A Few Charms (Banner)

A Few Charms (Banner)

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

How I smashed my face and my finger - and found love

A fall and a trip to the Emergency Room made me realize something significant about my kids; something that I was surprised that I didn't know already. Let me tell you how I got injured and then tell you how I came to this realization - and shocked my kids with my announcement.

My Pandora Rose Essence bracelet
Shortly after moving to a new home in August (yes I have lots of news that I need to catch you up on), I had an accidental fall. We now live in a condo, a series of row houses, attached to our neighbours on both sides. We have a small back yard that is mostly filled by a deck and the rest of the property is shared space and cared for by the condo corporation. Because we had just moved, we had some plants that we had dug up and brought to our new place. Unfortunately we left those plants in the common space beyond our deck. One morning I heard the sounds of lawn mowers and had a moment of panic, thinking they were going to drive their mowers right over our plants. So I rushed out the back door. The steps leading from our deck down to ground level had been removed temporarily while we were doing some gardening. When I rushed outside to save my plants I took a big step down and subsequently did a face plant.

Our backyard deck (photo from previous tenants)
Stairs on the left going down to the flagstone path

When I stepped down off the desk I lost my balance. I think the flagstones were wobbly. I immediately fell forward, landed on my knees first and continued falling forward until I slammed my face into the solid wood fence. I crushed my glasses into my face, cutting the edge of my eye and bending the arm of the glasses at a 90 degree angle. I seemed to have banged my baby finger straight into the wall, probably in attempt to stop, or at least slow down, the imminent collision - which must have been a hard impact given the forward momentum of my 300+ pounds.

The overgrown flagstone path and the wooden fence (on the left)

The stairs on the grass waiting to be repositioned

Where the stairs used to be

The flagstone path under construction
- definitely wobbly

Still focused on my rescue mission, I pulled myself to my feet - not an easy task when you are as heavy as me - and ran over to grab the plants and put them on the deck. Then I realized that my finger was bent at an unusual angle. And I couldn't straighten it. Correction: I couldn't actively straighten my finger. If I used my other hand I could passively straighten it but boy did that hurt! And every time I moved my hand, the finger would snap back into the bent position - and that hurt even more!

My baby finger wanted to stay bent at this angle
My husband Mike and our then 16-year-old son Mitchell were both at work that morning, but my daughter Taylor (Mitchell's twin sister) was home. When I came inside I called for her to come help me. My face and my finger were bleeding so I was cleaning myself up in the powder room when she came and found me. I had also injured my knee in the fall and wrenched my back. My back was going into spasms and all I really wanted to do was climb into bed. Taylor bandaged my finger (it was bleeding from being scraped on the wooden fence), and she told me I needed to go to the hospital.

I was reluctant to go to the hospital. I  just wanted to crawl into a dark corner - or my bed - and lick my wounds, figuratively of course. But Taylor appeared very concerned about me and said I probably needed x-rays. I was surprised that she was so concerned. I'd never seen her like that. So I gave in, and Taylor called my husband Mike who came home from work and took me to the Emergency Room.

My face after I smashed it into the fence
At the hospital, the doctors were more concerned about my head than they were my finger. I take Warfarin, a blood thinner, because I have an autoimmune condition called antiphospholipid syndrome. As I mentioned in a previous post (Bellies and babies and "girlie parts") I'm at risk for blood clots (both venous and arterial) and will be on the blood thinners for the rest of my life. It hadn't occurred to me that hitting my head could mean bleeding on the brain, something you apparently don't want when you are on blood thinners. So there were x-rays and an MRI, of my finger and my head, and everything was fine - no fractures, no brain bleed.

During my long wait in the ER Taylor kept texting me asking how I was so I sent her updates. I couldn't understand why she was so worried.

Mike left me at the hospital while he went to pick up Mitchell after work. We had a brief visit at the hospital and then Mike took him home. I didn't see Mitchell that night or before he left for work the next morning. As soon as he came home from work, Mitchell immediately came upstairs to check on me. He wanted an update. He asked about my back. He was clearly worried. And I was genuinely puzzled by his reaction. What did all this mean?

