Friday, July 2, 2010

What's Stopping You?

I know it has been a while since I’ve blogged. A lot of life has come swirling in and turning things in different directions. I’m finally on the right path again and am looking at the path I want to take. But, boy oh boy, is it scary!

Like many others, I was laid off recently. And like many others I have been trying to replace my insecurity with a variety of things: cleaning, exercise, mental worrying, insomnia, junk food, resume after resume sent out. It’s a very unsettling feeling to know that in one minute you are no longer worth the salary you had. Your skills and experience are now worth half of what they were.

It’s times like this that people emerge into two categories – those who see the opportunity to try something new, and those who wallow in self-pity. Changing careers can be uncomfortable, but that usually means you are doing the right thing. If it felt safe and you didn’t have any butterflies in your stomach, then you aren’t really living life to the fullest.

According to Bruce Barringer and Duane Ireland, in their book “What’s Stopping You?”, we use the term “risk” to indicate the probability of a loss. The two terms used in conjunction with risk are endowment effect and loss aversion.

Endowment effect refers to the fact that we value something more once we posses it. (Didn’t care about grandma’s china until she was gone and it passes to you) Loss aversion is the tendency that people have to prefer avoiding losses rather than acquiring gains. (Game shows are good examples of not giving up the money now for the chance of a bigger prize) These concepts also explain why we would rather keep our bad job than jump out to find or start a new one.

The three activities we can all do right this minute to make objective decisions about our careers are:
1. Determine what you want out of life. This is actually the hardest step and must be done thoroughly. Write in a journal, make a picture wish list, but get everything on paper so you can see it and connect with it.
2. Be realistic when answering “What’s the worst thing that can happen?” There are lots of things that I could say would suck, but is it really life and death? So what if I fail? Will the world stop rotating? I highly doubt it. And you can replace “things” if you loose them.
3. Research, research, research. Whether it’s starting your own business, or changing careers, you need to know what is out there. Knowledge is power.

So, I am at a crossroads in my life. I lost a good job. I want a career that I love. I need flexibility for my family and a decent salary. I’m tired of sacrificing my life’s joy for everyone else’s comfort. I need to feel proud of myself.

As I progress through my life’s career change, I’ll keep you posted, so if any of you are on the fence you can know what is coming. See you on the other side,

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Massage Therapy

Recently, I came across an article in Natural Health magazine explaining a few different types of massage. I had no idea what I was missing! So I did some research and found there are over 160 different types of massage…

What if massage therapy was considered as normal, routine care paid for by insurance like a chiropractor or family doctor well check visit? I would be first in line to pay my co-pay! Massage is deeply healing for depression, pain, immunity problems, diabetes, cancer, and the obvious = stress. When your body is in Dis-Ease it harbors disease. Your circulation slows and your body shuts down. Massage keeps your body flowing.

Here are a few different types of massage you should try out soon…
1. Swedish – moderate pressure and long strokes that run along the grain of the muscle; good for beginners and relaxation
2. Deep Tissue – penetrating kneading, cross grain strokes and trigger points; can be painful during the process but worth it afterwards; for chronic tension and muscular injuries. Hot stones are sometimes used to pre-treat an area first.
3. Shiatsu – you may have a hand-held massager at home but therapists apply acupressure and gentle stretching to work with your body’s meridian system (organ system); good for stomach issues, PMS, insomnia, headaches
4. Thai or Breema – you keep your clothes on and the therapist works your body through a series of stretches, “passive yoga”
5. Abhyanga – using herb-infused oils and stroking to address imbalances in the doshas (energies that govern life); good if you need a balance in your life
6. Lomi Lomi – Hawaiian massage; long flowing rhythmic strokes and forearm pressure; releases emotional tension stored in the musculature
7. Craniosacral therapy – ultra-light touch to balance pressure in the spine between your cranium and sacrum; helps muscle release by working with the nervous system; good for headaches, allergies, sinusitis, or mental freak outs
8. Reflexology – each of the body’s organs are connected to an area on the bottom on the foot so applying pressure can change the body functions

