Saturday, July 31, 2010

Break Over, Back to Blogging!

I stopped blogging, primarily because I was in a horrible funk. Perhaps the worst ever. I have come to some realizations about myself over the last week or so that have helped me emerge from that funk. So, I'm back to feeling positive enough about myself and my life that I can post once again.

* * * * *

My Dad's memorial service turned out to be excellent. When I had reviewed the program at my Mom's a week or so prior to the event, I thought there was so much music it would go on forever. However, most of the pieces were short, so it wasn't overly long. And, the brass choir (2 trumpets, tuba, french horn, trombone) that performed most of the pieces was absolutely wonderful. I enjoyed the eulogy as well. There was a lot of humor and reminiscence at the outset, but the minister wrapped with a wonderful and moving insight into my father's perspective on life:
He enjoyed almost everything he did - cutting brush, hunting, meetings, arguments, concerts, eating, taking naps. It seemed to me that any time I’d see John, regardless of what he was doing, he had a kind of half-smile on his face - working, playing, listening, talking. He embodied a sense that life was good.

I think his capacity to enjoy was the source of his confidence, his unquestioning conviction that things would work out, that we’d find a way, that, if we did our part, all would be well. John really believed that all would be well, and this is why, I think, we liked to be with him, and work with him and catch his faith in the future.

This rang so true to me. My Dad did have that positive outlook on life, but it wasn't just that some miracle would occur that would make everything come out ok, it's that we could positively influence our lives through our individual and collective efforts.

I used to feel that way, too. The long, downhill slide of MS and the unrelenting demands of caregiving have eroded that cheerful, positive outlook I once had. It is a goal of mine to regain that positivity. After all, we have a history of continually facing new challenges that we overcome. We can perservere despite all that MS has stolen from Skip.

Other updates ...
  • I ended up not speaking at the reception following the Memorial Service. I decided it was stressing me out thinking about it, so shed the stress by choosing not to. My sister spoke, she had prepared notes she read from, and did a lovely job. Lots of others got up and spoke off the cuff, most telling funny and moving anecdotes about my Dad.
  • Addy is 6 months old today. She's still a handful but a wonderful, loving puppy to have around. We were experiencing some real behavior problems, so a few weeks back had a woman who specializes in puppy problems come over for an hour and evaluate what was going on. She gave us some useful tips for getting better control over Addy and they've paid off beautifully.
  • My vacation, right after the Memorial Service, had two distinct phases. The first week, I was incredibly indolent, doing as little as possible. By the second week, I was able to dust off the to do list I'd prepared and actually got a few things done. Skip and I went to a nearby museum for an afternoon's visit. It's called the Higgins Armory, and specializes in armor through the centuries. I'd been wanting to go there for a long time and even Skip ended up enjoying it, though she was very disappointed in the gift shop at the end.  I also had a chance to visit my Mom for a few day trips during the second week, avoiding the summertime weekend traffic to/from the Cape.
  • Yesterday was my birthday. Skip had seen a review on TV of a Mexican restaurant about 30 minutes from here that sounded excellent so we decided to celebrate it there. Skip was never much on spicy food until recently and now it's as if she can't get enough of it. The service was excellent, the housemade guacamole came in 3 different varieties (we tried each), each dish we had was very good and I even drank margaritas. I hardly ever drink, but I just wanted to break out of my set-in-stone routine for the evening, so we got a pitcher of Sangria Margaritas.
* * * * *
At the top of this post, I mentioned that I'd come to some realizations about myself. I know I often joke about being cranky in this blog, but the reality is that, of late, I've been angry a lot and it's no joke. And, you know what I've found? That expressing that anger just amplifies it, it doesn't dissipate it, as conventional wisdom says. And, if you try to step back, take a breath, and react appropriately to the situation rather that in an angry way, it often fails. So, I'm trying not to express my anger or act appropriately, but to just shut up when I feel angry. I'd say I'm succeeding about 70% of the time, but that's been a wonderful experience for me and for Skip as well, who gets to hear me rant and rave far too often.

Since taking this approach, I've felt a weight lift from my mental state. I feel angry less often. I feel less guilty about being angry and ranting. It's been so much easier to have a positive mental attitude when I haven't been walking through the world with a cloud over my head (like Joe Btfsplk in L'il Abner).

Now, if only I could lose a few pounds!


Marie said...

Great post!! It is good to see you back.

I can totally relate to the funk business. Isn't it the WORST!?! I know when I start to emerge I look back at all the things I should have/could have done and I kick myself around the block, which only makes me feel ten times worse.

