I love this little book…so I’m passing it along to you for Chirstmas. :-)

A while back I stumbled upon Lisa Esile’s blog and well, she has a way of saying things that just makes me think…yeah, that makes so much sense….thanks.

She has this cute little book ebook that she gives away.

That’s right, she gives it away.

It is so cute…I just loved it.

I think you will to, so I wanted to pass it on to you.

Here’s the link for you to go and grab a copy and read it…look at it….(it has some cute illustrations).

7 Secrets Your Mind Doesn’t Want You To Know

It’s really short, and it makes you feel good.

I didn’t have anything to personally give you for Christmas this year so I thought I’d pass along Lise’s book!

I hope you like it!!

(So…just click on the picture, or the title of the book and it will take you to a page where you can download a copy of this cute little book.)

Happy Holidays!

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GRATITUDES – 2

photo to share 2This week is not a full as last week, but I still have many GRATITUDES.

After weeks of waking up every night a 4am with a very severe pain in my head and neck last night I slept with a soft cervical collar on, it helped.  I still woke up in pain, but I got a lot more sleep, and when I woke up the pain was much less severe.  However, I did snore all night, and the collar does take some getting use to.  But I am so VERY GRATEFUL for a soft cervical collar, and more sleep!

Me with cervical collar

Me with cervical collar

I’m grateful that I was able to make it out to TWO appointments this week two days in a row!  First to the Pain Clinic and next to the Neuro-Opthomologist.  That is a big accomplishment.  I didn’t really think about it, I just knew I had to do it, but Stuart pointed out how proud he was of me.  I don’t think of it as being proud of me, I get upset when I can’t do it, but I need to realize, this is wonderful!  When we started to leave for the neuro-opthomologist appointment I felt like I was starting to have vertigo, but I couldn’t cancel this appointment, it took me over 3 months to get in to see this doctor!  I was scared, but I took some medication, turned the air conditioner on me full blast, and made a go for it.  It was a grueling day, filled with hours of tests.  I’m grateful that everything turned out fine.  No problems with my eyesight, except that I need new glasses!  

I’m grateful that the bunnies have grown up enough to leave the nest.  We are officially empty nesters!  Stuart was a little sad.  The first night he was very worried, he kept saying, “I hope they are alright.”  Such a sweet foster bunny dad.

bunny

I’m grateful for my friends.  I’ve lost many along the way over the past few years, things happen, life moves on.  The friends who are still active in my life are the kind you have for a life time.  My new friends are so precious, I hope you know how much you mean to me.  My dear friends, I am so very grateful for each and every one of you.

I’m grateful for books.  For the library, for my Kindle, for any way that I can get free books that I actually want to read!  Recently I’ve been reading a lot more about my gut issues.  I’m grateful that I think I found a book that is going to help me with my restrictive diet dealing with my fructose malabsorption.  I’m reading about ways to handle chronic pain using Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, I think this could also help me during a vertigo attack.  I already use some of these techniques, and it does help quite a bit.  I’m reading a lot about Buddhism, all about the different types and how they are different from one another.  I’m reading about minimalism, trying to reduce things in my life.  I’m reading about art and photography.  I’m reading a mystery, some science fiction…..  I read to relax, and I read to learn.   I just love to read.

I’m grateful for this silly goat someone shared with me today that made me laugh and laugh….Stuart laughed at me blabbing with this goat.  Blab, Blabb, Blablbelble….   I think he really laughed because I couldn’t hear myself and I was just going on and on blable, bable….hahaha

Derpy Goat

So my friends these are some of the things I’m grateful for this week.

Share with me, what are some of the things you are grateful for????

Why do I write? PFAM carnival

Sharon at Bed, Body, and Beyond is hosting the PFAM (Patients for a Moment) blog carnival this go round, and she asked, why do we write?  The carnival will be posted on December 7th, be sure to go by there and find out why other’s write, and what they write about.

