The Hourglass of Time

Life has just now started to resemble normal. People are venturing out and there are crowds again. Vaccines have come and are being distributed, I myself have gotten both of mine. Fear remains and life continues. In the past year, much self-reflecting has been had and I have had ample time to do it.

As another birthday past last month, I am in constant reminder of how much time has passed for me personally and how much time there is still left to go in this life. I struggle each and every day with my mental thoughts, my hopes and dreams quite diminished. Loneliness does not suit me well and this past year has been one of the loneliest of my life.

I do love my dear friends and family who are active in my life and do quite well at keeping my social graces going. My daughters continue to grow and blossom into beautiful, smart, passionate young women whom I love dearly. They continue to be my world and my saving grace. I would not be here without them.

I still find the emptiness in my heart of love lost and the almost desperate need to fill it. It is a constant battle of not caring but wanting that life with someone. I have been able to understand and even enjoy the moments I get alone. But, man was not meant to be alone as it is written. Companionship is still something we humans crave and need.

Wounds that have healed, lessons learned, and even more personal growth than I thought possible for me personally, have shown me there is more to this life than just fighting each day to survive another. I continue to write and log my journey, hoping, wishing that it can help others or at the very least entertain them. I am not sure if that will continue as I am not sure my words or even my actions have any effect on the world at all. I have done my very best to show kindness to all. I do not believe it is a weakness as I have been told in the past and I want to continue to prove that. I feel at times that I have joined the ranks of Don Quixote.

It amazes me that people are not more receptive to kindness or even are willing to hold open a door for one another. I have strived to make a difference in this world and I still feel that I have failed, though I am assured that I do make a difference and people see it. I just had hoped to see that kindness returned to me.

Even as I write that I cringe because it seems that I forgo the people who have fought for me and strived to be my friend. I just wish life would not be so hard sometimes. It seems that the difficulty has been increased in light of the past few years personally. I guess I leveled up.

As I continue to hold to faith I did not know I had, dear reader, I do hope that I have inspired you and shown that even in the darkest times people can persevere. I hope my story brings hope, joy, and maybe the slightest bit of kindness to this dark world. I look forward to the time when I write this blog from a standpoint of more joy. I wish to help and bring happiness to more people. It is what I have strived to do my entire life.

#hugapony my friends.

Be good.

Its OK to cry.

I cried today. It was not pretty. I had tears in my eyes and snot running out of my nose. I felt the build up to it most of the day. It was a wellspring of emotion that has been building for longer than I can remember. It took awhile to get to the surface and I found myself holding back. I did not want to cry and feel the liquids of sadness run down my face. I wanted to buck up and be a man. I wanted to hold it back and “be better”.

Not crying is not “being better.”

So much has happened in the last 5 years that has led to this build up:

My love was rejected and lost.

My children are gone most of the time from my life.

I have lived in 5 different places.

I have lost and gained employment.

My happily ever-after was trashed.

Life is stuck at home.

Death and sickness are all around.

People are tired, angry, fighting, politicized, and uncaring.

Kindness has left us and in its place is hate.

There is plenty of things to cry about.

Crying is freeing in part because it is your body making physical the emotions that are in your brain. It is not evil, as Gandalf would say. It is an outpouring of thoughts in a salty discharge. It hurts so bad inside and begs for release so it can be realized as a real, tangible thing. It is hard to hide crying. It forces you to deal with your current state of being. It breaks you down so you can eventually rebuild.

I look at the state of the world and I cry. I see so many people hurting others, so many others hating. Is there not enough pain in the world that we have to go out find more things to hurt others? Why has the love and peace been taken? There are plenty of things to cry about.

I invite those who need it to cry with me. I give no shame or evil to your need to cry. I join with you in a brotherhood of tears. If you need a sign that its ok to cry, this is it. Release some of the pain and suffering in your own life. Stop fighting the tears. It is ok to cry.

Wrapping this cry in a blanket and seeing that, once again, I must be strong tomorrow because it never stops coming, I look at anything and everything I do to make a difference. I help others and be kind. I say hello and open the door. I try with all my might to share that love and kindness I so desperately desire. We cannot find in the world what we do not give. I am not stopping what I do and how I can make a difference, no matter how small.

It has been a long 5 years…

I love each and every one of you. Thank you to those who were with me in my life, those that are here now and those that are not. I give you a rest stop to cry. It is ok. I will be here after.

#hugaplushie my friends

The Shattering Glass

“Reputation, like glass, once broken, can never be repaired.”

Life is currently in the most tense state of mind that I have ever known. I have seen friends, family, and coworkers all tear one another apart and shred any hope of repairing a relationship. Rally calls for change, fights to keep everything the same, and everything in between is part of each daily life. I look at what I personally have been through the past several years. I look at divorce, a multitude medical issues, bills, restarting my life, being a father and I know in my heart that I have been through fire and worse. I am proud to have kept my commitment, as much as I could, to remain as kind as I can be to everyone.

