A Light Spirit

This morning, I wasn’t going to write. Wean yourself off of it, myself said to itself. Just live and stop the dribble.
 
And then, I read a comment that was written by one of our readers, and it said that I was such an inspiration, which was very nice, sweet, and kind.
 
Sitting here in my Barney robe, which is as purple as purple can be, hair pulled back in a bit of a slick mess, I don’t quite feel like an inspiration. Just a human. Simply a Norwood Girl who gives life a whirl and reports in on her doings.
 
It couldn’t
be that I am in a “light” mode. I just decided that is what this time is, my period of healing. I am always concerned that I will accidentally write that I am trying to learn how to heel. Ruff, ruff.
 
It is a time of reflection, but a different kind of reflection than normal.
 
Though I whipper-snap my way through many things, last year, life, some of my ways of thinking, some of my less than stellar habits, and, perhaps, an awakening to the fact that body, mind and spirit must work together in order to have a healthy life.
 
Because of the events of last year, I have stepped back. I am studying, learning, letting go of focus, breathing deeply, sorting through my mind and decluttering my thinking.
 
It is a joyful experience, for the most part, but I can still give myself the stinker, for a nanosecond, because I am not busy doing, you know, creative things.
 
I am working on spirit. Don’t laugh. And I am trying not to get so far up my own periscope, that it all becomes about me. But right now, a lot of it is. And that is fine. When you hit a car, a wall, or end up in the hospital with someone asking if you want to be revived, you are an idiot if you don’t see that as a sing that something you are doing, isn’t right.
 
What a gift that I have been given to be here to write this. What a joy it is to step back and not try to make life happen. Come to terms. Adjust. Change.
 
Yes. I am changing.
 
I am more into the spirit of living than creating for creativity’s sake. Peace. Saying no, I can’t go there.
 
That is a new little sentence for me. I use it, now. I didn’t use it, before. I am amazed at how good it feels. Perhaps it is a boundary that I have put up to protect myself. So be it. I should have done it years ago. But to those of us who want to save the world, save others … those are hard words to spit out.
 
I say them proudly, now. Instead of making me feel weak, they make me feel strong. It si empowering to realize your limits.
 
I have been listening to som songs that I love, contemporary songs of spirit and praise. There is one that I have loved for years, and I played it when I was asked to do a minister at a church service. It is actually a prayer by St. Francis of Assisi. It is sung by Elaine Silver.
 
Here are the words. I leave them with you on this Friday, a cold day, with rays of sunshine, rays of hope and a beautiful Carolina Blue sky.
 
Susan
 
Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
 
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
 
Amen.
 
st. francis of assisi – 13th century
Coastline at the beach.jpeg

Experience Is Portable

When we moved to my new beloved South, I threw out big box after big box of newspapers and magazines where my articles appeared. It was a virtual history of my world, my life, in writing. It was also a history of my writing timely pieces. I recall the first one published that had national scope, was about Elian Gonzales, the Cuban child who was sent back to Cuba.

Why did I do it … throw them away?

Because, sometimes, the baggage, even accomplishments of your past, must be let go to make room for future growth.

I do have copies of some of the pieces on a computer, but by no meas, all.

My kids didn’t want them. That was a lot of paper. And it was my take on life and not theirs. They are here to tell and write their own stories.

As I went through to lone box in our garage the other day, along with the Stars and Stripes, I found a newspaper artle written about me, not by me. It was from one of my previous lives, you know, a chapter of this one that was long ago.

There was a time when I sculpted people into puppets. Yep. And I do not like puppets. They are a notch beneath clowns. But I used them as a tool.

The firts year that Winterfest at Kings Islan opened, they put out a call for artists and craftspeople to have booths in the Festhaus, where people ate and a show was presented. To this day, if Nick or I hear the song, “Food glorious food,” we groan.

Weird thing happened, they seemed to like my work and invited me. So I sat in the lower level of our trip-level in Mason, and inhaled clay dust and sewed puppet outfits.

That hwole Chritsmas season, from Thanksgiving until New Years, I was at a booth at the Festhaus, schlepping my puppet people.

Because they were unique, the pr man from Kings Island, took a liking to them and had photographers take photos. We became friends and would have lunch for years. He was a good man.

