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Posts Tagged ‘#blogging’

It’s another in a series of dark, rainy days. Gloom begets gloom. All my life, I thought I was a good writer. Not contest winning good but captivating. Someone able to hold the attention of my readers. A few months back, I read some of my earlier blog entries and my life story that I wrote at 21. It seems so mediocre to me. Not very good at all. Now I’ve lost my will to write. I don’t want to write emails, blog posts, Instagram posts, Etsy listings, grocery or to-do lists, etc. It could be because I’m grieving still for the loss of my mother. Or it could be that I’ve lost confidence in the only thing I was ever good at. The only thing I ever had confidence in to begin with. I’m not about to start day drinking although the though has crossed my mind. It gives me perspective. I always wondered at what point does someone actually start doing heroin?! A fully rational adult knows better but if life has no substance for them anymore, will they do anything to get their motivation back?! Before you start worrying that I’m on the verge of shooting up, I won’t. I can promise you that. Not just because I don’t care for needles or putting foreign substances in my body. Mostly because I already know it’s not the answer.

When Mom was alive and I was so busy taking care of her, I used her as an excuse. I couldn’t write more because I never had a block of time to sit down and write without being interrupted. I figured when she eventually passed, I would spend part of every day writing. I would either be writing a book or at least do regular blog entires. Instead I feel even less like writing. The truth is she never kept me from writing or anything else. I’m doing that all by myself.

My days are all a blur now. I no longer get up with my husband in the morning (7 am) like I always did until the first of the year. I usually get up by 8 or 8:30 am. I still walk the dogs every day except today because it is raining hard all day long with no break. I still cook meals and bake desserts. I stay caught up with the laundry. I keep my housework and hygiene routine. I pay bills on time. I still watch “Stories” on Instagram every morning and throughout the day. Snippets of other people’s full and vibrant lives. I feel almost paralyzed about sharing on social media. I’ve felt this way on and off since I first got on the internet 21 years ago. In the past month I’ve only posted a handful of pictures (mostly food). I’ve taken lots more and should be excited about sharing but feel almost afraid to share. I don’t know why but the more I need people, the more I pull away. I watch tv but only half-heartedly. TV was always such a joy to me. It was something I’d look forward to at night. Now I still watch the same shows (and some new ones) but most of the time I’m not giving it my full attention. I wouldn’t be able to tell anyone what happened in a particular episode.

I’m very short-sighted and impatient when it comes to getting over things. I like to forge ahead and get on with things. When I had the chicken pox at age 30, I was so afraid that the red marks left on my face (scars) would be there forever. I asked a coworker who had them in his 20’s if he remembered them on his face and he said yes. He said they go away over time. Of course, he was right. Everything goes away over time… A decade ago I had a medical condition I’ve never written about. Someday I will. It was so painful and kept coming back. I finally had surgery and it cured me forever. Sadly, for a few years I was petrified that it would come back. I mean, it was a daily worry that I’d have to deal with it again and forever. That was during the time I almost went on drugs for depression. I was making myself sick with fear. I couldn’t see long term. I never took the drugs and over time my anxiety about reoccurrence went away.

Now I’m back to that place again. The grief over my mom’s death has only intensified. I feel empty and alone. I feel sorry for myself. The worst thing is I’m worrying that this feeling will never end. Just through living all these years, I ought to know logically that I won’t always feel like this. However, I don’t know how long it will last. It could be weeks, months, years?! When I had Mom with me, I pushed myself to get things done every day. Extra things like listing things to sell online or just reorganizing things. Now I don’t push myself. I don’t know why. The only thing I can come up with is that “nothing matters”. It doesn’t make a difference if I do it or not. She’s still dead and I’m still here. I don’t even like posting about my grief on Instagram. People are so kind and wonderful leaving cheerful comments. But what it comes down to is there’s nothing anyone can do to help. It’s going to take time. I feel embarrassed that I’m not handling this better. I don’t like feeling vulnerable. I want to be strong and be able to just go on without being phased by the loss. April 7th will be 5 months since Mom passed away. It seems like it should be long enough to live like this. I’ve always hated “wasting time”. I know how precious life is and grieving this long feels like a waste of time. Maybe it’s one of those things that just sneaks up on you. One day, without realizing it, I’ll notice that I no longer feel this way. That I’m able to find joy again in life. Only God knows how long I need to grieve and when he thinks I’m done. In the meantime, I’m soldiering on.

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I should’t write today because I’m so beside myself. But that is precisely why I’m doing it. I was going to bake. I found the recipe and most of the ingredients. It calls for semi-sweet chocolate chips. I have every chip known to man except those. I have peanut butter chips, butterscotch chips, white chocolate chips and milk chocolate chips. But no semi-sweet. If I had a running car, it wouldn’t be a big deal. IF. My life is surrounded by IFs. Due to staying home so much with Mom, I hardly drove my car. On the weekends, I’d go out with hubby to get groceries and whatever other errands we did. Now that Mom’s gone, my battery is dead and won’t stay charged. It’s only a year and a half old, if that. I’ve even had the alternator replaced. It doesn’t help to keep it on the trickle charger either. I’ll have to spring for a new battery but am wondering if this cold spell we’re having will kill it anyway. We’re going away for Christmas so it won’t be run until the New Year. I feel like a prisoner and a child. I can’t even take the dog to the vet alone without a car. On the one hand, I could get rid of my car (it would kill me) but I like being able to run to the store or post office if need be. I would like to take a solo trip to Target which hubby doesn’t enjoy. Nothing is happening. I could buy a new car but why? To just let it sit most of the time? Hubby is racking up miles on his Jeep driving so far to work now that he’ll need a new vehicle soon. There seems to be no simple solution to anything…

So it snowed heavily on Sunday and the Directv satellite went out. So we haven’t had tv in 2 days. We’ll have to call and get them to come out on Friday when Greg is home. We can see the entire face of the satellite is covered in snow and we’re in the deep freeze. It’s too cold to even take the dogs for a walk. I had been doing really well with taking them for a walk daily until the temperature tanked. I guess it makes sense that I would go stir crazy. We’ve been having trouble with our Directv for months. It constantly shows lost satellite signal. It wants us to check the cables and cords for the connection. We do and it keeps happening. We’ve rebooted the system too many times. We both hate calling Directv because they are so unhelpful. That’s how we want to tie up one of 2 off days this week with having a service technician here or waiting for one to come. Oy vey.

