anxiety, clarity, communication, identity, journey, life, purpose, self esteem, strength, trust

Puzzle Pieces…

Ok… This is all so interesting… unraveling parts of me that I have tried to ignore… Parts  I’ve pushed aside to be able to muddle on… to keep on keepin’ on!  My body and my brain have decided I wasn’t going to ignore them anymore, it needs to be dealt with! It is all beginning to come together and make some sort of sense!

I will need to rewind, talk about things I haven’t touched on in this blog before.  I don’t like to complain, whine, or feel self pity.  I press on… until I can’t.

I mentioned in my last post that I would be seeing a specialist for some ongoing health issues I’ve been having for years.  They have progressively gotten worse and the burden of chronic pain is taking its tole. What that all meant, I didn’t really “get”… I have been beating myself up recently about not being able to feel like me…struggling with everyday things and sheer exhaustion! I was able to for a while blame it on pneumonia, something physical, something seen by others… then the dizziness hit… vertigo, equilibrium issues causing me to not be capable of walking without holding on, nausea, migraine headaches… issues!  When I sought help from my primary doctor it seemed it may have been related – possible Vestibular Neuritis due to inflammation from the sickness. I went to PT for what I thought would just be routine Epley Maneuver (something I’ve done many times before for my vertigo) and it would be relieved and I’d move on (like so many times before).  Well, not this time… 3 WEEKS OF CONTINUED VERTIGO and lots of balance/dizziness issues!  I was referred to a specialist at MA Eye and Ear, I got in quite quickly and was happy to have someone treat me while symptomatic, as I’ve ailed from these things before, but never this long. It’s always been only my words that could describe how I felt, until now.  Tests revealed some different abnormalities in brain function and a Brain MRI was ordered. The doctor suggested I take some time off from work and rest and relax, he ordered me to be out of work for the month until I see him again. I finally was able to stop holding my breath when I got the MRI results two weeks later, it felt like an eternity…  There were no tumors or aneurysms found! Phew!

I was put on a special Migraine Diet to help eliminate trigger foods in my diet. I was put on certain supplements to help my body and my mind.  I have been religious in following my protocol, keeping a diary of all symptoms and reporting for PT sessions. I will be going back to see the specialist next week.

The time the doctor has given me has allowed me to really slow down and see/feel everything for what it truly is.  The constant pain I feel in my arm, neck and shoulder are so prominent when I’m not having to push through everyday, the assessment of myself in the morning of the poor nights sleep I got due to tossing and turning from tinnitus interrupting my sleep, or neck, arm pain has been very eye opening.  Stabbing random headaches that seem to come out of nowhere are felt and documented.  I’ve come to realize how long have I been feeling (or NOT feeling) these things and the crazy amount of stress I’ve put on my body and mind trying to deal with it.  I found out a year ago this month that I have two herniated discs in my neck as well as an Arnold Chiari Malformation… I went to a neurosurgeon then to discuss this and he left it with me that if I lose motor control… not able to zip zippers or button buttons to come back to him.  I have been following that “rule” ever since, allowing myself to think that if all that is still intact then I must be okay.  The chronic pain, stiffness, constant aches, and weakness, tingling in my arm and hand are obviously taking a tole on me… I have begun to be more patient with myself and knowing fully now that my anxiety and new onset of depression certainly could be a result of these physical ailments.

Because the constant pain has been normal for so long, the new onset of constant worry and trying to find a root problem to my saddened state has allowed me to dig deep into my psyche and pin point things I felt were contributing.  I feel that this has added to my already emotional drain and fatigue.  I have taken a break from seeing my new therapist during this and will plan to see him again when I have more answers to my physical ailments.

It is reassuring to me to begin to put the puzzle pieces of “me” together and have a medical doctor really listening to what I’m feeling!  I feel like I’m on the road, I feel like I am taking care of me… I am finally paying attention to what I need! …I feel brave!

“A strong woman has the faith that she is strong enough for the journey … But a woman of STRENGTH has faith that it is IN THE JOURNEY that she will BECOME STRONG!”

