Blog Posts

Managing Chaos: Look It Straight In The Eye And Don’t Blink

I am not Wonder-Woman, although some people think I am… IMG_7326

Most of the time, I choose to be a busy crazy person.  I enjoy organizing chaos, but sometimes, I do get overwhelmed, because chaos is not meant to be tamed.  Chaos is meant to be crazy, sporadic, and unpredictable.  It plays a vital role in maintaining balance in the Universe and us, human-beings, often have this unhealthy need to control it, confined it, or eliminate it, when all we really need to do is just let it go.

 

Chaos can sometimes feel like the Warner Brother’s Tasmanian Devil, sweeping in like a crazy tornado, kicking up a mess of things into the air, just to find out later that they all fall back down in perfect order afterwards.  It’s the chaotic act of things going up in the air that bothers us the most and rarely do we ever just step back and see what happens.

Although we cannot control chaos itself, we do have the ability to regulate how much chaos we allow into our lives and we can certainly guide chaos along a more healthier path.

Just like flash floods, we cannot control the force of a flood or when they happen, but we can set up cement barriers to help guide it a certain way to avoid a complete catastrophe when they do happen.  Guiding chaos is kind of like that, by setting up emotional barriers that allow us to recognize the chaos, respect the chaos, and guide it away safely so that we do not get emotionally attached, for that emotional attachments is what fuels chaos and our need to control it.

Everyone has a little chaos in their lives, most of the time chaos is tolerable (not always controllable); however, there are times when chaos can become extremely overwhelming.  The flash-flood types of chaos is what we need emotional barriers for, not to prevent chaos, but more so to help reduce the impact of overwhelming emotions that might make chaotic situations worse.  Every chaotic situation, requires a quiet calm mind to achieve balance and resolution.

Emotional barriers should be accepting not cold.  Accepting chaos allows us to better calm the mind.  Recognize and respect the chaotic situation and take a step back.  Breathe.  Then, disconnect emotionally, (emotional attachments cause emotional suffering) so that the mind can think more clearly.  Sometimes, chaos just has to run its course, or perhaps just needs a gently nudge into a different direction.  Nonetheless, chaos cannot be controlled.

Although you cannot control chaos, you can certainly control how you react to chaos.  Taking a step back and disconnecting emotionally, helps you make better decisions.  Perhaps it is a situation you need to panic and run away from, or it’s a situation that is frustrating, but would best be resolved if you were to remain calm, cool, and collected.  If we over-react, we cannot think clearly, and the situation either worsens or we get stuck with emotional suffering while the situation resolves itself.  Sometimes, there is nothing we can do about chaos, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make the best of a chaotic situation.

Nothing is ever black and white, so there is always room for a brighter side of even the most terrible of things.  A new perspective to a chaotic situation is another way to reduce emotional suffering and better guide chaos a long its way.

Fear fuels chaos too, so be sure to look chaos straight in the eye and don’t blink!  We can all try to prevent bad things from happening, but bad things will find a way to happen anyway (it’s part of the Universal balance).  It is best to deal with things as they come, because worrying is nothing but wasted energy, especially, if the things we worry about never come.  This is why it is so important to focus on the present rather than an unpredictable future.  Plan, make goals, take precautions, but also enjoy life to the fullest.

In short, when chaos is reigning down upon you, stop, breathe, take a step-back and see what happens.  Sometimes you don’t need to do anything but let it run its course and yet, sometimes, you need to guide it into a different direction without your emotions trying to take full control of the situation.

Tonsillectomy Post Op: If They Miraculously Grow Back, They Stay Forever

I know tonsils don’t grow back, but I swear, if they miraculously do grow back, they will never be removed again! 


My personal opinion about having a tonsillectomy as an adult:
Unless your tonsils totally hinder your daily life and majorly impact your health, I say, KEEP THEM!  Tonsillectomy as an adult is no fun!

My recovery has been anything but normal.  I have not experienced a single thing that I have read, watched, or that my ENT doctor even said was part of recovery.   Instead, I had a rare complication (inability to swallow) extending my recovery time from 1-2 weeks to 6-8 weeks.

Why I had a tonsillectomy

I had a “cyst” with recurring tonsil stones.  

My ENT doctor gave my tonsils a look and told me they had some scarring, due to tonsil stones and past infections.  I rarely have sore throats and my tonsil stones never bother me, as I never really notice them.

However, this time, I supposedly had the “mother” of all tonsil stones, that my doctor believes was causing a cyst to form next to my tonsils.   There was no recommendation to drain the cyst.  I was just told, that due to the cyst, it was “necessary” to remove them.  So, whatever, sign me up.

I was told by the ENT doctor that recovery is rough for adults (lots of pain), but generally, adults are feeling pretty good by the end of the first week.  Expect a diet of lots of ice-cream, popsicles, mash potatoes, and Tylenol.

Youtube videos and other blog articles from people sharing their adult tonsillectomies, pretty much said the same thing:  Pain and sore-throat.  So, I felt I was well prepared for the worst.  I was prepared for Pain. 

