Thankful Day 5

 

So I am on day 5 of writing two things that I am thankful for and already my mind feels like it’s benefitting and changing. I notice things that I would normally feel frustrated or worried about seems a lot more doable.
One thing that has benefitted from all this thankfulness is I felt for the first time in 15 years like I could clean my closet. I unfortunately didn’t take any before photos as I didn’t think I would have the energy to finish and I thought I was just doing a small corner. The more I got into my closet the more I felt so happy that I was throwing old things out. I can actually see what clothes fit me (as you can see, I have a lot of pink things). I haven’t seen the floor of that closet in so long. It was nasty and dusty but I kept going.

One thing I have noticed in is that clutter (which we have a lot of) does in fact cause a lot of anxiety and depression. The other thing that studies have found is that there is a direct correlation to clutter and weight gain. Weight is the other thing I am working on and hopefully I have burned a few calories working on throwing things out.

Currently, as I am typing this – we have two electricians putting in air conditioning into our house. Our house is a mess with things moved everywhere as the electricians are getting into it. It is comforting that one thing I have NEVER EVER worked on fully cleaning – my closet is clean. I cannot stress enough how exciting it is to see the floor in my closet. 15 years people! I know that sounds horrible but when you realise that most of your life you are “coping” with health issues and depression and etc… so much, including your closet can be overwhelming. However, making these changes and decluttering really can decrease that stress. It’s a bit of a catch 22.
Anyway, I did not talk to my stuff like Marie Kondo suggests but I did mentally say goodbye to it all and tell myself “It has served it’s purpose”.

Anyway, if you haven’t noticed already my two things I am thankful for is:

  1. Feeling capable and not overwhelmed when cleaning something that seemed like a big task for me in the past.
  2. organised shoes in my closet.

I’m sure tomorrow I will be thankful for the air conditioning/heaters being installed currently but that’s another post for tomorrow.

If you need inspiration to tidy and clean here are a few people who help:

All things Marie Kondo

Shannon Lush and Jennifer Fleming cleaning tips

Advertisements

Celebrate the small successes!

woman legs relaxation beauty
Photo by Breakingpic on Pexels.com

This week I am celebrating wearing shorts! Why? Well, it’s been almost 18 months since the accident of my car losing my brakes which caused it to drag me down a hill. I had terrible gravel rash. It healed incredibly quickly (within 4 weeks) except for one trouble spot that took over a year to heal. It took so long because my knee still had gravel in it. It was pretty gross to look at and even my 4-year-old niece would ask me when swimming in the family pool “What’s wrong with your knee Aunty Jenny?”
Her sweet little mind was very concerned about the “rock inside Aunty Jenny’s knee” and talked about the subject with quite a few people.

Continue reading “Celebrate the small successes!”

A very personal post

Me waking up in the hospital in March after being told the odds were against me (with filter)

⚠️ warning: personal post ahead:

Today (as long as nothing changes) should be my last procedure of the year. The last 18 months has consisted of 7CTs, 3 (going on 4) procedures, 9 (going on 10) Cannulas, 3 local anaesthetics, 2 (going on 3) general anaesthetics, 2 ambulance rides, 3 catheters, countless tears, many prayers, and one seriously considered plan to escape the hospital. Even though today is considered “super safe” I still have a lot of emotion going into it. I know some have it better and some have it worse… but this year has been rough for me (and my family). In 4 days I turn 37 with doctors at the beginning of the year doubting I would live to see it. Now I’m forecast to live many more years (God willing). So as much as I hate having to do another procedure, I am thankful that despite how upsetting this year has been I still get to be a mother, wife, daughter, sister, aunt and friend. Hope 37 treats me better… can’t wait to be over the last side effects for the year in a couple of days and no more needles for at least a few months 👍👍

Look for the silver lining…

dark clouds daylight grass gravel
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

