That Fly In My Eye

About ten days ago, I came home at the end of a long week of work and my daughter and I settled into dinner and started into White Collar: Season 4. We were in enjoying the evening when a fly flew past my left temple. I swatted at it to no avail. The odd thing was that the fly was silent…no buzzing. Throughout the evening, that same pesky insect repeatedly bothered me. Eventually I focused on it long enough to realize that there was no fly…I had a new floater.

A nagging worry started to work on my subconscious. Every time I get my annual eye exam, the doctor warns me to look for sudden new floaters, sudden flashes of light, or a veil descending over my vision. I think I’m at special risk due to my extreme near-sightedness…although, after Lasik surgery 10 years ago, my vision is decidedly sharper. This sudden floater worried me more and more, but it was the weekend. Then the week was incredibly busy. The floater got a bit less noticeable.

A few days after I first noticed the floater, my left eye felt really dry and slightly irritated. I assumed it was all part of the same problem. I thought back to a story I recently heard from a friend. It seems that he had some vision problems while an engineering student. He ended up having emergency surgery for a detached retina. After the surgery, he went right back to school, but he couldn’t see very well. He flunked an engineering exam and his college career was in jeopardy. Then the story got life-changing. A friend of his came over and offered to read his texts and homework to him. It was a few weeks until the first friend’s vision returned, but a lifelong friendship had been forged.

I kept thinking about this story for two reasons. First and foremost, due to my growing fears, I worried that I was suffering from a detached retina. Secondly, I liked to reflect on the meaning of friendship and the sacrifices some people are willing to make, without even thinking of them as sacrifices, to help out a friend in need. I also thought about how many people, myself included, would never even ask a friend for such a favor.

A week after my pesky floater-fly appeared, I found myself at work with a suddenly cleared calendar. I called the eye doctor and was told to come over immediately. Eyes dilated, I met the opthalmologist. She wasn’t my regular eye doctor and she turned out to be a close friend of a work colleague of mine…small world indeed. She focused first on the fact that only my left eye was dry. She said I likely had a lash stuck up in my eyelid. Hmm…this turned out to be true! So, relieved of that burden (don’t make me speak of the flipped eyelid involved in the cure) she turned her focus on my retina.

Happily, my optic nerves are quite healthy and my retinas are firmly attached. Phew! She started by looking at my right eye, the eye with no problems. She told me that my right eye had a floater…one that I don’t notice anymore. Moving to my left eye, she immediately so the floater-culprit. I asked if the floaters would ultimately dissolve, but she informed me that it didn’t work that way. I guess my brain just filters them out eventually. Meanwhile I have a fly in my left eye that drives me nuts!

Find the Joy in the Journey…revel in good health and great friends!

Advertisements

License To Eat

I.am.H.U.N.G.R.Y…yup, I’m training for a half-marathon which is in a mere 9 days, and I am starving. I’m eating more than I was before I started training, but as it turns out, I may have given my brain the message that I am starving. My body mass index (BMI) is on the top edge of normal (i.e. on the bottom edge of overweight). So, how can my brain think I’m in starvation mode when my body has so many reserves of energy?

Yesterday I was complaining to a coworker that I was training for a half-marathon, yet I hadn’t lost any weight. On the other hand, I know that you are not supposed to try to lose weight while in training because you will be working at cross-purposes; you need more calories to keep your muscles fueled with carbs or you will have trouble reaching your running goal. Even so, as you increase your calorie burn, shouldn’t you lose weight anyway? To complicate this, I was also complaining about being hungry all the time. She said something that I should have thought of myself…even though I was eating more than normal, I was not eating enough and my body was reacting in starvation mode.20130913-222753.jpg

I guess my body likes to be this weight…I’ve maintained it for almost 9 months now. I’ll just have to wait another couple of weeks until after the race to diet and get on with the weight-loss. In the meanwhile, it’s time to pack in some carbs. Now THAT is my idea of heaven! I found a list of suggested snacks for post-run which are rich in carbs and protein without being too high in fat. It turned out that I already was eating some of them, like low-fat Greek yogurt, Nature Valley Protein Bars, and soy milk. I decided to try a few more and started with dates filled with peanut butter which turned out to be surprisingly good.

