IT IS ALWAYS SOMETHING, BUT DOES IT HAVE TO BE?

“It’s Always Something” –
a sigh of hopelessness, resignation, regret, dismay, disillusionment, disappointment


Despite how true this statement is, I have always hated it because of its negativity and simple manner of just passing off whatever is going on or has happened. This is often what someone says to you when they have no idea what to say because unfortunately whatever you are or have experienced is generally just a part of life.

Granted, life is not perfect, and stuff happens. Stuff that although may be a part of life, and simply out of our control, is none-the-less upsetting and can throw your life into a tailspin for awhile.

And the way I see it, if it upsets you it warrants a response other than apathy. The response “It’s Always Something” I feel is meant to be consoling of some sorts, but in reality shows no sense of empathy, it’s dismissing the situation because basically we’ve all gone through it at some point in our lives, so why make a big deal of it, which is sad.

When did we all get so jaded and apathetic about the dilemmas we all face on any given day of the week?

Of course, I’m not referring to major health issues, the loss of a loved one, and a catastrophic or tragic event, those are not “every day” type of challenges, and generally not something we have all experienced.

I mean things like an unexpected house or car repair, damage to a car due to an accident which creates extra BS until every detail is resolved, issues with a credit card due to a lost check, appliances breaking down forcing you to buy a new one, etc..

The list is endless, because the messiness of life is endless, and the bigger the world gets, and the more complicated our daily lives get, the more complicated the “It’s Always Something” stuff can get.

What’s even more upsetting then complete apathy regarding this type of thing, is apathy related to serious events, which is starting to happen.

For example, while watching a news report about a car jacking with a 2-year-old autistic child still in the car, a witness interviewed responded “It is what it is. It’s the times we’re living in.”

“It is what it is” –
Deal with it. An expression used to characterize a frustrating or challenging situation that a person believes cannot be changed and must just be accepted.

When I heard this response I almost cried. The mother whose child was in the car most certainly was not feeling that way. She wanted empathy for the plight she was enduring while the search for her child was going on.

I do understand that some days the weight of the world we live in, especially since the pandemic, can feel overwhelming and make you feel like shutting everyone and every thing out. BUT, the only way things can get better is by having empathy for each other, no matter what the situation.

In my little corner of the world, from July to early September I was dealing with extended car repairs post a car accident, and some days it felt like an endless saga.

BUT, it was nothing compared to what some of my co-workers have been enduring, and I reminded myself of this every day I got frustrated or stressed about things. The empathy for them kept me in check with my own issues.

AND, made me realize despite the issues I was dealing with, I am blessed. My situation would be solved, and settled, and not be life changing, it would just cause temporary disruption in my daily schedule.

Granted, not everyone thinks this way. And most certainly some days those “It’s Always Something” things can be all consuming, to the point that it’s hard to think about anything or anyone beyond your personal issue. BUT, if we pause, take a deep breath, and remind ourselves there are others going through far greater issues, maybe, just maybe, we can circle back to a less apathetic “it’s always something” state of mind.

Changing your state-of-mind in relation to anything that is not a positive is certainly not an easy thing, but it’s noted that by changing our words, we can change our thoughts and in turn change the vibration we send out in the world.

This is exactly why I started my year out trying hard to stay in the “Hippie State of Mind” – peace, love, harmony and hope. Not that I was putting blinders on to the world around me, or ignoring issues within my own life.

It was about changing how I approached these things, and trying to find the good things in every day and emphasizing those instead of the negative.

I was doing pretty good until we got into preparing for my Son’s college graduation, graduation, moving him home, preparing the house for his celebration, decorating for the celebration, the celebration, clean up post the celebration AND dealing with the aftermath of a car accident which my Son was in the week after the celebration.

Thank God he wasn’t hurt, it was just the car, which is the key positive in the entire incident.

In addition, things were ramping up at work, which meant periods of overtime, which is great for my pocket book, but limiting when it comes to time at home.

To say I fell off my “Hippie State of Mind” therapy is an understatement.

BUT, I was aware I was letting things get to me, and knew I was the only who could change that. Plus, there were friends going through some very heavy and serious things, which as I noted earlier having empathy for their plights help to keep me in check with my stuff.

Now I do understand the state of the world, particularly since the pandemic, has dragged a lot of people into a more pessimistic state, which in itself is very sad. BUT, it has also created a world filled with more rude, inconsiderate and apathetic people, which I’ve found to be extremely visible while driving and shopping. At times it feels like everyone is out for themselves and no one else, so get out of their way.

This negative energy makes it extremely hard to stay positive, and most certainly can trigger an “It’s always something” or “it is what is” lack of empathy type of attitude, which just adds to the negative vibration.

AND, I must note, being negative is much easier than being positive. Positivity is a choice, a very conscious choice that has to be worked at.

BUT, after allowing myself to fall off the “Hippie State of Mind” train, just because I got very, very busy, I have made a pact with myself to work hard to get back on that train.