Drawing Hands by M.C. Escher

I’m an artist, not a professional writer, I never really considered writing anything that was meant for others to read.  I kept a journal, off and on, for years.  Now and then, I still find little books with partially filled pages buried deep in a box, little segments of my life, meant for no one’s eyes but mine.

The first thing I wrote that was intended for other’s to hear (or read) was a poem I wrote the day my mother died.  This became the largest part of her eulogy.  A poem I still cherish to this day, it’s not professional, it’s not prize worthy, but it comes from my heart, and it helped me get through the first few hours of saying goodbye to my mom.

Memories of Mom and Me

I look around me and all I see,
brings back memories of mom and me.
The clouds in the sky; for hours we’d look,
picking out colors and shapes and books.
Oh, look there’s a snap bug – remember him?
a play thing for me and mom again
.A sea shell reminds me of a walk on the beach;
my diploma, a goal, she believed I could reach.
Let’s go to a movie – her favorite E. T.
then go to the park and swing with me.
An ice cream cone, a frog, a snake,
a Thanksgiving dinner we attempted to make.
All the things around me I see,
bring back memories of mom and me.
The people who loved her, I see in their eyes,
the love that she gave them was no surprise.
She had a heart as big as the world
and the soul of a little girl.
People who knew her will never forget,
because she affected everyone she met.
Reminders of my mom are easy to see,
for there are parts of her inside of me.

After that day, I filled many more journals with not just accounts of the day, but prose.  Still, only for my eyes, or to be shared by a very select few.

For years I’ve had health problems..too many to mention.  I wrote about this – privately.  Then a few years ago I found out I couldn’t eat gluten.  It appeared that this little ingredient in so many foods was one of the things making me sick.  I started learning a whole new way to eat, to cook, to shop, to talk to wait staff…ect.  I started a little blog to help me keep up with recipes, places I’d eaten, products I tried, all of my experiences being gluten-free.  At first it was private, I only wrote for my information.  Then I noticed other gluten-free blogs and thought others could benefit from the things I was learning…and that started me on a road to writing publicly.

My gluten-free blog was pretty popular, but I started having other health issues, and even found out I had another food intolerance.  Not only did I feel that the gluten-free blog no longer fulfilled what I needed, I didn’t think I could put as much time and effort into it.  So that blog had to change.

I started having more issues with Meniere’s Disease.  However, it wasn’t ruling my life…yet.  So I decided I wanted to start a blog about getting healthier.  Yes, I was going to take a year to focus on my health and fix things.  My body had other ideas, so 365 Days to a Healthier Me, changed to Picnic with Ants.

With this blog, I have thrived.  I started writing this blog to tell my story, living with chronic illnesses.  To get it all out before I exploded.  Then I found others who understood what I was going through.  I found support, and friendship, things I never expected to find, simply by writing about my life with all its struggles, dreams, hopes, milestones….

I found myself opening up and telling the nitty-gritty honest description of my emotions, and my diseases.  What my Meniere’s attacks are really like, how it feels to find that your husband is now your caregiver, how losing your hearing changes your life, how having chronic pelvic and hip pain affects your sex life, what it means to be bi-polar and (mostly) stable….I write about my life, and how I strive to live it to the fullest, with chronic illnesses.

I tell everything, in detail, not just to get it out, and find support or give support, I use it to explain to those who have no idea what we go through.  I have become an advocate for myself and for others with chronic issues.  I’m even considering writing a book detailing different people’s experiences living with an invisible illness.

There are many things I can no longer do because of my illnesses, one of the things I can do is write. Therefore, to put it very simply,
I write because I can!

More Patches Finished; and 10 Tips by Toni Bernhard.

I’m home from the hospital…again.  We got home around 2:30pm.

The procedure went well.  As you may recall, last week when my pressure was tested it was at 15 (very low for me….can be normal for others.)  Dr. Gray added some Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) to find out what level I feel my best at, it was 20.5 (this is high for some people.)