Somehow, Ohio magazine got wind of them and shot theym and they appeared on their cover for unique gifts. There was a blurb about them in Cincinnati magazine, and that is how The Bob Braun show found me. I was then doing workshops with kids, using making puppets, to teach communication skills.

So, I was asked to bring a couple of the kids, make a puppet of Mr. Braun, and appear on the show.

When I told my mom, here comment was, “It s too bad you gained your weight back. That was a real boost. I was 6 ft. tall and weiged 155.

Oh, to weigh 155, again.

I was also asked to make puppets of Robert Taft’s family. He was governor of Ohio. Carl Lindner was another one I was asked to do and Willard Scott was created as Carmen Miranda. That one, I did for the heck of it, sent it to him, and never heard a word.

I didn’t like doing the workshops with kids. I had to haul a lot of stuff. And frankly, teaching a group of kids isn’t my thing. I just couldn’t let them know that. But I am fessing up. I love teaching workshops with adults, especially women.

I remember at sign0ups for the workshop, one mother, a snoot, said, “My boy doesn’t need communication help. He talks all of the time.”

Uh-huh.

Some people don’t understand that communication is more about listening than talking.

Making the puppets went well with my solitary-isn, personality. No, I am not a total lonaer. I am a leader, too, if I am in a group. But I find that that s more perfomance art for me, an energy expender, where creating alone, and being able to learn at my own speed, quickly, is what I like.

I didn’t know all of this at the time. I was young. I didn’t have a clue as to who I was, which made me sort of lost. My energies were spent having and raising children. That, I loved.

My kids, all small at the time, would be given a hunk of clay and they would sit with me and make a puppet head (or creature). They have always know that I was a clayhead.

Bob Braun was very nice to be with. He knew how to do a show and make his scared guest look good. They people in the audience didn’t bother me, but those cameras and lights were something I hadn’t experienced.

My foray into people puppets only lsted a year or so. For me, life has been about learning and practicing and then moving on and taking that experience with me.

Experience, not boxes of newspapers. It travels much lighter.

Susan

Christmas Sounds And Feelings Brewing

The train horn and slight sound of the wheels on the tracks reverberate this sleepy house in Deer Park. It reminds me of my childhood in Norwood, where a freight train yard was up the street, turn left, run downhill,make a right and run slightly up and down another hill.

I didn’t do that but once. It was not on a route I took and though so close, you left Norwood and entered Cincinnati. Norwood was my small world that was safe. Cincinnati was too big.

The train is quiet now, passing. Probably on those tracks that ran through Norwood. There is a website called, “Everything Runs Through Norwood,” and it is quiet true.

Why am I talking about trains and Norwood when I was going to talk about taking time to look at the ornaments on a Christmas tree?

I am staying. Not in Norwood, but Deer Park is pretty close. So it was that sound of the train that took me back, took me home, to Christmas when I was a child.

I love this sound of silence. Nick is sleeping and so is our youngest daughter. Remember that feeling as a parent, when all of your children were tucked into their beds and home, safe? The world was “out there”, someplace. That feeling, now a memory, is one of the gentle memories of this life I have lived.

My heart is beating, tick-tick, tick-tick, and it is marvelous. It was two weeks ago, today, that the ticker got fixed. This morning, I began some gentle exercises. I plan to be an athlete, yet.

Yesterday, I stopped at Trader Joe’s. It was delightful. My speed of store … not too big. You know me and the vapors. Nick pulled in front of Krogers in Montgomery, because I wanted some distilled water. I said, “Are you kidding? I’m not going in there.” The parking lot was packed and throngs of people were going in and out. I looked at him and said, “That place gives me the vapors.”

So far, I have heard both daughters laugh. We’ve shared a couple of meals. Today, I will see one of my sons and do something we do when we are in town. He and I will meet at Starbucks and sit and chat for a long time. Catch up. And then, tonight, the Christmas festivities begin.

I was so not in a Christmas spirit a month ago. Other things were on my mind. Things began to shift when we celebrated Christmas at our son’s house in South Carolina, on the 16th. It was wonderful. I even sang karaoke with my grandchildren.

And now, after one of our best drives up here, we are and will be in the arms of people we love, people who make fun of us, who know us deeply, and understand the love that we have for them. People we would do anything for, including giving our life.

That is deep love.

I will call both sisters tomorrow and say Merry Christmas. I will think of my friends, here and in South Carolina, and wherever they may be. I know one friend is making a four layer carrot cake, one is having dinner tonight with friends, and another has seen grandchildren and their parents, staying at her house all week. Aye-yi-yi. And she loves it.

