Mr. and Mrs. Do Nothing

“Do not confuse my bad days as a sign of weakness. Those are actually the days I’m fighting my hardest.”
– Unknown

I am the dud of every gathering.  I am the first to leave…if I show up.  When I am there, I am the person to get the most “Aww…”s followed by an awkward shift in body language and an obvious desperation to change the subject.

Don’t ask me, “How are you feeling?”  Don’t ask me, “How is your husband doing?” Oh, and you really don’t want to hear the answer to, “So how is your Dad doing?”

Chronic illness sucks.  It also sucks the life right out of parties.  I’m “that girl.”  The one to feel sorry for.

I’ve always been introverted.  Heaven is a pancake dinner in my pajamas, and I have always avoided social situations when I could.  But this is a new level of flakiness for even me.  Why?  Because I don’t feel good!

My husband, who I have written about in past posts, also doesn’t feel good.  For three years, his pain has become increasingly worse with no diagnosis yet.  It hurts for him to walk, to move, to not move.  It physically shows, so he hates going places not only because he feels like he is mimicking someone who just got hit by a car, but because he doesn’t feel like it.

I had my first chronic illness, epilepsy, under my thumb.  My medication worked.  Seizure-free.  I could exercise, and work long hours and take care of my husband.  Then my stomach was messed up…for a long time.  After a few months I got a diagnosis:  Ulcerative colitis.  This new chronic illness is not controlled.  My first course of treatment does not seem to be putting me in the Eden of UC patients:  Remission.  Focusing is hard, sleeping is nearly impossible and going places? My angry colon starts protesting with just the thought.

The Chrohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America has a walk.  My husband immediately signed us up.  Just trying to absorb the fact that I have an autoimmune disease, I was really upset to be diagnosed with another illness that has a walk associated with it.  But I followed the lead of my husband and parents and was very optimistic that I would feel better soon, and there so many worse diagnoses out there, etc.

We didn’t go to the colitis walk.  Why?  Because I have colitis and I didn’t feel like it!

So, we are that couple.  Birthday party?  Nope.  Fun gathering of intellectuals?  First ones to leave.  Froyo with my bro? Haven’t even tried.  We’re starting to not even make commitments knowing that they will more likely than not be broken.  I go to work, and the medication I am taking keeps the symptoms at bay for a nine hour work day, but barely.  On days when the meds can’t help, I have to call in sick.  When I have to call in sick, I feel like a complete failure, because I’m supposed to be tougher than this.  I’m also supposed to be happy and funny and optimistic and fun to be around.

I’m freakin’ PLEASANT, dammit!

My husband’s pain is awful in the morning and then depending on if its a “good” day or “bad” day, gets worse or lets him move around, sometimes even drive down the street.  My symptoms begin to alleviate in the morning then get worse in the late afternoon and then just keep me up all night.  Between the two of us, there is no good time.

Husband and I love our alone time, but we are also forsaking our ability to carry conversations with real, live adults.  Small talk is hard for me, and I worry my husband will only know the outside world through Facebook.  Talking with others who are living with chronic illness helps, but we still are the couple to feel sorry for because of our age.  We should be more active and have more friends.  We should be starting a family and taking Instagram photos on top of the mountain crest we just climbed.

Do I feel stronger for living with chronic illness?  I wish I could be flowers and roses, but this post is not about making chronic illness seem like a great asset.  No!  I don’t feel stronger, I feel like crap.  The physical crapiness is made worse by the mental anxiety of not being the best employee, wife, daughter, volunteer or friend.

So, we do nothing.  Some days are good, and we go out with family or run errands we had been putting off day after day, but most days are not good.  What can we do?  We can stay in our pajamas, cook a healthy meal and watch TV.  Glamorous?  No.  Productive?  No.  But Mr. and Mrs. Do Nothing are not celebrating chronic illness, we are living with it.  The best we can, day after day, and tomorrow may be good.  If it’s not, then we have each other, and the comfort of our marriage…and our pajamas.

And for that, I’m thankful.

My Week Without Splenda


“All men are created Equal. Some just have more Splenda.”
Jarod Kintz

For months upon months, I have been dealing with stomachaches in the afternoon and evenings.  Sometimes they just gave me discomfort, other times they were incapacitating.  Stress?  Lack of sleep?  I tried removing dairy from my diet.  I tried removing gluten.  I tried removing wheat.  More protein – nope.  More fiber – nope.  I tried taking out everything, one by one for a week to see there were any changes.  Everything…except…sucralose.

Some (or everyone who knows me) may say that I use too much Splenda.  I use it in coffee, to top cereal and toast, in yogurt, in teas, in oatmeal, in protein shakes…in everything that should be sweet or sweeter.  Let’s just say I don’t buy my sweetener at the grocery store.  I buy my box at Costco.

So, I thought it was time for my hardest experiment yet to find what was causing my tummy troubles.  With overwhelming support from Fiancé, I decided to go natural.  Fiancé decided to sacrifice his precious saturated fat (pizza and ice cream – his two main food groups) for a week.   I live on a diet with little to no saturated fat and a lot of sucralose.  He lives on a diet with tons of saturated fat and little to no sucralose.  We could help each other.  With a heavy heart, I bought agave nectar and decided to live a life without the yellow packets – for a week.  The week was negotiated with Fiancé.  I started at one day.  He said two weeks.  Three days, really, was all I needed to know.  He disagreed.  “Two weeks”, he urged.   Then when his sacrifice was thrown in we both agreed on a week.

