Customized Planner!

I’ve been dying to get a custom planner. So many of the planners advertised as being custom online really just mean you can add your name to the cover page or choose your background image. That’s nice but it really wasn’t what I was looking for. I wanted a custom layout with very specific areas of accountability and goal setting. There was nothing on the market that really covered what I wanted. I wasn’t shocked since what I wanted is pretty specific and kind of a random combination of things, so I decided to try to see if someone makes custom layouts.

I found an awesome girl named Leah on Etsy who sells printable planner pages. I emailed her and she said that she would custom design something for me. I wanted to incorporate everything from daily creative goals to scripture study goals. I wanted some color on it. She took that information and design something perfect with every single category I was looking for lit up in rainbow colors like I asked.

Side A and side B. I am absolutely in love with this layout and I have printed a ton of pages already. I started on this planner this weekend and it’s making me really productive. I have every category of creative goal listed, and all my basic housework for the day with space to write in additional tasks that should be done. I can keep track of my mood and monitor my mental health. I list what I’m grateful for and that’s a great way to start the day. I have a space for specific things that I need to do during the day and overall goals such as dieting goals or certain attitudes I want to have or something like that. I’ve got space to keep track of scripture study and prayer. I’ve got a section for self-care to remind myself to slow down at least enough to do a couple of basic things to maintain my mood. I have a homeschool section where I can both set daily goals for what I want to cover with Angelica and keep records to record what actually happened in homeschool that day. Sometimes we end up covering subjects that I didn’t plan for or not covering things that I did plan for. So it’s dual parts planner and record keeper.

I really think this planner will make me more productive. With every kind of goal laid out and everything listed that I should be doing I really have a lot of inspiration to get working. Realistically since there are only 24 hours in the day, and since I don’t feel very well for some of those hours a lot of the time, there will probably be many days where I don’t meet every category in my creative goals list and do homeschool and clean the whole house Etc. But having these things written down reminds me to do things and gives me clear-cut goals to achieve. It provides me with inspiration, and if I am having a fantastic day I might actually get a lot of it done. It keeps me accountable. 

Sometimes I feel so dulled or tired or depressed that I stretch my mind to even think of things that I could do. I can’t think of things that I might enjoy doing and it’s hard to get up and do the things that I know I should. Having something in front of me that lists everything and with little spaces to be specific or to check off if I’ve done something might give me a push. Hopefully my faith section gives me the reminder I need to turn to God and get to know Him better even in times when I want to crawl into myself and slam the door shut.

This planner is absolutely perfect and now I need to start using it to make the most of my daily life. I’ve just begun my 30s and it’s time to be serious and productive. I want to do things that matter. I want to make a beautiful home for my husband, give my daughter a wonderful education, and spend my time doing things I love to do. No one knows how long they have.

Weight Loss and Maintenance

In July I wrote about painting my way skinny. I really fell off with that. I’m determined to start again. I want to fill my days with creativity and see if I can keep myself distracted. What I’m finding is that a lot of it is medication dependent. Some of these medications make me hungry. Really hungry. Worse, for the past few months I haven’t had a working med combination. I’m not sure what the connection is exactly, but when I was briefly on a medication regimen that worked perfectly the weight just fell off. Since my Bipolar medication burnt out it has been a steady downhill. My weight has stayed in the same five pound range. But I have no luck actually losing any weight. I have been stuck between 159 and 164 for months.

My goal is not actually to be skinny. I don’t really care about being skinny, my husband likes me as I am, I want to eat foods I actually like, and I don’t really want my weight to be a major focal point in my life like it was when I was younger. I would like to lose another 10 or 15 pounds though. I really need to make that happen. I need some sort of inspiration to get started again. Painting might be the answer or at least part of it. It’s something that keeps my hands busy and the paint is always in my laundry room studio. I’m not a great painter. I’m not even trying to be. But I could play with all those colors for hours and still not be tired. The colors, the textures, everything is great. I have no desire to learn how to paint a tree or a flower and especially not a person. All I want is color and line and texture.

