Astraphobia and “The Incident”.

I remember the days when I would love to curl up in bed and watch the thunder and lightening outside my window. I loved the way the sky would light up in such a way I could see the silhouette of the tree branches blowing in the wind. I found it relaxing. Fast forward to my late teens and that feeling changed into fear. Now, the fear is real, but it stemmed from what is now a pretty funny story. Y’all know I love a good self deprecating story, so here we go. After all, if you can’t laugh at yourself, how can you laugh at other folks (easily is the answer, btw).

Now, I can’t remember if I was living with my parents full time when this happened, or whether I was home from college. I know I was in my room at my parent’s house at the time, which we jokingly refer to as “the Big House”. The Big House was so named because it was a pretty big place that was, in all honesty, far bigger than the 3 of us in our little family needed, but my parents chose it when we moved to Virginia so we’d have plenty of space for people to visit. My room had it’s own bathroom, which I loved. (What I loved less after we sold it was finding out there were walking paths behind the house which I never knew about. Since the house backed up to protected forest land, I never worried about shutting the shades. I’m sure I gave some walkers a scary sight as I shuffled around my room in my underwear.) The house itself sat on a cul de sac in a nice neighborhood.

Anywho, it was the middle of the night, and I awoke having to use the bathroom. I shuffled into the bathroom, and turned on the low light. I sat down to pee, and was sort of leaning with my chin in my hand because I was groggy and half asleep. I was faintly aware of what sounded like rain outside the window that was right behind the toilet. (Why would you put the toilet right in front of a window?) but the shade was down so I couldn’t see anything. Suddenly there was a bang. Not a little bang, might you, but a BANG that would have scared the crap out of me, except for the fact that I felt something hit the back of my head with such force it knocked me out for a second. I opened my eyes and realized I was laying on the floor.

Now, I’m not sure if it was being half asleep, being clocked in the head, or what, but I pulled up my pjs and began to scream…..that I had been shot. My parents, awokened from a sound sleep came running from down the other end of the hall, terrified. They didn’t know what had happened, only that was screaming I had gotten shot in the back of the head. With no blood, no physical signs of being shot, they weren’t quite sure what had happened, and tried to calm me down, thinking perhaps I had a nightmare. I noted my radio had turned on by itself. my clock was flashing. My dad went in the bathroom and found the cause of my injury. It turns out that lightning had hit the house and traveled through the duct work. It hit my bathroom exhaust fan and blasted the cover off, which smacked me in the back of the head, knocking me out,

So there’s that.

Aren’t you glad you kept reading to see my embarrassing story lead to that?

The cover itself and a black flash of a soot mark on it.

My awkwardness holds no bounds, I tell you.

Flash forward several years, and lightning hit the house again. This time, it hit while my mom was home alone, aside from an electrician. My parents had decided to renovate and sell the house so they could retire, travel, and be closer to me. Unfortunately, as soon as they started the demo on the master bedroom and kitchen, my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. My father wanted to halt everything, but my mother persuaded him to keep going with the reno, thinking he may want to sell the house anyway after she died. With their room being under construction, and me having moved out, she was staying in my old room. An electrician was down in the basement working on the panels and during the storm, he saw a fireball on the side where the chimney was. Panicked, he ran upstairs and threw the door open to the room where my mom was. She calmly got up and went to see what had happened, checking on the master bedroom. There, a giant mirror on the wall where the chimney was had exploded. Glass was everywhere, and the frame was smoldering. She put it out. She looked out the window and the deck on both sides of the chimney was smashed up, with bricks lying everywhere. The lightning had blown about 3-4 feet off the chimney. All the electric on one side of the house was shot. It was a mess. “Is anything on fire?” she asked the electrician. He responded no, and she headed back to bed. The electrician was stunned. “Not much I can do about it. I’ll call my husband and have him call someone” she said, and got back into bed. The electrician was so freaked out by it all he left. To this day I am so grateful she was in my room, and not hers, as with all the flying glass it could have been a very bad situation.

It didn’t occur to me that these events had triggered a fear in me until a few years ago. My husband and I were in the car during a bad lightning storm, and I had a full on panic attack. Frozen in place, I couldn’t exit the car. I burst into tears and had trouble breathing. He looked at me shocked, as he’d never seen me in that state, but calmly talked me down until I felt like myself again. I used to suffer from anxiety when I was younger but now panic attacks are almost non existent and I feel like I finally have a grasp on the anxiety to where it no longer bothers me much. That moment shook me. I’m not used to having that kind of fear anymore.

Now all that being said, I have kids. And kids pick up on our thoughts, fears etc. This means I have to hold it together as much as possible and not freak out when there is a bad lightning storm. I don’t want them to take on that fear if possible. So I plaster a smile on my face and get through it. They know I’m nervous around lightning, but they don’t know how deep the fear runs. As I’ve been writing this, a big storm is passing through, and my cat and I are giving each other knowing, uncomfortable looks every time the thunder booms and the sky lights up.

Still better than thinking I got shot in the head though.