So, for once in my life, I have license to add calories because I’ve been running so much I’m creating a calorie deficit. It’s even possible that by adding calories I’ll convince my body that I’m not starving and I’ll actually lose a few pounds. I sure feel like I deserve it.

The last two days I gave myself permission to eat quite a bit more than I usually do, particularly carbs. I had two servings of a Greek Shrimp and Pasta dish last night. Today, I went out to lunch and had a green salad with nuts, fruit, and feta plus had a side of bread. This evening, I went to a picnic at my daughter’s school and ate pasta salad, berries, bread, and a slice of cake. Hmmm…I am definitely not hungry now…we’ll see how well I do on my 12 mile training run tomorrow…the last long run before the race.

Find the Joy in the Journey…and if you are training for a long race, enjoy those extra calories!

This Weekend Was All About The Boy

This weekend was all about my son. He deigned to come home for half of his spring break from college and I was all too happy to accept any time he chose to spend with us. We had quite the list of things to accomplish, so it was a busy few days.

He had surgery in mid-January and with the initial surgeon’s consultation and the surgery itself (planned on a Friday before a three-day weekend), he’d missed two days of school. I brought him home for a follow-up, but there was a terrible multi-car pile-up on the highway due to icy conditions and his surgeon had to be on call at the hospital and canceled the appointment. My son missed another day of classes. So, the next best alternative was to bring him home a fourth time, during spring break, for the follow-up. Fortunately, he didn’t have any stitches to be removed, so it worked out.

We had three things on our list of things to accomplish. His visit to the surgeon was number one. Thankfully, it was all good news from the surgeon, although he has two more weeks of taking it easy. The next thing was to upgrade his phone.

My husband, in a moment of panic when his work phone was on the fritz, had needed a phone for a business trip. I gave him an old phone of our daughter’s and told him to add a line to it temporarily…a $10 activation fee and a $10 fee per month until canceled. Instead, he bought an expensive Android phone with a very expensive data package and a two year contract…and then he hardly ever used it because his work cell phone was repaired and he used it for all his calls. This weekend, was the time to get rid of my son’s four-year old phone (I’d used all his upgrades for my daughters since he really liked his non-smart-phone), and transfer his line to the fancy smart phone.

We signed into the Verizon store on Saturday and a mere 50 minutes later, had the uninterrupted attention of a phone expert. We swapped his number from his old phone to the smart phone and they transferred all of his contacts. We were good to go! The only problem is that I now have his old, beat-up, phone which I can’t get rid of for another 4 months. I wish I could think of a way to take advantage of this extra phone! So, his physical health confirmed…his smart phone capability established…the only thing left was to have fun and, oh yes, to do his taxes.

My son had his first job last year, and he paid federal, state, and payroll taxes. I had tried to counsel him to file a form that would exempt him from withholding…but it was too confusing and the taxes were withheld anyway. Not a biggie. I decided to show him how to file his own taxes as I’d done myself since I was fourteen. The EZ (i.e. “easy”) form, really is easy…but when I had to double check the tax table just in case he owed anything, I found that the instruction booklet for the easy form was 60 pages long! My son, a vessel of all knowledge, told me that the US tax code has 10 times as many pages as pretty much all other tax codes around the globe. Combined. Regardless, we nailed our third directive.

So, we had some time for fun this weekend too…and we fulfilled it by watching Oz the Great and Powerful.

Find the Joy in the Journey…and cram as much as you can into the fleeting hours your kids give you as they grow up and leave the nest!

 

A Look Forward to 2013

I have spent some time looking back at 2012 to see what worked and what didn’t. I’ve also given myself a few gifts: the gift of routine, the gift of fun and fitness, and the gift of forgiveness and do-overs, which I wrote about in Putting on My Oxygen Mask—Gifts for Myself in the New Year. Now it is time to take a deep breath and figure out my 2013 resolutions, which overlap heavily with the last year of my 50-by-50 project.

