Walking

If I had to name the top 10 most influential people in my adult life, there is one person who would certainly be at the top of the list.  She was a spiritual mentor, a life coach, an encourager (this word flags as misspelled, but I like it so it stays), and a partner in my creative endeavors.

She was a pastor at a church that I used to attend. As our relationship developed, she learned that I was an artist – although at that time I was just somebody who made stuff.  She started sharing her sermon plans with me and I started to create art that illustrated the sermon.  Some of it was pretty bad, but she hung it on the wall anyway.  Eventually, it got better and she hung that too.

Sometimes she would come to me with a sermon and verse and we would find that I had already started the canvas that went with it.

I would sit and draw her sermons on Sundays.  It’s how I learned that art is my form of worship…a lesson that I still value today.  I did a complete book of sermon drawings for her.  When I visited her a month or so ago, I saw that it sits on her hearth along with some other things that she treasures.

We rarely see each other any more as we live on opposite side of Austin.  Though our lives no longer intersect as they once did something interesting is starting to happen.

I faithfully read her postings on Caring Bridge as she chronicles her experiences with metastatic Stage IV colon cancer.  Lately, her posts are becoming more and more applicable and relative to my life – just as her sermons often seemed to be written just for me.

A couple of days ago she wrote something that inspired my post, “Doors”, which turned out to be one of the most popular things I’ve ever written here.  Don’t worry, I’m not going to get a “big head”.  By popular, I mean that more than 10 people read it.  It’s all relative, right.  I favor quality over quantity any day.

Today, she wrote about going through the interview process to try and get selected for a clinical trial of a new treatment.  Although our situations are totally different and I would never try to compare my struggles with hers – when I read the words she had written about being overwhelmed, I could identify with her completely.

First, it put the circumstances of my life right now in perspective.  I’ve reminded myself that the problems that I am facing are manageable and most likely solvable.  The challenges to come are not insurmountable.

Second, her words helped me gain my footing again.  She wrote that “sometimes people who are overwhelmed don’t do anything because they can’t do everything.”

She added that we should “acknowledge it (the situation) , pray, and just do one thing at a time.”

I can do that.  I can acknowledge that while my situation could be worse, it’s still hard and I’m both tired and overwhelmed.  And while I can’t do everything, I can do something.

So here’s what I accomplished today:

  • I went to work
  • I visited my sister in I.C.U and initiated a discussion about what her discharge plan might need to look like
  • I spent time with my husband although I did forget to make his lunch
  • We started planning what needs to be done to fix our second bathroom so that it is easily accessible for my sister as her recovery continues – I did not figure out how to pay for said renovations – that would be too much for today and would lead to feeling overwhelmed again.
  • I am committing to filling one bag with trash as I begin to catch-up on housework. Some (most) of it will just have to wait.
  • I took a short walk in an effort to get back to walking two miles a day so that I can lose the weight I have gained.  A long walk just couldn’t happen.  That’s okay.
  • My daughter and I are going to do one math lesson as we work on getting caught up.  It won’t solve the problem, but it’s something.
  • I am going to sit and prepare the bag of worn out T-shirts into strips for my rug as I watch a stupid T.V. show and allow myself to rest. Oh, and by the way…here’s my efforts so far. Barret, the dork dog seems to like it just fine.

Perhaps most importantly, she reminded me that I’m not alone.  I have friends that are thinking of and praying for me.  I have people that I can call on if I need to (even if I’m too stubborn to admit that I need help).

Just because people are no longer physically present in our lives doesn’t mean that the lessons we learned from them, or the experiences we shared with them aren’t still valuable resources that we can draw from when we need to.  Special people who have once been in our lives never really leave us.  They become a part of us…often the best part.

Do-Over?

Can I have a do-over for today, please?  Just press a rewind button and try it again.  I promise I’ll do a better job.

I’ll be more patient and understanding with those that I love.  I won’t say (or yell) ugly words that I can’t unsay and that linger in the air between us.

