Saturday, April 18, 2015

Pining for Perfection

I am just sitting here.
Waiting for that 'spring cleaning' urge to hit me.
When I went out to grab the paper yesterday morning, the sun was shining, and it was so nice and warm already....I almost felt it.
But then it went away.
It's probably time to dig out some magazines that inspire me.
This is what I usually have to do.
I get out the decorating magazines, and get myself all revved up to make my house look fabulous.
A lot of the time, it backfires, and I just end up with a big pile of magazines sitting in the middle of the floor, in addition to all of the other stuff that needs to be picked up.
However, sometimes, it actually does work.
Another tactic I use is my organizational/cleaning books.
I have many.
I even own the Martha Stewart cleaning bible.
I can't remember what it's really called...but it is as big as the bible...bigger, actually.
And it pretty much describes, in vivid detail, everything you need to do to make your house (and yard, and garden, and 6 other houses)
perfectly perfect.
Because when you read Martha's want to become Martha.
And she is perfect.
And she knows how to do EVERYTHING.
And as far as we know....she does it all single handedly.
Or so she would have us believe.
And this is why we can feel completely inadequate in life.
THIS is why I always feel overwhelmed.
Because I actually DO want to be perfectly perfect.
I DO want to be Martha...(though I would prefer to look like Penelope Cruz.)
Although I know it is impossible, and completely ridiculous,
I want my house to be spotless and beautiful.
I want my dogs to be perfectly groomed, bathed, and looking dapper at all times. 
I want to make gourmet meals for dinner every day, and have all the ingredients on hand (and actually know what to do with them) to whip up something amazing, should guests stop by unannounced.
And, of course, have beautifully prepared meals ready in my freezer....for those days when I am just too tired to cook, because I was busy pruning the rose bushes, or my pilates class went late.
I want a beautiful garden, and well manicured lawn.
I want a deck that doesn't look like a dock.
I want to send out birthday cards (beautifully addressed) in a timely manner, so they actually arrive ON the persons birthday.
(We sent Mark's mom's gift a week ago.  Her birthday was in January.)
I want my house to always have fresh flowers, and fruit bowl on the table.
And I want it to smell like citrus in the summer, and cinnamon in the winter....rather than dog pee all year round.
I want a calendar, made in advance....that has everything all planned out (like Martha does in her LIVING magazine) so I know when I'm supposed to do all this stuff.
In other words....I need a full time staff.
Now....when I say this is impossible....I am referring to myself.
I DO know people who pull this stuff off. (Renee Johnson, if you are reading this...I'm talking about YOU!)
And do it without a full staff.
However, I'm not sure that these people ever sleep.
Or sit down.
Or eat.
It is a little ironic.
I am 100% serious when I say that I do want to have this "perfectly perfect" existence.....however, my personality (I guess it's my personality?) or my "type" is the complete opposite of the kind of person who can pull this off.
I am not organized, or focused, or detail oriented, or driven.
I am a sloth, remember?
Do they make "Type A personality" pills?
I could REALLY use some!!!
Until then, I guess I will just try eating spinach, or something.
The worst part house is full of artsy fartsy people.
Sam is the closest thing to Type-A that we've got....but he will only use his amazing minimalistic skills on his own room.
He is as much of a slob as the rest of us when it comes to the rest of the house.
Thank God none of us are hoarders...although Lexie's room might make you think differently.  (Who needs a closet when you can throw ALL your clothes on the floor??)
Until then....I will just do my best to emulate Martha.

(Except for that little stint in jail.  I'll skip that.)

