Saturday, September 29, 2012

Organizing and Being Inspired

I will post about our trip to Strawberry Banke-I just have to decide which of the 125 photos I took during the day to use!  :)

Yesterday I decided I really needed to give the bathroom a good old scrubbing. It hasn't had it since I wound up with the sinus infection (which is gone,by the way.My last day of taking antibiotics is today).Of course, I did clean the toilet and sink,but that was it. One thing I learned about being under the weather-if I can't clean the bathroom,it won't get done. I suppose no one likes cleaning it. I was working up my old elbow grease cleaning the tub,and I guess my heavy breathing was rather loud. Rick called out,"Don't kill yourself!" I replied,"Someone has to clean it," with sweat dripping from my brow (OK,maybe not dripping...but  my brow was most definitely moist).'Why didn't you tell someone it needed to be cleaned?" he called back. I almost retorted that if I have to tell grown men when a tub is dirty,then there is something seriously wrong with their eyesight,but I said nothing and kept scrubbing. (It looks lovely now,by the way).

Besides cleaning the tub,sink,toilet,and floor,our  bathroom closet needed a good redo. Our closet is very narrow,and it used to have a door on it,but we had a hard time reaching into the closet when the door was open because the open door created an even more narrow space. A few years ago,we took the door off,and I put a curtain up. My goal is to eventually open up this area somehow. It's a linen closet as well as where we keep our first aid kit,aspirin,etc. We don't have a medicine cabinet (another thing which will be remedied in the future).

This is what it looked like when I took the curtain off. There is one more shelf on the bottom that you can't see in this photo. Our bathroom is small,so there is not a lot of space to back up for photos.Our toilet is across from the closet.

So,I pulled everything out and looked at the space.Right now where things are stored works-but I have mismatched sheets,old sheets,old meds, etc. Time to purge. So I did. Meds that went past the expiration date-tossed. Sheets and pillow cases that were ratty-put in a rag bag. Old nail polish-gone. All those mini soaps,shampoos and conditioners from various hotels that I had for years-see ya!

                                                                 That looks much better!

I rolled up my towels to help make a bit more space. My homemade soaps are in the basket. Ultimately,I want the litter box to be at the bottom of the closet,so it's hidden. Right now it's in between the sink and the toilet.  Of course, the shelves will have to be moved,but you can see that there is wasted space because the space between the shelves is too much. They need to be closer together. The whole closet is going to get an overhaul. But that's a different project for a different day.

Apparently,my organizing inspired Rick,because he cleaned out his bedroom closet (though I didn't get any photos of it).Things like his Army dress greens,which he will never wear again,and other clothing items were put in a bag to go into the attic. Some clothes became gun cleaning rags.He did a good job.

I was looking at my wire shelf in the kitchen,and added some items to the area. In the last few days,I not only put the pretty pouring bowl up,but my Beekman Boys Heirloom Cookbook,and a milk bottle and old mason jar that Brother B found in the woods in an old dump site. It still needed more. Wednesday, I put out some canned goods- pinto and navy beans that I put in canning jars for storage, homemade raspberry and strawberry jam,and canned green beans. I canned them last year. It still needed more,though. I thought my silver plate tray would be a nice contrast behind the pouring bowl,and would look nice with the stainless oven. I hung a small bunch of oregano. The next thing was what to put above the shelf. A handmade plate clock that my brother Dennis had given me for Christmas one year had been somewhat hidden in the dining area. It's pretty,but I didn't really have the right place for it. He bought it when he was stationed in Italy. Now it has it's rightful place of honor.

Looking at this gave me more inspiration. I have some blue and white checked valances that I had bought when we first bought the house. I had them up for a while,but then took them down. We have been without curtains in this area since. My thought process was that,since we don't get a whole lot of light here because the windows face NW,NW,and N,I wanted to get as much light as possible into the area. I thought any type of curtain would block that extra precious light. However,the area felt stark and cold.There was no warmth to it,even with that tiny little extra light. Since I didn't have any extra  tension curtain rods,I took down the curtain from the closet in the bathroom and used that to see how the valance would look. Judge for yourself!

I was amazed at how cozy this corner now feels-how the whole kitchen  is feeling! We still have some cosmetics to do and the closet next the to the fridge-but it's coming along. I am so excited about how it's all coming together. The nice thing is,the only thing I bought to decorate this area was the wire bin. I had everything else already. It's great to decorate with what you have!!!

Today the neighbors are all coming over for a fish fry.The weather isn't the best-it's gray with chances of rain-but it will be fun,nonetheless.

Have a fabulous day on this Fabulous Planet!!!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

15 Years Ago Today

Yesterday Rick and I went to Norwood,MA for his follow up physical for the TDRL. Thankfully,the drive down Interstate 95 was uneventful,except for the traffic back up after the merge of Rt 128 and I-95. We left plenty early because we never know what the traffic will be like in MA. However,we arrived just a bit over an hour early,filled out just a few questions on paperwork,and the Dr actually took us in 20 minutes early.The military was interested in three things-his vision,his knees,and his back.We were done in about an hour. We asked if there were any restaurants in the area,and there was actually one just down the street,which we could walk to easily. So we had lunch,then headed back home. Our appointment was for 11:00. He took us at 10:40. We were home by 3:10.

Now,I don't normally drive on a busy four lane interstate. Also,if you are not familiar with MA drivers,they are...well,...let's just say a tad aggressive,so you have to really pay attention all around you.You never know when one will cut right in front of you to change lanes with no signal.This was a good test for me. While I was nervous,and could feel it in my stomach,I didn't act nervous like I normally would. I did clutch the steering wheel tight and clench my teeth ( which I do when I am nervous and driving).However,I didn't talk impatiently to Rick,or snap at him because I was so busy trying concentrate. I spoke normally. Rick even commented that I wasn't acting like I usually would,and I said,"You mean I am not snapping at you," and he said,"Yeah,you normally have no patience." So things are looking better in that regard.While I felt nervous in my stomach,I felt calm in my head-meaning, I could control my reaction to what I was feeling. My stomach was in knots,but my demeanor didn't show it. It was fabulous.,and it felt great. I wasn't a wreck. I wasn't wearing my anxiety on my sleeve and letting it take over every aspect of my being. I liken it to being in a storm,tossed about and not having any control over the elements,when suddenly the storm subsides,and though there may be some big waves,you can ride them easily.

