What Are Your Christmas Memories?

New post, new holiday… the last couple weeks I have really been remembering a lot about this time of the year growing up. I realize now, as I’m sure many of us do, that I was so blessed. My mom was the bomb diggedy! She is and was the most amazing mother and woman. Holidays was her time. I look back and I’m amazed and so thankful for all she did.

The house had the aroma of Christmas, the tree, the baking, the wood burning in the fireplace… wow, I love those memories and how special that time was. My mom baked and baked and baked, we would spend days baking cookies and bars. Decorating cookies, man I looked forward to that all year. She would mix up all the colors for the icing and break out all the cool stuff to decorate the cookies and then set us free. She would decorate cookies with us and hers were always so elaborate. She broke out the toothpicks to really get the detail on those cookies. I cherished those cookies, I never wanted to eat them they looked so good! Of course they tasted amazing too, so I used to sneak as many as possible. It never stopped there though, she must have baked dozens of different kinds of cookies. I remember all the dough in the fridge waiting to be shaped and baked. Even after I grew up, moved out of the house, had a child… she still continued to do all the baking. To think of all the work it took to make all those goodies, it just amazes me.

Of course baking was just a part of the holidays, my mom was so crafty! She made ornaments and we all pitched in. I have all the ornaments on my tree and every time I decorate the tree, all those memories come flooding back. We would sit at the dining room table and she would teach us how to make these cool ornaments. We would be the pain in the ass kids and she would just keep going. I cherish all these beautifully crafted ornaments, the time she spent making them is so apparent in the detail.

My mother would put up the nativity scene with the christmas lights put up around them with all the angels and the sense of global awareness. Ornaments and angels from all around the world, recognizing the importance of the season. The time and effort that she would put into the decorating, I loved it and I miss it now. Of course, I didn’t appreciate the effort at the time as much as I do now that I have taken over all the decorations. Now she gets to enjoy the decorations that we put up in our home.

I remember being at home and she would go in her room and shut the door and tell us we couldn’t come in. They hardly ever closed the door, but we knew she was up to something in there and on Christmas morning all these beautifully wrapped gifts would be under the tree with our stockings full of goodies. Trying to figure out what was in the presents and getting to pick one present to open on Christmas Eve… brings such a great feeling of happiness.

These memories are so important as I attempt to instill the holiday feeling in my own home now. I am not even close to the holiday elf my mom was. She now sits back and enjoys the grandchildren during the holidays. It’s now time for us to carry the holiday traditions forward.

Growing up we used to always go to my grandparent’s house and hang out with the aunts and uncles and cousins. I loved those days! Driving down to L.A., the anticipation of getting to the house, unpacking the car late at night, tired as hell… but so excited to be there! My aunts and uncles and grandparents have passed now, I can’t imagine how difficult this must be for my cousins. It must be so different for my folks as well, different doesn’t mean bad, just different. I’m sure you understand what I am talking about.

We have created new traditions in my family since marriage and children. We always drive down Christmas Tree Lane in Palo Alto to see all the lights on the houses, we bake cookies with our best friends and the kids make crazy sugar cookies. Christmas Eve we go to our best friend’s house to celebrate with them and our Godchild, Christmas day we stay home (like we did growing up)… my brother and parents come over in the morning and the kids open their presents. The rest of the family comes over throughout the day and we eat and sleep all day. Thank God for the friends and family who continue to make  Christmas so wonderful. My own craftiness comes in the form of scrapbooking. I make calendars and put the best pictures from the year to create a memory from the previous year.

I thank you for giving me this opportunity to share my most cherished holiday memories with you. I hope you share yours with me.

Remember the reason for this season and I wish you all peace, no pain and happiness during this time.

Hugs to all of you (gentle ones of course)!


Fibromyalgia and Doing “IT ALL”… What Do You Think?

