Hurricane Sandy Preparedness!

Batten down the hatches! Hurricane Sandy is on it’s way up the coast… barreling towards my town at intense speeds. I live at the Jersey Shore…where Frankenstorm is to hit the hardest. Of course!!!

I wasn’t supposed to be here. My original plans were to work a trade show in Princeton, NJ on Monday and Tuesday. Because of the impending storm I was called in a day early… and instructed to pack a bag, as a hotel room had been secured for me.

Yesterday, I ran around like a crazy person doing my laundry, packing, and making sure the elderly women I watch had everything they needed and would be safe. Until my mom’s house is sold I have the responsibility of securing it for the storm also. By 7:30 this morning everything and everyone was taken care of and I was off. At 12:30 the trade show was called off and I was sent home.

Truth be told, I preferred to be home. I LOVE storms! I am not afraid of them. I respect them, but I am not afraid. In as much as I was looking forward to staying in a hotel for a few days, I was a bit bummed I would be missing the storm. After all… there’s no place like home.

Back in September 1996 we took a family vacation to Disney World. The timing could not have been worse. Hurricane Fran was headed toward the US at the same time we were hanging out with Mickey. We cut our trip short and headed north for the long drive home a day earlier than expected… hoping to miss the storm. While driving through Georgia I got the crazy idea to watch the storm roll in at the shore. Two kids and me in a minivan… headed directly into a storm. What the heck was I thinking?

The streets were deserted, the grey angry skies spitting rain, and warm tropical gusts made driving a bit interesting to say the least. Volunteer police and firemen were safely evacuating the locals. I drove through a barrier and made it to the shore. My son’s eyes widened with awe (fear?) as he watched palm trees bend at a 90 degree angle without snapping. A sight he remembers today as an adult. I high –tailed it out of there before I got stranded. I couldn’t imagine having to explain THAT to my husband back home!

On my way home this afternoon it dawned on me that although I made sure everyone I knew was ready for the onslaught… I was not. Other than pulling in the outdoor furniture and things, I had no provisions. A trip to Wegman’s was in order.

Whoa! I have never seen this place so crowed. Everyone was orderly and in a jovial mood… but busy filling their carts with all the standard staples. I was surprised there was still Peanut Butter on the shelves, and eggs in the dairy case. Not a bit surprised tumble weeds were rolling in the water aisle.

The first item on my shopping list was… WOOD. In case we lost power and it got cold, I felt I could always take the chill out of the air with a fire in the fireplace. Just outside the automatic doors was a display of bundled wood. I grabbed one and put it on the lower shelf of the cart. On second thought, I had better grab another. It never hurts to have a spare… right? I am so glad I got to the store when I did. By the time I purchased my items and walked back to the car, the wood display was EMPTY! YIKES! Here one minute and gone the next!

Twizzlers, chips, hummus, precooked chicken, and pizza all made it in my cart.  My supplies wouldn’t be complete without wine… so I took a little trip to the liquor store right next door to grab a bottle… or two. Isn’t that convenient?

Back home I am all set. Phone, iPad, laptop are all being charged. The dogs have been walked, fed, and now sleeping. I know where all my flashlights and candles are… matches too! Water jugs are filled, and the back door is being held shut with my kitchen aid mixer. The cars are parked tight between the houses… away from trees.

The lake should not pose a problem as it’s across the street and not tidal. Although the banks most likely won’t be able to hold back the overflow… I doubt it will make it to my front door. My basement is dry at the moment, but without power to run the sump pump it will be three feet deep before ya know it.

All that is left is to decide where to sleep. Do I sleep in my bed upstairs and hope a tree doesn’t crash through the roof… or sleep on the couch in the living room and cross my fingers a tree limb doesn’t come through the window? Eenie, meanie, miney, moe.

Be safe everyone!!

Coming soon to a town near you…

I don’t want to be here.

I DON’T want to be HERE!

I DON’T WANT TO BE HERE!

 I… DON’T… WANT… TO… BE… HERE!!!!

Idon’twanttobehere.

I find myself repeating these words over and over and over. They began bouncing around in my head a little over a year ago. I vividly remember the first time I heard them. I was standing at my kitchen sink… looking out the window onto my neighbor’s fence. It was the end of summer 2011.

I don’t want to be here. I heard the words as clearly as if someone whispered them in my ear.

What does that mean? I don’t want to be here in the kitchen? I don’t want to be in this house? I don’t want to be in this town? I don’t want to be in this situation? I don’t want to be unsettled? I don’t want to be in this time of my life? Where don’t I want to be???

One question that popped up was… Do I not want to be here on this earth? Thank heaven I crossed that off the list immediately. Yes, I wanted to be here on this earth… just not HERE. Where was HERE? I haven’t got a clue.

As the year passed I would hear these words now and again. I don’t want to be here. Until one day I was writing in my journal and BINGO. I simply do not want to be HERE! As in… Calgon, take me away! Whisk me away from this stressful place and let me sink into the warm bubbly bath of my soul and not have a care in the world. It’s time for me to FLEE! Yes! Run away and hide! Yes. YES! YES!

For those of you who have never suffered from PTSD or depression, let me explain this is a normal behavior. My PTSD has screwed up my ‘fight or flight’ reaction… which I will explain in further detail in a future post.

I quickly made a decision! Call it what you want… an adventure, escapism, fleeing, rebooting, soul searching, a ‘walkabout’, or just plain ‘running away’… but over the next year or so I will be gallivanting across the USA exploring and experiencing everything I possibly can… by car! And it all begins next week!!

