Peace and joy

It has been a stressful week in the season of thankfulness. I was out and about yesterday and overheard people freaking out about the fast approach of the holiday season…and my sister is coming from CA and she is always judging my decisions… cooking… stress… family. It seems rather ironic that the things we are supposed to feel the most thankful for seems to stress us out the most…family…

I have been hosting Thanksgiving and Christmas since I was in my 20’s. I took the baton from my grandma after she was no longer able to. My brother Luke stepped in to help out several times over the years. Looking back I don’t know how we did it.

I always get depressed this time of year. It never fails. I don’t know if it is just a lack of sunlight or the added stress of the holiday season. But this is when it usually starts and pretty much lasts all winter into early spring. But I am a functional depressive. I get out of bed and get stuff done like I normally do.

I have been having a really hard time lately. Alex decided to skip school the day before Thanksgiving break. Although half of the school may have decided to do that, he can’t afford to with his failing grades. Alex read the student handbook and found a loophole that as an adult he can pre-excuse several of his absences. I received a call from the school saying that he intended to do that, so we stepped in and told Alex that if he skips school he would lose his car priviledges over break and won’t be allowed to have friends over.

He skipped school and now we have a battle on our hands. I told him that the boy with the face tattoo could not come over for Thanksgiving as originally planned or stay with us over break. The boy can eat his Thanksgiving dinner at the homeless shelter for all I care. I am angry. Never underestimate the rage of a peri-menopausal woman. Why that coincides with teenage boy angst I’ll never know. One minute I want to hold him close and the next minute I want to smash his crap with a baseball bat! Happy Thanksgiving, huh??

I am also stressed out because Paul went to the doctor this week. He needs to have some tests done. I am worried about his health. Maybe it is nothing, but what if it isn’t?? What if something happens to him?? I told him yesterday that I am unhappy because I have not experienced a lot of peace and joy in my life. But the few fleeting moments I have experienced have been with him. I started crying and then moments later started to yell at him. What a hormonal mess!

The stress of maybe losing a life partner is terrifying. I am probably worried about nothing, but that is what I do.

Add the stress of a wayward son and my husband possibly having health issues with feeling like I am getting sick, having family over tomorrow, trying to find time to cook, covering for an employee who took the week off, less hours of daylight, feeling depressed and tired, aging, my baby getting her temps, getting ready for the holiday season, extra play practices for the musical, a teen minor with a face tattoo always hanging around our house, and raging hormones…Whew!

I know, I know…I really should be counting my blessings! I have a lot of those too.

 

I am the problem?

Okay, I have something that I have to admit. I didn’t vote last week.

I apparently am the problem within my state and country right now.

But wait, before you unfollow…I have an excuse. Gum disease. You heard me right.

Monday I had my regularly scheduled dental check up. For the record, I think that dentists and everyone associated with the dental field are sadists. They seem to take great joy in my pain. And if the dental procedure doesn’t hurt, the bill sure will.

Back to Monday, the hygenist told me that I needed to come in as soon as possible for a deep cleaning. I scheduled an appointment for the following day over the lunch hour.

So when Tuesday rolled around, I went to the gym in the morning to work out. After that, I hurried off to work so I could leave early for the dentist.

After 20 minutes of painful drilling, I asked the hygenist what I did wrong. She said that gum disease is caused by poor hygiene. I pleaded that I floss several times a week and brush several times a day. I argued my innocence like a convicted felon who was incarcerated for a crime never commited. Paul said that everyone probably says they have good hygiene even if they don’t.

Really, is there a wrong way to floss??

Gum disease could also be cause by stress and hormones and I am sticking to it.

I got poked, prodded, and slapped with a $200 bill.

For a couple of hours after the appointment, I felt like crap. I don’t know if I’m getting an ulcer or if it was the aftermath of the extreme anxiety I feel towards dentists.

I went back to work with the idea that I would leave early to vote. That didn’t work out because we had an employee call in so I had to stay late.

I barely made it home in time to eat something before play practice. How could I go vote?

