Page 15 (Pages 8-14 we’re just nonsense)

Pages 8-14 involved fighting off a cold, pure exhaustion and a brain trying to do so many things that I was completely overwhelmed and unable to get coherent thoughts I was willing to share on paper. But I have not forgotten about my commitment to write every day. What I wrote was just not what I wanted to share. 😉

Page 15:

This is one of my favorite photos from my wedding in 2007, when my husband and I were walking towards our future – a partnership and a team. A new chapter for two people who had experienced a lot of pain in life. I framed it today as I was swapping out photos as part of my post holiday clean up. And while I knew our wedding was beautiful – it’s hard not to see beauty in Hana, Maui, these thoughts filled my head: I wasn’t as thin as I wanted to be; my dress made my back side look bigger than I wanted; I wasn’t sure I wanted to spend the next two weeks in the Tahitian Islands in a bikini.

I’d been doing Boot Camp for a solid year plus and felt the best I had in years. But I couldn’t look at myself without seeing flaws. I still can’t. It’s a constant struggle to like seeing pictures of myself on social media or from vacations.

So today I am focusing on this photo, which was all about the now and the future simultaneously. I’ll work on giving myself grace. I give it to others freely. I need to give it to myself too.

(But that back and those shoulders are part of my 2019 fitness goals – isn’t it funny how we look back at the time we thought we weren’t as thin, fit, whatever enough, and now we think we would love to look or be just like that?)

Page 7

The boys went back to school today. My husband is working from home, still recovering from surgery.

My garage is still a disaster. I’m convinced our Christmas Trees will be up until April, and my hands look like they actually belong to a crusty old crab fisherman on the Bering Sea, and I can’t even believe I’m posting pics of them here, but they don’t even look human and hurt like hell. Even typing makes me want to cry. I’m sleeping in gloves and slathered in cream but – come on – they are so bad. Once every few years they get this bad – whether it’s the dry cold here in recent weeks or the wrapping and unwrapping or a thousand things, who knows. But here are crusty old fisherman hands.

Ahhhh, so feminine and dainty. Forget that I started biting my nails again which is the worst habit to have and one I’m REALLY working on – anxiety does it no favors – but seriously. Those gnarly hands don’t fit my precious personality. 😉

Oh, and I’m achy and stuffy and my throat is killing me. So praying I don’t go down for the count. Although sleeping for 5 days does sound pretty great right now.

Tomorrow. Tomorrow is going to be a better page.

Page 6 – it’s a post not a piece

For those of you who have subscribed to this blog – I think there’s 3 (!!!) of you, I want you to know I appreciate you so much and am apologizing now for filling your inbox with email notifications for things like this.

Today is Epiphany/Little Christmas/Three Kings Day. In our house it’s the official end of the Christmas holiday season. It’s a time for family dinner and appreciation for all the gifts of the season.

It’s also Women’s Little Christmas, an Irish tradition still celebrated in parts of Ireland and a tradition that frankly needs to be adopted here in the States. Women’s Little Christmas is the day where the men took over the chores and housework and gave the women of the house the day off. It goes back to the belief of years ago that men didn’t do any of the housekeeping or meal preparation. They did not engage in what my grandfather so lovingly called “skirt work.” Also, families were large and mothers had many more children to care for than we see today. So, on Women’s Little Christmas they were free to put their feet up and relax or get together with girlfriends at the pub or elsewhere to enjoy a day without household and childcare worries.

Clearly, we did not celebrate Women’s Little Christmas at our house.

Yes, part of that is because my husband is recovering from shoulder surgery and only has the use of one arm. And the other reason is because I had to get started on de-Christmasing my house (while trying to get the kids ready for their first day back at school tomorrow and prepare our Epiphany dinner).

No, there was no Women’s Little Christmas in our house. 😉

Now, what you see is only half the boxes. The other ones are behind me as I take the pictures. Also not pictured above are the boxes in the house and the 2 full size trees still decorated that need to be undressed.

Please note the “feckin eejit” sign next to the tree which makes me laugh every time I come downstairs to the home office. The sign originally was there to lend humor to my day when I was practicing law. Because let’s be honest, I needed a good laugh during the day, especially in my last years of practice.

