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

Thursday, August 14, 2014

What is Boundary School?

Boundary going.  That's all I can say.  I wish I could tell you that "I've got this" and that "it's a breeze" but I'd be telling you a fib.  So far this week in Boundary School I've had to really look long and hard at a lot of things that make my heart hurt and even admit that I'm going to have to let some of those things/people go.  They are no longer healthy or helpful or uplifting and they do not make me the least little bit happy to be around or think about or any of the positive things that I am allowing into my life from this point on.  Sound a bit selfish?  Yep it is.  And I'm not apologizing.  God sent me two very large messages a year apart to refocus and refine things and I guess I'm a slow learner because after the 2nd one I finally got the message.  I don't dare not take action now, because I definitely don't want to have to receive a third message from the big guy!

That's not to say that I'm not feeling the heartbreak of letting things go that have been a part of my life for a long time.  I do feel it and it hurts.  Badly. There is a void where I used to have those things.  But instead of focusing on that, I'm choosing to focus on what I can now see (peeling that onion) because I've eliminated the junk.  Same way with some of the people in my life.  I'm having to go through and really look at why I let some people into my life and into my life so deeply.  Were they just a means to an end?  Are they a true friendship?  Can I count on them to have my back when the going gets tough?  Some of them, the answer is definitely, without a doubt, yes.  There are some, that sadly, they must go.  They have been voted off of this island.  There will not be a reunion show for this crew to appear on at the end of the season.  It sucks, it hurts, but it is good.

This is Boundary School.  Is it to say that I am sitting around thinking about this stuff constantly?  NOPE.  I am living my life.  Going to appointments, running my local errands that I can run on my own, keeping my home in order and working on some art therapy each day.  But as items pop up, instead of pushing them away or thinking, "I don't have time for that right now, I'll get to it later and deal with that hot mess after while" I'm stopping and reflecting and going down my new itemized list of questions that I'm asking of everything in my life, almost as if I am interviewing the item, and I'm dealing with it right then.  I'm not sweeping stuff under the rug and just hoping it will go away.  I'm no longer trudging along doing the same stuff because "that's the way I've always done it".  There's a reason that God gave me the talents He gave me and that He left me here on this earth not once, but TWICE when I could have so easily been called home either time.  It's my job to discover that reason and use those talents.  That's my new job. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Boundary School, Day 2....

Day 1 of Boundary School went ok.  Not great.  I still have a LOT to practice and learn. And a ton more strength and stamina to gain before I can do another day like that.  I have two words to sum up yesterday.  Grocery shopping.  But, God is good and He sent me EXACTLY what I needed to start Day 2.  He sent me this verse in an email:

1 Thessalonians 2:4  "On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel.  We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our heart." 

It goes back to the question that Dr. S gave me to ask myself before I do anything....what are my intentions behind the action or decision?  We go rambling through life on auto-pilot without really understanding why we do things and yet, there are intentions, whether we understand them or not, behind everything.  To this point, 85% of my intentions, unbeknownst to me, were to do everything I could to be a people-pleaser, not a God pleaser, because if I pleased people then they would like me, I would have affirmation that I was okay, that I was good. 

Yesterday I had to say "no" to a customer that messaged me asking for a custom order.  I was polite (shocker, I know!) and explained that I was still closed until October Affair of the Heart and could not do what she was asking.  Her response was less than understanding, but knowing that I gave the answer based on my new boundaries, I did not fret about it.  Which is a huge deal for me, because the pre-stroke Susan would have worried about it all day and half the night as to whether or not I should message her back and apologize profusely and tell her I could "squeeze it in somewhere between appointments and therapy and such".  And today, I'm still okay with that decision. 

I do have to toot mine and The Warden's horn though for a minute.  If you recall, I mentioned a while back about finally getting our house in order and getting a good schedule of when to do things and that anybody was welcome to drop in anytime and we wouldn't have to do the mad-dash scramble to make at least one room presentable...well, last night he came into the room I was in and said, "we are having company over Thursday evening for dinner and to hang out".  I didn't panic, I just said, "ok" and I meant it.  NO heart racing.  NO brain going a million miles a minute trying to figure out how to get everything done that needed to be done to make the house presentable.  I knew that we were good.  Company is coming and we are ready.  I don't have to spend the next two days doing anything that I wasn't already planning on doing, dusting the living room and unloading the dishwasher today.  Vacuuming the living room and sweeping the kitchen tomorrow.  I honestly can say that I have never ever felt this much peace about company coming...ever.  I'm actually looking forward to visiting with them and having a nice evening.  THAT, I guarantee you has never happened this early before a visit. 

