Friday, November 8, 2013

Seven Months

Seven months. That's how long it has been since I last posted on this blog. As I sit here and type, I wonder where I went. I wonder where you have been. I wonder if you wonder. Life is so funny. No, actually, Life is Life. We are the funny ones. Life just is. It is, in this second, like it was 5000 years ago in a second back then. The sun rising and setting and all that happens in between. We stick things in there like "time" and "good" and "bad". We organize and label that which either works in our favor or doesn't. And then we tell ourselves the appropriate story for the situation at hand. This was good, this was bad, this made me happy, this made me sad, this should have happened, this should not have happened... and so it goes. Winding ourselves up and calming ourselves down. It's so easy to get carried away in our idea of Life. I have had more than one doctor tell me I spend too much time up in my head. It just happens so fast. Electrons firing off in our brains like busy little ants preparing for... I don't know, everything!'s just Life. So natural and so easy. It sits there looking at us like a kind Grandmother, smiling. Patiently waiting for us to figure it out, all the while, smiling. We cover the earth with a sort of frosting, trying to make it just so. But it already is just so. Just perfectly so.

Seven months. Where to even begin. I've got seven months worth of things to write about in my head, but I feel like I need to catch up. Put a few things out there and let you know how I am. I think that if I was following someone with a fairly significant health problem and they disappeared for seven months, I would want to know a little bit about what's been going on. The nuts and bolts. So here it is, seven months of nuts and bolts for you to make of it what you wish.

There was love and there was lots of it. 

There were also difficult days. Last winter was a tough one on me in regards to being or feeling home bound. We had months and months of snow.

In fact, this one came in April and we had another one in May. 

I did manage to get some painting done. This one arrived out of a space of great pain and ended up in a space of great love. This was also the last painting I did. With Spring on the horizon, I didn't want to be cooped up in the basement. I longed for the outdoors. 

Dave and Maddie spent the winter caning the seats for their canoe. April saw the finished product.

I learned to not store popcorn in the oven, even if it does keep it from getting soggy. One has to actually remember it's there before doing something like....oh, say, preheating the oven. 

May saw the last of the BAC dates. (Big Ass Canoe) Here Maddie and Casey are helping Dave and Grandpa put on the gunnels. It takes many strong, quick hands to accomplish this task!

Gunnels complete! Ready to finish her up for the scheduled Father's Day Launch.

Ta-dah! Father's Day weekend the long awaited canoe saw it's first voyage. The canoe was seven years in the making. This was a glorious day.

Dave and Maddie, father and daughter, sharing one of life's best moments. 

June brought lovely, lovely weather. By the end of the summer these baskets touched the deck floor. I spent as many moments as I could out here, listening to the birds, smelling the fresh air, watching the clouds float by. Being still. 

July brought a new bike. For the first time in four years I felt well enough to venture out into nature on my own. I'm not sure if it was the fact that I began a much more rigid diet or if it was just a wonderful gift, but July and August were the best two months I have had since becoming sick in 2009. We went on a mission to find the most ergonomically correct bike for me and after one miserable attempt (and return) we found this one at a bike shop just blocks from our home. 
It's like riding the wind. 

And off I went, almost every day, in a different direction, for two months. 
Some trips only minutes long, and some hours.
It was glorious.

The wonderful thing about where we live is that depending on where you go, there is always a wide variety of landscapes to see. Just turning down a road can lead from farmland to woods or from woods to rivers or from rivers to lakes. And every road is paved. There were days when I ventured out that I never saw a single car except for when I was close to home.
The quiet is nothing short of holy.

These are my feet, outside, near water...and not in bed at home. They were very, very happy feet indeed!

Less than a mile down the road from our home lives the Apple River. I would stop on this bridge and just listen. Alone, hearing her voice, knowing the words being spoken had never been heard and will never be heard again. Listening, letting go, listening, letting go, listening... As her voice slipped though my fingers and landed in my heart. 
Listen....let go. 

In July the crops looked healthy and strong. It seemed as if the season would be perfect. But summer would have a different idea. The rain stopped and the drought moved in. It was difficult watching the luscious green leaves turn gold before their time. Harvest would come early, if you were lucky, but for most, not at all. 

These guys live right down the road from me. I'm pretty sure they think I'm crazy. 

This is the road that leads past the cows. One of my favorite as there are very few hills to speak of. It also leads to miles and miles of nature preserve wetlands. 

One of the many ponds/lakes along the way.

