Saturday, February 24, 2018

Down the Rabbit Trail: Connections between Music, High Histamine, Food Intolerances, Panic, Low Ferritin, Autism and Wonderland. The MTHFR Gene.

* I gave into my quirkier side with this post. My voice, when reading this, is slightly sarcastic with a tinge of humour at myself.*
Image from HERE

Living in my world is like Alice (from Alice in Wonderland) following the Rabbit down multiple crazy trails of connection. For the record, since I was little I have had a tendency to hate "Alice in Wonderland" and yet, many of the quotes are brilliant and tend to explain many aspects of my life. I see the irony. In my youth, I found Wonderland to be frustrating, yucky, disturbing and confusing. I wanted clear answers. I wished for happy endings tied up in a bow and set to music. But alas, I can relate to Alice and her journey in too many ways to write it off. It's a reluctant connection.

I realized in my mid twenties that this was because I already lived halfway in Wonderland myself. Being an undiagnosed Aspie and INFJ personality not yet discovered, I never fit in. I saw the world in weird ways that were normal to me but to others...well, let's just say I received many blank looks or derisive remarks about statements that seemed ordinary to me. I did not realize that I was the anomaly. I thought the world was weird.

This sentiment is expressed in this song; "I close my eyes, and I can see a world that's waiting up for me, that I call my own. Through the dark, through the door, through where no one's been before. But it feels like home. They can say, they can say it all sounds crazy. They can say, they can say I've lost my mind. I don't care. I don't care. So call me crazy. We can live in a world that we design... 'cuz every night I lie in bed, The brightest colours fill my head. A million dreams are keeping me awake. I think of what the world could be, a vision of the one I see. A million dreams is all it's gonna take. Oh, a million dreams for the world we're gonna make." (*1)

The reason I craved solid, clear answers was because the sensory data and the way I processed was non linear. The outer world was often pure chaos. What was solid to others was wonky to my perceptions. I wanted happy endings because my inner world was often focused on the morose. Death, pain, conflict, and the existential crises' were my 'regular' mindsets from early ages. These all contributed to my craving for moments of bursting into song. Music healed me. It conveyed what I could not. I have always been verbal but being able to express what I felt outside of paper often was impossible...but then there was music. The light, fluffy and happy were a contrast to my normal mode of darkness. Or the music would comfort by confirming darkness too. As of writing the sentences above, the lyrics to Metallica's 'One' ran through my head. "Darkness imprisoning me. All I see is absolute horror. I can not live. I can not die. Trapped in myself. Body my holding cell."(*2) There is still not a day that goes by that I don't think of death - this mindset of mine doesn't scare me anymore ( as it did in my youth) because it has been my constant companion. I think it gives me this sense of ability to live in the moment and be more empathetic and make choices that matter to me. But sometimes I wish I could live without thinking about it for one whole day. What bliss that would be!

This is why I like happy musicals and people innocently bursting out into song. It seems normal to me because that is what happens in my head. ALL THE TIME. It's like the movie 'Teen Beach,'  which my daughter is obsessed with, and the song, "I can't stop Singing." (*3) "I'm losing my mind!' 'I don't see your problem?' Everything I do, it rhymes? Here comes another line...We're trapped inside a musical...At least I'm here with you. I don't want to make it stop...Oh I can't stop singing. La la la la la ...."

My brain works best via connections. I see patterns that most people don't pick up on. My gut instinct just KNOWS based on these many subconscious and conscious details what the outcome will be for many relationships and situations. I have rarely been wrong... if ever, but I downplay this because people hate it. I don't think it's pompous because I am aware that I am extremely inferior in other areas of life. For instance physics blows my mind! I am intrigued by the subject of Physics because I never fully grasp it. Math is virtually impossible to me. Moving appropriately in the world is also something I will never be good at. So I think I can claim my main gifting without being egotistical. That's my running theory anyway.

Alas, I am less apt at making these connections as fast when it comes to myself. I will get there eventually but it takes quadruple the time it would (or more) than for any other outside forces in my life. For instance, the other day, two hours after eating tuna for lunch I started my trek down the rabbit hole...

It began when I was pleasantly reading a young adult fantasy novel. I was engrossed in the world of Norse myths with Led Zeppelin's 'Immigrant Song' pounding in my head (*4) when suddenly I was jolted out of Alfheim with a strong iron taste in my mouth. (It takes a lot for me to be taken out of a novel.) "Did I bite my tongue without knowing it? Nope, no blood...but the taste is so strong! No matter, I will just ignore it...Nope, I can't ignore it. Suddenly I feel weird. Like something is not quite right somewhere inside of me. My insides feel a little topsy turvy. My heart rate is up a bit...which is inducing panic. But the panic came AFTER the heart rate so I know that this is not a panic attack but a list of symptoms. Is there a connection between what I ate at lunch? I've got weird abdominal cramps all of a sudden. I feel dizzy and my heartbeat is in my ears. What could this be? I can't make it out. I am confused. I know! I'll call mother."

When I call my mother it is because my husband and bestie are unavailable or I don't want to bother them. Mom is next on the list. The problem with figuring out my own issues, is that I am the worst when it comes to processing my own bodily experiences, if I can not verbalize to someone what is going on. I need them to listen, then brainstorm with me, tell me what I already guessed because I am doubting my accuracy, or in worst case scenario tell me it is "normal." Normal being the operative word that I always attain to and never fully grasp. This is what I miss about therapy...among many other factors.

I called Mammitta and she told me sometimes that happens with low iron. She calmed me down a little but listening to my own voice jolted me into looking up tuna and iron taste after my call. I didn't think of doing this before even though this is EXACTLY what I would do for someone else. I would look for all the connections first, before giving answers. I found THIS (CLICK) article. It had all the symptoms I was experiencing. Perhaps I had a mini poisoning?

