Friday, July 17, 2015

Where's Mellie?

You know those Where's Wally books where you need to find Wally in a crowd and at some point your critter draws a circle around the Wally so the book is only good for recycling?  Well I feel a bit like ol' Wally on a page of so much detail that no one can find me.  I feel like I am neglecting my mom, my sisters and my friends and this holiday I was looking so forward to, got swallowed up by studying work and training. 

So let me break it down into pages.  Page 1 is my training for my Ironman 70.3 race which is in 15 more sleeps.  Training through the winter is not for sissies and trying to stay healthy and injury free a constant worry.  I think the way I felt after not finishing my race in East London this year was pretty apparent.  It was a massive emotional and psychological kick in the teeth for me but like all of the really tough shit we go through, wisdom and perspective eventually gained was huge.  At the time I felt like a total failure and I felt deserted by the God I wanted to show off.  I had worked so very hard and trusted so very much.  When I look back now I do see God's hand in it and I stand amazed at myself to come out of a severe hyperthermic state and start the bike 30 minutes later with my body at just 35 degrees and last out of 3000 people.  The 1st 7kms the only person in sight.  I remember the broken people at the side of the road crying knowing that they were never going to make cut off and cycling past them.  I would finish on my own terms and I would cycle that whole damn 90kms.  Now for this race I have that under my belt.  Risking such massive disappointment again is huge and scary and the what ifs are there.  But how can I not?  I want that medal and I want to finish what I started.  I only started the new training program 4 weeks ago and it has been intense.  I am looking forward to being a normal person that exercises 5 to 6 single sessions a week. 

Dilbert my Dystonia.  Ah what a chop he is.  I hate him a whole lot.  My parents used to say we may not say hate but dislike is too bland.  Next month is the 3 year mark and it is somehow randomly significant.  When it first started I did not think I could do one more day.  Now I have done over 1000 days.  Some are good ones and some are so painful which makes speech so difficult.  The meds I took initially when I tried everything landed up making it worse and some of them made me so suicidal.  I did not talk about it as blog posts on: ''I want to die, every day I want to die'' seem a little bleak. I mailed someone who I thought was a friend who had battled depression himself and he said he would get back to me and he never did.  I spoke about some pretty black stuff and shared my vulnerabilities, I even regretted pressing send but it seems he didn't actually give a crap so it was all good.  I have had to forgive him but I will never trust him and I know he is not my friend at all.  The upper jaw clenching started later and damaged the nerves to my ear and gave me horrible toothache.  The botox helped loads and is only wearing off now.  August 11th I get my next shots. I have learned to live with Dilbert, hope junkie will always hope it goes away or they find a cure but for now its OK.

My studies...Remember when I wanted to quit.  How I just couldn't face doing another 2 years on top of my 4 years?  Well something happened as the theory became more practical and we had to visit various NGOs. I was renewed and refreshed and remembered why I started studying social work in the 1st place.  God has blessed me with the gift of leadership, of organizational skills and of compassion.  When I put these all together with the right training I know I can do some great work in my community.  I have found the place where I am going to do my prac and I am so excited it makes my heart race.  I know it will be tough and sad and not glamorous but it is a great fit.  A safe haven for kids, 20 boys aged 8 to 18 who live there permanently and girls who come during the day for a meal or a bath or to do washing or homework.  Maybe one day a place for the girls can be created.  I want to work with families and kids so this is right up my ally.  My supervisor social worker there seems like a great guy who also studied through Unisa so he gets it.  I am TOTALLY amped which is why doing all my assignments this holiday has been just fine.

