Fibronaut At Home

Back to Work

I’ve been working at my new job for a couple weeks now.  I’m part time and the longest shift I’ve worked has been seven hours.  So far, so good.  Sometimes I have to stop and stretch and sometimes I forget to take my meds.  My body always tells me what I should be doing.  I bring a small snack for when I have to take my naproxen and I’ve been trying to drink tea instead of soda, when I can.  One night, I was so busy, I had to eat a jelly donut for dinner.  Not the best dinner, but it allowed me to take my meds and get a couple (hundred? thousand?) calories, so I wouldn’t fall over.

The mental aspect of going back to work is just as hard as the physical.  I write myself positive notes, and read them before I go in.  “I am so grateful for this opportunity,”  “I’m so happy to be working again,” “You are going to do great,” and “You got this.”  I ALWAYS smile at myself in the mirror and say, “This is going to be fun!”  If I have a setback, like a grumpy customer or something goes wrong, I just tell myself to shake it off.  I read a great quote somewhere that I come back to: “Life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you react to it.”  I just think of that, determine that I’m not going to let someone else’s sour mood affect me, and remind myself to be patient with myself and others.

I have a lot of former bank customers and former gas station customers that come in and that is always great.  I love talking to people again.  Then, I have someone come in who asks, “What happened?” as if the worst thing in the world is me, back at a gas station.  I’ve had a couple of these.  The first one was really tough and I felt a little defeated when he left.  Then, today, as I was thinking about the interaction, I remembered a conversation I had right before he came in.  One of my old gas station customers came in.  Every day, when picking up my kids from school, I drive by a bench in front of the high school that is dedicated to her son, who died two years ago.  Normally, I wouldn’t know what to say, but I offered my condolences anyway.  We talked for awhile and then she thanked me for remembering him.  She said, “I’ve found that for me, when he died, my world stopped, but for everyone else, it kept going.”

I cannot even begin to imagine the pain of losing a child.  My losses were nothing in comparison.  When I think about those first couple years after my diagnosis, I can relate to her description of the world stopping for me.  I am so fortunate that I had Fibromyalgia and CFS, even my anxiety and depression.  I didn’t have anything life-threatening, my family and children are healthy.  The experience was in no way easy for anyone in my life.  I’m so fortunate that I have such a supportive and understanding family, friends and husband.  I might be starting over, and I’m definitely not making what I made in the bank, but I’m confident that I’m right where I am supposed to be.

Tonight, when I had my second, “What happened?”, I smiled, said “I was sick, but now I’m better.” and left it at that.  I don’t have to explain and not everyone is going to get it anyway.

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I Got It!

This is a couple days late, but, I got the job!  The interview went great.  I felt so confident going into it.  I really worked on several key points that I learned from Gretchen Rubin’s “The Happiness Project”.  I acted how I wanted to feel; confident, happy, open, willing and able.  Instead of dwelling on what-if’s and worrying about what would happen or wouldn’t happen, I thought, “This is going to be fun!  This is going to go great!  I got this!  This job is mine!”, over and over.  Whenever I could feel my mind veering into uncertainty and fear, I repeated my mantra, smiled, and took a deep breath.  And it worked!

I was supposed to hear by the end of the week, but the manager called me a couple hours after my interview.  I start on Monday, and couldn’t be more excited for this next chapter in my life.  I have no doubt that I’m going to be able to balance work and family.  Knowing what my priorities are and focusing on what means the most to me is what’s key.  I know that I need to make sure I eat well and keep up with my exercise regimen to avoid any fibro or CFS flare ups.  Eating small snacks to avoid the shakes or hanger (hunger anger), making sure I take my meds on time, not focusing on little mistakes, laughing at myself, being patient with others and myself, will all be in the back of my mind.  All the things I thought I was getting away with before, but were really hurting me, I’ve done my best to address.  Now comes the test.  Can I do this?  Yes.  I can.

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Go Susie! Go Susie! Go Susie! Go Susie!

SQUEEEEEE!!!!!

I did it.  I went on an interview.  Phew.  It went really well and I’m feeling really good about this.  No ifs, ands or buts.

I have a huge balloon full of squeals in my chest.  I let a really long squeal out as soon as I was in my car.  Good thing I was parked around the corner.

Probably the best part of the interview was when I was able to say that I was confident my fibromyalgia or CFS wouldn’t affect my ability to do any of the tasks associated with the job.  THAT IS HUGE!

Now, I’m off to walk the dog and I have so much happy energy, I’m going to ZUMBA when I get back.

YAY!

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It’s All How You Look At It

Some things I’m grateful for and would not have had were it not for Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome:

-Time to bask in nature’s beauty.  I enjoy watching the leaves fall, watching the snow pile up, listening to the birds call, watching the squirrels play, sitting in the sunshine, to name a few.

-Time with my children.  I’m getting to do what I’ve wanted to since they were babies.  I pick them up from school, I share my love of reading and sewing with them, I fix them meals and I hug and kiss them and talk to them whenever I want.  I’m able to volunteer at their schools, go to class parties and other special events.

