When the truth is a B#&$@

We all have those places we go to rest, escape, or otherwise run away from the world for a little while. And of course, there are times we need these places more frequently than not.

I have found myself seeking out those routes of escape and rest for the past month or so, primarily due to my health (or lack thereof) which has a way of exhausting my patience as much as my body.  Lupus, I’ve learned, doesn’t play by anyone’s rules but it’s own. I get so tired of feeling like shit, so over the idea of fighting for my body,  doing everything right yet still suffering the consequences of the disease.  I get so burned out from trying to appear well to everyone around me even when I’m no where close to that in reality.

Sometimes I just can’t keep up with it all,  and I suppose this has been one of those times.   My 6 month check in last week didn’t go as well as I’d hoped,  the lab work showing a majority of my levels are off for reasons I can only speculate about.  Nausea has been a daily battle of late, as well as the intense exhaustion that leads me to sleep 10 hours at night and 3-4 during the day whenever I get the chance.

I hate writing this, I despise both the truth of it and the fact that I can’t ‘get over it’ at the moment.  I am an optimist at heart, and when an optimist gets to a point where they can no longer point to the sunshine in a given matter, they feel they’ve failed somehow.

At least I do.

So thats me at the moment, in all my honest glory. Trying to get food down, trying to keep it down, trying to stay positive even though I don’t feel like it, and trying to hold enough sunshine together for other people so they don’t have to hear about this nonsense.  So why am I telling you?  I actually didn’t intend to – it’s sort of just what came out when I sat down to write.  But I suppose if you’ve chosen to read this, you can handle my griping……..and if not, hopefully you’ve stopped reading by now.

But back to what I originally came here to say- where we go to rest.  I do find that in times like these it can be quite helpful to recall to mind those places you go to rest, even if they’re not immediately accessible. Just knowing they’re there waiting for you can be comfort enough until an escape route has been forged.

I have a few,  please feel free to partake in my repertoire as you find useful.

First one that comes to mind is my dog, Mr B.  Dogs have an innate ability to sense suffering in a way human beings usually can’t. He will come and lie next to me, let me bury my face in his fur, he will make me laugh, and encourage me to get out for some fresh air when needed.  He is, by far, the creature I rely most on.

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Another would be the park where I take him in the evening.   It’s quiet, green, cool, and almost magical. It’s away from the world, the street, and most people. The friends I walk with there require no explanation or even conversation at times. We just come there to escape with our dogs.

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My closest friends.  Being an introvert, this isn’t always my go-to, although it probably should be more often than I let it.  I need people, even though I debate that fact with myself more often than I should.   Mikey, Q, sister and Suj, they are my peeps.

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Target. Most girls reading this will understand this with zero explanation. I don’t know how they did it, but the creator’s of Target cast a magic spell over all Targets in the land, making them a place where you can’t help but be happy and shop.  Perhaps not the most feasible place to go in you’re in a financial pinch  (the spell also causes you to buy things you otherwise didn’t know you needed)  but it sure makes us smile, doesn’t it?

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Writing. Hello!

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Old bookstores

Running. This one is tricky.  It’s definitely an escape for me, but one my body has to capable of performing in order for it to work. When I’m able to, however, it is beautiful.

Good books, good movies. No explanation needed

Getting on the back of a horse and just riding. Wish I could do this more often.

I could probably keep going, but I’ll stop there for now.  You get the idea.  I hope the next time you find yourself feeling distraught or burdened, you can begin by looking at your list of escape routes and find one that can give you a bit of rest and relief.

 

 

A Superhero named Kevin

The first time I met Kevin, one of the first questions he asked me was,  “If you had a superpower, what would it be?” 

I don’t recall my answer, but I’ll never forget the stoic way in which he asked it, without so much of a hint of a smile, as if it were the most ordinary question to be asked during a job interview.  He sort of just looked at me as if he knew things about me I didn’t know myself.  If I had stood up right then and there and told him I could sprout wings and fly I don’t feel like he would have been too surprised.

That was 11 years go.