We just moved and I couldn’t find any mail sitting around associated with my name and new address. Plus the cars outside of where I would vote were lined up into the next county. How could I zip in and out before my next time committment??

So I didn’t vote. I am the problem with this country right now. Good intentions don’t count as a ballot. Might as well blame it on the dentist. Yeah, why not??

 

Healing wounds

My mom hasn’t been feeling well since she retired. At first, the doctor thought that she was having problems with her gallbladder. But instead, she found out that she has an ulcer which she attributes to the stress in her life. I think that working and keeping busy kept her mind off of it. I understand because that is how I cope.

It has been a rough year for my mom. It’s been hard since she took my brother off of his anti-psychotic medicine due to some health issues. Matt started hallucinating again and became fixated on wanting to hurt my brother Luke’s daughter.

My mom was looking out for the best interests of Matt and my brother Luke was concerned about protecting his family from Matt. This caused a lot of conflict.

It stirred the demons from our childhood within Luke. This was a very painful time for Luke. But it was also a catalyst for him to process, deal with it, and heal. I’ve found that the healing process is very difficult. It has forced both of us to deal with feelings that are unexpected that we have never processed before.

It is hard for my mom. She says that it is very hard to deal with a child that isn’t okay. She spent day to day just trying to survive. I can understand that more now that I have teenagers. I worry all the time about how the decisions my son makes will affect his whole entire life. It’s a heavy burden to carry worrying that your child is falling but nothing you can do will pick them up. I somewhat understand.

Luke feels a lot of anger towards my mom for favoring Matt over him and even over the safety of his children. Matt will always be first in my mother’s life and I have come to accept that. I was once in Luke’s place when Matt wanted to hurt my kids. I had to have boundaries. I had to be the bad guy. I had to isolate myself from my family when I needed their help the most. I understand.

It’s not easy and there isn’t an easy answer. Some good has come out of it though. Luke started the healing process. We have been having a lot of deep conversations and working through this together. For the first time, we have each other. Sometimes good can come out of bad. This has given us strength that we never thought we had.

Matt has been back on his medicine for awhile and is passive again. The voices in his head have been quieted. It’s surprising how long it has taken for the rest of us to heal our wounds. Slowly, surely we are on the mend.

Meet me in the middle

I cancelled my son’s appointment for his annual physical today. He said now that he is 18 he no longer wants to receive preventative care from the doctor or dentist. He only wants to go in if there is a problem. I hope that works out well for him. I can’t see how it would. Maybe someone else will have better luck changing his stubborn mind.

My daughter in college, on the other hand, went to the ER several times last year. She went to the ER the first week she was back in college this year. They did every single test imaginable and couldn’t find anything wrong. I’m thankful that she is okay, but I wasn’t too excited when a $2400 medical bill (after insurance) arrived in the mail. She is starting to make payments on the bill, but really can’t afford to.

Why do they have to go to extremes in the opposite direction?? It’s driving me crazy!

Sometimes you just can’t win.

And to think I thought I would be done parenting when my kids became adults!

 

 

 

 

longevity

My daughter Arabella is currently taking health as a high school class. A week ago she had to take a longevity quiz and just for fun she asked Paul and I the questions as well.

Today I am sitting in the waiting room at the hospital waiting for Paul to complete an uncomfortable procedure that happens once a person reaches the magical age of 50. It gets one to think about life, and death.

At the beginning, I did very well on the longevity test. I smugly thought that I would be my family’s first centurion. I am doing a lot of things right. I eat my vegetables. I drink in moderation. I am not overweight or underweight. My parents are still alive. I take my vitamins. I go in for regular check ups. My cholesterol and blood pressure are low. I don’t smoke. I don’t do drugs.

Plus, I am a marathon runner. I mean, that should count for a lot more than exercising three times a week for a half an hour. Right??

I was feeling pretty good.

I am literally going to live forever. I probably won’t even die. I will be the only person to live forever without turning into a vampire first.

Then the questions took a bit of a negative turn…

Do you easily feel bored or depressed? Yes

Do you often feel stressed out? Yes

Do you always feel like you are in a hurry? Yes, yes, yes…

Do you listen to your body? No! When my body tells me to stop, my mind says push harder. Is that a problem??

