Sundog –noun 1. parhelion. 2. a small or incomplete rainbow.

updates

Life as a CSU Student

The last few weeks have been very intense. I’ve been attending CSU for two weeks and prior to that were many student orientation activities designed to make us feel more a part of the college. It’s been a lot of fun, but also an incredible amount of stress returning full time to classes.

Calculus was a bit of a surprise and I found myself quickly swamped. My instructor is a graduate student and this is his first time teaching. He’s nice and tries hard, but that doesn’t really take the place of experience. When comparing the learning experience of myself to that of Blue Jess who’s taking calculus at the community college, I feel she’s getting a much deeper teaching of the subject. It’s taking a lot of extra study time for me to make up for what isn’t being taught in class, but I’m getting there and feel as though I’m doing well.

Speaking of being taught in class – I found it rather odd that in every one of my classes, the first two times we met were mostly fluff. Nothing was being taught, it was all about the syllabus and how to be a student. I understand these are typically freshmen level courses, but as an experienced student ready to learn it was a little frustrating. Especially as the homework kept coming in, but no instruction was given on how to handle the problems.

Chemistry was my favorite class. The instructor was humorous and had a dynamic teaching style. Unfortunately, by not coming to it fresh from Intro to Chemistry, the homework load was enormous. A few days ago I decided to drop chemistry for this semester and try it again closer to when I’ll be needing it.

Intro to Astronomy has been ok enough so far, I think it will start picking up soon though. We have been covering the ancient Greeks and Romans and their contributions to modern astronomy.

I’ve had to pick up a one credit odd course since dropping chemistry in order to keep my financial aid, therefor I shall also be taking a class in West African contexts and perspectives. It begins in late October and will hopefully be very interesting as I hear the instructor is pretty great.

It’s been a bit of a frustrating thing to drop chemistry. I don’t like feeling as though I could have done more, done better. Truth is, there is an enormous amount of stuff going on right now in my personal life and this heavily contributed to my choice in dropping chemistry. There is only so much of me to go around and still actually feel like I’m not neglecting something important. Still… while the reasons are sound, I can’t help but wonder if I could have done chemistry had my personal life been less chaotic right now.

I have had a good time meeting some new people last week in various clubs. I’ve even volunteered to be a student council representative for SHPE – “Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers” and pronounced as “ship.” I’m curious as to where my involvement with them will go as they are a friendly group of people and I can see being with the club the next several years of my education.

Last April I began going to a CrossFit gym to do a dramatic boost to my fitness level. I’ve been pretty consistently going three times a week ever since. I love working out there, such an amazing group of people. My hope at the time had been to see my endurance raised enough to handle a full day of school and homework when I began at CSU. At one point last week, I was climbing 4 flights of stairs with a heavy backpack on my back full of textbooks and easily keeping up with everyone else. The thought struck me around the third floor that this was exactly why I’d been working out so hard all summer – I’d achieved my goal.

Even though I had to drop chemistry and feel a bit of failure in doing so, the reality is that I have achieved so much more that its time to focus on all the success. I have moved here, applied and been accepted into CSU, received residency so I could afford to attend, gotten my math skills up to the level they needed to be so I could succeed at calculus this fall, gotten my physicality up to the point where being bedbound only three years ago seems like it happened in a different lifetime, and am healthier physically, mentally, and emotionally than I have ever been before in my life.

That is a heck of a lot of success to culminate in these last few weeks. No wonder I feel so tired, it’s been a very long road to get here and now I see that this road has only just begun. Life is an adventure and I’m incredibly happy to be on this one, even when I’m feeling tired and drained by the road I’ve been walking to get here.


Goodbye to Lisa

I’ve been delaying posting this until things were in the process of becoming legal – Jeremy and I are fully changing both of our names! Not a post I thought I’d be writing when I started this blog nearly 5 years ago… wait, 5 years? Wow!

