JoJoisms

Step 13

Written By: JoJoisms - Nov• 20•17

Step 13 in our 18 Steps to Getting Out of Survival Mode is stocking up.  Here’s what I wrote in my original article:

“13. Buy extra at the store if you can and go shopping less often

If you can, buy two or three dishwashing detergents, jars of spaghetti sauce or hair spray when you go shopping.  I’ve had too many times were I ran out of something and had to do an emergency run to the grocery store.  Not only is that an extra outing, but it’s done with the stress of having to run out and run back.  Double whammy energy zapper.”

Stocking up on things you need can be a great time saver.  There will be times when you are too overwhelmed, busy, or tired to get things done.  During those times, it’s great to look at your pantry or gas tank and know it can wait if it needs to. Here are some thing to stock up on when you can:

  1. Non perishable food like canned, boxed or packaged goods.
  2. Gas in  your car.  Top the tank off if you find you have time and energy.
  3. Birthday or note cards are great to have when you realize a bit late that a relative’s birthday is coming up.
  4. Stamps just in case you need to mail out a last minute card.
  5. Change.  You never know when you might need to break a $20 bill.
  6. Printer paper and ink, especially if you use a lot of it.
  7. Notebooks and pens. If you are a writer or love to make lists or even just need to write things out to figure out what to do about something, it’s always nice to have a supply of extra notebooks and pens/pencils.
  8. Batteries.  Nothing like getting caught in a black out with no batteries for your flashlights.  Especially the sizes you use most: AAA, AA, and C.
  9. Specialized batteries for things like your mouse, wireless keyboard, and hearing aide if you have one.
  10. Meds.  Make sure you keep track of your meds and order them long enough in advance before you run out.
  11. Wood for the fire place, especially in winter.
  12. Matches, candles, flashlights…

Those are just a few suggestions. Think about things you use the most or would present the most problems if you didn’t have enough.  Make sure to plan ahead and stock up on those items that will allow you to live a bit more stress free.

 

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Step 12

Written By: JoJoisms - Nov• 13•17

Just a few more weeks to go on our 18 Steps to Getting Out of Survival Mode series!  This week is step 12.  Here’s what I said in the article:

“12. Spread out outings

Have a few days when you don’t go anywhere to recoup and regroup.  Don’t try to go too many places in one day.  Even if you aren’t the one driving, it can zap your energy to do the shopping, look for a car, meet up with a friend for dinner and pick up your prescription on the way home.  Ask me how I know.”

If you’re struggling with health issues, you’ll find that going out, running errands, and visiting friends can be draining.  The best tip I have for you on this issue is to spread out your outings.  If you’re like me, you’ve got a bunch of doctor appointments scheduled. Maybe some physical therapy, a lab test, and maybe an ultrasound or two…  

This in and of itself can be draining, but to add food shopping, a department store to buy a gift, and a three hour drive to mom’s for Thanksgiving and you’ve got a recipe for a week in bed if you do it all in one day.

Spread out your outings or consolidate them if you can.  This helps keep the traveling and walking to a minimum.  Here are some ideas for how to do that:

  1. Buy what you need for gifts online.  Amazon is FABULOUS for this!  We use it for birthday and Christmas gifts because we don’t need to go anywhere and they’ll ship it so we don’t need to go to the post office.  They’ll even include a card from you so you don’t need to buy and send a card!
  2. Have family help with the errands.  During the time I’ve been in a cast or boot, I’ve not been able to walk much so my dh and son have been doing the grocery shopping.  (By the way, soon and very soon, Amazon will be able to help with perishables as well!)  This cuts down on the errands/outings I need to have in any given week while my foot is taking its sweet time to heal.
  3. Ask Aunt Alice and Cousin Fred to come to you instead of you having to travel to each of them.  This cuts down on the traveling you need to do and you can even ask them to bring pot luck so you don’t have to prepare as much.
  4. Discuss, if you can, with your family where Thanksgiving or Christmas will be hosted with yours (and possibly other family members with health or financial issues) in order to minimize the traveling for all involved.  Make sure to do this way ahead of time, especially if there is a long distance car ride or plane fares to be included in the decision.
  5. Seek out rides where you can.  I have no family nearby and my church family and friends have moved to other states or are 30-45 minutes away.  So I’ve recently found a ride program that helps people get to their physical therapy appointments for just $5.  Maybe there’s someone willing to ride share with you or maybe you can find something similar in your area for where you need to go.
  6. Work around your main appointments for other outings so your travel is less.  While you are in the area for your doctor’s appointment, you can stop by the grocery store which is on the way home, maybe? If you have enough energy left after that appointment??
  7. Ration your energy you have for outings.  If you know that the Thanksgiving trip will be quite draining, you may want to put off a trip to see your friend until next month.

