I haven't done one of these in a while, I hope I remember how, perhaps it's like riding a bike, I can fall off numerous times, yet climb back on to see where the next ride takes me. I'll start with some good news first. I'm going to get rid of my bed. About a week and a half ago I came home from a walk with my neighbor to find both girls asleep in my bed. While I could have woken them up I decided to let them stay in dreamland. I believe in sleep and never seem to get the right amounts at the right times, but I said this was good news and I meant that. After sleeping on the floor I noticed that my back didn't hurt as much as it normally does. Coincidence? I thought so until I tried it again. I went back to my bed and my back started hurting, now I roll out my bed at night and am happy I have less pain than I did.

It's still hard to be a parent. I doubt that is news to anyone, The girls don't listen, don't respect me, and spend a lot of time attached to their devices exploring realms of the internet that would probably make me cringe if I knew what was on their screens. I went down to three days at work after my boss suggested that to me. I want to say that it's helped, and I'm sure in some ways it has, but I still feel very tired and am still in pain. She won't be in today and I'm not looking forward to a busy day without her, except that three days a week isn't a lot of time and I'm starting to miss being at work. I can't tell if this is what I should be doing and my body is still reeling from the shock of years of abuse, another part of me wonders if I'm being lazy or a baby and would be better off working more hours.

Perhaps I have written about the rash near my elbows before. After months of not knowing what type of a rash it is or what was causing it, I may have an answer. I know you're not supposed to surf the world wide web trying to self diagnose yourself, but that's what I did and I don't feel bad about it either. After reading about all sorts of possibilities (and staring at flesh I'm glad isn't mine) I'm wondering if I have a rash that is related to celiac disease. One blogger described it as the rash from hell and that's pretty accurate from my point of view. Apparently that type of rash is typically located near the elbows and knees, several pictures looked a lot like what I have, and it's frustrating to find out that this may be the source of the skin irritation that hasn't responded to anything I've tried.

What really sucks is that a gluten free diet is supposed to help and I've been gluten free for a while, so now I'm wondering if I'm accidentally ingesting some form of gluten I don't know about. I never purposely cheat, but when even a crumb can give you issues, it's entirely possible. I've gone through sources in my head, I sometimes use the silverware at work. I'm going to stop doing that since it will have been washed in a communal dishwasher with dishes containing gluten and other allergens. I'm also going to stop buying bulk fruits and nuts at work just in case that is a contributing factor. I'm going to be much more vigilant than I have and pray that this rash goes away without permanantly discoloring my skin. I have a red elbow and a purple one, neither is particularly beautiful, but looks are low on my priority list.

I've tried wearing more of my three-quarter length shirts to see if more air to my elbows helps anything. I have an assortment of creams that I slather on the area and have tried experimenting with sunlight to the affected area when I can manage it. I try to keep that area clean and dry, I read an article that discussed how people can get yeasty rashes in crevice areas. I've seen those on babies and the elderly when I worked at the nursing home, this doesn't seem to be that although there is a patch of rash near the outer crease of my right elbow. I've made strides, the rash used to go up to my shoulders, it's now occupying a four inch patch on my right arm and a smaller one on my left, it's ferociously itchy, but fortunately doesn't make me sick like having shingles did.

People have told me it's eczema or a stress reaction, but I've had eczema and this doesn't look quite the same. Years ago I had these bumps on my fingers that itched like crazy. Nobody could tell me what those were either so eventually I gave up trying to figure that out, now I'm wondering if this was that same rash. It doesn't seem to be contagious although I'm still careful to wash my hands and try to avoid touching the area, so hard when all you want to do is give in and scratch. But the relief is temporary and then you have a fresh batch of unsightly scabs on your arms. It seems as if everyone I know has a theory and while I appreciate their ideas, it gets old.

Not long ago I sold a loveseat I was given several years ago for my birthday. I never really liked it and I'm very glad it's gone. I would have liked more money for it, but it went to a good home and the people who purchased it (a guy I work with and his wife) seem happy with their new possessions. I bought an indoor/outdoor patio furniture set and for once in my life I have furniture that fits me and I actually sit down sometimes (can you believe it? I can't). I bought some pillows to go with my new set, I don't love the fabric, but the bright stripes and fun colors are very me. I bought two red pillows trimmed in white with the initial J on them, those are my favorites and I've been playing around with them to see what works best. I'd like different pillows, but haven't found exactly what I want just yet.

Yesterday my neighbor came over to help me with some shelving units that needed holes drilled. I was annoyed to find that three of the four units I purchased needed holes for hardware, it was a pain to get that done, but now that my new racks are up in my place I'm happy I made the time and money investment. I bought twelve bins at a local Dollar Store and am excited to see if this new system works better than anything I've tried previously. I bought one rack for each of us and am now wondering if I should have invested in a couple more since they are small. But this is a place to start and I'm wildly excited to have a more orderly closet. Even if I'm the only person who uses it the way that I think it can be used, I will count that as a victory and be proud of myself for the achievement.

