Anxiety, Attitude Adjustments, Be Happy, Coping, Happiness, Loneliness, Negativity, Social Isolation, Support, Uncategorized

Start Taking Care of YOU!

Isolation, whether physical or emotional, can be a lonely place.  Sometimes we become isolated by choice, and other times, we are forced into isolation by our circumstances. When this happens, it’s important to make some changes so we don’t lose our minds!  I have known people who have isolated themselves socially.  They have become angry, negative and suspicious of everyone and everything.  It’s incredibly unhealthy.

For the last few months, I have found myself becoming more and more isolated because of circumstances.  I think women have a tendency to do this more than men, because we take on so many roles and feel responsible for everyone’s happiness and well being.  We are care givers by nature, so we put our needs and wants after those we care about.  I don’t like being a burden, nor do I like having anyone worry about or pity me, but sometimes we need someone to take care of us, and consider our needs. Between work, studying, being sick, going to doctor appointments, having medical tests, commuting, shopping for groceries, cooking dinner, and trying to pay bills on a teacher’s salary, I will admit, I have neglected to take the time to do things I enjoy.  It’s something I’ve struggled with my entire adult life, especially after I became a mother.  Al has been able to go to New York to see his mother and family, and last weekend he was in Miami with a couple of friends while I waited out Hurricane Nate with the dog.  Just to be clear, these trips were compliments of his family and friends, so it wasn’t like we were footing the bill for it.  If we could afford it, I would be making sure to take a trip here and there too, and make sure we have time for trips together!

I’ve never been one to take a spa day….it’s not really my thing. I will get an occasional pedicure, but can’t stand manicures (it’s a creepy feeling).  I’ve also never been one who likes to just sit around doing nothing.  There is always something free to do if money is an issue.  While I’m not a fan of large crowds because of my social anxiety, I do enjoy gatherings with friends and family.  I’m not a big shopper because it stresses me out to spend money, and I can’t find a lot that I like that fits my weird little body!  I like to work out, but my physical condition has limited this recently. While I live in “paradise,” a change of scenery would be nice occasionally.  A nice day or weekend road trip would be great……who doesn’t like a little road trip, even if you have no plans…..just hop in the car and go!

There are a lot of museums and historic places in our area.  My parents instilled in me a love of learning about the past, and an appreciation for art and culture. I need to take advantage of these places.  I also enjoy just sitting at a pub drinking cold beer, eating pizza, wings, or some Gulf shrimp, and talking with friends.  I need to be doing these things more often.  Even if I am tired from my work week, I need to make sure I am doing things to get a change of scenery, and to keep from feeling isolated.  I do not want to become one of those angry, bitter, suspicious people I talked about earlier.

I need to take better care of myself, and take better care of my own needs.  Every woman does.  If you don’t have someone to do things with, then go by yourself.  You will still have a change of scenery, and you may even learn something.  Don’t wait for someone to do it with you, or to make plans for you.  Just get up and go.  Social isolation isn’t healthy, and it’s up to you to do something about it.  Don’t let it take over, making you miserable. Take care of you first!  Your loved ones will appreciate it.

“Solitude, isolation, are painful things and beyond human endurance” —Jules Verne

 

 

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Attitude Adjustments, Be Happy, Be Kind, Happiness, Kindness, Loyalty, Married to My Best Friend, Negativity, Relationships, Respect, Self respect, Support, Uncategorized

Protecting and Defending Your Relationship

I have written about the struggle I’ve had standing up for myself….being a doormat.  I’ve carried a lot of hurt through life because of it.  I’m very sensitive, and I have felt that it is my biggest weakness.  However, I’ve also discovered that being sensitive is a strength!  I have compassion and empathy for others because I can understand the feelings of pain and of being disrespected, that someone can feel at the hands of mean people.  I am not afraid to stand up for those I love and care about.  Number one in this situation would be with my marriage.

Recently, an acquaintance of mine confided to me that her husband’s friends were coming between them, and they didn’t like the amount of time he was spending with her.  They felt that she had changed him, and they were trying to discredit her to him.  I felt sad for her, and wondered why her husband didn’t stand up for her.  Not that his friends aren’t important to him, but how much do they really care about him if they are disrespecting his wife and their marriage this way?  It’s petty and selfish.