-New hobbies.  Sewing was something I always wanted to do, but never had the time.  I crafted, but not as much as I wanted to.  Now, one of my daily goals is to create or bake something.  Today, instead of cursing the tear in my son’s Halloween costume and the too-big skirt on my daughter’s, I fixed them myself.  I have lost count of all the clothes I’ve upcycled, mended and taken in, saving us money.

-Thrifting is another hobby I’ve picked up again.  It has become a way of life for us.  Anything I can get for cheap, second-hand or make myself, I do.  One of my favorite money-saving, environmental projects I’ve done is to make my own cloth napkins out of an old tablecloth.  We haven’t bought paper towels or napkins in several years.  They go in the wash with my towels and don’t take up any more room than a paper towel roll would.  It used to be a goal of mine to wear something I made or thrifted every day.  I don’t have that goal any more because the majority of my clothing is thifted or home-made.

-Recycling has become a passion of mine.  Everything that goes in our trashcan gets inspected by me first.  Plus I reuse everything I can.  I always look at something I’m thinking of throwing away and think, “Could I use this for something else?”

We’re headed out to the comic book store for our free comics today, but I know this is a subject I’ll come back to in future posts.

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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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Swift Kick in the…

I’m so glad I posted about my anxiety yesterday.  Just posting here, instead of just writing in my journal gave me the push I needed.  I thought to myself, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”.  Then, I made a list of what I needed to accomplish before picking up my kids from school and I dropped off the two applications I’d already filled out.  Today’s goal is to do my cover letter for my resume and drop that off at a couple places.  I’ll also be making a few calls to see if anyone knows of any openings in the area.  Deep breath.  Here we go!

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Interpretive Dance Like No One’s Watching

My daughter Emma is the princess of interpretive dance.  It doesn’t matter where she is; if she hears a beat that catches her ear, she starts dancing.  This morning, as I’m listening to my playlist with Beyonce, Fergie, Jennifer Lopez, Shakira, Meghan Trainor, Destiny’s Child, Iggy Azalea and Nicki Minaj, it occurred to me that I do the same thing.  I’m better at hiding it in public than she is.  I only do shoulder movements, head bobs and swaying hips.  Um.  Maybe I’m not as good at hiding it as I think I am.

Sometimes I get bored with my same work-out DVD’s.  Even ordering different ones from the library doesn’t help.  I just like my music so much that I want to do those moves to songs I like listening to.  Cue interpretive dance as a workout.  I already find myself thinking of the moves I do with the DVD’s that would go with the beat I’m listening to.  I already dance around my house.  Any movement is more than sitting down doing nothing, right?  Hopefully, my hubby’s claim that no one can see me through the windows in the day is correct.  If not, I hope the neighbor’s appreciate the entertainment.

I’m also reminded of a conversation that I had with my Brother-in-Law.  He went to school to be a personal trainer, so whenever I have workout questions, I ask him.  When I was still couch-bound every day, I asked him if just tightening my abs while I sat there was working the muscles.  He said it did, which made me feel like at least I was doing something, even if I wasn’t in full sit-up or crunches mode.  Start small and build from there!

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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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More Workout Trial and Error

Oh Lordy Magordy!  I just did the majority of Piloxing.  It was awesome.  The workout combines boxing pilates and she even adds some dance moves.  I love Vivica Jensen, the woman who does the DVD.  She has a great attitude and reminds you to only do what you can, but to try and push yourself.  I also love that the women doing the workout with her are different sizes and different levels of fitness.  I think most fitness DVD’s only have people who are really in shape doing the exercises.  When I was huffing and puffing or had a pain face on, I could see that reflected in other women’s faces.  It was nice because I didn’t feel so bad for being out of breath or for modifying the moves if they were too much for me.

I didn’t do the floor portion of the workout, but I did try.  My muscles felt like jello after the standing portion, so I just skipped to the cool down.  The DVD also reminded me what I liked so much about pilates.  Pilates helps you to lengthen your body and muscles.  You are toning without bulking up.  I had a huge smile on my face at the end.

I also tried Belly Dance Fitness for Weight Loss: Cardio Shimmy.  I thought I’d love this one, because I loved the other belly dance DVD by the same company.  I didn’t make it past 5 minutes.  There’s a lot of fast moves on your tip-toes.  I felt like the hippo ballerinas in Fantasia, except less graceful.

After having the kids making fun of me when I was working out the other day, I decided to work out before they woke up this morning.  Don’t ever let other people’s opinion of you stop you from doing what you want or need to do.  There’s a reason I don’t go to fitness classes, and since The Peanut Gallery can’t contain their horror at me in a sports bra and shorts, I’ll just work out earlier.  It’s good for them to see what a real, unphoto-shopped body looks like though.  I think that when the cousins go home, I’ll continue my normal workout routine.  When my kids complain about me working out, I’ll just make them work out with me.  Ha!