We were hoping that by taking me off all diuretics, and having me drink a lot of fluids, my pressure might remain at my optimal level.  Unfortunately, this was not the case.  By the second day after the last Lumbar Puncture (LP), I was feeling bad again.

Today, I went in for another LP, and probably patches (depending on what my CSF pressure ended up being.)  My opening pressure was 16.5, pretty big drop from the 21.5 I had just one week ago.

So they patched me up.  They used a new form of the Tisseel (adhesive for tissues), that is supposed to be much easier to work with and is less likely to set up before it completely covers the leak..  (a problem they had before.)

From what I understand I had 8 patches, but on 6 punctures.  Meaning, 2 of the times they put the needle in they were able to reach 2 leaks instead of just one.

I’m still forever grateful to Dr. Gray for adding me on today.  She was supposed to be off today, going on vacation.  However, she really wanted to get me in before she left, so I will have a good chance of going to Tucson for my father-in-law’s wedding.  First, it was supposed to be just one patient today, then it turned in to 3.  I feel so lucky to have a doctor who is so dedicated to her patients.

I am extremely sore!  Perhaps, sore isn’t the right word…I am in pain!!  My lower back…OUCH!  I’m sure part of it is because I was still sore from the last LP.  I think it’s going to take a little bit longer for my back to feel better, but I DO NOT have a headache!  I’m a tad dizzy, but I think it’s the pain medication, not my normal spinning.

Let’s all hope, I NEVER have to do this again!

 

I saw this wonderful list, 10 Tips from 10 Years Sick.,written by Toni Bernhard ( author of How to Be Sick: A Buddhist Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and Their Caregivers.):   You can read her post in its entirety at KevinMD.com, but I thought I’d give you a run down of the 10 Tips.  However, you really should go to the article, and read her explanations – all comments written after the tips here are my own, unless other wise noted.

1. Take Time to Grieve your Old Life, the Create a New One.  – I have found that this comes in stages, or waves, like normal Grief does.  You will feel like you’ve gotten through the grief, then all of a sudden it hits you again.  You all know I’m a firm believer in…well, this isn’t the life I was expecting, so I’ll expect something new.  I have to look at things differently….  If you are a steady reader of my blog, you have seen the many times that my grief is still there.  Just yesterday, I got a bit choked up while practicing sign language thinking of the things I may never hear again.  But I have the wonderful opportunity to learn a new language and meet all sorts of new people.  Oh the things this could lead to!

2. Friendships are affected by illness, often dramatically.  – Have I learned this the hard way or what?  It’s very hard for me to accept this, but all of my friendships I had before my illness changed.  Some have ended, some have continued but it had to change, I’m not the same, and can’t do the same things.  (and that’s hard on both me and the friend.)

I like this statement that Toni makes, “As for friends who haven’t stuck around, our friendship may have faltered for any number of reasons—their discomfort about illness, my unreliability as a companion. I know they wish the best for me, and I wish the best for them.”  I’d like to add, I realize now that some of these friendships would have faltered even if I had remained well.  Everyone has friendships that falter, not just the chronically ill.

3. Illness is the great equalizer.  Anyone can get an illness.  There are not boundaries it will not cross.

4. Trust your judgment regarding what you can and cannot do.  (and give yourself a break!  If you can’t do something, don’t feel obligated to do it anyway, don’t feel guilty…trust in yourself, and know your limits.  Take care of YOU.)