A few years ago, I worked at a really horrible place, and dealt with some co-workers who disrespected Al, and my relationship with him.  While they may have just been trying to “protect” me, or explain to me what they might see as logic, my relationship with him was not their business. One person told me it would be over and done with in 6 months, without even having met him. Another questioned whether I knew him well enough to know what he likes to eat…..seems a bit trivial to me, but I did know what he liked to eat, among a lot of other things!  I really saw their “advice” and “concern” as nothing more than petty jealousy, because I would have less time to socialize with them.  But I would not allow them, or anyone else, to disrespect him, or our relationship.  I didn’t understand why they just couldn’t be happy for us. I made sure to let them know that I would not tolerate anyone disrespecting him. If they really cared for me, they would not do that.  Not only did they disrespect Al and our relationship, but they also disrespected me, by questioning my decisions, and my feelings for him.  Thank goodness I no longer work there, or with those horrible people! Once Al did get here, they weren’t very nice to him at all.  Glad I moved on! Since then, Al and I have both been told that we look and act happier and more at ease than they’ve seen us in a long time.  I knew that those people were jealous of our happiness, and couldn’t believe that anyone could be that happy.  Why should we have to prove it to them?  Why was our happiness a threat to them or anyone else? Why did we have to defend our happiness?

I don’t know why people feel the need to be mean, rude, or disrespectful, or why they would try to sow seeds of division in your relationship or marriage.  I try to respect the decisions of my loved ones.  I’ve learned that I won’t agree with everything my family, friends, or co-workers do, but I am still able to have compassion, respect, and understanding for them.  Their life is theirs, and not for me to interfere (as long as they are safe…..abuse would be a different story).  I still support them, and their quest for happiness and acceptance.  Isn’t that what we all want?  Don’t we all deserve that?

In our marriage vows, we promised to love, honor, cherish, and protect each other. Actually I remember saying we would be each other’s “biggest protector.”  That did not just mean physical protection.  It also meant that we would defend each other’s character, honor, and dignity.  My husband and the support I get from him in our marriage make me strong….strong enough to stand up and defend it (and him).

If you are married, or in a committed relationship, protect it!  Protect each other.  Don’t allow anyone to disrespect you, your significant other, or your commitment to each other.  Like I’ve said in other posts, there are so many mean people and unhappy things in this world.  Lean on each other because then you’ll know that at least you will always have one person who has your back!  If you don’t, your partner will feel it, and know that your commitment isn’t genuine.  And if you are one of those individuals who feel the need to try to place doubt or uncertainty, or are just simply unkind……stop.  It’s not your place.  It’s not your business.  It’s incredibly selfish.  Let others be happy.  Let others live their lives.  Be happy for them.  And if you can’t be happy for them, leave them alone.

 

 

Attitude Adjustments, Be Happy, Be Kind, Being Strong, Fear, Happiness, Kindness, Negativity, Respect, Self respect, Support, Uncategorized

Accomplishing the “Impossible”

I accomplished something yesterday that I never thought I could.  I have wanted to attempt a career in real estate for many years.  I have bought and sold my own homes, after fixing them up, several times.  Now, don’t get me wrong….teaching is where my heart is, and always will be, but teaching is just not making ends meet these days.  I have to have at least a side hustle, or a plan to supplement our income.  If it turns into something full time, that will be great!  I will keep teaching until I feel the need to walk away.

I used to toss around the idea of real estate occasionally, and was met by the same comments from negative people, or people who felt the need to make me feel like I wasn’t good enough……..”Yeah, but it’s commission only,” “The test is really hard….are you sure you’re smart enough?” “There’s a lot of realtors out there!”  “It’s not possible.  You don’t have time!”  I know it’s commission only, but with any business where you work for yourself, it’s basically based on how much you sell…..commission only!  Yet, plenty of business owners and contractors do quite well. Yes, the test is hard, and I didn’t know if I was smart enough or not, but if I didn’t try, how would I ever know?  And yes, there are a lot of realtors out there, so the competition is tough, and some people aren’t cut out for it. But again, if I didn’t try, how would I ever know?  And, it would be possible if I made the time, and that’s what I did.

