Life, Love, Following the Child, and Finding Myself
Author: Tracy Livingston M.Ed.
A teacher who follows my students to greater educational moments and my own continued learning. I have sampled many of the varieties of teaching venues. Private Montessori, public, homeschooling, and back to public with a few awkward dances in the political sector. This blog began as The Relatively Sane Adventures of a Teacher and has morphed into Following The Child, as I have followed, listened, and learned from each and every student in over 20 years.
I would like this back/hip pain to end. Truly, not my thing chatting about pain. Currently resting on heat, and planning my Pain is Gone Party. I will invite all of you. Don’t have a date, sorry. A party sounds fabulous and a way to celebrate the chains that bind leaving. Recently, I have stimmed myself into oblivion and now awaiting an acupressure mat, (review to follow) that looks like torture. Since, I am in this space, what is the harm? A big takeaway from this daily hell is that I have noticed how people treat daily pain. They give advice. Stupid advice. All I want is a hug and a cleaning lady on repeat. Not advice. But I listen, as running away is literally not an option. My son, true chronic pain sufferer, has dealt with my stupid advice from me for years. I have apologized. Funny, he gives no advice. Just hugs. Apology accepted. I hope. So, while I plan my party, as it will happen. I envision all my torture objects thrown into a bon fire and a celebratory poof to see them off. Too much? Probably. My second thought is a new MCM bag and a shopping spree. 🛍 That will do.
The original anchor of my life is my husband. But this post is about those we never want to see us hurt. Never.
My original anchor was always my kid. He pushed me through my seizure days, my days in back and hip pain, he pushed me to my limits. In a good way. In a great way. Now he is all grown up. I feel like there are days I do not push enough for me. Just me. So right now, while I heal, curling up in front of bad TV and writing chapter 2 of my book sounds great. But I got a little anchor. Gotta go.
Now, planning for a trip in pain is funny. I got a bag and threw whatever I saw into it. No thought, just clothes. I think they match. Not my usual packing ritual, which takes days, and coordinates for each day and event. But hell, he is three. My must is my galaxy watch and new fitbit to log my steps as I heal. He changes the watches wallpaper. It’s a thing. I love our things. He is my anchor. Two watches it is. I heard it’s a thing.
Now, I have been walking. But today I started my PT exercises from long ago. ****ing hurt. I screamed but then remembered my anchors. Both. It’s only been a week but I am fighting. Some don’t. I do. Today, it is a swimming lesson to watch. Soon, it will be other events. None I am missing. He is my anchor and this grandma will be there with bells on and a back that works.
It’s true. My HSA card now is my best friend. You gotta watch the labels but many of the treatments such as back stimulator and heating pads, herbal meds, etc. are cleared. Yup. Cha ching, cha ching. No, magic. But clarity and peace as I heal.
So far stim is my savior. One is on batteries, the other by a phone app, and the third is charging. Readying for a two day trip takes an extra bag and five extra cords. But ok. It’s short- term and life does not stop when healing. So, if you have an HSA get a stim machine. I like the mobile. You do you.
Another HSA fluttering of cash is the Chiro, which is a scene and a half. At least for me. Moving tables, dropping magic slots, that move before the big adjustment happens, and a quick stop at the payment counter. In and out within fifteen minutes. But possibly working. A little soon to tell. So I have found other ways to keep the alternative medical community in business. Next up, a massage with CBD oil. A great place according to reviews that covers every form of pain therapy including infrared baking. I am sure I will attempt. Positive. I agree pretty wishy washy and none based in traditional science that my Mayo doctor would sign off on. But no one is replacing my pelvis. Nope. Oh, they can’t. Just gonna re-rotate it as far back as it can go!
The oddness of the last two years brought service to our doors which is a help to anyone who is busy or recovering or both. Life is about living, not spending hours in a grocery store. Many, even my hubs would disagree. However, while food is necessary evil, I am going 2022 since driving makes me cry. Menu please. No. I went the route of emeals thru Walmart and their free delivery. Done and done. A whole week of keto fresh meals ready to be prepared came to my door. No tears plus healthy food is a win. Might keep this in our lives as the time it saved me to do other things today was amazing.