When you have to ration your energy and time, you need to make the tough decisions on how many outings your body can handle.  Hope that helps as we head into the holidays.  Let me know!

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Step 11

Written By: JoJoisms - Nov• 07•17

Happy November!  We are closing in on the last steps in my series 18 Steps to Getting Out of Survival Mode.  If you haven’t read all of them yet, you can go to the JoJoisms home page and just keep scrolling down til you come to one you’ve not read yet…or when you get to step one, you can read through them in order.  

So far we’ve talked about being flexible, developing a sense of humor, being open to new things, not discounting the silly ideas, not investing too much time or money in the ridiculous.  And then some practical ideas: having your kids help, planning, using a crock pot, scheduling your time, and finding other tools to help.  This week, I’d like to discuss another method to getting things done: Break them up into smaller pieces.  Here’s what I originally wrote about this topic: 

“11. Break up house work

I used to clean my entire house in one day.  I can no longer perform that little feat of physical activity so I break up my housework into short spurts each day Monday through Friday.  I wash clothes on Mondays, dust and clean the bathrooms on Tuesdays, vacuum and do the floors on Wednesdays, clean the kitchen and microwave on Thursdays and do more laundry (sheets and towels) on Fridays.” 

When you are healthy or otherwise not overwhelmed, you may have time to do a task all at once.  However, when you are older, have more responsibilities, are struggling with various trials (or even if you’re a new mom), you will come to dread certain recurring tasks that take up your time and energy.  If you can’t delegate the task to another family member or hire a maid or personal assistant, the only alternative (besides living in piles of dust and germs) is to break them up into smaller pieces and tackle them one or two at a time.  

I’d love to permanently break up with my housework, but my bank account won’t allow it.  However, that’s not the only task I’d like to break up with! How about you? I discovered this lovely little trick many years ago when I started homeschooling.  In order to determine how long a text book would take each day to be on schedule to finish it by semester end, I’d break up the chapters or pages into weeks and then further into days.  There were 18 weeks in a semester so, if I textbook had 18 chapters, that would be one chapter a day.  An average of 20 pages per chapter would mean five pages per day M-F.  The same can be done with any task from housework to home business!

Need to read ten chapters by Friday, but you just can’t concentrate?  Break it down into two chapters a day or even one in the AM and one in the PM.  Have to plan an event?  Break it down into categories: food, invites, favors…and take a day or week (or whatever you have left) to get each one done.  Looking to clean out a room for when company comes? Break up each part of the room (closet, under the bed, floor, desk) and assign it a doable time frame.  The closet may need a week, the floor two days, the desk a day, and under the bed…well…maybe you can get your son to tackle that scary task, eh?

What tasks do you need done soon?  How can you break them down into doable portions?

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Step 10 Getting Out of Survival Mode

Written By: JoJoisms - Oct• 30•17

Step ten in Getting Out of Survival Mode is finding tools that make your life easier.  For me, that was my hair.  I have crazy curly hair, but my dh likes it straight and, frankly, so do I. so I’ve spent almost a lifetime straightening my hair, but as chronic illness, surgeries, and overwhelm collide, I find myself in dire need of tools to help me save time.

