Tuesday, December 30, 2014

In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning...

Oh Insomnia!  Oh how I wish you would just go away.

I've always been a bit of a "night owl."  My poor mother (an early bird) would try her best to stay up with me, but couldn't do it.  There was something magical about the ten o'clock hour--it would put my brother and mother asleep while reawaking everything within me.

I never understood.  My mother and brother could simply go to sleep and then awake me with their annoying happy sounds first thing in the morning.  It was pretty irritating.

For me, sleep has always been different.  I can set the mood.  I can wear myself out to the point of exhaustion.  I can take warm baths, drink tea, and make my room a place of no light and no electronic devices.

It doesn't work.

On a good night, it only takes about 45 minutes to go to sleep.  I consider it a blessings.

But most nights, it's a mental struggle.  I review the day and think of all the things I did wrong.  I worry about the upcoming day--Is everything ready?  How am I going to mess up?  what didn't I think of before hand?

So many regrets and worries fill my mind each night.  I know the answer--if I could just sleep, I could handle things better.  But my overactive mind just won't let this happen.

How do you fix this?  How do you shut off your mind?  How do you tell your brain that all those thoughts are relevant, even important--just not in the middle of the night?

I'm on medication to help me sleep, but it's not working like it is supposed to work.  The meds are supposed to be fast acting/short term.  For me, they are slow acting, long lasting.  It figures.

So, here we are in the wee small hours of the morning.  I can't sleep.  I'm tired and exhausted, but I can't sleep. 

What is a girl to do?

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Happy Half Year!

For some, it's that awkward period between Christmas and New Years.  For me, it bonus week!  I'm trying to convince myself that there are things I should be doing, but the relaxation (ok, lazy) factor is winning.

A new year is certainly a chance for all of us to start over.  Make a fresh start.  But this year is different for me.  It's a celebration of the last six months.

In June, I took big steps to figure out and "fix" what was wrong with me emotionally, physically, and mentally.  I wasn't in a horrible place.  I was just ready be feel happy again.  And it's working.

I let go of resentment from my past.  I take responsibility for things, but I also know that other's took advantage of my need for approval.  They were able to tell me I couldn't do things, or that my decisions were not okay.  They were able to manipulate me to do things when I didn't want to because I didn't want to upset anyone. 

I learned what it means to be assertive, but not mean.  I learned to listen to myself first.  I learned that other people's opinons should never dictate my life.  As Iris in The Holiday (my signature movie said) "I should be the leading lady in my own life!  I symbolically made this happen by standing up for myself and going on my first solo vacation.

I went through a lot of testing and medication to find out what is going on with my body.  A syndrome that there is no cure for, but it's not life threatening, especially if I take steps to follow a gluten free/low glycemic diet.  It's been tough but not impossible.  Now I have add the dreaded exercise aspect of this......

But I learned that I wasn't crazy.  I learned to listen to my body even when no one knows what is wrong.  I learned that some of the health/body issues I've been so frustrated about really are not my fault. 

Learning about this syndrome also helped me mentally.  Knowing that some of those body issues I struggle with are not my fault has gotten me one step closer to accepting myself and dealing with those body image issues. 

I learned to dress for the body I have, not the body I wish I had.  I've learned to start looking in the mirror again.  I can only do it for very short periods, but it's a step.  And I've learned that the only thing holding me back in finding confidence in my appearance is me. 

I'm still working on all of these things, but I have come a long way.  So as we get ready to change the calendar, I'm choosing not to think of it as a new year.  My new year happened one day in June.  I made "resolutions" for myself and I've kept them.  But my work is not done.  I get another six months to work on those resolutions.

So I will go and help celebrate the changing of the calendar, but my New Year's Eve will be in June. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Homemade and from the Heart

I have three nieces and a nephew ranging in age from eight to sixteen.  While every gift I give is important to me, the gifts for these four are what matters most.  As their aunt, I don't want to let them down.

Many years ago, I used to go crazy with these expensive, impressive gifts.  We're talking the kinds of gifts that Santa should bring, not your aunt.  Did the love it?  Absolutely! 

But things changed and so did my gifts.  But their excitement never has. 

I watched as the 16 year old opened the books she didn't ask for but I got for her anyway.  She loved it.

I spent the afternoon with the 14 year old who after lunch and a basketball media guide that I got for free said he didn't need anything else.  His Christmas was complete.

