Saturday, April 30, 2011

Day 23 - A picture of your favorite book.

I can't choose just ONE book - that seems ludicrous to me. I love books, I love reading, so much that it's impossible for me to pick just one. So here are a few of the ones that I feel I couldn't live without. From top to bottom:
  • The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley - my favorite version of the story of Camelot.
  • The Myth of the Goddess: Evolution of an Image by Anne Baring & Jules Cashford - this was the textbook for a class I took on Images of the Goddess, one of my favorite classes in my whole undergrad experience. Lots of myths, archeological findings and exploration of the sociological reasons for worship.
  • Love Is In The Earth by Melody - my favorite compendium of crystal/stone/mineral info ever!
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy (Ultimate Edition) by Douglas Adams - I started reading these stories in high school and I was hooked immediately. Every so often I will re-read them and it's like visiting an old friend who can still make you laugh with the same jokes 20 years later. Love it.
  • Fibromyalgia & Chronic Myofascial Pain by Devin Starlanyl & Mary-Ellen Copeland - this manual has saved my sanity many times over. Fibromyalgia is so complex and multi-layered, many people (including doctors and people with FM) don't realize half of what they experience is linked to the FM. I call this book my BIBLE. 
I would also like to add these books to the list of faves:
  • Ishmael by Daniel Quinn (changed my life, and how I look at the world)
  • The Mayfair Witches Trilogy by Anne Rice
  • The Odd Thomas books by Dean Koontz
  • The Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris
  • The Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series by Laurell K. Hamilton
Ok, I better stop or this list never will! What are YOUR favorite books?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

30DC - Day 22

Day 22 - A picture of something you wish you were better at.

Exercise. Ugh. That is all. 
Sorry, but I am still recovering from a migraine and am a little fuzzy brained. I did want to write more about this but it's going to have to wait. I did, however, have a spectacular salad for dinner tonight - Spring mix & baby spinach with strawberries, dried cranberries, mandarin oranges, goat cheese and almonds with raspberry vinaigrette - so yummy! But my head is still fuzzy and tight and I've made like 20 typos (thank gods for spell-check) so I'm done for now. *waves and hobbles toward bed to crash*

Monday, April 25, 2011

In which I procrastinate and distract myself with shiny...

Sometimes I sit down to write and I know exactly what I want to write about. Other times I sit here, in front of the computer, feeling like I want to write a book's worth of words and I don't know where to begin. This is one of those times. I sat down to write 3 hours ago. Did I write? No. I had all kinds of ideas floating around in my head, but I couldn't put my thoughts together in a coherent way so I did some virtual window-shopping. Fibro-fog is a bitch. But on the plus size, I mean SIDE, I have fallen madly in love with Holy Clothing. If I could, I would purchase my entire wardrobe from them. Beautiful gypsy-goddess-renaissance-bohemian clothes at really attractive prices AND in real plus sizes, too! None of that "Free Size" crap. You know what I'm talking about. It says "Free Size" or "One Size Fits All" on the tag but you're lucky if you can get it on one limb. So, yeah One size fits all legs, maybe. All that is accomplished by that time waster is making yourself feel miserable. To the thick-skulled, thin-waisted morons who think that a size 10 is an XL, I now bend over and touch my toes so you may kiss my shiny tucas. Also, please help me back up 'cuz I think I just threw my back out.

30DC - Day 21

Day 21 - A picture of something you wish you could forget.

 "683,000 forcible rapes occur every year, which equals 56,916 per month, 1,871 per day, 78 per hour, and 1.3 per minute."
 Click here to learn more, get support, and donate to help.  

This is more than appropriate timing, seeing as April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Teal is the color of the awareness ribbon for sexual violence awareness.
I am a survivor. I was sexually abused from the age of 3 to 11 by a trusted family friend. I was raped at the age of 18 by someone I knew and trusted. If you think rapists and child molesters are strangers, you are dead wrong. The fact is that 2/3 of assaults are by committed by someone the victim knows. Here is some more info courtesy of RAINN. 