Since that time, I’ve learned Kevin did know things about me I didn’t realize were there, because that is his superpower.  Kevin sees what is invisible to most of the world and brings out the best in everyone.  He can see beyond what your eyes tell you are there to possibilities most of us only dream of.

When we first began working together, Kevin seemed to be a fairly serious, no nonsense guy with his dark rimmed glasses and high tech gadgets scattered across his desk. Before too long I realized that while he did shoot straight from the hip (a trait I found both rare and refreshing) he was anything but serious.  His dry and witty sense of humor did not take long to emerge, and within 6 months he had me laughing so hard at times that I had to walk out of the office for fear of losing all composure and shedding uncontrollable, hysterical tears of laughter.

And aside from how much fun it was to work with him, it also became obvious to me quite quickly how innovative and skilled he was in so many ways odd ways.  He seemed capable of solving just about any random problem and troubleshooting through the day like some sort of  Educational Wizard.

Speaking of wizards, he also designs some pretty groovy magic wands from his garage that would impress even the most ardent Harry Potter fan. Another one of his secret skills I bet you didn’t know about.

To be completely honest, I’ve felt a little bit guilty at times for having him as a boss.  All those stories you hear of women feeling less-than or devalued because of their gender in the workplace, not given equal opportunities as their male counter-parts. For me, the very opposite was true. Not only did Kevin consistently treat me as an equal, he poured into my growth and training so that I could ultimately take his place, sacrificing his own office for me as he wandered around at times like a nomad, doing his work from whatever little corner of the campus he could find. Really, who does that?

Kevin has gone from being my boss, to my colleague, to my brother and dear friend.  I will forever be indebted to him for his hard work, sacrifice and friendship, as will so many others. I will miss his bright orange-rimmed glasses and neon green socks, his movie recommendations that have never steered me wrong, and depth of intelligence and wit that has allowed us to have many deep conversations. I will miss seeing him, tea in hand, wiz by my desk to go save another corner of the world with a brain, heart and soul that never stops making the world a better place.

 

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Kevin, you are honestly one of my favorite people in this world, and I hope you know the difference you’ve made here in the lives of so many. You have the heart of a servant but the power of a superhero which you most often choose not to shine a light on.

Today though, I’m shining that light whether or not you like it. You’ll always be my superhero.

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So for one last time, cheers to you my friend, you deserve only the best in this world and the world to come.

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Pancakes for dinner

I don’t know what made me do it, but I made a large stack of buttermilk pancakes from Trader Joe’s last night and nearly died of bliss.

Get them, make them, eat them.

And just so you know, that beautiful photo of the lovely stack there on the left there isn’t mine, I just stole it from the internet somewhere.  Muahahaha.

Trust me, you wouldn’t want to see mine, they weren’t pretty. Just a delicious disaster of a pile, which is perhaps part of the reason I don’t take pictures of my food.

The other reason is that it doesn’t occur to me.  Food is for eating, no?

Also, I might as well tell you that last time I was there I grabbed one of these bad boys:

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I know they aren’t much to look at, but as I just illustrated, it’s the beauty within food that counts.  These were the most flavor- rich tortilla chips I’ve ever tried, you could almost eat them on their own. I had mine with some tomato basil hummus, which I am never without.

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Be careful with that stuff though, it’s very easy to go through it in one sitting if you’re not paying attention.  Which really isn’t a problem except that you won’t have any for tomorrow.

Happy Friday!

The Monday Monster

What is so bad about Monday that we consistently dread it like some oncoming disease that will cripple and damage us forever?

Monday. Dun dun DUN .

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I have this moment every sunday evening, right around 5 or 6 o’clock, when I realize the weekend that I thought had just started is already about to come to a close, and monday is peering it’s annoying little head around the corner and staring at me, smiling.  I usually stare right back for a while and then cover my head with a nearby blanket and go into a deep seated denial and tell myself it’s Friday.

Take THAT, Monday.

For a person who loves her job, this ridiculous sense of Monday Dread is both unwarranted and comical, because by the next morning I’m as right as rain, more than fine with the fact that it’s the first day of the week, my aforementioned sense of impending doom entirely forgotten.