I will be thinking of my brother-in-law, for a reason that just is.

Of course, I called Camp K-9 to see how The Boy is doing. He is having a great time. They love him, too.

I was looking at my daughter’s Christmas tree. I mean, really looking. She placed every light and ornament on it.

The spirit of Christmas was awakened in me.

Oh, here is another Christmas sound. The garbage truck picking up trash. Ho, ho, ho.

The fact is. All I have are blessings to be grateful for. Love surrounds me. I actually feel the presence of Jesus, and the purity of his actions. Was he real? Did and does He exist? Is He really God, the father?

I choose to believe som. It gives meaning to my life, and offers a guide to be good to people and, it checks my behavior. I don’t know enough about life and I can surely use the help and guidance. It is through Him, that’s I find my purpose. I am a wobbly human, and the walking partner shows me the way.

Good Lily of the Valley, I am spilling the beans.

So, with that, though I am taking the week off, I am here to wish each of you, whether you are Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu Atheist or whatever, Merry Christmas from a wonderful, kind and forgiving man who was born in a manger on Christmas. Peace be with you. May light shine on our troubled world and may all your Christmas dreams come true.

Susan

A Non Inflammatory Post

Wrapping it up.

The gift bags, boxes, and random wrapped gifts are stationed at the table in the big room. The wrapping paper has been put away. And the gifts I have to deliver, are on the counter.

The Ohio Express is getting ready to join millions of others on journeys near and far.

Yes, it is over to Asheville, turn right and head northwest. Passing through two sets of mountains, and then into Kentucky, we will have a rented minivan full of Christmas cheer.

Since my Subaru bit the bullet, we have been driving Nick’s old Prius. I haven’t wanted to think about replacing my vehicle. And we are seriously thinking about going down to one car. We might scour the Automall, if we get a chance. But shopping for cars is not my idea of a good time.

It is a creepy game. Time consuming. Expensive. It gives me the vapors.

And I love it when they place their attention on Nick … not realizing that I am really in the driver’s seat on this event.

Does anyone else look at the multitudes of expensive cars, trucks and SUVs on the road and wonder where people get that kind of money?

I do.

How did I go down that road?

There is something that has happened since I was involved in my wreck. I am at heightened alert for cars … where they are coming from, how fast, and the uncertainty of driving.

I used to love to drive, but not as much anymore. There are too many people driving, in a hurry, ignoring laws and acting like jack rabbets wearing asshats.

I still love driving in the country, meandering and moseying, but to go into the “zones” of craziness … aye-yi-yi-yi.

I sound so poo-poo, which is funny because I am starting to fee much better. I am down 20 pounds since my wreck and I have health plans and an agenda for the new year.

From what I have been reading, inflammation is a big health problems. Truthfully, I knew that, but last night, I watched a YouTube video by a cardiologist about things to do to get your heart better.

Since I have entered what shall I say, “Heartland”, I have been learning a lot. I have learned how sleep apnea effects the heart, how inflammation from what you eat can trigger other things to go haywire and that there are things that I can do to get my body back on track.

I did a good job of turning things around a couple of years ago, but I had this battle in my head of “Do I want to live this way … denying many of the eating pleasures.

Caution to the wind, I ate too many good things and then bad things.

After the wake-up call and self flagellation and week of anesthesia brain, I am ready to charge on for a better today and tomorrow.

I am still cogitating what I would like to accomplish and figure out where my purpose will lead me, next year. I really don’t know if it will include FB writing. There are times when I think that I should leave before you tell me to. And FB, with its recent BS going on, it brings my love/hate relationship as a writing venue to the surface.

I operate better with a purpose, but there are times when I wonder if I should find a new purpose, of simply just lied days unfold.

Nah, I stink at that.

See, I am working things through. Oh, there are days when I think I should go be a monk and wear a brown robe with a hood. I like hoods. I also can make fudge to sell at the monastery gift shop. But I would need to be in an order of monks that laughed … a lot. I might also get kicked out of chapel for playing tic-tax-toe on the visitor cards.

How do you ponder and figured out what you want to do with your life? Note: there are many of you in the throes of working and child-rearing, so, you are on your march to survive all that goes on with that.

But for those who have the time, how do you determine what you want your life to be? I am curious.

