Health and Caregiving

Where does a child’s anxiety end and a mother’s anxiety begin?

I have never considered myself to be an anxious person.  I’ve always been able to get through things relatively unscathed emotionally.  My daughter’s illness changed all that.  My parents’ illnesses also changed all that.  Now, I feel like I have a certain level of anxiety most of the time.  But, that anxiety is nothing compared to what my relatively tiny 9-year-old holds in her heart on an almost daily basis.

Actually, that may be an overstatement.  Maybe it isn’t an almost daily basis.  Maybe it isn’t even that often but every occurrence seems like a huge ordeal for me.  Or maybe sometimes her being upset about going somewhere or doing something isn’t anxiety but just plain old moodiness or tiredness or too much sugarness.  I don’t really know anymore, but I feel like I should know.  I feel like everytime something happens that could be related to anxiety, I should be doing something about it, making sure that she does not become a statistic.  She has been through so much already.  She doesn’t need to be feeling like she is not on her own side in life.  But, she is 9 years old.  So, how do I talk to her about it without making it something else that gives her anxiety?!?  Please, someone tell me.  Because at this point, I’m a little lost.

My daughter has been exceptional.  She survived an infant heart transplant, severe sleep apnea as a baby which led to a tonsillectomy/adenoidectomy, then a bump during a heart biopsy leaves her with a severely leaking tricuspid valve that requires her chest to be drained of fluid that had backed up and then several bouts of pneumonia and then an attempted repair that failed and probably led to her needing a pacemaker for irregular heartbeat.  She has quarterly cardiac clinic appointments where she has to get poked for blood, examined with gel and a probing device on her chest and abdomen.  So, to my rational mind, after all of that, what could possibly be scary?  What could possibly make you feel threatened?  Well, it seems that it is a lot of things.  Places where she doesn’t know anyone.  Places where she does know someone but for some reason feels like she doesn’t belong.  Math.  Sports that take place on a team.  Someone being late to pick her up from school.  Any change in classes and teachers.  Staying overnight, even with family and friends, without us there.  Sleeping in her own bed up until about six months ago.  Going to bed without someone going with her, even now.

So, what do I do?  I want to “fix” it, but I know that isn’t possible.  I am not a mental health professional.  And anxiety never really gets “fixed” it just is something people learn to deal with in a healthy way.  But, I don’t want to put some other thing on her to be “dealt” with like her chronic condition of being a heart transplant recipient and having a leaky valve and having a pacemaker.  She has to deal with so, damned much.  I just don’t want her to deal with this.  And maybe in some small way (or a large way), I don’t want to have to deal with this.  It is yet another thing on the long list of things to be “concerned” about, to be “aware” of, to know how to properly “deal with” to be sure it is not something we make harder on her in the future.  It is a lot.  For her.  For me.  For us.

I don’t know the answer to the question in the title of this blog post.  I don’t know what is her anxiety and what is my anxiety about her anxiety.  I may never know the answer to the question.  The best I can do is my best.  That is the best I can do in any situation.

DON'T QUIT

Uncategorized

Telling More Stories Beyond Forty

Hello everyone.  It has been a long, long while since I’ve been on this particular blog.  Once again, I got caught up in “new” and “better” and “starting over with a clean slate” and I lost myself in it all.  Because we are never really new and we never really have a clean slate.  It is a nice thought at first, but it quickly becomes overwhelming to realize that it would mean you lose your history.  Basically, you would have to lose your SELF in order to be really new or to really start over with a totally clean slate.  And that, my friends, just isn’t worth it.  No matter how much “better” it may be.  So, I’m back to my messy, somewhat chaotic blog and my messy, really chaotic life.  And that is okay.  I have my SELF here and I can make improvements, but not totally let go of all that I’ve done.