~ Unknown

anxiety, clarity, identity, life, purpose, responsibility, self esteem

Asking for Help…

Well, my life until now has been defined as being “the helper”.  I have now decided I need the help. I have worked tirelessly to help myself through reading, gaining knowledge, looking inward, meditating, staying aware of my emotions… among other things.  This has been YEARS!  I have done a lot of healing on my own, through self awareness and soul searching.  As my children have grown into adults my time has been my own and I have been using that time to begin to heal.  I say “begin to” because I feel like I’ve done all I can do alone. I need help.

I began seeing a therapist this week.

I have mentioned in past writings that I have difficulty with transitions. I have determined that may be my biggest weakness with my anxiety.  I recently got very sick with pneumonia, I was out of work two weeks prior to our Christmas Break and then our break was two additional weeks.  I most likely over did it over the holiday with company and family time, that I refused to miss any parts of, therefore not allowing myself to heal fully over that time.  I honestly tried, and laid pretty low, but it clearly wasn’t enough rest.  When I returned to work on Monday, after having been away for 4 weeks I soon realized how difficult it was going to be. I knew I needed to return for my kids (I work in a first grade classroom) but physically I was very drained and my body began to react to that.  On Tuesday I went in convincing myself it was the “right” thing to do, I could not make it through the day… headache, body aches, upset stomach and rib pain from the torn cartilage I had from all the coughing through my sickness were just not something I could bear while trying to be positive and helpful in the classroom.  I went home and began to fall into an emotional wreck.  Crying and wondering when I would feel like me again and get back to my duties at school.  If you’ve followed me here as The Bountiful Mom over the years you will know that my home-work balance is something I’ve struggled with in the past.  My mind went wild with thoughts of people questioning me and my illness and my time out of work.  Most of what I was ailing from at this point is unseen, I’m not coughing anymore and I look okay.  I was, and am still, not okay!

I spiraled with thought.  Thoughts that twisted me up. Familiar feelings of guilt and shame. Feelings of questioning my own self… was I really still this sick or is this my anxiety now?  Am I convincing myself of the physical ailments in order to have something to blame my thoughts of anxiety on?  I reeled with overthinking! I had absolutely been here before.  I knew I needed help.

I searched the internet for counselors, therapists and doctors in our community who may be able to help me.  I’ve considered it before and even made a couple attempts at setting up appointments.  I always went with women and always skimmed over men when looking … I’m not even sure why? I guess as a mom and all my complexities of thought I assumed a woman would understand me better.  Then I came across a name I was kind of familiar with but not familiar enough that it deterred me.  What I mean by that is I live in a small remote community, so finding someone I do not know a lot about already or have a relationship outside of the therapy room had proved itself difficult.  This one somehow felt good, worth giving a try.  I called the number on the screen. I needed help.

To my absolute astonishment I wasn’t met with an answering machine or a voicemail. A male voice answered my call. I stuttered a bit as I began to speak, my voice broke as I began to feel weepy in my need.  He asked when I hoped to begin sessions.  I told him I was out of work and felt stuck. I asked about meeting today, explaining how I knew he was busy but… he stopped me, he said “How about 1:00pm?”  I was relieved and yet a bit scared. But, I needed help.

I feel brave and courageous. This has been a big step. That first day was good but it kind of began with my backstory … I didn’t really talk about immediate need which was getting over my sickness and getting back to work.  I left his office feeling hopeful for the weeks ahead and had a restful afternoon.  I had been to my primary doctor as well that day and had been advised to stay home another day and allow myself healing and rest, I was told the pneumonia had wreaked havoc with my body and I had to give in to it.  So, the next morning I did some of the home remedies suggested to me at my medical doctor and settled in to rest for the day.  I was once again overcome with thought in the quiet of my living room. Questions of what’s wrong with my immune system to make me not bounce back yet, how could I continue to do this to my coworker and my students? My new therapist had told me we could text if need be, he wouldn’t charge for phone sessions if I needed it on a whim… I decided to reach out again, that took courage.

I needed help.

