Live. Create. Tell the Story

 

live create tell th story

I’ve been asked how hard it is to write and share personal details of my life on this blog…

(and the tears start now)

To be sure, some of what I have written has been difficult to share. Some of what gets typed never gets published. Sometimes the mouse hovers over the publish “button” and time passes…and more time passes…and I take a deep breath…and “send” what I have written out into the world. And I worry that it sounds stupid or that I shared too much or that nobody will read it or care.

One of the things that I know to be absolute truth (and there isn’t much that fits into that category) is that, as human beings, we are called to share our stories. It’s why I once believed that I was called to the pulpit as an ordained minister. Now, I tell my stories here to a different audience.

I don’t know who needs to hear what I have to say…that I struggle daily with the uncertainty of whether I have value and purpose and am deserving of continued existence.

Writing a blog is an interesting thing.  To sit down in front of a screen and keyboard and “talk” to an audience that you can’t see.  There are no reactions, no head nods, no eye contact that allows you to gauge how receptive your audience is.

You just have to believe that your stories…

and by extension, all of our stories  – of our experiences, successes and failures, the documentation of the steps we take are what matter.

The relationships, the sharing, the moment when our being on this planet for just another day makes sense…that’s why I write…

– for myself and for someone out there who might be needing to hear what I have to say

– someone I will probably never meet

– someone who is wondering if their story matters

We are all important and we are all part of the story that is being written every moment of every day…

sometimes by what we do (or don’t do), by our words, our brush strokes, our act of kindness, our prayers, our presence.

Some of us accomplish big things that attract attention and praise…

most of us will never be noticed or acknowledged or even know that what we did today mattered…

So, let’s try this –

Tell your story today.  Share.

Let someone know that the “words” they wrote (or are writing) in your life matter.

And  (most importantly)  if someone who was a part of your story has somehow disappeared in the midst of all the busyness of life, find a way to let them know that their words are important..

That they matter.

They made need to hear it.

Live.

Create.

Tell the story.

Repeat.

P.S.  This is not at all what I sat down to write today.  The words just took on a life of their own and this is what happened.  Life and stories are funny that way…

 

 

 

The Research

After I got out of the hospital this last time (a second round of multiple hernias and intestinal obstructions plus diverticulitis), I took quite a while to recover enough for everything to return to normal. I quit eating meat because that seemed to be stressful for my digestive system and I was struggling with a loss of appetite.  I wanted to (and needed to) lose weight, but I knew that not eating wasn’t a good option.

I found that I didn’t miss meat all that much…except for maybe bacon.

I didn’t set out to become a vegetarian.  I definitely didn’t plan on becoming a vegan.  I didn’t even know what the term “whole food, plant based diet” meant.

It just sort of started and didn’t stop.

Then one night when hubby was working late and I couldn’t find anything good to watch on Netflix, I happened upon the documentary section and started browsing…

I don’t remember which one I watched first, but here’s a list of what I’ve watched so far:

  • Forks over Knives
  • What the Health
  • Sustainable
  • In Defense of Food
  • Plant Pure Nation
  • Food Choices
  • Food, Inc.
  • Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead 1 & 2
  • Fed Up
  • Super Size Me
  • Engine 2 Kitchen Rescue

Most of these were watched while walking on the treadmill.  I found them to be very motivational!

Some of them seemed a wee bit crazy at first.  A very radical step away from cultural norms.  A lot of that seems more normal now that I’ve embraced this journey.  Some of them are still too crazy for me.

I’m also currently reading (and using recipes from):

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I’ve noticed some benefits other than health related ones so far…

Dishes are much easier when you aren’t cooking with animal based products and extra oils!  They pretty much just rinse clean.

The chickens and rabbit are very happy and well fed and the compost pile is filling up nicely.

And the amount of trash we are producing is significantly less.  We are recycling more efficiently and there is little that actually goes to waste.

Grocery shopping was harder the first couple of times we went after starting this.  Label reading took on a whole new meaning and many previously favorite items were reluctantly placed back on the shelf.  Then it became a sort of treasure hunt as we would read labels in the store and joyfully shout out, “We can eat this!” or “I found something!”.