This idea has been percolating for years. When my ill husband was still living at home and making my life extremely difficult, I could think of nothing else but running away to a cabin in the woods. No electricity, no cells, no computers.  I just wanted time to think, admire the beauty surrounding me, and spend a little time to just ‘be’. I was never alone in this dream… Nope, never alone.

Another quirky PTSD thing is never feeling safe. Always being ‘on alert’ that something bad is going to happen. Always waiting for the other shoe to drop. Trust me, in my life that shoe has dropped plenty of times. My dreams always had a trusted friend with me. Someone I knew would warn me if they heard a noise. That person wouldn’t have to protect me, or even entertain me… they just had to be an extra pair of ears and eyes so I could let my guard down just enough so I could relax. In reality that person doesn’t exist… so I’m going alone. I’ll survive… I always do.

Thinking that driving an RV might be the most comfortable way to travel, a friend and I visited an RV dealer to check them out. Those motor homes were AWESOME… kind of like an adult tree house on wheels. If I had a traveling companion MAYBE I would consider one… but I realized I didn’t want the responsibility of something that large all by myself. Besides I would also have to trail a smaller car behind so I could get into the nooks and crannies of the country.  A cost analysis proved that driving a regular sedan and staying in hotels would be more cost effective any way. So I scratched the RV idea.

When my kids were young, I took them on a cross-country road trip, staying in campgrounds. That trip has become a highlight of their lives. So… I decided that camping a lot of the nights would be a great idea. KOAs (Campgrounds of America) are always clean, well lit, and safe. The national parks have some fabulous camping areas also. And at $20 a night you certainly can’t beat the price.

Setting up a tent each night is not something I relish doing. Although now a days there are tents you simply throw into the air and they ‘pop up’ as they float back down. Add an air mattress, pillow, and blanket… and I’m good to go, even at my advanced age. THEN I stumbled upon an ad for the SylvanSport GO… a lightweight aluminum trailer/camper. Very cool! Check it out HERE. Sharpening my pencil, I went back to the calculator to do another cost analysis… nope, not worth the gas to tow it all by myself.  The end result is to use a combination of hotels, campgrounds, and friend’s sofas.

Now that my lodging and transportation needs have been meshed out… I need to pack in supplies. A trip to a local bookstore scored me a Road Atlas, A Guide to the National Parks, plus the ‘must have’ book, 1,000 Places To See Before You Die. For my birthday last month my kids gave me an AAA membership, an emergency car kit, and a National Parks Pass. For ‘creature comforts’ I purchased a wireless speaker system for my iPod (to listen to books on tape), a solar powered light, and fan. I need to unearth my plug adapter for the car to be able to charge my laptop and phone… and I am ready to rock and roll!

First stop… Disney World! Of course! My daughter is to be married there in June, so it is time to meet the wedding co-coordinator, taste the menu, choose our lodgings, find a florist and hunt down someone to do our hair!! Oh… and wander around Epcot gorging ourselves with all the best food from various countries during the Food and Wine Festival. Oh! I can’t wait!

Once my ‘work’ there is done I will be on my own with two days on my calendar to fill before I head north to Atlanta. My sister-in-law is throwing a fun shopping extravaganza in her home and I’m part of the sales staff. I will be visiting with a high school classmate in the area before heading north towards home… and stopping in North Carolina for some sight seeing too. All in all I will be on the road for 2 weeks… then head home.

I am sketching out my next two trips. February will find me in Texas. I have only driven THROUGH Texas, never stopped and explored. Since their weather is nicer than ours that time of year I will head out that way. I am sure there are thousands of things to see and do along the way.

Also… I was graciously given the use of a timeshare for a week. So now I am researching all the possibilities. I narrowed down the time I want to use it… One of the first two weeks in January. Now I just have to decide WHERE. Hawaii is on the top of the list, as is Maine, Martha’s Vineyard, Charleston, and more. I know you all think I’m crazy to mention Maine and Martha’s Vineyard… in January! My reasoning is EVERYONE visits those places in the summer… I want to be different. There is nothing better than walking off the beaten path to explore something else.

Apparently I walk to my own beat 🙂

PTSD…

Don’t you wish people came with instruction manuals?? Or today’s technology gurus would invent an app to give you a quick peek at another person’s ‘issues’? Hey!!! That might be fun!

I can see it now. You are walking down the street and this good-looking guy bumps into you and says, “So sorry, excuse me”. Once the interaction has taken place you whip out your smart phone, aim it at the guy and tap the app. It reads… BE KIND TO ME, MY DOG JUST DIED… or…I’M A PICK POCKET, CHECK YOUR WALLET.

Nah! TMI!

How about an app that just displays your latest Facebook status? Nah.

I know… how about displaying one of the many labels put on each of us. ADD for example. BITCH, DRUGGIE, ALCOHOLIC, A (as in scarlet), ALS, PCOS are more. Mine would read PTSD.

Yes… I have been diagnosed with PTSD. And before you begin… let me answer the questions I know are bubbling to the surface of your brain.

No, I have not been in combat.
No, I don’t duck down when a car backfires.
Yes, I love fireworks!
Yes, I startle easily
No, I am not on medication
Yes, I suffer from depression at times
Yes, it does impact my daily living at times
Yes, some people treat me differently
Yes, it bothers me
No, there is no ‘cure’
No, I have not resorted to alcohol
Yes, I have been in therapy
Yes, therapy works
No, I am not in a relationship so I can’t answer that one
Yes, it impacts my relationships with others.
Yes, I have tried yoga, meditation, art, writing, fill-in-the-blank
Yes, I know I look ‘normal’ (that one ALWAYS gets me… What exactly IS normal?)