What else can I use? I’m trying to keep peppermints around the house so if I want to taste something good and I want to have something in my mouth I can have something low calorie. I think that might help. I also need to drink more. I’m not sure how true this is but I have read that some of the time we think we are hungry we are actually thirsty, so when you feel hungry the first thing you should do is drink something. If you’re still hungry after that you probably actually need some food. But if you drink a big glass of water and you feel better then you just saved yourself a whole bunch of calories. I need to drink more, use peppermints, paint more often, and maybe find an additional outlet. I might go back to making random collages that combine different photos and paintings on my phone. They don’t look professional, and in fact look pretty crazy, but they’re enjoyable to make and I like the process of going through all sorts of photos to find my layers. More importantly, it’s something I can do while sitting on the sofa watching a show. A lot of the times when I’m eating or snacking it’s just something to do while I watch a TV show. Watching TV is not my favorite thing and I certainly don’t watch it all day, but there are a few shows I like and it’s not uncommon in the evening when I’m tired for me to sit down and watch a show. I need something else to do while I’m watching TV.

I’m setting goals and hopefully by writing them out like this I’m going to give myself a sense of accountability to actually achieve them.

Goals for my 30s

My 30th birthday was yesterday and it was fantastic. I am so grateful to my family and friends who made my day special. Now I want to set some goals, or at least try and write out my thoughts and get a sense of direction so that I can do that.

  1. I need to decide what to do with my writing. I’m going to try and figure that out this week. I write. I studied creative writing in college. I’ve been in magazines and have a chapbook published. What should I do in my 30s? More magazines? Hopefully try to get the chapbooks I’ve written in the past two years sent off to some potential publishers? Try to get a full length book published? Do I want to self publish? What do I need to do to feel satisfied with my 30s when I turn 40? Where do I need to be? 
  2. I want the wonderful magazine I edit to grow and to support more excellent writers. I get more pleasure out of reading the writing that comes into my inbox for the magazine than anyone knows. Not all of it is right for the magazine, either because it isn’t polished and ready or because the style or subject just doesn’t fit. But I’m grateful to read all of it, and it gives me a thrill to hit publish on a story or poem that I really like. I started the magazine at a decent pace and then put it aside for awhile because of health, hectic living, and travel. Now I’m back. I really want to build it up.
  3. I want to homeschool successfully. It is very important to me not to send Angelica to public school, and while we will consider private school, ideally we will give her her education at home. This fall has been the beginning of our homeschooling journey. But for the next decade (and beyond) school will be in earnest. It is my goal to give my daughter a personalized education suiting her interests and at a pace that works for her. I want her to enjoy learning as much as possible, and to develop the character and discipline to learn the things she needs to learn even when she doesn’t want to. My emphasis though is on tailoring everything to her interests and abilities. I don’t want her to have the mass produced, cookie cutter education of the public schools. I am making a commitment to making education a part of our daily lives, whether we are sitting down at the table formally with sums, or learning about ecosystems from a Netflix documentary, or about post modernism at the art museum. I want this to be interesting and organic for Angelica.
  4. Today I am committing to giving more of my time to learning something new. I love nonfiction books, coursera, edX, and MIT open courseware. I adore documentaries. But I’m not always focused. I want to make a more conscious effort to spend regular time absorbing new information. I recently bought a book about the history of syphilis and its effects on various historical figures. I’m also studying a book about the changing structure and politics of the family throughout the long middle ages.
  5. My 30s should be a decade of art. I paint a lot and I do digital collage. I’d like to branch off into other things too. I’m not an artist. I suck. But it’s therapeutic to creative visual art, and it renews my mind for my writing. Never be ashamed of being creative, whether the outcome of that creativity impresses other people or not. I like to share it because it is cathartic, but it’s for me – I don’t do it for other people.
  6. I want to travel. We’ve traveled this year and I want to do more.

I am going to keep thinking. I feel like I need more or different goals. Most of this is a continuation of or recommitment to things I already do. I feel like there should be something new in my 30s. I just like the life I have now though.

A Quiet, Snug Thanksgiving

Our Thanksgiving was lovely. Craig had to leave for work at 1 and didn’t get home until 10, so we had our meal in the morning. He made fresh cod for Angelica and I. For all of us he made saffron rice, seasoned potatoes, and biscuits. Everything was delicious! I am so grateful that I have a husband who is good at cooking and genuinely enjoys it. I loathe cooking and completely suck at it, so it is always good when we can compliment one another.

