Colonoscopy

Colonoscopy 1The first time I remember hearing about a colonoscopy was when Katie Couric’s husband died from colon cancer.  Katie was so passionate about getting everyone tested she, herself, televised a portion of her procedure (or something like that. That was several thousand lost brain cells ago).

When you’re young (or even young’ish) you think 50 is a lifetime away. The reality is it creeps up on you while you’re busy buying dental floss and flipping pancakes.  Before you know it, you’re buying Miralax and a beverage that you used to enjoy, but will now never be able to tolerate again.

Yes. Yes.  It is my turn for the preventive colonoscopy and I’d like to share with you some of my thoughts on the prep work.  First of all, you get the same set of instructions regardless if you are a 5’ 6” 138 pound female or a 6’ 6” 350 pound man. It doesn’t matter if you are Vegan, Vegetarian or a dyed-in-the-wool Carnivore; you get the same prep work instructions.

I decided to go rogue and buy coconut water instead of Gatorade. I, being a sometime sugar snob, didn’t want all the sugar that Gatorade contained contaminating my detoxing colon.  Needless to say, I never think like this when there’s expensive chocolate or a fabulous Cabernet within my grasp. Oh noooooo! Then I wholly justify it.

I did check with the GI nurse to ensure this substitution was ok. Oh, dear Lord, how I wish she would have said no. I have effectively killed my love for coconut water in one fell swoop. What the hell was I thinking?! And to make matters worse, I use coconut oil for almost everything and I almost puked when I slathered it on my hands last night. The smell! The memories! Gahhhhhhh!

So for you readers who like my writing a little uncensored, this blog is for you.  Here are a few things I’d like to pass along about colonoscopy prep.

When you know you can’t have something, like ohhhh food or water (you know, the essentials of life), you’ll crave it like CRAZY! It will consume your thoughts and you will become a food/water junky whore. Think I’m kidding?! I found myself smelling my husband and daughter’s breath after they returned home from eating out. I was like a determined dog sniffing out a drug. In fact, on the pretense of kissing my husband, I shoved my flared nostrils right to his mouth.  The black heart ate at Mexican Village!! (Whimper) That’s one of my favorite places.

And my daughter? I was all wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing with her. I purred, “Come and sit by me, honey. No, closer. CLOSERRRRRRRR. Ooohh yes, that’s it my darling” as my eagle-like eyes scanned her face for any bit of food.

However, just a few hours later, my tune changed. I was very THANKFUL I did not eat or drink anything as I was doubled over from gut-ripping shit cramps. Dude, I’ve birthed a kid and this does not compare. I was thinking to myself I must have somehow become a host for an alien who is all teeth and claws. This alien is in a bitch of a mood and wants to claw its way OUT of my intestines NOW!

And then this happened. I inevitably choose a bathroom, in a most DIRE moment, where my husband or daughter used all the toilet paper leaving me with nothing. Not even the cardboard roll. If that doesn’t make your eyes widen in fear, I don’t know what will. Of COURSE both of them were sleeping by this time so I was on my own.

Before I could fully address this issue, I was, once again, projectiley exploding more pee-pooh from a place that wasn’t really designed to do that.  When that passed I, slumped shouldered and possibly sweaty brow, thanked God for the reprieve knowing it would be short.

I will not describe what I had to do in order to get more toilet paper, but suffice it to say, it involved swear words.

While I was waiting for the next pee-pooh wave, I tried to pacify myself by thinking, “I’m so glad I’m a vegetarian. Those carnivores must have it MUCH tougher.” This became my mantra and I clung to it.  I found myself breaking into a snarling smile just hoping someone had it worse than me. I delighted in this thought.

Then, somehow, as the alien was becoming quieter and I could go for more than 2 minutes without using the toidy, I came to understand that having something enter an “exit only” hole no longer seemed traumatic.  In fact, it felt like a walk in the park compared to the prep work.  I found internal peace at that moment.

This is where my story must end as I am almost ready to make the trip to the hospital. I am looking forward to the blissful unknown that comes with anesthesia and a return to normal bodily functions.

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Angel

I was making our bed this morning when I glanced up and saw the most beautiful angel standing in the corner of our bedroom. He was very tall (7 or 8 feet), very handsome (understatement) and dressed in all black. He had dark, shoulder-length wavy hair and mesmerizing sapphire blue eyes. While I’m not in the habit of seeing angels in our bedroom, I really didn’t think much about it. Lately, strange shit has been happening both inside and outside of my work environment.

I did startle but rallied quickly and greeted him with a casual, “Oh, don’t-mind-me. I’m-just-making-our-bed” voice, “Hey dude! What’s up?”  He smiled a smile that had the ability to make me forget how to breathe but he didn’t answer.  I thought again of how breathtakingly, ethereally beautiful he was. I shrugged my shoulders, finished making the bed and left for work.

When I returned home, I changed clothes and as is my practice, I began walking to get my dolly from daycare. The same angel easily and quietly fell in step beside me before I got half way down the block.

I thought, “This is odd. What the hell is this angel …oh ohhh.” I instantly flashed back to when my dad was dying and the angel that came for him. That angel, equally as astonishingly beautiful was also dressed in black but he had jet black eyes (don’t freak out; Hollywood has demonized black eyes but they’re not to be feared!).

I snapped a terse, “Dude. What are you doing? Why are you here?!” And he calmly said, “I am here to protect you.”  I said, “Are you sure? The last time I saw your kind you took my dad Home.” He repeated, “I am here to protect you.”

My mind went to my husband. He, whom I love beyond what a mere word can convey, has been having some unexplained health concerns recently. He is a Gulf War veteran and the chemical warfare used by the other side was/is insidious. Many of those chemicals were designed to activate slowly in order to disable and debilitate our troops over the course of decades.

I had just told him, less than a week ago, that my spidey sense was tingling as there had been too many signs recently.  You see, I have been seeing threes everywhere again, in fact, just the other night I awoke at exactly 3:33. There are no coincidences and I’ve been trying to figure out what all these threes mean. Lawdy, I wish this spiritual stuff came with a manual.