Friday, April 17, 2015

Too Close To Home

A couple nights ago, I was laying I woke up in the middle of the night,
and thought "Oh crap....I bed some people found my post about
Mark thinking he had cancer really offensive."
I mean, the story was funny....but the fact that I spoke lightly of cancer might have been a sore spot for many.
That's what I want to talk about today.
I think one of the hardest things we have to face in life is our own mortality.
That, and the fact that everyone we love is going to die as well.
It would be so much nicer if we knew that at some point, everyone was going to win a new car.
That would be a much more pleasant reality.
I have often wondered if it would be easier if we just knew when it was going to happen.
If, when we were born, we came with a little tag that said "Expires in 2054."
At least then we could just live without worrying about it...until 2054, of course.
But, nothing in life is easy.
And there are no guarantees.
Something that has always been interesting to me is that even though we all know that we will die someday, it is something we really have a hard time talking about.
Of course, it's never fun to discuss something that is heartbreaking and painful, but we often bottle up our feelings about it, which, down the line, just causes us even more pain.
 When it comes to disease, it is almost worse.
It's something that is always out there...but once it hits close to home, it becomes a horribly sensitive topic.
I used to joke about Alzheimer's all the time.  I'm sure most of us have made some comment about "losing our minds" or "my Alzheimer's is kicking in again!"
I still do...(only when I say it now...there is a little part of me that is worrying it actually might be true.)
When a disease hits a family, it seems like it becomes the ""elephant in the room."
You don't know if it's appropriate to talk about it.  You don't know if you will offend somebody if you bring it up, etc,etc.
When I wrote about Mark being convinced he had cancer, my intent wasn't to be insensitive.  I have had family members die from cancer.  My mother had breast cancer, Mark's mom lost her ear to cancer, it's everywhere.
What surprised me the most was his reaction to thinking he had this disease.
Rather than maintaining a positive outlook, and waiting to see the Dr, he had decided what his prognosis was (it was fatal) and that was it.
He had lost his will to fight.
This was shocking to me.
You know why?
Because everyone I have ever known who has and is currently battling cancer have been the strongest fighters I have ever met in my life.
These people are out there kicking this disease in the ass.
No matter what the prognosis matter what they have to endure, no matter how crappy they feel...they are LIVING.
And they are so POSITIVE.
I stand in amazement every time I read a post, or run into a friend who is currently in treatment.  They don't look defeated.  They aren't feeling sorry for themselves.  They are out in the world...doing their thing.
That is more than I can say for a lot of perfectly healthy people!
I think this goes for so many illnesses and diseases out there.
There are people fighting battles we have no idea about....because they are continuing to live their lives through their treatment, through their pain, through everything.
I faithfully watch the show Nashville (love this show) and one of the characters was recently diagnosed with liver cancer.  He has been very hesitant to tell anyone about it...he doesn't want to be a burden.  In this week's episode, his daughter asked him why he was ashamed to tell people about his disease.
That made him stop and think for a moment.
Was he ashamed of it?
Or embarrassed?
He didn't want anyone's pity.....but why was he hiding it?
I think as a society, we are so trained to act a certain way.
There are things that we can talk about openly, and others that we can't.
For some reason, being sick sometimes tends to be something that becomes very personal.  I understand that some people prefer it that way.
I do wonder, though, if we just felt more comfortable talking about illness and death (not meaning that all illness leads to death!  Just the two topics!) if we wouldn't be so scared of them.
Unfortunately, both are a natural part of life.  And the latter is something we are all going to face at some point.  Not talking about it won't make it go away.
Maybe if it were a topic that weren't so taboo, it wouldn't feel so sad and scary.
I know that, if a person has suffered for a long time, death is often viewed as a gracious passing.  The person is finally at peace.
Wouldn't it be nice if we were able to get to a place where we could view death as a beautiful passing, whenever it happened?  If those who were left behind were able to just feel peace, rather than that pain of loss?  
I know I would be able to accept it much more graciously if I were able to do that. (That one might be a long shot.)
And when it comes to illness and disease....I often wonder if, rather than becoming sensitive and upset, we start conversations and spread awareness.  We create support systems for the ill and their families.  
I didn't know a thing about Alzheimer's until I was thrown into it.  
I wish I had had a support system in place then, because I had no idea what to expect or what I was dealing with. 
It was so helpful to reach out to the people I could, who had been through similar experiences.  And now, I hope I can do the same for others.
Anyway.  I am sure each and every one of you has, at some point, been touched by the terrible beast that is cancer....or any other disease that has invaded you or a loved one's lives.  
Even though I knew there was nothing wrong with my husband last really did make me think.  I made myself stop and imagine how life would change if we ever were put in that situation. How I would handle things if it wasn't me who got sick (because I knew I could handle that, and have actually thought through that scenario on several occasions before,) but him.
I had taken on the role of caretaker with my mother, but what would it be like if it were with my husband?  How would I handle it if he wan't handling it?  How do you fight for someone to get better if they won't fight for themselves?  Would I be able to be strong enough for both of us and the kids?  How would I manage to keep the household going if he wasn't able to work?  These, and so many other questions went through my head, and I forced myself to think about it.  It's a lot like making a will.  We put it off, and don't want to think about it, because it's depressing, and we don't think we have to worry about it....yet.
I think the best thing we can do is take good care of ourselves, so that if we (God forbid) ever are faced with unforeseen challenges, we are well equipped to take on whatever comes our way.
When I'm feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and are a few things that get me through.
1. Healthy Food

