Apr 02 2014

Unsettled

32817-sp When we were in the process of adopting I thought nothing could possibly be as intrusive or unsettling as the home study.  Ours was private and domestic and we literally just needed a home study from the agency so I know that ours was actually less invasive than others can be.  However, when we had to fill out the whole application packet as if we were becoming clients and one of the many questions asked “how many people did you date in high school?” I was absolutely certain nothing could ever be that invasive.  I still don’t know what in the world that had to do with being a good parent all of these years later.  Maybe one of my high school boyfriends can tell you.

I was very, very wrong.  When your house burns down and the cause is not something your insurance company can sue someone for, you will come out of that feeling like you have been turned inside out and examined in every possible uncomfortable way, I am pretty sure having your skin peeled off and turned inside out is more pleasant.  About two weeks after our house burned we got this packet from the insurance company.  It had forms in there giving the insurance company permission to probe every possible aspect of our lives.  We had to sign medical release forms, employment information release forms (for the last 3 employers), bank release forms, tax return release forms (for the last 3 years), etc…  They even wanted personal and work related references.  Being in the profession I was in, I was immediately skeptical of all of this.  We weren’t buying a house or applying to adopt another child, we weren’t asking them to loan us any money or trust us with anything that wasn’t already owed to us.  We paid our premiums, our house burned down.  The end, right? Wrong.  Apparently an electrical fire is suspect.  Basically they wanted an appliance to have failed that they could blame our loss on.  Because the appliance they thought started the fire was so burned they couldn’t prove it, they decided to make our lives a living Hell.  They gave us about $10,000 over the course of 10 months to replace everything we owned.  They barred us from our house while they were investigating, and they rented us a house on a month to month basis.  They sent us hotel towels, bed linens, silverware, pots, pans, etc… and furnished our house with what we might need.  We had 4 forks, 4 spoons, 4 knives, one sharp knife, one bread knife, one pot, one pan, 4 plates, etc…  They were kind enough to send a used coffee pot.  They also sent an inventory list that we were to check off upon receiving said items and along with it another that we were to check off the items when returning them.  That task took very little time I can tell you.

It’s not that I was ungrateful for any of it, of course I was thankful they sent us the basics, but they didn’t even scratch the surface of replacing what we’d lost, all of this was a month after our fire, by the way.  We stayed with my parents for a month so they didn’t rush to find us a place to live.  They also didn’t care what was going on at the other house other than that we stayed out of it so they could investigate.  They didn’t care that the doors and windows were blown out or that the roof had a gaping hole in it.  However, our policy was very clear in that if anyone was hurt on our “property” we were liable.  It would be almost 8 months before someone from the insurance company finally told me “of course you can secure it from further damage and protect yourselves from liability” I’m sure it won’t surprise you to know my neighbors had called the police about potential vandals multiple times by then. They also didn’t care that we were still paying a mortgage on a house we didn’t live in.  Nor that we had to continue to pay HOA dues, and the best part?  Escrow payments to THEM to protect our property!!  All of this while we were paying utilities in a rental house and trying to replace things like clothes and food out of our own pockets. What they DID care about however was that my husband lost his job the day before an electrical fire destroyed our lives.  Since he lost his job the day before, he MUST have somehow from across town, tweaked the wiring IN THE WALL and burned our house down in his despair.  Yes, they said that to us.  Multiple times, both via insinuation and flat out accusing.  They also accused him of having read a book by a fiction writer that would have aided him, a book that didn’t come out until well after the fire.

If they can’t sue someone, they will blame someone and if there’s no one standing there, they will blame you.  Six months in to this mess our landlord decided he wanted to move back in to his home.  They refused to pay to move us.  They would pay rent on another house, but they would not pay deposits or any rent due at signing and they certainly wouldn’t pay for a truck to move THEIR rental belongings that we had to inventory when/if this nightmare was over.  They wouldn’t pay utility deposits or cancellation fees, etc…  $5000 out of our pocket later we were moved and again on a month to month lease.  In the 7th month we found an attorney. We took other steps prior to this just to be clear.  The Wyoming Insurance Commission “lost” our file, TWICE.  Turns out, state law says an insurance company has 90 days to approve or deny and pay out a claim in our state, period.  Turns out, our insurance company was the biggest violator of this law state wide.  Turns out, you can file complaints that are lost, but once you hire a lawyer the insurance commission can’t help.  Turns out, once you hire a lawyer the insurance company does as well.  The investigator actually called me a liar the day I told her we hired an attorney.  She told me “we hear that all of the time but until we have something in writing from ‘said attorney’ we continue as if there isn’t one.”  He sent her a letter the next day. We heard from their attorney within 3 weeks.