You can understand my frame of mind when I said to the angel, “You’re not here for my husband, are you? I’ve been seeing threes everywhere for the last three months. Are you here for him?!”  Again he calmly said, “I am here to protect you.”

So, that was what…three (THREE again?!! Are you SHITTING ME?! Come ON!) times he stated he was here to protect me. And yet I still didn’t believe him. In fact, I was so freaked out, I called my husband while this angel walked beside me and told him about this whole exchange. I asked him to be extra careful. He said it sounded like I needed to be extra careful. Well, what the hell? Me? What?

During the walk, the angel’s body language was casual but his eyes were vigilant. He stayed outside while I retrieved my daughter and as we started walking again, I asked Ceta if she could see the angel next to me. She twisted her head both ways and said no. She asked how I could see the angel and I told her I didn’t know how I could. I described him to her as if that would somehow magically allow her to see him. She shook her head and said she didn’t see anything.

I then heard the angel say, “I love her.” I told Ceta that and before she could say anything, I heard him say, “I respect her. I admire her.” As I finished telling Ceta this she said, “How can you hear that, mommy? I didn’t hear anything.”  I told her I sometimes hear with my head, not with my ears.  She asked how I could do that and I told her I didn’t really know.

As we continued our walk home, the energy (mood) changed. The angel said again, “I am here to protect you.” He must have been answering a question I didn’t even know I’d asked but his response was REALLY starting to freak me out. I started having a very physical reaction, too. I could feel my breath and heart rate quicken as if I was preparing for a flight, fight or freeze scenario.

As my body was physically reacting to some unseen stimuli, I intuitively heard, “Cross the street.”  I didn’t, of course, as I didn’t see what the big dealio was and besides, I was waiting to cross at the crosswalk (safety girl!). A few steps later I heard, “Cross the street.” This time it was a little more forceful but I still didn’t cross the street. I was having an internal conversation with myself that went something like this: “I’ll cross the street when I am damn good and ready, like when I get to a walking path or a driveway.” I’m a teensy bit stubborn that way and besides, I STILL didn’t see any danger. But after my internal convo faded and I took a few more strides, I became very agitated and felt like I had just moved into a high alert status.

This time the telepathic voice commanded I cross the street. Boy howdy, you didn’t have to ask me twice (this time). Nope! I didn’t wait for my own human eyes to pick up the danger or for the upcoming crosswalk. I went all Jackie Chan and cut right through someone’s yard and then through someone else’s yard. By Jove, I got to the other side of the street and I did it by picking ‘em up and putting ‘em down, like right NOW.

During my “going rogue” episode, Ceta said, “Mommy. Mommy! What are you doing, mommy?!” I said, “I wish I knew, honey, but I have to cross the street NOW.”  This is so unlike me that Ceta said, “You shouldn’t do that mommy” which is her response when she senses an injustice. Lord help the child who’s not wearing a bike helmet while riding a bike if Ceta’s around. She is SO the Lawbreaker Police.

My heart rate settled as did my breath. I couldn’t visibly detect any harm coming from the other side of the street but then again, our physical vision IS very limited. On the new side of the street, I did stop for a lady backing out of her driveway as she didn’t see us. I thought that was kind of weird as if I had stayed on the other side of the street, this situation wouldn’t have happened. But maybe something else, something far worse, might have.

My black clad, black winged companion chaperoned Ceta and I until we returned home. Safely. Has the danger passed? I don’t know. Tonight, though, I’m arming our security system. I may be um, “challenging” (ahem!) but I’m not stupid. And the angel? I just spotted him folding his huge frame into the rocking chair that sits next to my baby girl’s bed. His demeanor says, “I got this, momma. Rest easy. I’ll be here all night keeping watch.”

And that gives me a sense of protection that no armed security system ever will.

Relish

I was recently struck with the enormity of how much my daughter has grown. How did three years pass so quickly? How is it possible? More importantly, HOW did I get through parts of it?!

Far warning to my gentle readers, I am going to say the word, “nipple” about 15 times and be rather explicit about some of the pit falls of nursing. Continue if you have a strong stomach or if you totally dig my sense of humor.

I remember when I was pregnant. Women, with a nostalgic look upon their faces, would say, “Relish every moment! They grow up so quickly.”  Ok first of all, people seriously; this phrase needs to go to the same resting place as “Gag me with a Ginsu.”  I did not relish any part of the birthing process nor did I relish the post-birthing process.

I did not relish having nipples that were cracked, bleeding and often times so painfully raw I could tell when there was a low pressure system moving in. What? Never nursed? Well, let me give you some idea as to what this SORT OF felt like, for me anyway; Take any rough grade sand paper and rub your nipples.  Hard. Harder. Get ON it! Do this until they are roughed up and possibly bleeding. Then put salt or lemon on them. Orrrrrr, what the hay, go for broke and do both. Why not?!

I did not relish having plugged milk ducts that often resulted from said crying human baby blob who was, apparently, a shallow latcher.  I also did not relish relinquishing my precious sleep because nobody told me this could happen and let me tell you, four naproxen weren’t even taking the edge off. What madness is this!?

I did not relish surfing the internet baby bible (for me it was babycenter.com) for a possible cause/solution to my unbelievably engorged, burning, and throbbing breasts. Funny, the hospital’s Lactation Specialists don’t breathe a word of this when they’re helping your little nipple sucker latch on. OOOOH NOOOOO. And then whammo! Your breast is the size of a hot air balloon, it’s throbbing like the worst hangover headache possible and there are milk colored pustules all over your nipples.

I really did not relish abandoning Babycenter.com and going rogue either, but I found a potential solution that was not recommended or approved by them. And let me tell you, it worked. And it worked FAST. What did I do? Well, in the name of all the injustices I had and was suffering; why not add insult to injury? Why not tell a bazillion readers another private and personal tidbit about myself? I stuck a sterilized safety pin into the blister-like pustules. Yes. I did.  While I didn’t relish that part, I DID relish watching as my pent-up breast milk sprayed all over like an unmanned fire hose.  Whooooeeeeee! Yep. That, my friends, spells (pain) relief.

You know what? Side note, here. I wonder if Real Simple magazine would enjoy my use for a sterilized safety pin for their “Tell Us About Your New Uses For Old Things” segment.  Just sayin’.

