Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Saturday in the park
recorded by Chicago (appropriate, no?)

I think it was the Fourth of July
Saturday in the park
I think it was the Fourth of July
People dancing, people laughing
A man selling ice cream
Singing Italian songs
Eicay vare, eise narde
Can you dig it (yes, I can)
And I've been waiting such a long time
For Saturday

Another day in the park
I think it was the Fourth of July
Another day in the park
I think it was the Fourth of July
People talking, really smiling
A man playing guitar
Singing for us all
Will you help him change the world
Can you dig it (yes, I can)
And I've been waiting such a long time
For today

Slow motion riders fly the colors of the day
A bronze man still can tell stories his own way
Listen children all is not lost
All is not lost
Oh no, no

Forty days in the park
Every day's the Fourth of July
Forty days in the park
Every day's the Fourth of July
People reaching, people touching
A real celebration
Waiting for us all
If we want it, really want it
Can you dig it (yes, I can)
And I've been waiting such a long time
For the day...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

US does not support or help sustain families/children

OK, my posts are getting increasingly political (and awful soapbox-ey). But, so is all the other rhetoric in the country. When in Rome.... (oh, bad metaphor).

The following article motivated this post:

Parents Press for Autism Insurance Coverage

OK, I have been called a socialist before...and maybe I am. But I have my own opinions and ideas about raising children with disabilities (as I have had lots of experience with the sacrifices of that role).

I think we can insist on insurance covering autism all we want. I don't think succeeding in passing such bills is really going to help parents of autistic children that much. It is not just insurance coverage that is the problem. It is the governments utter lack of support for families, especially families with disabled children.

Much like many families with disabled children, we are in a financial shit-hole. I cannot work. That is mainly due to having two young sons with disabilities and only partially due to my own health issues. So, we only have one income. While my husband makes a rather good income in this state, our house payment is about 45% of his income. There are utilities, insurance, and other expenses before we even talk about credit card debt and groceries (one of our children is on a very special diet due to medical issues...food for him is not cheap)!

We are in the red every month. We are actually making pretty good progress on our Dave Ramsey program and have paid off a number of smaller credit cards but we have an amazingly long way to go! Additionally, we both have HUGE (and I mean HUGE!) student loans still in deferment and (at least my husband's) will be out of deferment soon. But, financially, we are the working poor.

Then there is gas. I drive up & down the state to give our kids treatment. Our younger son has had 2 surgeries in 3 weeks at Shiner's upstate...I cant even count the number of appointments we have had in the past couple months. Both the boys have speech therapy once a week, and one child has OT. There is a center for speech and occupational therapy in our town, but it is inundated with kids and we have been on the waiting list for almost a year with not even an assessment. So, we have to travel to another county ("downstate") to get ST & OT.

I attend a multitude of meetings at school. In fact, while we are waiting for a one-to-one aide for my youngest (currently in a wheel chair), I get to go to kindergarten with him if I want him to be able to attend school. My son with autism requires a constant communication and on-going team meetings with the school as well. When your child has autism, seldom can you get a whole plan for the year set, have everyone follow it, or, even have it actually work for the child all year long. It is all about adapting.

The toll this takes on parents and on a family is immeasurable. The added stress of constantly worring you are going to lose your home, car, or ability to feed your children is absolutely unbelievable, and no parent should have to go through that.

Some countries have a monthly subsidy for parents who stay home with their young children...even if they are NOT disabled. Additionally, these countries often increase that subsidy for parents of disabled children.

For all the moaning and preaching (mainly from conservatives) that one of the main problem with children nowadays is that they don't have a parent at home, that they are in daycare for too long and too early, that (god forbid) mom works as well as dad...etc etc, one would think that there would be some sort of solution to that problem proposed. But, no one that I have heard, in their infinte wisdom of childrearing, has given a solution other than bite that financial bullet & just let your spouse (read husband) work. Well, in today's financial crises how is that possible??

Unfortunately, most parents with children at home who have disabilities are too busy (and sleep deprived) to lobby Washington...and hey, kids can't even vote! So, why worry about them?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Powell on McCain, Obama....and Palin

"I think we need a transformational figure. I think we need a president who is a generational change and that's why I'm supporting Barack Obama, not out of any lack of respect or admiration for Sen. John McCain." former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell....

