23 June 2016

Modifying my green book

I've been using a planner (with a green cover) for quite some time. I call it my green book. In that time, I've tried different things with it here and there, and tried different planners, but I usually returned to some incarnation of the green book.

But it wasn't really working for me. I didn't have the space I needed for notes, and the layouts of the pages locked me in to using the planner in a very specific way.

It just wasn't working.

So as I was wandering around online to try and find some workarounds, I discovered bullet journaling, created by Ryder Carroll. It's a way of incorporating planning, scheduling, notes, and to-do lists all in one place. The foundation of the method is simplicity and flexibility. You can use any notebook and pen and find a way to make it exactly what you need it to be.

Here's the video on Carroll's website:

If you Google bullet journals, the image results will be full of artistically magnificent pictures of layouts and notes and oh, my goddess the pretties. And that's wonderful for those using their bullet journals as an artistic outlet. That's not me. I express myself in words, not visual art.

So I'm sticking much, much more closely to the original method developed by Carroll. I've incorporated a couple of chart-style trackers and I'm using a different method for indexing, but other than that, my bullet journal is very simple.

I can tell you that even using this method just this month has helped me stay much more organized. I have everything in one place, and the method plays into my need to write things down in order to remember them. (I ♥ analog planners!)

Because of the method's simplicity and flexibility, I'm able to make it anything I want it to be. I use it to track projects for work, it includes my blogging editorial calendar, planning and task lists for our upcoming family vacation, and even my "40 before 40" list.

I plan to stick with this planning method through the end of the year to decide whether I really like it or not. If I don't, I can go back to a different planner at the beginning of 2017.

In the meantime, I like it quite a bit.

21 June 2016

On Father's Day

I used to value Father's Day.

I was pretty close with my dad, especially after I moved back to Illinois from Florida, and during the divorce. We spoke on the phone a few times a week, and I prided myself on showing my appreciation to him every year in June. One of the last Father's Days I spent with my dad, I surprised him with a round of golf for the two of us and my younger brother. I like golf, so it was a good morning.

When I moved back to Florida, things changed. Well... I should be more specific. I started dating Bo, and things changed. I told him the nature of our relationship was up to him, and now we haven't spoken in I don't know how long. My father has clearly made a choice based on his religious beliefs about homosexuality.

The good news is that there are aspects in which Father's Day still has value to me.

I have an amazing father-in-law.

My father-in-law looking dapper on our wedding day
October 2015
He embraces me as a daughter (no qualifiers). In fact, it was less than 12 hours after I met Bo that he friended me on Facebook, and there was no going back after that. He loves me and I love him, and when I think of Father's Day, he is the one who comes to mind.

My father-in-law is a good man. He loves his family and would do whatever he could for any of them. There are no strings attached to his love. He has never once told me, "I love you, but I don't agree with your lifestyle." He just loves me for who I am.

I have lost my father by blood by his own choice, which has caused me to also lose the rest of my family on that side. But I have gained so much more in a family by choice.

I think I came out ahead in that.

14 June 2016

We are Orlando.

I live in Orlando. The Pulse is only about a ten-minute drive from my home. And though my wife and I are not clubbers, we know people who are.

We are fortunate that we were home. That we didn't lose anyone. (Our neighbor lost four people Sunday morning.)

At the same time, we have lost them, too. They were are our brothers and sisters. They are me.

I am heartbroken in so many ways and for so many reasons because of this. And while it's important to talk about the big-picture issues that have been brought into the stark spotlight (homophobia, discrimination, gun control, religion, racism, etc.), it is imperative that we don't let other important things be pushed to the shadows because of the big-picture discussions.

Every single one of those involved in the massacre on Sunday morning is important. They deserve to have voices. Those who have survived can use their own voices to take up space, but there are 49 people who must rely on us to speak for them.

Say their names. Remember them. Speak for them.