All of the above questions… and many others have come my way either face to face, via email, or Facebook messages. I am not offended or shocked by any of them. I have always answered frankly and honestly, and will continue to do so. The ONE question I cannot answer quite yet is, “How did you get PTSD?” It’s a very personal question that I have not figured out a short, socially acceptable answer I want to share with the world. As I continue to write my book, Wearing Highrise Panties with Lowrise Jeans an answer is coming forward. Perhaps you will just have to read the book when it’s published to find out.

In the meantime, once a week I will write how PTSD affects ME… and only me. Hopefully I will able to shed some light on this alphabet label I have been branded with and prove to the world we are ‘normal’ … just like you ☺

Let’s get started…

About five years ago I was having problems sleeping. My husband had passed away after battling ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease)… another alphabet label… for more than eight years. I assumed the sleeping issues were a result of depression and figured, “This too shall pass”.

My husband’s planned passing did not turn out to be the caring, loving ending it was supposed to be. Due to mudslinging and threats from ‘those who shall remain nameless’, it turned into a gut wrenching and ugly mess. Lawyers had to get involved a few weeks after his passing… and that’s all you need to know at the moment.

Back to the ‘not sleeping’… a friend of mine who happens to be a psychotherapist suggested I see someone about the problem. She has been watching me slide downhill from a distance and waited patiently for the day I asked for help. As a friend she couldn’t ethically work with me… but when I finally DID ask for help, she quickly gave me the name of another psychotherapist she thought would be perfect for the job. It took me another few months to actually place the call.

The therapist and I got along just fine. Talking about my life, what I was like in the past, what I am like now, etc. At this point I have not been diagnosed with anything. Just a person with some sleeping issues ‘talking it out’ with a professional. Eventually medication was suggested as ‘an aid’. Oh no!!! Not me!! I refuse to take medicine for a sleeping issue. In my view this was a ‘mind over matter’ problem and I could deal with it without medication, thank you very much!

During this time I had been meeting a friend for dinner out every few months. When I finished relating the medication story they replied, “Why don’t you give it a shot? Sometimes you need the medication to provide an even base so you can begin to solve the problem.” Hmmmm…. That sounded logical. It hadn’t been explained to me in that manner. OK… I’ll check it out.

I made an appointment with my medical doctor the very next day. It was a regular, boring physical with all the normal questions. I filled him in on my sleeping issues… or lack there of, and gave him a cliff note version of the last few days of my husband’s life on earth. Then he left me alone in the room for a while… a long while… a very long while.

As I glanced around the examination room earlier I noticed a few framed newspaper and magazine articles on the walls. In my boredom I decided to read them. Huh… my doctor apparently is some big wig in the area of Depression. Who knew? So… as I sit in the empty room awaiting his return I diagnose myself with Depression.

The door suddenly flies open and I jump off the table. The doctor zooms in with a smile that doesn’t quite reach his eyes. You know the one, the pasted smile. The smile that says, “I have some news for you and you might not like it”, smile. I am sure they are taught that smile in medical school.

“After reviewing your history I believe you have PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,” he announces. He continues, “It is very normal for someone who has been through a situation like yours.”

“Uh, are you sure you want to stick with that diagnosis? I felt for sure you would declare me depressed and call it a day. Isn’t that your area of expertise?”

“Yes, I am… but I’m sticking with the diagnosis. PTSD”.

I walked out of his office dazed and confused, grasping a prescription for Wellbutrin.

So there you have it… the very beginning of my story of PTSD. As the weeks progress I will tell more of my story. Most likely I will post towards the end of the week… Thursday, Friday, or Saturday. Those days seem to be my best writing days for ‘touchy’ subjects. Sundays I don’t function at all. I HATE Sundays. If a good fairy granted me one wish, it would be to banish Sundays from my life. Oops… Off topic ☺

Have YOU been ‘labled’? If so… what?

Please leave a comment if you have a PTSD question. I promise I will answer.

The Day My Pen Ran Out Of Ink…

My pen ran out of ink!!! No! Really! I’m serious!!
My pen… RAN… OUT… of… INK!!

Top pen shows some ink still available. Bottom pen is E-M-P-T-Y!!!

Lately I have been obsessed with writing. Daily Journal writing helps me to ‘think through’ problems and issues. Grocery lists make sure I get home with everything I need. Condolences, Birthday Greetings, Thank you cards and more keep my hand moving along the paper. I have found that a lot of my book and blog writing is first done on paper too. Writing by hand slows my brain down so I can think while I write. I am amazed at how many times I change a word in my mind from the moment I think of the sentence until the time it shows up on the paper. Going the ‘old fashion’ route isn’t as frustrating either. No red or green squiggly lines show up and tell me how uneducated I am.

I don’t think I have ever written so much in my life that a pen actually ran dry. With no warning either. One minute words were flowing easily off the pen tip, and the next… nothing. See?

Clear writing… then BOOM, no ink. I had to search for another pen IN THE DARK to finish my thought. UGH!

Who knew this was possible??? Obviously quite a few people must be aware of this issue because look… It’s an advertising feature. I’m astonished!

Whoa… 40% Longer! How long is it 40% longer than??

I have been around the block for quite a few years. Once we were allowed to use an ink pen instead of a pencil, around fourth grade I think, I never looked back. Pen was my writing utensil of choice. I clearly remember my friend Mary pressing down so hard when she wrote, her paper curled at the edges. I wanted to be just like her… but my hand hurt after only two pages, so I gave up.