AND, in order to do this, I will work on CHANGING THE WORDS I USE, especially when confronted with those every day “It’s Always Something” or “It Is What It Is” type of things.

Now I know this won’t be an easy thing because those phrases are engrained in my brain, so until I can formulate my own positive twist on these phrases, I’ve decided to borrow someone else’s positive words.

Below are a few I found I thought I’d give a try:

“The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.”Dolly Parton

“Every day may not be good… but there’s something good in every day.” Alice Morse Earle

It is what it is, it is what you make it.” – James Durbin

“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow.” – Helen Keller

 “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” – Helen Keller

“Remember, rainbows have never been attracted to cloudless days. They only follow the storms.”―
Richelle E. Goodrich

“Happiness is not the absence of problems; it’s the ability to deal with them.” ― Steve Maraboli

“Expect obstacles and face them head-on. They are going to come up, so the way you handle them is what makes all the difference.” – Lance Dale, A Shot of Positivity: Overcoming Obstacles

AND

“Smiling is a wonderful way to get a boost of happiness. The next time life presents you with a challenging situation, take a deep breath and smile.” – Morris Pratt, The Secret of Positive Thinking

SO, it you feel like me, maybe you can join me in my adventure to change my words to change my world, and help shift the worldly vibration to one of positivity, which is so needed now more than ever.

© Mariann E. Danko and Waking the Woman, 2022. All rights reserved.

Goddess Masthead © Pamela Danko-Stout and Waking the Woman, 2022. All rights reserved.

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The Business That Has Become My Life

So, I made it through my son’s college graduation, moving him home, figuring out where to fit all the stuff that got moved home, purging/cleaning/organizing the basement so we could have a graduation celebration at home, planning/coordinating all that goes into a party, setting up/decorating for the party, the actual party and all that goes into the day of a party, and of course the clean up after the party.

The clean up alone took an entire day because we set up throughout the house to accommodate moving people inside if the threat of severe storms came to fruition. It didn’t, but it was very hot, so I was grateful the option to move inside was available and because of the extra effort to decorate the entire house, the ambiance was festive everywhere in the house.

I was so busy with all of this though, I didn’t even have time to write a post last month. That’s the first time ever in the 8 years I’ve been blogging I didn’t even post just a mini-post stating what was up. I just didn’t have the energy to do so, mentally and physically I was spent.

Added to all of this, the week after the party, my Son was in a car accident en route to taking his girlfriend back home. They were both fine, thank God, but this happened out of state, which added to the complexity of the situation, especially when the car started to overheat when my Son started to drive home.

I won’t get into the details, except to say my Son was stuck out of state for a week until I could coordinate ways to get him and the car back home. Now we’re at the mercy of the supply chain waiting on parts to fix the car.

To say I was moving at full-throttle for month’s between home and work is an understatement, but I kept reminding myself once I got to the other side of the party I’d have some downtime. For me however, downtime just means no extra stuff beyond the normal day-to-day, and week-to-week stuff.

As I’ve noted, I tend to thrive on being busy, and love the feeling crossing stuff off my to do list gives me. BUT, the older I get, and the more I fantasize about retirement, the more I realize that there has to be more to my days than tasks, especially with my day job is gearing back up to pre-COVID shutdown pace, with regular over-time.

The busier I am at work, the more I see the need for me to lighten up at home, but that in itself is a challenge when my brain is hardwired to “be busy.” I know I’ve written about this in the past, and the fact that I’m once again circling back to the subject, just means I haven’t been very successful at “lightening up” on the TO DO List. 

“Stop the glorification of busy. Busy, in and of itself, is not a badge of honor. It is OKAY to not be busy. Repeat this with me: It is OKAY to not be busy.” – Joshua Becker

When I saw this quote on Facebook, it hit me like a lightening rod. I knew the Universe was trying to make a point. A point I was very aware of, but obviously needed to be reminded of.

BUT, trying to reprogram my brain in my early 60’s is not going to be a simple task.

Normally I at least have our Summer Vacation to shutdown, and recharge, but this year we don’t have a real vacation or even a mini-vacation planned. Partly because I was so busy with other stuff I had no time to think about it. But, also because my Son’s post graduation plans where up in the air. I didn’t want to plan something only to find out he couldn’t go because he was starting a new job or even moving.

Vacation truly slows me down for a while beyond the actual excursion because I tend to try to bask in the “vacation chill mode” as long as I possibly can after I’m home. As I like to say “I’m trying to hang on to my vacation shine.”

I can honestly say I’m usually pretty successful with this, for at least a couple weeks, but with no real break on the horizon, I’m not quite sure how I’m going to achieve even just a minimal “vacation chill mode” if I don’t leave home for even just a long weekend.

Being away from home, even if just for a short time, allows me to disconnect from the day-to-day tasks at hand because of course I’m not at home with the stuff that needs to be done staring me down. Granted it will still be there when I get home, but the break, no matter how short, can usually be enough for me to lighten up on when and how soon a task gets done.