Surgery Day

I was so nervous!  I have never had general anesthesia before and I was absolutely terrified of what might happen.  So, while I was being prepped by the nurses, I really worked on breathing and acceptance.  Often times, when I am stuck having to do something I am terrified of doing, I imagine the situation is like being on a roller coaster.  That point of no return when you are clickity-clacking up the first initial incline of the roller-coaster track: You just have to accept this is where you are at and you can only move forward from here.

Before my surgery, I remember the nurse and general anesthesiology rolling me down the hallway to the surgery room.  They were talking about allergies.  The very last thing I remember, is backing through two blue doors and seeing a clock on the wall, thinking, the clock on the wall, looks just like the clock in the surgery room where I had my C-section for my kids.  Then, I was out.  I vaguely remember moving from one bed to another, but that could of just been a dream.

In what felt like minutes (reality, it was almost an hour), I woke up in recovery with a different nurse talking to me.  Who knows how long she was talking to me or what she was even saying.  Another hour later, I was sent home, tonsil free.

ER Visits

I couldn’t swallow anything, not even my own spit.  

As lady-like as I tried to be, I had to adopt a spit cup.  So gross!  I was also getting dehydrated, because I couldn’t swallow anything.   I was forced to go to the ER, which terrified me, because of the global pandemic.  But, I had to go.  They gave me a couple bags of fluid and a steroid shot, then sent me on my way home.  It helped a little bit, but wore off and I had to go back the next day, where they did a CT scan and diagnosed me with epiglottitis, inflammation of the epiglottis, in which is rare for adults.

The epiglottis is a flap of cartilage that covers the windpipe when you eat.  When, it’s swollen, there is a risk of not being able to breathe (life threatening) or cause aspiration that could lead to pneumonia.  So, they admitted me, but I went home the next day, because my ENT doctor did not agree with their diagnosis.

My Throat Muscles Were “Frogged”

Now, I am not from around here parts, so I’ve never heard of the term, “frogged” before, but that is how my ENT kept explaining it to me.

According to my ENT doctor, and this is my best understanding of it, my throat muscles were “frogged,” meaning not exactly paralyzed, but not fully awake either.  Supposedly, my tonsils were “nasty bad” and it took them longer than usual to get them out.  It also required a little extra cauterizing (burning) to stop the bleeding.  So, my understanding of all that, is that my throat muscles are temporarily shocked due to too much trauma, but it’s not forever, even though it feels like forever.

No Pain, Just Can’t Swallow

All this time, I have not experienced any pain- none.  Not only are my muscles “shocked,” but so are the nerves.  It has taken over a month, to gain some feeling back in my throat.

The only normal experience I have had so far in recovery, is having white gross looking scabs in my throat, swollen uvula (punching bag that hangs down from the middle of your throat), sore tongue from the clamping during surgery, and extra thick phlegm due to inflammation.

The not so normal experiences include, a numb throat, numb tongue, a tongue that had limited range of motion, and inability to swallow food or liquids.

According to my ENT doctor, I have to practice strengthening my throat muscles.  Not only are some of them still “asleep,” but they had to cut away some of the muscle with the tonsils, so those particular muscles need to compensate for the muscle taken away.  I also have to learn how to swallow again.

This is Week 6

Today is Week 6, if my calculations are correct.  At this point, it feels like forever.
I lost nearly 20 lbs, since my tonsillectomy, with my lowest weight being 112 lbs.  I have a collar bone that I haven’t seen since high-school, no more double chin, and my pants are as loose fitting as “MC Hammer” pants.  Can’t touch this!

I am burning more calories than I am taking in, so with 2 high-calorie shakes a day, my weight is hovering around 116 lbs.  I still can’t eat any solids; however, I am not limited on liquids anymore.

Improvements are slow and gradual, with the first successful milestone being able to swallow my own spit, next, being able to swallow thin liquids (popsicles, water, and almond milk), getting rid of the spit cup, graduating to thicker liquids (milkshakes, milk, and coffee), and now, I can have any kind of liquids, except for soda.  I still have raw spots, and anything carbonated just fizzles like pop-rocks and burns.  I can now swallow pudding and yogurt without any issues; however, other soft foods (or really chewed up solid foods) require me to wash them down with water.

It’s a slow recovery, but I am convinced it’s not forever, for that every few days, I am able to eat something new.

Benefits Outweigh The Risks

All though not a fun experience, I am grateful I didn’t experience any pain.  Hopefully, my swallowing continues to improve!  I look forward to the day I can eat a juicy delicious hamburger again.

But, this was a lesson learned; no surgery is without risks.  The inability to swallow is supposedly a rare complication, so I do not mean to discourage anyone from having their tonsils taken out; especially, if they need their tonsils taken out.  Sometimes the benefits do outweigh the risks.

 

 

July Break Starting Early: Be Back In August

Hi Brains!

Oh my gosh, I cannot even begin to tell you…

The Universe was certainly clearing my plate for something BIG!

On top of everything going on (as mentioned in my last post), we’re just going to throw in a tonsillectomy!  Yup, getting my tonsils removed!   Talk about ANXIETY!

I have so much anxiety right now, my OCD Brain totally abandoned me!  Seriously.  Like, it threw itself off it’s high-pedestal and told me, “Good Luck,” and sat it’s fat OCD butt in the corner.  Still there, waiting to squeeze in an OCD thought when it can.

