Thursday, April 23, 2015

Welcome to our celebration

Hello everyone! Well, it seems we have a tradition of being late in celebrating our annual blogiversary, and this year is no exception. Several of you wrote us to remind us it's time to celebrate and here it is!

Our very first blog post was on April 4, 2011. The first post was actually dated March 26 because, well, we were still trying to get use to how this particular platform worked. 

Matty formatted that first post and got it all ready for the big launch day, which was to be April 4th. So we worked on the post together and he then formatted it and got everything ready on March 26. So on Launch Day he went in and clicked "PUBLISH" and we watched the screen blossom with our new blog!

And then... we saw the date at the top. Saturday, March 26, 2011.

We had no clue that you could write a post whenever you wanted and then "Schedule" it to go up for a later date. We wanted the first post to go up on April 4, so on April 4 we just clicked "Publish Post" and assumed that date would appear. Oops.

But I guess the important thing is we got things started nonetheless. Our first post title was, "Here we are & here we go!" And it's so cool to see some of you who commented on that first day are still part of our blog family!

It's also been so exciting to see many more of you join us at various points along the way. And every now and then someone will come out of lurking to say hello. You guys have really helped make our blog something we're pretty proud of. So Thank You for participating!!

The other really important thing we want to say is this. Whether you realize it or not, YOU have helped both of us, and this includes Sam, not only feel cared for when we've gone through some hard times, but have actually helped us grow into more mature adults. 

I had initially typed "...helped us hopefully grow..." but I decided to take that "hopefully" out because I think I can say with certainty that we both have grown personally because of comments you've made and perspectives you've shared that have helped us see ourselves in a more positive and realistic light. 

I guess that's a long way to say, "Thank you for helping us discover and embrace our better selves." And we both hope you never for a second underestimate the power and influence your comments have made on us.

I remember Matty panicking inside when he first started posting very openly and directly about the attack he survived when he was in high school. He said he felt so exposed and his anxiety spiked when he shared what had happened and even came very close to deleting some of those early posts after they had been up for just an hour.

And now? Here he is with all his courage and strong determination to confront the impact that attack had on him. He told me each time he wrote about that trauma and saw how proud all of you were that he was taking care of himself by beginning therapy, he felt more determined to stick with his counseling. And it meant so much to him (and me) when some people started writing him to say Thank You for helping them think about getting help for themselves.

And I KNOW with absolute certainty that all of you have helped me see myself as brave and courageous in approaching my dad to see if we could heal our estranged relationship. And look where things are now! I can't say Thank you enough for believing in me and being interested and wanting to know how things were going.

It's kind of interesting to glance at the blog stats periodically. As we begin our fifth year, we're on the way to having a million "page-views all time history." The actual number is 927,246 as of today. And after 932 posts, there have been 20,898 "published comments." You guys are a chatty group! Which is GREAT!

So as we begin our fifth year, we raise our glass in good cheer to all of you. Thank you for enriching our lives! You mean a lot to us!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Gift items

Just wanted to give you guys an update on some items we selected for our wedding gift registry. Thanks to Ann Marie for the suggestion you see in the pic up there! Brad and I got a big chuckle but he thinks I'm kidding when I say I'm dead serious about including it!

Oh, and I found a similar item that I'm adding:

I mean, I love cookouts and barbecues... and I love helping people smile and have a good time, so why not?

Just got to get Brad on board now! LOL. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Boston One - Boston Strong

Cover, Boston Magazine
May 2013
Today is Patriot's Day, an official State holiday here in Massachusetts as well as in Maine and Wisconsin.

And it's the day of the Boston Marathon here in Boston. We get the day off from school and work and we plan to be on the course cheering for my Aunt Nora who qualifies each year. She runs as part of a fundraising event for breast cancer survivors, having survived breast cancer herself.

We'll be in one of the suburbs to give her our love and encouragement just prior to Heartbreak Hill. I'm so incredibly proud of my aunt. She's one of the most selfless people I know and I count her as one of my Heroes. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sundays with Sam: Our interview - part 2

Hi every one. It's Sam-I-Am along with Boyfriend RICK! It's Sunday and time for part 2 of our interview.

Rick, would you like to say hello to every one before we get started?

R: Sure, Sam. Hi everyone! -- Uh, why do I show up in bold?

S: Well, I'm editing the post and this way every one can tell us apart. And you are BOLD in my life!Emoji
R: You make me smile.Emoji 
S: Okay, let's get down to business. All this kissing is nice but we have an audience and some questions people left us to answer. But you can kiss me one more time.
S: Five times? See? You are bold!Emoji
R: I also wanted to see you smile. Your dimples look good on you.Emoji
S: Thank you. So let's look over the questions every one left. Some people wanted to know what kind of underwear we wear. Like boxers or briefs, and then there is one about commando. 

R: Why don't you tell them the commando story first?

