Finally some promised pictures.

I’m still not able to type much, a lot of hunting and pecking with just my left hand, but I’m managing to do a little.  My wrist has not improved, the shot did not work, I go back to the doctor on July 2nd (which just happens to be my birthday).  Wish me luck.

 

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Welcome to our home.  The top photo isn’t very good, but it’s of the front gate.  The middle row from left to right: the front porch, the pool off the right of the house, the kitchen over looking the living room.  the bottom row, left to right: the bathtub/shower, flowers from my neighbor, the sick in the bathroom.

When I first visited Tucson I wondered why so many houses had bars on the windows and walls around their homes, well I found out.  The bars are because so many houses eight used to have, or still have, a Swamp Cooler.  For a Swamp Cooler to work, you have to have the doors and windows open.  So it’s not because the whole town has a lot of crime, it’s a deterrent for when people have the Swamp Coolers going.  (Swamp Coolers cool by adding moisture to the air, it’s really cool actually. but it only works in places with no humidity).  The walls are often added if you have a pool.  It is also a law that if a window in your house can open and it opens out to the pool, it must have bars. The pool must also have a gate that locks, or has a latch way out of reach for a child.

The house we live in was built in 1943, I think the realtor said, that surprised me since that was a time of rationing.  The bathroom was tiled in the 1970’s, the owner loved Fiesta-ware and the tiles were bought to kinda match that. I love it!!  The kitchen was also tiled like it at some point, but they remodeled the kitchen not long ago and the cool tile went bye-bye.  You can see the new stove in the tiny kitchen, and the tiny living room beyond that.  The living room is so small we had to get rid of our couch, and the dining area is so small we couldn’t fit a regular size table in it.  Too bad, because the house is pretty cool other than the tiny rooms, if they were bigger we would consider buying this house, but it simply won’t work, so we are on the hunt for a house to buy that meets our needs.  This property also has a guest house, which would be perfect for us when Dad moves in, but as I said, the main house just doesn’t work.

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There are many suns all around the outside of the house, that’s kinda cool.

I took a walk around the neighborhood the other day and I saw all these cactus!  The barrel cactus, the paddle cactus, prickly pear, and the big daddy of all the Saguaro. (you might not be able to tell from the photo bur the Saguaro has blossoms (well buds or dried of blossoms anyway), they don’t bloom every year so this was a treat.

These photos are all from around the house.  I especially like the last one.

 

I hope you have enjoyed the little trip around my new digs.  I have a few shots from the trip across country if you’d like to see them let me know and I’ll post those too.  🙂

*all photos were taken by me, W. Holcombe, please do not use without permission.

 

 

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Meaningful Monday: Pema Chödrön

 

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photo by Lorraine

Wendy is too busy with all the wonderous changes in her life to present her usual Mindfulness Monday post at the moment. So, I am stepping in with a guest post for her.

I have always found great wisdom, humour and compassion in the words of  Pema Chödrön. She is member of/teacher at a Shambhala Buddist community – Gampo Abbey – in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia which gives her words a special resonance with me. My paternal roots, and extended chunks of my adult life were spent in the Maritimes. No better spot for meditation, retreat, and restoration. I just returned from the South Shore of Nova Scotia. My first visit “home” in 7 years; a truly transformative experience.

So in honour of Wendy and Nova Scotia, I present Meaningful Monday as a guest host for Wendy’s wonderful Mindfulness Mondays. All quotes are from Pema Chödrön.

 

“When there’s a big disappointment, we don’t know if that’s the end of the story. It may be just the beginning of a great adventure.”

“Each moment is an opportunity to make a fresh start.”

“Every situation is a passing memory.”

Monday Quotes – Gifts

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Greetings! I am filling in for Wendy this Monday, and as it is my birthday, I thought I would use quotes about gifts. Not just the tangible, wrapped in fancy paper with ribbon and bow. But the intangible, the ephemeral, the ethereal gifts we can give ourselves every day.