2. Lots of Rest

3. Focus on your blessings.

4. Stay Positive and Calm (however you need, meditate, yoga, aromatherapy,walk, go to your happy place. :))

5. Water with fruit infusions...all day long.


7. Dogs. (Animals will cure ANYTHING.)


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Vanilla or Chocolate?

Isn't it interesting how each day of the week holds their own..."flavor?"
I suppose we could put the days into several categories.
Ice cream flavors, obviously.
Colors, perhaps?
Or a symbol that represented how we felt about that day.
I guess a combination might be the best way to go about you weren't limited, because I don't deal with limits very well.
(Have you ever gone on a car ride with me at the wheel?)
For some reason, Wednesday has always been my least favorite day of the week.
It is the maple nut, yellow brown, caution tape of my week.
I have to wonder if had anything to do with the fact that during my entire childhood, I spent Wednesday nights at church.
Only I didn't just have the pleasure of attending hour long, riveting CCD classes, I also got to stay for an extra hour while my parents went to choir practice.
When you are a kid, there is nothing more exciting than that.
Especially in the winter, when it's dark, and cold, and you can do nothing but just. sit. there.
Perhaps, it also has something to do with the fact that is just 
falls in the middle of the it doesn't seem to serve much of a purpose,
other than to provide the hump in which to get over.
Okay.  I just thought about it.
It's the church night thing.
It scarred me for life.
Which is a bit ironic, considering I have worked in churches for the past
25+ years.
It might have something to do with that awkward time when I was a teenager, and had to play at the CCD Masses.
Obviously, I had no idea what I was doing.  I didn't go to Catholic school.  
I didn't pay attention to the specifics, regarding organ playing, on Sunday.
I did NOT go to daily Mass, so how on earth was I to know that there was only ONE reading before the gospel on weekdays?
Well, here is how I learned.
After the first reading, the reader read the psalm, and I waited for the 2nd reader to come up.  (No one did.)
So, in his oh-so-tactful manner, the priest yells up to me (in front of the church filled with high school students) 
(and yes, it was in a horribly sarcastic tone.)
This is only one example of my Wednesday night fun.
How I went on to become a church lady, I will never know.
Now Mondays.....Mondays are the pralines and cream of my week.
(My favorite flavor!)
Monday is the warm, cozy earth tones, complete with lots of texture.
Knits and fur (faux, of course!!) and velvet.
It's the one day that I try to keep completely commitment free.
There is something quite heavenly about knowing that when the traditional "work week" is starting, I am enjoying my "week end."
Fridays fill the #2 spot for me.
They are the mint chocolate chip....or my latest obsession....plain old vanilla, piled high with mini chocolate chips.
Fridays are a fresh, leafy green.  A breath of fresh air.
Even though I know they are leading to my typically busy weekend, it also means I might actually get to spend some time with my beloved, since he will (hopefully) have the next two days off.
Tuesdays and Thursdays are the cookies and cream....or perhaps chocolate. (Depending on my mood, of course.)
I suppose a soft blue would sum them up.
They are just.....nice days.
Although Scandal is on that spices things up a bit.
And the weekend.....
I often wonder what it would be like to be one of those families who often heads out on mini adventures over the weekend.
Or maybe....just leaves town for the day.
Or maybe....does anything.
However, when you work every weekend, you lose that freedom. weekends become rainbow sherbet.
I try to keep them light and fresh.
Saturday is always up in the air.  Sometimes it's filled with activity.
Sometimes it's completely lazy.
However, whatever I'm doing always has to end by I can go to church.
And I have a strict rule on Saturday night.  I never go out.
In bed by ten.
I think people think I am a loser...or an 80 year old.
However, if I'm not on top of my game the whole time I am playing (or if I'm not paying attention...which is easy to do when you are dozing off.) it's pretty obvious to the 300+ people sitting in front of you.
And the color?  White.
White and fluffy....because Sunday afternoons for me mean one thing:
Nap time.
And my best friends NEVER complain.