Okay… here’s the thing. I’m just going to say it. I don’t get how people with chronic pain manage to do “IT ALL”. I am sitting in the kitchen that I made a mess; because I don’t want to sit at the desk that I left a mess; because I don’t want to sit in my bedroom that I left a mess. Honestly, there are not that many rooms left in the house. My son’s room smells like something or God forbid someone died in. My daughter has friends jumping around, hopefully not breaking the furniture in her room, and it is extremely loud in there so I wouldn’t be able to concentrate. My one sanctuary room, “the living room” in a very deep booming voice), I kind of have not allowed myself to go in so I don’t ruin it… you know the room I’m talking about. When you were growing up, it was the room that had the plastic covered furniture in it. The room no one was allowed to actually enjoy themselves in. Only grown ups were allowed in there, and only on special occasions. Sooooooo, when I grow up, I will let myself go in there! Until then, it’s just for special occasions… and I haven’t yet forced the plastic over the furniture… don’t push me, I might just go there! (if I was reading this out loud to you I would say “

Back to my topic… I can’t even stay on topic, much less do “IT ALL”, which of course IS my topic! whew! This is starting to confuse me (which as you know is not too difficult to do…). So! Since the holidays, I have had one hell of a time finding time to

  • tweet,
  • blog,
  • work my full-time+ job,
  • eat right,
  • spend time with my family,
  • exercise/ do my physical therapy,
  • read,
  • research fibro,
  • spend time with God (which should be #1),
  • spend time with family/ friends
  • paper craft

Obviously the must do’s always get done because they have to. Once prioritized, I thought it looked like this:

  1. work

Then I sat here for a while… and I decided I would rearrange things a bit. One priority just sucks… and it’s selfish and stupid, not to mention it’s not much of a life and I refuse to make that my life (did you say that in one breath?)! At one point in my life, that is actually how I lived… yes, I know, it is very sad, but true. I refuse to let that be the case now!

So, here’s what I will work on… AGAIN (because I keep forgetting and hopefully this time I will pay attention!): IN THIS ORDER…

  1. God
  2. My health
  3. My family
  4. My job
  5. My papercrafting

In between those things, I will tweet and blog. I will do my best and I will accept I can’t do it all. If I’m successful, I will get less and less of those looks from my husband where he’s shaking his head like I’m crazy because I’ve just taken on the world. If I’m successful… I. Will. Be. Content. Because I am content, I will have less flare ups… you see? I do get “IT”, I just have to accept that I am not Wonder Woman and I can’t do “IT ALL”. Those are two totally different things. But seriously, if I was Wonder Woman… I would totally dig that plane she had.

What do you think?

Thanks for reading. Stay cool!

Working to Stay Positive When Life Gets In the Way

I cannot believe I have not posted a blog since January 1. That is just unacceptable! hmmm…. what has happened in the last month? Let’s see…. Well? The company I have worked for, for 20+ years was purchased (finally!) and I am now changing over to this new company. I am starting a new job in a of couple weeks. Trust me, there has been a lot of stress working up to these days. That’s one MAJOR change. What else? Oh yeah, I started my Level II Pain Program at Kaiser… that’s another MAJOR change. That alone is a whole other blog! What else? Oh, I went to the Craft and Hobby Association (CHA) Show  in Anaheim for five days. You heard me right… FIVE DAYS! What else did I do in this past month… I also worked on two memorial collages and oh yeah I’m still working full-time and dealing with this wonderful condition we love to call FMS. So, I guess I will give myself a break now that I see all that in writing, and say January was a pretty busy month, and I’ll do better in February to blog more.

I have been meaning to tell all of you how much joy scrapbooking has brought me in the past month. Even if I haven’t made pages for myself, just working with the paper and being around friends has ensured I don’t fall into that January funk so many of us hit after the holidays and in the foul weather. This is usually a very difficult month for me. I started with working on a memorial collage. It was very sad as a young girl had passed away that the collage was for. I am finding that although the passing is extremely said, I have found that these scrapbook albums are so treasured after they are viewed at the memorial service on the collage boards, it is a true gift to be able to design the pages and put the pictures and paper together to create the life stories people will tell as they remember their loved one. I feel blessed to do this for people. This young girl Chloe was only four years-old when she passed and in her young life, looking at her pictures was not easy as we made the pages – yet I knew when her family saw the collage at the service and received the album afterward… they would treasure it forever. Truly a gift that I felt honored to be a part of giving.

Attending CHA right after finishing that collage was a refreshing change from my day to day job and nice to get away from home with the girls. We drove down to southern California and spent those days cruising the booths, looking at and testing the new products, we took some classes and a couple of us won the Making Memories Slice die cut machine! I can tell you… I was dead by the end of day 1, by day 2 I opted out of my first class, by day 3 I had a burst of energy until later that evening. Day 4 was a very painful day and Day 5 was a good time to start on our way home. It was a great trip! I did pace myself okay, but it was hard and very frustrating at times. I missed a lot because I just could not get around or had no energy left. I kept a warming pad in the bed and I always went to sleep with my “deep sleep” app on my headphones so I would go to sleep without distraction. In addition, lots of breathing exercises and I walked with my cane. I understand, there’s always next year! CHA L.A…. Here we come!!

