Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day 2017

Not my favorite time of year, normally, but today has not been too bad.  I think mainly due to 75+ hour plus weeks at work, plus a bit of consulting have kept me off of social media for the most part, and I have had a lovely day full of friends and food, and a quiet day with my lovely cats.  I have been trying to connect with friends more the past few weeks, and despite the breakneck pace at work I am attempting to make time for what is important.  Despite all the positives, Mother's Day for those with abusive, narcissistic or otherwise emotionally unavailable mothers really is a low point of the year. 

Last week was my 48th birthday.  Usually Mother's Day casts a pall on it as well, but thanks to my friends and those closest to me, I had a wonderful week and did some really fun things.  It was a low key birthday, but I really enjoyed it.  Only two years until 50!  My mother had to point out that I am now at the age my father was when he passed away.  I did make a discovery... My mother has always claimed my father died at age 47.  I found a picture of the gravestone that was taken by a Veteran's organization, and that is not true.  He was 48 and 4 months when he passed.  It has only taken me 28 years to figure that out.  When she mentioned it, I apprised her of that and her response was "whatever".  The next week she made the reference to age 47 again.  Revisionist history?

The week prior to my birthday I was in my home state for the conference I attend every year.  I was sick and recovering from a decent respiratory infection, but I did not let her know I was in state, did not call her, did not attempt to arrange to see her.  When she kept asking where I was for a week, I finally told her.  She dropped the subject and did not ask any questions.  Lesson learned from the prior two years... She has earned that.  She has not seen me since April 2013, and I strongly doubt she will ever see me face to face again.  After all, her response to her neighbor when she asked why she did not see me last year was 'we talk on the phone and that is enough'.  Trust me, it is MORE than enough for me.  Not giving her the opportunity to play power games and feel like she is 'disappointing me' by withholding her presence.  I had a lovely time visiting former coworkers and friends, and returned feeling better than when I left.  I slept well, despite the realization that my home state is very triggering for me.  More on that in a future post...

Just a health update, went back to the nationally acclaimed teaching hospital on Friday, and am starting the testing process to determine the next steps in removing the fluid from my pelvis.  I am a bit concerned it may have increased or my lone remaining ovary is 'cooking' something due to issues similar to 2013... Issues voiding my bladder, GI issues and appetite issues, exhaustion, and the like.  By the first week of July I hope to have a diagnosis from the GI folks, which the gynecologist feels is most likely EDS, and a plan from the gynecologist.  This all started a year ago this week, and it has been a journey, but I feel I am closer to a diagnosis than I ever have been, especially since the life threatening tumor issue in 2013.  

Now... Where my hoarding mother comes into it.  She never asks about how I am doing, etc., and if she does it is merely a springboard to talk about herself.  She asked something about Friday and I told her I was not working, and when she asked I advised her I had a medical appointment.  Her response?  "I need you to tell me when they figure out what is going on with you because I am POSITIVE that is what is wrong with me too!"

Um, REALLY?  Thanks for your concern.  I forgot that it is always ALL ABOUT HER.  (Not really, but...)  She has been really challenging to talk to the past several weeks.  Her new thing to attempt to assail me with is her concerns she has:

  1. Had a stroke in the past two years or so, states her memory is affected, but refuses to take her concerns to her doctor.
  2. Temporal arteritis (sp?) that could result in blindness.
  3. All kinds of random issues from the gross to potentially alarming
Now, the hard thing is to know what is accurate, what is true, and what is merely an extension of her malignant narcissism.  

She continues to demonstrate continued decline.  She has decided that her (hated) neighbor has:
  1. Broken into her heavily hoarded three car garage.
  2. Stolen two gas cans and the gas from her riding mower.
  3. Returned two different gas cans with gas in them.
  4. Damaged her seat belt assembly in her 24 year old car.
The list goes on.  She has returned to being extremely judgmental about other folks' appearances... (Forgetting that with only 11 teeth and no dentures or a partial and with her personal hygiene and clothing choices it is unlikely she will be selected for America's Next Top Model any time soon).  Her gossiping and rumor mongering is simply toxic and negative, and she has no concept that although it may be human nature to be curious about something, it is totally inappropriate in most cases to speculate or to ask.  She spends much of her time ruminating, speculating, and investing her time in the museum of petty grudges and misunderstandings.  She is also convinced the other neighbor is damaging her outside lights so the bulbs keep blowing after only a few weeks.

