The Millennial Homemaker

The musings of a Stay at Home Mom

Lessons from the Boot

Almost six months have passed (gasp!), and I finally have the time/feeling/sense of urgency to write.

As of last Wednesday, I am temporarily immobile.  You see, I broke my ankle. boot

I am a middle-aged mama who broke her first bone. Ever.

Yes, it hurts. I thought a sprained ankle or a swollen knee hurts a lot. Nope. There’s not much to compare to a broken bone. Well, unless it’s a kidney stone. Then, that hurts worse than child birth. Oh wait, I’m digressing…

So, as I sit here, day after day, waiting for my avulsion fracture to heal, I have a lot of time to think. And, I am learning something from this dreadful boot upon which I re-learn to walk again.

1. REST is a four-letter word.

Sure, I love the occasional nap and a good night’s sleep, but continual rest day after day? It’s been emotionally painful to bear. I have actually viewed it as a new curse word, so to speak.  I am a busy, go-go-go mama, and the last thing I need or want to do is rest. Yet, here I am, on my bum, making the most of my time.

I want to be productive. I want to say, hey look what I can do! Ah, crap… there goes that prideful thinking again. I like a nice pat on the back as much as the next person does, but for some reason my EGO thinks that being busy equals being productive.

I am learning that RESTing is more important than BUSYing. If you get a chance to sit, be quiet and listen, you’ll start to “see” and “hear” the rest of the world around you. I am more conscious of my children’s conversations. I am more aware of time. I am more in awe of nature and its beauty. I am more close to my God.

2. It’s okay to be the passenger.

Taking a break from driving has been also hard on me. I don’t get to be in control at the wheel, and sometimes the journey is not as fun. I have to build trust in my driver (usually, it’s my husband). I have to keep my mouth shut, my tongue bit, and a smile on my face. Don’t get me wrong. He’s a great driver. He knows where HE is going. I just don’t like the fact that I am Miss Daisy for the next five or six weeks.

But, the good part about being a passenger is that I get a break. I don’t have to concentrate on the road if I don’t want to do so. I can relax while I get to my destination. I don’t have to walk. And, it’s air-conditioned (thank goodness) so the natural elements of an Arizona summer aren’t bugging me (no pun intended).

Again, this little lesson is about SLOWING DOWN and taking a breather. I keep forgetting that LIFE is not a marathon race. Well, it’s a marathon, but it doesn’t have to be a race.

3. Kisses from strangers.

Yes, I received a kiss from a stranger for wearing my boot. I was sitting in church this past Sunday, and of course I chose an aisle seat so I could have extra leg room for my boot. As we were sitting and praying during the quiet part of the service, this older gentleman, an usher, came up to me and whispered, “Would you like to race?” I looked at him blankly and replied, “Why yes, that would be nice!” He laughed, and instead of giving me a hand shake or a side hug, he bent down and kissed me on the forehead. I was a little shocked, but my husband was appalled!

Who did this guy think he was to kiss me? For me, I smiled and felt so warm and snugly inside. It was as if my own earthly daddy had kissed me. I think he was an angel, sent by God, to tell me that everything is going to be okay.

So, of course, a person with a walking boot may get unwarranted attention. Take that, prideful EGO!

More to come…

I am sure there will be more lessons to learn from all of this mess called a broken ankle. I know it could have been much worse, as I fell from from the bottom of the stairs (versus the dangerous top of the stairs).

Until then, carry on. Walk well. Slow down. Enjoy a snail’s pace every now and then.

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When the Plane doesn’t land…

…this is an analogy of what anxiety and panic disorder feels like to me.plane

When I was a child I used to love to fly in airplanes. I didn’t get to fly in them very often, but I loved the feeling of arriving at the airport with my luggage in tow. I loved the smell of the warm asphalt as I was dropped off (or parked) in the lot to enter the building. I loved standing in line and getting my boarding pass. I loved going into the plane, greeting the flight attendants and pilots, and looking for my seat. I always wanted the window seat because I loved to look down on the earth during the flight.

But, something changed in me in January 2000. Suddenly, on a flight from Atlanta to Phoenix, I was no longer excited to fly. I started to worry about all the things that could go wrong on the flight. I started to worry about so many small details. I don’t want to scare anyone, so I won’t elaborate, but please understand that my whole mindset changed in one night: I went from a joyful passenger to a freaked out passenger.

Yet, I continued to try and conquer my new found fear. I would take shorter trips in duration, such as going to Denver or Orange County. Still, I didn’t like it anymore. And, in 2005, on a trip to Baltimore, I started to have a panic attack at 33,000 feet. I literally breathed in and out of a bag for almost the entire flight. But, once I heard the pilot say that we were 20 minutes from landing, ALL of my fear and panic subsided. I had to call my doctor and ask how I would be able to get home. She prescribed a nice tranquilizer that did help with my return flight. I sat next to a gentleman and talked continuously for 5 hours until we landed in Phoenix. Poor guy. I still fly the friendly skies if necessary. And, the last four flights I took in 2013 I did not use any tranquilizers. I wanted to conquer my fears.

