuous teenage years. I didn’t think about them growing up and leaving home. Somehow I found myself not prepared for that part of parenting. A part of me doesn’t even know who I am anymore since that part of me is gone.

I wasn’t prepared for aging. It’s shocking to see my hair turn gray without any hair color. My neck is starting to look like the neck of a rubber chicken. Now when I look in the mirror, I see my mother. I look like a granny; too young to crack out the cardinal sweaters but too old to dress like I am in my 30’s. I had to break down and buy bigger pants since I haven’t been able to workout like I used to. I always thought those things happened to other people, not me. I am close to 50. Why wasn’t I prepared for this?

Sometimes it’s very hard to take a good look in the mirror. I don’t want to admit my best years in health and in looks are behind me. There is not a damn thing any of us can do about it. I do feel childish in feeling insecure about it. Sometimes I don’t even know who I am anymore. I have all these crazy middle age female hormones coursing through my body making me feel like an adolescent again, but I’m not. Doesn’t seem fair. But, that’s life. Sometimes I just have to laugh it off and say oh well. I’m right where I need to be.

Ready or not, here life comes…some things you just can’t prepare for even if you have the will and soul.

Gratitude week 109

  1. My husband is feeling a lot better after being sick. Since he very rarely gets sick, this was really eye opening. Thinking about losing him made me realize how much I love and appreciate him.
  2. Paul was feeling good enough to go on the annual guys ice fishing trip.
  3. I’m grateful for the safety of the men who went on the trip. They went fishing on Lake Superior which is always a little scary for me. One year they were up there an ice fishing guide died on Lake Superior, an expert died. A couple days it was bitterly cold. Paul’s 4 wheeler didn’t start and the next day Paul’s step-dad’s truck wouldn’t start because it was 18 below.
  4. My son and his buddy were able to make the long trip to ice fishing camp in his junker car without breaking down in a remote area with no cell coverage and freezing to death.
  5. Angel and Dan were supposed to close on their house last week, but Dan ended up having to go to Texas for work. Now they are closing on the house tomorrow. I’m grateful Dan made it back safely this morning after the 18 hour drive from Texas.
  6. Tomorrow my daughter will be a home owner. It’s hard to believe she will be moving out this week. The house will be a lot quieter without her and I will miss her a lot. But I’m grateful she is getting married and moving on with her life.
  7. Yesterday I went along with Angel and her bridesmaids to pick out the bridesmaid dresses. It was a lot of fun.
  8. It’s puzzle time of year again. I just finished a puzzle and am working on another one.
  9. I spent three days this past week working on my book and I started reading The Bell Jar which was a Christmas gift from Angel.
  10. Arabella’s boyfriend got a new job and Arabella has a job interview on Wednesday.
  11. When the guys were gone, Angel and I watched a couple good movies-Requiem of a Dream and The King of Staten Island.
  12. I went cross-country skiing today for the first time this season. It went better than I thought it would.

January recap

I had a feeling it was going to be a difficult year when the police showed up at my house in the wee hours of New Year’s Day. Besides going away to Las Vegas for several days, I’d be ready to scrap the whole month (if not the whole year if things don’t get better).

The first week of January I ended up getting COVID. At first I just felt a little bit off. I felt a little more tired than usual, lightheaded, crampy, and sore. For where I was in my cycle, it wasn’t too far out of the norm as I tend to be anemic. I thought maybe I was being a bit of a hypochondriac until I came down with a fever the next day. A couple days later, Angel felt sick.

Then after that, we ended up having to put our dog down. He was 14 years old with really bad arthritis, congestive heart failure, and cancer. He was on 5 different medications and he was gradually going downhill. He couldn’t see, hear, or get around well. He started shivering and biting at his paws, had a few accidents in the house, and lost a lot of weight because he wasn’t eating much. It was time. Part of me felt like we shouldn’t have waited so long and part of me feels guilty for putting him down. Maybe if I wouldn’t have accidently tripped over him a couple months back, he would’ve lived longer. I never thought I would overthink this and grieve so much over our dog, but I did. Thankfully the vet was very kind and compassionate through the whole process.

After that we went to Las Vegas. A couple days into the trip my husband started feeling a little off. Neither one of us thought all that much about it because it was almost two weeks after I had gotten sick. He spent one of the nights hanging out in the bathroom and after that had a stuffy nose, a tickle in his throat, and a dry cough. But we were in a dry climate hanging out in stale smoky casinos with our friend who was a smoker.

After we got home, Paul lost his job. His boss wants someone who can work year round since Paul took off last summer to run our seasonal business. This summer he was going to try to do both but probably wouldn’t have gave either business the attention it deserves. The news was rather unexpected and shocking. It creates a lot of uncertainty about the future. I think we will be okay financially, but the safety net has been taken away. As of right now, we are starting to gear up for our seasonal business this week. We have a booth at a trade show. I will start to work on the administrative end while Paul gets into sales. But after this summer, I’m not sure what is going to happen and I don’t necessarily like that.

The evening after Paul lost his job, he spent half the night coughing instead of sleeping. He heard his lungs crackle and pop. I could hear it too. The next afternoon he took a nap and slept most of the afternoon. When he awoke, he was burning up with a temperature of 103. He was still doing a lot of coughing and looked absolutely miserable. I decided to take him to Urgent Care.

The doctor thought he had pneumonia. Paul had a chest x-ray and two COVID tests, one instant and one not. The rapid test came back negative for COVID. They said they would send the results for the non-instant test through his patient portal. The x-ray came back better than expected. The doctor said he had a bad case of bronchitis, gave him a prescription for antibiotics, and he was on his way.

The following morning his patient portal said his COVID test was negative and he was starting to feel better with the antibiotics. He was feeling a little more hopeful he would be able to go on the annual ice fishing trip with the guys this weekend. Before that, he said he was like a country song. He lost his dog. He lost his job. He lost his health.

A couple days later, the day he was supposed to leave for the fishing trip, he got a call from the nurse saying his non-instant test came back positive. He was really puzzled because he thought he already got all the results back. The nurse said he had already passed the quarantine time and is no longer contagious. Since the antibiotics were working, he also had a bacterial bronchitis as well.

So, yeah, it’s been a looooooonnnngg month. I really hope we are done with problems for a while now.