I did not relish having to physically milk (think SQUEEZE the all-mighty hell out of) my own breast.  Can I just type that again? Yes, overshare here; I. Milked. My. Own. Breasts. Because of this wonderful now PTSD experience, it is yet another reason why I refuse to drink cow’s milk.  I mean, I lived it brothahh, you know? You hear what I’m saying? I lived being a human lactating udder.  Yep. Good times.

I did not relish waking up solely so I could drag my exhausted lily white bum out of a warm bed in order to use a cold breast pump. I did not relish not showering for days.  Well, ok. I give; I did sort of like not showering.  But it wasn’t the showering part that bugged me.  I LIKED showering. It was the “arduous” chore of drying off, combing my hair, blow drying my (short) hair, brushing my teeth, putting on deodorant and maybe applying lotion. THAT’S what took the time, my friends. That little regime was not relished.

I didn’t relish the fact that once my ‘girls’ were done being mangled, I never EVER looked at or felt the same about them again. They were off limits to my husband for at least 2 years. He never was a breast man, but still, TWO YEARS of a ‘no touch zone?’ After what you’ve read, could you blame me?

Trivia question: Did you know a nursing mom can still produce milk for up to 18 months after she stops nursing? Well, either did I! SURPRISE (insert jazz hands here)! Another thing ‘they’ don’t tell you. So imagine my shock (understatement) when my husband and I were having um, a stimulating adult conversation and my breasts started leaking TEN MONTHS AFTER I STOPPED NURSING!  Talk about the proverbial and literal wet blanket. Sheesh!  And NO I did not relish that.  That occurrence was yet another in a long line of what I now, red-faced, refer to as, “Melissa’s Mortification Moments.”

I suppose I could talk about how I didn’t relish the fact that newborns are like Octopi; they seem to have 8 hands when you remove a poopy diaper. I could talk about how said hand would find the soiled diaper and grab a big old handful of ‘soo-prise’ and then robustly and energetically thrust it into the air, waiving it all around, eluding mommy’s lunging grasp and thereby reducing  mommy to conniptions.

I could talk about how I didn’t relish the stupid, sleepless/stressed induced tiffs my husband and I would have. Suffice it to say that we gave each other the old stink eye from time to time while muttering (or barking) something like, “GEEZ! I can HEAR you CHEWING!” or “God! Do you HAVE to BREATHE so LOUDLY!?!!”

But I won’t.  I think I’ve traumatized you enough already and I’m certain I’ve re-traumatized myself. I know those women meant well. They wanted me to relish the coo’s and the sweet little (non-feces filled hand) that rested gently on my (non-flamingly engorged, one-step-away-from-mastitis) breast.  They wanted me to remember the studying, angelic blue-eyed gazes she would bestow upon me right before crap oozed out of her diaper.

Yeah, I get it. I really do.  So for me, writing a blog about this is healing. It’s another step towards seeing these events for what they really are; a tiny bit of insanity that didn’t and couldn’t last forever. And that thought? That bit of realism? Ooohhhh, yes, that I’ll relish.

Hurry

When I walk my daughter to daycare, we cross a busy 4-way residential intersection that is controlled by stop signs.  I’m amazed that some people can’t wait seven seconds (yes, you know me, I timed it!) for us to cross and yet others are so respectful they’ll stop a car’s length away. Some smile while others just look inconvenienced.  A few others keep their faces averted as if saying, “If I can’t see you, you’re not there” and roll through the stop sign.

But I’m not judging. GOD no, because I’ve done all of this, too.

Last year, I was approaching this busy intersection and I noticed a wee lil’ guy walking to the end of his driveway and then back up to his garage.  As we passed I said, “Hi!” and he ran to the garage, looked back and said to me, “I’m waiting for my daddy.”  I scanned the area and didn’t see anyone, not even a guardian. I kept walking but something didn’t feel right.  My ‘spidey sense’ was tingling.  I looked over my shoulder. No adult in sight and the sweet little guy (maybe 3?) was at the end of the driveway again.  I kept walking; after all, I had to get my daughter to daycare.  But something stopped me and I turned around and crossed that dang busy intersection again.

As I approached, he ran to his garage and looked at me with a side long glance. I said, “Honey. Is your daddy coming?” And he said yes. Then I asked where his mommy was and he shrugged his shoulders.  Ok, in for a penny in for a pound.  I, with my new born in her stroller, began walking up his driveway. I asked him if we should go look for his mommy together.  His face split into a huge, relieved smile and he said yes.  At that point he was no longer leery of me but giddily ran ahead of me while excitedly asking me about my baby.

We reached his front door and I noticed that it was open a bit as if this precocious pre-schooler had let himself out.  I rang the bell and soon mommy came to the door. She was trying to take the situation in when I said, “I found this little guy at the end of the driveway. He said he was waiting for his daddy.”

She blinked and instinctively looked towards the busy road. I could tell by her wide eyes that she was calculating what could have happened. She instantly dropped to her knees, embraced her son, cradling him and saying his name over and over and over again.  She looked up at me with eyes that were so full of thankfulness that the memory brings tears to my eyes two years later. She thanked me and I reddened and sputtered, “Oh, you’re welcome. I have a wee one, too and I would want someone to do the same thing if she pulled a Houdini.”

As I was leaving the drive way, I heard her call out, ‘THANK YOU’ once more.

Now, this whole intervening thingy was very out of character for me. I have been trained to keep my nose out of other people’s business. I most often assume that someone is taking care of the situation and everything will be fine without me being a budinsky.

Another ‘budinsky’ incident happened on an unusually warm January day. Trinity, our 2 month old and I were out for a walk and we noticed two little girls (2 and 4 maybe?) were knocking on a home’s door.  The youngest was naked from waist down and was carrying her dolly. The older one was clothed, wearing a light jacket but no shoes. Trinity and I were confused by this but assumed they were at their own home and the parent’s had this under control. We continued walking as I wanted to get home (read: in a rush). But bless Trinity’s not-in-a-rush intuitive heart, he sensed something was wrong and stopped dead in his tracks. I remember him saying, “This is not right. I have to do something.”