In February 2014, a new fear decided to rear its ugly head at me. The fear of dying. I lost my mother in 2013 to a stroke. Then, one day at work I couldn’t feel my leg. Panic set in. I thought I was having a stroke. Turns out it was just a low blood sugar that triggered dizziness, loss of vision, and numbness. Paramedics were called. I was given the okay to go home. Little did I know that this was going to be the start of a new battle for health…. mental health.

The attacks were sporadic, but started to come once a month. The next one happened in March, at the opening night of a community theatre performance (three of my family members were part of the cast). Instead of this attack lasting only a few minutes, I lost full control and it went on for 8 hours! From 7pm to 4am, wave upon wave of panic swept over my body. Just as I thought I was gaining control, another wave would hit. I could only describe it in these words: I feel like I’m on a plane that won’t land.

After a few trips to the doctor, I was prescribed a common tranquilizer; in fact, it was the same one that I used to take when I boarded a plane. Again, I thought I was over the worst of it, and I didn’t expect another one to hit. But it did.

The anxiety attacks kept coming, first: once a month, then in June I had one that lasted off and on for four days. Finally, they started hitting almost every other day. It was like my body was getting addicted to anxiety. The symptoms were not as strong as a full blown panic attack, but I definitely developed generalized anxiety. I felt absolutely hopeless.

I started to do some research on my “good” days. I found a book that was helpful on relieving the symptoms at the onset. I talked with my counselor. I also started reaching out to family and friends on facebook. I didn’t care that I was being vulnerable by sharing such an embarrassing situation. I just wanted to know that I wasn’t alone. True to my findings, I wasn’t alone.

It has now been six months since my first attack. This past month has been a whirlwind of learning how to use mind-body techniques, prayer, meditation, deep breathing and sleep breathing, medication, talk therapy, and a whole lot of FAITH. I started praying on a moment by moment basis. I read my Bible, scouring the verses that talk about God being my refuge and my strength. How he casts out fear with HIS perfect love. How he loved us so much that HE sent his son to die on a cross for us, so we could have eternal life. That the death and resurrection of Jesus put the sting of death away.

I know that my plane hasn’t fully landed yet, but I can see the runway. I know I am starting on the descent path toward healing. For those of you who have dared to read this far, please know that mental health is vital to a full life. If you suspect a change in your mental health status, do not be shy or scared to tell someone. Look at what happened to Robin Williams. I wished I had known him. Maybe I could have encouraged him to seek help. No one should be alone in the battle against the unseen, unrealistic fears of the mind.

Don’t be ashamed. Don’t be afraid to speak. The best thing you can do is to start moving forward. Make that phone call to a friend or doctor. Make an effort to find healing. True healing is found when you are on the journey, and not at a specific destination. It’s a process that continues to strengthen, to shape, and to recreate beauty from the ashes of the past.

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Nine Fruits: Part Four ~ Patience

Patience is one of the fruits of the Spirit that is difficult to accept and more difficult to put into practice. In the present moment we have so many things that require immediate gratification. How in the world are we supposed to exercise patience?peachjournal

Another definition for patience is long suffering.

What an oxymoron: patience is related to suffering. How can this be? Yet, it is true. Patience must be exercised in the midst of a trial. We have no choice but to wait.

Orange is where it’s at…

I chose the color orange (or peach) to represent patience. Orange is a mix of red (love) and yellow (joy), so it seems that patience would be a mix of love and joy. In one sense this is absolutely true. When a person exercises patience, he is showing love by putting himself behind the other person/thing in need. He is also showing joy to the other person/thing by choosing to have hope and wait alongside for a positive result.

Patience doesn’t always result in positive outcomes.

Sometimes, we wait and wait and wait for an answer to prayer, and God says no. Or, God says wait. And, then there are times when He says yes. In any answer to prayer, we have to wait and have faith. We have to be patient.

The picture above is an inexpensive creation I made from a store-bought notebook, a few pieces of scrapbook paper, and a spare piece of ribbon. It cost me one dollar to make. Yet, the end result is invaluable, for it is a unique creation.

I call it my healing journal. Why? Healing takes time.

I plan to make many more healing journals for anyone who would like to have one. These journals take about an hour to make. That is not a lot of time, but it does require patience. I have to measure the paper, the ribbon, and the glue. I have to wait for it all to stay in place before I transfer it to a safe place for keeping.

The healing journal is a small part of why I am choosing to focus on the nine fruits of the Spirit. As a newly joined member of the panic-anxiety realm, I have to make a conscious effort to focus on the present moment. I have to be patient with my mind as my body returns to a normal functioning state. Moments feel like hours when adrenaline hits the system. So, I am focusing on journaling my way through this season of growth, pruning, and rebirth.

Romans 12:12 says, “Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.”

It is easy to associate the word patience with a negative trait. But, it doesn’t have to be viewed that way. Patience is a teacher. It creates a new type of learning curve. It is re-training the mind to slow down, have hope, and seek closure. Patience teaches a child to be grateful instead of demanding. Patience teaches a young adult to have faith when the situation looks bleak or unreachable. Patience teaches the older adult to embrace the winding down of life and the enjoy what has been experienced.

Patience is not an easy topic to share. This is one virtue that is so subjective, so individualized, that it is difficult to express in words. Yet, I must share what I know, what I have learned, and what I hope to experience as I ingest the fruit of Patience.

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