S: HA! HA! Okay. Well, when krisgils said we should add commando to the list of boxers or briefs, I didn't know what commando was. So I did a search and the first thing that popped up was the name of a movie and then there was an app for a video game. So I was sure that was not what she meant so I contacted you and you told me it was when you don't wear any underwear at all! And you wanted to know why I was asking about commando and I said, "Are you still coming over to see me later?" and you said "Yes" and I said "I'll explain when you get here." 

R: That's right. When I got there I asked about why you were asking and you did a little Show & Tell. But mostly Show.Emoji
S:EmojiSee how educational this blog is? I'm learning many new and interesting things!
R: Okay, so before Matty & Brad make this blog X-rated, I'll answer the underwear question first. I'm strictly a boxers guy.

S: And I go back and forth between being a briefs and boxer-briefs guy. When I am not being a commando guy! HA! HA!

R: I hope I'm the only one who knows you're a commando guy sometimes.

S: Well, the whole world knows now because we answered the questions here. But you are the only one who gets to see me commando!Emoji
S: Hey, it's getting a little warm in here now for some reason. Maybe we should just go through the questions people answered. I feel a little lightheaded.Emoji
R: Haha! Okay, let's cool things down now. Hey, how about this question from Kari? "What is your favorite physical and non physical thing you like about the other?"

S: Oh that's a good one. The favorite physical thing I like about you happens when we are sitting and just talking to each other and you have your arms around me, like when we're on the sofa, and then I look up at you and you have this slight tilt to your head and your eyes are kind of squinted in a relaxed way and you're looking straight inside me and have a small smile on your face. I LOVE that look on your face and just melt inside and even though you some times don't say a single word, I can hear you telling me how special I am and how there is no where else in the world you want to be except right there with me at that very minute. Hey, maybe I answered both parts of Kari's question.

R: I think you did, too. And you're totally right about what I'm thinking.

S: Oh wait. I have one more thing to add. Can I add it?

R: You're adorable. Yes. Go for it.
S: Be careful when you say "Go for it."Emoji
R: Haha. Okay. Let's hear what you want to add.

S: Well, another non physical thing I like about you is your manners. I know that may sound dorky but what I mean is how courteous you are to other people. Some people might say you're a little old fashioned when it comes to manners, but I LOVE how thoughtful and courteous you are. Like, when we go to the library or to the mall, you always open the door for other people and let them go in first. And remember that time we were sitting in the Food Court and that lady accidentally tripped and dropped her bags? You immediately got up and went over and offered to help her. My Knight in Shining Armour. 

R: Aw. I just think that's being considerate. We need more of that in the world. Okay, here's my answer to Kari's question. My favorite physical thing about you is your face. You have the most beautiful smile and when you smile, those dimples get me every single time. Oh, and that small scattering of freckles across the bridge of your nose? I get a little dizzy sometimes just looking at you. You would think I might be use to them by now, but I melt every time.

And the favorite non-physical thing about you is how you inspire me to be a better person. A lot of awful things have happened to you and it still amazes me how you haven't turned into a bitter, angry person. You have so much life and hope inside you and it's helped me remember that in spite of all the evil and bad things in this world, goodness and love always triumph.

S: Now I'm going to cry.

R: And that's the other thing I love about you. Your tender heart.

S: You're sweet. 

R: You're sweeter.

= = = = = = = =

Hey guys, I think that's all we'll do for today. We have the complete list of all your other questions and if you want to add to the list, please feel free, okay?

Like I said a few weeks ago, RICK (you know, my HONEY BUNCH BOYFRIEND) and I want to maybe have one Sunday a month where we do this kind of interview. Promise.

P.S. Did you notice I used HONEY BUNCH before BOYFRIEND? That is one of the nicknames I have for My RICK. That term is very special to me because that is the sweet name my Grandma use to call me when she was alive. She would say, "How's my sweet Honey Bunch? Come here and let me hug some love in you." Not a day goes by that I don't think about her.

Well, that's all for today. Hope you enjoyed our interview. And like I said, we plan to do this once a month now.

For now, we both wish all of you a VERY HAPPY SUNDAY!

S: Say bye, Rick.

R: Bye, Rick.Emoji

S: [to every one:] See how funny he is?

Both of us: Bye for now. Remember to do some good in the world every day! 
Love & Big Hugs.Emoji

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Reclaiming my awesome

I mentioned a long while back that I really, really love penguins. I've watched tons of documentaries and educational films of these amazing creatures. 

My fascination with them started when I was a little kid. I clearly remember my mom taking me and my brothers to the New England Aquarium where they have a huge section of the aquarium devoted to penguins. You get to see them in their burrows and learn all kinds of things about their underwater speed.  

Since getting into woodcarving a few years ago, I'm always drawn back to carving these beautiful and fascinating creatures.

So when I saw the pic I posted above, something really hit me hard. I'm funny like that. I can see an image or even something in real time and immediately my brain starts telling a story about it. 

So when I saw the penguin image I posted up there, I started getting incredibly sad inside. And it took me a while to stay with the image and my feelings so I could understand what was going on inside me.