Day 1
I had tried a teaspoon of agave syrup on toast and was uplifted by the sweet experience.  The problem with agave syrup is that it is 60 calories a tablespoon, whereas Splenda is zero.  So, I knew I would be cutting back on sweet things for the most part in order to not up my daily calorie intake to a billion.

I woke up and prepared my mandatory morning coffee.  A little history for you, Reader.  I have discovered that I cannot have more than two cups of caffeinated coffee a day.  One to bring me to life in the morning, and perhaps one for social enjoyment strategically placed after 2pm and before 4pm.  Coffee at any other time of the day makes me crash.  The morning cup is not only the reason I can think, work out and dress myself, but it also serves as the perfect start to my morning.  It tastes really good, and helps me relax and get energized at the same time.  It is a ritual that is part of my morning “me” time.

I prepared my coffee in the usual way, except instead of adding my sweetener, I added a teaspoon of agave nectar.  I was excited to experience the new depth of the flavor.

It was excruciatingly horrible.

I made myself drink it, because I needed the caffeine.  Taking my caffeine like medicine really made me angry for the rest of the day.

Then I was hungry.  All day long.  Later that evening my stomachache was really bad.  I had to leave a family dinner early and crawl right into bed.  Which made me more angry.

Day 2
I felt a full tablespoon of the agave was the ticket!  Anything to make it sweeter.  Morning coffee excitement ensued.  I tasted it and threw it out.  Even worse.  So, very, very bitter.  It’s bitterness reflected my soul.

Without coffee, my day was overcast by a migraine.  Starving all day long.  Being hungry and decaffeinated made me very angry.

Stomachaches returned on schedule in the evening.

Day 3
Decided to not even try coffee.  Hope is lost.  So very, very tired.  Need…coffee.

My headaches came like waves.  Midol Extended Relief gave me some caffeine, and some relief, although not extended.

Later…after a day that only included two spurts of energy, I thought that maybe I could have a Vitamin Water Zero to help my sluggishness.  But then I remembered how watered down they taste…without a couple packets of Splenda thrown in.   I left the water aisle in despair.

Fiancé took pity on me.  He bought me a very small and expensive box of Truvia.  But will Truvia skew my results?

My stomach pains came back, but much later in the evening.  I may have been too tired to really notice.

Day 4
I don’t care.  I need coffee.  I prepared my coffee with Truvia.  Not bad!  The caffeine heightened my senses.  Ah, sweet nectar of the heavens!

My day was full of energy and bliss.  Every boring task was overcast only with bubbles, happiness and unicorn rainbow farts.

Stomachache came back, but not really until the middle of the night.

Day 5
Truvia infused coffee provided the necessary start for my day, but now that I am back on my caffeine, the high wasn’t as high, but I didn’t care.  I do miss Splenda.  So many things I cannot eat without it.  Nonfat plain Greek yogurt.  I ruined a Siggi’s cup by adding agave.  It was a $2 cup of Icelandic strained yogurt, a treat I get rarely.  It might as well have been a billion dollars!!  I exaggerate, but not really if my statements reflect my emotions on food spoilage.  Fiancé absentmindedly asked me if I wanted some Greek yogurt while we were getting groceries.  Fire came out of my eyes and I said, “Why don’t you just ask me if I want to eat a tub of sour cream?!?”

Fiancé wept, but he was so very weak it was a half-hearted weep, to tell you the truth.  No, it wasn’t because in my body, a decrease in sucralose results in an increase in bitchiness.  I knew it wasn’t my fault because I could hear, although barely, “Pizza…pizza…ice cream?  Pizza….”

Day 6
I have learned that agave on toast and tortillas is not bad.  Also works on top of dry fruit sweetened corn flakes.  On my other favorite foods – disaster.  Spent Day 6 starving.  Had a protein shake, which usually takes a fair amount of Splenda to make it taste like a milkshake.  This time, I used only three Truvia packets and frozen fruit.  My tropical vanilla protein milkshake…could have been sweeter.

My stomach churned all night.  Results inclusive.

On the other hand, Fiancé is noticeable losing weight without exercising.  Just simply by cutting out anything more than 6 grams of saturated fat a day.  His sugar intake has increased dramatically, but no effect on his ability to look and feel great.  I hate him and pity him NOT for his pizza cravings.

Day 7
I have no clue what to do.  But, my dwindling inventory of Truvia indicates that I should go back on the sucralose.  I am not free from stomachache in the evenings that last through the night and now into the mornings.

On my last day without Splenda,  I had a delicious New Start Garden Egg White Omelet from Goldie’s Diner (shameless plug).  Lots of food on the saltier side instead of the sweeter side.

My usual stomachache came back and it was a bad one.  It started at 7pm and woke me up a couple of times.

Closing Thoughts
The week provided an incredible test of will.  I feel proud of myself.  Cutting out sucralose was never an option to me before!  It was my vice, and I was okay with that.  I love living the sweet life.