"To actively do nothing is a decision, as well." --President Barack Obama, 6.12.16

Stanley Almodovar III (23 years old)
Amanda Alvear (25 years old)
Oscar A. Aracena-Montero (26 years old)
Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala (33 years old)
Antonio Davon Brown (29 years old)
Darryl Roman Burt II (29 years old)
Angel L. Candelario-Padro (28 years old)
Juan Chavez-Martinez (25 years old)
Luis Daniel Conde (39 years old)
Cory James Connell (21 years old)
Tevin Eugene Crosby (25 years old)
Deonka Deidra Drayton (32 years old)
Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez (31 years old)
Leroy Valentin Fernandez (25 years old)
Mercedez Marisol Flores (26 years old)
Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz (22 years old)
Juan Ramon Guerrero (22 years old)
Paul Terrell Henry (41 years old)
Frank Hernandez (27 years old)
Miguel Angel Honorato (30 years old)
Javier Jorge-Reyes (40 years old)
Jason Benjamin Josaphat (19 years old)
Eddie Jamoldroy Justice (30 years old)
Anthony Luis Laureanodisla (25 years old)
Christopher Andrew Leinonen (32 years old)
Alejandro Barrios Martinez (21 years old)
Brenda Lee Marquez McCool (49 years old)
Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez (25 years old)
Kimberly Morris (37 years old)
Akyra Monet Murray (18 years old)
Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo (20 years old)
Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez (25 years old)
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera (36 years old)
Joel Rayon Paniagua (32 years old)
Jean Carlos Mendez Perez (35 years old)
Enrique L. Rios, Jr. (25 years old)
Jean C. Nives Rodriguez (27 years old)
Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado (35 years old)
Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz (24 years old)
Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan (24 years old)
Edward Sotomayor, Jr. (34 years old)
Shane Evan Tomlinson (33 years old)
Martin Benitez Torres (33 years old)
Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega (24 years old)
Juan P. Rivera Velazquez (37 years old)
Luis S. Vielma (22 years old)
Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez (50 years old)
Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon (37 years old)
Jerald Arthur Wright (31 years old)

09 May 2016

Today is my birthday

I'm 33 today.

There are days I realize that I'm not where I wanted to be at this age, and other days when I can see just how far I've come. Those are the good days.

I have goals and dreams that keep me pushing forward, and things I want to have done. So, in the spirit of it's-my-birthday, I'm making a "40 before 40" list of things I'd like to do and see and accomplish by the time I turn forty. (Plenty of time.)

Some of the things on my list are small, others are ongoing things. But they are all goals I have that I want to accomplish over the next seven years. After all, it's my list. I can do what I want.
  1. Buy a house.
  2. Finish writing the collection.
  3. Write the waiting play.
  4. Get the semicolon tattoo I've been wanting.
  5. Blog twice a week, every week, between now and my fortieth birthday.
  6. Learn a language (Spanish or ASL, preferably. Or both. Both is good.).
  7. Go to a professional women's soccer game.
  8. Make a quilt.
  9. Buy a new car (to replace our poor, reliable Corolla).
  10. Go on an Alaskan cruise.
  11. Take piano lessons.
  12. Volunteer for Habitat for Humanity.
  13. Cut soda out of my diet for good.
  14. Do yoga at least once a week, every week, between now and my fortieth birthday.
  15. Make a family album/scrapbook (multiple, if needed).
  16. Get the Gallifreyan tattoo I've been wanting.
  17. Go see a ballet.
  18. Get an old fashioned card catalog for my office.
  19. Learn Reiki massage.
  20. Go to a writing conference.
  21. Take at least one trip out of the country (preferably Europe).
  22. Read 100+ books in one year. (I started this before my birthday, but there's nothing saying I can't repeat the challenge.)
  23. Visit the Emily Dickinson Home & Museum in Massachusetts.
  24. Visit the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum in the Keys.
  25. Get the quote tattoo on my right bicep I've been wanting.
  26. Get the quote tattoo on my left bicep I've been wanting.
  27. Meditate inside a Buddhist temple.
  28. Make an herb garden (potted) either in my house or on my patio.
  29. Get a bamboo plant for my desk. (I had one before, but it was sick to begin with, so it didn't make it.)
  30. Take a self-defense class.
  31. Go see an opera.
  32. Attend a con of some kind.
  33. Go on a yoga/spiritual retreat.
  34. Take a mental health day.
  35. Go to a pride event.
  36. Have a home office with a door that closes.
  37. Write a collection of poetry associated with the collection.
  38. Go to an Orlando Pride soccer game. (Or several.)
  39. Write a screenplay.
  40. Visit the Library of Congress.

29 April 2016

I'm a big fan of fresh starts

Every so often, I need a fresh start.

That's how I've been feeling all month.