Last year, I determined six categories around which to build my resolutions, and these six categories are still valid foundations on which to build my 2013 resolutions. This means I really did figure out a way to focus my life. I thought about combining them somehow, or whittling them down a bit, which I could do…but I decided not to mess with success. Instead, I will tweak the specific actions I want to take within the same framework. The six things, in no particular order, are:

  1. Relationships
  2. Health
  3. Wealth
  4. Charity
  5. Career
  6. Writing

Continuing the tradition, I have come up with SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound) goals:

Relationships

  • Help my older daughter through her college selection process and her transition from high school to college.
  • Support my younger daughter’s insatiable appetite for activities. Attend her sporting events, plays, and Girl Scout ceremonies with a heart full of joy and appreciation for her youthful enthusiasm.
  • Help my son through his own special issues by providing just the right balance of support, advice, parenting, and freedom.
  • Spend time with my friends, old and new, and cultivate positive relationships.

Health

  • Continue along the path I’ve chosen to be more physically active. Achieve a 30 minute 5k. Build up to running a 5k. Take a fencing lessons with my younger daughter and really work on my skills.
  • Maintain a spiritual practice by regularly attending church services and leaving time for quiet reflection at least once a week.
  • Read books of a variety of genres and achieve my goal of 50 books from the start of this project to my 50th birthday.
  • Listen to music I love, whenever and wherever I can.

Wealth

  • Work with a financial planner to get an honest look at my financial situation and work on creating a realistic plan to get my kids through college, pay off my house, and retire comfortably.
  • Continue my priority to live within my means and not accumulate debt.

Charity

  • Use both corporate-sponsored volunteer days at work, choosing and planning one for my work group this year.
  • Continue on as a member of the finance committee of my favorite charity, having term-limited off of the board of directors and my Treasurer position.
  • Figure out my new role with my favorite charity as a contributing committee member to its expansion committee
  • Create a budget for charitable contributions based on family and personal values

Career

  • Put together SMART objectives for my work group by the end of January and cascade it to my direct reports.
  • Nail those objectives!

Writing

  • Continue to publish Laura’s 50 by 50 every other day
  • Finish my novel
  • Write outlines for the two sequels to my novel

Somehow, woven into all of these categories is another goal…one that is at once specific and incredibly ambiguous.  I wrote about it, recently, in Time to Lighten my Load. I need to de-clutter every aspect of my life, from possessions to relationships to my physical body. As one of my Facebook friends recently messaged me, “Life is a consistent journey of learning and becoming more of spirit than of body…”

Find the Joy in the Journey… and embrace the growth of your spirit!

Related Posts:

Time to Lighten My Load

Not Ready for Resolutions–Yet

Putting on My Oxygen Mask—Gifts to Myself for the New Year

A Look Back at 2012

Your Life Reflects Your True Objectives

I feel a bit like groaning when I get to the end of each month and realize I need to take stock of where I am versus my objectives for the year…because I am not paying a whole lot of attention to them as I go through my daily life. It’s a necessary evil, however, and does get me charged up to get back on track or at least chart a new path to the same end.

Last month, I took a pass on measuring my progress, which I wrote about in How Do You Find The Forest When You Are Surrounded By Trees?  I knew then that May would be a month where I would be living in the moment and not necessarily progressing towards my objectives. It’s been a great month for nostalgia…

I returned to my college town for my nephew’s graduation from my Alma Mater, which I wrote about in Quick Trip To St. Louis. Home briefly, we celebrated our younger daughter’s 12th birthday and I wrote her a special piece, as I’d done with each of her older siblings, called I Knew I Loved You Before I Met You. Then, just two days later, we were off to my home town for my 30th high school reunion, which I’ll write about in my next post, Going Home Again—Yes You Can!

I’ve come to realize that life reflects your true objectives…and it’s my job to make sure that my true objectives reflect my true values rather than my short-term, lazy-day, lack -of- thoughtful objectives. What I’ve discovered is that just by having written objectives and thinking about them periodically, I unconsciously move towards my goals, but that they don’t always take the planned path.

I have six stretch objectives which I wrote about in Time To Get Stretchy!, and one is in sight…Plan and take an anniversary trip with my husband by the end of the year. Yes, I finally used my frequent flyer miles to book us coach tickets to…Ecuador! This just begs the question about why I can’t hit another stretch objective, Learn “tourist” Spanish by the end of July. Well, maybe I still can…it depends on the scope encompassed by the word, “tourist”. Meanwhile, I’ve gone back into my funk about whether I should really learn Spanish (head) or French (heart). My heart seems to win every battle, but the real loser is me as I’ve not learned either!