Powell expressed disappointment in the negative tone of McCain's campaign, his choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as a running mate and McCain's and Palin's decision to focus in the closing weeks of the contest on Obama's ties to 1960s-era radical William Ayers. A co-founder of the Weather Underground, which claimed responsibility for nonfatal bombings during the Vietnam War-era, Ayers is now a college professor who lives in Obama's Chicago neighborhood. He and Obama also served together on civic boards in Chicago...

Powell said McCain's choice of Palin raised questions about judgment.

"I don't believe she's ready to be president of the United States," Powell said.... [my comment: shudder ]

Powell said he remains a Republican, even though he sees the party moving too far to the right. Powell supports abortion rights and affirmative action, and said McCain and Palin, both opponents of abortion, could put two more conservative justices on the Supreme Court.

"I would have difficulty with two more conservative appointments to the Supreme Court, but that's what we'd be looking at in a McCain administration," Powell said....

"In the case of Mr. McCain I found that he was a little unsure as to how to deal with the economic problems that we were having," Powell said. "Almost everyday there was a different approach to the problem and that concerned me, sensing that he doesn't have a complete grasp of the economic problems that we had."

Read the whole article

Also see: Why Sarah Palin is a Dangerous Woman (great, Whoopi blog post)

Friday, August 8, 2008

Money savings tips I have acquired (and wished I had been using more regularly!)

OK, times are tough for all of us. The budget in this house is being stretched thinner then ever before! So, aside from the obvious (eating out less, buying new things less often, not going on as many “road trips,” etc), I have been looking into some tips on extending the meager dollars that come into our household & I thought I would share with you. This is a compilation of ideas we have come up with along with things I have found at other websites, but I have tried hard not to plagiarize. Where a link is necessary, I have included it. Hopefully, these tips will make it easier for you to save some money too:

  • Sign up for customer rewards programs in all stores in which you shop, even if you don’t shop there often. Yeah, I know this is a pain. I have had to add an extra ring to my key chain just to hold all those little key cards. However, I just found a GREAT site to fix this problem: http://www.justoneclubcard.com/ where you can add up to 8 barcodes from your various cards and create just one card! Also, set up a Gmail or Hotmail account for the email so you don’t fill your email account with spam.
  • Don’t charge anything that will not outlast the time it takes to pay it off! Boy, I wish we had stuck to this rule when I read it years ago!
  • Clean out those closets! If you don’t like the idea of having a yard sale, head to the consignment shop or ebay (how to sell on ebay link). This will give you more space, take away some of that guilt for not fitting into those pants, and simplify your life a bit.
  • Avoid convenience foods (premade foods, microwavable, etc.). I know, this is a hard one if you work outside the home. But, try to move towards freezer meals you make yourself. “Once a month” cooking is a great way to save money AND creates less insanity during dinner-time on the weekdays after work (also can help you buy less take-out and ready-made meals). http://www.once-a-month-cookingworld.com/ When I was working full-time I did a lot of this type of cooking. Now if you have CFS or fibromyalgia, it might not be the best choice to spend the weekend cooking a months worth of meals (can you say: F-L-A-R-E?!) however, one good alternative is: when you do cook a meal, make it double or triple what you would normally do & freeze the balance. Eventually, you will have a nice stash in the freezer, and buying in bulk (larger packages or meats, etc) can help you save money as well.
  • Invest in a few (well-reviewed) books that offer budget tips, investing tips, etc., that fit your lifestyle – One that seems to be really well-respected is: The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey. I actually just ordered this on Amazon and I am anxiously waiting for it to arrive.
  • My new favorite site is CRAIGSLIST! It is amazing the things you can find on there. Not only a plethora of yard sales and some free stuff, but lots of other stuff that you might need for your home & family. There is also a “barter” section where people can let you know what they have & what they would like to barter for. We recently got a great (and large!) dining room table for $40 and some retaining wall bricks (we have been wanting to put a small one in since we moved into our house) for less than half the price in the store. They were new, the people just got too many for their wall. We got almost our whole wall finished with these bricks (we need 17 more)!
  • I guess we have all thought about it, but I think there is no avoiding it any longer…it is time to start clipping coupons again. I used to do this a lot of in the late 80s, early 90s, but had stopped until recently (I didn’t have the time, it was too much of a pain, didn’t want to mess with the organizing, etc). Since I have started collecting coupons again I have found that a lot has changed! We are no longer limited to the Sunday paper inserts. There are many coupons you can print online. My favorite site is: http://www.couponloop.com/id133.htm (this site has most every coupon online at any given moment; saves a lot of time searching). Also, I found out you can buy coupons on ebay as well. Well, not the coupons per se but the “labor of clipping.” You can regularly get 100 coupons for $1-2 (plus shipping, which can range from $.50-2.00 – so, pay attention to shipping costs). In fact, while I was writing this I just won 100 coupons, all over $1.00 ea for $.99 + .59 shipping. Also, try doing some coupon exchanges with neighbors, friends, and relatives. This is something you can even do through the mail. But, make sure you are using the coupons wisely...see: http://www.grocerycouponguide.com/
  • Buy a membership to your local children’s science & technology museum. They usually have great kid-friendly exhibits and a cool playground. You can then visit there as often as you wish AND, the pass usually allows you free (or 2 for 1) entrance into tons of other museums all over the country. Many museums have scholarships as well if you cannot afford the yearly pass.
  • Speaking of scholarships: back when my girls were younger (and I was a single mom) we have very little money to do any kind of recreational activities. The city parks & recreation department often had not only affordable activities, but scholarships. I usually ended up paying a very small fee or nothing for them to participate in swimming lessons, ballet, karate, art classes, etc.