They couldn’t prove the fan started the fire without further expensive testing, but they couldn’t prove it didn’t, but they were pretty sure since they couldn’t prove it and sue Holmes, it must have been an intentional electrical fire, we needed to prove it wasn’t and do so before 12 months was up and they no longer had to pay our rent and they could take back their hotel linens and household goods. I could go on and on and on about this process, but you get the gist I’m sure.  We were destroyed by the fire but we were devastated in many more ways by our insurance company.  The people who are supposed to protect us in this scenario.  Finally, after 6 hours of depositions and their attorney telling them that they better settle before we renamed their company, they settled.  10 long months later.

They did not pay our legal fees, they did not apologize, they did not pay our deposits, they did not pay one penny more than our policy required.  They did however, send a letter the same day as our settlement check letting us know our rental provision had been expended and they would no longer be paying our rent and we had to return all rental household goods and linens and could be charged for anything that was missing. I have not until now spoken in depth about this series of events outside of my family.  I also have not gotten over it.  I am still very angry and we are still digging out from under the mess they put us in.  Our mortgage company worked with us, thank goodness.  However, they can’t keep your credit from being destroyed.  They also don’t want to waste time attempting to foreclose on a burned down property.  No one else worked with us.  A large portion of our settlement went to paying the bills that piled up after the fire and because of the fire and the insurance company’s disregard for us.  When we were all said and done we did not have enough money to rebuild (nor did I have the heart to do so) and our credit was not good enough to buy something else, even with a large down payment.

Welcome to our lives today.  We are in our seventh house since the fire and that doesn’t count the times we moved in and out of my mom and dad’s house.  We are still digging out from under the mess that began that day.  We are unsettled and we really have no end in sight.  When you secure a one year lease and have to scrape to come up with deposits again and again, it makes it difficult to save for a secure future. I can’t even explain to you how I feel about all of this.  What I can tell you is that people will kick you while you are down and then step on you on their way past.  People will take advantage of you when you are desperate to find your place in the world, when you are looking for stability, and people can be greedy, sketchy, and downright awful in any situation.  We have been the victims of this in more than one way during our journey.  We have yet to come out the other side.

Recently, I am angry.  I am angry for my kids who have no childhood home, I am angry that my daughter has been in three schools in her three short years in school, I am angry that we lost the house we put our blood, sweat, and tears in to and that we have yet to be able to even attempt to replace it.  I am angry, and I am hurt, and I am feeling very unsettled.  I am also sick, so that doesn’t help I know.  However, I would really love to know when we will be settled again.  When and how will we ever start to pick back up from this thing that has controlled so much of our lives and be able to start truly rebuilding what we lost?  When?  How?  Because right now, I don’t see an end in sight. We just want to go home and at this point no such place exists.  There is no place we belong as of yet and it’s starting to really feel like there never will be.

We are getting very good at packing and moving all of our belongings and let me tell you, we don’t have near as many as we did at one time.  We desperately want to be settled, we NEED to be settled for our sake but also for our kids.  How do we get there?  Because I honestly just don’t know.

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Mar 30 2014

My Story – Part 1

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I have not written this yet, I don’t know why.  I am not writing this for anyone but me.  Today, I need to remember I am a fighter.  If someone out there with Lung Disease or another Chronic Illness reads this and it resonates with them or helps them, all the better!  But today, need to see it.

Two years ago I could not pick my daughter up from school without feeling I would pass out walking the 10 yards to the door.  I gave the parking lot monitors multiple scares.  I saw doctor after doctor after doctor.  I couldn’t talk and breathe, I couldn’t sleep and breathe, I couldn’t walk and breathe.  I was exhausted and scared and no one knew why.  I was told there was nothing in tests, I was told it was Pneumonia, I was given steroids, cough medications, pain medications, anti-inflammatory meds, antibiotics.  I was looked at skeptically by one doctor and with concern by another.  I was looked at in the same ways by people in my family and social circles.  Before long I struggled to get out of bed I was simply too exhausted.

