June 30, 2019, The Contentment Journal

The first 30 days of Rachel Cruze’s The Contentment Journal is done.  I have always been grateful when I actually THINK about it.  Well for the past 30 days I have thought about it every single day.  My family is my priority, no doubt about it.  I am so grateful that my three girls are close, that I have three darling granddaughters and 3 fabulous son-in-laws.  I love my husband and am so lucky to have him and to have found him when I was only 12 years old. He was barely 12. He has stuck by me through the complete change in my life, when I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia.  I could no longer be the same person I was before the pain started.

My discontent is mostly from not being able to do what I want.  I want to be able to work hard and not have the limiting pain that I have.  I want to sew all day without pain. I want to stand on my feet in the kitchen as long as it takes to make a bunch of freezer meals and not be sorry at the end of it. I know the only thing I can do is take care of myself.

Trying to be content and grateful when you suffer chronic pain every day of your life, can be a challenge.  I sometimes wallow in self-pity, mostly when my pain is a bit out of control. But then I remember that I will feel better after I rest, or take a pain pill, or sit in my recliner with my heating pad.  I know my husband will cook dinner and clean up if I am unable to do it.  I wallow in wishing I could still work and take some of the stress off my husband that comes with being the sole breadwinner.

I wallow in that I am the only child of my almost 90 year old mother who lives close enough to see her on an almost daily basis.  I wallow because I feel so responsible for her. I feel like it’s my job to make sure she has quality of life.  Yeah I wallow a lot.

But after this 30 days of reflection, I feel strongly I will be wallowing less!

 

Day 22, The Contentment Journal, June 23, 2019

Today is another reflection day.  I was thinking about what I learned this week and it mostly involves gratitude for my husband and how hard he works.  It was very evident to me this week as he was called out of town and I was pretty much forced to help cover as cashier at our car wash.  This involves lots of standing and walking on cement.  Thursday I worked 7 hours and Friday I worked about 8 hours.  Saturday I was in a lot of pain and then again today I feel pretty bad and am hoping I feel good enough tomorrow to do a little housework.

My granddaughters were over today and Pyper (4) finished two 9 patch blocks.  She was so sweet and proud of herself.  She wanted to bake a cake, so we did.  I made frosting and she frosted it herself, then I made a raspberry cheesecake ice cream.  The taste was great, but the cream cheese was clumpy so the texture was off.  I probably did not let the cream cheese come to room temperature.  I had it out for a few hours and thought that would be enough.

So my reflecting, again, is not taking my husband for granted and do as much as I can to make his life easier.  He does a lot because of my fibromyalgia, but I am hoping to use my time wisely when I am feeling good.

I also bought new walking shoes to try to walk Lila more.  I was thrilled they were $30 off.  I decided to get the more expensive pair because they had a thicker sole and just felt better on my bad feet.  I was totally prepared to pay the full price.  We got to checkout and they were only $39.99 instead of $69.99.  Hoping they work out for me.

Day 14 and 15 of The Contentment Journal, June 16, 2019

I left my Mac Book at my daughter’s house on Friday so again I missed a day! But I’m not that mad at myself.  It is inevitable I am going to do things like that.  I was watching my granddaughters so my daughter could take her husband to the doctor (legally blind medically retired Marine).  I did laundry and the girls played together.  I have very sweet granddaughters.

So Day 14 Prompt is about time, What or Who makes free time a possibility for you?  That’s easy my husband makes it a reality.  He agreed that I could quit my job at 58 instead of continuing in my very stressful job, since my body was just done (fibromyalgia). I was diagnosed in 2010 after I finally stopped working and I was off work for 2 years, trying to deal with the fibro. It was really difficult until I saw a rheumatologist in my medical group who put me on Gabapentin and amitriptyline for sleep and to help any nerve pain. It helped tremendously and I went to work in an assisted living facility that I thought was going to be part-time.  It turned into full time and then turned again.  I went from assistant to the Executive Director to Executive Director myself.  Very stressful, rewarding job.  I did it for almost 4 years.

Okay back to day 15: This is the day for reflection on the past week.  What have you learned, and what practices can you take into the next week.  So much…..Be nicer to my husband.  Thank him more often.  Be careful with our money. Take better care of our home. Use my time wisely! Be grateful!

