Where Do You Go for Inspiration?

Warning! You may be tired of the word “inspire” by the time you get to the end of this post…

There is a lot of bad, uncomfortable, messed up shit going on out there in the world. Current events sometimes make it hard to see the good in people and looking into the future can be pretty scary.

Finding inspiration is not easy… but for me these days I don’t have to look far.

My son moved into his own place and let me tell you… his spot in no way compares to the 450 sq foot studio that was my first apartment (and I’m not counting my actual first place away from home). His first weekend out, we all went over to Ikea and I watched him pick out and buy furniture for the first time… and then? I watched as he and my husband put it together. For those of you that have gone through this, you know watching a father and son work together like this is a memory I won’t soon forget. For all the years that we battled while he was growing up… to get to the point where we are now…WOW! I can remember in those early years wondering what our relationship would be like once he became an adult… He is the most intuitive, forgiving, selfless person I have ever met. The decisions and changes he has made since he graduated from college… inspiring.

My daughter has had one heck of a freshman year. Through the challenges and experiences she has had over the last 5 months, she inspires me with her resilience. It can’t be easy being so far away from home, and although she has made a lot of great friends, it’s not the same as being at home with her lifelong besties. Yet she does what she has to, to be successful. And she has been rewarded for her hard work with some amazing opportunities.

I know I say it a lot, but even if I said it every day… shouted from the mountain tops… it would never be enough…  I AM BLESSED TO HAVE THIS AWESOME FAMILY AND FRIENDS!!!. They inspire me all the time. My mom is dealing with health issues that are much more taxing than what I go through every day, yet she makes it work… and her life story alone inspires me. I know we are supposed to raise our children to be better than we are… but it will take me a lifetime to be better than her. I guess that’s the point…

My dad has decided to share his story in the Japanese internment camps by going and speaking at churches, schools and local events. He’s the last of a generation that is living to tell this story. The people who have come to his presentations will walk away learning about something that we never want to see again.

I have watched my parents make a difference in so many people’s lives over the years, I can remember moments growing up when I was jealous of how generous they were of their time with other people. Yet they taught me to be just like them… and it’s one of the things I am most proud of. So inspiring!

My friends who have overcome the deepest, most incredibly sad losses in their lives. They amaze me with how they managed to carry on. It wasn’t easy, but their ability to work through the pain to become stronger individuals is so inspiring to me.

My husband who every day takes care of me. He inspires me to keep going. He teaches me how important it is to live life and not just let it pass by. He pushes me to be creative and works damn hard so I don’t go down that black hole of depression… You know as well as I do that sometimes nothing can stop the spiraling, but the fact that he tries means so much to me.

I could go on and on. Just sitting here writing this makes me see, once again, how blessed I am. What inspires you? I will bet that if you just sit right where you are and take a moment to think about the people around you today or those that have crossed paths in your life, you will feel just as inspired as I do.

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Yachats, OR… if you look close at this photo, with a little bit of positivity, you can see a heart in the ground!

I had someone tell me the other day how inspired they were by my ability to work through my pain. She wasn’t feeling well herself and she found herself thinking about what I must go through and it seemed to give her the strength to keep working. She has no idea what her words meant to me. For those of you with chronic pain, you know it’s rare for people to recognize how difficult our lives can be. Just the recognition and understanding for how challenging it is every day… that was inspiring to me!

I have been meaning to blog for the past few weeks. It’s important to stay positive and keep moving forward. With every reason to be negative and down these days, I need to remember the good. I hope this lifted your spirits a bit.

Be inspired! Best wishes for a pain-free day.

Gentle hugz.

Tamiko

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Be Blessed… Accepting Your Limitations

Soooooooo…. another doctor’s appointment come and gone and once again I left the office with no answers. Today I went to the audiologist to see if there was any reason why I have this constant high pitch tone flowing through my head 24×7. OF COURSE I waited many, many months before going in… and OF COURSE I left with the same answers I have 90% of the time I go into the doctor’s office… and that is OF COURSE — NO ANSWERS!! Oh wait, I did get one answer… a referral back to my PCP. Woohoo!! Well, let me find the positive in this. I do not have any loss of hearing. And trust me, no sarcasm… I do appreciate that something is working the way it is supposed to! There’s a positive for every negative, right?

What a time in our lives… our daughter is graduating from high school in about six weeks. Damn. SIX WEEKS!! (I have no idea why I am using so many caps, I’m really not trying to yell at you.) I forget how much is involved with these graduations. We are in the process of selecting a college. When I say “we”, I actually mean “she” with a little help from us. She just had her senior prom… she’s planning a senior trip… we are planning her graduation party… senior pictures… college commitment/ housing/ budgeting… CALGONNNNNNNNNNNNNNN take me AWAYYYYYY!!!!!! (only those of you that are on the older side will remember that commercial… here’s a link for your viewing pleasure.)