Finally, after 8 chest X-Rays, two visits to my GP’s office, 3 visits to the interim Pulmonologist filling in for our late Pulmonologist, and 3 ER visits, FINALLY a doctor took me seriously when I went to the ER after almost passing out having a conversation with my mom in the kitchen.  Finally, someone really listened and was really concerned.  A CT scan showed a collapse in my left lung and broken ribs from the cough that was torturing me almost constantly.  My cough was so strong I felt like I lifted a thousand pounds of weight a day, my bladder would empty itself constantly, and I was breaking ribs.  My oxygen saturation was hovering in the 70′s and 80′s and still only one ER doctor seemed seriously concerned.  My next visit with the interim Pulmonologist he told me he was at a loss.  It acted like Asthma but was way too severe to be Asthma, it acted like Pneumonia but I’d been on every antibiotic possible, he didn’t know what was causing it, but he did know the “treatments” we were using were causing problems and not helping.  The more steroids, the more weight I gained.  The more weight I gained the harder my lungs worked.  So, he scheduled a Bronchoscopy at his hospital 2 hours away.  I figured we were finally going to get somewhere.  An actual test for respiratory problems?  Heck yeah!  So, Joe took the day off of work and drove me over there.  All I can really tell you is that it was the most frightening experience of my life and one of the most miserable, this doctor didn’t believe in sedation when sticking a tube down your nose in to your lungs, filling them with fluid, sucking it out, and even taking lung biopsies, I now know he is probably the only doctor out there who doesn’t.  I suffered through it and survived and was actually happy, not knowing any better and hoping we would FINALLY find some answers.  He also decided to put me on a sleep monitor one night at home and see just how bad my oxygen was at night.  What I didn’t know at the time was that this doctor was months from retirement and really only cared to treat me when he was actually in our town every 3 weeks and completely forgot I was his patient the rest of the time.  Needless to say, I got worse and worse.  From July to the end of October, I struggled and suffered.  I felt miserable and useless as a parent and started to even question myself as to whether or not there was really something wrong with me.

At my last visit with this Pulmonologist he told me he’d found yeast and a large amount of white cells in my lungs and that I needed oxygen at night and a sleep study.  He also told me of his impending retirement and said he would continue to see me but we now had a new Pulmonologist in our town so I could continue with him through December or see the new Pulmonologist.  I chose the new Pulmonologist and they scheduled me a visit.  At first I thought I was finally going to get some answers.  He treated the white cells and yeast and shook his head.  He ordered me on full time oxygen, and said we would figure it out.  He adjusted my by that time significant med routine, ordered even more steroids, and set a follow up appointment.  The day of the follow up appointment I was putting my daughter’s coat on to get her to school and when I stood up there were several loud pops from the vicinity of my back followed by the most excruciating pain I’d experienced yet.  For a good 10 minutes I didn’t know if I would be able to even move to get to a phone.  I could not draw a deep breath.  I had a hair appointment that day, something I had not attempted from July to November.  I was NOT cancelling.  First, it wouldn’t be fair to my stylist and friend, and second whatever this was I would deal with it in the afternoon at my appointment.  So, I went took my daughter to school and went to my appointment.  Bless her, she was a saint trying not to hurt me because I was obviously in a lot of pain for whatever reason, but my spirits were lifted by doing something so mundane and normal and when I walked out I felt renewed, prettier, and better all around Then I checked my voicemail…

It was Friday at noon and my specialist’s office had left a message saying he had an emergency and needed to reschedule me to Monday.  I’m not ashamed to admit, I.Lost.It.  I had a breakdown right there in the parking lot.  Everything came rushing back, the pain, the struggling to breathe, all of it.  I sat there looking at my oxygen tank  and was sure I would just never get anywhere past this point.  I knew I could not go the entire weekend in this pain so I decided to give the ER one more try. Thankfully I had a compassionate doctor that day.  An X-Ray confirmed I had broken multiple rear ribs, 8 to be exact.  That brought the grand total to 10 to that point.  He decided to call the specialist who certainly was still in the hospital dealing with his emergency from an hour before, surely he could come to the ER to see me before he left the building, right?  Wrong, whatever emergency he had it was over and he was gone for the weekend.  He instructed the ER doctor to send me home and tell me to keep my appointment for Monday.  *It’s worth noting that coincidentally, this doctor’s office began closing at noon on Friday’s the next week*

Luckily for me, the ER doctor was NOT OK with that and at least sent me out with something for the rib pain.  Beyond that, there was not much he could do.  I spent the weekend trying to take in enough oxygen to actually power my body while not breathing so deep as to move the broken ribs.  On Monday I went to my appointment and the nurse apologized from the waiting room to the exam room for the cancel on such short notice.  I smiled through it, because that’s what I did.  She took my vitals, clucked her tongue at them (as usual) and said he would be in to see me very soon.  Five minutes later the “specialist” came in to the room, sat at his computer, and without looking at me said “so, what am I seeing you for today?”  I’m not ashamed to admit I completely lost it at that point.  This was my 4th visit with this man and the ER had called him on Friday.  It’s a small town, but surely he could not have forgotten so quickly could he?  Through clenched teeth to His back, I said “why don’t you open that chart and tell ME why I am here, because to be honest I am not real sure anymore” that got his attention, and I felt slightly better about advocating for myself, but again I would walk out of there defeated.  He would go on to prescribe me MORE steroids, MORE inhalers, MORE antibiotics, and a handful of pain medication for my ribs (narcotic pain medication decreases respiration) and his final word on my condition.  I had COPD, I would be sick for the rest of my life, some days would be better than others, I would end up in the hospital on a vent repeatedly until I died an early death, hopefully we could get me to the age of 50.  The end.