Yesterday I had a bad day, A very bad day.
I was not my best because I had an infection which led me to a last minute appointment with a dentist. I know when I am about to battle a flu or an infection because I get angry. I am not an angry person by nature. I think (if I asked my friends) that although I am open with my emotions –  that I reason things out with a lot of logic (hence my love for Mike Rowe), and think about consequences and put things into perspective. So for me to be unreasonably angry is a big red flag – which often indicates some sort of illness. When I realized I could barely chew food, I made my way to the dentist with children in tow. I had already given myself a horrible guilt trip because I had yelled at my children for stupid reasons – something I don’t do. I had yelled a lot. A lot. So once I realized it was because I was unwell I had been able to put it into perspective and as I was driving to the dentist I apologized. They were immediately forgiving… which was undeserved.
I didn’t realize how long it had been since I had been to the dentist. My kids went 6 months ago but I have not. I realized this when the dentist I had been to for almost 14 years made me fill out a new patient form.
I saw a dentist  I was not used to, and apologized. I knew it had been long and I felt embarrassed. I was anticipating being told how bad my teeth actually were. And so that happened. BUT- the dentist did not stop, it was lecture after lecture as if I had never brushed my teeth or been to a dentist and I grew up in a cave. I wanted to tell her what had really stopped me from going to the dentist – which is kind of hard when they have dental tools in your mouth. I tried to explain my health problems had taken priority and I had been in the hospital – so my teeth weren’t the first things on my mind. She then asked if I ate a lot of sugar – I explained I had suffered from major fatigue with these health problems and desperate for energy and knew I had eaten a bad amount of sugar to try to keep up with life. With all the guilt tripping I couldn’t tell her the truth. The real reason for keeping me back was financial. It was not safe to say

“Well, my husband has been unemployed twice for long periods of time and is now only making just enough the threshold where we don’t qualify for benefits. On top of my children suddenly having growth spurts and I was only finally able to buy them two outfits each (they are on rotation) and somehow paying crazy amounts of money for my teeth had not made priority.”

Also, as anyone knows that has struggled financially – there is a lot of guilt as to what you wish you could afford. I couldn’t explain how there are days where my knees go weak feeling overwhelmed with what little money we do have – and there are times I feel like I cannot take another step with this burden. I couldn’t tell her that. Yet she kept trying to explain how bad it was that I had neglected to come in. Do I need that guilt? No. Does anyone really need that guilt? nope.
I had incorrectly guessed how much it would cost. Turns out my whole week’s worth of groceries – food I try to keep on the table is gone… and when I was asked to pay. when they told the amount it took everything in me not to start crying. I only kept it together because my kids were with me. I am so glad I spent a week’s worth of groceries to be told what a horrible person I was because my teeth aren’t perfect.
I had a headache and felt quite ill after when I got home. My sensory child decided that that was the time to  have a meltdown. I tried to do everything I could to make him stop but in the end I couldn’t and his screaming caused my seizures to start – so I made my way to my bed (as I don’t like the children to witness them) and closed the door and tried to just relax. I left my sensory child with my daughter, which also made me feel like I had failed as a parent.
I could hear my daughter, and my sensory child stopped screaming almost as soon as I got to my room. He was even laughing.
It hit me there was a silver lining here, that even though I had felt like a failure, through health, and parenting, that I had a daughter who was able to settle the situation in seconds. Not only that but she attended to me. She gave me encouragement and told me how much she loves me. I never asked for this… I didn’t tell her to do this. She was absolutely amazing. Her ability to settle a stressful situation was beyond what a 10 year old has the ability to do. I told her how Proud I was of her that night and she explained how she had distracted my sensory child with all the things she could think of that he loved.
A woman that I know who has MS told me not to be scared when I first had health symptoms – and young children. She said

“If you saw what a better person my son has become since I got sick, you will see that there is no reason for guilt, that children learn amazing skills when their mother is sick.”

I didn’t believe her until yesterday. I now know that is true. My daughter has peacemaking skills that no school could teach her. Maybe the bad day was worth seeing the light in someone else.

Finding a way to make an obstacle your advantage? Check out The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday. 