With that said, although my Son’s post-college plans are still somewhat up in the air, I do know he’ll be home for a little while longer and have decided I need to find a way to take a mini-escape, if not in August, then September. I’ve been contemplating this idea for a week or two, but confirmed it has to happen when I read today’s Touched by an Angel Calendar Quote “People don’t always have to be busy. Sometimes they should just sit back and enjoy the peace.”

To say the Universe is trying to tell me something is an understatement. 

Of course this means I have something to add to my To Do List, figuring out the when and where to escape to, but it’s something fun to look forward to, and is a means to an end. Just knowing I’ve made the decision to do this helps with me learning how to lighten up on the business that has become my life.

When I was younger, I was not as hardwired with the  “be busy” mentality, I most certainly took more time to play. It’s something that developed the older I got, especially when I became a single parent, doing double duty was the norm.

Now however my Son is grown, and while he’s home can be more helpful around the house. It’s just a matter of figuring out where he can be of the most help and learning to relinquish the reigns, which is easier said than done, when it’s been all me all this time. Basically I’m on autopilot most of the time, and have to learn to stop myself and allow someone else to step in.

We have had discussions about my Son helping more, and he is all in. He knows one day he’ll be on his own, and learning to be self-sufficient is a must.

Since I’ve been doing more OT, I told him helping with dinner is the key spot where I can use assistance. He helps with clean up, but I mean learning how to actually cook, not just throw frozen food in the oven. After all, his Father was a Chef; he’s got to have some cooking skills in his gene pool, right?

I know I have a long way to go when it comes to learning to “lighten up” on my To DO List, but acknowledging I need to and the Universe reinforcing it, opens the door for it to actually come to fruition.

And, acknowledging I could use a little help even with just the day-to-day is a step in the right direction. Granted it’s a baby step, but that’s the only way to start with a change this big.

© Mariann E. Danko and Waking the Woman, 2022. All rights reserved.

Goddess Masthead © Pamela Danko-Stout and Waking the Woman, 2022. All rights reserved.

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#learningtochill

EMPTY NEST BLACK HOLE

The reality of the possibility of a very empty nest is quickly sinking in since my Son went back to school for the Spring Semester of his Senior year.

Granted, my Son doesn’t have a job lined up post graduation, or any prospects that I know of, just yet, but considering his major is video game design, I’m well aware that jobs in that field don’t exist in the area we live. So sticking around home post graduation for an extended period of time doesn’t seem like a possibility.

In addition, his girlfriend and he are getting pretty serious and she may be going to law school post graduation, which means he may very well consider employment near wherever she lands.

I’ve been working on adjusting to my Son getting serious about a girl after not really dating through high school and the first three years of college. As a single mom with only one child, to say this takes some getting use to is an understatement. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled for my Son. It’s wonderful to see how happy he is with her. Plus, she’s not only a sweetheart of a girl, she’s also very ambitious and driven, which has been a positive influence on my Son.

BUT, having both the prospect of my Son really moving away from home, and a serious relationship running parallel is a lot for me digest at once, especially because the relationship itself is still very much new, having just gotten serious in August. The two have been friends since Freshman year, never revealing feelings for each other until the start of this school year, so to say it came out of nowhere is an understatement.

I knew the day would come, but I figured I would have a bit more warning. 

With that said, we are here now, and with each passing day, I find myself bouncing between I’m good, to I’m feeling lonely and maybe I should get a dog. I honestly never thought I’d feel lonely, especially because between working full time, working on establishing my chalk art business, creating new chalk art, writing this blog, and all that goes into owning a home and daily chores, I have plenty to keep me busy and take my mind off the empty house.

BUT, some days it just feels extremely empty.

The irony is I’m actually quite content being by myself, and am basically more of an introvert than extrovert, and although the first semester of my Son’s Freshman year challenged me, as I expected, I actually began to get comfortable with everything. So why I’m going in and out of a funk now is a bit confusing for me.

I’m sure a lot of this ties to the fact that it’s Winter so I’m not out socializing with neighbors like I do during warmer weather. PLUS, because of the pandemic, my Son was home with me taking classes remotely from March of 2020 to August of 2021 when he started his Senior year. AND, during the Fall semester he and his girlfriend visited at least 3 times, and then he was home on Winter break from Thanksgiving till January 23rd, and during that time his girlfriend spent 3 weeks with us, so I had more company than I’m use to and loved it.

Needless to say I got very comfortable with having my Son home and really enjoyed when his girlfriend was there too. It was nice to have company for dinner every night and even hangout and watch TV with them sometimes.

The bottom line, it gave me purpose, I felt needed. The older my Son gets the less he needs me, and with a girlfriend to discuss problems with, I’m certainly not the first one he contacts any more. Which once again is a good thing, but to have it happen sort of all of a sudden, out of nowhere, is harder to adjust to than anticipated. 