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Finding A Workout that Works For You

*I am not a doctor.  Consult your doctor before starting any workout program.*

When I was first diagnosed with fibro, this was one of the biggest challenges I faced.  Every doctor I visited and every book I read said, “Do yoga.”  For me, going to a class was out of the question.  I was depressed and full of anxiety in relation to how others saw me.  My spirit was in the fetal position unable to handle anyone’s criticism, no matter how compassionate.  To me, no one understood the pain I was going through.  I checked out numerous DVD’s from my library and got seriously frustrated.  I couldn’t make it through the warm-ups on those DVD’s.  I gave up.  I told myself I wasn’t going to get anywhere exercising.  I told one of my doctors that I didn’t have time to exercise.  What I meant was that I had limited time in my day.  If I had the energy to do anything, it wasn’t going to be exercise; it was going to be something for my hubby or kids like housework or doing something with them.

Here’s what I figured out in doing housework; I was working out!  Every load of clothes I separated, every time I loaded or unloaded the dishwasher, I was exercising.  When I was warmed up, I would stretch out the muscles that were tightening.  I started to tweak the way I did some chores as I noticed that doing them more often made them easier.  Getting things done makes me feel good.  When I notice something out of place or dirty and I take care of it, BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE, instant mood booster.  It was through housework exercising that I first started losing weight and inches.  (Getting off of narcotics and Lyrica and Cymbalta helped also.)

I also finally found a workout DVD that I could do.  That’s right.  One DVD is all it took to start getting my body back.  Healing Yoga for Aches and Pains started me on my path to wellness.  There are a lot of moves on the ground and sitting down.  I did hurt my back once when I got a little too enthusiastic with my stretching.  Go slow and don’t worry if you feel like you’re not really working out.  The best workouts don’t feel like workouts at all.  My favorite part is the last, where you are laying on the floor with your legs resting on a chair and just breathing.  That move always leaves me feeling centered and ready to conquer anything.

Now that I’ve been building my muscles, I’ve been trying some regular workout DVD’s.  I’ve always liked dance workouts and games.  We traded in all my dance games when I thought I’d never be able to do them again.  Now I want them all back.  I really like Zumba.  There are tons of options in the Zumba workout DVD’s and I’ve checked out a couple of them from the library.  My favorite dances are the salsa and the Mexican dances.  They have a special name but I can’t remember it and both times I tried to search for it, I even confused Google.  Ha!  There are some that I don’t like, so I skip them.  At first, I couldn’t figure out the Calypso moves.  They were too fast and there was too much hopping that I couldn’t figure out.  The last time I did a Zumba DVD, I tried the Calypso steps and was able to do them!  Made me feel great.  I love that they have choices between just dancing and having the instructors tell you what to do.  I started out learning all the moves.  Now I can do the dance party.  Just a warning, Zumba is addictive.  I find myself thinking of Zumba moves whenever I listen to music.  I always dance around the house, but now I’m Zumba-ing around the house.  My 5 year old loves it and is doing it too.

I’ve also tried a Hula DVD, Island Girl Dance Fitness Workout for Beginners: Hula Abs and Buns.  It is easy and low impact.  The most difficult move is a lunge move but you can always skip moves that you find too difficult or that might cause you pain.  I love this DVD because you learn an entire dance while working out.  By the end, you combine all the moves in a dance.  I am a fan of workouts that make me feel like I’ve accomplished something at the end.

After being turned off by all the corny belly dance DVD’s that I tried, I finally found one that I like.  There were several belly dance DVD’s that I couldn’t get through the first move they were so corny (Here’s looking at you Goddess Workout).  A huge high-five to my kids for not cracking up at the corniness of The Goddess Workout: Intro to Belly Dance before I did.  The DVD I did today was Belly Dance Fitness for Weight Loss featuring Rania: Hip Hop Hip Drop.  They go through the moves slowly at first and then speed them up.  You learn an entire dance with this one too, combining all the moves into a dance at the end.  If you don’t like Hip Hop music, don’t worry.  There isn’t any Hip Hop.  I’ve just requested Belly Dance Fitness for Weight Loss featuring Rania: Cardio Shimmy.  If you find something you like, look for other things like that to keep your workout interesting.

As with everything else in wellness, it is a learning process.  If one thing doesn’t work, try something else.  Also, just because something worked once, doesn’t mean it’s going to always be for you.  My example of this came through a DVD that I used to own pre-fibro and decided to try because I remembered how much I liked it before.  10 Minute Solution: Pilates used to be my favorite thing to do.  I did the 10 minute ab workout 2 or 3 days ago.  My abs are still screaming.  Pilates is definitely not for me at this time.  Maybe I’ll go back to it later, but right now it is not for me.  The belly dance DVD helped with the soreness in my abs, but I’ve learned my lesson there.

If you are doing a workout and there is a part of it that you dread to the point where it keeps you from working out at all, then don’t do it.  Find another option.  If you are bored by any of your workout, don’t torture yourself through it.  Don’t give up, find another way.  Try, try, try and try again.  I even ran today.  I was in my pajamas and trying not to get hit by the sprinkler, but I ran.  It didn’t even hurt.  I’ve even been thinking of going for a run with the kids.  Forget walking!

I don’t write this to hurt anyone else’s feelings or make you feel like you aren’t doing enough.  That is for you to decide.  If you think you should be doing more, then do it.  Encouragement!

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 Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes! 

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