Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Insanity, my New Year's Resolution for 2012

Albert Einstein is well known for his famous quote about insanity...

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

I have been living with insanity for well over 13 years now.  RA is part of my insanity but even more so is my stubbornness.  Because I am a type A personality and partly because I really still believe in my heart and soul that ra can not rob me of anything further, I have continued to do the same things over and over again and expected different results.

Oh let me count the ways of my insanity:

I am pretty much still cooking the same way I did pre RA.
I am still attempting to clean my bathroom the same way I did pre RA.
I am still insisting that I can drive long distances the same way I did pre RA.
I am still driving a car that is NOT ra friendly at all! If and when I am lucky to get the car at all!
I am still doing laundry the same way I did pre RA. And yes that includes ironing at times. Stupid me!
I am still vacuuming with the same clunker I had pre RA.
I am still insisting I will find better doctors. I have been insisting for over two years now.
I am still known to say yes when I should have said no.
I still only use assistive devices when it is absolutely necessary.
I still haven't come to grips with the fact that ra does change us and it has changed me.

Yes, under Albert Einstein's definition, I am truly insane.

I know why I fight it. I have changed many, many things since being diagnosed with ra. I can no longer work. I no longer wear fashion forward shoes. I sleep alot more then ever before.  I take lots of pills each and every day.  It takes me six times as long to do anything as compare to my pre ra days, if I can do it at all.  The list of changes goes on and on and on.

And this is why I continue to fight what little pre ra things I have left.  I really believe that for some reason I will think I am throwing in the towel. Admitting that ra has won out. Yes, I know that this reasoning is faulty but I still cling to it like it is my life line to reality.  So, for this new year I am making a resolution to not oblige myself to Albert Einstein's definition of insanity.

I am hoping that this resolution will set me free at last and I am hoping to share with you how I am overcoming my insanity.

What, if any, New Year's Resolution have you made for 2012?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Beary Merry Christmas Story!

The Beary Merry Christmas Story...

Originally Photographed and Written In 2008 by: Aunta Beary (aka abcsofra) and Taybeary

One day, Aunt DeBear and Taybeary went to the mall to visit Santa and to ask him what the meaning of Christmas was.

However, to their chagrin, Santa was running late. One little bear was VERY sad... "Could meeting Santa be the meaning of Christmas?". they pondered. 

They asked the mall vendors, "Do you know the meaning of Christmas?". However, the only response they received was a spritz of "Chipper Chocolate" spray in the face. 

Taybeary wandered over to a hot young shopper and while batting her eyelashes, asked the same question. To her dismay, he was too busy checking his biceps out in the store mirror. 

"Are fuzzy wuzzy slippers the meaning of Christmas?" questioned Aunt Debear. 

"Nah...although they are quite comfy!"

"Are pocketbooks what Christmas is about?" 

"Could diamonds be the answer?...I know they're a girl's best friend."

"Are hats and shirts what 

makes Christmas so special?"

With empty stomachs leading the way, Aunt DeBear and Taybeary went to Applbees looking for the answer. "I know! It's the fajita chicken!", exclaimed Taybeary. "No no's the blue ribbon brownie!", moaned Aunt DeBear. 

Too pooped to pop, Aunt DeBear and Taybeary took a breather. "I don't think the answer is in the mall!", cried Taybeary. "I think you're right...let's go home and look there", suggested Aunt DeBear. 

Aunt DeBear decided to take a nap and look for the answer in her dreams...

whilst Taybeary chose to hit the books and do some research on the subject.

Aunt DeBear woke up tired and in need of some inspiration. She looked deep and hard into her coffee...alas, no avail.

"I must I must build up my bust...for once I do, I'll find the clue!!"

"Maybe Christmas carols will show us the way..."

"Strap your snow boots on Taybeary. We're going outside to figure this out! While we're at it...let's get some decorating done"

"Obviously we're still hung up on finding the right answer."
"You can say that again..."

Heading back inside, they decided to check their stockings to see if Santa left a clue to the answer.

"I think we need a different perspective on this", exclaimed Aunt DeBear. "Yea, something to light the way...", responded Taybeary.

"Ah ha! I have the answer!...Let's wrap this up!", said Taybeary joyously.

Alas, they had discovered the answer! "They'll never figure out what we got them for Christmas...
Maybe we should have put some air holes in this thing."

The answer was in front of them all along. The true meaning of Christmas is being with your family where you belong.

Merry, merry Christmas to you!

May we always keep Christmas alive in our hearts forever!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I did it!!

