Daily Affirmation

The best things in life are free.
The second best are very expensive.
- Coco Chanel

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Just Being Me

I've been having a hard time posting about life - possibly because life around here has been stupifyingly normal of late.  No cute kids around to post about, no jetting off with the mister to romantic locations, no real accomplishments to make note of.  I've just been... me.

Me, who worries about what to get little girls for their birthdays.  Me, who sits in a chair at a desk by a window for most of the day doing computer work.  The me who wonders why my hair won't grow faster, or why I'm having such a hard time with this last 15 pounds.  Just like most of you.  We work, we do chores, we talk with family on the phone, we do the things we need to do and that we've always done.  We obsess, as we get older, about our health.  L has had another sore shoulder flareup, and I have had sore knees and ankles (and back, and left hand, and neck, and...)  I've become consumed with finding solutions, and I may have come across something, but I feel a little depressed that it's one of the most exciting things I have to write about.

I haven't done one creative thing in I don't know how long.  I used to paint - did you know that?  When I was a child, all I ever wanted to do was draw, paint, create.  Every day.  Where did that little girl go?  When my children were little I started to paint, and I created all kinds of toys and furniture and...things.  I painted anything and everything almost every day.  Cute little kitchen cupboards for Katie, 3 Bears chairs, toys, gifts for friends and family.  I loved to paint.  I suppose it was started from necessity - I could create gifts rather than buy them - but then it grew into something truly passionate.

And then the kids got bigger, we moved, I didn't have a room that I could devote to painting anymore, and slowly... I just stopped.  I'd paint a thing or two here and there, but lately, every time I start to do something I have the hardest time finishing it.  The joy just isn't there anymore, and I'm not sure why.  I've thought of taking a class, getting some instruction, but I don't even make that move.  And then I saw this quote, and it inspired me to believe that all is well.  Just different.

Perhaps it's just that in different phases of life we have different things that pull at us.  Right now, I am pulled by seeking solutions to my chronic condition, helping my aunt, and being there for my parents.  First and foremost is my health.  I had gotten to a point where my knees were so sore I was having a hard time even riding my bike.  And if I can't ride my bike, what else can I do?  It was a real worry.  I've been buying books and doing any reading I can on essential oils.  I've tried this one and that one, and I think I've finally found the combination of oils that works for me.  I was feeling better but I still had a really sore knee.  One night as L was getting some physical therapy from our PT friend at church, Mike happened to mention that he also had RA.  When I asked him what was helping him he told me that he drinks a tart cherry concentrate every night and that it had really helped.  Now, I've tried millions of things that other people swear by, and not much has worked for me (other than essential oils so maybe my luck is turning!) but I bought a bottle of the stuff from iHerb.com at $24 for 16 oz.  And dang if it hasn't helped!  Tender mercies...  I doubled up on the dosage and have been drinking it twice daily (2 oz in 1 C water) for the past week, and slowly, slowly, my knee pain has subsided.  An added bonus is that it helps you sleep GREAT because it has melatonin.  So.Awesome.  A two-fer solution.

That doesn't sound like much, but it has consumed a lot of research time and brain power (for me, anyway).  So my days have been taken up with work, trips back and forth trying to help my aunt (I'm now supervising her meds), reading a lot, and preparing for our little Sunday class of naughty and rambuctious 9 year olds.  These kids are great, but they tire me out so much I usually need a nap after church!  We give points for accomplishments (learning scriptures from the lesson, participation, etc) and points are converted into Skittles.  Yes.  Skittles.  They are the magic bullet with 9 year olds.  On the last Sunday of the month, it's Skittle Sunday, where they reap the rewards of the good they've done during the month in the form of a bag fillied with however many Skittles they've each earned.  I was amazed at how well it works.  Skittles.  Who knew??
Here and there we fit in a movie or dinner out.  We are a little boring.  It's not a life tailor made for sparkling blog posts, but it's a life filled with problems and concerns that everyone has.  Small joys, tiny victories, then back to the grind.

The first of May is my reward: a trip to Colorado for Lexi's 8th birthday and baptism.  I'll send her American Girl doll off next week for her birthday, and on the first weekend in May we'll set sail for the visit.  We got her a silver locket engraved with an "A" for "Alexis" for her baptism.  It arrived yesterday in a Tiffany blue box, all tied with a white bow.  Wait - it's NOT a Tiffany box - it's just the same color.  I WISH I had the means to buy special gifts for special children from Tiffany's but that's not my reality.  Just didn't want anyone to get the wrong idea...  L and I are just regular folks, but we appreciate pretty details like blue boxes with white ribbons.