Today is a very good day. 15 years ago,Rick and I were married.He was 35 and I was not quite 30. We decided to keep things small,since 1)we had both been married before in big old weddings and 2)we didn't have the money for a big wedding. My Mom's next door neighbor had a lovey birch tree that she said we could get married under,and her daughter was a Justice of The Peace. My stepsister's daughter was in culinary arts at the high school at the time,and the class  made the food.She made the wedding cake as a gift to Rick and I-it was very pretty,a small three tier with pink flowers. We had 10 friends and family members.The sun was shining,and it was gorgeous. We were young,very much in love,and-surprise!-I was 18 weeks pregnant. No,it wasn't a shot gun wedding! We were engaged when I got pregnant :)  It was probably the happiest time of my life-I had a gorgeous,wonderful man who loved me madly,and we had a little one on the way. Life was perfect.

Today,Rick and I are going to go down to Portsmouth to Strawberry Banke and do the self guided tour. ( It will also be good walking exercise) Then we are going somewhere for a nice lunch. It's our day!

Have a fabulous day on this Fabulous Planet!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Back In The Swing And Being Aware

Yesterday was a productive day for me. I cleaned the fridge,dusted,ironed clothes,picked herbs and hung them to dry,and finally hung up the assorted tea tins that Zach gave me for Christmas!

Oregano,basil,and rosemary are very fragrant-and did kick up my allergies a bit,but that stopped after a few minutes.

The various teas and their tins that Zach gave me for Christmas.... I had to wait until the kitchen was almost done before I knew exactly where I wanted to put it!

By late afternoon,I was wiped out,though I did pick Zach up at school at 5:00. He is in an after school program called "FAMEE" ( what the letters stand for escapes me at the moment).They have various programs for the kids-and,since he is interested in film making,he is in the TV club. They are rewriting "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's  Nest" and he is going to play the Jack Nicholson role. He has volunteered to help film the school's events for local cable access,so we have to bring him to the school tonight so he can help film a volleyball game. Thursday after school he has "Youth To Youth",which is a group of kids who educated other kids about drugs and tobacco. He is going to be a very busy little bee. I told him that as long as he keeps his grades up,it's fine.

Now when I do things around the house,I take the time to immerse myself in them. I'm not thinking about what's going to happen in a few hours,or worrying about tomorrow. I am in the moment. I pay attention to the sizzle of the steam coming out of the iron,and how smoothly it runs over the clothes. I take pleasure in the smell of the herbs as I cut them off their plant,even if they make eyes itch a bit and my throat scratch. I don't rush through things anymore to finish a list. I plan my day,and I don't go overboard. 

Part of my decluttering process in the home is that I try to really look at what is around me and be aware of it. We all wind up not seeing things after a while,don't we? I look at certain areas,and think,"Is this what I want? How can I make this better and more effective? Do I really need everything that here? What is the purpose of this item? Is it even used?" I find myself happily doing things around the house now,instead of just going through the motions.

Tomorrow we are off to Norwood MA,which is about 110 miles from here. Normally,I would be dreading it terribly,as I have never been there and driving in MA is not what I would consider fun.However,since I don't have to go through Boston (thank GOD! I still will never drive in Boston)I am actually looking forward to the trip. I haven't been thinking about it non stop,worrying and obsessing over it. I'm taking it as it comes.  I might wind up being a nervous mess,but at least I won't be one for days before it. I figure that's a step forward!

Have a fabulous day on this Fabulous Planet!

Monday, September 24, 2012

My Path May Not Be Yours...And That's Fine!!!

Now that my mind is clearer,I am back on my path to decluttering-body,mind,and home. I have been reading various blogs and books about topics that I deem part of my process-zen, minimalism,happiness,etc. 

One thing that I have learned through the various journeys in my life is that what one person deems the perfect solution to what they are looking for in life,it may not apply to me. For instance,I will never be minimalist. It's not me,but I can certainly glean some fabulous insight from reading about folks who are,and apply them to my life in my own way to help create what I want. When Rick and I began trying to do more for ourselves,I felt that I was "less than" if we didn't do things the way others do. I quickly realized that everyone's journey is their own,and if someone thinks what I am doing is not the right thing to do,well,that's their problem,not mine.

My Dear Friend Michelle and I discuss these type of topics when ever we get together. While we are both working toward the life we want,neither one of us really fit into either end of the spectrum. We are not mindless consumers,buying everything new in sight,nor are we ones who espouse living with as little as possible. We are somewhere in the middle. I like creature comforts. I like having a TV in my bedroom,though many folks will say not to have the TV in your bedroom. When I have a hard time sleeping because my mind is racing about things that I have no control over,I turn the TV on (or my Kindle)and watch something to distract my thoughts,or I just close my eyes and listen. I am no longer worrying about something small,I wind up being relaxed,and fall asleep easier. Of course,this is not for everybody,but it certainly works for me.

I was very pleased to see that some of what I have been thinking of has been espoused in the various sources that I have been reading! Who knew? There are more people out there that think like me than I realized.

One thing I did decide to do after much contemplation is to up my meds. I claimed I was not going to do so,that I wanted to try and work on my issues through this decluttering process,but I had a reality check. If I really wanted to help myself,I needed to be honest. My symptoms,as I mentioned before,keep getting worse. When my depression hits,it takes away my motivation and happiness. When I went to the Drs for my sinus infection,I asked her about upping my meds and explained what was going on. She increased it by 37.5 mgs.I did not want to stop this process before it really gets started,which is what would've happened when I hit a valley,because it always happens. So I did what was right for me. Believe me, I know that there will be stress, good days and bad,and that it's not a magic solution. However,when my husband comments that he's noticed a change in me (and  NOT for the better)I knew it was time to bite the bullet and do what I had to do-not just for myself,but for my family. I grew up with a depressed mother,who suffers from the same issues I do,and she never got help of any kind until 15 years ago.It was not a fun existence,and I swore I would never put my family through that,which is why when I started sounding like her and acting like her,I went on an anti depressant 9 years ago.

My plan is to take things slowly,a bit at a time.When I go whole hog,full on,it doesn't last. I revert back to old ways. This is not a race for me. I am not in a hurry. There is no finish line that I can cross and say,"There! I'm done,and in record time!" I want to enjoy each day,each learning experience,in my own way. In the end,isn't that what it's all about?

