Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Legend of Perfection

Have you ever stayed up later than you should have worried that you aren't good enough?  It's an isolating feeling, but ironically many of us feel this way.  When we were children, it was easy to know if we were doing a good or bad job at most things: praise or discipline from your parents, report cards, trophies, certificates, etc.  We grew up with others helping us to excel, and we usually stayed in a hobby or sport we were good at.

As adults, we are given a gift and a curse.  We are given the freedom to study a skill that can become a job, we can stay up as late as we want with no one yelling at us, and we can sneak a candy bar for lunch without getting grounded!  But, as adults, we are given responsibility.  We may not be in a job we love because we need that paycheck for bills, to pay a student loan, to feed and clothe our children, and to make sure we aren't kicked out of our homes.  We might have to give up a hobby in order to spend more time with family or deal with a critical illness.  We lose sleep, we forget to take our vitamins, our anxieties increase, and we lose our patience easily because there never seems to be enough time in the day.

We are left thinking, "I wish things were perfect."  Oh, how I have always longed to feel perfect, to be the woman who can do it all flawlessly while looking glamorous.  I feel the more I think about it, the more this idea of perfection is so far out of my reach.  I go through regrets in my head like a hamster wheel.  "I should have done this, I could have been this, if I had just done this than life would be better..."  Is this a healthy thought behavior?  Not at all.  Is it a tool to keep me motivated to put on pants every day and be an adult?  Yes, but it doesn't have to be that way.

I have hard days where I feel like I am failing as a mother, wife, employee, and adult.  This only becomes a slippery slope of self pity and frustration.  So I have a new goal that is better for my life.  I am going to stop chasing perfection.  I will do my best to find the lessons in every up and down I experience day in and day out.  I think through learning as much as I can, that will make me a better person, not perfect by any means, but better than I was the day or year before.

I think it's time to be more patient with ourselves, to actually say to ourselves, "I forgive you."  I have priorities, and as long as those priorities are taken care of then maybe I am not failing after all.  The things I can't control should have no control over me.  None of us are perfect and 100% happy with every single thing in our lives, but that is okay.  I am now officially an okayist (yep I made that up) instead of a perfectionist for my own peace of mind.  At least in my life, perfection is a legend. 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

All Dogs Go to Heaven

Two days ago, my sister and I had to take our family dog, Zoey, to the vet to be put to sleep.  At about seventeen years old, she had pretty severe arthritis, incontinence, little vision, two found tumors, and was losing weight.  She didn't want to interact with anybody and spent most of her day just lying down in my mom's room.  She was just hanging on.  Fortunately she wasn't scared when we got to the vet's office, and didn't even have the energy to fight against the IV that went in her little arm.  I looked her in the face and told her how much she has been loved and thanked her for her loyalty to my family, especially my mom.

Instead of this blog being sad about the loss of Zoey, I wanted to write this to celebrate her life.  I never had a dog as a kid.  My dad forbade having one (I later found out he wanted to protect my sister and me from the pain he went through when he lost his childhood dog).  Two days before Mother's Day in 2000, Gwyn (my sister) decided to go to the Humane Society on a whim.  She saw a scrawny beagle/terrier in the corner of a cage that the employees had nicknamed Mighty Dog.  She was a 2 year old stray who looked like she had just had puppies and had a bad case of kennel cough.  She was on schedule to be put down since no one wanted her.  My sister felt a connection with Zoey and took me back to the kennel with her to meet Zoey.  Despite being scared and sick, she was so kind and had the type of stare that just made you want to hug her forever.  We were both determined to save Zoey from an early death and be our family pet.  The next step was to convince our parents.

My mom was actually optimistic about meeting Zoey and possibly taking her home, my dad was reluctant.  Fortunately, we got our father to go to the Humane Society with us since it was Mother's Day and my mom asked him to go to humor her.  When we got there, my dad didn't even want to go back to the kennel convinced we were NOT getting a dog.  We were allowed to put Zoey on a leash and decided we were going to take her out to the waiting room to meet my dad.  As soon as Zoey walked into the waiting room, she pulled herself away from the leash, jumped up on the bench right next to my dad, and just stared at him.  My dad started to crack a smile and gave in.  We got to take Zoey home that day and saved her from a morbid fate.

The next week was hard trying to treat Zoey's kennel cough, gain her trust, and get her to gain weight.  Soon after that, Zoey was really close with all of us.  She loved walks, our wooded backyard, chewing on pig ears, and playing tag.  I was actually shy at this time in my life so Zoey was who I hung out with.  She was a good friend to me, didn't judge me, didn't make fun of me.  She just wanted to play and be loved.

5 months after getting Zoey, my dad was diagnosed with lymphoma.  The more treatments my dad went through, the more Zoey stayed by his side.  She took naps with him and let him be when he wanted to be alone.  She instinctively knew when to be by him or leave him be.  Six short months later, my dad died.  This time, Zoey followed my mom around everywhere and slept next to her every night.  My mom admitted she felt better with Zoey watching over her.

When I went off to college, I even had a sense that my mom would be ok since she had Zoey.  I'd still come home every weekend to do laundry and play with Zoey.  The summer before my senior year, I was dealing with unbearable sinus headaches and a broken heart from a breakup.  Zoey was by my side, letting me hug her as I cried into her fur.  I couldn't leave the house much due to how lousy I felt but I had Zoey.  

