Is This “Normal”?

The days seem to blend together, lately. Each day feeling much like the previous one did – so much to do and not enough time (or sometimes desire) to do it. Every afternoon hitting a wall that only a quick nap will fix. Every night spent falling into bed, exhausted and thinking about the next days tasks. It feels very hard to find daily enjoyment right now when this is how I feel everyday. This past weekend I spent playing catch up after being away for two weekends in a row (one for work, one for pleasure) – on these days it makes me wonder if this time away is always worth it?

I remember my parents being so busy when I was a kid. There was always work, activities, running supper out to the field, moving equipment, yard work, house work….always something that demanded their attention. I didn’t truly have an appreciation for this until I found myself in that same stage of life. There is so much to do, and it feels like you will never catch up. It makes me wonder if this is “normal” for this phase of life? When you have kids, a job, a business, pets, is there ever truly time for yourself or do you just push through until there are fewer people demanding something from you? And how do you still find enjoyment when you feel so incredibly busy and exhausted?

Each day I try to find a little moment for myself – lately it’s doing a workout in the morning even though that requires getting up at 5:30 am. Those quiet mornings where nobody else is pulling for my time or attention and I can focus on what I want to do are the happiness in my day. I find that this activity also helps me to relieve stress, making me a generally happier person for everyone else around me.

I don’t know what the answers are right now. I’m still trying to figure it all out, one day at a time. As long as I don’t forget that perfect is not an expectation, I suppose I’ll be alright. One day at a time, I live my “normal”.

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It’s not you, it’s me….

About two and a half years ago, my cousin passed away quite suddenly (or at least it felt that way to me). I knew she had been sick for the past year but I also knew she was getting better. She had a bone marrow transplant which was supposed to be the turning point in her illness (it wasn’t cancer) but instead of making her better, she ended up dying. I still remember the phone call from my Mom. I had just arrived at the Farmer’s Market with my daughter and I was chatting with one of the Vendors that I was friendly with. My phone rang and it was my Mom – I love talking to my Mom so I picked it up. As soon as I heard her voice, I knew something was wrong. And then she told me my cousin had passed away that morning. I think I went into shock for the rest of the day; I sat in that booth and cried for about 20 minutes and managed to stop long enough to drive back home. I laid on the couch feeling the heaviness of the news on top of me. I didn’t believe it. I didn’t want to believe it.

She was someone that I grew up with and was very close with as we became adults. As kids, we spent weeks together in the summer, one week at my house on the farm and one week at her house in the city. We played together as babies and were now raising babies at the same time. We had drifted apart a bit in the last couple of years, as tends to happen when you have a job and a family and a life. You think you have all the time in the world to catch up again….as soon as……I will always regret not spending more time catching up when we had the chance.

We were 35 years old….and she was gone. I didn’t have a chance to tell her I loved her, that I loved growing up with her, that I couldn’t wait to see her. That time was stolen away. To say this death shook me to my core is an understatement. She was the first person I had lost that I was really close to, that wasn’t a grandparent. It just felt different from losing a grandparent – they had already lived long, fulfilled lives. Death wasn’t supposed to happen to someone as young and vibrant as her. As I write this, it still brings tears to my cheeks. I still feel the pain of that phone call and that loss. Right or wrong, this loss still feels really fresh sometimes.

She was married and had three children. Two daughters that were 13 and 18 at the time, and a son that was only 3 years old. She had finally found the person she was meant to be with and they were so happy together. That was a long time coming, and she had a rough road getting there but she was still always so positive, happy, and grateful. And then she was gone.

I would often think of her kids, growing up without her and wonder how they were doing. I would think about her husband and wonder how he was getting through each day. And then one day I saw something on Facebook that made me stop. He was tagged in a picture with another woman. You could tell by the picture that this wasn’t just a friend. They were dating. My heart felt like it was breaking again. How could he be dating someone else already? How could he have moved on so fast? (this was about 6 months after my cousins passing). How could life be moving forward when she wasn’t here to enjoy it with?

I have learned to adjust to this change. To accept that everyone moves on in different ways and at different times. That it isn’t realistic to expect someone to spend their life alone just because you aren’t ready for them to move on. That it isn’t up to me to pass judgement on how I feel about how he is living his life. In my mind I know all of this. My heart is a little slower to catch up. When I catch a glimpse of his new love on Facebook, I still feel a twinge of sadness knowing that she is living the life my cousin never got to finish. It still doesn’t feel fair but I’m learning how to live with it. I know there will come a time when I will probably meet her, and I hope I am ready for that when it happens. For now, I keep a safe distance to protect my memories and protect my heart. For now – it’s not you, it’s me.

Unbalanced

Unbalanced. That’s how I’ve been feeling lately. Often I don’t realize that’s what I’m feeling right away, I just know I feel “off”. When I finally sit down and think about it, or talk it out with someone, it will hit me; I feel unbalanced.

I’m lucky, I don’t feel like this all the time – maybe once a year. It’s usually a result of being pulled in 20 different directions and feeling like I need to be everything to everyone and make everyone around me happy. It’s a gradual thing, moving in so slowly that I don’t even know it’s there at first; lurking in the corner and waiting until I am at my weakest before it pounces.

I have a sister-in-law that I can talk to when I start feeling this way – I find it helps when I just vent a little bit and get things off my chest first. She’s great at giving advice and helping me to see where I can start the journey back to a more balanced life. Once I’ve had time to absorb what she has said, I get up and I start making things happen. One little thing at a time, I just start with the easiest changes first. Seeing progress, even if it’s just a small change, is motivating for me.