Soon after we ate, Craig had to get ready and go in to work. Angelica asked to play in the bathtub. She likes to do that sometimes – just get some toys in the bath and go play. She even wore her swimsuit instead of going in naked. I let her use my bathtub because there’s so much more space and it’s deeper and it is in a big bright room with a window. Angelica actually stayed in for about three hours. I kept coming in to check on her, and she wanted to stay in. I had to let water out and rewarm the bath several times. 

When she was done, I had already been hanging out in the craft room making moving collages (adhered nothing down except the washi tape of course) on scrapbook paper. Angelica and I started to work side by side in an explosion of ribbon, washi tape, tulle, and stickers. She used some holographic rainbow paper I had. I used some simple tie dye paper. Angelica really loves art supplies and gets so excited to pull out all these colorful, joyous things. I hope her love of creativity will blossom further as she gets older. 

After that we went downstairs and snacked and watched tv. I cleaned the kitchen intermittently throughout the day. It took me a few loads through the dishwasher to have everything ready. Even now, the next day, there’s some stuff that I need to wipe down out there. This morning has been spent relaxing as a family, plus doing some small housework tasks. G, our babysitter, is here now. I’d like to go out and go to the bookstore and some craft stores, especially craft stores, but I don’t know if I want to drive or shop on Black Friday.

Reviewing My Twenties

My twenties were insane. The highs were so high and the lows were so low. This past decade has given me so much to be grateful for.

In my 20s I:

-graduated college

-got married

-had a baby

-bought a home

-moved across the country to live in the magic that is Colorado.

-travelled out of the country for the first time

-got a chapbook published by one of my favorite presses

-experimented with new hobbies

-read too many books to count

I also:

-had several mental breakdowns. 

-got committed to inpatient twice

-had to go to outpatient day programs twice

-made suicide attempts

-had 6 surgeries and a bone infection

-Dealt with Craig’s deployments. Those were hard.

-Went from Bipolar 2 to Bipolar 1, a more severe type.

-developed anxiety 

The good stuff has been joyous, and the bad was fraught with misery, loneliness, and mental and physical pain.

I hit all my major milestones early in my twenties. I graduated from college in 2011, got married in 2012, and had my daughter in 2013. Got published in 2014 and bought my first house in 2015. The most beautiful moments in my life, at least the most beautiful moments that you can have happen while you are young, and the moments that will define your life, happened to me in five consecutive years in my early to mid twenties. I am so grateful for all the wonderful things that happened to me in those years. So many dreams came true, most importantly my dreams of having a husband to love and a child to love.

2016 had a lot of deployments. 2017 had a lot of health problems and some deployments. Health-wise the age of 29, 2018, has been mostly really good until recently – until I found out that I have to have my ankle bone removed. I moved to Colorado, which has been a transformative experience. At the same time I had to move very far from my family, which was a loss for both me and Angelica.

Laced through hardships and joys have been difficult mental problems that have gotten worse over the years rather than better. From suicidal lows to psychotic highs and everything in between. I try to make the most of the times I have where I am functional and able to get things done and enjoy them. But I regularly lose those abilities.

I’m still thinking about what to hope for in my thirties. I turn 30 on Saturday the 24th. I was born on Thanksgiving but will not be a Thanksgiving birthday this year. So many important dreams that I had have been realized: marriage, family, home. Other dreams have been quelched. They will not be realized, but as I change and grow I develop new dreams. I have to consider what those dreams are exactly, and how to achieve them.

Ice, Shopping, Magazine

Yesterday our world was smothered by ice. A fog rolled in during the afternoon, and then all of it froze. Every blade of grass was covered in white icing. Every street was a skating rink. It was too risky to drive anywhere, so we stayed in by the fire. Our house feels so cozy with the new sofa and my new painting and my lamp decorated for the autumn/winter season.

Today I went to At Home, then drove for awhile, then went to Trader Joe’s. I came home and began to work on revising and posting some poetry, when I suddenly got so tired I had to lay down. I just got up. The only reason I’m up is because it was time for our wonderful babysitter, G, to go home and I wanted to hear about Angelica’s day and sign G’s log book for her hours.

I am hoping to write tonight after Craig goes to bed early for his second day shift. He’ll go to bed around 6. I haven’t written fresh poems in weeks due to..problems.