So, while the money train for any injury will always keep on running, as we all want to be back on our feet asap. The comforts of 2022 makes life under the rehab gun a bit easier as I get through my first week with my daily minimum of 3k steps, stretches, stim, heat, and freezing cold to take away the spasms of pain. All of which, would take the amount of time I would spend at Walmart.
Truth be told. I can be a b****. While my life revolves around my family. I can be a bit much. Call it demanding. Not b*****. Better. Years ago my son was diagnosed with a back disease. Fast track to today and he has a million dollar back and hypothetically is the bionic man. It is genetic. But I have fought mine off, until this week. Pain brought me to my knees. To make it through the week before spring break with my 6th grade mayhem of love, I just kept saying, “What would Kyle do?” Then I cried, thinking of all the times, I have been critical of anything in his life. Not truly realizing that slap pain into life that does not abate takes over until you can just do so much and sometimes the fluffy life stuff does not matter. Truth. I skipped two showers. Could not do it. Did. Not. Care. I smelled of powdered shampoo, sweet oils, and the fragrance that was the closest to my grab on my make-up table.
I am sorry KWL.
So, I have faltered. Worst ever. But that is that. Now, I finally recover forever. I tend to overdo, over diet, and fail. Enough. Life is finite and being on a roller coaster is loopy and unproductive.
Few steps back. Yes. But forward. Forever. The toughest part is where I am currently. Heating. Cooling. Resting. Walking at a snails pace for 10 minutes. The beginning. It’s where my FOMO sets in. Frankly, without social media there was no FOMO. It would be good to toss it aside right now, but not gonna try. Too much between food changes, back self-care, and trips to the chiro. So, my mindset is now changed to without healing there is nothing. And nothing is not acceptable.
So, instead of running around and enjoying. I am canceling plans and scheduling me time. Healthy care, healthy eating, manicure and pedicure, hair and chiro, chiro, chiro, stretch, stretch, stretch, walk, walk, walk. While I heal (6-12 weeks total) I will putter around the house aka clean slowly and mindfully, organize my spring school clothes, aka as fashion, and put me first this time which will allow me to put what’s important to me back to its proper first place status now and forever and get over this crazy coaster I have been strapped into for the last twenty years. It’s time.
Ailment in a nutshell.
My back. But not. It is a pelvic rotation that is over 35 mm from normal. 8mm is severe. How have I survived twenty years. Who knows. Obviously, this inner movement tugs on the back. Greatly. Causing extreme pain especially when sitting and ooh, driving is a killer. But in my three chiro appointments I have seen relief. Since PT has been apart of my life for this. I know the drill of bridges and pelvic tilts. Yup. Three times a day. Everyday in accute stages. This classified. Other non-medicated methods are THC oil and Formula 303 (starting tomorrow) a natural muscle relaxant. Naproxyn, is on order for pain. Again, no addiction, thank you. If any of this becomes magic. I will blog and share. Heck. Gonna blog and share anyway to keep me going on this journey. Which kicked off today saying goodbye to my Echelon and Peloton friends for a minute. This was sadness. Five rides away from 200, 50 more miles away from my race goal. Poof. But today I got out, walked to a short Peloton program. While sharing with you about this pain that haunts, but could be worse I hope to gain insight and lend a positive spin on pain as the reality is mindset is part of the process. Millions are in pain daily. Maybe I will crack the code or just make you laugh along you own journey. One that only you can shoulder and usually in silence. Why? As I am finding out unless you can make pain happy or positive, no one wants to know. It must be catchy.
The contagious factor.
It’s not. But unless you experience relentless pain. You have no response other than to buck up, take an Advil, stretch, lose weight. Etc. Idiots. I was one.