Moving forward, I am going to use Splenda, but not nearly as much.  I will be cutting back.  Fiancé says that his pizza and ice cream will become special treats instead of something he eats regularly.  If Fiancé and I fall into our old habits, it will be his fault.


Game On


“Prose is an art form, movies and acting in general are art forms, so is music, painting, graphics, sculpture, and so on. Some might even consider classic games like chess to be an art form. Video games use elements of all of these to create something new. Why wouldn’t video games be an art form?”  
— Sam Lake

I’ve been in a relationship with a gamer for over seven years.  Now, I intend to marry him.  I am not a gamer.  It’s not because I tried and had a dislike for video games, but that I never tried to understand why he does.  Now, I feel I have been left in the dark for too long.

My gaming days started with Nintendo (Super Mario Bros.) and ended with Nintendo 64 (also Mario).  I was hopelessly addicted as a kid, begging Mom (a.k.a. Luigi) to play with me.  Luigi always found the most improbable ways to die when Mom and I played.  When I think of video games, I have good memories of being a plumber fighting for a princess.  The most violent scenes involving squishing evil mushrooms.  I have viciously stabbed many a mushroom since.  True story.

Fiance doesn’t expect me to take up playing his favorite games any more than I expect him to start reading my favorite novels by Dickens.  But, I feel I should know more about Fiance’s favorite hobby.  I tend to tune out when I wander in and he is playing video games and he starts describing them to me.  I hear, “Blah, blah, *pow pow pow* blah, blah, new game coming out, *pow pow* watch this, wait, wait, watch wait, blah, blah, blah *pow*” when he is really saying…uh…well, I don’t know what he is was telling me because I wasn’t paying attention.

So, I want to take this opportunity to interview Fiance.  Learn more about the art that has him and many other fiancés, boyfriends and husbands hooked.  Can I understand the appeal?

Me:  What was the first video game that you played and how old were you?

Fiance:  The first video game I played was Pong on the Atari and it had to have been about…about…ss…seven…six….six or seven.

Me:  What did you find appealing as a child?

Fiance:  Video games?  What are you asking me?

Me:  Do you find that playing video games since you were six or seven has impacted your ability to follow a conversation?

Fiance:  Yes.

Me:  Okay, let’s move on.  What video games do you play today?

Fiance:  Mostly first-person shooter.

Me:  War games?

Fiance:  Yes, mostly Battlefield 3.

Me:  How many games do you own that involve you shooting things.  In the first person or otherwise, I mean.

Fiance:  Most of them.  Does that make me a violent guy…nope.

Me:  Wouldn’t you say that you are a violent gamer?

Fiance:  Gamer?  Yes.  No, actually the games I play…you are the good guy.  So, it is more protecting people…except for Battlefield 3.  People who don’t game won’t understand this.

Me:  Why do you say that?

Fiance:  Because people who don’t play video games blame video games for killing sprees.  It’s the crazy people that go [on killing sprees].

Me:  How you would describe an average gamer like yourself?

Fiance:  *Pause*  What are you putting?

Me:  Nothing.

Fiance:  I’m just a normal person who enjoys games.

Me:  You don’t understand the question.  I’m blaming video games for your lack of understanding.  Let me give you an example.  “An average video gamer is a male in their teens, 20s or 30s who uses gaming to network with friends and relieve stress.”

Fiance:  Uhhmm.  It also…it…gets us away from reality.  It puts us in a virtual setting so we can do what we want and be who we want…depending on the game.

Me:  What is so awful about your real life that you need an escape?

Fiance:  Nothing wrong with my real life.

Me:  Dublin threw up, and the stain needs working on.  Anyway, back to the interview.  Tell me more about your favorite games.

Fiance:  *Pause*  I enjoy Battlefield 3 because it takes strategy.  On multiplayer, you have to get a team together and use strategy to defeat the enemy.

Me:  Do you feel a sense of accomplishment from playing?

Fiance:  Yes.  When the other team is defeated.

Me:  Some may argue that video games keep you from accomplishing real things…like cleaning up cat hairballs.  How would you address this perception?

Fiance:  For those people who are extremely addicted to games…yes.  As for me, I’m not an addicted gamer.

Me:  What do you think is a qualifier for game addiction?  Hours played or otherwise.

Fiance:  Spending eight to twelve hours playing…everyday.  I’ve spent eight hours playing a game once.

Me:  Which game?

Fiance:  Grand Theft Auto 4.

Me:  Why play Grand Theft Auto if you are not helping others?

Fiance:  It’s an open world map.  You have the chance of doing whatever you want however you want to do it.  You can be the good guy or you can be the bad guy.  The campaign, or main storyline, of the game is to be the bad guy.

Me:  A lot of the first shooter games look and sound the same.  What makes them different?

Fiance:  The game play.  Maps…structures…vehicles.  All that changes your strategy.

Me:  Do you feel video games are a hobby?

Fiance:  Yes.

Me:  Do think gaming is a hobby that can improve the player?

Fiance:  With everything, time makes…the more you play the better you are.

Me:  At what?

Fiance:  At whatever game you play.

Me:  So video games are played for the sake of being played?

Fiance:  *Nods head*

Me:  Do you think that they improve hand-eye coordination or cognitive ability?

