How I See Things

How I See Things
Cartoon-like drawing in shades of dark to medium purple. Eyes with beautiful eyelashes, looking through a pair of glasses.

Monday, February 28, 2022

Wiggle Our Toes

One of my vision issues is that I don’t like to read. Now, I thought I did like to read. But it turns out it makes my eyes hurt, and I skip over words. I try to get the gist of what I am reading without reading all of it. And if I go back and read every word, I am likely to tangle up the letters and mis-read it anyway. The whole thing is a chore and a nightmare for me. 




I have learned that I love listening to books on Audible. I mean, I love books. I love stories. I love learning things. And Audible works for me so well. I can be washing the dishes, keeping my hands busy, and read a book. I have listened to books while I take a road trip from the east coast to the mid-west. 

Recently, I have been listening to a book on Audible.com called “A Radical Guide for Women with ADHD,” by Sari Solden MS and Michelle Frank, PsyD. 


Yes, I have ADHD too, because of course I do. I didn’t have enough initials of things I have with C-PTSD, PTSD, Afib and SVT. Sigh. 


Today, she brought up Proprioception. My ears perked up. My mind was wandering during part of the book, because it does this. Thank you, ADHD. 


The authors talked about how people with ADHD are distant from their body, not paying attention to things. Constantly distracted. And how bringing them back to a sense of their body by working on proprioception can bring them awareness and help them focus. Be here now. 


The author gave us an exercise that started with wiggling our toes. I was driving my car. A friend of mine taught me to use my cruise control on long drives. And I had it going. And I was able to wiggle my toes as I listened to the author and as I drove through the Shenandoah Mountains. 


She said we should bring awareness to our toes. Feel ourselves down there, in our toes. I am not there yet, feeling like I exist down there in my toes. But it was sure worth a try. I definitely feel like I am in my head, my brain, all the time. I excessively think and overthink everything. I can’t shut it off. It’s constantly going and going and switching topics and losing focus and hyper focusing. It’s exhausting. 


But I wiggled my toes. She said to move up to our body and move our ankles. I was wiggling my toes and moving my ankles. And my ankles got tired. As a former ballerina, I was sad to realize how tired my ankles got from minimal movement. I have some work to do. 


She had the reader move on up their body to their knees, thighs, hips and shoulders and neck …. And I was still just trying to wiggle my toes and feel an awareness of myself down there. 



I like the idea that I can practice proprioception in this new way, and I wanted to share it. I will never be a circus acrobat. But hopefully as I approach my 50s, I will get more fit and more aware of my body than I have been. 


My son tells me that if we used to be athletic, our body remembers how to do it, so it comes back easily. I am hoping this is true for me. I’ll let you know how it goes. 

Monday, February 21, 2022

Proprioception and Alegria

 So, let’s talk a little about proprioception, shall we? 

I learned about this word in vision therapy. It’s a word I am still figuring out. 


It means “perception or awareness of position or movement of the body.” 


A cartoon Jodi is wearing a black and red plaid shirt, dark blue pants, black hockey skates. She has on blue hockey gloves and is holding a hockey stick in the “check” position (the end of the stick is raised above her shoulder). 

Gosh, I have so many different things I want to share about this. Either this will need to be 3 blog posts, or I can figure out how to make it interesting as one and not too long. 


I am suddenly reminded of Cirque du Soleil’s “Alegria” show. It’s a beautiful show, full of storybook characters and bird characters that walk around, dance, jump and do amazing acrobatics. It has a beautiful princess character in a white dress who sings the most beautiful songs with her extraordinary alto voice. There is a character opposite her - who wears all black and sings the harmonies. Their performances are so extraordinary that they can both do both characters. In fact, they alternate. The black-dressed character doesn’t sing as much as the white-dressed character. So they alternate nights, to give their throats a rest from doing the whole show, every night. I just find that fascinating. 


I watched a show of them, behind the scenes. I can’t remember what it’s called now. But the casting director is talking to the whole cast. She has an issue with their performance. That’s the thing about Cirque du Soliel - from what I have experienced of it (and at last count, I had seen 20 of their shows, and some of them I have seen so many times I can’t even count how many times), I love the way that everyone there strives to improve their performance for every single show. The creative director is constantly watching every show to make sure it is as spectacular or even more so than every previous show. It’s amazing.