The land beyond this sign is covered in grasses and wildflowers native to this area. It also surrounds a beautiful lake that is almost impossible to get to. I would park my bike behind this sign, go stand out on a hill and just wait. All kinds of wild life would surround me. Mice, gofers, deer, eagles, hawks and more birds than I could even begin to name. All busy moving about. Like life does.
It was this day, just moments after I took this picture that Dave called me to say that we needed to leave right away for Florida. His sister Linda was nearing the end of her battle with cancer.
I'm glad I was here when he called. I didn't rush off. There were things that I needed to hear. Holy things. Peace-filled things. 
I will never forget this moment.  

These guys played a little game with me. As long as I was moving, they were moving. If I stopped, they stopped. It was actually quite hilarious. It felt like an odd combination of Red Light Green Light and Duck, Duck Goose!

Horses are big around here. I would have loved to spend more time visiting with them like I did with the cows, but where there are horses, there are horse flies! Not something I am even well enough to peddle FAST enough to outrun. They are NASTY. Period. 

I so wanted to open this gate and walk in. Maybe next year. 

Another wonderful tidbit about this area, unless you are where there are horses (and horse flies) there really are no bugs to speak of. Not sure why, but it is so nice to find a spot like this and just sit on the grass and soak it all up, un-devoured by the common mosquito. 

In August we took this picture. We (Sara, me, Dave, Emma) were going somewhere, I can't remember where. That's not the significant part. The significant part is that I felt really good here, and we were going somewhere

One place we could not seem to get to was our trailer. So we brought her home and made the decision to let her go. I think what we realized most was that having seven daughters and being chronically ill does not bode well with being a weekend warrior. As much as we long to "get away", what we truly long for is to be with our family. SO... she now resides in a morton building somewhere in Wisconsin and a lovely couple from DeMoines, IA will pull her somewhere in the Spring. 
And so life moves on...

And these kids are here to prove it! This summer found all sorts of fun with these couples. From left to right - Aaron and Anna, Tucker and Emma, Drake and Sara. Three sisters, three really wonderful young men. Endless fun and laughter. I just can't get enough of them. 

This just makes me happy. 

August also saw the wedding of two of my dearest, most treasured friends, Jeana and Susan. It was a monumental event in many regards, but most of all
it was an event of the heart. This was a long awaited
day and it is one that will be etched in my
memory for all of eternity. 

I'm glad I listened to the river. And the wind. And the mice. And the birds. Because September brought a change of seasons for me as well, and I had to let go.  I tried, for most of September, to weather the storm on my own. But this one was relentless. Most of September and most of October looked just like this, and I am still struggling. There were some occasions where I managed to get out (thanks to major pain medication), but for the most part, this was my space. 

One of those occasions was to watch my oldest daughter Aleela run in the Twin Cities Medtronic Ten mile. This race is part of the TC Marathon weekend and very difficult to get in. She and I used to run marathons together, but since I have been sick, she has promised me to not stress her body to that extent any more. This is me, in the brown coat, waiting for her to run past. 
I tried numerous times to cheer the runners, but the emotion was so stuck in my throat that every time I opened my mouth I started to cry. 
I stood silent and waited for her 
to come. 

And here she is. In all of her fullness and beauty. She is a wonder and a miracle to me. Her journey on this earth has not been easy, yet she has walked it with the grace of a women much wiser than myself. 
Every time I am with her I learn something new about life. 
I am in complete awe of the women
she is becoming. 

October brought Amanda and Daniel home from California to celebrate their engagement! They don't get to come home often, and many times it's only Amanda. This time it was both and it was for almost an entire week! 
Other than the celebration dinner, most of our time together was spent in the kitchen over a cup of coffee. One morning we started talking and the next thing we knew, the day was almost over. Minutes fly by like seconds with Amanda. I always tell her that I wish I could have had her as a friend in my youth. 
But even better yet
she is my friend now. And that's as good as it gets!

My five daughters at the engagement party. This maybe happens once a year!

And here we are! Me and Mr. Johnson!
The love of my life.

The Three Amigos. 
The Three Musketeers.
The Three Mousketeers.
The Three Stooges. 
The Three Little Pigs. 
These three absolutely CRACK ME UP. They spend a lot of time at the house simply bringing joy to everyone around. I cannot imagine a day without these three in it. 

Aleela, Adella and Keith. 
Wow,  no one could have ever prepared me for being a Grandmother. 
Just when you think your heart can't get any bigger, 
grandchildren come. It's a love like none other and I just can't
get enough of it!

And then there is engagement number two! I guess I should be prepared for things such as this. I imagine that with seven daughters events might begin to overlap and pile up a bit. But what a wonderful and welcome surprise this was! 
Aaron and Anna. 

So the days are getting darker here again. Lions are laying down with lambs and the chaos begins to still. We had our first real snowfall yesterday and there seems to be some sort of quiet announcement in the air. No use not listening. 