Do you worry a lot? I am really starting to feel worried now.

My daughter said that according to the test, I am supposed to live to 85. Paul is supposed to live to 75 (with the average female living longer than the average male). So if her calculations are right, then I will outlive my husband by 16 years (he is 6 years older).

We’ll see…

The procedure went fine without any issues.

We might not know how long we will live (even after taking the health class longevity quiz and going in for procedures). But what we can do is try to make the most of the years we have been given.

 

 

The rails

My husband says that life is sometimes like a railroad track. On our journey, the rails of good and bad happen side by side simultaneously. Life is never all good or all bad. Sometimes the great and the horrible bombard us at the same time. I’ve never felt like that was more true than it is now. I don’t even know what to feel anymore..

Lately, I’ve been in a bit of a funk. My go to feelings these days are anger and a deep sorrow. I thought maybe a weekend up north in isolation would force me to reflect what my problem is. I am not a negative person, but right now the rose tinted glasses makes me want to gag.

What is my problem? Why can’t I have a light and fluffy blog? Is that even what I want? Probably not…

I consider myself a realist. But what happens when reality doesn’t even seem realistic?

The funny thing is that I achieved everything I wanted in life. I’ve worked really hard to accomplish my goals. I’ve turned out better than I even thought I would. That should make me happy, but it only leaves me wanting more. What can I conquer next? I already have a wall full of medals in my dream house.

Some things have really hit me hard…the terminal cancer diagnosis of a close friend…the death of a close friend’s child. I feel like I can’t talk to them anymore about the good or bad. How can I complain about my teen throwing a drinking party at my house when her teen daughter is dead??

There is a certain isolation of not knowing what to say beyond…I’m sorry this has happened to you..Life is unfair..You are in my thoughts and prayers..What happens after you said this a dozen times? What happens when words run out to express your grief for them? Do you go back to talking about every day ordinary life? I don’t know what to say.

The death of Lisa’s daughter stings. It was so unexpected and tragic. This wasn’t my plan for either of my friends. A child shouldn’t die, a healthy person in their 40’s shouldn’t get cancer…Whereas, I have never felt healthier in my life. My body is a lean mass of muscle from running and working out consistently for the last ten years. I still get carded to buy alcohol when some of my classmates are getting asked for their AARP cards.

My children are all healthy and normal. I worried for years that I would have a severely autistic child like my brother. That worry slipped off the horizon many years ago to be replaced by other worries. But they are all normal worries that every parent has..

I have a wonderful husband. I have a great job. I am reaching the end of actively parenting three teenagers.

Yet, I feel this isolation. Change is hard, even if it is good. I love my new house, but I don’t know who my neighbors are. My youngest daughter will be going to a new school and doesn’t have any friends in the area.

I feel estranged from my extended family. I haven’t seen my siblings in months. We rarely talk.

I feel estranged from my church family with all of the controversy lately. My best friend Cindy left the church and we might too. All of my kids were baptized and confirmed there. Must everything change all at once?

My husband, aunt, mother, and son have been on a school trip for the last couple weeks. I haven’t seen them in almost a month. I spent a week in Vegas and when I got back, they left. It almost feels like they are gone from me too. Is this what it is going to feel like if I, in the natural course of life, outlive my husband and mom? This emptiness?

I’ve spent a lot of time alone in reflection this past month. It’s really dark and messy in there. I want to clean things up but I’m afraid of what would happen if I disturb the cobwebs. I have to be really strong to go into the deep, dark ugly places. I just don’t feel really strong right now. It’s not the best time to poke at my demons.

My family will be coming home tonight. Maybe my mood will improve. Maybe I will find my way out of this sorrow. Maybe I will finally accept change, the good along with the bad. I’m on the right track, I just need to keep chugging along..

 

Let’s get a physical

It’s that time of year again..

Time for my annual physical..

It seems like every year the questions get more difficult..

Do you still have your monthly cycle?

Are you experiencing hot flashes?