In the tv show I watched about Alegria, I remember the casting director looking at the strong man of the show and saying to him, “Andre, in the first act, your arms are….” And he burst out, “the biggest!” 


It wasn’t what she was aiming for, but it brought a good laugh. She was trying to make sure everyone on the stage during the first act held their arms in a certain wing-like formation. She wanted everyone to be in this position the entire time they were performing a certain section of the opening act. 


Another part of the show, I think a narration of the scene I have just described, talked about how aware every single performer was in their body. Their entire being was wrapped up in every motion their body was making. 


They were centered in their body. It got me thinking. I have been thinking about this for probably 15 years or more now, and it still gets me - how aware every single circus performer is and has to be, about where their body is. 


Some circus acts are incredibly dangerous. Dangerous beyond belief. One missed beat could mean the difference between life and death. I have seen Cirque du Soleil shows and other circus shows and clowns doing incredible, breath-taking things that I would need a book to describe them. Things that no ordinary person like me could dream of doing. Acrobatics, flips, diving, silk dancing, kinetic movement beyond description. 


While I’m at it, I am just going to say - go see the resident show in Las Vegas called “KA.” It’s a Cirque du Soleil production that has things there are impossible to do. I sat there and watched and said out loud, “that’s impossible.” And yet, the performers did everything flawlessly. Like a seamless ballet. It takes my breath away just to think about scenes in that show. 


The whole idea of a stage performer being completely aware of their body. Wow. 


I grew up as a fourth generation Christian Scientist. Christian Science, for anyone who doesn’t know, doesn’t believe that the material body exists. They don’t. If you can see, hear, feel, taste or smell it, it’s not real. Anything that is real is something that is eternal - like kindness, compassion, creativity, gentleness. These qualities can’t be destroyed. But a table or even a human body can be destroyed. This is what makes them “unreal” - they can be destroyed, thus, they are unreal as far as Christian Science is concerned. 


I didn’t take biology in school. I didn’t take family life classes or whatever it’s called these days. I didn’t take the classes about drugs or alcohol or anatomy. I was exempted from all of those classes. There is so much about the human body that I didn’t learn in school. I was a faithful, fervent-believing Christian Scientist. I was determined to be the best Christian Scientist ever. I was determined to heal the way Christ Jesus did. (This is what Christian Scientists believe - that they can heal the way Jesus did. And part of doing the healing work is believing that the real qualities of God can never be destroyed.)


Growing up in Christian Science, I turned my whole back on my material body. I didn’t eat right and I didn’t exercise. Let me tell you what it’s done to me now, at the age of 49. I am no longer fit. I am no longer the athlete I used to be. I used to run track, dance ballet, snow ski, canoe, rock climb, go caving. I could do just about any sport I wanted to do. I took about 5 golf lessons and did really well with that too. I played on the roller hockey intermural team in college, too. What a rough sport. It was men and women on the team. Mostly men. And they didn’t care who they were running into. It hurt like crazy and I loved every moment of it. 


I have been out of Christian Science now about 7-8 years. I have been working very hard to realize my human body is real. It’s been quite the learning curve. 


One of the things I had to come to terms with was the fact that I have heart problems. I have supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) and atrial-Fibbrilation. One of these things means that the left and right side of my heart don’t talk well to each other. They forget it’s a dance between 2 sides and sometimes just pump on one side of my heart. This can be a lethal thing for the person who experiences it. I am lucky to be alive, frankly. I am so grateful to still be here. I feel like I have so much to share with the world and I am just getting started. The other heart problem is that my heart can beat too fast. It beats way too fast and makes me feel dizzy, like I want to pass out. I have had heart surgery and thankfully, where I am now is that even if my heart feels weird and crazy, it’s not going to kill me. Also, I take a daily heart medicine now that also keeps it more in check. 


I haven’t exercised in something like 20 years. Probably more like 30-35 years. I exercised in Physical Education class in school, all the way through college. And I also did ballet and track, like I said. I was active and enjoyed being athletic. I was fit and gave all the glory to God. It wasn’t my body doing these things, it was me expressing my Maker, God. 


Life took some twists and turns and I ended up on the couch. For 20 years. Marrying, having babies, giving up all the things I used to love, and putting my children and marriage first, ahead of any human or material needs I would have wanted. I thought it was the right thing to do. 


