And The Winners Are

2015 June 15
by Jenny

I am excited to announce the winners of Cranky Fibro Girl’s 10th Birthday Blog Contest!

Winners of the Amazon Gift Cards are:

1. Vania

2. Vanessa

3. Eileen

Winner of the coaching package with Lynne:

Shelley

Answers to the blog quiz:

a. If asked, do I always order Pepsi or Coke? Coke

b. I hate going outside, because I am afraid of the Imaginary _____Snakes_____.

c. What is Mr. Cranky Fibro Girl’s profession? engineer

d. Before I got sick I had my own business as a ______Spanish Tutor____.

e. I am obsessed with the number ______8____.

Congratulations, and thank you to everyone who participated!

Ten Years

2015 June 12
by Jenny

Ten years ago today, I wrote this:

“Welcome To My New Blog

For a long time now I have been intrigued by the idea of blogs, and I am excited that I finally have one of my own. I love the freedom of being able to get my thoughts and ideas out to lots of people so easily . I love having a space that gives people a chance to experience who I am when they visit my website. Most of all, I love being able to share all the fun that I have by just being me and being here in this life.

I found a great quote by John D. MacDonald that really sums up my approach to life. He says, “My purpose is to entertain myself first and other people secondly.” After that, everything else just takes care of itself.”

And now, here we are all these years later.

I’d love to have a beautiful, carefully crafted post that  humorously touches on the highlights of each of these ten years, and then mindfully considers my hopes and dreams for the next.

But here’s what I have instead:

-A cat who will not get off of my keyboard as I write, despite the eleventy billion other places she could be sitting right now

-2 instances (that I know of) of disgusting cat things I have to clean up off of my office floor

-only having enough energy to either shave my legs OR wash my hair, but not both

-a narrow escape from collapsing on the grocery store in a despairing, tearful heap because there were too many choices for Father’s Day cards, and because they no longer carry Diet Fanta Orange

-infernal, interminable road construction directly outside my neighborhood, which makes it impossible to turn left, which makes it impossible to get to the other grocery store that does sell Diet Fanta Orange

-a mind that won’t shut up about how I am a failure as a blogger because, really, this is what you’re writing about today?

-and fibro pain that is a Level 7 and rising

However, in the grand tradition of my Both/And Life, I also have:

-cats who like to hang out with me wherever I am

-dinner cooking in the crockpot

-a fun day spent shopping with my neighbor and honorary niece and nephew

-new art supplies, new ink for my printer and gas in my car

-episodes of a newly discovered show waiting for me on my DVR

-wonderfully scented bath salts

-lots of Diet Code Red Mountain Dew

-and a husband who will be home in a few hours after a week-long business trip

But most importantly, although it was touch and go at times, I still have my sense of humor. Which tells me that there are lots more stories waiting to be written here.

So thank you, everyone, for taking this ride with me over this past decade. And here’s to the adventures that are still to come.

***

Remember that you can still leave a comment up until midnight tonight (Eastern Time) to be entered in the prize drawing. Just let me know where you’re from and how long you’ve been reading CFG, and you’ll be entered to win one of three $25.00 Amazon Gift Cards and a special coaching package offer from my partner-in-crime, Lynne Morrell.

 

10th Blog Birthday Celebration Week Day 4: But Wait-There’s More!

2015 June 11
by Jenny

If you’ve hung out here for any length of time, you have heard me talk about Lynne and all the work we do together. Lynne is a Personal Life Coach and Certified EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) Practitioner. But as we’ve been working together now for 11 years, she has become so much more for me-wise older sister, mentor, the one who kicks me in the pants when I need it, and irreverent co-conspirator. So I am delighted to announce that she has generously contributed a new prize to our Birthday Drawing. She is donating a coaching package of 3 sessions-her regular free introductory session (which she offers to anyone who would like to get a taste of what it’s like to work with her) and 2 additional sessions (value of $190.00). As a Life coach and Certified EFT Practitioner Lynne works with:

  • People who can feel life’s possibilities right in front of them but also feel like they are being held back by the same old limiting thoughts and beliefs.
  • People who are struggling with childhood experiences, hereditary issues, aspects in their conscious awareness or cellular awareness – where revisiting the issues doesn’t seem to help – but they know that they need to get past these things in order live their best life.
  • People dealing with illness or chronic illness (whether in their own lives or a loved one’s life) who want to find a gentler way of managing the chaos and stress this puts on their lives.
  • People who want to transform their relationship with their body
  • People who want a more connected experience with their own spirituality but they just can’t stomach all of the “airy-fairy” stuff that asks them to ignore the realities of daily life.
  • Parents who feel like they are locked in a battle with their kids and their kids are winning
  • People who want to have healthy and thriving relationships

As Lynne and I have been working together for so long, you know I can’t recommend her highly enough. So go check out her website, and see if she might be a right fit for you!