He said “How about 1:00pm?”  I was so relieved, he was kind and understanding.  I went this time to talk about work.  My work-life balance that has seemed so off-balance for years.  I questioned it being aligned with my passion and if it is even the right job for me anymore? I talked about my own childhood trauma of anxiety and misunderstandings coming into play and being triggered by some of my student’s behaviors and cries for help.  He helped to restore some of the confidence I had lost over my physical illness, time spent alone at home in pain and basically he helped me to feel heard and understood.  I don’t talk about my anxiety to many people.  I feel judged by it. It is a label, not an understanding. From experience I have learned that when someone doesn’t battle with it themselves or have a loved one they have seen deal with it, they honestly can’t relate. It is hard for someone to understand what my brain allows me to believe when I am not at my strongest.  So… I keep it to myself.

After that appointment, I felt stronger and more confident than I had in weeks. I went to work the next day!! I struggled through my weakness and was there for my kids ~ with a fresher outlook on my abilities to return to them and be what ~ and who ~ they need.

I will continue with therapy.  He explained to me how much work I’ve already done on my own to get this far.  He said we are able to skip over so much that we have already reached the AP CLASS… he told me “Our time together… this won’t take long”.   That also has given me confidence. I am (and have been) working on me, a version of me that I love and respect. I know she’s in there, but sometimes the darkness traps me and I struggle to see the light again.

I asked for help and I am receiving help.

 

adult children, clarity, communication, life, responsibility

The Coffee Shop

   Saturday morning… the satisfaction of waking up thinking about something other than mundane tasks of a weekday morning routine.  I woke up joyful today. Texted the kids to see if either of them could meet me for bagels and coffee?  One answers immediately… he can fit it in before work “if you can be there in 5”.  Of course I’ll be there in 5… jump up and quick get ready.

I get there before my 19 year old son, my youngest of 3 adult children.  I order for us both and sit down in a corner seat.  I mention to a friend at a nearby table that my boy was meeting me and he’s heading to work … “I may only get a few minutes, but a few minutes I’ll take” I say to her.  Knowing smiles cross both of our faces. He joins me moments later and his smile fuels me for my day.  He sits with me and we chat a bit, just being with him after the crazy work week I’ve had completes me somehow.  He scoffs down his bagel in a way only a 19 year old can and gulps his chai… he’s out the door… off to work.  Off to continue his journey… his becoming. I love watching this, I love hearing him share that he’s got to pick up his buddy on his way to work and wouldn’t want to be late because then delivery times get “screwed up”.  This might all sound so simple and not worth mentioning, or blogging about for that matter, but I feel it is more than worth it.

What I’ve clearly learned over time is that most other people don’t see the world the way I do.  I realize this is a daily exchange of many as a day begins, but for me it’s me watching the growth in my son, the learning of responsibility, he makes me proud.  I find such joy and emotion in everything around me. I find that it’s the simple things that bring the greatest joy… small daily accomplishments all leading to bigger ones down the line.  Don’t be mistaken… with this strong emotional attachment to the little things that I say bring me “joy”… the small things also rock my world in a way that other’s can’t always understand. I FEEL everything… and strongly might I add.  The good and the bad.  I internalize things and overthink them… is this a bad thing? I’m not sure, I just know it’s me and I know that I am beginning to understand myself more everyday.  I have felt misunderstood for much of my life.

Sitting in the coffee shop after my son left was different for me, I don’t often sit alone like that.  I sat committed to finishing my coffee and taking in the morning buzz of the people around me. I live in a small community so there were many familiar “hellos” but just as many unfamiliar faces too.   Chit chatter surrounded me, I consciously worked at not pulling out my phone… I honestly wanted to “see” and be seen!  I sipped and observed.  I saw many so engrossed in their phone screens that they would need to come out of that trance to even remember where they had landed for coffee that morning.  Others are “regulars” here and had friendly conversations amongst them.  A gentleman sat alone in the opposite corner from me reading the morning news.  Chatter across the counter while folks waited for their orders… I noticed one man who was so kind and followed each “Good Morning” greeting with “How are you doing anyway?”  — A man after my own heart.  He wants to know more, head lifted, eye contact, genuinely interested in how another person is “doing”.  I honed in on one conversation at the counter that sounded a bit deep, they were discussing a poster hung up for a fundraiser for a local musician who’s battling cancer. The man who wants to know more asked the barristas how his battle was going.  The response came from one of my favorite people behind the counter,  his response was “he’s ok… but this just may be his last loop around the planet.”  This resonated in me. I pondered that thought and knew I would write this morning.

