My diabetes turns 21 years old today, so it’s going to celebrate with a drink, of course.
Last year was a big anniversary for my life with type 1 diabetes and it fell during the height of my awakening. Whether reaching that milestone with a chronic disease was a catalyst for this trying time in my life or just a coincidence, I’m still not sure. Either way, it felt significant to cross that mark on the timeline of my life with this disease.
After 21 years, I can barely remember what life was like before I had to calculate an insulin dose prior to each meal. I can’t imagine the freedom of not worrying about blood sugar. It’s just part of my life.
Life with diabetes mirrors many other areas of life in that it causes feelings across the emotional spectrum. There are times when I’m utterly frustrated with swinging blood sugars; exhausted from riding the rollercoaster of blood sugars that leaves me feeling emotionally and physically drained. Other times I feel a sense of pride and satisfaction at being able to maintain my health and I’m thankful for being complication free after two decades of diabetes.
I don’t spend too much time being angry and I’ve never asked “Why me?”. I would line up for a cure as quickly as possible, should one be available, but I’m not holding my breath.
Tomorrow I’ll wake up and start the clock on my 22nd year with diabetes. I’ll test my blood 10-12 times and give myself 5-7 insulin injections. I’ll plan low carb meals and fit in some exercise to help with my metabolism and therefore blood sugar management.
Tonight I’m getting a kick out of the idea of my diabetes reaching drinking age; and I’m looking forward to a rum and Diet Coke (with lots of lime juice) this evening!
This week started off with the most unusual of circumstances for me – two completely unscheduled days at the office. Looking at my Monday and Tuesday in Outlook was startling. Did I really have nowhere I had to be? No meetings to prepare for and attend? No lunch dates?
So, how did I spend my Monday? Planning meals, running to the grocery store, responding to work emails, doing my basic Monday tasks at the office, and doing a lot of sitting at my computer thinking and searching the internet. I left the office that day feeling blah. I’m an extrovert and get my energy from interaction with people. But, it was more than that. I’d been in that planning/thinking place that I haven’t visited in about a year. I kept getting this searching, yearning feeling, like there was something I was looking for. I’d them turn to blog sites hoping to find something… what, I couldn’t articulate. I spent the day paying a lot of attention to my thoughts. The searching and planning was a return to my old ways of trying to control my feelings.
This day set the stage for my week. Luckily my motivation at work picked up on Tuesday and has been gathering steam ever since. In my position at work I have a lot of freedom, little supervision, and high expectations from upper management! My performance is directly linked to my motivation and proactivity. Monday’s lack of motivation didn’t make me feel inspired or in control of my work. It was completely self-induced and ironic. By trying to plan and think my way into feeling content, I’d actually been ignoring the work that would make me feel satisfied. Oy vey.
So, today I went on a search for quotes regarding motivation and responsiblity to help remind me not to fall into this trap again. I found these two gems:
“To decide, to be at the level of choice, is to take responsibility for your life and to be in control of your life.”
Abbie M. Dale
“It is not only for what we do that we are held responsible, but also for what we do not do.”
I had good intentions of my children learning to swim at a young age. Sienna had her first swim lessons at 6 months and then again around 18 months. We didn’t make it back to the pool regularly until Mateo was about a year old. Sienna was then 4 years old and had developed a bit more reservation about the water.
At those lessons, parents weren’t in the water with their kids. Sienna kept close to me at the steps of the pool. The instructor was a young woman who clearly knew nothing about child psychology. She barely greeted Sienna before grabbing her and bringing her into the water. Sienna screamed and hysterically lunged for me.
We spent the rest of that lesson and the three following Saturdays sitting on the steps. I gently coaxed Sienna to go one step deeper into the pool each lesson. She was proud of her accomplishment and we talked about overcoming her fear.
I could have strangled that swim teacher.
In the two years since this experience, Sienna and I have talked a lot about swim lessons. She’s not afraid of the water. She’ll play in pools, as long as she can touch the bottom. She’s never had an issue with water in her face (unlike Teo who still doesn’t like having his hair washed in the bathtub). Her fear is specifically of swimming lessons.
So, I started asking her if she’d prefer I teach her to swim. This idea became more attractive over the past few months. But, whenever we’d go to our local YMCA pool to swim, she’d get teary and ask if she could just play this time. After several of these struggles, I laid down the law:
“Sienna, if I’m going to teach you, you have to do what I ask you. We’ll give it one year. If you’re not water-safe and swimming a year from now, we’re doing formal lessons.”