Lastly my God.  This should be a whole separate post but I have too much work coming up to take time to blog. It has been good and bad as I have discovered there are thousands of left wing Christians out there just like me.  People who are reluctant to even call themselves Christians based on the massive hurt and destruction the right wing Christians have done.  We don't want to be put in the same category.  I know some question my relationship, my faith, my belief system.  Questions are good.  I do not have all the answers.  I just don't know a whole bunch of stuff but neither does anyone else have all the answers.  I am not going to tell anyone their beliefs are wrong.  Their interpretation of God is wrong.  I am not going to decide who gets into heaven.  I am certainly not going to say who is worthy but I am going to follow the greatest commandment of them all.  Well I am going to try my best.  I will love you God, with all my heart and all my soul and all my might and I will love my neighbour (might not like them) as I love myself.  I will not mistreat them or deny them any basic rights like who they can marry or love or live or work or whether they become parents or not.  Cherry picking from the bible?  Disobedience to God's word?  Yes I have heard them all but I am the eternal sentimental romantic so for me it has to come down to love and my gut.  I follow the heart of God.  Had Jesus followed the law at the time and not the heart of the father we would not have a new testament and the prozzies and the sick and the so called scumbags of the time would have never known this Jesus that I follow.  It does leave me feeling alone and not sure if I can still go to church as I do not have the option of churches like they have in the US that are openly gay friendly.  I love my church and I love the people but I almost feel like that silent bully who stands by on the outside doing and saying nothing if I go.  Like I condone the refusal of equal rights for all.  Only lefties who love Jesus would understand.  So at aged 44 after being a Christian for almost 16 years I have come right back to the place I started.  Knowing nothing except divine unconditional love and acceptance and that feeling of fuzzy safe warmth untainted by anyone elses opinion or interpretation.  Its delicious!   

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Happy Birthday Sofielicious!

Eleven?!  Say it isn't so.  Every birthday I want to freeze time and keep you little, you are growing up way too fast.  Our baby of our family, our Sofie, Sofia, Bliksie, Monkey.  Our Sofielicious. 

You and Daniel share many similar qualities and the one I admire the most is your refusal to bend to peer pressure.  That means you don't care if every girl is wearing blue, if you like purple then that's what YOU choose to wear.  You do what your own self and heart tells you to do and that is something that very few people get right, especially at 11.  The other day when I looked at your school book and loved how you used every single colour you told me how you were not allowed to.  You were only allowed to use grey and  you me many times teacher told you so but you love colour so colour it is.  Loose hair on civvies day and henna tattoos that have all your friends telling you you can't and wanting to tell on.  Sofie life will always be full of rules and many of them are good ones to keep us safe and to keep our society in some kind of order.  These ones you listen to, you ask why, if they make sense and they fit your heart and they fit how Jesus loves and lives then they are the ones to follow.  If they are silly and make no sense or are unkind or unfair to other people and you don't want to follow those then you stay true to who you are and what YOU know is right. This will not make your life easy and people will want to tell you how to live.  Know if Daddy and I have rules for you which I will have more and more of,  they are to keep you safe and to allow what you are ready for when you are grown up enough.

You know how Becks has the softest heart and gets sad really easily?  Don't be afraid of allowing yourself to be soft sometimes, to feel sad about things.  I know you act brave at school and in front of your friends but at home I am here for you and it is your safe place to feel and cry and be.  Be kind, always.  You will want to be ugly back but being kind makes someone lose lots of that ugliness and the world becomes a little nicer.

All 3 of you kids have a gift and it comes with responsibility.  Daniel is an entrepeneur, he will make plenty money one day and employ plenty people.  He will need to look after those people and he will need to look after people in our country less fortunate than him.  Rebeka has her compassion and sees everyone and everything.  God has chosen her to love on those people.  And you, you have something called presence and influence.  This means people see you and notice you and look up to you.  Like Daniel you are a leader and like me you are not afraid to fight for what you want.  Fight the good fight.  People will always act ugly in this world and you will always have people and animals who are bullied.  You stand up for them and you fight for them and you speak up when you know it is not right.  Right now you only have to open gifts and eat cake and then be eleven but when you are grown up you will do these things so I will get you to read all your birthday letters again. 

