Dedicated to Chris Teodosio, my loving husband, and Allison, Dave, Emily and Maddie Beggs
Well, it’s been about a year and a half since I came down with Lyme and embarked on my adventures. And what a year and a half it has been!
I went from being an energetic, functioning Mom, wife, and Kindergarten teacher, to a bed-ridden one, who was out of work for six months.
I became my own best advocate, needing and finding treatments outside of the regular medical field. I slowly found my stamina and drive come back over many months, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t recognize that I wouldn’t be in this healthy place if it weren’t for my husband. Through a series of connections, he led me to my ‘woo woo’ guy in New York, who has really helped me get my life back.
It was not easy to think “outside the Western Medical box” and go the naturopathic route. It took a huge leap of faith for me to do so, but I had gotten to the point in my illness that I really didn’t have much more to lose, other than more of my health and livelihood.
And that just wasn’t an option for me.
My biggest struggle with this illness has been the impact of a no sugar, no wheat, no carbs–basically, a “no fun food” diet. I have been very faithful to what I call my “kale, meat and green tea” diet. Healthy, but not always embraced in our carb-laden society. Nor what my taste buds really wanted to enjoy, either!
But I think my diligence with the diet and the supplements is starting to pay off a bit.
I just recently started eating my favorite summer lunch: mini mozzarella balls, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, and almonds—topped with dressing made with Apple Cider Vinegar, olive oil, and seasonings.
I’m also drinking more flavored teas (I live on the edge–I brew 3 green tea bags and 1 ginger together for a full pitcher of tea.) This past weekend, I tried a seltzer with orange flavor after having worked in the yard pretty much all day. It was both refreshing to be outside that long AND drink the seltzer without pain! YIPPEE!
But this kismet hasn’t been without the constant support of my family and friends.
My sister posted an adorable picture of her daughters doing the Lyme disease challenge in my honor today. Her caption was, “A little late and a continent away, but we did it for you!”
It made my heart swell and made me a little teary.
Because it’s never too late to show your love and support for anyone.
I realize how fortunate I am that I have experienced so much support from the start of my diagnosis so long ago. Family members would reach out, some of them daily, and my co-workers and students were so generous with their own time and gifts as well. I still look at the cards and mementos that I received from time to time; it seems so surreal that I was out of the classroom for so long, and for something that I didn’t even realize I had, until my symptoms became impossible to ignore.
When I went back to work this past fall, my colleagues would often ask how I was feeling. It doesn’t seem like much, but those little interactions often got me through some rough days. Days that had nothing to do with my Lyme, but rough nonetheless. It showed that people really did care and were thoughtful enough to ask.
And even though I am much better, people still ask about my health and share all kinds of information with me about Lyme, just in case I missed something new that has popped up in the news on Lyme research.
My sister’s photo of my nieces biting into slices of lime is yet another reminder to me of how even the smallest action, like a card or email or photo, can really boost someone’s spirit.
So, thank you for thinking of me.
And think about how you can support those closest to you.
With the advent of a new President, laws will be overturned, changed, and created. I began thinking about the laws of my own castle, and came up with a few for my family.
Here are a few laws I’d like to put in place for my family this year.
Whoever runs the dishwasher must empty it within 12 hours of said action. And all items in the dishwasher must be put back in their correct place. If the emptier is unsure of an items location, that person must inform the Queen within 1 hour and learn where the item should be placed. It should not be left on the kitchen counter for the Queen to later find and put away.
Clause #1:Any pots or pans that are washed and left on the stove to dry must be put away within 12 hours of drying.
Clause #2: Any plastic items left on the kitchen counter to dry must be put away within 12 hours of drying.
Clause #3: When the dishwasher detergent gets down to 5 tablets, the Queen must be informed so more can be purchased. This clause also includes dish soap, hand soap, shampoo, paper goods, and other home cleaning and personal cleansing items when they become low and need to be replaced. Users shall not use up all products without having replacements readily available.
Personal Belongings Law
Whatever personal belongings are NOT placed in their correct place within 12 hours of being left all over the castle, the Queen has the direct authority to do whatever she wishes with said item(s). The King and Princess have NO AUTHORITY on this matter and must abide by this law. The Queen has jurisdiction over all areas of the castle, including the kitchen counter, kitchen and dining room chairs, living room couch, staircase, bedrooms, and bathrooms.