I have not been turning to this blog for a while… I have been preferring my pen flowing across the pages of my personal journals…Yes that was plural… I have multiple journals around my home, always ready for me to jot down my many thoughts. This feels good today.

My coffee shop experience this morning left me humbled to be human. The last gentleman to leave the shop before me made his rounds to say goodbye and told us all that “Life is just a big wave… we are all on a tiny surfboard! Stay steady!”  Peace.

 

adult children, anxiety, awakening, identity, life, purpose

In Nature All Things Transform, Even People…

I woke up this morning thinking about my daughter.

She will be home after her exams in about two weeks. She is struggling. I always want to take the hurt away, find an answer… a solution. We’ve been at this a while, she has battled depression for almost 2 years now and all I’ve had to really offer is listening and understanding. Medication worked for a while but now seems to not be? Her stress levels are currently very high as she heads into exam week, this exacerbates her anxiety as well.

This morning I awoke with a renewal of hope. I woke up thinking of nature… thinking about how everything that is worth it takes time and nurturing.  Flowers begin as tiny seeds finding their way through rock and soil to meet the sun, they need water and light to begin to grow. They then form buds and gradually open themselves up into great beauty to share with the rest of us, all the while never doing this at the same time as the seed beside them.

The great enormous tree in our backyard began as a tiny acorn, finding ways to sprout despite all the adversity it’s faced. As a young tree it faced the wind and had to learn to stand tall, maybe changing form here and there to withstand the beating weather. But it is there now… with strong roots and providing shade and shelter to the rest of us.

The symbol I most thought of as I thought about my daughter this morning was the butterfly.  How the butterfly begins as a caterpillar… Haven’t we all felt like the caterpillar? The transformation and the morphing they must endure to eventually become the butterfly is inspiring. The interesting part to me is THE CATERPILLAR NEVER KNOWS IT”S HAPPENING.  They gradually go through natures plan, often very slowly, feeling undeveloped, feeling very unnoticed.

I saw my daughter clearly this morning as the caterpillar.  Not for it’s form or dullness… but for it’s desire, for it’s willingness to push on when all feels slow and unexciting. She is doing the inner work now to be able to fly off in grace and beauty… she is morphing and transforming right in front of me. I am so inspired by her strength and her ability to continue to smile when feeling such inner pain and turmoil. I am so proud of her and can so clearly see how today’s effort and strife will lead her to her transformation.

All of my children bring me such joy.  They are adults now.  I have such admiration for them, watching them take what my husband and I have instilled in them and seeing them apply it to their own lives, priceless!

“The butterfly is only beautiful because the caterpillar was brave.”  ~ Anonymous

adult children, anxiety, clarity, communication, expectations, family, identity, life, purpose, school

Taking Life One Day at a Time

So…. It’s Spring.  Spring of 2018, the weather in New England may not be saying so, but the calendar indeed does.  Spring is a marked time for new beginnings, a time to launch into our days with renewed energy and vitality after a long winter.  This has always been the time of year that I break free of my own version of winter hibernation and begin to stretch.  With warmer weather and longer days it feels natural to begin to feel and think “brighter”.

My two youngest children have been away at college and will return home for summer in 2 weeks time. Our daughter is half way through her junior year and our youngest son is completing his freshman year. If you’ve read my earlier posts you would know that this was my husband and I’s dreaded year of “empty nesting”. A major shift in our family dynamic, one of which has been shifting since our oldest son left for college over 6 years ago.  He has completed his college degree and has found a career path that he is delighted in.

