Set a time limit on negativity.

“Joy needs room to breathe.” Dr Andra is my hero today. Her words are on point.

Thriving Under Pressure

Time is in such short supply. The sooner we appreciate its value, the better life becomes.

When I was a kid my mom set the egg timer for almost everything we did; whether it was how long we spent doing our homework, weeding the garden, watching television, or complaining about life’s challenges.

It helped us to understand that nothing lasts forever – good or bad.

This was especially important when we felt helpless over things we did not have control over, including chores we  did not want to do.

Setting time limits also taught us to respect how our words and actions impact ourselves and others.

Full disclosure: My mom is a psychologist too.

Your time. Your life.

To this day I set a timer on the stove.

A simple, yet effective way to motivate myself through tedious tasks and become more mindful of time itself.

The timer principle can also…

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Disability’s Rage

I am not always in possession of my own faculties and the resulting anger lashes out, mostly at my husband, whom I hope recognizes it is seldom personal.

I hate myself in these moments – not all of me – just the malfunctioning parts.

It happens when I overexert myself.  Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease is the new name attributed to ME/CFS, and it is appropriate.  Even my brain suffers from exhaustion. th-2

I have been pushing myself extra hard lately – partly because I am tired of being tired, and partly because I have some things I need to get done – and the result for my brain is that it is losing ground.  I forget things, become confused easily, and cannot process information.

We have been prepping here for a yard sale.  That means making a lot of decisions.  Decisions involve executive functioning:  Is this object redundant? Can I see myself needing it down the road?  How much should I ask for it?  While these may seem like fairly straightforward questions, to the disabled mind they can be taxing.

Mid-afternoon my sister dropped by to help out.  Conversation was difficult as the words just would not come.  She took home a couple of things to try out in her own home.  Later, she texted me money for the items.

This is when it all fell apart.

I have never received money via texting before and my brain, instead of seeing a new learning opportunity, shut down.

“I can’t do this!” I bemoaned to my husband.  “Why would she do that to me?”

He tried to talk me through it.  My brain rebelled further.

“Can’t I just forward the text to you and you do it?”

“You can try, but I don’t think it works that way.”

Money, my panic was telling me, is suspended in space and you better hurry up and grab it!

th-1I tossed my phone aside, laid back and took some deep breaths.  It’s a technique I’ve learned when my muscles get in knots – better to breathe through the stress then try to conquer it.

Awareness of how to proceed floated to the surface.  I deposited the texted money to my account – not the right one – but I had received it, nevertheless.

My husband tried to talk to me about what I can do differently next time, but I hadn’t lost the combative edge yet.  He left me alone.

Sometimes, I just have to grasp the rage by the neck and wrestle it to the ground before it destroys us all.

“I got a lot done today,”  I said aloud.  “And I’m proud of myself for resolving that problem.”

“You’ve done very well,” my husband responded, re-entering the room.

I looked at this man, so brilliant and accomplished, and marvelled that he puts up with the lot of me.th-3

“I am happy, you know,” I tell him, “and excited about where our life is going.” I reach out a hand to him.

“I know you are,” he says taking my hand.  “I know you are.”

Neither of us speaks of concern or worry – it’s all been said before.  What if I never do get better?

Dreaming of Flying

The ability to be able to take flight is a common theme in the dream time, eliciting many different interpretations, dependent on context.  It might be an indicator that we have the ability to “rise above” a certain problem, have chosen “flight” over “fight”, are avoiding certain issues, or may be illustrating something else.  As always, with dream images, the circumstances in both the dream and outer life should be taken into consideration.

Last night, I dreamt that I was flying, gliding past my husband conducting business in our front room, and floating past neighbours unseen.  Only a black dog, off his leash, spotted me and took chase.  I panicked for a moment, until realizing that all I had to do was fly higher.  Back at home, my doctor and a co-worker gathered in my bedroom where I asked if they thought something was wrong with me.  On the contrary, they both wanted to learn my technique, tried to hold me up and lend me a supportive hand.  It wouldn’t work, I told them, while they were hanging on.  As I always do in my dreams, it is just a matter of jumping and letting go, surrendering to the flight.

Levitating is the poem that arose from working through this dream.  It alludes to the condition of invisibility that accompanies my illness, and the ability to dissociate from reality; escapism.

I know there is more to the dream; have experienced this sensation before.