A long story short, this wasn’t their home. The oldest child told us their mommy was napping and she thought she knew how to get back to her house. She was a beautiful child who didn’t show any fear and already had a lot of maturity.

After wrapping the half-naked little girl in my coat and an extra blanket of our daughters, I picked her up and we started walking. She was as beautiful as her sister and so innocently sweet. I remember that she smelled of Vaseline and fit nicely in my arms.

When the oldest little girl said, “This is my house!” we rang the doorbell twice and a disheveled and bleary-eyed young mom came to the door. She, too, was trying to assess the situation when Trinity asked, “Are these your girls? We found them 5 houses down.”  I watched the emotions cross her face. First there was confusion, followed by acknowledgement and then understanding of what may have happened.  Then, her understanding turned to anger, not at us but at her two little innocent girls.  She started to chastise them when my husband stepped in and calmly said, “No. No. Please don’t be angry with them or yell at them. This isn’t their fault. Maybe just install a lock on the door?”

We left feeling proud of ourselves for stepping in and helping those two little girls. But I kept wondering, WHAT IF?! What if I/we didn’t stop? What if we minded our own business and assumed everything was fine?? The whole thing bothered me so much that I talked with Susie about it.

Susie, being Susie, said, “People react differently when they are in a hurry versus when they aren’t. It’s human nature. If you perceive you are not rushed, you will feel as if you have the time to help. If you are rushing, you will feel you don’t have time to deal with it.”

Yes. Yes.  That makes sense, right?

So now I think of those drivers who are in a rush to get to their destination and feel frustration with the mere seven second delay I’m causing by using the cross-walk. What are THEY missing? What am I missing when I’m in a rush?

Then I think about the ones who aren’t in a rush. Those who can wait the seven seconds. Those that stop and help a child. Those people, like me, may be rewarded by glimpsing a little chubby hand waving to them, a wide, brilliant smile on an innocent face or perhaps, a direct, big blue-eyed gaze that could melt hearts.

Eyes

A new acquaintance recently asked me, “What personal quality of yours do you hope your child will adopt?”  Surprisingly, with all the great qualities I possess (cough), it didn’t take long to come up with the (as in the royal “the”, not the American “the”) answer.  As a side note, what was surprising was being able to condense my response into one SMALL paragraph!

My first thought was that of kindness. Then I thought about my uh, ummmm, let’s just call it, ‘superior multi-tasking and attention to detail’ skills. (You can read anal-retentiveness but I’m not writing it.) Then it hit me; I’d like for my daughter to adopt the gift of understanding why a person, including herself, reacts the way they do.

How did I arrive at choosing this particular personal quality over so many others? Let me weave a story that spans a decade.

I’m going to take you back to my Fate part I and Fate part II blogs. These are the blogs chronicling how my forever husband and I met, how he dumped me and how Susie saw, with her spiritual eyes, what was going on spiritually.  Even back then, when I was in such intense emotional pain, Susie was teaching me new ways of adapting and looking at things.

These conversations showed me that often a different set of eyes is needed in order to see what’s going on behind the scenes. What I mean by this is seeing why a person lashes out at you or why you lash out at them. And it doesn’t have to be lashing out (anger) either; it may be avoidance, sorrow or animosity.

A few years after Susie guided me through that emotional abyss and several instances later, I began noticing I often had a knowing or an intuitive ‘hit’ as to how a situation was different from what we saw with our physical eyes.

For instance, a client recently told me she was angry with a friend who had distanced herself without any explanation. I ‘looked’ into this and saw that the friend was trying to be supportive of my client’s busy life.  She wanted to give my client some space in order for her to accomplish all that she wanted to do. I also saw that this friend would be there for my client when my client was ready to reconnect. This took the hot air right out of my client’s anger balloon.

In another instance, my client was confused when a romantic relationship ended prematurely. She didn’t know what happened as everything appeared to be going well.  I ‘saw’ that this guy was very afraid of his intense feelings for her and bailed. This allowed her to understand she didn’t do anything wrong, she didn’t cause this and it helped her figure out what she wanted to do next. Hummm, this scenario sounds familiar, right Fate I and Fate II blog readers???!

One more example would be a client who was having extreme anxiety over how a coworker was treating her. I saw that this coworker was trying to help my client grow spiritually by putting some fuel on the proverbial low self-worth fire.  This person was trying to give my client opportunities to say no and to stand up for herself.   After hearing this, my client told me this was a life-long issue for her and something she wanted to work on. She emailed me a week later stating she had set some boundaries for herself, her friends, coworkers and others.

Developing this gift has allowed me to step into another person’s emotional shoes and better understand why a particularly painful or reactive response was triggered. It has helped me calm nerves and soothe anger. It has also helped me deal with my own emotional pain. But you don’t need to be an Intuitive to do this, you just need to be perceptive and open to looking at things in a different light.

What if we all practiced seeing each other’s pain with compassion and empathy instead of with anger and hostility? What if we all calmly said, ‘Wow, it looks like you’re having a strong reaction to what I said. Can you tell me why?”  Or, what if you internally said, “Wow, I am having a strong reaction to that. What do I need to look at and work on in order to try and heal the pain inside of me so this doesn’t happen again?”

By holding off on reacting to what we think is true and looking at things from a slightly different angle, it may help all of us to heal old wounds. And that, for me, is why I chose this particular trait or gift for my daughter to adopt. I believe it can literally change the world into a better place.

Vermin

Many, MANY years ago in a what seems like a different lifetime, I lived in a home that was located within a budding new development (read: open lots/fields). I was trying to be domestic by planting flowers (ewwww…shutter!) and I was truly the ultimate Attila the Mom with my new plantings.

That’s where God’s little creatures and I butted heads for the first time. Let’s just say I had to do a tango with some chipmunks who were nesting under our front porch. They were eating my ’ittle baby budding flowers, for pity sake! You can mess with me, but when you eat my precious flowers (again, I HATE planting flowers!) then you’re gonna get the horns, my friend.

I seem to vividly remember chasing these little chipmunks from their hidey hole with my teeth bared and a broom (or was it a shovel?) over my head while producing a feral scream in the back of my throat. And yes, I performed this little dog and pony show in broad daylight. 

