A Christmas Drama


Once upon a time … there was a juggler and the juggler was busily balancing all the juggling balls – one ball was work, one ball was self, one ball was family … but the balls were getting heavy and out-of-balance and he dropped a ball …

During Christmas time, it’s easy for that to happen, to feel overwhelmed with all the extra’s of the season. My mom has her hands full working with my father’s memory challenges and handling all the insurance and financial issues associated with aging … so to take some pressure off everyone, I organized a cookie exchange. There were 6 of us and we’d all bake our one favorite recipe and give a dozen of our cookies away to the other’s … we would then bring home 5 dozen different tasty Christmas treats! Win, win for everyone!

The newest member of the family, my nephew’s fiancé was working tons of Christmas hours and wasn’t sure she could do the cookie exchange. That’s fine I told her, I understood her situation but since we were all baking that weekend and needed to know how many cookies to make, I asked her to say “yes” or “no.” And she said “yes”.

Two days later, the day of the cookie exchange, my nephew’s fiancé was not there, she was spending the day shopping with a friend and hadn’t left cookies for us. We all left our cookies for her and gave her extra needed time to bake in the next several days and told her we would pick up the cookies in a week. She replied back that she was making us all a delicious treat.

Next week came and no cookies. It was only a few days before Christmas now and this became more of a situation of ‘keeping your word’ and not dropping the ball with family than it was about cookies. I knew she was working a lot of hours so when I contacted her about not finding cookies on my last visit and being disappointed but understanding she was busy, I told her that she could simply buy some cookies or candy this year and bring it over on Christmas.

Well, I guess she never intended on participating in the cookie exchange, because instead of taking action and following through (she works at a store where there are cookies, it would only take 5 minutes or less to buy some) a DRAMA ensued. What is a drama? It is a situation where one person is cast as the victim, another is cast as the rescuer, and a third is cast as the villain. Guess who was the victim and who was the villain? Yep, I was cast as the bad person inflicting evil on a poor overworked soul (my nephew’s fiancé) and my brother became the rescuer, fighting the villain.

Whoa, time for a re-frame … this is totally turned around and I won’t play in Christmas drama’s … nothing I have done is remotely hurtful – it’s totally about holding the space respectfully and offering alternatives so another can keep their word to family and juggle that ball with balance. I can totally separate out a person’s behavior from the person – i.e. I can be disappointed in my nephew’s fiancés behavior but still love her as a person and new family member.

So is there a happy ending? Holding the space for a person is exhausting and I could have been resentful about it and felt it was unfair … but it’s Christmas, where love entered the world in the form of a little child who had to spend His first nights in a cold manger – that’s not exactly “fair” but it taught us that suffering in love is redemptive. So once it’s Christmas and family is together, everything is forgiven and there’s no mention of cookies and no entering drama.

Obviously, there’s a lesson to be learned from everything that happens and I hope my nephew’s fiancé will be strong enough in the future to say “no” to things she won’t have time for. I’m guessing that by saying “yes” and then not following through that she has some lingering internal angst (shame, regret, resentfulness) … all of which I’m sure led to a Christmas Drama sadly brought on by herself, and which could have been avoided by honestly assessing the situation.

But back to happy endings … was there one?  Yes! There was a happy ending – love prevailed and Christmas was celebrated with family present – the greatest gift of all!  May God Bless you and yours this holiday season!

Anxiety in Its Many Forms

hot tub

This is (was) my hot tub. It’s about 20 years old we think, we’re not sure because 10 years ago we “rescued” it from a backyard where it sat empty, being used as a dog chew toy. My husband cleaned it up, bought a new pump and cord, ordered a cover and presented it to me on my birthday when I turned 40. I loved this gift the most out of all gifts and used it daily for pain relief.

A hot tub is not suppose to grow ice-sickles under the deck. And it’s not suppose to need refilling every week. The problem wasn’t just the leaking, my beloved hot tub was old and needed to be replaced. Anxiety issue #1 – when looking at prices for hot tubs, my husband asked if I really needed a replacement.  I could feel a shortness of breath as I contemplated the forever loss of my morning muscle relief routine – so YES, I did NEED a replacement.

Anxiety issue #2 – do we buy new or used. I chose new because I knew how much value I received from the hot tub and I knew I would use it … I didn’t want a used one needing something replaced and being “out of commission.”

Anxiety issue #3 – the new hot tub, which is small, has a 110 hookup, is minus any fancy light or sound systems and is insulated for Michigan winters will take 4-6 weeks for manufacturing and delivery … but the old hot tub is leaking and during thaws is saturating the ground under the deck. That’s a problem that could cause my husband to drain the hot tub, which means I’ll be without my pain relief for a month – I feel short of breath again and my jaw muscles tense. We pull out a couple of children’s plastic play pools that we got for the dogs to lay in during the summer and placed them under the drips. It worked and we had to empty them about every 3 days. Whew.

