Love

Love. Mysterious yet simple. Complicated yet carefully planned. We all look for it yet when we stop looking, we find it. Sometimes it may seem elusive yet the minute you look away you are in someone’s arms. Some never have the opportunity to experience true love. Others are abundantly blessed to have it and some take it for granted. It feels good. It feels right. It is an adrenaline rush like no other. It is a wave of pure bliss.

Sometimes we are so afraid of what we need so desperately that we deny our true feelings. But when we open our arms fully we recognize and welcome the love. We melt in a sense. Our hearts beat faster, our thoughts get jumbled, and we tremble with excitement.

It feels so good. It feels so right.

Is it true love? Is it meant to be? Is this the one? Hard questions to be answered….and only you can answer them. For now, just be a sponge and soak up all those feelings and be still. It’s a nice place to be.

It’s T-day!

Today. This is the day we’ve been waiting for, especially Reese. It is finally here. Today is the day that he begins testosterone. And the journey can FINALLY begin…..

After multiple doctors visits and months of therapy, today began with a routine exam, instructional videos and Q&A. Reese was so excited and I was a bundle of nerves. This was very positive and happy day, but, as you can imagine as a mother, my anxiety was uncomfortable this morning. As the day progressed, Reese was still all smiles and my nerves seemed to calm quite a bit. I love seeing him happy.

We will never be through with this journey, as it is a life long one with so many changes, challenges and unknowns along the way. The ultimate goal is for Reese to feel safe, comfortable, secure, confident and most importantly, happy. This is a start.

So many have asked us questions, so many may be confused and too many to count have supported us through this so far. We’ve both made new friends and sadly, have lost a few, but all is well. After all, this isn’t about anyone except for Reese. Neither one of us can do this alone and it doesn’t seem like we will have to…..

So, Reese will be changing soon enough. His voice will become deeper, the facial hair will begin to grow and the fat/muscle mass will begin to distribute differently in his body. He will gain more confidence as he feels more like himself on the outside as he feels on the inside. I am truly excited for him.

Please don’t be afraid to ask questions. We want people to understand what is happening to him. We are sailing on uncharted waters too. My heart will be full again when he can be his true self, happy, free, independent and strong. He has a long way to go, but today was T day!!

Just a normal day….

From the minute I wake up, the dogs need out, fed and watered. They want my undivided attention, even before my feet hit the kitchen floor to make that first cup of coffee. Dudes, please let mom open an eyeball first. Please.

From there, my mind goes to my sons. I continuously worry about all of them. They don’t leave my head for one second of the day. Well, ok….maybe when I wake up with one eyeball shut walking downstairs to let the dogs out. In all seriousness, I don’t think a mother really walks around with their children not far from the front most part of the brain. What are they doing? Are they happy? Do they miss me? Do they need anything? Worry, worry, worry. It’s time to make sure the beasts are awake from their slumber.

It’s off to school! Have a good day and I love you’s are said all around. I’m eternally grateful that they don’t mind hugs and kisses, even in front of their friends. At least, I don’t think they do! Ha!

Then I make a list, AFTER my coffee, of the things to get done that day. Sometimes, it’s as simple as a doctors appointment or mow the grass, other times it may be an arduous list of working on unfinished projects, phone calls, grocery lists, cleaning the bathroom, laundry and vacuuming, oh, and packing the house up too. Then if course, as I suspect most of us do, I stare at the list and pick and choose what I WANT to do first. The harder things can wait till last. Or should I do them first to get them out of the way? It’s a battle. Truly.

Not only am I worried about completing the mundane tasks, but I have to balance my health with the energy needed to complete them. Some could run circles around me….I’ve slowed WAY down….aging seems to have gotten the best of me recently. (I’ve never been afraid of aging, but I recently took a beauty quiz using a selfie with no make up and hair back only to find out that my skin age was…..51! Not amused) So, yeah, there’s that.

So, ok it’s time to make the ever so fun phone calls. Sometimes I wonder how places stay in business. The audacity of some questions, the simple rudeness and downright ignorance of some baffle me. Then, I finally get to the most pleasant, most effective, most kind person known in this world to help me. Why aren’t they all like this? It just seems like things would be so much more effective if they were. I am never rude on the phone…..in fact, I am very conscious of it because I have been the voice on the other side. I’ve been yelled at for no reason. Don’t make me cry and I won’t make you cry. It truly takes all kinds.