I cornered a couple of them in downspouts and thought I was so smart. Then, when I’d try to raise the downspout and capture them inside, they’d move, scratch their little claws on the metal and I’d let out a little girl scream and drop the downspout.  Some warrior, huh?

And let’s not leave out the time I tried to ‘drown’ them when they were nesting under our front step. That was before I realized it was all sand underneath the steps and the tons of water I was pumping into it was just being soaked up and spit out by our sump pump.

I was consumed by these little machines of mass (flower) destruction. I don’t remember quite how I did it, but I got them all into a 5 gallon bucket and they were either too cute to kill or I didn’t have the chops, so I took them to an empty field about ¾ of a mile away and released them.  They didn’t come back and we didn’t have any more ‘renters’ under our front porch step, either.

I wish I could tell you my flowers survived, but they didn’t. Alas, to add insult to injury, my well-meaning (ex)husband thought my flowers were weeds and he pulled them. ALL of them. I kid you not.

Fast forward 17 years. New husband, new house and critters again, this time voles.  The first year I was all like, “Oooh, they’re so cute! We can’t kill them!”  Wait, that was like the first week or maybe the first day.  Then, the little shits started eating our house, literally, and our window screens AND to top it off, our new landscaping!! 

Well, that’s the proverbial kiss of death right there.  Landscaping is expensive and now you’re eating our HOUSE?! Something changed inside of me and I hardened, if you will. It’s primal. It’s like, “Me or you, buddy and it ain’t gonna be me. This is MY turf and you are not welcome here.”  Picture me beating on my chest with closed fists, because that’s the energy I was exuding.

Trinity was on it. In fact, he was waiting for me to give him the approval. He was much more effective and efficient in dispatching the ravenous rodents in our window wells. Granted, he didn’t try to use a two iron or a basketball as my starter husband tried to do, but he got the job done in a humane way.  

By the way, interesting fact about voles (who look like mice but are smaller), they can have 100 babies a year.  Yes, ONE vole can have 100 babies. They have a three week gestation period and can start breeding at one month. 

In 2013, Trinity started, evidently, evolving into the bird whisperer and built two bird houses. One was for a wren and one was for a robin. We got our wren who is really a fabulously polite renter and instead of the robin, we got a black bird that is so damn high strung she flies out of her nest when I sneeze INSIDE the house with the windows CLOSED.  Oy! We call her Nelly, as in Nervous Nelly.

So now I’ve noticed barn swallows around our home. I don’t recall seeing them around here before and today one of them flew into our garage. I investigate and the bird flies out. Ok, that’s weird, but whatever. 

Then, THEN! I walk to the end of the garage and about 6 of the little aerialists dive at me. Oh hell no. HELL NO! I see what is going on here and I won’t have it. I look for nests inside the garage and I don’t see any. I shut the garage door (I really wanted to type ‘down’ after that but refrained myself!) and immediately hear a racket of excited chirping. Then I see the posse land by our front door and on the eaves above it.  Nope. Not going to have it.

I grab a broom. I have visions of my Grandma Jessie doing this at the lake and have an instant flashback to the chipmunks. I pray nobody is outside when I open the door.  There is (of course!). I start shouting (as if the birds can understand the lunatic woman), “Get out! Get the hell out of here!” and wave a broom around.  My neighbor looks up and I justifyingly and righteously stammer, “They’re trying to build a nest in MY garage!”  He smiles and says, “Oh.” And I’m thinking, with one eyebrow raised, your garage door is open too, buddy, I’d be on my guard if I were you.

After repeated failed attempts  (doi!) to use the broom as a baseball bat and the birds as the baseball, I slunk back inside with my head low. Then, my friends, sadly I quietly shut the garage door. For now.

You may have won the battle, barn swallows, but I WILL win the war. 

SQUIRREL!

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“Oh, dear GOD, I am a lunatic!” I wasn’t belittling or abasing myself. No, this was more of an acknowledgement. Dear God, I am a LUNATIC.

I caught myself saying this while doing what so many kazillion of us do; multi-tasking. Although for me, ‘multi’ doesn’t cut it anymore. I came up with a new phrase (feel free to copy it!); MEGA-tasking.

Sometime after having a baby, I morphed into Dr. Bruce Banner’s version of a bad gamma radiation accident; I became a (dum dee dum dum DUM) MEGA-tasker. Unfortunately, I’m so busy starting and stopping these tasks that I’m not sure what I’m actually getting done.

Here’s a typical 10 minutes in my morning: Oooh coffee, yes please (turn on the previously prepared coffee pot and open the fridge to get the dark chocolate almond milk.) Hey, who put the salsa on that shelf? Trinity! Better move that or I won’t be able to concentrate. Oh, we’re almost of out of eggs, I need to write that on the grocery list (shut the fridge door leaving the almond milk in it).

(Open drawer behind the fridge, rifling through the millions of pens/pencils) Geez, why can’t I find ‘my’ pen when I want it? Where is it? Well damn it, did Trinity take it? Should I text him? That’s a bit extreme, Melissa. Just use another pen and make a mental note to ask the pen stealer later. You’ve wasted enough time looking for this one.

(As I’m grabbing a pencil, I look at the spot where our daughter eats) Ewww, gross. I forgot to wipe up the counter after dolly’s breakfast. Well, better get that done (put the pencil on the counter and turn towards the kitchen sink) but first I’ll put these dirty dishes in the dishwasher and WHAT is that smell? Egads! Is that ME?! No, it has to be Ceta. “Ceta, honey. Did you go potty?” “No poop momma.”  ‘No poop momma’ my ass. I NEED to stop what I’m doing and change her diapers (I leave the dishwasher door wide open).

Three steps outside the kitchen, with child in arms, I see a puzzle in the middle of the hallway and know I need to put it away or I’ll be doing mach 2, step on it and pull a groiny. As I squat to put it away, I notice the recycling bin is overflowing. I put the child down, leave the puzzle and take the recycling outside.   

