Gratitude feels like this

There was rocks and rain being thrown inside the truck yesterday. I couldn’t stop feeling wet and getting lumps stuck in my throat.

I’ve had some rough days. I’ve had friends tell me that they don’t believe my symptoms are real. I’ve had many change the subject immediately after asking how I’m doing. I’ve had some people straight up ignore me when I’ve asked them directly for something small (simply sharing a post – nothing more). I’ve had people talk condescendingly me towards me for not wanting to try a remedy without discussing it with my physician first, telling me I was giving up or not willing to get better by trying different things. It wasn’t that I wasn’t willing, but I wanted to ensure there was no (or limited) risk that my doctor might have known about before trying it. If he felt there was no harm in trying, then I’m all for it. I’ve had people mute me on social media because they’ve said they just don’t care.

Some of those things  I can chalk up to not being about me. Some of those things are limiting factors on the other person’s end, or awkwardness towards the situation, or just not knowing what to do or say. Those are things I understand, and I have no problems with.

But some of the other comments, actions and inactions hurt, and they were difficult not to take personally. I managed it, eventually, but that initial reaction felt like an icy cold slap to the face, and it stung when it came from a small handful of people I have known for a long time and I thought cared. That they didn’t is actually ok – they have things of their own to worry about, and they have their own agendas. Me expecting them to look out for me is my problem, not their’s, and I don’t typically expect things from others. I was (and still am) feeling extra vulnerable, and was grasping onto things that weren’t mine to hold onto. (I’ve let those things go. I was feisty, nervous, sad and didn’t fully have awareness of my overabundant emotions at the time. I’m human.)

But then, everything changed. And those small handful of people who I had allowed to drive me deeper into a downward spiral are suddenly muted by the huge outpouring of love and support from so many others, and from some people I don’t even know.

Seriously, universe, you have some amazing people in you. And as much as I often question the direction of humanity, this lesson has taught me that there is more kindness than there isn’t. There’s been tears and feels, but they’ve been good (if not complicated) ones.

It’s been weird for both my husband and I. Admitting to needing help is hard enough. Especially publicly. Taking help is a whole other matter. As mentioned previously, I’m one to give things away. I love it. So when people have been buying product, I’ve been wanting to give them gifts with their order, as I always do. Jess, the superhero who has taken over selling my products, has slapped my wrist numerous times for that. I gave her complete control over all of the inventory, selling, discounts and everything associated. And she’s been rocking it, without the discounts. She’s selling things better than I ever did.

We’ve both shared that we’re better at selling other people’s products than our own. At markets, I’d sell my neighbours products easier than mine. It was fun, and they were appreciative. They’d be quiet about their product, and strike up conversation a little, but wouldn’t want to be pushy with sales and allow the customer to browse. I’d pop my head over, grab my favorite product from the table (which would change with different customers) and start asking them questions about it, and commenting on the things I loved most about it. I was also sincere about it, which I truly believe made the difference.

Most of the time the customer would buy one of whatever I was oohing and aahing over.

I excel at retail sales when I have fun with them. At the sports store I used to work at, I’d focus on the customers in front of me, and not focusing on making specific sales. I worked the quietest shifts, but always had the highest sales, because they were my focus, no matter what they were looking at. My specialties were the people on a budget – because I could relate the best with them. It was amazing how much some of the other associates took advantage of people, and it never impressed me. We got commission at the time. I’m glad that practice has been ended since I worked there. The managers loved those associates for selling the high ticket items, but then they didn’t have the highest average sales.

“They are so cute, and anything has to be more comfortable than these. Where did you get them?”

I remember one elderly gentleman had come in to pick up his shoes he had on hold, and I couldn’t help but pry. He was there to purchase the newest, greatest Nike Shox, which retailed for the great deal of $299 at the time. The associate that had helped him previously convinced this man that these shoes would help his knees stop hurting while he was in the garden. The man was on disability and in pain, and he was desperate for relief.

They were basketball shoes, meant for a basketball court, with crevices in the soles where dirt could pack into and compound, rendering the “shox” useless once dirt got embedded in there. He obviously had crippling arthritis in his hands, and the work to clean the shoes in order to keep the dirt out from those areas would add to the list of things he shouldn’t have had to do.