Anyway, back to the point. No writing today. No Women’s Little Christmas. BUT, a lovely Epiphany Dinner and a huge mess that could easily attract casting directors from the show Hoarders.

Page 5

I really wanted to finish two pieces I’ve been working on today. I didn’t.

I really wanted to post something meaningful to me, that might also be meaningful to you, when I finally sat down an hour ago to write.

But I’m not. I’m exhausted. Since my son’s severe concussion 4 years ago lots of things have been a challenge. After he regained his language skills and his anxiety improved, the two remaining issues still remained eating and sleep.

Today, they reared their ugly heads in major ways, and I became the mom I really don’t like to be. Impatient, snappy and just over it. Over the issues. And then I feel awful because none of this is his fault and I’m his mother and I should never be anything but his greatest advocate and protector.

But, tonight I was just done. He was the baby and toddler that ate everything. He loved all food and it was so easy to cook and go out. The day after his fall that all changed. Sure he had gone through the normal toddler I don’t like that anymore period, but he still liked a wide variety of food. But after his fall, for now 4 years he has eaten plain pasta, preferably penne or rigatoni, broccoli, avocado, sometimes raspberries or strawberries but only if they are perfect, cucumber and full fat Irish milk – which I have to lie about when we are at home in the States and luckily he hasn’t caught on to yet. But he only believes my fib if it’s whole, organic, grass fed milk. Otherwise he refuses.

For 4 years I have been packing him the same lunch and the same dinner. And believe me, I’ve pulled the “you eat what I make or you don’t eat” – and he won’t eat. And he won’t eat even the next day. Honestly he’s the hunger striker you want should you even need to protest in such a way. We’ve talked to specialists and since what he eats is actually good stuff, they have all told us not to worry. But I do. Because going out and traveling and all the things we love to do becomes a huge pain in the tush. And he’s starting to even refuse the above sometimes. So today, I’m just exhausted from it.

And then, his sleep. He won’t go to sleep on his own. And he hasn’t since the concussion. And because he was going through so much in the months (and even years) after the fall, I just did what he wanted and needed. Stories, kisses and staying in bed with him until he fell asleep. And sometimes that would take 15 minutes and sometimes it would (and does) take 3 hours. So many nights I will pass out with him, still in clothes I wore in the day, contacts in, and I then wake up at 3 am and my back is killing me and I can’t go back to sleep. And I realize that the dinner dishes are still in the sink because dinner ran late and I needed to get the kids to bed, and I haven’t done the things I wanted to do that night. So then I toss and then until the alarm goes off at 6:30 – which really should be 6 but (especially on those days), I’m not a morning person.

And tonight, I just lost my ever loving mind when after 2 plus hours he wasn’t asleep, wasn’t going to go to sleep because there were 9000 sirens going off (we live across from the fire and police station) and it was raining and he heard the radio talk about flash flood warnings. I just lost my mind. So angry about the nights I give up and the things I don’t get done, and not even sure if it’s now just habit or control or actually because of his anxiety and if it is what a horrible mother I am for being angry about it.

So, I haven’t written what I’ve wanted but I have had a good cry and calmed down a bit.

I generally avoid parenting advice like the plague, but if any of you have any insight or ideas or things to try, I’m all ears.

Goodnight all. Here’s to brighter skies tomorrow.

Page 4 – when the universe laughs

Today was not the second to last day of winter break for my kids day I had planned.

I had PLANNED on taking our kids down to my parents’ house (they live about an hour – on a good LA traffic day – south of us). We desperately need a change of scenery. My husband had pretty intense shoulder surgery on the 21st, right before Christmas, and he’s pretty limited on what he can do so we have been homebodies these last few weeks. But the boys wanted to see their Gaga and Papa and I wanted to see them too, so a day down South was planned.

So of course, nothing went according to plan. We have the world’s best work dog who we adopted when she was just shy of 4 months old and she will be 2 in February. She has been a joy and a challenge all at once. Friends have asked me to create an Instagram page devoted to just her antics. I’ve lost count of the number of shoes she has destroyed, stuffed animals she has murdered, papers she had shredded (I left my students’ papers out one day after grading them and she tore and ate 95% of them. I had to tell my students the dog literally – the most overused word but appropriate here – ate their homework).