With that in mind I’ve just put this in the refrigerator for dessert along with a Father’s Day Dinner of smoked brisket, our version of Cowboy Caviar, baked beans and a green salad!

https://www.myfoodandfamily.com/recipe/053372/cool-n-easy-strawberry-pie

Happy Father’s Day to our wonderful fathers!

Day 7 of The Contentment Journal June 8, 2019

Prompt:  In what area of your life are you killing it?  Um…..being grandma? Again this is part of my purchasing/participating in The Contentment Journal.  I want to do better in all areas.  I am very grateful, but I can’t say I’m content.

I am chronically disorganized. I become hyper focused and let other areas go.  For instance I am making aprons for a friend for her father and her husband for Father’s Day.  Of course I wait until the last minute and make myself crazy making sure I get them done and sent to her so she the aprons are available for gifting next Sunday.  I do not like doing this to myself.  I have made some strides this year in this area, but then I fall right back to it.  I need to be intentional every single day or I fall back into this pattern.

Every other area of my life, other than grandma….I need to make improvements.  I am doing pretty good as a daughter.  My mother lives 1 mile away in an assisted living facility.  I retired as executive director at this facility almost 3 years ago.  3 whole years of retirement.  I thought for sure my house would be decluttered, organized, clean and my yard worthy of a garden tour.  I feel sometimes like I take one step forward and 2 steps back.  I go visit mom usually 3 times a week, every other day or so.  Her short term memory is really bad.  I am not sure she remembers my name all the time, but she knows who I am the minute I say “Hi Mom”.  I recently took mom to where most of her family lives, 5 hours away, for her brother-in-law’s funeral.  She really wanted to go and I took her.  It really opened my eyes to how bad her dementia has become.

It was truly a blessing as we were leaving the grave site, we saw mom’s a couple of headstones that were her siblings with their spouse’s, and then we saw the back of a headstone as we drove away with her last name. I stopped the car, jumped out to see who it was and it was my grandparent’s grave.  I went back and told mom.  She wanted to get out to see.  It was cold and damp that day in the Sacramento Valley, but I led her across to see the headstone.  It was truly moving.

Mom at Grandpa and Grandma's headstone

I am the only sibling that lives here where mom is. My closest sibling is 5 hours away, near where we traveled, then a sister in Oregon and my other brother and sister in Washington. I take care of all mom’s needs. I take care of her finances, paying her bills, organizing for taxes. I make sure she has warm good clothes to wear (thank you LL Bean for those lined jeans). I make sure she has her over-the-counter meds (the assisted living facility orders her prescriptions). I make sure she has peanut butter and water in her refrigerator (she eats meals in the facility dining room). I find things for her (hearing aids I’m looking at you) or order when she has lost them (again hearing aids). I make sure she gets to doctor’s appointments. I remind her of the activities she enjoys. I have breakfast with her. I bring her over to my house for meals when my daughter’s family is here. I share pictures from Facebook of the rest of the family with her. I bring my little dog who she loves (mom is NOT an animal lover, so this is surprising how much she likes my rescue chihuahua). I try to make sure she is happy and content.

I think I’m a pretty good mom.  My older girls live 6.5 hours away and I recently spent 2 weeks helping my oldest daughter who had hip surgery (too many Spartan races and 10K’s in 2018).  I ran up and down her stairs several times a day.  She could scoot herself up and down the stairs, but I  had to run the crutches up and down for her, fed the dogs (4 including mine), cooked, cleaned, did laundry, changed sheets, whatever she needed.

As a wife, I try as hard as I can.  I wear myself out trying to take care of my home and yard.  We live in a cold damp climate which plays havoc with my fibromyalgia.  If I sat in my recliner all day I would be fine (with my heating pad), but I just can’t.  I know I push myself way too hard……

So back to my commitments to myself:  I did pretty good, but missed a few things.  I woke up with a severe headache on Friday so I missed some of my usual routine.  Today is a new day so I am not taking a failure to give up.  I will just add the two things back in today.

Day 6 of The Contentment Journal, June 7, 2019

Prompt: What is the one thing you are doing with your money that you are grateful for? Helping my family.  My three grown daughters and their families.  From making freezer meals to running grandchildren around to just driving over to stay while they recover from surgery to donating to a fundraiser, either items or money.  I do not begrudge one penny to my family.

Again my commitments to myself were followed EXCEPT I did not get my bible reading in for some reason.  Oh I know, my routine was messed up.  I normally listen while I do my morning kitchen cleanup, but somehow I didn’t do it.  I can’t remember what I did, but today I will play 2 days worth of One Year Bible Reading with my You Version app.