OK, this post is getting rather long! Let’s call it “part one” and I will add a “part two” later.


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Are you addicted!?

OK, I have been “shamed” into posting a new blog :-) Things have been up & down for me lately. I guess I have been neglectful. Anyway, here is my BIG tip for the day as part of my “Jane of all Trades” and in the spirit of leading to some sort of recovery of health.

Addictions abound in our world today. However, few seem so innocuous yet in reality are as awful is addiction to over-the-counter nasal sprays. I don’t care what the Mayo Clinic says, those of us who have spend decades PHYSICALLY ADDICTED to these things can tell you that it is an addiction! I had a 20 (yes, twenty!) year addiction to the stuff and I can tell you, it is an addiction!

Most every addict of this stuff knows the drill: one in the car, one in the nightstand, one in the bathroom, one in your desk at work…and so on. You don’t use it every 12 hours (as the directions suggest), but every 4 or 2 or even 1! Without it, the rebound congestion makes you feel as if you cannot breathe. It is not just stuffiness…it is a feeling of suffocation! Addiction seems better than suffocation!

Most know of the possible damage: we are destroying our nasal cavity. Blood vessels can burst in the sinuses the mere cycle of engorgement & shrinking of tissues eventually destroy the nasal passages. “The nasal lining may become atrophied over time. Atrophy is scarring of the inside lining of the nose, which may cause irritation, bleeding and over drying.” http://www.addictioninfo.org/articles/2782/1/Nasal-Spray-Addiction----Know-The-Facts-and-Avoid-the-Danger/Page1.html
It is rare, but sometimes the erosion of the lining is so bad that septum perforation occurs. Nasal surgery may be required when the damage is this severe. I firmly believe that all the dental problems I have with (almost exclusively) my upper teeth are a result of my abuse of nasal spray.

Often the suggestion given to those of us who suffer is to use saline spray instead. Well, saline may help in some ways but it does not even come close to dealing with rebound congestion.

Another alternative that has been created is a hot pepper nasal spray!!!!!

No thank you!

Steroid nasal sprays are often an alternative given my doctors. That never helped me.

Then there is the “school” of detoxing one nostril at a time. That still drove me over the edge! Or, the suggestion of surgery (most often for a deviated septum) however, what you end up with after that surgery is a sinus cavity full of packing. You cannot breathe out of your nose for at least a week! !!!!!