In my regular objectives for the year, which I outlined in A Look Forward To 2012, I had six areas to work on. I think I’ve made some progress in each:

Relationships: I’ve met with many family members this month including my mother, my father, both of my sisters, both of my nieces, both of my nephews, two of my aunts, two of my uncles, two of my cousins, and even three first cousins once removed, and a future niece-in-law! I’ve had many chats with my son, as he’s home at the moment. Last night I attended a middle school meeting with my younger daughter and we made great progress in her comfort-level with moving up to the much higher expectations of middle school. I’ve spent more time with my husband, but still struggling with staying connected when we are apart.

Health: not doing so well here, but since I had reading in this category, I pulled a rabbit out of the hat! I’ve read two books this month: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save The Ford Motor Company: American Icon by Bryce G. Hoffman and “There Are Things I Want You To Know” About Steig Larsson and Me by Eva Gabrielsson. I know, these are both non-fiction, which I’m drawn to, but they were can’t-put-it-down page-turners!

Wealth: I am trying to pay tuition out of savings…but otherwise not a great month for investing in my house or watching spending.

Charity: Time spent helping my daughter get to her community service project which took way more out of me than I ever intended and I wrote about in Beware the Bermuda Triangle of the Roadways! Talent in holding a finance committee meeting and reporting out at the board meeting…working on next year’s budget for my favorite charity. Treasure, not up to my usual standard of giving this month.

Career: Working on those work objectives! It’s more of a struggle this year based on external factors, but I’m plugging away nevertheless.

Writing: This blog is my major outlet and I’m writing ahead so that I can continue my record of publishing every other day even if I am off the grid next month  when I travel to Ecuador.

Find the Joy in the Journey…and know that if you believe in your objectives and write them down, you will find that you work on them even when you are caught up in your day-to-day life!

Snore Wars–I Win!

It is a fact that more men snore, and snore more often, than women. Why? The answer is boring but you can find it in this article by Dr. Steven Park, Why Do Men Snore More Than Women? What is really of interest is why does everybody deny that they snore? I mean, how do you know that you don’t snore, especially when your spouse/significant other, roommate, children, parents, random strangers, tell you that you do?

When you sleep with a snorer, you do not sleep well. Neither do they, but as the non-snorer, you have the right to complain. If you are the snorer and you are a woman, you just might do something about it…starting with a physical. If the snorer is a man you are probably out of luck…men don’t like to go to the doctor. Dr. Sharon Orrange gives a humorous look at it in her article, The 10 REAL Reasons Men Don’t Go To The Doctor.

I don’t recall snoring being a problem in my early marriage and my husband is Jack-the-marathoner-Sprat…so it’s not about his physical fitness…yet he is a horrible snorer and has been for years. I can’t sleep when he snores and it is terribly bad for me to be sleepless and stressed due to his snoring. He snores almost exclusively when lying on his back, which is also the worst position for him to sleep given that it aggravates an old back problem of his.

When he snores, I try to get him to turn onto his side. This is successful about 50% of the time, but even so, he returns to his back after a while. I will get out my earplugs and hope that helps…sometimes it’s enough, but not always. I know I could always leave the room and sleep on the couch…but with my allergies I’ve made my bedroom the ideal sleeping location with allergen-proof mattress cover, no carpeting or rugs, etc. So, usually I just suffer and hope I can sleep through it or that he’ll stop.

Now, I do not admit or deny that I snore…but I will say that I have long suffered from allergies and bad sinuses…In dealing with that, I ended up at an otolaryngologist (i.e. an ear, nose, and throat doctor). He tried to blast my chronic sinusitis with mega doses of antibiotics to no avail and ended up recommending surgery. My deviated septum was fixed as were other things that could be cleaned up with surgery at the same time. That still left me with basic allergies…a contributor to snoring. But, I was getting allergy shots and on anti-histamines and decongestants…plus saline sinus rinses on a regular basis. (i.e. I am a woman…I do consult doctors on occasion!)