Ugh.  I am not looking forward to a tonsillectomy.   I am told that due to my age, it is going to be a rough recovery.  I am told there are two different kinds of people, some that sleep the first week of recovery, because the pain is so unbearable and some that just chill in bed with Netflix and popsicles with pain that is described as “uncomfortable,” not entirely “unbearable.”

I am worried about pain.  I am having a difficult time wrapping my head around the fact that I am going into surgery without pain to wake up in tremendous pain.  How does one mentally prepare for that!

I also, don’t do well with mouth pain (who does?).  I can lower the level of pain I am in with meditation (learned it from my mom), so long as that pain is no-where near my head.  But, I am a HUGE baby when it comes to sore-throats.  I hate sore-throats so much, I put them at the top of the list with kidney stones!  LOL

Anyway, I am not happy that I have to get this done, just before my step-kids are scheduled to visit for summer break.  The first week of visitation, my husband is on his own, because I will still be recovering from my surgery.

I bet every wife out there can relate and understand the terror of leaving their husbands in charge of the household for a week!  LOL.  I am joking, my husband will do fine.

Anyway, I know it is not the end of the world.  I truly believe all this crazy chaos is setting us up for a new beginning.  Almost, in every bad situation, things always get worse or more difficult, before it gets better.  I am still optimistic.

It is sometimes difficult to be positive in chaotic situations, but positivity brings life to hope and hope encourages us to move forward.  My mom said something to me the other day, that if you are going to fall and if you’re going to fall hard, always make sure you fall forward – not backwards.” ❤

This has been a tough year for everyone.  I do hope things get better for everyone.

July is always a busy month for me, so I am probably not going to be able to post again until August.  I wish everyone a happy, healthy, relaxing summer!

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Hope everyone has a great, safe, fun summer!

 

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The Universe Is Preparing Me For Something Bigger!

Sorry Brains, I totally lost track of time.  Life has been chaotic and super busy.  Let me catch ya up a bit…

I am now a firm believer that the Universe [God, The Almighty] does not give us more than we can handle; so long as we are paying attention, of course.

The Universe will certainly test us, because we are all stronger than we often think, but there are times, when too much, is truly too much.   For me, last weekend, was too much and the Universe defiantly took notice…

It all began when I had a “Britney Spears” moment, by (accidentally) cutting off a large portion of my hair!  Fortunately, I didn’t shave it off like Britney, but pretty sure, had there been equipment to do so…I probably would have done it.

I was overwhelmed, exhausted, and completely frustrated with a massive knot in my pony tail.  Generally, I have really good patience, but this stubborn knot was, shall I say,  the tangled straw that broke the camels back!  I was in tears, trying to brush out this stubborn knot.  In which, probably wouldn’t of been so bad, had I washed my hair more often.  I do shower regularly…but sometimes, I get so busy doing everything, that by the end of the day, a long, good shower, seems like a lot of work and I tend to skip washing my hair.  It’s terrible, but it’s also the reality of motherhood. 

Anyway, overwhelmed, exhausted, and frustrated, I thought I had a great idea of cutting the knot out.  I mean, that’s what I do when the kids have knots- well, sort of.  With the kids, I patiently untangle the knot to the point I am left with just 2-3 strains of knotted hair that I could cut off without consequence.  Unfortunately for me, my lack of patience turned into tying my hair up into a pony tail and CUTTING off my entire pony tail!  Way more than just 2-3 strains of hair!  So, now, I sit here with hair hanging just a smidge below my ears.   It’s not ugly, just too short. 

Since doing that, stuff has been consistently falling off my plate.  So much stuff, that I am so grateful for, like potty training!  My youngest daughter (3yr-old), who has been extremely stubborn in potty training, just miraculously decided to start using the potty one day.  No more diapers!!  It was as if someone just flipped a switch!

This week was also the last day of school!  I cannot tell you how stressful it was for me, to make sure my Kindergartner did all her school work.   Her Kindergarten class does not mess around, I mean we had assignments for everything: reading, math, spelling, writing, science, PE, and music!  Wow, what happened to ABC’s, crafts, and naps!  

In addition to that, several other amazing things dropped off my plate allowing me to keep up on housework!  My house is so clean right now, I cannot even tell you how it got so clean.  There was no effort to it, it just happened!  Sure, we have our little messes here and there…but, it’s super manageable!

Even my kids are going to bed on-time.  In the history of having children, they have NEVER gone to bed on time, because they are night-owls (totally from my husband’s side of the family).  My youngest now, like clock work,  tells me good-night, snuggles into bed, and goes to sleep.  My oldest, still argues with me about bed-time (she argues just to argue-it’s her nature), but once the lights go out, she falls asleep within 20 minutes.  At this point, I am beginning to realize that the Universe is clearing off my plate for something bigger and it’s not dessert!!  

I know exactly what the Universe is preparing me for and I can tell ya right now, I am gonna need a bigger plate.