Finally, there is an idea that jala neti, or nasal irrigation: “Nasal irrigation is a personal hygiene practice which involves flooding the nasal cavity with warm saline solution (salt water). The goal of nasal irrigation is to clear out excess mucus and particulates and moisturize the nasal cavity.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nasal_irrigation

OK, maybe healthier, but not all that convenient.

But, GOOD NEWS! There is way to get off nasal sprays!! It is actually pretty simple. It takes a little while but it is cheap & relatively painless. What you need is: 1) your brand of nasal spray in a “squeeze” type spray (this will not work with the fine-mist pumps because you cannot remove the top); 2) a bottle of saline nasal spray; and 3) a nail file, tweezers, or whatever you can use to take the top off the nasal spray bottle…you just have to pry it off a little.

Put away, throw away, or otherwise get out of reach any other bottles of spray, only work it one (a brand new, full one). Carry it with you. Put a mark on it, rubberband, whatever so you know which bottle you are working with.

On the first day, use it as you normally would. At the end of the day (or the beginning of the next), open the nasal spray & put about 12-15 drops of saline in the bottle of nasal spray. Return the cap. Use it as much as you normally would, or when needed the next day. At the end of the day open the nasal spray & add about 12-15 drops of the saline spray. DO NOT use any full strength sprays during this time. You can use the bottle you are using as often as you normally would or a little more. But if you use any full strength stuff it will set you back.

Do the same thing EVERY DAY and in about a month you will be using almost 100% saline, if you even need to use it at all!

This actually works!

After 20 years of almost daily use I have been off this stuff for over three years!

Stay tuned next time for a cheap & effective way to get rid of toe fungus…oh boy.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV. Before implementing any of these suggestions see your healthcare provider. Seriously. And don’t blame me if you haven’t checked with the doctor first!

Monday, April 14, 2008


WOW! I had the best intentions to start chronicling my recovery (because I finally feel as if I am starting to have one!) but I have been to the specialist four times already and haven’t blogged anything! So, here goes….

I am so grateful to have discovered a Functional Medicine specialist in my area (about 1 hr away) who also takes my insurance. My first visit was an hour and, he actually READ the patient medical history form I had filled out. In fact, he highlighted and made notes all over it. There were so many issues he discussed with me…and then he said that we will have to tackle them slowly.

It looks like I have a genetic defect in my body’s ability to manufacture Serotonin at an appropriate rate (which is further supported by the fact that my mother and my daughter both have serious mood disorders). I also have thyroid issues (which I already knew) but being on a T4 synthetic thyroid medication for so many years has thrown off my T3. I most likely have an adrenal problem due a life of extreme stress, beginning in childhood. Additionally, it appears that I might have pernicious anemia (a B12 anemia). There are many other things I haven’t gone into here (IBS, hormones, etc) but I will address them at a later date.

First visit: B12 injections daily for 10 days, Nystatin 500,00U 3X per day, and change my Synthroid to Amour Thyroid 60 mg 2X day (a natural thyroid with T4 & T3, as opposed to synthetic T4 in Synthroid).

It took a few days to see any results but I actually started having a little more energy. However, after the 10 days of injectable B12 ended, I crashed. I called the Dr & he said to refill the rx and we would discuss it on our next visit.

Second visit: Continue the daily B12 injections indefinitely, add 50 mg 5HTP @ night to compliment the SAMe (600mg/day) I have already been taking.

I started noticing a difference in my mood after this visit. I started sleeping a little better and I could tell that I woke up in a better mood, however, that wore off in the late afternoon. I also had a yeast die-off reaction at this point as I started eliminating most sugar from my diet.

Third visit: add 5HTP in the morning to continue the effects throughout the day, ketoconazole 200mg 1X per day for 10 days.

In-between the second and third visit I started taking my Amour Thyroid sublingually. It has helped immensely! See the following for some information on this:




For the first time in years I could tolerate a room less than 72 degrees. My tinnitus is getting better (though certainly not completely gone) and I am feeling a little more energy. My cognitive function has slowly been returning since my first visit. Adding the second dose of 5HTP helped a lot. I am not sure how much the ketoconazole helped.

Fourth visit: add Iodine/Tyrosine 225mcg/500mg 2X day & plantizyme w/each meal.