Off to doctor’s appointments, either for myself or the kiddos. For the most part, they are positive experiences of being poked and prodded. We always learn something new which is good, I suppose. Like, no news is good news but that’s not how we do things in this family, apparently. We always get news!

Haha….it’s not always bad news. But it does take a toll on me. As a mom, my worries continue…..from having a son with special needs, to a son who is transitioning to my oldest, who is fighting with his braces. It’s always something. And I can’t forget myself in this either. My latest fall resulted in a bad shoulder injury requiring cortisone shots, PT and Ortho consults. Like I said, nothing is ever dull.

Let’s go home for dinner. Ah, time to relax with the family. Oh, wait, who cooks dinner. That’s right it’s me.

Do you know how hard it is to please everyone in the house? I’m sure you do, because we are short order cooks along with many other roles. 😂😂😂 I do have to admit it is getting much easier now that they are getting older and tastes are evolving.

Who wants to do the dishes? Oh, you WANT to do your homework now. Nice. I guess I’ll do them. Lol

After homework and dishes are clean, it’s time to relax. WAIT! One more thing….let’s go throw a load of clothes in the washer.

So let’s just jump up and take care of a few other things and then look up to see that it’s BEDTIME!! Yay! Well, not exactly. There’s a pile of laundry that needs folded and put away on my bed. But at least all the kiddos are tucked in and sound asleep, right? It’s all well and good until, “Mom, MOM, I NEED a drink of water”. Downstairs I go because letting the boy out of bed is a no-no. I do want to sleep tonight. 😂

Finally it’s time to hit the hay. I’m done. I’m tired. Goodnight and I’ll do it all over again tomorrow, gladly. This has to be the best job ever…..❤️

Chemical addiction

I had a scare this past Sunday when my blood pressure dropped to 70/30. I was dizzy, nauseous and had a really bad headache. I had been running low all day and had even called the doctor on call. She had advised me to rest and drink lots of fluids and to NOT take by bp med that evening and call my cardiologist on Monday morning. I couldn’t wait…..once it dropped that low, I immediately went to the ER. Was there something wrong with my heart again? Was it my medication? All I knew was that I was freaking out…..

Once in the ER, they immediately called me back to have an EKG and lab work. Of course, my bp had returned to normal with all the excitement and my nerves. After sitting in the room for a while waiting on results, my bp started to drop once again. All my test results were very normal. Ok, so it wasn’t my heart. Whew.

Without any other reason for the low bp, it was determined to be my medication and I was advised not to take it and call my cardiologist for a follow up appointment. I returned home, nervous that it would drop again….

Rewind to 6 months ago and I was in a lab doing a number of tests to get a better look at my heart and how it was working. All of them came back normal but let me explain about the non-stress test. I was not allowed to do a physical non stress test, so they tried to mimic the signs of a heart attack by injecting chemicals through an IV. I can tell you that I have never been so scared in my life. It felt exactly like I was having a heart attack, again. I was nauseous, dizzy, light-headed, had chest pains/pressure and shooting pains down my left arm. As fast as it came on, it disappeared. Just like the real one. Chemicals were able to mimic a heart attack. CHEMICALS. How scary is that?

Back to my appointment with my cardiologist: he discussed the fact that I do NOT need bp meds at all. I have a “soft” blood pressure that tends to be on the “low” normal side naturally. So, why then was I put on this medication in the first place? Well, it’s pretty much standard for anyone who has had open heart surgery to be prescribed these meds to help the heart heal. Ok fine, BUT I have been complaining for the last 4 years how tired I have been. I have never had a high bp reading. Ever. Today has been a fantastic day for me. I don’t feel like I want to fall asleep and my energy level increased substantially. Is this related to the medication? My doctor seems to think so.

We all deal with chemicals in our life, but do we really know what we are putting in our bodies? Do we understand exactly how those chemicals affect us, affect our behavior and sleeping habits? It could be medication, as in my case, but think about the food we eat, the drinks we drink (including water), the topicals, such as lotions we use and the household items we use every single day. I’m on a quest now. I want to eliminate chemicals in my life as much as possible.