Now, I’ve been on a journey for the last year to go off of the anti-histamines for 12 months so that I can then go off of allergy shots in the hope that I’m “cured”. I’m also trying to limit taking decongestants, so I admit I’m probably pretty congested at times. But that was the furthest thing from my mind the other night when I woke up alone in the middle of the night on a night when my husband wasn’t traveling. Later, I found him emerging from the basement and asked him about his back, remarking that maybe we needed a new mattress. He thanked me for my concern, but informed me that he slept on the futon because…I was snoring so loudly!

Oh dear…does that mean I win the snore wars? I sure slept well that night!

Find the Joy in the Journey even if it means separate bedrooms sometimes!

Quarterly Course Correction–Veering From My Goals

It’s the end of the first quarter, I can hardly believe it. I have been working hard and spending a lot of time at home with my girls. The last month in particular has been crazy, starting with business travel that consumed two of my weekends and followed by my husband being out of town on a crazy schedule that ended up taking up three of his weekends due to the profligate use of double-booking by a particular airline during the peak of spring-break travel. So, not only have I not thought much about my goals this month, I’ve not thought much about where I stand a quarter of the way through the year. It’s time to course correct.

I never thought about the seasonality of my job before, but my workload does vary in a somewhat predictable manner now that I think about it. I am expected to achieve 60% of my objectives at work in the first quarter. This doesn’t mean that I skate by the rest of the year, just that I am forced to get the easier things done first and am left with the tougher things for the rest of the year. I need to balance my personal goals with that in mind.

I’m actually doing fairly well against my goals for the year, most of which are clear guidelines for how I should spend my time. Lunches with girlfriends, time with my girls, reading, getting my annual physical, keep writing my blog, etc. There are many more things that I need to work on, but I think my goals are mostly reachable even though I took my eye off the ball this month. The toughest one is going to be my exercising goals…I can’t “catch-up” on those, but need to start over. *Sigh*

On to my stretch objectives, all I can say in my defense is that they are definitely stretchy!

Run a 5k in April: Not going to happen; no way, no how. I have been on the treadmill exactly twice since Thanksgiving. This is definitely an issue for me because I still need to get in shape. I will definitely have to start by walking, but I will think through whether there are some other activities I can do that will make fitness more fun and easier to integrate into my life.

Write a short story and submit it to a publication by the end of September: I like this one! I still have time to do this and put my best efforts forth. I even had an idea for a story, but haven’t taken the time to write it out. Short-story writing will be new to me and I am thinking that I should write several pieces before deciding which one is “best” and worth polishing for submission.

Get my paper clutter under control by July: this is one I work on ALL the time, or seemingly so. I’m still going to try…maybe July will be an “event” of clutter free me…quickly to be followed by the return of clutter and my renewed fight against it. It is one of those things…

Plan and take an anniversary trip with my husband by the end of the year: I am actually aiming for early summer for this one…but I haven’t really made any progress on it yet. Meanwhile, I’m planning a family trip over spring break. It’s not the same thing, I know, but I didn’t even have it on my goals for the year, so it’s a bonus!

Learn “tourist” Spanish by the end of July: Hmm…not making any progress on this except that I now have a phrase-a-day calendar in Spanish. I have found that Spanish is more colloquial than French…whereas I could roughly translate 99% of the phrases in my French calendar, I only get about 1% correct in Spanish. Part of this is because I know less Spanish than French, but a lot of it is that the phrases don’t translate very directly into English.

Complete the first draft of my novel by the end of the year: I’ve barely touched my manuscript since the beginning of the year, so this is a tough one. I have really only done any significant amount of work on it the last two Novembers during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). This is a goal similar to my exercise goal…if I don’t work on it regularly I’ll never get it done.

So, how do I course correct? What should I do? Since I started down my current path both my older sister and my mother have weighed in. My sister, a recent empty-nester, told me that the scope of my goals is achievable once I’m an empty-nester myself, but that it’s unrealistic given my current circumstances. Fair enough. I know that I’ve put very ambitious goals in front of myself…Then my mom called after, I think, my February review. She told me not to be so hard on myself! Ah. There’s the rub. I need to better balance my goals with reality…and when I make them too hard I need to be kind to myself when I can’t reach them.

