Leaping Over Puddles

Halloween is pretty uneventful for me because Husband and I live in an apartment and we don’t get any trick-or-treaters in an apartment complex. So minus taking pictures of people dressed up in costume at work today (since I am in charge of our company’s social media and internal communications) and my cupcake adventure last night, it’s just been a normal day. But a very rainy day. It poured here all last night and all day until around 4pm. Then it all just went away, it had cooled off a little and the sun came out.

I decided to go for a run at the park even though I knew the trail would be soggy. Something about it just felt nice on this holiday evening. As I was running I was doing some thinking and also a lot of leaping over puddles. I had to really pay attention to the path because all of a sudden you’d be zig zagging to avoid huge puddles or piles of mud. Occasionally though you had no way around the puddle- so I leaped over it.

After I did this a few times I started thinking about those puddles. About how life is full of them. Smooth ground for awhile and then a big mess you have to get through and then smooth for awhile and then a mess to trudge through..and if you are not paying attention the big messy puddle sneaks up on you and before you know it you are right in it. I think I have a tendency to get in a puddle and then stay there. Focus on the puddle. I have a hard time letting go of the puddle. It’s a small feeling of negativity/glass half empty I am noticing that is always there in the back of my mind. But when I was running tonight I got such a rush after I’d leap over a puddle successfully. I started thinking wouldn’t it be great if I could just leap over the negativity and keep things positive. Leap over the messy puddles in my life. Not avoid the puddle, not jump into the puddle, but simply acknowledge it, figure out a plan and leap over it.

How do you handle negative thoughts? Do you think sometimes we can just dwell on things too much and really we just need to leap over them to move forward? Did you or your family dress up today? Happy Halloween!

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A Cupcake Epiphany

I am not exactly the most natural when it comes to cooking and baking. I get very intimidated and stressed out in the kitchen. Cooking is not my thing. I am always worried I am going to kill Husband. I have been told I would be better at baking because things have to be exact and that’s the issue with cooking is that well, it’s not as exact.

I had the genius idea that I would bake Halloween cupcakes for Husband to take to work. I was actually pretty excited and feeling empowered. I had even found a clever recipe to use. At lunch today I bought all the ingredients and after work I decided to begin.

All was going well and according to plan, and just as I had put my first batch of 12 in the oven I thought wow, not too much to clean up. Then it hit me- I forgot to mix in the eggs. On a boxed cake requiring only three ingredients, I forgot one of them.

Cupcake Disaster

As I tried to decide what to do I figured I would just let that batch go. There was no hope and no saving them. I decided I would just mix the eggs into the remaining batter. Then I proceeded with baking the rest of the cupcakes as planned. There was another tricky part though…the batter now was not as thick after adding the eggs. I don’t think it was ever supposed to be thick but when it was thick it was easier to put in the liners. The thin batter was thinner and trickier- it actually just required more patience.

Then it hit me for the second time tonight, I am lacking patience. Patience in life. Patience with Mom. Patience with myself. Patience. It’s a big thing I struggle with from a tiny thing like putting batter into cupcake liners to a bigger thing like patience with my loved ones. So  I stood there slowly drizzling the chocolate batter from the spoon into the liners and I clearly had time to think. I am notoriously hard on myself when I mess up but really, I am just not patient with myself. I give myself one chance to get a recipe right and then I get frustrated and give up. Or if I mess up a recipe as I did tonight, I try not to be hard on myself yet deep down I am because I ruined 12 cupcakes. If I can’t be patient with myself how can I expect to be patient with others? It’s something I am chewing on tonight as I sit here and chew one of my cupcakes. And just so you can see my final product-

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Do you struggle with patience? Do you believe sometimes we can struggle with being patient not only with others but patient with ourselves? Are you a natural chef or baker? Have you ever forgotten an ingredient in a recipe? What do you think of my cupcakes?

10.25.13

This is a post I wanted to do last Friday but you know, life happened, work happened and here I am doing it 10.29.13 instead:

Mom’s birthday was Friday. It had been a long week and I bribed myself to get out of bed with Starbucks. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