Trying to get Mom’s estate cleared up. She had stock which I am trying to transfer to my name and it is turning into a nightmare. Years ago, they had demanded she mail in the stock certificates and they’d keep them online. Well she did and now they are asking for the certificates. When I told them they were mailed in, they act like I’m crazy. Greg remembers her mailing them in also. But they are saying they are lost and I have to pay $182.94 for each stock to replace them. Plus go to the bank and get some type of guarantee seal (insurance for the value of the stock). Greg is too busy to help me and this shit is so far over my head. So I’ll have to hire someone to help me do all that paperwork. I know that will cost a lot but I don’t have a choice. It is worrying me to no end.

I wanted to write a post about how I’m dealing with things since Mom died. That will have to wait. I have other things that I’m alarmed about. Right before we left for Thanksgiving, Greg needed a refill on one of his prescriptions that had no refills. I called the doctor’s office and found out that our doctor was out on medical leave and they didn’t think he’d be coming back. At all. EVER. This floored me. I asked if a different doctor could call in the refill. It was a lot of rigamaroll with them having to call back. Finally the nurse said none of the other doctors there knew him so wouldn’t authorize the refill. We were leaving in 2 days and he’d have to come in to see a different doctor after working a full day. It made no sense to me. We’ve had the same doctor (Dr. J) for over 20 years and he had given us his home phone number (cell) but we’d never used it. We didn’t want to abuse it. I hated to call him when he was out sick but did it anyway. He answered the phone and sounded quieter than usual. I said hi and told him my name. He asked if I’d heard what happened to him. I said no. He told me the end of May (we’d seen him earlier that month) he’d gotten very ill. He ended up having a heart attack. This kind of freaked me out. He’s only 6 years older than me, 5 older than Greg and 60 years old! Then he told me that he had another heart attack in June. Whoa! He said he was later diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis. Of course, I didn’t know what exactly that was until I looked it up later. I knew it sounded serious and pretty darn bad. He said he’d had surgery to take one of his lungs out and was going to be having another surgery soon. He said he wouldn’t be back to work ever. I told him what a great doctor he was and how we’ll miss him. He said maybe down the line we could get together. We are more like friends after all these years. After talking a bit he was like, “What can I do for you?” I felt terrible bothering him with the refill but he was glad to take care of it for us. He said he still had access to the files online and I could tell he was sitting at the computer already. He texted me back that it was sent through and I called the pharmacy and it was! Since Mom was his patient too, I mentioned that she had died a week ago. We had always talked about our mothers since they were the same age (95). Then he said his mother had died a week ago! I asked him when and he said Tuesday morning and he asked when mine passed. I said 10:40 pm on Monday night. So they passed within a few hours of each other. He said he’d just gotten back from her funeral in PA (where he grew up) a few days ago. We talked a bit more and he told me of a friend of his who’s a doctor in our area that we can go to for our new doctor. I don’t want a new doctor but will definitely go to the guy he recommended in Jan. or Feb. Ever since I got off the phone with him, I can’t get Dr. J out of my head. That he is so seriously ill at such a young age and he’s a doctor!! It was a real wakeup call for me and Greg to try to keep our health for as long as we can.

Last Thurs. we took 6 hours of our day off to call relatives and tell them that Mom died. You’d think we would’ve done that sooner but you’d be wrong. Greg didn’t want to tell his siblings and mother for fear that they would descend on us. We wanted a month to grieve privately. We were also pretty broken up and didn’t want to have to get into details with people. We kept trying to call Greg’s mother but the calls kept failing. We found out later that she’d been having problems with her phone for a few days. She’d had the receiver off the hook! We started with Greg’s older sister Linda but she was at work. So we talked to her husband Ken and told him. He had Linda call us when she got home and we filled her in. Then we called his brother John, then we got ahold of his mother who promptly started with, “Now that Irene has passed, maybe you can come for Christmas this year.” Hubby told her no, we’re actually going back to Tunica, MS for the holidays. Then we called his brother Dan and talked to him and his wife Kris. Last we called his little sister Colleen. The only sibling we didn’t call was his brother Brian who had the brain injury a few years back. I finally emailed 2 of my half sibling who were Mom’s stepchildren. My brother Gary and sister Dianne. It was good to have that over with.