Big sigh. “Okay,” she replied.
Our first lesson was last Thursday afternoon. As we got in the water, I said a little prayer that it would be a positive experience and noted not to push or create a battle of wills over what she’d be willing to do. We worked on putting her face in the water, holding her breath and coming up out of the water to take a breath. She did it easily and was really excited. Knowing that this was a big hurdle for many kids while learning to swim, I praised her a bunch for doing it so well. We also did kicking while I held her. The atmosphere was extremely positive and she was so proud. “I’m doing it, Mommy!” she kept exclaiming while I beamed at her.
While we were in the locker room after the lesson, she said to me: “Mom, you’re just….(pause) this was awesome.” I agreed, “It was awesome, love girl.”
Friday afternoon, we were on our way home from school and I mentioned we’d do our next lesson the following day. Sienna asked, “Can we go today?” We checked the open swim schedule for the evening and learned that we could go at 7:00 p.m. Wanting to capitalize on her enthusiasm and knowing we had a full Saturday, I agreed we could go to the pool after dinner.
This time we brought her goggles and we had a lot of fun going underwater and waving to one another. She held on to me and kicked a few laps around the pool. Then I explained the next thing I wanted her to try: putting her face in the water and kicking then I’d give her a little push and let go so she could kick a few feet to the wall.
No way! She started tearing up and saying she was too afraid to try that. I coaxed, explaining that she could do it and I’d be right there. No way!
The pool has a long disabled access ramp that gradually deepens. Sienna likes to play in the 1 1/2 to 2 feet deep portion. So, she continued to work on her breathing and going underwater to wave at me. Then, she tried going underwater and letting her legs float up so she wasn’t touching at all. Sienna kicked a bit and even starting taking a few breasts-style type strokes with her arms while underwater.
“Sienna, you’re doing just what I was asking you to do!” I told her. “You’re not touching the bottom and swimming a short distance. In fact, it’s more advanced than what I asked, because you’re adding in the arms.”
For the next ten to fifteen minutes I watched her explore her capabilities and push herself to do more. She’d stay underwater longer or take more strokes. She then said to me, “Thank you, Mom for teaching me. I think it works well for me to try to do what you’re doing.” I hadn’t even realized, of course, she’s watching me swim around while she was playing. That’s where she got the idea to do the breaststroke arm motion.
I’m really encouraged at how well she’s taking to swim lessons with me. It’s really rewarding and bonding to do this together. I’ll let you know how she progresses!
Last night Dennis and I snuggled up to watch the MLB All Star Game after the kids were asleep. Being able to record games on the DVR and watch them later (and fast forward through commercials!) has really preserved our family life. 🙂
As they announced the American and National league teams, I made several comments along the same theme:
“Who are all these guys??”
“This can’t be the starters, right?”
“I don’t know any of these players!”
Lo and behold, they weren’t the starters, so I was greatly comforted when the starting lineups were announced and I was familiar with at least 75% of those players. Whew!
A little background – I’ve been a sports fan as long as I can remember. When Dennis and I became friends, sports was a major source of our conversations and connection. He was really impressed with my sports knowledge when we first met and started dating. I’d tease him: “It never occurred to you, being a huge sports fan, that you should date someone who was also a fan?”
Then, a few years into our marriage, I asked him, “Why aren’t you ever impressed with my sports knowledge anymore?” He replied, “Well, I know you know this stuff now.” Touché. It was a classic example of the familiarity that comes with marriage.
Anyway, back to the game…
After years of watching sports and following my San Fransisco Giants faithfully, it was pretty surprising for me that I didn’t know a majority of the players in the All Star Game. Then again, watching baseball has certainly dropped down priority list over the past six years (other than the Giants’ two World Series wins – I followed those playoffs religiously!). Dennis knew many more of the players than I did, but even he noted a distinct difference in his level of familiarity with these teams. “I guess we’ve been busy raising a family, or something” we joked.
Watching this game together felt poignant. Realizing that the game was marching on, turning over players, and changing while we were busy focusing on our kids, was part of it. But, it also had a sense of ceremony and tradition that seemed to mark the passing of time.
My dad attended the 1984 All Star Game at Candlestick Park. He brought me home a pennant that hung in my bedroom for years afterwards. Remembering this momento, that I hadn’t thought about in years, made me reflect on the tradition of this game that includes new star players each generation.