Mental Health: Having Fun

adult blur car cold
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

One thing that social media can give us is the sense that we are missing out.
I am happy for other people’s children when they receive awards but I rarely ever post pictures of my children when they receive an award. I am not trying to prove that my child is amazing, or to prove I’m a good parent. Instead, I may post everyday photos of my children because I am just proud of them for being themselves. Showing people what awards they got does not mean anything if my kids are miserable all the other times.
I like posting pictures of my kids just having fun. Having fun and having down time is becoming a lost art.

Instead we are building a world based on accomplishments and causing anxiety. Parents have anxiety because they are worried where their child stands academically or physically within their age range. Experts are now saying that how we are parenting is causing more anxiety for the child than anything else.
One of the suggestions is about giving children space without chores, without assignments, without “do do do”. Children also need to learn how to just BE.

How do I encourage this? We have certain “electronic free times” throughout the day. Most people give their children ipads in the car, I try to make this time one of those electronic free times. During this time I chat with the kids in the car about their day. We point out things in the window (Yesterday there was a old male motorcyclist next to us with a very masculine beard but he had one very long curl in the back of his neck  – we then made up a song about him not being a girl but liking his very looong curl – it rhymed).
We point to the dogs we drive by, or a paddock of cows or on our daily trip – there is usually a Kangaroo somewhere.

Part of being mentally healthy is to notice what is around us, and to enjoy those little things. I want my children to realize that there is more to life than competing academically or on the court. I want my children to understand that it is just as important to be in a “fun” moment as it is to focus on a test (obviously at appropriate times). Not understanding the value of both is causing major imbalance in our mental health, and the mental health of our children.

If your life or your child’s life is too busy, it is vital that you start scheduling “fun time”, where you start finding joy in the little things. To just be…

 

Why Honesty Matters

woman stands on mountain over field under cloudy sky at sunrise
Photo by Victor Freitas on Pexels.com

 

In the wake of Anthony Bourdain I sit here and wonder what it is that is causing such a mental health crisis. I don’t just mean depression, but I also include addiction.

It takes me back to the first suicide I experienced with someone I felt was as close to me as an uncle. A man who I felt cared for me and understood me when many others didn’t. We shared interests, smiles, and laughs at a most difficult time, and was considered in close friendship (if not the closest) to my family.

I remember approaching him at a ski trip in Tahoe that I realized he was not himself. He didn’t smile back. I thought I might have upset him. After all, I was only 12 and my under-developed mind didn’t know how to interpret this small sign. He always had a smile on his face that I didn’t know how to interpret that frown other than I must have caused it. A few weeks later he took his life. I unfortunately was not told a lot of details until I was much older and “mature enough” to handle the truth. That my friend, my close family friend who was over at our house all the time, had battled not just one but a few addictions. It was freeing to know this because for many years I thought I was the only one to know about the frown I had witnessed. I thought that maybe I should have warned others. I later found out that there were many signs. I was not the only one who witnessed a change in mood.

I also had no understanding of why someone who appeared always happy, had taken his life. At the age of 12 I remember thinking “Did he not know how important he was to me?”. I look back and realize how selfish that sounds being that he had a wife and two children, but I had no help to process the information, and the word “suicide” and “depression” were still taboo. Many people had focused on helping his family, and had not checked on others that may have been affected.

I remember holding a lot of feelings in about this until a student at my school took his life my senior year in high school (5 years later). The student that took his life was the son of a much loved school secretary. His mother was the one you always went to if you needed any sort of compassion about any difficulty in life. She was the most approachable staff member at our school. It was hard to process how her son didn’t ask her for help. I also remember the bravery of her speech at our graduation. What was freeing about my senior year (the same year and around the same time as the Columbine shooting), was that we had speakers come to our school and discuss how suicide and depression COULD NOT and SHOULD NOT be taboo. Our teachers then had discussions within our homerooms and I remember just feeling this relief inside of me that I could say the words “suicide” and “depression” out loud and that it took away a lot of bottled up pain from years past to talk about it freely.

