Author: OpINSPIRATION

Art and The Healing Hats

Last Christmas, I received a knitting loom kit.  I made my first hat the next day.  Just for fun, I posted it on Facebook.  Miraculously, someone posted a comment asking if they could order a hat.  In short, that’s how InspiraWear was born and it has been a blessing in so many ways,.

Arts ‘n’ Crafts always frustrated me as a kid.  The projects I attempted didn’t come out as well as I wanted or expected, so I never felt very artistic, although I always wished I was.

A few years ago, I had a conversation with a colleague who is a painter.  I was complimenting her work and said I wished I was an artist.  She looked at me and said, “You are.”

I looked back at her quizzically, so she went on to explain,”You are a writer and a web designer.  Anytime you write a poem or a story or create a website, you are putting art out into the world.  Therefore, you are an artist.”

I loved her reasoning and, while it took me a while to feel like I deserved to be called an artist, I now own it and it makes me so happy.

When I took up crocheting and looming, that added another dimension to my creativity.  All of these handcrafted items are art.  Each piece I create brings about ideas for new items and my clients have also inspired all sorts of color combinations and styles.  The loomed hats lead to shawls and scarves.  Little crocheted hearts lead to washcloths, pot holders and soap scrubbies.  The options are endless and so inspiring.

Looming and crocheting has also been vital to my healing.

From a practical perspective, it has helped pay the bills, especially my health insurance deductible and the medical bills that insurance does not cover.  Therefore, it has relieved financial stress so I can concentrate on healing.

It has also kept me occupied.  Translation:  I am never bored, so it’s kept me from going crazy while on bed rest.

As an added bonus, I have found looming to be particularly healing.  Like meditation, it calms me and I sleep more soundly.  I also think better.  Often, while I am looming, I am able to come up with solutions to various work and life issues.

With winter around the corner, “hat season” is upon us and I would love to make a hat, or any of my handcrafted items, just for you.  To place your custom order, you can email me at andrea@operationinspiration.com or, if you are on Facebook or Facebook Messenger, feel free to comment on my InspiraWear posts or private message me.

Artistically yours,
Andrea
aka InspiraGirl

InspiraWear:  You never know where great ideas are going to come from. This one started with a loom kit from Michael’s.

 

 

Managing the Itty Bitty Shitty Committee

Stress has been weighing me down this week.

On Monday morning, two unfortunate events occurred within 10 minutes of each other.  First, a tree came down across our driveway.  Then, my laptop conked out.  So, I turned on my cell phone, logged onto Facebook and reached out to you, InspiraGang, and you helped tremendously.

First, my friend and colleague Chuck Hendershot, owner of Feel @Home Realty, came over and chopped up the tree and he called Pablo Chica, owner of Sunflower Landscaping, to take away the cut logs.  Problem solved.

For the laptop, I posted on two Facebook group pages, asking for recommendations for a reputable, reasonably priced, local IT person.  Knowledgeable and kind Chris D’Amato showed up on my doorstep on Tuesday evening and transferred my files to my mom’s laptop until I can get a new laptop.  If you need an IT person, I can put you in touch with him.

It was stressful not being able to get computer work done for a couple of days, but I managed by filling up the time knitting, crocheting and cleaning up a lot of paper work.  I hate that last task, but it did feel good to get it done.

Now, I am back on-line, but the stress continued.

Earlier this year, I entered into an agreement to barter services with a colleague.  This morning, he welched on the agreement and sent me a bill.  Now, I am faced with initiating an uncomfortable conversation.  If someone is going to dishonor you and your business agreement and you can’t resolve the issue, it’s probably best to break ties.  While I will speak up for what is ethically right, it’s still upsetting that the business relationship may end.

In addition to the bill from my colleague, I also received a rather large medical bill in error.  So, tomorrow I have to call the billing department at the physician’s office and the insurance company to resolve the issue.

There is an expression that my friend Kathy uses for the worrisome thoughts that takes up space in one’s brain:  The Itty Bitty Shitty Committee.  This week, my IBSC was working overtime to stress me out.