What do you think? How do you eliminate chemicals from your personal world? I need help to do this and I’m curious what you all do…..

It might be someone you love…

A few years ago, my daughter woke me in the middle of the night and told me she was gay. It really wasn’t surprising to me, as I had suspected that for a few years. I left the timing to her. I wanted her to come to me when she was ready. This revelation did not change the fact that she was my daughter and a human being. It did not change the way I loved her or treated her. I had my concerns about her well-being. I didn’t want her treated any differently than anyone else, but I knew it would be inevitable. We had many talks, laughs and tears about the rejections she faced. She remained strong and independent and very mature about the whole situation. She lost friends, but walked away with her head held high. After all, this was Abby and she didn’t have anything to be ashamed of.

Over the last few years, she struggled a bit to find her place. She wondered who she really was and feeling uncomfortable in her own body, she wanted to know why. I always kept an open mind and of course, an open heart. She said she felt like a boy trapped in a girl’s body. I’ll never forget the day when we were sitting on our back patio just enjoying a casual conversation. She proceeded to tell me that she thought maybe she was transgender. Okay, I thought…..now what? She admitted that she was young and wouldn’t want to do anything physically to change herself yet. I supported her and let her know that I also thought she needed to think more about this before making any decisions. She agreed.

I have to admit that I was fearful at first. I cried because of being so scared for her in the world we live in today. How would she deal with the rejection, the hate, the ignorance? She remained strong. I love this girl more than words could ever describe. She is so full of life, so intelligent, kind, funny and independent. I wrapped my arms around her and let her know I loved her and I was right next to her on her journey.

Today, she has decided to be called by her middle name, Reese, and will be changing the pronouns that she uses to he/him. He will get through this, with me walking right beside him. All I want him to know is that I am right here and will NEVER leave his side.

Transitions are always difficult, ridden with emotions. There’s ups and downs, twists and turns but remaining strong and putting one foot in front of the other will get you through to the end. This is no different. I am sure we owill have plenty of tears, plenty of laughs and plenty of discussions. He is strong and so very wise. I am sure I will face rejection as well as his mom. I am prepared for that as well. We are in this together.

All the chitter chatter can stop now. Reese is out and very proud. Just be mindful who you hate….it might just be someone you love.

Just stop……

I am at the grocery store and a person chooses veggie burgers instead of 100% beef patties. I am at the hair salon and a lady decides to cut 10″ off of her beautiful hair. I am at the shoe store and a guy decides to buy the more expensive athletic shoe instead of the sale item. I am at the movies and the family decides on the scary horror movie instead of the animated, rated G movie. I am at church and the man approaches the alter but the woman stays in the pew. I walk into the florist and the lady asks for a red rose for her friend instead of a yellow one. I approach the voting poll and the woman identifies herself as a Republican but the man says he is a Democrat. I am at the festival and the woman takes a picture of the sunset and another takes a photo of a trash can. I am at school and the boy is wearing pink but the girl is wearing black. I am in the kitchen and I decide to have a banana instead of a bowl of broccoli. I am at the car lot and the salesman is selling the blue car instead of the red one. I am getting gas and the guy next to me chooses the high octane and I choose the lower grade. It is a holiday and the mom chooses to rest in her recliner but her family decides to take a walk.

Did you judge any one of these decisions? Probably not. Point is, we ALL have choices to make in our daily lives that we don’t expect to be judged for making. It’s a beautiful and wonderful thing. Now imagine just the opposite. We are questioned, judged and ridiculed for each and every decision we make. Even worse, we can’t make a single decision without consulting someone. We feel belittled, controlled and manipulated. We are afraid and self-conscious and weak.

Some things ARE out of our control and some things are dictated for us to follow. For example, the speed limit. Sure we can decide to disobey the law, but we will face the consequences if we are caught. We may hurt someone else or ourselves. We may have to pay a fine or do jail time. Sometimes we see/interpret these rules/laws as ridiculous and we voice our opinion/thoughts. We have the choice and the right to do so. That’s how we make progress. We hope that someone is listening. Sometimes it works, sometimes our voice goes unheard but at least we had the CHOICE to speak up and do something.