I cannot get into details about it, because it’s really not my story to share, but basically, over the past 7 years, a super-cell “shit” storm (pardon my French) has been brewing between my husband and his ex, in which has now resulted into a custody-review case.  Personally, I am absolutely relieved, because hopefully this is the end of 7 years of absolutely unimaginable drama!  Unfortunately, the custody-review has been placed on hold due to COVID.  Ugh.

Hopefully, with all this stuff quickly falling off my plate, means the custody review is just around the corner!  No matter what the outcome,  I pray the changes that are established by the court finally brings peace to my step-children, for that they have had one serious rough beginning in Life.

Whether the Universe is preparing me for my husband’s custody case or something else, I am super grateful for all the stuff falling off my plate right now.  I look forward to having a little break from chaos, even if it’s just for a couple of days.  🙂

Do you believe things happen for a reason?  

 

 

The Universe Has A Good Sense Of Humor

 

The Universe [Almighty] definitely has a good sense of humor…

coffee

I ordered this coffee mug for Mother’s Day, which reads, “Chaos Coordinator Fueled By Caffeine.”  I think it’s great!  Anyway, this coffee mug has quite the story and I feel the need to share it…

Now, when it first arrived last week, I was too disappointed to realize just how funny Life can be sometimes.

So, the story actually begins with the wrong package.
According to its tracking status, my coffee mug was “delivered.”  Fed Ex, UPS, and Amazon delivery guys/gals do not knock anymore, to avoid face to face contact.  Totally understandable; however, the  picture they provided me as “proof of delivery,” showed a massive package at my front door.  Massive!

I opened up my door and sure enough, a huge box was there – it could have held 10 coffee mugs.  It was heavy too.  Well, I was expecting other packages and I just barely glanced at the address sticker.  So, I opened it.  TOTALLY NOT MY PACKAGE.

I looked at the address label and it is addressed to my neighbor with no name.  So, to avoid face to face contact, I thought I would drop it off at our community club house and let them sort it out.  Well, I forgot, the clubhouse was closed!

Ugh, I couldn’t just leave it at my neighbors door, because it was opened and I had no tape to reseal it.  I had to knock on my neighbors door and hope someone was home.

Fortunately, someone was home.  Through a crack in the door, I passed off their package to them and of course apologized for opening it.  They were super nice, but goodness, their door slams loudly.  LOL

So, obviously, my coffee mug was delivered to someone else.  I contacted customer service who told me to call back, if I hadn’t received it after 48 hours.    Okay.

Well, later that day, I got a very loud aggressive knock on the door.  It was so loud, that I immediately thought, BIGFOOT!  Of course, I am joking.  But, still, I decided I should probably wait for whoever that was to leave, before opening my door.  LOL

After a bit, I opened the front door to find a tiny smooshed box (perfect size for a coffee mug) on top of my door mat.  Honestly, I didn’t expect to ever get it.  So, I am totally grateful that someone found my box and left it at my door, even though it looks like it had one heck of a crazy journey getting here.

I picked up the box and you can hear shattered glass.

My coffee mug was busted.  Actually, the mug itself was pretty much intact, except for the handle; the handle was completely shattered in tiny pieces.  Unfortunately, I can’t use it without a handle, because there is a tiny hole in the ceramic where the handle is busted (it’s a leaky coffee mug), so it downgraded from a coffee mug to a fancy pencil holder.

mug 2

I was going to return it, but it just doesn’t seem worth it.  It was very disappointing.  I sat it on my desk, filled it with pens and pencils, and moved on with life.

However, yesterday, I glanced over at it and just started laughing!

The broken handle on this coffee mug that reads, “Chaos Coordinator Fueld By Caffeine,” truly represents CHAOS!  

I LOVE IT!!  I will never part with it!  

It will be a constant reminder that not only does the Universe [Almighty] have a good sense of humor, but also that when things seem broken or busted, they can still have purpose and serve a very important function.  🙂  ❤

 

 

 

Allergies Kicking My Butt: Just Venting

It rained and so my nose drains… 

Every time it rains, my allergies start to kick my butt.  I get no relief from allergy medicine; doesn’t even matter the brand anymore.  None of it works.  If the allergy medicine (Allegra) is working today, I’d totally wouldn’t want to know what it would be like without it working, because my nose is pretty stuffed up!

I’m so miserable when I can’t breathe out of my nose (who is?) or when my nose runs faster than a water faucet.  But, I think the worst part of having allergies, is feeling tired and you can’t sleep, because you can’t breathe out your nose.

Sometimes, if I am lucky, I can lay on my side and all of the congestion will drain to the other side.  It’s actually a pretty cool sensation; reminds me of pouring liquid from one cup into another cup.  But, sometimes there is a delayed transition when both sides are super congested and you can’t even swallow your own spit without your ears popping!

Although pretty gross, it is entertaining for a while and also a great way to practice mindfulness!  LOL

So far, the only relief I can get is temporary; generally, by eating spicy foods, taking a hot shower (which no mom has time for), a hot compress across the bridge of my nose to open up the sinuses, salt water (saline) up my nose, pinching the bridge of my nose like those interesting snoring-reducing nasal strips, or believe it or not, pressing my tongue up against the roof of my mouth works wonders too.  I don’t know the science behind that one, but hey, whatever works, right!?