I revamped the magazine! The literary magazine I founded and edit has been on hiatus for awhile. Summer was filled with instability and travel, as was the fall. I contacted Duotrope and got the magazine listed to show up in searches for several genres and styles. I hadn’t realized it before, but the way my little litmag was listed it only showed up under general searches – along with thousands of others. If anyone searched for their particular genre or style, which most people do, my magazine wouldn’t have shown up.

Now I’m looking for science fiction, poetry, art, horror, magical realism, memoir, the supernatural (no, I don’t mean Twilight fanfic), poetry chapbooks, and more. I want my magazine to be one of the best – not necessarily by ranking, but from publishing interesting writing. Basically the magazine will be part poetry, part weird or dark writing, and part art. Photography, painting, glass, etc. It might seem eclectic, but I am making a magazine that I want to read. I hadn’t opened my mind to much genre fiction before, but I love it and nothing would make me happier than to have some dystopian fiction and horror in my inbox. It feels a little odd to mix that in with poetry, but I will see how it goes.

I redesigned the site as much as I could without the help of an actual web designer. I changed the banner, made new pages, updated the about and submissions pages etc. Hopefully it looks nicer.

New Furniture!

Craig has been off work from Thursday to Sunday this week. He was so sweet. He bought me a new sofa, a big sectional with an even longer chaise than what I had on the green sofa. The new one is gray and has a huge ottoman. I am so cozy on it.

The initial thought was that if I have to have the surgery that the doctor said I have to have, I will be sleeping downstairs with a cast on. The green sofa is too short for me to stretch out with a pillow and have my leg completely out straight with the cast. Realistically, if I don’t have that surgery I’ll have to have another one. Being in a two-story house, I have to pick a floor. I don’t want to be lonely all the time so I picked downstairs.

Ultimately, what confirmed our decision to get another sofa came from other factors. We could have gotten a futon for me to sleep on, although the futon we found was not very comfortable. But we realize that realistically we should have another sofa. When family comes to visit there isn’t enough room for all of us to sit down. Usually people end up sitting on dining room table chairs for most of the day. Those are nice chairs to have dinner on, but they’re much less comfortable if you’re spending an afternoon on them. Vicki and Joel, Craig’s parents, have come to visit us twice already this year and whenever they come they don’t have a good place to sit. We’re hoping that my parents will be out this year or next, and when they come they won’t have a place to sit either. We definitely feel bad when people come across the country to visit us and we don’t even have comfortable seating for them. On top of that, with the shape of the room, if you’re not sitting on the sofa there’s not really room for you to sit with the family so you have to sit behind everybody.

Besides that, we’ve been needing more seating. Now the green sofa is in the library. I have a comfortable and spacious place to sit and read, or to sit and read to Angelica. It’s still a nice sofa and there is no way that it needs to be trashed yet, so the library is a wonderful new home for it. The big, older chair that was in the library has been moved up the craft room. If I go up there to look at my poetry books I can sit down on that chair and have a perfect view of Pikes Peak while I read. So all in all it worked out.

Removing A Bone

Wednesday I went back to the podiatrist I have been seeing about my foot pain, ankle pain, and the burning pain where my leg meets my foot. I found out I need an ankle replacement, which is major surgery.

My ankle bone will be removed. The whole thing. It has huge lesions, so the doctor doesn’t think it is salvageable. It will be replaced with a synthetic bone substitute around which my natural bone is supposed to grow. Additionally, he said that the pain where my leg meets my foot, that burning pain I’ve had for years, is likely because the bottom of my leg bone (and I forget which one), also has lesions on it where it meets the ankle. That will likely have to be filled in.

I really like this doctor and he seems very knowledgeable, catching several problems that the doctors I saw in Virginia did not catch. He gave me a copy of the MRI results and showed me on a model of the bone what he was talking about and how big the lesions were. They really do take up pretty much the whole bone. It’s possible that some of the bone is even dead. I am still getting second opinion from another doctor, an orthopaedic surgeon, just to make sure there are no other options that maybe my doctor didn’t think of. This doctor has a different specialty, he’s an orthopedic surgeon, so he may have a different perspective. But looking at the MRI paperwork and having been shown on a model of the bone what’s going on, I really don’t think that the other doctor is going to have a different opinion. If he does have a different opinion I don’t think it will be drastically different.