I think we need to demand massage becomes part of routine maintenance care! Though, if you were getting massages on a regular basis you probably wouldn’t need as many pharmacy visits or joint replacement surgeries or depression drugs and I don’t know how those people would make a living. If you were healthy, the CEO’s of our insurance companies wouldn’t be able to get their millions of dollars of bonuses each year. How sad.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Just Do It

Today’s blog is sort-of stolen from Nike, “Just Do It”. There are so many times when we talk and talk so much about things – dreams, passions, giving, adventures – that little action is ever actually attached. Which I guess you could say that no action is an action, and the deed you say you wanted to do is not really big enough in your heart to begin with to start you moving.

I wonder sometimes if the words, “Let me know if there is anything I can do” are said because the person really wants to help you and has no clue how to do it, if they are afraid of offending you by volunteering something specific, or if they are just said to be nice but secretly hoping you never ask for anything difficult. Many times I have found people off-guard when I respond, “Great, can you ______?” There is always this silence, then slowly “Ummm, well, sure” or “Oh, sorry, we are totally booked up this weekend.” Which both responses may be okay, but counter to the “anything” that was offered. So the person needing help now feels rejected, as well as overwhelmed, and guilty for asking for anything in the first place because they just now put their friend out….and the friend is uncomfortable for being put on the spot and feeling guilty for not wanting to, or being able to, help.

And in the end, no action is taken. Really? Nothing? Why?

What if we volunteered, and did, exactly what we could give? What if we were specific in our actions and not general in our talk? Remember when babies were born and everyone brought over dinners? Or when a husband died, someone sent over their oldest son to take care of the yard? There was no asking, help just arrived and everyone in the community felt good about it. Those who received felt blessed with kindness and friendship. Those giving were honored to share their wealth with others, whether it was food, physical labor, or laughing company. Each day brought a new surprise from people who cared.

So if you keep saying, “I want to make a difference” then Just Do It. Plain and simple, put some actions behind your words. Stop asking (and making excuses) and put your body to work. Whether it’s for your dreams and passions or giving to another person, nothing will ever happen unless you take a step forward. It’s not always the thought that counts if there’s nothing to pair it with. No one will complain to come home from work to a yard that is mowed or flowers planted. No one will say no to a home cooked meal or basket of groceries. No one will reject a funny card or movie. No one will give up a free babysitter. And if they do, then you know in their hearts they really need a lot more loving attention from you, because their soul has hardened over time.

Your actions really can make all the difference in someone’s life. For those who have helped me, I thank you with all my heart!


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Wishbone and Mother's Day

In honor of Wishbone Day, here’s Sami story….
The morning of September 24, 2003 was so full of opposing emotions that my heart still races and my chest feels like it’s full of lead almost five years later. I was sending my daughter to death, on purpose.

It started in May with a routine ultrasound. I was so excited, since I didn’t have an ultrasound with my son. It was like being pregnant for the first time all over again. Afterwards, the nurse was quiet and left the room. A long while passed before a doctor came in. As he viewed the screen in the darken room, moving the wand over my belly, he too was quiet and I knew something was wrong.

“Her arms and legs are too short, and they are very bowed. You’ll need to see a specialist.”
What? But I’m a healthy mom! Maybe it’s just dwarfism. Okay, we can adapt to that.
But the specialist didn’t have better news. I had to undergo a very painful amino to run the 5 tests our insurance would pay for. We discovered there are 200 different types of dwarfism, and we weren’t lucky enough to get a “run of the mill” variety. The high tech ultrasound machines they had showed much more detail than the clinic’s that was used previously…more details like fractures and deformities.
“She either has campomelia or osteogenesis imperfecta type II. Either way, she will only live 24 hours.”
24 hours. One whole day. Will she suffer those 24 hours? Do I end the pregnancy now so she won’t suffer? Why do I have to make that decision? How horrible for a mother to decide that! Which is better – to die now or to keep breaking and die later? Am I being selfish by procrastinating the decision?
At 7 months pregnant we made her funeral plans. A friend of ours, who operates a funeral home, took care of all the details. All the while I could feel her kicking my belly in protest. I cried for hours in my three year old son’s room that night, trying to hold on to his precious life while mourning the loss of the other still inside me.
Do I finish the nursery? Can I stand to walk by it everyday if she’s not there? Will that torture me everyday? Am I giving up on her if I don’t finish it? Each time I picked up my son, or bumped my belly on a chair or the steering wheel, she would break, and I would see it on the ultrasound that week.