This post feels like driftwood.

Are any of you heading anywhere for Christmas?

I am glad I don’t have to go to Sandringham for Christmas with the queen, although it would be fun to watch Prince Charle and Camilla get it on.

If we had a queen, who do you think would be a good one? Miley Cyrus might be fun.

Well, I am rails off the rails, now.

Off to go to the backyard to graze on some grass. I don’t think it is an inflammatory.

Susan

PS. My lunch yesterday at Jim and NIck’s/ I drove myself there to pick up some biscuit mixes for gifts, and decided that I needed to sit at the bar and have lunch/dinner. That is the tastiest said … and I didn’t eat both dressings.

Seeing The Light

Ho, Ho, Ho,
 
No, I wasn’t calling anyone a name.
 
I was saying that the spirit has risen and is shining in one lit candle and thre fake ones.
 
On my desk, as part of my new enlightenment, I have a lavender oil candle lit. I like to stare at the dancing flame. I find it a marver that, though, we can’t really see the movement in the air, we see a bit of life that shows us that life is there. It is all around us. We just don’t pay attention.
 
I also just blew on my left hand. I felt the breeze, the movement of air. And get this, I just took a piece of heavy paper and fanned it by my face and felt air move.
 
Yep, I am back! Looking at life through any avenue I can take. There is alos a plexiglass container on my desk, that holds The Boy’s treats. I just noticed that there is a reflection of the flame shining on it.
 
Simple, maybe magically simple, explained by science. Yet, it amuses me. It is like being n a cavern and yelling and hearing the echo. This is an echo of light.
 
There were some days this week that I wondered if I would ever look at life as I had before. Those aren’t fun times. Recovery isn’t always easy. It can be work, too. You are told to take it easy, relax, let things go.
 
That can be stressful for me, especially if you have anesthesia brain and are not seeing the forest for the tree sap. Illness and not being in control and having to take medicines that help one thing and mess up another, can wreak havoc on your psyche. Is this the new you? The icky new you? Will you return to the old you, that really had its weirdness, too, or will a new and improved version show up at your door like Mary Poppins, and grow your new life?
 
I have a term for this mental confusion. It isn’t a nice term. It is two words and the first word is cluster. The other one, take your choice of a prime four letter word.
 
So, you try to listen when people say that it takes time and you try not to compare yourself to the 35 year-old guy on YouTube who had an ablation and participated in a race the next weekend.
 
It isn’t that it is “poor me,” … for me it is more like, “Oh, Shitzu,” where do I go from here?
 
And you finally, remember to talk to God and pull pback and stop fighting time and energy and phantoms of imaginary futures that are less than your fancy.
 
“Thank you, God. I am sorry it took me this long to say that.”
 
Silence.
 
“Thank you for the blessings and the people who helped me and, say, (this is in the back of your mind because when you pray and talk to God, you really don’t want to wear your asshat), can you please give me a sign, a sign that says life can at least get back to parts of the way it was?”
 
And then I think, Eh, I was not necessarily in a good place. I was playing Russian Roulette with eating and using my brain more than my body and yep, maybe going back to the old me isn’t the best thing, after all.
 
So then, my boundaries came down and instead of being afraid of the future and looking at this as a permanent position, I breathed deep with my new and improved heartbeat, and gave God time to chew on what I said and to give me that sign. Yep, I sometimes use God as my dumping ground … but usually a bit late in the process … after I have churned things up and made a stew and tried to fix things myself.
 
Sometimes, my name shoud be Half-Ass Backwards.
 
Then like I said, yesterday, I finally got myself quiet enough, took moved my orange collapsible fear canisters andopened my mind and heart.
 
That is when the healing began.
 
I was fighting healing. I didn’t want to put the time, thought and energy into healing. I just wanted to be fixed. But that isn’t how life is. At least, rarely.
 
It can be so easy to look at this moment in time and plant yourself on it and forget about life as a whole, a living breathing organism, like my little flame I am looking at as I type.
 
I am sure glad that God has a bigger plan for me and that I am simply his tool do some good on earth. I can say that if “I ruled the world, it would be better.” But the truth is, if I ruled the world, there would be way too many paintings of weird looking women, words, everywhere, a tidy kitchen but a mess of wars and stupid human stuff that I wouldn’t know how to deal with.
 