Victims Statistics Frequency of Sexual Assault Statistics
Reporting Statistics
Rapists Statistics

Sunday, April 24, 2011

30DC - Day 20

Day 20 - A picture of somewhere you'd love to travel.

Not surprisingly I have always been drawn to my Celtic roots. Ireland, Scotland, even England - besides seeing where my ancestors hail from, I would love to visit the ancient standing stone sites, including Stonehenge, and other wonders all over the British Isles, including the temple-tomb in New Grange (Ireland), and the summit of Silbury Hill in Wiltshire (England; a spectacular man-made mountain in honor of the Goddess, which deserves it's own post here at some point). Oaky and I have talked for years about saving for a trip... I'm thinking of buying an actual piggy bank, maybe painting little shamrocks all over it. You have to start somewhere.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

30DC - Day 19

Day 19 - A picture of you when you were little.

This is me at age 2 or 3 (?), not sure. I find it easier to identify with pictures of me at a very young age (3 and under) or in my teens. Pictures of me during the years in between seem foreign to me. Those were the years I was being sexually abused. It is strange how the mind works. I apparently shut down on some deep level to protect myself and it's only occasional that I find a photo or memory from that era and feel connected to it.

Friday, April 22, 2011

30DC - Day 18

Day 18 - A picture of something you're jealous of.

How gorgeous are these?! I miss wearing high heels. So it's not the shoes themselves I am jealous of, it's the people who get to wear them. I haven't been able to wear high heels in over a decade. The fibromyalgia and back problems ensure that if I even try, I will promptly fall over and probably sprain or break something in the process. These shoes in particular are teh sexxy. Oh yes. If I had the means I would buy them just to wear when sitting or laying down. *snerk* Gods know I would never be able to stand in them, let alone walk. But they sure are pretty to look at. *sigh*

Thursday, April 21, 2011

30DC - Day 17

Day 17 - A picture of something that has made a huge impact on your life recently.

Last September, late on a Friday afternoon, I was getting ready to go out to dinner with a friend who I hadn't seen in a few years. I was primping myself and thinking about the amazing Italian restaurant we were going to, trying to decide on which delectable meal I would order, and the possibility of a sinful dessert when the phone rang. It was my doctor calling to tell me the results of my lab tests from my annual physical. My blood glucose level was almost 300 and my kidneys were already showing signs of irreversible damage. I had Diabetes. I felt a wave of panic, lump rising in my throat, heart beating faster. Crap, I thought. There goes the creme brulee. How would I enjoy myself after that news?

My life has changed drastically, but I'm still struggling with those changes. In addition to the meds I have to take twice a day, my diet needed an overhaul. Out with the simple carbs - goodbye, sugar, I love you! - and in with the complex carbs - hello, whole grains, nice to meet you. This is still proving a difficult change for me. I am a carbaholic. Bread, potatoes, rice, pasta - my morning bagel! AGH! How would I do this?! As I go along I am finding healthy and delicious substitutes for most of my favorite carb products. Luckily I adore brown rice, so that wasn't so hard. As for pasta, I found Dreamfields pasta which has a low glycemic impact and tastes just like regular pasta. I was sooo happy with this discovery because when I tried the whole grain pastas (you know, the brown, gritty ones) I thought I was eating sand. I'm also learning to like sweet potatoes which are healthier than their plain white counterparts. And breads - well, hearty multigrains are delicious. And many companies are now making the extra-thin flatbread products such as bagels or sandwich thins, so I can still enjoy those things. In moderation. And with fruits and veggies. I am still working on that part.