I started imagining that penguin being sad about spending too much time on land. And it made me sad. Maybe I came up with that because you can't see the penguin's face. I always look to faces to get a sense of what's going on. Which, parenthetically, and totally off-topic, is why I HATE book covers where the people's heads have been cropped off. There's just a deadness about those images that makes me want to look away. But I digress.

Then my brain started telling a happy story about the penguin running toward something important. I mean, if you look closely, you see what might be the ocean. So maybe it was feeding time or play time or something happy. 

So after sitting with the image for a few days, I finally realized the story I was having inside me about that penguin. I started identifying with how that penguin was maybe running away from something -- namely it's land-life. And it was ready to return to it's natural element -- the sea -- where it could have a freedom it doesn't have on land.

To make a long story short, when penguins are on land they sorta waddle around in a very awkward and humorous way, but you get them in water and, man, they SOAR. They're sleek and fast and alive and curious and unstoppable. And I LOVE that about them!

Maybe there's some kind of ADHD theme in the story I was trying to develop in my brain. Sometimes I feel like I'm all over the place in my awkwardness -- sometimes just waddling around, kind of lost in all my thoughts -- like penguins on land.

But get me in my element -- my water -- and the very best of my ADHD comes alive with incredible speed, curiosity, energy. When I'm in my water, I'm all over the place, checking things out, going from this thing to that thing. Just so happy and peaceful to be in my element.

That image helped me realize something about school. I'm incredibly proud of myself for getting as far as I have in school. I've grown a lot. I've sharpened so many skills. Met so many incredible people and teachers. But I realized I've lost something important about myself. Something essential.

In school, after researching some topic I've been assigned, I've had to focus and sharpen my attention on the essential. I've learned a lot about editing and what to disregard and what to include and how to condense and how to be concise. How to sharpen my focus. What to keep and what to throw out. All important and essential skills in the learning process.

But it just doesn't feel natural to me. Like a penguin out of water. Being in school has left me feeling restricted, closed in, having to "fit" in a particular learning model that just doesn't feel natural and right for me -- like a penguin on land. Just sorta waddling around. Feeling awkward and aimless. 

But cut me loose and let me dive in the water and chart my own course? Man! I soar! I learn. I'm curious. I'm checking things out. I'm swimming from here to there taking in all the beauty. I'm assimilating all kinds of knowledge. Learning what's dangerous. Learning what's essential. Alive! I'm really alive!

I'm finishing school, no question about that. But lately I've been thinking about how to reclaim my own learning style -- reclaim the movement and speed of checking this out... checking that out.

And I'm also on a mission to reclaim ALL the awesomeness the Gift of Living with ADHD has to offer! It feels like all the structure of school has been draining me of my Brain Fire, and I'm getting it back.

I don't have an exact plan just yet, but that doesn't matter to me right now. After getting this awareness, I feel like I've taken an important first step to waddling myself down that stretch of beach so I can dive back in -- back into my own natural element of learning. And that has me really excited!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Like what you see?

Obviously not me.Emoji
I'm getting bold. Or bolder.

I love surprising Matty when he least expects it. 

When I get home from work, I love shedding my "public" clothes and changing into something more comfortable. If I don't have any plans to go out later, this might happen shortly after I get home -- sometimes it's a cute pair of sweat pants and a pretty t-shirt. But sometimes I'll go ahead and pick out the PJs I want to wear to bed. 

I always wear PJs to bed. In the summer months it's usually just the bottoms. In the colder months, I wear the full ensemble. 

But something mysterious always happens during the night because when I wake up each morning. My PJs are nowhere to be found.
Where do they go? How does this even happen?Emoji
Well, recently I bought a new lacy pair of bikini underwear. So pretty, too. Kind of a light blue color. I didn't show them to Matty after I got them because I was trying to think of a cute way to surprise him and show them off.

So on a recent Saturday morning while Matty was still trying to wake up, I got out of bed (au natural due to another mysterious disappearance of said PJs), and quietly tiptoed over to the dresser and got my new lacy undies and walked to the bathroom to brush my teeth.

After putting on the undies, I went to the kitchen to put on the coffee and get the promised egg, sausage, and waffle breakfast ready for us.

Matty finally woke up after smelling the coffee aroma and appeared at the kitchen entrance. I knew he was there even though he doesn't say anything while I'm at the stove and my back is to him. 

I tease him a little by "accidentally" dropping my spatula and bending over to pick it up.

He clears his throat. I turn around. He's au natural as usual. 
Somebody is awake -- in more ways than one!Emoji
Me: Hi.

Matty: {growly, sleepy voice} Hey.

Me: I'm making an egg breakfast.

Matty: Nice.

Me: You want it over easy -- or over hard?

Matty: {just staring at my undies}

Me: Over easy -- or over hard?

Matty: Over hard, please.

Me: Now?

Matty: Now.