So, Day 2 of Boundary School is here....let's hope it continues to go well.  So far so good, but the day is still young. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

The First Day of Boundary School....

Today I am scared.  Scared of everything.  Because today is the beginning of the first week without the structure that I've known the past three months.  On Friday of last week, I finished physical therapy.  Mama and the gang took me as far as they could and now it is up to me to get stronger and keep growing stamina.  The journey is still a long one and that's what scares me.  Because I knew that as long as I had the structure of PT and OT that they wouldn't let me overdo it, or step outside of my boundaries.  They knew how to help me say, "no" to things and forced me to do just that.  This week, I'm on my own.  I have to start implementing the tools that they have given me.  Fortunately, Dr. S is still right here to help me but I only see Dr. S every week or two.  It's a gradual weaning of all the support system. 

I suppose the fear of overstepping the boundaries that I have set as I get stronger is what is going to keep me vigilant about constantly enforcing them.  It's a good thing to be vigilant.  Supposedly if I can survive the next 3 weeks (because they say it takes 21 days to create a habit) of living within my boundaries on my own, I will feel better about it.  We'll see.  I am praying and hoping and really trying not to freak out. 

On a side note, I don't like the white tips on my finger nails anymore but don't know how to get rid of them. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Where do I go?

As my strength and stamina are having to be rebuilt slowly and my ability to set reasonable boundaries is having to be established, I am daily reminding myself of who I am and what I am and what I can and cannot do.  Today, especially though, I am feeling a great sense of pressure (which I'm sure is self-inflicted) and guilt still because I get the impression that I am letting down those around me.  I know that it shouldn't matter as long as I am trying my hardest to do what I need to do to get healthy, but people who I have in my corner and who smile and nod and say "of course, I understand things take longer and you are not what you used to be" are expressing disappointment and frustration.  Not through their words, but through their actions and lack of words.   This is something that I have to work through.  Part of me wants to yell, "DEAL WITH IT" at the top of my lungs in certain instances and yet, for some reason I sadly am having trouble cutting the cord to the people pleasing monster. 

Is it my fault that I had a stroke?  Nope.  But, because I did have a stroke, it therefore led to my stores not being stocked like they should/could be....and some customers not being happy and store owners not having their stores look the very best that they can in my area, but ya know what?  Unfortunately, I cannot control how they CHOOSE to react to these situations.  I am disappointed too because I don't like being out of commission.  I don't like things taking me two and three times the normal amount of time to complete.  Ever folded a basket of laundry?  Not a big basket.  Just enough in the basket to constitute underclothes for two people for a week.  Shouldn't take long, right?  It takes me a good half hour or more, at least.  And no, I am not multi-tasking.  I don't even have the television on when I am doing it.  But we have clean undies when I'm done.

I am OWNING that disappoinment and dislike and realizing that it is ok, though.  My prayer today is really asking God WHERE He wants me to be.  I have always allowed my customers to control which stores I am in and the amount of potential revenue to control my decisions on where I set up and where I didn't.  Those are no longer my guiding factors.   As I mentioned yesterday, that will come....IF I am where I am SUPPOSED to be. 

It's a hard question and a scary question because where I am is sort of like a security blanket.  I know the places well, I, for the most part, love the places.  What if God doesn't want me to stay there?  What if He chooses to take my blankie away?  I know He wouldn't do anything that would hurt me, but what if.....What if, what if, what if....I disappoint people when I have the answer?  What if I may not agree with the answer right now?  I'm also begging God to tell me that when he gives me the answers that He gives me the peace and the power to make the appropriate moves that He needs me to make.  In the meantime, it is taking all of my power to not yell "DEAL WITH IT"....and to focus that energy instead on the positive. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Who Am I?

