Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Genesis of the Birthday Month & an Apology

“The TRUTH is that the higher you rise in status & popularity, the more you are called to SERVE others (not the other way around).”—Robyn Bomar of The Birthday Project

I wouldn’t call myself one of the cool or popular kids, when I was growing up. I was different. I was imaginative, creative, introverted, and had a very unique sense of style. Betsey Johnson’s clothing personified all that was similar to my childhood. As a teen, Helena Bonham Carter’s style was more of what I would have wanted to wear. But as we grow, we literally try on different clothes to showcase who we are. I am very blessed to be many things. I’m an athlete. I’m a thespian. I’m a writer. I’m a dreamer. I’m a music lover. I’m a photographer. I’m a seamstress. I’m a coach. I’m a counselor. I’m a corporate worker. I’m a hippie on the weekends. I’m a cheerleader. I’m a listener. I’m a healer. I’m a mother. I’m a wife. I’m a sister. I’m a daughter. I’m a friend. I've had several people ask me about the birthday month. This question asked might have been in jest from some, others were curious, some were thrilled, and another found it quite indulgent and selfish. I felt the need to clarify what it means to me, this month-long celebration.

There were many, many times I was horribly lonely and sad. Emotional scars from my childhood really manifest themselves during these moments and cast a shadow of doubt and worthiness as a person. I just wanted a friend nearby. On my 24th birthday, that was my wish, for a friend nearby to do things with (my two best and closest friends were hours away, still in school). Wish granted. Over the course of the next several years, she and I had a great many adventures, making new friends along the way, building our own colorful urban family. This isn’t to say that I lost sight of my old friends. No, not hardly! It is always magic when each of those worlds collides, friends from the past, from the present, and new friends from our futures are brought together in those rare moments. I like to flit about like a butterfly, socializing with each of them, often excusing myself to seemingly go to the bathroom, when in reality, I’m stepping back, looking at everyone smiling, taking it all in, and giving thanks for being so blessed with loved ones. Being afforded friendship, true friendship, and love.

With the advent of social media, I made virtual friends, many of whom I have met in real life, many of them mothers themselves, who relate to the everyday life of what it means to be all of the aforementioned labels and more…more like, health/body related issues like laughing so hard you pee, and extra skin, and lack of privacy, and the other hilarious details that make you appreciate your own mother. So you can see that I have joined and am a part of all of these tiny tribes all over the place.

A couple of years ago, I came across Robyn Bomar’s The Birthday Project. How beautiful, how wonderful of an idea and concept! At the same time, one of my virtual mom friends posted about celebrating her birthday month. During that time I would celebrate the week of, trying to squeeze in lunch/dinner/coffee dates with friends to celebrate myself. The idea of the celebration had escaped me. I was too stressed about the activities surrounding the very reason and joy I wanted to celebrate…being alive! I got to thinking and decided that I too, would be celebrating for a month. And for that entire month, for each item I gifted myself or was gifted, I needed to give that much back to the world. I like opening gifts! I like receiving gifts. Receiving a gift can be difficult. I mean, I am not that gracious at receiving a compliment and when you give me a physical gift, I get a bit overwhelmed. I wasn’t always that way. Some where along the way, though, I had changed. I’ve since gotten better at it. I smile and accept it. My heart races at the surprise inside! I’m thrilled at the thought that someone had gone out of their way to consider ME and they were giving me a special token.

