Thursday, October 19, 2017

Mama-Bearin'

Hormones are strange things.

They can make us happy, they can make us sad, and they can make us one heck of a crazy Mama Bear- whether you have kids or not.




That's one thing the bible didn't mention in Ecclesiastes 3- a time for Mama-Bearin'. The other one the bible missed was a time to hide from said Bear. 

A happy camper I ain't.

Unexpected hormonal surges turn this semi-mild mannered woman into a raving lunatic, and even I don't know if it will make me turn into a protective Mama Bear or the Hulk hyped up on gamma rays. Being a Momma Bear might sound like a good thing, but the results are much the same as the Big Green Dude. 

The kids have stopped telling me about their days because if someone gave them a hard time, that someone's body might not be found. Ever. No one messes with my kids while I'm immersed in the Hormonal Pool of Doom.
Hot flashes don't help either. They hit like a hammer blow; much like going from an arctic, air-conditioned room to the outdoors during a heat-wave. They didn't used to last long, but now people can grill things over my head or do a little slow-roasted BBQ. I'm okay with that, as long as they give some to me.

When the Mama-Bear waters have ebbed, I'm a pretty nice person. Some who haven't seen me in Bear mode don't believe me. "But you're so nice!" They say. Or, "I can't imagine you acting like that!" They exclaim, doubting my tales. 
But those that have seen the Bear know better. There must be an expression I make, or a threat in the tone of my voice when the Bear waters cometh, because those who love me tend to nervously glance at each other and back away from me slowly- As they should.

I can't say that I like myself in this mode, unless there's someone or something to legitimately fight. My fights tend to be verbal, but because I'm as big as I am, I tend to paint a very intimidating picture. It's not pretty folks, but it does come in handy when there is a real threat. 
Let's just say you don't want to be the one I catch robbing my house in the middle of the night. Or trying to rob my house. You won't. You might even lose a few body parts in the process while trying to vacate the premises as expediently as possible, because 'the Bear don't play'.

Just sayin'.

I wish I had control of it. I pray every day for God to not let me do lasting damage to my family and friends relationships. Hormonal surges are like little bouts of insanity- you go crazy for a little bit, then when things calm down you have to do damage control because everyone is mad at you for something you don't remember saying- or don't want to remember saying. Ugh.

Sometimes I have to close my eyes and repeat "Your will be done Lord, not mine." over and over again until the surges pass. I'm just glad God made me a writer- most Mama-Bear moments happen when I'm home alone, for which I'm eternally grateful. So far no one has found the bite marks on the furniture.

Prayer does help. 

I'm praying the Bear goes into hibernation soon, but I really won't know until after the surgery. If the hormones are still running rampant afterwards, then God is going to be One Busy Guy, because there's going to be a lot of prayers coming from this house- and not just by me.

Can you imagine a wounded Mama Bear recouping from surgery? Egad- where's the chocolate and BBQ?

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Changing Gears With God

I used to think life was a crazy triathlon. It's actually more like a polyathlon- because life has changed gears more than three times. Much more.

For me, life is beginning to resemble the tango!

Kids grow up.
Kids go to college.
I find myself looking for the woman I used to be, but I'll never be her again.
I'll be better.

I'll be better because I know more than I used to. Some call that wisdom; I call it experience. Your kids and husband give it to you, whether you like it or not. Just don't tell them I'm wise- they might not think you're talking about the same person.

Now life is changing gears again. Life has become more malleable, allowing me to make choices I could never make before. Or choices I wouldn't allow myself to make.

Like starting my own business.
Starting a ministry.
Helping my husband start his own business.
And help him expand his church ministry.

Yes, I know some people can do these things with babies in their arms, but I'm not one of them. I can multitask with the best, but only when focused on one aspect of life at a time. I just can't do the family/career/missions thing all at once- my head would explode!

Pretty soon I'll have an empty nest, and I don't want to sit there trying to hatch something that's no longer there. I want to hop off the nest, shake my feathers, and go explore the possibilities!

Except for one thing. I've been on the nest for so long, I've forgotten how!

Taking that first step into the unknown has to be the scariest thing on the planet. It was easier when I was a toddler, because I didn't know any better. Stepping into something new was awesome as a kid! As an adult, I have no problem thinking about how everything can go wrong, and though fear shouldn't have a grasp on me, it often holds me back with an iron grip. "What if" can be a very empowering motivator, but at the same time it can also be quite crippling.

But then I remember I'm not by myself in this. God is with me.

He gives me the courage to try something new.
He lifts me up if I have setbacks- and there are a lot of them.
He provides through the lean times, and at times blesses us with enough to share.
He did this throughout my time as an at-home mom.

So why should I fear changing gears? It's not like God went out to lunch...right? He's still here right beside me- And He's beside you too!