Back home I worked on another memorial collage, which was very relaxing hanging with my friends and just putting my heart into the pages. This time it was for an older woman who had certainly changed the world because she was a teacher in so many ways… of young children in the classroom, of people in her kitchen with cooking classes, of people in her determination to get the word out about GIST, of young children on trips to Washington DC… she traveled the world… you could see through the eyes of the pictures what a life she had. Again a blessing to be able to help in this gift to her family.

My work life is changing and I am both scared and excited for this change. I know that it’s time, just need to get my heard around it a bit more. Is this the change that God wants for me? So many questions in my head right now. There’s so much stress at work with people confused and unsure of what is happening to them. I just want to fix everything and help people, but in most cases, it’s just a matter of patiently waiting things out. Patience and ME have never really been the best of friends… When I get stressed I try to do some breathing exercises to just get my head focused. This helps to calm myself so I don’t increase my pain levels.

As you can see, doesn’t matter whether my body is working or not … the world continues to move on and I need to keep moving with it! Working to stay positive and finding things that are relaxing and help to keep the stress down are what work to keep my pain levels down. This is what is important to me.

Just thought I’d share some of my activities with you… I hope you are all having pain free days!

Thank you for reading! Stay Cool!!

whew! i’m still standing. or rather sitting. or am i passed out on the floor?? all i know is… i made it through the holidays and now… i’m getting ready for 2010!!

merry christmas!! i’m still standing. or rather sitting. or am i passed out on the floor? all i know is… i made it through!!

what a whirlwind holiday season this has been! most days i had no idea if i was coming or going. i was foggy brain multi-tasking which, trust me, was the scariest thing ever. i mean it. think of this… my family room had about 15 projects going on, you could not see the floor, the table tops, the chairs, the couches, it was absolute chaos in there… but for me? i was workin’ it. i had three 6-foot tables in that room, i swear when i wasn’t in there, there were little project angels helping me… (a girl can dream, right?) i have to really give it to my husband, he let me do my thang (that’s right THANG). he generally (and by generally i really mean always, can’t stand it, has no patience for it) hates clutter and if that room was not the ultimate, extreme definition of clutter, i don’t know what is… but he just soldiered on each day, for weeks, and let me work. i’m pretty sure he knew i would have lost my mind if he said something, but that, my friends, is support.

i gotta tell you, i had a lot going on before that big guy was comin’ down my chimney… i had:

  • eight 12×12 scrapbook calendars to make (only 3 of which were the same) so i was designing scrapbook pages for hours!,
  • 28 kids to buy for (thank goodness for amazon.com!!) – let me tell you those lightning deals on amazon saved my “you know what”,
  • one 12×12 album to scan and copy to create two smaller 8×8 albums (seriously can santa bring me a 12×12 scanner next year?? scanning a page 4 times is so not fun!! can you say 26 x 4? and honestly my husband did all the scanning, what a guy!),
  • two desk calendars (thankfully there’s snapfish where i went to create online) and
  • two poster collage calendars (again i love snapfish!)
  • christmas cards (last minute decision… snap! fish!) and
  • i helped my daughter make eight custom designed tshirts (what was i thinking…. i was thinking in October… that she needed to start, which is what i told her… told her in November… told her December 1… 2… 3… you get what i’m sayin’… her beautiful brother helped me in the middle of the night to get these and the calendars done)
  • in addition to her one 12×12 scrapbook calendar… (again, why do i encourage the start of all these projects? i love the feeling of frustration and stress all at the same time… it’s such a yummy feeling! and honestly (again) i didn’t really do anything but encourage/motivate/yell/yell/yell at her to get it done) but… her creations were awesome! i have to say it again… totally awesome!!!

and all this in the span of the three weeks before santa arrives… 80% of it the 5 days prior to… oh yeah, totally forgot…i also had:

  • the cookies to bake, which the kids did (thank goodness for auntie cheryl who faithfully comes every year to lead the troops while i quality check the end result)
  • the tree to decorate, which i did in the middle of the night one night after i just couldn’t take it anymore (the tree had been put up and the lights were on it, what was my excuse? don’t get me started… but i had to put my mom’s handmade ornaments on it.)
  • i scrapbooked an album as a birthday gift for a family member (i was really happy to have done this, this one made me feel really good)
  • i worked a little bit up until christmas eve, which i had meant to take off completely… because i was needed to do some things. it took more time than expected, but it was worth it.

