Friday, September 12, 2014

Shadows of My Heart....

Every day will be a new journey.  Something will come up that I haven't had to deal with before and I will have to learn to operate in this new world with that item.  Every day is a rollercoaster of emotions...frustration, anger, joy and exuberance...all rolled into one big happy mess that is my new life.  But I'm alive, and I am getting healthier each day and I am so very blessed to have my awesome husband/warden/best friend by my side and Shadow, my faithful furry companion on my other side.  With that being said, I will still update this blog at least weekly with medical/stroke/rehab/life stuff...but I'm going to also open up my other blog for the passions that are on my heart and my new I invite you all to follow me there as well at Blessings And Dreams.

Rehab Ain't for Sissies...

Peace, Love & Wags!

Friday, September 5, 2014

My new road map.....

I have made a major breakthrough at Boundary School.  For the past week or so, I was letting some bullies that I had in my world send me into paralysis and control my recovery.  I knew that I was "safe" as long as I was at home with Shadow, but the minute that I ventured anywhere outside of our home or online in some social media arenas, I would see the bullies out of the corner of my eye just waiting to jump on me and drag me back down and back to the beginning.  I spent an hour with Dr. S the other day practically in tears because of the defeat that I felt from these bullies.  But ya know what, I win! 

I was hunkered down in my safety dome knowing in my inner soul that what I was creating and doing and achieving was magnificent, although different from what I had been doing, it was magnificent in the terms that it was being created by a TWO TIME STROKE SURVIVOR, a daughter of the King of Kings.  That's the part that makes it magnificent.  Not because it looks cool, or is hot and trendy, but because I am beating this monster.  But then the bullies would start to linger around the edges and the main one, the Demon of Doubt, would start bellowing about how "you ain't done squat....just go back to what you know...ain't nobody got time for this new stuff..." blah, blah, blah...and the tirade would continue until I literally was in a paralyzed state sitting at my desk wondering what I was doing. 

Then, Dr. S pointed out that I was using avoidance as a method of coping.  I was avoiding showing the new stuff to a lot of people.  I was avoiding making hard decisions and announcements to the bulk of my customers.  I was avoiding some people because I didn't have the strength to say, "enough is enough.  I am tired of your drama." Even though I had stated those decisions and boundaries privately to those in my inner circle.  Those in my inner circle were supportive and yet, I still had a hard time saying "no" to those outside of it.  Then, I would beat myself up after I had said, "yes" to something that I knew darn good and well that I could not do.  I didn't say "yes" to challenge myself, I know if I absolutely HAD to do the and death situation, I could, but at what detriment?   I had to let folks know that there were new boundaries.  I was living with the Bully of Other's Expectations.  I feared that people would expect the same stuff out of me as I had produced previously.  But I just can't do that.  It's not in my heart to do that.  It physically hurts me to do that on some instances.  This left me paralyzed a lot recently too. 

But then, I spent one night just truly praying about things.  Asking God where I needed to go, what I needed to do.  Do I close my business for good?  Which direction do I go?  Remember when I said that I get lost a lot when I'm driving?  I get lost a lot no matter what.  Even sitting perfectly still, my brain works overtime and now after the damage from two strokes, there are still some roads in my mind that are blocked and I don't realize how to get around them....that if I just go up one more mile and over a smidge, in my brain that I have a clear path to where I need to go.

Finally, yesterday, I woke up feeling physically better than I had felt in the past week, more rested, more alert.  And I did the one thing that has held me paralyzed for so long.  I announced to the world (or at least my little section of the world) loud and clear, my boundaries for my business.  I left no room for self-interpretation (or at least hope I didn't).  I left no wiggle room where folks could squeeze in and say, "but you said, xyz so didn't that mean it was okay for me?"  It was probably one of the scariest things I've done so far in Boundary School.  Because even though I knew that I had my inner circle and I have God on my side and even if every single one of the 2800+ fans that I have on my social media site was to rebel and say, "Well forget you, we're going to play in another sandbox."  being a people-pleaser, it was scary to have to say, "no more".  But I did it.  I outlined the way I was going to proceed from here on out.  The boundaries that I am setting. 