D-Day. Delivery Day. The last day of my old life. The c-section was scheduled for 9am on the 24th of September. How could I willingly take her from her safe haven inside me and watch her die? I could feel her alive and moving and it would soon stop. Why couldn’t I have just one more day with her? Because if I went into labor I’d kill her right away – contractions puncturing lungs with cracked ribs, brain damage with a cracked skull – and that would lose the last bit of hope I was holding on to. It was so hard to be the rock for everyone else while I carried the emotional and physical, but delicate, burden each day. I knew that if I crumbled, the rest of my family would as well. And I had a small fairy of hope that she would live. I was practical enough to brace myself for the worse, but faithful enough to know that hope wasn’t completely lost. I also had a son to care for, so I wasn’t allowed to rest, I had to push forward.
By 9:30am she was out and the count down was on. I still had a lot of sewing up to do, as they had to cut me from top to bottom to get her out as best as possible, and I hated every minute of being on the table when my daughter’s minutes were passing in the NICU. Didn’t they understand we only had 24 hours together?
As soon as they would allow me to fall into a wheelchair, I was in the NICU with her. She was hooked up to every imaginable device and I didn’t think there was any more room on her body to attach anything else to. The nurses let me hold her on a pillow until I started to get too pale. I had to leave. I had to leave my baby alone. What if she died while I slept? What kind of a mother leaves her child for sleep? But I had another child to think about as well. I wouldn’t let her be alone, so I told every member of my family to rotate turns staying with her. I was in the NICU as much as I was allowed. Back and forth, back and forth. Which child do I choose?
And then, without any fan fare, the 24 hour mark passed. We watched the clock and we made it! Could life be a second chance? Or would it come crashing down now? The weight started to lift from my chest and I could breathe again little by little.
48 hours, 72 hours. Could we make it a week?

She was finally transferred to the Children’s Mercy Hospital so a plan could be made. I could go home. My husband and I traded off days and nights spent at the hospital and home with our son for a week. My incision wasn’t healing, probably because I was standing next to her crib, driving to and from home, and tending to my son, but I didn’t care. We passed the day of emotional hell and we were all alive! Our whole future lay ahead of us with prospects. We were sent home with a “good luck” and I know the luck has stuck with us.

The saying “life is too short” has been ingrained into my heart since that day and I now live each day to the fullest; no matter how tired I am. In no way do I pamper either of my children (we later discovered that our son has Aspergers, a high functioning autism). I believe in Dorothy Canfield Fisher’s thought that “a mother is not a person to lean on, but a person to make leaning unnecessary”. Disabilities aside, I require politeness and clean rooms just like all other moms. Everyday brings a new challenge (could be a bone break, or a field trip at school, or hurt feelings from another child who doesn’t understand autism or brittle bones) so our family has to stretch ourselves, learn on the fly, and be five times more prepared for the unknown. Some people are overly generous, some ignorant, and some just plain stupid – c’est la vie!
From that first 24 hours of hell, Sami is now in Kindergarten, taking the school district by storm, and opening all new buckets of wrenches. She’s been in ads for the Children’s Hospital of Omaha (the little ballerina on the huge billboard) and was given the wonderful gift of a Disney vacation by the Dream Factory of Kansas City.

For mother’s day I have to reflect that I’m a different kind of Mom. I’ve learned to take care of myself first or I’m a horrible mother. Being a martyr didn’t get me anywhere but tired, depressed and resentful. The fear of a small bump doing major damage to Samantha is always there and some days I still cry in the closet because life is overwhelming. Most days, though, I see my kids doing extraordinary things (Sami crawling up on the tub ledge or Carter remembering how to interact with a friend that isn’t off-putting) and smile with gratitude for each emotion, good and bad, I was allowed to experience on September 24, 2003, and every day since. I am the Diamond, strong and beautiful, because of the pressure I’ve been put under.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Bucket of Wrenches

Sometimes life is just a bucket of wrenches. Not that I’m against Forrest’s Mama and her box of chocolates, but the bucket can at least have more uses….like for puking when you overeat the whole box of said chocolates.

