I’m a Girl Scout!

Yep, I’m a 39-year-old Girl Scout. In fact, all three of the humans in our house­hold are reg­is­tered Girl Scouts—myself, Katie, and yes, even Sam. Men can be reg­is­tered as adult Scouts. Katie’s troops have always asked that at least one, and prefer­ably both (or more if there are more!) par­ents in a fam­i­ly reg­is­ter as adult Scouts for var­i­ous rea­sons.

I’ve been a troop leader in Junior and mul­ti­level (Rain­bow) troops in the past. I had one year of Brown­ies and one as a Junior Girl Scout when I was a girl. I did­n’t have great expe­ri­ences, and want­ed to make things bet­ter for my daugh­ter and oth­er girls, so I stepped up to be a leader when need­ed. I found that I enjoyed it every bit as much as the girls do. As just one exam­ple, I had nev­er gone camp­ing until Katie became a Brown­ie, and thought I’d hate it, but it was real­ly fun.

There are some mar­velous resources on the net for Girls and their par­ents and lead­ers. Katie is going to share her favorite links with oth­er girls, so I’ll con­cen­trate on the adult stuff. Since I’m rel­a­tive­ly new, I don’t have any­thing like the list of links some sites have, but I want­ed to share the best of what I have found.

  • The Nation­al GSUSA site has far more infor­ma­tion on it than most peo­ple ever real­ize. If you don’t already know what local coun­cil serves your area, you can find out here.
  • We’re in the North­west Geor­gia coun­cil. That site also offers a wealth of infor­ma­tion. Pay spe­cial atten­tion to the reg­u­lar­ly-post­ed Learn­ing Oppor­tu­ni­ties, which is the sched­ule of class­es offered for adults and some­times for old­er girls. Coun­cil events are also post­ed here. We would have missed out on some mar­velous oppor­tu­ni­ties if we wait­ed for some­one else to tell us about them instead of check­ing the coun­cil’s site reg­u­lar­ly.
  • The Scout­ing File Cab­i­net is a col­lec­tion of links, songs, cer­e­monies, activ­i­ties, infor­ma­tion for par­ents — you name it! It’s part of a larg­er site, the Leader/Guide Cyber Coun­cil, which is mar­velous.
  • Scout­ing­Web offers an aston­ish­ing range of mate­r­i­al.
  • New Moon Mag­a­zine isn’t specif­i­cal­ly for Scouts, but it’s a mar­velous mag­a­zine for and by girls that does occa­sion­al­ly fea­ture some Scout­ing mate­r­i­al. They also have a great mail­ing list, care­about­girls. The list is “for adults who care about girls: par­ents, teach­ers, coach­es, coun­selors, pas­tors, troop lead­ers, rel­a­tives, researchers, etc. This is for every adult who wants to help raise healthy, con­fi­dent girls and make the world bet­ter and safer for girls.”

Some­one expressed sur­prise when learn­ing that I’m a Girl Scout leader because she was under the impres­sion that Girl Scout­ing is only for Chris­tians. I wrote an arti­cle to clear up that mis­con­cep­tion, “Is There a Pen­ta­gram Badge?”

I espe­cial­ly encour­age home­school­ing fam­i­lies to explore Girl Scout­ing as an oppor­tu­ni­ty for their daugh­ters. We use the GS badge require­ments along with unit stud­ies and they’ve giv­en us many great ideas.

It isn’t karma or punishment

We did noth­ing, in this or any oth­er life, to deserve ill­ness. We aren’t being pun­ished, nor are health­i­er peo­ple being reward­ed.

I’m all for find­ing out about the phys­i­cal and bio­log­i­cal bases of our con­di­tions, as that infor­ma­tion is often a key part of find­ing the right treat­ment and pre­vent­ing relapse.

Look­ing for a cos­mic or spir­i­tu­al cause, though, is a trap. It leads us into a down­ward spi­ral of blame, recrim­i­na­tions, doubt, and fear, with noth­ing pos­i­tive to show for the loss of all that ener­gy.