And now I am 49, coming up quickly on 50. I will turn 50 this year. And I am in the worst shape of my life. It’s so hard to go from couch-sitting to heart problems to staying in bed due to anxiety, heart problems and a fear of leaving the house due to my own vision issues (yes, I have blogged about how my vision issues are related to me being afraid to leave the house - click on the link in the sidebar for Dissociation - and read how it’s all related).  


I want to be fit. I want to be able to snow ski again. I live in the Shenandoah Mountains now. I live 8 miles from a ski resort. I live next to the Shenandoah River, too. I used to love canoeing. I want to be able to do that too. I love being on the water. I love being on the snow. 


Proprioception. Awareness of where your body is, and how it’s moving in space. I want more of that. Proprioception. I did snow angels on the carpet (okay, they are actually called carpet angels) when I started vision therapy. I sat in a spinning swing or a rolling office chair and spun in place very slowly. I learned how to reach out and touch objects in space. All of these different activities were attempting to teach me to connect with my body - give my brain new patterns and wiring. Literally rewiring my brain.


I did so much work learning where my body is in space, learning about proprioception in vision therapy. And I feel like I have only just begun to say what I wanted to say when I started this blog post. But it feels long enough now. 


So more about this topic will come along in a future post. Thank you for reading my blog. I appreciate having you here. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Seeing Double

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1k1HyXlOWKbGFf-BdG_IEmDtPQZ1EWuxP


My son’s and my vision therapists have a card in their office that has some vision issues on it. 

This is quite similar to how I see out of only my left eye. I have discerned that I see double out of my left eye only. It’s a thing. My vision therapist says it’s not a thing unless your cornea has been split in two. But - it’s truly how I see things. I haven’t spent time with my right eye to see how it sees. 

It takes effort and endurance to be able to look at something for a long time to see how I see it, and then to be able to figure it out in words. 

Anyway, I wish I could take photos of what I actually see. I can’t. But this shows what I see, in a way others can interpret.

My double vision is so similar to this - here’s how mine is different. (My right eye has a whole host of other issues, so this is really about my left eye.) 

I see the main, dark part. The text (shown here also, as the dark text.) Then I see below it and wider than it, the blurred words too. It’s slightly below and wider than the text of what I see. 

It’s exhausting and confusing and tiring and makes me need to take naps. I walk around all day, seeing this way. 

This is just ONE of my many many many vision issues. I have wanted to figure out how to create this graphic and couldn’t quite get to the place where I could create this using tools I already have. I am so glad the vision therapy office created this. It helps me share, and helps others learn that “not everyone sees the way I see.” 

Thought I would share. 

Sunday, January 9, 2022

New Year

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone had a wonderful December season. 

I took much needed time off from my blog here. I grieved the loss of my Bella. And I have rescued 2 dogs who needed to be rescued and need to be loved. 

I rescued Jasper from San Antonio, Tx, thanks to God’s Dogs Rescue. He is a black American Cocker Spaniel. He is only 2 years old and if I count his breeder, I realized that from his perspective, I am his 7th owner. He is only 2 years old and has spent most of his life in a shelter. It’s so sad! He is a love bug and he is so happy to live with me now! He does not want to go anywhere else. He is home. 



https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1lBVvsNMJCv-pDUtqBlF8tr4eLVdJnZFV

And I rescued a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. He was found walking the streets in Northern Virginia. The shelter he was taken to tried to give the owner time to come get him. But no one did. 

The shelter got him very good medical care and the vet said he is probably about 10 years old. He has a heart problem (typical of the breed) and kidney issues. He has to eat special kidney diet food. He also has hock joint issues. My vet said those are a nuisance but not life-threatening. He also has horrible teeth and a collapsing esophagus. The collapsing esophagus is also not life-threatening, but it makes him “cough.” Loudly at times. 

But he is a sweetheart and I am so happy to have his Cavalier self brightening up my days. 

This is Sparky. 


https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1ZR06gbi4Z9ZiPAOLht84dmWR6zdjXvGL

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1f1ux6aTHjYFUV8b3ilginkPpF8x-x_-h

They have become buddies. I am so glad to have both of them in my life and my boys love them so much, too. 

I hope you’re having a wonderful start to your new year!

Monday, September 20, 2021

The Sunshine of My Life

 In December, 2017, I was blessed to become the mommy of the sweetest being of all time. 



She was only 8 weeks old. We named her Lady Bella Luna. She was a beautiful Cavalier King Charles Spaniel with the sweetest, kindest disposition of all time. 