Life has once more changed gears on me. Once I get past the fear, the excitement builds. I wrote a little haiku about it.


Choices

Making life choices
Standing on a precipice.

I can fall or fly.

God is going to help me fly!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Puzzling Puzzles

Do you love puzzles? Me too!

I loved them as a kid. Usually it was puzzles that came in pieces in a box that I had to put together, and it took hours. I also loved puzzle books. I especially loved the puzzles in Highlights magazine; I'd never read the stories until I did at least three mind-challenging brain teasers first. That was a moral imperative!

As I grew into a teen my tastes changed. I still loved putting together puzzles, but I also bought puzzle books. Word Finds were my favorite, yet I hated crosswords; But when I found math puzzles, boy did I get excited! By the time I started writing articles for magazines as an adult, I was solving at least fifteen different kinds of puzzles.

I decided to start making them. I kept them simple at first- crosswords were a lot more fun to create than I expected (it's nice to know the answers beforehand!), but then I started getting into math puzzles and word logic, and before I knew it, I could create over twenty different types of puzzles.

Making puzzles was fun, but tedious. I had no programs to create them, and did them all  by hand- er...computer. I used a paint program and made everything from scratch; Not exactly efficient. But I didn't need to be fast- I was creating them for magazines, so i didn't need more than a handful a month. All was well with the world.

Then I found a neat little online program at www.crauswords.com to help me create puzzles without having to hand-make them anymore. Now instead of taking a half of a day to make one, I could create them in minutes! Wow!

Now it was time to create my very first puzzle book.

It took longer than I thought, yet went faster than I realized. Planning puzzles isn't the easiest thing to do, but once I had all the information down, all I had to do was type in the specs and create, create, create!

However, I forgot about formatting. Formatting can be a nightmare, especially since most of these were images. In fact, it was so much of a pain that I put the book aside for a bit and focused on the independent publishing of my journals. It was then I found another online wonder called www.Canva.com that allowed me to drag and drop everything I needed and to set the pages up the way I wanted. I had to do it in sections and that was fine- it was much better than trying to format everything!

After a lot of trial and error, I finally had not one book, but two!

I just sent them through createspace, and will be getting my proofs soon. How exciting! Not only can puzzle lovers buy the books on Amazon (Mind Play Puzzle Lovers Book Vol. 1 & 2 coming soon!), but I have links and an email address included so people can contact me with puzzle book ideas! That means if there's a puzzle book you'd love to see but can't seem to find, ask me- I can probably create one!

And I only say probably because I don't know all of the puzzle types out there- but I have a feeling I'm going to learn about new puzzles after these books come out!

I'm so excited about this new venture that I just had to share with you! And if you're a puzzle lover, join me on my Facebook page and I'll keep you posted on updates! https://www.facebook.com/Bethbrubakerauthor/


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Hystericalectomy

One surgery down, one to go.

Yep. It's official. They want my parts outta there. I haven't gotten the test results back yet, but after talking to the resident doc after the first surgery, he had absolutely no doubts that I need hysterectomy.

And after speaking with the doc that actually did the surgery (younger doc- older one was observing), she said she found a polyp near one of my tubes. Whether it was cancerous or not is still in the hands of the lab techs, but a polyp isn't just an organic chandelier- it's an indicator of something amiss. Great.

I was in and out of the hospital within a matter of hours, and apparently I'm funny as heck when on anesthesia. I also become exceedingly mellow and cool, because I was giving high fives to everyone I wheeled past. 

I found that percocet is awesome. They only let me have one, and I was good for a nice, long time. Really good. I was glad they didn't give me a prescription- I can see how people get addicted to those suckers.

The next few days I was supposed to rest, but I felt really, really energetic for the first time in over a year, so I decided it was a good time to cut up veggies, then repackage the meat that my husband bought into serving sizes.

I felt normal for the first time in years. And by 'normal', I mean my old, happier, more jovial self. I laughed more, and found myself generally content with life. I really missed that feeling.

But oh, that third day! I was hurting and started to bleed. Yup. I overdid it. I remained flat as I could for the next two days, and allowed myself to heal. 
The down side to this healing process is the hormones, hot flashes and seasonal allergies returned, and there I was, back to being Jabba the Hutt's younger sister, Firesnot. 

My follow-up appointment is in the second week of October, when I get the test results. That will also be when I make the appointment for the hystericalectomy. That recovery time will be a lot longer, and I'm hoping to get some writing done between periods of being very, very flat. Maybe they'll let me have a few percocets to take home. 

I'm hoping to be completely back on both feet before Christmas, and work out new lifestyle eating and exercise changes for the New Year. My knees are feeling better (though I do have the occasional gimpy off-day)- but I'm not implementing anything concerning exercise until this surgery is over and done with. 

When this is all said and done? Look out world- I'm coming out to play!