As I type this I am rushing the last letters in order that I should hop in the shower and get ready for yet another doctor appointment. This one with my neurologist, the good Dr. Walk. He's been with me from from the very beginning, one of the best.

Doctor's appointments have a way of creating a bit of anxiety in me. There is a certain amount of "emotional investment" that never seems to do any good. Remembering to keep my expectations in check is key. I told Dave the other day that there is always this small part of me that thinks things will be better. Like really better. Like "this is the answer" better. But most times its just finding out that nothing has gotten any worse and coming up with a temporary solution to the issue at hand. I walk out of the PWB building where Dave is always waiting for me. I climb in the car, he asks me how it went, and I cry my tears. By the time we hit Highway 280 he has worked his magic, gently held my hand and brought a smile to my face like only he can do. 
No need to frost this life of mine.
It couldn't possibly be
any sweeter. 

Just perfectly so. 


Friday, April 5, 2013

Dork Alert!

So, this is how life is...

There's something to be said about lupus fog...and the effects of multiple mind "affecting" medications. One of those somethings is that you can't remember anything. Or at least, anything you want to remember. So, here's a little story about my life.

About a year ago, during the height of my blogging, I was finding myself becoming involved with a number of what I would call, "professionals". People who have successfully written books and are now professional writers/bloggers. This is pretty much ego candy. Especially when you are housebound and no longer in the career world you loved so dearly. It feels good to be socializing with the bigwigs. I had found a new purpose in life.

During this ego frenzy I was having issue with one particular writer/blogger women. For whatever reason, I got the feeling like we were competing. And then the ultimate happened. She had written something that I felt very passionate and knowledgeable about. I spent a significant amount of time composing and re-composing a comment to this particular blog post. As I hit the "post" button I felt really "psyched" about what I had written. So much so that for the next couple of days I obsessively and compulsively checked her blog to see if she had reviewed my comment and written her response to it. In my head it went something like this,

"Dearest Theresa (of course, she would call me by name, unlike all the other anonymous, canned responses to other less educated responders).
Your comments have "resonated deeply within me" (this is a big one in the blog world) and I find myself changed forever by your words...." 

You get the picture.

Day one passed, no response. Day two, day three, and so on. And then I started to notice that people that had written days after me had been reviewed and made public for all the world to see. Yes, she had decided, for whatever obviously mistaken reason, to not "allow" my comment to be viewed.

Of course, I did not save a copy of my response to her (why, that would be extremely vain), so I went over and over in my mind what could have possibly disagreed with her. Had I been too cynical? Was I over emotional? Had I rambled on and appeared too self-edifying? I had I written too late at night and said something totally incomprehensible? Was my response so brilliant that she somehow felt threatened by me? Or was I so beneath her that it would have been too embarrassing for her to allow it to be seen? And on, and on, and on my brain went. Until my stories became so painful that I Unliked her professional page on facebook, Unfriended her personal page and took her blog off my Google Reader. So there!

I decided, out of sight, out of mind. And I moved on.

Until today. Months and months  and months later.

For some reason one of her posts showed up on my facebook feed. And it was really good. Before I read it (it was a link that directed me to her blog) I had an ever so brief quiver of "hey, I don't like this lady" but clicked anyway. And it was excellent. Just like before the separation (yes, I'm pretty sure that out of her 68K fan base she missed me terribly) I was completely moved by what she had to say. Poignant and beautiful. Straight to my heart....yes, it resonated deeply. I fell in love with her all over again.

And now for the kicker. I have no idea, no recollection, no memory whatsoever of any details other than I know I got my feelings hurt. None at all. Nada. Zip. Zero. I'm a blank slate.

So, I find this interesting (actually a little hilarious) on two levels. One, this is indeed one of the perks to having a severe case of lupus fog. I feel no pain. Two, what a great lesson to be learned here. Oh, how we create our own suffering! For all I know, she simply forgot to review mine. Or I somehow missed it. Or her computer crashed and she lost a few responses to the great black Internet void. Who knows?!?! Definitely NOT ME! Yet, look at all that I put myself through. Let me tell you, I went through ego hell for days on end. I practically felt like I had lost everything and was doomed to become a mush-mind, thrown into the depths of the forever unimportant and unproductive. It was harsh. And yet, here I am, back in love with this amazing writer, this beautiful women with whom I find I have a deep connection with on so many levels. Poof! Just like that.

The moral of the story is this: Don't let it take 365 days. We have the choice right in this very moment to wipe it from our slate. Poof! It's gone. Just like that. Because almost always, we don't know. And even if we do know, 100%, beyond the shadow of a doubt KNOW... we still have the choice to let it go and continue on loving.

It's our choice. Period.

Today, I choose love. How about you?