I Can’t Write About Spain

I want to write about how amazing last week’s trip to Spain was. Because truly, it was wonderful. I needed that change of scenery. I needed to get away from the stress of day-to-day life. David and I badly needed that time together to be a couple and not caregivers. We got that in Spain and it was lovely. It was so very worth it!

Some day, we’ll go back.

We had a whole week abroad free of worry (for the most part). And I wish I could say that I feel refreshed after that change of scenery, but I don’t. I know I should feel happy – my soul renewed and inspired – and I should be ready to tackle everything all over again. I feel conflicted instead of happy. Less than a day back and the blanket of depression I’d tried to leave behind me when I got on the plane to Madrid enveloped me all over again. Every time I’m asked how Spain was, I say, “it was…good.”

Spain was awesome.

On the other hand, I was not awesome; therefore Spain was…a mixed bag.

I just want to forget the less wonderful things, but I can’t. I’m stuck.

I spent a lot of the week battling a nasty cold that seems to have turned into a sinus infection. I dealt with insomnia (which hit at different times than my husband’s insomnia). Half the time I longed for the comfort of my own bed and an ability to recover from my cold without missing out on a whole world outside the hotel. I was so overwhelmed by many of the wondrous things we saw and yet I lacked interest in other things that I usually would enjoy. I had very little appetite to take full advantage of the foods and wines I had been looking forward to trying. I was so out of it by the end of the trip that I accidentally forgot a painting we had bought in Seville in the hotel lobby before we left on a train back to Madrid. Then on our last night in Spain, David and I argued, my debit card was eaten by an ATM, and I woke up in the middle of the night with a debilitating migraine that had David looking up the cost of medical care for tourists.

There was a lot of bad. It wasn’t all bad and in fact I felt mostly relaxed while in Spain, but there was enough bad to reinforce the feeling that the universe continues to punish me for something that I’m not even aware of doing.

That’s ridiculous, I know. This is life and there are good things and bad things and if I could just remember to think more about those good things than the bad things, I could be a much happier person.

I want to focus on the good. I want to write pages and pages about the magical town of Sevilla and the sheer awesomeness of the architectural details we saw everywhere in Spain. I want to offer recommendations for places to try for tapas and let you know that Spanish in Spain is different than Mexican Spanish. I have lists to share – of American things we’d miss if we ever moved to Spain and things that Spain does better than America. I have nearly four hundred pictures to show off, many of which only offer hints of how mind-blowing everything was and really need some narration!

But I’m depressed. I’m still sick and I had another migraine last night. And it’s December, which has traditionally been a terribly hard month for me anyway.

So instead of writing about Spain, I wrote this.

I’m sorry.

When Self-Care Comes In Second

Jack is back to school! It’s his second week, in fact. And it’s his fifth day making it to class. Yesterday was picture day and he was told by the photographer that he looked like Harry Potter, which made him very happy.

Antibiotics are done and chemo has restarted. As of Sunday Jack’s ANC was an outstanding 1296! All very good things. Whew, we can breathe again.

Life is back to what is ‘normal’ for us, which means it’s catch up time.

Now that things are moving again and we’ve returned to our regularly scheduled life, fatigue and stress are hitting me hard. I can function like nobody’s business when in the middle of a crisis but as soon as it’s contained, I need to sleep for a month! I wish it wasn’t this way – I wish I had been able to rest more while we sat in the hospital room doing a bunch of nothing. But when I napped, I had nightmares.

So ever since we came home from the hospital, I’ve been caught between needing very badly to get some rest and downtime, and stressing out about that rest getting in the way of catching up on all the things I couldn’t do during that week in the hospital. Mostly that’s a lot of paperwork, bill paying, laundry, and house cleaning. Oh and my job. But there is a big chunk of it that is taking care of myself and also getting time with my husband, things that always seem to get pushed behind everything else.

I’m tired, I’m overwhelmed, and I’m in desperate need of both time alone and time with my husband. And I’m depressed because I can’t see any way around this pile of ickiness.  I just have to go through it.

Family leave should include two parts – the part where you take care of your family, and then the part where you recover from taking care of your family. Where’s the downtime for the caregiver?

I know it’s only a matter of time before I feel like things are okay again. I’ll be able to look on the bright side more readily and I will feel less irritated by things that aren’t going smoothly. Maybe I’ll even be able to blog properly.