I’ve been working on Christmas cards this week. We just got some cheapies at Menards. I sent them to Greg’s mother and siblings and some of the friends I got sympathy cards from. I had to watch it since I only had so many stamps (not even Christmas ones) and knew I would’t get to the PO. I haven’t done any Christmas decorating which isn’t unusual. Since we’ll be gone, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. On Saturday we went to Randolph Street Market for the first time. It’s a once a month market in Chicago that carries antiques and handmade goods. Someone on Instagram told me she’d put us on the guest list but they couldn’t find us. (Turns out she thought we were coming on Sunday so hadn’t put us on.) I dropped her name and we got in for free anyway. Admission is like $8-10 each so that was great. It was a ton of jewelry and clothes which isn’t my bag. Not much Christmas items which surprised me. Only one book vendor and I ended up getting 4 old books and paid more than I normally would. Greg also got an old crucifix with the skull and cross bones on it. It took us just under 2 hours to make it though. We went to one estate sale after and it sucked. Lately the estate sales are not even worth going to. The weekend before last we skipped them the entire weekend. We finally got rid of our gigantic couch (took apart in 6 pieces and put it at the curb) and brought in the formica tabletop we found curbside and mounted it to the Singer treadle sewing machine base. We put the table in the LR which look odd. I wanted it to work on projects and write cards at. We’ve got the wrong chairs at it which makes it suck. Nothing is turning out the way I’d hoped. So it’s looking like we’re going to give up estate sales so we can pare down our hoard. After the new year, I’m going to get up and running again with selling things. Might even do eBay again. We’d like to get the house where we could entertain again. I don’t know how long that will take. Possibly years but I doubt we’ve got that much time. By summer, his family will be making excuses to stop by.

On a sad note, I had 3 loyal followers to my blog. THREE. That makes each one incredibly precious to me! I have about 100 subscribers to the blog but only those 3 were regular readers and commenters. One was in Australia, one in Canada and one in the US. The one in Australia has disappeared and I fear illness or worse. I’ve tried contacting her via email many times with no answer. I am quite worried but doubt I will ever find out the true story. The one in Canada had a major life event a few years ago and her blog was wiped out. She hasn’t started up again and for the most part has given up reading blogs. My US friend (Hi Heather!) is still with me which makes me happy. I grew to really care about the people who bother to read my blog. I don’t know if others do this. Maybe if they have a ton of followers, they can’t.

Blogs seem to be obsolete. I still see the value in them. I’m so glad I have this safe place to come and vent my feelings and share what’s going on in my life with those I know have open arms, ears and hearts.

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As I sat down to write a blog post about sharing, I have realized I’m not as good at sharing as I thought I was. In my own eyes, I thought I would share most things with most people without thinking about it. But after reflection, that’s just not true. I might share some things but I’ve always been very stingy with my time. Maybe because I feel like there’s a finite amount of it. Or could it just seem like most people aren’t worth the time? When I worked for the Post Office, there were people I knew that I didn’t mind talking to at work but if I had to do it on my own time, it wasn’t happening. I felt like every second I spent on someone else was taking time away from the 2 people (& one dog) that mattered most to me–my mom and Greg.

I don’t know if this came from having “old parents”. My mom was 41 & my dad was 48 when I was born. Back in the early 1960’s, it was a big deal to have parents that age. My mom used to tell me everyone thought I was her granddaughter. It never bothered me to have older parents. In fact, I kind of liked it. I felt like they knew what they were doing by the time I came along. It always made more sense to me to wait until you’d lived some before you raised kids. I was my mom’s only child and my dad had 4 before me with his former (deceased) wife. I was a bit obsessed with them dying young. I was afraid something would happen to them (like a car accident) and I wanted to know what would happen to me. My mom wanted me to go live with her sister (who was 4 yrs. older than her) and her husband. They had 2 daughters who were grown. They lived in a suburb of Detroit, MI and I wouldn’t have minded living with them. My dad wanted me to live with my brother and his wife. They had 2 children (the first when I was 10 yrs. old). I wasn’t wild about that idea but it sounded like the one they were going with. They were afraid my aunt and uncle were too old to take on parenting me.

The way most things go, none of us ever had to worry about any of that. Whenever you put a great deal of thought and worry into something, it usually doesn’t happen. It’s the thing you never dreamed would happen, that comes out of the blue, that catches you off guard. In any case, that wasn’t the end of me worrying about my mom dying. She’s always been healthy except for severe hearing loss (and now Alzheimers). Yet I was forever thinking if I did X (like went out after work with friends or on a vacation without her), something would happen to her while I was gone. I didn’t think I could ever forgive myself. Looking back on it, it seems ridiculous. I missed out on some things just from not wanting to be apart from her. Codependency at its best. I don’t think she ever cared one way or the other. I don’t think she appreciated me passing on opportunities to stay with her. I really don’t regret it but felt the need to acknowledge that it was a part of my makeup. That and the one thing I didn’t plan on (Alzheimers) happened on my watch. I wasn’t off far away living my life and checking in with her via phone. I was sitting a few feet from her as the memory stealer ravaged her brain.

Besides time, I don’t like sharing myself. The only place I’ve ever felt comfortable talking about myself (any part) has been on this blog. Besides having Selfie-Phobia, I think I have sharing phobia. Just sharing pictures (ANY pictures!) on Instagram feels like I’m giving away little pieces of myself. I don’t know why it’s so hard for me to let others see my life. Staged or natural, it doesn’t seem to make a difference. What I do, say and show seems so irrelevent. So insignificant. I don’t know what to tell myself to make it easier to share either.

Not only am I at a crossroads, I am stuck in quicksand. Unable to move forwards or backwards. Unable to ask for help or help myself. This sounds way more dramatic than it should. I hadn’t even planned to write about this but it wanted to come out. So many subjects are inside me, yelling, “I want out!” They kick me in the stomach from the inside and let me know they can’t be kept in any longer.

 

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We got back from our first RV trip of the year on Sat. July 4th. We went up to Green Bay, WI for 9 nights. It was nice but in some ways didn’t seem like vacation since we had to take Mom into consideration on everything we did. The first 4 days went good, we took her gambling (which we haven’t done since December in Tunica, MS) and she was ok. Then that Monday night she fell out of bed TWICE! She’s never done that before at home or in the RV. I sleep with her in the RV to keep an eye on her. After that I didn’t sleep all night. She got all black and blue and I was afraid she’d break something. The first time it happened, she got back up in bed no problem. The 2nd time, she said “I can’t!” when I tried to get her up. Finally, she got back up and was back to sleep in 90 seconds.
Amber & Elvis (in the bed) in the RV.