If you are feeling “off” and you can’t figure out why, take some time to talk to someone you trust. An outside perspective can help you to see things that you probably won’t see on your own. You have to be open to the feedback and willing to just listen to what the person is saying but I have always found it to be worth the time and it has helped me grow as a person. If we don’t take care of ourself, we won’t be able to take care of anyone else.

Love xxox

Trust Your Intuition

Fate, Intuition, Energy, Karma; all of these are words that reflect in my life. I have moments when I just know something is wrong, I can feel it in my soul. Sometimes I will reach out to the person I am feeling these things about, sometimes I won’t. It really depends on how well I know them and how well I think my attention will be received. Most of the time I am right in feeling that something is off and sometimes I am able to help or simply be a shoulder to lean on/an ear to listen.

Learning to trust your intuition is a journey in itself – you first have to trust yourself and love yourself before you can ever tap into this part of you. Reaching out and asking if someone needs help can be a hard thing to do, especially if you have been rejected or rebuffed in the past. Lately, my intuition has been telling me that someone I love dearly is in big trouble and with that feeling have been signs that I am on the right track. The hard part is knowing how to act on it and when it’s really serious. Today was the day to act. Today was the day I offered my help. Today was the day when I probably saved this persons life. That hit me pretty hard. There are so many times you reach out and once you talk to the person you see that things weren’t as bad as you maybe thought they were. Things were as bad as I thought they were and once this person told me I had saved their life, all of the intensity of this moment just came pouring out of my eyes.

I don’t know exactly what the next steps look like, we will figure that out together in the next few days. I do know that I’m glad I offered help. I’m glad it was accepted. I’m glad I trusted my intuition. If you ever feel that twinge, that sense, that feeling like something just isn’t right with someone, please listen to it. You may just save a life.

 

What Happens Next?

By September of 2017 I felt more like myself again…feeling no more pain, able to finally walk, run, sit, do whatever I wanted without having to think about how long I could stand it for. Back to normal, so it would seem. The thing was, I was still taking a nerve blocker to help manage the pain. I started to wonder if now was the time to talk to my Doctor about weaning myself off of this drug; I remembered when I started taking it I was told I would have to slowly wean myself off of it, it would not be an overnight change. I wasn’t told much more about it, just that this was something that would help me get back to my life when I was in such intense pain. In that moment, if someone tells you this will work, you don’t hesitate to take it. Anything to make the constant pain disappear.

I started to cut back my dose in October, lowering the amount each month a little at a time. To be completely honest, I had a lot of anxiety around this; I didn’t realize I had become so dependent on this medication to get through my daily life. I’m not normally one to feel anxious or unsure about things so this was a surprising feeling for me. The first few days of my first adjustment were really tough days for me. Every twinge I felt had me afraid that this pain was coming back. Wondering if maybe I hadn’t healed as much as I thought I had….and I did feel some residual pain for that first week. Looking back I know now this was just because my nerves were starting to fire again and it takes a bit for your body to adjust to any kind of change like that. But the anxiety was a lot for me to manage and I started to wonder if I had made a mistake taking this medication in the first place. I was also a little bit angry that my Doctor hadn’t properly explained what it would be like to come off of the medication.

By December I was medication free, and all of a sudden it felt like I had never been taking it. I started to realize my body still had healing to do….I had muscles I had used very little over the past several months and all of a sudden I was trying to use them on a daily basis. My body would protest in small ways – short shots of pain running down my leg if I over did things, tenderness in my back if I spent too much time on my feet, muscles spasms in my left leg from my knee and all the way down my calf (at really random times like when I was sleeping at night), small reminders that I still had some work to do. Exercise was scary for me because of what it had led to last time so I was hesitant to add it back into my daily life and really took my time getting back into things.

Today, I am now able to do my daily walks again (usually they are about 3-3.5km), I can do lower body workouts without having leg spasms, I can do weights, I can use the elliptical, I can run, kneel, jog, really whatever I need to do. This healing took way longer than I expected it too and perhaps I would have recovered sooner if I had pushed myself a bit more but I really felt I needed to honour how I was feeling inside and not push myself too fast.

The final side-effect of this entire journey is that I lost a lot of ground with my physical health. My muscle mass really decreased and as a result I gained some weight. It’s a little strange when you can’t do anything about it for the better course of a year – really does teach you to let go of control and just let things happen, something that can be really hard for a lot of people. I have been learning to accept my body as it is, be okay with where I am right now, wear clothing that I feel good in, and have patience with myself as I learn all of this. I am by no means perfect but I’m working on loving myself a little more every single day – I don’t see how that can ever be a bad thing.

Lesson #5 – Don’t be afraid to ask questions, no matter what the situation is. Even is the person telling you to do something is highly educated, it doesn’t mean you can’t still question things. You are sometimes the only advocate for your life and the experiences you have – the more you know, the better prepared you can be.

Lesson #6 – Have compassion for other people. You don’t ever know what someone else is going through in their life. Chronic pain can really change how you are and how you behave; this really opened my eyes to the reality that people live like this ever day. There is no pill they can take to take the pain away….it has made me incredibly grateful for the life that I live and the freedom that I experience every single day.

Remember to have patience with yourself, whatever journey you are traveling in that moment. Everything will come together as it is supposed to, just have patience and trust in yourself. Everyone is worthy of self-love, and that is an important message to remember when you have people pushing you down every day. Remember who you are and always assume positive intent.

Until next time.

Jo xxox.