I finally decided last summer to start taking a class.  It was tough!  It was online, so I had to pace myself, and be disciplined to read and study every day.  My husband was very supportive, and cheered me on, keeping my spirits up, even when I felt defeated. I spent my whole summer focused on it, and finally took the test yesterday…….

When I went into the test center, I was very nervous.  I didn’t sleep well the night before.  I had heard that the there was about a 50/50 chance of passing it.  I went through all of the security procedures to make sure I am who I said I am, they checked my jacket pockets for cheating devices, looked at my calculator to make sure it didn’t have any way of typing letters or words, gave me the directions, took my photo, and then led me into the testing room.  As I read through the questions, I was telling myself that I should probably try to memorize a few, because I was counting on failing it.  I thought I would be back in 30 days to retake it.  That’s what happens to you when you are worn down by those who doubt you, question your character, intelligence, or motives, or are constantly pessimistic or negative.  Even though I try to always be positive and encouraging toward others, I have let those feelings of doubt and negativity wear down my own self esteem. Going through life not feeling good enough, smart enough, or pretty enough is tough.  I’ve never wanted to be the cause of making someone else feel that way……..

When I finished the test, and walked out of the testing room, the proctor smiled and said, “Congratulations!”  I was shocked!  I said, “I PASSED????”  She said I did, showed me the verification she had printed out, and asked how many times I had taken it.  I said this was the first time.  She said, “Oh baby, didn’t your instructor tell you that nobody passes it the first time?  We have people come in 4, 5, and 6 times to take it!  You did great!”  I was shaking!  All of that hard work had paid off! Here I am, at 52 years old, taking on something completely new……oh, and with a brain tumor too!  I did it!

On the drive home, I was fighting back tears, telling myself I didn’t fail, and I’m NOT a failure!  I had planned on keeping it together when I told Al, but as soon as I walked in the door, I burst into tears, saying, “I did it!  I passed!” And you know what?  He was just as happy as I was!  He was proud of me, hugging me, laughing, kissing me, telling me over and over how proud he was of me.  I haven’t had a lot of people tell me that in my life.  It means a LOT to hear it.

It may not seem like such a big endeavor for some of you, but I know of people who have completely given up on this test.  It was a huge deal for me!  I know that with determination, hard work, and a support system, I can accomplish what I want.  We all have our dreams in life.  Let’s support each other in our endeavors.  Let’s not make each other feel like we aren’t good enough…..for ANY reason.  Encouragement goes a long way.  Let’s do that for each other….in a world where negativity, jealousy, divisiveness, spite, anger, resentfulness, and hatred seem to prevail, let’s help build each other up to accomplish our dreams and goals.  It doesn’t take much to give an encouraging word………and wouldn’t you rather be spreading good cheer, and positive vibes, instead of hurting someone because of your own doubts and insecurities?

Tonight, I can finally say, “I did it!”  I accomplished something I didn’t think I could do. What is it that you want to do, and what (or who) is holding you back?  You can do this!

Attitude Adjustments, Be Happy, Be Kind, Being Strong, Coping, Fear, Happiness, Invisible Illness, Just Breathe, Passion for Living, Support, Uncategorized

Coping Through Fear and Uncertainty

The last couple of months I have been dealing with an issue that I have been afraid to write about.  Actually, up until a couple of weeks ago, every time I talked about it, I would cry, but I am learning to deal with this more comfortably, or as comfortably as possible, so maybe writing about it will be therapeutic…..I have a brain tumor.  THAT is a very difficult thing to say (or write).

After a couple of years of dealing with vertigo off and on (mostly when I was tired, or the lighting was low), headaches, tinnitus, balance issues, and noticing some hearing loss last school year, I finally have answers, following some medical tests.  Our trip to Europe seemed to intensify the symptoms…..I guess from the pressure during the flight?  I tried to pass it off as fatigue or jet lag, but deep down, I knew something wasn’t right.  I felt horrible most of the time we were there.  After we got back, the symptoms didn’t go away.  On July 25th, I was diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma, which is a tumor on the main nerve going to my ear.  My husband was in New York visiting his family at the time of my diagnosis, so I was alone, and very afraid when I found out.  I told him over the phone……  I called my three children, and cried while I told them.  They’ve all been very sweet and understanding, very supportive, and patient with my emotions.  I emailed my four sisters, and they were very supportive. They told me not to worry because they would worry enough for me.  I texted my friends because I didn’t want to cry while telling them.  I texted my pastor.