Amber & Elvis (in the bed) in the RV.

This is the first time we’ve gone anywhere in the RV where nothing went wrong! I was afraid to say it at the time but since we’ve returned home, I’ve been brave enough to say it. It’s hard to believe that something major (or minor) didn’t break down with it the whole time! It would be wonderful if this started a new trend and we could relax on vacations instead of wondering when the RV would act up…
Greg & the dogs on the picnic table in Green Bay.

Greg & the dogs on the picnic table in Green Bay.

Within a few days of coming home, Mom’s hearing aid kept filling up with gunk. I had to clean it out a few times a day. Then a week ago I saw her ear canal looked shut so I used a bobby pin and pulled out what looked like white dead skin. <gag> When I gave her a bath last week, I noticed a bunch of crusty orange stuff on her ear and going down her neck. I had seen it the day before and thought it was food. My bad. It usually IS food… Then when I changed her sheets, I noticed orange-ish brown stains on her pillowcase. So I figured out she had some kind of ear infection. She sees her ENT doctor once a year and that would be the end of Sept. but this couldn’t wait. Her doc is so booked up that he has 2 offices and only goes to the location by us once a week. He’s also triple booked and they couldn’t get us in at either location for weeks. So they offered to let her go to his partner Dr. Hughes. We’ve never even seen him before but were very appreciative that they could fit her in. Sidenote: Dr. Hughes looks just like Kip from The Millers. “The Millers” is this fabulously funny sitcom. There are very few sitcoms I like at all but this one is hilarious. So I got her in last Thurs. July 9th. It took a few hours since she had to see Idea (the hearing aid person aka audiologist). I am torn about Idea for a first name. If I was her husband, I’d never get over saying, “I have an Idea!” and then laughing at my own joke.
Ivy in our backyard. Dog Run sign is new from estate sale.

Ivy in our backyard. Dog Run sign is new from estate sale.

So I’m one of those people who google symptoms and self diagnose. Can’t help it. I’m wrong probably half the time but don’t always give myself a good scare with it so that’s something. I had googled Mom’s “discharge” (even the word is disgusting—how’d you like THAT for a first name?!) and it said “glue ear”. I was pretty confident and told the doctor. He didn’t say anything. So towards the end of the appt., I wanted to pat myself on the back so said, “Was I right about the glue ear?” Uh, no. Apparently, I need to hold my tongue. That is what someone with an intact eardrum gets. Mom has a hole  in her eardrum. Which I did not know or didn’t remember. I knew she did 4 decades ago and had surgery to put a patch on it then. So he said when you have a hole in your eardrum, you get drainage. I told him she’d never had it before. He said he was surprised she hadn’t. He prescribed drops containing antibiotics and a steroid. So I’ve been busy putting 4 drops in her right ear twice a day. At bedtime and after I get her up and onto the toilet. Her right ear is her “good ear” if you can believe it so she can’t hear ANYTHING out of it now. Plus she has to leave her hearing aid out until she goes back to see the doctor for a follow up. That’s right, I’m taking her back on July 23rd. The fun never ends.
We've had milk cans for yrs. Hubby just got tractor seat in WI. Now he painted both.

We’ve had milk cans for yrs. Hubby just got tractor seat in WI. Now he painted both.

Making lemon pie out of a bad situation (because lemonade is so overdone), we actually got to go to lunch after the doctor’s appt.!! It was Greg’s day off and we hadn’t eaten out yet this year. Mom was all dressed up in her good clothes and freshly bathed and it was just the perfect time. We never got to go our for hers or Greg’s birthday or our anniversary. We just had to take it as it comes and jump at the chance. We went to Boston Fish Market. Greg and I had a tuna sandwich with fries. Not canned tuna, a tuna fillet. Mom had fried fish and coleslaw. She doesn’t like fries so we took those home and ate hers the next day. Mom did great eating and it gave me hope that we can do this again sometime.
Hubby just got this for free. Corrugated metal Halloween sign.

Hubby just got this for free. Corrugated metal Halloween sign.

Communicating has been harder than ever with Mom’s hearing deficit. I find myself shouting at the top of my lungs and she still doesn’t answer me. Getting Mom onto the toilet, the dialogue goes like this: Me: “You need to go pee.” Mom: Silence and she tries to get up 10 seconds after her ass hits the seat. Me: “Put your hands together, close your eyes, relax and go pee.” Mom: Silence and tries to get up. Me: “You need to go pee while you’re on the toilet! DO YOU HEAR ME?!” Mom: “Yes, I hear you” and tries to get up. Me: “Then you need to answer.” Mom: “You need to answer.” Repeat this scenario multiple times a day about any subject you can name. When we were in the RV and left her playing games on the ipad, we’d come back and find her in the passenger seat facing the windshield! Once she was sitting in the driver’s seat!! I asked her what she was doing up there and she said she was going to drive but couldn’t find the keys. That was a scary thought since she hasn’t driven in 20 years!! The only answers I get to questions are “I don’t know”, “Answer” or silence.
Hubby's getting ready to build a pergola. We saw this at an estate sale & liked it.

Hubby’s getting ready to build a pergola. We saw this at an estate sale & liked it.