This includes but is not limited to keys, belts, hats, shoes, winter wear, backpacks, toys, and other personal items. The owner of the item(s) may or may not see the item(s) ever again, depending on the mood of the Queen.
All folded laundry shall be placed neatly in the owner’s drawers and not left on floors, chairs or in baskets. Any laundry left in these areas longer than 24 hours will be subject to removal by the Queen. (See Personal Belongings Law for clarification of the fine for breaking this law.)
Tomato Sauce Law
If you made sauce, you must clean up the spatters on the stove upon completion of cooking. This law also applies to when sauce is reheated on the stove. The Queen shall always have non-toxic cleaners available.
All boxes shall be either burned or ripped up upon opening and emptying of the boxes. Boxes shall not be thrown down the basement stairs left to create a pile of cardboard resembling the Eiffel Tower or the New York skyline.
Royal Pet Law
Whomever is the first to arrive home must feed the Royal Pet food and water. The Queen will provide food and bowls for said job.
Clause #1: If a subject ‘forgets’ to feed the Royal Pet, that subject shall be forced to eat food of the Queen’s choice.
Clause #2: More than one incident of not feeding the Royal Pet will result in further punishment to be determined by the Queen at the time of the infraction.
Healthy Eating Law
All members of the castle must try kale and refrain from any grimacing or negative comments. Punishment for breaking this law will be determined at the time of the infraction.
Do you think they these laws will can be implemented and followed ?
It’s start of the holiday season, and just coming off of the bazillion Thanksgiving posts from grateful people, we are now inundated with posts of people’s decorated Christmas trees.
I, for one, boycott decorating for Christmas until the first weekend in December. I say “boycott” with love and affection because I just can’t enjoy one holiday by rushing into another. And truthfully, I still haven’t put away all my dishes from Thanksgiving yet, so I’m not ready to make another mess in my home without cleaning up from the one I already have right in front of me.
And besides, there’s still ONE more unnamed holiday event that I need to get through before putting up the tree and lights. Mother Nature sponsors this magnificent occasion, and yet it doesn’t get a special date on the calendar. Instead, we recognize this as an entire SEASON of colorful joy, known simply as FALL, or more delicately, as AUTUMN. And the crowning event of the Autumnal Season is that glorious holiday, Leaf Raking.
Now, I know what your thinking. How is leaf raking a holiday? Well, naturally, fellow New Englander, it IS a holiday since we go through the same stresses of holiday cheer and angst for raking leaves as we do for celebrating any other date on the calendar.
Let’s take a look, shall we?
First, there is the anticipation of the event. As the weeks roll from September to October to November, we anticipate the joy of fall, the changing of the leaves, and the cooler temperatures. Much like any other special event, I look forward to fall to temper my days and my wardrobe. Fall makes me realize what a great life we do have in New England and how lucky I am to be surrounded by maple and oak trees. Waiting for the hallmark leaf-raking event is like waiting for that suprise gift at Christmas or my birthday. It’s just looming in my future, an ever-present invisible force in my life that continues to create more excitement and wonder as the days draw cooler and darkness falls sooner. When the leaves start to signal their arrival by gracefully floating to the ground in my yard, I know that the holiday is soon approaching . The only difference between the gift receiving events and the leaf-raking holiday is that not one tree ever thanks me for my leaf raking skills, and I don’t thank the trees for their bountiful yearly gifts, either.
Next comes the actual pre-planning of when to rake so the town can collect the leaves. Just like any other celebration, leaf raking requires preparation, and in order for it to be a wonderfully remembered event, all the little details need to be attended to before the big day. Between Mother Nature and the local paper, I can determine when our leaves will be picked up, and then I can begin to plan when to start to rake. (Luckily, we don’t have to bag our leaves where we live…that would add another whole layer of planning!) Raking before rain or snow hits is extremely important. Nothing breaks the blissful leaf raking spirit than soggy leaves that have been left too long to create mold on the underlying grass. Personally, I like to savor this holiday, much like you savor a delicious piece of chocolate or dessert, and do a little raking at a time. My husband, on the other hand, likes to wait until all the leaves have fallen before participating. But this type of thinking leads to wet leaves, colder temperatures, and generally a longer celebration. Every once in a while, praying for strong winds to blow some of the leaves out of my own yard and into the neighbor’s crosses my mind when planning for the upcoming leaf raking day. But this type of prayer always back fires. Mother Nature somehow works it out with God to make the wind blow the neighbor’s leaves back into my yard, so I strongly advise not wasting your prayers on this self-serving invocation.