To finish the saga of my accident, I will tell you that my head is fine (well, there's no fracture or bleeding anyways), but my finger is not. It's still crooked and messed up. I have what's called "Boutonniere's deformity" from a torn ligament and I'm seeing a plastic surgeon in December. Plastic surgeons (rather than orthopaedic surgeons) do all the delicate work required for hands and fingers.

Over the next few weeks I pondered how my kids reacted to my accident and my injuries. And I found myself saying, "I guess they love me."

You might be surprised to hear that. I know that I was surprised to hear myself say that! And what it came down to, what I realized, was that I had not actually known that before - truly believed it. So I was now thinking, "They were concerned about me. They were worried about me. They care about me. Huh. I guess they love me."

One night in October, while we were all sitting at the dinner table, I made a little announcement. I told the kids this story, of how their concern and caring after my accident made me realize they love me. They were shocked! They said, "Of course we love you!" They were quite put out, frankly. Insulted even. Their responses were along the lines of "Why would you think that we didn't love you?"

That stopped me in my tracks. "Why?" The only answer that I could give them at the time was, "I guess when you have depression you don't think anyone loves you." But I don't know if that's true; if other people with depression have this problem.

So over the next few weeks I pondered some more. I certainly have times that would make anyone question whether their teenager loves them: when they are annoyed with me, irritated by me, impatient with me, and complain about me - or tease me. As frustrating as that can be, that wasn't quite the full story. That's not the real reason I didn't know that my kids love me. The real reason wasn't about them. It was about me. I didn't think I was lovable. And that is what we call a "core belief."

For my birthday I asked for  some Pandora Rose Essence charms
to go with my Luminous Rose bracelet
Having been through schema-focused therapy a few years ago, I recognized that I had just identified a schema or "lifetrap." These schemas or core beliefs are formed in our childhood and reinforced throughout our lives. They impact how we think, how we feel and how we act, especially in relation to others - they impact our every day. This is what happens with core beliefs. They are so fundamental that you don't even realize you have them, until something happens that contradicts those beliefs. Like your kids worrying about you. Loving you.

I did not know that I had the core belief that I am somehow defective and "I am unlovable." I mean it makes sense. It helps explain some of the anxiety about being judged, the self-criticism, the eating disorder, the depression. I didn't know that people could love me.

It's like believing in Santa Claus. When you're a kid you believe with all your heart that Santa is a real thing. You pay attention to clues that reinforce that belief and you ignore any evidence that might dissuade you. And then over time, or all-of-a-sudden, you know, you just know, that there is no Santa. And it makes you wonder how you could have possibly believed that Santa was real. And you'll never ever go back to believing that Santa is real.

I'm sure that I ignored lots of evidence that people love me. But this new evidence, seeing my kids' behaviours, changed my belief. I have come to feel that it is possible to be loved. That someone else could feel love for me. That I am someone that another could love. That I am worthy of their love. That I am, in fact, lovable.

So I started wearing this Mother's Day bangle every day (along with the two-toned "Opposites Attract" ring I now wear as my wedding ring). The bangle is engraved with a very simple message: "You are so loved." I'm trying to take this in. Trying to absorb it. Trying to let it become part of my reality.

On my 54th birthday, on November 1, my husband gave me this Pandora Rose Essence charm. It was to remind me of this time, this occurrence, when I finally realized that my family loves me. Apparently that is how it's supposed to work in normal, happy and healthy families. Even if we're not related to someone, it is our love for each other that makes us a family. Like the charm says "Love Makes a Family."

Now, if you're wondering what people, events and circumstances led me to believe that I was unlovable, you'll have to wait. It's going to take a little more pondering before I write that story.

I watched this video recently. It's about a guy who jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge - and survived. He talks about the mental health challenges he was experiencing at the time. And this one statement really spoke to me:

"I thought I was a burden to everyone who loved me. Because that's what my brain told me, because that's how powerful your brain is."