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Mother’s Day

Another Mother’s Day is in the books, and I am flat out exhausted. Yesterday was insanity and I managed it purely fueled on caffeine and mom power. My daughter had her annual gymnastic show, which meant a rehearsal at 12, show at 7pm. We arrived in plenty of time for rehearsal, me with a large black coffee in hand. After rehearsal we stopped to visit my husband at work, then headed home to get my son. My son asked he could go hang out with his friends at a park a few towns over. Due to some circumstances I’ll write about later, I said yes, but that meant a 20 minute trip out there. After dropping him off, I took the little one for lunch. That’s when I realized she didn’t have black underwear to go under her leotard. She refused to go commando and declared doing so “so gross, mama”. We then raced 20 minutes to the mall to track some down. Do you know how difficult it can be to find black undies for girls?

Once we arrived at her favorite store, we found the undies, and somehow came home with two bathing suits for her as well (damn you, sale! Damn you!). Then it was a race to drive the 20 minutes back to get the boy, before getting everyone back home, cleaned up, dressed, hair done, and back for her show.

After the show, we grabbed food with family and came home to collapse. That was the plan anyway, and the kids did crash out, but the husband and I had way too much fun being silly with Snapchat filters, and before I knew it, it was 2 am.

I awoke to a little face smiling at me, wishing me a happy Mother’s Day, cuddles and giggles. I opened gifts, and I headed up for a shower. I had to take a few minutes to allow myself to think about my own mom and grandmas. I miss them all terribly and this year, Mother’s Day has been a little harder on that front. I allowed myself a few tears before deciding to do something the kids would love today.

We have sort of started a Mother’s Day tradition, but this year it POURED with rain. Anything outdoors was out of the question. Also, fancy restaurants on Mother’s Day are, as any server will tell you, often hell on earth. I headed downstairs and looked at everyone. They all wanted me to choose today’s plans. Personally I hate being in charge of plans but I felt a little better knowing I actually had something in mind.

“Honestly? I want to go to the diner for a laid back lunch, and then how about we go Go Kart Racing? And to the trampoline park?” I said. And it was on like Donkey Kong.

Lunch was delish, simple, and laid back. This particular diner came very recommended by my brother and sister in law, and their recommendation was spot on. The go Kart place we went to was HUGE. There is the racing downstairs and a trampoline park upstairs. My son and I went to do racing, while my husband and daughter did jumping. My son had a gift certificate for the place from my dad and step mother for Christmas, and for Mother’s Day, all my races were free! It was honestly a blast!

We topped the whole day off with ice cream and headed out for the long drive home. I’m tired, sore, but absolutely content. I’m so very lucky to have my husband and kids. While mommin’ ain’t easy, it sure is worth it.

Creating Happiness

This year I started off super antsy. After coming out of a year where the family and I took an amazing trip back to England, I came eager to travel some more. I always come back from England, where I was born, feeling nostalgic, yearning for a simpler, more country based life, and feeling a strong pull to go back. January has felt like it’s been 85 days long already, and I found myself starting the month off NEEDING change in whatever form I can get. I need some change, and I need things to look forward to. It brings me happiness.

I’ve always been a firm believer that one CHOOSES to be happy. As someone who grew up struggling with depression and anxiety, I had to make some solid life changes. It had become so bad I was in a very dark, sad place. I woke up one day and realized just how bad it had gotten, and knew something had to change. Depression is much deeper than a simple attitude shift, trust me, I know. That being said, the first step for me in learning to manage and come out the other side of depression was to find ways of changing my mindset. The first thing I needed to realize was that I can’t always change a situation, but I can change my mindset about how to deal with it. I can choose how I look at things, or research things to learn to see things a different way. Once I started choosing and really trying to look at things from different perspectives, I noticed a break in the doom and gloom. It helped me to start the process of managing things much better.

My mom once told me…”no matter how bad things get, someone is always worse off than you”, which helps to keep things in perspective sometimes. I remember my dad recounting a story of when my parents when to a huge business dinner in NYC. The dinner was a big deal, and mother, despite being in terrible pain from a degenerating disc in her spine, was determined to go. She needed a cane, and was struggling to walk. My father looked at her, struggling, and said “maybe we should just go back to the room and forget the dinner….you don’t have to put yourself through this”. My mother turned and said “I’ve been looking forward to this dinner for ages, and remember, no matter how bad things get, there is always someone who has it harder, or worse off than me. I can do this!”. Just then the elevator door opened, and inside was a man who only had one leg. My mother glanced at my father and proceeded to head to dinner. She knew that happiness is realizing what you have, that things could always be worse, and being grateful that your struggles are your own. Someone once said if everyone threw their stuggles in a bowl, most of us would all grab our own back. Frankly, we don’t know what others are dealing with, and at the end of the day, struggles are often minimal when you see what others are struggling with. I am an oft repeater of “silver linings!” Even when things are bad, one can usually find a silver lining if they look harder enough. Even if it’s a small one.

But I digress.