The Sunday after we came home, there was a breakthrough. I finally figured out WHY Mom picks her leg and arms. I was looking at Chibi Jeebs blog and she was talking about skin picking. It’s an OCD disorder called Dermatillomania. It is repetitive picking of one’s own skin to the extent of causing damage. Usually this is younger people and they do it to their faces or scalps. Mom has had this since her late 50’s and probably got it when she gave up smoking. It’s like a nervous condition that becomes a habit. Back then I remember her picking her arms where there were no sores or anything wrong with the skin. She would pick until they bled and they would heal and leave scars. I think back then she was able to quit for some periods of time or only limit to her forearms. From what I read, the only cure seems to be behavior modification. I don’t think that would work for Mom with her marbles loose. However, just KNOWING what it is has been a weight off my mind. I can be with her 24/7 and remind her not to pick but it doesn’t last. She keeps trying to do it and I keep her leg covered. Then I will be away from her for a few minutes and she will undue all the healing in a no time. I had no idea this was a “thing”. I find my stress level has escalated anyway and I’ve turned into someone who is coping by eating anything and everything in sight. I’ve had my moments of that in the past but now I don’t feel strong enough to resist nor do I want to. I feel bad afterwards but not long enough not to do it again the next night. It’s either eat everything in the house, drink or both.
Before we left on vacation, I cut up and froze a TON of rhubarb.

Before we left on vacation, I cut up and froze a TON of rhubarb.

So that’s where things stand here. Trying to make it through another day. We don’t have anymore vacations in the works until around Labor Day. We’re also trying to cool it on the estate sales until she get the house and yard a bit more organized. I am having a hard time posting at all to Instagram and have (for the most part) abandoned Twitter. I don’t know how to bring myself back. It’s not that I have nothing to say, it’s that I don’t feel confident to put myself out there. Someone on IG was asking about starting up a blog. A ton of people were telling her that blogging is passe and no one reads them anymore. I hope not! I think blogging should be here to stay. It’s such a reflection on society that people can’t stick with blogging for more than a few years yet can get tattoos that they’ll have to live with for the rest of their lives!! Everything in life changes. At least with a blog, you can change what you talk about and be fairly flexible with writing. But what do I know?! Not much.
Backyard from upstairs window. Nice & green but cluttered.

Backyard from upstairs window. Nice & green but cluttered.

When I was in college, I was friends with a girl named Edie who was from a dairy farm in SW Wisconsin. She was going to become a vet and from my research on the internet, she has succeeded. She always had a saying when someone dressed a certain way or told too much personal business, “she has no shame.” It got to be a joke between us and we’d say it to each other about everything. We had great fun. Anyway, I feel like on my blog I have no shame. I write about anything I want. Consequences be damned. Things others would gloss over like shit on the wall, disgusting crusty ear discharge, skin picking and any number of other gross things, I go all out sharing with the world. The only reason I can think of for doing that is how freeing it is. That and I have no shame. Holding things in will kill you. That’s why I insist on laughing hard every day. Not like a crazy person. Ok, some days like a crazy person. Laughing keeps me sane and lets out the hurt, pain, resentment, etc. So go have a good laugh on me or at my expense. It’s the least I can do for my fellow man.

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My proudest achievement of the past few weeks has been getting my aol mailbox almost empty. To me, “almost empty” is under 650 emails. I’d been hovering around 3,000 to 4,000 emails in my inbox. I’m not talking my “old mail” that’s been open and sitting there waiting to fall off the planet. No, these are ones I’ve kept as new. I had 3 year old emails that I’d never opened. Yes, it’s utterly ridiculous. I didn’t want to delete them even if they were “forwards” because I didn’t want to miss anything. The joke’s on me because I’d already missed them. Just keeping them there had been a big burden on me. It’s kept me from wanting to go online since I knew there was such a massive amount. I was to the point of just wanting to close my email account and not start another. I get very few personal emails. Mostly jokes, forwards, newsletters, customer service reminders…the list goes on. Nothing of value.

 
So I made a small goal for myself to go through emails and get them under 3,000 to start. Well, I’ve actually gotten it to that point more than a few times. Maybe even to 2,5000 once or twice. But probably never in 15 years have I been under that amount in my inbox. Mail I’d actually planned to open eventually or look at again. Ha ha. As you can guess, a lot of the jokes and forwards are out of date. No longer relevent. A lot of the newsletters that included photographs no longer even load the pictures. Some of the food/cooking newsletters I sent to myself to check out later, no longer even have a working link to the recipe. The emails I do read, I read on my iphone4. If I go to someone’s blog and want to read a post or go back and leave a comment later, I will email the post to myself. Hence, there are probably 1,000 blog entries I planned to read or write a comment to. At this point, the person who wrote it wouldn’t care that someone left a comment on something they wrote 3 years ago. What’s worse is a good portion of these blogs no longer exist! I call them the missing and the dead. In case you haven’t noticed, I have to be dramatic and seem to be obsessed with death. Probably one third of the blogs are still out there but the owner hasn’t written anything in 3 years! I’m not even kidding. Another third of the blogs are completely missing in cyberspace. They were taken down completely. This makes me sad on so many levels. I don’t know which is worse, to quit writing and never return to your blog or to decide one day that everything you’ve spent the time to write, no longer deserves to be seen.
 
I know in the past I’ve said that I never understood how anyone couldn’t find something to blog about. Or didn’t understand how someone didn’t feel like writing. Everytime I make a broad sweeping statement like that, it comes back to bite me in the ass. I had never felt like that until the past 3 weeks. I’ve had at least 3 occasions where I had the time to blog and in the past would’ve ran to my computer with glee to quickly type out a blog post. Instead I just wasn’t up to it. Part of it is how I’ve been feeling physically. Aug. 20th I went with hubby to the doctor for his checkup appt. and the doctor told me I looked fantastic. I keep laughing when I think of it. I feel so unwell. Back in the day, on the tv comedy show Saturday Night Live, there was a character who always said, “It is better to look good than to feel good.” 😉 I’ve had this dizziness and general malaise the past few weeks. I briefly mentioned the episode I had in the bathtub to the dr. and he said it sounded like I had a virus in my left ear that brought on vertigo. He said if it kept up to call and he’d give me some medicine. He said he didn’t like to prescribe it because it makes people so sleepy, it’s impossible to function. I don’t have it all the time but it comes and goes. Sometimes while I’m sitting even. My sinuses have been awful and that’s been giving me pain in the face and making it hard to breathe.
 