I hope I'm like those kids who never go back to believing in Santa. I hope I never go back to believing that I'm a burden to my family, or that I am unlovable. But depression is an illness and the brain is a powerful thing. My brain might try to tell me that nobody loves me. But now I have the tools to battle this, I have these stories on my blog, and I have this charm to remind me that I am not alone and I am loved.

Essence charms from the top: Dignity, Happiness, Happiness
and "Love makes a family"

My Thoughts on the Essence "Love makes a family":

I have collected Pandora Essence charms since they first came out and I love the different traits they portray - courage, belief, compassion etc. but I do wish that Pandora would stop repeating the same values and would consider adding new qualities like acceptance, commitment, inspiration... I could go on. Having a phrase rather than one word engraved was a departure for Pandora. But I really like how shiny the charm is, I like the design, and of course I like the message.

As much as I like the Pandora Rose and the few gold charms I have, I find it hard to see the patterns on the charms; it's more visible on silver charms when there's oxidation. So I thought of another way to show you the charming pattern on the Pandora Rose "Love Makes a Family" bead. I rolled it in Play-Doh.

You can see that it is a pattern of trunks, branches and leaves - but I think there's also roots on there. It reminds me of this quote: "Like branches on a tree, we all grow in different directions, but our roots keep us all together." That seems an appropriate affirmation as my kids complete university admission forms and prepare to leave home next fall. Not only does love make us a family but love will keep us together. I feel a song coming on...

My Pandora Rose Essence bracelet, my bangle with the Rose clasp, and my
soft pink Luminous Rose bracelet with pearls, mother of pearl and moonstone

Related Posts:

When your brain and body scream 911 - a story about my introduction to the idea of "wise mind"  and the "threat system," and the reason for intense emotions. You'll also see an overview of the types of therapy that have made a huge difference for my mental health and the charm that represents my asking for help.

Will he always love me? My explanation of panic attacks - a story about the origins of schema-focused therapy. A rather long post but my explanation of panic attacks and the charm that helps.

Two birthdays and three babies that narrowly escaped being born on Halloween - my own birth story and a story about choosing the birthday of our twins and the charm that represents it.

Do I really deserve to be happy and healthy? - a story about feeling undeserving and unworthy and my first steps to changing that and a charm to help remind me.

Moving from self criticism to self acceptance - a story about accepting ourselves at every stage in our development and the simple silver charm that represents it.

Monday, 9 April 2018

Dreaming of summer, charms that is

Pandora has come out with some great new designs for the summer, a departure from the usual nautical and beach themes. It's been a while since I've been this excited about new releases from Pandora.

I usually share stories about the charms I've earned but I've never shared the process of how I decide which charms to buy, and more importantly the ones I want to earn. I've been getting lots of requests on Instagram for photos of the Summer Collection so I thought I would collect them all in one place.

These items are not on the Pandora website because they will not be released until June. And these are not the best quality photos because they were taken with my phone from the most recent Pandora catalogues, and are not Pandora stock photos.

After the response to this Instagram post (above) I realized I am lucky that there are three concept stores in my city - and I'm always quick to grab the new catalogues. There are always two catalogues, a small one that contains just charms and bracelets and a large catalogue that includes the Essence line as well as rings, earrings, and necklaces. So read on to see what's coming soon.
First up there is a new style of leather bracelet. They are double bracelets with a loop and button closure. The end with the button is removable, similar to the closures on the hinged bracelets and the sliding bracelets. I particularly like the stitching details on these bracelets.

Like all leather bracelets you would have to limit the number of charms. I don't like it when all the charms rotate and dangle under my wrist so I usually have just one or two charms - or a dangle - on my leather bracelets.

I have leather bracelets to go with almost all my Moments bracelets except for this two-tone bracelet with the lighter colour carved ("flower") wood muranos. So the "Golden Tan" leather is definitely on my wishlist. 