Then comes the actual day of leaf raking. Hallelujah! We’ve been waiting and waiting with our rakes in hand for this sacred day for months! Dressed in our fall raking clothes, hats, and gloves, I want to get the holiday festivities underway as soon as possible, much to my football-loving husband’s disappointment. He’d rather stay inside and watch the 500 football games on television instead extracting the million or so leaves that we have out from under every bush and hasta plant, between the fence, and under the patio furniture.
It’s usually on a Saturday morning when we celebrate leaf raking together, and if we’re lucky, it is a sunny one. Gathering up the holiday tools like the tarp, the blower, rakes, and electrical cord isn’t too much of a hassle, but it is at this point where celebrating this joyous event takes a drastic turn for the worse. No matter how much planning or work that is done in advance, there is always anger and bitterness that comes instead of rejoicing in Mother Nature’s leaf raking ceremony.
On the days when the leaves are dry and brittle, it is pleasurable to rake if my husband and I show up with the right attitude. But adding one little change to the environment, like a whipping wind for instance, our attitude shifts very quickly, giving just the right spark to light our short fuses. I hear Mother Nature’s silent laugh as the wind continues to howl, causing the tarp not to want to be placed on the ground and the leaves to exit quickly from where they were placed. Of course, this stressful situtation forces us to speak to each other in flamboyant language, bringing unexpected color and excited gestures to the experience. These words cause a rift to rise between us, completely changing the festive tone of the event from delight to dread.
Aside from the wind whipping issue, our own ideas of how to appreciate this particular holiday to its fullest potential often cloud our pleasure. Take this common scenario: my husband wants to lug the leaf-filled tarp one way, and I want to go another way and I wonder aloud in a sharp and fiery tone, “Why are you going thatway?” This ignites some anger and makes my husband, the lead person on the tarp, to walk faster, thus pulling the tarp in such a manner that I lose my grip on the tarp. Leaves tumble out, creating another pile needing to be raked and extending the anger jamboree.
Another common issue is that my husband walks faster than me, so I can’t keep up, and I literally have to run with the tarp in hand to the curb without tripping. As you can imagine, I do trip, and more colorful words ensue between the two of us as leaves continue to tumble out of the tarp.
Pace also impacts our raking. Typically, my husband rakes more quickly and thoroughly than I do. And because of this, we are often in competition with each other to get the leaves done our own way. I’d rather take lighter trips with the tarp to the curb whereas my husband would rather fill it so it weighs as much as a blue whale and then drag me behind, tripping and cursing. Clearly, our pace and viewpoints are no match for the glory in leaf raking.
Then the blower or rakes get misplaced, seemingly miles away from the actual leaves, making it more tiresome to retrieve these items after each turn-over of the tarp. Or one wants to use the blower instead of the rake, or both of us want the blower, and the other is putting the tarp too far away from the leaf pile or heaven forbid, ON TOP OF some leaves! The emotions overflow for hours during this holiday affair, and we are both are thankful once the nightmare of leaf raking is finally over.
The tools are slowly returned to the garage, and the merriment is over until next year. The yard still has leaves that have been missed and will have to wait until spring, because by this point, I don’t really care if every leaf hasn’t made it to the curb. I just want to sit down and watch the 5o0 football games we missed.
When you are living with a chronic illness, even every day tasks require pre-planning and thought…and just that thought ALONE can send one running back under the covers.
Here are 5 ways to make managing the holidays a bit easier and hopefully more enjoyable.
DIVIDE AND CONQUER
After having a bickering weekend recently, fueled only by my OWN issues with worrying about getting housework done, I started defining small weekly tasks on my calendar, like laundry, ordering groceries (see SHOP SMARTER below), dusting and vacuuming, and bathrooms. Each night is designated for ONE task so that my weekend isn’t consumed by cleaning. Tuesdays I’m not home until 7 pm, so that night I give myself a break from a chore, but the rest of the week is planned out. AND FOR ME, IT ACTUALLY WORKED! Sunday was indeed a day of rest, so I am sticking to my pre-planning habit through the holidays.