Of course, I know what I can blog about but I surely get sick of complaining about my health. No doubt people are sick of reading about it too.
 
People are abandoning blogging like rats off a sinking ship. I’m wondering if it was just a fad that has now jumped the shark. Obviously, everyone has different reasons to quit blogging but it does seem like it’s gotten “uncool”. With my contrary nature, that just makes me love it more. As much as I will miss those blogs (& some of them I will), it’s fine that so many have dropped out of the blogosphere. As big as the Internet is, it’s starting to get crowded. There’s too much crap out there. If people really don’t want to be there, if they feel they no longer have anything to say, or choose not to do it in that format, they should leave. They are taking up space that someone else could use to better advantage.

 
At the risk of making another statement I’ll later regret, I will never walk away from my blog. Mostly because if I left it up and never added anything new, it would be a constant reminder that I’d failed at another thing. I hate failing but I’m good at it. I don’t want to be good at it. I want to be good at blogging. I’ll never be as good as others at it but it lets it be known that I’m not missing or dead.
 
I wrote this last week and didn’t publish it. I always think I’ll have something better to add or change and never do. He who hesitates is lost. I’m so lost, I need a GPS for blogging. Siri, when should I post on my blog? In other news, I’ve had 3 days in a row where I haven’t gotten dizzy. I’m afraid to say it out loud because it might jinx it. Sat. Aug. 23rd, our basement flooded again. Yawn. 2 inches of rain water and I had hubby do most of the carrying items up the stairs since at the time I was still dizzy. It’s almost dry enough to go down and wash a ton of clothes that have piled up. You know what I’ll be doing. Maybe I’ll get some ideas for future blog posts. 🙂

 

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I recently took notice that a lot of my blog titles have some reference to death or being dead. I don’t know why. I’m forever having trouble picking the title of a blog post. Some people seem to have a knack for it. I never quite tie the title in with what I’ve written. If I do, it comes out as trying to be “too cute”. It may be worse to make no reference to the title at all like it is so random, it doesn’t belong to the post at all.

At this point in my life, I don’t have the time to dwell on such things. I just pick a title and send it out to the universe. Even though I haven’t been blogging much lately, I’ve been thinking about blogging. I used to lament about how plain my blog is compared to others. How others have so many bells and whistles and are just plain fancy. From the background to all the pictures and the buttons. I was like a poor person admiring a rich person’s possessions and wishing for their fur coat or their high heels or their Mercedes Benz. I can covet what they have until the cows come home but deep down, I don’t really want them. I’d be afraid the fur coat would be stolen. I couldn’t endure the agony of squeezing my feet into 4″ heels, let alone strut around in them. I might enjoy driving a Mercedes but my 21 yr. old car is more my speed. I don’t think I could love a car more than that one.

What I’m trying to say is that my blog suits me. With it’s plain jane look that’s mostly words and no flash. If it was all fancy and full of bling, it wouldn’t reflect me. I may like looking at other people’s fancy blogs and even temporarily wish for the stylish details they have. But I’ve finally come around to accepting that my blog doesn’t have to look (or read) like anyone else’s. I have a very select audience. The people who read me are mostly from other countries. I don’t know what that says about me. Maybe that I’m unappealing to Americans. Somehow, I can live with that.

My spelling is better than most but not flawless. I refuse to use a spell check–that would be cheating. My sentence structure could use some sprucing up. I don’t always word things correctly and am often not completely happy with how a paragraph sounds. I don’t always have time to fiddle with it until it sounds right. As long as I’m getting my point across, I let it go. If I tried to write a perfect blog post, I never would’ve been able to start. It used to bother me that a few others who started blogging around the same time I did just skyrocketed to fame. Obviously they put more into it, more time and effort, more networking, more everything. I didn’t begrudge them their success but I felt almost invalidated that I was going unnoticed next to them. We don’t all have to be the star of the show. In fact, we all can’t be! Some of us must be supporting players. Being a Leo, I love the limelight under the right circumstances. As long as I’m not being embarrassed or made fun of, you can call attention to me and I thrive on it. I no longer expect to gain any fame through blogging. Going to BlogHer13 last year made me realize how insignificant I am in the blogging world. I’m not even one of the thousands of stars in the sky, I’m the fleck of dust on the telescope that others are looking through to see the stars. Mostly annoying and in the way but occasionally helpful by reminding you of the need to dust.

