Monday, September 29, 2008

Don't worry. Be happy...

Many people who know me well know that I struggle with anxiety and worrying too much about everything. A few weeks ago I stumbled across a journal entry written in 2005 (handwritten I might add - only a few weeks before I started my blog). I read over the journal entry and was so shocked that three years later I still struggle so much with worrying and letting my anxiety get the best of me. I guess I was hoping that with time my worrying would just disappear? Wishful thinking. The following is my journal entry:

October 17, 2005

"Worrying is like being in a rocking chair. It occupies your time but doesn't get you anywhere." This quote is so very true, but yet so many people still spend much of their lives worrying. Why is this? Is it an innate characteristic that when strong feelings are involved, rationalizing is nearly impossible? Or is it all a matter of learning self-control and being able to tame that voice inside your head known as your conscious? I am truly aware that worrying is not going to get me anywhere. It's not going to change my past and it's not likely to prevent things from happening in my future. Yet, still I worry anyway. The biggest struggle for me in regards to worrying is learning to live in the "now."

Worrying and over analyzing everything really got the best of me and made me depressed. For a few years I was taking medication to treat my anxiety. It definitely helped but anyone who has taken an anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medication might be able to relate to the way it made me feel. I've always been a high and low type of person (aka moody!). Some days I'm really high on life and other days I'm really down in the dumps and letting my worrying get me down. Taking the medication really helped to eliminate those low days which was great. On the same token, however, it also eliminated my high days and I just couldn't get as excited and happy as I did B.M. (before medication). So I decided to ween myself off of it. I also chose to go to counseling and sort through some of the skeletons in my closet and some of the things that I've experienced in my life, possibly leading to or at least contributing to my anxiety and then depression.

So what triggered all of this? First finding that journal entry buried in an old notebook and then today receiving an email with this quote:

Attitude, after all, is everything. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. After all today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.

Maybe I will always struggle with worrying and anxiety. I would like to think that it will get better and someday I will have found a way to deal with my worrying in a healthy and effective way. Somehow though, as I get older and stress becomes even more prominent, I don't see that happening. Uh oh... now my pessimism is showing. That's an issue for another entry.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Our humble abode

I don't think I've shared with you how very much I love my new home. I stand corrected. Our new home. I have spent the past 6 years living in dorm rooms and apartments. Places you know are only temporary and therefore never really get the feeling of being "home" when you're there (**I recognize that some people live in apartments for a long period of time and do treat them as a home - this just never happened for me). When you live somewhere that you know is only temporary, you never really go that extra mile to dress it up and make it your own. You don't even care for it in the same way that you would if it were yours. In a house that you know is yours, however, you really value it and take extra good care of it (maybe because you know if something goes wrong - it's on you! No landlord or maintenance person to call. And trust me - the honey-do lists don't have nearly the same sense of urgency).

Okay, so enough about all of that boring home ownership glory stuff. My favorite part of my new home? The big back yard and the nature that fills it. I should first clarify what I mean by "big" as I realize it is a subjective term. I'm using the term big as it relates to Cleveland standards - or all major suburbs standards I guess. We have 1/2 an acre. Going back to my 419 roots for a moment - this isn't that big to me. My mom lives on 5 acres and my dad lives on 13. However, as you know, I've had to change (aka lower - jk!) my standards when I moved to Cleveland and 1/2 an acre is pretty good! We have a big fenced in backyard that backs up to a park-like view. In this area just beyond our fence, we have spotted on many different occasions a lot of wildlife. Just two nights ago, we walked to the end of our property for about 10 minutes and saw a giant hawk (a bird of prey, I remind you!), 3 deer (1 doe and 2 babies), and a fox! The first fox I've ever seen that up close and personal in a Cleveland suburb! Not at my mom's on 5 acres, not at my dad's on 13 acres, but in Cleveland! We also frequently see 3 bucks (1 is a giant 8 point!), have the biggest groundhog I've ever seen living in our backyard (possibly under our deck?) and several chipmunks living under our garage. According to Pat the chipmunks and groundhog are destroying the foundation on our house and our garage. He's not really comfortable with their existence on our property. I prefer the living in harmony scenario myself.

I realize this is a boring post and I'm sorry. But me and my new retainer are boring. Much less dynamic and animated so as not to outburst in laughter and therefore result in the showing of the metal mouth.

Friday, September 19, 2008

In Memory of My Great Grandma

I found out this morning that my 95 year-old Grandma (she would have been 96 in December) passed away last night in the nursing home where she's been staying for the past year. Although it's a natural part of life for someone of her age to pass on, it still makes me very sad. There's something about knowing that you will never have the opportunity to see or talk to someone again that is so difficult to bear. Forever is such a long time. No matter how much time you spent with someone or how many memories you have with them, there's always that need and desire for more. More time. More memories. More of them.