I’ll start working on homework with my sweet girl earlier  and we’ll just be frustrated together over our slow progress in getting caught up.  Maybe that way she won’t think she’s stupid as she struggles with math (even though she is working through some really hard problems that are grade levels above what she could do just a month ago).  We’ll take more breaks and not push so hard and just do the best we can and that will be good enough.

I won’t get angry at everyone else because I’m feeling guilty that I wasn’t a better caretaker for my sister and because I feel so alone and tired even though people are being supportive.

I’ll just generally be a kinder person and even try to be nicer to myself although I don’t feel like I deserve it.

And I won’t write this blog post because it sounds like I’m whining and feeling sorry for myself.

Because I’m not feeling sorry for myself.  I’m feeling sorry that all I have to offer the people I love is an apology.

And “I’m sorry” just doesn’t seem like enough.

There aren’t really any words that can fix today.

And I can’t wind back the clock and start over.

All I can do is try again tomorrow.

I’ll wake up and start a new day.  I’ll send my daughter off to school with a hug and love. I’ll go to work.  I’ll visit my sister in the I.C.U. at the hospital. I’ll try to remember to pack my husband a lunch to send with him to work.  I’ll pick up my daughter from school. We’ll try to catch up some more school.

I’ll do all the things that need to be done or more likely some of the things that need to be done.

And I’ll have another chance to do a better job of it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Depends on how you look at it…

I was determined that today was going to be a sunshine kind of day.  I’m not giving up on that.  I trying out the “depends on how you look at it” mindset.  So far, so good…ish.

My sister hasn’t been looking too great since Friday.  Of course, Friday is the day you always start feeling crappy since it’s right before the weekend and you can’t get in to see the doctor.  She’s also a bit stubborn so I pretty much have to let her decide on her own what she’s gonna do.  Over the course of the weekend, I was getting pretty worried, but kept my mouth shut.

This morning she decided that she’d like to go to Wal-Mart and pick up a few things.  And maybe call the doctor.  Instead, I drove her to the doctor’s office.  Just by chance her doctor’s physician’s assistant was available to see her.  By the time we got into the office, my sister was extremely short of breath.  Her oxygen sats were in the mid 70’s to low 80’s.

An ambulance was called and off we went to the hospital again.  This time tests revealed that she had a sizable pulmonary embolism.  The biggest one her doctor had ever seen in someone still moving.

Whew!  I’m choosing not to dwell on the what-ifs.  What if we hadn’t gone into the doctor’s office.  What if they hadn’t transported her to the hospital.   What if….

I going to look at it a different way.  Thankful that it all worked out like it did.  That she is in the hospital where any emergencies can be addressed right away.  That treatment has been started.  Hopefully, we can get everything resolved and she can truly be on the mend. Her surgeries were on the 1st and 3rd.  She’s tired of being tired and sick of being sick.

I’m starting to think that my hope of getting to September and things calming down may not be realistic.  It seems that I still have more lessons to learn about living a simpler, more intentional life.  This month has been the “graduate” school level crash course.

So today, I am learning to seek the positive side of the situation.

To not dwell on the what-ifs.  To be grateful for any little thing that goes right.  To let go of the things that go wrong.

To not spend too much time trying to prepare for the what-ifs and just enjoy the right now.

To look for the sunshine peeking through the clouds and be grateful for the blessing of the rain.  Both are an essential part of life.

 

 

Some Days…

Some days the world is a sunny place – regardless of the weather or the circumstances or the realities of existence.

Some days it rains – whether water actually falls from the sky or not.

On the sunny days, anything seems possible.  I can handle it all.  Bring it on world….taking care of a household, teaching an art class, figuring out Latin homework, relearning division, waving good-bye as my kids go out into the scary, bad world alone, training a spastic, brain-damaged dog to be sociable, working two other part-time jobs, being there for my sister as she recovers from surgery, laughing off the 20 pounds I’ve put back on over the summer and being a patient and supportive listener.