Apparently, the Tyrosine helps with dopamine production which in turn, helps with norepinephrine and epinephrine, and it will help the B12 & SAMe work better. The iodine assists the thyroid and the plantizyme helps with digestion.

Another change I have made was to my diet. I realized the other day I have been on some diet or another off & on (mostly on) for almost 30 years. I cannot stomach the idea of eating like a rabbit again (pun intended) and if I have to count any more points I am going to hurl! A way to eat that, intuitively makes a lot of sense to me is outlined in a great book by Sally Fallon: Nourishing Traditions (http://tinyurl.com/44ywnw), and a book that I am anxiously awaiting for in the mail is A Life Unburdened: Getting Over Weight and Getting On With My Life chronicling the comedian Richard Morris’ weight loss journey (losing 150#) using this type of eating (http://tinyurl.com/4u6zsa). I do not know if this will be the weight loss miracle I have been wanting all my life…and I no longer care. I feel better, my whole family is eating better, and, I haven’t gained any weight which is something …if you only knew what I ate! And, I know as I become more able to exercise and be physically active, the weight will come off.

Monday, March 31, 2008

A New Trade...

I haven’t been able to blog much this week as my husband has been home sick all spring break…yep, the WHOLE time.

But, I now need to catch-up.

So, my new trade: Chocolatier. And, as per my blog description, I am certainly no master! I will explain. My child that has autism is on a diet free from gluten and casein (milk protein) due to both autism and allergies. He can eat chocolate but not “milk chocolate.” Sometimes even dark or semi-sweet chocolate contains milk. Almost ALL holiday chocolate (Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, etc) contain milk, even if they are dark/semi sweet, even white.

This year, due to his age he is starting to feel left out. Additionally, it is hard to give the other children only foods he can eat (so he doesn’t feel left out) because they feel like they are being cheated. So, of course, I attempted to solve the problem by making his chocolate bunnies, eggs, etc. Actually, it wasn’t too bad. I have yet to get the knock of tempering chocolate, however.

Trader Joes has a great (and tasty) semi-sweet chocolate chip that is dairy-free. I used these, not realizing that when you melt chocolate chips to make molded candy, it is very soft & will melt in your hands. Just hold a chocolate chip in your hand for about 30 seconds (fortunately, he will eat one of the chocolate pieces in 30 seconds or less!). I had a hard time finding candy-making chocolate (dark or otherwise) without milk. So, we just keep it in the refrigerator.

I was limited in molds. I got them a long time ago with the intention of making the kids colored soap to play with in the tub out of grated and melted ivory soap and food coloring…ah, the intentions of the Martha-Stewart-types. I never got around to making the soap and they are quite passé to the kids now anyway. I had a mold that was all little frogs, one that had a bunch of animals (not one bunny!), and one that had crayons and a ruler. I started with these to see how they would work. So, much of the chocolate were frogs. There was a lion, a horse, a monkey, and a couple of elephants.

Eventually, I went to the store and all I could find with a bunny was a mold for chocolate lollipops with a bunny, a chick, a baby duck, and an Easter egg. They turned out pretty good (even my husband was impressed at how I made & wrapped them) and the lollipops were a hit, even with the other kids. In fact, they were gone days ago.

I guess it just goes to show you…anything is good as long as it is made out of chocolate!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

What Kind of Mom Do You Want To Be?

OK, so I am in Burger King last night with my youngest two kids. I look like hell (which happens a lot lately) but I have had a long day with a lot of fatigue and I don’t really care. After we had been there a while a new family appears (three kids, grandma, thin and smartly-dressed mom, and a metrosexual dad who met them their after a while – I could swear that all their jeans were pressed!). Now this mom is the most uptight mom I have seen in a really long time! She tells her little ones (who are impeccably dressed) to NOT take their shoes off in a voice that makes me wonder if she is about to pull out sanitizing wipes for the table. Then, of course they have to sit & eat their whole meal prior to playing, including applesauce rather than fries, which wouldn’t be that unreasonable is they weren’t sitting IN the play area – I usually try to sit out in the regular restaurant part if I want my kids to eat right away. It is less torturous to them. The kids couldn’t even turn around and look behind them without mom correcting them.