moving on… i’m getting ready for 2010!!

now that christmas is over it’s that time of the year where everyone starts to make resolutions for the coming year and reviews the goals they did or did not achieve for the prior year. we do this as a family in my house. we set aside a day and scrapbook a page and each list our “10 most memorable moments” and “10 goals for the year” some of the goals are the same for each year, some are different – it’s not a time to be judged. my son is very good about listing smart achievable goals, he knows how to create achievable goals. i am going to learn from him this time. what a novel idea… an achievable goal! this is such a great skill he has at such a young age… he is very wise for a 17-year old. tomorrow is the day we will work on our lists and scrapbook together as a family. i hope for a drama-free day… i plan to just work at my desk with the family with tani by my side and get into my groove with positivity and God on my side… because that is how i plan to start 2010!

this will be a year of change for my family…

  • my son will graduate from high school. we will find out what his next path in life will be in the spring, i am going to be brave about this, but i already miss him. my best friend’s son is leaving for the air force in february… i miss him already even though i never see him as they live a state away. he was the first baby between the two of us bff’s so i feel as though he is leaving me too.
  • the company i have worked my entire adult life for, the last 24 years will be acquired by another company come the end of January. this will be a change like no other for me…
  • i start my chronic pain program in january, this is supposed to change everything for me as far as my pain. the pain team says they have seen people leave this program, literally, with renewed lives. i’m excited to see how i am doing as i progress through the program.

i am thinking about my goals for the coming year, i know all of you are as well. i am wishing all of you less pain in 2010 than you had in 2009 and continued sharing and support. we hold each other up in the good times and the bad and together we will continue to make each other stronger.

thank you so much for making me a stronger and better person despite having fibromyalgia, this community of fibromites/ chronic pain people seriously ROCK! nothing can hold us down!

thank you for reading and stay cool!

tis the season… calling all fibromites! what’s your perfect christmas present?

today is december 7th and i can promise you, telling you i have a lot to do is the definition of an understatement. i am not going to be hard on myself. there’s no whip cracking (wait a minute! mayyyybeeeee that’s the sound i keep hearing… let me check, just give me onnnnnneeeeee second… nope, that’s definitely just the rain outside. whew! i got scared for a second there!), as i was saying i am on my own schedule. i put the pressure on myself every year.

i have this crazy idea that i want to make presents for people. i love love love to give people gifts. in my next life i’m coming back as santa. (to the one above, let me be specific… when i say i would like to come back as santa… i mean THE santa, not the homeless guy in nyc or any other person with that same name… i mean THE one and only the big guy that ‘makes the list and checks it twice, gonna find out whose naughty and nice’ please let us not do any funny play on words… thank you very much!) again, as i was saying, if i was a bazillionaire (this is a real word in my dictionary), i would just find ways to give away without involving all the politics… yet i digress.

in making all these gifts, every year, down to the wire… i always end up working around the clock. this is the first year i’m dealing with my pain levels being so crazy bad. this is the year my fibromyalgia decided to come and visit… and never go home (if you say it with that deep scary voice, it is much more effective and entertaining). last year was pretty bad, this year… let’s just say… prettier badder… or even prettierest badderrest!! okay shit… it just effing sucks but it’s christmas time and i’m trying not to say bad words and i just did and now i feel bad!!

so what was the point of all that anyway?

hmmmmmm my title says “tis the season… calling all fibromites! what’s your perfect christmas present?” what was i going to say… (the sound of my foot tapping does not help me remember oddly enough)… oh yeah! seriously… this is real time and i sadly did forget what i was writing… that was foggy brain at it’s best. you have just witnessed my foggy brain in action. whew! back to my blog.

what i want for christmas! geez i better type fast before i forget again… i want the perfect organization system for foggy brains. let me explain so you know what i mean:

  • something i can carry with me 24/7 in my purse
  • something i can write in and journal as i think (so i don’t forget!)
  • place to take down work notes while on calls or in meetings
  • calendar tickler to keep my work and personal key dates coming up
  • place to take down work and personal actions/ to-do’s
  • reference information that i need to keep either for work or personal
  • i would like to keep my work and personal separate

i have an iphone so i don’t need to keep contacts and i also have my calendar in my iphone for reminders… but i am a visual person i don’t remember unless i physically write things down to feel and see myself write it down… and also… if you have an app for that (hahahaha…. say it… say the commercial “i have an app for that!”) let me know, i’d love app suggestions for my iphone as well, i have tried GTD, OmniFocus, and i can’t remember what else…

if you have made something, i’d love to copy it… if you have thought of making something, i’m taking ideas…

i love stationary… i’m kind of crazy about paper, i think that’s why i love to scrapbook and love stationary stores… i have looked at tons of personal organizers (in weight.. really, i bet the total is probably 1/4 of a ton, what… does that seem like a lot or too little?). why the crazy look on your face?