5. Find beauty in small things.  I don’t think I need to add to this.

6. Cultivate gratitude.  This may be hard to do… especially on rough days.  (read part of Toni’s list, I thought…yeah! I’m grateful for that too!)  I suggest you sit down and think of things you are grateful for about being ill.  The list may be short in the beginning, but keep adding on to it as you think of something, or when something happens.  Some of the things on my list (that I’m just beginning) is: 1- how wonderfully my husband has handled my illness and all the help he gives me. 2 – that I don’t have to cook every night (yes, I love to cook and miss it sometimes, but it’s nice that dinner isn’t always my responsibility any more. 3 – the opportunity to “meet” so many wonderful people through my blog, and other’s who understand and “get it” 4 – If I have insomnia, I don’t have to worry about getting up in the morning…..  I’ll keep adding to it, and think I’ll try to re-read what I’ve written when ever I feel like my illness has caused nothing by trouble in my life (perhaps I should read it more often than that, to try to keep those feelings at bay.

7. Some days you’ll just plain feel weary of being sick.   Isn’t that the truth!  But normally, I can, eventually, push the weariness aside, and get on with my new life…or simply be grateful I have a life.

8. A loving caregiver is to be treasured.   This is very important to me!  I try very hard not to take advantage of my husband/ my caregiver.  I hope he knows how much I treasure him.  I wish everyone who was ill, had a loving caregiver, I know I’m very lucky to have mine, and honestly don’t know how I would get along without him.

9. We’re fortunate to live in the Internet Age.  This I am very grateful for.  I have more support from my cyber friends than I ever thought would be possible.  I never thought I could have such touching relationships with people I’ve never met in person.  Also, imagine what it would be like if we couldn’t look up things about our illness?  How could we possibly be a good advocate for ourselves, if we couldn’t find out this information?

10. This is just my life.  I try to say this when I say, so my life isn’t what I expected…I’ll change my expectations.  However, I do feel Toni, says it better by quoting Zen teacher, Joko Beck: “Our life is always all right. There’s nothing wrong with it. Even if we have horrendous problems, it’s just our life.”  She adds,  I find great solace in these words. Not everything can be fixed—perhaps not even my health.  (I agree, and have found that once I accepted this, life got much easier.)

I hope you enjoyed this list as much as I did.

 

What are you reading? Banned Book Week

This post isn’t like most of my posts.  It doesn’t talk about me, but it does talk about something close to my heart, Reading and Censorship.

I read – A LOT!  I believe reading is one of our fundamental rights.  I do not believe any book should be censored.  If you don’t want to read it, don’t.  If you think your children shouldn’t read it, don’t let them.  But banning books is wrong, and goes against the First Amendment.

 

Take Action!  Protect your right to read!
September 24 – October 1, 2011 is Banned Book Week.

Sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA):

“Banned Books Week (BBW) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment.  Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States.”

As some of you may know, I made  out a list of 101 things I wanted to accomplish in 1001 days.  Reading 3 books that have been banned is on that list.

Here’s a partial list of the most often Banned or Challenged Classics:

  1. The Catcher in the Rye, by JD Salinger
  2. The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
  3. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
  4. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
  5. Ulysses, by James Joyce
  6. Beloved, by Tony Morrison
  7. The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
  8. 1984, by George Orwell
  9. Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov
  10. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
  11. Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
  12. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
  13. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
  14. The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway
  15. As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner
  16. A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway
  17. Their Eyes were Watching God, by Zora Neal Huston
  18. Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison
  19. Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
  20. Gone with The Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
  21. Native Son, by Richard Wright
  22. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
  23. Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
  24. For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemmingway
  25. The Call of the Wild, by Jack London
  26. Go Tell It on the Mountain, by James Baldwin
  27. All the King’s Men, by Robert Penn Warren
  28. The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkein
  29. The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair
  30. Lady Chatterley’s Lover, by D.H. Lawrence
  31. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
  32. The Awakening, by Kate Chopin
  33. In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote
  34. Satanic Verses, by Salman Rushdie
  35. Sophie’s Choice, by William Styron
  36. Sons and Lovers, by D.H. Lawrence
  37. Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
  38. A Separate Peace, by John Knowles
  39. Naked Lunch, by William S. Burroughs
  40. Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
  41. Women in Love, by D.H. Lawrence
  42. The Naked and the Dead, by Norman Mailer
  43. Tropic of Cancer, by Henry Miller
  44. An American Tragedy, by Theodore Dreiser
  45. Rabbit, Run, by John Updike
Here’s a link to the Banned and Challenged Book List by the American Bookseller’s Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE) http://www.abffe.com/bbw-booklist.htm
Top ten most frequently challenged books of 2010