On and off through out that day I was fighting light symptoms and panic. Finally after midnight, I noticed my son's light was on, so I went in and discussed my panic with him. I know, not a thing most parents do, but it's normal in our house to verbalize everything to everyone. I told him that I was worried. Maybe it was my low iron? Maybe I needed to take iron and vitamin C? He told me to go do that right now, so I, being the rule follower in panic that I am, obeyed my son. We discussed life some more. He also mentioned that I should not be jogging on the treadmill with my levels. A mistake that I had been making that week. Turns out he was right. See HERE (CLICK) for more. To sum up, I should have listened to my Physiotherapist and only walked a maximum of thirty minutes a day. NO jogging or strenuous activity or muscle building was allowed. I was told this explicitly.
I sometimes hate my life.

This is not what a 'J type' go getter likes to hear. Chronic illness slows down my life and this has multiple lessons that are fantastic, but sometimes I want to SPRINT. I want to go at the speed that my default is mode. I am supposed to exercise with Tai Chi. My youngest loves it. He has slow processing and I think maybe Tai Chi feels like his pace. To me, it is PAINFUL. I have to tell myself, "Yes you are still working your body even though it feels like you are doing a snail's pace. This IS exercise." I just want to dance or jog. When I am on the treadmill I take it up to the maximum fast paced walking just before a jog. But I really, really want to jog. I also want to burn more calories and get rid of my pregnancy belly. "But we can't always get what we want, can we K?" Que the Rolling Stones (*5). (I talk to myself a lot. Apparently it's a sign of intelligence and not craziness. Ha ha.) "Not dying from a sudden stroke would be a good thing even if you do end up living with a slightly protruding gut. Priorities. Stop being vain..." and then I focus back on the Tai Chi until the next minute when I go through the conversation over again...That part, I think qualifies for insanity. Engaging in the same conversation over and over and expecting the same results... "It's not that easy being green, having to spend each day, the colour of the leaves, when I think it could be nicer being red, or gold or something much more colourful like that..."- Kermit the Frog or Frank Sinatra (*6)

(A side note...if you are a woman who experiences panic yet know you manage stress and anxiety well, you could be Anemic. Don't allow Doctors to ignore your exhaustion or unexplained panic. Get a Ferritin test. See HERE (CLICK).)

I went to bed shaking and finally fell into a panic induced sleep but woke up early to immediate dizziness, rapid heartbeat and abdominal discomfort. After another bout of panic to my hubby and multiple trips to the bathroom to pee (In non medical terms, this is caused by the kidney being triggered by hormones to release extra water storage. It tends to be the most common in Fibromyalgia but can happen to most chronic illness sufferers. My doctor explained it as an 'abnormal normal' response in these types of diseases when the body is inflamed or triggered by common illness, food intolerance's or sickness. 'Abnormal Normal' seems like an appropriate subtitle for my life.) I realized I did indeed have tuna poisoning.

But why did I have it and the rest of my family didn't? My brain snagged on to the DAO enzyme reference in the article above. I typed 'DAO enzyme' into my browser and of course, the bane of my existence popped up, AGAIN. And in my mind, the opening, jolly piano chords to Dolly's song strummed on Que, "Here you come again! Just when I'm about to make it work without you...And there go all my defences. Just leave it up to you and in a little while, You are messing up my mind and filling up my senses...Here you come again...Shaking me up so, and all I really know... Is here you come again- and here I go." (*7- I also wrote a post based on this song and chronic illness HERE. It's an ironically cheery song for such subject matter.) The freaking MTHFR gene. It appropriately sounds like a swear word.

Doctors are divided on the MTHFR gene. From my extensive reading and confirmation from both a Doctor and Naturopath who believe in it, I have one of the multiple mutation forms of MTHFR. It affects everything from leaky gut to depression to autism to chronic illness, low ferritin, low vitamin D, high histamines...the list goes on and on and on and on and on. I hate it as much as I do Lyme disease. Oh and guess what? There is a clear connection between Lyme and MTHFR too. Why do I hate both so much? Neither of them have definite cures or paths that are solid. The medical community is ignorant on both topics. The literature is vast and confusing at times or contrary on both conditions. The healing diets can be expensive and contradictory. Basically, they are Wonderland diseases. No solid answers. And I have them both. Or maybe they both are the same somehow and have me? Either way, they are both a part of my existence. Lucky me. "She's a killer queen, gunpowder, gelatine, dynamite with a laser beam, guaranteed to blow your mind. Anytime."- Queen (*8)

Anyway, THIS (click) article told me all I needed to know about my current condition. I was ecstatic as a person can be while being physically drowned in uncomfortable symptoms. When I find information that connects and rings with truth I get very excited. Even if I am sick in bed. I texted my bestie, hubby and mother to tell them all that the pieces fell into place. (Yea I am high maintenance like that. I expect those closest to me to read as much as I do and connect the dots euphorically.) Due to the diet I have had the last few days and then the tuna, I was overloaded with high histamine. Which explained why last night I felt like I was having a food allergy and why my skin erupted with boils on my stomach among all the other symptoms.

Armed with that information, it became easier to fight the panic. The panic made itself known at varied intervals because it was a biological response *due to food* and not a mental one *triggered by the brain first*, but knowing WHY made it easier to ride through it. It took me almost a complete 24 hour period from the first symptom to my final conclusions of WHY. In the old days of my life, I would have gone to the hospital in a panic the night before when I had trouble breathing and a rapid heartbeat. With time and more knowledge of why I am the way I am, I can luckily skip that step and come to my own rescue most of the time. My medical intervention after re checking the accuracy of my personal diagnosis was; rest, high levels of vitamin C, D and taking my iron, and eating a diet that would not trigger histamine. I would just have to wait out the rest of the symptoms since I seemed to be over the worst of it. I was impressed that before I even knew the information, somehow it seemed right to me the night before to take a large dose of vitamin C and an extra of my iron. That did end up aiding my sleep and regulating my body a bit. I like it when I actually listen well to my body's needs.

