Saturday, February 28, 2015

More than just a love story - a story of perfect parenting

I made the mistake of watching "The Fault in Our Stars" today, and despite all of the tissues, it was really wonderful.  I know I should have read the book first; books are always better than the movie, but I have so many books that I want to read that it would take forever to get to it, so I went ahead and watched it.  
Besides just the amazing two main characters, I was so moved by the Mom and Dad in the movie, I know the teens who read and watched it all related to the two sick star-crossed lovers (yes, pun intended) but as a Mom I couldn't help looking at the story from the mother's perspective, and wow...what a Mom she was.  I can't imagine how difficult it would be dealing with a terminally ill child, but the parents in this story were inspiring.  They were able to see past their fears, and they saw who their daughter really was, and what was important to her.  They had the courage to allow their daughter to travel, despite the doctors warning, to allow their daughter to realize one of her greatest dreams.  They also allowed their daughter to have a 'normal' relationship (as normal as someone can have when they are diagnosed with a terminal disease).  The parents were not the center of this movie, they were not the ones bravely facing their mortality, but they were heroic in their actions toward their daughter.

I still hope to read this book one of these days, even though I already know the ending.  I know the author’s primary focus was on these two incredible main characters, but this author also gave all of us the most incredible role models for parents who have a child facing a challenge like this.  Parents who were brave enough to allow their child to take chances and even to get hurt; they allowed her to really live even with the very real fear of her dying. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Limping along with Plantar fasciitis

I love going barefoot.  I am just one of those people who only wears shoes when absolutely necessary.  I have been this way for as long as I can remember.  There is something wonderful about walking barefoot, feeling the unique surfaces below your feet.  Getting married on the beach was so romantic and special, and one of the best things about it was being barefoot. 

I think this love of being barefoot has made it even more annoying to deal with nagging heel pain known as Plantar fasciitis, one of the most common causes of heel pain. It involves pain and inflammation of a thick band of tissue, called the plantar fascia that runs across the bottom of your foot and connects your heel bone to your toes.

According to the Mayo clinic, “Plantar fasciitis is particularly common in runners. In addition, people who are overweight and those who wear shoes with inadequate support are at risk of plantar fasciitis.”  Well I’m not much of a runner but I am overweight and I do wear shoes with inadequate support (flats and flip flops are my main shoe choice). 

I did ask my doctor about my heel pain, and she recommended that I work on reducing the inflammation (with ice and ibuprofen) and stretching the fascia.  Basically – it was up to me to deal with this.  She said I could try a brace to see if that would help. 

I have tried various methods to help, and some of these techniques have worked better than others. 

Stretching the fascia or ligament can be done manually, but it’s very awkward to try to pull your toes back to stretch.  It feels great when I ask my husband to do this, especially when we are just sitting watching TV.   You can also stand on the edge of a stair step and extend your heel below the step to help stretch.  Another method that is recommend is to rub your foot across a golf ball or tennis ball, curving your foot around the ball to extend the arch shape and stretch the ligament.  Some people even recommend using a frozen golf ball to reduce inflammation as you stretch. 

I decided to try a Plantar Fascitis Night Splint Brace that my doctor recommended, so I looked on Amazon and found one that was pretty reasonably priced.   I followed the instructions and put the brace on my foot and it did feel better the next morning, so I was really encouraged.  Unfortunately  after a few days the pain returned, despite the brace.  I had to look for other solutions. 

The other techniques involve ways to reduce the pain and inflammation.  Using Advil or Aleve products do help, but I don’t think of this as a good long-term solution. 

Icing the fascia really helps with both the pain and inflammation, but it can be tricky to ice the bottom of your foot.  I did find a really great product on Amazon called IcyFeet  that is hard plastic molded to the shape of your foot, and you just throw it into the freezer.  I found this to be really helpful and no messy dripping, but you do need to wear a sock when you ice your feet, as it does get really COLD. 