If in fact his opinion is drastically different I won’t even know what to do. They’re both doctors. They both do Foot and Ankle surgeries. The doctor I’m currently seeing has tons of good reviews and the doctor on getting a second opinion from doesn’t really have any reviews. On a bright note that means he doesn’t have any bad reviews, at least not that I was able to find, but he doesn’t have any good ones either to let me know that he’s reliable. If he tells me my phone is salvageable and that I don’t need to do the surgery, will I believe him? I would like to believe him because the surgery is going to be agonizing, but I’m being cautious too. For years I have tried to get this foot fixed. I’ve had two surgeries on it already. I had a bone infection in my foot to go with it all. I want whatever I do to be the last surgery on my foot. If that means going through a terrible surgery as opposed to a milder one, it’s probably worth doing just to make sure that I can go back to living my life the way I used to and taking long walks. I just want this to be over. So if the doctor giving me a second opinion suggests not doing surgery or suggests a drastically different surgery, I’m really going to have to weigh my options and think about the different explanations both of them gave. I would rather do a terrible surgery now and have it over with then try a milder surgery and find out it didn’t really work and then have to do the terrible surgery. I don’t want to be laid up any longer than I have to be. So what I need is either for the doctors to be on the same page, or for this doctor giving me the second opinion to have a really good explanation of a better alternative. I so hope there is another way. Having an entire bone of my body literally just removed sounds terrible, and it probably doesn’t sound half as terrible as it actually is.

I have been asking people on Foot and Ankle pages how bad the pain for the surgery is. Very few people have had the surgery as drastically as the first doctor says I need to do it. Of those who have done it or have done something similar, it’s unanimous that the pain is so bad that you don’t sleep for days. One person compared the pain to having been put through a meat grinder. If you know me, you know I am a total sissy. I feel like running at the very thought of doing this. I just don’t know what else to do. I’ve got to fix my foot.

Fun and Dr. Appointments

On Wednesday night we were invited to dinner buy some new friends. It was absolutely wonderful to get to just sit down and chat, and the food that they made was delicious. They are Korean and so they had all this good Korean food. It was a really refreshing experience because I haven’t had very much Korean food before. I did have some good stuff back in college when I was doing ESL tutoring for a Korean family in Blacksburg. I absolutely loved that job. And the family was so kind and invited me to dinner sometimes. But since then I haven’t had any Korean food so it felt like a brand new experience.

I was grateful that I felt well enough to go, since I was worried that I wouldn’t feel well enough to go and I would have hated to have to back out. But I felt good and it was so wonderful to have the company. M and D are wonderful, kind, interesting people. I want to get together for another couples evening soon, and I definitely want to just hang out with M. 

I have been reading my abnormal psychology textbook that I got at a used bookstore a while back. I’ve been studying the section on personality disorders. They are absolutely fascinating. Psychology would be such a good field to go into, although I would rather be a researcher than a therapist I think. I have a lot more to read too. I just got several back issues of Artful Blogging that I was never able to buy before because they were out of stock on the publisher’s website. But I found them on Amazon so I’m happy. I’m waiting for a new parallel Bible to arrive, and I have tons of books on my Kindle to read too. If I can get to where I feel well enough again to read regularly I have so much good material to cover.

Craig has been off from work since Monday, but it feels like we haven’t spent that much time together because there have been so many doctors appointments. Of course Angelica has to speech appointments every week. we at least got to go to those together. But I have had appointments too and have been out of the house a lot. I finally got the second MRI done on my foot. This one was with contrast so they had to get an IV in me. That is never easy or fun. I told the nurse up front that it was not going to be easy and sure enough it wasn’t. I hate IVs. That’s a good reason not to have surgery right there! I saw an optometrist too, and my prescription hasn’t changed. I’m so happy that I don’t have to order new lenses for my glasses. I still have to buy new contacts obviously, but that’s not as big of a deal and they optometrist doesn’t do that thing that some of them do where they try to force you to buy contacts from them. The doctor just gave me my prescription and I can go wherever I want. So of course I’m going to have to do some price comparison and shop around.