I like to be in control of things in my home, but found that I need to get better at doling out tasks for my family members to do to help around the house so I’m not feeling like the sole worker bee. My husband is great with cooking for me–he’s the grill master, for sure, so he will grill up meat for me over the weekend for my lunches for the upcoming week. And he’s learned how to make my tea, so he’ll put a pot on for me if he sees the kettle out. And my ten-year old can easily vacuum the stairs with a hand vac and organize the couch pillows if I let her know.
There’s nothing wrong with asking for help and sharing the load–many hands make light work, right?
SHOP SMARTER, NOT HARDER
I discovered that I could order my groceries online several years ago, and this has been quite the weekly lifesaver! I can either have them delivered or pick them up, depending on which store I shop at. I mostly order non-perishables and things like milk and eggs; meat and veggies we get elsewhere. But truly, this is the BEST WAYto get my grocery shopping done without having to fight aisle antics, crying children, and blinking lights that signal coupon issues at the checkout.
I also shop for many of my holiday gifts online and have them delivered to me at work. It’s wonderful since I can get my goodies without having to worry about them being left on the front porch in the bad weather. I can also squirrel things away from my husband and daughter.
Shopping smarter can really pay off in terms of your sanity. Two years ago, I went out on Black Friday to a local chain store near my home. The line to pay literally went down to the back of the store, and as much as I wanted the few items I selected, they didn’t warrant me standing in line for hours. So, I snapped a few photos of the items and their UPC codes on my phone, then went home and ordered them online. I received the same deals –and with free shipping–without having to wait in line!
That was a magical moment!
SANTA’S LIST ISN’T JUST FOR HIM
We have a very large extended family, and add in the kindly neighbor, the classroom teacher, the dance teacher, the bus driver… it’s plain to see, the holidays can become very expensive very quickly!
I create a holiday table in Word on my computer each year, and I don’t necessarily delineate dollar amounts per person–that seems a little too Scrooge for me– but I do itemize who I’m giving to and try to get some shopping done early prior to December so I’m not scrambling for money or gifts.
Since I do this each year, I can look back to see what I’ve given and not repeat the same gift. I also try to avoid the same candle/mug/tie gift.
Truly, who really needs another Santa mug or holiday tie?
SHOP OUTSIDE OF THE BOX
This year, if I do venture out of my home to shop, I’m going local to shop to support ‘the little guy or gal’. I’ve got plans to go to a local book sale at a library near the town I grew up in over the Thanksgiving weekend. They held a similar event over the summer, and I found some wonderful reading treasures there for myself. I’m going to try it out and see how many family members I can surprise with a literary gift this year. It shouldn’t break the bank, and I’m glad to be supporting library events instead of a CEO’s wallet.
I’m also going to gift the gift of my time this year. My sisters and I are planning on getting together with our kids over the winter break and do something together instead of the usual present in a box that never gets seen again. I’d rather create some memories that will leave a lasting impression.
I married my husband on July 21, 2001, when I was 31 years old.
We had met when I was 26, and three years later, became engaged. We had a 2-year engagement, where we saved to pay for both our wedding and honeymoon. I remember writing that check to the restaurant for the reception…it was painful to see that money one minute and hand it over in the next, but what a fun night we had!
He is the youngest of ten, so we had a very large wedding party with his five brothers, my three sisters and brother, a girlfriend of mine, and a niece and nephew as flower girl and ring bearer.
We were married in the Protestant church I grew up in, and we also had a priest officiating, to represent both of our faiths.
Chris and I love a good party, so we planned our reception to be fun. Once in a while, I hear a comment about how much fun our wedding was—as well as how much food was there! We had picked a local restaurant for our reception, and although Chris and I didn’t get to eat that night, we knew our guests would be satisfied with the several course dinner.
We had hired a DJ and because we had different generations of people attending, we tried to select dancing music that everyone could enjoy. Chris and I danced to Frank Sinatra’s “The Way You Look Tonight”, which was about as slow as it got that night! And our cake cutting song was Stevie Ray Vaughn’s “Pride and Joy”. I can’t remember what the entrance songs were at the reception, but I am sure they were just as upbeat and jazzy.