As I quickly approach the 50th year mark (July 24th folks), I thought that maybe the More at Forty idea I signed up for five years ago was not going to work anymore.  But, you know what?  I can tell more stories and they can be for forty plus!  The specifics of our ages don’t matter so much as the stories we tell and those can cross age ranges quite frequently.  Am I truly MORE than I was five years ago when I started this blog?  I’m not sure.  But, I do have many, many, many MORE stories I can tell.  And there will still be MORE stories to come.  So, that is my focus – telling more stories – past, present and future ones.  My stories as well as those around me (when appropriate).

Welcome back to those who rejoined me after my long hiatus.  I hope to see you on a regular basis and I hope you will enjoy the stories I tell and share your own as well.

joe-shillington-240205

Life Lessons, Life Updates

Why I Can’t Be a Protester

Let me get this over up front.  I am terribly disappointed that Trump is our President.  I think he is a horrible person who lacks any sort of skills at important traits for civil service such as compassion, empathy and a basic understanding of our political and legal processes.  So, I am by no means a Trump apologist.  But, I will consider myself a Trump-supporter apologist.  And the two are vastly different to me.  So, although I would love to make a cleverly worded sign and adorn myself in a feminist phrases t-shirt on Saturday, I will instead be standing at a table for the Union at our University, answering questions and providing information about the labor protections provided by the Union.  Let me tell you why…

im-not-marching

I feel like a bad ___________.  Fill in the blank.  Progressive.  Liberal.  Feminist.  It all works.  But, I just can’t bring myself to march in Saturday’s protest.  I have a lot of friends who are marching, both in DC and their localities.  And I totally support them.  I don’t think the protests are wrong or should not happen.  In fact, I am thankful that some do feel compelled to participate.  But, it just isn’t for me.

I remember eight years ago, as I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, coming across a former student of mine who posted throughout the lead up to the inauguration and for a while afterward that the world as we knew it was ending due to Obama being elected.  I’m sure most of you have read some of those claims over the last eight years (and perhaps wrote them yourselves).  I liked Obama, so her posts struck me as ignorant and hurtful and totally out of step with reality.  Hers were not the only comments like that on my Facebook feed, they were just the most extreme.  It was easy to dismiss her feelings because I didn’t share them, but I remember being shocked that someone could actually feel that strongly negative towards a President-Elect.

Eight years later, I sit on the other side of the fence.  Now, I’m not comparing Obama to Trump.  Lord knows that Obama has about 100 times more class and compassion and empathy in the tip of his pinky finger as Trump.  But, so far today, I’ve read on Facebook friends’ posts that we should support violent protests in Oakland and other places, including breaking glass and setting fires, in the name of resistance, that we should stop supporting Girl Scouts because they have troops marching in the inauguration and are supporting it by saying they have a tradition of marching in the inauguration, that we are entering a post-apocalyptic era, that we should not JUST not watch the inauguration tomorrow but that we should turn on our TV to a channel NOT showing the inauguration to truly bring down the ratings.  The list goes on and on.  Half of the information is based in half-truths.  The other half seems like the rantings of lunatics.  They are just lunatics who happen to agree with me politically.  If Hilary had been elected, I would be seeing many of the same posts, but from those who I disagree with politically.  It just isn’t healthy the way we seem to frame the debate so anyone who disagrees with us is deserving of wrath and ridicule.  It is all focused on us vs. them.  It is divisive, often for the sake of divisiveness, not solutions or true division of belief or ground.  It exhausts me and saddens me and sometimes even angers me.  I feel like I have to constantly be the voice of reason.  I am drawn to find points of compromise or to point out when arguments are flawed.  But, that also makes me sound like an apologist at times.  And it makes me feel like a bad ________________.

Protests are all about fueling those feelings of us vs. them.  They are all about drawing distinctions – those who are protesting, those who support the protests and those who do not support the protests.  But, that is really an oversimplification.  I guarantee you that there will be groups of women at the protests that I will totally agree with on most, if not all, things.  I also guarantee you there will be groups of women at the protests who I totally disagree with on most, if not all, things.  There will be some involved in protests who use the us vs. them feelings as a justification for violent acts against police or store windows or cars.  There will be some involved in the protests who want to claim the moral high ground and display their oppression as a badge of honor, while ignoring their privilege in many other instances.  There will be some involved in the protests who do hold the moral high ground in their day-to-day activities and who change the lives of people daily and recognize their privilege readily.  There will be some involved in the protests who see it as their “chance” to be “political,” as if we don’t have and make those choices daily.  And because I feel like all of that nuance is lost in the format and purpose of a protest, I can’t find it in myself to want to participate.