Here’s what I originally wrote …

“10. Styler

I bought myself an electric styling brush that has been a life saver.  It straightens and even curls my hair when dry.  So when I wake up, I can simply run the brush through my hair and I’m done in 10-15 minutes as opposed to taking 45-60 minutes blow drying, curling and spraying my hair.”

This is what works for me. Your mileage may vary.  You may need to look for other tools to help you with different things in your life.  Here are just a few ideas.

1. There are tons of techie things that can make our lives easier: iPhones, iPads, computers, computer applications software…  now that I can’t get around very well until my foot heals I’ve been using my iPad instead of my computer in order to write, send my newsletters, and post on social media.

2.  There are also a lot of apps that can help you create whatever you need to with ease.  I’ve installed several apps on my iPad to help it function more like my computer since I can’t get my walker into my office.

3.  One of the most amazing techie items that I found recently is that my iPad comes with a voice recognition software that enables me to write without having to type.  This is a fabulous little invention for people who have arthritis, as I do, but also for people with poor eyesight (as I also have) who are  having a hard time typing or seeing the type-especially on a small screen.  In fact, that is how I’ve written this very blog post.

4.  There are many cooking tools on the market now that make it easier and quicker to cook a nutritious meal.  Most of them are advertised on Infomercials,  but many of them have proven to be of great help to those with chronic illness or other issues.

5.  I’ve also found some other handy tools for hair.  Instead of having to spend quite a lot of time styling your hair you can put it up with many new, inventive, and decorative hair thingies.

There is 2017 and there are many tools and devices that can help people with chronic illness or overwhelm or other issues do the things they need to get done each day with greater ease than ever before.  What’s your favorite?

 

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Step 9 Getting Out of Survival Mode

Written By: JoJoisms - Oct• 23•17

We are up to step nine and here is what I originally wrote in my article, 18 Steps to Getting Out of Survival Mode…

“9. Shower at night

Mornings are usually pretty rushed and I am exhausted when I get up.  Taking a shower at night means I don’t need to do my hair or makeup afterward.  Cuts down on the time.  In the morning I can style and put my makeup on without having to worry about taking a shower. This works for me, though it might not work for everyone.”

Scheduling your time can help in many more areas than just your shower. Here are a few more things that can benefit from scheduling them at a better time.

1. Meals can be easier if you prepare several of them in advance. Cook twice as much on one day and freeze half to use later. Or cook two meals on one day when you have more time and/or energy…or help.

2. Consider when you have more energy. If you’re a morning person, do the brain work or physical labor items in the morning. If you’re a night owl, do them at night.

3. Consider how being rushed zaps your energy.  If doing something in the rush of the morning is stressful, maybe you can do it at night when you aren’t so pressed for time.

4. Schedule smaller bites. Break up house work into sections and schedule the energy zappers at a higher energy time.  If vacuuming zaps you, don’t schedule it on the day you’re running errands.

5. Frequently look at and consult your schedule.  Feel free to say no. Sometimes we feel compelled to help and then pay for it later. If you have an especially difficult week ahead, feel free to NOT add anything else to your schedule that week.

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Step 8

Written By: JoJoisms - Oct• 16•17

Sorry we took an unexpected blog vacation there, but I guess I severely underestimated my recovery time from my fifth surgery.  I thought since it was on my foot, that I’d just be hobbling around on crutches, but it seems that even with the walker, my loose ligaments chronic issue caused me a lot of pain in my hands/wrists such that hobbling travel between my couch and my desk was both slow and painful.  I’m currently wearing wrist braces so I hope I have that under control and that I won’t need surgery on my wrists as I did my foot.

Getting back to my in depth series on getting out of survival mode, I had already shared a couple of practical ideas: #6. Have your kids help and #7. Plan. Coming in at #8. The crock pot is your friend!

Here’s what I wrote in my short article:

“The crock pot is my dearest friend.  I love being able to throw things in there in the morning and have dinner ready by the time the family needs to eat. Cuts down on that frantic time from 3-4pm when I used to run around the house trying to find the one ingredient I needed and then looking online for a suitable substitute I happened to have in my pantry.”