How are you sleeping? I’m not! 

Is that why I am so tired all of the time?

You might also notice increased moodiness and irritability as your estrogen levels start to drop… Is that even possible??

Are your parents still living?? Have they developed any new health problems?

Have you noticed any changes in your vision?? Do you mean having to purchase reading glasses since someone started to make the print smaller on everything!!?!

How much coffee are you drinking??

Wait…Aren’t you going to ask me about my alcohol consumption and whether or not I use tobacco or take illicit drugs??

She must have forgot.

Are you still running?? Do you have problems with your joints?? Is your carpal tunnel acting up?

Are you feeling anxious or sad?? Why, yes, I am starting to feel that way now…

That’s funny, I was feeling just fine before my physical…

 

Spring in my steps

I can’t believe that it will be May tomorrow.

We will be moving in one month. My cousin decided that she didn’t want to buy our house. Now we are working on the little repairs to get it ready to put on the market.

I have been very busy. I’m not sure how much time I will have to blog over the next couple of weeks. So not to worry if my patterns seem to change a little.

The snow has finally melted! Spring has finally arrived. I am hoping to run outside from here on out. I haven’t been able to get in a long run at all lately. The weekends have been busy with kid stuff and I can’t take off of work to do a long run during the week. I’ve been feeling so sluggish and slow when I do get the chance to run just short distances lately (5 or 6 miles).

I’m running my first trail marathon in two and a half months. I haven’t been out on the trails yet. I am hoping that they will be open within the next week or so. I’ve only been able to run outside 5 or 6 times this year. Wisconsin is a harsh climate for exercising. That and all the beer we drink and cheese we eat, it’s no wonder why we lead the nation in obesity.

I have a 4 month window for running outside in ideal conditions, with about 5 months where it is nearly impossible to run outside at all. Not to mention that a lot of people suffer from seasonal depression. I try to curb it by taking copious amounts of Vitamin D. It’s hard to stay active here without a gym membership and even harder to keep motivated to run to the gym.

The window for swimming is probably closer to 2 months. I’m thinking that we still have some patchy ice out on the lakes. I don’t think I feel comfortable doing a full Ironman without several months of swimming in open water. Swimming indoors and even outdoors did not come close to preparing me for the massive waves during the Half Ironman.

So, with marathon training, moving, and fixing up our house plus working and everything else going on…my time is going to be very limited over the next couple of weeks.

I’m planning on starting a new series though…I have a huge collection of fortune cookie wisdom to share and recycle before we move.

 

Wine versus exercise in the long run…

Most of you know me as a thoughtful, serious, worried, borderline depressed individual that has had a difficult past. You would be correct. But I’d like to think I have a sense of humor that balances everything out.

It is the weather, people. Yesterday I ventured out and several random strangers stopped me and asked me when spring is coming. Did they think that I know?? I haven’t had any birds trying to nest in my blonde straw like hair yet, so it might be awhile. I didn’t mention my bad grade in the 8 AM college meteorology class though.

I just looked at the weather forecast for this weekend. We are expecting another foot of snow/ice. I’m going to jump off of a cliff. I had to say that out loud and my cliff diving son gave me suggestions of where to go.

Anyway…I saw a funny plaque a few weeks back that I bought for the bar (remember I live in WI) in my new house. It read and I quote…

Exercise makes you look better naked. So does alcohol. Your choice.

Nice, huh? I was thinking of hanging it up next to my medal display. But, wouldn’t that be tacky??

I’ve seen some debate online lately about exercise and wine drinking for longevity.

A new study says that drinking wine is better for longevity than exercise. Of course I had to make a comment…We’ll see who lives longer. Wait! How will you know I am right?

I didn’t bother reading the stupid article. But my question is this…Where do you draw the line??

How much exercise? How much wine??

Last month I went to a party and my best friend asked a doctor friend if running a marathon was healthy. She said that the jury was still out on that one. Talk about safe answer! As most of you know, I signed up for my 4th marathon. I said I would quit after the first one.

Wait! Does that sound like a problem??

How much wine? A glass a day…a bottle a day?? I know people that do both. Again, where is the line?