Fiance:  Yes, studies have shown that it does improve hand-eye coordination.

Me:  Which studies?

Fiance:  *Explicative*  I just read this.  I told you about it, too.  Remember?

Me:  No.  Which studies?

Fiance:  It was a college, I want to say in Boston.  It was on Twitter.  They did a big study.

Me:  It must be true.  “They” did a study publicized by Twitter.  Moving on…

Fiance:  I will find that Tweet!

Me:  I stopped caring.  So, you play on XBox 360.  Do you also play games on your phone?

Fiance:  Yes.

Me:  What kind of games?

Fiance:  Variety.  Word games, memory boosting games and old-fashioned arcade games.

Me:  Why do you play them?  Is it to pass the time?  Challenge yourself?  Challenge yourself to pass the time?

Fiance:  Challenge myself.

Me:  Is that why you play games in general?

Fiance:  *Pause*  Yeah, and to relieve stress.

Me:  If you didn’t have gaming to relieve stress, what do you think you would do instead?

Fiance:  Work on cars or carpentry.

Me:  Stereotypically manly hobbies.  Wouldn’t you say?

Fiance:  Yes, I would say so, but not uncommon for women to work on cars or carpentry.

Me:  Yes, but you didn’t say quilting or cupcake decoration either.

Fiance:  *Laughs*

Me:  So do you find video games more of a male hobby?

Fiance:  Generally it is more men, but I know females who play as well.

Me:  Tell me something that you accomplished during your last session of video game playing.

Fiance:  I got an achievement for transport.

Me:  I have no idea what that means.

Fiance:  Achievements unlock points…

Me:  Hold on…I don’t care.  Wait, okay…I’ll listen.  Please continue.

Fiance:  Unlocks points that mean absolutely nothing other than bragging rights among other gamers.

Me:  Okay, I have failed to truly pay attention.  Why do you play video games?

Fiance:  To often escape from reality…

Me:  This hurts my feelings.

Fiance:  Why?

Me:  Because I live in your reality.

Fiance:  Not when you’re asleep.  I only play video games when you are asleep.  I give you all my time when you are awake.

Me:  First of all, that sounds creepy.  Like the video games are a cover for something much more sinister.  Second, you are on your phone right now.

Fiance:  I’m trying to find the Tweet about the study!

Me:  No doubt your hand-eye coordination is better than mine.  Can you pat your head and rub your tummy at the same time?

Fiance:  *Pats head and rubs tummy*

Me:  Damn you.  So, your ability to pat your head and rub your tummy is owed to video games?

Fiance:  No.

Me:  What then?

Fiance:  Catching a football, dribbling a soccer ball in the air with my feet and head…

Me:  Wait.  You went outside?!?!?

Fiance:  Sometimes.  When forced.

Me:  What would you do if your XBox and phone disappeared?

Fiance:  Do something else.  Work on the car…

Me:  Wait.  So you are telling me, that if your XBox and phone were gone, the car would be tuned and the carpet possibly cleaned?

Fiance:  Probably not…but a better chance?  You’re making me sound like an addicted gamer!

Me:  You are answering the questions!

Fiance:  But they make me sound like I play 24/7!

Me:  My questions are unbiased, and I take offense to that accusation!  Now, next question.  Do you ever find yourself drooling and shaking if you cannot play a video game?

Fiance.  Yes…not really.

Me:  Did you play Super Mario Bros.?

Fiance:  Who didn’t?

Me:  Did you ever save Princess Peach?

Fiance:  Not on the NES, I did on the 64.

Me.  Damn you.  Okay, so if I was kidnapped by a giant lizard and held captive, I would have a pretty good chance of rescue?

Fiance:  Depends on how big the lizard is.

Me:  I really don’t see the benefit of video games.  I mean, I can’t even get a rescue from a lizard here.

Fiance:  If a lizard was big enough to take you…then it is not real life.

Me:  I’m relieved you know the difference.

Fiance:  You’re making me sound not smart.

Me:  Hey, I am just asking the questions.  I will give you a chance now to talk about why video games are played and …

Fiance:  Go back and type “Sound like I am not smart.”

Me:  Stop looking at my computer!  You said that!  Back to my open-ended question…go ahead and say why video games are the backbone of society…and quote sources.

Fiance:  It’s not the backbone of society.  It’s an entertainment industry.

Me:  I still don’t see why you play.   Maybe we need to play something like Super Mario Bros.

Fiance:  We need to find an NES first.

Me:  Second, you’re Luigi.

The Hunt for Pine Needles

“Cats are intended to teach us that not everything in nature has a purpose.”
― Garrison Keillor


Pine needles, pine needles, everywhere!
Tastes like wood, tastes like hair
They take them away, but I don’t care
For to the window I go to stare…over there…and there

Why do they take them away from me?
Do they hate the fun of the hunt they see?
My sense of success and propriety?
The captured loss of my enemy – the tree.

Keeping me inside is vile, corrupt!
And only because…I throw them up.