I’ve never stated before about giving out to the world during this month, nor have I ever mentioned my gift receiving anxiety. I don’t feel the need to brag about being a decent human. It’s like that commercial where one simple act can have a ripple effect into the world. Sure, I’ll buy a coffee for a stranger. But more than that, I like to hide dollars at the Dollar store, leave a $5 in the toy section at Wal-mart, give food to someone hungry, deliver a flower to a neighbor, or just give a good, long, exaggerated hug to someone in need. It is in the act of giving that I receive so very much. Gift receiving: I had such anxiety about giving gifts to friends. Would it fit? Would they like it? Did I spend too much? Did I not spend enough? That it got to where it wasn’t about the person, but the item. And then the gifts I did receive, I didn’t know what to do with them. Literally, when I’m given scented soap or lotions, I don’t know what to do because I’m incredibly allergic to those things. I don’t feel like I can regift something like that because, after all, it was a gift to me. I can’t throw it away because, again, it was a gift. See, how I overcomplicated things? Instead, I allowed myself to spend money for me and give myself gifts. Some would say, “Hello Bianca, that’s kinda selfish!” Let me explain: I would buy myself a cup of coffee. Celebrate the coffee. Appreciate the coffee. Not take for granted that there was always coffee available to me, but rather shift my perspective for the ability to buy myself the coffee and freely enjoy the simple pleasure it brings. I buy myself a cupcake. I eat the cupcake without guilt of empty calories. I try to not think about how much I’ll have to run for that cupcake. Getting in the habit of accepting the gifts I give to myself, I can accept the gifts I receive from others.  Which I am then afforded the pleasure of paying it forward…

Last year’s birthday month involved more introspection and focus on my relationship with self and my husband. Accepting who I was, appreciating who I was, and also, fully appreciating my husband and enjoying our marriage. He, Captain America, being one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received! It was also for making magic. NYC (Tiffany, Yankees, Central Park, Serendipity), Costa Rica (surfing, poi, thunderstorms, jungle, spa), Los Angeles/Anaheim (family, Disney), San Diego (Coronado beach, San Diego zoo, family dinners, private concert), Paso Robles (wine and dinner), San Francisco (dinner with friends, machine museum, SF Bridge), Napa Valley (wine tasting, chocolate bacon, and so much laughter), and Tennessee (beautiful sunrises, lots of sneezing, and driving through Amish country)…what an adventure! I had a month long sabbatical from my job and thanks to our family members and friends, we were afforded that much needed time he and I desperately needed. Thanks to family who understood what we were trying to accomplish and stepped up to help us with our girls. Thanks to friends and family for opening up their homes to us (even when they weren’t there!!) and for all of the rides. Thanks to friends who scheduled with us well in advance of our departures so those (literal hours) in between jumps to the different locations, we got together for dinner, for breakfast, for lunch…all of which was coordinated in advance. My feelings weren’t hurt by people who didn’t reach out to schedule. We all have busy lives. Unfortunately, it didn’t occur to me that by not reaching out to others, I may have inadvertently hurt their feelings.

Here is a very, very public apology to my sister: I’m sorry, Samantha. I’m sorry I hurt your feelings and didn’t consider you more than I should have. I misinterpreted and accepted when I should have followed through and double-checked. I’m sorry that this apology never fully embraced you (in my seemingly apathetic attempts to you up to this point) in the way that I meant for it to. We can’t have a do-over. I regret that I missed that shared time. I regret that I hurt you. I can only say I’m sorry and I will do better.

whoo…(wipes tears)…that was heavy…looks around, oh right.

This year, I took on a greater undertaking. The thought came to me a couple of weeks prior to my birthday. I had to courage to embrace my health diagnosis and not allow it to define my life. I wanted to live by example and invite others to join in my quest for a healthy lifestyle. I invited friends and family to participate in a fun and casual 5K. They would walk, run, bike, crawl…whatever they wanted to do, but they had to commit to get moving on that day. I hoped for 20, I expected 10, I was blown away when I ordered 40 medals! F.O.R.T.Y. Forty medals to be given to participants who let me know they were going to participate. There were still others, strangers even, who participated because they were inspired. I was and am humbled. Someone applauded me by saying that I was being the change I wanted to see in the world. That compliment totally leveled me. It was that type of good that I have always wanted to inspire in people. In middle school, we were asked to write down our goals. I didn’t think immediate goals, per se, like my peers did. They talked about graduating from universities and their career goals. I wrote down that I wanted to make a difference in someone’s life for the better. When I wake each morning, I feel my heart beating, and I’m excited at the very thought that I’m given the chance to do just that. Ever since fully embracing my gift for listening to people’s life story, I have discovered that through that listening, and giving a hug, providing affirmation and validity to the individual, I AM making a difference. And this little 5K…I made a big difference in people’s lives for better health! My tiny pebble thrown into the large pond has created some incredible ripples in the world. Thank you. Each one of you, THANK YOU!