On my way back into the house I stop to turn off the bathroom light and I see I didn’t put away the puzzle. I start towards it but then I glance into Ceta’s room where I see her clean laundry. I zip into her room, put away her clothes, pick up the multitude of blankets on the floor, refill her diapers and then remember to grab some clothes hangers.

As I’m leaving her room, I see the chaos that remains; the puzzle, the open dishwasher, the crumbs, yogurt and pencil on the counter. I realize I haven’t had my coffee and I haven’t changed my daughter’s diapers. I’ve also completely forgotten to write ‘eggs’ on the grocery list and chances are I won’t remember to do that. Instead, I’ll look at the pencil like it’s an alien and then blame Trinity for not putting it away.

Ok. Where was I? Oh yes, I have to corral my daughter again. Just follow the smell, Melissa. Stay on task. Don’t stop to pick up the socks or move the ‘beep beep’ toy out of the way. I may pay for that decision later when I’m not looking where I’m going, but for now, I leave it.

That, my friends, is literally about 10 minutes in my life. On a good day.

I’ve always been an efficient worker but lately it seems as if I get bright-shiny-objected (BSO) way too much.  I always think it won’t take me long to pick up this or put away that but inevitably, it leads to something else that I feel needs my immediate attention NOW.

I’m also realizing that if I have five or ten minutes to myself, I don’t do something FOR myself. Nope. I opt to do menial chores or prep items for the following day. I’ve tried to sit for 3 minutes without pulling a Jack-In-The-Box and it doesn’t work. I think the longest I was able to sit still was about 90 seconds.  Curses! It’s like an addiction!   I try to see how long I CAN sit still, especially while I’m helping my daughter eat, but inevitably, I can’t sit still. Something needs my immediate attention (or so my brain thinks).

One of the very last things I want my daughter to inherit is my OCD. I don’t want her to think she has to fly around the house like a madwoman picking up this and putting away that. I want her to know that it’s perfectly fine to rest and do NOTHING. I want her to know the dust bunny by her feet will still be there when she’s done with her down time. I’m trying. I really, really am but this is a tough nut (pun intended!) to crack. 

(What do you do to stop BSO’ing? I’d love to know and I’m sure other readers would be interested, too. Please post what works for you in the comment section.)

Coconut Oil

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I’m a relative newcomer to the coconut oil bandwagon.  A few years ago, Charmaine told me how I could evenly substitute coconut oil for butter when making cookies or while cooking.  It took me a while to warm up to the idea but once I did, it was bub-bye butter.

Shannon has told me she uses organic, unrefined coconut oil for almost everything. She takes tablespoons of it each day to help with her Fibromyalgia, reduce her sugar cravings and allow her to feel satisfyingly full. She uses it as a facial/body moisturizer and mixes essential oils with it for a deodorant. She tells me it’s the MacGyver of oils. If she can’t use coconut oil with or for something, it’s not worth doing. Connie, who has a strong background in cosmetology, tells me she uses coconut oil as a deep conditioner for her hair and a moisturizer for her lips and cuticles.

Ahhhhh, the humble coconut; so unassuming and yet so multi-dimensional. According to Mercola.com, these two gals are spot on with their uses. In fact, here’s a few more:

·         Shaving lotion: Just apply a thin layer and shave as usual. The lauric acid in the coconut oil will also act as an antiseptic for shaving nicks and cuts. Good to know for people like me who, um, like to get the most out of their disposable razor.

·         Insect Repellant: Mixing coconut oil with a high-quality essential oil(s) such as peppermint, lemon, rosemary, tea tree, citronella or catnip oil can help repel those little buggers. Wait. Catnip oil? Really? Yep. According to one study, catnip oil is 10 times more effective than DEET. Well, shizzle my dizzle! I wonder if you’ll have all the kitties in the neighborhood after your milkshake?? I also wonder if this study was done on ND/MN mosquitos! 

·         Head Lice: LICE?! Yep. Combine coconut oil and anise to create a treatment that is nearly twice as effective as the prescription Permethrin.

It can also be used alone, or in some cases, in combination with a high quality essential oil for cold sores, ear infections, bug bites/stings, athlete’s foot, chicken pox and eczema.  I can attest to the eczema part as my daughter is prone to bouts of eczema during the winter months. This year I am using organic, unrefined coconut oil on her and her eczema is almost non-existent. In contrast, last winter we went through a tube of (sparingly used) hydrocortisone.

It’s also said that coconut oil destroys free radicals and can help your skin look more youthful by diminishing fine lines and wrinkles.  If looks aren’t your thing, how about your health? Coconut oil contains 50% of a ‘miracle’ ingredient called lauric acid. This acid can actually destroy viruses such as measles, HIV/herpes, influenza, pneumonia, UTI’s and vaginitis.

What are some of the physical benefits to using coconut oil over others? Well, a HUGE one is organic coconut oil isn’t genetically modified, however over 90% of soy, corn and canola oils are. Zoinkies Scoob!  Organic coconut oil promotes weight loss, metabolism, immune system and heart health as well as providing immediate energy.  Yes, you read right: immediate energy. That’s because coconut oil is immediately converted to energy, via your liver, instead of being stored as fat. No kidding.

I was curious about the difference between refined and unrefined (virgin) coconut oil. Refined is good for baking and cooking as it can withstand higher temperatures (450 degrees). It also doesn’t have any coconut smell.  The reason for this is because unrefined coconut meat is often dried in open air and, because of this drying method, can result in salmonella poisoning. To ensure this doesn’t happen, the coconut meat needs to be purified and is put through a bleach filtration system. Once that’s done, it’s heat treated to remove any odor.1

Unrefined (virgin) coconut oil uses fresh, not dried, coconut meat. This ensures the oil is sanitary and doesn’t need additional purification, however it can only withstand 350 degree heat. To produce unrefined coconut oil, there are two methods used and while I’m not going to go into detail (you’re welcome), I will say that both methods result in a coconut oil that wasn’t purified by bleach. Because of this, it does maintain some (mild) coconut odor. 

Through personal experience, I find the unrefined coconut oil to be a better choice for lotion as it melts like buttahhh when rubbed between your palms. The refined is more difficult to melt and now that I know bleach is used to purify it…well….. (gulp).