Over the years, I’ve come to learn about and enjoy many different traditions from my husband’s family. Christmas Eve was the first tradition that I experienced and we continue to enjoy every year. We’ve hosted it a few times, and it’s just a big party overloaded on family, food, and gifts!
When I was pregnant with my daughter, my husband’s family had a baby shower for me, complete with a cookie tray and a beautiful stork that was made by my father in law and had graced the family baby showers over the years.
When my daughter was Sophia christened, my mother made her Christening gown, and she was able to wear a baby Christening ring that has been in my husband’s family for generations.
This past weekend, we went to a family gathering that allowed me to be part of yet another family tradition. A nephew on my husband’s side had gotten married this past February out in California, and his parents held a summer reception at their home here in Connecticut. It was a big party, complete with a tent, white tablecloths, and catered food.
But what was really special for me were the cookies that his aunts and myself made for dessert.
One of my sister-in-laws organized our baking a few weeks ago, and when the seven of us were done, the tray that was made would be the pride of any upstanding Italian wedding! It had anginettes, layered cookies, two kinds of biscotti, raspberry bars, peanut butter and chocolate cookies, chocolate anisette balls, linzer strips, almonds, and little chocolate kisses interspersed.
I couldn’t attend the building of the tray due to an upset stomach, but I was able to see the final product when it arrived at the party house. What a beautiful tray! I was glad that I was able to bake and participate in the cookie tray event. It was a special tradition, that I hope we aunties continue to do, over the next generation of weddings and showers.
I wish my nephew and his now six-month bride a wonderful life full of great memories, happy days, and yummy cookies!
If you are a sports fan, you may be envisioning a football conference right now, or the number of your favorite player’s jersey.
For me, it reminds me of my daughter’s upcoming birthday in a few days. We’ve been planning for a few weeks now, and this morning on my bike ride, it hit me that this will probably be the last birthday that will be more ‘kid oriented’. I’m a Kindergarten teacher by profession, and I LOVE to use my creativity for projects and activities. So every year, celebrating my daughter’s birthday has been an extension of my classroom, allowing me to have fun decorating and planning ‘birthday fun’ for her and her friends to experience at home.
A few times, we did her party outside of our home. Last year, we held it at a popular kid’s nail salon at her request. It turned into a bad scene the next day when on of the girls had a skin burn appear across her fingers. Imagine those phone calls! We finally determined it was a reaction due to the chemicals that were used to clean the tables. (Anyone in my area want to know the name of the salon, let me know.) Needless to say, this unexpected event further supported my view of having house parties for birthdays.
To me, being at home to celebrate life events is a nice memory to look back on. Sure, it’s a lot of prep work to clean and organize beforehand, but it’s all part of the party process. In the end, I’d rather have the cake and candles blown out in the comfort of my own home, surrounded by the people we love.
This year, my daughter is having a Star Wars themed party. It’s been a big to-do as far as planning. My husband, a fabulous graphic artist, made an extraordinary invitation that would put any self-respecting Pintrest parent to shame. I admit, I have been using that website, that sometimes makes me feel like a creative failure at times, to find some cool project ideas. While many are from parents of younger Jedi warriors, we found some pretty good ones for the older crowd. All the party goers have been instructed to wear their best intergalactic gear on party day, and her aunt is making her costume. And my husband has a few surprises in store, too!
I’m looking forward to this party, even though it is a gateway to my daughter’s teen years. I hope her friends will enjoy it, and I hope my daughter remembers all the fun we had getting ready for The Big Ten celebration.
I love jewelry. Not costume jewelry, but family jewelry. I love a little glitz and glam on my fingers or hanging from my ears or wrists or neck. But what I love even more that the sparkle and twinkle is the family connection behind the jewels that I wear.
When I wear a piece of jewelry that belonged to a family member, I feel as if it’s a deep connection to that person who is no longer here physically. It’s a small measure that I take pride in doing by the wearing the jewels of their life.
When my daughter was christened, my husband’s family had a christening ring that had been worn by every baby in his family since his oldest sister, who is now in her sixties, was born. He is youngest of ten, and I believe that ring was even worn by his father when he was christened. Truly, it is a family treasure, and I loved that my daughter was able to be a part of such a rich family tradition. We have a beautiful picture of her with the little diamond gold band around a tiny finger, a length of ribbon secured through it to her dress as well.