In my younger years Bic was my ‘go to’ pen. Blue Ink, medium point. It blobbed and leaked ruining my purse linings, but I didn’t know any better. The tips were made of metal back then and if your pen skipped you simply heated the tip with a match and the ink began to flow again. Eventually the Bic company switched to a plastic tip and then you only ruined your pen. As I got older I moved on to black ink, fine point. Then I hit my ‘creative stride’ and wrote in multi-color (mostly hot pink) gel pens. I have grown to full adulthood and have settled on an inexpensive PaperMate Profile. It feels comfortable in my hand and glides across the paper as easy as a greased pig.

Over the years I have received pen ‘awards’… you know, those Cross Pen and Pencil sets held in a wooden case with an engraved plaque stuck to the top. Those pens are never use, just there for show. I wonder how much ink are in them? I will never know. Every time I have tried to use it the ink was already dried up.

I have given pens as gifts too. For example, I bought my son-in-law ‘to be’ a Mont Blanc as a college graduation gift. I know he has lost… and found it a few times. No clue if he still has it. However, picking it out for him was fun. I stood in the store at Bridgewater Commons and wrote his name over and over again with different pens until… BINGO! One pen felt so comfortable, and his name seemed to effortlessly flow as if the pen knew it was going to belong to him. It is NOT the pen I would have chosen had I not scribbled with it. The pen picked me, I didn’t pick it.

I don’t know about you… but pens don’t normally stay in my possession long enough for me to realize there is a finite amount of gooey ink. I leave them on counters, lose them at the bottom of my purse, pack them away in boxes, leave them in my car, and hand them to needy strangers in the Department of Motor Vehicle lines… which of course they ‘forget’ to return. That’s OK, I don’t mind. In the cold and flu season germs are every where and it’s best not to use ‘community’ pens or share yours.

The major problem I have with pens, is just like policemen… they are never around when you need one. In a pinch I have been known to jot a phone number down with lipstick, nail polish, and a burnt stick. Once I even signed a document with grape juice and a toothpick. Hey… the document was going to be faxed… the recipient would never know!

Now that I know running out of ink MIGHT become a problem in the future I will be more diligent when making a purchase. I wonder if any company has thought about installing a fuel gauge on the barrel giving you the option to switch your pen before you run out?

If you think I am obsessed about pens… wait until you read my future blog about scissors! I could probably write a book entirely on them! Don’t get me started!!! Geesh!

Two Years Ago Today…

Two Years Ago Today… plus a week.

Two years ago today I moved into my bungalow by the lake built in 1921. Even though much work had been done to make it ‘marketable’… it still looked like it needed a little more TLC (Tender Loving Care). The asking price was just a bit more than I wanted to spend, but when I walked into this house I felt all warm and fuzzy inside and just KNEW I had to live here. I felt ‘at home’… FINALLY.

The home inspector did not share my enthusiasm, nor did my realtor. My inspection report was as thick as a short novel. The most important issue was the foundation, it was slipping off it’s beam. The inspector had me hunch down and crawl under the house with a flashlight to inspect the beam. He pointed out where it had slipped an inch. I surveyed the beam, deduced there were 3 more inches to go before it became a real problem, and shimmied back out of the hole. Brushing bugs and cobwebs from my hair I asked, “It took 89 years to shift an inch? Then I guess I don’t have anything to worry about. I will be long gone by the time it becomes a major issue”. And with that… I bought the house.

It had everything I was looking for in a house… IF I looked through rose colored glasses. My list of requirements was simple:
1. 2 to 3 bedrooms.
*The main bedroom is fine, it even looks out over the lake. The other 2 bedrooms TOGETHER don’t really equal one regular size room.
2. 1 and ½ baths.
*The half bath on the main level is HUGE! The main bath upstairs however is so tiny you have to keep the door open when blow drying your hair so there is a space for your elbow to go.
3. Must have a fireplace.
* It has a beautiful old peanut stone fireplace, however the inside chimney is cracked and needs to be replaced if I want to have a blazing fire and not burn down the place. I opted to install an insert.
4. Off street parking.
* My badly cracked and quite ugly cement driveway does keep my car off the street, however it is so narrow I have to jockey the car around anytime I want to bring the trash cans to the curb, mow my front lawn, or open the car door without hitting the house.
5. Easy to maintain yard.
* The front lawn is so small it takes me longer to vacuum the living room than to mow it. Between the dogs and two huge trees in the back, the grass doesn’t stand a chance to grow… it only needs mowing a few times each year. However, raking the leaves is a major task… but I enjoy it.
6. Lastly… MUST, I repeat, MUST be on the lake!
*Here is where I kind of blew it… sort of. The house sits across a small country road from the lake. The view is spectacular. The road is not well travelled and normally I don’t mind it at all. BUT… in the evening my home becomes a ‘fish bowl’. When I am trying to relax in the living room (the one and only room I can do that in) and watch TV… everyone driving by and walking their dogs can look in and wave. I installed blinds to give me a bit of privacy, but then I lose the view. ICK!

All in all the house is PERFECT in every other way. The kitchen and bathrooms were all updated with new appliances and fixtures. The house was newly sided and new windows installed. The carpet was pulled up and the hardwood floors gleamed. And the best feature???? The owner was willing to work with me by allowing me to move in within one week, letting me rent for two months while we settled the paperwork, AND became the banker so I could afford it. WOW!!!!!! Was THIS meant to be… or what?? To top it all off, I was moving back to my old stomping grounds… back to my roots as it were. A few miles away from my mom and only a street away from the guy I would be spending the rest of my life with. Speak about being GD (Geographically Desirable)!!!

Two years ago today I was vacating my previous home due to foreclosure… off to finally live my dream. A froggy faced sheriff knocked on my door a year prior with the news. I wasn’t too upset. I had already re-financed enough to have pulled all of the equity out of the home to pay my husband’s medical bills. I was able to continue living there for a little over a year without paying a dime. So by the time I moved I was ahead of the game by financial standards.