It’s not that we don’t go through pain and sadness, and yes, even depression. I think a lot of times this may be natural. It becomes a sickness when we aren’t heard and we feel shame in speaking about it. There are so many people out there that are willing to help, even strangers, if we could feel like we can freely talk about it. When we take away the stigma about these things, there may be more people willing to ask for help. I am the first person to admit that when I have had bouts of depression that I can only talk about it afterwards because when I am going through it I feel like the shame envelopes me. I wish that somehow we can cut through that shame.

We need to get to a point of honesty in our society. Honesty without feeling like we will be punished for being open about what it is we are feeling. This must be our number one goal. YET, our world (with the add of social media – and social justice) has become a more hostile world for honesty. We need to reverse this, if we wish to be a healthier society. Please, if you are struggling please call the number (that applies) below.

Lifeline Australia: 13 11 14
National Suicide Hotline (USA) 1800 273 8255

 

 

To Those Mothers

 

adult alone anxious black and white
Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

 

We all have those days.. especially as a parent where we feel like we failed. Today was a particularly hard day for me being that I had both of my children have difficult days as well as a husband who struggled with some challenges at work. However there are the mothers that struggle ‘a tad’ more. Those are the mothers with children who require that extra work. I have a child that may be on the sensory scale when it comes to challenges (although some have mistaken him for being autistic) but he is not on the Autism spectrum. This week – memorial day week – reminds me of the mothers of Autistic children. Why?
I was 12 years old when my nephew was born into this world. I was closer to him in age than I was with some of my siblings. May 31st is my nephew’s birthday. I remember feeling so overwhelmed with happiness when he was born as he was my parents first grandchild and I was the youngest. I thought of him as that younger brother I always wanted. Then the confusion set in when I came home from school to be told that he was “different”. We later found out he suffered from a brain hemorrhage at birth. Despite passing all sorts of milestones – I remember him losing a ‘normal voice’ and his giggling personality to autism. I don’t talk about it because I feel guilty. I feel like I have no right to feel upset or angry or sad about what has happened to him as he is my sister’s child, not mine. She has to be the one that deals with the most on all of this. I may have lived with him when he was little but she has spent every day living with him and the unpredictablity, discouragement and appreciating the little things.

I am still surprised when I come across people who think “Autism doesn’t exist” or “the child wasn’t disciplined enough”. I know from first hand experience this is not the case.

There are bad statistics for mothers who deal with severe autistic children. They have to do with the success of their marriage and their health just to name a couple. This makes me concerned for my sister, but makes me think of the’ general Autistic community’ and the EXTRA stresses they carry each day.

I know as an aunt there are times I treasure. I know my nephew doesn’t like to be touched much but I have sat in silence with him and he has laid his head on my shoulder. That day makes me happy.
The day where I hadn’t seen him in years and wasn’t sure if he remembered me – and I walked into his room only to have him tell me to “come here sweetheart” in the most excited voice as he hugged me.
These moments I can think of and remember knowing they are not the norm – they are the exception. I remember when I was younger and my nephew lost it when I was in a van with him. He had to be warned the indicator was going to come on to turn and even when he was warned he still protested the sound of the clicking of the van.

It also makes me wonder about the people who lose it with road rage when someone doesn’t use their indicator – is there a possibility that a driver is weighing up whether to upset their autistic passenger with the noise of the indicator or someone outside the vehicle with road rage.

Mothers of autistic children know there are so many more things they have to pre-plan  and worry about with such unpredictability of knowing that no matter how much you plan there is still something small that may cause a national-sized meltdown.

So with this I just wanted to write something small – and not even close to measurable in honoring those that deal with this stress everyday. This is the weekend that I think of you, and consider the stresses that are on your shoulders, and hope and pray that there is someone near and dear to you that can help relieve some stress.

I hope you have a chance to take some time for yourself this week. Take care of yourself because there is so much on you. You aren’t alone.

Jen