Now, when I say correcting I don’t mean yelling at them, but talking in this voice that I can only describe as naggy-bitchy with a sweet tone that you try to use to disguise your bitchy-naggy-ness. She said all the “right” childhood phrases as well: “good job” (as opposed to “good boy”); using the word “please” in front of every strained request; and rather than saying (as I said above) “don’t take off your shoes” she states, while using positive appropriate behavior expectations, “your shoes stay on your feet” – albeit through her teeth. Her kids looked, the only way I can describe it, henpecked.

My first reaction was to wonder what she was doing on our side of town. We live in a very much bifurcated town: the rich (or want-to-be rich) and upper-middle class people live in the south side of town. The minorities and those who are less well off live in the north side. We live in the north. Usually the north and the south are very separate (even through they are the same city). However, what really hit me hard as I observed all this is that I think I used to aspire to be like her…in a way.

I used to think my kids should be perfectly behaved (sometimes I still struggle with wondering what people think of me when they are not). What is sad is that I have still struggled with this even though I have two children with disabilities that affect their behavior. Now, I became a mom for the first time when I was 19 and for the last time when I was 38 so my mothering skills have been honed over time. I am a much better mother to my 7 year-old who has a developmental disorder than I was to my 18 year-old who has a psychiatric disorder. However, I think that when you have a child with these kind of issues you learn that 1) your children are not going to behave perfectly (and often not even well), and 2) you have to really not care what people think about your parenting skills because they don’t know you or your family. Still, it is hard to remember these things at times.

I do know that if I am at Burger King, I really don’t have put on all my make-up or style my hair. I really don’t care if I am wearing perfectly pressed clothes or all my gold jewelry. I know that it is OK for my kids to take their shoes off. Heck, my 7 year-old has such sensory issues that I can’t get him to keep his shoes on from the time I pick him up from school to the time we get home (about 4 minutes). I also know that if he is determined to sit on the floor in Burger King amidst french fries and old napkins to put his shoes back on, it is better to let him do it than him have a total meltdown in the restaurant with I am there with two young children on my own.

But, I also know I don’t want to be like another mom I saw at Burger King either. There were two boys, probably 5 & 8, that were terribly wild while playing in the play area. Their mom sat inside the restaurant with the grandparents (?) and was looking very pitiful and weak…maybe she was just having a bad day. However, the behavior I saw in these boys seemed to me to be a cry for attention…seeing just how far they could push things until someone set some limits with them. However, mom did not step one foot in the play area the whole time she was there. Now, granted, these are my judgments. I know I am doing exactly what I talked about in #2 above. I am judging the mom, or her parenting, without knowing her or her family. Nevertheless, I do have a reason for all this rambling.

What I realized as I sat and watched this all unfold is that I have been at both ends of this spectrum during the course of my career as a parent (because I have made quite a career out of raising children it seems…though the pay sucks!). I have been (or aspired to be) the uptight mom – which, I must say, leaves me feeling quite ill. I have been overly tense and controlling with my kids. I have also been, during the worst times of depression/Chronic Fatigue the pitiful mom as well, not having the energy to set the limits I need to with my kids and allowing them to “run wild.” I also realized that, like much things in life, the answer/truth/ideal state is somewhere in the middle…at least for me.

Being the “uptight mom” stresses me to a point that I cannot be a good person. Being the “pitiful mom” stresses my kid to a point that I think they feel lost, scared, and uncertain and they act out in order to deal with that. It is quite a balance though because when I am at one end of the continuum, when I come out of it I usually swing to the other to compensate. Learning to relax and live in the middle (and to forgive myself for not doing so in the past) is something that is an ongoing struggle and probably will be for much of my life.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Eyelashes, dieting, and dogs

Ok, strange title…I know they are not related. However, this is what I want to talk about today.

Eyelashes: Last time I talked about my eyelashes. Well, I decided I would try to get some fake eyelashes to wear to boost what I have.