I’ve shared so much of my life here. The struggles we had living in the tent and trying to get well, but only getting sicker. The fantastic journey to Hawaii where everything changed and healing became part of our lives once more. Then now, this journey leading me back to college and a future that is opening more for me every day.

Changing our names is a pretty big thing for us. Those of you who have read through this blog know things were rarely easy while we struggled to find healing in that tent. Though this blog starts in 2009, that struggle actually began in 2001. It’s been a very long and hard road to get to the point we are at now.

Along the way, I found it interesting that the only time in my life I ever began identifying with the name “Lisa” was in the deepest and darkest part of my life story. Somehow, through all the pretty lousy stuff in my childhood (of which I’ve rarely said much, but trust me, it was not good) the name “Lisa” came to mean pain, unhappiness, sickness, and life being upside down with no easy way to right it.

As one might imagine, while my healing has been progressing these last couple of years, I’ve felt rather distanced from the name of “Lisa.” I’m just not that girl anymore for whom normal is sadness and believing that life beats up on you, never feeling like I can succeed because that only allows in more pain when you fail.

I’m on my way to being happy, truly happy and being able to feel it. Starting to believe that life isn’t only ever going to tear me down, but that instead I can trust in the foundation I’m building on to hold me secure while I build to greater heights.

It’s scary, very scary. Everything is new and different – I’m new and different.

Hence, the new name. Something that is more the me who I’m becoming and want to be in life, rather than a name that is connected to so much pain in the past. As for Jeremy changing his name too? We’ll, that’s his story to tell, but it’s much the same – just as our last names are changing to be the same too.

Who will I be? It was a hard choice, I mean – how often do you really stop to think about what name suits you best? After settling on something I liked very much, then came the trial period where I had to try on the name, much like a new set of clothes, and see how it fit. My first try at a name fit me very well – too well. I found it highly uncomfortable when people would mispronounce it or worse yet they’d make fun of it. Since the name was so close to my heart I had no armor to protect me from their words. A new name had to be found, but I already had a nickname I liked and wanted to keep.

I’ve decided to go with Catrin, but you can all call me Cat. Yesterday, someone didn’t hear me right when I said my name was Catrin and understandably they thought I’d said Cathrine. I found that I didn’t mind it so much and easy enough to tell them to just keep on calling me Cat. It also seems to help that Cat is so easy to see where it comes from with the name Catrin.

What happened to the first name I liked so much? Well, I’ve decided to keep that one too – but I’m putting it in the middle where it can be a bit more protected from the world and the evils of telemarketers who find your phone number.

Jeremy has been a different story. He simply asked me one night for interesting names starting with “Z” and when I mentioned Zain, he knew that was for him. Same with his middle name, I just tossed something out and he loved it so much he’s kept it.

We’ve filed with the county courts and are in the middle of making everything legal. Within a few weeks we should legally be Catrin and Zain and can start the task of changing our names everywhere – and I do mean everywhere. It’s a little daunting, but also exciting and fun. Think for a moment of everyone and everyplace you interact with at least once a year and that will be the list we use to change over our life to new names. Phew, it’s a big list!

Our dog Falkor, well he’ll be staying Falkor. So I guess not everything’s changing around here!


Countdown

Almost a year has passed since my last post here, yet I am disappointed with my lack of posting at the second blog site Jeremy and I teamed up for. In truth, though he is a great partner for many things, blog writing is not one of them. This sapped my enthusiasm for writing and over the months turned into more silence than anything. In that time, much has happened, but what brings me back here today is this blog itself. Several weeks ago I began to reread my old posts here and appreciate once more how much Sundog Tales has always meant to me. I’ve shared so much of my journey, it’s only fitting that I come back here in these final months before I begin to attend Colorado State University in August.

Where does one begin? Perhaps there is no need for a beginning, for you already know me so well. A quick catch-up then.

In short, life in Colorado has been filled with many ups and downs, as any life is – healthy or chronically ill, and I’ve been undergoing tremendous growth to overcome these challenges. I’ve had the excitement of applying for and being accepted to CSU for the fall semester. This in turn kicked off a world of doubts and fears about my capabilities to return to school, being productive once more, and in some ways more importantly – to feel successful while doing it.