IMG_4270It’s times like this when I tend to forget I am not physically able to do it all. For every one busy day, I tend to have two days where I’m down. Lately it’s been a lot more down days, than able days. We drove up to Eugene, OR to check out the University of Oregon. An amazing campus. The drive up was very nice, but sitting in the car is not easy for long periods of time. We knew it was going to be tough so we made several stops along the way… we took our time. Accepting my limitations in this instance made all the difference. When we arrived in Eugene, I was doing okay. Whew! The next day, however, was a bit trickier. We had scheduled a tour of the campus for 10:00am. We arrived early so we wouldn’t be stressed out, again planning in advance… what we couldn’t plan for was how fast the walking tour was. This tour guide was very enthusiastic. To make things even more challenging it was very cold outside. So just picture a very brisk walk for 90 minutes in and out of buildings, up and down stairs and in the cold… This is where I tend to not speak up. I don’t want to be a burden or slow a group down so I stayed the course and I made it through. I was really proud that I made it. The rest of that day IMG_9659and the next morning… MAN DOWNNNN!!!! What can I say? I did my best and we actually accomplished everything we wanted to. We just did it in our own time and tried not to stress. We made it home and I was able to rest up for a couple days before going back to work today.

I know there’s a lot coming in the next couple months. I just have to keep reminding myself that it’s okay to ask for help and it’s okay if everything is not 100% perfect. It will be the best we have to offer and as far as everyone is concerned it will still be great! The thing is… it’s not about me. It’s so easy sometimes to just get all engrossed in how crappy I feel, I have to remind myself that it really is NOT about me 99% of the time. It helps to remember that although I am in pain and struggling with depression/anxiety… it could always be worse. Like I could be losing my hearing!

It really has been a rough year. I have struggled with my depression/anxiety a lot this year. For one reason or another, my flares are closer and closer together and they seem to last longer. I know I can do better with taking care of myself, but as you all know, it’s damn frustrating living like this. To have a week without any kind of pain would be amazing. To be able to take time off work for vacation and not be sick… what a concept!

Listen, I realize each day is a challenge living with Fibromyalgia and Depression and Anxiety and Essential Tremor and GERD and ADD and… oh wait, sorry, lost my train of thought. Anyway! I realize every day is a challenge living with all the crap we live with, but we just have to remind ourselves to accept our limitations and remind ourselves of the blessings we have each day.

Which leads me to … I am still journaling every day! I haven’t missed a day without snapping a picture or journaling. There have been a few days where I have just put a picture because I was too sick to do any more than that… but I have kept up the practice of journaling every day! Find something that helps you think about the positive in your life. As I look back through the pictures I have snapped since the first of the year, I can’t help but smile.

Thank you so much for stopping by and please have a blessed day!

Gently hugz…

Tamiko

 

Welcome 2016!! Hello Happiness!!

 

Stress takes a toll… relationships… health… sleep… diet… PAIN!! Stress takes a toll.

What do you do when you are stressed? Me? Some days I manage well… other days? Not so much…

2015 was full… I mean FULL of stress and challenging times on a personal level (honestly… what would it be if not personal)? I can take classes, read  books, gather tips and best practices for managing stress… but the problem is, as many of you well know… you actually have to PRACTICE those things that one learns. WTH? No magic pill? No snap of my fingers? No twitch of my nose? Damn! I actually have to work to make it WORK.

Every year I write down my goals… each year, kinda the same thing. I want this year to be different. I want this year to be better. I will do better. I will set and achieve my goals. No more, “I will lose 50 pounds in one month.” … maybe something like, “I will exercise once a week.“… (damn, even that sounds hard to me… Crazy!! Full confession… I don’t exercise at all right now, so exercising once a week is going to be very challenging). Maybe I will set goals to achieve each month. For examplgoalschangesm.jpge, in January I could… eat less sugar! Hmmmm I need specific achievable goals… so in January I will reduce my sugar intake by not eating sugar 1 day in week 1, 2 days in week 2, 3 days in week 3… that will be damn hard, but changing fro
m bad to good habits isn’t meant to be easy. Accountability! (I really need to figure out a better word to use as my mantra.) Most important…  I will do my best to be happy about small successes.