— By Sir Dublin McConnell

The Not So Good Days

“If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.” 
~Mary Engelbreit

The past few days, I have felt like crap on a cracker, I tell you what.  I’m writing a post about it, because writing helps!  I am physically exhausted, each day bringing a manifestation of new and exciting symptoms like migraines, extreme fatigue, stomach ache and lower back pain.  Even though my thyroid levels are good, I became so cold the other night, my finger nails and lips turned blue.  Every joint hurt.  My bones hurt. 

I felt 85 years old (and not the healthy, amazingly active 85, but the “I’m elderly and have earned the right to complain about it” 85).  Then came my bad mood.  My attitude has been abominable!  Can’t think straight, which  makes me angry, and every thing rubbed me the wrong way.  Laughter too loud, Geico commercials, the cat jumping over my lap instead of walking around me, helicopter noises…and the list goes on. 

I also enjoyed a doctor’s appointment in which the nurse told me, I kid you NOT, that I am approaching the age where I should take off my shoes and not look at the scale.  I just stared at her (uh, not the scale) with my eyes popping out of my head and nostrils flared.  I’m 27, at a healthy weight, but nevermind THAT, look at my chart.  I am FEMALE, so you don’t tell me that!!  Later on, I spilled scalding hot coffee over myself.  The burn wasn’t as bad as losing some of my coffee.  That hurt. 

Then yesterday, it culminated into me sitting my car waiting for a meeting and just zoning out.  I didn’t want to do ANYTHING.  I didn’t want to go to the meeting, I didn’t want to go home, I didn’t want to make a call, send a text or tweet.  I just wanted to sit. 

And then…

I got tired of feeling like crap.  Acting like a sack of potatoes actually takes a lot out of you!  As Dad would say, “I don’t have time for such foolishness!”  I don’t have time for feeling like crap, because I want more time to feel good!  We all have our wasted days, but if I can help it, I will do my best to think of something really great each and every day.  If I can’t motivate myself, I will look to others who are positive rays of sunshine OR others having crappy days so we can vent about it and hope for a less crappy tomorrow.  A glorious tomorrow, one FILLED with sunshine.  If nothing works, after prayer and dedicated thought, I will put myself in a caffeine-induced joy cloud.  I’m in one right now.  I still have a headache and feel physically drained, but my spirit is renewed. 


Loss of Domestic Goddess…ness

If the divine creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony. 
Fernand Point (1897-1955)

I really do love being a 20 something with no chains to the ground and no obligations to the home.  I think I love it because I know it won’t last forever.

But dammit, I used to be good at the domestic thing.

My apartment is a mess.  My kitchen has empty cabinets.  I don’t have anything on the walls and half of my belongings are in boxes, not from my move two years ago, but preparing for any moment making another one.

Flashback to about three years ago when I was in my mid-twenties.  I was a home owner, I hosted parties, I cooked and baked with the best!  My cabinets were overflowing with new pans and kitchen gadgets from years of collection.  I never bought cakes.  I never baked cakes from a box, and even looked down on the sheer idea!  I was a dessert snob.  While making all these decadent dishes, I also became very good at making healthy baked desserts, not easy when you’re going whole-grain, sugar-free and low-fat, but it was accomplished.  My home was spotless.  I was a clean freak and proud of it.

My career started taking more of my time,  which I thought was good and productive for someone at my age.  But it’s taken my energy.  When I’m at home, I’m either working from home, or in a semi-vegetative state, watching Hulu or reading a book or writing.  When I do have some energy, I hit the gym, energy sources are again depleted, and not spent on cooking and cleaning.

I do miss my hobby (not the cleaning part).  While over the last few years my enthusiasm for cooking and baking  has waned, my mother’s went into hyper drive.  Every conversation is about a recipe, an idea or a cookie cutter.  My mom never got into Halloween like she did for Christmas or Easter.  But, where a dessert idea resides, there she is to take advantage.

My mother also has a demanding career in real estate.  She is a qualifying broker and has her own business.  Because time is not an infinite resource, the reasonable conclusion would be that Mom had to sacrifice productivity at work for the above cupcakes.  After sending me these pictures she also said that she sold three houses.

Dammit.  Excuse gone.

I have made great strides, um, well, moderate..uh…attempts at curbing my workaholism in an attempt to preserve sanity and self-identity.  I don’t want to be a workaholic who doesn’t bake!  I’ll do better.

But first, I have to hit the gym and then work on the computer a bit.

Ode to Volunteers

Those who can, do.  Those who can do more, volunteer. 
~Author Unknown


This post is all about thanking volunteers.  Not all volunteers, just mine.  Well!  It’s my blog!  What do you expect?

For the past few weeks it feels especially, I have relied very, very heavily on volunteers.  JDRF is founded and fueled by the passion, skills and efforts of volunteers.  There is no doubt.  Sometimes, when volunteers recommend our Chapter do something – a new project or event, per say – they expect their recommendation to be the extent of their volunteerism.  Not mine!  Every endorsement of a new event or program comes with a leading hand in the execution of it.  I am truly blessed in this respect. 