“This life is your gift to yourself…Open it!” (anon)

“The greatest gift you can give yourself is a little bit of your own attention.” (Anthony J. D’Angelo)

“Every day, once a day, give yourself a present. Don’t plan it. Don’t wait for it. Just let it happen.” (Agent Dale Cooper, Twin Peaks)

image: Lorraine 2017. Please don’t use without permission. Thanks.

 

Sitting is a Luxury

This will just be a short update on what’s going on with me and Akathisia. (literally meaning “inability to sit”).  I found a great article explaining this complex side effect to various psychotropic drugs including antidepressants and antipsycotics.  If you’re interested: Akathisia by the RxISK Medical Team.

The turmoil I have experienced with akathisia has been unbelievable.  The need to move has been overwhelming.  I can’t express how intense this sensation has been, it was consuming every part of my life.  You can read more about my experience with this side effect in my post “I can’t be still”.

I saw my psychiatrist last week and she took away one of the new medications, but kept me on an antidepressant that often helps with akathisia.  I’m happy to say that I’m much, much better.  I feel that sitting still is such a luxury.

Finally after a more than a month the restlessness is easing.  I still feel figetty and just want to shift and move a bit, but I no longer feel the need to pace until I drop, with still the need to move.   My back is still very tense.  The muscles have been tense for over a month, they simply do not want to settle.  I’m in a quite a bit of pain because of it.  I think I may need physical therapy to help calm it down.  I’ll be seeing my primary care doctor next Friday for my 6 month visit, I’ll see what she has to say then.

How about side effects with the new medication?  After all, can an drug actually cause no side effects?  I’m not sure it’s the medication that’s causing it but I’m having a hard time with my cognitive function.  That, sounds like I’m brain dead, I promise I’m not, I’m just having a hard time thinking.  I have brain fog and I’m very easily distracted, or my short term memory is shot….I’m not sure which, after all my brain is not thinking clearly.  Hopefully this is a side effect that gets better.  If not, we may be on the search for a new antidepressant.  sigh.

I promised this would be short, I’m keeping my promise.

I’m leaving you with a few articles about Akathisia that I found useful during all of this.  I learned so much.  I’m surprised I haven’t heard of this before.

 

Death and Living

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On June 30th my father died.  Yesterday was his birthday.  I would have thought that I would be filled with sad emotions, instead I’ve been filled with a renewed lust for life.  All we know really is life and death, I’m thinking that his death made me realize just how lucky I am to be alive.  I may have a lot of hurdles to jump over every day, but I’m alive and I will thrive.

Often when you have a chronic illness life becomes so hard we don’t care to live any longer.  I know I’ve been suicidal, more often I’ve simply felt that I didn’t want to wake up.  I simply didn’t want to exist any more, it was just too hard.  Since my father’s death, I’ve realized that I’ve been wasting what life I’ve been given.  Yes, I’m sick and I can’t do a lot of things that a normal person can do, but there are a lot of things I can do, I just need to figure out my limits and live within those without wishing for things to be different.  Wishing for everything to be different makes life miserable.

Losing a parent can make you reevaluate your life.  For me it made me realize I haven’t been appreciating my life.  I realize I want to live.  I may not enjoy every moment of my life, my life may be hard, but it’s my life and I’m going to live it!

 

During this holiday season, I wish you all a life well lived.

 

**all images on Picnic With Ants created and owned by Wendy Holcombe unless otherwise noted.

Gratitudes in the middle of a mess

It’s time to take a little time to notice some of the things I’m grateful for…before I completely meltdown (again)…I know this will help!

This move has been extremely challenging, mentally and physically.  I am very grateful that I (and I am serious here) am not curled up in a corner crying and trying to hide from the world.  I’m also grateful that I am still able to get out of bed and accomplish some things.  Yes, I am in a lot of pain but, I’m still doing much more than I have in years.  I am so VERY GRATEFUL for this.  I told Stuart last night, I just can’t believe I started feeling better (no not well, but a bit better) right before all of this happened.  Wow!  If I was still like I was just a few months ago now.  This move would have been…..uh, well I just don’t want to think about it.