And honestly...any day with these two fluff balls is
a turtle sundae (from Culvers!) 
and sunny yellow.
It's pretty amazing how some unconditional love can do that for a person.
Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Weaker Sex

I am going to just cut right to the chase on this one.
There is a reason why God decided it would be the women who gave birth.
And it has very little to do with the fact that our anatomy is more accommodating for it.
Let's face it.
If men had to endure is pretty likely that mankind would not have made it past the first few generations.
One labor experience, they would have called it quits.
And the survival rate of infants back in the day was not so good.
I'm guessing the survival rate of men in childbirth wouldn't have been either.
Don't get me wrong.
I think men are very strong and mighty.
If I were in a dark alley, I would certainly hope I had a big, burly guy to accompany me, as I would feel much safer.
I also know that there are very few pieces of furniture in this house that would have ever made it through the front door without the manly muscles of my husband and his hunky helpers.
When it comes to A LOT of things, yes, women are the fairer sex.
Unless, of course, we are talking about getting sick.
Then forget it.
With the exception of Jamie Frasier (if you don't know who I am talking about, you really need to start watching Outlander....or read the books.  You will thank me later) men turn into ridiculous babies when it comes to illness and pain.
I have 20 years of marriage to prove this fact.
This past week was the icing on the cake.
I have always (in the back of my mind) known that if there was ever a time when someone in my family would experience serious illness, it would have to be me.  There just is no other option.
I am the tough one.
I have mastered the art of surgery.
I have birthed two big babies without the assistance of drugs.
I can handle this stuff.
My husband on the other hand....not so much.
When he gets sick....the world stops spinning.
(I am guessing this is a similar experience in many a household?)
Let me take you through my exciting journey of the past 7 days.
First of all, I need to say that the internet is a blessing and a curse.
It offers up a plethora of information that can be both very helpful, or it can cause extreme paranoia.
Especially when I man uses it to research strange health issues.
Web MD is NOT an actual Doctor.
Why do people not realize this?
Two weeks ago, my beloved noticed a weird sore on the bottom of his tongue.
It was painful, and not something he had had before.
After a few days, it hadn't gone away, so he went to urgent care to have it looked at.
They said it wasn't viral...and said little else...except that they were referring him to an ENT specialist.
And here is where the saga begins.

Here is a photo from the internet that looks a lot like what he had.
Of course, it's a photo of a patient diagnosed with cancer.
So, naturally, he was now sure that is what he had too.

I was a little concerned initially, but, as I prefer to do, insisted that we not worry until we know if there was something to worry about.
The next morning, he woke up with swollen lips.
And started feeling icky.
And the paranoia grew.
By the third day...his tongue appeared completely normal, lips were fine, and I assured him that if it really was cancer, it certainly wouldn't have just disappeared.
However, I, apparently am an idiot, and he was having none of it.
He was dying, and that was all there was to it.
Oh...and he actually was starting to feel like total crap.
This went on for the next two days.
I was ready to just go dig a hole in the back yard for him, so we could bury him without the additional cost of a graveyard plot, but the weather was so wacky last week, and it snowed, so that put the kibosh on that idea.

I had always known he was a bit dramatic over getting sick, but until this point, I hadn't realized I had married a complete hypochondriac.
Now I knew it for sure.
He was certifiable.
However, I continued to play the role of supportive wife, and prayed for that damn appointment with the ENT Dr. to get here QUICKLY!
(It wasn't until the next Monday, by the way.)

On Friday, I was up to my normal morning routine.
(Laying in bed, looking at Facebook on my phone)
and he walks in the bedroom.
(He was supposed to be at work.)
He was completely distraught, and tearing up.
I knew something terrible was going on.
He said "It's time. You need to take me to the ER."