So, no major changes, just a little course correction…and I will be more kind to myself when I fall short of my own ideals.

Find the Joy in the Journey…even if that means cutting yourself some slack!

Health and Happiness

My last post garnered more views in the first 24 hours than any other post I’ve written. On average I get only about 15 hits a day on my blog but I got 102 in the first 24 hours after posting The Elusive Goal. I have a very small following, but maybe it is starting to grow! Now, it’s not my most read post, but it hit number 12 in 24 hours, and number 6 within a few hours more, so who knows where it will ultimately end up. My most popular post, by the way, is My First De-Cluttering Project–The Mud Room.  Weight-loss/fitness and de-cluttering are my most popular topics.

In addition to getting many hits on my blog recently, I got 2 more followers and a few comments as well. I got even more comments privately. There were three themes…one:  that I should learn to be happy as I am, two: that I shouldn’t spend too much time thinking about losing weight, I should figure out my game plan and start already, and three: offers of advice, sympathy, and encouragement. I want to circle back on the happiness comment. It is true that I am not always a very happy person, but I’m no sad-sack either; I’m not a Pollyanna, I’m a realist. I was my happiest, in general, when I was thin. Why is that?

When I was in my mid-to-late twenties, I was working out about an hour and a half a day and I had lost a lot of weight. It’s pretty simple why I was a happier person, despite the stresses that I was under back then (money issues, new-marriage issues, new-career issues, and infertility). Endorphins released by exercise have the known effect of making one happy. Finding that your body does what your mind tells it to do, to be coordinated and strong, is affirming. I also found that I could eat more, enough to satisfy my body and enough to satisfy my emotional-eating needs without gaining weight. I could go to the store and pull something off the rack and it fit and it looked good on me. All the exercising I was doing gave me emotional resilience, made me feel good, and made me strong and healthy. I want that again, and truth be told, we all would be happier if we had that level of health and fitness.

So, to my dear friend that told me to be happy with the body I have, I made some progress; I bought myself some clothes that fit and are flattering for my body the way it is now, not the way I want it to be after losing 20 pounds (a common mistake I make). To Melissa Robinson, (Fitness PhoenixX) a fellow blogger, fitness coach, and soon-to-be-pharmacist who told me “Don’t sit and think too long”, I finally heard my 16 year old daughter telling me she wanted to join a gym…and I signed both of us up this weekend. And to all of the people who offered me advice, sympathy, and encouragement…please keep it coming! I appreciate all you are offering me.

I’m still trying to figure out why I am my own worst enemy…but meanwhile I am taking a bias for action. I will have my moments of failure, those days when I’m laid low by bad intentions of others or more stress than I can deal with in a day, but if I let those days get to me I will choose to wake up the next day and get a fresh start. Happiness and joy are not the same thing, but I believe that if I am happier due to taking better care of myself…I will be more open to the Joy that is around me.

Find the Joy in the Journey!

Related Post: The Elusive Goal

If you like my posts, please scroll down past the comments section and “like” me on the Facebook link to my new page, Find the Joy in the Journey. I would love to build this page to be a real community!

Health Experiment Fail–Next Time, Just Give Me Drugs!

Part of my 50 by 50 is figuring out ways to be healthier and low-maintenance as I age. To that end I’ve started exercising regularly and I’ve followed my allergist’s advice to stop taking anti-histamines. Now, my most frequent ailment is sinusitis and I’ve wrestled with it since I was 30. It’s what led me to the allergist to begin with and ultimately to having sinus surgery…and yet, I still suffer from it, albeit in a slightly milder form, a few times a year. I always rush to the doctor to get my “Z-Pack” (or rather, the ultra-cheap, generic version) which has six antibiotic pills taken in five days. It offers very quick relief. I wondered, however, if I really needed the antibiotics…and hence my experiment was born. But to start from the beginning…

When my son was two weeks old, he came down with a cold. We propped his entire bassinet up with a pillow to help him breathe a little better and we used the blue bulb syringe they gave me in the hospital when he was born to clean out his nose. Since then we just refer to it as “the torture device”…you should have heard him scream! We were scared that we were sucking his brains out, but in all likelihood it didn’t really hurt too much and it did clear up his breathing. It scarred my husband and me, but our son insists he doesn’t remember (he does claim to remember some extremely early memories…so you never know).  That was just the start of a year of sickness for my son and me. Every four weeks, like clockwork, he and I caught a cold…twelve of them that year, capped by colossal sinus infections…then we were both healthy for a long stretch.