April has been chaotic and frustrating, and has been a month of big changes. I'm looking forward to sharing some of those changes on the blog beginning next week.

We're drawing a line at the end of April, and on May 1st, things will be different.

21 April 2016

Sometimes it's too much....

The past three weeks have been a lot for me. For the family, too. And I've got several half-started blog posts. But it's just been too much.

About three weeks ago, Puck's anxiety escalated significantly. Monty, Bo, and I had a serious talk about what we can do to help him, and to help Tink with some of her issues. Part of that discussion included homeschooling as an option (which Monty and I have discussed on and off since before Puck was born). We're working on getting Puck some help so that he can have the tools he needs to cope with his anxiety.

Around this time Tink developed a cold. It wasn't terribly bad, but it bothered her, especially at night when her nose was stuffed up. As soon as she was finished with the cold (we thought it was part of the cold), she was suddenly sick with something else. She had a fever, and the lymph nodes in her neck were swollen. Puck had a low-grade fever, as well, and one swollen lymph node. Turns out they both had strep. Tink's case was kind of severe. We kept them home and in quarantine for the weekend.

As Tink came out of her strep, she developed a stomach virus that she generously shared with her dad. They were sick over another weekend. She was sent home from school on a Friday, and was vomiting over the weekend.

When Bo and I got the kids back, Tink suddenly developed red bumps/welts all over her body. They looked like they could have been hives, but they also looked like they could have been the very beginning of chicken pox, especially because they multiplied so quickly in three hours. So she went back in to the pediatrician, who decided she has a viral infection that caused the rash. Apparently it can be common in kids.

She's been out of school all week because it looks like she has chicken pox or bruises all over her body. Fortunately, she's improving, and will most likely be at school tomorrow.

On top of this, I'm in one of my super busy periods for work. They happen twice a year, and when they come, I work between 70 and 80 hours a week (as opposed to my usual 50-60). This busy period has been a bit more complicated because I have several very large projects with clients. This is a good thing, but it also makes things busy. I've had little time for anything other than work, sleep, and taking kids to the pediatrician's office. In fact, Bo picked Puck up from school yesterday, and will again today, to allow me more time to work.

I keep trying to remind myself that this is just a busy period. In June, there will be a lull, and I'll be able to catch up on all the things that have been neglected lately (like my revisions of the coffee house book).

It doesn't always work, and those are the days I drink extra coffee and turn the volume up on my music and double-check my countdown calendar.

Because sometimes it's too much to have it all at once.

01 April 2016

Apparently my body kind of hates me

Before medication
Almost three weeks ago I was diagnosed with rosacea.

It's something I've been dealing with for a long time. When I spoke with my dermatologist about it, I told him that it seemed to start in adolescence and we thought it was normal teenage acne, but it just never went away. It was frustrating, but I eventually just accepted that I had bad skin.

I discovered things that make it worse: the sun, heat, cold, stress, exercise, anxiety....

When I had my physical, my primary care doctor sent me to a dermatologist not only for the rash on my face, but because I have malignant melanoma in my family history, I have fair skin, and I live in Florida. I should have already been going to the dermatologist for yearly check-ups.

The dermatologist put me on a treatment regimen, which includes an oral medication along with some topical treatments. As of this writing, I've been on the treatment for just under two weeks.

Less than two weeks on medication
I'm pleased with the results.

Of course, I am critical of myself, so I see the redness that's still across my cheeks and the bumps that haven't gone away. But I also see that there is a big improvement. My wife looked at me the other day and said it looked like I was wearing makeup.

I don't expect my skin to be perfect because of the treatment. (Especially because I'm not giving up coffee. Because that's ridiculous.) But I'm so happy with the change that's already happened. I feel more confident in myself, and don't worry that everyone I meet is staring at my face, judging me for my bad skin.

Self-care is good.

Now that my rosacea has been diagnosed and is being treated, I can move on to the next health concern.

I've been struggling with chronic pain for quite some time, and now I have an appointment scheduled with a rheumatologist. The appointment isn't until early summer, but it's at least on my calendar. And I may be able to get in sooner if there's a cancellation.

In the meantime, I'm managing the pain as best I can. I've reduced my exercise goals so I can be a little gentler to myself. I'm taking medicine when I need it, and taking breaks when I need them. There are days when all I want to do is lay on the couch with ice packs on my joints and a Law & Order marathon on TV. Other days, I almost forget that there are bad days.