I first learned to ride a bike when I was about 7 years old.  If I recall correctly, my older brother launched me down the street of Hillcrest.  Unfortunately I was given little instruction on how to break and wound up piled in a heap.  I didn't care, I did it! I had successfully made my first bike ride. I was so proud of myself, lumps and bumps and all.

I gave up the hope of ever bike riding again since first being diagnosed with ra. I didn't own a bike at the time but I had always envisioned myself peddling freely about, wind whipping through my hair with my cheeks red from the speed of it all.  For thirteen years I looked on in envy as others would fly past me as I slowly paced the paths in Smoaks, Burbank, Valencia, Edison and finally Wilmington. I couldn't help but brush away a stray tear every once in awhile as I realized what I had lost. Perhaps it was the pain of a fading memory, perhaps it was that I couldn't hold onto the passing time, or perhaps its was just another loss due to ra. No matter the reason, I felt it.

For thirteen years I have wondered if I could possible ride again. Could my ra body allow me the freedom I had so joyously found in bike riding?  Could I possible have the strength of body, the will of soul to climb back on a bike and peddle back into my childhood dreams?

I just had to know.  I was fortunate in that I found a wonderful bike that was up for adoption in a yard sale.  During my friend's recent visit, we went foraging about for fantastic finds on a warm Saturday morn.  There she was!  Her green body, straight handle bars and luscious seat beckoned me.  I quickly claimed her as mine! And for a mere $25.

My friend ever so gently helped me carry her home.  I proudly wheeled her into our garage and inspected her.  Her tires were in great shape. Her body even better. And oh that seat. Not only was it softer then most it was also larger then most bike seats. Perfect for my 54 year old derriere.  Oh how I wanted to hop on her and careen down my driveway out into the world.  But my debut ride would have to wait. My joints just weren't cooperating during those early fall months for my maiden voyage.

She sat.  I would spy her looking at me when I went to do the laundry.  On occasion I would run my hand over her smooth frame in anticipation.  I would gently squeeze her handled breaks in the hope of regaining enough strength.  She beckoned me.  She quietly waited for my body to regain its stamina and courage. She did not judge.  She did not scorn.  She did not ridicule.  She waited patiently.

The day of reckoning arrived.  Slowly the automatic garage door opened.  I felt like I was on a huge stage and the butterflies in my stomach told the story.  I rolled her carefully out of the protective walls, mounted her gingerly and coasted down the driveway.

I carefully turned towards the right and headed out.  The sun beat on my brunette head while I propelled forward.  With no cars in sight, I cranked up the speed a bit.  It was glorious! True, every single joint in my body screamed in rebellion but I cycled on. I made it to the end of the street and even did a u-turn without incident!  It was glorious. Pure and utter determination carried me on that journey.

True, it was a short journey compared to many a cyclist story but to me it was glorious. I accomplished what I set out to do.  I rode a bike again!

Will I continue riding you are wondering?  Not in the real sense of the word but surely I will forever be riding that memory in my heart and in my head. RA has not stolen my determination or my ability to believe in myself but it has taken away the strength in my hands.  My bike needs to find a new home and with an owner that will ride her with pride.  She deserves that!

For me she was a passing friend but one that will forever be remembered as a soul mate.

Number five is now done on my bucket list!

Did I hear someone mention hang gliding on their bucket list?

Please don't ever give up on your dreams. Is there a dream you have that you are accomplishing?  Is there a dream you want to accomplish but haven't? I would love to know how you accomplished this dream with ra or how you plan on accomplishing your dream.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Best Gift of All

I have thought and thought and thought to come up with what would be the best gift that someone with little money could give someone.  Sure, there are lots of inexpensive gifts out there for under even $5.  Just go check out a dollar store and you will find many things you can wrap up inexpensively.  You could also bake up something small or cook up something unique that wouldn't cost a small fortune.

I would suggest that giving of your time is also a great way to offer up a unique gift but for those of us with chronic illness and ra in particular, that may not be the best option for us.  We often have little energy left this time of the year and although offering free babysitting for one night, chauffeur service for that teen, or even a helping hand with cleaning might be a great gift idea for the healthy out there but for us, this probably is not an option.  This may be the perfect gift that our loved ones can give us but that may be a topic for another post.

So, what can we give that wouldn't cost anything or very, very little, would take little physical energy to create and mean an awful lot?  Give the gift of words to your loved ones this year.
For the very young ones, why not draw a heartfelt picture that represents how special they are to you.  You can frame it up with an inexpensive frame from the dollar store, wrap it lovingly and give them a soft hug when presenting it to them.  Tell them how much their pictures have meant to you over the years and how much you want them to know how special they are to you on this holiday season and throughout the year.  And if you have an extra dollar or two to spare, wrap up a box of crayons and some paper with your picture so they can draw you a special picture of love.