Over the years, Zoey started to show her age and I moved to Indianapolis so I didn't see her as much.  She still slept with my mom every night.  It's times like these I wish I had spent more time with her after moving out of West Lafayette.  A year ago, Zoey's health started to go downhill.  It was hard for my mom to see but she did the best she could to take care of Zoey.  Last week, Gwyn and I saw Zoey and could tell she was doing very poorly.  We felt it was the right thing to do to go take Zoey to the vet since we were the ones who begged to save her.  I felt an irrational sense of guilt taking Zoey away from my mom, but she isn't in pain anymore.  She isn't just hanging on.  I want to think she is in a heaven, running around with pure joy and getting some hugs in from my dad.

I think it's an understatement to say that Zoey was a great dog.  I think it's an understatement  to even say she was an amazing dog.  She was what you'd hope for in a dog.  She loved so much and so loyally.  I think that is what makes Zoey's death so sad despite living a long life; we loved her so much it made saying goodbye so much harder.  She was the rescue dog that rescued us.  I will always be grateful for her, forever.

Monday, February 23, 2015

You Can Crush My Body, But Not My Soul

Being a mom is tiring, being a mom with Fibromyalgia is some days extremely hard.  Fibromyalgia makes you feel excruciating pain when you may not even have inflammation but it's not just that.  Fibromyalgia has caused chronic sinus issues, gastroparesis, and even exacerbated anxiety and in very low points, depression.   I'm not new to this disorder, I have had it since I was ten after a bad case of the flu.  For four years, Riley Children's Hospital ran many tests on me to find a cause until a rheumatoligist gave me certain tests to pinpoint Fibromyalgia which is rare in children.  I have gone on to do some amazing things in my life because of my willpower knowing deep down that I am stronger than what my body puts me through.  I do have some guilt knowing there have been more things I've wanted to achieve but brain fog, exhaustion, and pain can be unbearable at times.  I had a lot of anxiety after Raven was born because I realized she might grow up with a mom who has bad days and has to just lie on the couch but I have made peace with the fact that my daughter wouldn't love me any less than if I had diabetes, cancer, or any other disease/disorder.  I admit I don't take the best care of myself and it's showing more as I age.  However, I will adapt to whatever changes fibromyalgia brings and I will prevail.  I am just grateful I don't have a terminal illness and that the right distraction techniques help me forget about my pain and exhaustion.  I'm looking forward to moving up in my career in logistics and doing some home renovations.  When I feel ok, I am so thankful (that others take for granted).   I hope they find a cure or at least an affordable treatment plan but in the mean time, I'm dancing in the rain and finding the positives that define my life!

Friday, January 23, 2015

I've Got Thick Skin and An Elastic Heart

I don't know if you've heard the song "Elastic Heart" by Sia, but I adore it (and the video is very cool).  I know the song is probably about a break up, but I really love the line, "I've got thick skin and an elastic heart."  I feel like this resonates with how I feel about myself nowadays.

Growing up, I was a pretty sensitive child who got offended or upset easily by friends or family.  I don't know if it was because I was the baby of the family or I didn't know any better but to be overly sensitive.  I would dwell on any negative comment made towards me by elementary school girls to the point I refused to go to school.  I guess you could say I had bullies, but looking back what they said was completely laughable and not at all threatening.  I just couldn't handle people disliking me for no known reason.  I wanted acceptance in everything I did, it was my priority in life.

My father died right before I turned sixteen and this threw me into a deeper pit of needing acceptance.  Not only did I feel like I needed people to accept me, but also for a God to love and accept me.  I became religious because I was automatically accepted as a Christian.  People were nice to me at church and in youth group.  I don't regret that time in my life because going to Bible Study was a better choice of a form of acceptance than sleeping around or partying as a teenager.

I then got into modeling and I had to learn very quickly to take rejection.  I was asked multiple times by casting agents if I was planning to have a nose job, boob job, lip injections, if I could lose more weight, grow my hair out, cut my hair, be blonde, act more serious, the list goes on.  At first, it was absolutely frightening and then I realized that my body was a product (that sounds wrong, but you know what I'm getting at) and these agents weren't attacking my character, they didn't know me as a person at all!  They were simply looking for the perfect model for a specific look they had in mind.  I knew I wasn't the worst model because I did get jobs and was accepted into some very sought after agencies.  I got to travel, meet designers, be independent, and make new friends so despite all the rejection, I had a good time modeling internationally and also started to grow a thick skin as a result.

I feel like when I entered college, I slid back into the NEED to be accepted.  I think it was because I was insecure about being a 'townie' since I was going to school less than 10 minutes away from my mother's house.  I joined a sorority in order to feel accepted and I felt more outcast than accepted (though I do not blame any girls in the house, I just didn't feel like I was really part of a sisterhood since I was so used to doing my own thing).  I felt like the people I connected with most were the artsy kids and the people in my major, Apparel Design, who looked at life outside the box like I did.  Suffice to say, I did NOT want to become a fashion designer, but stuck with it because I loved the people I was around in my major and didn't want to pay for more college to change my major!  I think being around the artistic community at Purdue fueled my need to be accepted but also we celebrated our diversity and independence at the same time.

After college when the recession hit hard, I felt very vulnerable trying to be a grown up with no real job prospects.  I went in and out of relationships in order to try to feel fulfilled in a new life that was quite frankly scary.  At this time, I was too old to start over in fashion modeling and I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.  Haha, I still don't but at least I've accepted that now! Several jobs and relationships later, I finally started dating my now husband JD, who is tough as nails and has inspired me to keep a tough skin.  The world can be rough, but he's shown me you can get back up, brush yourself off, and keep moving.

Though JD inspired me to be a little more thick skinned, he didn't push me to be so, I had to be willing to do that myself.  Maybe it's age or the fact I'm a mother now, but I don't feel the need for the whole world to love me.  The most important person I need love from is myself.  I am thankful for all my experiences to bring me to the woman I am today.  I hope things will only keep getting better.