Two years ago today I moved from my home of the past 27 years to my tiny little cottage on the lake. I brought along much more than I needed, plus a very unhappy daughter. I didn’t really care. I was thrilled to be moving and nothing could dampen my spirit. My daughter was 30 years old for heaven sake and it was her choice to come with me. She was more than welcome, but her sour attitude wasn’t my concern.

Two years ago today I couldn’t have made this move without the help, encouragement, and kindness of friends, family, new neighbors, and previous owner. My new next door neighbor happened to be the listing agent… plus her husband and step son became my movers. Other family and old friends arrived to off load the truck. How cool is that?? My joy was bursting out all over.

As I unpacked a few boxes I began to panic. How was I going to fit all of my things in this tiny house? It hit me hard when I realized I couldn’t find a space large enough to store my wok. I don’t use it that much, but the silly thing had no space and I began to get upset. A friend looked at me and asked, “Are you sorry you bought this place?” As my lower lip quivered I answered weakly, “Nooooo”. I clutched the wok to my chest and walked into the living room. Looking at the lake, then turning and seeing the fireplace a smile bubbled up and spread across my face. “This is why I bought the house,” I announced. “I am sure it will all work out”.

I woke up the next morning with a fresher attitude. Looking out my bedroom window at my neighbor’s tree I noticed gnarled branches in the shape of a heart. A sure sign I was in the right place. I went downstairs, looked at the kitchen through different eyes and found the perfect spot for my wok. Everything was going to be OK.

Two years ago today I didn’t have health insurance, a reliable car, a steady income, or a savings account. It didn’t matter, I was happy… I was going to live the life I always imagined. It was time to live the DREAM! Time has passed and so many things have changed. I am now a full grown adult with all the trappings. My car has proven to be reliable (knock on wood) however it is eight years old and I am beginning the search for a replacement. I have all the proper insurances… car, homeowners, life, health and even a prescription plan. A steady income provided by pensions and the VA allow me to sleep comfortably knowing my basics are covered and my taxes are paid. I not only have a savings account, but an investment account as well. My daughter has settled down and is making the best of it. Besides, she is getting married in June and will be gone.

So… am I still as happy as I was two years ago today? Uh… Sort of. I’m more of a ‘warm glow’ kind of happy, not the bubbling, jumping up and down happy of two years ago. Why? Well…

Two years ago today my dream was to live by the lake and spend my days nurturing my creative side. Canning jams and jellies, sewing quilts, and decorating the bungalow for example. The evenings were to be shared with a ‘significant other’ at their house or mine… talking about our day, eating dinner, basking in the glow of love and contentment. Weekends were to be filled with Sunday afternoon drives, visiting or entertaining friends and family, or working on the house. I have worked hard all my life and am ready to take time to smell the roses. What a pollyanna!

In reality… I flunked GIRL FRIEND 101 in the School of Hard Knocks and have no ‘significant other’ to share the dream with. I have enough money to live, but the price of gas prohibits me from leisurely meandering around the area on Sunday drives. Ditto for working on the house. Instead of smelling the roses, I smell dampness from the lake… and the dogs. To top it off I haven’t had a creative thought in ages. My quilting machine is collecting dust, the summer passed without one jar of anything being canned, and my house is still filled with unpacked boxes. I have the time for all of this… just not the desire.

I guess you could say I am living in the real world now… not the dream world. All of a sudden I feel old. Damn!

Two years ago today I had a dream. Today I don’t.

VOTE by MAIL!

Didja know…

There is no excuse NOT TO VOTE in New Jersey!!! Anyone, for any reason can send their vote in via mail. Really! Anyone! Any reason!

It used to be years ago when I was running around like a chicken with my head chopped off and my ill husband wanted to vote, I had to physically go down to the County Clerk’s Office, grab a form, have it filled out and signed with a doctor’s note… THEN when the ballot came in the mail I again had to physically go back to the County Clerk’s Office and deliver it.

NOW… you simply have to go to http://www.nj.gov/state/elections/voting-information-vote-by-mail.html , print out the pdf form for your county, fill it out, stamp it, and mail it. It’s a self mailer, so just tape it shut and send it off. Within a week you will receive a ballot in the mail. You then need to verify it is your signature and such, cast your vote (in secrecy) and mail it back. That’s it!!!

No more waiting in line on a cold night when you would rather be tucked inside your nice warm house cuddled in your jammies. No more running home on your short-enough-as-it-is lunch hour to squeeze in your vote. No more scrambling for a sitter so you can vote during the day and NOT bring the kids. No longer do you have to leave your warm bed early in the morning to ‘beat the rush’.

So now you have absolutely no excuse to NOT vote in the state of New Jersey… unless of course you decide you don’t want to. That’s a whole different discussion!

Are you going to vote on November 6, 2012? If so, have you definitively made your choice or are you still undecided? If you are not voting… why?

The most often overheard discussions about not voting is the person feels their vote doesn’t count. After all… as a legal US Citizen who is over the age of 18, and not incarcerated they only get to cast a popular vote. The plan being that the ‘powers that be’ in the Electoral College listen to the people of their state and vote the way they wish. In reality… you cannot count on that. The electors are usually ‘party based’ and have already pledged their votes BEFORE the actual vote is tallied. In election year 2000, elector Barbara Lett-Simmons of Washington, DC abstained from voting. Deciding she didn’t want to cast her vote for Al Gore as she pledged, she simply did not vote at all. The outcome of the election was not changed, George W. Bush still had the electoral majority. Yet Washington, DC had one less ‘voice’ in the voting process.