In certain areas of my life I am quite controlled. The rest is a rather "organized" chaos. I am sometimes Alice navigating Wonderland and at others I am Wonderland exploiting Alice. I feel this also shows up in slight ways when I write. Most of the time I go to my "J" fact orientated, 'tell it like it is' philosophy with some encouragement on the side. But sometimes, when I am sick enough to shut down my "J" or when I am in a frivolous mood, I write expressively or even poetically. I "show" more than I "tell." What a good writer is supposed to do apparently, but I often just prefer to blog like I talk to my husband (but with less details and expression.) In my drafts folder, I have a post on chore schedules and cleaning hacks, along with a descriptive story on a beautiful sensory day. I may not publish either of them, but it is likely that the "Chore" post will show up eventually over the sensory/poetic. Why is that? I actually enjoy 'shown' detailed writing, but I also appreciate straight forward tips and hacks or stories. I think, it is because inside of me the sensory is already exploited, so I try to re balance the force within? Perhaps? Regardless, I usually rely on music more than writing for that form of self expression. Music is my "show" of life. With that in mind, I will leave the songs on the bottom of this post to explain what I can't verbalize as accurately. What I love about my mind is that songs from 'Teen Beach' and 'Metallica'  can fit perfectly together within a topic. They shouldn't fit but they do! This particular talent of mine to fit dark with light, is something I delight wickedly in....or innocently in, depending...

"There's a house we can build, every room inside is filled. With things from far away. Special things I compile, each one there to make you smile. On a rainy day. They can say, they can say it all sounds crazy. They can say, they can say, we've lost our minds. I don't care, I don't care if they call us away to a world that we design...."(*1)
Two posts that I also specifically mention Wonderland are:
Also see the Wonderland label for more posts along the quirky lines of self.

Side note; I was disappointed that AC/DC's 'Thunderstruck' didn't show up in Thor ... seemed like an awesome opportunity but I was impressed the 'Immigrant song' showed up ;)
*1- A Million Dreams- Greatest Showman. My current fav. song because it feels like my life.

(*2) Metallica One. Click HERE.

(*3) Can't stop singing- Teen Beach

The Immigrant Song- Led Zeppelin (*4)
You Can't always get what you Want- The Rolling Stones ( *5)
Frank Sinatra- Bein' Green (*6)

(*7) Here you come again- Dolly Parton

(*8)  Killer Queen - Queen ( yea I know what it is about. Always assume I know the songs original meaning but also know I enjoy spinning music to my purpose. lol.)

Bonus song:) Wonderland:

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Countdown to Valentines; Post Links. Celebrating the Love of Grandparents, Single hood and Togetherness, Country/Home, Marriage, Young Love, In Laws, Friendship, Self Love and Our Choices.

Two years ago, I wrote HERE, "Valentines day comes with mixed emotions for me. It used to be my favourite holiday as a teen. The cheesy mushiness of it mixed with pink and reds was my optimal experience. Plus, it involved happy, innocent crushes and wonderful gifts. I had a protected princess sort of experience in most of my teen hood...and whenever I didn't, I created imaginations in my mind. My inner character is sort of similar to Sara, the main character in the book 'A Little Princess' though I am not as kind. I often imagined the way I wanted life to go and if it was awful, I pretended most of it away. In sensory experiences, I made up a different scenario in my mind. Life was magical because I wished it to be in most regards.

As I grew up and have spent almost fourteen years in a marriage, I have realized that love comes in many stages. There have been Valentines that have broken my heart or when my husband and I had only feelings of apathy towards each other, but there have also been breathless highs full of euphoria and bliss together."

I still feel that way about Valentines. Here is a handy list of posts from my archives that celebrate all different sorts of love with a brief snippet below. The posts range from short ( a few paragraphs) to quite lengthy but you can pick and choose the posts that fit your circumstances the most. Many of these are some of my favourite posts. A few I re read and think, "Wow I wrote that? That's good advice...I should probably listen to myself again..." Ha ha...When I get in writer's mode or have something to say I am surprised that my normal non eloquent self in real life can express in writing what I wish to say! I hope you can also find an aha moment or two...;

1.) 32 Life Moments to Love- Valentines for Anyone (Single, Together ect.):
"32 VALENTINES of LOVE: A List of Soulful Beauty: 1. Spicy cinnamon topped on a latte or steamer in the form of a heart. Suck out the spice in life. 2. Books. Glossy covered, worn paperback, tattered and cornered. A symbol of wisdom. 3. Words. Saturating our being. I have a ebullience for eloquence. A dalliance everyday into the assemblage of dulcet lyricism. 4. Petrichor. The smell of the earth after rain...."

2.) Celebrating The Love of Grandparents: "Instead of barking, the wolf-dog next door sends her howling songs to the moon. Smooth, raw, and haunting, her long held breath causes a stir within me. Glancing out the window I see beauty across the frozen landscape. The moon looks brighter with the backdrop of her sound and the prairies seem less tame. If I step out my front door will I experience the primal part of nature? Feelings of the sacred past connect to the gifted present. The possibility of the primal and tame merge into a song of mournful calling. A calling for friends, for a mate, for someone or something to answer. The creature begs the earth to offer back.
Growing up I listened to the gravely reverent voice of my Spanish/ Native grandfather discuss his hunts in the forest. Passion would seep in when he spoke about those who killed simply for the sake of the kill. Anger rose up as his chest heaved with displeasure. "Don't you ever rob the earth Missy of something you don't need. It's there for us to use but don't get greedy or make something suffer just to show your power." Excitement would take anger's place as he continued the dialogue of his hunt and the moment when he knew his gun was aimed to snuff out life instantly...ideally without any pain. His heart would break if he missed and had to put the suffering soul out of misery.  Patience overtook his stealthily pace in the forest. He would wait, his breath mingling with the crisp air, for the right moment. He viewed the beauty of creation as a sacred treasure. Grandpa would never say that a bear is brother enough to live with the human. He would say a bear is a brother of creatures who needs a healthy respect, to eat when necessary and to admire. Grandpa did not forget his place. He cultivated respect and used creation as a vessel to worship, to gain wisdom, to teach patience, to show beauty, to experience raw mystery and simple wonder. He taught to take only what is needed. Nature taught him virtue or perhaps his virtue gave grace to nature?..." "There is an aspect of home that can only be found in a smell. I am lucky that my memories associated with this are pleasant ones. The aroma of brewed coffee says, "You're safe, you're home, breath it in." The sharp tang of vinegar carries reminders of pickled beets canning and the changing season of fall. Cinnamon speaks of Thanksgiving and Comfort. Onions tell a tale of richness, satisfying nutrients, and a hearty hearth begging the question of what is under the silver lid. Since I have been five, Grandma T's house has always been less than a few blocks away. Currently, she lives in the front suite of my parents home. Each time I walk to that house I can smell the rich taste of home from the driveway tempting me to stop in and see what is cooking or baking, even if I can not eat it due to dietary needs, the smells alone are divine and a comfort to me. It takes a few minutes in her home to feel balanced again. I just need to breathe the air, say a quick hi to grandma, and go out the door feeling lighter than I was before...." "Grandma is known for her blunt statements. She doesn't cushion her delivery but she also doesn't have any intention of hurting anyone. She simply tells it like she sees it, if she's asked. A trait I share. Upon seeing my husband's picture in the paper, my husband asked what she thought, and she unexpectedly remarked, "Wellllll, it's not your best picture." We cracked up. My husband came up to me later and whispered, "Now I know where you get it from and it's a brilliantly funny trait." In her basement there is a red Radio Flyer wagon crammed and overflowing with Little Golden books in original mint condition. Her washer is a 1979 Inglis and the dryer's label is completely worn off. My Grandmother is modern but not encumbered by modernity. She may have a computer area upstairs but she also has a brown 1964 built in Moffet stove. I love that about her. How she seems to flow seamlessly between tradition and the current now. I can't place her in any time...she just IS. I obtain a great sense of BEING from Grandma..."