I'm very curious to see the Spicy Orange. I love orange but this may not be the right colour to pair with my orange Love Blooms Here bracelet. I showed my husband these bracelets in the catalogue and said I liked the turquoise one. He said, "Don't you already have a turquoise one?" Silly husband. Wouldn't you say my triple smooth leather is more teal than turquoise?

There are also leather bracelets with the sliding closure, in both tan and black. I haven't purchased the sliding bracelets but they seem quite popular and certainly look less bulky than the double leathers.

Pandora started creating chokers a few years ago and came out with a new silver one in the Spring Collection, a honeycomb one in the Shine Collection, and now there will be leather ones in the Summer Collection. These appear to come with the feather dangle. The sliding closure necklaces and bracelets are all one-size-fits-all.

My favourite thing about the new collection is the spiritual theme. Included is the "Spiritual Feather" pendant, the "Amulet" (although I have no idea what they are actually supposed to be), and the "Spiritual Dreamcatcher." Just as I researched the Native American Hopi tribe to assign the meaning of the Hopi charm (now retired), I will use these "spiritual" aboriginal charms as incentive to learn more about the spiritual practices of our local First Nations. I think this summer we will do some exploring, see some historical sites, and go to a Pow-Wow. Then I can set some specific goals to "earn" some of these charms, or they will represent some of these activities we do as a family.

If you are not familiar with a dreamcatcher the meaning is very special. Dreamcatchers are meant to protect children when they sleep. One legend tells the story of a chief whose child becomes sick with a fever that causes him terrible nightmares. A medicine woman makes a dreamcatcher by copying the pattern of a spider web. Instead of catching flies, the dreamcatcher will catch bad dreams. When nightmares came for the child, they were caught in the strands of sinew. But good dreams were able to pass through the web and follow the feathers down to the child. In the morning, the sun would hit the dream catcher and burn away the bad dreams (from CBC Kids). I think this charm might be used to help me work on getting a good night's sleep.

Although many First Nations people make dreamcatchers now, they originated with the Ojibwa. According to the Ojibwa story, a mystical and maternal "Spider Woman" served as the spiritual protector for the tribe, especially for young children and babies. As the Ojibwe people continued to grow and spread out across the land, the Spider Woman found it difficult to continue to protect and watch over all the members of the tribe as they migrated farther and farther away. This is why she created the first dreamcatcher. Following her example, mothers and grandmothers would recreate the maternal keepsake as a means of mystically protecting their children and families from afar. I think this is just lovely and the charm could be given to a new mother to protect her infant, or someone whose children will leave home soon - like me!

There are earrings named "Spiritual Feathers" as well and I like the heart-shaped dangles in a turquoise enamel. There are a lot of different meanings associated with feathers, from angels wings to what it means when you find a feather. I am particularly interested in learning more about the spiritual aspects of feathers for smudging. Dancing to Eagle Spirit Society has more information about smudging. Their site also has more explanations about dreamcatchers if you are interested.

I've never worn a "cuff" earring so I'm excited to try these. I have a feeling my kids will tell me I'm not cool enough to wear them. They will come in both silver and Pandora Rose, and there will be one in the Shine collection as well. Best part is the low price point.

Pandora is trying a new ring concept, a chain ring; although I know Tiffany has rings in this style. I am curious to try them on. I'm wondering if they will be more comfortable than a solid band. Of course one of the rings has my fav turquoise colour.

And finally there are two new rings named "Vibrant Spirit," and I particularly like the turquoise colour even though the stone has the unusual label of "scuba blue crystal." It looks like it's a bit more of a statement ring than the turquoise birthstone ring, which has been on my wishlist forever.