And then there’s the morning I wake up, and from the very start of the day, it’s all too much.  The smallest thing triggers tears and the urge to crawl back into bed with the covers pulled over my head.  Everything seems to be moving too fast and I’m moving too slow.  I’d give anything for a “pause” button so that I could gain my footing.

When anyone speaks to me, I hear disappointment in their voice.  Their awareness that I’m just not up to the task.  That I’m falling short.

It’s not really their voice I’m hearing though, is it?  It’s my inner voice.  I’m disappointed in myself.  Yesterday, I could handle this.  Today, not so much.

What’s the difference in yesterday and today? Good question.  My anxiety disorder? Depression?  A good night’s sleep?  I’ve got nothing in the way of an answer.

I’ve been told that I’m my own harshest critic.  That’s probably true.  Being kind to a stranger is pretty easy for me.  Cutting myself some slack is much more challenging.

Maybe that needs to go on the list of things to do.  Learn to be nicer to myself.  Be kinder and more understanding that some days are harder than others.  Tell myself that I’m doing the best I can and to take a deep breath.  But not today.  I’m not adding anything more to today’s to-do list.  I’m done with today.

I’m going to go wrap up in a blanket and listen to the rain fall.

P.S.  Just one more thing.  Tomorrow, when you hear that little voice whispering that you messed up, that you haven’t done enough,  that there’s too much to-do…when you feel overwhelmed…hear these words…

I think you’re doing okay.  That you are doing the best that you can.  And it’s enough.  The world is a better place with you in it.  And the sun will come back out.

 

 

 

 

 

Doors

I took a shower today.  I woke up this morning and realized that I couldn’t actually remember the last one I took.  To be honest, days around here are a bit confused anyway. Too much T.V. and morphine (my sister, not me).  I’m thinking about getting one of those little whiteboards like they use in the hospital…Today is Saturday, August 27, 2016.

Anyway, I took a shower.  Please don’t judge.  Some days we have to grab the small wins and run with them…

Now, I’m thinking about doors.  This was prompted by a Caring Bridge post by a friend with stage IV colon cancer.  She just found out that she wasn’t accepted into a drug trial that she was hoping for.  “No further information.  Just a closed door”, she wrote.

I’m thinking about the slammed, closed and locked doors that I’ve faced in my past. About the disbelief, grief and pain those door have caused.  The teen-age crush that didn’t work out.  The job that I didn’t get.  The phone call that never came.  The dream that wasn’t realized.

I’m wondering how many times I accepted that unopened door as a permanent “no”.  The times I didn’t go looking for a different door.  A different way to access that dream.

And, I’m pondering the times I did look for an alternative route and a different portal.  Or sometimes the opportunities that I didn’t actively seek, but that presented themselves with time and patience.  The man I married, a different job…

Looking back, some of those closed doors were a blessing in disguise.  I wouldn’t have believed it at the time, but now it’s evident.  The teen-age crush that was based more on looks than compatibility.  The job that would have involved moving to another location and would have prevented me from being available for my sister now.

But doors that don’t open hurt when you run into them.  Sometimes, in hindsight, it may turn out to be for the best.  And sometimes, it may turn out that they were just stupid, closed doors that you  couldn’t get through.  You may never know the difference.

Still, there is hope in believing that there are many doors in life,  and most of them can be opened – with time, patience and discernment.

Today I will be in continued thought and prayer for those dealing with doorways…

Those standing at locked doors and looking for the next one.

Those hurt from the slamming of the door.

Those facing a door that is slowing closing and limiting their access both literally and figuratively.

Those locked behind a door wanting out but afraid and unsure of the next step.

Those who don’t have any doors available to them at all.

Those who can’t see the door because they don’t know where to look or are choosing not to.

And those standing in front of the door, but who are afraid to knock.

 

I’m Still Here

Hello world.

I’m still here…at home ignoring the piles of clutter, cobwebs and unwashed dishes.

The laundry is caught up.  That’s me – always looking on the bright side.

My sister’s recovery continues.  We’ve been watching lots and lots of British murder mystery shows on Netflix and a smattering of classics like Columbo and Rockford Files.  Variety is the spice of life as they say.