3.) Savouring The Love of Country: 
"From season to season, the skies continue to inspire, enhance and remind me, both of how large I am in my world, and how very small. A blanket of stars is often the last sight I see in my window before I sleep. Upon waking it's the brilliance of drastic changes and possibilities reflected in the sky. The symbols of freedom, heritage and passionate, ever changing spirits. From dusk onward the moon starts it's hidden path into darkness. That moon, unapologetic, shows off it's full face to the world, nude and resplendent without shame. Paradoxically, the moon allows itself to shrink into dark shadows. It leaves an air of mystery as it slowly circles inward. It's cycle comforts, hides and brings to light. It has witnessed darkness and light, shadow and sight. Yet, it never fails to show up in any state. The moon is a brave part of nature. A instigator of tides and schedules, but also a spiritual nature that causes chaos and moods. The moon just IS. From century to century it has witnessed the love and hate. It has shone down on lovers in the darkness and crimes of the centuries. It has anchored the earth and contributed to weather. It is steady yet not. A magical guide that is explored and scientific. A paradox. A beacon..." "The warmer days were still morose and moody. The land was still budding and the repressive brown ruled. Yet even with that, it was a 'Wuthering Heights' sort of beauty. The grey skies matched my spirit of energy. When the sun did brighten the sky it became a deep hue of blue that stretched beyond the scope of the eye and the land would buzz with signs of awakening. We were not yet at the stage of buzzing bees, although a few flies came out, but the precious stirrings of new beginnings were hopeful. Awakening is always a beauty to behold. And then it snowed. .."

4.) THE LOVE OF HOME (2 posts that are dear to my heart.); "It was one of those rainy nights in which the fireplace flickered across the carpet. Bellies were satisfied with delicious morsels of fish seasoned with avocado oil, dill and lemon, and mashed potatoes perfected to creamy swirls of satisfaction. The window was washed with droplets of sacred water. Instead of creating rainbows of sunlight, the light catchers dripping from the window casings reflected murky gray. Outside the panes, the Gothic arch opening in the front wall framed the muted green tones of the outer world. Gnarled branches grew over the frame and two trees stood guard on either side of the arch, roots twisted and deep... "
"Our culture has a bit of an obsession with travel. An element of education can happen through travel but I know many people who have travelled who have dis -ease with their lives, unfulfilled love,  and lack of rooted being. There is beauty in travel. There is beauty in rootedness. There are benefits and downsides to everything. To celebrate one over another or to think one is more educated is simple snobbery.

I am an intuitive. I also have sensory overload and other limitations. Thus my travelling days are probably small in number. I don't believe rootedness is the only way to BE but rootedness has given me my best shot at life. Just like, I am sure, travel would for others. Even though I have been to many places  that DID shape me, I find I am most educated through my rich imagination, my books and the people I choose to love...along with loving myself. I am educated by being in nature and that does not mean having to travel to find certain nature scenes. The world is full of wondrous beauty but I don't need to own all of it or be in all of it- to feel it. All it takes for me is to sit outside on my deck and smell the wild roses, see the grasses sway, hear the bees buzz and the frogs in the marsh croak...and I KNOW I am connected to each creature in a beautiful way. The earth is often an equal partner in community as people are...."