Our Chapter has taken on a lot of new events and programs as part of our Outreach Program.  It’s been a torrent of dates and tasks.  But along with those dates and tasks came very skilled and very motivated volunteers.  Our Board Outreach Committee is called the Outreach Advisory Council, and every member is part of a subcommittee.  And sometimes a subcommittee within that subcommittee!  Everyone is focused and working on something.  And they all have full-time jobs, families and other commitments.  I appreciate them as if they are my family, because I feel they are.  I think anyone working with an active volunteer base can empathize, and those that have tried working with inactive volunteers can really empathize.  I think my colleagues can attest to the power of volunteers.  Just in my office, all my colleagues have committees and subcommittees. Even that fifteen minutes a volunteer took out of their day to answer a question or make a call can mean a green or red light for our entire program.  It’s actually true – every little bit helps.

But it seems my steadfast volunteers have given a lot, not just a little bit.  For instance, I have the pleasure of working with caring and compassionate endocrinologists, certified diabetes educators and nurses.  Their care and concern for their patients well-being goes way beyond billable hours.  They care for the whole patient, and want to ensure that they are supported in their journey, at all stages.  I love my medical volunteer leaders, because they, too, love to learn new things!  I also get to work with those living with diabetes whose time is constrained not only by career and family, but by managing chronic illness 24/7.    I have so many friends in so many places all willing to partner and create a sense of community working within the diabetes field.  Not to mention, I  have three committees across two states committed to advocating for diabetes research and technology advances!  They are taking trainings, sending letter and calling their representatives to Congress right now so we can meet and emphasize why our constituents need their government’s continued support in this fight!

I’m constantly and consistently busy, and receive hundreds of new emails every week.  This is my job, so not only can I dedicate my free time, but I get to dedicate my 8 hours in the office to this.  I can’t imagine having a full plate of work, and then getting this:

Romero, Lawren                    Please Review!  
Romero, Lawren                    Re:  Please Review!  Forms – Revised
Romero, Lawren                    Did you see this?  Interesting article!
Romero, Lawren                    Meeting Request 

At least one day a week, I’ve noted that volunteers on more than one committee get three emails in one day from me.  I recently attended a dinner and one volunteer said, “I got three emails from you, today!  It’s okay, I don’t mind.”  In the last few weeks I have prefaced my emails with “You will be receiving three emails from me today.  I’m sorry, you’re my favorite” or I call and say, “Okay, you just got like five emails from me, I wanted to call you before you started opening them to explain.”

I try my best not to abuse my volunteers with tasks and the corresponding correspondence that ensues, and I try to harbor the relationship that if a volunteer lacks the time to contribute, they just let me know.  When we have our larger Council meetings, I attempt to recap about four months of activity, but when you combine everything we do into an hour, I feel like my eyes widen to saucers, and I say, “Big…lots things…so many…times…places…go to…lots.” 

There is no way I could do a fraction of our calendar without volunteers!  When a volunteer takes 15 minutes to make a call or complete a task, it can give me a full days worth of work.  It’s literally opening  a gate for staff productivity, and the more they do, the more we can do.  And that means the more we all get done towards our mission – eradicating this disease so you don’t get multiple emails from me every day.   At least not concerning diabetes.


Social Networking Angst

I’m about to vent about social networking via a popular vehicle for social networking – a personal blog.  I get that.  Don’t worry about commenting about it.

I truly appreciate you, Reader.  You are one of two of my readers.  I have treated my blog almost as a diary, because of its limited exposure.  If I  have another post catch on, I worry about all my juicy posts of past!  Oh wait, I don’t have any.  Maybe I lack juicy tidbits to share because I spend too much time outside of work in my social networks!  Hence my post today…

Facebook and the Communities

I am a member of Facebook, mostly.  Through a social networking site set up for type 1 diabetes, I found a TON of friends.  I went from having over a hundred people I knew personally and pretty well, to having hundreds of people from all over the world as “friends.”  Now I am an addicted and active listener and sometimes contributor to the Diabetes Online Community.  I check into that site once in awhile (I call it my gateway site), but once I was able to identify friends on that site to Facebook, I really didn’t need to go in every day.  We have 115 mutual friends?  Accept Request!   Granted, if I was to sit down and write out a list of people to invite to my wedding and/or buy me gifts, I’d never get close to the number of Facebook friends I have!  (Relax, Mom, NOT getting married, this was just a hypothetical, so put down the wedding cake magazine.)  Since then, I have become a member of two more sites with a focus on support and resources for those living with chronic illness.  I still visit all three, but not daily.  When I go in, there is so much information, and a great sense of community, that I can spend hours reading and commenting.  I recommend these sites to anyone newly diagnosed.  It can be overwhelming, but you feel not alone.  And they are easy to navigate.