Until the following sunday, of course.

Monday is an impish little bugger, and you’ve got to be careful with him and his wily ways. He likes to make you think he’s a lot nastier than he is……much like a spider.  Yes, it’s true, mondays are like spiders.  They only really cause you problems if you let them scare you, but usually they’re harmless as long as you don’t panic.

And as long as you remember to check your shoes before putting them on.

The trick with Monday is to show him you’re not scared, look him dead in the eye and say, “Monday, I see you, and I’ll raise you……two espressos”

Ha!

Once you’ve shown him that he hasn’t gotten the better of you, that you’re onto his tricks and that he’s really not all that bad, he’ll leave you alone and pass you along to Tuesday, who, as you know, is quite mellow.

Monday is never the terrible badass he wants you to think he is, as long as you don’t let him get the better of you.  And hey, look, you survived it once again, because guess what? It’s Tuesday my friend 🙂

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~This message was brought you by a monday survivor~

 

 

The Return of Trader Joe’s

Seeing how long it’s been since I have brought some Trader Joe’s treasures your way, and what an outright tragedy that is, I’ve decided to remedy that today.

I would like to blame the seductive and tantalizing Sprouts that was built on the corner, as it has lured me in with it’s home baked muffins and fresh fruit on the daily. Though I must admit it, it is no TJ’s.  So back to my old stomping grounds we go!

Hatch Fire Roasted & Chopped Chiles

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First of all, I’d like to say, there is nothing like true New Mexico hatch chili.  I was brought up on the stuff as a staple ingredient, to the point where we’d actually be looking for something to go with the chili rather than the other way around.  That being said, I found this little gem in the frozen food aisle, and it comes pretty close to the real thing.

Now, the trick with this guy is to slow roast for at least an hour after thawing, preferably one and a half.  You don’t want to skimp on the time. Then just add a bit of seasoning and crushed garlic if it suits you, and you’ve got the most delicious perk to just about any meal.

Honey Butter Potato Chips 

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These babies don’t need anything but your fingers to eat them. They seem to have the perfect pairing of sweet to salty, and sort of just melt when you eat them. I suppose I should give some sort of forewarning with these: If you don’t like the taste of butter, you probably won’t enjoy them. My husband took one bite and looked at me like I’d fed him dirt. But who doesn’t like the taste of butter??

Don’t let his non-buttered spirit stop you, go get yours 🙂

Sigh. Moving on.

Cruciferous Crunch Collection 

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This may not look like much, but I promise it’s worth picking up a few bags.  I’ve never been a fan of what I call ‘flimsy greens’ or salad, which usually consists of a handful of ice berg lettuce and a few chopped up tomatoes. No, that sounds like turtle food to me.  This stuff is hearty and full of flavor, great cooked up with chicken or fish, or just used as a great salad mix.  (and added perk, no cilantro! High five to my fellow cilantro hating friends)

Aioli Garlic Mustard Sauce 

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I really don’t know what drew me to this little jar in the first place, but I’d like to believe it was the mustard fairy. This stuff is incredibly tasty, and good on just about anything. It’s like the queen of mustard. Ok, that sounds weird, but just try it. Put it on chicken, in a sandwich, dip for veggies, on a cheeseburger. Yum yum yum yum yum.

Boffo and Quasar Bars

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And last but not least, I grabbed one of the boffo’s whilst waiting in line because, well, thats what you do when you’re staring at chocolate bars and it’s 6pm and you’re starving.

Ok I grabbed 3. I think they were only a dollar a piece, don’t judge me.

Until next time my friend, happy Trader Joe-ing!

Mr B’s Golden Years

It’s strange the way a creature can work their way into your heart to a depth you hardly even knew was there.  It feels as though I’ve blinked and turned to find my dear friend has aged overnight, leaving me feeling helpless to turn back time.

Bear hasn’t just been my dog.  He’s been a constant, through the most beautiful and  darkest days of my life. He never failed to come up beside me, lean his face into mine and let me cry into his fur until there were no more tears left inside.  Then he’d turn and do a little twist and grin the way he does, just waiting for me to laugh, because he knew he had enough charm to do it.