Well, that was fun. Have any of you tried to wear these things?! I swear, it took me an half an hour to get the things placed correctly and to stick on right. The ends kept coming off. Then, I decided to wear them to McDonalds (since I was going there with the kids). Oh. My. God. I was so self-conscious. I was constantly checking the eyelashes b/c I was afraid they would come off and I would be talking to someone and not know my eyelash had traveled up to my eyebrow!

Well, it seems my fears were well-founded. By the time I got home a few hours later, one eyelash was 3/4s of the way unglued and the ends were coming up on the other one (though, fortunately neither had worked up to my eyebrow).

I am now a little gun-shy when it comes to fake eyelashes. I decided my lashes aren’t so bad after all :-)

I did, however, find this great video on videojug: How to use and apply fake eyelashes

Dieting: Here is what I have realized about me (perhaps this is true for others as well): I am motivated to lose weight when I am unhappy: unhappy about my looks, with my sex-life, with my life in general. Probably because I think losing weight will make me happy. So, I lose weight better when I feel a bit shitty about everything. I guess it is my way to fix everything. However, when I am happy I am more accepting of my weight and am not really motivated to lose.

Unfortunately, I eventually become unhappy about just my weight and then I feel bad again. It is a crazy cycle!

While I am not necessary terribly overweight in my community (many of us wear size 16 or 18 jeans – as I do right now), I desperately need to lose weight. I know that eating right and exercising are one of the main ways I will get better.

Dogs: We are considering getting an autism service dog for our son. There is a breeder/trainer organization close to our home. It all seems like a pretty good idea. However, after he is approved it takes a year to get the dog AND during that year we have to raise almost $14,000. Apparently people are able to do this; it seems a bit daunting to me. I guess I will eventually add "fundraising" to one of my many trades now. It seems I might need to know a lot about it soon.

I am actually pretty excited about this opportunity, even though it is another major project. Our other son is getting ready to have surgery in September; a limb lengthening procedure. He is somewhat young to have this done (five), but it is necessary with his condition and how it is progressing.

This year looks to be as busy and crazy as the last.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

They were right, getting old really does suck!

I looked in the mirror this morning and I hardly had any eyelashes left! And, the ones I do have are short, little stubby things. AGH! What happened to me?!

Having struggled with a condition that I can only label as chronic fatigue (though I have not been diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), it seems that I have grown old rather quickly. However, it is not just CFS that makes me feel old. I feel like I have gotten old so fast (and at such a young age) but perhaps that is what most middle-aged women feel???

I suffer from a hearing loss and must wear hearing aids. While I can hear without them, I miss a lot of things. My audiologist tells me that my loss is pretty significant for my age. However, hearing loss is occurring at younger and younger ages. In fact, people in their 50s and even in their 40s are now being seen with hearing loss that often didn’t occur until much later in life (such as 60s and 70s). Some of the reasons for this are occupational noise, loud music (you know, that guy on the bus with his headphone blaring so loud that you can clearly hear the music!) and even loud movies and TV (Hearing Loss Web; healthscout.com). In my case, the first two items on that list would be a big part of the problem. I don’t get to see movies much, however, I probably should consider that blaring TV my husband is watching.

Then there is the wonderful world of perimenopause. Don’t even get me started on that one!

Most recently, I got to experience several cardiac stress tests, nuclear scans, and an angiogram (now, remember, I am in my mid-forties). Fortunately, the heart disease that the cardiologist suspected turned out to be a false positive stress test. However, I still suffer from angina like pains and carry nitroglycerine in my purse.

Perhaps what gets to me is the “symbolism” of old age: hearing aids, nitroglycerine…these are things that “old” people have/need. Now all I need is a lovely pair of dentures and I will be set! And, my hair has gotten a whole lot thinner…Gawd, I am turning into Fred Mertz!

Moreover, because of the chronic fatigue, I do not have the energy to live the life I led only a few years ago. I forget things, I cannot concentrate, I cannot get organized, etc etc. Doctors (and I say “doctors” because I have a few) struggle with trying to figure out what is “wrong with me.” ADD (probably fits), heart disease (fortunately not), diabetes (nope, all those tests are fine), thyroid (medication has kept my TSH fairly stable for years now), depression (OK, taking anti-depressants and I am not currently “depressed” – but I am discouraged!)…This just names a few.