She was such a warm and compassionate person. I enjoyed every moment I ever spent with her. She was quite the talker (hey, I get it honest, right?). I always knew that when I called her I was in for a long conversation. I will really miss those.

I learned a lot from my Great Grandma. She introduced me to the soap opera General Hospital which I know she watched the entire time it was on until a few years ago when she stopped watching TV. She introduced me to grape pop. I loved going to her house and drinking grape pop out of the can with a straw and eating a bowl of fritos. She taught me how to use a spoon to pop the seal on a jar when it's too hard to twist open. Works every time and I use it often.

I've always been able to talk to my Great Grandma about anything. And I know she felt the same way about me. She opened up to me about many of the struggles she faced growing up. Things that led her to move out of her home at the age of 14 and marry my Great Grandpa, her knight in shining armor who whisked her away from her abusive home. I won't go into anymore detail about the struggles she faced because I know how private she liked to keep those terrible memories. I owe her this much. But she sure taught me a lot about strength and perseverance just in sharing those stories with me. The way she trusted me and felt so open to talk to me about anything and everything, always made me feel really good and meant a lot.

My Great Grandma liked Pat a lot. She asked about him every single time I went to visit her. We talked about him and our future together the last time I visited with her. Just like me, she recognized that I had found a really good partner and she was so happy for me about that. I told her that I really hoped she would be around for my wedding day. It breaks my heart that she will not. I can't be selfish though. This is best for her.

I've been extremely fortunate to have my Great Grandma in my life for the entire 25 years I've been alive. There are a lot of people who can't say the same and for that, I am very lucky. I wear her original wedding band around my left thumb. She gave it to me a few years ago during one of our visits. I've never taken it off.

You were deeply loved, Great Grandma, and will be greatly missed.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

All I want for Christmas is my front tooth....

I met with the oral surgeon yesterday about my freaking never-ending drama of the mouth. It reminded me of all the headaches and hassles I've gone through with my teeth over the last 14 or so years and I must say, it's getting old. When complaining to my dad, he reminded me that it could be worse. I could have been born with cerebral palsy or some terrible, debilitating disease. And he's right. But I also could have been born with normal teeth. What a concept! Before I bring you up to speed about the procedures I'm going to endure over the next seven months, let's first go over a brief timeline of my dental history:

  • Birth to Age 6: sucked my thumb every moment I could. Bad idea, Emily. REALLY bad idea.
  • Preschool'sh: tried to impress friends by jumping off the teetor tottern (aka see saw). Bad idea, Emily. REALLY bad idea. Teetor totter, meet my jaw. Jaw meet the teetor totter. Moments later I went to rinse out at the drinking fountain only to realize I had knocked out both of my front teeth. Luckily they were only baby teeth!
  • Kindergarten'sh: lost baby teeth, adult teeth started coming in. Continued to suck thumb. Bad idea, Emily. REALLY bad idea!
  • 1st grade'sh: teeth are growing in extremely crooked and bucked. One tooth grew in extremely skinny and little. One didn't grow in at all. What does it all mean? Time will tell...
  • 5th grade'sh: met with dentist who specializes in orthodontics (not to be confused with an actual orthodontist who knows what they're doing). He required that the family pay upfront, in full for his treatment plan. Bad idea, parentals. REALLY bad idea.
  • 5th grade'sh: wear some strange "2 block appliance" with a key to turn and expand the size of my mouth (let's be honest. increase the size of my mouth? necessary? I think not.)
  • 6th grade'sh: get four of my adult molars pulled because there wasn't enough room for them. Bad idea, REALLY bad idea!
  • 7th grade'sh: get braces
  • 7th-10th grade'sh: wear many different types of experimental appliances since the dentist had no idea what he was doing (my favorite being the top and bottom retainer in one. I had to rubber band it to my braces, locking my jaw shut. I had to undo the rubber bands to eat.)
  • 10th grade'sh: my teeth had gotten worse, not better. No end in sight. Begged parents to take me to get a second opinion. We were told by several orthodontist that the first guy really screwed up, the four molars should have never been pulled, and if it had been done right, my braces would have been off by now already.
  • 10th grade: start the entire braces process over again. Learned more about my skinny tooth and my missing tooth. Knew it would be an expensive procedure to fix those some day!
  • Senior year of high school: senior pictures with braces on, senior homecoming and prom with braces on, senior high school graduation with braces on. Good times.
  • Summer before college: braces come off, retainer with fake tooth go on. Skinny tooth is bonded, with the understanding that someday a porcelain veneer will be needed
  • Summer going in to sophomore year: retainer with tooth only needs to be worn at night, bridge with fake tooth is made
  • Sophomore year until present: fake tooth falls out at inopportune times such as two days before college graduation, at work cocktail party honoring our top donors, right before engagement pictures, etc. Skinny tooth chips at inopportune times such as right before engagement pictures, on my way to Virginia Beach for vacation, etc.
That about brings us up to speed. I've been saving my money and am now in a financial position (or so I thought) to finally get the necessary procedures to fix my mouth problems once and for all. In meeting with the oral surgeon yesterday, he explained if I want to have all of this taken care of before my wedding (which I told him is a MUST because if there is a chance that I have to wear one of those stupid retainers with a tooth attached at my wedding, I do not even want to start this process!) then I need to have my surgery ASAP. So they scheduled me for Thursday October 2nd. What exactly am I getting done? Find out here!