this is my dream… to create the perfect organizer for people like me. an adhd foggy brained fibromyalgia chronically depressed insomniac scrapbooking crazed mom! if that is not the best description… man the next time i’m in a work meeting and someone says “why don’t we start by going around the room and introducing ourselves”, what do you think? should i start with that?

thanks for reading! stay super cool!

happy holidays!

ps. i thought i’d share some sites with you that may be useful to you fibromites/cfs peeps during the holidays:

pps. if you just need a serious laugh… (not for the politically correct folk), check out my most favorite place to go when i really need some relief from pain. she makes me laugh out loud every single time i read her blog:

ppps. if you actually read all the way to the bottom of this… i know that i could have matched my pictures to my blog a little better (like a diary or an organizer but i haven’t found the perfect one so that actually would not have made sense… hmmm), but i love my dog and any excuse to use her holiday pictures and i’ll take it… and really, it is my blog right?

should i call this a fibromyalgia “flare down”? whatever it is… i like it!

i have been feeling really good the last six days. six days of relatively average, level 4-5 pain days. thanksgiving day was the first day i felt really good. friday i spent the day scrapbooking and i felt really good. saturday was up and down… sunday was just okay, i had some serious foot problems but thankfully my husband was home to help me through it. monday is usually the day that all hell breaks loose in my body so i was pretty worried…. i waited and waited and let me tell you. i made it! it was a good day. in fact, it was a really good day, all things considered. i had a clear head yesterday and my pain level was about a 5. i have not had a day with a pain level below 7 in many months. did you read that?? i said months! and a clear head? it felt like i went to the store and exchanged myself for someone new! what the hell is going on?

do i call this great thing a “flare down“??

today… well today was a big day for me. for all you fibromites out there, you can relate to this… i took a shower this morning and i still had energy after. i had to slow it down a bit (i got a little too happy and forgot that i actually HAD fibromyalgia for a second and completely overdid it) but i kept going. i got in my car and drove for the first time in many, many months. i drove up to the san francisco airport to pick up my boss and back down to santa clara for a meeting… i was in the office all afternoon and then out for dinner with the staff. this was a big deal for me. i have not been this active and driving since… well i honestly can’t remember! even better, i had a clear head all day… again!  again i say… what the hell is going on?

do i call this great thing a “flare down“??

at about 8:15 tonight while sitting at the dinner table… i started to feel the nudges and the tension and the bruised feeling and i thought to myself… “go away!… i am feeling good! i am feeling good!… noooooooooooooo!!… not fair!!!!!!!!!!” but i can feel the pain coming. so, i quickly decided to call it a night and come home.

now that i’m home, i can feel my elbows and knees tightening up and hurting and i’m getting pissed off. i need to do some self talk. i can feel my fingers starting to hurt as i type, my head is hurting and all i can think is “eff this shit! i am going to feel good when i get up tomorrow! nothing can stop me!”.

so did i have a “flare down”?? did i have six great average level 4-5 pain days for no reason at all?? well when i think about it … all the nights were pretty painful, the meds helped me sleep through it. i wake up and go back to sleep because of the meds… so… i’m going to think like this for right now:

  • i am having some really great days right now.
  • my nights are painful, but my meds are doing the job and helping me get some rest and when i wake up i go back to sleep so, for now, my insomnia is under control. this is great news!!
  • i probably overdid it today which is why i’m experiencing pain right now.
  • tomorrow is going to be a great day.
  • i may not be where i want to be… but thank God i’m not where i used to be!
  • i have the courage to change what i can and i will accept what i cannot… it is what it is…

my formula for getting here to my “great days”:

  • a whole lot of prayer
  • listening to my teachings by joyce meyer and pastor paul
  • my physical therapy and following through with it at home
  • a whole lot of prayer
  • the support from my family and friends
  • the support from the fibro social networking community
  • a whole lot of prayer

if  i can do this… so can you!

what do you think? “flare down”?? fluke??

thanks for reading! stay cool!