I’m grateful I sold almost all of my fused glass supplies.  I have only 2 things left and they should be very easy to sell!  Because of this we didn’t have to move any of that!  Yay!!!  Also, because of this I was able to buy our living room furniture.  This made me feel so good.  I was able to contribute to the household.  This is the first time I have been able to do this in YEARS!  (We had to by new living room furniture because the furniture from out old place was too big.)  This is a loan to the house though, as soon as we can pay it back that money goes in my service dog fund.)

I’m very grateful that I met the nicest lady when I sold my fused glass supplies and she actually sold my kiln for me!  How cool is that?

I’m grateful that our new place has a beautiful backyard.

I’m grateful that we live within walking distance to a grocery store and other little shops.  I hope it really is within MY walking distance.  If not now, soon.

I’m grateful there is a park nearby.

I’m grateful Stuart works very close.

I’m grateful we found a restaurant that will make meals that meet my food requirements, and it isn’t far away.  Plus, the very first time we went we got the best waitress, she is the bomb!  We’ve been there one more time and asked for her, she remembered what I needed and helped me order!  Wow!

I’m very grateful I’m still losing weight.  It feels so good to be getting in to smaller clothes and seeing a smaller face in the mirror.  I’m grateful that the diet is making me feel so much better!  What you eat really can make such a HUGE difference in how you feel!

I’m grateful I have the coolest cousin in the world living close by!  Can’t wait to see him and his brood this week!  And it’s so nice we can call on each other!  He’s real family!  If your reading this, I love you man!!!

I’m grateful things are coming together……wait, did I just say that?  do I believe it?  Am I just saying it or do I believe it?  hmmm, let me think.  (Jeopardy them playing in my head…)   I’m not sure.   One thing will happen and it looks like things are flowing along then one thing will happen and things just start going backward…but I know things will end up…the way it’s supposed to be, after all how else could it be?

And yes, I do mean that.

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I’m grateful I wrote this post, because I needed it.  I needed to remind myself that things are going happen.  They are going to be the way they are, no matter what.  I keep trying to bend things the way I want them, I keep fighting to make things happen faster than they are going to, and well, I needed to remind myself…..it’s going to happen, or it’s not, and that’s OK.

Yesterday is gone, I can’t worry about what happened, tomorrow isn’t here yet can’t do anything about it.  So today I’ll do what I can, and that’s it, if something comes up and makes it so things get in the way I’m going to go with the flow and not get all out of sorts.   Just breathe.   It will get done, or it won’t, maybe it wasn’t meant to be.  I’m so very grateful I realize that.

Today’s meltdown averted…..maybe I should have written this yesterday.

 

Me and my blog…..it just is.

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w. holcombe’s heART

After more thought, and feeling much love, I realized hearing the “criticisms” about my blog, and/or me, hit home because I was feeling critical about myself.  I don’t think of myself as a negative person, but I was feeling it, and didn’t even realize it.  My life has changed drastically over the last 4 or 5 years, and the one thing I felt I held on to was my ability to see the best of the situation.  I never asked “Why me?”  I said, “Why not me?”  This is very important to me.  This is a part of my very essence.   I was afraid I was losing me.

Let’s face it, the past couple of years have been very challenging for this household.  Yes, we’ve met these challenges head on, but they just kept coming…..and coming…and coming……..often the solutions have not been as easily forthcoming.

It has been wearing me down.  Much more than I realized.  Not one to dwell on things, I normally allow myself to feel the emotions that go along with a challenge then I make a plan, and deal with it.  “How do I handle this?”  “What can I do?”  “What’s the best way….????”   Unfortunately, many of the challenges I’ve had to face recently have been completely out of my control, or the resolution is not easily obtained.

