Thursday, January 17, 2013

Be still.

It's snowing that perfect kind of snow right now. Snow globe kind of snow. Big, fluffy flakes floating down slowly, landing gently, layer upon layer.

It's perfect for a day like today when I'm feeling reflective. Introspective. When I'm thinking about the Big Picture and wondering (as I do periodically) if I am doing the right things and going in the right direction.

I am incredibly blessed, and for that I am thankful. I am surrounded by people who love me and I know it. I have an amazing husband and two healthy children, a modest home, all the essentials of life and then some. Praise God.

But there are days when something tweaks me. Someone's unkind words swirl around and swoosh down into my ears and rattle around in my brain causing a noise that keeps me awake at night. A mustard seed of doubt grows into a monster the size of which I don't have the energy to fight at 2 a.m. So I refuse the invitation to duel.

Most things appear much better in the light of day. And while my first instinct is to busy myself and turn on the television to drown out the sound of the uglies, I don't. Instead I sit in the quiet and allow myself to breathe, and I wait for those hurtful words or that thing I struggled with to realize my heart and soul are not welcoming environments for their types. Return whence you came, dudes. I don't have time for you.

On days like this I always think of Psalm 46, which talks about God being our fortress even when the world is crashing down around us. Verse 10 reads, "He says, 'Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.'"

Be still. Nothing else matters. In a world that is constantly telling us we should be on the move every minute of every day, it's hard to be still without guilt. But we are commanded to do it. Over the years I have learned, and I continue to learn just how.

Stop the madness. Watch the snow. Be still.

Things are looking better already.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Allergies. I haz 'em.

So I made it through allergy testing - not more than a couple hours' worth - Thursday and Friday.

Here's what I learned, in the tester's words: I am "allergic to everything."

Who knew? I mean sure, I deal with the occasional headache or tummyache. I have eczema. I get hives now and then. I pretty much always have some sort of drainage in the back of my throat and my nose runs constantly. At times my eyes are so itchy and watery that I'm afraid people think I'm crying. And then there's the sneezing and coughing and throat-clearing. And wheezing.

Umm, OK. When I write it out like that it does seem like a lot. And truly, I do deal with some sort of discomfort every single day. I guess it's just something I got used to, and I didn't know those various discomforts were (most likely) related.

None of my allergies is life-threatening at this point, but I was given a prescription for an Epi-pen as a precaution. I'm told I reacted quickly and pretty severely to ragweed and grasses, but there was some reaction to every single thing they tested. Dogs and cats, various molds, trees, weeds, foods, and (ick) dust mites. Cow's milk - this I had suspected for some time, actually, and had cut back on my milk consumption. White potatoes, of all things. Interestingly, I had a roast in the slow cooker and planned to have carrots and potatoes with it Friday evening (after testing). I went ahead with my plan, knowing the potatoes were on my list, thinking I would just see how my body handled it. Lo and behold, I went to bed with a headache that night. Sure, the headache could have been caused by anything, but now I know to pay attention to how my body reacts when I consume certain things. If I get a headache the next few times I eat potatoes, guess who's not eating potatoes anymore?

All the information I was given was a bit overwhelming at first, but now that I've had a little time to digest it I am thinking about how I can implement some changes here at home. It will take some effort to keep up with the dust mites and pet dander, but I am resolved to more frequent dusting, vacuuming, and laundering. I'm so glad we had central air installed last summer so I don't have to open windows and invite the pollens in from outside. Plans to remove carpeting in favor of hard surface floors will be put on the fast track. I'll be researching air filters and I already received a quote (*choke*) for sealing our crawlspace under the house to combat the dampness.

As far as the foods, there are some things I will just avoid. Most things aren't worth feeling like junk. For those I reacted to, I have been directed to do a "challenge" diet. So I would eliminate, say, any sort of milk from my diet for four days, then add it back in on the fifth day and write down how my body reacts. I will share those records with the doctor when I see him again in six weeks. The gal who tested me said she's certain the doc will recommend allergy shots. Yay.

So. That's that. I have some challenges ahead, but at least I know there is something I can do to help myself feel better, and having some answers is a relief. I expect when I see the doctor next month I will also hear about my breathing test and whether there is also an element of asthma going on here.

Moving forward. That's all I can do.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

These are not the winters of my youth.

Rachel and Sam made a snowman when we got our first decent packing snow just before Christmas. Since then we haven't had much more snow to speak of.

Poor mister snowman got knocked over around the New Year and has been melting on the patio, little by little, ever since. I don't think he has much time left.

Today, just over a week into January, we are experiencing temperatures in the upper 30's (at the moment, and it's only 10:30), and the sun is shining brightly. I have a couple windows open to air this place out. The weatherman says we have a couple more days of this and then it's going to be colder again. I'm OK either way. As an adult who does not regularly participate in any winter sports I actually appreciate a mild winter when I can get outside and walk or just play with the dogs without having 16 layers of clothes on. But I do wish my kids could experience the kind of winters we had when I was their age. If I'm going to stay here in Michigan December through February, is it too much to ask for a good foot of snow? Sure it makes it a little harder to get around at first, but we manage. And it sure is pretty.

Ah well. Today I'll take the sunshine and the sound of whatever's melting from the roof dripping into the gutters. It's never too early to start planning next summer's garden.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

I want chocolate. And DDP.

We have a "perfect storm" this week. It's me.

I'm just (hopefully) coming out of a bout with the flu - the feverish, whole body hurts, coughing up a lung, can't get out of bed kind - and what I would really love, and I don't care whether it would be good for me or not, is a Snickers bar and a Diet Dr. Pepper.

This morning, when I dragged myself out of bed to pick Rachel up from an overnighter with her Girl Scout troop (which I was incredibly sad to miss because of this stupid illness) all I wanted was to stop at Wesco and grab a big cup of cappuccino.

But I can't have coffee, or chocolate, or pop, or anything else containing caffeine, or even any "nighttime-type" medications that would help me sleep. Because late next week I begin allergy testing, and all of that stuff could somehow throw it off. Is what they tell me. Hmph.

So I'm following the rules, but I'm doing it with a grudge. Because seriously? Caffeine in it's many forms is a regular part of my daily life. As is Zyrtec, which I also cannot take this week.

I like to think I can take it like a champ when I'm sick. I'm pretty tough. But tell me I can't have chocolate? When I'm in a weak and emotional state? I'm like a 2-yr-old throwing a tantrum in the grocery store.

Alas, the asthma and/or allergies I've got made breathing these past few days all that harder, so I will do what needs to be done to figure out those underlying issues and take care of them.

Imagine how pissed I'm gonna' be if we find out I'm allergic to chocolate. ::shudder::