That thirteenth-illness-in-a-year started out like a cold, but it lasted over a week and then he sprouted spots on his cheeks. I called the doctor and at first the nurse just pooh-poohed me (we changed doctors because of her eventually, but that’s another story). This time, the word “rash” got us in. When the doctor told me that our son had a sinus infection so bad that the infection had erupted through his skin, I felt awful! Meanwhile, my baby was just as sweet-natured as ever and didn’t seem to mind.

So, a week later when I got my own sinus infection, I figured it out right away. I didn’t have a doctor, so I started calling around to the ones with openings but found that none of them would take a new patient for a sick visit. I never thought of going to urgent care…I don’t think they were as common back then and I’d not ever heard of them in any event. By this time the pain was excruciating and in desperation, I called my OB. I was sobbing in pain when I got hold of the nurse and she and the doctor took pity on me and sent a prescription for antibiotics into the pharmacy. In a couple of days I was back to my old self. The first thing I did was schedule a well-visit with an internist.

I kept getting sinus infections, two or three a year, and eventually developed one “out of the blue”. I asked my doctor if an allergy attack could trigger one and her “yes” sent me to an allergist. Controlling my allergies certainly helped, but eventually I went to an ear-nose-and-throat doctor who told me I had chronic sinusitis. The painful episodes were acute sinusitis on top of the general background of bad sinuses. He tried to knock the chronic infection out of me by giving me an enormous dose of antibiotics…four horse-pill sized tablets a day for 10 days. When he asked how it went, I told him that I felt great as long as I was on the antibiotics but I noticed a difference if I was even one hour late taking a tablet. This spelled doom to any non-surgical solution and I was soon scheduled for surgery to correct a deviated septum, remove polyploids, and some general “roto-routering” of my sinuses.

With my sinuses free of obstructions, I got sick less often and less painfully. But, I always go to the doctor at the first signs of sinusitis and get antibiotics because I fear a repeat of that very first one. A few months ago, I got sinusitis while on a business trip. I think it was triggered by an in-country flight…proper cabin pressurization seemed not to be a high priority. Surprisingly, with just some over-the-counter pain medication and decongestant, I got better in just four days. That experience coupled with my current desire to figure out how to age more healthfully led to my decision to go antibiotic-free the next time. This was also boosted by research I’d read about how exposure to dirt and pets early in life is beneficial in preventing allergies later in life. Now, I should have realized that this was completely unrelated and in fact, I did grow up with pets and digging in the dirt and I still have allergies…yet the idea that fighting off germs once can make you stronger was stuck in my brain.

A week and a half ago when I came down with sinusitis again, this time triggered by the crazy barometric changes that can happen in the fall, I decided to try an experiment. I decided to see if I could kick this infection without antibiotics. Although I am finally getting better, I think this was not my smartest move. This realization was bolstered when I finally decided to look up sinusitis on the web and discovered that it “only” takes 2-3 weeks to resolve without antibiotics. Thankfully for my family, friends, and co-workers, sinus infections are not contagious, although I don’t think my co-workers care…they are steering clear of me anyway! This has led me to liberal use of hand-sanitizer…another evil in the fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

So, back to my experiment…I’ve succeeded in using lower intervention, but I don’t think I succeeded in bolstering my natural immune response, nor in being more “healthful” (whatever I meant by that). I do worry that so many people take antibiotics unnecessarily (for colds and flu, for example) that bacteria are getting more and more drug resistant, but I also am a fan of taking the right medication for the right symptom…and a bacterial sinus infection deserves antibiotics! The down side is that instead of feeling better after a day or two on antibiotics, I’ve been drained of energy for going on two weeks. I’ve been too tired to exercise. I’ve found myself seeking out comfort foods to make me feel better (see Seven Cakes in Eleven Days) and I’ve gained 5 pounds.  The bottom line is that the cons very much outweigh the pros…next time I’m calling the doctor.