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But I called Mom in the morning on my way to Starbucks to tell her happy birthday. She picked up the phone and I shouted HAPPY BIRTHDAY. She thanked me, we small talked for a minute but I could tell something was off. Something was wrong. And then she said “I’ve had better”…and then started opening up to me more and started crying. The nurse that takes care of her overnight had found some bumps on her arm that she thought were actually a rash that was contagious. Mom had some flaky skin on her legs as well and they weren’t sure if they were related. Mom was frustrated because she is wearing compression stockings all the time and figured it would probably be the reason for the skin irritation, not a rash. It was all around awful. Dad got on the phone briefly to say Mom’s day nurse was taking her to the doctor at 11 that morning. Mom also had plans to go out to a birthday dinner with friends and that was in danger of being canceled because of this rash. It was awful. Mom was upset. And I felt so overwhelmed with sadness and defeat that there I stood in a line for Starbucks on a Friday morning with my eyes filling with tears. This was unfair. It was amazing to me that it was a Friday morning, a happy time because the weekend is about to start, I was in Starbucks waiting in line for my favorite coffee and I was overwhelmed with sadness that was slowly turning to anger.

I got in the car to drive my very short drive to work and I just yelled WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY. LEAVE MY MOM ALONE. CAN’T YOU LEAVE MY MOM ALONE.

That was the gist of my conversation with myself in the car. Then I got to go into work.

Fast forward to 11am, I got a text from mom that said the words “just dry skin.” As it turns out the doctor told Mom there was no rash and it was just dry skin. As I chatted with Mom over my lunch hour at 12 I told her, I think we need to have a birthday redo. I say we ignore this morning, and officially restart your birthday at 12:00 today. She thought that was funny and we went on to have a really nice conversation. Mom was alert, we were communicating well with each other and it was just an overall good conversation. It made me thankful and amazed at how the day turned around. It was something I wanted to remember.

But I guess in a lot of ways that is life and that is what makes our days- the days that I am supposed to be taking one day at a time. On this particular day I felt every emotion possible and I felt them all before about noon. What did I learn? Sometimes you need to sit in the car and scream. Sometimes when you stand in line at Starbucks you have more on your mind than your coffee order so be kind to the people around you because you never know what’s on their mind as they wait to make their coffee order. Sometimes you need to press restart on your day and just move forward….whether it is your birthday or just another regular day.

Happy Birthday Mom! I am glad you had a great day filled with a fun dinner with friends and topped off with three free desserts from your favorite restaurant!

Have you ever had to press restart on a day? Have you ever screamed in the car? Do you ever bribe yourself to get out of bed and start your day with a Starbucks drink? 

Sit and Stare.

I have a problem with control. They say the first step in getting over a problem is admitting you have it. So there. I said it. POOF! Now I want to be over it.

When I say control, I don’t mean I have an obsession with a clean apartment. Far from it. I don’t mean I have an obsession with order. Nope not that either. But I do have an issue with control I am trying to figure out. I have also been doing a lot of soul searching and praying and trying to figure out if Mom’s MS is teaching me a lesson- because there is a part of all of this that I am struggling with more than Sister K and different from Dad. I think today I may have figured out one piece of the lesson. I don’t have any control over Mom’s MS, Mom doesn’t have any control over it and more importantly I don’t have any control over how it is impacting my life and my family’s life.

Today I may or may not have gotten really frustrated and mad at Mom when I called her at lunch. I got frustrated over something silly. Seriously silly. I’m going to tell you what it was about because we are all our own version of family here and I am going to be honest- it was about college football tickets. My parents have two season tickets to my alma mater’s college games and Papa has two tickets. They are all together. This Saturday there is a game and we aren’t able to go. Papa is selling the tickets to a man who did some work on his house. I don’t know why but this frustrated me and I got mad. Mad because Mom didn’t understand the details. Mad because I thought there were other people we actually knew who we could sell them to. Mad because we don’t know this person but we do know other people who would enjoy going. Mad because this is something in the past Mom would have orchestrated and figured out seamlessly. I don’t know, that was part of the list running in my head. Instead now my 87 year old Papa is figuring it out, not making what I think is the best decision. As I ordered my iced tea from McDonald’s drive-thru and drove back to my apartment to each lunch, it hit me. I have no control over the situation. Zero control. Nothing astronomically bad is going to happen. This didn’t even involve something that serious. Football tickets.

You could say I got home for lunch and was frustrated. I was irritated with myself. Irritated with my lunch break feeling ruined once again. Irritated with how I had once again failed and lost my cool with Mom.

I decided to take a 5 minute mental break and just sit. Sit and stare. Let me tell you where the best place to do that is- with our cat Chloe. Looking out the window. Staring at birds. Because that is what Chloe does. She sits and she stares. At birds, at moving tree branches, at the rain, at anything and nothing all at the same time.

So I sat and I stared. It was peaceful.