Out of 348 challenges as reported by the Office for Intellectual Freedom

  1. And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
    Reasons: homosexuality, religious viewpoint, and unsuited to age group
  2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
    Reasons: offensive language, racism, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and violence
  3. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
    Reasons: insensitivity, offensive language, racism, and sexually explicit
  4. Crank, by Ellen Hopkins
    Reasons: drugs, offensive language, and sexually explicit
  5. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
    Reasons: sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and violence
  6. Lush, by Natasha Friend
    Reasons: drugs, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group
  7. What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones
    Reasons: sexism, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group
  8. Nickel and Dimed, by Barbara Ehrenreich
    Reasons: drugs, inaccurate, offensive language, political viewpoint, and religious viewpoint
  9. Revolutionary Voices, edited by Amy Sonnie
    Reasons:  homosexuality and sexually explicit
  10. Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer
    Reasons: religious viewpoint and violence
Hummm, what to read, what to read?
What are you reading?  Is it on a banned list?  Do you think some people would think it should be?  (I personally think that almost any book could be challenged by someone.  There are even some books that I’ve read, and thought, this book should never be read by anyone!  But that’s not for me to say. ‘ I may not agree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it’, – Voltaire’s philosophy loosely paraphrased.)
What do you think about banning books?

Birthday musings, and getting creative

How many of us start to look at our lives and come up lacking in some way, especially around our birthday, or the beginning of the year.  We make goals, or resolutions….sometimes we actually keep them.

This year is no exception for me.  I knew I was getting close to my birthday because I started looking in the mirror with a more critical eye…humm, not as young as I used to be.  Heck, I don’t even think I look as young as I did last year at this time.  Gained a few pounds, more gray hair, a few more wrinkles, and these little dark patches on my face…could they be *gasp* age spots?  {shudder}  Yes, my illnesses over the past couple of years have worn me out.

a look in the mirror

I’m already trying to lose weight, 6 pounds so far!  Now if I can just keep it up.  I’m also trying to get some more exercise, that hasn’t been going as well as I’d like, I get dizzy every time I exercise.  Hopefully, that won’t be the case much longer!

I thought about coloring my hair, but do I really want to put those chemicals on my hair.  I finally got to the point where I think all of my hair is naturally my color.  Yes, some of it is gray…but it’s me.  I’ve always liked my cool gray streak on the left side, right in the front, but now it’s on the right side too.  I don’t think I’m looking cool any more, just old.  I’m thinking of putting a natural rinse on it to make it a little shinier, a little browner, and possibly make the gray look more like highlights.  It should just wash out.  If I decide to go this route, I promise I’ll post pictures.

For the wrinkles and dark spots (I will NOT call them AGE SPOTS!), I’ll use a bit more moisturizer, and perhaps some lemon juice and hydrogen peroxide applied to the spots will help lighten them.  We’ll see.  The hubby pointed out that there was a Groupon for a Chemical Peel.  Ewww.  I told him I was not vain enough to hurt for it!  (I don’t really think he understands what a chemical peel is.)  I can’t tell you why, but I got so tickled when I told him I wasn’t vain enough to hurt for it, I mean I just laughed and laughed.  Stuart thinks it’s very amusing how I crack myself up sometimes.

I’m thinking I will go out and buy me a new outfit.  Something that fits better, that makes me look more put together.  In other words, not the over sized T-shirts and shorts I’ve been wearing.