My blog sustains me, though, so I really force myself to put up posts. I get such wonderful supportive feedback it really helps hold me up when I cannot do it myself.

Welcome back. :)

Muffie said...

Glad to see your return to the blogosphere, Cranky. Your introspection seems to have yielded what will work for you. We're all so different, and what works for one is not a panacea. Do take care, continue to get your strength back, and visit us when you feel you can. Happy Belated Birthday!

steve said...

Thank God you're back. I can only watch The Hangover so many times. :)

Glad you enjoyed the Mexican restaurant. Back when BR and I were just starting out in Dallas, we made weekly visits to the neighborhood Tex-Mex joint. We knew the waitress there, and she would always give us a free pitcher of Margaritas with our meal. It was like they had magical powers unlike other alcoholic beverages I had tried before. We always left happy and laughing.

Glad you have found a way to be a bit easier on yourself. And please use the word "cranky" at least once in every post. I love the way the Mac reads it out loud.

zoomdoggies said...

Welcome back, Cranky.

It seems to me that anger management wouldn't be so hard if you didn't get so darned many opportunities to practice it.

kmilyun said...

Yeah your back! Happy Birthday a bit late but still Happy Birthday!
Mr Catfish was a bit trying in his younger days also. We too called in the dog trainer Calvary and he is one awesome well behaved friend now.
Anger - well I will follow the keep my mouth shut idea LOL

Mexican chow is one of the few served that for whatever reason I actually eat a lot instead of pick at it.

Love, Peace, Joy,

Bibliotekaren said...

Good to see your post. Your dad's service sounded really nice.

I was still contemplating your thoughts on anger when I read Zoom's comment. She nailed it.

Take care,

Peace Be With You said...

Welcome back. And be as cranky as you want. I'll still read it. And I'm just wondering. That smile in your profile picture. Is it anything like the one mentioned about your dad in the post? It's a nice one.

Patrick@Caregivingly Yours said...

A Happy Un-horrible Funky Birthday to ya!

Caregivingly Yours, Patrick

Cranky said...

Marie - thanks for your note. I agree that blogging can be a real help. For me, it's especially useful as a way to work through things. BTW - I checked out your blog and have added it to my blogroll.

Muffie - I'm glad to be back.

Steve - I'm so glad I can help you avoid watching it at least once. I've never seen it, but I sense it's not a movie I'd particularly like (hence, the non-viewing). You're lucky, every post will have at least one "cranky" since that is how they're all signed.

Zoomster - too true!

Jan - glad to hear you experienced success with "dog cavalry," too. Addy is like a different canine now. A pleasure to have her around.

Donna - it was a good service. The planners did an excellent job and I think the choice of minister was just right.

Judy - well, I look more like my mom than dad, but we are all big smilers.

Patrick - thanks! you high the nail on head!

Have Myelin? said...

yep, zoom nailed it. lol.

good to see you back.

and do use "cranky" every now and then. it's a funny word for some reason.

awb said...

Glad it went well at the memorial, if that's possible. You could try my approach and whine incessantly?


Diane J Standiford said...

LOL. I try to post my comments b4reading others, then I go back and compare, this time I read your post and really took time to think about it...then I read the other comments and zoomdoggie was like, SNAP, true that, them I read others agreed--I often say in posts "I'm so mad," or "I'm furious," etc., but compared to what I hear about anger, other peoples feelings of cranky or angry, I don't go there much or stay there long--it is another emotion, something with reason and intellect that drives the output of data. (Now I seem to make no sense.) I rarely saw my mother cranky or angry and saw Aunt Vi cranky and angry every day, both were loving and kind people--didn't affect their other moods...yes, I think that is the difference. I think one can be too consumed with anger/funk/crank, while I may feel it often it is a SMALL part of my day. Yes, there, I worked it out. Thanks! Glad to read you back! LOL Happy birthday! Another year you survived! Hugs to Skip.

Herrad said...

Hi Cranky,
Good to see your post, belatd happy birthday for 30 July.
Difficult to deal with MS and enjoy life.
Glad you are finding a way, so you do not hurt
Take it easy.
Have a pleasant weekend.

Herrad said...

BHi Cranky,
Hope you and your darling doing well.
Look forward to seeing your next post.

kmilyun said...


Cranky said...

Herrad and Jan - thanks for checking in. I am about to dive back in to blogging headfirst ... see my next post for more!

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry to read about your dad, but glad that the memorial service went well. Happy (very belated) Birthday! Mexican food is always a festive way to celebrate! Congrats also on the "new" puppy -- here's to hoping you are out of that funk! It's been months. YOU BETTER BE. Hah!