Now of course, having a child need you less as they get older is a natural progression, but because of how things have been since COVID my presence in my Son’s life was a bit more prominent for a bit longer, which is most certainly why I’m feeling this transition even more. Had my Son’s college years been “normal” I may not be feeling the emptiness as much. The transition would have been more gradual and I could have worked through these emotions each year leading up to graduation.

BUT, that’s not the case at all. The growth that started was stalled, and put on hold, sort off. Now however, I’m being thrown in the deep end so to speak, and trying keep my head above water.

With Spring and warmer weather not far off, I’m hopeful this will help shake that funky lonely feeling looming in my soul sometimes. Most of the time I’m pretty good, but every once in awhile, the emptiness of the house just really hits me regardless of how busy I keep myself. I know I’ll get past this, but until then I need to honor my emotions for what they are, growing pains.  

Just as my Son is spreading his wings and learning to fly solo, I too need to learn to be more than my Son’s Mom. I need to rediscover me. Rediscover the woman I was before becoming a Mom. Which ironically is why I started to write this blog when he went off to college. And although I have had some growth, I’m now realizing I still have a way to go yet.

Discovering the chalk art has been wonderful for my creative growth, which in turn helps my soul growth, but that’s only part of  “growth beyond parenting.” There’s certainly more growing than I ever considered when I stepped into this adventure I endearingly called “Waking the Woman”

Change is never an easy thing, but it is necessary for any real growth, and I’m guessing based on the loneliness I’m feeling at times I’ve been avoiding some aspects of me that need to change in order to get over this hurdle. What, I’m not sure of though.

As I have noted in past posts, I’m very good at filling my days with tasks. Some fun, some just every day stuff. Basing my personal fulfillment on how much I’ve accomplished. While this certainly helps me cover a lot of ground in a day, which was critical during my heavy-duty single parenting days, I’m now realizing, this behavior is enabling me, allowing me to avoid dealing with what’s going on inside or even keeping me from allowing myself time to “play.”

Not any more though, although the busyness does help most of the time, it doesn’t seem to be working that well any more, if it did I wouldn’t be writing this post. 

SO, is the universe trying to tell me it’s not just about the very empty nest?

Could it also be about getting older and all that goes with aging, especially after the health issues I faced in 2021?

OR, could it be about learning how to lighten my to do list so I have more time to “play?”

OR, could it be I may not want to head into my Senior years alone?

OR, is it all of the above backing me into a corner now that I don’t have the serious distraction of parenting dominating my time?

I’m guessing it’s most definitely all of the above, which makes my journey of rediscovery even more interesting. Not sure I’m ready for that much discovery just yet, but I don’t think I have any say in this journey any more – the universe is in control.

© Mariann E. Danko and Waking the Woman, 2022. All rights reserved.

Goddess Masthead © Pamela Danko-Stout and Waking the Woman, 2022. All rights reserved.

Empty Nest artwork courtesy of the CHALK Charmer ©2021

https://www.facebook.com/TheCHALKCharmer/

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MEDICAL CONUNDRUM

As many of you know I’ve encounter my share of medical issues and challenges that have all been discovered or transpired because of treatment for another issue.

In 2010 Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis Disease was diagnosed during a physical after pneumonia that went sepsis post surgery for a herniated disc in my neck. The pneumonia was triggered by a staff infection picked up in the hospital.

In 2016 Fibromascular Dysplasia (FMD), a very rare vascular disorder, was diagnosed after a trip to ER for what I thought was an adverse reaction to anti-viral medication for shingles. Turned out to be a renal infarct, another very rare disorder.

In 2018 Microscopic Colitis was diagnosed after severe boats with diarrhea and stomach pain that escalated for months till I could barely eat, leading me to the gastroenterologist.

Turns out, this was caused by the baby aspirin prescribed for the FMD.

Added to the pleasure of 2018 was the need to have half my thyroid removed because of a possible cancerous nodule which ties to the Hashimotos. Thank God it was benign.

2019 was spent trying to get control of the Microscopic Colitis because I couldn’t take the medication given to help settle the inflammation caused by the baby aspirin, which by this point was reduced to every other day every other week. With the help of a nutritionist I was able to get my gut back in order and so far I’m holding my own with the FMD thank God.

https://wakingthewoman.com/2019/09/

By 2020, by the grace of God, despite the pandemic, things with my health seemed to settle down. AND, I even found a new creative outlet, chalk art, which has been my saving grace as far as keeping me grounded and sane.

BUT, 2021 is turning out to be quite challenging once again.

Contracting COVID in January/February took me some time to completely bounce back from. Then a breast cancer scare in August had me on edge until the biopsy results were in. It was benign thank God.

AND NOW, I’m once again traveling a road of a medical conundrum that’s got my family doctor and an immunologist a bit stumped and a little bit at odds.