One of the key elements of what I have seen is the pulling out of someone’s past as an example of who a person “Truly” is, usually at their worst. These cherry-picked moments to reveal the nature of someone from a time 5, 10, or more years ago that undeniable show that someone is terrible. Holding these as truth and never letting them die, these are the actions of people unwilling to accept that someone can change. These are actions that embolden others to not accept change or the will to ignore the same.

Is it like glass, never again to be repaired as it once was?

I look at my past and the stupid actions that I have taken. I have written regarding my anxiety and how it is a highlight of your worse moments that you relive almost daily. I see the changes I have made, the self-reflection that show my flaws, the actions taken to change those flaws, and to be a better person. If all of my actions are considered null and void, and they are broken glass, what does it matter if I attempt to make the change? Because, the change is not for others.

Its to change who you are for the better.

It is a fundamental ideal to strive for when making self changes. These actions are not for the sake of others, it is to change you. To make a better you in this life. The affects of those changes to those around you are a byproduct, a secondary response. The change needs to be in you, for you.

And sometimes that means working with broken glass.

When we see a mirror or window, that perfect sheet that is crisp and clean, we see it for what it is, unbroken. However, life does not allow for you not to be broken. You will go through hard times, troubles, and very bad days. With each crack, a piece of you falls off. It chips away at you until you have just a pile. That is when you can start to make a masterpiece. An unbroken plane of glass, like the white page, is just a beginning.

We can look at examples of beautiful mosaics and stained glass windows in cathedrals. These are examples of what can be done with time, patience, and effort with these same broken pieces. exquisite works of art that are not made by the perfect sheet, but by the pieces that came from them. Sometimes we have to be broken to be remade into something better and more beautiful.

Sometimes, we can change.

My two points in this post are;

Outside: What are you doing to be kind to others and allowing them to change, pick up the pieces, and be better? Are you not allow people to change and just throwing stones in glass houses? Are you helping others to move along with their reclamation project of making their mosaic? Or are you just looking at the shattered glass in disgust?

Inside: What are you doing to improve yourself? How are you fitting the pieces together to be beautiful? Are you seeing the stones thrown at your stained glass window, seeing the pieces fall and give up? Is it not easier to fix the few pieces that have fallen instead of the whole sheet of glass? Do you need help and are too scared or ashamed to ask?

I ask each and every one of you to do something kind for someone today. Help someone build themselves, maybe accept that someone can change for the better. Do some good, be the good in this world.

#hugapony my friends

-Sleeping-

Hide hide, eyes behind, the lids of ever night

Drifting in the sea of peace, away from any fright

Sleep sleep, so tenderly, away from all my tears

Sleep sleep, so sweetly here, beyond man’s petty fears

Away away, to peaceful land of joy evermore

Joyous just to stay right here, resting to my core

Hide hide from the night, in blankets warm and snug

Away away from the day, and this hole I have dug

Safe safe from troubles here, beyond the devil’s reach

Rest Rest for you and me, protected from any breach

Mellow Mellow my soul, so dear, against life’s horrid quake

Stay stay against the chance, that you might ever wake

No no, you slowly slip, from this gentle grace

Goodbye goodbye, you fall away, to the world now you face

“The building was on fire and it wasn’t my fault,” (Harry Dresden – Blood Rites, by Jim Butcher). It is a fitting view of the world today. Seeing horrific news and the spread of a virus can feel quite overwhelming. Seeing the stock market crash, then rebound, the to be told we are headed for a deep recession/depression coupled with the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs makes for a hard time to live in your own head. And living in your own head has become the normal with current stay-at-home orders limiting your social interaction. It is quite overwhelming for anyone and my hearts go out to you all.

As we slowly open up businesses in the current state of affairs that plague our planet, I find myself seeing more and more people reacting harshly to one another. We have people being shot over not wearing a mask. We have businesses being threatened to open so they may serve others. I read about the shops that do open and have new standards in place to protect their employees and customers  only to be told by customers that the rules are not wanted and berate employees into quitting. I am saddened that the time in our own homes has lead to rash actions and violence.

When this pandemic started, we saw a world take care of each for a small moment. We wept and helped our neighbors. We reached out to encourage one another. Has this time inside lead to a more difficult time? With people going outside, have we so quickly forgotten that everyone else is in the same place? Will this be how the pandemic be remembered by, not the neighbor helping neighbor, but by the actions after the fact showing people’s truer nature?

I worry what this means to everyone.