Have a fabulous day on this Fabulous Planet!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Girl Day And... Re-purposing A Metal Crate

Saturday I stated feeling better. My head was still a bit off ,but by the late morning it cleared enough so that I was able to drive. That was a good thing,because My Dear Friend Michelle and I had birthday plans. Since her birthday is in July,and mine is in November,we split the difference and in September we go out for lunch and have a pedicure. We were both ready to get out of the house and away from testosterone ,even if it was just for a few hours.It was a lovely time,even though I did suffer a bout of unpleasant digestive moments. Sometimes when I eat,for whatever reason,it does not agree with me and I get horrible,painful cramps,which lead to upset stomach,cold sweat,etc. Thankfully,we were at the salon when it hit full on,so I had access to the bathroom ,and,thankfully,it passed quickly ( no pun intended!). When these things happen I can sometimes be indisposed for up to half and hour,writhing in pain. NOT FUN. Once I almost yelled for Rick to call the ambulance because the pain was so horrible and I thought I was going to pass out. Sigh.

We did have a lovely lunch,and the pedicure/foot massage was nice. If you have never had your feet wrapped in wax covered strips,you must try it. It feels great! Spending some girl time getting a bit pampered with your BFF is fabulous! The massage chair doesn't hurt,either :)   I got my toes painted orange (for fall) and she had hers painted red. We then decided to get facials for Christmas!

Zach and Rick are gone this weekend for a camping trip with the Scouts (they will be home sometime this AM) so it's been just me and Brother B.He told me he would get my new shelf up over the stove on Saturday,and by the time I left to pick My Dear Friend up,the shelf was in place.

I had envisioned a white metal shelf,with nice scrolls,or something that looked old fashioned.However,I couldn't find what I wanted. I went to little places I had never stepped foot into before,trying to find this shelf that I saw in my mind. When I went to "Just The Thing" in Dover and found my shelf that is now above our computer desk,I looked. They didn't have what I was looking for,either,so I started looking for something different that I could re purpose as  a shelf. I stumbled across this:

No,it's not white,it's not scrolled,and it's not a shelf. It's a metal crate. But I really liked the  look of it. It has rust.It's not perfectly straight. I loved it. The question was,how do we get it up on the wall? Brother B came up with a plan.

He used two pieces of trim we had left over,screwed them to the wall,and painted them yellow to blend in:

He then found four brackets,which were a bit big .However,he improvised with some rubber gaskets that he cut in half,then gouged out some of the rubber so the metal would sit in it. He put the gaskets in the brackets. I held the basket up against the wall,and he screwed the brackets into the wall. The metal of the crate fit in his creation perfectly:

TA-DA!!!! My new shelf!

The first thing I put on it was the pouring bowl that My Dear Friend gave me for Christmas. It's pretty,and I love the color punch it gives to the room.

Now I just have to decide what else to put on it. The boards on the left side can used to hang small items,such as keys,or whatever else we decide to put on it. I'm still mulling it over. Next on the list: seeing if we can re purpose an old ladder for a pot rack. It would hang over the window to the right of the oven.

Have a fabulous day on this Fabulous Planet!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Dr's Visit...For Me And Him

I finally got tired of being tired and went to my Dr yesterday. I told her all my symptoms -

- I had three days of dry eyes,and the rims of my eyes were itchy and then
-Last Tuesday by 4:00 I was exhausted and laying down,had a scratchy throat and a few aches
-Last Wednesday,the scratchy throat and aches were gone,but the woozy feeling in my head hit along with some pressure in my sinuses.I was exhausted all day
-No stuffy nose,but the last couple of days I started a nasal drip 
-I would get headaches off and on
-My appetite came and went
-I had a low grade fever the first couple of days,but then my temp has been normal,even though inside my head feels like it's hot

She thought it was allergies and a sinus infection. I told her I take an allergy med,but she told me that it doesn't cover everything,and rag weed is terrible this year. She put me on 1750 mg of Amoxicillin a day for 10 days. I started taking it yesterday. Today, I feel more pressure in my sinuses,though it's more down into my nose,so I think it's on it's way to healing. My nasal drip has gotten worse,and I have actually had to blow my nose,which I haven't had to do since this started.

Last night I was very tired. I didn't take a nap or lay down all day,so I was in bed early and asleep by 9:00 PM. I slept great!

I was hoping it was something that would just pass,but after a week,I had enough. I realized how important my role in the home is,and there are little things that just don't get done. Also,next Wednesday Rick and I have to go down to Norwood MA for a followup  physical for the Army's TDRL ( Temporary Disabled Retirement List),which is about 2 hours away,and I have to drive. So that spurred on my Dr's visit as well. They want to have another exam of his knees ( which are fixed),his lower back ( which he had surgery on over  20 years ago) and his hearing. His hearing was deemed a bit worse on the last TDRL physical,so I can understand wanting to check on that again. Why they are worried about his knees and back, I don't know. His back is no worse than when I met him. It doesn't give him trouble. The main problem is the PTSD and TBI. We will be very glad when they finally decide to retire him fully. 7 years after his injury and we are still dealing with this ...sigh. Thank God for the VA.

Right now the Man of The Place is out in the woods,sitting in his tree stand with his bow and waiting for a deer to cross his path. He has a game camera that he checks on and found that the path it's on tends to me a morning path for deer. We will see if any decide to come out this AM.

Have a fabulous day on this Fabulous Planet!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Being Mindful And In The Moment-Outdoor Comfort

I am starting to feel better,finally,but mornings are still pretty rough for me.I still feel  like my head is stuffed with cotton and it doesn't completely go away. Yesterday I did not lay down until around 4:00 and I didn't nap,I just took it easy.

One of things that has given me great comfort is sitting outside. I pulled some of my "Little House" books off the shelf and went outside get some fresh air and get some sunshine soaked into my bones on the days that weather permitted and I was up for it.I couldn't help but look up from my book every now and then and just take in the beauty of the sights and sounds around me.

This is my view from my little corner where I like to read. I have such a pretty vantage point of the trees in our yard!

The sun shining through the trees was lovely. You can't really see it in the above photo,but our leaves have started to turn...when I took these photos last week,the tops had just started to change. Last night we had a light frost,so now the colors are starting to be more pronounced. The sunshine was warm and I closed my eyes and just enjoyed it.

Our tree line on the side of the house is such that no one can really see us on the deck until they are just about past us. It makes for lovely shade in the morning and privacy-at least,until the leaves fall.