I watched as the ten year old leapt to her feet so she could hold up the blanket I had personalize for her using felt.  The bonus was getting to snuggle with her under that blanket.

I listened to the eight year old tell me thank you for the little necklace that said "I love you to the moon and back."  I told her, "You know that's true.  I do love you to the moon and back."  She said, "I know.  I love you, too."

I enjoyed those days of the expensive gifts, but I enjoy these days even more.  In a world where so many people feel entitled, I am thankful for kids who are truly grateful for everything.  They would rather have a personalized blanket for $15 than some big, expensive thing.  They actually ask their grandmother for socks and underwear as gifts.  And they still say thank you and give hugs at the end of the evening.

These kids--they are my greatest blessing.  They have had my whole heart since the day they were born.  They are far from perfect.  They are sarcastic, argumentative, and sometimes challenging.  But they are also sweet, smart, wonderful people who are not materialistic and have the ability to see beyond the physical gift. 

I would like to take credit, but let's face it--their parents are doing something right. I'm just honored to be a part of their lives.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Changes

Christmas is upon us.  It is, perhaps, the most bi-polar holiday I can think of.

Low:  Self induced stress of trying to make the holiday special (dare I say perfect?) for those we love.

High:  Smiles from those same people when they open the gift.  Even the little ones have figured out that it's not about the gift, it's about the person behind the gift.

Low: Stress of the impending family gathering.  What can you do to make it all go smoothly?

High:  Knowing that no matter what, you get to be with the people you love most of all.

And for some of us, there is that unknown.  The unknown of what it will be like when you wake up on Christmas morning and your Christmas is already over.

I'm lucky.  I have done this for many years.  After this tremendous year of growth, I'm am beyond ready.  It may sound completely absurd, but I'm in such a new place.  I've had my share of concerns about getting gifts finished, but I'm in the middle of such a place of total calm that I'm actually looking forward to my Christmas day filled with emails and text messages.  But I'm also ready to really celebrate this year.  I can't even explain it.

At the same time, my energy is going to a place across town.  My mom and the man I think of as my dad lost a very special person.  My dad's mom passed away a few short months ago.  I don't get those moments of picking her up and taking her back to her apartment this year.  I missed shopping for her four pack of champagne that I always got her.

But this is so minor.  For the first time since I have known him, my dad will not be going to the retirement community for Christmas dinner with his mother.  My mom will not go and have her traditional prime rib dinner on Christmas day.  This has been their tradition since my mother met my dad when I was in junior high.  What do you do when all you have known is gone?

Christmas Eve, I will miss her.  I will miss the comments on Christmas lights as we drive to and from her son's home.  I will miss the sarcastic comments on life that really had a compliment or sweetness if you just really listened.  I will see her image in the rocking chair to the right of the fireplace and to the left of the stairs where she sat observing her great-grandchildren and reacting in surprise when she opened her four pack of champagne.  I can honestly say I loved that woman. 

But I know my dad and my mom will miss her even more.  They will wake up and do their present exchange.  They will do their own thing.  But I also know that around noon, their will be that moment where they feel like they should be getting ready to go somewhere else, but this year, there isn't anywhere else to go.

So much blabbering.  So much rambling.  Isn't that what a blog is for?  Please allow me to wrap this up.

There was a wonderful, sometimes difficult, but always caring woman named Marnie.  She had three kids.  One of her kids married a woman with two kids.  She accepted them.  She accepted the woman who married into this crazy family.  She grew to love them all, even the four great grandkids that she referred to as wild on multiple occasions. 

Most importantly, she raised an incredible man.  A man who is smart, kind, generous and compassionate.  He wasn't afraid to love a woman with two rather outspoken, perhaps obnoxious, kids.  And he wasn't afraid to love those kids, the daughter-in-law, and the four grandchildren he gained.  No surprise, we all love him right back!

So this year, my wish is this:  while my dad is facing his first Christmas without his mom, I hope he feels the love we have for him.  I hope he knows that we are missing her just as much as he is, just in a different way.  And we are incredibly grateful.  Without Marnie, I wouldn't have the man I consider to be my dad.

Christmas is about family.  Our family changed in a big way this year, but we are still a family. A strange, loud, sarcastic, caring, odd family.  But a family none the less.