Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My Sister, My Friend

Having a sister is like having an extra friend. My sister has always been able to cheer me up whenever I am down. We end up laughing in most of our conversations. We'll be reminiscing about the past, and laughing about something funny that happened (or something that was not that funny then, but is now), or sometimes we just laugh about the everyday things.

Like the other night. My sister called me all stressed out over her latest problems involving my two nephews, aged seven and seventeen. Between the youngster's mischievousness and the teenager's moodiness, she had a lot to tell me about. Her story became amusing, like something out of an Erma Bombeck book. Suddenly she was telling me of finding silverware under her bed while cleaning, and a peanut butter sandwich in the dvd player. She complained that my older nephew can't do anything for himself, and I suggested it is high time he learned things like how to do his own laundry. She said he'd probably use a whole bottle of laundry detergent for one load, and then we were both cracking up, imagining his younger brother getting involved and the possibility of silverware ending up in the washing machine, or a sandwich in the dryer. "You should write a blog," I told her.

My sister is the one person in my life I can really talk to. She understands what I'm going through, and I can tell her anything. She knows me better that anyone else, and I of course know her better than she knows herself! We are always there for each other, to advise, comfort, help, or just to listen. She has always been a very important part of my life, and always will be.

A sister will stand by you through good times and bad. She shares your memories, your hopes and dreams. I consider myself very lucky to have a sister. She truly is a great friend.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Fight

With the arrival of spring, I can't help but be reminded that soon I will have the summer heat to contend with. Basically, the heat intensifies the fatigue I already feel every day. It's just part of the ongoing fight between me and MS, the condition I have been dealing with for the past eleven years.

We weren't always at odds with one another. In the beginning MS pretty much left me alone, but for a while now, MS seems to want to push me around, and is always challenging me. While my invisible opponent does have an unfair advantage, and does not fight fair, I feel I am a formidable contender.

Sometimes we go several rounds in a day as I push through the fatigue trying to get things done. It's like standing up to a bully and refusing to back down. It's not easy. Sometimes I get tired of the struggling. Sometimes I get so angry with this illness that I ball my hands into fists, challenging it right back.

It takes determination. I can't let MS keep me from doing things. It has already messed with my life enough. MS pushes, and I push back. Fighting back makes me feel good. I feel like it energizes me, and it helps me to stay positive. I feel proud of myself for being strong enough to keep fighting.

MS will not knock me out. I will stay on my feet. No matter how hard the fight, I will come out on top.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

What I Love About Spring

Now that winter has finally released its grip, the robins have returned, and the grass is a lovely emerald green. While I wait for the April showers to bring May flowers, my thoughts turn to all the Spring things I enjoy that are just a couple of weeks away.

Like clipping lilacs and picking lily of the valley and enjoying their sweet fragrances. The warmer weather, the longer days. Opening up all the windows in the house and letting in the fresh air. Driving with my window rolled down listening to my favorite songs. And, of course, that wonderful Spring fever, with its rush of positive energy and feelings of optimism and excitement.

I can't wait to take advantage of that burst of energy and get started on my spring cleaning. This is the time of year to get organized, to clear out the clutter, pack away the winter gear and hang fresh curtains.

I'm looking forward to getting out of the house more, going to the park, maybe planting some flowers. Just to be spending time outdoors again will be such a welcome change after being cooped up in the house all winter long.

Spring is a time of rebirth and new beginnings. A time when everything feels fresh. A time to feel rejuvenated and hopeful again.

Welcome back, Spring!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

As Luck Would Have It...

It's St. Patrick's Day, and while I have yet to catch that leprechaun and his pot of gold, I have to say yes to that old Clint Eastwood/Dirty Harry question: yes, I am feelin' lucky.

Luck plays a role in a lot of things that happen in life. Sometimes you're the lucky winner. Sometimes you find a bright shiny penny on the ground that presumably is a sign of luck. You avoid an accident, you make the shot that wins the game. Sometimes you survive something catastrophic, and you feel "lucky to be alive."

We test our luck. We gamble, we take chances. We rely on a good luck charm; we wear our lucky shirt. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Luck is fickle. And it's always there, deciding whether or not to jump in and favorably affect the outcome.

I feel lucky today. Lucky to have had the opportunities I have had. Lucky to be doing as well as I am physically, despite having MS. Despite my troubles, I do feel lucky. Maybe I don't have the luck of the Irish, but I feel like things are going to get better. I feel like more luck is due to come my way - it is not gone for good.

I will catch that leprechaun yet!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Treat Yourself!

Sometimes the budget gets a little tight and you have to cut back. That shouldn't mean you can't still treat yourself once in a while.

Although it may be necessary to rein in the spending if money is tight, always buying only the necessities and never buying something for yourself just because you want it is boring. Life is too short not to splurge once in a while. As long as you don't go overboard. It's all about enjoying the little things.

I read an article online a while back about financial problems and stress. A woman quoted in the article also appeared in the accompanying photo holding a plant at a store. There were numerous comments on the article, criticizing her purchase of the plant, in light of her financial stress. Really? I mean, she wasn't buying a diamond necklace, it was just a plant!

I think it's okay to buy a little something for yourself once in a while, albeit something you may not need, if it makes you happy. Of course you don't need to spend much or even any money to treat yourself. Outside of buying something for yourself, you can treat yourself to an afternoon nap, or a visit to a favorite spot like a park, museum or coffee shop.