Youngest daughter just completed week three of school.  All in all, we’re doing okay. We’ve fallen a bit behind on our Tuesday and Thursday work, but I’ve stayed in touch with her teachers and we’ll catch it back up.  Certainly a lesson in prioritizing and learning that you can’t do it all.  First things first.

Oldest daughter and son are moved into their new digs.  I keep finding things left behind and have a box for each one that I’m dropping things in.  I’m going to count that as a bit of decluttering if that works for all of you.

My life seems crazy hectic and absurdly slow at the same time.

Some days are filled with a doctor visit, and lengthy outing to the grocery store or a 911 call and subsequent visit to the emergency room following a slip and fall (my sister, not me) in the bathroom.  Luckily no major damage done although a hip fracture was briefly a possibility.

Other days are quiet and restful with binge T.V. watching.  I’ve almost finished a rag rug that I started ages ago, but never took the time to finish.

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This month has been one of the hardest I’ve ever had to make it through.  So much has gone wrong – much that I’ve not even written about for lack of time and the fact that I feel that I should only whine so much in public…

Let’s just say that our dependable old and paid for truck may be ready for hospice.  The floor is definitely done for as the result of the air conditioner leak.  There still isn’t enough money.  You get the idea.  All just normal life stuff, but added together just a lot.

As difficult as everything has been, I’m beginning to view August of 2016 as a blessing of sorts.

I’ve been dreaming of and longing for simplicity in my life.  That’s hard to find in the midst of living.  At least I was struggling to discover it.

This month I’ve learned that simplicity is always there.  It’s discerning the simple that’s the challenge.  There are always choices to be made.  When life becomes too busy and complicated, I don’t believe that it’s because we’ve totally made the wrong choices.  It’s that we’ve failed to make any choices at all.  We’re allowing everything to rank as number one on the “got to do list”.  That’s impossible and a miserable way to live.

Simplicity may just be realizing that some things must be done and some things can’t be done and being comfortable and at peace with what is.  Constantly reviewing a list of things that are waiting to be done is exhausting.  Trying to get it all done is even more exhausting.

Seems like such an obvious thought.  Sometimes I can be hardheaded and slow.  Maybe even stubborn.  It takes me a while to catch on to the obvious.  Maybe this is a lesson learned…

Sitting with someone who has no choice but to sit is important.

Finishing a rag rug is important.

Washing dishes is important.

Doing a math test is important.

Talking on the phone to someone who needs to be heard is important.

Some things rarely or never make it to the top of the list.

Figuring out which is which is simplicity in action.

 

That Post That Almost Wasn’t

I had a post all planned out in my head, but I don’t think that I can write it tonight.  I’m just “full” and “empty” at the same time.  Full of emotions and tiredness and stress and fear…empty of strength and optimism and energy.

This month has been a long haul so far.  Some bad stuff and some good.  Mostly my focus has had to been on the bad because it had to be dealt with first.  The good stuff I shall ponder and reflect upon later when the pace is not so hectic.

My sister continues to slowly recover from her surgery.  That’s good.  It’s been more challenging than she anticipated, but things are getting better.

School schedules and homework are not yet a habit, but are becoming more familiar each day.  Soon that will be easier to deal with.

I went and saw my son’s new apartment today.  We packed up some more of his stuff and took a load of boxes over there.  It’s a nice place and I am excited for this new chapter in his life.  It’s a good thing.  It’s what we raise our children to do.  Yet, I am sad that this chapter is ending.  That’s all I can say about that right now.

Oldest daughter leaves tomorrow to begin her season at the Texas Renaissance Festival.  That is a good thing also.  She loves her job and has been home for quite a while.  I know she’s anxious to rejoin her “family” there.  She misses them.  I couldn’t have made it through this month without her.  It’s time for her to go.  Yet, I’m sad.

I’m tired of crying and being sad and crying and being happy.  I’m tired of change and excited for the changes.  I want the kids to be little again and I know that its time for them to fly away.  I’m afraid of how quiet it’s going to be and wondering about the possibilities of the free time.  Mainly, I’m tired and afraid.