Another new trend in rings is having something dangling from them. The dangles on this ring are meant to be "Spiritual Symbols" - an anchor, a feather and (although it's hard to tell in the photo) a shell. The smooth heart on the top could be easily engraved with an initial - or a date for a birthday, wedding, anniversary or childbirth.
Pandora has produced a number of different anchor designs over the years. They are popular among the Navy moms, but also suit nautical or beach themed bracelets. This one is engraved with "Anchor Yourself to Someone Special," which significantly limits its use. I like the idea of an anchor representing steadfastness in a relationship but it can also represent faith. Unfortunately the wording here makes love sound like it's a ball and chain, in my opinion.
Although this is not really an aboriginal thing I think this compass charm is supposed to be part of this spiritual theme. I love the "Compass Rose" with that same blue crystal. If you are not familiar with a "compass rose" it is the design you will see on a magnetic compass, a map, or a nautical chart depicting the compass points. Lots of meaning can be assigned to this charm. It is engraved with "follow your dreams" and can be used to represent charting your own path in life, whether you navigate by the stars, listen to your heart, or choose the path less travelled.
Continuing with the turquoise theme there is a silicone clip called Arcs of Love. It is a heart shape but I don't think that will  be too obvious when it sits on your bracelet sideways. This looks like it will be very similar to the Essence Wisdom bead (below) which is labeled "turquoise-colored crystal." I'll be stacking my Essence with this.
I like lots of bracelets in my stacks. Here you can see my turquoise Mii homemade bracelet and a two-tone bangle with the two gold charms I won from Pandora (you can read my stories about the Eiffel Tower Forever Paris charm). In this stack is also the snowflake bangle, my Essence, and my Lucerne Recovery bracelet. I'm thinking that the teal studded lights on the leather will work with some of the new charms from the Summer Collection.
To round off the theme there are new faceted hearts in colours we haven't seen before: orange and turquoise. And then there's something completely unexpected: tassels. I have seen surprising interest in these and some people see the relation to Chinese tassels. From a practical point of view, my worry is they will get dirty or, as a friend said, will get in her tea.

There are a few pieces that are coming out in the Summer Collection that do not appear to relate to the spiritual theme although aboriginals do use feather fans in smudging. These could also represent the rising or setting sun. Some people have used fans on Asian or Chinese New Year theme bracelets. But these charms are called "Fan of Love." I'm not sure if that's a play-on-words, 'cause I am a "fan" of love, but I'm not a "fan" of these. I get tired of the heart charms although these are quite simple with not too much cz. There will be pendants/dangles in silver and Pandora Rose, and heart-shaped charms in silver as well as an addition to Pandora's new Shine Collection.

The other pieces that are coming out in the Summer Collection are more novelty charms. First up is the skateboard dangle which looks like it has cubic zirconia around the edge of the board. The surface of the board itself seems to be textured. 

Everybody loves popcorn but the pink enamel will limit where this charm is used. And somehow pearls seem out of place in popcorn. Regardless, it will likely be a good gift item.

This "Drink to Go" will likely be popular as lots of ladies (and guys) like to represent their love of tea or coffee on their bracelets. And it's a little more subtle than the popcorn.

And finally, the ultimate in novelty, the "Burger and Fries." I can't see this fitting in on any of my bracelets but the biggest complaint I've heard is that some ladies don't like cheese on their burgers. Hard to please everybody!

Carrying on with the emoji trend, joining the kiss emoji for Valentine's Day, and the playful wink in the Spring release, we now have a "Stay Cool" charm and the "Symbol of Peace." Clearly directed at a younger market than this mom of teenagers whose most frequently received emoji is the eyes rolling.

We will see a new Canadian charm, this one titled "Love Canada." It has red enamel for the leaf but it may be quite a subtle colour. Underneath the enamel it looks like there are details to make it resemble the veining on a real leaf. The dangle heart is cute, with "Canada" engraved on it, but I think I prefer some of the other Canada charms I reviewed lately. I don't know if this will be widely available or another charm exclusive to Canada.

I think this last charm depicting a Ferris Wheel will be quite popular. Some folks are saying that they don't see this charm in catalogues from other countries, including the US. Where this will be released is still a mystery but we will have it in Canada, in June. Which charms will you be dreaming of?