I’m no longer going to vow to blog more. I will blog when time allows, as I always have. I will continue to just sit down and write without measuring my words as carefully as I should. I will jump from one topic to another, unintentionally alienating people along the way. July 18th will be 5 years that I’ve been blogging. I’m proud that I’ve kept up with it. I know blogging is something I’m in for the long haul. Hopefully, I’ll always enjoy writing on here and sharing my life stories. Several of the blogs I enjoyed reading have just up and disappeared over the past 5 years. Most of the time there’s not even an announcement. I just go to the blog and it’s NOT THERE. That is a rude awakening. It’s akin to being invited to someone’s house and you get there, knock on the door and they’re not home. You’ve been stood up. Obviously, I’m making it personal. I know how to do this quite well. I’ve never felt like closing my blog since I started it so I’m unsure why others are doing it. If it is boredom or they’re just not that into writing. Maybe they’ve gotten other interests or feel bad neglecting it so just quit entirely. Blogging feels like the only thing I do for ME. There’s no way I’m giving that up. You can’t put a price on the feeling of achievement I get after publishing. Or the smiles I get reading the comments. Or just the emotional release I get from sharing thoughts or events in my life. What I’m trying to say is you’re stuck with me. 😉 Even if I tried to fancy up my blog, it would still at the heart, be a pig. My blog and I are both pigs that don’t need lipstick. Oink. (What a stupid ending to this…)

 

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Yesterday I did my first recap on my time at #BlogHer13. I’m going to do a separate post about the Expo Hall and sponsors later on. Today I’m going to tell you about some of the wonderful people I met at my first blogging conference. As each day passes, I become more grateful to #BlogHer13 for the opportunity I had to attend. I didn’t meet a lot of people but the ones that I did, truly made an impression on me. I have no doubt we’ll be bonded for life. When I find someone worth knowing, I like to share them with the world. It’s part of the duty of belonging to a blogging community to promote the extraordinary people. There are so many blogs out there and it’s impossible to have read them all. Some of the really obscure, unknown ones can be a perfect match for your tastes. If we help the bloggers get some readers and attention, it almost guarantees they will stick around and continue writing.

 
In my previous post, I mentioned the joyous hug I got from Deb Rox at the newbie breakfast. I also got one from Tarrant Figlio who wandered in briefly with her son Joseph to check it out. Tarrant lives locally, only a few towns over from me but we’d never met in person. I recognized her right away and got up and made a beeline for her. I immediately felt reassured. I rarely think to myself that a woman is sexy but I did when I saw Tarrant walk by. I hope I don’t embarrass her by saying that but I almost blurted it out when we hugged. She also has a very calming presence. I was hoping the whole day would be filled with hugs like that. Instead these stand out because I received so few. Of course, I’d rather have fewer meaningful hugs than a lot that were insincere. Tarrant writes a food blog but is also a storyteller and all about family. On Friday night I got another hug from her (@thatwoman on Twitter) as well as being introduced to her family. Her partner Denise (who works for BlogHer) gave me a great hug as well and I got to meet some of their kids: Joseph, R.J. & Ellie. They make up the kind of family anyone would be happy to be part of.
 
My first Room of Your Own session was Shedding the Facade and Writing Our Vulnerable Truth. I came into the room and had no clue where to sit or who to sit with. I saw this shock of blue and purple hair sitting by the aisle in the middle and just had to sit next to the person who owned that head of hair. I told her I loved it and I did. This wild and colorful hair belongs to Tabatha Muntzinger. Boy, this chick is so together! She knows who she is, what her style is, etc. I told her the hair suited her, the whole thing, cut and color. The more I’ve gotten to know her the more right I know I am. She also dresses in a way that really reflects who she is and what she’s about. I just wear clothes and she picks out extentions of herself to adorn her body with. She was so friendly which was a big hit with me. There’s really no such thing as being too friendly. Or at least I haven’t found anyone who is, yet. She is just a fascinating creature and I have a feeling even though she’s much younger than I am, she will play a part in me finding out more about who I am. I could tell you she’s a married mom into remodeling her 115 yr. old house but I’d rather you go check out her 2 blogs and see for yourself. 😉 You’ll find her at SoTabulous and Turn Right At Lake Michigan.
 

Tabatha

Tabatha

At this same session, Shannon Duffy plopped herself down in the row ahead of us and turned around and started talking to both of us. Shannon is like a breath of fresh air. Really easy to be around, she doesn’t make anyone uncomfortable which is a great quality. We found we had several other sessions in common since we were both following the writing track of sessions. The 3 of us exchanged cards and friendships were born. It was only later after I got home and read Shannon’s blog did I find out that she had written one of the 100 pieces selected for Voices of The Year!! Wow. We had a celebrity in our midst and didn’t even know it. Which just goes to show she’s modest too. 😉 She told me she was local too, coming from a suburb farther out from mine. Check out her heartfelt writing at Deepest Worth.
 

Shannon

Shannon

At another session that day, a sweet girl came and sat next to me. She introduced herself as Jenn Belden and we swapped cards. It turns out she’s from the same suburb as Shannon! The day before BlogHer13, Jenn had flew back to the United States after time spent in England. She and her family had lived in the UK for 3 1/2 years, only recently moving back here. They had taken a vacation there to visit friends right before the conference. No doubt she was jetlagged and had been on the go for weeks but she handled everything beautifully. She was friendly and someone I’d love to get to know more. Her blog is Momma On The Rocks. You don’t have to question that in addition to everything else, she knows how to make a mean cocktail! 🙂
 
At the Voices of The Year, there was a lengthy delay while waiting for Queen Latifah to arrive. I had gone in early and sat on the right side in the 3rd row. On one side of me was a woman who was deep in conversation with the person she came with and oblivious that I was there. Then along came Stacy Jill Calvert. The seats were so close together they were touching and we were sitting tightly against each other. Our skin touching. At that point you have to get to know the person next to you or start filing a sexual harrassment suit. 😉 Stacy is bubbling with enthusiasm and I hit the blogger jackpot when she planted herself next to me. She talks a mile a minute which put me at ease. She’s originally from a suburb of Chicago, not far from where I live. Now she lives down state with her partner while they both attend graduate school. Her passion is filmmaking and she’s currently making a documentary that needs funding. She’s a Digital Storyteller and a force of nature! :-)’
 