5.) Marriage and the Joy of Young Love: "Marital success and wise life choices depend on the situation, but regardless, young love could use a little more support. Maybe if couples had more support and successful portrayals of the good and the bad, there would not be as high of a break up rate? Maybe, just maybe, those stats are a little misused? Marriages break up often, regardless of age. It depends on LIFE, on circumstances, on support, on personality, on communication and dedication. Thank you GLEE for once again fighting for the underdog. Finally, I got to see my life choices promoted in a positive way. I'm sure something will go wrong on the show and young marriage won't happen. Already critics are critiquing, but it was beautifully done and I am grateful. My husband and I, we started young. We just knew when we met near the end of grade twelve in separate schools that we should travel together through the rest of life. Because of that bravery we bought some extra time and we got to fall in love, over and over again, through some extreme life changes. Choosing each other at 17, despite the grief almost everyone gave us, was worth the battle. In this life and into the next, we hope to keep rekindling that kindred love..."  "..."As I mentioned in Part One, my husband and I knew at 17 that we were soul mates. It made no logical sense for us to wait until school was over or we were older, just for the sake of age, yet that is what people continually told us to do. Our support, which we needed desperately, was either pulled from under us, bossed and demanded from us, or hard-won. It was rare to have anyone with enough logic to see the love that we had and accept that even if it was a mistake, it was worth supporting love. Those who DID actually give support have stayed as a fixture in our lives and we deeply appreciate that accepting love. We did not want to waste a day. We were not being harmful to ourselves or abusive, yet we were treated like criminals at times because we were (and never have been) traditional, conservative, or followed society's protocols. My eyes teared up at the above conversation because it was one I never had... and really wished for. I just wanted someone to say, "Are any of us really ready for anything? Go and fight for your love." As I mentioned previously, marital success and wise life choices depend on the situation, but regardless, young love could use a little more support. Maybe if couples had more support and successful portrayals of the good and the bad, there would not be as high of a break up rate? Maybe, just maybe, those stats are a little misused? Marriages break up often, regardless of age. It depends on LIFE..."
6.) Learning to Love and Understand InLaws:  "Mom and I started out with a bit of strife. In the first few years I did not understand it because all I could think about was wondering why I was not loved or accepted. As I grew into my own role of motherhood and especially after I had my youngest son, whom is so like my husband, I suddenly realized it wasn't me she was opposed to. It was that her youngest, her heart in many ways, had been  taken so young by another woman....and a woman who already was so different from anything she knew or had expected. As the years turned, we decided to make some efforts. We were vastly different in many ways. She took the personality test for us and was an ESFP- she said it was entirely accurate- she IS the entertainer with a big persona and I am an INFJ who is intensely private yet seems to give a lot of information away. I have mastered the art of seeming like I tell everything without telling important private reflections to most. We clashed in many ways. However, we were very similar when it came to being clumsy, sticking our foot in it, and saying outrageous statements. Once we started  becoming comfortable with this aspect we had a frank conversation. I simply said, "Mom, we don't have to be friends if that is not what you want. We don't even have to be close. But can we agree to be honest and just not try to people please each other?" She surprised me with, "Oh good grief, what a relief! It can be so exhausting trying to figure out what you want and I would LOVE it if you gave me the blunt honest side of yourself that I know you have." And she meant it. From that point on, we were fairly honest with each other and started to become friends ironically...."
"...The concept of adaptability in families can be illustrated by the weather. People who have grown up in cold conditions have an easy going camaraderie with sub zero temperatures. There may be some healthy fear and a bit of risk involved but generally they adapt to their environment with little thought. There is comfort in the level of energy that has to be put out to survive because there is a knowing. That knowledge is based on understanding, and that understanding gives the innate ability to be generally safe to go about the normal. Take the same person and drop them into hot humidity and their ability to adapt is hampered by experience, time and ignorance. In just a few hours they could be de-hydrated in the hospital. As time goes by, if in the environment long enough, they learn some tricks, may have a little bit more room for personal normalcy and may even enjoy the change. But in general their first home, where risks are the least, and beauty can be experienced in full force because of the lack of misunderstanding/ mistakes, is the place where they can just truly be...." " I wish I could share this information appropriately with the relationships that long for healing in our lives but that do not understand the nuances, reasons and motivations behind many of the issues. I feel like understanding could foster the six ingredients of love. Perhaps our world would suffer less from mindless violence if we focused in on just a few people in our lives to give the six ingredients of love and if we would at least attempt to understand driving preferences, cognitive functions, perhaps we could change the course of history slowly with simple regard and general respect?..."

7.) Loving the Choices We Make In Life: "These are all choices that I never in my wildest dreams thought I could implement as a child. I thought I would be a working woman with an epic love story but I did not want kids. I believed that University was the sign of success and that job security was the sign of a fruitful life. I valued education not realizing that really what I valued deep down was choice, freedom, responsibility and learning about diversity and choices. I didn't want to stay home and I certainly didn't want to ever entertain the idea that I may change my faith and go to hell. Turns out there is a lot in our place of freedom that can be done to make a living or Be.
Other choices and changes that brought us to this point:..."  "Due to a few people asking I am putting this post back up for awhile. These are MY considered best decisions. This list is PERSONAL. I don't believe it would be the same for anyone else nor should be.
Even if I say it was the best decision for me, I am NOT saying it may be the best decision for someone else. Nor judge their lives as lacking. These are simply the most fulfilling or rewarding 30 choices in 30 plus years that came into my mind. They are also not in any particular order of importance but these were all game changers for a better lived life in MY Story. This is a personal post so skip it unless you are interested to see what choices made someone else feel that their life was well lived;..."

8.) The Love of Friendship:  "Personality aside, I have given great thought to what makes our relationship different. There have been many times when I have felt guilt because other friendships, while amazing, could never attain what I have with her, and I know that sometimes that hidden hope is there for others. We all long for friendships that are strong, true and feel like family. She is more of my family than most of my family. I put her next in line after my husband and children. Her children are more than cousins. I can't duplicate that relationship with anyone else simply because it takes a lot of investment of time, explanation and communication..." "As my daughter gets older, I have been giving this more thought. She is now at the age where I started having crushes, "boyfriends" and soul friends whom were the opposite sex. And where I had no memories before, I am now being triggered and remembering events I have not thought about in years. I can honestly say, that looking back, I am so relieved. I can not even begin to explain my gratitude to all my friends, male and female, who accepted me for whom I was or enabled me to seem less disabled during times I needed to be so. I sometimes wish I could thank each one of them, but I know that would be weird and considered socially inappropriate..."  "We live between the act of awakening and the act of surrender. Each morning, we awaken to the light and the invitation to a new day in the world of time; each night, we surrender to the dark to be taken to play in the world of dreams where time is no more. " -John O'Donohue.  In this tangible life, there is both darkness in light. Both require surrender and awakening. An easier example of this analogy would be in friendship. "Every friendship travels at sometime through the black valley of despair. This tests every aspect of your affection. You lose the attraction and the magic...."

9.) Self Love and Being an Artist at LIVING:  "You will have lost hope for most of your twenties even though they were some of the best family years of your life, giving birth and learning. Yours is a story still unfolding. There will still be pain and loss, but there is a lie out there that says life goes downhill after 18. Ages 3-6, 12- 14 and 20 to 27 were the toughest for you. During these times there was fear, there were lies that you believed regarding health, beauty and what matters...and even though you had the inclinations all along it was hard to believe it when the proof seemed to be all around. I am writing this letter to you, dear self today, to show you ten things that IMPROVED as you aged or changed your life for the better. Love Older Self..."  "One life. We each have limited time. We need to own that. A choice. We have the gift of a choice to simply show up and allow the canvas of life to do the rest. If we fight too much we lose. If we let go too much we lose. Wake up to the beauty that is in you and around. WAKE UP; As soon as you make being alive your goal you lose the significant story line. Goals become something separate from YOU...just beyond reach. Living well is beyond goals, it is simply opening up to the life around you..." ( oh and then there was This post which was my first blog post on this site!:)

February 2018- May it be a month to celebrate or reflect upon all the different types of love in your life. Thank you for being part of the story.
With Gratitude:
To be Loved- Michael Buble

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

A Personal Post: Julia Roberts, The Film 'Wonder', A Reflection of Parenthood, Marriage and Self. A "Therapy" Session.