She was beautiful beyond all belief. And she loved to meet everyone, go everywhere, look at and explore everything. I took her to my therapist’s office and my therapist said Bella explored everything more with her eyes than with her nose. 

Bella’s favorite things were: 

Sitting in my lap to snuggle or nap

Sitting in my younger son’s lap to snuggle or nap

Eating her dried chicken treat at the end of the day

Every time I left the house, whether it was to get the mail at the end of the driveway, or go to a doctor’s appointment, Bella would wait by a window and watch for me. When I got home, she would go from being a long puppy to a squish puppy. She squished her body into the tiniest, chubbiest it would go and waggle her whole body to greet me with such exuberance. 

I got a doctor’s note depicting her as my emotional support animal due to my Complex PTSD diagnosis. She went with me to therapy appointments, shopping (though not for groceries), medical appointments, to the Town Hall, and even to be at outdoor seating in restaurants. We went to the beach together and recently we went canoeing together with her wearing her brand new life vest that fit her perfectly. She loved every minute of every adventure we went on. 

She accompanied me on the plane many times to the middle of the country where I have friends and family. She was a good traveler. Road trips or plane trips, she was just happy to be with me, wherever we were going. 

She came into my life when I was feeling very down and completely unloved. I needed someone to be happy when I came home from work, and Bella was the charm that did it. She was always so happy to see me come home. Bella made me feel completely loved. When I was sad, depressed, frustrated, she would just sit and look at me and wait for me to put her in my lap to pet her. 

I loved the way she rolled over to let me pet her tummy. Sometimes it felt so good to her, she would start to roll over on her side a little from a dreamy happy place. Then she would perk up and roll back onto her back and just jut out her little paws and legs a bit farther to say, “this is my tummy! This is what you should be petting!” 

I loved her all the time and with every fiber of my being. So did my son. I used to say, “I am her person, and he is her other person.” We had so many cute nicknames for her and we just loved on her every opportunity we could. And we had a lot of opportunities - I homeschooled him so we were both home basically all the time, every day. 



I moved in April to a home with a yard. I didn’t have much of a yard in the previous home, but I have a lovely yard here, up in the Shenandoah Mountains. Bella spent countless hours outside in our yard. We had a groundhog and rabbits and deer here. So many birds, mice, bugs, cicadas, frogs, lightning bugs. They all visit regularly and Bella would chase what she could. It was so much fun to see her chase a rabbit (who got away) last week. 

In April, I was able to move out of a very bad situation that I have not talked about (and will not be talking about) on this blog. I finally was able to get a place of my own. It’s a wonderful home up in the mountains and I am finding my inner soul, my inner Jodi again. Bella was my one constant. My boys are here every other week, but Bella was with me these 5 months. It was just Bella and Jodi. She was here for me, loving on me and doing small things all day long to make me smile and feel loved and loving. She loved me unconditionally. 


I am grief-stricken to say that over the weekend, Bella developed a serious infection. I took her to the emergency vet and she was already dealing with pancreatitis. Her tiny little body couldn’t handle both things. And she died there, at the vet. 

She would have been 4 next month. 

Her tiny little body couldn’t contain her enormous heart, energy, love, excitement and exuberance for life. She had too much joy and love for life and for us and her little body couldn’t handle it all. 

To say I am broken hearted is the biggest understatement of all time. I feel as if a part of my core identity has been ripped from me. My son and I are holding onto each other, comforting each other as we both spontaneously burst into tears. “She should BE here.” “It’s not fair.” “She was so cute!” 

We have taken to writing in a nice journal, everything we can think of about Bella. We have written pages and pages. 

My whole world has toppled over. My home feels so empty without the little ray of sunshine running around doing her daily antics and being silly and cute and fun and loving. She watched me all day long, no matter what I was doing. She just wanted to love me all day and I wanted to just pet and love her all day too.

 

 

She is gone. My sweet Bella Baby is gone. I miss her terribly. My heart is rend in pieces. I don’t know that I can take anymore loss, ever again. This one hurts like I can’t even begin to think to describe. She was way too young. 

Thank you for reading and I hope your life is going very well and you are finding places of peace and happiness in your life. I hope to find some peace and happiness at some point again in the future, too. I will have to do it completely alone this time. I mistakenly thought I was alone during the recent dark patch in my life, but I was wrong. I had Bella by my side the whole time. I don’t anymore. Now I have things like laundry and dishes and dust bunnies. Bella’s toys and Bella’s fur.