The light is not only at the end of the tunnel, but it is right near my face, flickering, warm and kind, saying, “Come on, Susan, let’s dance. You are breathing, life is good. And keep the flame alive.”
 
Susan

To Be or To Do? That Is The Question

The word for today is peristalsis. That came to mind about 4:30 this morning. I decided that I like the movement of the word, which is similar to its function.

Rejoice. Hallelujah!

Our internal glory, our place of joy, enlightenment and growth sometimes gets lost in the whiskers of life, changes and problems.

There are times when reassessment is in order … when things shift and what was … now, isn’t.

One of the interesting things about life, that I have found, is that not once in our lives, does time stop. Oh, yes, it seems to stand still, of we wish we could hold a moment in time, but we can’t. Time moves.

Our lives move, too. From birth until death.

Some humans work at planning their lives. One of our earliest forays into conversation is when someone asked us, as a child, “What do you want to BE when you grow up?

Another version of the question is “What do you want to DO when you grow up?

To a young mind, those questions seem the same. As children, I didn’t distinguish the two questions.

But now, I see them as very different. One is occupational and the other is our soul, beliefs, values and, well, who we are.

After having a lifetime of professions and titles for what I “do”, the stage I am in and on, is an extension of the question “What do you want to be?”

It has morphed into who I have become.

Many of the things I have done, occupation-wise, study-wise, experience-wise ,by choice or demand, has evolved into who I have become.

An interesting thought to me is that one of my occupations, took hold so much and gelled so deeply into me, that it actually has braided over to be part of who I have become.

Writer.

There have been times when I have struggled. Just being, and being who I am, I felt, wasn’t enough. Simply being myself, without “doing” wasn’t enough.

I should do this. I should do that. Perpetual motion of the mind, placing more value on the what I do, versus who I am. Maybe it is or was an earning my keep thing. Perhaps it is societal rumblings and expectations. I have often felt that I needed to earn my right to life.

I look at the walls of my house, the art, the things that are around me and I see many things I have done.

In a way, they are me. But in a way, I can separate myself from them and not really recall making them.

When I think back to my occupations, the days I was in the workplace, I was never any of those occupations. They were skills. I did them to the best of my abilities for you I was at the time, but none of the occupations was me. Marketing director, sculptor, real estate broker, software company CEO, workshop teacher, etc … I did them all, but they weren’t me. With each, there came a point when I said, no more.

But in each one, I learned and what I learned, I put through a sieve, and brought onboard the parts that I would build into who I have become.

Why do these thought matter to me, now?

Because once again, the last four months or so, my life has taken unexpected turns.

Years ago, when I was in real estate, a friend who had gotten into the business because I had, dais, in a very distressed and exasperated way, “Why are there always so many problems?”

I laughed, looked at her and said … “That is wat we are paid to do … solve problems.”

She said that from that moment on, she got it.

And then, she quit.

That knowledge, that nugget, that life is often about solving problems, and releasing those you can’t solve, to a higher power, is something that plays out over and over. And I have to remember that when my blueberry basket gets tipped over.

There are times, such as recently, when I have had to dive under water with my eyes open, and do the breast stroke. I might not see clearly, but I must do it.

As humans, we often have to swim through uncharted emotional, fearful, uncertain waters. But in doing so, our muscles get stronger. We become stronger than we knew we could become.

After initial shock and a bit of flailing, I find that I get in a rhythm. The opposing currents subside andI get in a flow of the new and strange. And for a while, I have a new normal.

The new normal rarely lasts. Even life doesn’t last. But the ride, this wonderful ride, with its twists and turns and earthquakes and whirlwinds, when there are days that we wonder how we will get through, and times we wish would last for ever, is a real trip.

And for that, I say, Rejoice! Hallelujah!

Susan

Stories Are My Life

Stories. My stories. Your stories. The stories we have lived, and the stories we have denied.
 
I am not sure how you see your life, whether it is one big ball of silly putty, or a string of events that don’t seem to have much rhyme or reason.
 
I can’t handle my life as one big ball of silly putty. I am more like a book. I have moments that are words, some are sentences. Some sentences stand alone and others morph into paragraphs. I have also lived in vignettes, almost stages settings that I have envisioned prior to them happening.
 
There are parts of my life that have revealed themselves in chapters. Short chapters, long chapters … that will, eventually, become the book of my life.
 