I left his office in a daze, but with a smoldering anger underneath it all and a new resolve building strength I didn’t know I had left.  I was the 35 year old mother of two young children.  I was a wife, I was a daughter, I was not a disease and I was NOT going to spend the next few years miserable, only to die before enjoying my golden years.  I can’t describe the emotions battling in me at that moment.  I had been dismissed and blown off a million times.  I was angry, scared, miserable, frustrated, and yet determined.  There HAD to be something better.

So, I went home in a daze and booted up my computer.  I Googled COPD and started reading.  At some point during that reading I saw an ad out of the corner of my eye for National Jewish Health.  I noticed their logo, the person running the marathon in their photo, but mostly I noticed the words at the bottom of the ad:

“There is always hope.”

That ad saved my life…

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Mar 24 2014

Finding Faith?

Published by under Faith,Family,Fire,Healing,PTSD

Photo Credit: Unknown if this is yours please let me know!

Photo Credit: Unknown if this is yours please let me know!

When I was young I was a very faithful Christian.  I had no doubts about my faith or who I was.  I had no doubts that God would see me through anything that came my way.  I had a lot of friends and I spent a lot of time at church and working on church based activities.

I can’t tell you when that changed, I didn’t just wake up one day and lose my faith.  I’m not even sure I’ve actually lost my faith, I have just strayed from it and in doing so have strayed from my belief is and the feeling of security that believing in God and a higher power brought me.

To be really honest I don’t feel like I have had a lot of reasons to not stray in the past many years.  Unlike when I stopped spending my time on my faith in my teens, I can tell you exactly when I turned away from my faith in my adult life.  It started when my aunt died.  She was young and did not take care of herself but I didn’t care.  She had two teenage sons, one of whom was a bit of a mess and really needed her.  She had a husband who was a good guy but who was never a present father.  She was the backbone of her family and my friend and she died before her 40th birthday and rocked my family to the core.  She died in my mom’s arms and she left behind her parents and two older sisters.  It was wrong, so wrong.  She was a good person, the most selfless person I have ever met and her funeral was standing room only.  I had a serious crisis of faith at that point.  I did not understand a God who would take a person from this world who was so desperately needed.  I didn’t understand why He took a chunk of my mom with Him that day and I sure didn’t understand how we got to that point.

I kind of floated along for the next couple of years never really reflecting on the crisis of faith I knew I’d had during that time frame.  Then our house burned down.  It’s been 5 years, 5 LONG years.  In those 5 years we have been kicked around at every turn.  As anyone who reads this knows, I lost so much more than my house that day.  I lost myself, my business, my identity, my sanity.  People often ask me why I still have nightmares.  They don’t actually want the answer to that question, it’s a snide question asked by people who don’t understand what I lost and that’s OK.  I have learned that I don’t have to apologize for needing to heal at my own pace.  I have learned that unless you’ve been there you can’t possibly understand it.  I could stand there and tell them about each animal I lost in that fire.  I could tell them how I raised almost all of them in my house, how I nursed several back to health from various illnesses, how my dog was the only one there for me through some of the most trying times of my life, how she predated my husband and kids.  How I had two day old Chinchilla babies in that house, how I had a 4 month old baby I hand fed, how I had a female who pulled through a spay that would have killed most Chinchillas and how she amazed me with her resolve.  I could say all of that, but they would still not grasp it.

I could explain how my kids had their firsts in that house, how we spent years fixing multiple things in the house and had just FINALLY finished repairing and replacing almost all of it.

I could explain what happened after.  How the insurance company was unhappy they had no one to sue for the damages because the fire was so hot and so fast that it destroyed all evidence, so instead they treated US like criminals for 10 full months.  How we had to hire a lawyer, how I had to sit through a gut wrenching deposition I will NEVER forget, and relive the entire situation in my lawyer’s office, having to stop multiple times to collect myself.  How they asked me if anyone disliked us enough to start that fire and how I could simply answer “I truly, truly hope no one hates me that much” or I could explain how I felt the day I got the call 10 months later that they were finally settling and leaving us be, broken and financially devastated, but it was finally over.