I have friends that run marathons and are alcoholics. Will they live forever??

Sometimes I wonder if I should say something about their drinking. Now maybe I should say something about their running too. Honey, the exercise is going to kill you long before the drinking ever will.

I think that most people my age (40’s) truly know almost everything there is to know about themselves. They have had enough time to contemplate their lives. At this stage in the game, I am well aware of my strengths and weaknesses. Most of my friends are probably aware that they drink (or exercise) too much. Is it my place to remind them of that every time I see them? What a buzz kill I would be at the post marathon party.

One of my biggest weaknesses (and strengths) is my critical eye. I love to solve problems. I want to fix things that are broken, i.e. people. I want to be in control over the domain beyond my person. I have a natural tendency to nag, complain, and nit pick. I have no problem providing that service to the people closest to me in my life. But most of the time I find myself biting my tongue. Who am I to play God??

Think about it, you probably don’t need me telling you what you suck at. You probably already know.

I know that some of you think I am crazy for running hours at a time. But running actually makes me feel less crazy.. If you’ve never run a marathon, I don’t think I could explain it to you. If you have, you know. Sometimes physical pain provides a release for emotional pain. It clears the troubled mind.

I have nothing against drinking in moderation (because that is what I do). But I don’t exercise in moderation. I’m even thinking of doing an ultra race which is longer than a marathon.

Is that healthy? Or is it a problem??

We’ll see who lives longer.

 

 

A glance back to look ahead

I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. Instead I believe that every day we should strive to take steps to further our goals. I have a long bucket list and I hope you do too.

I am not looking forward to going to the gym on January 1st. I will probably have to forfeit ‘my‘ parking space in the third spot of the second row. Locker 16 will probably be full. The treadmill closest to the window on the left side will be taken and I will have to wait in line on a Saturday morning for one of the 50 machines like I did last January. The shower in the far left corner will belong to some other naked body.

Anyway, I am not here today to complain about other people’s resolutions…really, I am not. If you want to get healthy and go to the gym for 3 weeks..fine..I will cope.

This is a perfect time of year to reflect on 2017’s winding journey.

I was able to do a lot of traveling this year. We took a trip to Chicago to see the musical Hamilton. We went to Detroit where I ate Greek food for the first time. Opa! We visited Belle Isle. We went to Utah and dipped our feet in the Great Salt Lake. We listened to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing. We took a trip to Walt Disney World without the kids. We sailed for a week to Washington Island. On our 20th anniversary, Paul and I renewed our vows on Rock Island.

We watched our daughter Angel take a lead in her first opera. We watched our son get a perfect score at state for music. All of our kids went to state this year for their theatrical/music performances. I took the community theater stage along with Arabella and Paul to perform in the musical Annie.

But the year was not all roses. There were a few thorns. This year we lost our first parent. Paul’s mother passed away in February after a long courageous battle with cancer. A few weeks later, I lost my last ‘great’ making my parents the oldest living generation. Time is precious in its ticking away.

My daughter Angel broke up with her boyfriend Mitch after 3 1/2 years. My son Alex broke up with his girlfriend Baylee after 1 1/2 years. I thought that they might be ‘the one’. But things didn’t work out that way..

I look on accomplishments of this past year. I did my first trail race (18 miles). I finished my 3rd marathon with a PR. I finished my first Olympic triathlon and my first Half Ironman. I want to add that I never was satisfied with my accomplishments..I never celebrated them until I finished my first Half Ironman. It was the greatest moment of accomplishment that I ever experienced in my life and I am happy that for once I allowed myself to feel the joy from the fruits of my labor.

I just signed up for my first trail marathon next summer on my birthday with my cousin. I will be spending the weekend sleeping in a tent. It will be a pretty hard core birthday celebration. I am thinking about getting a tattoo.

It has been a great year as small business owners. Paul and I received a special certification and hired two new employees.

I know this next year will hold some big and exciting changes…but until then, I want to take some time to glance back before looking ahead.

This year we laughed…

This year we cried…

This year we lived life to its fullest.