Life-Changing Apps

From one day to the next

I am still amazed at how fast my life changed.  From one day to the next.  One day I was 53-54 and on top of my little world.  My kids were grown, married and multiplying like bunnies.  I had a great marriage and the world was my stage.  Free at last, free at last.

To do anything I wanted.  I had been a women’s recovery speaker and workshop facilitator for many years and now I was free to chose any vocation or avocation I wanted to choose.  The world was my shrimp.  (I hate oysters)

Then the phone call came.  She has cut her throat from ear to ear with a steak knife the self-centered little twit.  And because I was the last ‘professional’ to talk to her…..she was nice enough to include me in her suicide note.  That they read at her funeral.  My life as I had known it was over.

Then two months later my mother-in-law fell on me and I had to hold her 190 pounds on my knee as we rode the rest of the way up the escalator   I saved her from falling backwards into the people behind us.  But I destroyed my body at the same time.  Even as my quivering body tried to hold her til we got to the top my mind was telling me, “boy are you fucked!  This is gonna be really bad on your back and body.”

And one year later I was in a fetal position on my bed moaning in pain.  Had no idea what was wrong.  The doctor said fibromyalgia.  Never had heard the word; could not even spell it.  How could that be?  I had always been healthy and strong.  It was explained later that the stress from the suicide then the escalator ride with my mother-in-law had caused my muscles to stay stuck in a bunched up position and they were now filled with toxins and puss and there was no treatment or cure.

Plus I was pleased to find out that in 1998 most doctors believed it was psychological because it was mostly a woman’s disorder.  How special.  I now had a malady that would become a fad diagnosis and a huge money maker for the drug industry.

I didn’t believe the no-cure thing.  I put my head below the bit and attacked.  I did every single ‘cure’ mentioned by friends and Internet.  Nearly killed myself those first few years.  I hit cure-bottom after having all my teeth pulled because a friend sent me an article about a woman who had lots of root canals and had heard the empty root canals were breeding grounds for FM.  So she had all her teeth pulled and she was instantly cured!

I followed right behind her only all I ended up with was insane pain and an empty mouth.

The next phase I attacked was what I now call conditional acceptance.  I accepted I had this so called disease but I did not accept that I could not find a way to live life successfully in spite of it all. For the past 9 years I have been doing that.  Only it has brought me to another and final bottom.  There is no cure.  There is no help or solution and now I will never  be well again in this lifetime.  Because 14 years of fight has destroyed my body and depleted my energies, both physical and emotional.

So the final leg of this journey is here.  What should I call it?  hummm  let me think……….

Life-Changing Apps, The 1980's: Well again and sober now

Taking Emily to Detox

When we lived at Hidey-Hole, Fred and I were active in AA. Well there was a woman who was not able to ever stop drinking and since I was the ‘expert’ I decided we would drive Emily to detox, which was over 2 hours away in Portland. Fred had never done anything like this so I explained all the things that could go wrong and what we would have to do and watch out for. Even though I had called ahead for a bed 

in detox I told Fred there is a 50% chance they will mess that up etc. And that we had to buy a pint of booze to feed Emily during the 2+ hour drive so she would not go into withdrawal/seizures in our car! I explained every possibility….ok I was showing off my knowledge…..and Fred listened carefully.
The ride to detox was a living hell. What with the booze smell coming from the back seat into the nostrils of two recovering alcoholics…….to Emily trying three times to open the back doors of the car while it was moving. She attacked Fred from behind and got a choke hold on his neck, I pried her fingers off and got her settled down.

 Then she began to scream as we drove thru downtown Portland. I think by that time she was beginning to figure out what we were doing with her.

Finally we arrived, pulled into the circular driveway and pulled/carried a very drunk Emily into the admitting room of detox. When the man behind the counter told me they didn’t have a bed for her because she was TOO drunk……..I started climbing over the counter trying to grab the front of his shirt. I was tired.

Then I heard this god-awful scream behind me that quieted even the counter guy. Fred had hold of the back of Emily’s shirt as she kept trying to jump up from the bench and get away out the door. All the while screaming, “We are in a fucking cop-shop! We are in a fucking cop-shop!” Unfortunately two policemen had walked by and she had seen them.

As I watched the sweat pouring down the face of my dear, new husband…. I finally  got detox to take Emily.  I finished the paperwork and I helped Fred wobble out to the car. I offered to drive back home. As he sat slumped in the passenger seat, I got a little testy with him, asking what was wrong? I had told you in detail what might happen on this journey Fred.  Why are you surprized?

He looked at me and said, “Yeah you told me. But you didn’t tell me how it would FEEL.”  I sat there in the booze-smelling car with him and thought about that.  I always relied on my fine-tuned intellect.  I seldom took into consideration how I would FEEL doing what I had decided to do.  I had only used one part of my brain and thrown away the very valuable tool of ‘feelings’ in making good decisions.