Seasonal Allergies are new to me.  
I was raised in the desert with concrete, dirt, cacti, rocks, and more dirt.  I am not used to living in a place with trees, flowers, grass, shrubs, and rain.  The closest thing we ever got to rain in the desert was water misting off a water fountain on a windy day.  Okay sure, it occasionally rained-rained, but like maybe 5 minutes, a few times a year.  By the time you got outside to enjoy it, everything was dry again-thus, we never got any mold.

Ugh, where I live now, it’s a constant cycle of different allergens.  It’s either a stupid tree blooming, a windy day knocking pollen all around, a landscaper cutting grass, a dirty a/c filter needing changing, or mold after a long rain-storm.  It’s awesome (total sarcasm there).

Even our pet bunny triggers allergies after I clean its cage.  I found that I don’t suffer from allergies as much if we stick with paper bedding $$$, rather than the usual aspen-type bedding.  And, our poor bunny, has to naw on tiny compact hay blocks, instead of loose bits of hay, because of my allergies.  Oh boy, am I allergic to hay!

So, allergies.  Yup.  Super fun.  Do you know any home-remedies for allergy relief?  Leave us a comment. 🙂

I guess I am just a mess.  Anyway, thanks for letting me vent.  🙂   I hope everyone is having a good week!

Mental Health Awareness Month: Everyone’s Brain Matters!

If mental health wasn’t important, then why is our brain completely protected by bone (skull), whereas other vital organs are just protected by a delicate rib cage….makes ya kinda of wonder, right?

Or why brains are such a tasty treat for Zombies!!

 

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Illustrated by Ginny 5.13.20

 

Okay, other then containing nutritious proteins for a healthy growing zombie, I am often told, the brain is protected more because the brain controls the entire body.  True, but perhaps it’s more protected to also remind us about both its physical and mental importance!

Everyone’s Brain Matters

The brain is just as important as any other part of our body and therefore, we shouldn’t neglect it, just as we shouldn’t neglect our lungs, heart, liver, or kidneys.  Zombies obviously, don’t let those go to waste either. 

For me, Mental Health Awareness Month is not just about tackling the mental health stigma, or making the world more aware of the many different kinds of mental health disorders, but also, making everyone aware that their very own mental health, whether they have a mental health disorder or not, also matters!

The human brain is a fascinating, mysterious, and remarkable piece of organic machinery.  Not only is it a complex super computer with a tangled network of a trillion chemical connections powering our entire physical body, but also gives incredible life to human creativity and innovation through its impressive mental capabilities.

Success and happiness is largely influenced by our own mental health.  Poor mental health prevents us from achieving our goals, letting go of grudges, obtaining happiness, keeping meaningful relationships, getting a promotion, working through difficult problems, overcoming emotions, and making good decisions.   Everyone, everyday, is affected by mental health.

Many of us live our lives on auto-pilot, not really paying attention to our mental health, until we either find ourselves in a difficult rut or become mentally burned out.   Perhaps, if we had practiced better mental health, we wouldn’t fall so hard mentally (depression, fatigue, stress, etc).

For Mental Health Awareness Month, let’s also focus on preventive care for our amazing hardworking brains.  Something, I believe is being neglected in our healthcare system.  I mean, doctors often check all the body functions, except for the brain.  They listen to the heart and lungs with a stethoscope, attach electrodes (EKG) to monitor heart function, blow into a spirometer to test lung function, and do blood labs to check our immune system, metabolism, liver, and kidney functions.  But, the brain is totally neglected.  Only when there are other problems in the body, do we start looking at the brain.  There is no preventive care plan for the brain, even though science is now showing a strong connection between mental and physical health.

To stay physically healthy, doctors tell us to exercise, eat right, and sleep well.  Unfortunately, you can’t do any of that without practicing better mental health.  If we’re sad or stressed, we’re likely not going to eat healthy (personally, I am a midnight ice-creamer eater when I am feeling blue).  If we’re stressed and/or busy, we’re likely not going to have time for exercise or be motivated to exercise.  And, if we’re anxious, we’re likely not gonna get good sleep.  Ironically, our brain (both physically and mentally) also requires exercise, eating right, and sleeping well.

Exercise fuels our brain with oxygen and releases hormones called endorphins, which makes us feel good and is a natural pain reliever.  Eating right gives our brain the right nutrients needed to keep our brain chemically balanced.  And sleeping; well, sleep gives our brain a restoration period to calm down from the chaotic world and repair our physical body.

So, taking care of our brain (both physically and mentally) is super important in keeping our entire body healthy!


Preventive Care For The Brain: 

 

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Obviously, living a healthy lifestyle, like exercising daily, maintaining an active social-life, laughing more, sleeping well, eating clean-healthy foods, and nixing bad habits such as smoking and drinking, is a great way to keep our brains physically healthy.  But, we can’t accomplish much of that, without practicing better mental health.

There are lots of things we can do to take better care of our brain to support better mental health, but (in my opinion), managing stress is number one!  Managing our stress-levels is important for keeping our brains chemically balanced and mentally healthy.  Stress can trigger all sorts of havoc on our brains, releasing hormones that can damage our body both mentally and physically.