The hardest part for me is proving to be sweets. Yes, there are plenty of sugar-free options out there, but eating them in moderation is a bit of a challenge for me. I am slowly learning what healthy eating is. No one ever really taught me. My family is chock full of foodies, emotional eaters, and sugar fiends. I have to be my own inspiration here. I'm getting better at picking up the healthy groceries and walking away from temptation. I'm even learning to go for the berries or the light yogurt instead of a handful of sugar-free cookies. I have lost 20 pounds since I found out about the diabetes, but I hit a plateau over the cold winter months. Now Spring is here and I'm hoping to kick it up a notch and get back to losing. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can!

A pain in my.......

Thanks to my 18 lb. cat Brady and his habit of running through my legs to get ahead of me wherever I'm walking (because it must be somewhere exciting and he needs to get there first), I have been in full flare-up mode for 2 weeks. I think the worst of it was 2 days ago when the spasm in my neck/upper back kept me in bed with heating pad and copious amounts of medication. I was so miserable that I called Oaky and begged him to come over and give me a massage. Turns out the meds knocked me out soon after the phone call so he didn't need to come over, but I'm pretty sure I would have been poor company if he had. I think I was whining to the cats at one point, and even they covered their ears and ran away. Which I think was pretty rude, especially for Brady, seeing as it was his body that tripped me and sent me hurling through space. Cats have really poor empathy skills. I mean, he never even apologized. 

Having fibro really sucks sometimes. If you don't have it and are wondering what a flare feels like, please allow me to illustrate for you what you are missing out on. On a good day I may feel just a little achy, may take me a few minutes to get out of bed. I may need to stretch out in the shower but I can usually go about my day with relatively few interruptions. On a BAD day, however, I feel like I've been run over by a freight train. Then bludgeoned with a baseball bat. Then kicked by the schoolyard bully. Then rolled down a hill made entirely of big rocks. Then stabbed with a poker fresh out of the fire. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is where I was headed on Monday.

It didn't get quite that bad but I have had days where it has. Those are the days when you look at that damn pain scale in the doctor's office and laugh because it doesn't even come close to depicting how you feel. As my friend Angela reminded me, the pain scale should look more like this. I think I'm going to print that out and bring it with me to my next medical appointment. Better yet, I'll print out the whole page and have it laminated and carry it with me everywhere, that way I can just pull it out and point when the need arises. Maybe I'll even have it translated into Cat-onese so my furry feline children will get it through their tiny little brains that Let's Trip Mom! is not a fun game for everyone involved.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

30DC - Day 16

Day 16 - A picture of someone who inspires you.

I have had the pleasure of attending 2 of Dr. Maya Angelou's speaking engagements in the '80's and 90's. I even had the privelage of meeting her face to face and shaking hands with her. At 6' tall she is an imposing figure, regal in stature and aura. She spoke to me briefly and I think my jaw was on the ground the whole time. I don't remember what I said to her but I doubt I made any coherent noises because I was so awe-struck. It was what I imagine meeting the Queen must be like for the Brits.

My love affair with Dr. Angelou started when I was 13 and I read her book I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. It was the first time I really felt that I wasn't alone in my experiences. I remember crying, not exactly understanding why the tears were flowing. I had blocked out most of my childhood memories but I knew that something horrible lurked in those dark recesses of my mind, and reading that book was like shining a flashlight into those dark corners for a brief moment. Dr. Angelou's words resonated with me on a profound level. I knew, deep down inside, that she was telling my story. I had been sexually abused for years by someone close to my family and kept silent under threat of harm. He threatened that my parents wouldn't love me anymore, that they would leave me, and eventually he threatened my life and theirs. When I was 11 I was close to telling my fifth grade teacher but then my father left. He and my mother were getting a divorce. In my young mind it was all connected. I had decided to tell so I was being punished. I kept silent after all, not wanting the other shoe to drop. Even after I had told, years later, I still felt the looming threat, and to this day my first reaction to talking aloud about the abuse and standing up for myself is the feeling that something bad is going to happen. Most of the time I am able to brush it aside and tell myself that it is not true, but it lingers in the background. I still identify with Dr. Angelou's words, which have been an inspiration to me more than I can express. When I doubt myself and all that I can possibly be or do, I just look to her and think, my gods, if she could do it, so can I.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

30DC - Day 15

Day 15 - A picture of something you want to do before you die.