I tell you that taught me one of the best life lessons. I have the ability to picture any and all circumstances in all it’s details and how-to’s…..yet I seldom gave any credence to emotions. What emotions would happen? How would it all FEEL? Because all the research and list-making in the world while making a decision is pretty worthless unless I take into consideration my own personal nature and how I may respond to actually doing and living the decision.

Now I tend to take a minute and think past my physical plans and check ‘how will this feel’ for a few minutes. Just to make sure at least I have introduced myself to the possibilities of having emotions while making the change or decision.

Life-Changing Apps, The 1980's: Well again and sober now

Self-Will Run Riot

Not built for self-will run riot

The very first time I got a strong glimpse of how self-will could run riot and how that affected my life, it was raining.

 Well yeah, I lived in Seattle. Anyway, I sat in my car in the driveway really ticked off. I didn’t have my house key to get into my own home because my stupid, selfish new roommate had not made a copy yet … there I sat tapping my high-heeled shoe on the car carpet.

As I fumed, I thought about the fact that I had the right to get into my own home exactly when I wanted to ——I should not have to wait. It wasn’t right. I had plans and did not deserve to have to wait around in the cold car in the rain.

Then I remembered the back sun deck, a story up from the grass in the back yard. I gathered my wool poncho around me, swung my high-heeled feet out into the rain puddles and walked around to the backyard. Perfect. I was sure the sliding glass door off that sundeck was not locked. I pulled the huge plastic garbage can over the sopping wet grass and lined it up under the sundeck. I lifted my right leg onto the garbage can’s wet lid, grabbed the edges of the wooden sundeck floor and began to pull myself up onto the deck so I could get into my own house like I deserved.

I don’t know whether it was the oversized poncho or the extra-high heels I had on, but something began to slip in the pouring rain. I lost my grip on the wooden planks and as my body began to go over backwards…………I thought to myself, “Ah….so this is self-will run riot!” The crack of my ankle and my blood curdling scream brought my new roommate racing around the corner. Oh great! Just in time to drive me to the ER….but not to open the house door.

Ok I will give that experience over to self-will run riot. But it did not run my life very often at all.

Except maybe the summer experience in 1978. My two kids were going to be with their Dad all summer long in California. I had great plans for that summer without kids.  I deserved it; I had a right!  That summer seemed to develop a life of it’s own and it did not follow my plans.  But that is, again, another story for later.

Life-Changing Apps

Don’t push my buttons!

In the mid-70’s ‘stretch-knit’ sewing became really big for us housewives.  Never before had we been able to sew clothes on stretch material like for T-shirts.  Regular sewing machines didn’t work because the stitching would break the second you tried to pull the T-shirt over your head.

So Viking sewing machines came into being and my girl friend and I each  got one and began sewing clothing like crazy.  I would lug my two kids,  machine and materials over to Lynn’s house for a day of sewing.  Let the  kids play with each other; we were gonna make ALL of our Christmas  gifts.   Everyone was going to get these wonderful stretch-knit T-shirts.  It  was a fun mad house for at least 4 days out of the week.

The four kids were all around the same age,  but like all toddlers, they delighted in being loud brats if Mom was not paying total attention to them all the time.

Lynn received a very important phone call one afternoon so it was my job to corral the kids and keep them quiet during the phone call.  Joe, her 3-year-old , decided that Mom’s phone call was not as important as him so he would race into the kitchen where she was talking and yell at the top of his lungs.  I would grab him and carry him into the next room.  Joe would just do a full circle thru the front room, through the dining room and back into the kitchen screaming and laughing.

Finally Lynn put down the phone, picked Joe up and sat him down in the front room.  “Joe”, she said.  “You have to be quiet while mommy is on the phone–so stop screaming at me in the kitchen right now!”  Joe went to his room and all was quiet for about 3 minutes.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw him walk calmly into the kitchen where his Mother was still on the phone.  He held a wooden yard stick in front of his chest and told his mom very quietly, “Push one of my buttons Mom, I am a machine.”

Lynn looked at her sweet quiet three-year old and reached out and ‘pushed’ a number on the yard stick.  Joe let out a blood curdling scream that still has the neighbors talking. Lynn shrieked in anger, grabbed Joe and dragged him into the other room.

“Joe!” she screamed.  “What the hell are you doing?  I told you not to scream and make noise like that while I am on the phone!”

Joe drew his shoulders back, held his head up, looked his Mother in her eyes with disdain and said, “I can’t help it if you pushed my loudest button.”

This is the same Joe that when Lynn was getting her and the kids ready for day care so she could go to work, shouted out to Joe to hurry up and get his shoes and socks on or they were going to be late.