Only a handful of the 2800 have left to go to another sandbox, and ya know what, I'm okay with that.  Because I know that they were the "dirty kids in the pool" know what I'm talking about.  There are always those kids at the public pool (at least there was when I was growing up) that during the summer, it was as if their mother sent them to the pool to swim instead of taking a bath all summer.  When they got in the water it was like the water changed from a crisp, cool blue to a weird yellowish green color (may be that some of them took this opportunity of immersion to also pee, but who knows)...but we were always given "the eye" from the guardian we were with to let us know to stay out of the area of the water that the dirty kids were in for fear of being drowned (these are the same kids that had no idea of how to act in public) by one of the fools or catching some horrid water-borne disease that our guardians didn't know any better about back in the 70s and 80s...

Those folks that have left were the "fit-throwers" and high maintenance beyond the point of stressful...those folks were the ones that I would have to redo orders for 3 or 4 times because the bow just wasn't angled right or the color of purple was just a tad shade more blue than red.  Didn't matter that the bow was SUPPOSED to be angled or that the color of purple was what they specifically picked out from my color deck of over several thousand colors.  They didn't like it.  Re-do it...and by the way, those same folks were the ones that would want a discount and it to be redone with no further compensation.  As if it was a huge inconvenience to them to have to wait another minute for you to get it magically fixed.  Good riddance and safe travels to them.

My heart is calm now.  I feel more at peace.  The paralysis has lifted.  God has started drawing me a new road map, complete with a color legend and a working compass.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

God has a sense of humor....

God has a sense of humor.  He really does.  Remember when I said I was feeling under the weather last week?  Well, I had also been overextending my boundaries and slightly tiptoeing close to the lines that I set and I think that He decided to pull the carpet straight out from under me and remind me of my limitations.  Not only did I NOT start feeling better, I started feeling worse!  First a flare-up of rheumatic fever (first one in a long time) and then, what I thought was allergies ends up with me in a deep sweaty-feverish sleep and a cough that makes me sound like a walrus.  I totally get it.  Don't even play with the lines.  Look the opposite direction and proceed to the other side of the street.  Do not pass not collect $200.  Just stay away from the boundary lines. 

Now I'm going to jug some cough syrup and wait on the doctor's office to call me back while I snuggle with Shadow. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Truly, madly...deeply....not going on your guilt trip

Entering week 3 of Boundary School...or "my new normal" or whatever it is going to be called...Ya know that feeling you get when you see somebody that you TRULY, madly, ENJOY being around and how you get all giddy and happy inside?  And when you know that you are going to see the person on a particular day you absolutely cannot wait for that day to arrive?  Now take that giddy, happy, can't wait feeling and apply it to my workshop.  I have cut a LOT of the junk out that I used to make.  Now, mind you, it wasn't junk, it was just items that I was making because customers wanted them or because people suggested that it would be a good "booth filler"...NOT because that was what made my heart soar or what I enjoyed or what God really wanted me to employ my gifts and talents doing.  This week, I can truly say that I absolutely cannot wait each day to get to my work.  I enjoy it.  Each day, there is not the long list of "Oh my goodness I have to make 10 bazillion of item xyz for this show I'm doing in 2 months".  Nope.  Each day it is, I am working on "THIS", whatever it is...and if that is the only thing I get done all day in my workshop, then so be it.  But it is done with joy and happiness and to the absolute best of my ability and with attention to the little details.  Not just assembly-lined together like a bunch of Made in a SweatShop type of things. 