Early in October I had what obviously appeared to be cellulitis on the back of my leg. I assumed I got bit by something, but had no clue by what and when. My family doctor sent me to the ER because they were concerned it could also be a blood clot.

SO, I took a half days vacation and sat in the ER for 4 hours until I could be seen. At which time 2 physicians came in to check the red blotch on the back of my thigh. The first doctor wanted to run blood work to rule out Lyme and also an ultrasound to rule out blood clot, just to be safe.

BUT, the second physician, who specialized in Medical Toxicology saw no need and was convinced it was cellulitis.

He also was convinced although I had a noted allergy to penicillin, because it dated back to my childhood and I had no idea what the allergy was, I would be just fine taking Keflex, an antibiotic in the penicillin family.

Me being a trusting soul didn’t question his logic. 

Note, the immunologist concurred that his thinking was indeed correct. Considering what happened next, I beg to differ.

The dosage was 500mg 4 times a day and by the time I got to day 3, my entire body was riddled with inflammation. I could barely get out of bed. My hands, neck, shoulders, knees and feet were so swollen I could barely function. 

The family doctor told me to stop the Keflex and put me on Doxicycline, but never did anything to address the inflammation, assuming once I stopped the first antibiotic I would see signs of relief.

Boy were they wrong.

This all started on a Friday and by Monday I was no better. A phone call to the family doctor eventually lead to me having to be seen by the family doctor who put me on steroids, the step down pack.

The first 2 days I saw signs of relief, but by no means was the inflammation gone. Once the steroid pack was done the inflammation reared it’s ugly head even worse than the first time. By the following Monday I could barely walk, or even sit down and getting dressed took at the minimum 20 minutes.

I called the doctor’s office the minute they opened and it was decided I was having a reaction to the second antibiotic, so I was told to stop that one and they once again put me on another step down steroid pack.

The same pattern repeated itself. Saw signs of relief initially on the days when the dosage was at it’s highest, but by the time the steroids were done, my entire body was once again inflamed.

And this time worse than before.

It even hurt to walk my feet were so inflamed and I couldn’t bend my knees at all. Getting up and down was beyond painful. And my hands looked like I had been in boxing match they were so swollen. 

Since the doctor couldn’t see me I was told to go to urgent care.

Needless to say the provider I saw was not thrilled to have the family doctor kicking me to them when they were suppose to be “taking care of the situation.” BUT, he could see how bad the situation was, and that I was in a lot of pain.

SO, having listened to my story closely, and acknowledging that the days I saw the most relief were the higher steroid dosage days, he decided to try 6 days of steroids at 20mg.

This certainly helped, but after the steroids started to wear off I was back to having pain, especially in my neck and shoulders, which kept me from sleeping. And my hands were still swollen which impeded my every day functions.

To say I was frustrated is an understatement, so I decided it was time to seek out an immunologist, hoping they might have more insight into why my body could be having such a reaction, and what to do next.

I was able to get a same day appointment with a new immunologist in the area and I’m grateful I went to her. She was not convinced that I had a reaction to 2 antibiotics. As a matter of fact she felt it had to be something else and tested me for Lyme’s disease

On the other side of the coin, my family doctor stilled believed it was just my body reacting to the meds, but felt it was well worth testing for possible rheumatology issues.

SO, off to the lab I went, twice in one week.

In the meantime I had to just wait it out because neither provider wanted to put me on any more steroids until they got some further details. Fortunately, although there was still inflammation, it was nothing like it had been. I was able to function, not perfectly, and certainly not without pain, but I could function.

The first provider to get back to me was the immunologist. The Lyme titers were negative, which meant the reason as to why was still unanswered, but she knew I was still in pain and decided to put me back on steroids, 10mg for 30 days, which did indeed help, but when I saw her next it was easy to see my hands were still swollen in the knuckles

It was then she decided to try a burst of steroids with a step down, 40mg for 5 days, 30mg for 2 days, 20mg for 2 days, then 10mg for 2 days.

Finally we hit the jackpot, by the weekend I was finally starting to feel like me again and able to do things I hadn’t been able to for the past month.

I also heard back from my family doctor regarding the rheumatology blood work. Although it came back positive, they saw no urgency to get me in with a specialist, so I won’t get any further feedback in that area until March when I could get an appointment.

SO, after more than a month of back and forth and on and off again steroids, I can say I’m feeling better, thank God, but no confirmation as to whether it was just the meds that caused the problem, or if they triggered some underlying issue. 

AND, although I have a follow up with the immunologist, I don’t know what more she can do because she’s not the one that ordered the rheumatology blood work.

For me though, all that matters is I am doing better and I not only know 2 more medications I have a sensitivity to, but that I do most certainly have an extremely sensitive system, and regardless of what a doctor says, I need to reinforce this. The older I get the more sensitive I am to medications and it’s up to me to be my own advocate because the medical professionals only want to dish out the standard fix and not think out of the box.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m extremely grateful for all the professionals that helped me through this, but it was one of those professionals who blatantly ignored what I said which in turn created this mess.