The Artist's Way by Julie Cameron photo courtesy of http://www.theartistsway.com

I’ve also decided on joining a group on another blog Ton-Fifty-ONE is going to be having a workshop covering the book The Artist’s Way, by Julie Cameron.  The workshop is 12 weeks long, and will start on July 4th.  Just 2 days after my birthday, how fitting.  I’ve owned this book for years, and I’ve tried to go through the process more than once, but I guess I’m either not good at following through something like this without a little push, or perhaps it was made me confront too many issues?  I don’t know, but I’m willing to try it again, and I’m sure that with the push that a group will give me, I can do it this time.  Just 12 weeks…3 months…to “discovering and recovering my creative self”.  If anyone wants to join me on this journey please come along.  I know I can use all the motivation I can get!

My creativity got bogged down by my chronic illnesses.  My biggest goal this year is to use my creativity to help me with my illnesses.  Help express myself…  The words are failing me, I can’t seem to get out what I want to say.  I guess I’m trying to say, I believe in art therapy….and so much more.

The Warrior in All of Us

I read a series of books by Jim Butcher about a wizard who is also a detective.  His name is Harry Dresden.  My favorite character in this series has always been Michael Carpenter.  Michael was a Knight of the Cross, an ancient order dedicated to bearing and using the three Swords of the Cross to defeat evil. he was the most recent bearer of the sword Amoracchius until he was forced to retire after being badly injured while performing some of his heroic acts. (this takes place in the book Small Favors)

I’m writing about a small story Butcher has written called The Warrior, originally published in the anthology Mean Streets, it was re-released in Oct. of 2010 in a book full short stories about Harry Dresden and his cohorts titled Side Jobs.

Last night I re-read The Warrior and I felt like it had so much to say to people who are dealing with a disability.  (of course, this story does show how Michael is dealing with his new disability, but it is much more.)

In the forward to this story Butcher talks about “The Law of Unintended Consequences”.  He says, “The big important things are built from small and commonplace things, and even our little acts of petty, everyday good and evil have a cumulative effect on our world.”  (Pg. 211)

“Our smallest actions and choices matter.  They tell us who we are.” (Pg. 211)

He goes on to say, “What seems like a good thing or a bad thing might not be either seen from another point of view.” (Pg. 212)

I feel like I could quote most of this story and it would be relevant to our situation.  I tells how knowledge is the best way to conquer fear.  How things happen that you don’t want, after all we are just human, we can’t fix everything, we stop all bad things from happening, some things we just have to accept.

In one part of this story Harry Dresden gives a great pep talk to a little girl who feels she can’t do anything right.  He tells her she has two choices, she can give up or try.  (He even asks if they read Great Expectations in school, and she is amazed that he could make Dickens relevant in her own life.  He tells her she could give up like Miss Havisham, or she could get out there and live life and try.)  This speech deeply touched me, and if I didn’t think I’d get in trouble I’d print it here for you.

Much of this story reminded me of It’s a Wonderful Life showing how you affect people’s lives by the things you do, when you don’t even know it.  In this story, Harry does so many things that he thinks are just little things, but he is shown later that they were just what the person needed to make a huge change.

This is a story full of Faith (yes, with a capital “F”), doing the right thing, trying, showing you how a disability can have a good side, and it I think most importantly it shows that “people have far more power than they realize, if they would only choose to use it.” (Pg. 266 – Jake /Uriel)

We are all warriors.  We only need to choose the right path.  It’s often very hard.  Even Michael is tested in this story, but with a little guidance from a friend, he comes through.  Sometimes it may be very hard to try, and sometimes doing the right thing can be very hard, hopefully at those times we will have the right person say the right thing to us.  But always try to be careful of what you say to and how you treat someone else, you never know how it may effect them.

Even with a disability you can make a huge difference in the world.  One small action at a time.

*As a side note*  I thought it very funny in one part of the story Harry thinks, “(I) then fell back on to the floor of my apartment and watched the apartment spin for a while.”  (of course, he had just been attacked, but I thought – oh boy, can I relate!)