change · epiphany · exercise · goals · lessons · Michele

20 Questions for my 45th

Yesterday was my 45th birthday, and on the whole, it was pretty anti-climactic. I spent most of the day enjoying the benefits of Comcast on demand by watching Season 1 of Shameless. Between that I sat outside in the sun and read, which was lovely. Just having sunshine was a luxury! Oh, and I answered all the birthday greetings from friends on Facebook; that was excellent. I got a wonderful birthday gift from my sister & nephew, which they picked out weeks ago at a reptile show they went to. No, it isn’t a lizard, it is an awesome Southwesterny owl necklace. I love it!

The last year of my life has been full of so much turmoil, so many ups and downs. While I have made some changes, I’ve mostly been sitting here, in my chair, stagnating. If there’s one thing I know, it’s that stagnant water STINKS! I am so tired of my life stinking. Starting now, starting here, I am churning up the water, changing my life. (Yes, I know I’ve said that dozens of times before. Shut up. I mean it this time.)

These questions came from a post titled 20 Questions You Should Ask Yourself Every questions20Sunday on a blog about productive living. I am using them here as a way to give myself a guide for goals, etc. Honestly, this seems like a lot of things to worry about every single Sunday, and I’d only ask myself all these questions every six months or so. Don’t expect profound answers, people. If you are looking for genius, what the hell are you doing here? Seriously? Anyway, here we go.  Text in italics is from the original post, these are my answers.

 