He walked me down the aisle and gave me away, knowing he had carried me as far as he needed to and that I was safe now.

When we walk, he reminds me every day that it’s not about getting from here to there, but enjoying the journey. It’s about smelling the green grass on the side of the road and noticing the beauty and intelligence all around, not rushing by it.  He reminds me to stop and look, to be curious about everything, and that life is for living, not getting through to the weekend.

He reminds me that nothing on my phone is ever as important as what is in front of me. He does this in a not-so-subtle  way, usually by placing his entire face on top of the screen and pushing down, which effectively renders my phone useless in the moment. Mission accomplished.

And he teaches me to love like there is no tomorrow. Never does he miss out on an opportunity to be part of every human greeting that occurs, trotting over and squeezing himself between mike and I when he hugs me, or making himself known to every stranger we walk by. Unless he senses ill intent, he is their friend. Immediately. Even if they don’t want him to be.

I have been up with my precious kiddo since 4am this morning.  His hips are now ridden with arthritis and he wakes me up to tell me he’s in pain, imploring me to sit with him.  I rub his aching back and legs until I can’t stay awake any longer, and we both fall asleep hoping for another day together with less pain.   Its the least I can do, and it breaks my heart that I cannot save him.

This week he starts physical therapy at a brand new vet rehab facility in our area, which I’m hopeful about. Water therapy, underwater treadmills, exercises, laser treatment, and body massages. Our goal is that we will build up his muscle in combination with pain medication he’s on, ideally reducing inflammation, pain and strain on his body overall.  The team there is excited to work with him, they say he’ll be their biggest guy yet in the program.

Until he lets me know he’s ready to rest, I’ll never stop fighting for my boy. Because, when all is said and done, he never stopped fighting for me.

Would you like some common sense with that cheeseburger?

For a long time I wanted to believe that human beings were guided by their mind. I don’t think that any more.

Despite what some might say, I strongly believe we are driven ultimately by our heart, and what we actually care about will invariably be followed by action.  It is just how it works.

I really don’t think people need to be told to follow their heart, that’s going to happen notwithstanding our self direction.  But I do think we need to be reminded to use our mind to consider what our heart’s about and reform it as needed. Let’s face it, human beings are both a beautiful and a wicked bunch. Our hearts can be pretty damn selfish, and in all honesty, more often than not that is our default.

Me.

My world.

My coffee

My lane. Hey, what is that car doing coming into my lane?  Get OUT.

We follow our heart by natural instinct, it takes no effort.  But I think it takes a measure of thoughtfulness and patience to recognize that our heart is pliable. And that we are meant to ply.

And if you’re wondering, I did not just make up that word, haha!  It’s a real word. I guess we don’t use it any more.

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And just to be clear, I don’t think there is anything wrong with following our heart per se, it’s wired that way. But I don’t think we need to be told to do it.  That would be like telling me, ‘Hey Jen, don’t forget to breath today, or don’t forget you like In-N-Out and hey, lets be mindful to keep that heart beating, ok?’

Yeah thanks. I’ll be sure to do that.

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Gosh, I hope I don’t forget I like In N Out. 

What may be more adventagious for us to contemplate is, what is my heart about? Am I constantly thinking about myself and what will serve me?  If so, maybe my mind needs to step in and remind me that I am not the sole person on this planet and no, the world is not orbiting Jen.

Exaggeration? Maybe, but maybe not. Think about it.

Are you thinking about cheeseburgers now?  Because I am.

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But in all seriousness,  I think it takes a level of attentiveness, honesty and self control to actually take a look at one’s heart and work with it instead of just getting up and going on default mode. There are seasons I do it, and there are times I don’t. And trust me, there is a difference.

And when it comes down to it,  I don’t want my heart running wild without my mind, thats just cray cray. And despite what Disney may tell you, really not very sexy.

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So let the world see that magnificent mind of yours seeping through your heart. It’s a rare thing in this world, and a beautiful one.

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