Now that I’m dealing with not being able to get into my kitchen much less carry things while on a walker, I’m invoking #6 and #7 as well as my crock pot.  Having your kids help can be difficult even if they are old enough because they have other things to do and the crock pot makes that even easier.

My poor son is in the middle of studying for his SAT and SAT subject tests as I’m recuperating from my latest surgery so he’s pretty busy.  Aside from all the studying, he’s having to make me breakfast and lunch, help with the laundry, cleaning the house, and…making dinner.  To make things easier for all of us, we’ve employed my crock pot full time.

No matter your diet restrictions, there are crock pot recipes out there! We were vegan for about two months so I know there are crock pot vegan recipes.  Just Google what you want and you’ll find some!

Crock pots are easy to use because you just throw all the ingredients into the pot in the morning, turn it on, and viola!  Dinner is ready for whenever you set it. It stays warm for a few hours afterward so it’s hot whenever the family strolls in.

What I do to make it even easier:

  1. I search for a few recipes a week.
  2. Make enough of each so that we have left overs at least once or twice during the week.
  3. I make one new dish on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday.
  4. We have left overs from the Monday/Tuesday meals on Wednesday, Friday, and from Thursday on Saturday and Sunday.
  5. Some of the recipes we do are soups, some are stews, and some are other dinners.

The other great thing about crock pot recipes is that you can:

  1. Cook beans along with the meal.
  2. Use left overs as ingredients you’d otherwise throw out.
  3. Easily adapt other recipes to the crock pot without much fuss.

The crock pot is my best friend especially during this last surgery bout because it’s kept us fed at a minimum of time and effort expenditure.

 

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Step 7: Getting out of Survival Mode

Written By: JoJoisms - Sep• 25•17

The next step in getting out of Survival Mode is another practical idea: Planning.  Here’s what I wrote in my first article:

“7. Plan

Dinners were always my afternoon problem.  Planning out your menu for the week does help because you don’t need to think much about what to make, which I find takes the most amount of time.  Brain fog kicks in and has me running around the kitchen trying to remember what I’m making, much less find all the ingredients. Keep things with you in your purse that you might need when you are out.  If you are on a special diet, keep some approved snacks in your purse in case you find yourself in the middle of nowhere and you need to eat.  A little planning goes a long way.”

Planning is the best way to save yourself time, money, and frustration.  Plan out whatever you can: meals, housework, projects, appointments, etc.  The more you can plan for, the less you’ll need to figure out last minute.

Life happens and so you’ll always have stuff that will come up last minute that you’ll have to work in and fly by the seat of your pants.  Don’t worry, but if you remember step one is to be flexible, you’ll be able to work that in to your plans.  The problems only intensify if you don’t plan out what you can ahead of time and then have to add in something else on top of that.  So…

Plan your meals out in advance for the week if you can.  Make sure you have those in mind when you go to the grocery store that week.  Cook up the week’s dinners in advance if you can on a weekend when family can help you.

Plan out your schedule so you don’t forget things.  I love my iPhone calendar.  I put all my dr appointments, kids’ events, and then reminders for things I’ll probably forget unless my phone dings and tells me (like to take my new meds or a dr appointment).  In addition to putting in what I need to do on my calendar/reminders, I also put in the address and, if possible, the directions.  That way I’m not scrambling last minute to find the doctor’s address.  I even have a wallet with directions to all the places I frequent so brain fog doesn’t set in and I have a panic attack trying to remember how to get to a place I’ve been to three times in the last year and get it confused with the six other doctor’s locations I’ve been to in between.

Plan out whatever you can ahead of time, when you have the time, so that you have at least those things ready to go.  Trust me. There will be plenty of other things that will pop up out of nowhere that can throw you back into Survival Mode where you will need to remember to be flexible.  Planning is just a way to help you avoid Survival Mode as much as is humanly possible.