I am reminded of the times I spent in retail. Peoples actions screams volumes. How people respond to hard times shows us more than we care to admit. I saw a Tumblr post that I had not seen in a while and I think it sums up the aftermath of the quarantine.

When people suffer, how do they respond? Do they grow and get better? Will they try and keep the peace? Or will they lash out and yell because they have been miserable. Will they show anger? Will they yell at others who are trying to remain safe because seeing a mask reminds them they are not? How callous can you be to scream at others for trying to protect themselves (and you) because you don’t like to see something that not only helps you and others, but you berate them into submitting to your will.

Watch peoples reactions coming out of this pandemic. It is very telling of the person you are dealing with at this moment. May you all be safe, Thank you to front line workers, doctors and nurses, and all others taking steps to keep everyone safe.

#hugaplushie my friends

I have been away from writing for a while and I just want to say I missed you all. I am trying my best to continue in the personal changes in my life and I have had to step away from writing in the interim to focus on myself. I hope this post finds you well, dear reader, and that you have a wonderful day. 

Post Apocalypse Meltdown

The Dangers of Easy & Cheap Self-care.

I have come across an article that talks about self care that is cheap and easy. In the article, Clean your room, go for a walk, breathe. Self-care is cheap and easy. it shows how a little bit of self care can go a long way to improve your mood and well-being. It reads as a, get in touch with yourself, ground yourself in the moment and get in line with your feelings. Look at nature and take a walk. Savor the moments. Eat a good meal. Exercise. So light and breezy anyone can do it.

I heartily disagree.

The author talks about self-care and the things she picked up on during a rough patch. She talked about small mental exercises. I want to look at these points separately.

Cleaning your house is not self-care. That is being an adult. Maintaining your living space and washing your body are not self-care for a normal person. When you have someone who has a chronic illness, especially when you have dizzy spells or energy issues, then bathing would be a form of self-care because it would a task that requires a lot of effort. The author feels like she is trying to convince herself and the article seems to shift topics often. Real self-care, to quote a friend of mine with Lyme Disease, is:

Self-care for me is saving my money so that I can spend $250 on one hour of Skype with a natural doctor in Canada so that I could help my body recover from Lyme disease and lupus.
Self care for me is spending $100 a month to have someone come in and clean my bathrooms because I literally cannot physically clean my own bathrooms.
Self-care for me is actually going out and working that part-time job in that dress boutique so that I can be happier by encouraging other women to feel good. And in turn, I make a little bit of money so that I can save up to see the doctor and to have my bathrooms cleaned.
Self care for me is also the hard part of asking people to help me do things, because I can’t do them alone by myself. Or because I get overwhelmed in trying to do them by myself.

I believe that when you perpetuate the notion of self-care in a flippant, valley girl almost, way of “its so easy!” it hurts those who cannot do those basic things. I understand that this article is not directed to the people who suffer chronic/mental health issues, but it is dangerous to paint everyone with a broad brush. Making a stereotype of self-care is cheap and easy results in either people who these efforts don’t work and it becomes a bigger issue, or, if you just “did these 5 easy steps” you would have a better life. What happens when these steps fail and the judgment comes? I fear that path.

As to the second part of changing mental habits, I agree with the Psychologist in the article that when we don’t have good habits that they are replaced with bad ones. It is very easy to fall into bad habits with chronic illness. Trying to feel mentally positive when you are fighting each day to do basic things is difficult to an extreme. These changes can improve your outlook but do not changes the facts of what your body is going through.
This can also lead to a sense of looking healthy on the outside (“You are so positive and happy on the outside, you must be better”) but still be going through an immensely difficult time on the inside. People become less inclined to believe that you are actually sick. You are trying so hard to put on a face and not be the person that no one wants to be around due to your illness that it turns into a real issue when symptoms manifest themselves in a terrible way. This results in “I thought you were getting better?” or “You must be exaggerating/faking.”
I feel the dangers are real when self-care is perpetuated in such a simple fashion. Can small changes in outlooks help relieve some stress? Yes. Can everyone do such actions. No, they cannot. It is not cheap and easy to do self-care.
#hugaplushie my friends
-Dedicated to R.A.

Ring in the Holidays

I am sorry for the lapse in posts. I have had a few life events that have made it difficult to post and I hope to explain a few of those here. I hope everyone is well and I look forward to bringing you more posts with this new year. Stay Mighty and Hug a plushie everyone.

It has been an active, interesting few months for me. I have had a little time to reflect on this past year and it has been quite overwhelming. I have been faced with a brand new life as a single dad. I have found a new job, career, car, and people. Change can be good but it is difficult for someone with an invisible illness.