Find the Joy in the Journey…and start by taking proper care of yourself!

Fist Pump–Today I Turn 48!

Six months ago, I started on a conscious journey to my 50th birthday, giving myself two and a half years to really focus on preparing myself for the next phase of my life. Today I turn 48 and it’s time to look back and see if I am on track and then to look forward to what is next. This is my 93rd blog post and that is probably the most amazing thing of all to me. I started out thinking I’d write once or twice a week, but my cousin pointed out that I needed to post more often if I wanted to maintain anyone’s attention. Well, I have few followers, but I am picking up more now than I did in the beginning, so that is a testament to sticking with something!

My biggest disappointment is my weight. I want to lose 50 pounds by my 50th birthday and in 6 months, I’ve only lost 4. Not really worth mentioning. I did lose 7 early on, but then I went to Brazil on a business trip and lost my momentum. I am exercising though, and I’m proud of that. I was a complete couch potato for the last several years but now I’m at least getting my heart rate up for 30 minutes or more at a stretch for three to seven days a week. Too bad that doesn’t lead to weight loss!

I did not specifically identify 50 things to do by the time I’m 50, because that is ever evolving. But there were a few that I did mention. One was to read 50 books for pleasure. I’m really happy to say that I’ve read 8 so far and that 7 were fiction…a major shift from my normal reading of primarily non-fiction books. Three were young adult literature (the Hunger Game series), a very interesting genre! Two were Dickens, a beloved author. The others were a Jane Austen book a Stephen King book and, Composing a Life: The Age of Active Wisdom, which I referenced in A Second Adulthood?  I love to read and reading is something that has fallen by the wayside in the last decade. I’m so happy to invite it back into my life because it makes it richer and more thoughtful.

I wanted to get myself more physically fit and less expensive to maintain as I get older. I have had mixed results so far with this. I am exercising…a big plus! Weight-loss is something else. I talk a good game and I really do know the ins and outs…but I’ve not done it. For me, weight loss is a major mental and emotional commitment…one I need to make. I have added regular exercise to my routine and eliminated one prescription drug from my daily routine (on my doctor’s advice). Both of these are major successes! You can read about my drug-kicking in my post Withdrawal or Kicking the Anti-Histamine Habit.

I’ve shared busy times, stressed times, times of celebration, and the experience of seeing my first child go off to college. As one friend told me, this blog has already become a written scrapbook which is a legacy for my children.

My house is starting to shape up in all my fervor for change. I’ve given away about three carfuls of clothing, coats, and bedding to Saint Vincent De Paul. I’ve cleared out my mudroom, my desk, my bedroom, my linen closet, my utility closet, and my attic stairs. There is so much more to do along those lines, but I’ve made visible progress. I’ve also made progress in finally finishing off the last of the unfinished walls left over from our renovation…the stairwell and upstairs hall. A lot of work! I’ve done the trim and the ceiling and need to repair the walls before priming and painting.

More recently I challenged myself to run a 5k and write a novel. I ran in the 5k, or rather finished it including quite a bit of walking. I also made progress on the novel, but didn’t get even close to finishing it…it continues as a work-in-progress. Both of these are important goals for me and I will continue to train so that I can run a 5k from start to finish and get that novel not only down on paper, but shaped into something I’ll be proud to share one day.

Yesterday, I made progress on my goal of listening to more of my favorite music. I am awful at remembering the names of songs or even remembering songs that I used to love. I signed up for Pandora and listed about 10 bands I used to love when I was in high school and college…and lo and behold, it figured out a ton of songs that brought back so many happy memories! Each song that came on was an “oh, I LOVE that song” moment!

As I look forward to the next two years, I see more music, more art, more reading, less clutter, more family time, and more travel. My older daughter will turn 16 in two days and get her driver’s license. When I turn 50 she’ll be a freshman in college. By then my son will be in his last year of college (he started as a sophomore) and my younger daughter will be wearing braces and looking forward to high school. And in between, I’ll be chronicling my journey through these transitional years…I hope you’ll stick around for the ride!

Find the Joy in the Journey and remember to stop and celebrate along the way!