Yes, I'm going to write a book someday. It will happen.

Monday, April 18, 2011

30DC - Day 14

Day 14 - A picture of someone you could never imagine your life without.

My Oaky. Here he is wearing his oak leaf necklace I bought for him.

Even when we were apart he was still in my heart. He is the love of my life, my elephant love, my soulmate, best friend and playmate. He inspires me, encourages me, supports me, challenges me, and loves me like no other. Hopefully we'll grow old together, sitting in our matching rocking chairs on a porch somewhere, making stupid jokes and making up songs together. I'm sure he'll start whittling wood with his beloved Swiss Army knife. He'll probably make a little menagerie of wooden animals whom I'll undoubtedly give voice to... even if we have no children sitting at our feet. My partner in life and love, for all time, I love you, Oakheart.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

30DC - Day 13

Day 13 - A picture of your favorite band or artist.

It was very difficult for me to choose a favorite, as my musical taste runs such an enormous range. I love music from all kinds of genres (as stated in my last post). However, there is one group that has remained at the top of my playlist for over 20 years. As well as being incredibly talented, the Indigo Girls have special meaning to me. In 1990 my high school pen-pal sent me a mix-tape, introducing me to the Indigo Girls via their song Closer To Fine. Googie bought me the Rites of Passage album (cassette tape!) the year I graduated from high school. We spent many hours riding around in his car listening to that tape. Years later he and I went to see them in concert and it was phenomenal. Oaky also loves their music (one of the first things we bonded over) and we've gone to 3 IG concerts together, including one outdoor show at Hampton Beach which will forever be burned into my memory. I have listened to their albums over and over, and I never get tired of them. The lyrics tell stories that are universal and resonate on profound levels. Their voices blend together perfectly (and are on my scale so I can sing them! haha). They never disappoint.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

30DC - Day 12

Day 12 - A picture of something you love.

I love music. It soothes my senses. It makes me dance. It relaxes me. It pumps me up. It helps me to remember. It helps me to forget. It moves my spirit and my feet. Whether it's voices a capella, instrumental sans voice, or music and voice together... tribal drums, spanish guitar, harp, piano... jazz, doo-wop, R&B, soul, pagan spirituals, rock, pop, metal, alternative, fusion... If it speaks to me, it doesn't matter. I especially like listening to Oaky play piano, whether it's his own stuff or not. Suddenly I feel the need to dig out my iPod...

Friday, April 15, 2011

30DC - Day 11

Day 11 - A picture of something you hate.

PAIN SUCKS. I started experiencing pain in my childhood, around age 10 or so. I was diagnosed with arthritis and what was then called fibrositis, now known as fibromyalgia. I wasn't aware of the diagnosis until many years later, after I was diagnosed a second time at the age of 23. With a lot of hard work and medication I managed to get my symptoms under control - until I sustained a neck & back injury 2 years later. That was 12 years ago. I have been in chronic pain ever since.

I have been through physical therapy more times than I've tied my shoes, tried all kinds of medications and treatments, including Botox injections from the base of my skull down to below the scapula (that's the shoulderblade, for those of you who are not up to par on your anatomy). I received a series of injections over a period of 2 years, every 4 to 6 months, getting up to 24 injections in one sitting. The injections worked wonders at first, paralyzing the muscles in my neck and upper back and thereby preventing painful spasms. But it wasn't permanent. And after a while the efficacy began to fade. But my neck and upper back did look smooth and wrinkle-free.  When the Botox stopped working we tried trigger-point injections, shooting mostly into the same spots as the Botox but with a saline solution instead of the toxin. Both the Botox and the TrP injections were extremely painful and only last a certain amount of time.