Reducing stress can be challenging, for that we cannot eliminate stress 100%.  Stress plays an important role to our survival, keeping us alert and on our toes.  Instead of ignoring stress, it is important to learn how to better cope with stress.  Our brain needs to be maintained like a building structure or bridge, it needs to be strong enough to function properly, while also being able to cope with a stress load.  Aren’t brains awesome! 

A few ways we can start learning to better cope with daily stress is practicing acceptance, mindfulness, and gratitude.  

Acceptance allows us to cope with things we cannot control.  Mindfulness allows us to enjoy the present rather than dwell on the past or worry about the future.  And gratitude, gives us the ability to enjoy and appreciate the little things that make our world as a whole.  Practicing all of this together can reduce the amount of mental stress affecting both our mental and physical being.

There are tons of resources out there to get started, but getting started can be difficult.  Habits are difficult to change, but keep in mind, all it takes is a slight turn of your foot into a new direction to get you going on a new path.  🙂

Be Kind To Everyone

Mental Health Awareness Month is about promoting understanding, compassion, and kindness towards those struggling with mental health disorders.  Not all mental health disorders can be prevented or easily managed; and thus, requires lots of patience, support, love, and kindness.

It is also important to be kind to everyone, for that you never know what others may be going through physically or mentally.  ❤

 

 

 

 

My TOP 10 Obsessive-Compulsive “Quirks”

I have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder; well, more specifically, Pure “O” Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (or Primarily OCD).  Simply, what that means, is that you wouldn’t even know I had OCD, unless I told you.  See, I have obsessive intrusive (horrible, irrational, emotionally painful fears) thoughts, but they don’t generally lead to compulsive behaviors.   I have experienced compulsive behaviors, but I find them much easier to work through than obsessive thoughts.

There is no cure for OCD, or so I am not aware of any cure.  But, we can for sure manage our OCD through cognitive practices, medications (if needed to better focus on cognitive practices), and anxiety management.   Unfortunately, there is no medicine we can take that will magically (or clinically) re-wire our brains back to normal.

Although I still have OCD, I have successfully overcome the emotional suffering of my OCD.  My OCD-bully brain doesn’t bother me anymore.  In fact, I knocked my OCD bully brain’s butt right off its tremendous high pedestal.  My thoughts and compulsive behaviors are now, what I call “OCD quirks.”  They just happen and they don’t carry any weight or meaning to them anymore.  I am in control of my own happiness.

With that said, I am willing to share with you my top 10 OCD quirks.  Some of which I still experience today and some of which I have overcome and are now just part of my OCD journey.

I believe, but not sure if true, that everyone’s OCD is uniquely themed.  For example, my OCD focuses around the fear of people getting hurt by my own negligence.  I mean, sure, accidents happen, but my fears are incredibly irrational.  Like, a close example would be like having a “what if” fear about forgetting to turn off the tub faucet, and the tub gets too heavy with water, and it crashes through the ceiling hurting someone.  Yeah, pretty irrational, considering most tubs have a second drain that prevents it from doing just that, but, it can be pretty dang tough to argue with an OCD-bully brain.

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I feel pretty embarrassed about this, but I also know, I am not alone.
So here are my top 10 OCD quirks…

TOP 10 OCD Quirks


10.  Plugs are the enemy: 
When leaving the house, I used to have to unplug everything!   All the appliances, clocks, computers, lamps, tv’s, everything.  Honestly, I am much better now, for that the only thing I unplug when I leave the house are the kitchen appliances; but that’s because it technically saves energy.  So, it’s really not too bad, having a bit of OCD.  

9. Counting Traffic Lights:  I used to count traffic lights.  I used to be able to tell you how many intersections were between point A and point B, even on long road trips.  I also used to memorize traffic patterns of each of those intersections.  But again, not a bad quirk to have, because it comes in super handy when giving your friends street directions.  

8. Rotating Furniture: I lie to myself and I call it Feng Shui.  I am constantly moving furniture around in the house.   My poor husband would go to bed with the living room set up one way and wake up with the living room completely rearranged another way.  The silly thing about it, is that I don’t  know why I do it.  I guess, I am releasing stale energy trapped in the house.   

7. So Organized, It’s Frustrating:  I don’t like clutter, including App clutter on my phone.  Everyone I know has a least a zillion apps on their phone, 3-4 pages full of apps.  I have my homepage and all the apps I like to use are moved into a folder.  Yes, if I want to access my apps, I have to click on a folder.  I used to organize all my apps into several different folders, but then my phone was cluttered with folders rather than apps.  I’ve actually gotten better, for that there is now a rational reason why I have all my apps in one folder, which is my kids.  Yup, all my apps are in a folder, while the rest of the phone is cluttered in kid apps.  I might as well, just give them my phone! 

6. Stove Worries:  I used to check the stove like crazy!  I mean, leave the house, walk all the way to my car, get in the car, start the car, back out, drive around the block, come back home, check it again.  Yeah, it was bad.  Today, being a busy mom, I don’t have time for that.