Anxiety issue #4 – the day the new hot tub arrives, we drain and move the old one, preparing the space for the new hot tub. It’s an icy day and the guys are 2 hours late, I’m fretting and call the salesman, everything is fine, they are running late and the delivery pulls in. My new hot tub has a dark brown exterior and a marbled creams and browns interior, lots of jets, a cover lift, OMG – it’s beautiful! I love it immediately. My husband comes over to attach the wiring and discovers everything is labeled 240 and not 110/120 – I’m completely asthmatic now – coughing to breathe … we call the salesman, and yes, we have the correct tub, it’s a brand new 2015 model for the Master Spa company and so everything, even the instruction book, hasn’t been updated. So with a few simple directions, the wiring is done, the hot tub is filled and finally turned on!

Anxiety issue #5 – the water is cold to start out with, it’s from the garden hose, so the hot tub has to heat it up another 40 degrees to get it up to temperature – which I already know takes about 30 to 36 hours with a 110 set up. But the hot tub pump has a loudness that is an annoying vibration type of loud … my husband instantly complains and suggests that we send it back – oh no, I turn to my essential oils, slather on the Balance for stress and the Breathe to open my chest. My husband is right, it is loud, such a vibration that we actually have to turn on a fan in the bedroom to drown out the sound so we can sleep.

I send out an email to the company asking if this is normal. It’s been a day and a half and no one has emailed back, but we have found out that the sound isn’t as loud when the hot tub is up to temperature. I think it will work out and I’ve been in it twice already today – feeling the anxiety leave my body as the water flows over the aches – when the pain (both physical and psychological) is eased, then my breathing becomes normal again.

It’s been a while since I’ve felt that level of panic type anxiousness – the last time was in early 2013 – after I’d been in the hospital for a 10 out of 10 pain level and finally experienced pain relief with the peripheral nerve anti-seizure med neurontin … I had a lot of side effects with that med, but it didn’t matter at the time because neurontin did manage the pain when nothing else had. Once, when I was getting near the time to refill my prescription, I didn’t want to run out of pills and went to the pharmacy only to be told that my insurance wouldn’t cover the refill until tomorrow … WHAT … I was beside myself because the next two days were scheduled and I would have no time to stop at the pharmacy, which meant I would run out of pills. I felt a breathless panic attack then and there and told the clerk (quite forcefully) I would pay out-of-pocket and I wanted my prescription today (in other words, I will not have an insurance company tell me when I could or couldn’t get my prescription filled when it was only one day from running out).

And I think that’s the connection – the hot tub helps me manage my pain level on my own time and terms. I can’t imagine being without it now. I’m off all prescription meds and have found a nice balance of how to live with the now mild chronic pain. Yes, flares can still happen, because my flares are stress related and there’s only so much you can do to manage the stress that life throws at you. But thankfully, I have a new hot tub and it’s finally working and I’m again feeling on top of this stress management thing!  Yes, breathing in with ease … anxiety bubbling away…

One Step at a Time

Monday I swept the house, around, under, corners – really really good.

Tuesday I cleaned and conditioned the leather furniture.

Wednesday I cobweb dusted the ceilings, walls, corners and baseboards. And also celebrated my first Christmas party at the Hunt Club.

Thursday I went to Frankenmuth with my mom and dad, enjoying the Bavarian Inn and the world famous Christmas store, Bronner’s.

Friday I washed and polished windows and mirrors – a job I used to dread because no matter what I always had streaks – but have you heard of Norwex? I’m trying to switch over to non-toxic green cleaners and they are a newer company with embedded silver and natural cleaning products that WORK! I took a wet paper towel and swiped over the dirt and bug spots, then took a blue Norwex cleaning cloth and wiped off the dampness and then used the purple window cloth and just wiped the surface. No streaks, no elbow grease, super fast and super sparkling clean windows – amazing enough to want to share!

Today I’ll oil and polish the wood furniture and tomorrow, on the Pink Sunday of Advent, the Christmas Tree goes up!  Hurray!

I’ve got a plan, I’m experiencing the little joy’s of the season, taking things one step at a time, not feeling overwhelmed or overburdened, each extra cleaning task is only an hour or less a day and can be done in 15 minute breaks if that’s what I need to do.  It’s like I’m being a friend to myself and jumping up and high-fiving the me at the end of the day – “you go girl – you did it!”

Now one secret, shush – there is a little rebellious “me” inside too … it’s a little tantrum when it’s time to do that “one thing” for the day … “I don’t want to” the little girl inside wails … but I simply go to the next step – get out the supplies I need, say to myself, do it and get it over with … you know, a kind of pep talk. And once I get going, I know it will get done soon and the rebellious little tantrum stops and the focused worker girl kicks in.

So my advice if you tend to procrastinate and wait until the last minute … don’t. Be kind to the you in the future that has to pick up the pieces that procrastination litters on your path. Love yourself enough to work through the little tantrums and just start – one step at a time!



Hot … kick off the blankets, wet with sweat

Cold … put on sweaters and get close to the wood burner

Coughing, Sniffling, Wheezing, Tight Throat

I haven’t been sick for 14 months, I take care of myself, it’s been months since I’ve used ANY type of medication (over the counter or prescription)

This can’t be happening to me, I teach other people how to stay well and keep their immune system healthy

I’m disappointed

I’m ashamed

I’m vulnerable

I’m irritated

I’m frustrated

I’m sick and I feel like a wellness failure.

I’ve actually had to cancel some therapy sessions. I’ve had to admit a need to re-balance and rest.

I’m not invincible, I am human.

Actually, that’s a relief, I think I’m already starting to feel better!