We had a big celebration weekend this past weekend for our daughter’s 21st Birthday…WOW! What a milestone! We are enjoying our adult children so very much! With family time for us come discussion time…

We have been well aware that our two younger children have not found college to be as exciting and rewarding as our oldest son did. It has been a struggle. Our daughter in three years time has taken a semester off, transferred schools and is still just not feeling happy with her experience there.  She has made some good friends but often feels surrounded by negativity and feels she has no escape. Campus life just has not been fulfilling or rewarding for her. Our youngest son never really knew if college was right for him, he would throw around different ideas when he was in high school and not fully deciding on going to college until end of his junior year. He had mentored at our local elementary school as a Phys Ed teacher and decided to pursue that path.  College courses have proven difficult for him leaving him with feelings of frustration and often feeling like a failure. They have both shared with us that they do not want to return to college in the Fall.

This did not come as much of a surprise.  My husband and I have wondered if spending the money for them to just go through the motions and not feel fulfilled is the right thing for them anyhow. The feelings of frustration and dissatisfaction they’ve shared throughout their journey has left us to feel this may be best as well.  Our daughter has decided she will finish her degree online while working at building her new dog business.  She has a passion for dogs and has run her own dog walking business for a couple summers and would like to grow her business into something more.  She gets excited when she talks about this and it is clear it is the path she will follow for now just not knowing what’s around the corners up ahead.

This leads me to our daughter’s anxiety and depression.  It has flared up terribly in the last few months. I do feel a lot of it has to do with her age and not being able to “see” where she is headed, or what is around the next corner.  She is very often in a very heightened state of stress.  She has battled with autoimmunity with unexplained body rashes, sicknesses that can’t be explained, such as severely inflamed throat and fevers that test negative to strep or mono (she has been tested many times over the last 3 years) … it is always a result of high white blood cell count showing her body is fighting infection but no illness per se.  This is very unsettling.  A lot of what I have seen happening (sickness, weight gain, anxiety, depression, etc)  all seem to point in the direction of her gut health.  She has taken antibiotics over the years for these illnesses and I feel she may be way off in her gut chemistry.  My mission now is to get her home and begin healthy eating with the addition of prebiotics and probiotics and hope to get her back on track with her health and see if her other health issues iron themselves out.

Our son has also battled with major anxiety.  He was diagnosed with a mild form of OCD with his anxiety last summer.  My children do not “present” themselves as having these illnesses, they have always been active community members, good students and were top athletes in the sports programs they’ve been a part of.  Most of my friends do not even know we battle the way we do with these everyday struggles. I don’t know that I am necessarily keeping it a “secret” it’s just that often I just don’t feel like it is my place to tell their story.  It is their path, their journey and they should be able to tell it as they see it and as they wish when the time is right for them.  I have chosen to tell my own story of anxiety at the age of 46.

So here we are… Spring… new beginnings.  My son wants to travel, he wants to experience life! Our daughter wants to also travel, she talks about jumping on a plane and heading out to some sort of conference or dog trade shows… they are ready to “fly” in different ways.   One thing I can say with sincere positivity is they will be okay…. they struggle today because they are so in-tune with their inner selves that they feel everything… they want answers for what feels unsettling.  They are not drowning out what this feels like with drugs and alcohol, and to be perfectly honest with the decisions to not be on a college campus right now, I am clear that they don’t like seeing others doing this either.  I am proud of them and we support their journey!

“Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome.  – Arthur Ashe

 

communication, expectations, family, life, marriage, respect, responsibility, trust, Uncategorized

Marriage ~ working together

This morning I am reflecting on my life;  I am reflecting on how I have gotten to today.  When I take time to stop and reflect ~ I am truly grateful.  I often speak in my posts of my time and my relationship with my children, but the truth is my marriage, my husband, is the root to our beautiful family. It takes work to be grateful, it takes work to have a good marriage… I am blessed that I have a partner beside me willing to work.