  1. What did I learn last week? – If you have trouble answering this question, it’s time for a change.  It doesn’t matter how old you are, you should learn something new every week.  That baby powder doesn’t get rid of ants; that baking with gluten free flour is not that easy; and that I have no wish to date or do anything else with guys from Craigslist.
  2. What was my greatest accomplishment over the past week? – Reflecting on your accomplishments is a healthy way to raise self confidence and contentment.  It’s also an effective way to track your progress.  Umm, I didn’t do much of anything last week. Big fibro flare, all sorts of health issues. However, I managed to read about 6 books, not a record for me, but pretty good. And while I have not lost any weight, I’ve not gained, either.
  3. Which moment from last week was the most memorable and why? – It may open up your mind to new passions and goals, or simple pastimes worth revisiting. So much fun just goofing around with Max. He was on Spring Break, and was sick half the week, but when he was feeling good, he and I took turns teasing each other in the odd little way that we do. It reminded me how much I love kids, and love being social, things I miss, hiding in my room.
  4. What’s the #1 thing I need to accomplish this week? – Everything else is secondary, and should be treated as such.  Nevertheless, this question will also shine light on other noteworthy tasks. The same thing I needed to accomplish last week–get my ass out of this chair and EXERCISE!! My biggest goal for this year is to get healthy, and lose weight. The only way I can really do that is by exercise, which I never do. 
  5. What can I do right now to make the week less stressful? – Set reminders in your calendar, get your laundry done, fill the car with gas… organize yourself. My doctor said I should schedule in exercise, thinking that would make me more likely to do it. When she told me this, I, of course did nothing; now I am thinking it’s the right idea. 
  6. What have I struggled with in the past that might also affect the upcoming week? – The idea here is to learn from your struggles and better equip yourself for future encounters. Pain. Last week was full of pain. And the coming weeks likely will be, as well. I am hoping that more exercise will help with some of the pain, and will allow me to break free of the evil ibuprofen monster which is messing up my tummy. 
  7. What was last week’s biggest time sink? – Steer clear of this in the future.  Setup physical barriers against distractions if you have to. Television is always my biggest distraction. I may have to hide my remote. And the chargers for my electronics, so I don’t spend too much time online. 
  8. Am I carrying any excess baggage into the week that can be dropped? – Physical clutter, mental clutter… eliminate the unnecessary so the necessary may shine bright. Oh, I could spend weeks cleaning up just physical baggage. My little room is small, and I will work on getting rid of more junk this week. I got rid of a lot of clothes a few weeks ago. But magazines, papers, and other crap still needs to go. Big fun.
  9. What have I been avoiding that needs to get done? – Pencil in a time to get these things done.  For any 2-minute or less tasks, consider scheduling them first thing Monday morning. Didn’t I just cover this?
  10. What opportunities are still on the table? – If it’s still available and you want it, make a concrete plan to go after it this week. I’m writing. Not as much as I should, but I am. And I will figure out two things soon: a job, and a place to live. These will be on hold until after my disability hearing on April 18th. Once this limbo is decided, one way or the other, I will make a decision. 
  11. Is there anyone I’ve been meaning to talk to? – Regular communication can solve problems before they fester.  Always keep an open line of communication to those around you. Yes, some near, and some far. I’d rather not mention names here, but just know some of you will be getting a phone call or email this week.
  12. Is there anyone that deserves a big ‘Thank You’? – Take time each week to thank the people who have helped you.  Your kind gesture will not go unnoticed. My baby sister, Jolene. She’s been here for me throughout everything, and never gets enough credit from anyone for everything she does. Same goes for my mom. 
  13. How can I help someone else this coming week? – The easiest way to get what you want is to help others get what they want.  If you help them, they will remember you when you need help. I am a lazy bugger, and do very little around the house to pull me weight. I chip in when asked, but I should do more…
  14. What are my top 3 goals for the next 3 years? – You’ll never make any progress in life if you don’t setup realistic goals for yourself. This is a difficult one. Three years, three things. 1) Get my own place again. 2) Get my book written  3) lose 100 pounds
  15. Have any of my recent actions moved me closer to my goals? – If the answer is no, something needs to change. I’m starting on writing, but on the others, not so much…
  16. What’s the next step for each goal? – Knowing the next step is the key to accomplishing the whole. I don’t have an answer for this. Any ideas?
  17. What am I looking forward to during the upcoming week? – The answer can act as a great source of motivation.  If nothing exists, schedule something to look forward to. I don’t have plans yet, but I’m working on it. Suggestions?
  18. What are my fears? – Consciously address your fears each week and slowly work on resolving them.  It’s all about taking baby steps. My biggest fear now is about that upcoming disability hearing, and it’s outcome. I’ve been waiting for a year for this to happen, and I am, frankly, terrified, that these people who know nothing about me, will decide that I am “cured” of a lifelong disability, and will  cut off my health insurance. I can figure out a way to get by without the money, but I need that insurance; without it, I have no way to pay for medications, doctor visits, etc. And then I am back where I started, with seizures all the time, pain and suffering.  
  19. What am I most grateful for? – It’s a smart way to keep things in perspective, and something you should never lose sight of. Every single day I am grateful to be alive, grateful that I have a family who loves and helps me. 
  20. If I knew I only had one week to live, who would I spend my time with? – Another helpful reminder… Life is short.  Spend more time with the people you care about. I’d tell my family how much I loved them, every day. I’d find a way to get to Albuquerque, and see the friends there that I miss so much. Elissa, Kathy, Karen, and the rest (anybody else hearing the Gilligan’s Island theme song?). 

 

These are my 20 questions, and my answers, such as they are. Someone told me last week that 45 isn’t a landmark birthday. Well, for me it feels like it, especially since I know so many who never made it this far. I miss Michele every single day, and will, for the next 45 years, or until I see her again.

anti-depressant · Anyone? · breast cancer · Bubble Meds · Bubble Wrap · cancer · exercise · Fun · Major Depression · medication · Michele · money · Oprah · Scientology · stress · Tom Cruise

I’m Not Tom Cruise. I’m Taller.


A few days ago in a post titled ‘Bubble Meds, Anyone?,‘ I stated that I detest anti-depressant medications. I got several rather obnoxious comments about this (which I have been deleted, because I don’t want hate here), all telling me how evil and stupid I am to not recognize the wonders that are done by these medications. One commenter even compared me to Tom Cruise ranting on Oprah!