The first pair of grown-up earrings I ever received were a gift from my mother when I turned 13. They are little gold triangles with diamond chips in them. Not very flamboyant, but I treasured those earrings and still have them. She also gave me a pretty amethyst and gold bracelet from an antique shop as a birthday gift one year when I was growing up, and still another beautiful garnet pendant another year. I love these pieces because they are not traditional, and I wonder about the women who wore them before me. I wear them often and people will comment on them I because they are so different.
My husband just recently had a charm bracelet put together for me of with various charms that I have collected over the years. He had given the bracelet to me early on in our relationship, and now, almost 20 years later, I finally have it adorned with various charms from two of my grandmothers, my mother, and his mother. All of these women have passed on, but I treasure having the bracelet to wear to keep them close to me.
I also have beautiful pieces from Italy. My mother in law went years ago, and brought me back a pair of gold hoop earrings that I love and wear almost every day. My husband and I also went four years ago, and I purchased two pairs of earrings that just scream “Renaissance” at me. I just adore them and but even more than the earrings, I relish in the stories of the women that could be behind them.
I’m in love with pieces that belonged to both my mother and grandmother that have been graciously given to me to keep. A cameo pin that I put on a chain, a gold and pearl bracelet, and many pairs of stud earrings are a few of my favorites. I also have several cocktail rings that belonged to my grandmother. One is a stunning garnet ring that I wear with my garnet pendant. It’s almost like the two pieces were meant to be together.
I also have been wearing two rings on my right hand, one, which was my mother’s, and the other which was my mother in law’s. While I would rather both women be here right now to share in my life with my husband and daughter, I am thankful that I have these pieces to keep their lives close and remembered each time I wear them.
What special objects in your life keep you connected to loved ones?
As a Kindergarten teacher, my job and my students’ interests really made me aware of gender roles, biases, and stereotypes that children are blatantly and inadvertently exposed to from the minute they are born. I had boy scholars who liked pink and dressing up in a Dorothy/ Wizard of Oz dress in the house corner. And girl scholars who liked building with blocks and zooming cars in the car center.
We all fall victim to the pink/blue stereotype at one point or another in our lives. When we hear of an expectant mother, we get all giddy and bubbly, rushing out to buy pink clothes for girls, blue ones for boys. We decorate our kids’ rooms in sex-delineated colors or other gender conforming details like flowers or race cars or Disney princesses. It’s a big marketing scheme by Babies R Us and every other American family friendly company, because babies are naturally cuddly and lovely. Why wouldn’t we want all pastels and police cars to subliminally point out the ‘correct’ way to be a girtl or a boy, while our children are sleeping, living, and growing up in that bedroom? But the question I pose is: why do we?
When I became pregnant, I purposely found out we were having a girl for several reasons. One, I really wanted to know right away. Two, we had a large extended family on both sides, and I just thought it would be easier for people to know what sex to buy for when making purchases. And three: it made it easier to decorate her bedroom. Which, by the way, we painted YELLOW… and did a farm theme. Not very girly, I know.
I am not a fancy Crate and Barrel “pink is for girls and blue is for boys” type of Mom. I’m more like a “pink and blue is for everyone” type of Mom. I’m the mom who tried early on to expose my daughter to all kinds of great things for both “boys” and “girls”. I didn’t want my daughter to be pegged as a “girl”, but rather as a person who accepts and enjoys all things, regardless if our society labels things for “boys” or “girls”. As far as I can see, it’s working. And I’m proud of that fact.
I sang Carole King and patriotic songs to my daughter as a baby. Her first book that she ever really loved on her own before she was even a year old was a Blues Clues book. She still loves the color blue to this day. We read books and sand songs every day. Stories like Big Blue Truck, Goodnight Moon, Peter Rabbit, and George and Martha were commonplace and enjoyed multiple times. As she got older, she loved the Greek Myths, and more recently, she enjoys Nancy Drew, Heidi Hecklebeck, and Judy Moody, and this summer, we are reading Harry Potter together.