Back to my original thought…..I don’t judge people’s individual choices. It is THEIR choice. If we were all made exactly the same, with the same opinions and actions, we would be robots. I don’t know about you, but living in a world of robots scares the shit out of me. I celebrate our difference, our abilities and our opinions each and every day. It truly is what makes the world go round. That being said, why…..WHY do people insist on judging others for their own opinions/choices? WHY? What possibly could that person judging be gaining? We were NOT put here to judge others. I simply do NOT believe that. I am responsible for my actions and mine only. Okay, so I can be held responsible for my child’s actions/behavior, but ultimately, it was THEIR choice to perform that action.

Just stop. Stop judging. Stop treating people less than you for making a different choice that you would have in the same situation. It’s so unbecoming of you. Just stop.

Don’t get me wrong, I am NOT judging you for judging others. You will have to deal with that when the time comes, but do you really get satisfaction from hurting others? I certainly hope not. Just stop.

What is your why?

I’m sick. I don’t mean the “I have a tummy ache, I’m going to lay down” sick. I. Am. Sick. It never goes away. I have okay days and then I have really bad days and, unfortunately, the bad are outnumbering the good. I’m tired and it’s only beginning.

This has been brewing for a few years now. Hind sight is 20/20, right? I had been nursing my own ailments and complaints since they began. We all have yucky days and I was no exception. I would get some more rest, drink more fluids or generally, just take it easy. It seemed to work for me. A few hours later, a day at the most, and I was back to myself.  I have never been a complainer and this was no different…..there really was no cause for alarm since all the symptoms subsided, or so I thought.

I noticed that these episodes were increasing in frequency. I began to talk about some symptoms with my doctors. They would hear me but I didn’t feel they were listening to me. They treated the symptoms, but never would take the time to find out why they were present. I am not putting my medical team down at all…..I’ve come to realize that I was not the most effective at communicating my exact feelings and/or thoughts. It seemed embarrassing or I felt as though I was complaining about a tummy ache that didn’t go away. I thought I was eating the wrong things or the medications I was prescribed were interacting with each other somehow to upset my stomach. I talked to my pharmacist. I was told to take meds with and without food and at different times of the day. I tried everything.

A few months ago, after we made our move to Kentucky, I began to feel worse. The bad days started rearing their ugly asses again. I chalked it up to stress this time. I was adjusting to a new town, looking for a job, interviewing, unpacking, getting 2 kids adjusted to new schools and trying to deal with my oldest on his own in college. I just assumed that the stress of “life” was getting the best of me. I began putting together my new medical team. It was clear that my anxiety was at an all time high. I was so afraid of having a bad day that it was becoming easier to just stay home in the event of a bad day. I wanted to quit and I had started to isolate myself in my own home.

I received a job offer for a position that I knew was a 110% perfect fit for me. I was beyond excited and began spreading the news. In the meantime, I was starting to openly discuss my symptoms with my doctor and referrals were being made to get to the root cause of the annoying and sometimes debilitating bad days. Finally. I started my new job, being so proud and so excited for this new opportunity. I worked 3 days of my first week and then it happened. I had to call off because of vomiting. My worst nightmare ever. Who calls in sick during their first week?? I thought for sure I was going to be let go…..all I knew to do was to return on Monday and hope for the best. I wasn’t better. I was worse. I was out the whole next week, going to doctor’s appointments and having tests done.

It was that week that I was referred to a GI doctor because the CT scan that was ordered revealed mild impaction in my intestine. I had my appointment with my GI doctor and he ordered multiple tests after carefully listening to me. He was actually listening to me! I was started on some new medications to alleviate the impaction and to help with the nausea and vomiting. Within a few weeks, I had a colonoscopy, endoscopy and a stomach emptying test. While we waited on the results of the colonoscopy/endoscopy, I received a new diagnosis, Gastroparesis. I had failed the stomach emptying test miserably. I was not digesting food properly and it was staying in my stomach too long, making me nauseous and leading me to vomit. This was happening on a daily basis by now and I was desperately trying my best to hide it. I had lost 40 lbs in a 6 week time frame. I had resorted to broths or just not eating at all to avoid vomiting.