5. Upside Down Candle:  Candles make me nervous.  Not only do I have an irrational fear of accidentally catching the house on fire, but I also have a rational parental fear that my kids will want to discover fire and get burned.  Although I do enjoy candles, I don’t like to leave the house after using them.  My OCD gets to me and for extra measure, in case, it re-ignites itself (impressively, with the lid on), I turn the candle upside down.  Yup, I don’t get it either.

4. Handwriting Tourette syndrome:  Writing cards or letters gives me anxiety.  First, you never know what to write in the first place, it takes an origami skill to put it into an envelope, you have to pay for an entire booklet of stamps that will last a lifetime (if you don’t lose it), and considering it is now the 21st century, we still haven’t made envelope seals taste any better!

So, yeah, I hate handwriting and mailing anything.  But, I have this irrational OCD-fear, that I would have some kind of handwriting Tourette Syndrome, where I would write some pretty nasty mean or inappropriate things without knowing it (something totally completely out of my character).  I either end up rewriting my letters and cards a million times, spend 20 minutes convincing myself all is fine before sealing it, or I have the need for someone to do it for me.

3. Door knobs:  I’ve broken my fair share of door knobs during my OCD journey.  Apparently, checking the door knob as if you are trying to open the door as if it were jammed, totally wrecks the mechanisms in the door knob.

I am much better today.  I just lock and check once now, with very little force.  I have come to realize that there really isn’t much worth stealing in my house.   I mean, everything I own is old and outdated, including the coffee pot.

2. Spitting After Cleaning:  I don’t like chemicals.   I used to fear cleaning products so much, I kept all of them outside in storage.  I wouldn’t allow anything inside the house.
Today, I have a few cleaning products in the house, but they must be eco-friendly / non-toxic ones.

But, I will share with you a compulsive quirk I used to have when using cleaning products… For whatever reason, after using a cleaning product, I had to spit into the sink.  Which was by far, the most bizarre compulsive-behavior I have ever experienced. Whether it be loading the dishwasher with detergent, pouring a scoop of detergent into the washer machine, or wiping down a counter with a Clorox wipe: I had to spit into the sink.

I don’t do that anymore.  I don’t think I replaced it with any other OCD quirks, for that I am pretty chill with using cleaning products now.

1.  Dash Cam Crutch:  As some of you may already know, majority of my OCD episodes occur while driving.  I have an irrational fear of hitting something without knowing it.

I was doing great, until we had bought a dash camera for long distant trips into the city.  Since then, all my OCD-driving fears flooded back.  My OCD-brain convinced me that I needed a dash-camera every time I was driving.  If I don’t have it, I end up driving around in circles double checking everything, which is a waste of time, energy, and gas.

I think I am doing better, because I don’t check the videos anymore.  Honestly, it’s just too much work to check the videos.  I can’t check them on the camera anymore, because I broke a button.  So, I have to disconnect it from the car, bring it inside, and upload the videos to my computer.   Even my OCD-bully brain thinks its not worth it.  So now, I just have a need to have the dash camera in the car while driving, like, just in case, I have an OCD episode.

Do you have any bizarre OCD quirks?

OCD can be embarrassing and emotionally difficult to talk about; however, getting those OCD thoughts and emotions out of your head, whether it be sharing them with a friend who supports you or writing them in a journal, is one of the first important steps to freeing yourself from your OCD-bully brain.  🙂

Even though OCD is apart of you, your OCD does not define you.  

 

Staying Mentally Strong

Protecting your mental health is more important now, than it EVER was before!

A super contagious virus, economy collapse, conspiracy theories, toilet paper hoarding, and now murder hornets… I don’t know about you, but I just want to go back to bed and wake up to a better day.Screen Shot 2020-05-08 at 1.36.41 PM

I do not know what is going on in the world today, but it is terrifying.  Not only are we uncertain about our own health, but also the stability of our own livelihood.

This pandemic has become more than just people getting really sick; it has become a situation that has flipped everyone’s lives entirely upside down!  Many have lost jobs that keep a roof over their head and food in their bellies.  Many have been forced into lockdown with abusers with no means of escape.  Many have resorted to drugs and alcohol to ease the pain of losing their job and/or loved ones.  Suicide rates have increased as the world seems to be falling apart.

Everyone, at some level, has been affected by this pandemic and no matter how this pandemic affects you, protecting your mental health is more important now than it ever was before!

Just because the world seems a little crazy right now, doesn’t mean it’s the end.  If anything, this is just a new beginning and all beginnings are scary.

Challenges Ahead

This pandemic is challenging, because of too many unknowns.  We are faced with a situation that is difficult to understand and have no control over.  To make matters worse, we are going to have to cope with these unknowns as the world starts to open up again.

Although nothing changed regarding the virus, lockdown created a whole nest full of other damaging problems.  Not only do many of us have to start putting our lives back together after lockdown, but we also have to do it in a way that doesn’t compromise our health and safety.   This is a lot to think about.  This is a lot to carry mentally.

Taking Control Of What We Can Control 

Obviously, this is a situation that we have no control over; however, we can certainly control how we choose to respond to it.

