Friday, November 30, 2007

No Pain, No Gain?

We have all heard that old saying. I think we all share the same understanding of what it means. No Pain, No Gain. A very simple way of saying so many things. It applies to just about any situation. There are other cliches that have similar meanings: Nothing In Life Is Free, Early Bird Gets the Worm. I am sure you know a few other phases that work as well. They all have the same underlying meaning that to get what you want you have to work at it, you have to put forth some kind of effort to achieve your goals.

Even though I know this meaning to the phrase, it has come to be something different to me than a simple encouraging phrase. I have constant back pain. My back hurts me no matter what I do. Pain killers don't work for me any more, hot baths or showers do nothing, creams, ointments, etc, all have no effect. My back still hurts. If I sit very still and move as little as possible, I can ease the pain to a level where I can almost forget about it for awhile.

But it is always there, biding it's time, just waiting for me to stand up too fast or move just a little too much, so it can jump out and attack me again. At times, the pain gets so severe that I can't take a breath without feeling that agony shooting up and down my back. It is almost impossible to stand up straight at times, and sometimes, I can barely walk.

No Pain, No Gain. This says the effort you make will pay off somehow. For most people this is true. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Keep at your efforts, you will see your goals become reality. Not quite fitting to me, I feel. Even something as simple as getting up to get something to drink can leave me hurting so bad I feel nauseated and dizzy from the intensity of it.

There are good days, yes, where I can summon up the will to leave my house and go do something, visit the flea market, see a movie, do some grocery shopping. But then there are the bad days, where all I want to do is stay in bed and cry, or try to sit at my computer and surf the internet in an attempt to forget or at least distract myself enough that my pain isn't all I am focusing on. Sometimes this works, other times I just end up sitting there, staring at my screen, doing absolutely nothing but concentrating on not taking too deep of a breath.

No Pain, No Gain. This is a good phrase, but for me I think it is backwards. The less I try to do, the less pain I have to suffer. For the most part, anyway. For my situation, the correct phrase would be No Gain, No Pain. If I do completely nothing, the pain usually stays bearable, in the background so to speak.

However, I have come to realize recently that this is not good enough for me. I don't want to give up my goals and dreams and efforts. I don't want to be controlled by my pain. I want to go get a drink when I am thirsty, to go for a walk on a nice evening, to clean the bathroom so well that it sparkles when you turn on the light. In short, I want to take back my life and live it productively. I know that some of these wants are just not possible physically. I have no choice but to avoid them. I cannot go bowling, or spend the day walking around the mall, it would just hurt too badly. But I will not let the pain stop me from the small things anymore. My bathroom will sparkle, dinner will be made, I will have a drink if I am thirsty.

No Pain, No Gain? or No Gain, No Pain? Either way, I will still have pain. At this time, that is a fact and unavoidable. But now? I have decided the gains are worth the pain. Pain will still control much of what I can and cannot do. Pain will be there just waiting for the chance to attack me and bring me down. I will not be just a victim of it anymore, this is official notice to my pain:

I am fighting back!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Online Still Counts!

I have had internet service for years now. It seems like I have never been without it at times. The online world is varied and always available. No matter what time of day it is, I can shop, look for things, check the news, so many things.

But the thing I like so much about the internet is how you can meet people. Now it is true that you have to be careful, that you need to protect your information and watch out for who you are speaking to. It is also true that people can act like someone who they are not, we have all heard the stories of adults pretending to be children in order to prey on them, or people tricking others somehow. This is all true, but it is not true that these problems are only online, it happens in person too. So I figure the risks are fairly equal when meeting a new person online or offline.

Actually, it may be more risky in meeting offline, someone you meet at a bus stop would have more of a chance to hurt you than someone you only chat with on your computer. Even though you run the risk of never knowing for sure who is typing to you from cyberspace, I think online friendships still count.

As I have mentioned before, I am primarily housebound. I just can't go out to places, therefore I have very little chance of making new friends in the traditional ways. But online, I have many friends. Some I have had a face to face meeting with, and some that I know I will never have that chance. Many, I have seen pictures of, I know their real names, or I have had voice or video chats with. Some are new friends, some I have maintained a friendship of years.

Most of my friends I have met because we shared a common interest, but isn't that how all friendships begin? I lose contact with some of them at times, but many I have reconnected with again, only to repeat the cycle. I still count them as friends, we just don't talk everyday. Again, still comparable to offline friendships.

One of these friendships that I had turned into more than that. We fell in love with each other. We lived in different states, but as we grew more serous, he moved near me, and now we have been together for just about 2 years. So online does count in my opinion.