Enter my friend and yoga/meditation teacher, Linda Metcalfe.  Linda is one of the deacons at my church.  She began visiting me  when I went on bed rest last year and she started teaching me yoga at our first meeting.  It was wonderful.  We have been having regular yoga and meditation sessions ever since and she and they have been vital to my healing.  The breathing exercises alone have gotten me through nerve-wracking wound check-ups.

I could not wait until Linda’s visit today because I knew it would help and it did.  Minutes into the session, I was gifted with clarity on how to handle the erroneous medical bill and the difficult conversation with my colleague.

While I can practice yoga and meditation on my own, there’s nothing like practicing with a trusted and caring friend.  It helps me think through problems with amazing clarity and it’s one of the best ways I know to manage stress and maintain one’s peace.

If you want to learn yoga and meditation with a certified, experienced instructor, I highly recommend Linda Metcalfe.  She can be reached at lntmecalfe@gmail.com or (908)256-6879.

How do you manage your stress?  Please share in the comments below.

Namaste, InspiraGang,
Andrea
aka InspiraGirl

 

I AM HEALING: Part Deux

At this past Monday’s wound healing check-up, the doctor declared my wound healed … again.  When he declared it healed a few weeks ago, he stopped the stem cell treatment after the seventh application with three more available treatments to go. I was uneasy about that decision—so much so that when I shared the news on social media, I called it a “cautious celebration.”  My mind-body-spirit connection kicked in and, even though I wanted to celebrate, I knew down deep that the wound was not yet healed.

The following week, the wound opened up slightly.  So, I insisted on following through with the last three applications.

The tenth treatment was applied this past Monday and, based on how well the treatments are working so far, the wound should look even better at next Monday’s check-up.  Then, the doctor will probably advise me to stay on bed rest for another three weeks after the treatments are complete to ensure the wound stays healed.

Always thinking ahead, I asked the rep from the company that provided the stem cell treatment if additional applications can be made available, just in case.  He said we can “re-evaluate”, if necessary.  It’s good to keep your options open.

I chose to heal as naturally as possible and I want this treatment to stick.  There is no reason to doubt that it will.  Yet, sometimes the doubts creep into my brain.

Even when it looks looks like we will experience a positive outcome, why do we often fixate on that one negative thought?  As Julia Roberts’ Vivian says in Pretty Woman, “The bad stuff is easier to believe.”  While that can feel true it doesn’t have to be true.

Whenever I feel myself going negative, I focus on the positive in many ways:

  • I journal, starting with daily prayers and affirmations.
  • I exercise, including weights, stretchy bands and yoga.
  • I meditate.
  • I knit and crochet, which is another form of meditation to me.  Anyone want a handmade item from InspiraWear? 😉
  • I engage with the people around me, often looking for who I can help and inspire.  You would be amazed how quickly negativity dissolves when you focus on helping others.
  • I connect with you, my InspiraGang, on social media. (I am about to do a Facebook Live after I post this latest blog entry.)

When I started writing this blog entry, I was feeling the fear and the non-healing negative thoughts permeate my brain. But I knew that confronting those feelings by blogging about them would dissolve the fear and chase the negativity away, AND IT DID!

I hope that this blog is helping you as much as it is helping me.  Please comment below to let me know.

Enjoy the gorgeous autumn weather!

Andrea
aka InspiraGirl

Connecting the Dots to Awareness

I got on the scale on Monday and saw that I gained a pound.  I was relieved because it was only one pound.  It was no big deal, but I knew that gaining one pound could easily lead to packing on more weight if I let it happen.

I had noticed changes in my body and, before things got out of hand, I insisted on getting weighed.  Great decision.  Facing one extra pound is so much better than facing fifty.  Looking at the food log I keep each day on my phone, I had been eating more sandwiches lately.  Pumpernickel and rye bread exclusively, but still.  So, it’s time to cut back a bit on the sandwiches.

The old me would have delayed getting on the scale, rationalizing that I would lose the weight first and then get weighed.  Instead, I gained more weight and put off getting weighed again and again and again.  I was ashamed of my weight gain and afraid to face it.

Now, at the age of 51, having lost the weight and feeling the healthiest I’ve ever felt—physically, psychologically, emotionally and spiritually—I don’t want to go back to feeling unhealthy and ashamed.  It’s amazing how the mind shifts once you discover what life is like on “the other side.”