I put my self in the moment-I saw the leaves on my neighbor's trees begin to move as a light breeze kicked up,then watched as the breeze made its way into our yard,and our leaves began to whisper to each other. The breeze felt nice and light on my skin. I heard the squirrels chatter with each other,and further down the road at the Alpaca farm,I heard chickens squawking back and forth. I could hear cracking in the woods across the street,and I wondered if there was something out there that was causing the chickens to be worried.  I then heard a scratching noise,and I looked to my right. There was a White Breasted Nuthatch making it's way down a pine tree. I watched him for a while. It's amazing how they can cling to the bark facing downward and just hop their way around. He would go to our feeders ( you can barely make them out on the lower right of the above photo-you can just make out their blue and red tops) take a bite of seed,then fly back over to the tree and hop around it some more. I thought of how fortunate I am to live in such a lovely little corner of the world. Anytime I am not feeling that great,or need comfort,just sitting outside seems to bring me inner peace. It might not help a physical ailment,but it does wonders for my soul. I have always felt a connection to nature. I would lay outside in my yard as a girl and watch the tops of the tall pine trees sway in the breeze, the white clouds against the bright blue sky,or watch the Martin birds go in and out of the birdhouse in my neighbors yard. Where this connection comes from,I don't know,but I am grateful I have it.

It was marvelous to be outside.To be inhaling the sweet,fresh air into my lungs. To be able to see the the beauty. To just...BE.

Have a fabulous day on this this Fabulous Planet!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Still Here

I am still here,never fear! I'm still under the weather,so I am waiting until my headbone clears before I even attempt a regular post. I still feel very foggy,off kilter.Sometimes it feels like someone is sitting on my head,other times it feels like someone is twisting my brain.

If memory serves it usually clears up in a week or so.

My little blog has passed 30,000 views-YAY!

I have been enjoying reading blogs,even if I don't always post on them :)

My new love is "Lark Rise To Candleford",a BBC series I have been watching on my Kindle.

Hope all is well in your neck of the woods...have a lovey day on this Lovely Planet!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

But Of Course!

Naturally,because I was feeling great,upbeat and relaxed,the best I have for quite a while,Mother Nature decided to throw a wrench into it and I have come down with what seems to to be a twice a year event- I get some strange head cold/allergy/whatever it is. Looking back,it started Tuesday evening. I made the Beekman Brothers fabulous Zucchini,Tomato,and Pepper Au Gratin and Rick BBQ'd pork chops. ( It was DELICIOUS!!!) After I made it,I felt real tired all of a sudden and had lay down for a while.I felt achy all over. I even ate in the bedroom and was asleep by 9:00 PM (which is early- I usually fall asleep around 10:00 or so). Yesterday I got up,and my sinuses hurt,my head felt woozy,and I was exhausted. I did get on the computer because I had to update some information for our Boy Scout Troop on the troop website,and I did drink some coffee and eat a muffin,but food didn't help. I wound up going back to bed. I watched "The Young Victoria" on my Kindle,which has sparked an interest with Queen Victoria and her love, Prince Albert.( I had to order the movie as well as "Victoria and Albert" from Amazon.) I slept most of the day.

Today,though I have pressure in my sinuses,they do feel better than yesterday. My head is still quite off,though. It's an odd feeling-like being dizzy but your not.It's a real spacy feeling,like  your head is very light. I feel real tired,but today I am going to at least shower. I plan on sitting out on the deck and enjoying the beautiful day,but at some point I know I am going to have to take a nap. I feel completely wiped out, like I haven't slept in days.

I do take allergy medicine,but apparently,I need to speak to my Dr because it' s not working on whatever it is that causes this. It happens in the fall,and again in the winter. In keeping with my goal of decluttering my body,I started taking a multi vitamin last week,and I actually can hold them down now (when I tried,I got sick last time). I was feeling great! Now this.

But of course.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Touch Of Fall And...A Couple Prints Finally Get Framed!

Last night the temperatures got down to the upper 30's-low 40's. Today it's overcast,and the wind is brisk,so it's a good sweatshirt day. The leaves are just starting to change. Fall is in the air,and I love it!

We went down to Manchester today to the VA Hospital for Rick's appointment with his meds Dr. Everything is on track,and he is doing pretty well. He even had a couple of days that he didn't have to take Valium during the day.He can take it up to three times a day if needed for anxiety,or not,depending on how he is feeling,so not having to take it is good. He is on 2,000mg of Depakote a day,and no longer taking any Seroquil. That seems to be working well,so we will not have to see the Dr until December now.

When we got home,I noticed an unusual scent in the house. Something was cooking on the stove. It smelled sort  of like steamed clams,but the scent was a bit more strong.( I had to open a couple of windows to air out the house). It wasn't horrible,it was just potent. Lo and behold,Brother B was parboiling a couple of squirrels he got last night!

We have two apples on our Jonathan Apple Tree. We expected only a few apples this year since we did a major pruning job on the the tree this past Spring. At least they are good sized ones! Apple season came early this year from what I hear. I guess I will have to hit Butternut Farm over in Farmington soon for some apple picking,if there are any left! I am bummed that neither my Jack O Lantern or Sugar Pie pumpkins took this year. I don't know what happened. I planted seedlings that I started and have had great luck the last few years.Looks like I will have to hit the Farm for those as well. I did have a mystery plant that wound up being gourds. I had thrown some into the compost pile last year,and when we filled the beds this year,a vine grew. I got three gourds from it before hoards of squash bugs descended. I have never seen anything like it! There were hundreds! According to folks in our Garden Group,everyone had issues with them this year.

Yesterday I took a trip to our local Ben Franklin store (fabrics,crafts,etc)to get some frames for two prints. The first one I absolutely love-though you wouldn't guess it because it's been rolled up in the store bag since I bought it 5 (yes,that's right FIVE) years ago. I'm the Queen of Procrastination,remember?  :)

I think most folks,at least here in the US,are familiar with this iconic photo taken when folks learned that the  Japanese surrendered and WWII was over.People poured into the streets,dancing,singing,hugging,and laughing. They didn't know each other from Adam,but they didn't care,they were so ecstatic. A sailor grabbed a nurse and gave her a big old kiss. The photographer just happened to at the right place at the right time.  I love the photo for what it represents-the end of a war and the happiness that peace brings. I have this in our bedroom:

The second print was,of course,my Wilder print. I picked four mats,then a frame,then I stood there with the print comparing the mats to see which one I liked the best. After about 15 minutes of deliberating,I picked a mat,brought everything home and finally hung it in it's place of honor-on the wall to my left,next to the computer desk.


It felt really good to finally get these on the wall where we can enjoy them. I still have a few more photos to put out,but these were the two main ones I wanted to get done.

Have a fabulous day on this Fabulous Planet!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

How I Began Eliminating Mental Clutter

We all have mental clutter,don't we? Whether it's what we read,see,hear,or think,our brain is constantly going. What it tells us can affect our bodies. At least,it does with mine.