What we know now is that my Vagus nerve has been damaged and is no longer working properly, thanks to diabetes. It is irreversible. All I can do now is to try to deal with what I’ve been given. I have been drastically changing my diet. Everything I have been taught over the last few years about a heart healthy diet has been thrown out the window. I now have to follow a very low fiber diet. Whole grains, nuts, seeds, and most vegetables are out, especially raw veggies. I am now on more meds to prevent the vomiting and to balance the good and bad bacteria in my gut

i wish I could say I have more good days now, but I can’t. Some days the meds work. Some days, they don’t.  I have joined support groups  I have read several books and articles. I have made new recipes and I try my absolute best to remain positive  I still cry  I am sick and this is hard. Being strong is not easy, but looking at my kids reminds me that I must go on  They make me so happy and warm my heart like non other  I beam with pride when I talk about them. They are my “why”!

 

Boys watch too

We talk about healthy relationships with our daughters, hoping to teach them to be strong, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. As mothers, and sometimes fathers, we arm our daughters with tools to navigate the world of relationships so that they can stay true to themselves, expect nothing but dignity, respect, truth and honor. We emphasize a bonding between 2 people where friendship, trust, honesty, and unrequited love is an absolute must. We encourage a spiritual bonding as well, letting no one person to stand between such love. We are to lead by example. We strive to protect our daughters from agony, pain and abuse.

I have had some major relationship failures in my past and I am not proud of that. I try to talk about “mistakes” I’ve made so that they are not repeated. I’ve accepted behaviors and withstood abuse because I thought I wasn’t worthy of anything else. I accepted these relationships as normal and believed they were in the name of love. I made excuses, I hid certain behaviors, I denied my true feelings and alienated my friends and family because I was ashamed of what I had become as I accepted these behaviors as normal. It was only after being “outted” by close friends and family, did I realize that I had failed. I had failed myself. I failed my children. I disappointed and worried friends. What I realized was those very friends and family were crying for help on my behalf. Until I could see that, I couldn’t accept that help and feel the love in a very healthy manner.

I have had some pretty in depth conversations lately with my kids. We’ve talked about those failures (I still will not call them mistakes), why they happen and how to never repeat them again. We learn from that. We grow from that. Unfortunately, sometimes we have to go through the rain to see the rainbow. My children have seen me go through so much. They have helped me in ways I never thought possible.

I am stronger today than I’ve ever been. I never wanted to be treated “less than” again. I protect my heart as though it has steel built around it. I don’t want my children to see me hurt again. It’s not their job to pick me up, even though that is NOT what I have intended them to do, ever. They want to protect me, just as I want to protect them. I guess it is a codependency of sorts.

All this time I have worried and stressed about my failed relationships and what it has done to my daughter. I’ve always tried to see things through her eyes and only hoped and prayed that the unspoken lessons, actions and prayers have been heard and seen so that she doesn’t make the same mistakes. I want her to be an independent, strong, intelligent woman who will fight for what she needs and wants. Never in a million years did I ever think about my sons.

Our sons are watching and listening too. They are in relationships. I have always taught them to be respectful, honest, trustworthy and kind. I’ve taught them how to treat a woman….how I want to be treated. I have supported them, listened to them and always have an ear to lend and a shoulder to cry on, when needed. They know that abuse of ANY kind is unacceptable….they talk about it and I know they understand. They also know if I ever get wind of such behavior, they will answer to me and that is understood.

Why am I concerned? Just as I lead by example, faults, mistakes, failures and successes, my children can enter relationships that are not healthy and are down right frightening. You see, they can be in a place where they respect, love and do all the things I have taught them to do, but they have let the relationship become abusive to them. They are following in my footsteps and that is NOT good. It pains me to see this happening and delivers a shocking blow to my heart and soul. I never dreamed that I would have to explain the “other side” to my son. Boys need to be taught exactly what we teach our daughters. Be strong, independent, and fight for what you deserve….don’t accept anything less. Manipulation and isolation are evil.

So for now, talk to your sons. Talk to your daughters. Talk about both sides of the coin. Don’t be the abused and don’t be the abuser and don’t accept anything less.

Tunnel Vision

I feel as though I am in a tunnel…..trying to get to the light. I move, inching ever so slowly towards my goals, but I AM moving. Life is hard. It’s full of challenges, bumps and sometimes mountains, set backs and the daunting disappointments. Sometimes I feel rejected and abandoned. Sometimes I get so discouraged that I want to give up, bury myself in a hole and never come up for air. But time and time again, I do. I keep moving forward. I wonder why and how I manage to keep my head straight, how I regain my focus and find my determination again.