  • My husband lost his job…..what can I do?  I asked myself that often.  I felt guilty that I couldn’t work.  I tried to get disability and was denied.  (yes I’m appealing, but it’s taking a long time.) Totally, out of my control.  No easy fix.
  • Sandy died.  My best friend.  My constant companion.  I felt lost.  In many ways I still do. I felt guilty.  I felt I let her down.  I know that’s not the case.  The grief has taken a lot out of me.  Out of my control.  No easy fix.
  • I’ve had added health issues.  Out of my control.  No easy fix.
  • My health issues have gotten worse.  Out of my control.  No easy fix.
  • My father was diagnosed with cancer.  Out of my control.
  • ect…ect…ect…….

Yep, I was having a hard time being me.  I’d look in the mirror and think, where are you?  I know you are in there somewhere….come out!   I was ready to hide.  After everything, I felt broken.  And I could not admit that, not even to myself.

I talked on here about my fears, my pain, everything.  I’ve been honest.  However, inside I could not wrap my head around the fact that I was really and truly scared that things would never get better.  No matter how many times I might have said it, and wanted to believe things would get better, the fact that they may not was driving me crazy.  The thought that things would not get any better…..that was just not acceptable.

Then I realized, I’m looking at this all wrong!  I’m thinking too much in the future.  I don’t know what the future may hold.  I have been freaking out over what has been happening, and I have been building up these stories in my mind about how my future might unfold.  These stories have not been great.  This is not a healthy way of thinking!   I cannot live in the future, no more than I can live in the past.  The only place I can live is in the present.  Yes, that sounds very Zen.  Yes, I’ve been reading a lot about this, but it makes sense.  If I’m constantly thinking about what tomorrow might bring, good or bad, I’m going to miss out on today.  That doesn’t mean I can’t make plans, but it does mean I’m not a slave to them and I’m not going to get all bent out of shape if something happens to change them.  It also means I’m not constantly looking back thinking, “I just want my old life back.”  that’s not going to happen, I’ve known that for a long time.  Focusing on the present gives me the opportunity to enjoy my life as it is, without disappointment about dreams that didn’t happen, or romanticizing about a past that I can’t have anymore.

In short, my outlook is changing.   Luckily, so are things around me.  Would my outlook be changing if things were continuing to be spiraling downward?  Yes, I think it would.  I think it has been, I just haven’t been writing about it here as much as I probably should have been.  It’s a work in progress, or to put it more correctly, I’m a work in progress.  I always will be.  So will this blog.

I want to share with my readers, my friends, this side of me.  It is time to share more of the side that is brave, positive, compassionate, and thankful!

Yes, I will continue to come here and speak open and honestly about everything – all of it!  I can’t help it, it’s who I am.  If you would have suggested that I close the blog, I would have turned it private and continued to write, just for me.  This stuff has to come out somewhere!  However, I want you to see how I am handling the rough patches,  how grateful I am for all the little things in my life, and how much I really do enjoy my life….”ants” and all.   But there will be times when I don’t handle things well, and you will continue to hear about that too.  It’s all part of living with chronic illnesses!

I’ve decided to challenge myself a bit.  Each week I plan to write a post called Attitude of Gratitude.  These posts will include things I’m grateful for that week.  These posts may include pictures, drawings, stories, words…..or some times it may just be one word….who knows.   I want to make sure I never let a week go by that I don’t think about things for which I’m grateful.  I try to do this every day, but we all know some days we just get a bit overwhelmed.

You are welcome to join me in this challenge.  We can make it an official challenge if people are interested.   I’m going to do it, for me, and hopefully to inspire others with chronic illnesses to look around and notice the little things that they can still be grateful for.

Thank you all for taking my Poll!  It was an overwhelming landslide that I should continue to write as I do.   I promise I will continue to write as open and honest as always.  I will continue to show the bad and the ugly sides of my illnesses, but I want to even it out and show the more positive sides too.  Yes, there really are some!

I’m so very grateful to have such wonderful friends!  (many who I have never met in person)

The comments and emails I received after my last post amazed me!  Thank you all so very much!