For the tweenies out there, you might consider starting a diary for them.  You can buy an inexpensive notebook (again head for the dollar stores) and write a story about your tweenie years on the first page and how much they mean to you.  For the tweenie boys that have a hobby you both share, perhaps you can write a letter telling them how much they mean to you and how you (during your tweens) loved their current hobby.

For the teens, you might consider a letter detailing how much you appreciate them.  Find the things that they do or say that you are proud of and tell them.  Perhaps they get good grades, volunteer, help out around their home when you aren't feeling well, or participate in a sport regularly.  All of these take determination.  Tell them so.

For the twenty somethings, you can write a letter detailing how proud you are of them and all they are accomplishing during this stage of life.  And yes, even those that can not locate employment right now have much to celebrate in all they have done.  This is just a rough patch right now and they need encouragement and support more then ever. Offer it up. Let them know that you have been there and let them know that they also can overcome and that they will succeed.  Perhaps you can add a few of your favorite inspiring quotes.

For the thirty somethings with children, I would suggest a letter detailing how your loved one was as a child. Perhaps you could write about their first, second, or third Christmas to parallel their child's age and inspire the true meaning of Christmas.  And of course, if you have any photos, include copies of those as well.  Perhaps a favorite photo will stir your memory for a story to share.

For the older adults, any letter filled with love and appreciation for who they are, what they have accomplished will surely be appreciated.  I have received several of these types of gifts over the years and to this day, I still have them and I cherish them.

And if letter writing isn't your thing, a short list of Christmas wishes written on a list, wrapped with a bow to hang on their tree will do.

So often we get lost in the glitz of it all.  We forget that a kind word can mean so much more then a gold ring.  To me, these gifts will be remembered for years to come and even though they will cost very little, they are priceless.

What has been your best gift of all?

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Recollection Tree

Lives that are steeped deep in traditions tend to be lives that are rich in love, friendship, and meaning. We have a long standing tradition in our family.  Around this time of the year, we venture out to find an ornament that attests to the joys of the year.

Our tree is filled with such ornaments and when it is time for my daughter to sprout her wings, she will have a treasure trove of ornaments and memories to carry with her to her new home.

I know for me every year this tradition brings many a smile to my lips as we recollect what each ornament symbolizes or the event that inspired the purchasing of said ornament.

Mr. Penguin has been with us only a short time of three years.  He was purchased one weekend when we went out to have our yearly picture taken with Santa. And yes, I still have my picture taken with Santa and plan on continuing that tradition until my hair is as white as his beard.

This little trio was purchased in honor of my daughter singing in the Chambers choir during highschool.  We were so fortunate in that my daughter both played in the band and often sang in choirs so we were able to attend Winter Concerts each and every year.  I have always loved this tradition and I really do miss it.  Well, maybe one day I will get the opportunity to attend the praised children's choir here in Wilmington. I can start a new tradition!

High Ho! High Ho, it's off to Disney we go.  We are avid Disney fans and if I could afford a yearly pilgrimage to Florida I would do it.  I bought this ornament just about 18 months ago when we went to Disney World. I can still taste those delicious famous cinnamon roles and see Tink skirting through the sky as she descended through those fantastic fire works.  And if you haven't guessed already, Eeyore has been and always will be my bosom buddy for life! Oh bother!

TJ has always had a love affair with the harp seal since she was a wee babe.  This ornament is a testament to her love of seals and to their plight as well. Have I ever mentioned that we haven't eaten at my favorite restaurant Red Lobster for over eight years now! Yes, eight years. Unfortunately Red Lobster supports the slaughter of the harp seals in Canada by purchasing seafood from fisherman that practice this barbaric slaughter. So, out of a love for this furry white friend we have boycotted any company that purchases from fisherman that continue this cruelty. 

In honor of Moomee and Mango our kitty fur babies!

Bell attests to my daughter's role as Madame De La Grande Bouche in Beauty and The Beast during her junior year in highschool. I just had to do it! She is the wardrobe....
And perhaps one of the most magical traditions for us is attending the Nutcracker ballet.  I am always swept away by the splendor of it all.  And I can't help but also feel that the battle that ensues on stage during this magnificent performance also reflects the ra battle that rages within me.

This ornament is in fact a napkin holder that my daughter made in elementary school. It's simplicity forever reminds me to stay true to this holiday and savor the really important things like family, friends, and traditions.

And last, let me not forget my hey day! This ornament was given to me by my first roommate. I was just over 18 when I ventured out into my own apartment. Yes, she was a wonderful roommate.

I hope you have many traditions that you are able to share with your family.  And I also wish that your holiday season is filled with love, family, and friends.