Then, I started tweeting.  I asked (through Facebook), if tweeting was worth it, and my friends said they wouldn’t have anything to tweet and it seems like a duplication of social networking efforts.  I had to at least try it, so I made an agreement (with myself, she’s awesome by the way) to try Twitter for one week.  As soon as I created my profile, I realized that I had to find people to follow.  I was a socially awkward child.  This felt weird to me.  It’s like publically aknowledging you are interested in someone, company, organization, publication, etc.  No wait, it IS publically acknowledging you’re interested in someone, company, organization, publication, etc.!  I mean, I enjoy Stephen Colbert and read the Times, but for individuals?  To me, it felt like going to someone’s wall and writing a post that read, “I find you interesting and/or important.  I’m reading your profile – right now.  In fact, I will follow your profile and your status updates from now on, because I…follow…YOU.  P.S. – I think you’re sexy, too.  😉 .”  Of course, I wouldn’t think that (in all cases), but in my shy, awkward mind, it implies that.  I shrugged off the feeling (think of everyone on Twitter, my goodness!), and once I started following people (see, it even sounds bad!), I immediately noticed that everything was in code.  It felt like I walked into a room of people talking in a different language and glaring at me through narrowed eyes, as if to say, “What are you doing here?  #@!!”  I felt I was the only one who didn’t get it!  Thankfully some blogs were published on how to navigate.  “If you’re STILL out of touch with Twitter, you poor unfortunate soul, here are some steps we dumbed down for you AFTER you already read Twitter help.”  Okay, no one put it that way, but they could have, and I would have still read it.  After all the drama of initiation, I somehow got addicted to that, too. Dare I say, twitterpated?  Sorry, I really had to.  Now I have slightly more people following me on Twitter than read my blog.  Success? 


I then updated my LinkedIn account.  For the pure business in me, I suppose.  I don’t network through LinkedIn, but I keep thinking I might someday, so I still try to connect with people in my field and people of people in my field, and so forth and so on.  The best part of LinkedIn is the articles they send!  I post them on Facebook.   One day, I will reach out to my LinkedIn contacts through LinkedIn, get their professional opinions on things.  You know, sometime.


Then came Google+.  What in the world could I POSSIBLY get from another profile?  But then more articles were written, posts published, word of mouth grew, and I had to check it out!  The curiosity got too much!  A friend uh…Sally*, invited me, and I was in!  I’m used to my feeds from Facebook and Twitter changing pretty much fluidly.  On Facebook, a steady motion of people communicating with each other, and on Twitter, people talking at audiences.  Google+ felt like a barren desert.  I think I started having heart palpitations!  I had grown accustomed to large forums and all the noise!  All there was in Google was Sally.  Sally alone could entertain me (she, like Self, is also awesome), but that is a large burden for Sally.  I felt cold and alone.  So alone *shudder*  I didn’t understand the circles.  How can I put them in a circle if they don’t have profiles?  But once I started finding real people (I knew because of the pictures), I looked at their circles, which to me (see Twitter paragraph) felt like breaking into someone’s home and going through their address book.  And I didn’t have to request for people to be in my circles?  I started dragging people I recognized into my circles.  Because it’s a literal drag using your mouse, it accentuated the overwhelming feeling that I was kidnapping people and forcing them to  be in a social circle with me.  Just like Twitter, they don’t have to know what I’m thinking, but I can know what they had for lunch two minutes ago.  Then I became Sally.  I passed on the paranoia to others by inviting them. 


There’s no way I can keep up on all these sites and still actually socialize with people!  My Facebook stalking has taken a toll.  It’s true, I might not know what your dog wore last Halloween!  What is happening?  Will people choose?  Will we all stop communicating through the, uh, voice app on the texting and status updating device?  Phone, that’s it.  Will we never leave the computer, or will we find people through it?  Hmmm…. think about that….then, of course, post a status or tweet.  (Goes without saying.)

If you are now wondering if I Facebook stalk you…relax.  The answer is of course. 

*Sally is not her real name, but used to protect the identity of the friend who did this to me.

My Inner Self and Outer Elf

It seems everyone has something about themselves they wish they could change.  Some physical feature.  As many self-help gurus and pop artists will tell you, it’s important to embrace your physical traits because they help make you unique.  Yep, this is one of those self-image posts.  I thought you should be warned.

It’s so much easier said that done.  We all complain about something.  And I don’t mean weight, because we can rationalize that by eating better and exercising, we can lose unwanted pounds.  I’m talking about features that would have to be corrected by going under the knife.

So, I am going to take a brave step and come forward with mine, in hopes that you, Reader, will reconsider the next complaint.  Not only because it’s healthy for your self-esteem, but you might reconsider because mine can be very noticeable and yours isn’t so bad in comparison.

One of the trademarks of being a part of my family is the ears.  A few members have gotten away with normal ears, but there are a LOT of us, with not so much large ears, but ears that poke out from the head.  This is my father’s side.  Now, I’m an exception to my paternal family members because I also have large ears from my mother’s side.  I got a double dose.  So, my father blames my mother and my mother my father, until I reassure them that it is both their fault.  I used to be jealous of people with normal sized ears.  I never pierced my ears.  I really don’t need to bring attention to them.

As a child, I fell into the false belief that I would grow into my ears.  As you all know, our ears and noses don’t stop growing, and I feel my ears really took it as a race with my nose.   I wasn’t teased too much as a kid, mostly because I was such a tomboy that teasing me meant retaliation by violence.  I did get a few “Dumbo” comments, but they were dealt with swiftly, and the other kids knew to back off the ears.  Now, as a kid, I wasn’t really girly.  A lot of my peers worked on their hair and matched their outfits with plastic jewelry and friendship bracelets.  I just wanted to play.  While little girls were getting into their mom’s makeup, I was gifted toy makeup, and found it infinitely more fun to apply it to Dad’s face as he napped.  Poor Dad.  That toy makeup was waxy and very hard to remove.  Also, all my fashion energy went into dressing the dog for plays.  Needless to say, as a young child, I didn’t worry too much about covering my ears.   Mom tried to help by curling my hair for school pictures (that one time, before she learned), but by the time I sat down my hair was stringy and I was disheveled.

