Sunday, July 5, 2015

4 weeks ago today, we left our home.

A few months ago, a good friend of mine, Erica of Talulah Bean, encouraged me to blog about the grand journey we are on. A journey of becoming debt free, downsizing to simplicity, taking time for healing, living life, and loving our family. I told her no one would be interested, but she disagreed. So here I am, to share more of our lives.

My last blog post talked about my chronic health issues, and the fact that we were gearing up to make some major life changes to help me deal with them. We needed to simplify, reduce our monthly expenses, and I needed more down time from sewing and business to focus on my health. We decided that a move to a low crime, low cost of living, incredibly low housing costs, small, rural area was just what I needed right now. We decided to move from Oregon to Michigan.



8 PM tonight marked exactly 4 weeks since we drove away from Oregon to start our new life. It was terrifying, and I honestly wasn't sure how I was going to drive away. I wasn't attached to the house at all, but we had built a community of unschooling friends who became like family. We also left behind our eldest daughter, so she could attend the college of her choice. Driving away was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do.

The trip was long, and hard. My husband drove his small SUV, towing a small trailer with motorcycle and bicycles. I drove my Expedition, towing Griselda, my vintage camper, mattress strapped onto the roof. Everything that we owned, we carried with us. We left much behind, out of pure necessity (a Uhaul was out of the budget and didn't make financial sense, considering the little value that was in our belongings/furnishings). We were planning on sleeping and cooking in Griselda, and had planned to stay in Walmart parking lots to keep the costs of the trip as minimal as possible. (Thank you Walmart, for your generous overnight parking policy!)

We hoped for a monotonous, boring trip. We didn't get it. Instead, we got road rage in Salt Lake City, a blow out in the tire of the camper, after which we found out that Les Schwab actually put car tires on the camper instead of camper tires (They made it right with a refund after the fact, but it was terrifying after the blow out and finding that out!). We had a bent axel on my trailer. We hit some major storms from Wyoming through Indiana. The rain was torrential, and the wind had gusts of 60 MPH plus (which is NOT fun when you are towing, and even less fun when your camper is 49 years old, and has louvered windows that do not stay shut in such wind, causing them to lift up and it to rain inside, causing major water damage inside). We lost our mattress to water damage. My camper is no longer towable. We lost countless boxes that we thought were protected inside the camper, but due to the amount of water damage, weren't. The losses added up to around $4,000. We weren't prepared to take that hit. Griselda will be parked in our backyard, underneath the tree, and she will become a beautiful play house for myself and my littles. I'm sure we will enjoy backyard camping with her. :)





Everything that we own (or rather everything that owns us)



We celebrated our last few miles in Oregon with a beautiful roadside picnic.



Eventually, we made it though, and all was forgotten. It was a tremendous, expensive learning experience. We all grew a little from it, and I made it out of the 5 day, 2500 mile trip still married (haha!). This is our beautiful new house. It's been everything I hoped it would be (which is good, since we hadn't actually seen it when we purchased it! Apparently we like to live dangerously!).

After the trip taking such a huge toll on us, we reopened MotherMoonPads early, just a few days after we arrived. After our children had beds, my sewing area became the priority. It's funny how life goes on like that. I'm thankful that part of the transition was relatively seamless, and pain free.

I have high hopes for our life in Michigan. The summer has been beautiful. I'm sure I will whine a lot in the winter, but the trade offs have been numerous, and positive. This truly is the beginning of the rest of our lives, in what we hope is our forever home and tiny homestead!

PS, There has been a lot of requests to bring back the private Facebook chat group. I've recruited some help with it this time, and you can find it here if you'd like: MotherMoonPads Chat

)O( Denelle
www.MotherMoonPads.com


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Fibromyalgia and Life Changing Decisions

Since my fibromyalgia diagnosis (which adds to my chronic myofascial-pain-syndrome and 2 prolapses), I've been told I need to accept that pain is just a part of life. 99% of me wants to kick and cry and scream over that. The tiny logical part of me understands that pain is now just a part of life,  and changes need to be made.

My husband also deals with a debilitating anxiety and panic disorder. So we have mom and dad, both with major medical issues, trying to support their little ones while caring for themselves. This can be a frustrating situation, many times. We have been doing the best that we can, with the resources that we have.

With my diagnosis, the realization that I will likely manage these illnesses for the rest of my life has become truth. We knew major life changes had to take place. We moved from Wisconsin to Oregon 3 years ago, and life has been a beautiful struggle for those 3 years. Good jobs here are impossible to find. Housing is incredibly expensive. Cost of living is high. It sure is absolutely beautiful though! I love the mountains, I love the ocean. I had dreams of owning a little piece of land, with a little house, and just being able to live my life. That will never happen in Oregon.