At least that’s the way I see it.

SO, in conclusion, question everything, especially when it comes to your health. AND, by all means be your own advocate. After all, you know your body and how it ticks better than any else. And if you don’t, you should or your situation could be worse than the one I just traveled.

© Mariann E. Danko and Waking the Woman, 2021. All rights reserved.

Goddess Masthead © Pamela Danko-Stout and Waking the Woman, 2021. All rights reserved.

Clip Art Courtesy – ©123rf

Lab Work – booblgum

Confused – harunatsukobo

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#QuestionEverything

The Toll of Quarantine on My College Student Son

March 13, 2021 marked one year since I brought my Son home from college for what was only suppose to be two weeks. 

A year later he is still home, taking all his classes virtually.

AND, my how things have changed.

When the COVID pandemic was not yet classified a pandemic, but things were escalating daily, my anxiety levels were also escalating, especially because my Son was away at school. I feared the US would go into lockdown and he would be stuck there. 

As a fan of “The Walking Dead” every end of world scenario was playing out in my mind.

How would I get my Son home if we were in lockdown? What covert operation would I have to pull off? Would I have to dodge law enforcement or the military? Would I be fined if I was caught?

The Walking Dead Characters locked, loaded and ready for action – courtesy of AMC

Granted, some of this is extreme, but a year ago so much was up in the air that anything imaginable crossed my mind.

SO, when the school sent out the plans to send students home for an extended Spring Break I was beyond relieved. No covert operation would be needed. I could pick my Son up in a somewhat normal fashion.

Once he was home I didn’t care what happened, as long as he was home with me. If the world fell apart we’d face it together, just like Rick and Carl.

Rick and Carl facing the end of the world together – courtesy of AMC

And face it we did.

When my Son first got home, I was still working full-time in the office, coming home strung out because I had no clue if I was exposed to the virus. Within a week though the Stay-At-Home Orders were put in place in our state and the official lockdown began. 

Being told I had to stay home and not venture out into the virus-infested world was a huge relief, and an order I was grateful to abide by. We’d make due with what we had and when we ran out of something figure it out then. 

The true test would be how my Son and I handled being home all day, every day with just each other. 

I had finally adjusted to being by myself after a rough Freshman year, and my Son had gotten comfortable with his on-campus college student lifestyle.

He was becoming more independent and he liked it. His visits home up to this time were always relaxed and playful because that’s just what they were meant to be. Breaks from the college workload to refresh and recharge for the next semester.

AND, of course Mom would dote on him because that’s what Mom’s do when their kids come home from college.

Now however, he would be taking classes from home and I would be working from home. Nothing at all like a normal home visit for a college break. 

Add to it, we both had to share the loft where our computers were.

Needless to say it was a bit of an adjustment, but some how we made it work. His irregular class schedule and my flexibility with work hours certainly helped.

Plus I was only home full time for about a month before I was going back into the office a couple times a week which eventually led to full time again by May.

One of my biggest challenges came when I was trying to focus and my Son would decide that’s when he wanted to give me an update on something related to a class, or even just something silly he read and thought I’d enjoy.

Prior to this it was a none-issue because I wasn’t doing work related things at home. BUT, now it mattered, so I had to find a delicate way to let him know it was not a good time and not offend him because I certainly wanted to know about school.

Note, my Son is very random when it comes to informing me about personal things or school, so I have learned over the years to pause when he gets in the mood to talk. No matter when that may be.

The last thing I wanted was to have him think I didn’t care and stop randomly spilling what’s on his mind.

Considering the fact that he still does this, I can say I did not offend him, and we’re all good it that department.

The other key thing at play with my Son home full-time again was and still is the general dynamics between the two of us.

Our relationship as parent and child has been evolving since my Son was a teen, and took on a whole new level when he went away to college. At college, he was maturing and learning to be more independent, and I was concerned being forced to move back home full-time could do some damage in that area.

Something I most certainly didn’t want to see happen.

So I have tried hard to give him space, within limits though, because after all he is still at home under my roof.

There had to be some rules. Like helping Mom with kitchen duties. Something he got out of while in high school, but not now. It was only fair considering I was back to doing more cooking on a regular basis.

When I contracted COVID in late January, my Son had no choice but to step up his game in this area, and I can say he has done it without complaining which is major sign of maturity. 

In the beginning of the stay-at-home orders, because we were both so consumed by what was going on with the pandemic, and my work ours were not consistent, there was a lot of fluidity with household dynamics.

BUT, once my hours went back to full-time and my Son was back working part-time at a local grocery store, I quickly realized our relationship was evolving into a whole new phase

The dynamics between the two of us was becoming one of true camaraderie, with a buddy-like quality, and a real sense of respect for each other. Something I happily welcomed and was excited to experience. Were there hiccups, of course, but overall things were changing for the good.