I've even been under the weather a bit the past few days and still coming into my workshop has been peaceful and stress-RELIEVING.  Used to be, if I didn't feel well, coming to work would make my headaches worse and my stomach knot up more because I knew I wasn't working at my premium speed and I would stress about quantity.  Not anymore.  I don't care about quantity.  I may have only 1 item in my booths at my stores when I re-open after Affair of the Heart, but by golly, it is gonna be beautiful, it is gonna be awesome and amazing and it will be done well.  The store owners may not like that, but it will be what it will be.  I am constantly getting harped on that I "need more inventory".  I expect that complaint anymore because I've heard it so much.  And I used to let it weigh me down because I felt like I was failing them.  I may very well be failing their expectations.  But I don't have to answer to that.  If they are not happy with it, then I suppose they can ask me to leave, and I will oblige.  It would be sad.  But it would be understandable.  And fair.  This is a part of my life that I am reconciling right now.  I'm working through the "guilt trips" that I've been on with outsiders and frankly these are not the types of vacations I enjoy.  I've already cut a few of these trips out of my life, but there are still a few others that need to have their "agendas" checked before I board that ship for that voyage again.  In the meantime, I have a creation to go work on....

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Yes life stinks, literally, some days.....

It's been a rough week.  Just calling a spade a spade.  I know some people that even if it had been a rough week that they'd be like, "Oh things are going well, life is beautiful and my farts don't stink."  Well, it's been rough and sometimes mine do stink....and sometimes it is rotten egg stink.  I'm having a hard time not comparing the "new" me to the "old" me.  As in, not comparing, the pre-stroke Susan to define the post-stroke Susan.  And likewise, I'm having a hard time not allowing others perceptions of me currently to define the post-stroke Susan. 

Pre-Stroke Susan was not a healthy, happy Susan.  I was stressed, busy, bouncing a million directions a million miles an hour.  It was just not achieving anything worthwhile.  I was constantly a "yes ma'am, of course ma'am" person.  I was not at peace, at all.  I rarely slept.  It was a hot mess of ugliness! Post-Stroke Susan is trying to build the life that alleviates the mess, hot or cold.  It's hard right now because, yes, I do have clearance to drive, but I get lost because it taxes my brain some days.  I do not have scheduled physical therapy or occupational therapy sessions any longer but I still am not as strong or as coordinated as I once was.  So on the outside, especially to 95% of the people, I look better, I sound better, because I'm not stuttering or slurring, so I MUST be better.  And I am better.  Just different.  Different than the pre-stroke Susan that I keep catching myself and allowing others to compare me to.  I will never be back to that, and that's fair.  When I do regain everything: strength, stamina, and focus, it could be up to a year away...this is a marathon, not a sprint but I am setting the boundary to not allow myself to go back to the mess.  And That's Fair.

My business is going to change drastically.  I'm already starting to see the changes both physically and mentally and the percentage of change makes my heart beat race because I know that it will be a shock AND a lot of work.  But it's going to be ok.   My heart races because I'm allowing myself to compare Pre-Stroke life to Post-Stroke.  Pre-Stroke, I would know that when I reopen my business on October 24th, that I would be totally and completely stocked with inventory for that entire 3 day show and that it'd be magical and wonderful and I'd have beautiful displays that I've been dreaming up and blah, blah, blah...and then I'd take the Monday after the show off and then on Tuesday I'd start turning my stores into their new magical selves that they are going to be.  And because I've been comparing pre-stroke self to my new self, I was feeling the tension and the stress ALREADY and we are still over 60 days away.  I cannot do that.  I refuse to let my business run on tension and stress.  If it does not make me happy and I do not feel peace about it, it's not happening here at the DogHouse anymore. 

As I was talking to Tommy last night and telling him about some things that have been on my heart and mind the past few days, I admitted that I know that physically, that 4 day weekend of the re-grand opening is going to wipe me out.  (I say 4 days because the setup day is a full-day of hard, physical work.  Followed by 3 days of sales.)  I admitted out loud, and it was tough, that I probably will be totally useless physically for the week following the sale and that my stores may or may not get stocked that may be another week or so after the show.  I have to accept that AND I have to set the boundary to NOT let other people's expectations, based on Pre-Stroke me, influence the amount of rest I allow my body when I need it. 