I love snuggling with you every night.  I love watching you dance and hearing you sing.  I love how you dress up even when we go to the shop for 5 minutes.  I am proud of you for working so hard at school when it is not always easy for you.  You are spunky and strong and beautiful and unique and we love you and are very proud of you.  Happy, happy birthday my Sofielicious Diva!

Mom
xxx

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Happy 13th birthday Rebeka

As you know I am not creative like you, Sofie and Mimi so I prefer to write you a birthday letter on my blog so you can come back and read today and many years from now too.
So where do I start?  Duh!

Happy, happy birthday Rebeka!
Every year you try and convince me its a BIG birthday but the real biggies are 1, 10, 13, 16, 18, 21 and then as you hit each decade.  So yes, today is a BIG birthday.
A teenager!  I have TWO teenagers in fact.  I am so very glad you are in no rush to grow up.  That you still like being little sometimes and you are.  You are your own person totally unique with nothing to prove to anyone.  Sometimes you will find yourself acting in a certain way or saying things you don't actually mean because you are with a bunch of girls and you want to fit in.  I totally get it but I also know that little uncomfortable niggle in your spirit that you feel will get you back to your true self.  Your true self is so special you never need to hide it or act in a different way to who you are.

When I have to decide about something I think about what I would tell you to do and what I believe you would do and I have my answer.  I have told you before your gift of compassion and sensitivity will make your life harder at times as you feel on a whole deeper level.  Your heart will get extra sad which is the suck part, the great part is that breathless excitement and joy that we thrive on.  Our sun is hotter and brighter, our love is all consuming and the beauty of the world created by God that much more lovely.  The ugly will be extra ugly and I wish I could say you will grow a thicker skin but you won't and you shouldn't.  The ability to feel so deeply will mean you will never be apathetic and your sense of fairness and what is right and good and true means you will fight extra hard for yourself and others.

I am so excited for you and all that awaits you in your teen years.  The rest of this year with your drama play and the revue, your Orange River trip and your grade 7 farewell.  And then we hit 2016...Rebeka the Rhenisher.  I am still super stoked you got into such a great school and I know you will have so much fun in high school.  I am so proud of you and enjoy your more than I could possibly describe.  I love your loud laugh and clumsy body and the way your food lands up all over your face.  I do NOT love your messy room but I guess you can't be perfect.

Trusting you have a special day today and feel loved by all of us.  Super happy you loved your party, you looked so very pretty.  I love you Rebeka Scarlett, today and every day always.  I thank God for the gift of you and know His spirit lives very happily in your soul guiding you, protecting you and loving you and helping Daddy and I parent you as you grow up.

Love from Mom
xxx  

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Career and Studies: Where to from here?

Dear friends in the computer and friends in my life.  I once again find myself at a fork in the road and seem unable to decide which path to take.  I know once the choice is made that becomes my path and essentially the life that I then live.

When I started studying 4 years ago I had just turned 40 and my midlife crises was in full throttle.  At that point I did not have Dystonia and all the challenges that it has brought with it.  I wish I had chosen shorter courses instead of a frikking honors degree.  I started and I told myself if it gets too hectic or I no longer love it then I can always stop.  The problem is I have written 23 of the 40 modules I need to do.  I have loved learning new things and the challenge it brings.  The growth of my mind and intellect.   At the end of the year I will have the last 10 to go which makes giving up harder.  When I thought I could do all 10 in one year I was OK.   Now after researching the workload I know managing 3 children and my home and husband and annoying dogs (not you Goose) and then the daily toll my Dystonia takes, I just cannot.  It would require 3 full days at welfare institution, 1 workshop a week and then the vast volume of report writing, research and regular studying.  I spoke to a lady with NO kids who does not work and has a husband who is away a lot and she said studies Monday to Sunday.  No weekend, no holidays.   She is seeing a psyche as its just cracksville mode.  So, that means 2 more years.  OR, and here is where the fork comes in:  I finish this year and convert my degree to a BA Health & Social Science.  I qualify as an auxiliary social worker and not a full social worker.  I would still do some short courses next year and volunteer somewhere to gain some experience. 