Of course, if you hear I’ve run off without a word to anyone, it’s likely I’ve found a very deep hole to hibernate in until the storm in my head has passed. I’ll come out in my own time.

Maybe.

Summer Hibernation

I’m working on stress relief this summer. So far it’s going well. I’m taking a multi-pronged approach and I’m already feeling much more like my old self.

I like to call this my “summer hibernation.”

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Firstly, inspired by Jack’s love of drawing, I’ve picked up the meditative art of zentangle. It’s super easy to start and you don’t have to be ANY good at drawing – it’s all dots and lines. In fact, I have the hand tremor of an arthritic old crone and I’m still able to do this:

Zentangling helps quiet my mind when my thoughts are racing and I’m feeling anxious. And it gets me off of my iPhone when Jack wants me to sit with him while he draws. The repetitive motions are soothing to me and unlike the glare of a laptop or smartphone, paper and pen don’t glow and overstimulate me or bother my eyes.

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I’m catching up on television shows that everyone else has already seen – we just finished season 2 of Homeland and are about to start Shameless from the beginning. In between that we’ve been catching some comedy through Amazon Prime (Zach Galifianakas and Bill Burr). Jack recently introduced me to Dr. Who so I’ve been checking that out (we started off with the 11th doctor and he is my favorite right now!).

We’ve gone to the movies quite a bit. We’ve taken Jack to see Monsters University, Epic, and Despicable Me 2 (Monsters U was the best of those, IMO). David and I went and saw World War Z, as well, although I wouldn’t call that relaxing in the least. We came out of that theater feeling like we need to build a bunker ASAP!

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We attended High Sierra Music Festival over the Independence Day weekend. That involved camping, swimming, eating, and seeing a crapload of musicians perform LIVE – including the very epic Robert Plant! My new favorite performer is Sarah Jarosz (we got to watch her perform with just her guitar in an “MTV Unplugged” type performance at a late night session). This song is breathtaking live:

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I bought a Groupon for my husband and me to receive three massages each. We’ve both gone once so far and it was definitely the right choice! Two more sessions should help oust what’s left of last year’s balled up tension.

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I’m being conservative with social plans, too. Usually when Jack goes to his dad’s (during the school year it’s on weekends, during summer he goes on weekdays) I tend to get all the ‘fun’ in but I’m slowing down and taking it easy. I’m allowing myself to be a bit anti-social so that I can recharge before the summer break ends. I love people so much, but they tend to wear me out. (It might surprise some of you to know that I’m on the introverted side.)

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Other than that, it’s certainly helped my stress level that I’ve been able to focus on getting caught up (and ahead!) at work during the week since Jack is with his dad. Our debts are finally getting under control a year after we bought our house, which also takes a huge load off! Maybe soon we’ll even be able to decorate the place.

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School starts in a little over a month. Until then I think I’ll keep hanging out in my cave.

What are you up to this summer?

Hair for moms

I snuck out to the hair salon on Sunday.  It had been a somewhat frustrating day with Jack refusing to nap (he went the whole day without napping!), and at one point I just decided I need to get out.  I called up the salon and within 10 minutes they were chopping away at my hair.

The thing is, I was not prepared ahead of time.  I had no pictures of what I wanted and my hair had not been cut in a year, so there was no recognizable style for the stylist to touch up.  I did my best to describe what I wanted and she assured me she knew what I had in mind.  I sat back, relaxed, chatted about my little boy, and entrusted her with my hair.  Perhaps I should have talked less about my kid, ’cause in the end I got Mom Hair.

The stylist did a good job considering that I had no picture and basically told her “I want it this length with fringed ends, layered a little bit.”  Yeah, that can mean so many things…so she just missed the mark.  And not only is it Mom Hair, but it’s shaped a bit like a mushroom.

I understand now why moms so often end up with Mom Hair.  You are pressed for time when you’re a parent.  You don’t have the luxury of planning ahead when it comes to your own needs.  It’s harder to make an appointment, harder to find time to search through magazines and websites for the perfect style, harder to speak up when you realize the cut isn’t quite what you wanted because you need to get back home to your family and just want it to be over soon.  And you hope that when you style it (ha ha ha, that is if you have TIME to style it) the cut will look better than the overly-fluffy, curled under look you are showcasing when you head home.  A day later and you realize you really don’t like it but, ugh, it took a year to get into the damned salon and no way do you have time to go back and get it fixed.

Mom Hair – it’s not the hair you want, but the hair you have time for.