Change is difficult for many reasons. One of the mainstays of a routine is that you are able to plan accordingly. With an illness, you do not know when the next fibromyalgia flare up will be, if the day with lupus will give you enough energy, or if yours Crohn’s disease will give you time away from the bathroom. Having a routine allows you to be able to plan around those when you build in time or because you expect things to go poorly.

Holidays seem to complicate those times.

Last minute parties, rushing to get a gift, cleaning the house for guests all seem to through those routines off schedule and it makes it difficult to find time. It always is hard to tell someone who invited you to a last minute event “No” but we really are running on empty and we are just trying to get back in a grove. We face so many issues in the day that when something does come up, our bodies scream, “Please no more.”

I have gone and seen a new doctor in the past 2 months. My PCP had gotten a Rheumatologist recommendation and I was eager to see what help I could get. The doctor was kind and receptive and confirmed every diagnosis that I had been given. She also started me on a new medication and did quite a few tests. My routine was soon uprooted by the new medication.

Introducing a new medicine is hard on a person. The side effects, which can be many, take hold and throw your body off. You have (yet another) pill to remember to take, make sure it is taken with food or not, and what clashes with the other 6 medications you already take (at least for me). Your routine gets thrown out the window. Add in the fact that we are knee deep in the holiday season and it is a recipe for disaster.

I am however, still going strong. I have been able to make a trip with my girls across states to visit family. I have held steady at my job. I have continued on with my life. Even with this “Playing life on hard mode”, I have tried my best to keep myself leveled up to be able to continue. I encourage you all with invisible illness to not give up, the routine will come back, and it will get better. I am proud of each and every warrior that is fighting their own battles. To those who help champion us with illness, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You truly are great people.

For those who interact with the invisible illness community, take a moment and see if someone you know is doing OK this holiday season. Reach out and call or text some encouragement. Give a little leniency to someone who cannot make it out to your party or event. Remember to give the gift of grace to those who need it.

Happy Holidays and #hugaplushie my friends

 

Killing with Kindness

In recent news, there was a story that came out that I was drawn to read. It was a story about Former President Bush and Ellen DeGeneres. They were both seen sitting next to each other at a Dallas Cowboy football game. They were seen laughing and talking.

Scandalous.

The news and social media picked up on the story about how this unlikely pair could be seen in a social situation and further seen to be enjoying each other’s company. It drew so much attention that Ellen herself did a segment on her show about it. She calmly and rationally explained how she made it to the game and furthermore talked about how nice her seatmates were.

She was then condemned for speaking positively about another human.

There came an outpouring of hate for the former president and for Ellen herself. In an attempt to be kind, she was told that her being kind was wrong. She was called out and told she should not even be kind to another person because of who they are and what they have done.

Have we reached a place in society that we cannot be nice to people? I have tried hard myself not to hate or spread hate on anyone. I have gone out of my way to show kindness regardless of who was on the receiving end of said kindness. How are we supposed to make a change in people if we ourselves do not make a change? Are we a society so filled with hate, we are now barred and called out for speaking nicely about someone. How else are we supposed to change the dialogue in today’s culture and make real differences?

It makes me sad to see someone get called out for being kind. It breaks my heart to think we are now in a world that it is OK to hate someone that is guilty of being kind. I, for one, will be doing what I can to continue to be kind and when people call me out, I will be kind to them as well.

Killing with Kindness, it is the difference I can make.

#hugapony my friends

Anniversary of Stuffed Therapy.

I wanted to share a quick post. This is the 6th anniversary of this blog. I am proud to say that it has reached 35 countries and over 10,000 unique visitors. In celebration I hope to have a quick video for you all soon. Thank you all for the amazing time. I invite you to comment or share your favorite post or something that I have been able to help you with. Thank you dear readers so much. I love you all.

#hugapony everyone

Special feelings and feeling special.

Sometimes the journey is hard and life takes you in very unexpected places. The past 15 10 and even 5 years have had so many drastic changes, I can barely keep up. I look at my life and see all the people in it. I see the love and the hate. I see the joys and the sorrows. I see the ones who were born and the ones who have left us.

Life has changed so much.

The one thing that hasnt changed change is my love for you, all of you. If you are on my time life or if someone shares this and we barely know each other, I love you. I try my best to love all the people. It keeps me going, knowing I can do that and I want to do that. I do it with small acts of kindness and in the little things. Saying hello, asking a cashier how their day is, thanking people who respond in turn. What a difference it can make in someone’s day.

You have this power to change others attitudes and outlooks.

I believe in you all and you are all very special to me. And some of my favorite words from one of my favorite people, “you are special, just the way you are.” -Mr Rogers.

Take some time to be nice and kind to someone today. Do it again tomorrow. Then add a 2nd person. And another and another. You and I cannot change the world. We can only change ourselves. But by doing that, maybe, just maybe, we can make a difference.

Hug a pony my friends.