Her boundaries have continued to deteriorate, and she contacted a gentleman that I was friends with/close to 25 years ago or so using her super-stalker skills, and he did come out and do a bit of handyman work.  He has not returned her call or come out since.  She keeps asking questions about him, and I keep responding that I do not know the man any longer, it has been over 20 years.  She has no concept of what was is now no longer.  For her, life is the land that time forgot.  I continue to have her on the extreme low contact plan to help keep my sanity intact.  

I continue to run, and I have not been racing as much.  I have been doing a bit more cross training when my energy levels are low, and I am beginning to map by eating and training plan to ensure I am ready for a 1/2 in later summer and a full marathon in the fall.  I have an obstacle race in October that I need to work on core and upper body strength for.  Burpees are NOT my friend right now!  Running and working out acts as my meditative space, and keeps me sane.  I am battling an IT band issue and an Achilles tendon issue, but I am continuing to train.  I will not be defeated.  

My two dear cats are doing well, and my oldest is now 15, with the other turning 14 in late July.  They are the love of my life.  I am hoping to resume a more normal schedule in a month or so, and I have some interesting opportunities that I hope to finalize by next post.  

Life is complex, busy, and for the most part, altogether wonderful.  I am at a crossroads in several areas, and I expect only the best.  I will not let my hoarding mother's issues frame my experiences.

Hoarding.  No one wins, but I refuse to let it defeat me.  Have a great week everyone!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

More questions, but we are getting there...

Thought I would post a quick update of my appointment with the specialist at the teaching hospital in a nearby state that I have sought medical care from.

Last Friday was my follow up, and I ended up spending over 3 hours in the G&I clinic.  So, what we know at this point from all the invasive and intensive testing I have had performed is as follows:

  • Part of my issues came from birth.  I was born with them since I have had severe GI issues my entire life that were never caught or addressed.  
  • Part of my issues come from the surgery to save my life in 2013.  Could not be helped with the damage the tumor did.  I am very lucky to not have a permanent colostomy or ileostomy.  
  • Crohn's is looking more and more unlikely.  
  • They are now chasing down a definitive confirmation of a diagnosis of EDS (Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome) or MS since something definitely major/autoimmune is happening.  I had a crapload of labs done, and a cancer panel is being run as part of the search to determine the autoimmune issue.  
  • The fact that I have Raynauld's and other smaller autoimmune issues point to a larger one.  Lupus has been ruled out previously, but they are testing for it again.  
  • They are already starting the process for me to see the EDS specialist, not a fellow, so I am on the list.  Seems they think this is it and is more than just stretchy skin and joint hypermobility with me.  
  • The ovary issue is still in play.  There remains a grapefruit or a bit larger pocket of fluid in scar tissue that has now been there since whatever ruptured on my sole remaining ovary last May.  I am being referred back to Gyn to develop a plan to have it potentially removed via a cannula.  (OUCH) and to determine that happens next with the Lone Ranger (ovary).  
Getting older is not quite the trip into hilarity I thought it would be, and quite bluntly, I am the age my father was when he passed away, and I realize how truly young that is.  If this is the price I pay to have survived 2013, I accept it. I remain firm in my belief that life is meant to be lived a full volume.  The bloating that I experience (losing and gaining as much as 13 pounds in a day) and the exhaustion may be what I deal with from here on out.  I will work to continue to be the healthiest person I can be.  I will be thoughtful (but not obsessive) about what I put in my body, and I will continue my fitness goal.  I plan on a 26.2 mile race this year, and possibly, a 50K shortly after.  I have an obstacle race scheduled for July, and I will take no prisoners.

Nothing will get in my way.  Not even me.  I have resumed crosstraining more as I got into the bad habit of 'just running'.  I am in pretty good shape, but I can do better.  Been eating more sugar and junk than I should, and have lapsed into eating animal based products from time to time.  Animal protein seems to not be my friend with whatever is happening.  Nor is sugar.  Everything in moderation... even moderation... to paraphrase Julia Child.  

The biggest thing I have to get in balance is work- life balance.  That is my addiction... My coping mechanism.  I will beat this too.  I do not want to die in harness a workaholic.  Small steps.

Hope everyone is having a great weekend.  I am planning a long run and a bit of lifting, then I sadly have to have my face shoved in my computer for most of the remainder of the day.  Looking forward to vacation this fall. 