I guess I am less afraid of looking like a bad _____________ than I am of supporting something or someone I don’t believe in or support.  I definitely don’t support Donald Trump as President, but I don’t think of protests as demonstrating a lack of support for someone, I think of them as showing support for something else.  At this point, I’m not sure what that something else is.  I feel better waiting it out and trying to make my daily choices more compassionate, empathetic and with knowledge and understanding of our political and legal processes.  But, that means I have to be compassionate to Trump supporters as much as I am to Trump haters.  It means I have to be empathetic to those who do not see the world the way I do.  And it means that I have to recognize that as much as I hate it, the political process deemed Trump the winner and he is President.  We shall see what that means over the next four years, but hopefully, our political process will be able to withstand this low point in political decision making.  I think it will.  I am not preparing for a post-apocalyptic world.  I am preparing for some backtracking in civil rights and, ironically enough, protections against government interference and control, but I am also prepared to see our political process work against extremism, as it was designed to do.

I may eat these words.  I may wish that I had marched with the protesters and drew a more solid line between me and the Trump supporters.  But, at this point, I can’t find it in myself to take that stance.  So, Trump supporters, I will be seen as an apologist for you.  I will try to come from a place of compassion and empathy.  But, Trump, I will not be an apologist for you.  You need to change your ways and act more interested in your constituents than yourself.  You are not our CEO who can hire and fire us.  We are not your employees or your “apprentices”.  We are your constituents.  We expect you to figure out how to do your job without using Twitter storms as a agent of threat.  We expect you to deal with other countries as if there is peace on the line.  We expect you to choose individuals who can do the jobs they are chosen to do.  So far, as President Elect, you’ve done a pretty poor job of all of this.  But, now you are the President.  So, step up and act like one.  Please and thank you.

January Focus

Goodbye Christmas, Hello New Year!

You’re probably thinking that this post is coming out two weeks too late.  But, really, we just got rid of our Christmas tree tonight (sob) and I’m just now settling in to figure out the new year.  So far, I have not even been able to figure out what day of the week it is in the new year.  In fact, for most of today, I thought it was Monday not Tuesday.  Proving once again how much I need a routine in my life.  I wrote the wrong date on everything today, would have missed my DD’s swim lesson had my phone not sent me a reminder as I finished grocery shopping and I didn’t help out in my DD’s class this morning like I said I would on Tuesdays this semester.  Sigh…

But, 2017 is here and Spring semester starts next week.  I’ll be on a schedule again and I am looking forward to being able to eat dinner at a decent hour AT HOME every night of the week!  My meal planning has fallen to the wayside thus far.  Heck, most things have fallen to the wayside thus far.  But, I figure school starting will help me out with getting things together a bit better (send a prayer my way on this one).  Although, traveling the first week of classes is a little bit rough.  But, I will take it.  The holiday is over.  I need a routine and I need it now!

I’m shifting to try something new this year.  I have been using a 10 minute timer to get things done.  I have a long list of things that I need to work on and I work on one thing for 10 minutes and then move on.  But, I find this to be too short of a time (although I’ve adjusted to it and often will stay doing a task for longer when I’m in flow on it).  So, I’ve decided to use some block scheduling instead.  I find that I’ve really lost my ability to focus for long periods of time and do any kind of deep work and it is really negatively impacting my productivity on larger projects.  My schedule this semester lends itself to this type of schedule much better than my prior schedules, so I’m going to give it a shot and see if I can regain my focus, get more done and take more time away from the laptop!

focus

 

Be more series, Uncategorized

More Followers Monday #1 – Join Up!