 When I talked to him about worrying about inventory and if I'd have enough for the show, he said, "ya know what, if we run out of inventory, we'll stand there and give out hugs.  We'll make a sign that says, Hug a 2 time Stroke Survivor! and that's what we'll do all day."  It makes me laugh to think about doing that, but he always knows how to make me laugh.  And it made me realize that just being there is good enough.  It has to be good enough.  And That's Fair. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Lost & Forgetful

Want to know the scariest thing about my life right now?  It's not the fact that I fear having another stroke, or the zombies or any of the other stuff that could scare me.  The thing that is the scariest in my world as I set about rebuilding a new normal is getting lost.  I fear that my family is gonna turn on the tv one day and see a "not so Silver Alert" with a description of my 15 year old minivan and myself roaming the countryside in search of something that I thought should be there.  In all seriousness though, I do get lost...a LOT.  More than just the "dumb blonde" kind of lost too.  For instance, yesterday I was going to a friend's home.  I've been to this friend's house at least a good bazillion times before in the past.  She only lives about 5 miles from me.  Before I knew it, I was seriously wandering up and down the back roads near Guthrie trying to figure out where I was and where I needed to be. 

Of course, any good Okie knows that these types of roads are not marked with street signs at intersections, so I couldn't even call somebody and say, "I'm at crossroads ABC and do I get to SPOT W?"  This is when panic sets in.  True, pure panic.  Because even if I call somebody, the only description I can give them is "a field on the left...a field on the right...oh wait...the field on the right as 14 black cows in it..."  And because my lovely van is 15 years old, don't think the compass works on the dash.  Nope.  It went out a long time ago.  As a general rule, I normally know which direction is North, South, East and West.  But when I get lost, I seriously lose all orientation.  I remember last year after stroke1 that I had exited another friend's neighborhood the wrong way and truly could not figure out where I was.  I sat at the little pull off to an oil-well (ya know the partial driveway things that lead into a field) for at 10 minutes before I called Tommy for help.  Of course he was at work so he couldn't help me because I had no nearby street signs to give him.  After 30 minutes of driving, I found out I was literally just 3 miles north and 2 miles west of my house.  I had no clue of that the entire time. This part of my brain has just died. 

The other thing that scares me and that I am trying to figure out a good way to resolve is my forgetfulness.  It's on everything it seems.  I forget to do tasks around the house (like charge the iPad, or move the laundry from the washer to the dryer...which I know is normal, but I have to seriously concentrate on these things to keep from forgetting them).  I forget to take my medicine some mornings.  Even though it is sitting in the same spot every morning.  I have been known to forget it.  This morning I got up and got dressed and walked around my house for 20 minutes and most of the time I kept thinking, "I've gotta get new shoes these are fitting weird" and then I look down and I only have one sock on one of course the other shoe is gonna fit weird.    I've tried setting reminders on my phone, but they are too easy to turn off or just ignore and they disappear after about a minute and I don't even know where they hide after they pop up on my screen that first time.  Couldn't tell ya.  My phone is like a big black hole to me.  I've tried writing notes to myself, but have yet to find a good place to put them.  The bathroom mirror doesn't work.  I've tried the computer monitor but what happens is I take them off of the monitor and set them on the desk next to me to do "after I finish whatever I'm doing at the computer" and then get up and leave the pile of reminder papers sitting on the desk.  Only to come back the next day to a pile of stuff that I've forgotten to do.  I swear I am experiencing some type of earlier dementia or something.  It's super scary. 

