Uncategorized

Sometimes the Toilet Overflows

Why don’t toilets overflow when there’s substantial amount of time to clean up the mess? Or when you have a lot of extra money to actually spend on something like a plumber? Why does it always seem to happen when things are already going bat shit crazy?

We don’t choose when life gets hard.

The first weekend in January of 2019, changed the trajectory of my year.

My dad… the epitome of everything strong… my rock… my biggest fan… was admitted to the hospital, for reasons unknown.

And I am 5 hours away.

Simultaneously, my mom’s dementia was rapidly progressing. I discovered just how bad it was when my mom could not tell me which hospital Dad went to.

There are at least eight hospitals in the metropolitan area where my parent’s live. By the time I found my dad, I had called five of them.

I found out that he was being admitted to the Critical Care Unit and almost fell on the floor. I work at a hospital and knew that meant there’s something serious going on.

But wait!!! My mom is alone in their house. She cannot be alone!!!

Quickly, my husband and I went into planning mode. I had to call my boss because this was a Friday and I had to work the next two days. Then we needed someone to pick our son up from school. Luckily the other could stay longer at preschool if needed. Then I had to pack and decide if I’m leaving immediately or in the morning. We chose the morning for safety reasons.

When I arrived at my parent’s house the next day, I was faced with the sight of how bad things have been. Like I said, my dad has always been strong. And because of that, he had not been honest with me about how bad he was feeling. The house was 83 degrees. It smelled. There were dishes with moldy food and cups with curdled milk. Actually, there was even more that I just cannot mention because I might break down while typing.

Over the course of the next few days, I took care of my mom, cooked, cleaned, and removed countless bags of expired food. I drove back and forth to the hospital and talked to nurses about the situation. Honestly, I did so much over the course of four days, a lot of it is a blur. When my dad called to tell me that he was getting discharged, all I wanted was to get him home. Stupidly, I thought that his discharge instructions would supplement the fact that I could not be in the room to talk to his nurse and ask questions. I didn’t have the energy to drag my mom in a wheelchair back up to his room.

Luckily, a few days later, my aunt flew into town to stay with my parents so I could get back home. I missed my husband and my kids and plus I had to work.

So why the toilet analogy? Well, let me tell you!

Two weeks after I got back home, I found myself back at my parent’s house because my dad had to be admitted again. This time, our 4 year old made the treck to Pappa and Grandma’s with me. We walked into a much better situation than before. My aunt had been there for two weeks and my mom had a smile on her face.

Now, I was faced with taking care of my mom, who needs as much care as a toddler, and my soon to be 4 year old (we celebrated his 4th birthday during this trip). The stressors were a lot different this time. Imagine trying to coordinate two cats simultaneously. One cat who can’t groom herself anymore and the other who keeps chasing after birds. Getting those two cats ready to leave the house plus trying to shower and get yourself ready. Can you feel the chaos?

Then take a big ole shit and clog the toilet. Feel that panic starting to set in? Imagine how fast your heart would start to race when you’re standing naked in the bathroom with the shower running and water starts spilling over the toilet bowl. And the water keeps coming. And the clothes you were going to wear after the shower start getting shit water on them (by the way, you only brought one bra).

Oh! And add a dog to the mix! (Cause my parents have a little Boston Terrier).

So here we have my mom bitching from the other room about how she’s going to be late to her hair appointment. My son running around because that’s what little boys do. The dog trying to get into the bathroom to lick the water. Me, naked, trying to throw towels on the floor and stop the water flow. With 10 minutes available before I had to be showered, dressed, and get my mom and son buckled into the car.

What did I do?

Contained the mess until I could have time to clean it up later. There were too many other things that had to be done and not enough time to sufficiently do it all. Somehow, I was able to pull myself together and get on to the next part of the day.

If you haven’t figured out the correlation, here it is…

The toilet represents the shit that life sometimes throws at us. It’s never a good time for a toilet overflow as well as it is never a good time for a life changing circumstance to explode into your life.

We have a saying in the social work field, “just roll with it.” When you don’t have the time to process what is happening, you have to quickly make a plan and somehow be okay to come back to clean up the mess later.