Writing and thinking in such a manner help give me some structure and order to my life so it doesn’t totally go out of orbit.
 
Yes, there are times when my thoughts and emotions get sling-shot to outer crazy land. But in putting what has happened into context, into a story, pulls me back into a place where I can live.
 
If you think about it, how do you see you life? Is it a story-board? Is it random things that seem as hough you have no control? Do you drag the past with you or carry it in you purse like a tube of lipstick? Or, do you see it in some other way?
 
I was so enthralled with the podcast I listened to, yesterday, that this morning, after cleaning up the remainder of the stuff in the kitchen, from our baked ziti dinners that we cooked for hurricane relief, I needed something to pull me back to center.
 
I scrolled down the list of podcasts on Invisibilia, and found won that sounded interesting. It was about a woman whose husband had died, leaving her bereft, who could not function well. She decided to jump out of an airplane. You will have to listen to the podcast to get the story, which is part of the reason that I am writing about life as story, today.
 
The other part of the episode was about a couple from Montana who raised bees. Someone stole all of their bees at the worst possible time, (not that there is a good time to steal bees).
 
Again, a story of loss.
 
We all lose things, don’t we? keys, purses, glasses, receipts, friendship, friends, spouses, children, parents?
 
We mourn and go over and over the past and the emotions and the stories of the past. Sometimes, we change the stories to make us feel more comfortable.
 
There are times in our lives, dare I say, that we don’t even know how we will move on, or if we want to try.
 
Think about the people who lost everything, including loved ones, in the recent hurricane. Many will have to start their lives over.
 
How?
 
As this podcast told so well, those who are able to move on, do so, in part, because they learn to create new stories for their life. They mourn the past, but instead of sticking in “I, I, I,” mode, they begin using pronouns such as “him, her, we, them.”
 
I know that is how i push myself forward. When it is too much, “I,I,I,” I know that there has to be a shift. My thinking needs to change. My attitude needs a vacuuming and there is a need for letting go.
 
Maybe, that is why I do some things that others think, “Why does she do that?”
 
I can tell you why, as it has become clear to me.
 
Because I want a new story to live, to experience, to share. There is something in me that drives me, and entices me to try this or that, so that it becomes a paragraph or chapter in my life, and that helps me engage with others.
 
There are times when I wonder if I could or would I want to go on if Nick dies before I do. When the woman in the podcast, the one who was grieving for her husband and her lost life, said that she didn’t get joy out of doing the things they used to do, together, I put myself there. I can bring myself to tears thinking about that, especially if I am driving in the car, alone, and hear a song that moves me.
 
Who knows if that will happen?
 
But in my mind, I pray that if that does happen, I will do as this woman does … jump out of a plane, metaphorically, and begin a new, different chapter. And if I look at it like that, I think I might be able to handle it.
 
Susan
 
https://www.npr.org/podcasts/510307/invisibilia

Bonus Time

Yesterday, a week ago, Nick thought he was dying.

I did, too.

But thank God and good doctors and support of his kids and caring neighbors, Nick lives to be quiet and then drop a zinger that makes people laugh.

He lived for another trip to Blowing Rock.

It has been a hot and cranky summer. Little rain, big water bills, and a rain dance or too, that involved a pool. I will not say if it were Nick or I, who did the pole dance. But I bet you could guess.

It was mountain type of day. Nick had rested all week and he was ready to see something different. Mountains. They have always been an elixir in our life. Some people love the beach. We love the mountains.

There was a buoyancy in the car that hadn’t been there for a long time. We played music. Nick didn’t even mind my opera. Pavarotti. Three Tenors. Me, screeching.

We didn’t stay long at Blowing Rock. I think we wanted to see if it was still there.

Oh gosh, there is my woodpecker. I love birds with long peckers.

I think I scared him with that remark. He flew back into the woods.

We walked just a bit in Blowing Rock and had to decide if we wanted to eat lunch in a restaurant or pick up a pizza from Mellow Mushroom and take it to the mountain lake that is covered in places, with water lilies, has a wide walking path, and makes you feel free and healthy.

We got the pizza and drove to the park. We ate by the car and thenNikc got his walking stick out that I bought him a few weeks ago at McDowellNature Preserve. I got out my walking sticks that I haven’t used since last summer.

And we hit the trail.