Let me say right now that the only similarities between Tom Cruise & I are height. And a sofa.
Anti-depressants, and medications as a whole, are a good thing. I know lots of folks whose lives are vastly improved by their blend of prescription drugs. Heck, if it weren’t for the varied anti-seizure meds I’ve been on since I was 16, I’d not be able to function. It’s quite possible that without those medications I’d be dead now. These medications save lives. I know that.
My issue with anti-depressants in the past has been simply that I’ve not yet found one that works for me. And of course, I want the quick fix. I’m not a patient person when it comes to medications–I want my pain-killers & cough syrups to work NOW!!! When the happy pills didn’t make me happy as soon as I swallowed, well, I gave up. I was young, I had time to wait for the bad feelings to go away. It wasn’t a matter of strength, so much as patience & time.
I’m not that young anymore. Many, many things have changed since the last time I had an episode of major depression. Back then I was living with my parents, I had no one depending on me for anything, my health was much better, and my stress level was lower. Now I’m living with my fiance and we are trying to start a business, my health is not good (although my seizures are controlled!), I’m in charge of a household. (Yes, I am!)
Stress, well, stress is high. My best friend, Michele, who just came through breast cancer with a smile on her face has been sick for the last few months. Two weeks ago they found Stage Four cancer in her bone marrow, the bones on her back, and a spot on her lungs. She began chemo last week. I want to be there holding her hand right now, but don’t have the money for my passport, much less a plane ticket to Toronto, where she lives. (Her mom is there, so she has help.) But can you understand why my stress level just flew up?
Anyway. My point is that I do not have anything against these medications or the people who take them. I’m not looking for a quick fix this time; I’m willing to be patient.
But if Tom Cruise shows up, telling me all I need are vitamins & exercise to fix my depression, there’s gonna be one less Scientologist in the world.
blogs · book reviews · books · exercise · fat · food · headaches · http://pastaqueen.com/blog/ · Jennette Fulda · medication · pain · skinny · topamax · weight · writing

Read This Book!

I’ve spent the last two weeks obsessed with Jennette Fulda. I began by reading an excerpt of her newest book, Chocolate and Vicodin:My Quest For Relief from the Headache that Wouldn’t Go Away, and then searched out her first book, Half-Assed: A Weight-Loss Memoir at the library. This led me to the blog she’s known for, http://pastaqueen.com/blog/. It’s been difficult to tear myself away!

Jennette, at her heaviest, weighed nearly 400 pounds, and by changing her eating habits & exercise, she lost half her body weight! I loved reading her stories of this change, partially because she’s honest, and not one bit self-righteous, but mostly because she’s just plain funny. I laughed out loud (lol) when she says “I felt confident enough to sign up for a 5K race. The former fat-girl bylaws dictate that you must run a 5K or you will be forced to gain back all the weight.” Seems that every formerly fat-girl I know is now running 5k’s and I think perhaps that’s why I’m still fat. I don’t want to run.

Jennette’s second book, Chocolate and Vicodin is in stores now. It’s the story of the headache that wouldn’t go away. In February 2008, she got a headache, and has been searching for a cure ever since. Chronic pain is nothing to laugh at, yet she manages to make it funny; the woman has a gift.

Now, I haven’t had a chance to read the book yet; it was just released last month, and I am too broke to purchase it. (It is on hold at the library, and my birthday is coming up, so..) I have read a couple of excerpts and the blog, and I must say, I am feeling very in sync with Jennette.

In the search of a cure for never-ending headache pain, she’s given a number of medications, and I have personal knowledge of several of these. The section of her blog that put my feelings into words is quoted below.
“To complicate things further, although the Topamax was making it easier to eat less, it was also making me stupid. It’s nicknamed “Stupamax” and “Dopamax.” It made it harder to speak right, like someone had placed the English language on the top shelf where it was just out of my reach. I could still see it, but I had to stand on my tippy toes to grab words, and even then I was just knocking them over instead of grabbing them firmly. I just felt…dumb. I found myself unable to focus as well. It put a damper on my mood. The crazy switch was turned off, but the stupid switch was turned on.”

I took Topamax for nearly 4 years, as an anti-seizure medication, and hoo-boy, do I remember that feeling. When I couldn’t find the words I wanted I used to say my brain was skipping, like a scratched record. My neurologist would test me to see how my verbal skills were, and eventually, as they deteriorated, and the Topamax wasn’t controlling the seizures, we switched meds. Right now I’m on a very low dose of it again, to help with chronic headaches (ugh), and I’m skipping every so often. But it is helping me lose weight.