The technical term for this is compartmentalization. Basically, if you shift your focus to other things, instead of the situation at hand, you can temporarily avoid the emotions that can consume you. That’s not the same as suppressing, or burying the emotions. This just allows you to revisit the mess when the time is more appropriate.

It’s been almost a week since we left my parent’s house. Right now, I’m in “clean up” and “fix it” mode. I’m completing intermittent FMLA paperwork, working with my parent’s insurance provider and family to arrange the care needed for my parents at home. I’m taking care of my kids, grocery shopping, getting back to my small business, and selling my old toys that I’ve brought back home with me.

The mess has been contained, and now, the emotions are bubbling up. This is definitely a better time for me to be able to process the situation and allow myself to feel the emotions. It’s totally normal to be sad. It sucks to see my parents struggle with their health. Coming face to face with the inevitable is… well… I just can’t find the words to appropriately describe how it feels. I only know that my life is different and will not ever be the same.

So, I have to take care of myself somehow. I’m seeing my therapist and I’m going to schedule that massage my husband got me for Christmas. I’m listening to Mel Robbins’s “Mindset Reset” YouTube videos to keep my head in check. I’m doing the best damn job that I can. And I’m putting things into place so that the next time the toilet gets clogged and overflows, the mess will be easier to clean up.

Thanks for reading.

Uncategorized

The Realistic Holiday Survival Guide

Ahhhh…. The holidays are upon us. I’d love to blog about a fun family holiday tradition or maybe share a favorite family recipe along with witty quips of my darling children helping me in the kitchen. Even better! A blog about a holiday craft that I did with my adorable sons.

Well, no. None of that over here.

I look around our little house and see an explosion of toys, clothes, kid’s artwork, pictures that are not in frames, pictures that are in frames but not on the walls, stuff from work, stuff for my home business, everywhere there’s STUFF… (insert facepalm emoji). There’s a part of me that feels down about our lack of space. I don’t like that we are still in my husband’s former bachelor pad. I don’t like that we have a litter box in our living room because our old, sweet cat started using the corner as her new potty. I don’t like that our furniture has rips and our kitchen table looks like it belongs in a grade school art room (as my 6 year old pointed out). I don’t like that despite being married for 11 years, my husband and I have never hosted a family holiday gathering due to the size of our house and lack of room for eating/sitting/cooking/breathing.

First World problems. Having too much stuff in a small house. When I see my mental struggles in writing, it seems so insignificant.

There’s a couple of ways to look at my inner turmoil…

1. Be thankful for what I have because someone else has it worse.

OR

2. Acknowledge the problem as well as the emotional component.

As a child, I was often scolded with the following statement (make sure to read this with a Southern accent):

“Julie Amber! There are little boys and girls who live in shacks with dirt floors and don’t even have toys. Be grateful for what you have.”

My adult brain understands what my parents were doing. They were trying to teach me to be thankful for what I do have. I get it. Unfortunately, adolescent minds can interpret this message as “your problems are insignificant, so get over yourself.”

Yes, my particular problem may be insignificant in the grand scheme of things. I can appreciate that. But the focus is not on the severity. The root cause is a sense of inadequacy. That feeling should not be minimized.

Acknowledging that the problem sucks, allows the underlying emotion to be heard. It is not a form of weakness.

In other words, identify the emotion and then acknowledge it.

What can I control?

When I think about things that get me down, I have to look for the things that I can control. Some things are just too big and overwhelming. Those problems have to be set aside. Unless I can personally change the situation, I cannot let myself stress, worry, or feel down. The problem has to be compartmentalized.

So this is what I need to do:

  • Take a closer look at what I DO have control over. What are the little changes that can I make RIGHT NOW?
  • Become a “master of the mundane.” Do these little things over and over on a daily basis, with a good attitude. I don’t always have to like it, but if I keep doing these little things, eventually, they will pay off.

