Internet · Michele · money · moving · realizations · seizures · Shel

Questions Worth Asking — And Some Answers

A while ago, someone sent me a link to a page entitled ‘25 Beautifully Illustrated Thought-Provoking Questions.’ I glanced at it, thinking “Hey, that’s nifty,” bookmarked it, and went on with my life. Today I stumbled upon it again, and a few of these questions hit me right between the eyes.
The last few weeks have been rough, and I’ve spent a lot of time feeling sorry for myself. Complaining, whining, bitching, whatever you want to call it, I’ve done them all-in spades. (There is a reason I called this site “Read Between the WHINES!”) Not enough money, bad health, bad weather, too many stupid commercials, nothing good to eat, blah blah blah. The worst thing was, after two-and-a-half years without a seizure, I had a whopper of a fit. Ended up with a huge headache, sore muscles and a nasty bitten tongue. Poor Jonna.
Then, as I was scrolling through these photos today, this question struck me.

Of course, I am aware that others have things much worse than I do. I’ve always been aware of that, but sometimes I forget. When I began having seizures at age 15, I took it in stride, and never made a big deal out of it, partly because my friends didn’t. If my friends had flipped out, I might have, but not one of them did. I’m sure there were people in our small town high school who thought I was a weirdo, but I was not aware of them. My mom always took it the hardest. And when I began seeing specialists at the OHSU Epilepsy Center, and met young people who had never been able to have any kind of normal life because of their seizures, that was reaffirmed. I was able to do almost everything that so-called normal people did: I worked, I had a home, a life. I never had to wear a helmet, or be confined to a wheelchair. For a long time, I even drove! (Looking back at that, I am amazed at how careless I was with others lives!) Many people who have the type of seizures I do (tonic-clonic, formerly referred to as grand mal) often lose control of their bladder and/or bowels during a seizure. I have always been extremely thankful that this has never once happened to me!
So yes, I am aware that others have things much worse, in many areas. I am struggling financially, but what that really means is that I don’t have spending money, and cannot afford to move. I am not homeless, nor will I be; nor am I going hungry. My family is always here for me, and I for them; so many don’t have that. So, I cannot buy a new book, or get a manicure. I have a perfectly good library card, and a drawer full of nail polish. So, I can’t afford that gym membership. I’d probably never go, anyway! I have perfectly good walking shoes, and the neighborhood behind us has sidewalks.

This month I turn forty-five years old, and shortly after that, the anniversary of Michele’s death arrives. I miss her every day. If Shel was anything, she was positive, and she would want me to celebrate what I have, not what I am missing. Somehow, I think finding these pictures was her way of reminding me of that.


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.
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!
books · exercise · fat · food · Oprah · realizations · self-esteem

Wisdom of Fat

“Believe in yourself, and others will, too.”
That’s what my Facebook fortune cookie told me today. Somehow, I find it easier to believe in the wisdom of an imaginary Chinese treat than in the truth I hear in my own head each day.
I am a woman in 21st Century America. This means I have “body issues,” and “self-esteem issues,” and “food issues.”
I was not aware I had food issues until recently. As with many things, Oprah told me about it. I was aware I had problem with my weight; yes, I am a fat girl. (That’s right, I used the f-word! Get used to it.) I’ve gone up & down the scale since puberty, and have never liked the higher end. A lot of fat girls will tell you “Oh, I never eat more than a salad!” and you know they’re lying. With me, it’s true. Well, partly. I don’t eat much salad, but I don’t eat much of anything. I am the fat girl who doesn’t eat a ton.
Until age 9, I was the smallest, skinniest girl in class. Also the loudest, bossiest and surrounded by friends. My life changed between second and third grade, when I got glasses (not a bad thing–I was delighted to be able to read without a headache!) and gained 30 pounds! When school began in September, I looked like a different girl, and the same kids who had been my friends treated my like an outcast. I was stunned. Since I hadn’t changed what I ate, my relationship to food didn’t change then. The doctor only said “she’ll grow out of it,” which I never did.
I finished my years in that school miserable, and was thrilled when my family moved to a new state. It was a chance for a fresh start. I made new friends in that school, friends I still have today, 30 years later! And by high school, I realized I wasn’t as fat as I thought I was. I was still one of the bigger girls, but it didn’t matter, and I had fun! College was up & down, in many ways. I gained and lost jobs, friends, and weight, and grew up.
But I still did not realize I had issues with food. With how I looked, yes. How could I avoid that? I love glossy magazines. I am always ticked that my hair doesn’t look like the models, even when I follow the step-by-step directions! My lipstick never lasts, and my nail polish chips. Invariably, I miss a spot when I shave my legs. Yet I look in the mirror, and don’t see a goblin. I see a beautiful woman. A fat woman, too.
Watching Oprah a few weeks ago, I was struck by the stories of an audience full of women who say they’ll never need to diet again. All of them had read the guest’s book, Women Food and God, and have stopped being compulsive over-eaters. I watched, with tears in my eyes, and rushed to get a copy. But as I read, I realized –I am not this woman. I don’t eat to hide from pain, or out of denial. (I do tend to go overboard on the potato chips when I’m bored, but it’s not quite the same thing!) In spite of what Oprah and Geneen Roth say, I don’t have “food issues!” Whoo-hoo!
Turns out my issue is that I’m lazy, which my sister has known for years. If I’d get up off the couch and do some exercise, I’d be fine. Easier said than done, right? Am I willing to do an hour on the treadmill if it means I’ll be able to buy that dress I spotted yesterday? Maybe. But if it means I will feel alive again, get a grip on my life, and stop focusing on food all the time, then yes! As much as I hate to sweat, I despise feeling like a stranger in my own body more. Next stop–treadmill.