I have not read the entire bible since I was a teen! How awful is that? So I decided this was the year!

I woke up this morning with a bad headache, which goes along with overdoing last weekend and recovering all week!  I still am not back to my normal chronic pain baseline.  In fact it is 9:30 and I am still in a darkened bedroom, sitting up writing this, but I’m sure the light from my computer is not helping!

Day 4 of Contentment, June 5, 2019

Aaaahhh another easy one! The Prompt:  What do you appreciate most about your work?    After working mostly full time from the age of 18-58 with two years off 2010-2012 when first diagnosed with fibromyalgia, I retired on 7/8/16.  I love being home. I love everything about it.

Yesterday was the perfect day to think about this prompt.  I started out at a medical exam, then came home to cook for my granddaughter’s theatre group fundraiser.  I made two lasagnas, then a chocolate bundt cake, then a batch of brownies.  I made the lasagnas in the new (to me anyway) rectangular Crockpots.  I borrowed my daughter’s and along with mine was able to take both to the facility where the fundraiser was held, plug them in and they stayed hot until needed.  I had about an hour to wash dishes and clean up before my husband and I left.  When we got home with two empty crockpots and two empty cake/cupcake carriers, what came to my mind was wait!! Didn’t I clean up before we left?  But I made coffee, helped DH take out the garbage (since today was garbage day) and settled in to relax for a short time before I started my evening routine.

I did do the entire routine and kept all those promises to myself again for the 4th day in a row! I think this might be a record!

This morning I got up, caught our one chicken who gets pecked on and held her while DH put on Pick-No-More.  Then I fed the birds and got dressed, running down to have breakfast with my almost 90 year old mom.

After again, going over making phone calls with her, since she told me everyone’s phone numbers were not working, discovering she was not picking up the phone off the hook before dialing and reminding her how to make calls, I came home to face the cleanup. But first, Lila was waiting for her walk.  I walked her and got home about 11:00 a.m.  I watered all the flowers and plants in both the front and back yards and then got to work on the kitchen.

It’s all clean now and I am moving on to sewing.  Yep I don’t know what I could do differently to be any more content with being a housewife!  Except if I had no pain.  Today is recovery day, but I think I may need more than one!

Fibromyalgia or not???

I had my second visit with my rheumatologist after having an MRI of my cervical spine and the prednisone taper.  First of all may I just say having an MRI is AWFUL!  I managed to get through it praying something like this:

Hail Mary Full of Grace, Glory be to the bang, bang, bang noise…….um….Glory be to (oh my heart is beating so fast), Glory be to …..who?    Oh yeah Glory be to the father, son and (oh I need a drink of water so bad)Holy spirit, as it was …..bang, bang, bang, Hail Mary full of Grace the Lord is with thee, Blessed art though, bang, bang, gang…Our Father who art in Heaven, bang, bang, bang…yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil….wait that’s not right.  Hail Mary Full of Grace…..Crash, bang, He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most high shall abide under the wings of the almighty, whoops that the 91st Psalms…..okay that’s it I am getting you out now.  Seriously that is about how the entire MRI scan went!! I am proud of myself for not screaming to get me out at anytime during the entire process, but I did have a few close calls! 

So the doctor (she is a she doctor) thinks I have a connective tissue autoimmune disease…we just don’t know which one yet.  So I will be having more blood tests and was put on two additional meds and discontinuing one I am on.  So I will let you in on a little secret on how to get a good night’s sleep, take 20 mg of amitriptyline and 5 mg of Valium.  Yes that’s right she put me on Valium along with Plaquinel.  Personally I think it is best not to read any of the drug literature that comes along with new prescriptions.  I mean who in their right mind would take anything if they read all the possible side effects?   I slept great!

I am having a small amount of pain and will keep my pain journal going another 4 weeks until I see her again and report how these meds are doing.  My MRI showed 2 bulging discs, no wonder my neck was bothering me!   I don’t know which is better, fibromyalgia or autoimmune disease?  Which would I rather have….neither!

Oh well…. life goes on……

 Here is DH and granddaughter making guacomole.  Ally loves to help hairy grandpa cook!  What did I tell you Iris!

4 men in a kitchen (including Landon the dog, who is obviously hoping for some dropped treats).

This is my husband and son-in-law Christmas 2009.  Eat your heart out ladies! HAHA.