As a toddler, she played with dinosaurs (given to us by her aunt who raised two boys) and blocks as well as baby dolls and all of their accessories. She still has a bazillion stuffed animals that she sleeps with at night, including her Layla and her taggy blanket , which she received in the early months of her life.
When she was in preschool, a co-worker of mine was getting rid of an old McDonald’s play stand, complete with an apron, a pretend headset, and food. She LOVED to dress up and take our orders, writing things down and fixing the trays of food. She played that game for years, and especially when family members came over! It was a joy to see her take control and transform into Diana or Melissa. Her best friend at the time was a boy, and yet, she still enjoyed painting at the easel and dressing up in the house corner at school, which we typically think as “girl” activities. And her favorite television show at the time? Caillou, the one about the whiney bald boy who had to learn life lessons like sharing and being kind to friends. Yep. We sat through hours of that annoying show.
My husband would teach her “boy” things, like soccer and football. When she turned 8, we got her a basketball hoop that we put together after 4 hours of frustration. Her favorite outfits continue to be yoga pants and sneakers with a little sweat jacket for the winter and lined sport shorts and tank tops for the summer. She does like to get dolled up and have her nails done for special occasions or holidays, but she often sides with comfort instead of “looking pretty” for every day activities. I try to encourage wearing leggings and a cute skirt to school, or make requests to do her hair, longing for the days when she was younger and I could put her in cute little dresses and a hair clip, making her curls cascade on either side of her face. She refuses to be prettied up by me, adamant that a quick pony tail with not all the hair neatly combed in place is just fine. She is independent and confident in herself that she doesn’t need to showcase herself as ‘pretty’ every day to be happy. A clear defiant message both to me and the media, who finger point the way for women and girls to dress and make them selves up to look like Barbie dolls and not be comfortable in their own skin.
Her best friends are now girls, but even within the circle of her friends, she’s exposed to both ‘”boy” and “girl” themes. She takes dance and piano, but she also decided to play the saxophone at school this year, and she is the only girl in her grade level to do so. While many of her friends and even cousins were exposed to Star Wars years ago, she now LOVES it, and we are in the middle of planning an intergalactic 10th birthday party for her. It took a long time for my husband to convince her to watch it, since her favorite shows were and continue to be My Little Pony and Littlest Pet Shop, which are definitely geared towards a more feminine audience. To me, Star Wars seems like such a “boy” story, and yet, it has such universal themes for everyone. My own viewpoint about this classic story just shows how my own stereotypes have shaped my thinking, even though I try not to be stereotypical in what I expose my daughter to. And I am glad that both my husband and I are giving her the best of both sexes in her development.
When we paint the stark canvas of “boy” and “girl” in front of our children to study and model from, they develop a very static mindset that closes them off to avenues of learning and enjoyment. One of her cousins was asking me the other day about birthday gift ideas my daughter. I told her Barbie furniture for the doll house she created out of a bookshelf in her room and Pokémon cards. “Wow! Such a variety!” she texted.
Yes, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
How do you teach your children to be a part of both sexes?
I grew the second eldest of five children in a middle class home. I wasn’t a sickly child, and my parents made sure I ate right and went to the doctor’s when I needed to for appointments, or if I became ill.
As a teenager, I got a job working in a health food store. I wasn’t really a big health food nut, but I liked the atmosphere of the store, my boss and the people that worked there were wonderful to me, and I did purchase some of the products. I loved the Martinelli’s apple juice, it’s golden nectar housed in glass apple-shaped bottles. I’d purchase Xylitol gum, carob coated goodies, or nuts to chomp on. Some of the product names like Kiss My face and Nature’s Way enticed me , but I never really purchased personal products. There were many regular costumers who would buy all sorts of vitamins and organic food products at that store, and the owner and many of the employees had specific expertise well beyond my sixteen years.
The worst medical issue I ran into as an adult was developing gestational diabetes with the pregnancy of my daughter, and even that was managed with insulin and then pills afterwards.
This past December, however, my life and health took a spiral downward when I developed severe joint and muscle pain and was treated for Lyme for one month with Doxycycline.