10th Blog Birthday Celebration Week: Day Two

2015 June 9
by Jenny

Today I want to celebrate you-all you lovely people who let me know that I’m not alone in my struggles with this illness.

So I’m adding a bonus opportunity for you to win one of the $25 Amazon Gift Cards we’re giving away.

Just leave a comment on this post telling me where you’re from and about how long you’ve been a reader, and you’ll be entered into the drawing.

And check back tomorrow for another special giveaway!

For Better, For Worse, For Misunderstandings Caused By The Limitations Of Modern Technology

2015 June 8
by Jenny

The other day my dad received the following text message from my mom after he asked if she was still tied up by obligations or was free to meet up for lunch:

“We’re finished. On my way to the bank.”

My dad’s response: ” If we hadn’t been married for 49 years, we’d be having an entirely different conversation right now.”

*****

Have you sent in your entry for Cranky Fibro Girl’s 10th Birthday Contest? Go here for all the details, and get your entries in by midnight (Eastern Time) on Friday, June 12th.

Celebrate Good Times-Come On!

2015 June 3
by Jenny

So, we’re coming up on a big day here in Cranky Fibro Girl Land, namely, the 10th (TENTH!!) birthday of my blog.

To celebrate I’ve decided to host a little giveaway, and here are all the details:

1. I’ve put together a tiny quiz-a sort of treasure hunt through the archives.

a. If asked, do I always order Pepsi or Coke?

b. I hate going outside, because I am afraid of the Imaginary __________.

c. What is Mr. Cranky Fibro Girl’s profession?

d. Before I got sick I had my own business as a __________.

e. I am obsessed with the number __________.

2. Once you have your answers, email them to me at birthday@crankyfibrogirl.com

3. The contest closes at midnight Eastern Time on Friday June 12, 2015.

4. Each person who answers all 5 questions correctly will receive 1 entry into a drawing for one of 3 $25.00 Amazon Gift Cards (only 1 entry per person, total).

5. Over the weekend Mr. Cranky Fibro Girl will perform his special computer magic and randomly generate the 3 winners.

6. Winners will be announced on Monday, June 15th, 2015.

Happy Hunting!

 

Good Words

2015 May 29
by Jenny

The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.

-Joseph Campbell

On The Practice Of Good Etiquette

2015 May 14
by Jenny

IMG_0952

Our tablecloth is very ladylike, always demurely crossing its legs when in public.

So Today Is Fibromyalgia Awareness Day

2015 May 12
by Jenny

superwoman tshirt

Here is the post I wrote for last year’s Fibromyalgia Awareness Day. I’m re-posting it as sort of a refresher course for myself, to help me remember these strategies that I too often forget.

(Originally published 5/12/2014)

Today is National Fibromyalgia Awareness Day.

I’m never really sure what to do on this day, because of course I’m aware of fibromyalgia in every single moment in which I am conscious. Plus, I’ve been living with this illness for 6 1/2 years now, so everyone I interact with on a regular basis, whether in person or online, is aware of it as well. It’s also regularly featured on television through the commercial for the drug Lyrica, so it’s been years since I’ve met anyone who doesn’t have at least some idea of what this illness entails.

When I first got sick, all I could see for a very long time was my own suffering. I hurt, and so I wanted everyone else to hurt too. In that place, I wanted people to be aware of how victimized and betrayed I felt, and how unfair  it was (to my mind, at least) that they got to continue on with their healthy, happy lives while I had to watch so many parts of my life disappear.

After a couple of years or so I was able to move up the emotional scale just a bit, from powerlessness and despair up to anger. Anger felt much better than hopelessness and grief, and it was from this place that Cranky Fibro Girl was born.  Here I wanted the world to be aware of my attitude, edginess, and self-righteous wrath. I was always spoiling for a fight, and always on the lookout for something-or someone-to bash up against so I could unleash the full fury of my wrath.

But eventually my anger ran out. It is very exhausting to be furious all the time, and after about 3 years I finally realized that being mad was not making one single bit of difference in anything related to my illness. I finally got that fibromyalgia isn’t personal-it just is. So I could be angry if I wanted to, but I only had a limited amount of time and energy, and I was starting to wonder if there were other ways I wanted to spend them. At this point my desire for awareness started to shift inward, to the relationship between me and me. I finally had to acknowledge that I would not be able to bend fibromyalgia to my will, so given that, how did I want to live?

After about five years, give or take, my symptoms stabilized a bit. I’d learned enough about how fibro affected me, my body, and my capacity to be able to venture out in the world a little. From here I’ve been focusing my awareness on how to create a happy, thriving, everyday life while also living with chronic pain and illness. So it is from this place that I offer a few of the lessons I’ve learned over these past few years of being ill.