I downsold him to a reliable, comfortable, supportive pair of $60 New Balance shoes, and gave the associate the sale for those.

Oh dear, did I ever cause a kerfuffle. The other associate complained to management, who had to reprimand me for stealing a sale even though I didn’t take it myself. The associate was also reprimanded for the unethical sale. 

I didn’t make friends there. Apparently ethics doesn’t belong in retail sales, and I’ve always tried to live up to a strong code of ethics for the benefit of others. I could not in good conscious let that man pay for those shoes without feeling guilt, and to this day I do not regret my decision to downsell him those shoes. He came back to see me personally and thank me, as the shoes actually did help reduce his pain while in the garden. This was the kind of thing I worked for. 

I had the lowest amount per sale, however the highest total monthly sales for my department, because there were customers that refused to see other people due to my honesty. They simply wouldn’t deal with the other associates in my department, and would ask for me specifically. The managers had to deal with fires often from disagreements on fairness. No one could control who the customers wanted to buy from, however, and there was nothing that could be done about it. I was always on time, I didn’t steal sales from other associates, I found associates to pass customers to in other departments and I treated everyone fairly. I was isolated from the others, but it wasn’t a big deal to me. I was there to work, not to make friends, which wasn’t the same attitude that many others had. I didn’t mind.

When it came to my own products, however, I was no different than those other quiet handmade vendors. I’d converse, talk and answer questions, but didn’t want to come across as over zealous, so didn’t push sales. And I’ve never done so poorly selling products as I did my own.

That’s not to say I did poorly, mind you – but I didn’t have the same exuberance about it as I did selling other people’s products.

It was never for lack of confidence in my products – while sure, I’ve made a few mistakes and bumbles (seriously, what company doesn’t), I’ve always loved the things that I’ve made and have been proud of what I’ve  done. I think the issue lies more in the self, in asking people to pay me for the things I do. As much as I’d try to talk myself up that I’m worth what I ask for, I think deep down, I didn’t believe it myself and it came across that way. Or, not that I wasn’t worth it so much as just wanting to enjoy what I was doing without worrying about the monetary aspect behind it.

Which makes for TERRIBLE business practice.

I was quiet yesterday, and my husband noticed. My feelings were strong – and confused. I was elated by the outpour of support from so many people, while dreading taking their generosity, while grateful for it, while sad that those I thought would be more supportive disappeared, while humbled and embarassed, but proud of reaching out instead of falling into further trouble. I was also glad to have the thought of business off my mind, while sad to be letting it go.

Emotions are complicated and hard, man. But I’m ok. I’m more than ok. I am so, so blessed to have such amazing people in my life.

But gratitude and love win. Every time. And that’s how I’m feeling right now.

Plus exhausted beyond reasonable comparison. The last few weeks have taken alot out of me, and I don’t feel like I’ve given myself the proper chance to rest and catch up. And the more tired I am, the less I sleep, and the worse it gets. And today I’m definitely in a huge energy deficit, and I’m just staying in bed. I’ll take a break from that to do a small yoga practice and move some blood and tissue at least a little, but I don’t think I’ve got much else. And that’s ok. I don’t have anything I need to get done today, and nothing pending, and anything that’s on my to-do list can be put aside for another day.

This is where my boundaries and self care kick in. I’ve pushed myself here and there, mostly to see how my body would respond. It’s little experiments to know how far I can go and what activities I can do. Sadly, it’s not nearly what I’d have hoped for, but I’ll take what I can.

My MRI is on Saturday, which is faster than anyone expected. If the MRI comes back with issues, I’m being sent to a neurologist. If it comes back clean, then a rheumatologist. 

We’re narrowing things down, finally, and I’m looking forward to finding a better normal than I’ve had recently. It’ll still be awhile, but it’ll come. I have faith.

But in the meantime, I feel so grateful for everyone who has helped us, and I’m excited for the day that I can pay it forward again.

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Awkward Conversations

“Krys! Oh my god, you look SO GREAT!” she said, gesturing down my body with her hands and eyes. It stung, but she had no idea.