Thank you for reading!

From the mouth of a hoarder!

Oh MY...  

So, it is time for the next installment of 'From The Mouth Of A Hoarder'...

"Do you fart a lot""

Excuse me?  What?

"Do you fart?"

Not having this discussion...

"Well, I ...

<End call button>

....[Rambling self absorbed monologue]... "So I started using vitamin E oil on my feet at night and now instead of the skin being crusty and flaking like a snowstorm the skin just rolls up into balls..."

GAH!  <<Retching>>
"You need to tell me whatever they diagnose you with because I am sure I have it too..."

I snorted laughter, and this set her off.  The reason I did was I was talking with a friend at dinner the night before my follow up appointment at the teaching hospital.  In our discussion I had stated that if I was diagnosed with anything, by the end of the week, my hoarding mother would have the worst case of it that medicine has ever seen.

You are welcome.  Enjoy your day!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Just an update from down the rabbit hole!

Been a while since I last contributed!  Today is a snowy, blizzard-esh day in the north east section of the United States.  As for many, I am snowed in with my two cats, and I have used the day to work from home.

Since mid-January, a bit has happened, but nothing earth shattering.  My hoarding mother is still hoarding.  Her malignant narcissism is unchanged.  She has not gained any insight, has not developed empathy, and still works to flog me with guilt and to conflate small annoyances and concerns into huge crises.  She still continues to say amazingly cruel, racist, xenophobic and classist things.  One of the latest?  She stated how tired she was of seeing that everyone on TV was black.  It should be 50/50 if anything.  I took her task, and she retreated to angry and confused silence, and then changed the subject.  She still talks about moles, her nasty feet, and things that would make the most seasoned gastroenterologist puke.  She is intrusive to others, and is extremely judgemental.  She refuses to accept that although it is human to be curious, it is not okay to ask or to speculate on many issues that are, simply, none of her business.  

I do not expect any miracles.  She is not willing to change.  And she is not going to.  Her newest schtick is to express concern she has dementia starting, temporal arteritis, and an who host of alarming diagnoses.  I just will not engage.  She complains about the mess in her house.  She complains about the neighbors, states they are stealing from her, conspiring against her, are trying to kill her.  

Sadly or not, she is not in a place where someone can secure assistance for her against her will.  Animal control, the police, Adult Protective Services, or any other entity.  The codes office cannot help.  She is an island unto herself.

How am I doing with this?  I continue to work to heal the incredibly abusive childhood I survived, and I had a revelation that 'child abuse' does not end when you are a legal adult.  The strategies the abusive parent may or may not change, but the power and control and the underlying premise that the child is 'entitled to' the abusive parent and is an extension of their will, but not a person themselves (to the abuser) will not.  I continue to low contact plan, and I continue to attempt to understand the reverberations that her decisions to be willfully cruel, to not address her mental health issues and her hoarding have on me.  At almost 48 years old, I think I have a pretty good understanding, and I am working to insulate myself as best I can from her toxicity.  I now recognize the reverberations from what I survived, and I also realize that my issues to address are workaholism, my inability to (often) seek or receive help or kindness, and that I have SERIOUS trust issues.  I suspect that it is unlikely I will ever successfully partner again because 1) I don't really want to after over 21 years in committed relationships and 2)I am very clear of what are deal breakers for me.  At the first sign of a red flag I am GONE.  And at my dating cohort age, it is unlikely I am going to find someone that does not trip my alarm in an area or two at some point.  If they are not willing to swim a moat and jump a wall or two (through communication) then I do not feel they are worth my time.  I will do the same for someone I care about....  And I expect no less.

To paraphrase a meme, I will not make someone a priority if I am merely an option.  I have been an option my entire life.  No more of that.  I have been blessed to have friends that are like family, and my sweet furry girls (my cats).  Some of those friends are evolving in their relationship with me, and sometimes relationships are for a season, are for many years, or for a lifetime.  Some relationships have a shelf life, and I refuse to put up with someone who takes me for granted, and for who relationships are not reciprocal.  (Note I do not say transactional... another lesson from my hoarding mother...)  I have been searching for a therapist that is trauma informed and has an understanding of being the adult child of a hoarder, the adult child of a malignant narcissist.  I will find that person, it may take time... And I may have to go out of the area to a large city to find that person.  I am willing to do that.  