This past weekend was Easter, and as a family we gathered at my eldest daughter’s for a feast, after which I decided to stay on overnight while my husband returned home.  Conversation during the day had turned to the new health threat hovering over him – a potentially dangerous heart condition (test pending).  Alone with my children, they began to ask me serious questions:  What will you do, Mom?  Where will you live?  Who will look after you?

Like my ego in the dream, I prefer to “glide” past the business aspects of these questions, “float” ideas for living accommodations in my mind, cannot settle on a solution.  I am constantly trying to outrun the “black dog” of depression, tell myself it is just a matter of attitude – keeping “up”.  th-2

The women in my dream – my doctor and co-worker – are representative of the logical, traditionally minded part of self, and the spontaneous side, lacking focus.  Neither can help me at this moment – in fact, I am bogged down by their attempts.  In the dream, my need is to ascend, disappear.  It echoes the way I am feeling.

Dissociation is a pattern that I learned at young age – faced with issues for which I had no coping mechanisms, I learned “to fly”.  It is a tendency I have carried into adulthood, preferring to believe in magical interventions (some call it faith) rather than deal with cold, hard facts.  The dream is reflecting my emotional response, and telling me what?

What struck me most, in working with the images presented, was the fact that it is only when no one is helping or touching me that I “take off”.  I need the presence and support of others to remain grounded.  In dialogue with my children, I was quick to state that I would not be a burden to any of them – it is an old reflex.  Truth is, my current state dictates that I cannot survive alone.

And this strikes a deep resonance within me.  As a child, surrounded by insurmountable chaos and often left to my own devices, I would rock myself to sleep, declaring between sobs:   I don’t need anyone!  I don’t need anyone!   th-3

As childish and impractical as this knee-jerk reaction is, I still revert to that position when afraid.  Which leads me to another possible interpretation of dreams of flying:  arrogance.

Pretending not to need anyone else, playing at not wanting to be a burden, is an arrogant refusal to accept current circumstances and leaves all parties feeling belittled.

Time, I set my feet back down on the ground, and get real, I’d say.
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Meal Planning Mayhem Managed

We have a food dilemma.  My body is so sensitive to what I put in it that  every time I make poor choices, I suffer.  While the solution may look simple from the outside, it is not.  These are the challenges we’ve been facing:

I prefer a vegetable based diet, with legumes or beans as my protein.  I love international dishes and go for a satisfied palate rather than a full stomach.  Dairy, gluten, and shellfish are no-no’s for me.

My husband is a meat-lover, despises beans, thinks of vegetables as a side (after starch) and is adverse to curry.   Apart from bell peppers he has no food intolerances, and likes high fat, high sugar food. He’d eat hamburgers daily.

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He does all the shopping, and most of the cooking, due to my current state of health.  Did I mention that he is also mobility challenged, and apart from looking after me, runs a full-time business?  Meeting both our needs has been a problem.

Our former solution was to order out most nights, usually with leftovers the next day – not recommended!

Over time, we are learning to cope by implementing a few changes:

  1.  thWe’ve hired a teenager, who comes to the house two afternoons and chops vegetables, and other basic prep.  Some days, with my supervision, she will make soups, or simple meals, which has been very helpful.  Otherwise, she leaves chopped up produce in small bags in the fridge so that we can use them for smoothies, or cooking. This works if there are groceries in the house, and I have planned ahead.
  2.  th-1Loblaws, we have discovered, now offers online shopping.  For a $5 fee, we can select our purchases from the comfort of home, and pick up the filled order at a location and time we specify.  This has been a great help for my husband and allows me to participate in the process.  (Ontario, Canada)
  3. 1455205163_Vietnamese_Noodle_Bowl_WEBChef’s Plate is a food service that delivers meal kits (up to three per week).  The meals come packaged with all that you need to cook your own dinner along with a step-by-step recipe card.  Meals are selected a week in advance, and there are choices that accommodate food sensitivities, which is very helpful for me.  We usually choose one for his palate, one for mine, and an agreed upon meal.  The meals are healthy, tasty, and always satisfying.

Meal planning can be difficult at any stage of life, whether single, juggling parenthood and work, catering to different food needs/tastes, or aging.  Add disability and dependence on others to the mix, and it becomes an all-consuming (pun intended) problem.

Happy to say, we are making headway.