Fibronaut At Home

Killing Two Birds With One Stone

Not literally.

Today, in continuation of my happiness project, I vacuumed out my van.  It has not been vacuumed in YEARS!  The sad state of my van is one of those things that bugs me daily, not to mention embarrasses me anytime someone else sees it.  I was waiting for my hubby to clean it and obviously my hints of “This van is so dirty” every time he was in it, weren’t working.  I’ve long since given up nagging about the cleanliness of my van and just kind of let it go.  Then, while reading “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin, I started thinking of things I could do for myself, that I normally nag the hubby about.  She talks about how it’s not really fair to expect her husband to do certain things just because he’s the man.  If I don’t want to do it, he probably doesn’t either.  I’ve now added “clean van” as one of my monthly to-do’s, because as I’ve noticed and as Rubin also talks about, doing something more often makes it easier to do.

Thinking back, there are other tasks I’ve taken on since I’ve started feeling better that normally I would reserve for the hubby.  I’ve taken a more active role with our dog, I’ve been more involved in the trash duties and I’ve been hanging pictures and other things myself, rather than nagging incessantly and cursing the hubby while he largely ignores my tirade.  I’m sure he appreciates the decrease in nagging as well.

I just looked and the title and realized that I forgot to talk about the dead birds.  In vacuuming the van, I have also worked out.  BOO-YAH!!!  Two birds, one stone.

Side laugh:  I was just doing my tags and I typed “two birds one stoner”.  LOL.

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The Happiness Project

I have finally started reading “The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun” by Gretchen Rubin.  Julie Ryan of Counting My Spoons, suggested the book to me months ago and I’m so glad that she did.  I’m only half-way through, but I already love the book and I’m heading back towards the totally awesome me that I found in April.  I’ve been in a slump lately, which is the main reason why I haven’t posted here.  I didn’t want anyone to know that I was struggling, though my hubby and my Mom knew.  I’m ecstatic and relieved that I’m back.

The main goal that is sticking with me now and that could be life-altering for anyone, but especially for others like me with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is, “Act the way you want to feel.”  I was already trying to do this and seeing that it worked for someone else, really helped me.  I think I went into a slump because I was starting to wonder if what I was doing was really working.  Rubin had a similar experience.  Reading that made me feel like I wasn’t alone in my doubts and gave me tools for combating the negative thoughts causing those doubts.

Even though I was doing all the right things, doubts crept in and the old conflict of to-work-or-not-to-work started playing havoc with my mind.  If I don’t work, there isn’t any money for extras and if I do work, there isn’t any time for extras.  I want a part-time job so I can still pick up the kids from school and spend my evenings and weekends with them, but most places only have full-time available, or I just can’t imagine working there.  I talk myself out of jobs before I even apply for them.  I have finally come to the conclusion that, when it’s right, it’ll happen.  When I find my mind going to that black hole of never-ending worry and what-ifs, I sing to myself, “Que sera, sera.  Whatever will be will be.”  A little silly, but it works.

We’ve also had extra stress dealing with some school issues.  I’m not going to go into it.  I think we’re almost through it and I can look back and see that despite all the stress, some good things have come out of going through this.

I’ve gone back to keeping track of all I accomplish each day.  Even if no one else notices, it makes me happy to see all these tasks completed.  I have a spreadsheet I found in Microsoft Excel that’s meant for a chores list, but works perfectly for me.  Each week, I’ll start a new spreadsheet, so I can look back and see how much progress I’ve made.  There are some tasks that I do daily, some I do twice a week or more and some I only do once a week or once a month.  I don’t have to look to my hubby or my kids for validation that I’m reaching goals.  I’ve also added several items since I started.

I’m learning to find the positive in every situation, no matter how bleak.  I’m learning to be grateful for where I am, who I’m with and everything that I once took for granted in life.  Those are some pretty big statements, but I’m confident in them.

I’ll probably post again about this book because there is so much helpful advice in it.  I would recommend this book to anyone, whether you feel like you are happy and especially if you don’t.

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GOOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLLLL!!!!!

I just had to.  We love watching soccer, but don’t actually watch a lot of it.  The World Cup has reminded us of our love for the game.  With our budget, we are on the family plan of Directv, and consequently, most of the games we watch are on the Spanish channel.  We don’t speak Spanish, but they sure add some excitement to the game.