I release that dream. It is with peace and calmness that I recognize it is not viable, and that my life is worth more than struggling to make something happen that will never be. I am okay with this.

I realized my dream wasn't necessarily Oregon. My dream was peace. My dream was actually owning something, not having a huge mortgage constantly hanging over my head, living in fear of foreclosure again. My dream was security. My dream was being debt free, to allow me to sew less, and enjoy life more. This can happen anywhere, provided that it is carefully planned and well thought out.

June 9th, we will hook up my vintage camper, and drive out of Oregon. We have a little 1/2 piece of land with a small 1,000 sq foot house waiting for us. We have a mortgage with less of a balance than my husband's car loan on his 2005 Honda CRV. We have dreams of a peaceful, rural life. Dreams of being able to sit in our backyard, watch our children grow in one place, give them the stability of having a true childhood home.

We had been dreaming of houses for a while. My husband scoured the internet daily, in search of what called to us. We weren't necessarily ready or prepared to buy when we found our house, but everything fell into place, and it happened.

I am so ready for this next stage in my life. I am ready to set my family up for success. I am ready to thrive.

~Denelle
www.mothermoonpads.com













Sunday, February 22, 2015

Thinking about the future.

Jun 7, 2012, we had sold everything that did not fit in (or on top of) our 2 vehicles, and left Wisconsin for new dreams of a new life in the west. We landed in southern Oregon 7 days later. We had never been this far west, let alone having stepped foot here before. It was an adventure. An amazing adventure.

Life in Oregon has been amazing and difficult all at the same time. It has presented challenges that I hadn't considered a possibility. Both my husband and I have experienced some very serious health issues here. The cost of living here is amazingly high, and the jobs pay so very little. Even with my husband's welding degree, and my accounting degree, neither one of us could get jobs that pay more than a few dollars over minimum wage.

Have I mentioned that the cost of living is amazingly high? There is a town just south of us that I would absolutely LOVE to live in, but mobile homes in parks run at least $50,000, a condo $150,000, and a house $300,000. Needless to say on our income, even a condo is well over budget. In the town we currently live in, we are in a mobile home in a mobile home park, because we can't even afford rent on a house. I honestly don't know why we live here. With my seriously decreased work hours, I'm not sure how much longer we will make it.

I have such a love hate relationship with Oregon. It's utterly gorgeous. So gorgeous I can't stand it. Something about the mountains soothes my soul. I could sit on the beach at the ocean all day to just breathe and relax, and I would experience nothing but sheer happiness. I love running away from home in Oregon.

Running away from home isn't something I can do all the time though, as much as I would like to! I need to create a life that doesn't need running away from. I need to create a life of peace and stability. A life that we can comfortably afford. A life of my own.

I'm not sure what the future will hold for us, but I'm starting to believe our future is no longer in Oregon. When do you decide that enough is enough, and that no matter what the payoffs, the struggle just isn't worth it. Or worse, when you can't give up your dream of a little piece of land in the Oregon mountains with a tiny house and a huge garden and a place for your children to just live and explore, yet you know that dream will NEVER be attainable. What do you do then?

With love and light,

Denelle

www.MotherMoonPads.com



Saturday, February 21, 2015

The day I received a diagnosis

If you read through the previous blog entries, they're not all that positive. They talk a lot about my health issues, and the struggle that I have been going through with my body. It's been such a struggle, trying to figure things out, let alone how to balance living in pain, homeschooling, and running this business.

Life quickly became overwhelming.

My 2015 word of the year is THRIVE. I promised myself that no matter what happened, I would not self sabotage. The day I received my diagnosis was the day I completely fell apart and failed at that. I gave up. I decided I was no longer going to be everything to everyone. This has been something that has been coming for a very long time. It's just something I can no longer ignore. If I do, I fear it will cost me more than just this business. I fear it will cost me my mobility or my life.

I realized immediately that I could not continue on at the pace I am going now. My husband has been telling me this for years. I had been pushing through the pain, genuinely ignoring it as a coping mechanism. The more I worked, the less I paid attention to my body, the less I paid attention to the widespread pain I am experiencing.

I took this a step further by opening to customs this year. Customs are something I've never had a good relationship with. When I accept a custom order, my brain tells me that I need to drop whatever I am doing at that point, and fulfill the custom. I don't have the ability to relax or focus on other things until those customs are shipped. I don't know why my brain functions this way, but it does.