All those years living in a tent, day dreaming of being healthy again, working or going back to school – the reality is both much more fantastic and also more difficult that I had imagined. Somehow in each of my daydreams, the me I would become when well was the same me I had been before becoming sick. Other than knowing I was mentally a lot stronger and physically a lot weaker now, in my mind’s eye I was still the same 24 year old woman I used to be.

Boy was I wrong!

I am vastly different than who I had been. Though the tent felt like time was suspended within it’s walls, it was in fact not a time machine at all, waiting to deposit the old me 13 years in the future the same as I’d been before, but instead a device slowly molding me into a more mature and motivated person.

This is ever so obvious when I attend functions at CSU, surrounded by undergrads who are often half my age with problems I no longer identify with, such as which party to go to or who is dating whom. Worse yet are the functions for incoming freshmen and transfer students. The freshmen are often accompanied by parents who are the only ones asking questions, a glazed look on the kid’s faces, and everyone wondering where the dorms are. These are not problems in my world. My world is about paying rent, walking the dog, spending time with Jeremy, and otherwise devoting myself to my studies.

No, the me of 2001 who would have been only a bit older than these kids is as surely gone in the past as VHS tapes and a world without cell phones.

This morning I was writing an essay for a scholarship (something else past me had never done) and one of the questions was on how have I grown as a leader through my leadership activities. Well, as someone who was bedbound much of the last decade of my life, let me tell you – there wasn’t much call for leadership activities. Then I woke this morning with the thought on my mind, this right here is a leadership activity. I have reached lives I have never known, inspired people with my words to be more than they were before reading my stories, and that to me is a leader.

It reminded me of how much this blog and all my readers have meant to me over the years and I realized that at one of the greatest points in the story – I left. I went elsewhere and was hardly there too. It’s time I remedy this and finish this story, you all deserve nothing less.

So pull up a chair and settle in, because there will be more blog posts to come over the next few months as we count down to the first day of school – August 25, 2014.


Chakra Meditations and New Blog

I have enjoyed this chakra meditation video very much over the last few months. It has a nice grounding effect and is quite relaxing.

Each day Jeremy and I do some combination of between 2-4 meditations spread throughout the day. It is part of the Gupta Amygdala Retraining Technique we have been doing and it helps immensely. Though the program starts you off with guided meditations of their own and cd’s to help you get started, we’ve taken it beyond those to now encompassing other meditation styles too.

Sometimes we skip the afternoon meditation in favor of a walk in the park or around our semi-rural neighborhood. This also seems just as relaxing and really depends on the day as to which we do.

Over the last several months of this program I have had a lot of time to think. Originally I was unsure as to when I would share with my reading community that I was doing the Gupta program, as it is a bit alternative and honestly, I wasn’t ready to face people judging me or how I choose to heal myself. Sad that even with all I’ve been through from these illnesses, there are those people out there who will harshly judge anyone who dares to break their own boundaries by becoming well.

Unfortunately, I did indeed face some negative criticism and a fair bit of what I felt to be an irrational anger towards me for not sharing on my blog all the intimate and private details of my life. As though somehow by denying this person those details, I am not only standing in the way of their own healing, but outright doing them harm.

Ridiculous.

I hate to admit it, but even despite finding their position to have been in the minority it did take away some of my enthusiasm for sharing this healing journey with you, my readers and friends. At this same time in life, I found myself to be going into a bit of a downturn in health because of our cat, Tashi, waking us multiple times a night and causing enormous difficulties. I love that cat, but she knocked down a considerable part of my health for the better part of four full months. All in all, as you may have noticed, I haven’t been posting very much for sometime now.

But that’s about to change… just not here.