Moving on….

This post has been simmering in my mind for a while now.  Setting goals for myself has been one of the most effective tools in my road to wellness.  I had to look back at my journal to find these.  I started simply, picked  goals that were the most important to me.  1.  Write in journal.  2.  Meditate.  3.  Yoga.  4.  Hug, kiss, love family.

These were my first goals that I set on November 7, 2012.  It is awesome to look back and see how far I’ve come!  At that point, I had started recording what I ate and what I did throughout the day to try and track where my pain was at and really focus on what I was putting into my body.  It really gave me a good idea of what I needed to change in my eating habits.

I found a revised set of goals on July 9, 2013.  1.  Shower.  2.  Journal.  3.  Meditate.  4.  Love.  The simplicity of this list may seem pointless to some, but at that time, I couldn’t handle more than that.  Those were the things I knew I needed to do to heal myself.  

I found “BABY STEPS” written in the margins a couple times and also this list of steps that I felt would help me “be healthy and happy both mentally and physically”.  1.  Focus on the positive.  2.  Offer encouragement.  3.  Yell less, hug more.  4.  Be a better listener.  5.  Be conscious of what you say.

By August 6, 2013, my goals had expanded to add friendship, blog, sew and clean.  I stopped writing in my journal after that.  At this point, I was trying to add getting my kids to school in the morning to my list.  That turned out to be a little too much for my energy level and our budget.  My husband was going that way so it made more sense for him to take them.  I let myself go backwards at that point.  I felt like I had no reason to get up in the morning.  Even if your life changes, there are certain things that are good to keep.  Getting up in the morning with my kids gave me time with them and I felt better with a set wake up time.

February 2014, I got back to my sleep schedule.  I set my alarm for 7 am whether I have anywhere to go or not.  I try to go to bed at the same time, knowing that even if I don’t or if something wakes me up (like my 5 year old kicking me in the face), I don’t have to let that ruin my day.  March 31, 2014, I started journaling again, keeping track of what I did all day; writing down what I was doing and the time I started.  My journal sat on the kitchen counter.  I was amazed by all that I accomplished in a day.  Writing down the time I started something made it crystal clear how long or short tasks took me to complete.  When you are on the internet or watching television all day, you lose so much time.  Tracking my time made me aware of how I was spending my time and let me set goals to spend that time better.

I set goals again, but they expanded beyond what I ever thought I’d be capable of again; feed the cats; straighten the bed; shower; clean the cat litter; dishes; straighten the bathroom.  I started with those things and built upon them.  It became a challenge to me.  I even wrote “no excuses” a couple of times.  There was no judgement if one day’s list was longer than another day’s.  Being kind to yourself, forgiving yourself and loving yourself is key.

May 21, 2014 was the last day I kept track of what I did all day.  I started to notice I was writing less and less of what I’d done with the time; not because I wasn’t doing anything, but because I was doing so much that it became tedious to stop by my journal all the time.  I feel so positive now, that I don’t need to chronicle every little achievement.  I can look at something, see the changes I’ve made in that part of my environment and feel pride in myself.  I don’t look at the things I do with a critical eye and I don’t talk down to myself.

I’m still the same person, I just look at everything differently.  I don’t wish things were different, I make them better, or I let it go.  It is a beautiful way to be.  Yesterday was kind of rough.  We did so much the two days prior and went to bed so late, that I was dragging butt all day long.  We went to a late lunch and then to an arcade/mini-golf place.  I mostly sat and read, while I let everyone else run after kids.  I just didn’t have any fuel in the tank.  And it was okay.  I was there, even if I wasn’t up to participating, I was there.

Today, I’ve already checked my garden, watered the lawn, posted to both blogs, and started laundry.  I have plans to finish laundry, weed the garden, do my Zumba DVD, and finish a skirt I started sewing last week.  I may even do more than that, but even if I don’t, it’ll still be okay.