The same mysterious thing that happens when I wake up each morning with my PJs nowhere to be found, also seemed to happen to my lacy undies in the kitchen that Saturday morning.

He eventually got his egg breakfast. 

A little later than originally planned. 
Yep. BADley is getting bolder.Emoji

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Heart whispers

I wanted to give you guys a little update on how things are with me and my dad. We continue to spend time with each other and it's been really nice as both of us continue to enjoy getting to know each other -- in some ways for the first time.

We're now at a point where it feels like what we have is solid and real and can sustain anything. And even though we haven't verbalized this directly, it seems like neither of us is interested in rehashing the past.

My counselor told me one time that the past never goes away. You can't cut it out and make it disappear because then there would be a gap -- a missing piece of your life. In me and my dad's case we have to work with what we have and make that past transform into something new. And we don't have to dig up every single slight or pain or disappointment we've ever had because a lot of healing of those things can happen as your heal your relationship with each other in present time.

In my counseling sessions I use the word "heart" a lot, as in "My heart tells me..." Recently my counselor asked me what my heart was telling me about me and my dad. I had to quiet my busy mind to hear what it had to say, and what follows are a few of the things I heard:

There is a big difference in being cautious with your heart, and slamming the door on it so you won't be hurt again.

I love that I'm opening my heart to my dad -- giving he and I a chance at something important to both of us. 

I'm listening to the whispers of caution, but seeing those whispers as a reminder that what's at stake is very important. 

If I slam the door shut, then where would it stop? Life is full of joy and hope as well as sadness and heartbreak. And my heart whispers that I am able and capable of experiencing whatever comes my way.

I just wanted to say how very much I continue to appreciate all the support and encouragement I get from you guys as I share bits and pieces of this new journey with my dad. We're in a really good place now and your encouragement means a lot to me.

Thank you so much -- from the bottom of my heart.♥

Monday, April 13, 2015

Count on it

Later this week I'm suppose to be getting the results of that psycho-neurological evaluation I had a short while back.

My psychologist recommended I have an updated one so we can see where things are now, and also to compare it with the one I had when I was in high school -- the one after I was attacked.

For a while I had all kinds of mixed feelings about it. Obviously the part of me that thought it was a good idea won. 

The part that was nervous was the part that felt like I was being graded and judged -- that I was going to be found lacking and deficient and damaged. 

But I'm proud of myself for how I worked through my ambivalence. It's just a snapshot into how my brain and personality work so I can get some more insight into how to shore up my strengths, and how to heal and make whole those tender and painful wounds. 

My psychologist says there's been a lot of research into the overlap of ADHD and PTSD. How they can sometimes work against each other, how they can sometimes work together -- how one complicates the other, how one can enhance the other. It's such an interesting way to look at ADHD and PTSD. Both of these "disorders" can cause so many problems just by themselves, but look out when you combine the two.

But you know what? I've even figured out a way to think about these "disorders" in an extremely helpful and positive way -- at least for myself.

Some dictionaries define "disorder" as "A state of confusion," while others define it as "An abnormal mental condition." 

See, one of the things I LOVE about my brain is how I can take such a negative word like "disorder" and play around with it. Sorta like letting my brain go out to play and telling it, "Let your imagination run wild with this word. Don't set any limits on the possibilities. Play with it a while. Look at it from every angle you can. Let's see what you come up with."

So after being playful with this word, here's what I came up with:

ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) has been about me making "order" out of how my brain "dis-orders" my thoughts and emotions. The same with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). The trauma I experienced created some major "dis-order" in my life, and my healing is all about taking that "dis-order" and creating "order." Pretty cool, huh? Redefining and then owing that word makes it into something I can now work with productively.

For a long time I always saw the ADHD as something that made me "damaged goods." But over the years I've worked incredibly hard to redefine it as something I can be proud of -- as something that makes me unique. 

Sure, there's still what I call "the ADHD demon." When I'm not grounded, that demon can really trip me up -- big time. My emotions can be all over the place in a very disorganized manner. My thoughts can be all over the place in a very disorganized manner. And when the ADHD Demon rears it's head, I can misinterpret emotions, thoughts, situations, relationships. But that's when I have to get myself grounded so I can bring some "order" to all the "dis-order" it creates.

The same is true for the PTSD, though I have less experience dealing with it at this point. When my anxiety spikes, or I go into a state of hypervigilance, or get lost in a flashback, my emotions and thoughts can be all over the place. And the challenge is to get myself grounded so I can bring some "order" out of all this "dis-order."

So when they go over the evaluation with me, I'll be grounded beforehand so I can see it as a helpful tool in my healing. See, I'm in this for the long haul. I have some very real and solid strengths. And I have some very real and painful wounds. Those strengths can be helpful in healing those wounds. And nothing -- nothing -- will get in my way.

Like the sign up there says, I. Will. Not. Be. Stopped. Count on it.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

We'll be back

Hi everyone. Things have been pretty hectic this past week and we need to take a short break from blogging. 