I sell it. Yup. Avon to me is the free multi-level marketing company that has every product under the sun. Almost too many. Why, Avon? Refer to the first line. FREE. Yup. Why would I spend hundreds of dollars on a lark. A tiny bit of Americana and small business dreams while living my daily teaching life. FREE was necessary as pushing the products online or in my neighborhood is not happening. I am one of those. If you like it buy it. I will send you a thank you, keep you updated on sales, but nothing else. No one needs one more DM. No one. Do you answer your door. Nope, neither do I.
I figure you know what you like, you will buy it, and I will cater to your future needs. I care. I just don’t want to be a lifetime nuisance. Friends have started passion projects and they have taken over their feeds. Marketing. I get it. Consider me anti-marketing. Ok, an occasional blog that shares our top products. But that’s it.
Today, as you ready yourself for spring, I have listed the top ten sales products company wide. I can personally get behind all things ANEW. Prices are great and father time is staying away, a bit. I also slather my body in Bug Guard Plus when I travel to woody areas. It works and helps keep harsh rays away from my freckled fair complexion. These are my faves.
So, if you are looking for a laid back Avon gal. Look no further. I will not hassle, hound, or push. You find your products, order, and in time I will be your gal who will go the extra mile, do any research you need, and of course be grateful you chose my hands off approach. But I will never be a bother as that is my non-marketing, marketing strategy.
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Epilepsy is a modern mystery left to man and an exhausting condition on its best days. Please note I am not complaining. Not my style. And I know I am lucky. I have it all, an advanced degree, career, driver’s license, and one kid. That was all we were granted, and probably the reason I teach. I also have an unnatural desire to organize toys, anyone’s toys. Not epilepsy related but it’s as if my mothering was done before my time. I was always longed for more children but one and done was logical. So if you got toys, give me a call. Or if you need additional mothering as my kid would like a break. Let me know. He is a good sport.
My story like others begins out of true fear. No one teaches epilepsy in school. Diabetes, yes. Epilepsy, no. My first experience was riding on a city bus to my figure skating lesson, oh yes. I was sporty too. A woman burst on the bus and screamed, “I am epileptic move.” Now, I was eleven and currently experiencing auras on a daily basis in quiet fear. While I thought the declaration was over-the-top, she scared me for many reasons so I moved the hell away. I got off the bus and walked the rest of the way to the rink in tears. I knew I would be that woman. Better dressed, less vulgar. But that was me. With every step towards the rink and a coach who had already called my grandfather for my being tardy I had apologies coming to many but mostly to myself for my living in fear.
As the story goes I had times where I lived in a bubble that would not break open, until ready. This confinement impeded my speech. Actually, stopped it, but left me in the living to be able to hear all around me. Initially, the episodes were short, no one ever knew. However, with time, each getting longer and longer but my fear and lies covered them up. Not well. But my ability to focus on the world around me caught everyone off guard as once it passed no one could tell the difference. Silent periods continued to grow longer with each passing episode but my odd ability to jump back into the conversation, with increased slurred speech, worked. I chalked everything off to fatigue and exhaustive days between school and the rink. Others, just shook their heads and labeled me as a rebellious teen. The game was exhausting as was the daily fear of what was around the corner and who would see it and when would my academy award winning acting breakthrough to the obvious secrets I was keeping. I was scared.
My first big seizure was in a bathroom. I just fell, seized alone, and bit off my tongue. Just clumsy right? Yup. Got a week off of school, lots of rest, ice cream, and my game was extended. Not even EMTs felt I needed hospitalization. My grandparents became like hawks circling their prey and waiting for a misstep. They knew. I knew. We all buried the truth as who doesn’t want a perfect kid. And it was such a heavy badge to wear and at that time late 70’s not one
A week later. The curtain came down on my show. The seizure was witnessed and hospitalization followed. Now, I knew what the tests would show. My grandparents kept talking in hushed tones of C words but I told them they had nothing like that to worry about. I was right but the doctors made my diagnosis like a death sentence, meds, no driving ever, no kids, university too taxing and on and on and on. My grandparents listened with tears streaming down their faces.