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Random Cleaning: The Happiness Booster

I have discovered something.  Just cleaning one little random thing a day, makes me happy.  Here is the trick.  Pick something that has been bugging you lately.  For instance, yesterday, I picked the shelf in my bathroom.  It’s dusty.  I see it every day and every day, it’s sticking its tongue out at me, saying, “Look at me!  And there’s nothing you can do about it!”  So I moved crap off of it and dusted it yesterday.  Instant boost to my happiness factor.  There are things I have to do every day, like dishes, showering and picking up the kids from school.  Just because those take the majority of my energy, doesn’t mean I can’t sneak in one little task that makes me feel just a little bit more in control of my day.  I don’t go crazy.  I didn’t clean the rest of the bathroom.  Just that one little thing made my day.

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Be The Tortoise

Going slow and steady, you’ll get more things done than if you are zipping from task to task.  Seriously, who can zip at all anymore?  Fibro and CFS alone have made any kind of pep in my step more like a plop.  Working on laundry today it hit me how much I’ve had to adapt the way I get stuff done.  I thought I’d list some techniques that I use when doing housework.

  • When I’m doing laundry I read every label for the care instructions.  I skip the socks, towels and unmentionables.  Just taking the time to read all labels ensures that our clothes last longer and slows down the process enough that I don’t wear myself out.
  • Reading the labels also gives me a chance to find humor in the very boring and somewhat stinky task of sorting laundry.  I snort every time a label says “Wash separately” or “Hand-wash only”.  Yeah right!  It occurred to me today that almost every label tells you to wash with “like colors”.  I started reading that in a Valley Girl voice “like totally” and that made me laugh a little bit.
  • I take breaks.  Not long breaks, just maybe ten minutes to stretch or put my feet up in between baskets or trips up and down the stairs.  Once the laundry is all sorted, I get longer breaks in between loads.
  • I don’t sort hunched over and I don’t fold sitting down.  I make sure if I’m bending down for anything, to use my knees.  Folding sitting down puts so much strain on your back and shoulders.  My doctor didn’t get it either but I take breaks to rest my legs and stretch my arms and my back is so much happier for it.
  • Even if the family is digging through baskets of clothes that have yet to be folded, that is better than hearing “I have no underwear”, “I have no socks” and the dreaded “I have no pants”.
  • Do what you can and don’t dwell on what you can’t get done.
  • If your family is like mine?  Are they without opposable thumbs making scraping and rinsing their food dishes an impossibility?  At the end of the day, I’m too tired to wash dishes.  But, I can usually scrape the food and soak the dishes, making loading the dishwasher the next afternoon so much easier.
  • I do nothing in the morning.  I may make my three-year-old daughter’s lunch and help her get ready a little, but other than that my older kids have learned to step up to the plate.  It is so much easier to be a drill sergeant in the morning than to actually do the stuff myself.  My husband can usually tell if I’m comatose or not and he then directs the little elf’s in getting their sister ready.
  • I do nothing in the morning and I don’t feel bad about it.  It is just not my time of day anymore and probably never will be again.  Until my medicine and coffee kick in, it’s safest to avoid eye contact or any kind of contact for that matter.
  • Cleaning the bathroom.  Ugh.  I do this as little as possible.  I don’t have elbow grease anymore.  I slow this down by doing one task a day.  Anything more is too much.  The bathtub I let soak as long as possible in whatever cleaner I have.  I straighten the bathroom everyday, especially since all it takes is one bath and my daughters have toys, towels and dirty laundry spread so you can’t even see the floor.  Sometimes they clean that up.  I put brushes, hair gel, hair things, toys, dirty towels, dirty laundry and trash (we have a trashcan people!) away.  I rinse out the toothpaste encrusted sink and wipe off the back of the toilet.

Please don’t read these posts and assume that my house is clean.  I want to give you little tips to help make your life easier, not for you to feel overwhelmed or like you aren’t doing enough.  My ceiling fans have an inch of dust on them.  My kitchen curtains are turning grayish-brown they need to be washed so badly.  Every floor in my house needs to be vacuumed, mopped, swept or all three.  My windows have never been washed.  I didn’t do windows before Fibro/CFS either.  Tortoise on friends.

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Confessions (gasp!) of a Mommy with Fibromyalgia

My house is a disaster area and the next person who comments on it can clean it for me if it bothers them that much (hint, hint).

My 10-year-old and 8-year-old get themselves ready in the morning.