 After a few weeks of icing and Advil my heel did feel better, but when I do too much walking or wear flat shoes all day the heel pain can return.  I know that losing weight will also help – but of course that involves exercise yet walking and running are a challenge, because if I do too much the pain returns.  I keep the Icyfoot ready in my freezer and I do the best I can. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Cleaning Out the Clutter

The weather may still be cold in most of the country, but here in Arizona we are beginning our spring season, which, of course, brings thoughts of spring-cleaning.  Yes, that time honored tradition of deep cleaning that every house desperately needs after a long (or in our case here in AZ not quite so long) winter season. 

It is no surprise to anyone who knows me that I am not very good at cleaning.  I like to describe myself as domestically impaired, so this whole spring-cleaning craze is very stressful.  I want a nice clean house; I just hate having to do the actual work to get there. 
One of my big challenges is the amount of clutter that seems to accumulate everywhere.  Everywhere I look there are piles of books I plan to read, a drawer stuffed with bills, receipts & important paperwork, another pile of notes and ideas for writing, a random pile of clothing items that I need to repair (and yes, domestically impaired includes sewing). 

My daughter teases me about being a pack rat – so I am trying to ‘get rid’ of some things, but how do you choose what to keep and which ones to throw in the trash. I really am trying, but for me it is hard work.  It can be tedious; I do not like to let things go easily.

I have lived in the same house for almost 25 years.  Thinking about 25 years worth of special childhood memories of my daughters, 25 years worth of professional and personal paperwork.  It is really difficult to know what to keep and what to give or throw away. 

I have done a much better job in the past few years of sorting through my possessions and purging items that I no longer need.  I still have waaaay to many things, but each trip to drop off items at Goodwill gets me a little closer to my goal. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Black History is Our History

 Sitting with my hubby tonight, we scrolled through the channels and happened upon a special showing of the movie Glory in honor of Black History Month.  I had seen the movie already, but decided to go ahead and watch it again.

As I watched I began to think about the idea of Black History Month, and black history in general in our country.  While the plight of many immigrants to this country was a struggle to say the least (for example, the Irish immigrants who were conscripted into the Civil War literally as they disembarked from their boats or the Japanese immigrants who were interned at prison camps simply for being of Japanese descent) there is no question that the uniquely brutal history of blacks in America is one of the greatest stains on the history of this country. 

For almost two hundred years, blacks in America were treated as lesser citizens, being denied basic rights that were allowed to whites and to other minorities.  Even when the civil war ended and slavery was abolished, blacks in the south remained in bondage of poverty and oppressions for a century, until the civil rights movement began to shed light on the extreme inequality and discrimination that black Americans were facing, especially in southern states.  Courageous leaders fought to bring attention to the mistreatment of southern blacks. 

The recent movie Selma does an amazing job of portraying the experience of the civil rights; the movie retells the events surrounding the now famous march from Selma, Alabama to the state capitol, Montgomery Alabama.  This event was just one, of so many, that led to changes in the law, but they did not come without a great cost.  Many white individuals and untold numbers of black individuals were beaten, tortured and even killed for simply participating in these activities. 
Marches, sit-ins, voter registration drives, and many other activities were considered so threatening, that individuals who participated in these activities were targeted for hate crimes.   
Movies like Glory and Selma are so important to help tell the story of the past.  Black History month enables all of us to spend some time reflecting on the experiences of black Americans; time to look at the mistakes of the past, the gains we have made, the incredible people who helped us along the way, and to think about the areas we still need to improve.  
Black history is all of our history – from famous civil rights martyrs like Dr. King to lesser know martyrs, who also gave their life to the cause of equality and justice for all men and women regardless of race. 

Many people believe that this kind of racism and discrimination are a thing of the past.  It would be wonderful if that were actually true, but unfortunately racism is still present and Black History Month is as important as ever, to shed a light on the past experiences of not only black Americans, but all Americans. 

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. -George Santayana