So I opened a group, and consumed myself in customs. Very quickly, I started working way too many hours again. I dropped the ball on homeschooling, and made wrong choices about priorities in life.

The day I received my diagnosis, I learned that the syndrome that I have is something that is not curable, and will never go away. That was the day I quit. I quit putting this business above my family. I quit taking customs. I quit putting the business above my health. I deleted my Facebook group, deactivated my account (personal and business), and took a social media break. It was impulsive, but it is the right decision.

Please don't get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE what I do. I'm just not a multi tasker. I can't put my heart into too many things at once. I focus hard on my priority and the rest falls into the cracks. I have to go back to just being me. Denelle, the mama. Denelle, the unschooler who just wants to explore the world with her children. Denelle the seamstress who is just 1 person and knows her limits.

I publicly apologize to those who were really excited about my reintroduction of customs. Those will not be returning, ever. I publicly apologize to those who were genuinely excited about the new fabrics arriving, and were looking forward to placing their customs for them. I publicly apologize to all I will disappoint with this decision. I hope that you understand that I have to put my health first. I have to put my family first. We only have one shot at life, and I can't squander it.

MotherMoonPads is not going away, I'm just going back to my roots of creating fabulous cloth pads that are always in stock, and ready to ship. I will be taking more days off from sewing, while I learn to listen to and respect my body and all it is going through. I will be taking more time off to learn how to relax. I will still be shipping out all orders within 2 business days. I do not see that ever changing.

Much love and light,

Denelle

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    Friday, January 23, 2015

    Vulnerability.

    "I did not want to deal with the discomfort and messiness of being a normal human being". Glennon Melton.

    I've spent the 24 hours devouring TedX talks about life, health, and happiness. I've watched everything on vulnerability from Brene Brown that I could possibly find. Okay, so maybe not everything, but as many as I could before my brain shut down. Ha.

    Vulnerability. She talks about how vulnerability has such a negative connotation for most people. All my life, I've been told to be strong. Don't show your feelings. Keep everything inside. Hide it well. The thought of actually opening up, and letting it all hang out is as terrifying as it is liberating.

    Yet that is exactly what I need to do. "It gets a hell of a lot worse before it gets better" (Also from Glennon, and a similar message from my pelvic floor physical therapist).

    It's getting worse. The pain is getting worse. I've been asked to reconnect with my body, to learn to listen to it and recognize when there is pain, when there is not pain. It is fascinating and terrifying to me that I have the ability to shut my brain off to pain. My body becomes numb (quite literally!). I've learned to pacify myself with activities. I'd rather sew than listen to my body say we need rest. I'd rather clean, or take my children to eleventy billion activities than listen to my body say we need rest. I find excuse after excuse with this. Some of them are legitimate, some of them are not. Okay, most are not.

    The time to change this is now. The time to listen to my body, to be vulnerable to myself is now. Oh what an interesting journey this will be.

    With love and light,

    Denelle
    www.MotherMoonPads.com











    Thursday, January 15, 2015

    The beginning of Recovery


    Trigger warnings: Sexual abuse, Prolapse, Vaginal Therapy. I share my story in hopes that it will help someone else sufering in silence. Because life is real. This has nothing to do with MotherMoonPads aside from the fact that I AM MotherMoonPads. 

    "You have a moderate bladder prolapse and the start of a rectal prolapse. Lose some weight, and see me again in June"

    Those were the words that I heard from my gynecologist last week, when I saw him for my prolapse. For about 3 hours, I accepted them as that was what I was going to do. Then I posted online, both in a private mamas group as wel as publicly on my business Facebook page (hey if we can talk about menstruation, we can talk about prolapse!). Very quickly I found out that I had more options! 

    Pelvic floor physical therapy.

    Wait, what? Physical therapy for my pelvic floor. Like physical therapy for my vagina? To say I was skeptical and nervous is an absolute understatement. I couldn't imagine what could be done. I've been through physical therapy before, and it has always involved exercises and electrical stimulation machines. A few of my friends insisted that I had to try it tough, so I made an appointment.

    I cannot tell you how many reasons I found not to go to that appointment. How many times I picked up the phone to cancel it. Then there were issues with my health insurance (I haven't received the darned card yet!!), and my gynecologist took FOREVER to send over the referral. Somehow, this morning I found the courage to go.