Basically, this thing has probably been with me for awhile.  It’s not malignant, and it’s very slow growing. For now, it’s small (1.7 cm), and we are lucky to have caught it at this stage.  It’s obviously big enough to be causing some serious problems……….headaches, vertigo, balance, tinnitus, pressure, hearing loss, noise sensitivity, fatigue…….but we have chosen to watch it to see if it is still growing, and if so, at what pace.  If I were younger,  and if the location were different, the approach may be different.  Two of the main concerns are total hearing loss and facial paralysis (it pushes against the facial nerve), and of course, if it is left completely untreated, it can cause death.  It does not grow into the brain, as a malignant tumor would.  As it grows, it pushes against the brain and brain stem.

It’s a rare condition, but I actually have two friends who have had this same thing.  Their tumors were larger, and they were younger, and they each had different treatments. Each one was left with problems resulting from the surgery…..facial paralysis, total hearing loss, epilepsy…..and have a lot of the same symptoms that I have which surgery and/or radiation didn’t eliminate.  My doctors want to wait to see if it is growing before making the decision to go in after it.  If I can learn to manage the symptoms I have, and it isn’t growing, my symptoms may never get worse…..but they won’t get any better.  If I have surgery and/or radiation, there is a risk that these symptoms may get worse.

I have had to do some soul searching throughout this.  I was very depressed at first.  I have had to count my blessings though. There was so much uncertainty before the diagnosis.  Was it MS?  Parkinsons?  Cancer? No, no, and no, and now I have an answer, even if it is scary.  I’ve done a lot of research, talked to my doctor, and also consulted with my friends who have been through this. I’ve decided I have to accept what I have in front of me, make adjustments to my lifestyle, position myself in places where I can hear, try to avoid loud noises (my principal will give me a heads up before those screeching fire alarms go off during drills…..that feels like being stabbed in the ear drum with an ice pick!), get up more slowly, don’t turn too fast, take aspirin for my headaches, be careful while walking or standing, especially in low lighting (the vertigo and balance problems are extreme for me in low lighting), fall asleep with the television or fan on to drown out the tinnitus, get plenty of rest, do more yoga, avoid stress, etc. etc. etc. I definitely don’t have time for anything petty, negative, or dramatic.  I’ve never liked those situations anyway, but now I have a legitimate reason to avoid it and brush it aside!  My health depends on it.

I have decided that if I am to completely come to terms with this, I need to make peace with it.  This is the best way for me to stay positive and be able to face it….as I always do…..with humor. The tumor needed a name.  I thought about Tammy, but since that is one of my sisters, I knew it wouldn’t go over very well (she agreed)! So I have named her Tina, and damn it, Tina and I will be friends, whether she likes it or not!  My children and Al make fun of me for my hearing loss, but that’s okay.  What I think I hear is usually way more entertaining than what they’re saying!  For instance, today at work, they announced that the latchkey program would be meeting in the “portable.”  Well, I heard “toilet bowl.”  What I heard was a lot funnier!!!!

I am so thankful to my children, Lily,  Evan, and Grace, who check on me regularly (even when Evan is in the middle of the ocean on his ship in the Navy, he checks on his mama), keeping my spirits up.  I am thankful to my doctors and modern medicine! I am thankful to my wide circle of friends from California, Kansas, Oklahoma, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, Alabama, Florida Europe, and South America…….it makes me emotional thinking about how much support they’ve given me! I am thankful for my sisters, who keep me laughing with their quirky emails (I’m not the only quirky one), my cousin Danny (who happened to be the first person I told because he just happened to reach out to me after I got my diagnosis).  I’m thankful for my church family who has prayed for me, and has checked on me when we have been able to get there.  I’m thankful for my friends at work who have kept my “little” secret until I have been strong enough to talk about it, and have helped me. I’m thankful for my little dog, Andy, who snuggles with me, giving me comfort and kisses! And most of all, I am thankful for my dear sweet husband, Al.  I know that he is probably more worried and scared than he lets on.  But he is so strong for me.  I’ve lost count how many times I have fallen, and he patiently helps me back up, making sure I’m okay and steady on my feet before letting me go.  Falling like a two year old is very humbling!  Through my headaches, emotions, and all of the financial strain I’ve put on us with this…..he is my ROCK. We may have found each other late in life, but I know that I couldn’t go through this without him.  I don’t have my parents anymore, but I have some very good people in my life!  I am the luckiest girl in the world…….