After calming him down, I called the nurse's hotline (because I needed another woman on my side, and I had no desire to fork out a $200 co-pay to have an ER  Dr. give us the same diagnosis that I could give him....he wasn't dying...but I was pretty darn sure he had the flu, and therefore, he just felt like he was dying.)
We went to Urgent Care instead.
He really did feel like crap, and almost passed out in the waiting room.
It's too bad that he wouldn't believe me that he was fine and would live, because I have never seen him that emotionally distressed.
He had gotten himself SO worked up, and completely convinced himself that this was it.
He had a horrible disease and there was no chance of the news being good.
It was probably time to start making those good-bye phone calls.
To make things even more eventful, his nurse was a giant male.
There is nothing like walking your (dying) husband to his room, while this very beefy nurse looks at you like "dude, why is your husband totally wigging out?"
It got even better when he had him lay down on the bed, and tears just started rolling down his cheeks.
The man-nurse grabbed the box of kleenex and said " there anything I can do for you?  I can uh....get you a blanket??"  I just smiled and said "That's okay....we will be just fine."
Shockingly, the Doctor arrived, and assessed the situation, and came up with the exact same diagnosis that I did!  (I knew I should have gone to med school!)
Mark never mentioned his cancer paranoia, so being the excellent wife I am...I delicately brought it up.
"So....this tongue thing.  I know my husband was initially concerned that it could have been something much more....dire...?"
And then a miracle happened.
The DOCTOR said the magic word, without any real prompting from me.
He said "  If that had been anything serious, like CANCER, it wouldn't have gone away, it would have kept growing. 100% isn't cancer."
And the angels sang....Alleluia! Alleluia!  Your wife was right again!
It was Influenza B.
And this is why he felt like shit.
All that was left was for the nurse to come and give us our check-out paperwork.
But right before he came in (like 2 second before)
the tears started flowing again.
I asked what was wrong NOW???
"I really thought I was gonna die!"
[enter big man nurse]
who once again looks at me like "dude, you gotta get this guy to man up!"
[wife grabs paper, and exits....quickly.]
When we get in the car, I asked if he was going to cancel his appointment on Monday, since he now knows he is fine.
His reply:
"No! I need to make sure!"

He is FINE, by the way.

So there you have it.
No need to mention to him the fact that I shared any of this with you. ;)
Maybe just "I heard you had the flu."
We will keep him thinking we all still consider him super manly.
And oh-so-brave. 


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A Fresh Start

It has been FAR too long since I have written anything here.
My own blog didn't even know who I was...and I had forgotten my password, and fumbled around for 15 minutes just to log in and be able to start writing.
That is never a good sign.
Today...all of that craziness stops.
My little "Lenten journey of not writing" really showed me how easy it was to not write everyday.  
It was a lot like not exercising every day.
I find that ridiculously easy as well.
It takes absolutely no discipline at all....and that is one thing I am so very good at.
If there were a job that required a complete lack of discipline, and involved doing pretty much absolutely nothing...I would be the perfect person for it.
I am amazing at it!
I somehow am also capable of juggling about 25 different balls at the same time.
How this happens, I have no idea.
What I do know is that I have figured out how to accomplish a lot in as little time possible.
Maybe I should write a book on efficiency, because there is nothing that make my blood pressure rise more than inefficiency and having my time wasted.
I am sure you all know that feeling.
Anyway, I have decided it's time to regain some discipline in my life.
While I very much enjoy allowing myself to be a complete sloth, it does eventually get old.
So, I am starting with getting back on track with writing, and doing the same with eating.
I am sure this is one of the major factors in my "sloth like" behavior.
It's easy to turn into a complete couch potato when you are tired and feel completely uninspired, unmotivated and exhausted all the time.'s time to do something about that too.
The first thing I am doing is eliminating bread.
(Excuse me a moment while I shed some tears.)
My ultimate goal is to ditch grains all together.
And all things "white."
Baby steps.
Breakfast looks yummy, right?!

I've also decided that once all of my favorite shows have ended for the season (which will happen in what...two weeks?) 
we are ditching cable.
TV has started to take over my life.
Ever since I declared myself a "homebody" I have started to enjoy sitting around and watching TV way too much.
My whole life is being spent in front of one screen or another.
This is getting ridiculous.
And I wonder why I have achey joints, and I've gained weight, and my eyes are getting bad.
Gee....could that be it?
I'm starting to get excited for this summer.  I have lots of ideas brewing, and a couple of projects in the works.
Now that we have finally made it through the never-ending winter (we are done with the snow, right?) it's time for new beginnings and fresh outlooks.
This past winter really did a number on me...but I am so ready to hit the ground running and turn things around now.
Care to join me?