Wrench #1 = My hubby has torn his Achilles tendon playing basketball. His surgery is tomorrow. He’ll be on crutches for 8 weeks, then a boot for 8 more weeks, then PT for 6 months. Timing is not so good….Sami’s surgery is in 2 weeks (Wrench #2). Wrench #3 = Neither of us can afford to take time off work (we just now paid off a doctor’s office visit back in Oct to Omaha), neither of us can afford to make it look like our employers don’t really need us by being gone too much, neither of us is sane/patient enough to be a stay-at-home parent (or recovery patient in his case).

So, what’s a college educated gal to do? I’m smart, right? I should be able to handle all of this. And the eureka moment arrives…..I think I finally found out how to use my college degree….it’s time organization. The actual classes were, well, dumb. The Theory of Education did nothing to help me teach 7th graders, but did teach me how to manage my time and what is worthy of skipping (classes) and what is worthy of attention (test dates). You learn quickly in college who takes the best notes (that was actually me) and who is just so good at bullshit they can pull 5 more pages out of your paper to make the professor’s requirements (20 pages on Yugoslavia, really?!?! I said everything I could in 10. Thank you Pat and Karen).

Here’s the plan =
1. Stocking up the freezer. We are not eating restaurant food for weeks on end. I’ve been asking friends and family if they could make a few things for my freezer, as well as making double recipes myself. Target is having a sale on Breyers Natural Ice Cream and I bought a bunch last night (plus you get a $5 coupon if you buy 5). If you’d like to donate to my freezer, I’d gladly accept.
2. Hire a housekeeper. No, I’m not Superwoman; I can only do so much in a 24 hour period. Having someone come 3 times while Sami is recovering will be such a blessing I almost want to cry just thinking of everything being sparkly and smelling fresh without me losing sleep to accomplish it. Yes, this will cost money, but what doesn’t, and my sanity is worth it. My children will thank me later.
3. Finding friends that can visit Sami at home and friends Carter can go to visit someplace else. He already feels that Sami gets a lot of attention so play-dates will be essential for him. It’s extra hard for him with his Aspergers (wrench #4) to understand that his moods are what make others not want to hang around him….not so much that his sister is that great.
4. Do a board game/card game/movies exchange with some friends. After a week, we’ll have gone through all of our games and movies.
5. And pamper myself!! I will continue to play volleyball on Wed nights, finding a “sitter” for hubby and the kids. I’m going to run and do yoga as much as possible. I will take long baths at night. I will get hot chocolates from Quik Trip. I will get my eyebrows waxed. I will hide in the library. Because, let’s be honest, if I go down my family is in a world of hurt. So pampering me is very important!

I’m sure I’ve left something out. It’s probably at the bottom of my bucket just waiting for me to lift one of my wrenches so it can be released to pop up, but oh well. That’s life. It will be another good reason for me to stop, count my blessings, and say “thank you for the lessons… get away from those chocolates or you die.”


Friday, April 23, 2010

Neck and Back Pain

How many of you are in the same boat I am right now……disgusted with yourself for not taking care of yourself to the point that now you’re in deep trouble?

Basically, I’ve let stress and overused muscles go ignored (pushed aside really) and now I can’t turn my head, sleep, or lift anything without my neck/upper back/shoulder/and arm screaming in pain. But, what are the honest alternatives?
1. Rest (hahaha),
2. Non-use (right, having a non-ambulatory child really doesn’t mix with that one),
3. Massages (at $100 a pop, who has that extra money for splurges),
4. Alternative medicine (which I would love to try, but insurance won’t pay for), or
5. Loads of pain meds that will basically deteriorate your internal organs over time.