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Step Six: Getting out of Survival Mode

Written By: JoJoisms - Sep• 18•17

Okay, we’ve had a week break from our series on Getting out of Survival Mode so let’s recap.  Step one was to Be Flexible. Step two was to Develop a Sense of Humor. Step three was to Be Open to New Things.  Step four was Don’t Discount the Silly Ideas.  Step five was Don’t Invest Too Much Time or Money on the Ridiculous.

Step six begins our practical ideas section and we start with Have Your Kids Help.  Here’s what I wrote in my original article:

“The Practical Ideas:

6. Have your kids help

Kids can be a big help to you and, generally, they LOVE helping mom out. They feel special and a feeling of accomplishment to help.  Little kids can get you a glass of water or bring you the laundry basket, or set the table.  Older kids can help the younger kids, do some of the housework, chores or even make dinner.  Teenagers can run errands, if they drive.”

There are really three parts to having your kids help when your family is in trial or you are struggling with chronic illness.

1) Children can and, in many cases, should help around the house and helping a loved one will teach them skills and give them a heart for others.

Having your children help around the house or with a loved one who is struggling with something is NOT child abuse as many in today’s society will try to tell you.  Back in the 1800’s that’s just how life was.  Everyone in the family had chores and most children grew up helping out with housework, field work (farming), and with the other children.  Just watch Little House on the Prairie and you’ll see little teens, Mary and Laura Ingalls, who stayed at home while their parents were away.  Most women got married and had children of their own at a very young age and nothing much was thought about it at the time.  My grandfather had to quit school in the 8th grade to go to work and help support his family.  It’s only recently when society began giving cart blanch to kids giving them nothing whatever to do besides going to school and playing with their friends.

Having your kids help around the house (assuming it means giving them age appropriate tasks with adequate direction and guidance) can actually be very beneficial for them.  They will learn how to do things for themselves so that, when they are adults, they will have a firm grasp on the life skills they’ll need to get along on their own in the world.

2) Kids should still have a chance to be kids so there is a danger in giving them too much to do or too much responsibility at a young age.

The danger comes in when children are given too much responsibility too soon.  Each child is different so each parent will have to decide what is age appropriate and what is enough responsibility for each of their children.  However, unless you are abusing your children by making them do what you can do for yourself or expecting them to do so much that they are not able to do their school work or are feeling pressure to carry more of the family responsibilities than they can reasonably do, this is not something you need to worry about.

I suggest that you discuss this with your children periodically to check in with them. See if they feel a burden or if they need to talk about their role or concerns about the family.  Sometimes there is no other choice, but other times there might be other options you may discover by discussing it with the entire family.  Even if there are no other options, just talking about it as a family can help to ease the burdens you all feel.

3) The battle inside you as you struggle with whatever trial you are in will frustrate you and make you feel guilty if you don’t get set rules and boundaries ahead of time.

My advice, after having decades of chronic illness and issues, is to decide what each family member should do, discussing it as a family and gaining support from each member, revisiting these responsibilities often as the kids get older or as your issues change, and then meeting those expectations as a family.

Now, that being said, let me say this.  Something just don’t need to be done. Some things can be made optional.  Some things will have to wait.  If you are not able to get to the laundry and cleaning the house, you can choose to do the laundry so everyone has clean clothes.  Let the housework slide for that week. Unless House and Garden are coming to take pictures of your home, what harm will it do to leave the dusting for a week?

Prioritizing the tasks can help you meet the needs of the household without having to stress or force a task that nobody is up to.  Some things just don’t really need to get done.  It’s better, sometimes, just to spend time with the family in a house that isn’t ready for the white glove test than to stress about getting the work done.

Either way, giving responsibility to your children can be good for them as well as for you.  Just make sure you open the lines of communication and discuss what needs to be done as opposed to what you’d really like to have done.  Then just have each member do what they can and sit back and enjoy what that brings to your family.

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Do you scar easily…on the inside?