    My physical therapist is this young, petite, gorgeous woman. The type of women that would be a little intimidating to me. The way she spoke though, was so reassuring. She was tender and honest, reassuring me that we would only do what I was comfortable with and that we could stop at any time. She explained to me that she was one of only 33 physical therapists in the entire United States to have her credentials in pelvic floor physical therapy, which made me really think how incredibly lucky that I am that we somehow ended up in the middle of nowhere Oregon a few years ago. 

    She took a very thorough life history that covered my pregnancies, births, trauma from sexual abuse, and more. She seemed to be able to predict what I was going to say next, which was as creepy as it was fascinating! It made me feel not quite so alone though. So many women go through this! I wonder how many suffer in silence, afraid to ask for help or afraid to even talk about what is happening with their bodies. 

    She explained that when a woman experiences a trauma, it can be held in her muscles for many years to come, long after that woman thinks she has recovered from the trauma. For me, that was the sexual assault that resulted in the conception of my daughter, when I was 13. That's something I thought I was LONG past at this point in my life, almost 19 years later. I'm realizing that the trauma was never fully attended to. I never received counseling, and it was forced to be so deeply repressed as my mother had no interest in dealing with it, accepting that it happened, or helping me heal. The trauma was compounded by the complicated birth of my daughter which resulted in a fourth degree extension, and physical trauma that will last my entire life. 

    I like to believe that I am a strong woman. I KNOW I am a very strong woman. I wonder where this strength comes from though, and I think it is from being able to repress my pain so that I can just move on. When I started having my pelvic pain issues last May, the doctors kept telling me that they could not find the cause of my pain. The list of diagnosis I received is incredible (stomach flu, diverticulitis, ovarian cyst, psoas dysfunction, piriformis syndrome, myofascial pain syndrome, possible lupus, an unnamed auto immune disease, and a few "I don't think anything is wrong with you, it's possible it's all in your head". I started to wonder what this pain could be telling me. Could illness have a purpose in our life? What if we stopped and actually listened to our bodies when we are sick? What would we find out?

    I found out that I have a long list of traumas to deal with. The physical therapist gently suggested I add some counseling to the mix. What I am doing now with working hard to eat properly, lose the excess weight I am carrying, and obtain proper medical care for my body (something I have gone years without!) is fantastic, but if I am ever going to truly feel whole and at peace, it is time. 

    Anyways, back to the physical therapy. ;) After we got all of that out of the way, she asked if I was ready to begin the actual physical therapy. Most of me wanted to scream no, but I took a big deep breath and said yes. So we began. She started by performing an exam to check the severity of my prolapse. She told me she could see it, it was definitly there but did not put it into words for the severity. I found that kind of interesting how she chose not to qualify it in such a way. After that, she told did an abdominal exam to check for my external trigger points. She repeated that was an internal exam. She could point to each muscle knot that I had deep inside, and worked to release them by gently holding pressure on them until the muscle relaxed. I can't lie, it hurt before it felt better. She did not prescribe any exercises and specifically told me to not perform any kegels. She explained that my muscles had to relax and heal first before we could work on making them stronger. I was thankful for that part. When I went through 8 weeks of physical therapy over the summer, that physical therapist through me directly into strengthening my abdominal core and it never felt right at all. I stopped because I felt as if I was doing more damage than good. 

    While she was working on helping my muscles relax, she asked me about urinary tract infections. I went over my history of them, and how I've been on more antibiotics than I could possibly remember, sometimes 3 times a month for very recurrent UTIs. After we talked about them, she pressed on a trigger point that instantly brought me to tears. It created that very sharp, intense, sudden onset burning that I have always thought of as a bladder infection. She guessed that after I had a few true bladder infections, my doctor wasn't even testing me anymore and was just calling me in prescriptions (TRUE!). She also guessed that the majority of the UTIs that I had were not actual UTIs. They were muscle spasms that were affecting my urethra, making me think that I had a UTI. I found this fascinating, as when I was younger I had a diagnosis of Interstitial Cystitis, which (as far as I understood it) meant that the UTI wasn't showing up when they did the urine test, but the patient was still reporting symptoms of it. SO, if you have recurring urinary tract/bladder infections, I HIGHLY recommend you seek out a pelvic floor physical therapist! Actually, if you have lower abdominal pain, minimal answers from other doctors, I highly recommend you seek out pelvic floor physical therapy.

    The actual therapy itself seemed rather quick. Maybe 10 minutes total. Before I knew it, it was over. I will go back twice a week for the next month, and things will be reevaluated after that. Ultimately, it's a good first step in healing. I am ready, and I am worthy. 

    )O( Denelle www.MotherMoonPads.com 

    Wednesday, January 7, 2015

    Pelvic Organ Prolapse, and all things taboo.