Here’s an example of how I put this into practice this past week when my parents were in town for Thanksgiving…

After my parents had been here for five days, I realized that my mom and my 3 year old display many behavioral similarities. My mom’s dementia has increased dramatically and my dad is not looking so good. I feel like I need to something but have no clue what to do. This has been weighing on me like a ton of bricks.

On top of those major life stressors, it’s cold and gloomy here in Northern Indiana. The kind of weather that makes me want to stay under a warm blanket and do nothing. I’m riding the Struggle Bus and make it stop!

How to Stop the Struggle Bus

  1. Is there something that I can do to make an immediate impact on this situation? — No. I can’t change the fact that my parents live five hours away. I can’t make my mom’s dementia go away either.
  2. How does this situation make me feel? — Sad. Powerless.
  3. Is there something that I can do today that will make the situation better in the future (or just allow me to feel a little better)? — Yes. I need some self care. I’m eating crappy, not exercising, and staying up too late. These unhealthy habits for sure have a negative impact on my life stressors.

Look, I have found something that I do have control over. And you know what? It’s ok to put the other things to the side because I know what I can do right now! Making the choice to do little, positive things, consistently and persistently over a period of time, will lead to a greater outcome.

So how does this tie into the Holidays?

The holidays can be overwhelming. Especially when everyday things like work, family, and life events don’t stop. If you find yourself spiraling out of control, take a minute to identify what is truly going on. Acknowledge the emotion(s) at the root of the problem and look for the pieces that you can control. Become a master of the mundane with a good attitude.

Your Holidays may look different next year. Step out of the whirlwind and admire the beauty of the moment.

Acknowledgement: “Master the mundane” is a phrase from the book The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson. If you’re looking for more ways to positively impact your life, this is definitely a must read.

Uncategorized

Too Tired to Wash My Face

(Disclaimer: I promote and earn commissions from the products discussed in this article).

Have you ever felt like that? I sure did tonight!

I worked a long Power Weekend at the hospital. 12 hour days, back to back. I’m a Clinical Case Manager, which is a glorified title for “social worker who gets people out the door.” It’s challenging, sometimes rewarding, and most of the time, a stressful position. But working this shift allows me to be with my kids more during the week and build our dreams together.

Anyway, after coming home from my second long day/evening shift and helping my husband get our kids to bed, I collapsed on the couch and began my enjoyable “work.” Took care of some tasks for the children’s museum, checked in on some babysitter requests for Bambino, and followed up with some recent samplers who are loving Nerium products as much as I do.

11:00pm came way too fast! My hubby and I briefly caught each other up on specific highlights of our days and kissed goodnight. We will be sleeping in different beds tonight due to the 3 year old boy in my husband’s spot. Some things are not worth losing sleep over.

By this time I was whooped and contemplated going straight to bed. Too tired to brush my teeth. Too tired to wash my face.

But I’m 40 now. My face is more prone to the effects of aging more than ever. If I don’t take the time to remove makeup and everyday pollutants from my face, I’m going to have breakouts and potentially cause more damage to my skin. (Former tanning bed junky here!) Seriously? Can I not take 2 minutes to do something for myself?

By the way, I’m not joking when I say 2 minutes. I timed the process. Removing makeup, washing my face, and putting on a protective, skin detoxifying, wrinkle-fighting powerhouse, took 1 minute and 32 seconds. It takes me longer to brush my teeth! I can do this!

How can all of these benefits happen in less than 2 minutes? I’ll tell ya!

The face wash that I use goes on like an oil. Sound weird? It’s pretty genius, actually! Here’s why. Makeup, sunscreen, and environmental dirt (smog, smoke, yuck) don’t just come off in the wash. Double cleansing with an oil-based product first, to melt that grime off, and then washing your face, is what’s recommended nowadays.

Like I’m really gonna add another step before bed. Pa-lease.

So, when I wash my face, I put this stuff right on my face without water. I hate splashing water on my face and have always wished that I could just put face wash directly onto my face. It’s the little things, right?

So after I put the face wash on, I add a little water and do the normal face washing thing. This changes the oil into a silky lather. It seriously feels amazing! Then I take a wet wash cloth and wipe it off. Simple.