Summer hike in the Poconos

Because of this new-found camaraderie I noticed my Son more willing to open up about his emotions when dealing with being home. Which I was beyond grateful for because otherwise I would not have realized the toll quarantine was actually taking on him.

One of the biggest issues he addresses was a feeling of apathy, and lack of motivation. He noted that at least he was getting his class work done.

Apparently a lot of friends have not been.

As my Son told me the extended virtual learning was taking a toll on everyone he spoke with.

The lack of in-person classes and “real” on-campus life was hindering their desire to perform to the best of their ability. AND this was coming from friends who were actually on campus, but had at least half of their classes still virtual.

Once he told me all of this, I started to better understand some of his not so normal behavior.

My Son has always been a bit of a night owl, and would sleep in as often as he could, which is pretty normal for teens and college students. BUT, things were escalating to the point where he’d be up all night and sleep all day whenever he didn’t need to be up for classes. AND sometimes even when he did have classes. 

This concerned me because how could he be prepared for class if he crawled out of bed 5 minutes before class. Plus be alert enough to actually participate.

And to add to all of this, my Son had finally gotten his computer moved to the basement over Winter Break so he had more seclusion and privacy, which only amplified the night owl problem.

Prior to the move, he was right outside my bedroom in the loft so I could hear him, which meant I could keep tabs on him and make him accountable for his time. Something he didn’t really like.

Although he’s holding his own with classes, despite an issue with one class that’s tied to the instructors, he’s spending the bare minimal of time on his classwork, but certainly spending plenty of time gaming, and watching Anime or stupid videos on YouTube. If he’s not in front of his computer, he’s got his phone and is watching stupid videos there.

Again, I know this is pretty standard for a college kid, but for my Son it’s excessive. It’s most certainly a means of escape.

He’s always spent a lot of time online with friends, either gaming or just BS’ing, but he’d also spend just as much time socializing with his friends in-person, especially on campus.

SO, taking the personal one-on-one side out of the equation was rearing it’s ugly head.

At least when he’s working he gets some one-on-one time with co-workers and customers, but because of the amount of writing one of his classes required he decided to not work during this semester, which just added to the seclusion problem.

I’ve told him his behavior is a sign of depression, and he’s aware of it. YET, he’s making limited effort to break free of the hold the quarantine has on him, which is what concerns me.

In general he seems fine, but because he has no reason to leave the house, and has limited commitments, he’s left to just flounder. 

He is not very self-motivated, which is another issue for another post, so although there are many things he could be doing with his time, he chooses to do nothing

I toss out ideas, and make suggestion to help lift him out of his funk, but he dismisses the ideas, even when he knows it’s on him to make the change.

When he was away at college, living on campus, he was starting to get more organized with his time, plotting his days out, prioritizing tasks, etc… He was learning to create structure and order to his days. Even motivated to venture forth beyond his comfort zone.

Last performance with jazz band a week prior to coming home

NOW, all bets are off 

At least he’s getting his schoolwork done, which I have to be grateful for. And, the classes the back half of this semester seem to be more engaging, which seem to be helping his overall mood a little.

BUT, next semester is his senior year and I fear what this extended time at home has done to his overall growth. I’m hoping once he’s vaccinated and can be back on campus, he will be able to pick up where he left off, but until then, I will do my best to help him break free from his quarantine funk.

I will need to find ways to make him more accountable for his time every day. What that is I don’t know yet, BUT if he has to answer to someone other than himself about how he spends his days, maybe that will help.

This is all very new for me.

Usually my Son has had so much schoolwork, and extracurricular activities that I was not concerned about his “veg out time.” I knew he needed it as a means to recharge so I didn’t worry.

Now however all this “veg out time” is doing the opposite.

It’s slowly burning out all the stored charge that motivated my Son to succeed. Apathy is winning and despite still being in a pandemic I have to find a way to reverse this course and get my Son back on track for I hope and pray will be his best year of college, his Senior year! 

© Mariann E. Danko and Waking the Woman, 2021. All rights reserved.

Goddess Masthead © Pamela Danko-Stout and Waking the Woman, 2021. All rights reserved.

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MID-WEEK MEANDERING – Finding Purpose When Classified Non-Essential

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had major mixed emotions about falling into the category of “non-essential.”

On one hand I’m grateful I can stay at home, and limit my time out of the house to trips for essentials.

BUT, on the other hand I feel guilty and wish I had more of a purpose other than to be at home.

Continue reading “MID-WEEK MEANDERING – Finding Purpose When Classified Non-Essential”

The NEW Business As Usual

When I first started writing this post the world was on the fringes of falling apart. Were there signs of anxiety here on the East Coast of the US, sure, but the first cases of the coronavirus in the states were few, and although I was cautiously concerned, I was trying to live life business as usual.

That all changed suddenly when the first cases showed up in Pennsylvania, the state I live in, and quickly started popping up more and more across the country.

Then the World Health Organization declared it a pandemic, and the daily dynamics changed, and so did the behavior of the general public.