My sister always told me that online friendships were fake, that they couldn't be real as I had never really met the person. Well, that may be true in a fashion. However, even though I have never seen these people in front of me where I could touch them, they still mean a lot to me. Yes, it is true we call each other by our online names, but they have become more like affectionate nicknames, and even though we do know each others real names, the screen names seem to fit much better sometimes. That doesn't mean the friendship is fake. I am close with my sister, but I call her sis most of the time, only sometimes do I use her real name. I still call my boyfriend by the nickname I gave him before we met in person. No, it wasn't his screen name, but I still don't use his real name often.

I suppose nicknames have always been my habit, my closest friend in school was nicknamed Wolf, and she called me Vixen. My other sister prefers to be called Tyler, I prefer to be called Ru. So I do tend to either use a nickname that is given, or end up giving them one myself in time. My boyfriends screen name was -CK-, but I ended up calling him Ducky, another friend uses the name Sid, but I call him Devil, and so on and so on.

The best part of online friendships is that I get to meet people that I would have never come across in person. Like Bruxir in Argentina, Salamander and Boring from Australia, and the nicest, most loving person I have ever met, Sweetie from the U.K.

I would never have known them if it wasn't for the internet, but I count each one as a good friend, and I will always believe online still counts!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

On My Way

Like many people, when I was in school, I hated it. My reasons may not have been the same, but the emotion was. All through high school, I swore that once I graduated I was done. I had no desire or plans to go to college. I wanted to be completely done with any type of formal schooling. I would tell anyone who asked that I would never, ever go to college, that I hated school that much.

And I kept my word. I got engaged to my high school sweetheart on the same day I graduated, and a year later we were married. Oh I slipped once, and signed up for a correspondence course, but I lost interest fairly quickly and never got very far into it. I still hated school and never planned to go back. The mindset held true.

Until January 2006. I found myself unable to work at a regular job. All my job skills were in retail and security, both fields that required physical mobility. Which I no longer had. I couldn't unload a truck, stock shelves, or walk a patrol. I had no other skills that I could do, no abilities to get a job that could accommodate my physical limitations. So, I went online and looked at colleges.

Two days later, I was sitting in the admitting office, signing the paperwork that would start my college years. I was 32 years old, and finally going to college, something I swore I would never do. Amazing how life changes your mind, isn't it? Something you swear to at 18, 19, even at 25 can all totally change within just a few years. I finished all the registration paperwork and was told classes start in 3 days. I was there on time for my first class. I felt embarrassed at first, surely I was too old for college now. But it turns out, many people my age or older have gone back to college or like me, finally took the steps to further their education.

I wasn't sure when I enrolled, exactly what it was that I wanted to do, so I settled on an Associates degree in Computer Office. I figured that would give me 2 years to decide what my main goal would be. It didn't take long for me to decide I would continue on to get a Bachelor's degree in Accounting when I was done with my Associates.

That was almost 2 yrs ago. Today, I am in the middle of week 7, of my last 12 week term. I am due to graduate with my Associates in January. Next week, I go in to register for my Bachelor's and commit the next 2 or 3 years to more schooling. I think back now on that vow I made in high school. Never to go to college. It makes me smile to think how young and naive I was then. So much I didn't know, thinking I knew everything I ever needed.

These last 2 years in school have not been easy. My physical limitations caused me a great deal of difficulty in attending classes, but even still I rarely missed any. When I moved, the driving distance became to much for me to handle, so I switched to online courses. I was lucky in a way, choosing Computer Office made for some easy classes. Much of the material I had already learned just from using my own computer for many years. The classes I was required to take simply refreshed and expanded on the knowledge I had already cobbled together.

Some of the classes were difficult for me though. I hated the history class. It wasn't difficult to do, but there was so much writing involved in answering all the questions. General Psychology was a fun class, Oral Communications was nerve-wracking, I hated giving speeches. I was a little scared of Algebra as I had failed it 3 times in high school, but I was happily surprised to have little trouble with it.

I have made it through almost 2 complete years of college now, and to my amazement, I have maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA. Straight A's in all my classes so far. Only this term left and if I can manage to get an A in each of the 3 classes I am in now, I will graduate to my Associates with a perfect score. Not bad for a person that hated school so much she swore never to continue, is it? Looking back, I did horrid in high school, D's and F's and barely managing to graduate. I would never in my wildest dreams ever have thought that I could do so well in school.

I am looking forward to getting that degree in January, but the classes I am in now are the most difficult ones so far. Two of them are computer classes, so I am doing well in them, they are challenging but not impossible. The 3rd class is Composition 2, this is the hardest class I have taken. I am fighting hard to maintain an A in this class and I am not sure I will be able to. Regardless, I have come to far to give up now, so I am putting all my effort into this, and I am looking forward to all the possibilities that are opening up.