I could explain the 6 moves we’ve had to make since, or how we have tried to settle only to be lied to or stolen from.  How we have made decisions we sincerely thought would settle us, grasping at the promise of something we knew was too good to believe because we were so desperate to be settled and how it has cost us so much, not just financially but in every possible way there is.

I could say all of that, but somewhere along the line people would tune out.  They don’t actually ask because they care, they ask because they don’t understand why I am not OK, why we are not OK.  It’s been 5 years after all, shouldn’t we be healed?  Shouldn’t we be over it?

Maybe we should be, but we aren’t.  I am not sure I will ever be whole again.  I am not sure I will EVER be OK with what happened to us, what we went through and what we lost.  I am sure I will scream if one more person suggests it was a good thing in some ridiculous way, or if someone asks me one more time “it’s been 5 years?” with disdain in their voice.

I have spent a lot of time in seclusion the past 5 years for these reasons and more.  I don’t get close to people because they don’t understand and don’t want to understand.  I hate to travel because I worry the ENTIRE time, and both of my kids play hockey that requires travel.  I don’t sleep when I travel.  Not until sheer exhaustion overtakes me.  When I am close to home I start to panic and hyperventilate.  Whoever stays behind to feed my animals is pestered incessantly, what they don’t know is I text or call about a million times less than I actually put the phone back in my pocket and don’t hit “Send” on that millionth call or text.

Through all of this and more I have struggled.  I have struggled to understand why God would so completely pull the rug out from under us, so consistently.  I have struggled with the darkness and greed in other people’s hearts.  I have struggled with the fact that so many people will look at this situation and take advantage of us or treat us with disdain, impatience, or just plain be mean spirited.

For all of these reasons it has been so much easier to just shut myself away from everyone outside of whatever 4 walls we are currently inhabiting, with the exception of a VERY select few people.  I want to move on so badly.  I want to put all of this behind me, I want to not avoid conversations with people who are probably not going to hurt me but who I can’t bring myself to trust.  Most of all though, I want to find my faith again.  I believe strongly that if I can do that, I can maybe start to find some peace.  I believe healing is a long way off and I’m OK with that, but I believe I have not really worked hard toward beginning to heal completely.  I am going to start trying, start working harder on it, and I am going to start by truly trying to find my faith again and work forward from there, because I believe that’s a big part of what I’ve been lacking.  Some kind of faith that we have been tested and come out the other end time and time again.  That we will most likely continue to be tested and we will continue to persevere.  We may be battered and bruised in ways the outside world can’t see, but we continue to live through it, and to me that is a pretty significant sign we should work toward finding our faith and being thankful for every day we are able to put our feet on the floor and continue to battle through.

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Jan 26 2014

Colorblind

Published by under Hockey,Kids,Life,Love

12653_10201348036045246_793683864_n (2) I am from a small town.  It is not so small anymore.  Still small compared to some towns, but we are rapidly approaching 40,000 people.  When I was young one of my closest friends was black.  He lived next door to my grandparents and I had many friends on their street.  We were all completely colorblind.  It never even occurred to us that he was different.  We were apparently the only ones.  When we hit middle school age he struggled immensely.  He was bullied unmercifully and eventually prior to our Freshman year he just disappeared.  I did not understand until years and years later just what his struggle was like and he has never returned to our town and has no plans to do so.

I’m from a small state.  Large in land mass and small in population.  Our state is the site of one of the most horrendous single casualty hate crimes in our nation’s history. On Martin Luther King Day, we celebrate Wyoming Equality Day because Wyoming is known as the “Equality State” the basis for which is rooted in Women’s liberation advancements.  About a year after Matthew Shepard’s death there was a huge fight in his hometown because his family wanted to erect a memorial statue and the city of Casper granted their permission to do so.  However, the citizens of Casper were not happy with the decision to place the statue in their city park.  They did NOT want the statue in a city owned park.  They could not see the message behind the memorial, only that the subject was gay.  I remember hearing about it at the time and being just disgusted with the whole situation.

As our population grows so does the diversity among our people.  We have a large Hispanic population because we have a strong economy and our natural resource industry allows for many employment opportunities.  With more overseas and interracial adoptions we see a slight rise in the diversity of students in our schools each year as well.  However, we are still a predominantly Caucasian population.  We are also a predominantly staunch conservative state.  My generation grew up among what I would consider to be an above average amount of bigotry (for lack of a better phrase).  The generation before mine, even more and the generation before them, much, much more so.  Although we were a state of many firsts in the women’s liberation movement, we continue to lag in the area of tolerance of equality in race and sexual preference.