So now I just rely on at home exercises that I learned in PT. Every once in a while I have to go back into PT, if I've injured myself (which is a lot easier to do when you have fibromyalgia), or when the muscle spasms won't calm down with my at home treatments (exercise, heat, ice, massage & meds). Somedays I feel good, but you never know what's going to trigger a flare-up with the fibro, which in turn flares up the site of the injury, which flares up the fibro again and round and round we go. I've also been diagnosed with migraines, PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), all of which can be extremely painful in their own right. Put them all together and now you've got a pain party! I don't want to complain, but I am not a fan of pain. But I've had to learn to cope with it. If you don't learn to adapt then your life can be absolutely miserable. I do have days when I feel miserable, don't get me wrong. But learning to work with the pain instead of against it can make all the difference in the world.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The ABC's of me....

A= Available – Nope, 100% taken

B= Best Friend – Oaky & Googie
C= Cake or pie –   Cupcakes made by Googie or mookies (muffin-cookie-brownie-things) made by Oaky

D= Drink of choice – iced tea

E= Essential item you use everyday – my glasses (at least I should be using them every day but I need a new 
prescription so I don't always wear them... does that make sense?)

F= Favorite color - purple

G= Gummy bears or worms – gummy bears! And I am on the hunt for sugar free gummi bears so if you see any please send them my way!

H= Hometown – Springfield, MA/Enfield, CT

I= Indulgences – chocolate   (sugar-free of course), vampire romance novels, and Days of Our Lives. Don't judge me.

J= January or February - February, it's my birth month.

K= Kids and Names – no human children but my cats are named Willow & Brady

L= Life is incomplete without? - Love

M= Marriage date – um, N/A.

N= Number of siblings – 2 brothers

O= Oranges or apples – depends on the day

P= Phobias or Fears – heights & not being able to breathe

Q= Favorite Quote – I have 3:
 "Be the change you wish to see in the world." ~ Mahatma Gandhi
"Life Shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." ~ Anaïs Nin
Sometimes you wake up. Sometimes the fall kills you. And sometimes, when you fall, you fly.” ~ Neil Gaiman

R= Reason to smile – boyfriend, cats, family, friends, sunshine, pain-free days, rainbows

S= Season – I can't pick, I love and hate things about all 4 seasons.

T= Tag 3 or 4 people - I don't wanna. :-P

U= Unknown fact about me – Can't think of one, I'm pretty much an open book.

V= Vegetable you don't like – brussel sprouts – yuck!

W= Worst habit – smoking, but I have been smoke free since Thanksgiving 2010! WOOT!

X= X-rays – yes, and CT scans and MRIs.... clumsiness + chronic health problems.

Y= Your favorite food – I have to choose?? I'm a foodie, dammit, I can't choose.

Z= Zodiac Sign -

30DC - Day 10

Day 10 - A picture of the person you do the most messed up things with.

My friends (L to R) Sabrina & Cathy - they are just as crazy as I am. Sometimes more. They've been known to prance around town in crazy colored wigs and feather boas - granted, it was Gay Pride Day, but still, most people would take off the rainbow afro wig before going into Friendly's for a burger... just sayin'. *smiles*

Cat & Brina have been together for 10 years. They are crazy about each other and it's beautiful. They have wacky senses of humor, which is probably why we're such good friends. Brina frequently calls me late at night just to let me know what challenge RuPaul is giving his drag queens on his show. Confession: I only watch the show when she calls to tell me about it. But don't tell her that because she'll call me every night to tell me to watch.  And they are the only friends of mine who love kid's movies as much as Oaky & I. Of course, they also enjoy slasher films. Nobody's perfect.  At least they take dressing up seriously.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

30DC - Day 09

Day 09 - A picture of the person who has gotten you through the most. 

I think this one is pretty self-explanatory. Without my family and friends I don't believe I'd be here right now. There have been a few points in my life when I felt like giving up and giving in to the pain, but luckily I had people on my side who encouraged me, fought for me, to hang on and get the help I needed. They had faith in me especially when I didn't have faith in myself. And they helped me hang on through the darkest times. I love them more than I can say. 