Even though we thought we were pretty savvy shoppers, I was totally caught off guard at the amount of sugar (in various forms) that can be found in almost everything!  And how many ingredients does it really take to make bread, cereal or salad dressing?

Now the majority of our shopping is done in the produce section.  We shop for a rainbow of colors and I know words like phytochemicals and lycopene.

Our spice collection is growing beyond salt, pepper and garlic.  We still don’t like curry, but we’ll try it again at some point because our taste buds are slowly reawakening to natural flavors.  Smoothies with just fruit now taste too sweet to me and are reserved for dessert status.  Our added salt intake is greatly reduced.

I miss butter…on toast and potatoes and well, everything.  But, I don’t miss it as much as I did three weeks ago.  I’m sure my arteries don’t miss it at all.

This is challenging.

And interesting.

I think my mind is starting to wake up a bit as I pursue more knowledge about my food, my body and my health.

Good food for the body and the mind.

Steps in the right direction on this journey…

Solid Ground

Hello.

I’m still here.  And, believe it or not, I’ve been thinking about y’all a lot although I haven’t written.

I haven’t written here that is.  I’ve composed many a blog in my head, but honestly haven’t been able to summon the energy to reach out into the world and share – thoughts, feelings or stories.

I’ve identified a new truth about myself and have been spending some time in reflection as a result. After a period of challenges and stress, I have a need to pull in my borders and become a bit of a recluse.  In the past, I believe that I’ve resisted the tendency to do so because it was a sign of weakness.  I don’t believe that to be the case anymore.

August and September were really hard.  I’ve probably mentioned that more than once…

My sister was seriously ill…it is only just the last week or so that the full effects of her illness are being identified.   A lot of the issues are resolving. Some will not.  We are finding a new normal.

My daughter started private school which was a big transition from a relatively unschooling lifestyle.  Time was in short supply and she didn’t get all the attention and support she deserved.  She coped beautifully.  I am so impressed with her.  We struggled to cope with assignments and deadlines and hoped it would all become a comfortable routine – in other words, normal.

Our precarious financial situation deteriorated under the demands of everything that was going on.  Tempers grew short as we all became overwhelmed.  We were all stretched to the limit. We all longed for our old problems, our old life…what had been normal.

It is all too evident that once life has stretched beyond tolerable limits, it doesn’t rebound back into it’s normal proportions.

Things have changed and we can’t go back.

We can; however, seek solid ground and get our feet back underneath us.  And that is what we have done.

I’ve allowed myself to pull back from outside commitments and concentrated on family and myself.  The news has been switched off and I trust that the world will keep on spinning.  There is only so much that I can do and to attempt to do more only results in anxiety, anger, frustration and hopelessness.

Our daughter is back home and we are instigating  a learning plan that fits our needs.  We learned a lot about what works for us, and what doesn’t as far as education goes.  This week has been very good indeed.

The budget is back on the drawing board as we  reassess our goals and the reality of what we can and can’t do to improve our financial situation.

The dreams and plans that we were so excited about at the beginning of the new year last January have been brought back out into the forefront.  We’re evaluating and making adjustments in light of all that has transpired.

And, most importantly, we are resting and actively seeking joy.  There was very little fun and laughter in the last two months.  That must change.

I am exited about having identified my need to stop and rest and recover from hard times…to heal from the damaging results of stress.  Forcing myself to continue on when I’m exhausted and anxious isn’t being brave and strong.  It’s a huge mistake.  It makes me miserable and when I’m miserable…the whole family is miserable.

It’s important to learn from the past, let go of regrets and move on into the future.

So, for now it’s rest and laughter and family as we become comfortable in our new normal.

 

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.

Retreat or Stand Your Ground?

When I woke up today, I already felt anxious.  I felt like I was behind and could never catch up.  I looked at my list and knew that it wasn’t enough.  Those tasks alone would be insufficient to make any progress.