In couple of weeks is Easter.  We've been invited to my brother's house for dinner and that will be a nice afternoon.  I miss being with the little ones, though.  I am absent for all of the Easter bunny magic and egg hunts.  Oh sure, I hear about it but I'm not there.  It's not the same, but I think I - like many grndparents - am destined to be a long distance grandma so I just do the best I can to work magic from California.  I sent chocolate eggs to one family, and a spring garden (complete with egg carton planter, heirloom seeds, and soil!) to Mia and Hayden because they've been dying to start a garden.  I also received some Easter treats a little early from Katie:

Takes the sting of not being there out a little bit.  (A very little bit.)  It's the same dilemma over and over - how to grandparent and make a difference from 3000 miles away.  Miss Mia will have her birthday in late June.  I was trying to get out of her what she wanted for her birthday but she couldn't think of anything.  Finally, Katie said that she's been wanting to go camping (I mentioned that I'd sent Lexi an American Girl doll, and Mia looked at me like I was nuts... she is not into dolls.  Could two 8 year olds be more different??)  So L and I sent her a 4 man tent complete with a queen size air mattress so they can go camping.  Unconventional?  Yes.  But she's going to love it.  Our Mia just loves being outside.  When I was talking to her today she had to run outside because she thought she saw a bee.  A bee??  Really? - excited about a BEE??  But then I remembered that after a long cold winter, a bee probably looks pretty good.  As do flowers and vegetables poking their heads up through the soil.  We miss that feeling here in California, where every day is beach weather.

And so we work our way through the seasons.  Four seasons of weather and holidays, and the different seasons of our lives.  I miss at times the season of painting and creating and fun with small children.  But I'm in a different season now, and attention needs to be paid to learning different skills.  Perhaps I'll go down the creative path another day.  That would be nice, as I still look down that road with longing.  As I find balance with each of the issues and demands facing me today, I will then have time to turn to other pursuits - perhaps my painting, or my long-neglected piano - and enjoy them once again.  It makes me smile to think of the possibilities.


  1. I always think it's a bit sad when I know I've gone from one season of life to another, but I do try not to get bogged down in it, as I understand that each season is a gift. Like you, I understand that certain things change. I too wrestle with being a grandparent who loves her Grand fiercely and is always on the search for ways to stay "connected"...Loved the sweet photos. AND, love that the cherry juice is helping. Way to Go!

    1. It's so nice to hear from someone else who knows how it feels to grandparent long distance, and to know that they, too, feel the challenge. Then I know it's not just me being an idiot. Feel free to pass along ideas you use that work!

  2. It's great to hear from you again, dear karen. It's been a while and I've been wondering what's been going on in your life. The final word of your post is key. Always remain open to the possibilities. You might not have the inertia to take up painting right now but the urge might sweep over you unexpectedly tomorrow. That's how life tends to be. You need to ride the horse in the direction it's going and realize that it could change direction without warning.

    Every time I see pictures of those kiddos, the ones in your posts and the ones in the right column, I am amazed at the priceless poses and the "soulfulness" those children possess. I've never seen anything like it - a common thread that runs through your whole family and leads right back to the source - you.

    I am very happy to know you are getting some relief for your joints. I've mentioned Simponi several times before and I am doing it again because it has made a big difference for me. Ask your rheumatologist about it.

    Be thankful for ordinary days. When you consider some of the alternatives, you realize they are a blessing. Take care of yourself and your beautiful family, dear friend karen!

    1. Yes, I've asked about Simponi, but the Enbrel really is doing it's job. I'm just always pushing the envelope, trying to get off of the serious medications. I've worked the prednisone down to 1/2 mg and I'm trying to cut out the Advil now. The tart cherry concentrate and oils have really helped out with that! And I really need to get serious about sugar and white flour, but that's not nearly as fun.

  3. Our lives have seasons too. Some seasons are more demanding than others. Just take care of yourself and those around you and enjoy the ride! I had heard that cherries help arthritis. Who would have thought??

    1. Oh gosh, bless you all for commenting so quickly! I've been a terrible blogger and thought that most of my blogging friends would have moved on without me. Kim, I'm so glad to see that you're doing well - my heart was with you. And yes - the tart cherry concentrate does help - so many antioxidants! I'm very pleased with the results. So if Auntie has arthritis, give it a try!

  4. Where have you been in all of your mediocre uneventfulness? We've missed you. And wow. That pic of hayden--she's stunning.

  5. Thanks Jen. I've missed everyone too - I 've been learning the fine art of elder care combined with searching for WhatMakesKarenLessAchey. I'm finding some success with both - it just doesn't make for fascinating reading...

  6. I always love the way you catch up so thoroughly, and I have missed you. (Not that I've been around much, easier.) Your'e right. Different things pull at you at different times, and I'm caught up in my kids and the new poetry website.

    I, too, am trying to lose weight and it's a slow process. But I ain't givin' up!

    Glad the tart cherry is helping you. I know how much you guys love your bike riding.

    Your grandkids are darling, and yes, it's hard to be the far away grandma. Boy, can I relate.


  7. Thanks Sue - the battle of the pounds will always be with me, I fear. But at least I'm gaining on the loss, instead of just gaining. But at our age it's a SLOW process, darn it!

  8. I totally understand the caregiver thing. Both Jilda and I spent an incredible amount of time and energy during the last years of our mother's lives.
    And my knees......don't get me started.

  9. Knees are so crucial, and they're often the first thing to start to go. Try the tart cherry concentrate. I've found the good stuff (nice thick concentrate) for the best price at King Orchard, a family farm in Michigan. Google them - it's some good information.

  10. Yep, I know the caregiver role. Not easy. And for the knees, mine used to be troublesome, but now that I've been lifting weights for a couple of years, they don't hurt. And what a beautiful family!!!


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