Nick has not been able to do this for a long time. His walking is mostly in shuffling steps. But since his episode last week, and treatment with strong antibiotics, he walks better. He still isn’t strong and he has to watch his balance, but he can move.

Hallelujah!

We walked toward what had been a fish hatcheries, but now, only has water and some crawdads.

Nick sat on benches or rock walls, to rest. I bopped along with my camera and found things to shoot.

We talked about a neat-o tree and the lilies and I pointed out things that others, without a camera, not see. That is the thing about taking photos … you look for what others might miss.

I played with settings and chatted-up a couple of passers-by.

We didn’t go far in distance, but we went an eternity away from where we were last weekend.

The drive home was delightful. Nick shut his eyes and rested and I drove along in silence. No opera. No lalalalala screeching from my throat.

It was great fun being a wife yesterday. Nick had a delightful time. Bonus time.

And now, I shall go make some scones, tend my diminishing garden, fold clothes and do whatever I have to do to live in gratitude.

Because we just never know.

Susan

La Ploop

It is a mountain morning here in Clover. Cool, clear and chipper.

The backyard and outside are inviting. If I try, I can imagine that I am in Cades Cove, one of my special places. It would be nice to be there, but I am content with being here. Today, I don’t want to run away from myself.

The birds are skirmishing and I want to tell them to settle down, things will be all right. They might not be what you expect or desire, but they will be fine.

Yes, both feet are under me. The darkness of recent events with Nick have passed. Other situations are still in flux, but they will have to figure themselves out without me sorting them out. I have tried, trust me, but it is time to step back and return to my own life and things that I can control.

Good Grumpy Old Men, I can sound like I am picking lint out of navels.

Life involves a certain degree of naval lint plucking, doesn’t it? You feel washed by other people’s problems and forget things like boundaries and the fact that each person makes his or her own decisions.

Living other people’s lives is exhausting. Sometimes, I have to figure out the difference between support and enabling.

Winston was looking for his buddy, Tucker, when I took him out. Tucker’s mom stepped in and took care of The Boy, when Nick decided on joy-riding in an ambulance and partaking of hospital cuisine.

I have wonderful neighbors. Thought I felt alone last Friday, yes, a week ago, today, I found out that that we weren’t. Offers to help day or night, have been givenIt made me feel so much better. Several delicious dinners have been provided. And words of comfort have flowed.

The leaves on the trees have stilled and the birds are quiet. That makes my thoughts go in a different direction.

The Boy has come out to the porch with his tennis ball. Now he is staring at me.

We are just being.

I read Brad Pitt was having a heck of a time with Angelina Jolie and I read that Ben Affleck stopped at Jack in the Box on his way to rehab. Dennis Shield, Bethenny Frankel’s on again off again boyfriend died of a drug overdose a couple of weeks ago.

Messy lives. Money. No money. Fame. No fame. Money. No money. Hearts are broken at all levels. Bad decisions are made. People treat people they love or loved, like shit.

There really is no figuring life out, is there? As soon as we think aha, something happens and we, say, “What the hollandaise?”

OH, there is Mr. Woodpecker. He excites me. And there he goes. Skittish. Must have had an emergency on his branch.

It is a random thought, but I hope I don’t outlive my mind.

I am trying to decide whether to give people who brought us dinner and sent treats, my homemade sals or chili sauce. I know they will get a card with one of my paintings.

Back to my neighbors. As you can imagine, Nick and I miss a lot of parties and things because he doesn’t feel real chipper. I think people understand that. But even though we aren’t able to make a lot of things, they make us feel that our presence is missed, and I think that is lovely.

There are 3 goldfinches at the feeder. Nick just came out to sit. And he left.

You know what got me though the last few days?

The little things. My hot tea. Checking my propagation bins. Figuring out where to move which plant to get better light. Dead-heading some flowers. Talking to my neighbors and seeing their eyes full of concern. Knowing that the kids are back in their own lives. Having lunch with my daughter-in-law and laughing about stupid stuff.

Yesterday, I made myself laugh. I decided, after listening to a French song, that French people don’t poop. The ploop. I must go la ploop. And eat a baguette.

My toes have straightened themselves out. For the time being. Oh, ploop, the ugly birds arrived in a group.

But I clapped and they are gone.

A week ago, I thought that life as I knew it had ended.

I love it whenI am wrong.

Susan

When Your Mind Runs Amok in a Crisis

Life is one weird taco salad.
 