I am still on the path of determining a diagnosis physically, and I go to the nationally known teaching hospital for a follow up this Friday after several really nasty and invasive tests that have been run.  We may be closer, or we may not.  I think they are still leaning towards Crohn's, and there was another discussion of attempting of ruling out MS.  Whatever happens this Friday, I look forward to knowing more.  I know this may be a process and not an event, and this has already been a 16 month journey so far.  They now suspect it is more than one issue.  I am ready to know so I can deal with it.  I am still running, I am still training and pushing myself.  I continue to live life at full volume, albeit those levels differ depending on where I am energy and healthwise.  But I will not use the excuses to 'not' like my mother does.  I can.  I will.  There is not other acceptable option.  I still plan another 1/2 marathon soon, and I am planning on an obstacle race in July.  This fall I should be ready for a full 26.2.  We will have to then see if I can jump and do an ultra.

Work is threatening my trip to southern Italy in mid September, but I am going.  If not then, SOON after.  Political changes make my job very difficult and the future of my organization is uncertain.  I do the best I can with what I have, and we will not go down without a fight.  

Life is currently not being kind to several people I care about, whether it is health, relationship, financial, or the like.  I have been in my rabbit hole of work, and I need to NOT do that, and keep reaching out.  

I have many goals over the next several months.  Onward and upward.  My next blog will have some humor, hopefully more 'From the Mouth of a Hoarder'.  

Have a great week.  And if you are in the path of Stella, stay warm and safe.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Been all-too-long! From the Mouth of a Hoarder!

Been way to serious the last few posts.  Not that my hoarding mother has stopped saying rude, racist, cruel things or things that are so simply head-banging(ly) gross, but other things have taken a higher priority.  Well, now...  An all new episode of FTMOAH!
"I need to ask a gross question..."

No. Please. Wait...

"What do you know about that 'feminine wash'?  I was in the store and saw it, and I wondered if I should get it because, well, I sometimes mess myself and pee myself, and I was near an old lady who smelled like urine ...."

That is not what that is for...

"I thought it might help as I don't... [natter natter natter]...

It is feminine hygiene wash.  For your vulva.  [She continues going on about 'pissing herself'.]  Um.  Feminine wash is meant to wash one's 'hoo-haw' if one is concerned about vaginal smell... [She continues on talking over me despite several attempts that are getting heavier in the crude vernacular as I try to make her understand...] 

Now, I finally get annoyed and lost most to all of my feminist points for the day.  

....Mother, it is a wash for those who are concerned their 'cooter' smells like pussy.

... Sputtering..."Oh, I don't need that."

[Split second of hesitation] "Do you use it?"

GAHHHH! Not having this conversation with you! 

"Well, I used to douche ...."


And here is the thing.  Her personal hygiene is absolutely dreadful.  She smells really bad.  I am sure the incontinence underwear merely adds another layer to that ... fragrance?  So sad.  She smells of the hoard as well.  Since her hand surgery in late November, she has been going to a local beauty shop and getting her hair washed and set every 2-3 weeks (usually prior to a doctor's appointment).  Another group of people I should send flowers to...

For those who read frequently, Dr. Wednesday, my mother's 'flying monkey' chiropractor who went to school with me is making the high dive from her pedestal.  She apparently is out of patience with my mother's high drama tactics regarding the latest surgery, and my mother considered her 'snippy' and is now ruminating that she must be 'friends' with the hated surgeon.  I am not getting in this, but I had to resist the urge to snicker like Reinfield in Young Doctor Frankenstein...
Nothing else rises to mind to report.  I am sure there will be more later!  On a more personal note my two elderly kitties are doing well, and I admit it is hard to type with my most recent addition to my family standing on my chest, head bunting and nibbling on my cheekbones and chin.  Hard to believe she will have been with us three months in two days.  I think she likes me- her feline sister- the jury is still out... But they seem to co-exist fairly quietly with little conflict.  I do not know if they will every be buddies, but they are not trying to kill each other.  

On the health front my appointment with the teaching hospital is this Friday.  I have been pretty sick off and on since mid December, and today was a really rough day, but January 1st I ran a 10K and kept dead on my marathon pace and ran it easily.  Looking for a 10 miler, then a 1/2 marathon, and hope to run a full this summer.  