I have been very open about my depression and anxiety issues. I usually wake up with a knot of dread in my stomach.Sometimes it's hard to enjoy things,because what's going on in my brain keeps that knot going. It gets to the point where even if there are no negative thoughts careening around in my gray matter,the knot is still there,because it's used to being there. Part of my decluttering goal is to rid that knot without having to up my medication ( Effexor) or go see someone one on one. 

My first step was trying to eliminate the things that cause my anxiety.Granted,I cannot get rid of everything in life that causes me anxiety.I would have to live by myself in a plastic bubble with no contact with anyone or anything for the rest of my life. It would work,but it isn't feasible,and it isn't what I want.However, I did make some simple steps,and to be honest,they have already helped.

1) I Eliminated Facebook. When I first joined FB,it was fun. I enjoyed contacting old friends I had not seen or spoken to in years. Lately,however,it has turned into a bully fest. People post horrid things on other's pages if they don't agree with them,especially on political and social issues (my blogging friend and fellow Bonnethead Laura from My Simple Happy Life had a good post about this very thing).I've had to block people from my page because they were just so rude and nasty. Why would someone who claims to be my "friend"say such horrid things to me or to other "friends"? I don't get it. When I started to dread going on FB,I know it was enough. When I would  get angry at some of the ridiculous assertions and bold faced lies that they would use as facts  it would get gnaw at me for the whole day- and,well,I knew I couldn't do that anymore. So I bowed out. I don't miss it one bit and now I find more focus on this here little blog and reading the blogs I enjoy.FB tends to suck up time that I could spend doing things that are actually beneficial.

2) I Got Rid of Unwanted Emails. I eliminated mass emails from organizations. I don't mind a few,but when I started getting 20 a day,which I never read anyway,it was enough. I also had to ask folks to stop sending me emails belittling my views. I respect theirs,even if I don't agree,but I don't send them emails against what they believe. I expect the same courtesy from them. Again,it was to the point where I would dread opening my email box. Usually I would just delete them without reading them,but the fact that they were there would make me filled with anxiety-because,in my mind,if you belittle what I believe,you are belittling ME.

3) I Stay Away From 24 Hour News Channels.Very little news,a lot of BS. When I was growing up,we had the local news at noon,at six,national news at 6:30,and local again at 11:00 PM. You got all the information you needed-because back then,people were actually journalists They weren't shills for political parties to try and spread misinformation for political gain. Now they are just paid  parrots for whatever political party runs their news organization.Living in NH,we get bombarded with political crap 24 hours a day seven days I week. I can watch a half hour show and see the same damn political commercial 5 times.  We really need a new Walter Cronkite!!!!

4) I Only Read Blogs That Are Uplifting To Me. If you want to discuss gardening,self improvement,self sufficiency, Laura Ingalls Widler,etc,then I am your girl.Otherwise,I am not going to read it.No offense.

By doing these 4 simple things,I now start my mornings on a more happy note.Before, I would get off the computer filled with anxiety and anger,which would color my whole day. Now, my mornings are happy and anxiety free,which makes for a better day.My spirit feels lighter!

Have a fabulous day on this Fabulous Planet!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Taking It Easy

Today is  going to be a down day for me,I think. Yesterday my eyes started burning,and the rims were sore. I awoke with this yet again,but now I have a scratchy throat,my sinuses ache,and I feel wiped out.Could be allergies,or something else that's going around,though to me it feels and sounds like allergies.I do take allergy meds on a daily basis. Up until yesterday,I felt great,upbeat,and full of energy. My,what a difference a day makes.

Yesterday I did get out some photos out,though the ones I was going to hang on the wall I wound up not doing. I just couldn't decide where to put them. I did hang one photo in our bedroom over the bed. Rick took it when we lived in Dalton,MA waay back in 2001 when I was the manager of the Jockey Outlet in Lee. There was a trail up to the reservoir,and the view was pretty,especially in the Fall:

Unfortunately,the photo I took doesn't really do it justice.I tried to block as much of the glare from the window across from our bed as possible. The colors are much more vibrant than they appear here.

 I  took a photo of  the print I bought at the Wilder Farm in Burke,NY so all my fellow Laura fans could see it. I still need to get down to the store to buy a nice frame with matting for it so I can hang it. It's called "Coming Home" and the artist is Sandra A. Young. I feel in love with it as soon as I saw it and had to have it. It brings back great memories of our trip,and how it felt to actually walk the same yard and be in the same home as Almanzo. Isn't it gorgeous? Like Rick's photo above,the colors are a bit muted in the photo,but you can still see how wonderful it is! It conjures up cozy winter feelings,even in the midst of summer.

While I did that yesterday,as well as puttering around the house cleaning,Rick began the oh-so-ever-fun task of decluttering the garage.When I went outside to take a photo,he had pulled some stuff out of it already and had 7 bags of trash.We are not talking stuff we no longer want,we are talking trash.

We had the garage filled right up to the door. As I mentioned in an earlier post,part of the problem is things are not being put back into their proper place,or trash not being disposed of (chicken feed bags that are emptied into our feed bin seem to never find their way to the trash,they are just thrown off to the side for instance). This is Rick's project. He does not want help.I did ask him what his game plan is and we are on the same page: take everything out of the garage,get rid of trash,and put like items together (tools,garden,camping,etc)He checks to see what is still good,or what is broken,and keeps the good items. He then takes what we are going to keep and organizes it in the garage. A tool bench will be made.Part of the problem of not keeping this area organized is when we try to find certain tools,we can't find them,and then wind up buying a replacement. Then,of course,we find the original. It's a waste of time and of money. That is coming to a halt this year. I will have to try and keep Rick on task as far as putting things back because he forgets.I think having him put that reminder into his IPod will help. He now schedules his days with the IPod that the VA gave him for such things and it has been very helpful. This is to help him become more independent so he doesn't have to rely on me to remind him of everything.I always feel like a nag when I have to remind him of this,or question if he did that. It makes for an odd dynamic-almost like a mother and child,which is not a good thing.

Today he is going to continue on the garage. It was very humid yesterday and he worked hard for a good three hours. He is not fast but he is steady. One thing you learn when you have a spouse with a brain injury is that you cannot rush them. They have to do things in their own time so they don't get overwhelmed.,which can be very easy.Sometimes it can be something very small that will set them into tailspin. I have learned that setting time frames for projects is not necessarily a good thing. It can be sometimes,but sometimes it just puts too much pressure on Rick,which then shows up in his demeanor,and he feels even more scattered than he already does,which I don't want. It's a fine balance,which I am still struggling to find.