*This post is unabashedly self centered. I would highly recommend, if you have come to my blog for self help or advice, to read almost any other post. I have many posts in the label section that are focused on telling stories to enhance the world while still giving my perspective. This isn't one of those posts. This is more of a therapy session for myself that my husband encouraged me to put out there for some baffling reason. It is all about me, without redeeming self help encouragement sprinkled inside, which is what I typically try to do because that is typically who I am. But not today apparently! Fair warning... Also this post is filled with throwback photos to the mid years of parenthood when I had braces, hormonal acne, and my children either had red eyes or something always on their faces.*

Each time we watch a Julia Roberts' film my dad will remark, "She reminds me so much of you." And my husband will heartily laugh. To which my dad will ask, "Do you not think so?" My husband will then say, "Oh yes, I am laughing because I agree with you. It's rare that a role she plays does not remind me of Kiss..." This happens every time. I don't look like Julia, but I think I know the connection that they see. It is my very loud laugh, similar facial expressions and my larger than life smile (which as a teen I would practice only showing half my smile to minimize the effect...a habit I still sometimes do when the camera comes out, even though I readily embrace whom I am now.) Julia Robert's has a big smile and ready 'give it all you got' laugh. She also plays roles that are often similar to how I would act in the world.

My father has also mentioned that Sarah Jessica Parker reminds him of me too...and both of those ladies are very different. Although I have only seen SJP in 'Footloose', 'Glee'and 'Did you hear about the Morgans?' and have not seen in her in any other film besides "Comedians in Cars." But again, SJP has a boisterous laugh and she seems quirky, ...He mentioned this fact while we were watching the episode of "Comedians in Cars" with Jerry Seinfeld and SJP.

I think we are reminded of people we love in film with certain personality traits or characteristics that stand out. I am always amused by what others relate back to me because the information shows me what lens I am looked at through. What I find the most interesting though, is that my children and husband tend to always find a character in every show they love and say, "She is SOOOO mommy!" or "That is something mommy would do." They don't do this as much with themselves or my husband or anyone else. Sometimes if it is an uncanny portrayal they will mention someone else, but often I wonder why they see me in so many other people? It's a question I actually don't have an answer to but I am flattered by none the less.

The most recent happened in the film "Wonder." The kids and hubby kept cracking up at whatever the mom did or said and would look at me from the corners of their eyes. Especially the moment when the father whispered in good humour that he "is afraid of mommy." Or when the mom snaps at her daughter when she is just offering to help out, then catches herself and is sweet. Sigh. Sometimes seeing myself through another lens, tells me the truths that I need to face. I laugh too but I tuck the information away to either work on or embrace.

My daughter felt she could relate to being in orbit around my two sons. I felt devastated by this telltale statement, even though I knew she would say it. It is true, that because she is/was so accepting, easy going and helpful, I defaulted to her help. I overlooked her at times because the boys demanded more. She cried through all of Olivia's story on "Wonder." When I first watched it, I knew this would happen. I felt the ball in my stomach tighten, culminating to the part of the movie when the mom had a flashback to her daughter's fourth birthday. I swallowed back tears because that is what has happened to me before. Seeing, all too clearly, my precious angel all grown up yet remembering her sweet toddler face, and knowing that I sometimes relegated her to back seat...Not because of loving her less, but because she took it better. Because there were so many demands on our time and we were young. I hated parenthood for the most part in the early years due to Post Partum Depression. I look back and don't recognize the person I was due to the trauma of PPD. Luckily, that turned around and parenthood is one of the most beautiful facts of my world. But some of the damage was already done.

In early childhood, my daughter's closest (in age) brother looked similar to her and since she was tinier than most, after he passed about 8 months, they were the same size. They were both in diapers and baby food at the same time, hit many milestones together or only a few months apart, and both were verbal early. In the first six years of their lives, I often was asked if they were twins even though they were 18 months apart. But my son was more demanding from day one. He didn't cry, he screamed. We knew to get him diagnosed at four because many differences stood out. But my daughter had her own diagnosis that I did not even begin to see until years later. She had her own anxieties, quirks and needs that would be noticed, but because she made a less louder fuss, I put them to the back burner. I try to make up for it now. I began to put her on the path to her own diagnosis when her weight at nine years old went from being a short pixie that weighed nothing to triple within a few months. I knew she had anxiety, but I didn't realize how much she was struggling to deal with it on her own until that physical manifestation. She suddenly became the front runner for my attention.

But then, my youngest son was struggling with school, and even though we had obtained a diagnosis for my daughter, he took center stage. My youngest was a bit of a puzzle. He spent a few days in diagnosis and they said he was one of their trickiest children to figure out. They actually did not end up getting the full picture. A few years later I took him to another diagnostic clinic and finally he saw a friend psychologist who figured out that he had insanely slow processing speed...on top of DCD or Dyspraxia, learning disabilities and ADD (the ADD was the first diagnosis that I felt did not fit well because he lacked the H. Plus, it did not explain the issues that were prominent.)

 (He was always asleep- anywhere, anytime... sooo cute:)

My youngest needed help from dressing to brushing to anything he attempted...even though he was fiercely independent...but any self care took triple to five times as long as it should and he demanded the most of my hands on time up until about age nine...and still does sometimes. He was my most easy going in personality. A sweet, albeit stoic, child with a happy nature but from toddler hood onward he needed my physical attention the most. My daughter had our attention when we could give it, but once again, because she was so understanding and helpful, she would often be the star orbiting the boys.