Growing up, middle school, high school, college, I became increasingly self-conscious about my ears.  Well, even today, If I make an effort to cover my ears under my hair with new people, and then pull my hair back, the look on people’s faces is one of shock.  I can see them looking left and right of my face!  I would do the same thing.  In fact, I have!  With myself.  Sometimes I take a double take at my shadow because my ears make me think the shadow is something else.   I had a thought, and somewhat still do, that putting my hair in a ponytail was the equivalent of slapping a “Don’t Date Me” sign across my forehead.  I’ve only been on one blind date my entire life, but I remember pulling at my hair incessantly.  He probably thought I had a nervous tic.

Because my job at times requires me to put my hair back because we are loading and unloading material (oh, and happen to live in 80F winters and 1115F summers), I can’t keep from pulling my  hair back because it gets stuck to my neck and gets in the way.  I think my colleagues and friends have figured out that taking a picture of me with my hair back can result in a broken camera and minor blood loss.

So instead of hiding behind my hair, I am taking this opportunity to think about my unique gift from my ancestors and the good stuff about it!

  1. When I put my hair behind my ears it’s going to stay there.
  2. Like the Fennec Fox, I feel I am better equipped to withstand heat, and am cooler in the summer as a result.
  3. The area behind my ears is exceptionally clean, because my ears poke out from my head.  No hard to reach places.
  4. I’m distinguishable among shadow crowds.

Now, all you normal-sized ear people might read this list and feel down about your normal ears.  That is understandable.  So, take this opportunity to think of a small list about not only the features that make you beautiful, but the ones that make you cool.  Both figuratively and literally in my case.

Ears were noticeable at the get go
Still thinking I would grow into them
Okay with posting a picture with my hair behind my ear.


I grew up to fear admitting boredom.   Boredom was treated like an addiction.  Admitting it would mean work and a long list of tasks to eradicate the problem.

Even typing it, I still feel the fear and anxiety of announcing boredom.  You see, at a very, very young age, I learned to never say, “I’m bored.”  And to never, ever, EVER precede it with, “Dad.”

I must have been just old enough to put together sentences to express myself when it dawned on me the sixth or seventh time a conversation like this took place that I needed to keep my mouth shut on the subject.

“Dad.  Dad!!  Dad…I’m Boooooreeeeeddddd.”

“Bored, eh?  Well, we can fix that problem!  Grab a hoe and chop all those weeds.  I want to see you reach the end of that fence before it gets dark.”

Now, weeds at a racehorse training facility that bordered a river didn’t mean your average dandelion.  It meant beanstalks.  I would never finish weeds.  There was never opportunity to not have something to work on.  A task for Dad to give.  Almost always weed-related. 

I remember foolishly thinking that if I had a younger friend, someone Dad would not want to see pulling weeds, that I could safely admit boredom without consequence.  I thought of my cute little niece, my dad’s own granddaughter.

“Daaaaad…there’s nothing to do!  What can we play with?

Cut to scene of me and Sweet Baby Niece yanking on weeds sometimes three times our height.  We would come back with green lines across the insides of our palms.

Don’t get me wrong, I was and am a spoiled kid.  I contend I am not spoiled rotten, but spoiled.  I grew up on a ranch full of animals and places to ride my bike and run and I had quite an imagination with all the atmosphere to indulge it.  I just could not admit being bored.  I thought I could whisper it to Mom in the kitchen so she would play with me, but Dad was standing behind me. 

“No, no, no I’m not bored, Dad!  I was just kidding!  I have lots to do.  I’m going to go do it now!  All the lots of things I have to do.  So many.  None of them boring.  All exciting.  So excited.” 

Still, as an adult, I have a serious problem admitting boredom.  I did let one slip while on the phone with Dad.  I didn’t say “bored.”  I said “boring” but immediately realized my mistake.

“Bored, eh?  Well, I’ll get you a plane ticket back to the Land of Enchantment, because I have weeds here that you can start chopping.” 

I don’t believe boredom comes from a lack of things to do to keep busy, but a lack of excitement in the things we do.  Everyone has boring aspects of their jobs, and I have them to, but I do them, and overall my career is very exciting and fulfilling.  I get lots of perks.  Outside of work, there are so many things I need to do, like clean and pay bills, work out and organize my things.  Also, outside of tasks, there (I’m sure) are lots of fun new things to see! 

But I still get anxious.  It’s a wanderlust thing I have, and I think it’s in the genes.  Sometimes it takes three years, sometimes it takes one, and sometimes just a matter of months, but I get itchy to get out.  Jump on a plane on a whim to somewhere fun or make life altering decisions that may result in the former.  Every day I become stiffer, my pupils wider, and my right eye starts to twitch in the corner.  I’m….give me a minute…bor…phew…I’m….boorredd.  That was difficult. 

I need a vacation.  It’s been four years since I took a vacation.  Four years since I got on a flight that lasted longer than an hour!  I don’t have idle hands, I have wanderlust.  And not quenching it makes me feel bored. 

Don’t tell Dad.