And what coconut oil blog would be complete without dispelling what you think you know about the saturated fats in coconut oil? Pishaw, my faithful readers! Not this blog!  It’s not the enemy you may believe it to be. The saturated fats in coconut oil are naturally occurring. Ding ding! The key words here, in the saturated fat fight are, ‘naturally occurring.’ You see, again according to Dr. Mercola,2  there are  other fats which are “artificially manipulated into a saturated state through the man-made process called hydrogenation.”  If this is the case, it will result in trans-fats which actually contribute to heart disease.  Fair warning! Some of the coconut oils on the market contain hydrogenated oils and trans-fats.  Blasphemy!

I guess the long and the short of it is coconut oil is a dynamo. It has healing, healthful properties and is safe to use both internally and externally. Be sure to read labels (check for trans-fat, hydrogenated oil and even ‘animal byproducts’ – euwwwww) and buy a good quality organic coconut oil; don’t just go for the cheapest.

Maybe make the switch in cooking first and then baking. Then, maybe think about switching your expensive facial moisturizer or maybe even your methyl paraben’d body lotion for plain old coconut oil. Why stop there?  Toothpaste? Sure! Polish furniture? Yes! Oil rusty door hinges? You bet!  Moisturize leather, including the interior of your car? Yes, Yes, YES!  Coconut oil could quite possibly become your MacGyver, too.

Morning

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As my two year old daughter lay sleeping, I was thrilled to be able use the potty ALONE. It’s a total luxury and one that doesn’t often happen (right, moms?!). Most of the time my daughter is chasing me as fast as her little legs will allow. Sometimes I’m quicker and get to the bathroom in time to shut the door without my shadow.  But let’s face it; it’s really just a bluff because you know I’m going to open the door.  If I don’t, she throws herself against it, pummels it with her open hands and wails, “Momma! Mommyyyyyyy!” 

If I still insist on punishing myself and compromising my future hearing, my Tasmanian devil will fall to the ground (dramahhhhh) and start kicking the door. The truth be told, I can’t get ANY business done with all that business going on.  

Letting her in does not end my pain. Oh no. In fact, a whole new world of hurt has just been unleased. Once my little learning sponge is inside the bathroom, SHE shuts the door (gee, thanks honey), smiles (help me) and toddles confidently towards me (dry mouth gulp). She’ll smile, look at me and say, “see?” meaning she wants to SEE what I’m doing on the toidy! 

I blame her dad for that. He does his business standing up and she loves to watch the, uh, ok what the hell, stream go into the toilet.  In fact, there have been several times where he hasn’t been quick enough or is off in LaLa land and she’s put her hand IN his urine stream.  She giggles. He does not.

So she’s sizing me up and wants to ‘see’ what I’m going. She actually is trying to pry my legs apart. “No” is not a deterrent, it’s simply a tactic changer for her and she barely misses a beat.  She sidles to the side of the toilet and touches my bum with her cold fingers. When I don’t react (inside I’m TOTALLY SCREAMING!), she tries to shut the toilet lid on my back. Now, pardon me but EEEEUUUUWWW!!!  Gross! Do you know what crap, LITERALLY, is on the inside of a toilet lid?! I DO and I’m beyond yucked out by it!

While I try not to flinch, I am holding my breath waiting for the next onslaught. I don’t have to wait long. “Poop? Poooop?”  Truly, it’s only the sweetest, clearest, purest voice that can make the word ‘poop?’ sound like the finest crafted bell, but she does it.  Every time she utters, ‘pooOOOP?’ whether it’s to me, her doll or her favorite stuffed animal (of the week), I smile.

And I was going to be one of those parents who never taught her child that word. I hate that word. I wanted to teach her ‘ish’ as it was called in my family but my husband busted a gut laughing every time I used it. So the somehow more humane ‘ish’ is replaced by the baser ‘poop’ in our house.  Now, in my defense, I try to say ‘pooH’ but really, potatO/pOtato.

It’s about this time she hands me 17 feet of toilet paper. I take the toilet paper and say, ‘thank you honey’. That seems to appease her and she briefly looks the other way. I think, “OMG! It’s my opportunity! HURRY!!! Do it NOW!” Not to go potty, no my friends…that ship has sailed, but to pull up my pants AND shut the toilet lid.  I’m never quick enough. Oh dear Lord, I’m never quick enough. The little stinker just knows. The slightest forward movement from me has her quickly returning to the toilet (but it’s not like she was really away from it, either).

“POOOOP? POOOOP?!!” she excitedly says while she gazes into the nearly empty toilet bowl. “I-yucky’ she’ll say even if there is nothing in the bowl. Sorry to disappoint you lil’ missy, but momma can’t do her business if she’s permanently kegeling.

If her attempt to touch the used toilet paper fails (and it does, I’m SO on to her, but GADS she is FAST), she’ll slam the toilet lid down and attempt to flush the toilet (“momma do it”).  Once flushed (“momma did it”), she’ll lift up the entire toilet seat, peer inside, say, ‘i-yucky’ and let the seat slam shut once more.

I digress. As any parent knows, it’s easy to get caught up talking about pooh. Right?! So let me continue with the rest of my story. After feeling jubilant by my success at using the toidy without a child glommed on to my side, I decided to tempt fate (suckaahhh!) and try a shower. I no sooner entered the warm shower when I hear the pitter patter of little feet and, “Yo go? “Yo GO?”  I, behind the shower curtain sweetly say, “Yes, honey. You can have some yogurt. Wait for mommy to get out of the shower.” What a colossal waste of my breath. In addition, I barely started this sentence when the shower curtain (liner and all) is whipped back exposing me to a blast of cold air. The sleepy, big blue eyed blond with morning Nick Nolte (think mug shot) hair smiles at me. Sigh. Time for a power shower.  

In the 68 seconds it took me to shower, she had removed all the contents from the bathroom cupboards, including a newly opened box of 500 Q-tips (!!!!) and scattered them around the bathroom floor. She unwound the toilet paper, checked the toilet for ‘i-yuckies’ and had put on my um, well an article of clothing that is often stolen in college dorm raids.  Get it?