Parenthood has been the most enriching, but toughest, learning curve of my life. I know I am an excellent mother for the most part. My therapist, the children's relatives who know them well, and my friends and spouse have told me over and over again that I am incredible at perceiving needs, making the tough calls, changing the environment to fit the child, and specifying information for each child. But I struggle at the physical care taking. My husband usually does that. Which was why single parenting for a year and a half while he checked out, was initially one of the hardest times of my life. Luckily, he still provided the meals or else I don't know how we would have survived. I am thankful he takes care of our basic needs in that way and still did when life got weird. But that year and a half, looking back, tied me to the children in a forever way. We became a unit, stronger than ever, and now we are adjusting back to adding my husband back in. I am finding this hard. Making room for him when I had to adjust to living without his support, even though we were living together. I got used to making all the decisions, overruling any dispute, structuring the days, and being on high demand. I also became the buffer between him and the children. I had to protect them from his enraged Jekyll and Hyde moments. Even though he was not abusive physically, his yelling and unpredictable anger required me, at times, to be a solid wall between him and the children. Now, I don't know what to do with myself when he steps in. It takes all my self control to allow him to do some aspects of parenting his way, which is often quite different from mine. When he gets a little bit angry, I have to stop myself from going into strong, over protective mode.

My children have become my life. But I still have plenty of time to myself and am dedicating a huge slot of time to this new phase of marriage. I am re adjusting to the man I originally married which takes time. Actually, the man I married is very much like the husband in "Wonder." Generally he was good natured, funny, allowed me to make most of the calls, and was my partner in everything. Owen Wilson's character struck my parents as very much like my guy. Minus the year and a half he went on his Wolverine trek.

Marriage is about sharing everything. The more that is shared, the easier it is to stay together. From information to experiences...yet having our own personalities and distinct down time is important too. If I live until the children are out of the house, I will probably have the biggest grieving period of my life. I also wonder how they will do, because they have been given a slice of film worthy childhood the last 6 years or so...and the reality outside of our created beauty is rarely that kind.

On the TV series,"This Is Us" the twins remind me of my three children. They are each other's best friends. They come to each others defence quick. They sleep in each others rooms almost every night. We bought moveable twin comfortable mattresses from Amazon because this was happening so much and we knew as they grew they would need better sleep support. Most nights these mattresses are dragged from room to room. They are made up with blankets, pillows and stuffies to form a temporary home in whomever won out to have the "sleepover" in their room. I use the term "sleepover" with humour because it is rare they are ALL sleeping in their own rooms so co sleeping is more of a regular event than a special one.

It would be rare for most people to understand my children's bond. We home school differently than most I know. I know one other friend, Marissa, whose children seem to have a bond like mine. Even though Marissa lives on a farm and conducts her life quite differently from mine, I find our ideals often line up. The core of how we raise our children is the same, which is rare for me to see otherwise, and how our children treat each other seems similar. I have never actually seen children relate like mine, other than what she portrays. Marissa also is a sort of unschooling (but with more structure than me) INFJ. Maybe that is the uncanny connection I feel at times?

While watching the first season of "This is Us" I could not get over how closely the twins bond resembled my three kids. They know when the other is hurting, they make up for the lack of friends in their lives but when they have friends, they ultimately will still choose each other if things go sour. They share everything...from thoughts to feelings to dreams. I often can hear them yelling at each other over music or through the bathroom door to the kitchen, telling each other stories or making up another game to play.

I love that I can be alone downstairs typing on the computer but still hear their noises upstairs. I am alone for a few hours each day but never lonely. It is ideal for this INFJ soul. We have carved out a way that works for us. It's my heaven on earth. My temporary Utopia. But, it has been a long road to get here. I have always loved aspects of my life, since I can remember. I can recall sensory hell in my youth, but mixed in are thousands of little moments I am eternally grateful for. I try to wake each day with three thoughts of gratitude within my mind. It's a little game I have played, like Sara Crewe on the Little Princess, since I was about four or five.

(Below: Me at five with Grandpa. See Roots and Legacy label for more family posts and history...)

I would pretend whatever I disliked about my situation away, and then I would focus with all my heart on the few things I had. Luckily, I mostly had a lot but the sensory onslaught and not knowing I was sensitive and different came with it's own set of demons. My children don't really know what that is like. I made sure they didn't for the most part. I wanted them to feel understood and always know the WHY and HOW of feeling and circumstance. They have been exposed to harsher realities, they have been through deep grieving, they have seen the differences of school life and our home life and tried out a few extra curriculars. I hope that what they take is how to carve out their own unique life that can be the same as the masses or completely counter cultural or somewhere in between. I hope I gave them the bravery to do whatever they want that brings a certain amount of responsibility and joy to the world. I disagree that we have to prepare our children for the harsh realities of life. The harsh realities happen regardless and we don't need to speed up or force situations that show this. Instead, we need to protect innocence while providing tools of support for the times life does deal a heavy hand.

'Wonder' was an excellent film, even though it was pro school. I believe a similar story could have been told about a different child navigating life, without school as the center of it all. Those stories are just tougher to tell because school is a mostly universal concept which the majority of people can relate to. There are also many lives intersecting at once with common ground, so the story has a more cohesive line. Regardless, if a child has to be in a school situation, 'Wonder' shows how this should be, with an insightful forgiving principle, a well informed teacher whose passion is his job, and children who have the general guidance of fairly supportive parents to their peers (exceptions to everything of course) and that each child is fighting a battle and kindness is one of the most beautiful gifts we can give. But school is unfortunately, a lesser alternative to many other ways our society could go about the need for education. For more thoughts on why the school system does not do most of us favours read, "Dumbing us Down" by John Taylor Gatto- link found in My Library.

My way is not the only way to live. I know I can come across strong. I often have to intentionally tone myself down because I know that my confidence, portrayals, voice tone and writing tone can come across as, "Here are all the answers- Now just go live it." Which is never my actual intent. Instead what I truly aim for is "Here are the places I have struggled, but within that, some steps that have worked for me...some choices I believe in strongly for a reason (like unschooling) but I also know they are not for everyone. Change is slow and there are many choices we each have. Diversity is the spice of life thus your choices can be different from mine. But if you are dissatisfied in your life, I am a testament to the fact that choosing tough, different decisions CAN enhance a life once a groove is found. It's not easy, but think outside the box, and happiness can often be found. That said, if you are truly happy in the box, by golly, stay in it!"

