Since my MS diagnosis almost 3 years ago, and especially since my scary abdominal surgeries and complications last year (cancer scare + complications to surgeries that nearly killed me–literally), I’ve been taking the bull by the horns and doing meaningful things in life. Sometimes, that means going quite a bit out of my comfort zone.

My husband and I do quite a bit of volunteer work for our local community theater, Edmonds Driftwood Players. Great little community of mostly volunteers, keeping community theater alive for those of us who will never be big-name musicians but have some talent. :) Well… there’s a summer festival of short shows, and a few people (husband included) encouraged me to audition. (YIKES!) Now…….. I’ve done theater auditions, but that was in college, and I graduated 20 years ago. Since then, I’ve only done music (instrumental/vocal).

This past Sunday night, I performed a short monologue for the producer of the show (who is a friend) and the 5 directors of the shows (one of whom I know). It seemed the more and more I rehearsed the piece in the 2 days before, the more I’d forget–it was like it became a rote series of words, and not so much a story. (Like memorizing a foreign language, and not really understanding it…) Anyway, there were a few spots in the opening paragraph, where I had a… long pause. The producer asked me if I wanted to start over, and I defiantly told her NO! I found my spot, and kept on going. :D

I was nervous. I was shaky. I am a public speaker by trade, and I’m rarely nervous at work, but a) I don’t have to have my words exact (or close to exact–yes, I ad-libbed the monologue here and there) and b) I’m not in front of superiors–I’m in front of either peers or students. Not only that, but my acting experience is SOOOOOO outdated that, even though I kept telling myself that this is only for the experience of going through an audition, I felt like I was so small and they were so big. Sigh. I hope I didn’t make too much of a fool out of myself. I don’t remember a whole lot, other than that minutes 2 and 3 (out of a 3ish minute piece) went pretty well, I thought.

I don’t know what will come of it. If anything. I was nervous as hell. But… it stretched me. Looking back, I’m trying to think what I got out of it all… (other than stress) Unfortunately, I don’t know if I’d be any less nervous at a second audition, if I did this again next year. Maybe try it again and start earlier and perform for more groups first?

You are probably not surprised to hear that I use smoothies as a way to get a lot of produce into me. And, I put spinach and/or kale into them… really, you don’t taste them, and if you haven’t had a green smoothie yet, do it! What’s the risk? :)

Today, I put together a really tasty combination, and of course, I wanted to share! I didn’t measure proportions… I could try my best guesses. I’d call this…

Tropical Spiced Mango Green Smoothie
(if I gave it a name)

Into the blender in this order:
~3/4-1 c coconut milk (from a box, not can)
2 handfuls baby spinach
About 1 c chunked fresh pineapple
About 1/2 banana
About 1 c frozen mango chunks
About 1 tsp flax meal (gotta get our omega 3’s!)
About 1/2 tsp powdered ginger
About 2 tbsp lime juice (to taste, maybe more)
1 pitted date (I chopped mine a bit)

Blend it up and yum! I was going to share with my husband, but… sorry, dear. This one’s all mine! :D

Shortly after my diagnosis (defined by the only flare-up that I’m aware of), I started worrying about overall loss of strength. Of course–who wouldn’t?

The first thing I thought, after the end of that flare-up, was–“good! No more current damage happening to my nervous system, I won’t have any more loss of strength than I already have.”

But… that’s not how MS works…

Think about your (my? our?) nervous system like electrical wiring. MS damages the insulation on the wiring. With any degree of damage, the electricity doesn’t get passed through so efficiently. The same goes for MS–when there’s any damage to the myelin (insulation), the nerve impulse isn’t sent so clearly.

Yes, this means that even when we’re free and clear of flare-ups (those of us with relapsing remitting MS), the nerves aren’t so efficient. For me, that means that all of the strength training work I do at the gym has slightly less effect than it does for a healthy person.

Totally frustrating. But, it’s the reality that I have to work with. And, working with it is better than giving up and doing nothing at all, right? (So, who’s going to join me at the gym for some lifting today?)

My students are giving me gray hair! (or, more than I already had)

I’m teaching majors’ anatomy and physiology this quarter (the first of two quarters). It is a tough, fast-paced course. I teach it about once a year or once every other year. It’s advanced enough that I have to go back and study, too, when I teach.

But I do it. And many of our students do, as well. It’s a pre-nursing rite of passage.