Anyway, she woke up vomiting and had this really large and bizarre blood red hot spot that she wouldn’t stop scratching. So of course we wondered what she ate and called the vet, who was able to buy a Polynesian Island because of the money we have spent on this little rascal (she ate a bee at 6 months old and required 2 emergency hospital visits just as a start). So trip to my parents’ place delayed by a few hours.

So, the vet determined she didn’t eat anything but likely was having another allergic reaction to who knows what (her breed is known for their sensitive skin) and gave her a shot to relieve the itching and IV fluids to replace what she lost vomiting.

So, I left with the dog, who was sporting a hump of fluid on her back, and a 3 day supply of prescription dog food.

On the way back from the vet, not one, not two, but 3 lights appear on my car, one indicating an emergency engine issue. Usually, despite knowing it’s not the best thing to do, I gamble with the service lights. Especially if it’s just the basic service due light. But, since I would have the boys with me and would be driving an hour on one of California’s busiest freeways, I opted to drop the dog and then take the car in immediately.

After another hour and a half, the car had been serviced, I was told nothing was wrong and the emergency light was a glitch and I was on my way. Now it was after 2 pm and the time when the freeway shifts. An hour drive could quickly turn to two plus if I wasn’t on the road right away.

Called my mom, scrapped the plan, went home and told the boys who were immediately and completely pissed off at me for ruining their day (because mine had been so, so fun thus far).

So I did laundry. And organized my kitchen. Took a few more Christmas decorations down. And then, around dinner time the dog started freaking out. Jumping on me and barking and acting like she needed to go out. So I’d take her out, nothing would happen, we’d come back and it would start all over.

And that’s when I noticed it. This sagging goiter like mass hanging from her belly. There was still fluid in her hump on her back, but a lot had dissipated and I wondered if the saline had traveled, even though that had never happened with our previous dog. So we called the vet, texted her pictures, and were told that it likely was the saline traveling, even though she’d never seen anything like this before (of course). She told us that it shouldn’t hurt but was likely causing the dog anxiety because she has this out of nowhere flapping goiter hanging from her belly. So now, I’m on goiter watch with a dog who is on a dose of Benadryl to not only help with the itching but to hopefully calm her the %**% down.

I haven’t showered, I think I might be wearing the same clothes I had on yesterday and I made my favorite dip so I could eat appetizers for dinner. Oh, and I ate vodka soaked gummy bears for dessert. Because they were there.

I made plans. Universe didn’t care.

That’s all I have. So welcome to the “I can’t believe I subscribed to Kate’s blog just to read such drivel and waste non refundable minutes of my life” portion of the program. I’m hoping the piece I intended to post today will be ready tomorrow.

(But I still took the time to write. And that’s the whole point for me. But I’m sorry this wasn’t the post I intended)

Page 3 – Epiphany

I posted earlier this week that in our house, the holiday season isn’t officially over until Epiphany, or Three King’s Day, on January 6.

It’s how I was raised, and, to me, it’s just the way you do it. When I see people taking trees and decorations down the second Christmas is over, it always makes me sad, even though I know that everyone does holidays in a different way.

I usually get a little blue when January 7 rolls around and it’s time to pack things up. My mom always tells people that ever since I was a baby, I’ve had a horrible time taking Christmas down – she used to have to let me pick a decoration or ornament that I would keep on my shelf all year.

So I am known as the Christmas lady and friends and family make fun of my obsession with lights and their proper placement on trees and houses, and the fact that it looks like Santa and Jesus vomited all over my house during the Christmas season. One of my twin sons inherited my holiday gene and is equally as obsessed with decorating and Christmas movies and the best trees. It’s why he thought he had died and gone to Heaven when we surprised him and his brother with a trip to New York City the week after Thanksgiving. Truly, it was amazing to watch him soak up that holiday magic. He also gets sad about the end of the season. I know he will grow up following “the tree stays up until Epiphany” way of thinking, while his brother will likely lean towards the rip it all down the day after. Yin and Yang those two.

So, it was a completely foreign feeling when I woke up today WANTING to take all the decorations down. And then I asked my holiday loving son how he felt about it and HE said that he wanted the tree to stay up but wanted to start putting other stuff away (and the reality is that my son likely wants it all down so he can start decorating for Valentine’s Day because he saw it on display at the grocery store, but that’s neither here nor there).