I realize that, unless I state the above, I rarely come across that way, unless I am speaking to people who are similar to me or can relate on some level or whom know me well. I don't even know where I am going with this post? It is more personal than usual. It would be the type of post I used to regularly put out on my old space. I think it may be therapy for me.

My therapist's wife recently died. I have not missed more than a month of therapy for over 12 years. I was one of the lucky few who found a therapist who fit my life. We both mutually benefited from the sessions. I found most often, I was able to verbalize the feelings or struggles in my life in the monthly session. I would get a bit of feedback (apparently I talk fast and lengthy- picture my writing times three...poor guy...but he found me amusing and insightful which is probably good considering I am probably his longest standing patient.) He was also a family friend and my grandmother was one of his wife's dearest companions. Thus, it is with deep feelings of remorse and feeling for him and his loss, mixed in with stressed feelings for myself (selfishly) that I find myself in a place in my life that I have not been for over 12 years. He graciously assured me that he plans to still see me, as one of the few kept on, once his grieving period is over. I am grateful for this even if life changes. There is also a part of me that wonders with humour, "How messed up AM I that a grieving widower needed to assure my grandmother that I would be kept on, and then write to me in HIS hour of need?" How different DO I come across when my grandmother is relieved and worried about me during her own crisis and that my mother and father are relieved too...and my husband and friends?? Do they just know how important it is to me? Or how regular ingrained habits sometimes will destroy me once broken? Am I that much of an anomaly? I think I hide it so well at times?? I mean, I know I am SO different from most people I know, but I thought that most people get the impression I "do life well." Which I do in some regards, but it doesn't take much for me to be overwhelmed on a microscopic level, even if I bounce back from major trauma. It's both sweet and slightly sour that people are so concerned about me...I mean, I am concerned about myself without the counter balance of therapy too, it is one of my largest coping mechanisms for life. I don't use any forms of medication, self or otherwise, besides my cocktail of iron and supplements. So therapy IS my only support in life.

I have realized how important it is for me to have an outlet of verbalization. I verbalize to feel. I feel and then verbalize. Yet it is not enough for me to just have a private journal. I have always liked a moderate amount of feedback. Mind you, I dislike a ton of advice...I tend to give it more than I take it...This is simply because I am SO in tune with myself, that I often just need to hear myself out to come to my own conclusions. I also invest a lot of time into putting feedback into my soul through books, mentors, and artistic outlets. But I DO love to hear affirmations, questions or kind challenge or morsels to chew on from time to time. I honestly believe the few comments on each post, often enhance the post more than I could. A rich wealth of perspective always improves things.

We made a decision once I found out about therapy. I am apprehensive and excited about this plan of ours. It has to do with finances and if it works I will write about it in a year's time. I needed to have some crazily structured plan and have my husband on the same page, to take down extra stress in our life during this time. I also need to be at my best physically. My therapist also took care of my iron and blood work needs. He fit me well because he was also a family physician (MD) and surgeon. He delivered both of my boys into the world. I mostly like to talk about medical and physical concerns because my body is so out of sync so there couldn't be a better fit for me. We once again changed up our diet to a more gut biome building focus. I am regularly seeing my physiotherapist whenever I inevitably injure myself (today I am confined to laying down because I put out my shoulder and part of my neck attempting to lift weights to which I was told not to do...but I thought a few pounds wouldn't hurt...ha ha.) I make sure I walk on the treadmill almost every day. Little steps that I have to be even more disciplined in because of the lack of therapy in my life currently.

I thought I would have an entire crisis, maybe it's coming, but as of yet, I just feel a light chaos in my life or a void that has briefly opened. Yet, even within that, I feel I have goodness abounding. I am at a phase in life that is bountiful. My children, even within a few failures regarding parenting, have built up resilience to deal with my mistakes and their own misfortunes. Watching 'Wonder' I realized more or less, what I do right. Which was a nice validation to experience. Within that, I looked back and saw what I already knew I didn't quite manage to pull off as a victory. My husband reminds me that my daughter was also demanding. She constantly needed emotional validation and attention ( and still does.) As a toddler she was a destructive force of nature. She had high needs, but my son's were higher. I had to pull her out of preschool because she screamed for months at drop off, went to the bathroom in the corner of her room out of protest and anxiety, and ripped any paper within her range to shreds and drew over walls, dolls ect. I made sure I paid attention to her, and my husband who has better memory recall than I do, tells me I was amazing with her. But I can't help but look back and see that I should have gotten her diagnosed first or at the same time as my son. Instead of ignoring issues. Because even though in one way she was demanding, in all others, if I did explain to her or emotionally connect, she would be placated and be emotionally in tune. Phrases from her would often include, "It's ok mommy. I understand. I feel bad for him mommy- you need to help him." And I would go off to deal with the meltdown while she followed my shadow and found her own entertainment beside me for the next couple hours of mother to son calm down counselling.

So why does my family think of me in almost any media form? Why do they see me in so many people...and usually it is all positive or flattering...Although I found it flattering when they thought Raven from 'Teen Titans Go' fit me to a T, so maybe I am just easy to please? Because I easily embrace the personalities other people would not find flattering? I find them funny or truthfully accurate so I guess I am flattered in the end, that my family KNOWS me. But why am I such a force for them? Am I larger than life or do I have larger than life issues thus stand out? With a sense of chagrin, I think it could be more of the latter. To which I do not feel bad for myself but happy that I made such an impression in the first place. At least if I fail, I am teaching them to embrace that, right? Ha and Hmmmmmm...

Song Choice: Hold on Forever- Rob Thomas "Another night and here we are again. All our faults lay out ahead. Let it out then let it right back in. All those voices in your head. And we both know everything but we can't learn to live. So I'll tell you what you need. First thing we make you feel better, next stop we pull it all together. I'll keep you warm like a sweater, take my hand I'll hold on forever. Just fall apart if you need to, I'm here and I won't leave you now. Don't look down. Hold on forever."

Better Together- Jack Johnson