I have gone through more than my fair share of things in this life, so with that in mind, I know I will get through this too. I hope you will forgive me if the blog takes an even slower pace from here on out for a bit of time until I get my feet under me again. 


Monday, September 13, 2021

Slowing Down

Since I stopped going to vision therapy, I am finding I have fewer things to blog about regularly. I am not posting every Monday like I used to. 

I think I will start going to every other Monday now for posting. I will also be posting my dad’s articles because he was a cool writer and I want more people to see his writings. My intention with these is to post the first Monday of every month with these. I just need to sit down and type them in. I’ll get to it. 

Thank you for understanding. 

What topics would you like to see me cover? Would you like more about dissociation? Visual memory? Night vision? Vision exercises? Let me know. Thank you!

Please comment below. 

Monday, September 6, 2021

Baking and Visual Memory

I made cookies tonight with my kids. I haven’t made those in a long time. This time, we were cheating, frankly, because we used premade cookie dough from Dinnerly.com (click here to get a free box!). I didn’t have to follow a recipe. 

I used to make chocolate chip cookies with local duck eggs from the farmer’s market. I would take a fresh batch of cookies and trade them for a dozen duck eggs. The farmer loved my cookies and I loved the local eggs. I swear those eggs made my cookies better!

I keep side-tracking myself; I keep going on tangents and changing the subject. 

When I learned I had no visual memory, I learned simultaneously that visual memory is a THING. Like, people can read a recipe and remember parts of it for a few minutes. Or they can read a paragraph in a book and remember what they read. I dont have that, so I have to commit things to memory by working hard at it. 

I look at a recipe. Let’s say it says, “add 1/4th tsp of salt and 3/4 cup of flour.” I go get the measuring spoon. Then I go back to the recipe, “ok, it wants salt,” I say to myself and go get the salt. Then I go back to the recipe, measuring spoons in hand, salt next to it, and have to look at the measurement again, find the spoon, triple check to make sure I have the right one, and the pour in the salt. Before I put it in the bowl, I will even check again to make sure I am doing it right. 

All those years, growing up, being told I couldn’t follow a recipe (it completely perplexed both of my moms, and yes, I have 2 moms. One of my moms is a former restaurant chef), has made me learn to check, check, check, triple check. By the time I pour in the carefully measured salt, I have completely forgotten that I even glimpsed anything about flour. So that starts all over. 

I am constantly amazed at a recipe that says, “10 minutes prep time.” Because it takes me an hour, easily. I don’t even read how much prep time is on a recipe anyway. It doesn't apply to me. I guess it will take as long as it takes. 

As I pulled tonight’s cookies out of the oven, I remembered that my KitchenAid mixer has the Hershey chocolate chip cookie recipe on there. I taped it on the mixer years ago when I made them regularly, so I wouldn’t have to constantly go hunting for the recipe. 

I was thinking tonight how I used to love making those. The cool thing about making the same recipe over and over is that after a while, I begin to build a muscle memory of the things to get out, where they are, what to pour in to what container to measure … and it feels like a good feeling to have accomplished those things. 

I think I would like to start baking those cookies again. I would like to teach my boys how to make chocolate chip cookies. My boys have been learning how to cook with me thanks to Dinnerly.com. My sons can now finely mince garlic using my fancy Santuko knife. They can do all kinds of cool things now thanks to those recipes. We are now thinking we no longer need the crutch of Dinnerly and will be breaking out on our own, doing recipes we find in the wild. 

All of this reminds me of my Once Upon a Time recipe blog that has sat dormant now for … quite a while. Here is my favorite Bread Maker recipe. I bought a bread maker for $8 at the local second hand shop. I liked making bread so much and my boys ate it so fast, I bought another one so I can bake 2 loaves at a time. Here is my favorite Rosemary Bread recipe from my blog: https://jodis-recipes.blogspot.com/2019/12/rosemary-bread-machine-recipe.html 

Also on my recipe blog, I have a whole category on my recipe blog for Christmas Cookies: http://jodis-recipes.blogspot.com/search/label/christmas%20cookies

If you enjoyed my blog post, will you please post a comment? Thank you so much; I would sincerely appreciate comments. 


Flickering Eyesight

So, I have known for a long time that my eyes don’t work together. It has taken me almost 50 years to be able to describe what I see to peop...