Despite the simplicity, this face wash does some pretty amazing things! Check it out:

• Removes makeup and impurities

• Helps remove the effects of air pollution on the skin’s surface

• Has a pH that works in harmony with the skin

• Is ideal for all skin types (dermatologist tested)

• Can be used morning and night

It’s kinda hard to put this whole act of face washing into words. But this video will show you how it’s done!

http://ltl.is/d7TSZ

Next, I use three pumps of my night cream. Doesn’t matter if my skin is wet or not. If I really want the night cream to feel tight, like a mask, I’ll dry my face first. Leaving water on my skin just holds more moisture in the night cream.

Check out the things that my “magic potion” can do!!

• Helps reduce appearance of wrinkles and addresses signs of aging

• Helps instantly tighten and firm skin’s appearance

• Works to remove skin-drying urban stressors accumulated during the day

• Improves skin clarity and radiance, and provides smoother skin texture

• Helps fight the appearance of discoloration, enlarged pores and sagging skin

• Has a mask-like consistency, which creates a barrier to guard against wrinkles caused by sheets and pillowcases

Isn’t that awesome? It’s ridiculously simple. Watch this little video clip to see exactly how long it takes.

Want to try it for yourself? Just go to the site listed below and click on the sample you’d like. You only pay for shipping and there’s absolutely no commitment!

http://www.julielovisa.trynerium.com

I love the simplicity of everything about these products and the business. If it was hard, there’s no way I’d be using or promoting this!

Thanks for reading!

Uncategorized

#perspective

My sweet boy only wanted to help his mommy. The contagion of events that followed led me to see how much my perspectives have changed.

I was busy cleaning up one of the messes that my boys created when I turned around and saw a terrifying site. My 3 year old was walking towards me with that huge smile, carefully carrying my freshly brewed, scalding hot, vanilla Starbucks coffee in my favorite coffee mug.

I gasped which caused my sweet boy to be startled. Hot coffee sloshed out onto his little hands and he dropped the mug on the kitchen tile. Coffee and shards of my favorite mug covered the kitchen floor. A profanity probably flew out of my mouth (I’m pretty sure it did). My boy began screaming.

I scooped him up thinking surely his little hands and feet would be burned and we’d have to go to the ER. And OMG! Thank God the ER Social Worker knows me! I hope no one thinks I intentionally hurt my child! I carried him off to the bathroom and frantically examined him from top to bottom for any sign of injury. I was in tears. My baby was in tears. My chest felt heavy like an Acme anvil had been dropped on me. And I was nauseous with fear that he was hurt and would have scars for life. Luckily, not even one red mark. I patted him down with a cold washcloth. Still nothing. The only thing injured was his feelings.

In his sweet toddler voice he said, “I sowwy Mommy foe bakin you foffee pup.”

Oh my heart!

I explained to him that Mommy was scared that he was going to get hurt by carrying my hot coffee. And I don’t even care about my coffee cup. I’m just glad he’s ok.

On top of all of the drama occurring in the bathroom, “Big Brother” (my 5 year old) came in to yell at me for hurting his brother. After letting him calm himself down, I explained the same thing to him.

Then the next fear hit me! The cats!!! Oh my God the cats are going to step on a piece of the broken mug and we’re going to end up at the emergency vet!

I rushed back to the kitchen to find our large fat boy staring across the ocean of coffee at his food bowl. He was very concerned that his food bowl was unreachable.

With tears in my eyes I stared at my broken Eeyore coffee mug and remembered my mom giving it to me when I was in high school. I used to hate mornings and the two of us would argue about something almost everyday. Mom bought me that mug because it totally fit my morning personality.

As I began to clean up the mess, I began laughing hysterically at the site.

I mean, really?! How hilarious is this? In fact, when I texted my friends to let them know we were going to be late to our play date, they thought this pic was a meme. It’s pretty good though, huh?

The coolest thing about this event was the realization of how much my attitude on life has changed. I used to be an “Eeyore.” I thought I was a happy and positive person, but in reality I always had the attitude that “if something bad is going to happen, it’s probably going to happen to me.”