This quarter, though, I’m noticing… spring fever? Phone addiction? Addiction to instafail I mean, Instagram? Small clusters of students in lab–especially the ones failing really miserably (we’re talking 30% on exams)–spend their lab time pointing at their phones and laughing with each other, rather than studying.

So, it’s no wonder that a few of the confused the femur (big thigh bone) with the radius (small forearm bone) on last week’s bone identification exam. I tell them to get on top of studying as quickly as possible, and some of them have learned (over 20% of the class scored over 85%! It can be done!) but I see many of them playing.

We’re about halfway through the quarter, and grades are only getting worse. (Like I said, spring fever.) I keep giving my students more online tutorials and more opportunities for help, and I’m seeing no results. For a while, I was wondering where I was failing them… but the more I observe, the more I think I’m just wasting my time.

**To be truthful, about half the class actually is working hard. But I’ve never had this many students not care, and drag my averages down that far. It’s disheartening…

Taking a moment to update everyone on my life…

Last spring and summer (and part of the fall), I worked for an online school as well as the “brick and mortar” school where I’ve worked for three years. (I’m also potentially up for a small promotion there! Meeting to be held in a few weeks, and I don’t see why it won’t happen… hooray!) Anyway, I recently got rehired by the online school. The last few weeks of overlap at both schools will be hectic–I don’t work summer at the in-person school. But I wanted some additional summer income.

Partially because we booked a summer trip–we had some United miles burning a hole in our virtual pocket. Late summer, we’ll be flying in and out of Zagreb, Croatia. I’ve never been to that part of the world! I have a tentative itinerary planned, but that’s about all… I intend to see parts of Bosnia and definitely to get to the coast. A friend who’s traveled a lot recently told me that Dubrovnik was one of the best places he’s visited.

Still struggling a bit with hormonal issues, migraines, etc., which I really need to have worked out before said trip. I’ve made a bunch of doctor’s appointments for that, since it interferes with my getting to the gym (I don’t want to lose any strength before the summer trip, either!)

I’m being a lot more careful with my diet, too, given all of the hormonal issues, and I’ve found a lot of great recipes online. As healthy desserts go, this peanut butter salted caramel truffle is pretty insanely good, and if you haven’t tried the healthy cookie dough dip–you’re missing out.

Anyway, that’s a sneak peek into my life these days! I hope things are well with all of you…

Just a little bit ago, through newsfeeds, I found this link:

Living With Invisible Disabilities

I think there are many of us in the world who have some sort of invisible disability… to some degree. MS is one, my chronic migraines bring another. Heck, you could also say that insomnia is an invisible disability, and how many people suffer from that? Video game addiction? Yes, that one’s self-induced (at least the early stages), but… an invisible disability.

There’s been a lot of talk of these invisible disabilities on the web recently. The author of the article above is clearly in a bad way, with many disabilities that don’t allow her to truly live her life. There are many degrees of invisible disabilities. I feel badly for these people, at this extreme.

Then, there are those with a milder form of invisible disability, like me. For the most part, my MS lets me function like a normal person. Same goes for my chronic migraines: every now and then, I have a few days where I can’t get rid of the pain, so I bury myself in solitary work and become really irritable (work is better than trying to sleep, I’ve found, since it’s a distraction from the pain). But, overall, I function quite well.

For those of you like me–highly functioning “invisible disability” folks–let’s get out there! Live life! Stop reading invisible disability articles and whining about it! Life is short, right?

I just wish everyone with invisible disabilities could join in on enjoying life. There’s so much to be seen and done! :)

And get a heck of a lot more out of life!

Depression is everywhere. I see so many gloomy faces. It always makes me wonder… what’s wrong with everyone?

(Then again… people think I’m WEIRD for being all happy-faced much of the time! Seriously, it’s not drugs… I just always have something to look forward to!)

Sometimes, you just have to show your inner silly!

Sometimes, you just have to show your inner silly!

Anyway, I digress. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard a student recently tell me “have you heard the TED talk where…” followed by “you HAVE to see it!” Now… TED talks are innovative and educational, true that. But to me… they’re one step up from watching TV. Not quite so mindnumbing, they certainly generate discussion (so I occasionally use them when I teach class), but… you’re just sitting around. Not talking with others. Not interacting, not experiencing life.

I prefer to get off of the couch (uh, says she who’s been working on auction item procurement much of the day… sometimes, I end up working on the couch a lot) and DO things. Meet people. See things. This is where you really truly learn! And… getting out and breathing fresh air? Good for the soul. You will instantly feel better! Go outside and do something silly. You will instantly feel less depressed…

I can almost guarantee it. :)


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