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Do you ever take time to clear your mind? To think about nothing? To just sit and stare at something? Have you ever lost your cool over something dumb? Do you have a problem with control? Do you think I have a problem with control or do you think I still have a lot of digging to uncover the lessons I am learning? Isn’t Chloe the cutest? Probably going to see a lot more of her on here. She brings me a lot of peaceful moments of pause these days. 

Thinking Small Picture

This past summer Husband and I moved to a new city. In the midst of a new city, starting a new job, unpacking in a new apartment…I was a bit on new overload. One of the only things that was stable was that I could run. Then all of a sudden I started having this sharp pain in my knee as I ran- a pain that tells you something is wrong. I thought I’d torn my meniscus, Husband thought I had tendonitis and after getting to find an orthopedist in a new city with my new insurance, I was told I had IT Band Syndrome. What?

That was my response. Maybe you have heard of it but I didn’t even know I had an IT Band. I was prescribed Physical Therapy 2-3 times a week for 6 weeks. I was a bit on overload with all of these changes and now this was slowly sending me over the edge. Frustration. Defeat. Frustration. Defeat. The feelings rolled back and forth for about 4 weeks. I also didn’t believe I would ever be “fixed.” I didn’t know IT Band Syndrome made any sense. As someone who isn’t even that big of a runner but just does it as a work out, I felt extremely helpless.

Slowly though, my Physical Therapist got me running. He started with this fancy machine that “de-weights” you. Have you ever seen this? I put on these fancy biker shorts that zipped me into the top of this machine, then the machine fills with air and I am only running on 80% of my weight. It was crazy. I was describing it to my new boss and she demanded to see a picture of the “fat suit.” Since I have no shame, I figured I owed it to all of you to show you a picture too:

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The reason I tell this story that has gone way off track is that there were many moments throughout this process where I wondered if this defeat and frustration is what Mom feels. I know she feels helpless. The task of just running without pain felt like a huge obstacle I would never overcome. I imagine that is how Mom feels about standing, about walking, about regaining her strength, about all of it. I have tried to remember that and tried to think how I can help her overcome it. Overcome the huge feelings of defeat, overcome what seems like this huge challenge that you will never overcome, basically overcome your thoughts- because in life and in MS it’s not just a battle of the body but also a battle of the mind. Where do you begin? I say it doesn’t matter, you just have to throw everything you’ve got at it, don’t think big picture but instead think small picture and begin anywhere.

Have you ever had a challenge that seems so big you don’t know where to begin? Can you relate to thoughts of being overwhelmed like you will never improve? What do you think of my anti-gravity running “fat suit?”

My MS Recess

I have been giving this blog a lot of thought recently. A lot of thought because while I am struggling with Mom’s MS, I am also trying to retain a positive outlook on life. I am trying to cope with the struggles of this disease and the progression of it without allowing the negativity of that to overtake my thoughts.  I feel like in a lot of ways this blog has become a negative place for me recently because that is how I have felt. But at the same time, I need it to also be a positive place. A place I enjoy coming outside of my daily world to lose myself with myself- my experiences, my struggles, my funny moments.

I need it to be my MS Recess. 

I thought about starting a new separate blog but then I realized I needed to just live up to the name I gave this one when I started it..almost like I was foreshadowing how I was going to deal with Mom’s MS..I just didn’t know it. Since recess is often considered a break in the day, this blog needs to be my break in the day. The break where I can vent my frustrations or share some laughs. A place that can be serious or silly. A place where I share more of who I am both as I deal with Mom’s MS but also share more just as I just live my life. Because it is all intertwined whether I like it or not…both portions are part of who I am. How I manage the background feelings that are always there about Mom’s MS while also managing my own life as a 29 year old outside of Mom’s MS.

To try to overcome the negative, I have decided to mix in some “me posts.” Show who I am, show my life but not sugarcoat the moments of struggle. Because I am struggling. A lot. I also recognize I need to find a way to fight it and I think this may be a good trial- to see if this is a good place and a good way to do it.

So on this Sunday evening- here is a glimpse into what is making me smile:

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This afternoon at the grocery store, I left Husband standing in line as I boldly proclaimed-I need to buy myself some candy corn in honor of the Halloween season. I happen to have quite an affinity for candy corn and every week as I have done my grocery shopping for the past month I have made up an excuse about “why I don’t need it.” Today I finally gave in and bought it- and not only the taste but the nostalgia of it has made me smile all evening long!

Any thoughts on my new approach to this blog? Is there a particular seasonal treat that makes you smile? Candy corn seems to be so polarizing- people either love it or hate it. Which camp do you fall into? Husband is not a fan.