Jennette Fulda writes in a real & humorous manner about things that are happening in her life. It’s feels like talking to a friend. I think this is why I’ve been unable to tear myself away from her blog archives for the last two weeks–I was getting to know my new friend! She’s smart, snarky, strong and talented. Read her books! I promise you won’t be disappointed.

change · eating · exercise · fat · food · goals · happy · resolve · skinny · weight

The Incredible Shrinking Jonna

Food & eating is a strange thing for me. While I don’t actually eat large amounts of anything, I do have a tendency to snack on things like potato chips. Easy enough to fix–if I don’t have it in the house, I can’t & won’t eat it. Same with my major weakness– Pepsi. I’m a junkie: I can’t have just one, and if it’s in the house, I’ll guzzle it until it’s gone. But if I’m not around it, I’m okay. So I don’t buy it.

I’m the wrong person to take to those “all-you-can-eat” type restaurants, because, I am not a big eater, and I never eat enough to justify the price. Everyone else is going back for thirds & fourths, and I’m sitting there, waiting to leave, drinking my sixth glass of Pepsi.

At regular places, I’m fine, because while I’m somewhat picky, I also like to try new things. And because my eyes are bigger than my stomach, I always have a doggie bag to take home!

My boyfriend, Steven, asks me at least once a day “Did you eat anything today?” because he knows I get involved in what I’m doing, and forget, until suddenly it’s five-thirty in the afternoon, and all I’ve had all day was that cup of coffee at nine. No wonder my head aches!

You’d think that someone who seldom eats, or eats very little would be a tiny little thing, wouldn’t you? Well, you’d be wrong. I’ve been struggling with my weight since I was nine-years-old! When I had my tonsils out at age 13, I lost about 20 pounds, because I refused to eat for 2 weeks (I was scared it would hurt to swallow.), but that didn’t last. Again, at age 35, I lost quite a bit of weight as a side-effect of an anti-seizure medication I was taking. The pounds just fell off, and I felt great–while it lasted, which was for about 19 months. And then it all came back, with friends, after changing meds. Of course, now I know that my body chemistry, my thyroid & pancreas, and a whole bunch of other things are all messed up, and have been since I was about nine, which is part of the reason I’m fat. But a bigger part, I know, is that I don’t eat well, and I seldom, if never exercise.

Yes, I admit it. While my internal chemistry may have triggered the weight gain, I’m responsible for it staying. (Never thought I’d actually say that out loud. And I didn’t– I typed it. You can’t prove this is even me…)

Yeah, yeah, I know, you’ve heard all this before. Fat girl gonna change, Yadda yadda yadda.. Since last September, when I first posted, I’ve actually lost weight, in spite of myself. In spite of doing very few of this things I said I would do, for various reasons. Seems as if whenever I make & declare plans, the Universe says “Oh, no, you don’t!” and throws up a roadblock. Well, look out, Universe, I just got a GPS that’ll get my by whatever you got! In September, I was weighing in at about 206 pounds, on a good day. (Another thing I never thought I’d tell the entire world.) Today, the scale says 188. I’m pretty damn happy, considering that I’ve not been able to get to the treadmill since before Christmas!

Still on a body that’s only 5’2″, with small bones, 188 is a lot of weight. So I am determined to make sure those numbers continue to go down! The picture above was taken in August 2010, and is my official “Before” shot. Look for pictures of the incredible shrinking Jonna coming soon!





breast cancer · Colorado · exercise · goals · lemons · lessons · Michele · New Year · pain · realizations · Sarah Palin · Shel · Steven · yoga