The point, I suppose, is what I actually want to DO with my degree.  Where do I want to work, why do I want to work?   Adoptions and fostering is one area but I am pretty sure I need my full SW degree for that.  Working for Nurture screening donors and surrogates and counseling commissioning parents is also something I would love to do but once again is my auxiliary social work degree enough?  And then my other choice I would LOVE to do is family counseling and child and adolescent counseling.  The problem with that one is my speech.  Because the movements of my tongue and palate are involuntary and 24-7 the constant deliberate speaking against that movement is f*cking hard and as the day goes on more and more painful.  I have to take a deep breath when my girls ask me to ask them their work in the evening.  I don't want this to impact my family.  Gary must be so super sick of it by now, feeling helpless.  I really try and not say anything but I probably mention how sore my mouth is more often then I think I do

So what do I do?   Stick it out for another 2 years?  Take a year off and then decide although I am not sure if can start again from a motivation point?   Finish now and add some courses and see where I can work?  I need a flexible job as 8 hours of speech a day is unrealistic for me.  I also need to know on a very bad day I can rather do admin.  This week at hockey I sat next to a little girl of 11 for 10 minutes.  She chatted away about her new stepmom and baby sister and how she lived with them and all sorts of things.  She was lovely and I thought to myself, I am good at this.  Talking to kids and getting them to open up.  I respect kids and connect with them.  I want to help.  I just don't know what to do at this point although luckily I have until November to decide when I would need to register for next year.  I am seeing a Unisa career counselor next week for some more info.   I really want to earn my own money, I want the security that independence brings, I want to make a difference like we all do and make an impact.  I want to use my gifts and talents.  I also need to manage my Dystonia though and be realistic.  The energy is takes to be positive and put a smile on my literal spastic face is sometimes so huge I am unsure if I can do it all again tomorrow.  God, family, friends and exercise keep me going but I need to find some balance and acceptance and dial things down a notch so I can recover each day to build up for the next day.  

Bugger, I should be studying.  I write on the 4th and 5th.  Thanks for listening/reading to my rambles.  I will work through my options and think about it but outside perspective always helps so get out your Agony Auntie hats and pour out your wisdom.  Go!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Patting myself on the back

On Friday my 10 year old had to sing 2 solo songs in the Eisteddfod.  In a family that has zero musical inclination and no ability to hold a note, we stand amazed at our daughter and her sweet voice.  One or 2 of the little girls forgot their words and the tears welled and once they were encouraged to start again they finished their song then burst into tears.  Even my Sofie critted her 1st performance as she played with her dress when she was nervous and didn't perform to her expectations.  Her second song went better as she tried to control her nerves.  The next day we watched 2 solo rhythmic gymnastics performances.  Her 1st time competing and again some girls forgot moves or lost their time or missed a cue.  Sofie's hoop flew out her hand and she forgot some of her moves so of course was brutal to herself after the show.  We were just so proud of her for being so brave and loved that stunning big dimpled smile she gives throughout. 

On both days I wanted to stand up and tell those little girls:   You are here trying something many others are too afraid to try.  You are so brave and everyone messes up at some point or another.  The fact that you manage to finish your performance is amazing.  I don't know you all but I am immensely proud of you.   You will mess up in your life many, many times.  Most of the time it is beyond your control.  How you handle it though, that is up to you.  Be kind to yourselves and proud of trying your best.