New Jersey will have 14 electoral votes this election… one less than past years due to the 2010 Census Reapportionment. 14 out of 538. Not too shabby.

Traditionally New Jersey has been a blue state, voting Democratic in the last five elections. Many polls are predicting the trend to continue. I wonder what would happen if the people of New Jersey surprised the Electoral College and voted hot and heavy for the Republicans. Would the popular vote sway the electors? Hmmmm? Wouldn’t it be fun to try??? Seriously… What do you think would happen?

I for one am a registered Independent. I have many friends on either side of the fence and a few sitting on top of it with me. I vote for the person I feel will do the best job for the USA! I do not care if the person in charge is purple, has two heads, and believes in ghosts… as long as they run this country like a well oiled machine with dignity and decorum.THAT’s who I’m voting for! And I hope the electors of my state hear my ROAR!

Follow me!!!!

Help me reach my goal of 100 followers by 12/31/2012 and enter a chance to win an Amazon GIFT CERTIFICATE!!! How much is the certificate for, you ask??? Read below and find out.

Rules:

1. Begin following my blog by entering your email address in the box on the right hand side of this page. You will automatically be entered for a chance to win the gift certificate.
2. If you begin following no later than MIDNIGHT (EST) October 20, 2012 you are automatically entered TWICE.
3. If you already follow me (as of Noon (EST) October 15, 2012) THANK YOU! You are automatically entered THREE TIMES!
4. Want to increase your chance of winning? Leave a comment to be entered ONE MORE TIME! (Only one entry no matter how many comments you leave).

Prize:

One Amazon GIFT CERTIFICATE will be awarded… the amount to be determined by the number of followers to my blog on MIDNIGHT (EST) December 31, 2012.

A $50 GIFT CERTIFICATE will be awarded no matter how many followers sign up. The prize increases .50 for every follower above my goal of 100. For example: If on MIDNIGHT December 31, 2012 I have 150 registered followers… the prize will be a certificate in the amount of $75. So…. To increase the prize amount… tell all of your friends to sign up!!! The prize limit is $500! Wouldn’t that be AWESOME to have 1,000 new followers???

Winner will be selected at random using an online number generator on January 1, 2013, NOON EST. All followers are in order of date signed up. Current followers are already at the top of the list… their second and third entry will be added to the bottom of the new complete list. Second entry for followers signed up by October 20, 2012 will then be added to the list. Comment entries will be added last.

Odds of winning are dependent upon number of entries.

Winner will be notified via email as soon after the drawing as possible.

Certificate will be delivered via email to winner’s registered address.

FAMILY, FRIENDS and STRANGERS are all eligible to win! REALLY!

Examples:

1. You are already a follower and you leave a comment on any of my posts today or later… You are entered FOUR times! THREE for already following and ONE more for commenting.
2. You sign up before this Friday. You are entered TWO times. Leave a comment to gain another entry.
3. Sign up next week, leave a comment today and another one tomorrow. You are entered TWO times. ONE for following my blog and signing up after October 20, 2012 and ONE more for leaving a comment (no extra entries for leaving more than one comment).

Questions??:

Feel free to leave a comment, or email me directly at: deb@debhathaway.com

What a fabulous way to start the NEW YEAR! Just think of all the things you can buy with an AMAZON certificate!

GOOD LUCK!

First Pancake…

Yesterday we celebrated the birth of my first child. She came into this world 32 years ago at 7:59pm on Monday October 13th. I have no clue how this is possible since I am only 39… and holding!

While having the blood test taken for my marriage license back in 1979 the doctor cautioned it might be difficult to conceive a child. Due to my complications with PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) and a low sperm count on my husband’s end things were not going to be easy. “Come talk to me when you are ready,” he instructed. “There are many ways to work this out”.

We were married in November 1979… and I was pregnant by January!! So much for having trouble!

I had been traveling for work and was gone for a week. When I returned home, my husband left for a two-week trip, also for work. By the time he returned home I was as sick as a dog. Thinking I had the flu I stayed wrapped up in a blanket for the entire two weeks he was away, tucked on the couch… not far from the bathroom.

We were supposed to go to dinner with his side of the family, however I was too ill and just couldn’t make myself get up and get moving. The thought of food, any food, made me nauseous. He went without me, and I stayed curled on the couch. When he returned home he had the most ridiculous look on his face. He looked me square in the eyes and announced, “My brother thinks you are pregnant!”

“What?” He could not have surprised me more. No way did the thought I could possibly be pregnant ever enter my head. Not even once in the entire 3 weeks of being sick. The doctor said it would be difficult. No, I had the flu. The very next day I made an appointment with the doctor… just to be sure.

During the exam, the doctor looked up from between my legs with a smile on his face and said, “I thought you were going to come to talk me first”. He continued, “I’m not a betting man, but I would bet you were pregnant”. And so it began!

Once I was able to eat and keep the contents of my stomach where they belonged, it was smooth sailing from there on. Occasionally a particular odor would make me queasy… but that was all. Time moved quickly forward… to the due date.

The Eagles were playing the Giants at Giant’s Stadium that sunny Sunday in October. The Phillies were playing for the pennant that evening. What a great sports day in our household. Yes… we bleed green for the Eagles and are Fanatics of the Phillies. My husband had tickets for the Eagles game. As he was getting dressed to leave, I felt the first twinge of a contraction. Oh my! Now what?? How long do I have? Should I mention this to my husband? Should he go to the game? What if he went to the game and I had to go to the hospital without him? YIKES!
He reluctantly decided to stay home. His reasoning being he would most likely have an accident on the way to the hospital from nerves if I called him to leave early. We weren’t ready to call the family yet and let them know I was in labor. Having never been through this before we had absolutely no clue what to expect. We decided to keep ‘mum’. Of course my brother (a Giant’s fan) called to make a friendly wager on the game. My husband, wanting to appear aloof, invited my brother to come watch the game at our house… assuming he would decline. Nope… it didn’t go that way. My brother was there in an hour, ready to root for his favorite team. I was timing the contractions as the guys were timing the plays.