I think it’s easy to blame feelings on a person or a situation. I look at my past and the people who have taught me to be strong, positive and goal-oriented. I look at the people who have undermined my passion for life, the ones who say they support me but really have no intention to do so, and the people that have let me down time after time yet have me yearning for more from them. My disappointment in others is incredibly difficult to understand and even harder to deal with, especially when they are close to my heart.

I have surrounded myself with good people….you know, people that are caring, honest, helpful, funny, kind and hard working. I learn from them. I personally grow from them. Over the years, I’ve learned expect nothing but hope for the best. And I don’t like that. Sometimes that very hope gets squashed, flat as a pancake. Other times, it’s as though the sun rises and it never fades. I feel as though I live in shadows a lot. I guess that’s ok sometimes.

I love to help others….I feel most comfortable, calm, and content when doing so. I feel that role is what I am meant to do. Sometimes, “things” get in the way of me doing so. Sometimes I persist until I can accomplish my need to help. Sometimes I give up because it just seems too obvious that person does not want my help and sometimes, life just gets in the way of me helping others. I understand that completely, after all, I don’t always respond to the people offering me help either. It’s hard to lean on others when it’s needed. My pride gets in the way, my independence is threatened and my ego can sometimes become bruised. Learning to accept the help is definitely process.

Just imagine if we just stopped and listened for a minute. Thinking about a conversation I had recently made me realize that I haven’t been listening. Sure, I heard what was being said, but I was not listening. Until now. Is it too late? Maybe so. There are moments in our lives when we just need to slow down and get back to our roots of loving, embracing and nurturing humankind. Be kind. Practice it. Be loyal and faithful and always, ALWAYS lend a hand. You won’t regret it. I promise you that.

Oh, There You Are!

And then my soul saw you and it kind of went “Oh there you are. I’ve been looking for you.” -Iain S Thomas

We don’t meet people by chance…..it’s all a part of a much bigger plan than we can’t even begin to understand. Sometimes that reason is clear right from the beginning of any new relationship and other times it doesn’t unveil itself for years or, perhaps, never. I have always thought that every person I meet has a lesson to teach me. It may be as simple as a kind gesture, such as lending a cell phone in an emergency situation, or more complex, such as helping to face demons, fears and insecurities. Sometimes the lessons are not wanted or appreciated and we often get angry or sad and slam the “door” on the relationship. But what if we kept it open? What if we really tuned in to the lesson being taught there? Isn’t that when we grow, learn, and move forward in a more positive way? I have had the door slammed in my face on more than one occasion and I have done the same to others. In recent years, my perspective has changed and I try not to let that happen.  Our lives are too short……too precious to harbor negative feelings. We spend entirely too much time and energy being angry, afraid or insecure. We need to let go of what we can not change and focus on our relationships, our love for one another and celebrate and cherish our differences. After all, if we were all the same, life would be pretty boring, don’t you think?

I meet new people all the time and I absolutely love it! It may be a chance encounter with another photographer out on a shoot; it may be another mom watching their child perform in the school play; it may be a waiter that serves me lunch at a restaurant; it may be someone you’ve never met in person, but online instead and had an instant connection. We meet people at the grocery store, parking lots, doctors’ offices, your neighborhood, on a plane or through a friend of a friend.  Have you talked to a person for the first time and they leave you with a lasting impression for some odd reason? Me too.

I have met a few people who have touched my soul. Genuinely good people…..my soul mates.  Now, I am not talking just about mates or companions. I have friends who I consider to be soul mates as well. And guess what?? They have all come into my life at just the right time. A time when my next lesson was about to be taught. I cherish my soul mates with everything inside me. I protect them.  I celebrate them. I love them.

So, my question is this…..do you think your companion, spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend also needs to be your soul mate? What if he/she is not, but the love you share is so deep and the connection is so real that you just cant imagine a life without them? What if you believe this person is your soul mate, but there are other characteristics and traits that you find undesirable? Do you overlook them? We will never be perfect, will always make mistakes and will fall down, but the people we surround ourselves with will determine how quickly we get up, take the next step and grow. Will we always be on a quest to find our next soul mate?