And then there is me.  Yesterday I am down at the harbour at 7.00am in the icy foggy morning prepared to swim in the cold harbour.  Bad hypothermia in 15 degree water in January and this is 9 degrees. The memories are rather fresh and the relief when the swim is cancelled is huge.  I am then prepared to get on my bicycle and race for 40kms amongst other cyclists hoping I won't fall with slippery roads, tight corners and hundreds of other cyclists racing part.  I remain a nervous cyclist.  It is draft legal.  This means people ride in bunches and you use 25% less energy and you go much faster as you pulled in the group protected by the wind.  I just cannot.  I want to, I see the sense of it but that awful fall I had last year and my ugly scar renders me paralyzed to even consider tri-bars or cycling in a bunch.  And the run.  How I swore I would never run absolutely hating it and now I love it and my slender frame makes me a better than average runner.  But my hip, glute and thigh muscle has been bugging me for 6 weeks and even walking hurts.  For me personally this Triathlon is daunting but I am here, ready to race.

Beeeep.  The horn goes off and I am in the age 40 and above age cat, our group is small.  I try to run to my bike but my hip aches.  On the bike and we start.  My goal:  don't be last and don't fall and try and improve on last years time.  I push as hard as I can and people whizz past me.  I am so slow around the hair pin bends I almost fall off.  I manage to overtake a few people and I am not last, I am THIRD last.  People in my age cat overlap me.  The temptation to be awful to myself is big so I try and control it.   Are you doing your best?  You utmost?  Yes I am.  I think back to my huge goal at age 41 of doing a triathlon and I remind myself even taking part is miraculous for someone like me.  Lap 3 I still hope to run so I pop 2 myprodols and I finish after lap 4.  I take my time getting my takkies on, my cap.  I cannot swallow while I run as my dystonia makes me choke so I have my gel and then I run.  And I pray and I run and pray some more and somehow God places His hand on my hip and I can move.  I love it, I have missed it so the past month.  I love how my body feels.  The ache in my calves and thighs from the bike and pushing through.  Last year I was in the bottom 50.  I was revolting to myself afterwards.  It is easy to be kind to others and encourage them but I can be awful to myself.  Its a shit quality and I should know better.  My goal this year is to be above the bottom 50.  With no swim this is harder as I am an average swimmer so come out half way.  I finish my run feeling strong.  My bike time is over 10 minutes faster than last year and although very slow, it is still better.  My run time is 50 minutes for 10kms.  And I am done, grateful I got to run.  Happy that I am in the bottom 100 and not bottom 50.

The times of my group are brilliant. It is hard not to compare. I see big improvements with their performances and times and mine are tiny.  I only have my best.  I have never been athletic and I need to be grateful for what my body can do.  I need to be kind to myself.  I need to be proud of myself instead of always stealing my own joy.   Cannot draft or use tri bars?  Its OK Mel, it really is.  I know what it takes for you to get on the bike.  I know how fearful you still are but you on that bike and you show up.  You always give it 110% and the fact you even doing triathlons is crazy.    YOU?  You are a triathlete.  Do you swim, bike and run in one race?   Huh?  Well then regardless of your times or when you finish you have transformed yourself into a triathlete and that is quite something.  So imagine you are someone else and think about what you would say to them and stop being so damn critical every time.  OK?  Promise?   I will try, I really will.  Will I try 100%, no, I won't score it, I will gently try.       

Monday, March 30, 2015

Learning to chill

So today was session 2 with hypno guy.  As you know I am on a quest to try and make my Dystonia more manageable and improve my quality of life.  I actually wrote to a new professor today and as I was writing my treatment history, I was a little amazed at all the people I have seen and avenues I have tried.  I was even prepared to fly to Canada to see one of the docs who did a Ted talk on DBS (deep brain stimulation) but it turns out he is unable to help me.

So for now I research the new meds prescribed by my new fave psychiatrist and tentatively try one at a time if I get the go ahead.  I learn to relax at hypno guy and I attempt botox again in my upper jaw.  The clenching is giving me awful toothache and earache.  I know for some reading about this is boring.  I know I am hard to live with and I wish I could be lightness,I so do but I am struggling here.  Yesterday was a scary day.  Scary days are when the pain is so bad you are unsure if you can stay on planet earth.  Another reason why I support Death with Dignity.  Everyone should have a choice as to when their quality of life is too compromised to hang around.  Not even close to that point but knowing that if it ever takes over the rest of my body and I am immobile and in constant pain, knowing I can check out, well its hugely comforting.