It’s even more amazing how one healthy change leads to others, such as …

Once I moved out of the cave (i.e. the basement room I lived in while the upstairs was being renovated last year), I made sure the satellite TV box in my bedroom was moved into the cave so I would not fall back into the habit of having the TV on all the time.

From time to time, I still find myself getting sucked into the “YouTube vortex” to satisfy my video craving.  But now, I recognize when the videos I am watching start to depress me or numb my brain.  So I either watch crocheting and knitting videos that teach me how to make new handicrafts or I shut down YouTube completely.  If I really need some media, I turn on an audio podcast and pick up a crochet or knitting project so I am being productive.

These changes are helping me sleep better, think better, function better, FEEL BETTER.

It’s all about awareness:  My brain is finally connecting the dots to how the rest of my body feels based on the choices I make.

Oh!  Before I close this week’s blog post, I’ll share with you how I get weighed.  There used to be a sitting scale for people who use wheelchairs at Atlantic Rehabilitation in Morristown, NJ.  When I discovered the sitting scale was no longer there, my friend Lisa suggested I wheel my chair right onto the the scale in the reception area at Bernardsville Animal Hospital.  So, thanks to Lisa and the kind folks at BAH, I am getting weighed on a regular basis, right along with your pets!

Until next week, InspiraGang!

Andrea
aka InspiraGirl

Start Before You’re Ready

This is my eighth InspiraBlog entry. When I re-launched the blog, I made the decision to post a new entry each Wednesday.  Sometimes, I don’t post until the afternoon or evening.  But, so far, I’ve kept to the scheduled day.

I have made attempts to start blogs before and, around the third week, I missed my deadline by a day. The following week, I let the deadline slip by two or three days. Then, I only posted once a month and not on a consistent day. Finally, I ended up feeling lousy about myself and stopped blogging altogether because I’d lost my steam and I figured I’d lost my audience.

So why resurrect the blog?  Because I enjoy writing and I want to use my blog to help people, especially since I have so much to share about the experiences, realizations and lessons from this past year of bed rest and healing.

I was scared to do it.  Will people read it? Will it resonate with with my audience? Will they stick with it from week to week?

I have a small audience, but I know growing an audience takes time, so I remain committed.

For now, having a small audience is a good thing.  It gives me time to work out the kinks  … if need be, change the day and time I post based on when the blog stats show I am reaching the widest audience, find out which topics are resonating with people and focus on those areas (and weed out the topics that don’t resonate) based on the readers’ comments.  It also gives me time to increase my confidence.  I keep my blog posts in the draft folder until the very last moment and it takes me and a lot of guts, and sometimes hours, to press the PUBLISH button.  It does get easier–that is, less nerve-wracking–with each blog entry I share with you.

Before I re-launched the blog, I kept telling myself I wasn’t ready.  But that was my fear talking and I can tell you that the fear has significantly decreased in the past month and a half.  So perhaps this blog should be titled Start While You’re Still Scared Because the Fear Will Disappear.

Do you have a fear you want to overcome or a start before you’re ready experience to share?  Also, what topics do you want to read about in future blog entries?  Please post in the comments below.

Thanks for reading, InspiraGang!  See you next week!

Andrea
aka InspiraGirl

Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda … Yada, Yada, Yada

Yesterday was 9/11. I also had a wound check-up scheduled.  On the way to the appointment, we passed Heartworks House, where the memorial ceremony was taking place.  Knowing that I had to take care of my health, I still didn’t want to be going to the doctor.  On this day of all days, I wanted to be at that memorial supporting my friends.  Thankfully, I had the Heartworks meeting to look forward to last night (via Skype) and it did my soul a world of good because …

My check-up did not go well and I was bummed.  Last week, the doctor declared the wound healed and stopped the stem cell treatment, even though I have the availability of three more applications of the treatment.  I had an uneasy feeling from that moment on and it would not go away.  I should feel so much happier hearing that the wound was healed.  Why didn’t I feel like shouting the news from the rooftops and celebrating?  Well, now I know.  The wound is not fully healed … NOT YET.  In the past week, the wound opened up slightly–those pesky .2 centimeters (2 millimeters)–a minuscule amount, but distressing nonetheless.  So, I started “shoulding” all over myself.