As I look around at the diversity of our population now and look toward the future, I believe our population will continue to diversify.  As a result I feel it is up to my generation to raise their children to be open minded, loving, accepting, and tolerant and it goes without saying future generations will need to continue this practice.  My husband and I try very hard to teach our children tolerance.  If I’m honest, I have not always lived the example I wish I had.  Some things are so commonplace that you find yourself using a slang term and immediately regret it and wonder where it came from.  Some phrases or words you’ve heard so much you just automatically use them.  We are more aware of such things than we used to be, but we are definitely fallible and have definitely been guilty of a word or phrase in a conversation we immediately regretted, we are also guilty of not even realizing we were using those terms until we got a funny look or someone held us accountable.  It’s a slippery slope when you are bombarded on so many sides by  terms that should truly be eliminated from all civilized conversation.

If you had told me two years ago that our community was still significantly behind the curve as far as tolerance and acceptance and human decency went, I would have disagreed with you vehemently.  I was blissfully ignorant, completely naive, and ridiculously blind and deaf apparently.  Then we moved a black hockey player in to our home and sadly my blinders were ripped away and my comfortable naivety stripped from me with no warning or anesthetic.  It took very little time for him to settle in and become comfortable with me.  It took even less time for me to see how uncomfortable he was in social situations and how guarded he was.  He quickly began to educate me on both the subtle nuances he dealt with daily as well as the flat out bigotry he faced.  Not only is he among a very small minority population in our town, but he is among a very small minority in his sport as well.  I watched as he was treated differently both on and off of the ice.  My own son would hear his peers make comments equating his skin color to his ability level in his sport, or his skin color to his personality, in all of those cases the kids making comments had spent very little time around this young man and did not know anything at all about him but that he was colored differently than them.  My own son got caught up in a conversation where he used a negative term regarding his own billet brother.  I was horrified and saddened and furious and he was ashamed and apologetic, but you can not take those words back and he learned that lesson for sure.  Luckily his brother has a forgiving heart and they were able to overcome it.  However, outside of the walls of our house that is not the case.  A few weeks ago I heard a child of about 9 or 10 make a comment right in front of his parents.  I quickly looked at them and both parents appeared to be disappointed in their child, but they did not correct their child.  Situations like these just break my heart.  Over the course of the past year and a half I have grown to love this young man as if he was my own.  I love him fiercely and unconditionally and it breaks my heart that he has to face these situations so often but it has also caused me to really, really open my own eyes to see how far behind we still are in our battle against hate and bigotry.  I am also aware that our nation as a whole, while working toward eliminating hate, is really behind and I hope I live to see the day we have completely eradicated hate and embraced the fact that we are all the same on the inside and we all bleed the same color and cry the same tears.

The photo above is a cropped version of a photo taken at the rink a couple of weeks ago.  The photographer is amazing and she left the entire photo black and white with the exception of our linked hands, she has an amazing intuition and I cherish the photo even though I really hate having my picture taken.  I cropped the photo because I didn’t want to put his face to my blog or link the team with this post.  The photo is actually what sparked both this post and a status update on Facebook although a friend pointed out to me yesterday that you do not have to love or even like a person to defend them, hurt for them, or accept them and she is 100% right in this and I am too honest to try to convince you that I have not always been the least naive person, let alone the most socially aware.  If that was my aim, I would not have written this post at all.

I am hoping this post will bring awareness, I am hoping it will make you think, I am hoping it will make you sad or angry, I am hoping it will make you wonder if you have ever made a comment you wish you hand’t and I am especially hoping it will make you wonder if you’ve ever made such a comment in front of your child or any other child.  If it does, then I hope you will carry it with you.  I hope that you will look at your children or those children you may influence and wonder what you can do to teach them to be tolerant, loving, and most of all considerate.  I hope you will teach them that words can cut as deeply as any blade or pierce the skin as destructively as any bullet, if not more so.  We are a diverse and beautiful species and I for one am so glad I am now able to see and absorb that on so many levels.  I wish I could say these are the only examples I could use to write this post.  Sadly, I can’t.  I have hope for a future in which there will be no examples to draw from to write a post such as this and I hope to see both my community and my state continue to make strides towards truly being tolerant of all lifestyles and people.

“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

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Jan 15 2014

Working on Me

Photo Credit: Unknown if this is your photo please let me know!

Photo Credit: Unknown if this is your photo please let me know!

I didn’t do resolutions this year.  I won’t keep them anyway, but I did decide to work on transforming myself in to someone I enjoy more.  I have a million and one things I would like to change in my life, in my family, in myself.  I feel like if I can take a look at a few things and focus on smaller, more achievable goals, I will have a lot more success than if I was to write out a list of resolutions.  I figure this is a good place for accountability practice.  Some of the things I want to work on will be difficult and a struggle daily, but I am determined to regain control of things I CAN change even if I have to claw my way through them.  So, here’s my list of things I am working on, and I am hoping to post every day that I have made some kind of a step toward each of them, even if it’s a baby step.  Better if it’s a leap though.  So, in brutally honest fashion I am going to share with you the things I really fail at and am trying to turn around.