As dif­fi­cult as it can be, let go. Ill­ness is. We are liv­ing with con­di­tions that cause pain, fatigue, and oth­er prob­lems, not because we’re bad peo­ple, but because the uni­verse is as it is.

The less effort we put into that search, the more ener­gy we have avail­able to enjoy and improve our lives.

Use your ener­gy to focus on your heal­ing and joy!

Why have a web site at all?

Or at least, why put such per­son­al infor­ma­tion out there on the net for the world to see? I had pre­vi­ous­ly said some­thing on my main page about the net being the great­est van­i­ty press ever invent­ed, and I still think of it that way. It has giv­en an unprece­dent­ed num­ber of peo­ple not just the abil­i­ty to pub­lish their mate­r­i­al, but to reach vast audi­ences with it. I orig­i­nal­ly start­ed cre­at­ing a home page because I need­ed to learn HTML to do my job, but I quick­ly found that hav­ing a forum in which to present my thoughts as I please, with­out edit­ing by or for any­one else, was an addic­tive expe­ri­ence!

And, really—why would­n’t I have a web page? Why would­n’t I be hap­py to be noticed?

There are plen­ty of excel­lent sites that are just links or search engines, like Yahoo. There isn’t a need for addi­tion­al pages that are only col­lec­tions of links, and there­fore I’ve avoid­ed that on my site. Why have a site with no orig­i­nal con­tent?

If you’re going to cre­ate con­tent, you have to speak on some sub­ject. Some­thing you do know about. Some­thing you have rea­son to believe some­body else wants or needs to read. I have writ­ten about what I know, from com­put­ers or music to my fam­i­ly and life.

I am a very open and hon­est per­son. I do not hide any­thing about who I am. I am care­ful to con­ceal some infor­ma­tion for safe­ty’s sake, such as pre­cise­ly where we live. Oth­er­wise I don’t care who knows such things about me. My activ­i­ty on the net, both pro­fes­sion­al and per­son­al, has always been con­duct­ed under my own name and email address with no attempt to con­ceal my iden­ti­ty. I do not say any­thing online that I would­n’t acknowl­edge pub­licly, face to face. I’m hap­py with who I am and what I’ve done in my life, and the vast major­i­ty of cor­re­spon­dence I receive from vis­i­tors to this site indi­cates that read­ing about my expe­ri­ences has helped some of them in their own lives. That is, in and of itself, a pos­i­tive result.

It is also ther­a­peu­tic to write about some issues, such as being a sur­vivor of child­hood sex­u­al abuse. Some issues, such as size accep­tance, are impor­tant to me per­son­al­ly, and I want to pro­voke thought regard­ing them. I am absolute­ly pas­sion­ate about the respon­si­bil­i­ties we as adults bear with regards to chil­dren, so I wrote the par­ent­ing page. Shar­ing infor­ma­tion about, for instance, the books and music I enjoy may allow some­one else to receive plea­sure from the same sources.

In short, this site exists because it helps me and oth­ers. If any­one does­n’t like what I pub­lish here, they don’t have to read it. If you do choose to read it I hope you enjoy the expe­ri­ence. If you feel a need to attack me based on what I say here, or to twist this infor­ma­tion out of con­text, I pray that some day you will find heal­ing so you can find bet­ter pur­suits to fill your days.

In process

I’m going to be trans­fer­ring all the pages from their cur­rent loca­tions into the blog for­mat while updat­ing them. That means you’ll be see­ing some old stuff and new stuff, series of arti­cles and stand­alones. Depend­ing on how much updat­ing a par­tic­u­lar arti­cle takes, there may be a bunch on one day, or just one. I’m hop­ing to get at least one a day done, in any case!

So bear with me, and com­ment away.

How do you explain it?

How do you explain your ill­ness to those who don’t have it?