I get it. A couple of years ago, I was over 220 pounds on my little 5’3″ frame. I hid my lumpy shape under hoodies and oversized t-shirts. I lived with the shame my grandparents’ words implanted in me from a young age. “No one wants to see a fat woman. It’s not so bad for guys, because they can get away with it more. But people really want to look at pretty women, so that’s what all women should strive to be no matter how much they have to change to achieve that attraction. Walk with a broom under the arms, walk daintily in heels, spend the extra time to trim the frizzy hair so it doesn’t show, eat less even if you’re hungry, cover your face entirely with makeup because it’s naturally too red. Don’t show your real face to the world, because the world won’t love it the way it is.”

That shit stays with you for a long time, especially when drilled into you when young, and even when other people try to minimize the impact of it – it doesn’t change the fact that my emotional well being wasn’t based on anything healthy growing up. It’s what I knew, and trying to change that takes work. That path had deep treads, and finding a new route doesn’t come with a map. It’s work (but it’s worth it).

It took a long, long time to break away from those limiting beliefs, but I did. Mostly….. there are still smoke tendrils trailing behind me. But I still didn’t feel good about my body or health, and my self esteem was suffering as much as my health. So I started to focus on my health, and that’s a story that’s recently been underway. I worked hard, reduced the pain I was having as well as my pant size and was feeling so great and healthy. My yoga practice progressed a long way and I was feeling fit, confident and energized. Until, one day, not so much. All of the energy I had been enjoying was suddenly in a negative and I’ll never forget that day when I realized that something was very, very wrong, and it has progressed downward from there.

“What’s your secret? Are you doing the keto diet?”

The questions seem to be harmless, but I can’t help but feel like people are not really paying attention to the bigger picture.

I hear how great I look frequently from people I see, and on Instagram and Facebook like it’s something to celebrate and something I should be proud of, but this time I’m not really happy about it. This time, my weight loss is from being too scared to eat anything for fear of razor blades tearing up my belly, or exiting too quickly to be of any benefit. It’s from the loss of muscle mass from watching Netflix and as many golden buzzers from Britain’s Got Talent as I’ve got the happy tears to share in those people’s moments (trust me – they are unending). It’s from eating from a limited selection of food that doesn’t make me feel like having a night out in my bathroom.

I have become anorexic. (Not to be confused with anorexia nervosa, keep in mind. It’s definitely not voluntary. I love food, but it’s not a thing I can enjoy like before without horrible consequences.) It started during my final week of yoga teacher training in June and has progressed to the point that I’m struggling to keep anything in my system long enough to absorb nutrients.

That was a hard lump to swallow and to admit. For someone who loves food, this isn’t easy or fun, and it’s an adjustment that I’m not used to. Hopefully I don’t have to get used to it  for long. I’m looking forward to enjoying meals again.

I’m fitting into smaller clothes. My ribs and hips are starting to make an appearance. My cyst can be visibly seen in my abdomen when it feels like looking out from it’s nest in my hip. My hands have become skeletal. My skin is becoming parched and papery. My hair is becoming dull and is breaking easily, and there are days that I have twice as much hair fall out than usual. Yes, I still have bulk, especially in my lower extremities, but it’s soft and disappearing more quickly than I’d like in a way that I don’t want it to.

My eyes …. the thing I’ve always loved most about my physical appearance… they’re tired. I remember wearing red eyeliner under the thick black raccoon shadows in order to create a bit of a darker, creepy look during my high school goth days, and now I don’t need makeup to recreate that. It’s just part of the look, now.

Hm. Maybe I have a career lined up?

Ha. No. Kidding.

But damn, I’d save alot of money on eyeliner!

What’s my secret?