Stacy

Stacy

At the VOTY reception, I was trying to eat standing up and not to spill any food on my top. I’m pleased to report ALL weekend, I didn’t get so much as a crumb on myself! That never happens. I’m notorious for wearing half my food across my chest and some of it lands in my lap as well. Before I went to BlogHer13, I almost tweeted out, “I’ll be the one wearing their meal like an abstract painting on their clothes.” I really should be issued an adult bib. While standing against a sign, I saw a woman standing by herself in the aisle. She looked alone and we made eye contact. I asked her if she was alone and she said no. She had a couple of friends she’d come with. One was with her at the reception and was going to come and find her. We started talking and really hit it off. Her name is Sandra Chang and she blogs at Letters of Muse. Her blog is probably the closest to mine that I’ve ever seen. She blogs about her life, whether it’s gardening, making homemade jam, her kids, etc. I feel a kindred soul with her. Her friend Maria Milik showed up and the 3 of us stood around talking. Maria is a real go-getter. She runs her own organic food business, raises kids with special needs, volunteers for everything. She’s just someone anyone would be lucky to have by their side. She started a blog called Two States of Chaos 1 1/2 years ago, did one post and hasn’t blogged since. I believe it when she says she’s too busy for blogging but it’s such a GREAT blog that I’m making it my life’s work to hound her until she takes up writing it again! Sandra and Maria are both from the same suburb that Shannon and Jenn are from. I started to think they just breed nice people there! I’ve since tried to get them hooked up with each other. I asked if they were going to the parties and they invited me to tag along with them. First we made the plan to hit the bathroom and then visit the White Cloud Lounge. That’s a small bar off the lobby of the hotel that they converted for this event. They decorated it in lots of white and even had what looked like heavy white smoke floating around the room but it was really dry ice. They had an artist doing art featuring the White Cloud logo and hostesses dressed in white going around making sure everyone was taken care of. Sandra and I went up to get a drink. They had an open bar and Sandra ordered a gin and tonic and I asked what their signature cocktails were. The guy just made me one and handed it to me. It was white wine with heaven knows what in it. Far be it from me to turn down alcohol, so I took it. It was ok but not something I would normally drink. 4 things happen when I start drinking: 1) My face gets flushed and I turn red. 2) I become more talkative = the real me comes out. 3) I want to drink MORE. 4) I want to dance. #1 definitely happened, as did #3. #2 only happened a little bit and #4 not at all. I never heard any dance music all night and was disappointed because I LOVE to dance. The 3 of us had our picture taken together covered in toilet paper boas and of course, the white smoke made it not turn out. We redid it and the 2nd time, only 2″ of my face showed up in the photo. Then we headed up to Room 929 at the Sheraton for the Come As You Are Party.
 

Maria & Sandra

Maria & Sandra

The Come As You Are Party was my favorite. Maybe it’s because I’ve been following Anissa Mayhew for at least 3 years on Twitter. She was hosting the party and had her beautiful daughter Rachael along with her. I introduced myself to Anissa and she shook my hand and then I told her I wanted a hug too. So I leaned down so I could give her a hug in her wheelchair. It was like meeting an old friend. I introduced Sandra and Maria to her and then let them talk. I went over by Rachael and talked to her for a bit. She’s such an intelligent, well poised 12 year old. I asked her if she was going to be a blogger like her mom and she said she wasn’t very good at it. I told her she didn’t need to be a blogger, she already got all the perks. She should do something she felt strongly about or enjoyed more. Anissa had heavy duty red solo cups as souvenirs from the party. I took one upon entering and then asked if I could have another when I left. I wish I’d gotten more–at least another one for my mom. They are so awesome! They look like an ordinary cup when you see them but when you lift them, they are sturdy and have some weight to them.
 

Anissa & Rachael

Anissa & Rachael

There was an open bar at this party too and I went over and asked what he could make me. He just motioned to the bottles and I couldn’t think so I just said vodka and diet coke. I’m more of a margarita or daquiri girl. I didn’t know who to talk to, everyone seemed already engaged. So I looked at the other end of the room and it was basically empty. There was another bartender down there that no one knew about. A couple of couches and a comfy chair. There was one guy sitting down there by himself. I got brave and went down to talk to him. I asked if he was a blogger or somebody’s husband that got dragged along. He said he was here with his wife and she was off socializing. From there we hit it off like gangbusters. His name was Levi Helgren and we had a very easy flowing conversation for a long time. I asked  a lot of questions but it was a mutual back and forth. I didn’t feel like I was monopolizing the conversation or being too boring. We’re both from WI so that gave us something in common right off the bat. We hung out for awhile and then others started coming over to join in. His wife showed up and out of nervousness I said, “I hope you don’t think I was hitting on your husband.” God. Really?! I was trying to be funny. People never know when I’m being funny. The 3 of us ended up going upstairs to the Multi-Culti Party together. The next day, just as I was getting ready to get up from the lunch table, they came and sat down. We chatted for a minute or two and I said, “I hope I wasn’t too obnoxious last night.” This is why I keep my mouth shut a lot of the time. Anyway, I had the BEST time talking with a non-blogger at a blogging convention. It really stuck in my head on Sat. how I’ve got ONE thing in common with all the bloggers (that we all write a blog) and yet it’s so hard to talk to some of them. This just reinforced that I can make conversation with anybody but it’s a 2 way street. They have to be willing to participate.
 

Levi at lunch on Sat.

Levi at lunch on Sat.

This is my love letter to the people I met at BlogHer13. Each and every person I’ve mentioned contributed to a good memory I can take away from #BlogHer13! Without knowing it, they each made a positive impact in my life. I just hope someday I can bring sunshine into other people’s lives in the same way. Please visit their blogs and see how incredible they are! 🙂
 
 

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