I read an article the other day about how much stuff Americans have. I'm less guilty of that than I once was, but there is still much room for improvement in my life. The good news there is that since I've stopped using my bed and can eventually get rid of that thing I will have more space. I'm thinking of buying these Thai massage mat things that roll up and get stored in their own bag, but that's an investment for later if I choose that route. I'd like a platform bed and may go that route down the road, but for now I'm grateful that sleeping on the floor has solved a couple of problems for me despite the inconvenience of having to pack up my bed every morning. Sometimes I lay there and read, I enjoy it more than I thought that I would which surprises me.

In other news my father is dying. I have multiple conflicting emotions, he isn't necessarily knocking on death's door in the immediate future, but he has declined severely and rapidly in the past month. According to the place where he lives he's lost eight and a half pounds in the past month and he didn't have it to lose. He's thinner than I've ever seen him, he's never been particularly heavy, he's skin and bones without the energy to lift his own head or acknowledge the visitors that were there to see him when I was there. My brother wonders if he has another urinary tract infection while my sister is trying to get him into the dentist to see if a bad tooth is preventing him from eating better.

The nursing home informed us that he was going to be receiving hospice care, but emphasized that it wasn't what we thought and made sure we understood that hospice is not end of life care. We didn't get a real clear explanation as to why hospice was an option for him, we had a family phone conference that left us bitter and divided. I suspect he has lost the will to live. He has almost no quality of life and it frustrates me beyond belief to see him like this when I know he could have taken better care of himself earlier. But then I look in my own mirror and see the ways that I have neglected and indulged myself and realize that it isn't so easy to point fingers and say that someone else should have done something I myself haven't done a great job at over the years.

I'm very tired today, but I'm tired a lot. I'm scared about what the future holds, I need a different place to live and that preys on my mind. I struggle with Jill and Jane's dad and wonder how he could be so heartless and callous, he bought a used Audi SUV and that was hard to see. This was after he sent me an email asking if he could either cut my child support or have me send him $300/month so my youngest could attend the school her sister did her freshman year. I'm trying to be the bigger person and rise above. Sometimes that works, other times I let anger and resentment get the better of me and I still have those moments where I break down and lose it.

I know what I need to do and I do feel as if I've made significant strides forward. I try to hold onto that during times of desperation. This morning I woke up around half past four and made myself get up, ignoring the chill in the air. With my new bin system I think it will be easier to see the things I have and what I lack will become more obvious. I found some wool turtlenecks on sale and may purchase several of those. My goal is to have four outfits that are ready to go and lots of layers that I can add or subtract as the weather changes. One of my biggest challenges is this incredible anxiety, but there is comfort in knowing that how I feel isn't necessarily related to reality although it certainly can be.

The future is still scary, especially when I think about moving, but I know I will get through that and some new thing will come along. I never really know how good I have it and forget to be grateful for the countless blessings I have in life. I've learned more about myself, I'm a much healthier and happier person than I was and even ventured into Golf Galaxy to speak with someone about clubs and lessons. Golf is something I've wanted to try ever since I was eleven or twelve. People tell me it's expensive and I tell them the money will get spent regardless. I've spent literal decades financing the whims and hobbies of others, I think it's about time I get a chance to try to learn something new that I believe I may enjoy. 

I try to hang onto the encouragement while forgetting the criticisms and ignoring the fearmongers. My family seems to trip most of those buttons, golf can be expensive, but I went an entire winter without ever turning on my heat after I made sure that it worked in case I ever needed or wanted it. My last utility bill was under forty dollars. I have expenses and bills to pay, but I'm moving forward and continuing to learn. I'm not a saver by nature, managing money is hard when I have more income than expenses. It used to be the other way around, I know that this is temporary. I need to set some goals instead of dithering and watching my tax return dwindle more rapidly than I had anticipated. Not where I wanted to be today, but all it not lost. Time to go lie down for a few minutes before I need to get up and start getting ready for work today.

Much love, I pray this finds you well.


P.S. I really want some art work. Now that I've found furniture I like I'm going to start shopping for a piece or two that will go with my new living room set.

P.P.S. A neighbor of mine has a friend who likes me. I've tried to be clear, but apparently the message isn't getting through. My neighbor told me he wants to take me to a game and I said I only watch baseball with a select few. It's super annoying to be this creeped out, I feel like this guy is keeping me from my friends since he's always there on Thursday nights when we get together. I'm going to take a break from Thursday night get togethers. He makes my skin crawl and short of being downright rude to him I can't think of an effective strategy to get my message across. This too shall pass, but in the meantime it makes me sad because I really like hanging out with my friends and I can't relax when he's around.

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