Sometimes I think that this is just the result of being a (middle-aged) woman. When you have a child is takes a lot out of you. If you have a whole passel of them, what does that do to you? Sometimes I think we give too much of ourselves away during the assimilation into motherhood. Especially, when we become mothers early in life; we often don’t have the opportunity to find out who we are, other than “mommy.” Then there is school/work (both of which I have given much too much of myself to as well). Wonderwoman syndrome has a price!

I look at young women today and am amazed at their capacity for 1) self-preservation, 2) assertion with men, and 3) their won’t-take-any-shit attitude. I have always secretly envied people – especially women – who were (what society would label as) selfish. To be selfish was never a value for women in my family. In fact it was almost a sin.

I wonder if I knew how to be more selfish if I would feel this damn old…

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The journey of the Jane

Well, I guess I should get this started. Too many times I have thought: "this would make a great blog entry," and haven't written it down or posted.

So, what is this about...I am not sure. A journey? Is a blog supposed to be about that?

I have heard of people writing blogs when they have started a life-changing journey, so I guess this is one.

I still have to write up and "about me" and fix this page up a bit...but all that has bogged me down from actually writing. So, I have decided to just start!

What is this journey? I don't think of it as a journey from (or out of) one thing - I am the "Jane of all trades" after all. Often people write up blogs when they are on a weight loss journey, or maybe about their kids, sometimes it is about an illness, other times it is about politics and (of course) their viewpoint on particular issues. I think within my nature I am not a "specialist" but a "big-picture" type of person (who is stuck in a world full of specialists!) so I look at my journey as more than my weight loss, children, illness, opinions about politics - etc etc. It is all interrelated.

I guess the best way to start to is to explore this meaning of Jack of all trades (master of none). In today's society of mono-skilled specialists, experts, masters, and gurus, it is a bad thing to know many trades/skills...because to learn many skills you don't have the time to become "the master of" one.

"A Jack of all trades may also be a master of integration, as the individual knows enough from many learned trades and skills to be able to bring their disciplines together in a practical manner" (Wikipedia).

It was not always bad to be a polymath. In fact, until recently, it was a positive circumstance. Hell, Leonardo da Vinci was known as such...Actually, Leo was often described as a Renaissance man; a term similar to, but slightly different than, the idea of polymath or "Jack of all trades."

The ideas of the Renaissance could be described in this context by the words Homo universalis (or universal man). The ideal of Renaissance humanism was for one to develop one's potential and acquire universal learning. The natural human instinct of curiosity was robustly encouraged. Today we use the term generalist (as opposed to specialist) when someone uses a general approach to gathering knowledge (rather than a focused, specialized approach, i.e., gathering knowledge about one thing and one thing only - my addition to the definition) (The History Guide: Renaissance Humanism; Wikipedia)

But we sure love our polymaths! Here are some beloved, fictional polymaths:

Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes, Gregory House of House M.D, Buckaroo Banzai, Artemis Fowl, Grand Admiral Thrawn of Star Wars, Batman, Mr. Peabody, Gil Grissom of CSI: Las Vegas, Agent Pendergast, Hannibal Lecter, Doc Savage, Mr. Spock of Star Trek, James Bond, Jarod of The Pretender (TV series), Dess of Midnighter's Trilogy by Scott Westerfeld, Charlie of Heroes, and MacGyver (to name a few, I am sure you could think of more!) (Wikipedia)

So, what about us women???

Are we just all assumed to be polymaths? Are we naturally multitaskers and that makes us immune to both the positive and negative connotations about the "Jack of all trades" label?

Well, maybe most women are multitaskers. Maybe it is part of our instinctual nature around motherhood, home life, etc. But how does that fit into the career world of experts?

I would like to take a stand about this term and add "Jane of all trades" to the definition. Women suffer from and enjoy this term (or at least the spirit of it) as well.

I am so often told I know so much about so many things; that I have done so many things. People seem envious of me for having such a varied experience in life, education, and career. The problem that most of them don't see is that knowing a lot about a lot of things won't get you a career in this be-an-expert-at-what-you-do marketplace.

Maybe I was born out of my time; my kids think I am a relic from the past anyway =)

More next time...