Lemons and Lessons

I have to say, I’m not sorry 2010 is over. In many ways, that year sucked, big time.
I spent most of the year in pain with migraines, and various other things. As well, money was nearly non-existent, after Steven was injured at work, and then lost his job. By the end of the year, we had to move from our two-bedroom apartment into a much smaller one-bedroom, along with all our stuff, and the three animals. Instead of saving us money, we ended up owing our landlord for fees.
It seemed as if every time I turned around, 2010 was bitch-slapping me with another bit of bad news. I dreaded turning on the news, for fear I’d hear of another oil spill, hurricane or tornado, or god-forbid, a massive lay-off somewhere! Everyone I know has struggled through, either battling health issues, financial problems, or both. An optimists nightmare. I’m a glass half-full girl, but it was difficult to keep the glass from shattering during 2010.
But. (Yes, there is always a “but”)
Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.
Which means that in even though many things were awful, there were also many learning moments. I’ve learned that even when I have pain, I don’t have to be one. (I can thank Sarah Palin & Kate Gosselin for that lesson, in part. Never thought I’d be thanking them for anything!)
I’ve learned that if you want to make your dreams come true, the first thing you have to do is wake up. For me, that means if I want to accomplish anything, I have to get dressed, not spend the day in my pajamas, and actually leave the apartment. They say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we do it daily. My sister’s advice about building a habit in fourteen days was one of the best things I learned all year! (Thanks, Jolene!)
There were also many good moments in 2010, and I would be wrong if I neglected to mention them. After almost a decade apart, my best friend, Michele and I were finally in the same place at the same time, and our visit was AWESOME! She’s been battling breast cancer up there in the frozen north, and I’ve been missing her down here, so just being together in our home town, with her entire family, her wonderful kids & husband, was the highlight of my year. For a while I was able to forget everything else and just be happy. We talked, laughed, ate, shopped, cried, ate, laughed, giggled, and sang old Barry Manilow songs. We even stood in front of the mirror & did each other’s hair, just like the old days! Sharing the beauty of western Colorado with Steven was fabulous, too!
My nephew Max started first grade, was in three plays this year, and as far as he’s concerned, he was the star of each! Max and Steven have become good friends, and every time I hear Maxie call out “Uncle Steven!” in that joyous voice, my heart lifts!
Max’s big sister, Hattie Jo, turned 17 this year, and is amazing! Hattie is the girl I’d want if I had a daughter–she’s smart, funny, polite, and talented, beautiful. She’s a lot like me. Hattie has been my friend since she was born, and I love watching her grow into such an incredible woman.
Anyway. I’m rambling. This rough year has helped me to see how important my loved ones are. Memories and moments. Lessons and…something else that starts with an “s”…lemons?
Sure. Lessons and lemons. Because when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. And add some vodka. Then you have a party!!
I don’t make resolutions anymore– I learned a long time ago that I break those quicker than I break eggs for breakfast. I do set goals, and I’d like to share a few of them with you.
In 2011:
Re-read one favorite book a month, and write about it.
Make a scrapbook for my nephew Max.
Write a blog post twice a week.
Practice yoga daily.
Learn Vancouver’s bus system.
Volunteer.
Read more; watch television less.
Exercise more.
Express my gratitude daily.
So there you have it. My goals for 2011. I’m hoping this bright, shiny new year will be a better one for all of us, with little fear of shattering glass, or throwing those lemons at anybody’s head! Happy New Year, everyone!
breast cancer · Buttercup · exercise · fat · pain · Shel

Suck It Up, Buttercup!

In a post titled Wisdom of Fat, I swore that I’d get myself off the sofa and onto the treadmill. I wanted to break my lifelong habit of laziness & bad health with some daily exercise, other than the walk between bookshelf & fridge! When I made this promise, I was determined to change things, and yet, nothing has changed.
The last few months I’ve complained a bunch about being in pain: I’ve had almost daily headaches, body aches, and toothaches. As usual, I’ve let this derail me from almost everything I’ve wanted to do. NO MORE!
In my lifetime I’ve probably made this kind of promise as many times as an alcoholic says they’ll give up drinking. Nearly every day I say to someone “I’m going to start exercising (insert time here). ” And I always mean it. But something always stops me: something big, like a seizure, which can knock me out for days; or something small, like a headache, or wanting to finish watching an episode of Seinfeld. Valid or not, I’m through making excuses.
My BFF, Shel, has spent the last 2 years fighting breast cancer, and I need to take her advice:
“Suck it up, Buttercup!”
Yes, I’m sure I’m still going to have pain. Big deal. If Shel can get through it, so can I. We buttercups are pretty tough, after all!