I joke often about being a candidate for that show on tv about hoarders, but in all honesty, especially after having a few months to clearly look at everything, I realize my business was on the verge of exactly that.  I thought I was being a smart businesswoman by purchasing in bulk because I could get a much lower price on things which in turn I could then turn around and pass along the savings to my customers.  However, I'm realizing now that that exact mentality is what caused so much of the stress and took so much of the enjoyment out of my work.  Often times when we would cut things, we'd cut 20 or so at a time.  We only needed maybe 10, but since we'd have excess wood or not sure when we'd get a chance to cut this item again, the thought was, "might as well use it since we are already cutting".  Besides, the extra could be ready for next time and I could go ahead and paint and decorate whatever it was and be ready for the next time, ahead of time.  Which sounds like a brilliant plan....if only it truly worked like that.  In reality, we have "extra" of lots of things sitting in the garage waiting to be painted and decorated because as soon as the original 10 were dealt with, I was already busy hopping to the next "fire" or customer project or whatever other item I had agreed to complete and so those extras were assigned a spot on a shelf in the dusty garage and I'd get to them later, an infamous time that never seems to show up on my calendar. 

Then, at any given time, when I would come home (I enter through our garage), I'd be slapped in the face with all of the EXTRAs that I had not dealt with yet.  Then, during dinner one evening, any random evening, Tommy and I would talk about the grand plan to get the garage organized and the Extras dealt with so we knew what we truly had out there (because, again in reality, I don't really know what all is out there...just a lot of stuff that I use in my business).  And I would get excited about that upcoming weekend when that would happen and then it wouldn't happen because I would get busy jumping through another set of hoops on another project and more stuff would end up piled in on top of the Extras. 

The past few days, I have been facing the Onion that is our garage.  Each day, I go out there and just stand at the doorway and look and then focus on one little section, section peeling away a box or two or a shelf or two at a time.  Then, I set my timer on my phone for 15 minutes, any more than that and I'm overwhelmed and doomed.  Armed with my heart monitor ticking away to let me know when I need to slow down, I look and see what it is that is in that little section that I am truly going to keep and immediately make a decision on the rest.  I'm not letting it sit there any longer for me to contemplate and guilt myself into keeping or working on something that is not going to move me forward.  Because one other thing that I'm realizing is that just because people ask, I don't have to say, "yes" and it's ok.  A dear friend reminded me yesterday that it is not my concern how others CHOOSE to accept that response.  It is only my duty to myself and to the stability of my household to decide when to employ it.  I have a lot of EXTRAs from projects piled up that I should have said, "no" to eons ago. 

I also didn't use the word "no" because I didn't know my true identity for so long.  I know that sounds weird because yes I knew my name, social security number, birthday and all of that stuff, but because I wrapped WHO I was around WHAT I did for a living, and what I did for a living was please people and customers.  I did that because I felt like I had to in order to make an income.  Keep all of the plates spinning and people will be happy and happy people equal happy customers. 

That is NOT who I am.  I am a child of God.  And that should be enough.  Every day I need to be answering "yes" to whatever it is that HE is asking of me for that day, or using the gifts as an artist that He is begging me to use.  Gifts I haven't used in so long because I've been busy pleasing others.  Gifts that barely even edge on similar to what I've been creating for so long.  And I've been battling with God about this for 2 months now.  The usual content of our battles include a conversation similar to this, "But what if they (the customers) don't like what I am creating?"  They will.  I am preparing you for a new batch.  A group of people with open eyes and hearts to hear the story in your art.  "I don't know.  I have some folks that come back year after year looking for the same stuff.  I HAVE to create that so they won't be disappointed."  Really?  I'm leaving the decision to you.  You decide. 

It's a daily decision.  One that I have put off for too long.  Some people may have to be disappointed.  It's up to them to CHOOSE how to accept the changes.   I, personally, am so excited to travel this new road.  It's freeing and exactly what I have wanted to do for so long in my work that I get giddy and giggly thinking about it.  It's also intimidating and challenging and scary.  But I am learning to hold on to my identity.  It's not to say that I won't create the special projects that people ask of me.  But I will examine them closely to see if they are in line with what I SHOULD be doing and not just jump on the project because I see income.  Income will come.  God will provide.  He always does.  He always has. 