1. Pain is hard. It’s ground me down. It’s aged me. It’s carved itself  in my bones, and chiseled itself across my face. It can literally cause me to go out of my mind, because when it gets high enough it cuts me off from my higher brain functions and forces me to hunker down in survival mode. It can steal all my memories of pain-free days, and any hope that eventually it too will pass. Therefore, the most important thing I can do to create a good life for myself is to manage my pain.

2. I am the one who makes meaning out of this illness. I am the one who experiences life in this body. I am the one who thinks with this mind. I am the one who navigates through my days, so I am the only one who can sift through all that information and decide what it means for me. No one is suddenly going to appear with all the answers for me, and it’s my responsibility to decide if that will help me or hinder me in how I live my life.

3. Healing does not necessarily mean being symptom-free. OH, how long it’s taken me to stop fighting that one. On the one hand I hate it, because I am SO OVER this pain. But on the other hand, it means I don’t have to wait for some magical point in the future-that may never come-in order to live, and to even live well. Not that this is an easy thing to do.

Which leads me to my next point, which is that

4. Life is Both/And, not Either/Or. At first I fought this idea as well, because -of course-I wanted healing to mean the complete absence of fibromyalgia. I was desperately attached to a very specific outcome. But it never came, and it’s entirely possible that it never will in my lifetime. So eventually I got tired of the suffering this rigidity was causing me, and luckily, this was suffering I could do something about. When I move away from the demands that All-or-Nothing thinking places on life, the possibilities for having a “good” day are, if not endless, still pretty darn high.

In practice, it might look like this:

“My pain was pretty high when I woke up this morning, AND I ordered a fun new book for my Kindle.”

“I was stuck inside the house again today, AND I have a new episode of ‘Blue Bloods’ to watch on TV.”

“I’ve had to take a lot of pain medicine today, AND I’ve been able to keep the windows open because the weather is gorgeous today.”

5. This is a marathon, not a sprint, and marathons are hard. I’m still working on this one. A LOT. I like beginnings, and I like ends, but middles are really tricky for me. And chronic illness means lots of time spent in the middle of things-pain, fatigue, boredom, etc.

6. Sometimes the best I can do is to help myself feel just a little more comfortable in a given moment, because “better” is just too far away. Sometimes chronic pain is excruciating and unbearable. And you have to bear it. And it is more than can be borne. (And just so that you know, that whole, “You’ll never be given more than you can bear” is kind of a bunch of hooey. Just saying.)When I am here, “feeling better” is in a completely different universe, and one that is just too far away for me to get to at that time. So instead I focus on what could help me feel a little more comfortable: pain medicine, a cold soda, a TV show, a bath, a book. Better is not always accessible, but comfort is.

7. Despite what my mind tries to tell me, this really isn’t my fault. I’m not that powerful.

8. Chronic pain and illness are not intellectual concepts to be grasped; they are experiential realities. Many people ask me what it’s like to have fibromyalgia, and even though I’m a writer and live for words,  I know that words can’t really make other people understand what I’m going through. They only way to understand illness is to be ill yourself, and I would never wish that on anyone, except  for maybe just a few minutes so they can really get how deeply I suffer and how strong I really am. I can’t explain it, you won’t get it, and that’s OK.

Here’s to another year of living well.

Raise A Glass With Me…Or Perhaps A Pill Bottle?

2015 May 11
by Jenny
fibromyalgia best blogs badge
Healthline

Last week I found out that, for the third time in the past four years, I made the list of Healthline.com’s Best Fibromyalgia Blogs.

This really means a lot to me, because after 10 years of blogging, half of those as Cranky Fibro Girl, I sometimes wonder if I have anything meaningful or helpful left to say about living with this illness. But it seems that there are still things left for me to do here, since every time I start wondering whether or not it’s time to pack it in I get an email like this, or I get a sweet comment from one of you.

I so appreciate every one of you who makes up this community here. Without you I wouldn’t be able to share my stories, or have this opportunity to channel at least a few parts of this experience into something good.

We’re not a chatty community-I see us more as gathering on the verandah of a large manor house (perhaps like one of those large English estates that they turned into convalescent homes during the two World Wars), sitting in rocking chairs or comfy chaise lounges, fanning ourselves and drinking cool, refreshing drinks as we share gentle conversation. And I love that. I feel each one of you here, comments or not, and since I am not very good at responding to all the lovely comments I do receive, I think I shall declare Blanket Comment Amnesty for all of us, so we only do what feels inspired.

So here’s to another year together. May it be gentle and kind. And when it’s not, may we find a soft, soothing place to land when we’re in the middle of the hard.

Blessings to all,

Jenny