My 10-year-old and 8-year-old get their three-year-old sister ready in the morning too.  I do sometimes lift my head from my pillow to offer groggy, bleary-eyed and often unnecessary advice.  They are pros.

My husband gets himself ready in the morning (GASP!!!).

My husband gets himself out of bed in the morning (DOUBLE-GASP!!!)

I don’t do ironing.  Seriously.  Eventually the wrinkles smooth themselves out and that is what the “wrinkle-release” cycle on the dryer is for.

I always have laundry piled up, waiting to wash or dry or fold or put away.  Have I mentioned I really love the “wrinkle-release” cycle on the dryer?

My children (with the exception of the three-year-old and my husband) fold their own laundry and put their own laundry away.  Sometimes, they wash their own laundry.

I’ve made it one of my goals to do dishes every day.  I said it’s a goal, not a sure-thing.

Although my daughters and I require zero aim when using the toilet, the two who do have to “shoot for the target” and are therefore the most likely ones to cause the curious yellow stains around (and I mean AROUND) the toilet have NEVER (that I can recall) cleaned the toilet.  This isn’t really a confession, but a strongly worded hint.  I mean, really.  I only have so many “spoons” a day and to spend even a quarter of one of my spoons on the toilet is not only unfair, but cruel and unusual punishment.

My three-year-old gave me the nickname of “Sleepy-head-Mommy, wake-up!”

I don’t like to wash my hair every day and so I’ve gone poo-free so that my hair produces less oil and is less dry, requiring less maintenance.  I wash my hair with a baking soda and water solution and only put conditioner on the ends.  Don’t go “EWWW!”  I watched several videos on YouTube and read several blogs before starting this.  Google it.

I don’t clean the kitty litter until I either can’t stand it anymore or my husband complains about it.  I would now tell my husband to refer to the first confession on this blog but Alice The Cat is my cat and he’d probably let her outside for the fox to eat if I started asking him to clean the litter.

Sometimes, when I’m feeling particularly bad (pain, fatigue, PMS, depressed) and my children start whining, I let them do whatever they want.  Third bubble bath of the day?  Sure!  Play XBOX even though your room isn’t clean?  Why not?  Eat every junk-food item in the house in rapid succession?  Your Dad will be home soon so don’t let him catch you eating that.

My husband is moving my three-year-old’s toys to behind the couch to try to contain her mess to that area.  This isn’t a confession either, but I wanted someone else to laugh at him on that one with me.

“God made dirt and dirt don’t hurt” is my new motto.

Any and all word problems in my kids homework are saved for when Daddy gets home.

My three-year-old is potty trained but refuses to wipe herself after going #2.  She instead hollers “Mom!  I pooped!”  It sometimes takes me so long to get there to help that she has started singing to herself while she waits.  It’s almost like I’m on “Jeopardy”.

My kids have learned to read my lips.  Especially when I’m mouthing “Ask your Dad.”

If what I wore to bed the night before is sweat pants and a t-shirt, I’m probably picking up my kids from school in it.

Actually, I should clarify.  That was the old me.  The new me has a new goal of taking a shower every day and so I usually do have clean clothes on by 2:30 pm when I pick up the kids from school.  If I’m not going anywhere else, however, I immediately change back into my comfy clothes.  Also, showering is another goal, not certainty.

The only reason, besides company coming over, that I clean my living room, is so I can do my yoga or my “Deepak Chopra’s: Leela” on the XBOX Kinect.

I don’t procrastinate.  I just forget.  Until it is too late.  Then I remember.

How long does it take three kids, one husband and one fibro-fighter to clean a house?  I’ll let you know if it ever happens.

Wait!  I had a Celebrating Home party in March and my house was clean then.  Unfortunately, that is the last time my house was clean.

My daughter once took a moldy sandwich to lunch for school.  I swear that I checked that bread while making that sandwich.  I’m also pretty sure that this happened before my diagnosis but I’m still using fibro-fog as an excuse.

I’m pretty sure I’ll think of more of these gems after I post this, but if I’m going to meet any of my “goals” today, I better get my butt off the couch.  Besides, my daughter has a friend coming over after school today and I can’t see my living room floor.  I jest.  I can see my living room floor, it’s just covered with crap at the moment.

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