I initiated numerous doctors’ visits with specialized doctors–a rheumatologist, a neurologist, and two infectious disease doctors–because I wasn’t happy with the minimal level of my improvement with each passing week. Each doctor gave me a different diagnosis ranging from “It’s Fibromyalgia. Take this Lyrica.” to “You just have to wait and see.” to “We don’t know what is causing your symptoms. Just eat right and exercise.” My insurance was paying for these vague or totally off-base diagnoses. Frustrated, I’d basically hit a plateau, and I wasn’t back to normal. I was out of work, tired, and in pain. And yet no one in the mainstream medical community seemed to really want to help me. If their hands were tied, they weren’t telling me. I was left scratching my head and searching for answers elsewhere.
In March, I’d found a naturopath and a dietician who really assisted me more than the prescribed antibiotic treatment, and yet, I was still experiencing fatigue and pain that was directly influenced by what I consumed. It wasn’t enough for me to just have some good days and some bad days. Prior to this happening, I had a strong teaching career with an active family life. All that changed with Lyme, and I was merely a shell of who I used to be within a matter of weeks. I wanted to get back to my normal, active self. And yet, even with the supportive help of my naturopath and dietician,it seemed like such a far reach to get there.
In my graduate school days, we learned about synchronicities in life. The idea that ‘things happen for a reason’ and the experiences you have that seem like coincidence all lead you down a path that you may never have expected or planned. Call it fate, God Winks, signs, whatever. I’ve experienced many of these synchronicities since my Lyme adventure began in December, leading me to new ways of thinking about my health and medical care.
My most recent new learning has come from a place called Holistic Wellness Alternatives in Yorktown Heights, New York.
I was led to this place by my husband and a chance conversation with a recent acquaintance. He was speaking this man about my recent issues with Lyme. This man in turn shared about his friend’s success as a client of Holistic Wellness. This particular cancer survivor experienced wonderful results from Dan Court, the owner and practitioner, so I called and made an appointment.
After speaking with the client liaison who had been misdiagnosed Lyme for four years and now WORKS at the place, I figured with yet another coincidence, it’d be worth a try. But it wasn’t without its glitches; they rescheduled 3 times! Dan had injured his ankle and his orthopedic had very limited hours. By the third phone call, I was feeling a little desperate to get there and experience some of his all natural magic. At least the last call was just to make the time later on my scheduled day.
The office is an hour and a half away from my home in Connecticut. I drove down the Merritt Parkway all the way and almost had a panic attack when I saw the sign for the Tappan Zee bridge! I hate going over bridges if I am driving. Thankfully, my faithful companion, my GPS, directed me to get off the exit before the bridge. While my appointment was scheduled for 1 1/2 hours, Dan spent 2 1/2 hours with me. It was a pretty unique and eye-opening experience.
I had completed several forms for the appointment that were analyzed by a computer, and we spoke for at least an hour about my issues, the practice, and Western Medicine versus Indian and Chinese medicine. Based on my paperwork, I was having issues with my sugar handling (no surprise there!), my endocrine system and my liver. After discussing my test results, he performed a muscle test, which is based on Chinese medicine. It is designed to test the energy levels in the body to see the strength and weaknesses of the organs. Dan also uses muscle testing to determine what compounds are useful or not useful to the body. It was very unconventional in comparison to what I am used to experiencing at the doctors who practice “Western Medicine”. I wouldn’t have believed what was happening if I hadn’t experienced it myself!
To start the test, I lay down on a table and lifted my right arm, pressing it gently against his left arm. He was pressing and tapping against the muscle of my extended arm, and with his right hand, he was pressing against my organs. If my arm went down, it meant the organ was weak, if it stayed up, the organ was strong. When he got to my stomach, he said, “OH!!” as my arm went down. It was so freaky! ( I had told him earlier that my stomach seemed to be the only organ I wasn’t having trouble with…I guess I was wrong!)
He then put little vials of different compounds, minerals, and toxins on my stomach to test my body’s reaction. Again, with different bottles, my body reacted and my arm would either stay stiff or fall down. With a particular one, Actonex, I could actually feel my stomach muscles getting tighter with the vial resting there on my stomach. It was so wild! And my stomach still remained tight several minutes afterwards.
So, after 2 1/2 hours, I walked out of there with three additional supplements to try for my issues with sugar, endocrine system, and liver, and another appointment scheduled for June.
It will be very interesting to see what happens at the next appointment. And I’m looking forward to it.
Maybe I’ll learn something new that continues to challenge my thoughts about medicine and holistic care.