Sam and Rick both said they've been putting in some extra hours at work and are pulling together part 2 of their interview, which they hope to have completed in time for tomorrow. We told them if they need a little extra time we'd be happy to give them a day during the upcoming week.

For us, there's just a lot going on with school and work and we want to make sure we keep our feet firmly planted on the ground. We had some plans to get with friends this weekend but we're reassessing that because it feels like "being on" in social settings would be more draining than renewing. 

One of us will have something short posted on Monday. But for now we need to slow things down and relax.

Thanks for understanding. See ya Monday!

Monday, April 6, 2015

What if, what if, what if???

When I started therapy recently for my PTSD (see, I'm now trying to use the term in a more direct manner instead of "what happened to me in high school"), my psychologist recommended -- well, strongly recommended -- that I should get set up with a physician for primary medical care.

He explained that the trauma I went through had medical consequences and I needed somebody to know that in case it ever had a bearing on any health issues in the future. And he also said emotional trauma could have a stress impact on my current physical health. 

So now I have a psychologist doctor for my trauma therapy, a psychiatric doctor for my ADHD, and a primary care medical doctor for my general health needs. It's like I have a whole medical team behind me, which feels reassuring and comforting, but also a little intimidating. I know it's important that I do whatever I need to do to take care of myself, so I'm good with it. Pretty much, I suppose.

I've been putting it off for the longest, and you might get a tiny hint why from that picture above and the next one below. Yes. That's right. The thought of being probed in my nether region by a totally strange man makes me extremely anxious.

Don't get me wrong, I've seen doctors before. I had a pediatrician when I was a kid but was dragged there kicking and screaming every single damn time, whether to get a shot, or to get my arm in a cast because I was known to be highly hyperactive and prone to all kinds of accidents, or to get medicine for sore throats, coughs, you name it.

My dad is a doctor and would take care of the more minor things like cleaning and bandaging all the scraped knees I got, treating the injuries from colliding with other kids when we would drag race on our bicycles, etc. I love my dad more than you can imagine, but I hate seeing a doctor.

As an adult, I have to have periodic medical screenings for my work. Carpenters are prone to all kinds of occupational injuries and they have to see if you have any particular physical limitations that would keep you from doing heavy lifting, make sure any medications you're on can be safely "mixed" with work that is sometimes dangerous, etc.

But there's no need for a prostate exam. Your prostate gland is never utilized in building and installing cabinets, using power tools, operating a circular or table saw, or a router. But this was a different kind of exam. It was going to cover (or uncover) everything! OMG! 

I tried to reassure myself that the doctor had probably done hundreds and hundreds of these "digital" exams in his professional role as a doctor. No big deal. Does it all the time. Probably takes all of 15 or 20 seconds. 

But then I started over-thinking it... I figured the patient (that would be me) would assume the position while the doctor puts on his glove, squeezes out some lube, rolls himself over on one those low-to-the-floor metal stools so he's eye-to-eye with his target, says to the patient, "Okay, just relax," goes in, wiggles his "digit" around, comes out. 

And unless the doctor says something, would the patient (me) be left standing there, still assuming the position, waiting to see what to do next? OMG. I was afraid to do any research on the procedure prior to the visit because finding out more about it might raise questions and my anxiety might spike even higher.

So anyway... On Thursday I went in for my first physical with my new doctor. It was one of those comprehensive exams where you have to take off all your clothes and put on one of those ridiculous paper gowns that's open in the back! OMG! I started sweating over that! Why are they open in the back? OMG. Don't even answer that. OMG. I decided to rebel and at least keep my socks on. I mean, I needed to preserve a little dignity. Sheesh.

So I'm sitting there on this exam table waiting to meet my new doctor. Wearing just my socks and this paper gown that's wide open in the back. And then there's this knock on the exam door. 

OMG. What am I suppose to do? Do I get down off the table and go answer it? OMG! I wanted to say, "Go away, please. I'm not dressed," but I managed to say, "Come in," at the same time he opened the door with a smile on his face (!) and introduced himself and we shook hands. But when I reached out to shake his hand, it made the paper gown open all the way in the back. OMG. This. Whole. Scenario. Was. SO. Awkward!

So now he's making light chit-chat... like we're at a party and everything was peachy normal! Except he's fully dressed and I'm only wearing this paper gown and socks that don't even match the gown. I mean, really? Can you picture this scene? I'll bet his socks matched his outfit, but I didn't dare check. This is so extremely awkward.

So after our little party chit-chat, he asked a ton of questions to get some history and background. When he got to the question about my marital status, it felt really nice that he didn't make any assumptions about gender or orientation. Just, "Are you married, single...?" and when I said I was engaged, he just said, Oh. Congratulations. When are you getting married?" I told him we haven't set a date yet and somehow I worked Brad's name into the conversation and he's asking how long we've been together.