We did get a nice surprise treat yesterday. Our neighbor across the dirt road stopped by with a homemade apple pie. She buys eggs from me as soon as my sign goes up,and we give her and her family fish on occasion. Last week she came over and asked if she could buy some! She was going camping and thought her parents would love the fish. We said we are more than happy to just give her the fish,no problem! Yesterday she was baking for her church's bake sale/pig roast which is today and made us a pie to thank us for the fish since we wouldn't allow her to pay for it.. How nice to have  good neighbors!.The pie,by the way, was delicious :)

Today I am going read,work on some Christmas gifts,and just relax.

Have a fabulous day on this Fabulous Planet!

Friday, September 7, 2012

A Simple Mattress Can Help In Many ways

For quite a while now,Rick and I have been complaining about our mattress and how we really needed to get a new one. We slept on it for 10 years. It was a no name brand that we could afford at the time. It was comfortable back then. It worked.

The last few years,however the signs of wear and tear were starting to show on our old mattress. There were lumps and valleys. We flipped,re-flipped,turned and re-turned that sucker over the years. We put one of those "egg carton" type foam toppers on it. It was to the point where none of it made a difference. We would wake up with back aches, hip aches,etc. We would toss and turn all night,and not all of it was due to nightmares or minds racing. Many times we just couldn't get comfortable. We complained about it- a lot.

Sleep is a very important factor in life. Those of you who have a hard time obtaining a good night of it,for whatever reason,know what I mean. A few nights of fitful sleep can really affect your mood,thought process,and motivation.

Of course,we have other contributing factors. Rick gets nightmares and has sleep apnea,so he sleeps with a sleep apnea machine.( For those who are not familiar,it's a device that has a mask that one wears over their face so air is being forced into the body and helps keep the throat open to prevent snoring and keep breathing regulated-Rick stops breathing over 50 times an hour) I have nights where I just can't shut my mind off and I toss and turn and turn and toss-which also affects Rick's sleep patterns. I also am bothered with RLS ( restless leg syndrome) once in a while,as well as night sweats on occasion (ah,the joys of being a woman!!!)

Wednesday in the mail,we got a flyer for Big Lots. They were having a sale on mattresses. Now, one may not think of Big Lots in terms of  great mattresses. However,when we woke up yesterday morning both sore yet again,Rick said to me,"We need a new mattress. NOW." We figured we would take a drive down to our local Big Lots and see what they had.

Well, I must admit I was actually impressed. All the mattresses were Sealy brand. Not no name generic. We laid down on all of them (which did feel rather strange with people walking around). We laid on our backs. We laid on our sides. We laid on our stomachs. We compared every one. We read the literature. We finally decided on a good mattress with a 800 coil count. Our old one probably had less than half of that. You could feel the body support.It wasn't the most expensive( memory foam) but it wasn't the cheapest,either,which would've been our first pick in the past. Even better,the box spring came with it for only $10.

Why am I mentioning our mattress? Because it ties in with my theme of late-surrounding yourself and clearing out clutter. 

Clutter? How does that play into it?

Have you ever looked under some one's bed? Apparently we had not looked under ours for quite a while. We found socks,a staple gun that was missing, a hammer, a level, a hat Rick was looking for,VCR tapes we no longer want,assorted other items,and plenty of dust. Blech. Under  the bed clutter! Who knew?? We cleaned everything up,and now  under the bed is very nice. No junk.

So,we placed the mattress on the deck. I know what you are going to say- "Donna,how long is that sucker going to decorate your deck?" Not long. Rick is inspired to clean out the garage today,to we are going to put it in there until town pick up in a few weeks.We joked that we could lay it on the deck if anyone wanted to sleep outside one night ;)

One thing I thought would be neat is having a raised bed. I don't know why,I just always thought
that a bed that was higher than the normal ones would be cool. For some reason,it never occurred to me while we were setting up the new bed,until Brother B suggested,"Why don't you 
put the old box spring on the bottom,then put the new box spring and mattress down?That way you can have a raised bed." DUH! The one thing I had been wanting to do for years! At first,it was too tall for me to even climb on ( I'm 5'2"),so we took the wheels off the frame,which lowered it by three inches,so now the bed comes up to just below my belly button. I need to hop a bit,but that is no problem. I could use a little stool if necesary. Before, I could just roll over in the old bed to shut off the alarm. Now I have to reach down to do so-which is no big whoop to me. Here is a photo to give you the idea of the height:

You may notice my lack of bedspread. I had one up until five months ago. I had a very pretty quilted spread which matched the pillows above. I loved it. Until the dogs started ruining it.The spread would get dirty.They would get it wet when they washed themselves. I would wash it. It would get ripped from their nails. I would fix it. It was a cycle. I finally gave up and  had to get rid of the quilt.The fabric got too flimsy and you can only repair the same areas so many times.You could say,of course,"Donna, just close your door.Put up a gate. Don't let the dogs in there." Been there,done that. This is the problem: our bedroom is right off the dining area. It gets a lot of light during the day that our dining area doesn't get,so I like to keep the door open to brighten things up as much as possible. We also get a lovely breeze through the bedroom windows that we don't have in the kitchen. Having this door open creates a fabulous cross breeze.Plus, I don't always remember to fully close the door behind me if I am in the middle of something and I am on a mission."OK,but what about the gate?" you may ( and rightfully) ask. We did that,too.It was too much of a pain taking the gate out of the doorway and putting it back up when we had to go in and out of the room . I guess you could say I paid for my own need for convenience.Now the bed is too high for the dogs to jump on. When we repaint the bedroom,our new bedding will not get ruined.

How did getting a simple mattress help in many ways? For us:
1) It helped us get a comfortable nights sleep,which is a good thing physically and mentally (pain and a tired mind lead to body and mind clutter!)
2) It allowed us to see the crap under the bed and clean it up (junk clutter!)We are now mindful that we need to keep an eye on that.
3)It let us get the high bed we both wanted (Rick loves it!)and is a first step into creating the type of bedroom haven we want. We feel like royalty on that bed!
4)It gave us a way to save future bedding,and stop the dogs from climbing on the bed without closing off sunlight and lovely breezes. It also stopped annoyance.

All from a simple mattress.

Have a fabulous day on this Fabulous Planet!!!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Being Inspired By What You Love-The Laura Edition

One of my goals for helping with mental clutter and home clutter is trying to surround myself with items that I LOVE. Like many of us,for a long time if I needed something I wouldn't wait to find what truly spoke to me. I would get it out of necessity even if I didn't like it very much,or if someone was getting rid of something that I might be able to use,though it wasn't my ideal,I'd still scoff it up.I would see it on a daily basis,and while it might be functional, it wasn't me. This wasn't such a bad thing when I lived in apartments (which was really someone else's property,so why bother?),but now that I have my own home and finally discovered what style I like,I am more than willing to wait until I find the piece that speaks to me.Even if it takes years. Once I get an idea of what I want in my head,it's pretty difficult to change my mind. I am looking for the exact same thing I see in my mind's eye. However,I can be flexible if I find something that 
hadn't considered that I think is really cool. It still has to be something I will love,though. I want to surround myself with inspiration,things that make me think and things that make me happy,such as photos,books,and functional items. I want my home to be a haven.