Life is a party……face it head on, embrace it, and enjoy every minute of it!

Be Kind, Happiness, Kindness, Loyalty, Relationships, Respect, Support, Uncategorized

What Kind of Friend Are You?

Sincere.  True.  Real.  Faithful.  Loyal.  Genuine.  Unpretentious.  Righteous…..

Fake.  Phony.  Insincere. Bogus.  Artificial.  Fraudulent.  Bitter.  Jealous…….

Which character traits sound the most appealing?  Those which show true concern, love, friendship, and compassion, or those that show cruelty, anger, resentment, and hatred? We have all known people on both sides of this.  I have dealt with many people who pretended to be my “friends,” or pretended to care, only to feel used or tossed aside when I could do nothing more for them, or if they saw me as some sort of threat.  I’ve also been blessed to have people in my life who have shown true compassion and care toward me. Whether it is the recent weather emergency here in Florida, an illness, the loss of a family member or friend, or a difficult job situation, I know exactly who I can or can’t count on for kind words, a helping hand, a hug, or just a shoulder to lean on.  I also know who just doesn’t give a damn.  Let’s avoid those schmucks!

Recently, I have been very fortunate to see the good in a lot of people.  Stepping up to be my friend, offer support, and showing true concern to someone who is struggling speaks volumes about that person’s character.  To know that I have people in my life who truly care about me (and Al) is extremely comforting, and we would do the same for them. Family, friends, friends who become family…….I am loyal, and I don’t forget when someone is good to me.  I also don’t forget when someone treats me badly.  I’m not vindictive or petty, but I remember how people have made me feel, and it isn’t very easy to open that door again once it has been shut.  There’s a pretty good chance that I will keep someone at arm’s length if they hurt me or someone I love.  I will not be rude or unkind, but it’s hard to forget feeling hurt, especially if you have been there for them in times of need.

What kind of person do you want to be?  A true friend who is loving, kind, and supportive?  Or one who is insincere, artificial, and selfish? I know who I strive to be (not always successful!) and I’m glad I have some very real and loyal people in my life.

Be real.  Be kind.  Be sincere.  Be supportive.  Be a friend.

Be Kind, Being Strong, Coping, Fear isn't weakness, Invisible Illness, Just Breathe, Loyalty, Support, Uncategorized

It’s Okay To Be Weak

Have you ever known someone who is very good about keeping composed, and holding everything together?  Some people always seem to be the strong presence in difficult situations.  You wonder how they manage at times.  I have been this person most of my adult life.  I don’t let on that I am struggling.  I make a joke to try to lighten their mood (or mine).  When my mother died, I showed very little emotion outside of the funeral. At the time, my ex husband was living in New Mexico, and I was alone with 3 children in Kansas.  Our family dog had died the previous day, and it was also the week of Thanksgiving.  It was a really crappy week!  After the funeral, I had to be the strong one for my kids, and hold it together.  I didn’t want them to be afraid if their mama was upset.  I didn’t feel that I could let my children or my co-workers know how much I was hurting. In fact, the day after my mother died, I went to work, and only told two people what had happened!  I just didn’t want to let on to anyone that I was hurting or afraid, and I taught my class that day without ever letting on that anything was wrong.  I couldn’t fall apart.

I’ve been there to support friends, co-workers, and a few family members if they’ve needed me.  Or, I’ve been supportive of them in their goals, dreams, educations, careers, relationships, raising kids, etc……just being there……being a friend.  One thing I’m not good at though, is asking for help or support when I need it.  It’s very hard. It makes me feel selfish.  It embarrasses me.