The Eagles won… 31-16! Next up, the Phillies game. My brother decided to stay and watch that also. We still didn’t let him in on what was going on. It was getting late and I was tired so I went to our room to rest. The contractions were getting closer and stronger, but not so bad I felt we had to go. It had been twelve hours since I felt the first one.

The Phillies won the Pennant! I finally called the doctor! He commented he appreciated that I waited until the game was over to call him, and that he would meet us in the hospital shortly. It was 1:00am Monday, October 13, 1980.

My brother was spending the night. We grabbed our pre-packed overnight bags and called him to the kitchen. We instructed him on how to use the coffee maker and told him we were off to have a baby. To say he was dumbfounded was an understatement. He had absolutely no clue I was in labor all day!

During the last trimester my husband and I signed up for natural childbirth classes. They were held at the hospital every Monday evening at 8PM. I have always felt that giving birth was a natural act and should be dealt with accordingly. I wasn’t ready to go totally ‘granola’ on the issue as I do believe being in a hospital setting if a problem occurs is the best place to be. However, I really don’t believe in medication unless absolutely necessary. If there is an emergency and you have to knock me out… OK, go for it. If the medication is just to make the pain go away, well then I will just wait first to see how bad the pain is before I will let it into my system. I can usually breathe my way through pain.

All day I am in the labor room, waiting for something to happen. The contractions are still coming, slow and steady… more of a bother than a pain. There is a belt strapped around my big, bloated middle measuring the intensity of the contractions. I am tired and cranky, but still smiling. This hospital had a ‘daddy room’ where Stan could take a breather, watch TV, get refreshments, and take a nap. At 7:00pm he was exhausted and went for a nap. HE was exhausted???? Don’t even get me started!! I had been in labor for 36 hours by now.

At 7:40PM it’s time to PUSH! Whoa! It happened all of a sudden! In an instant the room became a flurry of activity. The doctor was barking orders, the nurses were flipping pieces of the bed into different positions making it fit through the hallways. I am off to the delivery room… where the magic happens! “Wake my husband!”, I shout. This is exciting!!

Once in the delivery room I have to transfer from the bed I was in, to the table in the middle of the room. No one is there to help me so the doctor asks if I can do it myself. Sure… no problem. As I exert energy to get up, a major contraction hits… and my child comes squirting out! The doctor, an older backwoods kind of guy who should have retired years ago but just LOVES bringing red, wrinkled, wiggly babies into this world, looks over at me as he is preparing a numbing shot for my episiotomy. He drops the needle, takes two giant steps and snatches my daughter before she hits the floor like a Super Bowl winning receiver… and tucks her in the crook of his elbow. Welcome to the world my precious daughter!

My husband missed the entire birth. The nurse woke him up, threw some scrubs at him, and instructed to dress in them and wait by the delivery room door until called in. He did as he was told. While standing at the door he heard a baby cry. A woman sweeping the floor asked, “Is that your baby?” He replied he wasn’t sure. “Well there’s only one woman up here giving birth right now… so you had better get in there!” she said.

She was born one minute before our last natural childbirth class was to start. I guess we passed the course ☺ My husband ran down to the first floor class room to share the good news.

Yesterday as I cooked her breakfast, French Toast… I was reminded that she was my ‘first pancake’. You know how when you are making pancakes the first one is your ‘test’? The pan needs to be the right temperature, the butter melted ‘just so’. The first one comes out OK, but not perfect. Still good tasting, still good looking… but you are not going to win any awards. This first child of mine had the roughest time and paved the way for the next two.

As parenting goes, I was laid back most of the time… but too strict in other areas. When this child came home from college the first time, she decided at 11:00PM she was going out to a friend’s. “What? No way”, I remarked. “You are NOT leaving this house at this late hour to go to a guy’s house”. When the second child came home the first time from college, she bounded down the stairs at 11:00PM and I said, “Have a good time”. See? First pancake.

Thirty-two years have passed. We have gone through many trials and tribulations. First steps, first tooth, kindergarten, boys, driving, accidents, panic attacks, college and so much more. I wouldn’t change a thing! I love my first pancake. She is perfect in every way.

Happy Birthday dear daughter!

Reunions…

Family reunions, School reunions, Work reunions, planned, impromptu, mini or grand… any gathering of people with commonality is bound to be a fun time.

My husband’s side of the family has a reunion in the Pocono’s every five years. Up to five generations descend upon Spilt Rock Lodge for a weekend of activities. Plans are now being made for the summer of 2014 for the next get together. Money and circumstances have prevented me from attending all of them… however I should be able to get to this next one.

When the kids were little and we were a sizable family, attending these reunions became a major packing and planning nightmare for me… but was well worth the effort. Now that everyone is grown and on their own I only have myself to worry about. As grown ups, my kids will make their own decision to attend or not. I, on the other hand have become the ‘older generation’ who gets to sit around the lake and watch all the little ones splash around in the lake and cry when water gets in their eyes. Ah yes… family fun. By the end of the weekend we are all tired and ready to go home, but are happy to have had this time together to re-connect.

This weekend was my High School Reunion… OTHS Class of ’72. From the beginning planning stages I was excited about attending, however reality soon set in and I came to the difficult decision I just didn’t want to go. Not only do I dislike with grand intensity large gatherings… but a particular person would be attending that I didn’t feel I could be in the same confined space for an extended period of time without stressing.