It was a depressing appointment all around because the doctor thinks he's going to have to do a bone graft which is bad for many reasons: 1. it's an extra $2,500 (that I wasn't prepared for at ALL!) 2. it adds 4 months on top of the 2 months of healing time 3. I will have to have two surgeries instead of 1 4. it will take until the middle of April to get everything done (giving us only 1 month of leeway in case something goes wrong - which let's be honest... it will. Murphy's law with my mouth), and let's not forget number 5. there is a chance that my jaw will be partially numb forever after they remove some bone from it from the bone graft. AWESOME! The only positive thing that came out of the appointment yesterday was that there is a slight chance, and he did emphasize SLIGHT, that they will get in there the morning of the surgery and find that they don't have to do the bone graft and can just go right ahead and do the implant surgery that day, which would be wonderful for my bank account, sanity, and self-esteem.

Monday officially starts the process when I go in and they remove my fake tooth and replace it with a retainer with a tooth attached. I envision it looking very similar to the stupid one I had to wear only six short years ago when I got my braces off with the metal wire in the front and a fake tooth attached. I'm sure it will be one that you're supposed to take out of your mouth to eat. Hmm... can't wait to go out for a work lunch meeting! Maybe it will help me to lose weight for the wedding since the chances of me taking that retainer out and being toothless to eat in public is pretty slim. So, as of Monday through the middle of next April... I am becoming a hermit. I will not leave the house unless absolutely necessary (so, every single weekday for work and to go to tap dancing class. Humiliation on top of humiliation). I will avoid opening my mouth at all costs. Hope to see you before Monday. Get your smiles while they're hot! Free smiles, get your free smiles. On sale now through Monday! It was nice knowing you. See you at the wedding. :)

Yours truly,

Hillbilly in Disguise

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

A fish out of water...

I decided to sign up for an adult tap class. One of the things I have always said that I really miss from high school (one of the only things I miss from high school) was taking dance lessons. I always wanted to take a tap class during college but BG only offered one and it was for those who have never put on a tap shoe before in their life so I opted not to take it (although it should have been an easy A!). When someone told me about the Beck Center for the Arts in Lakewood offering adult dance classes, I got really excited! They offer classes in levels 1, 2, and 3. 1 is for those who have never tapped before, 2 is for those who have only tapped for one year, and 3 is for those with two or more years of tapping experience. Although I tapped for about eight years growing up, given the fact that I haven't tapped in over 6 years, I thought it would be in my best interest to start with the level 2 class. Unfortunately, this fall they only offer level 1 or 3. When I talked so someone at the dance store about it, she said "Oh, it's like riding a bike. It will all come back to you. You'll be fine in Tap 3." I felt a lot better...for about 3 minutes. Then I went back to being nervous again. The class started last night so yesterday at work I got even more nervous. I emailed the girl who had told me about the class and who I know has taken years of classes from the same instructor. She wrote back and tried to make me feel better but did warn me that the instructor is "tough" and "used to be a Rockette." Suddenly I felt even more nervous. I had this fear of being the worst one in the class and I was afraid that the instructor might make us dance alone in front of the other class members and/or dance across the floor in front of everyone.

Every fear that I had, came true. The entire hour I was there was like a scene off of Saturday Night Live. I felt like Sally O'Mally when she was trying to audition and then dance with the Rockettes. I was like a fish out of water. She was like a tap drill Sargent. She would stand at the bar on the other side of the room, perform some ridiculous mini-routine once and then we were expected to repeat what she had just done. At first I thought it was a joke until I looked around and everyone else WAS repeating the step. Everyone but me. She made us all do steps by ourselves in front of the rest of the class and she would come and stand by you when it was your turn. I haven't been that nervous in a long time! Then we had to go across the floor with a few steps in front of the class and I was by far the worst one in the room. She's very hardcore and a bit intimidating. The good news is, she's a fantastic dancer and I will probably learn more from her in the next 18 weeks than I learned in 6 years at my tap class in high school. The bad news is, I'm going to make a fool out of myself in the process. You know you're bad when the rest of the class keeps coming up to you and telling you what a great job you're doing. I'm like the charity case in the class. I'm not going to quit though. I'm sticking it out! But I will say, I'm going to be building a lot of character over the next few months!