Have a great week.  Thank you for reading!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Post Christmas 2016

Hard to believe the holiday season is almost over.  2016 draws to a close, and although I think this has been a really hard year for many I care about, it is just a period of time.  Time itself is neutral, it is the values we assign to it that make it 'good' or 'bad'.  

Thinking about friends who have lost parents, siblings, significant others, children, beloved pets and too many other important people to list.  Thinking of the health issues that folks are facing, or have faced this year.  Including me... The health gods do not seem to be smiling on me too much.  I am in the midst of a major flare of whatever this is, and I hope to have a plan for some answers next month when I go to the teaching hospital about an hour away to start the consult process.  It has been a hard year of self discovery, introspection, and sometimes, repeating painful lessons because I just did not get them the first time, or two, or three.  I am continuing to prioritize what is important, and in that, I am letting go of what does not serve me anymore.  I have had wonderful experiences this past year, and I am planning a holiday in September abroad.  I have much to be grateful for.  
- My career and my work...  Although challenging, I love what I do.  It will most likely continue to be even more challenging in 2017, but I will rise to that challenge.  Often out of great chaos comes great opportunity.
-My sweet kitties.  I lost my two sweethearts a little less than a year apart, and I miss them daily, but I was able to honor them with adopting two special needs and elderly cats.  And I could not love them more.  I love watching them trust me more and more, and I want them to know nothing but love and happiness from this point forward.
-My health and my resilience.  Yes, I have had 'bumps' in the road but I am able to do what I value, am able to run, and to be active despite those challenges.
-My friends who are like family.  And the composition of my friendships are changing.  I am no longer making time for folks who in turn, treat me like an option.  No judgement or hard feelings, it is just priorities and lives evolve.  And I am not putting myself second any longer.  If folks are not willing to meet me part way when I make them a priority, then I will not pursue them.  I am here when they need me, and when they want to make space for me.  Until then, life goes on.  I just smile when someone says 'I haven't heard from you lately'.  Ah... that goes two ways.  Today is a new day!
-My 'gut'.  It very seldom leads me wrong, and I need to stop silencing it.  

There are many other things, but as I look at this list, I realize that for folks like my hoarding mother, hardship and adversity is a reason to ruminate, to be bitter, to be intentionally cruel, and to try to create an impenetrable wall.  I choose to not do that.  I choose to be open to new people, to novel experiences, and to use unpleasant happenings in my life as a lesson.  I refuse to get stuck.  Life is too short, and as approach age 48, I know that another 40 years is not promised, and quite bluntly, is not all that bloody likely.  I choose to live my life focused on relationships and experiences, not on things.  I keep saying life is meant to be lived at full volume.  I intend to live LOUD.  

I wish that things were different for my hoarding and/or/narcissistic family members.  I got a mushy holiday card from narcissister.  I did not hear from my niece, and my mother's estranged sister called after over 8 months of no contact.  She seems to be out of active psychosis, thankfully, but I felt like she was feeling me out to see if I was amenable to giving her any money.  Maybe not, but she seldom calls unless she wants to dump on me, to ask for information, or to ask for financial assistance.  I kept the call short and I think she was a bit puzzled as to what just happened when she hung up.

My hope is for everyone reading this that 2017 is full of opportunities, challenges, and new experiences.  I hope that this will be the year my hoarding mother develops some insight, empathy and willingness to be part of her own solution.  I know it will not happen, and I am not setting my self up for bitter disappointment, but I can still hope.

I think 'hope' is the only thing that has allowed me to draw from my resilience and persistence.  No matter what, no matter how long, it will get better.  <Sigh>

With that being said, I know I cannot change things for my hoarding mother.  And the best gift I can give myself is geographic as well as emotional distance.  I cannot change her reality, but I can shape mine in reference to hers.  And I choose to continue to maintain low contact, firm boundaries, and hope that some day, she may make a different decision.  One that does not surround her, her home, and anything she touches with toxicity.  She turned 80 this week.  A milestone birthday, which she spent alone.  Choices and behaviors have consequences.  That is hers.  I will continue to ensure that my solitude is affirming and not isolating, and I will continue to my work to grow and to heal.  

I often say that hoarding is something no one wins, and that is true.  But, if there is a silver lining of sorts, I think I have found it in gratitude, in resilience, in persistence, and in self awareness.

And so we go.  Onward and upward.  I wish each of you the best of all possible outcomes for 2017.  I keep thinking of Gretchen Rubin's paraphrased quote in the Happiness Project... 'The days are long, but the years are short.'