This turned out to be a post after all.  Short and rambling…full and empty at the same time.  There is more to be said  and somehow it says it all…at the same time.

Today is almost over and tomorrow is on its way.  Time keeps moving on by and change comes with it.  Change is neither bad nor good.  It just is.  And so is life.

The end and the beginning.

 

 

 

 

Short and Sweet

This post shall be short and the day was sweet.

For the first time in a long time we took it easy.

My sister is hanging out at our house for a bit as she recovers from surgery.  In honor of her convalescence we decided to rest with her. We woke up when we woke up.  We didn’t worry about breakfast and therefore, we didn’t have to worry about the undone dishes. Hubby brought donuts home when he came home from the nightshift.  We all ate the donuts and didn’t worry about calories or nutrition or balancing the diet.

We made a Sonic run for lunch because my sister’s appetite is returning and she wanted chili-cheese fries.  We couldn’t let her eat Sonic alone now, could we?

We grabbed a couple of Sunday papers and actually read a real newspaper.  Got black ink all over our fingers and everything!

No computer for me today.  I didn’t check email or facebook or my bank balance…  It will all still be there tomorrow and I will deal with it then.

We watched episodes of Columbo, and Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, and Rosemary and Thyme on Netflix.

We still had to go clean the offices we do on Sunday night, but even that didn’t seem as much of a chore as it sometimes does.  The work went faster and it was easier than usual.

Back home, we binged more T.V. and I even did a journal page!

As folks got tired, they wandered off to bed.  I am ready to follow.

Bring it on Monday.  I think I’m ready.

Lesson Learned

It’s been too long since I wrote something uplifting, inspiring or philosophical here.  I’m just so busy putting one foot in front of the other that I don’t have the time or energy for deep thoughts.  I’ve reached the point where I feel that if I don’t keep moving, I’ll stop completely.

The challenges just keeping on coming.  A difficult recovery from surgery for my sister.  A flooded bedroom from a leaking air conditioner that resulted in a wall and floor (yes, another one) being destroyed.  Stuff piled everywhere as we try to salvage what we can. Trying to adapt to a full school schedule.  Bills to pay. Car repairs and wrong parts and pieces that don’t fit where they are supposed to.  Planning for art classes.  And a handful of other things going on that I haven’t even shared.

One at a time wouldn’t be much of a problem, but one after another is getting old.

I’m trying not to whine.  And I’m trying to be optimistic.  I know it will all resolve itself – one way or another. I’m aware that most of it is out of my control.

In a way, this time has been a blessing.

Simplifying life can be challenging.  Sorting out the important stuff is sometimes hard to figure out.  Priorities shift and often it’s impossible to put things in proper perspective.

Until…there is literally so much that you can’t get done because there is so much to be done!

That’s when you have to pick out “one”, “two” and “three” and let the rest slide.  I’ve left things undone lately  that used to seem terribly important.  They can wait  I need sleep or I can’t cope.

Number one priority has to be family.   Quieting the endless to-do list running through my brain so that I can really hear what loved ones are trying to tell me.  Remembering to say “I love you” and be present as much as possible.  Not yelling and remembering that everyone is dealing with the stress right now – sometimes in ways that I don’t understand.  Individually. it is all too hard.  Together, we can somehow work through it.

After family, priorities shift day to day or minute to minute.  A lot isn’t getting done. There isn’t enough time to rest.  It’s one thing at a time and sometimes that one thing isn’t finished as well as I would like or at all.

This posting is a perfect example.  I’d love to write something wonderful or at least proofread it, but this will have to do instead.  These imperfect words are the best I’ve got.

I’m thankful that I have hope.  In the big scheme of things, my problems are small. They are all surmountable.  I have food in the kitchen and all that I need.  Time will solve most of my problems with a little bit of patience thrown in for good measure.

When all of this is said and done, I will have learned a bit more about simplicity and living intentionally.

I am blessed.

And I am tired.

Good night.