He came out of his bedroom and Lynn saw that he had indeed put his shoes and socks on……exactly in that order.   He walked proudly to the door, ready for day care wearing his socks over his shoes.

Always wondered what happened to that kid as an adult.

So I say, take responsibility for your own buttons, I have enough of my own.  It is never anyone else’s job.  My buttons are mine and I am in charge of my reactions when they get pushed.  It is not the responsibility of others to learn what my buttons are and learn not to push them.

It has been fascinating to see how many people think  others should be aware of and never push their buttons.  This is putting the responsibility of how you respond on others. Your response is yours. Your buttons are yours.  So don’t even try to blame me when you scream at me “you pushed my loudest one!”   Take care of your own buttons.    I have enough buttons of my own.

 FootNote: I actually got to  find out how adult Joe turned out because his Mother and I reconnected on Facebook.  He is a great young man and still very analytic…..but that’s ok.

Life-Changing Apps, The 2000's: Hot Flashes & Grandkids

Get out of the line!

In our 40’s my husband got a fantastic new job offer.  The drawback was it would mean moving the family to a different town.  After selling everything we owned and moving down to San Diego just a few short years before, this was a major drawback.

But egads!  It was in management and hubby loves telling people what to do.  It was lots more money than we made then. My husband was flattered and so we made the plane reservations to go to the interview in another state.  We packed and planned.  Dreaming of all the stuff we could buy; how we could live large and successful.

So we got in line.  Our baggage checked and our tickets in our hands we were so excited talking about this wonderful promotion and what it would mean for us.  I may have been the one that brought up the logistics of this wonderful gift from life.  Moving our kids out of yet another school.  Would we sell everything again in an auction like we did to move to California or how much would it cost to ship everything we owned to our new life in another city and state?

As the conversation got more and more specific about what a move would entail and as we remembered the stress and work involved for all of us in the previous move, our ardor began to fade.  All of a sudden this didn’t seem like a good idea.  But we were in the boarding line for the air plane.  We had paid for the tickets.  How could we just leave?  What would we say to everyone and how would my husband explain to his co-workers why he had not even gone on the interview?

We tossed around the idea of getting on the plane and at least doing the interview but all of a sudden we both got quiet.  Looked at each other……….and just got out of line.

How simple was that?  Just had to get out of line and the decision was made.  We didn’t care about losing the cost of the tickets.  We didn’t care that our luggage was already on it’s way to the interview.  We just casually inched our way out of the line and walked away.

Now in our 6th decade we know that at any time we can always ‘get out of line’.  It’s that simple.  Nothing is forever.   A line can’t make us go where we don’t wanna go.  In fact I say we have a right to get out of line even after we have landed somewhere.   Getting out of line can be as exciting as taking on anew city, state and promotion!

We were laughing with relief and excitement as we drove home.  It was exciting because we had been gr9own up enough and had enough self worth to actually get-out-of-the-line…………no matter what!  I also realized at the exact second I stepped out of the line that I had discovered a brand new freedom.  I had had no idea you could just get out of the line any ol’ time you wanted.  I thought once I made a choice, I was obligated to see it through to its bitter end.  No matter what.  I think that is why were laughing in the car afterwards.  We had experience a wonderful freedom of deciding exactly what we wanted, when we wanted it and for how long.  No matter what anyone else thought about it.

There is no decision or experience in life that cannot be stopped at any time.  All it takes is not caring what anyone says about you getting out of line.  It only takes a self worth that says you deserve to get out of the line any damn time you please. I mean, its your line for crying out loud.  Only pride makes a person stay in the line when they shouldn’t.

Now I don’t advocate getting out of every line you find yourself in; some lines you need to just get on the dang plane.   But the others?   When you get a tingle that it is time to leave or that something might be ‘off’ about what you are doing, well follow that prompting.  You will have more fun in life and less heartache if you develop the ability to just get out of the line.

Life-Changing Apps

What if……………?


 What if the Hokey Pokey IS what it’s all about?

Way back in the first days of the Internet jokes, this is the first (and maybe the last?) emailed joke I actually laughed out loud at.  I mean, what if it IS as simple as this?

How many times I have put my right hand in or my left foot out?  How many decisions that I made where I have ended up just turning me around in confusion?

I just love this saying.   How like life to boil it all down to something this simple while we try to figure out what it’s all about.

At the time I read the joke I had no idea Jimmy Buffett or Dora The Explorer had recorded songs about the hokey pokey.  

Here are the words to the song and a link to the song.  Well you could hear the song if I freakin’ could find the sucker after I bought and downloaded into my computer.  Crapola, where did it go?  ANN-DDD-EEE!!!

You put your right hand in,
You put your right hand out,

You put your right hand in,
And you shake it all about,

You do the hokey pokey
and you turn yourself around
That what it’s all about.

2) left hand
3) right foot
4) left foot
5) head
6) butt
7) whole self