While I haven’t come up with a good way to explain chron­ic fatigue syn­drome, I describe fibromyal­gia as a full-body migraine. Any­one who has ever had a migraine under­stands imme­di­ate­ly, and most peo­ple at least know some­one who does have dis­abling migraines.

If some­one wants more info, I can go on about the fact that fibromyal­gia is a neu­ro­log­i­cal dis­or­der and talk about recent research. If they’re real­ly curi­ous, I can hand them a paper I wrote.

Help me out here, please? What’s the best brief, “gets to them” descrip­tion you know of for your chron­ic ill­ness?

Driving Lessons

So, for the past week or so, I’ve been tak­ing dri­ving lessons. First I had 30 hours (spread out over a week, of course) of in-class study, most of which was about the law. Then, yes­ter­day I start­ed on my 10 hours of behind-the-wheel lessons.

Both of my teach­ers (one in class­room, one in the car) have been very good. I think I’ve learned a lot already. I’ve fin­ished all of my in-class hours, and 3 of my behind-the-wheel hours. Yes­ter­day I went on the express­way! I was ner­vous when I start­ed dri­ving, but then by the time I’d got­ten there I was calm, so it was­n’t that scary. I felt all zoomy after­wards.

Music ‘can reduce chronic pain’

From BBC News via the Net-Gold list:

Research has con­firmed lis­ten­ing to music can have a sig­nif­i­cant pos­i­tive impact on per­cep­tion of chron­ic pain.

US researchers test­ed the effect of music on 60 patients who had endured years of chron­ic pain.

Those who lis­tened to music report­ed a cut in pain lev­els of up to 21%, and in asso­ci­at­ed depres­sion of up to 25%, com­pared to those who did not lis­ten.

While I doubt the IRS is going to let us claim iPods as med­ical equip­ment for tax deduc­tions any time soon, it’s well worth exper­i­ment­ing to see what music soothes each of us.

I’m wheeled

For a time, at least. Sam picked up a wheel­chair yes­ter­day that I’ll be using for the next month (hope­ful­ly no more than that) while recov­er­ing from a hos­pi­tal stay.

No, I had­n’t imag­ined how much I dis­like hos­pi­tals. The place was worse than I remem­bered, so much so that I begged my way out of there three days ear­ly. Yes, in this day of man­aged care, they want­ed to keep me ’til Tues­day and I talked my way out on Sat­ur­day by prov­ing that I could and would give myself shots to replace the IV drugs I was get­ting.

I’m a true home­body, and real­ly do heal faster here than any­where else, any­way.

I have to go back for some blood­work today, though, and will be doing that week­ly for a while. It’s espe­cial­ly a nui­sance because I can’t dri­ve myself around yet.

In hap­pi­er news, Katie fin­ished the class­room por­tion of her dri­ver’s edu­ca­tion course and is behind the wheel this week. She came home absolute­ly hyper last night after dri­ving for three hours. I don’t think I’ll be wor­ry­ing about hav­ing some­one to dri­ve much longer! 🙂

Busy week!

Katie spent last week in school — an actu­al class­room. She was tak­ing a week-long dri­ver’s edu­ca­tion course, par­tial­ly to sat­is­fy state require­ments and improve our insur­ance rates, par­tial­ly because we just thought it a good idea. This week she’s actu­al­ly behind the wheel each day, on the road. She loves that part.

The instruc­tor did love home­work, though, so we did­n’t have much time for our reg­u­lar stud­ies. Then I was in the hos­pi­tal for a few days, and we’re not real­ly back to “nor­mal” yet from that.

She got some very good news, too, but I’ll let you read about that from her.

Other FMS/chronic illness blogs/casts?

I’ll record episode 3 as soon as my sound tech (aka Sam, my part­ner) is avail­able.

Right now, though, I’m in the mood to plump up my blogroll. Sug­gest oth­er blogs and pod­casts about fibromyal­gia, chron­ic fatigue, or chron­ic ill­ness, please! What are your favorites? Do you have one your­self? Tell me about it!