That’s a challenge in itself. Being happy. For those of you with depression, you know exactly what I mean. Happiness does not come naturally for me, it requires me to take meds and accept things and not be sad or down about shit, not get upset – I am super envious of people who are able to “take things in stride”. What the hell is that anyway? How does one do that? What’s the key to happiness? I’m quite sure it all goes back to exercise, eating right and acceptance. It’s everything. These three things solve stress, pain, depression, anxiety, self-confidence, self-esteem… the list is infinite! These three things. Exercise. Diet. Acceptance. Three words. How can there be so much behind three words?

Wouldn’t it be awesome if I had one of those believe it and you will do it minds? Well… I don’t. I have one of those… “Jussssssttttt one more See’s candy… I deserve it!” minds. “CALLING ALL SELF CONTROL TO THE FRONT OF MY MIND!! … PLEASE … COME TO THE FRONT OF MY MIND!!” Wait.. what? It’s gone in hiding? Can’t find it? Damn thing is never around when I need it. I really have to work on that. Self Control has to replace “I deserve it!” as my BFF… that’s going to be a hard one. My current “I deserve it!” BFF has a box of See’s candy in one hand with a Nordstrom bag on her shoulder and the remote control to the TV in the back pocket and of course, an “I will start tomorrow on… (you fill in the blank)” attitude! Replacing her is going to be tough… I mean I have to kick her to the curb HARD to make this work.

Well welcome Self Control to 2016 and g’bye “I deserve it!“!

I hope you are saying hello to all good things this year and g’bye to the bad.

A big gentle hug and I wish you all the happiness, good fortune and pain-free/ improved health in 2016!!

I leave you with one of my favorite pictures of 2015… Three generations! Happy new year!!

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Tamiko

How Honest Are You?

… vent, vent vent… complain, complain, complain… this is how i feel. I feel like everyday I say the same damn thing. It goes something like this…

girl-150102_640“I am not feeling well”

I am exhausted

I am in a lot of pain

That food was so good!” … and an hour later… “That food made me really sick

I don’t have the energy for that

My legs aren’t working” … “My hands are killing me” … “I have a migraine” … ” …

I can go on and on and literally ON! I know a lot of you folks out there feel like every time you describe to your family or those closest to you how you are feeling … it’s like a broken record. Should we lie? If I don’t tell the truth people assume that I’m feeling perfectly fine and then expectations change. The truth of the matter is, just as quickly as I forget what pain feels like, others forget what me in pain looks like. And honestly… be super-duper honest… is there ever a moment in the day when you don’t feel any pain? For me, the answer is an adamant “NO!” (I’m really not shouting at you… just making a point). So if I go with my baseline pain level and call that “fine” and then just speak to my worse than baseline symptoms, is that better? And better for who? Me? My family?

What prompted all this? Well… I’m not sure. I think it’s because I have been in a flare for months now. I’m not sure how long because at the beginning of this calendar year I, for no rhyme or reason, stopped using my calendar. I had a calendar last year that I wrote all my health stuff in… this year I just haven’t had the energy. I’m not even sure it’s a lack of energy thing as much as it is I got tired of thinking about everything. I’ll be honest… I’m kind of a mess right now. But, as I was saying, I feel like I’ve been flaring for months. I don’t recall being in a flare for this long in years. It’s just not calming down.

So, is it a burden for my family and friends to carry if I am honest about how I am feeling or is it a burden for me to keep the truth to myself? What’s the balance and where do you draw the line? I’ll tell you what. I’m tired. I’m tired of feeling like shit. I’m tired of being depressed. I’m tired of never being able to say… “I feel GREAT!”. I’m just flippin’ tired.

And now that I have vented and complained what the hell am I going to do about it? Ummmmmmmmmmmmmmm, can this be one of those days where I just vent and complain? Do we get those days? I think if you talked to my husband he’d tell you I definitely have those days… but that’s not what I want to do with you folks out there who have chosen to follow my blog. We all have these shitty days, but to just vent and complain brings everyone down including ourselves. How do you get out of the pit of pain and depression? I believe you have to be kind to yourself. Acknowledge that you will have bad days and today is one of them. Tomorrow is a new day. It’s a new opportunity to have a less painful day. A less down day… one that could be a happy day. It sounds strange, but in our world of chronic pain – pain and happy go together. You cannot let the pain take your happiness away. If you don’t allow yourself to be happy while in pain… the alternative is not a life worth living.

IMG_0379Yesterday was a pain and happy day. I was having some issues walking, but I was determined… I couldn’t let that ruin our family day. We started the morning out playing soccer with my exercise ball in our bedroom (don’t tell the kids) – I don’t think I’ve laughed that hard in a long time (let’s just say we were almost in the market for a new tv)… followed by an awesome breakfast the kids made for Father’s Day and then we all piled in the car and spent the day together. A day which included walking… which was extremely painful. In this instance I was not about to let the pain get in the way of everyone’s happiness and just as important mine. We had a beautiful day which I managed with pain meds, laughter, joy and a lot of positive self-talk. A pain and happy day.