I want to share my latest step.

Our computer is in a corner in the living room.Now,I do have two windows to the right of the this area which has a lovely view of the trees in our front yard. However, when I am banging away on the computer,this was the view in front of me:

Ah,yes, a lovely barren wall,completely with holes from where we hung our old computer monitor. Guess what? This wall has been empty since we painted the room about three years ago. Didn't I say at one point I was going hang the photos back up? ( Remember my Queen of Procrastination post? This is a prime example). To the left on the wall on top of the black speaker is a Limited Edition Print ( 111 out of 500) I bought from my journey to the Wilder Farm in Burke NY three years ago called "Coming Home." I still haven't framed it. (hangs head in shame). I know, I know. (Refer back to the Queen of Procrastination post,please!) I will take a photo soon,I promise..and it will be in a place of honor and suitably framed.

Back to the barren,I needed inspiration. I knew what I had to do. I had to find some shelves to put things on them that I loved. But what kind of shelves? I didn't want some regular old pressed wood shelves from a box store. I wanted something unique. Something different. Something that spoke to me and spoke about me. I stumbled across this gem in Dover:

This was that white shelving unit that was in the pile on my bed in that post yesterday. I was not going to let it sit idle for months! It had to get up ASAP!  I just thought I was adorable. Not only could I use the shelves,but the drawers for storage. Perfect! that I have the shelf up(actually, I must give credit where credit is due-Rick and Brother B put it up) what am I going to put on it?  I already knew well in advance.

My collection of Laura Ingalls Wilder books.

Yes, I am what is affectionately called in the World of Laura Ingalls Wilder a Bonnethead.I grew up reading her books,and I still do. I get much inspiration from them. I also have books about her and her impact written by different authors-Bill Anderson,Wendy McClure,Kelly Ferguson,and John Miller. I also have "The Prairie Girl's Guide To Life" by Jennifer Worwick. I do have Melissa Gilbert and Allison Angram's autobiographies,but they did not make the cut for this area,as much as I enjoyed them. The ones I put up on this shelf are about Laura and her world. Notice the green apple on the pile of books to the left? That is an apple ornament I got from The Wilder Farm in Burke. The little white sheep in front of the yellow books? Well, to be honest, I put it there because it was cute and I wanted to stop my cats from carrying it all over the house. Then,this morning,I remembered that in "The First Four Years" Laura and Manly have sheep. So there you go! To the right is my favorite photo of my parents,taken in 1948,a year after they were married. Top shelf is my Beekman Boys cookbook,which is really a temporary place until I can get my shelf up in my kitchen. I do have a bit more Laura/Almanzo memorabilia, I just haven't put them out yet. But it's a start! I am also going to put up family photos.

So as I type my blog,I can look at my Laura items and glean some prairie inspiration and determination. When I crochet,I can look over to this spot and remember the sewing/knitting/crocheting Ma did in her rocking chair by the fire on cold nights . When I clean, I can remember how difficult life was on the prairie (imagine having to beat rugs! or having a dirt floor! ). I also find myself asking sometimes,"WWLD?" (What Would Laura Do?)

Just sitting here right now,I am in heaven,motivated, and feeling fabulous.

Thank you helping me create my haven,Laura!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Mental Clutter =Physical Clutter

We all have some form of clutter,don't we? Physical household clutter,body clutter (ie weight),or mental clutter. My goal is to rid myself of all clutter possible. It may take months,it may take years. But that is my ongoing goal. I need to free up my surroundings,as well as my physical and emotional being. ( Remember I alluded to making the home I want in a previous post? This is what I was referring to). I believe that our physical surroundings reflect our inner self. If we are not comfortable and happy,how can our homes be? Or our bodies?

This is something that I have been reading about and mulling over for quite awhile now. Controlling anxiety, minimalism,zen habits,etc. It's been very eye opening....what Oprah would call an "a-ha moment." I love those!

I cannot speak for anyone else,of course. I can only speak for me.I am tired. I am tired of being fat,being anxious,or looking around and wishing for something else. Not a different house,but a different home. It's not bad by any means,but it doesn't reflect what I really want it to be. 

I am grateful that Rick did not inherit his mother's hoarding gene. She should've been on the Hoarders show. It took us three weeks to clean out her tiny apartment after she passed-once we made pathways to get around. I couldn't live like that. Nor do I want a museum for a home. It will get dirty.It will get messy living with two dogs,two cats,and three males. Rick has a hard time remembering to put things away,and when I try to do it for him,he says he will take care of it,because if I put it away,he won't know where it is. Which is fine,except he will take forever to put something away,and when he does,he doesn't remember where he put it anyway (part of the TBI). So,I do have to be mindful of that situation. However,I do want a home that is clean enough for folks to come into and I don't feel like I owe them explanations"Oh,we are going to move this and do this,but we haven't done it yet,"etc.,etc. 

Since my down days have been pretty bad the last few months,and I probably should just go to the Dr to either up my dosage or see someone one on one,I am determined to try and do it myself. I have been reading. I have been following blogs ( among them,two great ones, Be More With Less and Zen Habits,which I have links to on the right).

Now,if you enter my home,right now it's not bad. Let's face it-there is nothing to spur one on to make a good cleaning than relatives who have never been to your home. Our mud room is all cleaned up. I washed walls (amazing how if you see dog slobber often enough that you don't see it anymore!). I was further inspired by my Dear Friend Michelle's closet-though I had it in mind to organize mine,seeing hers spurned me on. I was able to get rid of 7 photo albums that were taking up space,and got rid of photos of things that I just didn't need (why did I take 5 photos of the same damn statue kind of thing). I got the photos down to three photo boxes. I still need to weed through my clothes,though.  At least I have started. A bit everyday adds up.

The big room to do was our bedroom. I usually just close the door when company comes over.  It was an embarrassment. In all honesty,most of the stuff is Rick's. He has backpacks,clothes,a dry vac,etc...again,things that I say I will take care of and he gets annoyed. I finally convinced him that I had to wash the walls and move his stuff. Here are a couple of photos of the lovely pile that was strewn across his side of the bedroom:

I took all the crap,shit,stuff,junk,whatever you call it,and piled it on the bed. You can see on the left a white shelf item. That is going to hang over our computer,and I had put that and two other shelves in the bedroom until they got hung. I then changed my mind and put them in the rooms they are going to be hung in.