I tried to do my ‘after shower’ routine which includes, but is not limited to, putting on lotion, deodorant, brushing my teeth and combing my hair. Lavish, I know. Today I was going for broke by trying to squirt some toner on a cotton ball and applying it to my face. Sadly though, by this time she is squealing in delight and pointing at my naked bum. Oh boy. She’s saying, “Poop? Poop?”  Yes, honey, that’s where we go potty. More squeals followed by a pointed finger that gets a little bit too close to my hiney for this mommy’s liking.  Meanwhile, she’s smiling and giddily prancing around like she’s a pretty, pretty pony.

But the fun doesn’t stop there.  Now it’s time for a ‘girl’ show. She is fascinated with my little B-Cups (I was going to type “A-Cups” but why not embellish a little. It’s MY blog!). She squeals, claps her hands and points at them as well.  What’s a mom to do? I mean SERIOUSLY!

I’ve learned from past, um, educational explorations, not to let her get anywhere close to my girls as she likes to pinch and pull certain parts that don’t LIKE to be pinched or pulled. Today is no different. Visions of the abuse my girls suffered while I was breast feeding still haunt me. I turn away and put on another part of my delicate unmentionables that she likes to wear as proudly as Madonna (the singer, not the Virgin) did with her metal cone bra.

And thusly, this is my morning and I haven’t even left the bedroom. What surprises await for me today?  I suppose it’ll be more of my daughter excitedly wanting to look at the contents of her soiled diaper. Maybe she’ll pull at the waist band of my pants and exclaim, “Poop? Poop mommy?”  Maybe she’ll even try to give me the child’s version of a titty twister.

One thing is for sure; these scenarios will play out again and again and when it stops, when she outgrows it, I’m going to miss it. 

Crazy

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Google defines ‘crazy’ as:  “Mentally deranged, esp. as manifested in a wild or aggressive way.” It goes on to add synonyms such as: insane, out of one’s mind, deranged, demented and lunatic.

Seriously, with descriptions like this, is it any wonder we fear those with mental illness?  

I have a friend who went through physical hell for the last year or so. She thought she had an auto-immune disease but the doctors said she didn’t quite fit the mold. She had some of the symptoms, but not all of them and then some symptoms of other diseases. In short, the medical community didn’t know what to do with Connie. They couldn’t label her with a physical disease even though her pain would be, at times, debilitating and left her suffering with insomnia, seizures and high blood pressure.

Eventually, she developed severe panic/anxiety attacks. Even though her rational mind was saying she wasn’t in danger and didn’t need to fight, flight or freeze, she would have a very physical reaction to this self-perceived harm.  Her medical doctor put on her on anti-anxiety medicine and suggested (FINALLY!!!) she try counseling.

Connie did seek the services of a therapist and was frustrated that she, after going so long without knowing what was wrong, STILL didn’t have a medical diagnosis. When she asked the therapist about this, Connie was told that she, the therapist, really hesitated to tell people their diagnosis because of the negative connotations surrounding it. She told Connie her diagnosis was a mental illness.

Dum de dahhhhh dah DUM. And there it is. The words: “MENTAL ILLNESS.”

For some of us, these two little words can be scarier than anything Stephen King could bring to life. Oh, I don’t mean we fear developing mental illness ourselves. Noooooo, we fear those who have it.  Fear might be too strong of a word, but most of us are certainly are uncomfortable.

You tell someone you have heart disease, diabetes or even cancer and that is immediately accepted. No questions asked; no fear in their eyes. You’re told, “I’m sorry to hear that. How are you doing? Do you need anything?” Or maybe you just receive a generic nod of the head and an uninspired ‘oh’.  These physical diseases are accepted and freely talked about so why aren’t mental health issues? Why is that taboo?

I have a young nursing student friend who recently was diagnosed with a mental illness. She had a nervous breakdown or ‘psychotic episode’ one day and immediately took herself to the emergency room. Her brain had reached the limits of stress, overload and pain it would endure. Her brain said, “enough!”  

She came to see me about a week later. She was wondering why, even though she was taking her medication as prescribed, she was still having problems cognitively (memory retention and concentration).  When I asked my Guys (Guardian Angels) about this, they said she had received a wound to her brain and it needed to be treated with the same care you would give to a wound you could see.  They went on to say it might take up to six months before her brain injury healed and functioned in the manner it did prior to the injury.  

Stress, genetics, biology and psychological trauma are all causes of mental illness. They can also cause physical illness. Interesting, huh? As you’ve read in the case of Connie, these mental traumas can mimic physical diseases. If your mind mimics the disease for too long, the disease will become real. The body has a way of saying what the mind cannot. Are you listening to yours?

Let’s not underestimate the value of healing your brain, whether it’s by conventional methods such as a professionally trained counselor or non-conventional methods such as IET, Body Talk or even Reiki. Healing trauma within your mind can have resounding effects on your physical body and psyche. 

Connie gave me permission to tell her story, even though she’s scared she’ll be judged. She has a strong desire to bring awareness and to educate others about this. It does not need to be awkward or avoided. In truth, mental illness is so common. Did you know eating disorders, PTSD, autism, anxiety, suicide (yes, suicide) and depression (to name a few) are ALL mental illnesses? When you look at it that way, who HASN’T been touched (pun intended) by this?

Connie’s hope is that we can reduce or eliminate the stigma surround mental illness. She’d like to get rid of the demeaning comments, the discrimination and even the harassment. Sometimes this is subtle, like people avoiding eye contact once you tell them your diagnosis. Sometimes it’s not so subtle and the words and body language used can be cruel.

Imagine this: On the job you certainly wouldn’t say, “You have high blood pressure so you could stroke out at any moment. We’d better not put you in a stressful situation” but that’s one type of implied discrimination mental illness receives.  Remember, as with anything physical, if a mental disease is properly treated there is no concern of someone ‘going postal’ because of it.

The following statement is from one our local radio stations and it’s so appropriate: “Normal? Isn’t that a setting on a washing machine? Who wants to be normal?!?”   

After doing research for this blog, I’m wondering who IS normal? With all the stress, the workloads and the overwhelming need to be constantly being plugged in, mental illness could just become a little less crazy and a lot more normal.