Now I’m bouncing back quickly, more quickly than I had even dared to hope! With this gigantic boost in health is also the same boost in motivation to get a move on life. Jeremy and I are going to see about moving to Colorado, sooner rather than later, and start the process of getting back to school through the work training programs available to us.

CSU – Fort Collins, Colorado

Jeremy and I started a new blog for us to share, A Thousand Miles, where we will detail out more of our adventures while trying to find enough money to make the move. Being on Social Security Disability and food stamps doesn’t leave much money to try and save up for a big expense, and being on an island means big expense if you want to move off it. Plane fare alone starts around $1200! If we actually want to take with us anything besides carry-on luggage, such as shipping our computers to Colorado or blankets, well the costs skyrocket.

Life is full of challenges and as any who’ve read my blog here for very long knows, we take each challenge and overcome them. It’s all just a matter of time.


New home for Tashi. :(

I’ve been down and out of life for the last couple of months, mostly because Tashi has been waking us up multiple times a night since mid-February. She’s a wonderful cat in all other ways, but sadly she has trouble with being afraid of things in our home environment which we have zero control over.

The main trigger for her nightly wake-ups seems to be our neighbor’s voice coming in through our windows at all hours of the night. I don’t blame the neighbor, she works until midnight and we knew that before moving in. Everything is at a normal speaking volume, she’s just awake much of the night. We’ve worked far too many lousy jobs that require that sort of shift to complain about someone else who’s working that shift and simply unwinding at night by chatting with their boyfriend.

And so we’ve found Tashi a new home. It’s a good home and she will be moving there at the end of this week. There are 3 other cats and a dog, along with some nice folks. A much bigger home, more windows for her, and most importantly – neighbors who’s windows are much further than 5 feet away.

I’ll be very sorry to see her go. I haven’t posted much about her here, but she’s been a real highlight in our lives these last 6 months. Were it not for this constant lack of sleep and what it’s done to our health (a full stop on our healing progress for CFS and some regression), it would be a great joy to keep her with us.

However it seems to have come down to staying tired and feeling useless in life or keeping a wonderful cat – oddly it was a hard choice. But then being tired and feeling useless is actually what most of life felt like since becoming ill in 2001 – it’s only recently begun to change at the end of last year so I’m not as familiar with what that feels like anymore.

What I do remember of December (2012) and January (2013) was a great deal of delight in feeling my energy coming up, actually being able to see and feel life returning to a more normal picture, and being happy that my existence isn’t dictated solely by feelings of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Multiple Chemical Sensitives. Thankfully, I’m still seeing MCS improvements, even just yesterday going into a store (Costco) that we had to avoid in the past like the plague due to all the odors and such. Now it was just as I remembered it from when I went as a kid with my mom on shopping day – everything smelled just the same, not overwhelming or frightening. Life with MCS really is coming to a close and it’s both a brilliant and wonderful thing.

I know this can happen with CFS too and unfortunately its all too clear that right now that means as best of sleep as we can manage so our nervous systems can calm down instead of being jarred awake several times a night. Truly, Tashi is going to a great home with one of the worker’s at the cat sanctuary we adopted her from – actually the woman who helped us pick her out. The woman had always wanted Tashi, seemed a little sad to see her go, but had not wanted to make the commitment before. She’s had a change of mind now that she’s seen just how wonderful and loving Tashi is as a house cat – they’ll do well together I think.

Hopefully in a few weeks time Jeremy and I will be seeing more energy again. Neither of us can hardly wait for the adventures on our horizon and have lots of motivation to make them happen. Brighter days should be coming our way, even if they are a little more lonely without my dear Tashi.


Tashi! :D

Life sure does move fast sometimes! It’s been another long while since I posted and much has gone on. I think it’s time I share what it is that I’ve been up to which has been keeping me away from more frequent updates.

Gupta Amygdala Retraining Program is a process by which many can heal from chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple chemical sensitivity, and a few things they don’t list on the website. For example, I’ve also been using it to heal my PTSD.