  • Gratitude – This has been a tough one for me.  I am grateful daily for so many things, but I never sit and really think about what I have to be thankful for.  There are SO many things and I am so bad at dwelling on the constant negative.  I think if I can truly think of a couple of things daily that I am grateful for, I might be able to outweigh the negative we seem bogged down in.  I am starting a gratitude journal and hope that it will turn some of this around.  When you struggle with just surviving each day, it’s so easy to focus on the negative and when you do that I truly believe you will find more negative than you are actually surrounded by.
  • Financial Freedom – Oh this would be so nice.  I have SO, SO, SO, many medical bills.  A friend of mine last year vetoed doctors in her family.  She has two kids who are diabetic so she had to leave that as a disclaimer, but she said “no doctor visits this year that aren’t diabetic related” she wasn’t able to stick to it, because it’s just not practical of course, but the mindset did help cut down on some of it.  Unfortunately, things happen.  Especially when you have diabetic children who are going to get sick more often.  But, she swears that in just saying “no doctor visits” they cut down.  We have to see doctors and we have medical expenses.  I can’t cut them out completely.  My Auto-Pap and Oxygen are pricey and so are my meds and I have to breathe.  However, I believe there are some things I can do to help cut down on all around illnesses in our household.  I am following a couple of Dave Ramsey’s plans and I hope we can stick to them.  Also, in the past during hockey season it’s SO easy to just eat out when the kids have to be at the rink back to back and there’s homework, etc…  I have made a conscious effort this season to NOT succumb to that.  Originally I bought out Schwan’s.  OH, they have such easy meal prep options.  However, they are expensive and if you look at the nutritional value, you may as well just serve Kraft Mac & Cheese and save yourself a fortune.  Some of their meals are really good and I will still use them for some things, but I am doing more actual cooking and I enjoy cooking anyway.  I really hate doing dishes and cleaning up though, so I am telling myself, think of all you are saving!  You can save a lot of money in doing your own prep also.  Don’t buy dried minced onions when actual onions are better for you and cheaper in the long run, things like that.  Some nights I have to really fight myself to keep from slipping backward, but on those nights I break out the go to meal of tacos and ignore the whining!  HAHA  I’m also watching for things we need or want in second hand places.  DD is tremendously hard on all clothes and shoes, so if I can buy them gently used second hand, I’m going to do it.  There are so many little things that add up, and I am starting to really look at those which is something I have never done before.  I have set achievable goals and laid down the law with everyone in this house on how we are going to reach them.  This is probably one of the hardest goals I have set, for all of us.  Wish us luck!
  • More Patience – Things get overwhelming for me and I lack patience I once had.  I don’t know when I lost it, but man do I ever need to find it again.  Joey was so easy with school work, he is so smart and things just came so easily and naturally for him.  With the exception of one short time span, I could sit down and breeze through homework with him.  Elizabeth is the exact opposite.  She struggles with reading and has some trouble with retention.  Because I did not ever struggle and Joey did not ever struggle, I am having a seriously difficult time helping her.  I can’t believe I just admitted that!!  However, there you have it.  She struggles so much in school that by the time she gets home she is seriously hard to work with.  They send home a ton of homework, spelling lists, 6 books a night to read, etc… and she just hates it.  Her attitude is contagious so by the time we are done we are both close to tears.  Then you add in the hockey rink, a cranky over-worked husband, and a ridiculously plugged in 14 year old who lives to define teen angst and I go to bed most nights just wondering where I failed at life.  I hate Common Core, let me just put that out there.  No first grader should have 10 spelling words that consist of whale, weight, height, chimp, etc…  It’s ludicrous and I quite honestly struggle so much to teach her how to spell a word that phonetically makes no sense to her.  I also don’t understand why she is adding and subtracting numbers from 20 or why she needs to know greater than and less than at this age, or how in the Hell I explain to her how to figure out what 7 less than 20 is.  Oddly, math is her strong suit so we breeze through it fairly quickly, but the subject matter in first grade is just mind boggling.  Her brother helps her a lot because he is more patient and because he used some of the different things they are teaching, but even he gets frustrated with her subject matter.  I often hear him say “why in the world is she even spelling this word yet?!” and that helps to validate my feelings, because he knows what he did and didn’t do in first grade.  However, I am trying to work on being more patient with both of them and I have been scouring different websites and books to see what I can do to keep my cool while helping her read her 5th chapter book of the night, full of words she just shouldn’t even know yet.