Marriage is defined as ‘a union of two elements’… A union is ‘the action or fact of joining or being joined’.  When my husband and I joined each other in this life we became teammates, partners, allies, and honestly… best friends.  You certainly don’t know this is the case right away!  You begin by living together, trusting each other, ironing out differences, listening…  If you really listen you learn about one another and learn from one another!  In every decision we make in life we must put effort into it to make it work… marriage follows this rule threefold!!

What I find interesting in this life is that each simple moment leads to things you could have never imagined.  My husband and I have been married 23 years and 6 months!  Could I have ever imagined us being here? No. Did I know then that each struggle, each decision, each triumph together and literally each moment (good or bad) would lead us to the strength in togetherness we feel today? No.  We have built the life we live today.  By being true to ourselves and true to each other we strengthen our bond minute to minute.  When I hear others complain about their husband or wife I have a hard time understanding it. If you have agreed to be married… to be partners & teammates to one another… I believe you better find the good in what another is attempting to do and learn to share it, learn to tell them and others what is good about what they are contributing.  We can all find fault, we can all blame others, but being teammates means you rely on each others strengths to ‘join together in a cooperative effort’.  Venting what you dislike about your partner , your teammate, to others will always weaken your bond. Work hard to tell others what’s *great* about your partner, and most importantly when you identify the good in them… work hard to tell THEM what is great about them!! This will strengthen your bond!!

My husband is exceptional.  He is reliable, he is willing,  he is committed, he is flexible, he is consistently respectful and supportive.  Now, does he occasionally veer away from these many attributes? Of course! Do I? Of course!  Do we need to focus on the times we veer away from being our best? No.  Always focus on the good, be grateful for the times we are able to accomplish our best intentions… realize that each other is trying!  Learning to respect the good in one another is your key to happiness… bring each other up not down!  Of course there will be times when things are off balance and you can’t find the good if there isn’t any to be found… but when you chose to have this person as your partner, your teammate in this life, there was good… if you find the courage and work hard to voice what you love about them and show gratitude for what is good when it is good ~ then when things are off balance you have leverage to speak about it. Respect comes from built trust… if you have put honest gratitude into your partners emotional bank, if you have allowed them to see and believe their worth and excellence to you over time, it is easier to talk about and deal with the tough stuff.  I’ve said it in parenting… but I believe it to also be true in marriage… All we expect is respect!

My husband is my best friend. We laugh together and  we cry together. This isn’t something that comes magically, there isn’t a soul mate out there that is just the right one that you skip out into the flower-filled field with and run into the sunset… but there is a partner willing to work along side of you and be your forever teammate.  They will sacrifice self for you and they will tell you when you’ve done well and they’ll tell you when you’ve done bad.  They will love you for you.  The hard work you put in is so worth the time, so worth the struggle… if you take care of every moment, be your best and demand the best from them… you will lead yourself to a place you never knew existed.  23 years ago I was young, I was learning…I met this man and we fell in love,  we have built a successful life, a life to be proud of.  Through all the changes and transitions we remain modest and grateful for one another.  We have built true love… it didn’t just come to us… we continue to work at it… side by side… we are stronger together than we are apart!  I wish true love to be created by all.

awakening, clarity, gratitude, husband, life, marriage, New England, purpose, seasons, Spring

The Sweet Sound of Wind Chimes

March is finally coming to an end.  The month of March in New England is just a miserable month.  Dreary, cold, long… but the anticipation of spring ahead keeps us going.

My husband has been putzing around outside a lot more these days with the extended daylight in the late afternoons.  He awakened the grill from it’s winter slumber and we have grilled out a few evenings this past week, what a treat!

Yesterday was my sacred Saturday morning, waking to silence and no commitments to run off to, just the quiet of early morning with my coffee.  As I sat reflecting on my week with sun flooding into the living room I heard a different but familiar sound… The sweet sound of wind chimes.

My husband had hung our wind chimes for the season.  I didn’t know he had done it… oh what a pleasant surprise!

There is surely something to be said for being grateful.  Knowing and acknowledging the simple things is a true gift.  It can change so much, just being still and listening… allowing ourselves to embrace what is good around us and not give our attention and energy to  negatives, this is gratitude.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”  ~ Melody Beattie