Friday, January 23, 2009

I wasn't made this way

Many new readers to my blog have commented on my positive outlook on life. I really wasn't born this way, actually. My natural instinct is to be a worry-wort. And obviously my life isn't perfect, nobody's is. I went through a lot of personal crisis the past few years. In 2005 my husband Todd developed a rare disorder called Spontaneous Intracranial Hypotension (SIH). It's a condition where a patient gets postural headaches due to a leak of the Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) in the spinal membrane. The only way to relieve it was to lie down. So Todd basically laid down for two months and I tried my best to work from home and took care of him. We didn't know when/if he would get better. The treatments were trial and error, but finally one type of steroids helped him get better gradually. About a month after Todd got better and was working again, he was laid off from his job. Granted, they closed down an entire office and we had known it would happen, but it was still not pleasant when it happened right after the SIH. A short few months later, in June 2006, my beloved mom was diagnosed with uterine cancer. It was Stage IV already when they discovered it, but we were still hopeful. I took time off and went with her to every single chemo treatment. I spent a lot of good quality time with her just talking and sharing. We grew even closer and that made it THAT much harder when the Lord took her home on Valentine's Day 2007. Seeing someone you love suffer from and die of cancer is one of the most agonizing things you can experience in life. When my mom died I forgot how to breathe. I was subconsciously angry at God for allowing this to happen, even though intellectually I knew that heaven is unimaginably better than here. After my mom died, I tried very hard to put my life back together and tried to be "normal". Then one week in May 2007 I was very stressed out at work. One of my coworkers went on a 2-week vacation and I had to cover for him during a very busy time. One morning I was running on the treadmill and worrying about all that I had to do for work, when suddenly my heart was racing (more than the normal exercising heartrate), my chest felt tight, I felt dizzy and had difficulty breathing. I thought I had a heart attack. Turned out I had a panic attack triggered by all the physical and emotional stress I had experienced from my mom's illness and losing her. I went to the doctor right away and was put on the drug Paxil for anxiety. Paxil made me a lot less anxious, but I almost felt like I didn't CARE as much about things anymore. I was lethargic and my usual enthusiasm and passion for life was suppressed quite a bit. I knew in the long run it wasn't how I wanted to be. So after a year on Paxil, I worked with my doctor to get weaned off the drug. Even weaning off was hard when I experienced headaches, moody swings, and body zaps. Finally in July 2008 I felt NORMAL again. What a blessing it is to just feel normal! Why am I telling you this? Because I wasn't born a happy person. My life wasn't/isn't all sunshine and puppies. Being happy is a choice I have to make EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. Yes, some days it's easy to be happy. Some days not. But I choose to dwell on the good things in life and document those, because it makes me happy to go back and read my memories of the good things. It makes me thankful to be where I am now. Even the hard experiences in life are there so that we truly recognize it when LIFE IS GOOD. I love one of Todd's t-shirts that says, "Without rain, there aren't any rainbows." And always choose happiness, if you can. Life is a bit short to dwell on the unhappy things. Today's photo: Photobucket Peppermint gave me this sock monkey calendar for Christmas. I had casually mentioned to her once how much I love sock monkeys. She filed it in her brain and surprised me with this gift. Peppermint is the first friend I've ever made on the internet. Good thing she's not a weirdo! She makes me laugh, she makes me cry (in a good way), and she charges me money for it. (Ha ha, just kidding. Even though she says she should.) Last but not least, Digi Dare #117 is up! Make sure you check it out at the Digi Dares site. All participants who make a layout and link us up will receive a 30% off coupon for Kristin Cronin-Barrow! Photobucket Here's my layout for the Dare. Photobucket Full credits here.


  1. Wow, I had no idea you and Todd had been through so much in a short amount of time. Hey, I know how it feels!

    I agree that it takes some effort to be happy, but it's well worth it. My favorite expression: Without winter, there can be no spring.

  2. I think that God shows himself brighter through those that have gone through trials. It's the hard times that draw me closer to Him..reading His Words and calling out to Him in prayer. I started my blog because of a 'not so great' situation that began last March..I found that I was becoming more and more negative. My blog forces me to focus on positive things to 'talk' about..who needs to read more negative stuff, right? So, like you, my life is not all sunshine and roses, but one thing I cling to..God is good, all the time! Have a great weekend!

  3. Whenever I read your blog, I'm always inspired by how you and Todd embrace life...and I'm even more inspired now. You're right, happiness is a choice...not always an easy one, but the best one (I keep telling my kids that!)

  4. Suckin up to me. Ur doin it right.

    I tend to choose happiness every day shortly after I choose vodka. Hahaha .. just kidding.

    Today's word verification: Trant. It's not even fun.

  5. Bravo for sharing so much of yourself here, today and always. We appreciate it.

    Love the sock monkey calendar!

  6. Maybe 30+ years ago, I bought a book called "Happiness is a Choice". It had to do with people who were enablers and getting sucked in. It's kind of been my motto all these years, although it isn't always easy. Sometimes, like with Todd and your Mom, things are SO big, and you can't shake them. I think you have to ride those storms, and that is when there are only one pair of footprints in the sand, kwim?

    Love the sock monkey calendar. I saw some sock monkey slippers before Christmas and I showed my boys (at Target). I told them that they needed to call their older brother to get them for me. That was all I wanted. I tried them on and gave them the correct size even. They forgot!! Oh well! Maybe next year! Enjoy the rain.

  7. I read your blog since december 2008 and what I love is your happiness and your happy way of life...
    Your layouts are funny and amazing...
    I'm agree with your choice!! and I live like the moment present and I try to enjoy each day!!!

    Thanks for this positive attitude : -)))

  8. Hi! I'm a new reader. I wanted to say THANK YOU for being positive and honest at the same time.
    I lost my mom to cancer in 2005 and I am with you on the emotional upheaval that you go through. I also get the "anger towards God" feeling. I wallowed around in feeling sad and sorry for myself until one day I realized that the only way that I could hope to feel better is to CHOOSE to feel that way.
    Granted, every day is not always fun and sunshine-y, but it is so much better when you stay positive.
    Thanks for sharing your heart!!

  9. Thank you for sharing with us. It is amazing what you can learn about your own inner strength in hard times. In a way I'm thankful for both the happy, as well as the hard, times I've been through, cause it has made me the one I am today.
    Hope the days you manage to be happy will be a lot more than the days you don't!

  10. Looking at the glass as half full as opposed to half empty is a huge challenge, but I pretty much think if we didn't do that, we'd never get by.

    My grandma always tells me that God never gives us more than we can handle. I listen to everything she tells me because she is the strongest person I've ever known.


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