So now that he's got the history and background, he starts the exam. The usual stuff. Listens to my heart. Looks in my ears and mouth and nose. OMG. Checking my orifices! I can see where this is going. OMG.

Well, being the social creature I am, I start asking questions. "What are you looking for in my nose?" "Does that light you're shining in my ear come out the other ear?" I. Am. Getting. Anxious. OMG.

If he does a prostate exam, what might happen? Worse case? I'd pop a woody. What if I did? What if more happened? What if I enjoyed it? OMG. 

I decide the direct approach is the best. "So, are you going to check my prostate?" 

"Not at your age. We start those between forty-five and fifty."

"Oh. That's good."



"Unless there's a family history of prostate problems, and we might start a little earlier."

"There's no history in my family."

"Great. We won't have to do one today."

I am SO relieved I almost want to kiss him. But I was appropriate and just said, "Cool" like it didn't matter one way or the other to me. Hahaha!

Then I had to stretch out on my back on the exam table. Didn't have to worry about the back of the gown being open. But... then he lifts the paper gown and starts poking around my abdominal area and THEN says he wants to check my testicles! OMG. 

He's explaining how I should do a self-exam periodically. So, with my balls being manipulated by his "digits," I'm learning about bumps that might indicate a problem. I'm honest to God trying to pay attention because I know this is important, but... OMG. What if I pop a woody? OMG. Thankfully I don't have any worrying bumps, and I did NOT pop a woody! Whew.

THEN he's doing a visual inspection of my penis which is making me a little self-conscious, and I'm thinking, What if this is when I pop a woody? But, thank goodness, Dick and his Boys maintain their composure.

He did some other things like check my reflexes, etc. He then put in orders for blood work and told me where the lab was located. And now the exam was about over. 

I survived. All those What ifs didn't actually come to pass. What a relief.

When I got home later, I told Brad all about it. 

Brad: "He played with your balls?"

Me: "No. He showed me how to do a self-exam. I can show you later if you want."

Brad: "Okay. But you're taking a shower later, aren't you?"

Me: "Sure. Why are you asking?"

Brad: [*smiling*] "Another man touched your balls."

Me: "But I didn't enjoy it."

We both had a good laugh at that.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Sundays with Sam: Happy holidays

Hi every one! I know we promised Part 2 of the interviewing we're doing, but we'll be back next week answering a bunch of questions you left for us two weeks ago.

In the mean time, I know there are different holidays being celebrated, including Passover and Easter. I wasn't raised to celebrate either of these but I always look forward to over doing chocolate eggs, chocolate bunnies, and jelly beans.

RICK (my boyfriend) and I will be over at his parents and I am really looking forward to all the food his mom and dad prepare for every one.

But mostly I can't wait to enjoy the chocolate goodies!

So what ever you might be celebrating -- or even if you are not celebrating -- RICK and I would like to sincerely say we hope you have a wonderful day.

See you next Sunday!


Sam and Rick

Thursday, April 2, 2015

A big welcome to Kari

       Art Journaling and Beyond

A BIG welcome to our very own Kari (aka Yukari) as she joins the blogosphere!

In her first post this past Monday, she shared, 

"I've been following other people's blogs for years...artists, writers, and other interesting people.  Why would anyone want to see my art or read what I have to say?  Perhaps there won't be too many of you reading this. But lately, I've had a need to share.  Share my creative process or my thoughts."

Like all of you who read and comment on things we post here on our blog, Kari has added a lot to our little community here. 

And if you remember, we've posted some of the artwork she's done when something we've written inspires her, or we'll share some of the art she posts on social media. 

She's even done a few artistic pieces for Sam and one over the holidays for Sam and Rick under the mistletoe.

Matty and I went through a bunch of her amazing artwork and we each picked one that really, really spoke to us.

This is the one I picked: 
And this is the one Matty picked:
We both think she's incredibly talented and hope you'll click on this link to her new blog and see what she's up to: Art Journaling and Beyond.

We also added her link in the sidebar to the right under "Our Fave Blogs."

Monday, March 30, 2015

Reframing my mood

Oh man. If you had only seen the post I had originally written for today. 

Whine, complain, moan, grumble. You name it.

I know I'm entitled to whatever emotion I'm having at any given moment -- or hour -- or day. 

But if I had to spend time with someone like me today, my mind would be a million miles away thinking about my next adventure, a really interesting book I wanted to start, going for a swim, relaxing with some wood (woodcarving, that is! Haha), or deciding on the next relaxing horror movie I wanted to watch.

So when I came across the quote you see up there, it really made me think about something my therapist said a few weeks ago.

He was talking about this thing called "cognitive reframing" and it's where you take some thought or mood that's in the "irrational" category and then you challenge the irrational part of it and "reframe" (or change) it to be rational.

So I've been trying to be aware of my moods to see if they can use some reframing. One thing he said, though, is that sometimes the mood we're experiencing is totally rational and doesn't need changing. Like, if someone close to you found out some bad news, then you might feel sad or upset, and there's no rational reason to "reframe" or change that emotion. It's totally rational and appropriate. 