  • A Healthier Lifestyle – This is a HUGE one for me, but for all of us as well.  The kids get lots of exercise because they skate 3-4 times a week not counting games, but they don’t eat well.  They come home from school hungry and snack and then don’t want dinner.  If I make dinner earlier they are hungry after practice and late to bed.  I am working on that happy medium for them.  Dinner at a decent time, a smaller snack, and an easier routine for bedtime so they are in bed and not so draggy.  Also, more activity for me because the steroids put a ton of weight on me that I have struggled to take off, and I have got to figure something out.  I am not a snacker or a sweets eater, but I am so badly out of shape after my initial illness, that I struggle to complete the smallest physical task.  I am increasing my activity level every day and forcing myself to ignore my un-used muscles.  I park further away from buildings and walk, I take the stairs, I vacuum even when I did it yesterday, etc…  baby steps.  Less sedentary for me is really what I need.  If I have to use my inhalers more, I do.  If I need a nap after, I take it.  But, I am up and doing more, or trying to.
  • Better organization – This is pretty self explanatory, but I am working to streamline everything in our lives.  We spend so much time getting through clutter and disorganization, time that is better spent not being so rushed.  Rushing and hurrying lead to frustration and can ruin an entire day in my opinion and we do a lot of it
  • Handling negativity better – I saved the best for last.  Or, at least the most challenging.  I have learned that people don’t get what we have been through.  I have a mostly invisible (thank you God) illness now.  I no longer have an oxygen tank 24/7, and I am no longer blue 5 word in to a conversation.  I get winded easily in certain conditions, but I hide it well.  I get sick a lot.  A little cold here, a bad cold there.  However, I appear to be very functional.  No one can see the fact that my circulatory system is just flat screwed up.  No one can see that my heart rate at rest is in the 115 range and after a flight of stairs is in the 130′s, continually.  No one can see the Edema in my legs that is ever present but even more so if I am standing, because I no longer wear shorts or sandals.  No one knows I have to sleep with a pretty good amount of oxygen pumped in to a machine that forces me to breathe when my throat closes to keep the contents of my stomach out of my lungs.  No one can understand the sheer exhaustion I face by mid-morning due to all of these things.  So, they figure I am faking, or I should get up and get out and take off the weight the meds put on, or that I am attention seeking.  I no longer spend much time at the hockey rinks and I travel for hockey sparingly.  Mostly because traveling with my machines is a hassle but traveling without them guarantees oxygen deprivation headaches that feel like my head is in a vice, bone crushing fatigue from not sleeping through the night and breathing at the same time, or even better, the risk of dying in my sleep because my body did not automatically decide I really needed to take a breath.  I have heard comments behind my back, kids have said things to my son, even people in my family don’t understand what I deal with and really have no desire to.  I have been working really hard at shrugging these things off and having a thicker skin.  Then there is my PTSD that no one understands.  No one really can, and no one cares to try.  It’s why so many PTSD patients end up committing suicide.  No one notices the battle you are fighting and if they do, they figure you can just shut it off and “get over it” and you just can’t.  So, instead of being hurt every time I hear a snicker, or hear a comment, or have someone treat me truly poorly, I am working really hard to remind myself that they can’t understand, don’t want to understand, and really if they can’t or won’t and don’t want to, that’s their choice and I also have the ability to make the choice to walk away from them.  Some I am forced to still see daily, weekly, etc… but it doesn’t mean I have to let them hurt me.  This has been extremely difficult for me, and I have answered this by becoming a recluse.  I am somewhat OK with that, but on the other hand I am very lonely and I am working on a way for me to shrug it off and kill people with kindness rather than let them hurt me.  As I said, this is the most difficult goal I have set for myself and definitely the one that requires the most baby steps.

So, there you have it.  My list of goals in a nutshell.  I am thankful the internet offers so many wonderful resources for achieving these goals, and I hope to update frequently with my victories, even if they are smaller than I would like.   I have also started writing in a couple of notebooks.  One for gratitude and one for my general thoughts and feelings at any given time.  Things I did that I wish I had done differently, things that someone said that hurt me and why I shouldn’t have taken them to heart, or how they made me feel and why, things like that.  I also have a Bamboo Dry Erase Board and two chalkboards I am going to fill with inspirational quotes and sayings that I think all of us can benefit from each day.  They will all be front and center in our kitchen so we see them each morning before we head out and I hope we ca all take them to heart and live by them each day.  Below is the first of them:

Photo Credit: Unknown if this is your photo please let me know so I can give credit!

Photo Credit: Unknown if this is your photo please let me know so I can give credit!

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