It lies in hiding the shaking in my legs when I’ve been standing too long. In making it to the closest place to sit down before my vision goes completely black. Or, at the very least, a wall to lean against while my vision returns. The secret is in keeping my hands warm enough that I can grasp a pen without my hand seizing. It’s finding a position where I’m in a little bit less pain (which doesn’t go away) so I can concentrate better on whatever it is I’m doing. Sometimes it’s getting comfortable enough so that I can just do nothing, because moving hurts and motion creates waves of nausea. It’s going downstairs to do something and forgetting – over and over and over again until I actually get it done or forget about it entirely. It’s asking for help when I can’t keep up. It’s in dressing up a little to pull attention away from the rest of me. It’s learning how to breath in a way that doesn’t cause my heart to race and my vision to blur, despite the intense breath work learned during yoga teacher training that I can’t use right now. It’s in keeping things short and sweet. It’s learning to listen really closely past the constant screaming in my ears that spikes frequently and drowns out sound for a moment. It’s in speaking more slowly to give me time to find the vocabulary that slips away like a dream after waking. It’s in pulling my shoulders back long enough to look strong, when the truth is I’m ready to collapse. It’s in learning to say “not right now” to things I really want to do.  It’s in letting my fear over my situation rage on occasion so that it can rest again later. It’s in drawing boundaries and letting people know when I’m overwhelmed. Which is often.

Maybe the secret isn’t much of a secret at all. The “secret” is letting people see what they want , and in letting them say what they do without correcting them. Because does it really matter? I feel terrible, and I believe it’s easy to see… but maybe it’s not? Maybe it’s easy for me to assume that simply because of the way I feel. But that’s not what people want to see, or draw attention to. Is there’s really a harm to them or to me in simply accepting that compliment?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I really don’t believe there’s any harm in it. Perhaps even more harm to us both if I draw attention to it and make things more awkward than they already are.

Perhaps my physical degradation actually does look good to them. Or maybe they only see that one detail because it’s the most obvious. Or perhaps they do see what’s going on and just want to make me feel better.

It doesn’t make me feel better, really. It kind of brings my attention back to how I feel, which is a constant anyways. But what does matter is that they are there, and they care. And THAT is what makes me feel better. And THAT is what I choose to take out of it after an initial knee-jerk reaction in my head that screams “WHAT?!”

 

I choose love and gratitude. Always.

 

 

Snowballs and Shenanigans

My birthday is not something I normally celebrate. Something tends to go wrong and it makes for a bummer day instead of an exciting one, so I’ve learned to just roll with the punches and enjoy myself anyways. (Take THAT, life. Try to make my day bad? No way, man!!)

Sure enough, it tried again. I don’t have family come this way very often, and I was stoked when I had plans for family to visit for the weekend. Sadly, the snow had other plans.

While that part of my weekend was cancelled, though, things still fell into place to make for an amazing long birthday weekend. I am so blessed – and so grateful – for good friends who are always there to make everything amazing just by being there.

I’ve talked to other people who have similar issues – something always comes up on their birthday that makes it terrible. This used to bother me. Alot. I used to feel that I wasn’t worth celebrating, and that I shouldn’t bother trying. Instead, though, that got turned around along the way. The day of my birth is just a day – and life’s too short to only celebrate my life and living on only one day out of the year. I’ve made it my prerogative to celebrate every day, because it’s worth it.

Last weekend was made special from the people in my life, not just for being who they are but the experiences they shared with me, and I’m forever thankful to them.

The website is coming along nicely, and the oils will be getting added again soon as well. There are label changes underway for the blends, and some minor changes in some of the blends, as well. I have projects underway that I’m trying SO HARD to get released, but there is so much happening! So many exciting things, and I’m exciting to share them with you when I’m ready!

In the meantime, please check out the events and workshops available on the events page (click here). The comic expo also starts next weekend! I can’t personally be there, since I’m anxiously awaiting meeting my newest nephew who is scheduled to appear on the same weekend. But all of the geeky soapery will be there, and on sale!!! Visit Athena to check out the deals. You’ll find her in the Big Four building in booth 4743! See the map below, and click here to see updates at Dirty Dott’s Every Flavor Clean Soap Emporium and Curio Shoppe!!

There’s more underway – but I’m still leaving time for adventuring and living! I’ve learned my lesson about working too hard. I don’t have a goal to be rich and famous. I just want to be, and I want to be happy! And you know…. I’m living that. The pace I’ve made has proven to be perfect!