Jeremy and I began the program mid-September this year. After three months following it diligently, the results are quite amazing. On the other hand, it can be a lot of work and you really need to commit yourself to doing it every day. Is it worth it? Heck yeah! 🙂

Coming back from a long-term illness can be very challenging. Especially considering how far from normal our lives had taken us – living in a tent for nearly 10 years, extreme social isolation from being fully housebound, extreme physical degradation from being mostly bedbound. It all adds up to situations that need healing in their own way.

We’ve been living indoors for sometime now and enjoy our current apartment. Swimming 1-4 times a week, occasional hikes, weight lifting, and frequent evening walks are taking care of the physical reconditioning. I’ve begun volunteering for a dog rescue at their adoption events and will be helping a cat shelter next month during their spay/neuter clinic which is all healing the social aspect. Life is beginning to be on the move again!

Speaking of the cat shelter… we adopted a 2 year old cat three weeks ago! Yay!!! Through an odd sequence of events I found out I don’t have a cat allergy as I thought I did, within a week we had adopted Tashi. Here she is a few days after coming home with us: Tashi a few days after being adopted from the shelter.

I am loving having a cat around the house. She has been a shelter cat for a lot of her life, though she did have one home at some point. Her first home had a 4 year old and she spent a month hiding under the bed from it, so they decided to take her back. I’m happy to have her here with us instead.

Tashi playing with paper ball.

She suffered from at least one nightmare a day for the first two weeks, but then someone gave us some amazing stress reducing drops that are basically water with minerals and an electric charge to combat stress. I add one drop to her water each day and she hasn’t had a nightmare in a week! We are really enjoying seeing her personality come out as she grows more comfortable and confident in life with us.

Tashi is a Tibetan name meaning good fortune and auspiciousness. She is a talker with many different chirps, meows, mews, and just plain odd noises. I’m hoping she will learn to be more of a lap cat as right now she is uncomfortable being in a lap even though you can tell she wants to climb onto it. When in a loving mood she’ll gaze at it and shift her weight forwards then change her mind, but for now it is too much for her. She loves lasers, catnip, and playing with various homemade toys. We also have a homemade cat scratcher made from cardboard boxes we had lying around… aka free!

Having Tashi come into our lives is just one of many examples of how much healing we have seen since starting the Gupta Retraining Program. Our improvements really are incredible and tremendous.


Home has been Found!

Aloha! I am thrilled to say we have found a new apartment to rent! Hooray!! A week after finding it, we were moved out of the old and into the new. It has been an incredibly busy three weeks as we accomplished all of this.

Our new place has had it’s ups and downs for our health, for example we had to clean off old cleanser and soap residues from past cleaning, making it more MCS safe for us. We still can’t use the cupboards as they need the most work, but that is something that will become better with time and they do not cause trouble unless opened.

There is still much hard work ahead of us and it will take time to regain our energy and health back to where it was even four months ago, but I am feeling highly positive it is already happening.

It has been one heck of a road which led us here, with a huge learning curve about finding an MCS safe apartment. Had I known four months ago what I know now about finding a safe rental, I’ve no doubt it would have taken half the time. Thankfully, I had the forethought to write myself notes on how to make our rental search easier in the future, since the whole process is already becoming a foggy memory.

Already we are feeling the stress of our rental journey slowly lifting from our hearts and our minds, freeing us for a much more positive and brighter future. It feels wonderful to have found a place that holds so much promise of being a safe healing environment.

Our apartment is more of a ‘mother-in-law’ style unit, fully detached from the main house where our new landlord lives with 3 other family members. They have all made us feel extremely welcome and like we belong here. It is an amazing feeling to be around such kind hearts and positive energy.

In just the last two weeks we have expanded from the survival mode of finding a rental to living again. Jeremy has begun making jewelry for the first time in a couple of months. We’ve been swimming in the healing ocean 3-5 times each week (up from once every 10 days or so). Also we’re having fun planting a few seeds for a small garden with more seeds ready soon as the energy is there.

In other words – life has once more started to bloom for us.