Angelica adores magazines!

Angelica and I have gotten to spend some time together though, and that has been really nice. Today we cuddled up in the library and went through an Origami Owl catalog. There’s a ton of stuff I want to get from the fall and winter season, but I always forget or just isn’t the right time. But soon I really need to get some charms. Angelica wants her own necklace and to choose her own charms, but at this point I just feel like she is not responsible enough to take good care of jewelry. I have given her some jewelry that I have already and she is getting better about taking care of it, but she still not really to the point yet where I want to spend 70 or 80 bucks getting her a necklace. I’m afraid it will just get lost or tangled ip and broken. I look forward to the day where I can shop for things like jewelry for her.

She really likes magazines too, just like I do. She came across one of my old issues of Life:Beautiful and went crazy for it. One of her grandmothers has gotten her a Highlights subscription and I think she’ll really enjoy that. We’ll see.

Foot

After 2 foot surgeries and a bone infection treated with 6 weeks of intravenous antibiotics over a year ago, I still have pain in my foot. I finally took the plunge and went to a doctor here in Colorado. He sent me to get an MRI done after seeing nothing on the X-ray he took at the office, and they found another bone lesion just like last time in Virginia. I have to go back Monday night for an MRI with contrast so that they can take a look and get a better idea of what it is. They have to make sure it’s not malignant. Hopefully they don’t have to remove it and biopsy it for that, although I think that may be wishful thinking on my part because the chances they will just leave it in there either way is probably infinitesimally small. It’s also possible that the bone infection is still there in which case I will probably need antibiotics again. I don’t know how they will handle that though.

The first time I had to have a PICC line was for the initial bone infection. It hurt and was uncomfortable, but it wasn’t a problem to get it in there. On the other hand, when they tried to get one in me last fall a few months after the bone infection, when I was in the hospital for two weeks with diverticulitis and they had to remove 8 inches of intestines, it simply didn’t work. I wasn’t doing well and they wanted to keep me in the hospital, but my veils weren’t accepting anymore IVs and they had to do a PICC line – It was a nightmare. There was a team of five people trying to give me a PICC line because one couldn’t get it in. They tried different places on both arms. They tried over and over again. In the end, there was blood all over me, the bed, the floor, the wall, the railing, everything. And there was still no PICC line in me. I got discharged because if the hospital isn’t administering something to you the insurance won’t pay, and no one could get anything in me. Needless to say, if they need another PICC line in me I want to be under anesthesia. I don’t know how you can get them to do that, but I do not want to be awake for that mess again. So I’m really, really hoping it isn’t still a bone infection. I don’t want to face that again. And at this point the infection would have been in there so long that it may have spread (my pain has spread) and I don’t know how long I’d be on IV antibiotics.

The doctor also says that he likely wants to go into my foot anyway to clear out the bone filler that the first doctor used (the one that screwed up my first foot surgery so bad I had shards of bone filler in my foot, and I got infected from the first surgeon’s very poor post op care. A second surgeon had to operate on me a month later and fix the first surgeon’s mess the best he could.) He said it may be causing further problems and probably wasn’t the best substance to use, that there should have been something that would help bone grow again naturally. He may dig that out of my foot and put something else in. At any rate, they have to see what this lesion really is and fix it – and see why this has been happening to me for years. Essentially, I don’t think I can get out of this without surgery. I am really hoping to avoid surgery, but it just doesn’t sound likely between the lesion, the possible infection, the wrong bone filler, and the pain that has continued on and spread for years now.

Foot surgery hurts badly. After one of my foot surgeries I cried for days. I’d sit on the sofa with my foot propped up, on plenty of pain killer and with an ice pack on my foot and wrapped for compression, and I would just cry. I’ve had my gallbladder removed, two intestinal surgeries, and a C section. None of them hurt as bad as that first foot surgery. I definitely felt the worst after the first intestinal surgery, but for pain the foot surgery topped them all. The second foot surgery wasn’t as bad, but the second doctor was doing more cleanup work than anything else. The surgery with the cutting was horrendous. Maybe I am a wimp, but I dread the thought of doing that again. I really hope I can get out of this, especially now that I’m in a two story house. Not being mobile sucks in a one story. In a two story it would be awful.  Praying there’s a way out of surgery.