So back to my question… how honest should we be? Maybe I will try another approach. Maybe I’ll use the baseline approach and if I’m feeling my normal pain, I’ll say, “I’m doing good!”… I might even try to start saying, “I’m doing great!”. If I’m feeling worse than normal, I can just say “It’s not a great day”.

Our lives are not predictable. The only thing we know for sure is that there is going to be pain, we are going to be uncomfortable. We are going to have days where we want to scream and shout, stomp our feet (although that would cause more pain), and cry… but after you realize your life could be a lot worse and that you are surrounded by the best family and friends anyone could ask for… you realize how blessed you are. Today may be hard… but there’s always tomorrow.

Thanks for stopping by! I love hearing from you either by email or comments.

Stay cool and relax… Gentle hugz!

Tamiko

And the Acting Award Goes To…. YOU! Yes, You with the Chronic Pain!!

These days I feel like I should be going for some kind of acting award. I don’t compare myself to those true to the art, but I certainly feel like I am “on” most of my waking hours. You know what I mean. If you have a chronic illness, you know exactly what I mean. Let’s see… when someone says to you, “How are you doing?”, what’s your response? Me? Well, there’s always the standard response:

“I‘m doing alright...” or I may say”I feel okay…” or

I’m fine…” or sometimes I’ll say

Theatre-stage-curtains-an-001I’ll be alright…” or… or… the list goes on. All of which translates to… “I feel like crap, but I live to get through another day.“.  I depress even myself when someone asks me the question. And, trust me, I’m not saying I don’t want folks to ask how I’m doing, it’s just I never know what to say. Honesty is not the best policy in this case. I don’t really think people should have to hear my truth. In addition, I don’t want to say out loud multiple times a day that I feel like crap. I imagine it would only make me feel worse mentally. Which leads me back to my original statement. I think I am pretty  good at acting. Most of us don’t want the whole world to know how much pain we are in or even that we are in pain at all. To get through the day, we have to put on a happy face so folk see us as functioning people and not just people with pain or disabilities. I don’t want to be the one that people look at and feel sorry for. I want to be the one that is looked at as strong and responsible, caring and able.

Sometimes I think I am so good at this acting stuff, that I convince even myself nothing’s wrong… I can literally act myself into thinking there is nothing wrong with me. Until, of course, I try to live without paying attention to what my body/ mind are telling me. Those are the days that reality slaps me in the face, basically saying, “WAKE UP! Stop just thinking about right now”. I feel like I have to go through the acceptance process of all my medical conditions at least once or twice a week. I know what the diagnosis is (trust me it’s difficult not to know), but when you act like your are completely fine… you act like you are completely fine. If I acted like I was fine while also managing all my medical conditions better, I’d actually be almost fine!

So! What has happened since the last time I blogged?

Damn. Damn… DAMN! I have had tests, more MRI’s, CAT scans, many appts… I did the Prednisone thing. This was the first recommendation to see if it would alleviate the pressure/ pain in my neck (reduces the inflammation). That actually really helped the pain for a few days. I was like a new person, literally tons of focus and energy. It was crazy how good I felt… for a FEW days. Awesome, very much like when I had a epidural while in labor with my son, which literally worked for ONE contraction. There really is nothing worse than feeling the awesomeness of no pain… when you should be in a lot of pain. Only to have that awesome feeling snapped right out of your reach in an instant. So! The Prednisone worked for a few days and then slowly stopped working, but I did end up with the bonus of more pounds on my body. JUST WHAT I NEEDED! yay… (she said super quietly with a lot of sarcasm…)

I had many discussions with the spine surgeon and two separate neurologists and have come to the conclusion that surgery is definitely in my future. With that in mind, I needed a solution for this tremor. None of us want my head to be shaking just out of surgery… that would seriously dampen the entire post-surgical bliss that I’m looking forward to. So! I started a new med. I had a handful to choose from and I made a decision and tried the only one that seemed like it might work with the least amount of side effects (or cause me to have to change my antidepressant)… Well, again, it was good… at first. And then… the side effects kicked in. The kick was a big one. My depression tanked. Tanked as in I fell into that big f’d up black hole. You know, the one that has no bottom and there’s no light at the top to give me hope. It took me a bit to see what was going on. By the time I realized what was happening, I was in too deep. That feeling of hopelessness and despair completely overwhelmed me. I started to back off the meds and ultimately decided I would stop completely. The thoughts going through my head are not worth the benefit of the relief from the tremor. Which sadly, the med did stop the tremor… It’s the choice of bad or deep black hole I’ll take bad any day. That is the end of meds to address my tremor (for now).