Now it's up to me to deal with the Extras and not take any extra Extras on.  Our garage overfloweth (and not in a good way). 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Good-bye Mr. Miyagi

My trip down Rehab Road with Mr. Miyagi has ended.  It was a bittersweet ending.  I don't think he'll miss me, but I will miss him and the routine and the schedule.  Remember on my first visit when my grip strength was 10 pounds on my left side while my right side was almost 70 pounds?  On my last visit with him, my left side got up to 50.5 pounds when I squeezed the handle.  Still not perfect but within the "acceptable" range (acceptable for who I don't know, but he said it was so I'll believe him.  After all, I didn't stay at a Holiday Inn last night, so what do I know?)   I have some work to do at the YMCA on my own to increase the grip strength more, but it is a definite improvement.  Of course I still can't properly apply enough pressure all around on a rubber stamp and on one of my creations to get a clean copy on the first try, but that just means I'll have to practice more. 

The first day of Occupational Therapy I could hardly lift a 2 pound weight to do simple bicep curls.  And then, I could only do maybe 10 of them at a time with a long break between sets.  The last day of OT, I was up to a 6 pound weight (don't laugh, I know it isn't a lot, but for me it was!) and doing curls for a full minute.  Again, still a ton of room for improvement but it gives me hope, and a goal. 

I absolutely hated the Wax on/Wax Off exercises that Mr. Miyagi made me do.  I could not imagine doing them for more than the 2 minutes at a time that I was forced to endure in the beginning.  Last day, I went 15 minutes!  Now, before most of you say, okay, no big deal.  Try standing and holding your arms up for 15 minutes straight at shoulder level.  It's harder than it sounds.  I'll wait, go try it for 1 minute.  Get your kitchen timer out and try it.  Your shoulders get a harder workout than you realize by this simple exercise.  I wont even ask that you hold anything in your hand when you do it.  Just hold them up.  Ready, Set, Go! 

Okay, now that everybody is rubbing their shoulders and upper arms, let me say that the folks that work at Jim Thorpe are, in my opinion, Miracle Workers.  Mr. Miyagi was the first of them that I met and from that first day I have been dazzled by how they make simple tasks into exercise so that you don't even realize you are exercising, while at the same time building your body up. 

My first trip to the YMCA with The Warden is this coming weekend and I'm a little afraid to see how that goes.  This is  where I'll have to definitely employ some boundaries and not try to keep up with the person next to me, but just go at my own pace to keep increasing my strength and endurance.  But for now, I have to hustle off to PT because Mama isn't done with me yet. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Just breathe...

Do you ever have those days when everything just seems to zap the life right out of you?  Today has been that kind of day for me.  Actually the past 2 or 3 days have been.  I don't adjust well to change.  I like my schedule and my life to be very stable and settled and just the way I like it.  I don't like conflict, whether it be in scheduling, ideas, lifestyle or anything else.  Both change and conflict drive me absolutely batty.  This is why I have to have boundaries.  But sometimes the things that I need boundaries from is myself. 

For years, and even after Stroke1, I was so busy flying by the seat of my pants trying to appease everybody that I rarely used the word "no" or words like, "that's not my issue" (or applied the sentiment even if I didn't use those exact words).  I would constantly take on any issue that anybody around me was having and try to "fix" it for them so that everybody could live happily ever after.  If a customer didn't like a particular color or way I did something, "no big deal!  I can customize" even if I didn't want to, I did it. Because that would make everybody happy and then we could all just move along.  If a friend or family member was having a complete meltdown because of their failure to plan or their lack of proper expectations for themselves, I'd try to coax them back to believing all was well and that everything would be ok and coach them on how to get there. 

I know that my life now, once I learn to live with all of the changes, will be so much better.  More peaceful.  Less jumpy and panicky and tiring.  But honestly, right now, I just want to float through this next section of rehab and get on with living.  Unfortunately, it's not that easy.  I have to keep meeting with the medical team to keep adjusting physical and mental expectations and just work through building the boundaries.  And all of this change scares the ever living hell out of me because I don't know what the finished product is going to look like. This is not one of my creations that I can sketch out and then create to perfection.  I just have to trust that God is stepping in and controlling it all currently and that every minute of every day He is holding in His hand the precise direction of how things are going.