These are reasons why I stick close to my home.  I don't like the idea of being lost in the middle of nowhere or forget where I am going.  One time in the past year after Stroke1, I was driving down 39th street in OKC.  I got to the intersection of 39th and Tulsa and was at the stoplight.  As I sat there I looked at the street sign that said, Tulsa on it.  I suddenly had a panic attack because I couldn't figure out how I had gotten to Tulsa.  Why was I in Tulsa?  Didn't remember where I was going.  I pulled off onto the side street (Tulsa) and had to call Tommy because I was in a true state of panic because I didn't know where I was. 

This dear friends, is StrokeBrain at it worst and it happens at least once or twice a day.  Some days it is little stuff....some days, it is big, wandering through the fields, talking to the cows stuff.  And it's scary. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Queen wears XL panties....

Boundary School has been going on for a week now and for the most part it's going ok.  Not great, not super...just ok.  I almost think that this part of Rehab is harder than the Physical Therapy part of rehab.  At least with PT I could see improvements each day as I went, whether it was able to move a different way that I previously couldn't or go a little bit further on the treadmill, or whatever and usually once that improvement was achieved, then the next day it only got better and built on itself.  Boundary School, not so much.  One day may be full of great achievements and understanding and living within the limitations and the next day may be full of overstepping the boundaries and not knowing any limitations to the point of exhaustion.  Which is a weird thing, this stroke brain of mine.  It gets exhausted super easy doing what most would think were menial tasks. Doctors say it could take up to a year before it all comes back at full-strength.  Doesn't it realize I've got stuff I need to do?  Ain't nobody got a year to hang out and sit on the bench for a year.  But I'm trying to be patient.

One thing that has been a freeing experience during boundary school is the fact that I'm taking this time to get our house in order. We are decluttering and getting rid of stuff that we do not absolutely love or need.  This is so hard as I argue with myself about "well you could just keep it and use it for XYZ later" and then I have to remind myself that I haven't done XYZ with it to this point, am I ever really going to do it.  For instance, Tommy & I cleaned out a cabinet in the kitchen over the weekend.  It was one of those kitchen cabinets that you don't go into because you are afraid that you really won't be able to get everything back in and you aren't truly sure what all is in there.  What we, among other things,  found was 8 large serving platters.  Not all the same size or shape, but still...we are a family of 2 + 1 furbaby.  Do we really need 8 large serving platters like you'd use for a family of 4+ or at the holidays if you were entertaining?  Absolutely not.  Sadly, I can recall where and when and from whom we received each one.  Fortunately I am able to disassociate the person with the thing and say, "out it goes"....kinda like the queen in Alice in Wonderland said, "off with their heads". 

For the most part, every person that has stopped to visit (and we have had more visitors lately, which I love!!) has been very excited to see the house and see what changes are being made.  A handful are a bit shocked.  One or two mutter negatives like, "we'll see how long this lasts" or say things like, "I can't believe you have kept it this way without dragging your business back into the main areas".  That's their issue.  Not mine.  And each time one of those negatives is said, I have to remind myself, although it is hard not to take it personally when they say those things, that the person saying it has to deal with those expectations and what they do or do not choose to embrace.  They obviously cannot embrace a change and understand that things are changed permanently and this is the "new" way things are going to be, always.  Not for a few weeks.  Not for a month.  ALWAYS.  This has to be the new constant because it is one of the things that anchors peace in my life that currently has a lot of changes swirling around in the other areas.  I have to have a safe-haven from the storm of rehab. 

It is hurtful though when those things are said because it is almost like the person is taunting me and saying, "I don't really believe that you can do it.  Heck, I didn't believe you could get this far."  I really want to tell a few folks that if they have any feedback to give me on any area of my life that I would much prefer them to tell me straight up, how they feel.  I'm a big girl.  I put on my big girl panties this morning (size XL).  I can deal with it and if I can't Dr. S will help me process it, but I refuse to be talked to with sarcasm and the tongue-in-cheek backhanded sarcastic "compliments" anymore.  It's not helpful, healthy, or positive. 
"Peace be within your walls and security within your towers!”   Psalm 122:7