I should have listened to my intuition.

I should have known this thing wasn’t healed yet.

I should have insisted on continuing the treatment.

I didn’t and I was pissed off at myself.

Was all hope lost?  No.  We are resuming the treatment next Monday, and I have faith that it will work and the wound will heal completely.  Still, the nagging questions and negative thoughts linger in my worn-out brain.

What if I this thing doesn’t heal?

What if I did have the surgery?  Would it have worked and would I be up and about by now?

What if I wasted this whole year?

Then, it hit me…  I was wasting time on “should haves” and “what ifs.”  It’s a huge waste of friggin’ time, my friends, and it doesn’t do any good.  It’s counterproductive and it just makes you feel worse.  You can’t change the past, but you can make changes in the present that positively affect your future.

What I can do going forward is:

Regain my positive outlook.

Keep saying and writing my positive affirmations, especially “I am healthy.”, “I make healthy decisions.” and “My derrière continues to heal.”

Continue to reach out to you, my InspiraGang, when I need a boost of encouragement.

Please keep the prayers, positive vibes, cards, letters and visits coming.  In fact, I would love it if you would post some positive thoughts in the comments below.

Oh, and please share the link to this blog with your friends, family and colleagues.

Thank you for being there for me, InspiraGang.  You heal me and I am eternally grateful.

Until next week,
Andrea
aka InspiraGirl

The “New Normal”

Tuesday, September 4, 2018 was a memorable day.

It was the day I received the news that my pressure wound healed.  It was also one year ago to the day that I broke the news of my wound diagnosis on Facebook.  Fifty excess pounds ago as well, I realized as I watched the video.

I knew when I shared the healing news that some might think this journey was complete, that I would immediately be sitting up and that my life would resume as it had before the wound interrupted it.  I also knew that would not be the case.  A “new normal” is now staring me in the face.

When the doctor told me the wound had healed, he also said that I was to continue on bed rest and come in for weekly check-ups for three more weeks to ensure that my derrière stays healed.  If it does, then I can start what is being called a sitting protocol.  This is where I sit for perhaps a half-hour a day for a time, then an hour, then two hours, and so on, until I reach this “new normal”, which is supposedly sitting only eight to 10 hours a day for the rest of my life.

Yup.  The wind was knocked out of me with that news this past February.  I have not shared it widely until now because I have been absorbing this gut punch.

More accurately, I have been trying to figure out how I can buck the system, or at least modify it to fit my lifestyle, because I couldn’t imagine how I was going to do all the things I wanted to do with this restriction.

Despite my handicap, or perhaps because of it, I lead a very active life … out and about on a regular basis facilitating my inspirational workshops, networking, spending time in my favorite virtual offices writing new inspirational material, creating websites and social media profiles, meeting with clients, socializing, etc.  As long as I had access to a wheelchair-friendly restroom, I could move about my day easily and with few restrictions.

But now … Hey Universe, Is this really the “new normal?”  Are you telling me I am sentenced to sitting only eight to 10 hours a day for the rest of my life?  How the frack am I going to do that and still maintain an active lifestyle?  Un-freaking-imaginable, not to mention, un-bleeping-acceptable.

Is this punishment for my already embarrassing weight gain that supposedly contributed to the pressure wound in the first place? (Shaking my fist at the sky)

Believe me when I tell you that bitching about one of life’s crappy curve balls becomes counterproductive very quickly.  I have to move on and figure out things like:

  • How to get in a bathtub (Sitting on a hard surface, even for a short bath, will probably be a no-no.)
  • How to drive ( I cannot drag my butt over the wheel of my wheelchair to get in my driver’s seat like I used to do.)
  • How to travel by car or by plane for long trips  (Wouldn’t a tour bus be awesome?!)

Have I figured any of this out yet?  Nope, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.  I have tons of logisitics to figure out.  As Marie Forleo says, “Everything is figureoutable.”  Well, let me tell you, InspiraGang, I am up to the challenges.  I can do this.  I know I can.

More to come on this topic in future blog posts.