I said I was going to start this two weeks ago and missed both the last Mondays.  Sad, but true.  But, here I am posting just before Monday ends.  But, the linkup will be open all week and I hope that some of you will join up this first week.  I’m sure it will be pretty small, but if we all visit and follow the blogs that Linkup and if you share about this linkup on your blog, we can build up our followers slowly but surely!

I think it would be great if you could link to a page that lets the readers know how you would like them to follow you (if you have a preference).  So, link to your Instagram if you’re building your following there or to your Facebook if you need followers there, etc.  Blogs are always welcome, but feel free to link up to other areas if that is where you need More Followers!  In case you missed my original post back a couple of weeks ago, here it is and the linky is at the bottom!

I’ve decided to start a “more” themed post on Mondays in 2017 – More Follower Mondays at More at Forty!  My hope is that we can help each other by generating more followers for our blogs and social media.  I am doing it as a Linkup so we can actually see a blog post that you’d like to drive traffic to, but you can also link to a social media account if that is where you need followers.  I’m new to this Linkup thing so be patient with me, but I think I have it figured out.  My plan is to make the first linkup available on Monday, January 2 and to have one each Monday.  Some Mondays, I may add a theme, but to start, we’re just going with an open-ended invitation to linkup and get more followers!

more-followers-mondays

Five Minute Friday

Five Minute Friday – Middle

Hello!  If you are joining me from Five Minute Friday, welcome to my little corner of the internet.  Please look around and get to know me and make a comment.  I will be sure to visit you as well and say hi!

This week’s Five Minute Friday prompt is “Middle”.  Let’s get started!

connect-1

I have to be honest.  the first thing that popped into my mind when I read the prompt was that old song, “Stuck in the middle with you.”

Clowns to the left of me,
Jokers to the right, here I am,
Stuck in the middle with you.
Yes I’m stuck in the middle with you.
I feel a little stuck in the middle of things right now.  Life for one.  I’ve hit “that age” where I feel like more of my life may have gone by than I have left.  Of course, that can always be the case, but it becomes especially apparent as I get close to 50.  I mean, not many people live to 100, so you really are on the shorter side of life when you get to this point.  But, we often refer to the late 40s and early 50s as the point where people have “mid-life” crises.  I’m not having one of those (yet), but I am starting to wonder how to make this last “half” of life better than the first half of life.  This year is starting to feel better than the past few years have felt as far as that is concerned, but it still feels like pressure.  I think the key that I have come up with is that to make this half better, I need to live more, give more and love more.
Luckily, I have my DD to keep me young and having fun.  And, I don’t often feel like I have “clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right,” which I have to think is a good thing.
____________________________________________
TIME!
So, there it is.  Wasn’t expecting to talk about mid-life today, but sometimes the prompt just leads you to unknown territory!
What’s your “middle” today?
hallmark movies and mysteries, Mysteries, Uncategorized

Why I love Hallmark Movies and Mysteries Channel

I’ve gone cordless in the last couple of months.  We dropped our cable TV and went back to straight Roku and Netflix.  I had a few reasons to hesitate on this change.  First, I like local news.  But, we got an antenna and I get the two channels that have local news with that antenna.  Second, we sometimes like to watch sports and Roku doesn’t have the best in sports selections.  But, we decided we don’t watch enough sports to make that a reason to continue to pay the outrageous cost of Cable TV.  And a lot of sports are streamed online now, so we can always access them that way.  The third and most serious reason was that I LOVE Hallmark Movies and Mysteries channel.  But, I realized most of what I watched on there was Murder She Wrote and that was on Netflix anyways.  The key word in that last sentence is WAS.  As of January 1, Murder She Wrote is not on Netflix.  In addition, I was seeing my Hallmark Movies and Mysteries newsletters and seeing new movies in some of my favorite series like Gourmet Detective, Garage Sale Mysteries and new ones like Framed for Murder with Jewel and getting really regretful for cancelling my expensive cable.  So, I started a hunt to find where I could watch the channel on Roku and lo and behold, there it is on Sling TV!  I have to pay $24.99 a month, which is a bit expensive, but still much cheaper than my cable bill used to be and we get ESPN (for the hubby) and cooking channels and HGTV, which we also enjoy.  So, all-in-all, it is a great compromise that has given me back my favorite channel.  But, some may ask, why is Hallmark Movies and Mysteries my favorite channel?  Well, let me give you some reasons!