Going back to college has been the best thing I have ever done for myself. Sometimes I wish I had done it sooner, but I know that the time wasn't right until now. So 5 more weeks of school and then I have my first degree. And then I start on my second. At 18 years old, I would never have imagined having 2 college degrees to my name. I am constantly amazed at how my life has turned out. I will be thrilled to hold that first degree, and stunned if I make it with a 4.0 GPA, but regardless of my grade at the end, I will be able to hold that degree and know that "I did it!"

And that, to me, is the most valuable knowledge I can ever have. To know "I did it!" and that I can do it again!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Trip to the DMV

Well, I finally did it. Yesterday, I changed my driver's license to Florida. I have been putting this off for a long time. I hate going to the DMV. I think everyone hates that place. But I have a nasty habit of scaring myself about things like this. For months I have been working my self up over it. What if they need papers I don't have? What if I have to take the test? And OMG, what if I have to take the driving test again?

A bit of back story here: When I was 18, a senior in high school, I took Driver's Ed. I passed the class work with perfect grades, but I will never forget what the teacher told me when he signed off on my final paperwork. He told me "Well, you have done perfectly in the class room, but you made a few too many mistakes on the driving practice to really get this... But I am sure you will improve with practice, so I will sign off for your license."

At 18, I was thrilled to finally be legal to drive, but his words nagged at the back of my mind. Sure enough, not even 2 month of driving had my car totaled. Now this wasn't a small car, but what my dad called a boat. A huge 4 door metal monster, with a long hood and a big trunk. I crashed that car into the back of an El Dorado on the way to school one morning. Right in front of a gas station. The worst part was several of the popular kids from school were there and saw the whole thing. So not only was I totally freaked by the accident, but I was horribly embarrassed that they saw it.

I determined then that I was not fit to drive, but my dad didn't agree. He kept telling me I was just nervous and that I would be fine. I drove my mom's van 2 or 3 times after that to prove to my dad I wasn't scared to be driving, then had my mom take me back to the DMV and I turned in my license for an I.D. card. I didn't get a license again until I was 25.

By that time I had practiced my driving on safer back country roads. (This was in Kansas, so plenty of empty dirt roads to drive on.) I went to the DMV with my new confidence, filled out all the paperwork, passed the written test perfectly, and went out on my driving test. Which I failed. Went home and practiced more, tried the driving test again... and failed. In total, I failed that test 5 times before I finally improved my driving skills enough to earn my license.

But back to yesterday, I had spent the whole week freaking out about having to take the driving test again. I have a hard time with tests anyway, and with so much riding on the outcome of this type of test, well, I didn't want to risk it. So my mindset when I woke yesterday morning was rather chaotic. The only thing I was sure of was that if I had to take the driving test again, I was in trouble. For one thing, I hate tests, for another, I don't currently have my own vehicle, and my boyfriend's jeep is just too big for me to drive.

My appointment was at 1 p.m. So we left at about 12:30. All the way there I was just a bundle of nerves and Ducky (my boyfriend) was laughing at me, saying it would be fine, I had nothing to worry about. We arrived and got checked in and I got into the express lane to wait for my turn. Or so I thought, lol, after another lady came in and got seen, Ducky noticed I was in the wrong lane. Don't you just hate it when nerves make you mess up? I got into the correct lane and was called up within a few minutes. Paperwork: Check. Vision test: Check. I answered all the questions asked and went to the screen for that wonderful DMV picture. A slight problem when I had to sign though. They had this electronic screen you signed on, and me being left handed, put pressure in the wrong spot and it took 3 tries to get my hand angled properly and make a legible signature. I was told to go sit and wait, and within a few minutes had my new license in my hand.
I left quickly, still afraid someone would call me back and say i needed to test my driving after all. Once we got into the jeep though, i finally relaxed. And of course, Ducky teased me all the way home about working myself up over nothing. I was so relieved though, I didn't mind at all.

So, now I have a pretty new Florida license, with a not so horrible picture on it, and I don't have to worry about it again for 7 years. But I guarantee, come renewal time, I will be freaking out again.

Getting Started?


This is a hard post to make... but then starting something new has always been hard for me. I probably should give a bit of info about myself. Well, let's see, how much about me do you really want to know?

The basics are I am 34, average build, basically a normal person. I was married for 11 years to my high school sweetheart, but as we grew up, we grew apart, and each of us turned into a person the other couldn't handle. See? Typical background story, lol.

In this blog, I will be writing about a variety of things, so if you are looking for something to read on a specific topic, this is probably not the place for you. I have 2 dogs and a cat that thinks he is a dog, so there will probably be stories about them frequently. I have no children so no funny kid stories or parenting help, sorry.

All in all, I think this blog will end up being fairly random in topic choices, but if you are reading, I hope you find something to smile about on occasion.

Ok, I guess that is enough for an introductory post, on with the blogging. :)