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The rest of my birthday weekend had celebrations with friends, some of whom I expected to see and others I hadn’t seen in a long while. And my birthday proper…it was spent exactly as I wanted to, almost. I wanted to spend it with family alongside my father. In my open invitation to friends (yes, I send out an itinerary with scheduled activities, don’t you? If you know me, this isn’t a surprise.), I had mentioned the game. I was very excited that no one responded about going and it would only be family. This year my birthday fell on Father’s day. We planned to go to the Ballpark in Arlington, where we’ve spent the past 19 summers, cheering on our Texas Rangers. We sat in the heat, in the full sun, cheering, heckling, wearing the freebie hats (which were quite awesome), giggling when I saw my name on the scoreboard.


So now you know. If you are reading this, thank you! And I ask that you do one small act of kindness to put that goodness into the world. Could you do that for me? Pretty please? Thanks! High five!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Hiding in the Closet…Literally

Yesterday, I had a rough day. Not because of any one singular thing. Everything that I needed to process forced itself to the surface and erupted into the mother of all headaches, nearly triggering a migraine. I could do nothing but sit in silence and cry a little.

Except I’m a mother.

I have an exceptionally wonderful husband who recognizes these moments and can sweep our girls away. Last night, when everything got to the point where I couldn’t function well, I knew I had to put myself in time-out. My girls were busying themselves by taking turns playing “doggie” (one is the dog and the other gives commands to the dog or throws a ball to play fetch…they do this nearly every day, which comes with a reminder from them that they want/need a dog). I snuck away to our room and hid in our closet. I didn’t want to interrupt my Beloved while he prepared our dinner. (Yes, he was making dinner! He cooks nearly every night of the week. God, I love that man!) I sent him a text to let him know where I was.

laying down on shoes. on the floor of our closet. light turned on because sometimes I’m afraid of the dark.

When I was little, my father and I would play hide and seek in the house. I always  hid in the closet. Often falling asleep in there. I loved the feel of the many textures of the clothes and shoes. I also enjoyed the way the clothes smelled with the mixed leather smell of his loafers and my mother’s pumps. I’ve always found great comfort in the closet. No surprise at all that I would feel safe in there during threatening tornado weather.

I’m in the closet for maybe five minutes before our girls discover me. I asked them to give mommy a few minutes. They didn’t. They kept screaming and banging on the door. My smallest one shrieking because she wanted to be near me. I wanted to be near her, hold her, and comfort her, but I knew as soon as she calmed, we’d be back to that headache-y place. Horror of all horrors, I firmly said, “Babies, mommy needs to be alone. Please leave me alone.” I HATE turning them away. I HATE myself for needing a moment like this. Because I want to hold them and love them with every fiber of my being because I feel like I’m away from them for so long. They left.

And I sobbed for a bit when I received a timely phone call from my Brother. Wherein I poured on to him my gratitude for coming down for my birthday. How I felt  happy, and excited that he will be there. I recognize how big of a deal it is: to coordinate days off in advance, make sure you are caught up on work, drive 6 hours, sleep on a couch, just to share time. Humbled. Incredibly so because I know some people that celebrate their birthdays or want to celebrate their birthdays and they don’t seem to have 1 single friend to celebrate with them. And me, I’m surrounded so many days of the month to celebrate life. Absolutely amazed beyond measure. In typical Brother fashion, he graciously accepted it and then we talked about other stuff. By the end of the conversation, we were erupting in laughter as I was recounting this video. Giggle fits and laughter.

exhale.

I think I’m ready to crawl out of my time-out. I can hear my girls squealing with joy in the backyard, where Captain America* is grilling. I reach up to open the door and it is stuck. I can’t open the door. I try again. Still stuck. I’m trying to deconstruct the door. It isn’t jammed in the doorway. Jiggling doesn’t work. There isn’t a lock on it. And then all of a sudden I’m hot because the light has been on and there isn’t much circulation in the closet. I was fine hiding in the closet, but being locked in the closet brings a different meaning. After several more minutes, I finally swallow my pride and call my husband to let me out.