Winter is a tough time for many, especially those with depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder. While I don’t struggle like I used to, I do make a conscious choice to plan things to look forward to. Why? Because on a bad day, I can look at my calendar and despite the busy chaos, I can see a vacation, a trip, or a school event I am happy about. This reminds me that happy days are ahead. I am excited to go visit my dad soon. This usually also entails not only a happy time with him and my step mom, but also a dinner out with my close friends I don’t get to see very often. Always fun. I am excited about a family vacation I have planned. While it won’t be cheap, it gives me a goal, something to work towards, and something exciting to share with the husband and kids. I have a few day trips planned, one just by myself, to spend a day wandering and sight seeing. There is a school field trip I am chaperoning, which made my daughter beam ear to ear when I told her.

These trips and events keep me looking forward in a positive manner. I LOVE my job and what I do, but I have stressful days like everyone else. On those stressful days, I remind myself those extra hours or that hard work is earning me money towards a vacation. When I am cleaning the house (which admittedly I’m not great at….have you seen the title of my blog?) and I find change people have left everywhere, I am at least excited to put it in the vacation fund. When January hit and stomach bugs and flu arrived at our house, I console myself that we’re getting it out of the way now and will be healthy again hopefully for the happy events planned. Having something to look forward to brings happiness.

Not only do I plan the event, I plan little, simple things about it that bring me joy. Some of these revolve around food. That probably explains why I am working on losing some weight….10 pounds down so far! For example, the trip to NYC I have in mind. I am already planning and excited to go to Tea and Sympathy for dessert. Why? Because they have one of my favorites there. It’s a British tea shop, and their rhubarb and custard reminds me of being a kid in England. When visiting my dad I always go for fajitas at my favorite place. It was a place I used to go to with my mom. While the food is delicious, the memories it conjures up are happy ones spent with my parents and friends. Happiness is a feeling, and being as sentimental as I am, I always lean towards it.

Looks like it’s going to be an exciting (and yummy!) year!

Granny Panties?

I’ve written about a lot of weird stuff in my life, but today is probably up there on the list. That being said, this morning was deemed a granny panty day. For the record, I abhor the word “panty” and typically only use it only in combination with the aforementioned “granny” before it. I assume I’ll break that rule multiple times by the end of this post. Before we delve into the story, for the record, I own about one pair of granny panties, and usually prefer to go the thong route myself.

So, there are these panties that I’ve had for YEARS. They aren’t huge panties, by any stretch, but as a thong user, these don’t get much use because they are butt-cover panties. I already have a sad excuse for a rear end (all boobs, no ass at all) so I have always decided to go with no panty lines and keep things back there as neat and tidy as possible. No panty lines, no wedgies…just smooth. These panties were a gift from my mom’s mom, and I’ve had them probably 20 years. That being said, they have remained in my drawer, and despite having them so long, they haven’t seen much wear until somewhat recently. My grandmother always got my mom beautiful, dainty and lacy underwear for Christmas each year. I can’t tell you which year I received my first pair of undies from her, but this pair was it. They were black, covered my butt, and had some lace. These were not sexy panties…oh no. These were practical panties with a little lace to convince yourself you weren’t going full on practical.

At the time I received them, I thought they were nice enough, but felt a hair embarrassed my grandmother had gotten me undies, plus shunned them a bit because they were practical briefs…and I had already learned girls with no asses were prone to one cheeked wedgies. Plus, I felt chubby (my god I wish I was as fat now as I thought I was back then…I was about 120 lbs!) so these panties just symbolized my issues with weight. That being said, they were luxuriously soft and comfortable. I relegated such a practical item to the back of my drawer.

Multiple moves, over multiple states, and still those panties came along for the journey. I suppose I kept them because my grandmother had given them to me and I’m a sentimental person. She lived 3000 miles away, but somehow had always made me feel close and loved. She was one of my favorite people, and damn it, if she gave me granny panties, I was gonna keep them, even if I didn’t wear them! That is, I didn’t wear them, until I did.

When I was pregnant, those were a favorite, because they were the perfect level of snug but still comfortable and stretchy, not to mention oh so soft. They took me through medical issues, hospital stays, weight gain, weight loss, and days when I just felt like I needed to be cozy. They weren’t the sexiest, but they were pretty. They felt a bit magical, because they always fit perfectly, no matter what size I was, and their softness made me happy.

Today, I went to grab underwear out of my drawer and my hand felt the softness of the pair my grandmother gave me all those years ago. I slipped them on…after all, it’s a cold, dreary Monday and a girl could use some soft comfort. It reminded me of how her gift has lasted me all these years, and went from being sort of shunned in my young stupidity, to being a favorite in my later years. I felt silly for my early reaction, and mulled over that these panties had meant more to me, and taught me more than I expected. I learned that comfort and practicality is so very important. Quality is important. Happiness with small things in life is important. These make me happy.

Such a silly thing, really, finding happiness in a pair of underwear gifted by a now deceased but always beloved person. Who knew that one could learn a lesson from such a gift. They truly are my “granny panties” but I wouldn’t have it any other way.