There are good reasons to treat yourself - as a reward for a job well done, or to celebrate a success or a positive outcome. Maybe you just need a pick-me-up after a particularly rough day. Sometimes when I am stressed or feeling blue, I like to get a favorite takeout meal or treat, pick up some small item I've been wanting for my home if possible, or just go for a relaxing drive around one of my favorite parts of town.

No matter how limited the budget may be, we should always make room in it for an occasional little something extra for ourselves, just to break up the mundane routine, lift our spirits and help us keep a positive outlook.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My Favorite Things About Winter

Since the dog days of winter are still upon us, I am trying to feel better about it by thinking about, and making the most of, all the things I like about this season. Things that help to make it more bearable.

Being snowed in - While this is a negative situation, it does have a certain cozy, even romantic side to it. I'm a homebody, so staying in and curling up on the sofa works for me.

My comforter - Pretty, thick and floral. My toasty old comforter has seen me through the last nine or ten winters, and it is one of my favorite things overall.

Frost patterns on the windows - Only in winter do you get to enjoy free artwork like this.

Critters! - Always entertaining, the birds and squirrels practically perform for food in the winter, making for some great photos. I also love watching my cats play in the snow. My male cat likes to run through deep snow, and he looks so funny when he does.

Snow - We love to hate the white stuff, it's true. But in small amounts, it is not bad. It's pretty to look at, and no matter how old I get, there is always something magical about the first snowfall of the season. (And then I get cranky about having to brush it off the car.)

Winter fun - I am not a winter sports person, and I don't like to be out in the snow for too long these days, but I love when I see kids out having fun in the snow. It brings back fond memories of playing outside in the snow when I was a little girl. I used to love making snow angels. (I can't do that anymore, unfortunately). I also have some great old photos of the snow fort the adults built for my little sister and me one winter.

Spring will be here soon (I hope), and I hate to admit it, but I will miss my favorite things about winter.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Predictably Unpredictable

It's funny how we like our predictions. We like to read our horoscopes; some folks even consult psychics. This time of year we look to the groundhog to determine whether or not we'll see an early Spring. (At least one I know of said we will - yay!)

Sometimes we just want to know what the future holds. But sometimes we prefer the element of surprise.

My horoscope the other day played up the unpredictability of life. It read that as badly as I want to know what the coming year holds, there is a certain beauty to a blank slate, and this is the time to let my fantasies soar. So I guess it's time to think happy thoughts and hope for the best.

Predictability can lessen the appeal of some things at times, but there is a certain amount of comfort that can come from it. Even the "same old same old" routine or daily work schedule can be reassuring. Boring as it can seem, we are grateful for it.

Then there is the way you can know someone so well, you can predict what they are going to say or do. That kind of closeness is a precious thing.

Even though some things may be predictable, life in general is not. It is understandable that we'd want to know what is in store for us in the future. Still, no one can really predict what is going to happen. The suspense can be a good thing, though. There's no fun in seeing a new movie if you already know how it's going to end. It's more fun thinking of the possibilities.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Comfort Zone

The other day, a friend of mine wrote on Facebook that she was anxious for springtime to arrive because she misses sitting on her deck in the mornings having her coffee. Then I was watching a sitcom rerun in which a little boy could not go to sleep without his favorite blanket and his recording of soothing sounds. These things got me thinking about how we all have our little rituals that we find comforting.

I have a few. After I get dressed in the morning, my one cat likes to sit with me for a while, and I pet her and rub her belly. It's actually more her ritual, as she will meow at me as if to remind me it is our time to sit together.

I have also made it a daily habit to eat lunch at my computer. It is just something that I have to do, even though I sometimes worry I will spill pop all over my keyboard. Thank goodness I have a backup keyboard.

I also regularly feed the outdoor critters. Even in frigid winter weather, I try to get out to the tree to fill the bird feeder as often as I can during the week. It is something I enjoy doing. I like seeing the birds come flying around the feeder, even before I have gotten back inside the house. It is like my little appointment with nature.

There are those parts of our daily routine, no matter how mundane, that can be comforting, help break up stress, and make us content by helping us to maintain a balance in life between the must-do and the want-to-do. The day just doesn't feel right without them, and in fact, not doing them can lead to a bad day.

Sometimes we just need our favorite blanket to get to sleep.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Beautiful Day

It is a beautiful winter day today. I am not a fan of the cold, but the sky is so blue, and the sun has been shining so brightly all day. Despite the chill in the air, when I went outside to fill the bird feeder and scatter some nuts for the squirrels, I couldn't resist staying outside for a while to take some photos. It is the kind of day that makes the winter blues go away - at least for a while. Today reminds me of what a miracle nature is and how much I love it.

There are lots of things I love about nature, in every season. How do I love thee, nature? Let me count (some of) the ways:

I love your towering trees, their limbs outstretched toward the sky.

I love the way your clean white snow glistens in the sunlight (and moonlight).

I love how the squirrels come right up to me and sit up and beg for the walnuts they know I will give them. (They know I cannot resist their cuteness.)

I love your explosion of color in autumn, and the crunch of your fallen leaves under my feet.

I love the lush green the grass becomes in spring.

I love your scents - the smell before the rain, the fragrance of your flowers.

I love the music you play - birds chirping, the rushing and bubbling of the water in a creek, the sound of waves lapping a sandy beach.

It's amazing how nature has the power to cheer you up with all of its beautiful sights and sounds. A day like today lifts my spirits, and is a welcome respite from the dreariness that can be so prevalent this time of year. It is a good day.