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

30DC - Day 08

Day 08 - A picture that makes you laugh.

This is my furbaby Willow when he was only a couple of months old. Kittens are precocious and Willow definitely fit the bill (still does). As a baby he had a habit of sleeping in the strangest places - in the laundry hamper, the bath tub (no water and shower curtain closed, it was like his own little room), behind the TV, and (shown here) in the trash can. I have no idea what he was thinking but it makes me giggle every time I see it.

Monday, April 11, 2011

An Attitude of Gratitude

I woke up this morning in massive amounts of pain. Between tripping over the cat last week and hurling myself through space, and helping my brother clean the house on Sunday, well, let's just say my body was very angry with me. I had a Reiki client scheduled for this afternoon and I just knew there was no way I'd be able to go through with it.
  1. I'd spent the night at Oaky's., 30 minutes from home and the appointment place. So I'd not only have to deal with getting out of bed, getting dressed, and packed, but I wouldn't be able to medicate myself properly until after I drove back, and that would not do at all.
  2. I knew the pain would interfere with giving my client the treatment that he needed and deserved.
So I called my client and moved the appointment to tomorrow morning. I wrestled with the decision for almost 45 minutes and felt guilty afterward. But Oaky reminded me that I needed to take care of myself first and what kind of healing service could I provide to someone else if I was not fully present because I was in so much pain? Also, It'd be pretty much impossible to give a full body treatment in the shape I was in anyway, I could barely stand this morning. With that realization I felt grateful that my client was so accommodating (he usually isn't) and rested at Oaky's for the afternoon. I knew I had to get back home for the evening though because I had a friend stopping by to practice giving his spiel for his new job, and he was bringing his supervisor. When I got home I had 2 hours before they were expected so I planned to clean the apartment a bit and was feeling frazzled about that because I was still in pain.... then I walked through my front door.

What I saw melted my heart. All my stuffed animals (yes, I have a collection) were sitting on the couch and in the recliner, Gertie (my tiniest stuffed elephant) holding the remote to the TV and Damn Bunny holding the telephone. Laughing out loud, I made it to the bedroom where I found my stuffed turtle wearing my favorite pair of ladybug shoes atop my bed. Either Oaky had arranged this delightful scenario before he left my apartment yesterday (I left before he did) or my stuffies have suddenly developed higher intelligence and a need to party. Feeling more relaxed, I decided to take a nice hot shower, took some more pain meds, got into comfy clothes and laid on the couch. I managed to get a little nap in before a friend called (who was on my mind at that very moment!) and asked if she could use me as a reference for something - which totally made me feel good, so of course I said yes. Then my friend and his supervisor arrived and I got to help him with his new job. I felt so good that I could help him out, and so proud of him that he is doing so well and on this new path - he had a wonderful energy to him that I haven't seen in him for a long while. Plus, he is helping to hook me up with some Reiki contacts, and possibly a chance to earn my Reiki Master's degree!

I am blown away. The day started off precariously, with pain and guilt and shame clouding my thoughts. But as soon as I gave in to the need to care for myself and not please the masses, I was rewarded with joy and oppotunity! Sometimes the Universe just amazes me.

30DC - Day 07

Day 07 - A picture of your most treasured item.

This one took a lot of thought. I finally decided that "things" are nice but don't really mean that much to me. If a fire broke out in the middle of the night I wouldn't be grabbing stuff, I'd grab the cats and the people that I love who were there. My heart and the love I give and receive are the most precious things to me. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the shiny things! They are pretty to look at but they are not what give meaning to my life. My relationships do that. My relationships with other people (and animals) and myself. When I love I give my all, that's the way it has been for me since I was a little girl. Some may say I give to much. But I say If you are wise when you give generously it always comes back to you. And how could that NOT be the most treasured thing in life?