Written By: JoJoisms - Sep• 11•17

We interrupt the 18 Steps to Getting Out of Survival Mode to bring you this important message.

I’ve had a lot of surgeries, especially recently, so when I was looking at one of my scars the other day, I remembered my poor surgeon who was visibly uncomfortable that, for all the care she took to keep my parathryoid scar from looking like someone slit my throat, it looks like someone slit my throat. LOL  They usually turn dark purple (not a bad color mind you!), thicken, and rise to a nice mountain ridge.

I’ve always been that way.  You’ll never believe where/when I got this one.  It was when I was a teenager and I was having my first cyst removed from my left wrist.  In those days, they tested you to see how long it took you to stop bleeding before the surgery was done.  They did it with a tape that had two tacks on it.  It just lightly poked through the skin.  Well, almost 40 yrs later, I still have the scar!  Crazy, huh?

As I was in the shower the other day (That’s where I do my best thinking.  I think the hot water stimulates the brain cells.), it occurred to me that, while I do scar very easily on the outside, I don’t scar very easily on the inside.  Here’s what I mean.

When I encounter someone who hurts my feelings, I usually give them the benefit of the doubt.  I figure they didn’t mean to be hurtful or they didn’t realize they were being rude or they are going through something that is clouding their thoughts…so I cut them some slack and decide not to be offended.  Even if I know the person meant to be mean or cruel, I usually look for the reasons behind why they might be this way.  When my husband was fired without cause, I could see how the owner of the company might be paranoid and harsh due to his difficult family situation…so I chose to forgive and move on.

It struck me that I might be stuck with the scars on the outside of my body all the rest of my days, but I can choose to move past any scars on the inside of my soul.  I think this is something society has forgotten in recent years.  Everyone, these days, seems to be offended by everything!  It’s getting so you can’t say hello anymore without someone taking offense.

If you’re going through hard times, trials, difficulties, dark days, you have enough to deal with.  You don’t need to pile more on top like whipped cream and a cherry.  Yes, I’ve had people think I’m making a mountain out of a difficult molehill.  Yes, I’ve had people say unkind things to me because they don’t understand.  No, I don’t think we should necessarily frequent their company while we are still deep in trial and in need of support or comfort.  But, yes, I do think we can still find it in us to let things slide, pick our battles, choose to forgive, and/or just move on.  While it might very well save a friendship, it will save you added difficulties!

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I’m Living on Bonus Time

Written By: JoJoisms - Sep• 08•17

It’s my birthday today!  I’m 55.  On the one hand, it seems too soon for me to feel 55, but on the other hand, I could have been denied the opportunity.  If you’ve read my Miracle Story, you know that it’s entirely possible that I would have never made it to see my 55th birthday.  No matter what chronic health issues or other issues I face now, I can look to that and feel blessed that I had the extra time to feel however I feel about that issue.  It got me thinking…

You know that old saying, “I’m living on borrowed time?”  I was thinking the other day that I’m living on Bonus Time.  There comes a time in some people’s lives when they are keenly aware of being given extra time here on this earth.  You may not be aware that God saved you from being killed in a car wreck by diverting your traffic to a different street.  You may not be aware that you narrowly missed a gun fight at the OK Morale, but you are keenly aware of the bonus time God has given to you when you hear several of your doctors all in awe of the fact that they found a rare and aggressive cancer in its infancy when most women die because it’s found too late to help them.

Living on Borrowed Time means to me that you have a short time left, but Living on Bonus Time means I have no idea how long I have on this earth just like anyone else.  But it does make me more likely to want to do more with whatever time I have left than most people might.

For all of you who have escaped a death sentence, you know how blessed you are and I’m willing to bet that you don’t want to waste the time you’ve been granted.  But for all the rest of you out there, I’m going to challenge you.  Like me, you have no idea how much time you have left.  You could live another 50 years or you could step off a curb tomorrow into oncoming traffic and it’s all over.

What are you doing to do with whatever time YOU have left?

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