The problem of having something like this is it is hard for the people around you so they react a certain way and it causes massive stress which in turn is a big trigger for Dilbert.  Sometimes I wish I had a place to go to on bad days.  Where I didn't have to pretend or make everyone lunch or be chirpy and available.  Where I could calm myself down in a quiet space and breath and breath till I was zen and calm.  Hypno guy made some good points.  Because my sympathetic nervous system is in overdrive and I am so fight or flight, I don't relax much.  My hands are almost always clenched and my muscles contracted.  We did a relaxation exercise today and my jaw and mouth were soft.  My whole body was soft so now I need to repeat that.   He asked me when I am in a perfect most me state.  My pregnancies.  I know this sounds sexist so please forgive me if I offend you, but when I am pregnant I feel soft and gentle and feminine and nurtured.  I feel special and beautiful and precious. I allow myself to be safe and I stop trying as somehow I trust the people who care for me to keep me safe.  The past shit from a 6 year stint has robbed me of my safe space.  I want to let my guard down, I want to just be but somehow I feel too vulnerable doing that.  Am I making any sense here?   Oh well, blogging is my therapy and as I write I work through things in my head.

I think I need to merge the old me and the new me, the best parts of both.  I need to remind myself I always have choices, I will be OK.  I have ridden out storms, I have come out the other side.  Yes, that sounds good.  The Mel Merger.  The new and improved me.  The work has been started and truth be told I guess will always be on-going but my goal is definitely lightness in my muscles, my heart and my soul. 


Saturday, March 21, 2015

My Face, My Page

Back in the days when I had time I used to blog almost every day.  I never had to think too hard about topics to blog on and I loved the therapy that writing brings.  I had about 500 regular readers every day that felt like friends.  Well most did, the trolls only hung around a while to spew their nastiness and then left.

Once I started studying I no longer had the time to blog.  I hardly read anymore and seldom journal.  FB has become the 5km run alternative of an ultra-marathon.  The quick bits of shared info, opinions, questions that I no longer have time to share about or ask on my blog.   I was always aware that certain posts will annoy certain people.  I am an odd mix of all my unique experiences and ideas so I am bound to hack someone off.  What I don't get is pretending you are someone else on FB.  Becoming all beige and vanilla and posting pics about your lunch.  (Yeah yeah I know I got a bit smoothie obsessed.)   I have never been afraid to be exactly who I am.  Many will think I overshare and I get that other people are more private and accept that.  For my sister and I, we are unafraid to make ourselves 100% vulnerable and wear our hearts on our sleeve.

I am not ashamed of the fact that I am a follower of Christ, that I am passionate supporter of gay rights and any marginalized or oppressed group of people actually.  I battle with anxiety and sometimes depression.  I vaccinate my kids.  I have an ADHD kid and an ADD kid and have carefully and deliberately chosen to medicate with great success.  Just last night I was telling Sofie how proud I am of her and we compared last year this time to now when she had constant tunmy aches and stayed in at break to catch up.  That was pre Ritalin which has changed her life and mine.  I am not ashamed that I was a single parent for 6 years before I married Gary. I am not ashamed of my battle with Dystonia and how hopeless it makes me feel sometimes.  I will write about my training and my triathlon as it is a big part of my life.  I will say when I am happy or when I am sad or when I am cross.  I should be beyond caring about shit but I do.  I get hurt.  I am lots of OK and lots of fucked-up too.  We ALL are!  So if you think I am boring, too much, act like a victim when I ask questions on certain pages, too sensitive, too anything then hide me, unfriend me or just ignore the boring bits like I do when I read your pages.  I love connecting with my friends on FB as modern day life means we are all too busy.  

PS...the 2 people that unfriended me lately did so for other girl political BS reasons.  Promise it wasn't my boring smoothies, training updates or odd theology!