This week, I had a moment that I’ve always considered “weak” for me.  I was in my classroom with a colleague after school, talking about school things.  The conversation turned to something personal, and I fell apart!  I burst into tears.  I sobbed.  I think my friend/colleague was surprised because she hadn’t seen me that upset before.  Everything I’ve been dealing with caught up with me, and no matter how many positive posts I put on social media to try to keep my spirits up, I just couldn’t hold it together at that moment.  I was tired.  I was hurting.  I was tired of being strong.  During the conversation, another friend came in, and they sat there with me, letting me vent and cry, while they hugged me, and told me it was okay to lean on them, and that everyone needs to feel safe enough to do that sometimes.  Things have been very hard for me lately, and I guess my emotions were like a pressure cooker.  While I have the best husband/friend in the world, I guess I needed to know that I can also lean on someone else for support sometimes.  Al is still, and always will be my ROCK.

Of course, at the end of the conversation, my friends and I hugged again, and being me, I had to make a silly joke to make everyone laugh!  One of the friends said that it never fails….Lauri will always try to cheer someone up, even through her own tears.  She said it was a “gift.”  I have never thought of it like that.  I do believe that the cure to a lot of painful situations is laughter, but I never realized that my sarcasm or self deprecating humor was a gift.  That was nice to hear.

I have learned that it’s okay to lean on others.  I will still struggle with it, because it’s just not like me to show that type of emotion very often, but I know it’s okay, and no one will think I’m weak for doing so.  I’ve also learned through this health issue who really cares about me (for those who know the specifics….for others, I am not really ready to talk about it much yet, but I will at some point). Phone calls, texts, emails, prayers, good vibes………it’s meant the world to me.  It’s been a huge struggle for me, and it’s nice to know that I don’t always have to be the strong one all the time.  I have people in my life who love me, and really do care.  They’ve shown me.

So even though sadness is a part of life, it can be a positive experience in that you learn who you can trust, and who truly cares and will be there for you. They make you realize you aren’t alone. They make it okay to not always be the strong one for everyone else’s sake.  They make it okay to be “weak” sometimes.

Be Kind, Coping, Don't Judge, Invisible Illness, Support, Uncategorized

Invisible Battles

“Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about….be kind!”  I’ve seen this quote many times, and can still remember the first time I saw it.  It was on another teacher’s desk.  I read it, and it stayed with me.  We all have battles that no one sees.  They may be emotional, personal, physical, or mental.

I saw a couple grumbling about a healthy looking young man parking in a handicapped parking spot, but he had the proper tag allowing him to do so.  I guess his handicap wasn’t apparent.  Maybe he was perfectly healthy, and driving his elderly grandfather’s car, but maybe he wasn’t.

Not all conditions or illnesses are apparent.  Arthritis, lupus, cancer, diabetes, tumors, depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, fibromyalgia, OCD,  hard of hearing….all of these conditions may or may not be apparent, but each one impacts the person’s life each and every day, whether we see it or not.  As someone who has had some scary health problems that haven’t always been visible, I’ve been told to “Get over it,” “You’re not sick,” or my favorite….(from one of my least favorite people)…”Liven up!”  Feeling pain from arthritis in my back, knees, hands, and now my feet has been excruciating at times, and I’ve been dealing with that for most of my life. Having social anxiety is also very difficult (I think we used to just be considered “shy”), but I just have to deal with it.

It’s not for us to decide how someone deals with these conditions.  It’s important to offer support and understanding to anyone who may be struggling.  We don’t walk in their shoes, and don’t get the right to condemn or criticize them for the way they’re coping and managing, or criticize them for where they park.  Each day is different, and there are highs and lows.  I’ve known people who seem perfectly happy and healthy reveal that they suffer from clinical depression or bi-polar.  They’re just really good at concealing it in public, or are under the care of a physician who has found the right treatment for them.

Recently, I’ve been dealing with some serious physical health issues.  A year ago, I also went through something very serious.  Ten years ago, I went through some other health issues.  None of these are/were obvious by looking at me.  I’m also very good about pretending that I’m okay, and making jokes about my conditions.  But sometimes it really is scary.  Sometimes we just need understanding and not judgement.  Sometimes we need a hug.  Sometimes I just really want my mother.  I’m fortunate that I have supportive people in my life, and not ones who judge or criticize me or how I deal with pain or illness.

So if that perfectly healthy looking young man parks in a handicapped parking space, don’t judge.  He may be epileptic, or have a bad back, or maybe had recent surgery. Remember, everyone is fighting a battle that we may not see…..be kind.