why-i-love

  1. Things get solved!  My life is often composed mostly of problems.  I am dealing with problems with students, problems with TAs, problems with my finances, problems with my schedule, etc., etc.  I love that when I watch a show on Hallmark Movies and Mysteries, the problems get resolved.  It seems overly simplistic sometimes, but it is a relief for me to watch something where solutions are had by those who need them.
  2. Those solutions are simple.  My life is complicated.  See the first point.  I don’t need my TV to be complicated.  I don’t want to make a lot of effort to figure out what is happening in a TV show or why it is happening.  I like to enjoy TV and relax while I watch it.  Some may see the shows on Hallmark Movies and Mysteries as predictable (not always, but they are often based on formulaic mystery books), but I see them as effortless.  I am sometimes surprised by the answers to the mysteries, but mostly, I just enjoy the ride and I don’t feel like I have to work at watching the show.
  3. The mysteries are solved by women!  I realize this isn’t necessarily unique to Hallmark Movies and Mysteries, but it is much more prevalent there.  I just saw a commercial for their “Women of Mystery” and every major movie series on the channel has a woman as the main character.  And they are often surrounded by women as well.  This is unusual in modern media.
  4. The women solving mysteries are doing “More at Forty (plus)”.  As a person who is edging closer to 50 than 40, it is nice to see women on TV who are not in their 20s. And I especially appreciate that the women on the Hallmark Movies and Mysteries channel are not constantly concerned about their age or their weight or their looks.  They are simply being women, comfortable with who they are.  Lori Loughlin is 52.  Jewel is 42.  Candace Cameron Bure is 40.  Brooke Shields is 51.  Kellie Martin is 41.  Brooke Burns is the baby of the bunch at 38.  Alison Sweeney is 40.  I love that this channel focuses the majority of its series on women in their 40s plus.  Proving that you can be “more at forty”!
  5. Women are solving crimes rather than committing them.  The Lifetime Movie Network has women committing crimes and going crazy and killing people. But, Hallmark Movies and Mysteries has women who love their friends and families and professions and are solving crimes rather than committing them.  They are good to those around them.  They are caring and they think critically and they are smart and not always concerned with getting the guy.  It is nice to watch women being good people doing good things.
  6. They celebrate the great eighties. I think everyone has a soft spot for things they experienced in their youth.  Music, movies, television, etc.  Well, much of what is shown on the Hallmark Movies and Mysteries channel outside of their movies are TV shows from the eighties.  My favorite, by far, is Murder She Wrote, but I also enjoy Hart to Hart and they are now introducing Father Dowling Mysteries (who doesn’t love the dad from Happy Days solving crimes as a catholic priest?).  I feel like it takes me back to those evenings in my family room, with my parents, all watching non-cable TV and enjoying it together.  It is nostalgic for me.
  7. I can watch it with my 7-year-old.  I love PBS Masterpiece Mystery as well, but I can’t always trust that it will be okay to watch it with my 7-year-old.  There are often story lines and graphic violence that is beyond her capabilities.  Sometimes there is inappropriate language.  But, with the shows on Hallmark Movies and Mysteries, I can feel safe having my 7-year-old in the room.  She loves Murder She Wrote as well. She knows the major movie series on the channel and her favorite is Murder She Baked.  It is nice to have something I can watch and enjoy and not worry about her being in the room.

So, there you are.  The seven reasons I love Hallmark Movies and Mysteries.  I am toying with the idea of having a weekly post on Mysteries (Monday Mystery Mashup).  I will have to play with that idea for a bit.  If you haven’t checked out Hallmark Movies and Mysteries and any of the seven reasons sound compelling to you, you really should check it out.  It is my (not-so) guilty pleasure.