Thank you for reading.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Time is passing, but some things seem not to change

I simply cannot believe it is the holiday season.  I am back from my visit to Florida, and a lovely one it was at that.  I spent Thanksgiving with friends who are like family, and spent the days in 80+ degree heat (F) and roaming the lakesides and orange groves with my friend in his new convertible sports car.  I went for lovely long runs in the sunshine, and we had our celebrations next to the pool or the fire pit.  And lots of Bloody Marys and cocktails.  I am invited back at the end of January, and I am seriously considering going.  

The kitties did well during my vacation, and as I attempt to type this I have 'help' by our newest feline family member.  It increases the challenge to write when you are receiving enthusiastic and bellowing head-butts and alternately the butt hello.  Cats.  

Anyway... From my last blog, my hoarding mother's hospitalization ended anti climatically and her cats weathered her hospitalization okay.  It was as I suspected, it was serious enough that they needed to surgically open her hand and clean out the infection, but no where near the high level of risk the 2010 cat bite was.  She was angry she was awake for her surgery, and in the two weeks post has been miserable, griping, and making everything all about her.  I am continuing to keep her on the low contact plan, and she is getting angry that when she tries to 'hype' something - often by asking alarming-yet-rhetorical questions, I respond one of three ways... I will:

  1. Not answer at all, and she will eventually go on with 'conversation'
  2. Tell her to ask her doctor, and not engage any further
  3. Tell her I am at my location and have to go
I realize she gets some perverse gain out of having a problem for every solution, so I am working to not give her any gain or reward for her behavior.  It is baffling her, and making her very, very angry.  She is continuing to report off-the-charts, intentionally cruel and scorched-earth interactions with most anyone she encounters, and I simply maintain silence.  

While I was in Florida and had a restful week of no contact, she kidnapped the two neighbor cats that the neighbors adopted, then turned outside.  They moved away a couple of weeks ago, but late last week their teenage daughter asked my mother if she had seen the cats, and my mother cheerfully lied to the young girl and let her think 'something probably happened to them as they have not been [at my mother's] to eat for several days'.  

She is an intentionally awful person.  I personally prefer that cats be kept inside for their wellbeing and safety, but my mother was despicable... If what she tells me is even true.  The neighbor that lives behind her was in Florida when she was in the hospital, and returned after I did.  I am not sure if she has any additional information, or even knows my mother was in the hospital.

I am in a weird place, one of impending transition.  I am looking to the future.  I have no intention of leaving my current home or position anytime soon, but it will happen in the nearer-yet-somewhat-remote future.  I plan on going where it is warm.  Little to no snow so I can enjoy the outdoor activities I participate in comfortably all year long.  I am also looking at where I am in my career, and what is next.  I would like to have space for hobbies, more relationships, and possibly, a romantic relationship if the right person enters my life and shares what is important.  None of which can happen now, and it is not a complaint, it is just the way it is.  For now.  

I need to see what shakes out at the federal, state and local level for my organization and the social justice and civil rights movements I hold dear.  I need to figure out my health issues and the best way to address those challenges once I have a diagnosis and a plan.  I need to get back into my training plan for a marathon and hopefully, an ultra marathon.  I also need to continue my internal work of healing from nearly a lifetime of abuse.  Right now I am straddling two worlds, the one I occupy now and the one I wish to inhabit soon.  

I was at a friend's home and her lovely mother did a Tarot reading for each of us.  I do not believe in such things, but did it for entertainment value and to have a different perspective to think about.  From the reading my inability to allow failure, my trauma and turning away from family, my surrogate family of my best friend, and my contemplation of my next chapter in life were all discussed.  And any of those cards and interpretations could lend themselves to any person, but I continued to think about the work I am doing, the toll it is taking on my health and my life, and that I am already deep in the exploration and planning process for the next steps.  

Just some things to think about.  Now, back to work, and this week is a long and busy one.  I do not foresee a slow down until mid to later January, but that is the holiday season.  The holidays are hard for me in many ways, but I am lucky to have the people I do in my life.  I need to stop allowing work to co-opt precious time with them.  I also need to consciously spend less time with, or avoid those who drain me.  

Have a great week, and just in case I am not back before whatever holiday you celebrate, if you choose to celebrate any of them, I will wish you the best.