I feel like life has been one of those “48 Hours” episodes. Except without commercials that bring in revenue or at least give you a bathroom break.
 
First of all, good news. On his second ride of the day … to the dump, Nick said that although he still feels sick, he thinks he has more strength than he did before. We guess that it is because this infection had been brewing longer than we thought. But those words were wonderful.
 
Last night as we were scrolling through Netflix for a movie, I blubbered up a bit. Out of the blue. So Nick asks, “What’s wrong?”
 
“I thought I was going to loose you,” to which he replied, “It didn’t do me any good, either.”
 
Yessirreebob.
 
Here is one of the things I learned.
 
Episodes like this are emotionally charged. I looked at nick on the gurney in the ER, his blood pressure really high, unable to move much, scared, filled with anxiety, and weak. He was afraid. I saw it on his face, in his eyes.
 
At that time, I was not in control of anything, except being there and trying to assure Nick that he would be all right. That involved a cool washcloth and constantly rubbing his head and arms. Those were familiar touches to him.
 
Other than that, what happened, what was found or happened, was in the hands of professionals, but also, people I didn’t know. Yes, it was in God’s hands, too. But in that moment, you are looking eyeball to eyeball with people who have to make decisions that can make a person live, or, well, go on a very long vacation to some part of eternity.
 
Backing up. One of the toughest things I had to decide was do I call the kids? When should I call the kids? Should they come? Or do I say that I am taking care of things?
 
Is this life or death or is this me playing or sounding the wolf howl? Am I over reacting?
 
What are the doctors saying with their eyes or body language? Is this that time that I have always dread, where it will be the end of our lives together? Really. That was what was in my head. And heart.
 
I didn’t cry in front of Nick. But when I went out of the cube and tried talking to my son or a nurse, my face and voice simply went there. And then I sucked it up and went back in and got that rag cool, again.
 
After it was determined what was wrong, and a course of treatment began, a certain part of the anxiety is lifted … somewhat. Even if the treatment worked, what were the physical and metal repercussions of this? What if Nick couldn’t walk, go to the restroom on his own, talk, etc?
 
I have talked about time. Aging. Tim. Aging. Life.
 
In moments lie these, time, instant time, the time of the moment and future time, hit you all at once. People aren’t kept in a hospital until they fully recover, or not. They are sent home before your mind has caught up with what has happened.
 
My kids saw me at my weakest. I am not weak. But I can be weak. And I hated them seeing me be old and weird and sort of foppish. I really hated that. Would I go down in their estimation? Would they think, “Oh my God, look at what we are going to have to deal with?”
 
Would they think that all I would do is look at them and cry?
 
It isn’t that I had nick dead and buried, but as i drove in the dark to the ER, I thought, what if this is it? And what if I am going to be left alone in the dark of the night?
 
My dear daughter said that she would stay with Nick the first night. She knew I was exhausted. But I said, no. When she said, again, that she would do it, I said, “I don’t want to go home to the house without Nick.”
 
In the layers of my concern, I thought about how the kids had busy lives and they dropped them to come down and I felt so torn about that. Life moves on for everyone, sick, dying, dead or alive. The all had commitments. Why couldn’t I just handle this on my own?
 
I had thought that if things had gone the other way, and Nick didn’t make it, and I had said don’t come, it will be all right, would they be upset with me? Then I thought, how many times can I call wolf?
 
I swear, so many times I end up saying, well, dad has Parkinson’s or he has cancer, or I have cancer or I can’t see well or yada, yada? Will they wish we would just drop so they wouldn’t have to deal with aging parents?
 
I know that some of my thinking is ridiculous, but that is how I am. It is who I am.
 
Fortunately, we dodged a bullet. Someday, it won’t be so.
 
I am not out of my emotional woods yet. I was exhausted yesterday. On fumes. But I cleaned and went around like it was just another day.
 
And it was. And so will today be.
 
I am at my desk right now. No more screened porch for the time being. That reminds me of the past. I want to use this episode to change course a bit.
 
What good came out of this is that my kids still seem to be speaking to me. They are back in their own lives, flying here, there, teaching kids, living their lives. I have wonderful neighbors who care, really care, and have told me that 24-7, they are there if we need them. I think they really mean it!
 
Nick is up. I just heard him. I better go and see how he is doing.
 
I will let you know.
 
Susan