When you were faced with a “new normal”, how did you deal with it?  Please share your experience in the comments below.

Your never-normal InspiraGirl (and thank God for that!),
Andrea

TV or Not TV

I love TV.  I will even go as far as saying I am a recovering TV addict.  I used to keep the TV on all day and, sometimes, all night.  It was a comfort and a stress-reliever.  Mostly, it was a way to escape life’s  problems.

I used to live by the TV Guide.  I even quit Junior Scouts because the meetings were on Tuesday nights when my all-time favorite show, Happy Days, was on.  This was back before video recording technology hit the consumer market, so before I quit scouts, I begged my parents to put an audio recorder in front of the TV so I could HEAR each episode when I got home.  Let me tell you, listening to Joannie kiss Chachi for the first time was just not the same as seeing it in living color.  Of course, there were summer reruns.  But even that was not as thrilling as watching my favorite programs when they first aired.

Yes, my addiction was that bad.

When I entered my freshman year of college, I chose not to bring a TV into my dorm room.  I lasted only two weeks without my precious Panasonic.

If you are in my Facebook community, you’ve seen how much I used to post about TV–from Ace of Cakes (feeding my food addiction as well) to Glee to The Big Bang Theory–and let’s not forget my #WeGotCows Facebook posts EVERY time the movie Twister was on AMC, TBS or CMT.

I convinced myself that I was missing something if I didn’t have the TV on.  As it turns out, I was missing out on life because I had the blasted boob tube on all the time and I had to do something about it.

So in May of 2017, when I temporarily moved into The Cave, I decided to give up my satellite TV box to see if I could curb my habit.

In the interest of full disclosure, I still had my laptop, meaning I could access the websites of the TV stations of my favorite shows whenever I wanted.  But since I use my computer on a daily basis for work, it turned out that I did not want to be on it as much after business hours.  Because of that fact, I also started to get more selective about what I do watch.  I realized how much I was numbing my brain having the TV on almost all the time, i.e. not just for my favorite shows.

Yes, I still watch Big Bang (mourning the recent breaking news that the upcoming season will be its last) and I will pop in a movie when I am making my handcrafts in the evenings and on weekends, but not all the time.  If I am not enjoying a conversation or the silence, I will choose to listen to some fantastic podcasts or radio shows that have expanded my horizons.  (If you are looking for something new to listen to, click that link in the previous sentence.)

In addition to making better viewing and listening choices, here are other benefits that have resulted from curbing my TV viewing habits:

  • I work smarter and more efficiently because I am not constantly numbing my brain
  • I feel more creative, especially when writing this blog
  • I am more engaged in life and making plans for the future now that my wound is almost healed

Will I kick more of this habit?  Well, to find out the answer to that burning question, and to read about a myriad of inspirational topics, tune in each Wednesday for a new episode of InspiraBlog!  Oh, and you can subscribe to the blog on the right sidebar of this page or any page on this website.

Until next week,
Andrea
aka InspiraGirl

P.S.  Fun Fact:  Even though I am a recovering TV addict and I really like the image I chose for this post, I have never watched a complete episode of The Simpsons.

I Get By With a LOT of Help From My Friends

I LOVE my friends and family.  They are awesome and I am eternally grateful to them for helping me deal with the ups and downs of this healing journey.

Initially, I was hesitant to call people and ask for help.  I didn’t want to inconvenience anyone.  To this day, I sometimes still feel guilty that my handicap is an inconvenience.  Once the pressure wound diagnosis hit, my guilt began to escalate.  I was inconveniencing my family and friends and I hated it.

But, conversations I’ve had with my friend Megan McDowell, Founder and Executive Director of Heartworks, have helped ease my guilt and have also given me a new perspective on accepting help.

Heartworks is a local grassroots movement of women committed to replicating and sustaining the palpable kindness witnessed in the wake of September 11th.  Inspired by the healing that takes place through receiving and giving, we offer hope to people experiencing acute illness, injury, or grief, while taking part in our own self-growth.

As a Heartworker who is grateful and honored to help others, I have also been in the position to learn the lessons and blessings of receiving help … not just once, but twice. The first time was in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, when Heartworks helped ease our stress of being displaced from our home for a couple of weeks. The second time–which actually feels like countless times with all of the kindness Heartworks has shown my family and me throughout the past year–is this healing journey of mine.

