Good things are happening!
I saw a new doctor who gave me a referral to a new ENT for my ear. The infection is still there, raising its ugly head every few days, making me sore and dizzy. It seems to vacillate between bacterial and fungal, and once I figure out which it is, I can use the right med to beat it back. But I want to improve my immune system so I don't have ANY new infections, and to find a way to heal the perforations. So... off to a new ENT on April 4, and back to the new doc once I get over my needle anxiety and get my bloodwork done (I actually was OK with letting them draw it at their office, but her phlebotomist tried twice and gave up when she saw my increasing distress; now it's going to be ten times as hard to get myself to willingly walk into a lab and get it done, dammit).
I started keeping a "three good things" journal, where each night before you go to bed, you write down and reflect upon three good things that happened to you during the day. Here's more info on the practice, if you're curious. I've actually found it to be really helpful, and I think this, combined with the returning light of springtime, is doing wonders for diminishing my homicidal tendencies.
An old church not far from here had "Chicago Meditation Center" painted across the front one day a few months ago. I tracked down a contact email for them and went to one of their introductory meditation classes a few weeks back. I was the only person there, but it was a good class and I loved the instructor. I'm not quite sure how welcome I am to come back for more of their events... it seems to be a pretty tight-knit Thai group... but it's been helpful getting my own home practice kickstarted again.
I have also started trying to harness the power of affirmations. The jury is out on how or even whether these work, but it seems that if you keep your goals simple and attainable, they can actually help (maybe it's like how imagining using your muscles can help you get better at actually using them). I looked into how to do them effectively and least onerously, settled on one to get started, and got to it. I'm just using one for the moment ("I choose to be happy and healthy"), but if it's truly helpful, I'll throw more into the rotation. Last week, I wrote an article on using affirmations and submitted it to a family-oriented pagan magazine, and they bought it! Woohoo!
Money has still been tight, but thankfully things are not as dire as they were. We've been using our savings to get through this last year since my child support payments stopped last January, and this month was our first month after depleting that cushion. We've asked the boys to officially start paying rent, and we've also changed some of our shopping habits (we quit taking the Oberweis dairy deliveries, and stopped shopping at the higher-end markets, and are eating less meat and more veggies... we rarely eat out or do takeout, unless I have a gift certificate, I'm really ill, or we're all at the end of our ropes, maybe once or twice a month). T-Mobile's new rate plan brought down our monthly bill almost $50. We've had a few other windfalls this month, and found a few other ways to cut back, so I think we're going to make it until Bill's next raise kicks in. And when will that be? I'm glad you asked!
The good news about his raise is that he did really well with his review and got recommended for a substantial raise (for the third time since we moved here, hooray!). The bad news is that DePaul's enrollment is down, so they decided to slap a freeze on all pay hikes until next January. ARGH!
Another unexpected expense we had recently was sort of strange... one of the yellow diamonds in my rainbow wedding ring cracked and broke. This year will be our 10th wedding anniversary, and the damaged part kept catching my eye... it really bothered me, for some reason. So, while it strictly wasn't a necessary expense, I felt strongly that I wanted to have it repaired soon. I decided it was time to sell my old wedding band, and it turned out that it fetched enough money to repair my ring. My beautiful rainbow ring will be back on my finger in two days, and I'm so grateful!
The biggest and best thing happening this month actually doesn't cost all that much money, just time and elbow grease. Thanks to the good mood inspired by his really sweet girlfriend, Clayton said he was OK with moving to the basement, but I was having a hard time actually making it happen. I moaned about my lack of impetus to Bill, and suddenly he got on board in a big way. Things are in upheaval right now but it's really happening and I'm so jazzed! A room of my own... meditation, yoga, calligraphy and painting, editing and writing, knitting and beading, sewing and anything else that strikes my fancy, in a room with a DOOR! I think of it as my new studio, and I can't wait to get in there and do my thing.
One of the other biggest health-related requirements I've had since moving to Chicago was to find a way to regularly immerse myself in hot water (for me, hot water instantly erases joint and muscle pain, and gives me better relaxation than anything else). The tub here is too small to do that, and showers don't do the job (as well as the increased risk of getting water in my ear). Last night I was Googling freestanding Japanese-style tubs, thinking maybe I could set up something in the downstairs bathroom. In the process I saw a tub that reminded me of the Rubbermaid stock tanks homebirth families sometimes use for birthing pools. I grabbed the measuring tape, and found that while it wouldn't fit into either of our bathrooms, it WOULD fit into our laundry room... which not only had a table that folds up to make room, a door for privacy, windows for ventilation, and access to water, but also the sump pump for easy gravity-fed drainage! The tank was a little over a hundred bucks, and even had free shipping (yay, Amazon Prime!). I'm embarrassed I haven't thought of this before now, but I'm thrilled at the idea of being able to take a bath any time I want to, instead of coughing up $25 to go to King Spa ($15 if you can catch the Groupons, but even that starts to add up).
The last thing on my healthy campaign wish list is getting access to Nia again, and I'm working with Blue Cross to find a way for them to pay my membership at the local YMCA where many Nia classes are taught. Fingers crossed! (I'm also still doing well with the handheld UVB Levia Lamp for the psoriasis, and am still eating gluten-free.)
My dad might be having some major medical procedures in May. Depending on what's going on (they're doing tests over the next week or so), I might fly out for a short visit to help out, or if he wants me there for a longer-term stay, I'll drive out with Linc. Either way, I'm hopeful I'll be in California for the Whole Earth Festival, which always feeds my soul tremendously.
So that's my own personal update. The boys all seem to be doing well after our months of Winter Plague... I think both Cord and Clay pulled straight As again at DePaul. Clay is visiting Cricket in KC this week, Bill is headed to the big genetics conference in DC next week, and Cord goes to a physics conference in Colorado the following week. Linc and I have been spending lots of time at the Chicago Botanic Garden (thanks to a very kind gift membership from my sister). Linc has become obsessed with Minecraft, and we have a 24/7 server set up (comment if you'd like access... there are some pretty interesting things in there. Bill's building a model of Laputa from Miyazaki's "Castle in the Sky"). Bill's been smoking meat in his Christmas smoker regularly, and has gotten really good at it.
That's about it for now... thanks for slogging through all that!