Monday, September 18, 2017

PMS Institute

PMS can mean many things, but in this case, it means Peri-Menopause.

After this past two weeks I realized something. There needs to be a mental institute for peri-menopausal women. 

I'm generally a nice person- really, I am! But during this past month, the grasp on my emotions has been getting steadily worse, and I think it all started two to three years ago, when the peri-menopausal monster decided to rear its over-estrogenated, roller-coaster-emotioned head.

As of this weekend, I lost my grip entirely.

I was crying for no reason. Anything brought me to near-crying! The pastors' sermon was uplifting, but my eyes acted like it was an eulogy. He could have said the word 'the' and my eyes would blur with unreleased tears.

But that wasn't all folks- oh no! I went from an understanding, loving person to unreasonable shrew in less than 1.2 seconds- and all it took was a loving smile from my hard-working husband. 

He doesn't deserve that. My worst enemy doesn't deserve that! But on I spewed, ranting and raving about all the wrong in my life and the world, volcanic words erupting from my mouth and throwing ash all over the living room carpets.

When I was by myself, I cried that no one cared. When I was with people at church, I wanted to be alone. Does that sound like a sane person?

Well, this wasn't the first time this happened (though I admit it was one of the worst hormonal episodes), so I decided to get checked out. I'm still not sure if that was the right decision or not, because they found something.

Atypical cells.

So instead of an institute, I'm going to the hospital for an outpatient procedure called a D&C. Apparently I have a few layers that decided to stay put and they have to go in and do a little wallpaper removal. They have to check my innards to make sure those atypical cells were possibly an organic typo, or if I need to get some parts removed. The doc told me my estrogen levels were through the roof- and that was probably why I was a peri-menopausal psychopath, and that I was also a high, pre-cancer risk. 

Oh Joy and Rapture.

I go in for the surgery Wednesday. If things turn out to be atypical (or even cancerous), I will be having a hysterectomy. In my case, it will be a hystericalectomy. I'm not crazy about having my parts removed, but I'm also not crazy about being hormonally crazy either. 

(Wolfburgers, anyone? Been there, almost done that!)

After talking to a few of my 'ectomy' friends, it seems the hormonal roller coaster rides will stop, and the estrogen levels will level off, because I won't be producing it anymore. Since estrogen is stored in the fat cells (according to the doc), I'll get some of the estrogen back when I start losing weight, but eventually I'll have to start taking supplements. 

Eventually. Like when I'm eighty.

So the trade off is a calmer, happier and possibly thinner me (or at least thinning), no chance of having to support kids in college in my seventies, and no more monthly (or quarterly) mattresses in exchange for one uterus and a couple of over-active ovaries. 

I think I can handle that- at least until the next hormonal surge happens. Then I'll be in the bedroom drowning myself in my tear-soaked pillow. Sigh.

In the mean time I would ask for your prayers and positive thoughts as I go under the whatever-it-is they use for the D&C- and don't tell me, I really don't want to know. 
Just so long as I'm in a medical institution for less than a day and not a mental one for the rest of my hot-flashing, teeth-grinding life, I believe God's got this- but a lot of prayers sure don't hurt matters...right?

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Tis The Sneezon



Ah, Spring and Autumn, you delight me with your bright regalia of color, your special sweet smells of growth and defoliation, with your wild creatures running amok to either celebrate the end of winter, or scurrying to find food for their secret winter stashes. 

But your pollen laden air can go take a long hiketh off of a short cliffeth.

Those itchy eyes, that red and swollen nose is oh-so-attractive to my slumbering mate as he is startled awake by the thundering moose-like bellow of the wild that is the blowing of my very stuffed, yet runny nose. To this day it amazes me just how much can be forcibly propelled out of one's nostrils; so much so that I imagine there is some sort of miraculous measurement written in the vast pages of Guinness Book of World Records. 
Go back to sleep my love I gently croon in a very unromantic babbling cant (for one cannot utter certain letters when ones nose is so stuffed) , praying he will be in deep slumber before my next allergenic eruption.

Sometimes I manage to hold back the explosive utterances, only to find myself questing with quavering fingers through the darkened recesses of the bedding for my eyeballs. On occasion, I manage to sleep.

The morning alarm sounds, bringing me into a new day- or at least that is what I assume, since my eyelids are cemented shut. Nocturnal tears wept to relieve the itchiness apparently hardens overnight into an almost impenetrable crust, for which I need a minuscule hammer and chisel to remove the stubborn ocular barnacles so I can at last see the light of pre-dawn.

Mornings are fraught with frantic searching for fresh hankies as I sense the pre-sneeze tickling in the vast depths of my nasal cavity, often ending with a hasty toilet paper substitute when the needed eco-friendly solution to my carbon footprint can't be found; but when that swatch of soft washable nose gear is located, a cry of triumph and the thrill of glorious celebratory glee courses through my very being when said hankie is conscripted in time for the gust that even the Big Bad Wolf would envy.