To overcome any kind of life challenge, we must remain mentally strong.  We must take a moment to breathe, accept what we cannot control, be grateful for what we have right now (even if it feels like nothing), and carefully take control of how we respond to situations day by day.

We can control the level of precautions we want to take for ourselves.  We can control how we choose to respond to negative information.  We can control how we choose to adapt to a life that is not entirely back to normal.  We can control what new path we want or need to take to better ourselves and our families during this difficult time.  We have a lot more control than we think.

I will not lie, it will be tough.   There will be ups and downs.  There will be obstacles here and there.  But, it is important to keep moving forward.  Attitude is everything.  Keep thinking positive, for that positivity will be your light out of the dark tunnel of negativity.  Seems corny, but true.

Obviously, not my best post…
I wrote this post, in between my kids driving me crazy, my husband working from home,  the house accumulating a mess around me, and the continue concern for everyone’s physical and mental health.

I plan to try to post more often, not only to help those find a positive light in the midst of all this chaos, but also to help myself get back to normal.   Since lockdown, the days have blurred together, routines have fallen apart, and I have no idea which way is up from bottom.   Sadly, I cannot recall the last time I actually made an effort to get dressed.

We are all in this together!  

Acceptance & Awareness: Coping With Stress During A Pandemic

I will be honest…last week, I totally fell apart!

I feel like I went through the Five Stages of Grief denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.  

I am not sure if anyone else has experienced this lately; if so, please feel free to share with us your thoughts and opinions too.

My downward spiral of emotions began when the media started reporting different facts regarding the CoVid-19 pandemic, causing great panic and fear in everyone.

As a scientist at heart <3, I question the world around me, not only to gain better understanding, but also to better accept the unknown.  However, when information is incorrect or contradicting, it is difficult to make an accurate assessment to build a solid game plan.  As human beings, if we cannot accurately assess a serious situation, our Fight or Flight Response System kicks into high gear, creating panic and fear.

Of course, with the help of my OCD brain, my rational questions turned into stinking thinking, which not only created panic and fear, but also a physical pain in my ribs due to the build up of stress caused by panic and fear.  In short, I had a really really bad panic attack!

Denial
My emotions started with denial.  With all the confusing, contradicting, false information circulating around, I started to think, perhaps things are not as bad as it seems.  Then our community got serious, with shut-downs and testing.

Anger
Then, I got super angry.  Angry, that I am high-risk for complications due to my asthma.  Angry, that my family might lose me.  Angry, that I never finished my Biology degree to be one of the scientists who can help cure this awful disease.  Angry, that the world may change forever for my girls.  Angry, about so much stuff.  

Bargaining & Depression
After the anger subsided, I began a stage known as bargaining…where the “what if” thinking really started to get me down.  Mostly, I became overly concerned about the welfare of my kids…in which, I can’t even bring myself to talk about without the waterworks starting up again.  I started organizing my affairs and gathering information my family would need, in the event, I get really sick.

This was the stage, where I began to feel the pain in my ribs.  The part where depression kicked in and I cried a lot.

Acceptance
Today, I am feeling much better, except for my ribs; they feel like they were beaten by a baseball bat.  But, my heart-rate is down, I am calm, cool, collected, and ready to take on the world again.

I am currently working on acceptance and I think acceptance is very important when having to cope with stress; especially, a lot of stress.

I have accepted that the situation going on today is out of my control.
However, I can certainly control how I respond to this situation.
I can respond by…

1) Keeping myself informed and up-to-date
2) Doing my best to practice good hygiene and taking the necessary precautions to prevent illness and help flatten the curve to help others.
3) Worrying only when it is time to worry.
4) Having hope and never giving up on hope.
5) Continuing to enjoy Life with a grateful heart and a positive mind. 


Practicing Awareness
With everything going on in the world right now, it is super easy to forget about the present moment.  For many of us, we are wasting the present moment by dwelling on the past as we worry about the future.  But, in the grand-scheme of things, the present is all that really matters.  Even when the world is not tumbling into chaos, enjoying the present is far more important than our past and future.

Don’t get me wrong, our future is important too.  However, focusing on the present allows us to pave the way for a better future, a more enjoyable future, rather than a future spent on regretting the past.  I am not sure if that makes any sense, but basically, I am just saying, make good decisions and fantastic memories now, so that you end up having an amazing life later.

Also, practicing awareness for the present moment, gives us a break from all the chaos around us.  It has the potential to reduce panic and fear.  Being aware of the present moment, reminds you that at this very moment in time, you are okay.   Focusing on the present moment, removes a vast majority of fears and anxiety; especially, those associated with time and space.  It can eliminate fears and anxiety regarding the past and future (time).  It can also eliminate fears and anxiety caused by situations that are in your life, such as work, school, home, etc (space).  Self-awareness allows you to block out everything else and only focus on yourself…your existence.  This allows you to reprioritize your thoughts, worries, and emotions.  It also allows you to heal and recharge from overwhelming emotions.   A mental break.

Thank You To All The Amazing Brains 
I just wanted to take a moment to thank all the amazing brains out there taking the time to check out my blog, reading my posts, and posting comments.  You guys are awesome!  We will get through this together.  I wish everyone the best of physical and mental health!  Positive vibes too ❤