But I've found myself back in the funk I was in a number of weeks ago when I was going on and on and on and on about the weather and how depressing it was. Granted there was some rational basis for that emotion because it was really complicating our life in some pretty major ways -- ice and snow on the roof which somehow caused a leak from the roof into our living room -- slipping and falling on the ice several times -- pulling a muscle shoveling snow -- blah, blah, blah.

But all the stuff that's gotten me in a funk now are things I can do something about without a lot of effort. I had to spend time this weekend completing some extremely boring and tedious paperwork for school (online, which I HATE doing!!! Give me a pen and paper any day, thank you!!). 

I had forgotten that I don't have to sit down and complete the whole darn thing in ONE sitting. And while I'm working on it, I can get up and take some of my walking breaks that really make this kind of tedium bearable.

And the leak in the living room ceiling? Well, we got a snow and rain storm Saturday so it started leaking water from the ceiling into this ugly blue utility bucket in the living room again. What a PAIN to deal with! Well, the insurance adjusters have already been out and we're all set there, so the roofers will be out in a few weeks to repair that. And I can be there to see what they do so I can ask questions while they work and thus learn something useful for the future. That makes me happy.

Anyway, I guess what I'm trying to say (getting back to the quote up there), is that I am continuing to learn how to be happy and I don't want to be the person who makes me feel anything less if I can help it. I can be my own worst enemy if I don't stay on top of it.

So, Reframing is the word of the week for me! If my thoughts or emotions are irrational, I'm trying to be aware of them so I can challenge them. 

Have a great day!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sundays with Sam: Our interview - part 1

Hi every one! Happy Sunday! As promised last week, today begins the first part of our Special Interviews. You guys were so great last Sunday when you left some questions you wanted to ask us and believe me, RICK and I are having SO much fun thinking about how we are going to answer them.

But for today RICK and I are going to interview each other. So this is how we went about it. We heard about this wicked awesome Cat who is an expert in interviewing people. That's a picture of the Interviewing Cat up there. But that Cat was a little bit intimidating, don't you think? HA HA!! So we thanked the Interviewing Cat for his/her time but decided to just interview each other.

Anyway, since I am the Host for the Post (OMG that rhymed!! HA! HA!), RICK allowed me to make an introduction to the interview by welcoming him to the Post today. And then we just decided to let it flow from there. We recorded the whole thing so we could make sure we got things right for this post and so we wouldn't forget what we said. After we finished the interview we then decided what to leave in and what to edit out. We are planning to maybe occasionally make this a regular feature so you will get to read other things we talked about.

I know the length of this post looks really long, but the sentences are short and once you get started it goes by pretty quick.

So here goes.

Sam: Thank you for stopping by today, Rick. Are you nervous?

Rick: Thank you, Sam. A little bit.

Sam: Why?

Rick: Because of your first question.

Sam: There's nothing to be nervous about. Unless you are trying to hide some thing.

Rick: I won't hide anything, but you were grinning when you asked the question.

Sam: I won't try to trip you up. Promise.

Rick: Ha ha! Now you're grinning again when you said you wouldn't try to trip me up.

Sam: Do you trust me? [totally serious face with no grinning]

Rick: Of course I do.

Sam: So why are you grinning now?

Rick: Because you make me happy. And because I like how you're dragging this out because that's so typical of you. Ha ha!

Sam: Why do you like me dragging things out like this?

Rick: Because when you do that, there's always this big surprise at the end that totally catches me off guard. I can always tell you're heading somewhere that's going to make me want to hug and kiss you.

Sam: We don't have to wait. You can hug and kiss me now.

Rick: Is this going to be in the interview?

Sam: Of course.

[We apologize for this brief pause in the Interview. We will return momentarily.]

Sam: [clearing throat] Are you relaxed now?

Rick: I'm relaxed.

Sam: Okay, so the first serious question I want to ask you is this: When you saw me for the very first time that day when my battery died, what did you think and why did you come over to offer your help?

Rick: Well, you had the hood of your car up and you were leaning over and how could I not enjoy the view? And I just wanted to see if I could help since I had some jumper cables.

Sam: I was so nervous when you came over.

Rick: You were? Why?

Sam: I wasn't use to talking to strangers.

Rick: You warmed up pretty quick. Remember how you showed me those landscaping books from the library? The ones stacked up on the passenger's seat?

Sam: I had forgotten about that.

Rick: I still remember it. I didn't know anything about you. We had just met, it was late at night, your car battery was dead, and you were explaining landscaping designs to me.

Sam: Did you think I was weird?

Rick: I thought you were mysterious. And beautiful. I was afraid you were thinking I was weird because there we were, two strangers, late at night, and I kept asking you all kinds of questions about landscaping but I just wanted to keep you talking. And I wanted to see you smile. That actually startled me that I wanted to see you smile.

Sam: Startled you. Why?