As soon as the doctor left I looked at them and said. “Whatever he said, we are not doing.” Let’s get these meds and get the fuck out of here.” I got a life to live, and I am gonna live! My grandfather laughed and my grandmother almost scolded me but beating the big C was good enough for her. I promised to take my meds, stop driving for a year, but I would go to college and I was going to stage a sit-in at the hospital until they agreed. They did. I was sprung and my first course of treatment began.
My story starts there. Today is a bad day. My mind scrambles into a million pieces trying to find the calm my brain needs to slow it down and focus on anything that is not repetitive in sound or feeling. On days like this I write. I listen to music, I do yoga, I watch movies. Anything to remove my brains overdrive and fixations. My sensory overload is at its max. Thus, hearing daily sound in stereo. The toaster, the baggies opening for breakfast goodies, the refrigerator door, the butter opening and closing…the insanity is my sanity on bad days and the view of life it brings me is priceless. Loud, priceless, and a gift that took me years to embrace and overcome the looks from an uneducated public not understanding that it is not a sentence of death or oddity but one of heightened life.
This is not a book about epilepsy. It is one about life and the removal of obstacles.
Well, I tried. Fell off the wagon and it took a very bad day of seizures to get me to recommit. Here is the problem. I love carbs. All of them. So, I am good for a few weeks and then a bagel catches my eye. I eat one and it is over. Way over. Then I catch up for lost time. Bagels, pizza, extra sugar etc. Back to feeling like crap, a few more seizures and the cycle starts again. Now, to stick to this my goal is a carb percentage of 20% not the 5% that some in keto can function with…I just cannot. Nor do I cook. So, life has to be simple. Pre-made salads (without the packaged dressing), pre-packed carrots, keto snacks, yes. Pre-packed. Dinner’s meat and frozen veggies. Dull but easy. I do not prep for the week. I tried. It is truly a chore no one needs, so I pay higher grocery prices. I am good. On Sunday to meal prep or watch my shows. TV for the win. My need to check out rest before the week of teaching is real and cooking is not rest. At least not for me. So, here I am after a very bad seizure day on day one. Again. A big plus in life is the no carb bagel. If toasted and covered with cinnamon, it is ok. I also found no carb bread, Cloudies, we shall see and a keto waffle. At least these will be my fake bread. It will help get me beyond the two weeks. I hope. Today, I won. Finally, after a long day and healthy foods, I feel better. This is what I have to remember every single day. I think I can.
Long ago in a text far, far away organized sisters came up with an idea to reunite. Our last time together was twelve years ago. While, I was part of the committee, I was just the commenter. Nothing more. Others had this and were focused to the finish line. Their vision was superb and a good time was had by all.
Yes, there were drinks, food, cake, pictures, glow sticks, and memories. All melted into one giant pansy of the past that formed our present. However, it was the stories that sung to my heart. Current chatter about this thing called life. The struggles, the obstacles, the frustrations and the delight of our children as we watched them grow into the humans they became no matter what we imparted into their upbringing. Mostly stories of delight but some utter heartbreak. But all of us raising them in our own giving/neurotic ways. Some more than others. Of course, I top the list in neurotic as an Irish Catholic/Jewish insane mom who watched a bit too much, but ended up with a different type of greatness that is still sorting out his own path as a father, photographer, and small businessman.
Aging. Ugh. I was one of the elders. We are all in the same place. Fighting the good fight and looking pretty good for 40 plus years since pledging our life to a house that changed our worlds. Surrounded by laughter, tears, formal dresses, parties, and occasionally classes. ASU has changed to meet the times and many of us with our partying ways of the past would not survive the ASU of today. Ok. At least me. I had fun and let loose from my odd upbringing. I met normal families, friends, and found my own way. I survived, thrived, and while did not become a famous broadcasting giant or an attorney, as I dreamed. I went for the brass-ring of happiness. Wife, teacher, mother. Fantastic trade. Almost thirty-four years later we are still a thing and while life is never easy, divorce was all around this weekend, so our survival made me feel blessed. Those that did make it through the marriage finish line felt the same way. Life is life and how it unfolds is anyone’s guess.