    "Taboos are the stuff of muck and magic. They are the stuff of exclusion, and have no place in the world of science and enlightenment. The only way to break taboos is to ... um ... break them. Speak out, as you have, and to keep speaking out. The taboo will still exist, but if people speak about it, it has lost its power over us. Our reproductive and sexual organs are sacred parts of us. We do not have to shout about them from the rooftops, but we do need to share appropriately so that other women do not have to suffer unecessarily. This is a whole new toolbox that every woman has within her! If you don't know you have the tools, then how can you heal your body?"
    This quote is by Louise at the Whole Woman Village and it touched me to my core. https://wholewoman.com/blog/?p=1047

    This past weekend, while I was at the coast, my bladder prolapsed. To be honest, I'm sure it has been happening for some time, but I was afraid to research or really explore what it could have possibly been.

    I very vaguely remembered reading about prolapse a few years ago, on a message board. I really it scaring the hell out of me, and praying it would never happen. Here I am though, terrified at what my body is doing. This past 9 months have been very strange. I've never been so unhealthy in all my life. I've experienced so much unexplained pain (diagnosed as myofascial pain syndrome in the end) with so little answers. I keep wondering what my body is trying to tell me.

    I believe that everything in life happens for a reason. I'm sure some day I will understand the reasoning behind this. Until then, I am going to start to talk (or type) my way through it. For the longest time, I've felt as if I had this public persona to display. That as an entrepreneur, I could not talk about anything taboo, nothing controversial. I tried for a while to blog as a coping mechanism for my husband's anxiety, and it was met with much love and also a little negativity. Instead of ignoring the negativity, I deleted everything and stopped blogging.

    I'm tired of taboos. I no longer feel the need to censor things. I've committed to being an open, honest, authentic person and I miss blogging about life.

    Since my last blog post, I've been put through a battery of tests. I've had an MRI (which found a herniated disc, but I'm not a surgical candidate and they didn't recommend PT as it hasn't helped in the past), a colonoscopy (which 2 benign polyps were removed and nothing else was found), and a plethora of blood tests that no one can figure put 2 and 2 together with.

    Ultimately I've been diagnosed with Myofascial Pain Syndrome, a non-specific auto immune disease, and today I add a bladder prolapse with a very mild rectal prolapse to the list.

    Wait, did I just admit to you that my bladder is falling out of my vagina? Yes. Yes I did!

    50% of women who have children will have a pelvic organ prolapse. FIFTY PERCENT! (Statistic taken from http://www.yaleobgyn.org/urogyn/151_23938_UI-POP_patient_talk.pdf ) If that statistic doesn't catch your eye, it should. WHY aren't we talking about this? Our bodies are important! The way they function is important! WE DO NOT HAVE TO SUFFER IN SILENCE!!

    My gynecologist is this sweet old man in his mid 50's. He wears a bow tie and suspenders every day. I freaking love him to pieces. He is also very knowledgeable, informative, open, and honest. I asked him what my treatment plan was. First he apologized and said he wished he had better news for me. Then he told me that I have 3 options:

    1. I have to lose weight. This is not negotiable. I need to commit to losing weight as if my quality of life depends on it, because it does. We had a long talk about diets, exercise, how many calories I should be eating and the types of foods I should be eating. I was slightly amused to hear him say I should go on the Paleo diet, but to make sure not to go overboard with it. He also told me to make sure I am eating enough calories each day, as this is something I really struggle with. He wants to see me lose at least 50 pounds, and told me that weight loss should be a main priority in life.

    2. I can have a pessary fit if the prolapse (described as "moderate" at this time). I would have to see another specialist to have this done, as it isn't something he offers.

    3. I can have a hysterectomy and have things put back in place surgically. He strongly cautioned me against choosing this option at this time, as I am only 32 years old. He said that if I choose to have surgery, I should know that the failure rate is relatively high, and that surgery will not be my last. I will need further surgeries to keep everything in place further down the road.

    So there it is, all in black and white. I've become one of the 50% of women who have had children to experience a pelvic organ prolapse.  

    I am choosing option 1. I am going to lose weight like my life depends on it, but I am going to do it with long term weight loss and health in mind. I am fairly limited on what I can do for exercise at this time (You know, the whole bladder thing!), so it's a good thing that losing weight is primarily diet based!

    I hope you'll cheer me on (or ignore my posts if you're not interested, haha!) in this journey. If you are one of the 50%, please feel free to send me a message too. It would be nice to feel like I'm not all alone in this.

    )O( Denelle www.MotherMoonPads.com