My dad passed away the summer I turned seven. From that moment I was instructed to hold my head high, never let your emotions show; continue living as if nothing happened. I learned my lesson well. As years marched on I held my head high at the funeral of my first husband, knowing my mother-in-law hated my guts. I pretended life was a bowl of cherries when my second husband became ill and my world turned upside down. Well… this time I am not going to be the happy, brave little soldier.

I recently dated a guy for 2 ½ years. I fell in love. He broke up with me. All that is bad enough… but he would be attending this reunion. I am an adult now and I don’t want to tip toe around the room pretending every thing is A-OK. It’s NOT OK. I am not happy about the break up… even a year later. I’m hurt and I don’t want to be nice. Therefore I made the gut wrenching decision to not attend this one.

Thinking my decision over a few months later I decided to not limit my options and sent in my payment to attend the festivities. In my mind I still wasn’t going to attend, but knowing how my mind turns on a dime I figured there would be an outside chance my decision would change. The committee needed an accurate head count for the catering staff and it was easier to say I was coming and then not go, than the other way around.

Many of my friends told me I shouldn’t let one person stand in the way of going and having a good time… advice I can hear myself giving to a friend in need. I understood that advice, but no one knows it usually takes me a few days to settle down after having a high stress situation. Rationally thinking I was more concerned with the ‘aftermath’ of the encounter than the actual event.

The morning of the reunion I was still not 100% committed to going. I told myself I would arrive an hour late and leave an hour early… hoping that would relieve some of the stress and anxiety. Then I got a call in the afternoon. One of the committee members needed help with delivering and displaying the balloons… was I available to help? Of course I was… I live and breathe to help others.

She picked me up on the way to the restaurant. We carefully pulled the balloons from her car hoping to not lose them to the gusty ocean breeze. Success! After a quick room re-arrangement and placing the balloons on the tables we were on our way back home. While dropping me off she made me promise to come that night. I could already feel my stomach tightening.

I guess I should also mention I have PTSD… I’ll post more about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in the future. Because of this I try to keep all stress out of my life as much as I can, when I can. Life throws me some curve balls every now and then, but if I can control the situation I am much better off. So, I am following my body reactions and doing what it tells me. If my heart rate increases, I stop doing what I’m doing or begin solving math problems in my head to send my mind in another direction. This works extremely well at the dentist office… you should give it a try next time.

The reunion began at 7:00pm. I jumped in the shower at 6:00pm… still not committed to going, but getting ready one small step at a time. Reminding myself I still don’t have to go if I don’t want to. My doorbell rang at 6:50pm and scared me half to death, setting my heart racing. A classmate dropped by to see if I wanted a ride. “No thanks,” I replied. “I’m not planning on getting there until 8”. I could sense his confused state, but he went on to the reunion without me.

At 7:15pm I can feel the anxiety increase. I turn on the TV hoping to think about something else. Halloween Cupcake Wars… that should do it.

7:45pm… the Blingbats are winning the wars with delicious edible spiders and I have to finally decide if I am going or not. I have to leave now… or maybe I can wait another half hour. Nah… What difference is a half an hour going to make, I reason. I need to make my move now. Either get in the car, or go upstairs and change in to pajamas. I chose to get in the car.

I held my head high, pasted that ever-present smile on my face, took a deep breath and pinned my name badge to my chest. As I turned to face the group of classmates, the first one in view was… you guessed it… the guy I wanted to avoid… of course! My stomach flip-flopped, my heart stopped beating for an instant, but I searched the crowd for a specific friend who said he would ‘have my back’ and spotted him a few feet away. I ran towards him, but was intercepted by another classmate who wanted to chat. Whew… I made it through that awkward moment I dreaded for the past few months… and I’m still breathing! That’s good.

The rest of the night went pretty smooth. I got to catch up with many friends from the past, hug my first ever boyfriend, kiss new friends, exchange contact info with some and see pictures of kids. All the while this guy who still holds my heart was floating in and out of view. I tried to make sure my back was to him as much as I could.

Here it is, the day after… and I am paying the price. I am not running 100% today, so watching dumb-dumb TV like Alaska State Trooper’s marathon seems like a good thing to do. Planted in the oversized brown leather chair, I am exhausted from being stressed, with a headache that just won’t quit. I doze off and on and try my best to concentrate writing this blog post. I don’t think I’m doing well at either task.

Thinking back I wonder what would be different if I hadn’t gone to the reunion. In reality only one or two people would have missed me. Through the powers of Facebook I am in touch with many classmates. Anytime I travel I try to visit others. So in reality what would have been the big deal if I hadn’t gone? Was it really worth the price I am paying today?

Tomorrow is another day. I should be fully recovered by then. Thank heavens work will keep me active and give me something else to focus on.

Stress in the work place doesn’t bother me at all. In fact it invigorates me. I think more creatively, concisely, and quick when problems occur in a work environment. To be honest, nothing makes me happier than to have to solve a problem or issue in business. I become a woman of action. I am also this way as a mom. In my own personal life however, stress stops me cold in my tracks. I over think things and drive myself to the brink of insanity. I find myself hiding in my house more and more, not wanting to confront the outside world on a one to one basis. Which concerns me, because I am a ‘people person’ and really dislike spending a lot of time alone.

I wasn’t always like this. In the past the word ‘stress’ was not even in my vocabulary. I had nerves of steel. It has only been a recent development that I need to ‘squash like a bug’. I just haven’t figured out how yet. Feel free to share any thoughts or suggestions.