So for the last few weeks I’ve been a mess. Working has been like walking through wet cement for hours. (I’m full of analogies today) Attempting to focus with this mental state and my pain levels going through the roof has not been fun. But! I made it through. Today was my first day off the meds and I believe in a couple of weeks I’ll feel much better.

In the meantime, I prepare for my surgery. The mental and physical preparation will take a while for me.

I know God is on my side. With all this stuff standing in front and on top of me, I am blessed with the most wonderful family and friends who stand beside me and on many days who hold me up. I have a job that allows me to work from home, which in turn makes me feel like I am contributing and adding value both at work and at home. I have a plan to address the neck pain/ weakness in my arms and legs. The future is not grey and bleak, it is in fact looking okay. I may be in pain every day and I may suffer from severe depression from time to time, but I am blessed. I do not take the great things in my life for granted.

DSC_0353We just celebrated my daughter’s 16th bday. A celebration that would not have been a success without the help from those closest to me. From the hand-made decorations, to the made from scratch awesome tie dye yummy cake and caterpillar cupcakes, to the candy leis to the cotton candy machine to the best food in the world… this celebration was one to remember… and in less than two months, my son graduates from college. You were all with me when he graduated from high school! Every day is a blessing.

40,000+ visits later, my blog is still going strong because of the support from all of you. I say it again. I am blessed. Thank you for taking the time to read this and leaving your comments and sharing your personal experiences with me. It means a lot to me.

You all win the award for best acting! You do it every day… all day long. It’s not a good or bad thing, it’s just what we do.

Gentle hugz!

Tamiko

It’s Monday… What Kind of Week Do You Want to Have?? You have the Power to Make it a Good One!!

It’s a Monday night… almost 10:30 and I’m sitting here thinking to myself… “What kind of week do you want, Tamiko?”. I have the control to determine my week. I have to keep remembering this. I can complain and end up discouraged and having a negative vibe or I can praise and feel encouraged with a positive vibe. Hmmmmmmm, seems an easy decision… an obvious decision – but habits are hard to break. I choose to take one minute at a time. I have decided to start tomorrow and only say positive things, not gossip and not complain. I’ll forgive myself if I make mistakes, but at least I know I’m going into it with the right attitude. I just have to wake up and start the day right… right?

A couple momentous events have occurred, even since the last time I posted… First, THANK YOU! My blog reached 20,000 hits. I can’t even say that and begin to believe it. 20,000 hits! That’s awesome!! My second, and I should say equally as momentous event is… and I’m going to write this in bold…. I walked 15 miles last week. Let me say that again… I walked 15 miles last week. I have never done this before. I don’t think I have ever walked 5 miles in a week. I walked 1.5 miles at a time in the beginning, sometimes twice a day and at the end of the week I was walking 3 miles straight through. I still can’t believe it.

Let me tell you what I did differently than before:

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Views while walking in the rain…

  • I purchased some new shoes. I had the same shoes for years… I decided to get some good shoes (Sports Authority, $40 Nikes).
  • The first time I walked, I went out by myself. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was a deliberate decision to go alone. I put a podcast on and I walked at my own pace. Which let me tell you… was pretty slow. I walked up the hills with very, very short strides and with my back straight so I wouldn’t put a strain on my shins or back. I took my time. I took in my surroundings and didn’t walk to hurry and get to the end, but I walked to learn how to enjoy being outside and breathing in fresh air.
  • Each time after, I kept the same, slow pace being very cognizant to not go overboard with my pace or stride. Learning from my past… Every time I have started walking like this, I ended up getting shin splints and having to stop for weeks… which then resulted in me stopping all together.
  • I tracked my walks in an app on my phone… duration, pace, distance (uses GPS). I have a couple of friends that see my activity and we encourage each other. Seeing my accomplishment in this app is very motivational for me.
  • I didn’t let the weather stop me… and I was happy that I went out in the rain/ sprinkles… it’s just water!

If I can accomplish these things… YOU CAN TOO!

So, what kind of week do you want to have? I want a good one and it’s in my power to make it happen!

Thanks for stopping by. Have a great week!

Gentle hugz.

Tamiko

P.S. Let me tell you… after I finished writing the content for this posting, I went to insert the picture that you see. I have been tested. It has taken me almost 20… TWENTY minutes to get the picture into this post. I am not complaining, I am saying I have been tested. So… I just practiced my breathing and reminding myself the point of my post. LOL!! :)