Here is the back side of the pile. The big bear is mine,it was a gift from Zach. You can see a bit into Rick's closet in the back of the photo on the right.

Rick did finally go through everything and put them away. I don't have a photo of our bedroom after,but it is nice and tidy and I have been working to keep it that way. I am also going to paint it. It needs it.

It's so much nicer coming into the bedroom now. I want my whole house to be a cozy space where one feels they are enveloped by happiness and contentment.

I did help Zach clean out his closet and we had two garbage bags full of clothes that we donated to Planet Aid.

This is going to be an interesting journey. Anyone else out there going through the same thing?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

How My Veteran Is Doing And New VA Programs For Family Members

Some of you who have been following this blog since it's inception may be wondering how Rick is doing.

He,as he always will,has good days and bad days. A good day is when he doesn't let his limitations frustrate him too much. A bad is when he lets his speech,reading,or thought patterns get to him and he gets overwhelmed and angry.

For those who are new to this blog,my husband was wounded in  an RPG attack in  Ramadi,Iraq on July 28, 2005. He suffers from chronic PTSD, and moderate TBI which has spawned all kinds of issues with reading comprehension,speech,thought process, writing,math,taste,smell,and memory. It has also caused issues with his pituitary gland,so he has to take testosterone shots,and he has hypothyroidism.The trauma also triggered Celiac's Disease. Our journey with the military and the VA,as well as our daily experiences dealing with all this led me to write this blog. It was a great outlet for me,and I was hopeful that perhaps someone who had been going through our experience could find solace in the fact that they are not the only ones who are dealing with these things.

Rick had begun a 12 week program through the VA called Cognitive Therapy. Unfortunately,as soon as he began remembering things that happened in Iraq ( causing him to have a bad flashback which led him to cry for almost an hour) his counselor wound up having to take a medical leave of absence. We are still waiting to  hear when a new counselor will be assigned. There are so many soldiers coming back with PTSD and TBI that the VA is having a heck of a time keeping up,and I am heartened that the President has called on the VA to hire 800 more new counselors and for more money to be spent for mental issues.While it seems frustrating  (and it can be!) the VA is actually in much better shape than in 2006 when Rick started going. The government was just not ready to deal with all the mental challenges that our service men and women were coming home with,and we actually had no TBI diagnosis until 2007. Now testing is mandatory when soldiers enter the VA system. 

At any rate,we are waiting for a new PTSD counselor,although to be honest,Ken (our old one) felt Rick was about ready to  start coming only every few months once the 12 week program was over,instead of every month like he had been doing before he began the program. He has been seeing PTSD counselors since 2006. 

Rick is on what is called in military speak,TDRL ( Temporary Disabled Retirement Program). He can be kept on this for up to 5 years. He has to submit to testing whenever the military wants. This is a mandatory program for all vets who come back with PTSD. The hope is that with counseling,the vet will get better and be able to function in society,work,etc. That is all well and good for a soldier that gets help once they leave theater,but Rick received very little help once he was sent stateside after he was wounded. (He was sent to Fort Gordon,GA med hold) They basically gave him Valium and maybe once a month therapy for an hour,if it wasn't cancelled. Again, the government was not prepared for the influx of soldiers with mental issues. He dealt with this for 9 months  and didn't start getting real help until the middle of 2006 when he started going to the VA,almost a year after his injury.The PTSD combined with his TBI makes me shake my head that the military is bothering to put him in this program,but I suppose rules are rules (even if they don't make sense-and the military rarely makes sense).

This past Spring,we went to Gilford for a physical and Boston for mental evaluations for the military.This was an update from when he went to the med board at Fort Drum three years ago to see if there was any improvement ,regression,or if things remained the same. We just heard back from them,and they want Rick to go through another physical evaluation-for his back (which has some problems with from back surgery long ago),his knees ( which are now fixed) and for his hearing (which,it was noted,has gotten worse). Why they are concentrating on these three issues is beyond me. The main issues are the mental problems,not the physical ones,at least,now since he has had both his knees replaced.The psychiatric Dr in Boston reaffirmed what others had told us-he can never work in the public realm again. Again, I don't understand the military's reasoning,but considering everything else they put us through (three med boards) we are just dealing with it.

Today he began filling out a form for a service dog so he can be more independent and go to stores,etc.They have great programs for vets that have PTSD/TBI. Right now it's too much for him to go to,say Walmart,by himself. We got as far as the second page and he had to stop. His poor brain was on overload.

I am in two new programs in the VA. The first one is the VA Caregiver Support program for spouses who are caregivers for their veterans. We have a phone group that touches base twice a month,and we have a workbook with a different subject for each phone session. I was asked specifically to join this group from the head of the Poly trauma  (PTSD/TBI)  Unit at the Manchester VA (she used to be Rick's PTSD counselor before Ken).She felt that since I had been going through this for so long,I might be able to offer some insight to newer wives. Though it's a good program,I wish it had been available when I really needed it 6 years ago.Most of it is what I have already dealt with,although there are still ongoing subjects that we continue to  struggle with. This program allows us to  have a counselor come to the house every three months to check in on us to see if there is anything she  can help with,any questions she can answer,etc. Her name is Donna ( easy to remember!) and she is nice. She also brings a PTSD counselor that sits down with Brother B and I to discuss whatever issues may have come up. (Brother B is Rick's secondary caregiver).

The second program is called the SAFE Program-Support and Family Education. This is for members of the Caregiver Support Program. We meet once a month in Manchester,and like the previous program,it has a topic for each meeting.This is a more informative program rather  than a counseling type of meeting. Our first meeting is What Causes Mental Illness. Some other topics include Depression,PTSD and it's impact on the family,Setting Boundaries,Problem solving,Creating a Low Stress Environment,Taking Care of Yourself,Managing Stress,TBI, etc. I can go to whatever topic applies,so I don't have to go every month,though I will probably go to most of them. I am very happy that the VA is now not only looking out for the Vets,but their families as well. PTSD and TBI is not just the soldiers problem,as it affects all members and dynamics of the family.No one should be ashamed to ask for help. Too many veterans are committing suicide. It's so sad and horrible.

If you are a vet,or a family member of vet who needs help,please do not wait !!! Go to your local VA. There is no shame in admitting you need help. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!!!!!!

Have a fabulous day on this Fabulous Planet!