The sense of tradition was enhanced by the focus on Derek Jeter’s retirement after 20 years in baseball. Now, we’re definitely not fans of the Yankees (in fact we kind of hate them because they play in the same division as Dennis’s team – the Baltimore Orioles), but it’s really hard not to like Jeter. He’s an incredible player. Plus, he teared up during the standing ovations for him – that was pretty cool.
Dennis noted that this is one of the last great players who only played for one team his entire career. He compared him to his favorite all time player, Cal Ripken, Jr., who also had an amazing career entirely with one team. We appreciate and enjoy the loyalty, particularly as it becomes more and more rare in professional sports.
Funny, I didn’t expect to think so much about life, tradition, and the passing of time while watching a baseball game.
Saturday night Dennis and I got the kids to bed early and settled in to watch a movie. I’d made my first visit to a Redbox that afternoon (what a deal!) and came home with The Guilt Trip. We like Seth Rogen a lot and figured the contrast between him and Barbara Streisand would be funny. The plot sounded cute – mother and son embark on a cross-country road trip.
We really enjoyed this movie! It had a more engaging plotline than we expected and the conversations between mother and son were hilarious and clearly ad-libbed. Seth Rogen’s delivery and little under-his-breath comments were spot on. What we didn’t expect was how touching the film would be. I was in tears at the end and told Dennis, “You really need to call your mom more.” He replied, “I’ll call her tomorrow.”
The relationship between this overbearing, quintessentially Jewish mother and her long-suffering son was so poignant. It made me think about the relationship between moms and their boys. The imbalance, not so much in love, but in the degree to which moms and sons desire to have a relationship with one another is heartbreaking at times. Moms love their children and want to care for, protect, and nurture them, far after their son has outgrown the need for their mommy.
I think most parents can relate to having a profound realization after their first child was born, something along the lines of, “Oh, this is how much my parents love me!” Growing up, we take our parents love for granted and don’t realize how these people would literally die for us, that is until we have children of our own.
About halfway through the movie, the disc started skipping (downside of Redbox, I guess?) so Dennis took the disc to clean it. As I sat waiting, I looked around our living room and my gaze settled on a picture of my mom and brother dancing at his wedding last fall. I love the picture because it reminds me of the precious moments those two shared during their dance together. My brother picked an amazing song and my mom looked up at him with pure love and adoration. My heart was in my throat watching them and thinking, “This is what it’s all about.”
Funny, it wasn’t until after the movie ended, and I was drying my tears, that I realized the thematic link between the film and this picture of my mom and brother. Mothers and sons.
I feel blessed to have my own little boy to love and nurture. After this flood of emotion last night, I wanted to have a church date today, just me and Mateo. He’s so full of energy and spunk these days! It’s a joy to watch him learn and explore the world.
I sometimes think about what it will feel like to dance with him at his wedding one day. I’m sure I’ll be flooded with memories of my little ninja jumping, superhero loving little boy, remembering how he’d always reply, “Me too” when I told him “I love you.” I can’t even imagine all the other memories that will overwhelm me that day, since we haven’t made them yet. But, I can imagine the feelings and the way I’ll look at him will pure love and adoration.
Lately I’ve been thinking about my extended family and how much I want to see them. We love living in San Diego but California is one long state. It’s hard having so many of our loved ones hundreds of miles away. Missing my family made me think of our last joyous get-together.
In October my brother Rob married his amazing wife, Leah. They had an incredible wedding in Calistoga, in the Napa Valley. It was during crush and the weather was perfectly beautiful. Our entire little family was in the wedding – bridesmaid, groomsmen, flower girl, and ring bearer. It was the most fun!!
The wedding was on Sunday and we arrived on Friday, so we had the whole weekend to enjoy hanging out with our family. First we met up with my mom, sister, brother-in-law and nephews for a barbecue. It was so awesome to watch all the cousins play together – my sister has two delightful little boys – Lane and Cody. Teo is 6 months younger than Lane. Great ages for playing! The following day was the rehearsal lunch at a great restaurant in adorable St. Helena. Rounding out Saturday, the kids were champs at the late afternoon rehearsal and evening cocktail party.
The wedding day was delightful! Watching my little brother marry someone we love so much, getting to dress up and dance with my husband (who’s a great dancer!), soaking up all the cuteness of the kids and the love of our family.