As a person who needs more help than usual because of a physical handicap, I am happy to be able to offer help to others as a Heartworker.  It fills me up like nothing else.

Now, I am on the other side of the coin and need even more help.   At first, I had trouble accepting it because of the aforementioned guilt over inconveniencing people.

Thankfully, while on bed rest, I have been able to attend Heartworks meetings via Skype.  This way, I was able to hear and be reminded of the message consistently expressed by Megan at each meeting, as well as in our personal conversations:  Helping others and feeling needed gives people joy and deep satisfaction.  So, when you accept people’s help, you are not inconveniencing them.  You are helping them feel good.

Currently in my twelfth month on bed rest, people often tell me they think I must be going stir crazy.  But that is not the case.  My family and friends keep me busy and happy with all their visits and I have met many new friends through Heartworks and social media.  In fact, a schedule is in place wherein at least one Heartworker per week comes to our home and brings a lunch to share with me.  So more than anything else, I feel blessed, AND spiritually, emotionally and physically well fed. 😉

So, as for getting by with a LOT of help from my friends AND family … I am not just getting by … I AM THRIVING.

I would love to hear your experiences with and thoughts and feeling about asking for help. Please share in the comment section below.

In Love and Friendship,
Andrea
aka InspiraGirl

I Can “Go Negative” Very Quickly

When I started Operation INSPIRATION in 2005, I also committed myself to ongoing self-improvement so that I could “walk my talk.”  With nearly 16 years in the corporate jungle under my belt, one of the realizations I came to was how easily and quickly my mood shifted when pessimism, bad moods, anger or any unfavorable situation came my way.  Looking back, I am shocked at how negative I was and sometimes amazed that I survived in that environment for so long.

Even after years of working to strengthen this aspect of my personality, with the ups and downs of my healing journey, I have allowed myself to “go negative” a number of times in the past year and it scared me.  For example, each time I had a wound check-up, I was extremely anxious because I did not know what I was going to face.

Would the wound be smaller or would the measurements remain the same? Plateaus are hell on the morale.

Would the doctors mention surgery again?  We are have opposing views about that point.  While I am in favor of waiting it out and letting my body heal naturally, (Thankfully, my family backed me up on this.), the doctors–somewhat understandably, I suppose–wanted to see me heal more quickly.  So they have pushed surgery more and more often, especially in the past few months.  During one check-up last June, I felt so bullied that I said,

“Congratulations.  You’ve broken me.  Let’s just do the surgery.”

That was on a Friday.  When I got home, I felt so down that I decided to take the weekend to gather myself.  It took more than a day to boost my emotional strength back up.  But, by Sunday I was thinking clearly again.  I had made an emotional decision in that exam room, rather than a well-thought out decision.  So I called the doctor’s office the following Monday to let them know that I was taking the time I needed to make a an informed decision that was right for me.

That was a difficult phone call to make.  But once I did it, I felt empowered.  While I wouldn’t wish these experiences on anyone, it was a reminder of some valuable lessons:

  • While the doctors can make their recommendations and preferences knows for a course of treatment, it’s ultimately my decision to either have surgery or allow my body heal naturally.
  • Self-care is not just about the physical. Full self-care also includes psychological, spiritual and emotional care, and it’s alright to take the time to tend to my psychlogical, spiritual and emotional well-being and clear my head.
  • I am human and there is no need to feel badly about feeling overwhelmed.  Everyone gets overwhelmed.
  • To me this is the one of the most empowering lessons:  I am a sensitive person and I often feel like I have to apologize for that.  But I don’t.  It’s part of who I am.

Right now, it looks as if my wound is very close to healing… .2 cm in length, width and depth as of this writing.  So, even though I am maintaining an open mind in the event that there are no other options and surgery becomes necessary, I remain positive and strong in my resolve to close up this pressure wound by as natural means as possible.  And so, the healing journey continues…

I would love to hear your experiences with negativity and how you deal with it.  Please comment below, InspiraGang.

All the Best to You,

Andrea
aka InspiraGirl