I have found, though, a doctor who says posture is really the number one problem and I have to admit mine is horrible….has been since I was a kid. I wanted to fit in so bad that I hunched over to 1. Not be taller than the other cute, petite girls, and 2. To hide the fact I had no boobs. Now that I’m an adult and I fixed those self image problems, the bad habit of slouching is hard to break, especially when I’m dead tired from taking care of the kids. I carry my stress in my upper back and I’m sure there’s a huge blockage of chi going on there as well. I wish I could say that yoga was helping, but it hurts too much to do it.

So this week, besides applying heat pads, I’m consciously reminding myself to line up my head, shoulders, and hips. Guess what, it actually helps!! At least at work where I’m sitting….being home with Samantha is a different story. Healing my muscles will be a long and slow process, I understand that, but I’m hoping to be feeling better by Sami’s surgery in May – and I hope to not slide back down the healing ladder with the stress and overuse that surgery and recovery bring.

This is a prime example of the fact that I didn’t take care of myself first, so now I’m suffering big time. I’m just disgusted with myself for breaking my own rule. But, as usual, I’ve learned the hard way and have had to let many things go so my stress level can come down.

Here is the Neck/Back Pain article I read in case you are wondering….

To your great health,

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

C'est La Vie

C’est La Vie. That’s life. Besides being one of the only phrases after four years of high school French I can remember, and a popular song by Robbie Nevil, it’s an extremely hard concept for Americans to grasp.

Let’s just be honest here. As a nation, we are very uptight people. We like answers, all the answers, in a neat little box with a bow on top. We are sex obsessed, yet aren’t having any, and despise those who do. We are very prudish about natural things and discourage any passion in our lives. Fear and Guilt are our biggest emotions and Cleanliness is almost Godliness. Our lives are full of extremes – all or nothing, black or white, heaven or hell, “he loves me, he loves me not”, success or failure, St. Theresa or Lady Gaga, prom queen or porn queen. We have no middle ground, no gray areas, no mystery, no pleasure in just being. Living as the days come just isn’t allowed here because it means you’re not in control.

So we are back to c’est la vie and living with what comes. Facing real life, not the extremes of reality show life. I’ll admit this is a hard concept for me too. It’s very ingrained into children to be perfect and the disappointments of not living up to expectations are overwhelming. And what are we afraid of? Not being liked. We aren’t raised to not give a shit, to have confidence in ourselves through our own accomplishments, to be self-possessed. We are raised to double check with everyone before making a decision on what we should wear.

I recently spoke to a lady who will become a grandma in May. The baby has OI, just like Sami. The mother, who I haven’t spoke with, seems to be going through a very hard time of adjustment. This I can relate to completely. There is a lot of grieving that happens for many of us for the loss of ideals, dreams, and the “perfect” life your friends are living. Being the mother of a fragile child is daunting – I won’t lie to you. Being on alert 24/7 is taxing on your mind, body, and soul. So there is a lot of readjusting of how you think about yourself as a woman and mother now that life has thrown in the wrench. This grandmother is in complete denial of what her child (the mother) is emotionally going through, constantly saying how blessed Mom is, how Mom won’t need any more help than what family will give her, and how Mom’s strong faith will cure everything. Ummm, that’s not real life, that’s reality show life….hell, that’s actually a Donna Reed and June Cleaver life.

Who can truthfully say they are blessed each time their innocent child breaks a leg? Geez! Yes, Samantha and Carter are both huge blessings to my life, but their disabilities are a pain in the butt. I’m not afraid to say that, it’s true. Does that change how much I love them? NO. Does it change my “glass is half full” mentality? NO. My money and my time schedule? Quite a resounding YES! C’est la vie, so be it. I live with the reality of everyday life. I’m a damn good mother who makes tons of triumphs and mistakes every day. I like my shade of gray life; some days more blue, some more silver, some days no fractures or questions about death (or Pokeman), some days full of tears from other kids’ teasing, some days the house is clean, some days I cry in my closet from exhaustion and binge eat Girl Scout cookies, some days I get to park in the closest parking spot. I admit having the answers would be simplier and nicer, but not as much fun.