It was the highest of highs! I kept looking around and thinking how wonderfully blessed we are to have one another.
On Monday we had to say our goodbyes and start our long trek down boring Interstate 5. A little ways into the drive I started to feel the letdown.
We’d been on a weeklong trip – starting with celebrating Dennis’s birthday at Disneyland (using up the last few days of our annual pass). We’d LOVED our year of Disney and having it come to an end was bittersweet.
Then we continued the birthday celebration by spending a couple of days in Dennis’s hometown – staying with his best friend and visiting all of the family in Marysville. The wedding weekend capped off a fun-filled and family focused trip.
It occurred to me as we drove home that this letdown was normal. I’d just had the best time celebrating with my family. We were together, dancing, drinking, and celebrating Rob and Leah’s love and commitment. Now I was in the car for 9 hours, driving past long stretches of brown hills and plains, looking forward to returning to work and our regular routine. It should feel different!
The thing was, I realized, before this awakening, I would have told myself that I was just as happy driving down I-5 as I was during the wedding. I’d “achieved” such a state of contentment that I didn’t notice the difference in my emotions – I basically didn’t feel them. When I was honest with myself, this meant that the highs didn’t feel so high back then. If this wedding had occurred a year earlier, I wouldn’t have been present and experienced all the special and unique feelings that this event had in store. Sure, that meant that I had to also feel the letdown of the wedding ending.
This year has taught me – you can’t feel the highs without also making room for the lows.
This past week marked a full year since the bout of anxiety started that led to my awakening. As July 1 neared, I had a few passing thoughts about this milestone. But, with my mom visiting and all of us being on vacation (albeit a “stay-cation”), mostly I just enjoyed the relaxation and time with my loved ones.
When I reflect on the past year, I’m at peace with a situation that once terrified me. I know that this intense growth was a blessing and absolutely necessary for me to become the kind of wife, mom, friend, and Christian that I am meant to be.
Once I embraced the fact that I needed to be in the moment instead of always planning and controlling my thoughts and feelings, I experienced a deep sense of peace. For several months, as I practiced being in the moment, I would privately (and often publicly) comment on how wonderfully different it felt to be out of my head and fully immersed in my life. I looked forward to the time when being in the moment wouldn’t feel different, but instead would become the new normal.
Along the same lines, I wanted to let go of my anxiety about sleep. But, I learned (after several times of falling into the same mental trap) that striving to sleep well was the issue; much like how striving to stay happy was a case where the solution became the problem. I’d remind myself that back before my Okinawa trip, having trouble falling asleep on a random night didn’t mean anything about my emotional state. I wanted to finally reach that place of acceptance in regards to sleep.
When this anxiety started, all I wanted was to be back where I was before – convinced that I was happy. Once the lessons unfolded for me, my main goal was to accept and embrace the range of emotions. Instead of telling myself that I was “happy all the time” I wanted to experience sadness, anger, frustration, anxiety, happiness, joy, etc.
So, a year in – how am I doing?
Being in the moment feels normal now. The fear of not sleeping well has lost its control over me. I’m able to feel sad, mad, or anxious without having to spend time and energy trying to figure out how to be happy again. My faith is strong and I cling to Christ more closely than ever. I’m able to experience more in life because I don’t fear my emotional response. I’m able to grow and learn with curiousity and disernment.
This is the third of Marisa de los Santos’s books that I’ve read this year. I thoroughly enjoyed the first two and Falling Together did not break the streak. I loved this book!
This story is about love, relationships, and life. Pen (short for Penelope), the protagonist, is a woman in her late twenties. She’s dealing with heartache in her life and missing her two best friends from college. Pen, Cat (short for Catalina), and Will were inseparable through college. As they entered the next stage of their life, they couldn’t figure out how to maintain their friendship without being a trio (the term they prefer to “threesome”).
When Pen and Will each receive an email from Cat saying that she needed to see them, six years after their dramatic separation, they respond by attending a college reunion. Eagerly anticipating and expecting to reunite with Cat, they discover she wasn’t the sender of the email and an adventure ensues.
Marisa de los Santos is a poet and writes in a creative and beautiful style. She illuminates feelings and ways of looking at the world that expand my emotional spectrum. All of her books are about love and how people navigate the relationships with those they love. The ending of this book had me in tears and made me feel that life and love are amazingly precious.