So the next day, while I was working at the hospital, my three main men went shopping and found a new “poffee pup” that better suited me.

How’s that for a positive affirmation? “I am Wonder Woman!” Say it to yourself, in front of a mirror, and just see how amazing it makes you feel! I’m positive that it will change your #perspective.

Uncategorized

That One Time When…

I think it’s safe to say that I have reached an age that it’s okay if an occasional swear word pops out while talking to my parents. I can even have a cocktail with them! I might even tell them a funny story about something that happened college.

But, it really doesn’t matter how old I get, there are things in my life that I just do not want my parents to know. I mean, it’s not like I’m gonna get in trouble or be grounded from hanging out with my friends! Maybe it’s because I want to uphold my parent’s image of me? Or maybe just the sheer embarrassment of admitting to mistakes is too overwhelming?

This concept came to me after a recent, embarrassing conversation with my dad.

I was excitedly telling my dad about a new incentive trip to the Bahamas that my company was offering. I off-handedly mentioned that the last time I had been to the Bahamas, I was only there for a day. My dad stopped me mid sentence to ask what I was talking about.

Me: “Remember when I took that day trip to Nassau with [college boyfriend]?

Dad: “Uh. Nooooo.”

Me: “Oh.” I could feel my face turning beet red. “So Dad, one time in college, I left the country for a day with my ex-boyfriend, drank too many Bahama Mamas, and threw up on the plane ride back!” Nervous laughter. Oh. My. God. What did I just say?

Dad: Laughing. “Babe, I don’t think I want to know these things.”

I couldn’t agree more!!! Obviously, I don’t even remember what they do and don’t know! Pretty sure they are okay with not knowing everything.

Ugh. Like the memory of my dad accidentally finding my thong underwear in the clean laundry.

Oh! And that one time…

My husband told my dad that we like to watch hard core porn. Except, we don’t.

My husband was talking about the old reality show “Hard Core Pawn.” My dad misunderstood pawn for… well.. you know. Since I was not part of this conversation I can only imagine how the conversation went.

My husband kept going on about how funny the show was and my dad kept shaking his head and saying “I just don’t watch that sort of thing.” I especially like the part when my husband suggested that my mom should watch this show with my dad!

Not sure how long this went on until they both realized what the other was talking about. They had an embarrassing laugh together and switched the topic back to sports.

And now, the mother of all that is embarrassing…

Since my parent’s health has been declining, I’ve made the 5+ hour trek from Northern to Southern Indiana multiple times (I stop to pee a lot). I’ve also been going through tons and tons of my old stuff… like Barbie’s, My Little Ponies, numerous old dolls, clothes, costumes, old notes from high school, and the list goes on.

One night after blowing off some much needed steam with my two best friends from high school, I decided to stay up and go through some boxes in the spare bedroom. As I was rummaging through Barbie paraphernalia, I ran across a piece of blue scrap paper with the word “condom” written on it. I recognized my mom’s handwriting and began searching my memory for a reason why she would have written such a thing.

A memory poured into my head and I immediately felt the embarrassing horror of the morning when I first saw that piece of paper. Cue memory sequence…

This had to be from my freshman year of college. I attended a local branch of Indiana University because, for some reason, my parents thought it would be better for me.

My mom woke me up on a Sunday morning to let me know that I overslept and would miss mass if I didn’t get moving. In her hand was a plastic baggie with this piece of paper and *ahem* said item. Apparently, it did not flush and was discovered by my mom right before my dad went into that bathroom.

I honestly do not know which one would have been worse.

Of course I had to share this with my BFF’s!!!

There are many stories of getting caught and times that I pulled off by the skin of my teeth. More times that I care to admit.

I know that my parents are proud of the woman that I have become. I hope they understand that I wouldn’t have the life I have now if it wasn’t for the way they raised me. But now that I’ve been married for over 11 years and have kids of my own, jokes on me! Now I am the one over analyzing every move we make as parents, worrying about the friends they are making, and praying that they grow up to be good people.

In another 30+ years, I hope they are living happy, comfortable lives and can laugh with their significant others or friends about “that one time when…”

Thanks for laughing with me!!