He doesn’t hear the phone or it didn’t go through. I texted and heard his jingle. My heart sank because I feared his phone was in our bedroom and he was outside. So I sat there, thinking, pondering, breathing. Called again and this time he answered. He chuckled and wondered where I’d been. I guess he hadn’t seen my earlier text about hiding. Then again, he could’ve thought I was playing a game. Which I often do. He let me in and I remembered that for whatever reason, you can’t open our closet from the inside. I know this because The Sugarbean has been “locked” in there a few times herself.

I had to laugh. And laugh I did. While hugging on my girls, as they rubbed my head. My eldest giving a running commentary. “Mommy, we are rubbing your head because you have a head-ick. And it hurts. And I need to talk softer for you (lowering her volume) because it helps you. I’m sorry for your head-ick. I hope this helps it to feel better. I love you, Mommy.” And the Sugarbaby gives me a kiss and a nuzzle telling me she loves me too.

My Beloved had given me a bar of chocolate: salted caramel Godiva milk chocolate and a hug.

I am so blessed.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Health Update: Cluster Eff & a Fracture

hello lovelies!

 

I wanted to take a moment to say thanks to all of you who have been praying for me, messaging me, calling me, and reaching out to let me know I was in your thoughts. That was really nice of you all!

I met with my Neuro today. I love his office. The waiting room was quite comfortable and the large screen TV and assortment of magazines was awesome! The time passed quickly. After reviewing my MRIs, he said that I should be ok. Lucky for me, my specific condition has more to do with my vein and not arteries, so that’s a positive. Your arteries are full of pressure pumping the blood and pose a greater risk. Your veins act as a “drain” for the blood and aren’t under so much pressure. The risk of bursting isn’t as bad. Because I’ve not had seizures, I’m ok! I just have to go in for a routine scan next year to make sure it is still the same and nothing has changed. Muppet YAAAAAY!!! (you know where they celebrate by leaning back, mouth open, screaming with excitement!!!) oh and fast fact, this type of thing is quite common in the Mexican/Mexican American population. Interesting, stuff.

 

and then….

My doctor is a Neurospine surgeon. When I was detailing my medical history, I mentioned my chronic lower back pain. Something I’ve dealt with my whole life. Even to the point that in high school, there was a doctor who told me that I should consider an “early retirement” because of the hyperextension of my back from volleyball and the other sports I was involved with. Obviously, I ignored the warning because well, I’m stubborn like that and I was determined to have sports in my life as a means to get a college education. My doctor asked if I was open to x-rays and I agreed. Lucky for me, they could do them right there and then and I just had to wait a bit for them to process. After further investigation, he came in and we discussed my Cluster Eff, and then we discussed my back. it seems as if I have a fracture in my L5 vertebrae and there has be some degeneration in that space, which is causing the pressure and the reason for my back pain over the years. He explained that this was probably an injury I had in my early childhood (age 4 to be exact…at the roller rink when I fell. I remember the moment clearly.). The added strain over the years with sports aggravated it. He ordered an MRI and I went downstairs to get it done. Convenient!

I won’t need surgery yet. Yeah, yet. Maybe in my 40s, but it all depends on how proactive I will be with my health. He hopes to alleviate the pain with physical therapy by increasing my core. Also, he suggested I continue to lose weight because staying fit and trim is better on my back. Finally, I may need cortisone shots to deal with the pain. So there you go. I now know why I’ve had back pain for 30+ years. insanity. 

***

Oh, and now I have a referral to an ENT to determine the root cause for my vertigo. I am so incredibly grateful for my health insurance because I’m getting quite to tune-up! Again, more reasons for me to stay on my health kick and keep moving forward! And apparently, I’ve also discovered I have quite a high threshold for pain. Looking at the positives. Folks, take care of your health!

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