Or should I say series of gusts, for you see, my body, having lain dormant for more than a few hours, makes up for time by sending me into convulsive, multiple sneezing fits that more than one hankie is required. This is especially appreciated when engaged in conversation or if consuming the morning repast.

If it weren't for the hankies, many, many forests would suffer decimation from my spring and autumn pollen perturbed proboscis. There aren't enough tissues in the universe to save my poor nose, not to mention we'd either be bereft of funds from the expense, or the earth would suffocate from the overfilling of our toxic waste dumps from my allergenic leavings.

Another happenstance that fills me with joyful exuberance is the unexpected spritzing of a non-incontinent yet neither leak-proof bladder. When in mid-sneeze, one has no control over ones intense muscular contractions of  the solar plexus, henceforth no command over the drips, drops, or complete loss of control concerning urinary release. This makes any outing delightfully more adventurous, even when one is wearing a washcloth, or mini mattress made for other womanly functions. 
Trips are planned carefully, in accordance to the location of bathrooms, or within a three foot vicinity of the domicile in case a sneeze occurs.

As for allergy alleviation, One can either be drowsy and muddle-headed all day, or choose the path of the overnight medication that would send one into an almost coma-like stupor; though either will send your body into a severe mode of dehydration, sending any and all fluids to the finite depths of ones bladder. As long as no fluids are consumed, all seems well- but the moment liquid touches ones lips, all symptoms come rushing back with an epic vengeance, bringing forth tear-blinded eyes and fits of sneezing that will alleviate the hydration-bloated urine-filled water balloon that ones so desperately tries not to loosen, because a lavatory is not within waddling distance.

But I digress. I neither wish to be in a stupor nor venture out into the wilderness that is my city with a trunk of clean clothing 'just in case' some allergens befall my sensitive senses.

So here I sit, in the safety of my enclosed writing sanctuary, grateful for windows that close and a place to hold two formidable stacks of hankies; Nary daring to open the door even to feline yowlings or family encouragers, content to be a hermit until the winter snows arrive, ensconced in an atmosphere gloriously pollen-free. 

At least until dinnertime. Sigh.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Self(ish) Sufficiency

Self- Sufficiency. 

It's the ultimate goal for most of us. In fact, the world commends someone who is self-sufficient; this is a person that doesn't need to rely on anyone else to do what he has to get done- he does it all on his own.

I was taught from a young age to be self-sufficient. But my self-sufficiency was based all on me- not others. Doing it on my own meant that I was not only competent (which gave my confidence a boost), but the job would be done right.

Asking for help was a no-no. 

Sufficient means adequate or enough. Self-sufficient means I'm enough. I'm adequate. All I need is me to do what I need to do. But many, many times I find myself overwhelmed by life and drowning in chaos! 

Am I enough? Nope. not by a longshot. Anyone would consider a man a fool if he was drowning and didn't ask for help...right? So why do I pride myself on getting out of the chaos on my own? 

It's definitely selfish-sufficiency. 

I need friends. I need family. And most important, I need God. Only God can give me the strength to call out for help, and provide that help when I ask for it!

When I'm down, I talk to my cheerleaders. And they do the same with me. I am supported, and I in turn support others. I'm spiritually fed, and I spiritually feed others. And everyone is stronger for it.

Sometimes I feel like I shouldn't ask for help. Sometimes I feel like I'm whining- and to be honest, sometimes I am. But I'm blessed enough to have friends willing to tell me when I'm getting to that point, and they in turn appreciate that I don't pull punches either. 

Truth can sting, but it's better to rid yourself of those splinters of trouble before they fester and infect your entire being.

As for my gentler, less blunt friends, they are my comforters when I feel like the world is full of thorns. God has blessed me with an entire garden of different blooms to go to when I need help.

But I have to be willing to walk into the garden!



On occasion I still suffer from selfish-efficiency. But God reminds me that I wasn't meant to do everything on my own. And sometimes He has me remind others as well!

It's good to find more than one friend to tell your troubles to and share your concerns and sorrows. I'm lucky enough- blessed enough- to have a small group I can confide in for the harder issues. Some are sounding boards for ideas (in fact, I might have to stop telling her ideas because we are both creatives and we give each other even more ideas! :) ), and some are great for those ups and downs when I enter a new stage of life.

One thing I've learned was to give as well as receive. That was the hardest lesson!

I had to remember to listen as well as speak. To learn as well as teach. To follow as well as lead. And for this very stubborn, hard-headed woman, God had His hands full!

He still does.

Don't be afraid to find your own blossoms in your garden of friends. You might even be surprised when you find them! And don't forget to also talk to your Best Friend Ever...God!