What was happening to us? My husband made it known that he did NOT support this idea (I’m lucky I found a man who loves the holidays as much as I do), and so I let it go. Sort of.

But I wondered why this year, of all my years on Earth, was the year I was ready to de-holiday my house.

Epiphany.

Epiphany. e·piph·a·ny

/əˈpifənē/

noun

1. the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles as represented by the Magi (Matthew 2:1–12).

• the festival commemorating the Epiphany on January 6.

• a manifestation of a divine or supernatural being

• a moment of sudden revelation or insight.

Now, I’ve always focused on the first part of the meaning – the culmination of the 12 Days of Christmas and the arrival of the Magi to the Christ Child. And that has always been important.

But THIS year, it seems Epiphany has taken on a bit of a different meaning. A moment of sudden revelation or insight.

A moment of sudden revelation or insight.

I’ve spent the better part of the last two years battling depression. At times I wondered if I would ever crawl out from under it. Parts of me kept getting shoved deeper and deeper, until I didn’t even recognize myself sometimes. My goals, my dreams, my passions, my interests all seemed to disappear. My writing seemed to be the one buried the deepest. Except for a sudden urge here or there, I wasn’t writing. At all. I wasn’t setting goals. I was stagnant. I don’t do well with stagnant. But there I was in this vicious cycle of trying to be “happy” and productive, but feeling like crap most of the time.

Mentally, I’m doing so much better – thanks to my family who knew I needed help and supported me, and to my psychiatrist and the wonder of modern medicine. Slowly the fog has lifted. The “me” I want to be is showing herself more and more. But over the last several months I’ve struggled with still feeling stuck, and then experiencing intense anxiety because of that feeling, and then being paralyzed by the anxiety. The vicious cycle of my anxiety/depression.

Until this past week. It’s as if I woke up on Christmas and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future had all paid a visit and set me back on the path I want and need.

I wanted to write. I wanted to grow and share my business. I wanted to show my children the world. I wanted to have adventures with my husband. I wanted to get serious about living abroad – for a few years or forever. I wanted to manifest my dreams for myself and my family into reality.

A moment of sudden revelation or insight.

The thought of the New Year didn’t seem like a daunting chore destined for disappointment. It made me want to get started – RIGHT NOW – on making it a year to remember – for all the good and right and joyful reasons.

And with that came the sudden desire to pack up the decorations, have a clean, uncluttered slate in our home and get to work.

But because I’m also a girl heavily married to tradition, I compromised. I took down all the garland, lights and bows on our stair railings. It made my son and I feel good, and kept my husband happy.

But I’ll be honest, I’ve never looked more forward to January 7 and packing the holidays away until next year. And I look forward to seeing how our lives have changed between now and then. Because from the bottom of my soul and my whole heart, I know it’s going to be better than the last few years. Dare I say it’s even going to be wonderful.

Yes, I do dare. It’s going to be wonderful.

Page 2

*** I swear this was written on Day 2, even though I crashed putting the kids to bed (lovely sore back after being crammed in the twin bed with my son and dog) and woke up at 1:30 am on Day 3 and am now posting at 2:20 am.

Day 2.

I honestly don’t have any idea what to write. Of course I want all my words to be profound and for people to be touched by them, but I’ve never actually followed through on my commitment to write daily since my first husband died by suicide in 2002. I’m worried that nothing I write will be touching or relatable – so the negative voice inside me says to just forget it. But I won’t let myself down anymore by denying myself the outlet that has always made me feel the most myself.

Before my husband died, I journaled – daily – so words were always there for me, but something shifted when my husband died. I think, on top of it being grief that kept me from writing, it was also self punishment. Writing always brought me comfort. For whatever reason, in the wake of the suicide, I didn’t feel I deserved that comfort. I blamed myself for my husband being alone in his final days. I blamed myself for his death. So of course it made sense to inflict something painful on myself – withholding the one thing that brought me comfort, helped me sort through my feelings and helped me make sense of things.

So, with that said, I’m greasing the wheels and hoping this daily commitment will help the words come again. And will help me LET the words come- without worrying about them being perfect or life altering or Nobel or Pulitzer Prize worthy (but that certainly would be nice, wouldn’t it?).

So today, this is what I have. And that has to be enough. For now at least.

Thanks for reading and keeping me accountable.