I know that once I meet with a rheumatologist I'll be able to get some answers. I'll eventually get a diagnosis and on a treatment plan, and then maybe I'll feel as good as I'm starting to look.

27 March 2016

I'm a shy introvert with anxiety. It's the trifecta.

Growing up, I was labeled as shy. I didn't really make friends easily or talk much. I kept to myself, and was more likely to be found in my room reading than playing kickball in the cul-de-sac. My parents, in their attempts to help, told me I should be more active, friendlier, and come out of my shell.

I couldn't seem to bring myself to do it.

Then, when I was in high school and college, it became apparent that on top of the shyness was anxiety, which made it difficult to deal with the shyness. And, in continued efforts to try and help, I was not only told that getting over my shyness would help me make friends, but that it would help me get over my anxiety, too.

It didn't.

Some time after college I discovered the term "introvert." It seemed to describe me pretty accurately. I could handle one-on-one interactions rather well, but after a while, any interaction drained me, and I found myself craving time alone.

But the revelation didn't make the shyness or anxiety go away. It was simply another layer. Another element of myself that I've had to deal with.

It gets hard to have this trifecta. The shyness keeps me from making friends easily, and the introversion keeps me from too many interactions with the friends I do have. And, of course, the anxiety keeps me from asking for help or interaction when I actually need it because of course it does.

In some ways, I think it's advantageous. Because of my shyness and introversion, being alone is helpful to the anxiety. But it also means that when I want (or need) to interact with people, it seems to drain me more quickly than it might other people. I need more breaks than other introverts.

I think I'm managing pretty well. Now that I have a better understanding of who I am and what I need, I can handle it a little better than I used to be able to. I have an amazing wifey that helps when I need help (and gives me space when I need space). I have family and friends who understand, and who love me anyway.

So I'll keep taking breaks when I need them, let online interactions be enough every once in a while, and embrace the trifecta.

22 March 2016

It hurts to be still. It hurts to move.

Can I work like this?
I have chronic pain. I have for quite some time. I've been going to appointments lately to try and figure out what's causing it so I can get it taken care of.

In the meantime, I'm managing as best I can. I'm in the middle of a busy period for work, so my typical day is rarely less than 12 hours. When you have chronic pain, that's a long time to be sitting in a chair at a laptop.

There are a few things I've learned in the last couple of weeks as I've been dealing with my life lately.

1. I need a new desk chair. The one I have is technically fine. It even has a bit of padding. But if I'm going to have to continue balancing pain with work, I need more padding. And better back support. And maybe a better reclining feature would be nice.

2. Naps are okay. Sometimes I need a nap. And that's okay. Some days it takes me a lot more energy to do what I have to do, and on those days I need to allow myself to take naps so I can keep pushing forward. Sometimes naps are part of my self-care, and that has to be okay.

3. My body sucks at temperature regulation. When everyone else is comfortable, I'm either too hot or too cold, and there's no real logic in it. I spend half the day fanning myself with a client's file folder, and the rest of the day bundled up with a hoodie and blanket in central Florida. Because that's how I roll.

I'd love it if I get the answers I need at the next appointment.

18 March 2016

I have rosacea

This week I had an appointment with a dermatologist, and I was diagnosed with rosacea.

To be honest, I've probably had it a long time. But because of the kind of rosacea I have, I didn't realize that's what it was. I just thought I had bad skin, and I dealt with it.

Rosacea flare (September 2014)
My skin was a source of stress for me. It was embarrassing. What's worse is that I also have really sensitive skin (especially on my face), so I couldn't even wear make-up to cover it up. And some days I couldn't even use moisturizer because it hurt. I just dealt with it, and pretended it didn't bother me, and pretended that I didn't assume everyone saw my skin before anything else about me.

But I have rosacea, and that's what's been causing the redness and acne-like bumps all over my face.

My doctor gave me the name of an over-the-counter moisturizer he hopes I can use without a bad reaction to my skin, and a prescription to minimize flares. I'm hopeful that the treatment will reduce the bumps and redness, and that my skin will be healthier and happier for it.

And somehow I'll find a way to manage my symptoms without having to cut coffee from my life. Because, let's be honest. That's just not going to happen.