Life, death, sickness. None of us immune. This just hurt my soul. Some have struggled, all fear the struggle, and all aware that the next reunion some will be gone. That’s enough. More reunions, trips, lunches, contact in any form. Why? We all understand each other and we are going through the same chapters. All of us have seen each other at our most confused, ie college and perhaps we are the ticket to surviving our current challenges and delights.
Coming home after two evenings that delighted and drained me physically, as Netflix as become my go to of excitement. My reflection of the past, present, and future was mixed with all the love of a three year old grandnugget who paid a special visit. Which was better. You be the judge. Until again.
Yes, it begins. In education we call this time-period eternal damnation. It is a combination of the daily springbreak shuffle and the beginning of testing readiness for the state tests which grant us our precious 301 monies. As an aside, this never should have been the teachers carrot to success =money. It begets deranged teachers and students who have figured out (long, long ago) that they can pass to the next scholastic year even not on their best days. Even with failure. We cannot control their mindset on that day. I have created cheers, given out gum and mints (now banned), stretch yoga breaks. Prep talks, adnauseum and hyping the importance of the test. It is my only scripted moment of the year. Blah, blah, blah, blah. Other infamous Livingston end of testing activities are bubble parties, classroom bracelets with positive mindsets (doing this one, this year). But even with the review preparation that I begin this week. I cannot begin to guess the outcome. So, my money, hangs in balance and I NEED the funds. To end my aside. Let’s think and use these monies correctly, for the teachers, end the hoops as I can guarantee I am jumping. Enough of that.
To describe an average day, to anyone who is not in the trenches, from the Superbowl onward, is possible. However, no one believes me. Even my husband says I embellish. Nope. All real. Twenty-three years of stories locked up in my head. I have thousands of them which do not make for cocktail party dribble, unless you find another teacher, and frankly by the weekend we don’t do outside parties. We are in hiding. My stories range from the sweet to the disturbing. Currently, my kids are in the disturbing stage. This will pass. I hope.
Prior to the Superbowl, I had weekend outings and a life outside of my classroom. It was a focus. I was succeeding. But no more. I am tired, mentally exhausted, drained, and waiting for my life to resume the last week of May. This week did me in. So, this weekend while in my state of lucid hibernation I made a pact with myself. Instead of the wait and hide weekend system I have been using, I am going to go into intensive training for the final semester of school. Which in my mind compares to any long distance sport. Here we go!
*Note* obviously not based in science but then neither has the last few years. Take ideas, use, modify, but most importantly get ready for Spring in the way that it suits you. For example my goal is one evening out a week. That’s it. However, you may be introducing much more into your life outside of school. Bravo. Here are my tips to simplifying life and building the strength I will need to not dive into my currently weekly hibernation. Here we go:
1. Unless you love cooking don’t meal prep. Frozen dinners were created for teachers. Use them.
2. Stock your room with flavored water, soda etc as if you are a camel. Instead of schelping. Order and deliver to your school. Simplicity is everything as we near the end.
3. Order everything. It saves you approximately four hours a week. There is no reason to go into a grocery store. Ever. My extra four hours saved will be used to hang out with the hubs who is often left out my long work hours during the week and on the weekend.
4. Go to Mexico and stock up on ZPacks. Truly. Take vitamins daily and drink Emergency powder every single day.
5. I cook simply and from a frozen state. I do air fried shrimp, chicken, fish, and simple low calorie Chinese mixes and thus always have lunch remaining, if frozen is just too chilly. Take away. Cook, keep it clean and make healthy choices but don’t stress yourself out. Keep. It. Simple.
6. Log your foods and steps. I use My FitnessPal and it keeps me away from my recent over indulging through the holidays and an injury.
7. If like me and you have a few Covid-19 pounds. Work to get eating healthy and find your daily movement pl. Every Damn Day. I am now a morning spinner staring down the barrel of 200 rides. Another post.
8. Leave before 4pm.
9. Leave school at school. I still take school home on the weekend but not M-F.
10. Laugh. Enjoy. Love your kids. Your renewed bounce in your step from carving out your additional time, eating healthier, and moving might just cause you to retire after your official date. Or not. No judgment.