Rick: Because that's never happened to me before. We had just met and I didn't know who you were but I wanted to see what you looked like when you smiled. I was guessing you probably had dimples.

Sam: You've never told me any of this before. I was so self conscious because of my stutter.

Rick: That's part of why you were mysterious to me. I just thought you were maybe nervous or shy or something. But that didn't really matter. I was after those dimples I knew were probably there. I wasn't leaving until I saw them. And you kept talking so that kept me there.

Sam: This is all new to me. You never told me this stuff before.

Rick: I have lots of memories of that night. When I got home I tried to remember what you were wearing, what color your eyes were, the color of your hair, the sound of your voice. And what you looked like leaning over the hood of your car.

SamI remember getting super sad after you got my battery charged and we were going our separate ways. I was afraid I'd never see you again.

RickI felt the same way. After I gave you my number I didn't know if you would call me.

SamYou gave me the perfect reason to call you. You said your dad worked at an auto parts store and you could get me a discount on a new battery.

Rick: I even dreamed about you that night

Sam: Are you serious? I'm learning things I never knew.

Rick: Yeah. Maybe because you were talking about landscaping, but I dreamed about a landscape maze. The kind with hedges. When you were showing me your books, that's the one you seemed really into. I could tell it fascinated you.

Sam: What happened in the dream?

Rick: I was in the maze trying to find you. For some reason I thought you were lost and I was the only other person in the maze so it was up to me to find you.

Sam: This is making me cry.

Rick: Why? What's going on?

Sam: I don't know.

Rick: Have you ever felt like you were lost in a maze?

Sam: I've never told you this but you know how people talk about dreams they keep getting over and over again? Like the same dream?

Rick: Yeah. Is that one of yours?

Sam: Yes. Even when I was a kid. I remember seeing a movie with some one lost in a maze and it freaked me out.

Rick: Wow. You've never told me that. Do you still have that dream now?

Sam: I don't know. Let me think. I don't think I've had it for over a year now.

Rick: When did we met?

Sam: It was October 7th. In 2013.

Rick: That was the night we first met?

Sam: Yes.

Rick: Then that was the night I dreamed about you being lost in the maze.

Sam: Oh my God. Maybe that's when I stopped having those dreams.

Rick:  Whoa. That's a little freaky.

Sam: Yeah. Good freaky. I swear I don't have that dream any more.

Rick: Oh man.

Sam: Can I ask you some thing?

Rick: Sure.

Sam: In the dream you had... did you find me in that maze?

Rick: I did.

Sam: Okay. And what happened when you found me?

Rick: I don't remember all the details but I do remember us hugging. And we were both crying.

Sam: What kind of crying?

Rick: I'm not sure. I think I was relieved I found you, and you were just clinging onto me.

Sam: What happened after that?

Rick: I don't remember anything after that. You know how dreams are.

Sam: You didn't take advantage of me and ravish me in the hedges?

Rick: I might have.

Sam: Why are you smiling?

Rick: I love the way your mind works.

Sam: Do you think this is one of those times when I joke around when some thing hits home?

Rick: What do you think?

Sam: Maybe.

Rick: Tell you what. If I had that maze dream now, I'd be taking advantage of you and ravaging you in the hedges.

Sam: I'm glad you found me in that first dream.

Rick: Me, too.

Sam: Know what else?

Rick: What's that?

Sam: I'm glad I don't have that dream any more. I hadn't even realized until now they had stopped.

Rick: That makes me happy.

Sam: Me, too.

Sam: Know what else?

Rick: What's that?

Sam: I love you.

Rick: I love you, too.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

How do you know for sure?

Matty and I haven't set a definite date to be married yet. We'll be writing more about that, as well as all the things that led up to that decision, as soon as some of the busyness in our lives settles down a bit.

But we have started talking about a family. 

The only thing we've talked about so far is wanting to have at least two children, but that's not written in stone. There are three children in Matty's family and two in mine. For some reason having two children feels manageable to us, but we'll see.

All this has made both of us think on a deeper level about what it really means to be parents. I mean, it feels like a huge responsibility, but to be honest, right now it feels more like an abstract concept to me. I just can't for the life of me wrap my head around this. 

I mean, other people have children. Other people are parents. But me?? Like I said it's more of an abstract idea. And neither of us wants to have children until we can figure this out in a really personal way. 

Not sure if I'm explaining it right, but how do you know for sure you're ready to have children? Is it just a feeling you get inside that you're ready? Don't you need to know something about how to do this? Are you suppose to read all kinds of books to find out how to get ready? Are you suppose to talk to people about how they knew they were ready?

I don't know. I'm just thinking all this out and trying to get a grasp of what it all means. And the more I think about it, the more questions I have, and then I get overwhelmed and get nowhere. 

Can I ask for some feedback here? Am I just over thinking this? If you have children, how did you wrap your head around this? How did you know -- know for sure -- that you were ready? I'm trying not to over think, but, man, it seems like an extremely important thing to figure out.