Chicken Little came to cry, “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!”

Now I am certainly not trying to lessen the severity of the situation, but the behavior of a large portion of the human race was certainly one of histrionics.

And to be honest it caught me off guard.

Continue reading “The NEW Business As Usual”

An Unlikely Source of Inspiration

Back in May I took a retirement planning class. It was informative and overwhelming at the same time. Fortunately part of the price included two very detailed workbooks, which have come in handy as I unravel all the details taught. 

In addition, they offered two free consultations with the planner who taught the class. It was those consultations that turned out to be even more beneficial than the class.

WHY?

The planner was a wealth of information beyond retirement planning. He became the source of inspiration I needed to believe my dream of turning writing into my retirement plan was and is valid and possible.

To have someone who spends their days with their head in the world of investments and numbers believe that something creative was a tangible prospect for my future blew my mind. On the numbers side of things, he did have me write a business plan and included that in the retirement plan we discussed at my second appointment.

BUT, it was the wealth of resources he passed on beyond that that became the spark I needed to ignite my plan for the future.

Continue reading “An Unlikely Source of Inspiration”

Signs of Growth

Last month I met an old friend for dinner. This is something we had tried to do for years, but between raising kids, and caring for our aging Mom’s, time just got away from us. BUT, with both of us now having our children back at college for their sophomore year we knew we had to make it happen

OR, it may never happen.

Once seated at our table, my first words to her were “How are you doing since the girls went back to school?”

Without any hesitation she stated sophomore year has been tougher than freshman year. I agreed, confessing I was downright depressed the first week or two.

I hate to say it, but it was refreshing to find out it wasn’t just me feeling this way. 

Freshman year I had many texts, emails, and even a somewhat regular Sunday afternoon call from my Son. Plus, I had a few runs to the college to aid with roommate issues and moving. And, bring things he discovered he needed for the dorm. 

This year however has been drastically different.

Which is good for my Son. It means he’s becoming more independent, self-confident and self-reliant.

For me however, it has been beyond challenging. The feeling of not being needed was overwhelming at times.

Before I let it get the best of me though, I knew I had to put my energy into something positive. I needed to be proactive and not dwell on the void.

With an endless list of unfinished projects staring me down, I set my sights on those, and created a plan of attack based on the time I had till my Son’s first visit home for Fall Break.

Continue reading “Signs of Growth”

Medical Catch 22

Aging is a process not for the faint of heart. 

In our teens and twenties we seem invincible. 

During our thirties we might start to see some grays and faint wrinkles, but overall we generally feel pretty good. 

Even our forties aren’t that bad. Might start to feel the start of some achy arthritic joints, and see more grays and wrinkles, but overall we’re still feeling pretty peppy.

Then the fifties hit and things really start to change, at least for me they did. Maybe not right away, but by my mid-fifties I could feel myself slowing down.

Part of the slowing down process is certainly tied to Hashimotos, an autoimmune disorder involving chronic inflammation of the thyroid. Over time, the ability of the thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormones often becomes impaired and leads to a gradual decline in function and eventually an underactive thyroid (Hypothyroidism).

I was diagnosed with Hashimotos in 2010 at the age of 49 after a bout with pneumonia that went sepsis and wrecked havoc with my entire body.

Medication was not and still is not an option because my thyroid levels remain within normal range. Even after having half my thyroid removed last fall because of a suspicious nodule.

The nodule was benign Thank God, so the threat of cancer was removed from the equation. Amen to that!

With meds out of the question, I knew I had to find other methods to combat the symptoms of hypothyroidism. The key symptoms being fatigue, weight gain and brain fog.

I discovered doctors were not very helpful when it came to advice in this area and found out quickly I was on my own.

Coincidently around the same time, I caught an interview with Gina Lee Nolin, of Baywatch fame, where she discussed her personal health struggles that went undiagnosed until she found Dr. Alan Christianson, a naturopathic medical doctor for Integrative Health in Scottsdale. His book “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Thyroid Disease” became my saving grace. 

https://www.facebook.com/thyroidsexy/

After reading Dr. Christianson’s book, I started to play with diet changes and adding supplements. In doing so, I was able to thwart off some of the fatigue, weight gain and some brain fog.

The key thing was going gluten and dairy free. Plus avoiding soy and fluoride, which can interfere with the function of the thyroid. I also added ginkgo biloba and ashwaghanda, but my endocrinologist recommended I stop the ashwaghanda because it can skew thyroid function blood tests.

Over the years I have faired pretty well with this issue, but honestly I think I was too busy raising my Son and helping to care for my aging Mom to completely feel the impact. Or, should I say take the time to notice. 

It’s only the past year or two, as I hit my late fifties and my Son is off at college that I’ve truly noticed how much I’m slowing down. My energy levels just aren’t what they used to be. Some of it’s age, but I know part of it is my thyroid. 

This however is the least of my concerns. 

Continue reading “Medical Catch 22”