I thought about adding more things to the list.  I thought about pitching the list entirely.  Maybe the list was just a stupid idea.

Then the computer started acting up.  Slow, sluggish, and programs that won’t open.  Our internet has been weird since all the rain started anyway.  Simple tasks that I need to do were taking forever.

Then the dog started barking like crazy in the back portion of our land – the out of the dog yard part – the extremely overgrown and untended part.

I went out on the deck and found myself staring down a large doe.  Weird.  Deer aren’t known for participating in staring contests.  They run.  That’s just the way deer are.  Unless…

Here comes Matilda, running at the deer in full Basset hound fury. She barks and runs between the deer’s legs – and goes flying through the air as the deer kicks her.

Deer don’t stand their ground unless there is a fawn involved.  A fawn that is carefully hidden in the yard somewhere and is being threatened by something.  Something like this (she looked a little scarier in attack mode, really!)IMAG0744

A full-blown battle ensues because bassets are stubborn, if nothing else.

My son runs barefoot through the cactus, mesquite and overgrowth to save the dog.

And what had been an anxious day, is now a full-blown adrenalin rush day for me.

Decision time.

Do I plow on through the day?  Push through the anxiety and keep going.  At this point in an anxiety attack (for me), the tears are at the surface or already flowing.  I feel emotion-full.  In reality, anything can set me off.  Thoughts are running at a million miles-per-hour through my brain.

It only makes sense to take a break…a nap.  Some Sabbath time.  A quiet respite.

But, that’s hard for me to do.  To admit that I’m not stronger than this problem – this actual, medical condition.  I don’t want to admit that it is stronger than me.  I don’t want to give in and surrender to it.

Retreat or stand my ground against an opponent that is bigger and stronger than me?

I took a nap.  A really long nap (with the dog).   My body and mind needed that break – some recovery and healing time.

Now, I’m going to tackle the list.  It’s not a stupid idea as I thought earlier.  What a difference a nap makes.

Oh, and this is what you see if you look out our back door.   Just standing there and staring.IMAG0735

Honesty.

This blog started out as an  expedition into community and my intent has been to keep it as honest as possible.  Tonight shouldn’t be any different.

It’s ten o’clock and I’m tired…exhausted.  I don’t want to go to bed.  It’s early for me – usually.  But things aren’t usual right now and won’t be “normal” for a while.  All the things that I do, that make up the “doing” part of who I am, aren’t allowed right now.  I can’t clean, or cook, or take out the trash, or lift anything heavier than 5 lbs.  Every time I start to do something, I come across something that weighs five pounds!

Laundry, nope.  Wet jeans and towels weigh too much…especially when you are pulling them up from the bottom of a washer.  The dryer is unbelievably close to the ground…bending and lifting, nope.

I can’t even open our back door to let the dogs in and out…it’s a sliding door that sticks and you have to lift and push to get it to move.

I am working on some small art things.  That’s a plus, but anything can become boring if you spend too much time doing it.

The doctor said I have to lose a lot of weight…we’re not talking 10 lbs. here.  This could all happen again if I don’t.

I found out that I have some really good friends (who are also good cooks).  I’ve also found out that some people I thought were friends apparently aren’t.  Hey, I know people are busy(people other than me), but how long does a comment on facebook take? I wonder how many time I’ve been guilty of not being there for someone who needed me.

I’m in the emotional, holy crap, what happened, I don’t think I can do this stage of recovery.

This journey of mine took an unexpected turn right in the middle of going so well.   Sort of like that great vacation that gets sidelined by car trouble.

Lest this sound like a complete “feeling sorry for myself ” rant – I’m grateful for great medical care, the first health insurance we’ve had in over 20 years going into effect a little over a month ago, a smooth recovery so far and a very supportive family.  I’m grateful that I’m alive.  I have much to be thankful for.

But, like I’ve said before, even grateful happy people have bad days, or nights.

All I can write about is me, my life and my stories…because that’s all that’s honestly mine to tell.  Right now, my story is kind of a teary confused mess.

And I need to get some sleep.